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August 18, 2011

Montréal: A Flickr Slideshow Presentation

Although the Flickr slideshow presentation above is not, as yet, complete, we'll offer somewhere in the neighbourhood of 70+ pictures as an interim photo instalment, covering our glorious, fulfilling 8-day sojourn to Montréal.

In the coming days, we'll add another 30 - 50 photos to the slideshow, so check in early next week for a more expansive presentation.

(For optimal viewing, you may want to take the slideshow full screen).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:43 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 17, 2011

Montréal: VanRamblings Explores The City By Bixi

View from Montréal's Avenue Du Parc, facing south

First thing in the morning, all VanRamblings wants is un café and a bit of breakfast. But where to do that cheaply and well in Montréal? Turns out that one can find your not-so-run-of-the-mill greasy spoon breakfast on Rue Milton, west of Avenue du Parc, a charming little bistro called Le Place Milton (a photo of the interior included in tomorrow's Flickr slideshow).

Following a great bacon and eggs petit-dejeuner, we hopped back on our Bixi, planning to head up to Mont Royal, when a thunderous rain storm came out of nowhere and just drenched us. Soaking wet (but warm), we made our way to our residence, changed and shot the following video ...

Soon enough, though, the weather changed back to the expected hot and sunny conditions, and off we were on our Bixi to explore Montréal.

We headed over to Mont Royal (almost all up hill), but thought better of hiking up the mountain to see the sights, so - as our vacation wends to a satisfactory close - we decided to simply spend the late morning / afternoon riding around town, down the backstreets, the neighbourhoods and main thoroughfares, from Mont Royal in the north through to all the streets south to Rue Sherbrooke, from Rue Saint Denis to the quieter Rue Saint Urbain, to the bustling Rue Saint-Laurent, and finally 'home'.

Of course, we stopped off for a cooling raspberry frappé, surfed the 'Net on our iPhone, took in the sights, and enjoyed a momentary rest.

Late afternoon saw VanRamblings headed towards downtown, riding our Bixi south and west towards old Montréal. Early evening found us, once again, at Dunn's Famous, where we supped on a smoked meat sandwich (they're succulent and delicious). The remainder of our day, prior to taking to bed at night, was spent making preparations for our triumphant return to the west coast where, of course, convivial plans are already in the works for VanRamblings to be fêted by our many friends and supporters.

Come on back tomorrow for a preliminary Flickr slideshow presentation, with more than 70 photos, covering everywhere from old Montréal and Chinatown, to Schwarz's Deli and Dunn's Famous, and a great deal more.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 16, 2011

A Travelogue of VanRamblings' Excursion to Québec City

Even prior to our leaving Vancouver, VanRamblings had set aside Monday, August 15th for our sojourn to Québec City. You'll want to take the Flickr slideshow above to fullscreen mode to truly appreciate the travelogue.

Originally, we'd planned to stay overnight in Québec City, allowing us to roam to our heart's content, but the 'real life' considerations of which we have written previously played into our decision to make it a somewhat leaner visit than had previously been planned. In point of fact, though, we had an exceptionally good time, managing during our brief stay to take in everything we wanted to see, experiencing Québec City to its fullest.

We arose from an all-too-brief slumber at 5 a.m., made our way to the VIA Rail station by 6:30 a.m., boarding the train. By 7:10 a.m. were peacefully rolling on our way to Québec City for a 10:26 a.m. arrival time. The journey by train was uneventful, and relaxing (we just love train travel).

Upon our arrival and after disembarking from the train, we trudged up a very colline escarpée towards Rue Saint-Jean du Vieux Québec, closed off for pedestrians weekday evenings, weekends and holidays (although there were no vehicles on the rue during our midday visit). The warm, exquisite ambiance of the street allows passers-by to enjoy a unique shopping experience, while the many restaurants operate terraces which serve to showcase the 18th-century historical architectural to good advantage.

While exploring Vieux Québec, we overheard a couple planning a bus tour later in the day. Good idea! Next thing we knew, the Chateau Frontenac lay before our very eyes, and we were beckoned to book passage on an altogether comfy and air-conditioned 20-seat tour bus, as our garrulous driver / narrator Roland regaled us with enchanting tales of Vieux Québec.

