The Enchanted Forest

My favourite family vacation almost came to a tragic end at the Enchanted Forest, near Revelstoke, British Columbia.  My mom, dad, brother (with a box of comics between us in the backseat) and I had just finished walking through the Enchanted Forest and piled into our two door blue Dodge Aspen, pulling our Boler trailer, when I became hysterical at the sight of a spider inside the car (I was five or six at the time) which caused my dad to almost veer across the road, and  plunge down a cliff, which surely would have lead to our demise. This is how I remember the scene, and it’s a story I’ve repeated for many years.  We also visited Bedrock City, a Flintstones theme park, and Old MacDonald’s Farm in Kelowna, and camped near Okanagan Lake where I hoped to spot the legendary lake monster, Ogopogo.

Alas, the two theme parks no longer exist, but the Enchanted Forest still beckons weary travellers on the Trans Canada Highway to stop and walk through an old growth forest full of delightful fairy tale characters.  This summer, I wanted to see if it was as magical as I remembered.

Here’s how the Enchanted Forest started..

how it began

And some of the scenes you’ll see…

cow jumped over the moon

there was an old woman 1red doortea for twodwarfsstorkTortoise and the hareMary, Mary

old woman hat

not sure about this one

Not sure which fairy tale this is?

Wedding partygingerbread man and foxwolftroll under the bridgepeaking out the windowwingsfollow the yellow brick road

Oh, and as we pulled out of the parking lot, I made sure to note just how far down that cliff was…..there was no cliff.

ceilings of the Louvre

“Remember to look at the ceilings in the Louvre!”

That’s the advice I took to heart in Paris.  The Louvre is intimidating – it’s the biggest and most visited museum in the world, so not only is there so much to see (over 35 000 works of art), you are often jockeying for a prime position to view a piece of art.  My advice to both beat the line-ups and to navigate through the crowds is to book a skip the line tour.  I booked an Express Tour through Viator, and with our guide, our group breezed through the line, and we were provided with a good overview of the collection. By no means did we see it all (that would take months!), but it was a solid introduction.

And, honestly, mostly I took pictures of the ceilings! Amazing!

Louvre Ceiling 6Louvre ceiling 3Louvre Ceiling 5Louvre ceiling 2Louvre ceiling 7 (1)Louvre Ceiing 4Louvre ceiling

Walking Along the Seine

One of my favourite parts of Paris was being near the Seine River. After a long, cold winter, the real purpose of the trip was not to visit the museums, eat the food, and drink the wine (okay that was part of it, too!!),  but to be outside and explore the city on foot.

Every day, and night, included a walk along the river.

spring afternoon by the seineNotre Dame at night

 

 

Just go!

Posts have been few and far between for a number of different reasons, but quietly in the background, a trip to Paris has been planned! It’s getting very close to lift off, and I hope to have many pictures to share in the weeks to come.

somewhere over Minnesota, March 2016

Everyone I’ve talked to about Paris seems to have a strong opinion. It’s beautiful! The food was amazing! Wine is cheap! Paris in the Spring! You’ll love it! People are rude! Dog poop is everywhere! I would never go back!  I’ve tried to take those opinions with a grain of salt because travel is very personal, What one person thinks is an amazing destination, is on another person’s “I would never go there!” list.  (Jamaica is on that list for me.) My only travel advice is if you want to go somewhere, just go!

I thought it would be fun to pick just one photo from each of the last few trips to capture what I liked the most about each one.

Elk Island National Park, near Edmonton Alberta, Summer 2017 (one of the best places to watch a sunset!)

 

Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay, March 2017

 

Island Lake Lodge, August 2016 for a classic Canadian wilderness scene.

Prince Albert National Park, June 2016 (another classic Canadian wilderness scene)

New Orleans, March 2016. This was a hard one because I pretty much love everything about New Orleans. But one of my favourite things was walking along Royal Street at night in the French Quarter to take pictures of the window displays. This was in the window of the Red Truck Gallery.

Jasper National Park, July 2015. I love talking animal pictures.

Watching surfers, Maui, March 2105

This is not far from home at all…near Regina, summer 2015

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, June 2014

…and still one of my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken…Great Bear Rainforest, June 2013

All of these pictures make me realize I’m very lucky to be able to travel and to see and experience many different places.

Classic Canadiana

A glimpse of the Banff Springs Hotel (someday I’ll stay here, but a visit to the Rundle Lounge in the Hotel is the next best thing!)

banff springs hotel daytime

And further down the road, a sliver of beautiful Lake Louise….

lake louise

Since this is the first of my favourite places I’ve visited (having camped in Banff as a little kid), it’s probably at the top of the list followed by New Orleans, Maui, and Tofino/Ucluelet.  Where to next, that’s what’s on my mind – somewhere new, perhaps.

 

mountains of Banff

It was a hot, dry, summer in Western Canada, and as a result there were a lot of forest fires.  Prior to our camping trip to Banff in August, it had been so smoky that the highway between Banff, and Radium, British Columbia had been closed.  We camped for four days and had spectacular weather for three of those days.

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

Cascade Mountain

Cascade Mountain

walking by the Bow

Walking by the Bow River

It was very smoky on on our last full day in Banff.  Mount Rundle on a clear day…

Rundle on a clear day

And on a smoky day….

Rundle on a smoky day

Made for an interesting sunset…

Banff August 2017Banff August 2017 1

up on the roof

Still have some Puerto Vallarta pics to share which is a good thing! Between being busy at work and figuring out how I’m going to handle my workload, and being uninspired by the April landscapes this year, I haven’t picked up a camera in awhile. The prospect of May flowers, though, will change that soon!

If you’re interested in traveling and experiencing different places, I really encourage you to think differently about your accommodations and look beyond hotels and resorts.  Renting a house was not without frustrations – there were a few pool issues to be sorted out which meant contacting the owner in Texas and then dealing with the property manager who lived across the street and was extremely busy running a fishing boat charter company, and a language barrier with the pool guy.  Also, because the house was for sale, there were a few showings, but we knew that a possibility before renting, and received a discount for the inconvenience.  Some people have asked if there were any worries about renting a place online because what if the place doesn’t look like the pictures and you’ve spent all that money and it ends up being in a bad neighbourhood?  You do need to do some research.  I looked on AirBnB and Home Away.  Read the reviews, then try to read between the lines of those reviews.  I only look at places that have more than 5 reviews, preferably more (because it’s pretty easy to get three of your friends to give you a good review!). If there’s an address look it up on Google Maps street view.  Establish a rapport with the owner either by phone or email  – do they respond to your inquiries quickly and answer your questions?  This all sounds like it takes some effort, but I enjoy it! Keep in mind, this was for a two week stay, and a good portion of the travel budget was going towards accommodations.  I wouldn’t put this much effort into a three day stay, for example.  Ultimately, the house in Puerto Vallarta was chosen for its million dollar views and my bucket list rooftop, private pool! All the research paid off! All the pics were taken from the rooftop.

The sunsets!

oh the sunsetsalone on the oceansetting sun

The neighbourhood…5 de Diciembre

stained glassbrick buildingmagic hourmountain vista-2open windows-2palm trees and hanging clothes

all in a day's work

Felt a little nervous for this guy painting on the roof!

hillside

And the iguana who liked to sun himself on the ledge of the house’s second level.

so handsomeiguana