Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Arrival in Puerto Vallarta

The end of the second day in Puerto Vallarta. The day I left home, there was a weather advisory for northern Washington; I beat most of it, but on the way to the airport the next day, there was snow and slush and then fog. I have a good idea why their is sooo many northerners who have relocated here.

Yesterday was the first Spanish class - first of all we were early, and then we were late. But then, we got to stay after class, to the ribbing of our comrades, and conjugated the verbo ser and trabajo (is and work).

We did so much walking yesterday, to look at different hotels. For dinner, we decided to dine while watching the sunset. It wasn't that easy. We ended up walking back to the street where our hotel was, stopped at Steve's Sports Bar and had a drink before we lined up for our restaurant.

While we waited in line, I had my second pina colada, and BJ had her second cerveza. We talked the entire wait with a woman and man from Minnesota, and then ended up sitting at a table together. I had a margarita - they are pretty impressive! We actually spent more on drinks than our meal.

Then back to the hotel to do our homework - which was a pretty interesting thing to do! Thankfully class started at 9.

It is 9 pm, the homework is done for today, and no licor (liquor) today. But I did have my siesta by the pool, which is on the top floor of the hotel. (That would be Hotel #2 - we've been busy.)

Buenos noches!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Getting Organized

I woke up this morning to a fresh coating of snow. Here's what I'm thinking: I hope those snowboarders are happy. Because someone ought to be.

I did not focus much on the weather because I was fitting all of my carry-on fluids and gels into 3-ounce or less containers. These are the rules from the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). My handy label machine (thanks, Ryan!) is helping me get organized:

And, I am getting ready to converse. My friend loaned me this phrase book. I have learned how to say the following phrases: "Don't worry, I'll do it myself," and "What's there to do in the evenings?"

Back to my studies.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Weather in Perspective

If I sounded like I was complaining in the last post....

They are here


Our streets and many sidewalks have been dry for days. And then, today:

And a few hours later:

There was not one forecast that said this was going to happen.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


The village is in Sierra Leone. Students at our two local high schools have joined together to raise funds to help the children of Sierra Leona, who were devastated by the 11-year civil war.

Last year, they raised $7,000 which was used to build a school. This year their goal is to raise $9,000 for a drinking well, along with medical and school supplies for the same community.

This last Saturday a fundraising event was held, with lots of participation from the community. Their were 300 of us who attended, ate a three-course meal prepared by the students of the Selkirk College cooking school. All of our food was served by the high school students.

Eight groups of people entertained us. Of those, there were a group of students who performed an African Dance, two stagebands, and the Corazon Voice ensemble.

This project is through Free the Children, a Canadian youth-run organization, a network of "children helping children through education." Three years, it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another Trip Up the Lake

On Tuesday , I went to Meadow Creek, which is about 40 kms north of Kaslo. The sky, for most of the journey, was clear, and I actually had to use my sunglasses. Perhaps you have been thinking that I have been taking the photos with black and white film, because there has been a definite lack of colour. Here is a better feast for the eyes:

About a half hour north of Nelson, the West Arm of the Kootenay Lake opens into the big part of the lake. This entry point is where the Kootenay Lake ferry sails, taking passengers from the West Arm to the East Shore. As I passed the beginning of the West Arm, I saw the Osprey sailing. If you look very carefully, you may see the ferry:

In the last posting, I mentioned that Kaslo was the Switzerland of the Americas, but those clouds were being greedy and keeping their magnificence to themselves. Here is why everyone wants to move to Kaslo when they visit:

I arrived a bit early so had tea at the Treehouse Restaurant, a place I visited before I even moved to the Kootenays. With my tea, I had this, highly recommended by me and the best item on the dessert menu according to the server.

North of Kaslo, the highway edges along the mountainside. The curves turn tightly, and though it is posted at 80 kms an hour, there are many places where it becomes a necessity to slow down. Downshifting, upshifting - having a standard transmission on this road kept me busy. I have made this journey before so this time I was ready, anticipating the grand beauty of the Lardeau Valley. The last corner turns right into the valley, and suddenly, the world unfolds into a wide flat space hugged by mountain peaks. Meadow Creek.

The locals told me that the road was closed the previous week for 4 days, while the road crew cleared up the snow slides that had slide onto the highway. On the way back in the dark, it was still easy to spot the 5 or 6 places where the snow edged the side of the road. Four days. Four days where no one left, and no one arrived. Hmmm....

In this neck of the woods, there are many places that have a Creek at the end of their name. Hamill Creek, Cooper Creek, Cedar Creek, Coffee Creek. There are also businesses named after their creeks. If one is a bit curious, one can get to scratching their head. Meadow Creek Cedar is actually in Cooper Creek. It is a sawmill, that mills fir trees. Yes, no cedar.

A Kaslo resident told me that when Cooper Creek Cedar was around, they were in Meadow Creek. No mention of what they did in their mill.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Rose said she couldn't actually see the ribbon clouds - now here's the thing about clouds - they are elusive. Here is a picture from Friday - when they were being wispy...

This picture was taken on the road back from Kaslo, which was Friday's big adventure. My thought is that it IS Rose who might guess where this picture was taken... Any other takers??

Kaslo is about an hour north of Nelson; it is surrounded the Selkirk and Purcell Mountain ranges, and has been called the Switzerland of the Americas, because of the majestic views of the mountains and lake. Kaslo is home to the SS Moyie, a sternwheeler which is "the oldest intact passenger steam vessel of its type in the world." The SS Moyie sailed Kootenay Lake from 1898 to 1957, and has been beautifully restored and is now a designated national historic site. Here it is:

Typical of some people who do more sightseeing when they leave home, I have to confess that I haven't actually been inside the SS Moyie. I am sure it is beautiful.

This next photo (note mountains and clouds - hmmm... seems to be a theme these days). At the bottom of the mountain are the new condos in Kaslo.

For those who only travel to the Kootenays in the summer, here is a sight that you won't get to see:

Penny wanted to know about what is happening with the snow. Well, it has been warm around here (about 6 degrees C), and our precipitation has been in the form of rain. What this means is that I can no longer park in the backyard because of the condition of the back lane. I have already spent $79.50 this year, learning the lesson of when to drive down a back alley. And I learned it on THIS back alley. So here is the update of the snow melt, as of today, minus my car:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ribbon Clouds

The snow was less than anticipated. And the temperature was above freezing. So on my drive to computer training in Castlegar yesterday morning, what I had to contend with was mud spray on my window.

I think the smartest advice when one is feeling inundated with the grey of winter and clouds that won’t give up, is to surrender. Somewhere along the highway yesterday, I noticed that the clouds were playing. Against the backdrop of the deciduous trees, the clouds were forming ribbons. They darted in and around their mountain playmates, shifting and reshaping themselves.

Life was quiet at the Castlegar airport, though the parking lot had parked vehicles, evidence that at some point, planes were able to depart. I found the road behind the airport, and saw the view from the other side. I am imagining the houses with sitting rooms facing the landing strip and friends inviting friends over to watch the excitement. This would be what they see:

On my journey down to the highway (the road was soft snow packed – annoying driving to say the least – but I understand that’s what a photographer does for their shot, get in some sticky situations), I got a view of the Columbia River, looking up towards Arrow Lakes:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Travels on a Winter's Day

It may have been the promise of spring but since January 6th, there has been a good deal more snow in our valley. This view is my backyard today. The landlord parks her car for the winter. Since the original snow fell, some has melted, for at some point the car was entirely covered. Still.....

This is not a minor amount of snow.

This weekend I ventured farther than I did in the last two weeks. With a persistent cold, I stayed close to home. One of my lovely discoveries was blueberry tea, a cure for all that ails you.

Today, I drove my friend to her home, and filled up my water bottles. This journey, as some of you may remember, is a lovely journey along the Kootenay Lake; most of the trip we follow the north shore, and then the ferry takes us across the lake. Cynthia lives beside a lovely creek that rushes with water in the spring and is a good deal quieter during the fall. This is the view Cynthia saw from her kitchen window today:

When I left Cynthia's, the snow began falling. The last two weeks have been a special treat, a break from shovelling; we all knew that it was a matter of time. Because what happens in the winter in the mountains... well, it's snow... Here is the view up the valley facing east, though even a lifetimer here would be hard pressed to tell what direction it is.

I hear we are getting a snowfall advisory for overnight. Is it time to take up skiing?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Where to begin?

With a question.

As many journeys do.

The idea for this blog began with stories. With 120,000 kms on my car in 5 years, I had collected some wonderful pictures into this world. And so, I will begin the travel stories in the middle of a journey. Welcome to my travels (I'm thinking that there will be co-travellers along the way...)

The first day of this year I woke up in Vancouver. By dinner time, I was on a Greyhound heading East. Returning home to a wonderland. In 9 days, a lot of snow descended on our mountains. Indeed the snow was falling when the taxi driver placed my suitcase on the top landing, at 6 am.

After a nap, I was ready for breakfast. Were it that simple. The fridge was bare (not precisely - it was actually frozen solid). And my car was blanketed. It was going to be longer than I thought for my meal. I rummaged through the suitcase and found the remainder of the Christmas cake my sister made. (Thank you to those who left it to me.)

After shovelling for over an hour in the rain (and yes, you probably guessed... heavy snow), I phoned Rose to see if she knew anyone who would be interested in shovelling for a fee. She did not. As I sat in my living room, it suddenly occurred to me that I knew exactly where to find someone.... I called a local employment agency.

Three days later, I set out for Spokane to see the Broadway musical, Hairspray.

This is what I woke up to in the morning:

The promise of spring???....