During the two-hour tour, alighting at stops along the way, we visited l'Avenue Cartier, le Grande-Allée, La Citadel, le Vieux-Port du Québec, the Plains of Abraham, the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame, the Quartier Petit Champlain, the Parliament Buildings, le Jardin Saint-Roch, le Fontaine de Tourny, le Parc de l'Artillerie, le Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, and more, many more sites! We were thrilled, and had a great time!

As far as possible, we covered most of what we experienced during our stay in Québec City with our Panasonic Lumix FZ-28, the results of which may be found in the Flickr slideshow at the top of today's posting.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:24 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 15, 2011

Montréal: In Which VanRamblings Travelogues For You

Montréal Science Centre pond

During our eight day stay in Québec, so as not to disappoint our constant reader, and to get all out of our vacation sojourn that we might, we have packed in as much as possible 'to do' during our time in la belle province.

St. Catherine's Street. Check. Old Montréal. Check. Schwarz's Deli and Dunn's Famous. Check, and double-check. Montréal Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique de Montréal). Covered that and Saint Denis already.

Basilique Notre-Dame. Well, kind of. Québec City. That's coming today, with a report tomorrow. Mont Royal? Will ride my Bixi bike there on Tuesday. May, or may not, get to St. Joseph's Oratory. Between trips on the Métro all over town and getting off at stations to explore various neighbourhoods, 8 - 10 kilometres of walking each day, bus rides galore, and now riding on my Bixi bike all over creation, for what is in reality a relatively brief stay in Québec, we believe we've covered a great deal and, overall, feel quite satisfied with what our experience of la belle province.

Sunday was the day we'd set aside for the Hop-On Hop-Off Double Decker Montréal Bus Tour, which would assure us that at least we'd get to most sites on our 'must-see' list while visiting in Montréal. Alas it was not to be. We couldn't get hold of the office either Saturday or Sunday, nor could we confirm a reservation online. C'est la vie; sometimes these things happen.

Instead, VanRamblings opted to 'rent' a Bixi bike (you may want to change the language at the top to English on the website) for a 72-hour period. Bixi is a public bicycle sharing system available in Montréal's central core. Users rent a bike employing a 'subscriber key' obtained from a 24-hour a day touchscreen-operated pay station (employing a credit card): $5 for one day, $12 for three days, $28 per month or $78 annually.

A 'no extra charge time period' covers the first 30 minutes on every individual trip. An unlimited number of such included trips are covered per subscription period. A trip that lasts longer than the 'no-charge time period' incurs additional charges, on an increasing price scale: $1.50 for an extra 30 minutes, $3 for 60-90 minutes, and $6 each subsequent 30-minute period (the increasing price scale is intended to keep the bikes in circulation). Given that there are 400+ stations, it doesn't prove too much of an inconvenience to park your bike at a station, and after two minutes, recharge use of the bike for another 30-minute period at no extra charge.

Onto the travelogue portion of this Monday morning VanRamblings post.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:01 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 14, 2011

Montréal: The Weekend Has Arrived, and There's Lots To Do

Vieux Montréal

Saturday was a scorcher all day, with daytime temperatures ranging from 27° C to 32° C, Saturday somewhat more humid than we'd experienced earlier in the week, although a cooling breeze off the St. Lawrence provided some respite from the effects of sun, which beat down relentlessly from early morning through early evening. Still, as 2011 in Vancouver brought about the bummer summer, VanRamblings felt quite alright throughout the day, as we got our first taste of a 'real hot summer', and all that entails.

As in our previous post, we'll address issues in point form. Here goes ...

  • PC blues: VanRamblings brought along our 14" Toshiba laptop so that we might post memories of our visit to Montréal. Wouldn't you know it, PC 'glitches' abounded in our first couple of days: 1) we couldn't connect to McGill's computer network, so had to use our iPhone 3G; 2) our video editing software, Windows Live Movie Maker, failed just as we were ready to publish yesterday's video, and because we hadn't saved the video, we lost two hours work; 3) the screen orientation on our PC went kablooey; and, 4) our Movable Type blogging software has proved glitchy, troublesome and unresponsive. Problem 1 was resolved by a visit to McGill Tech Support, at 688 Rue Sherbrooke, Room 285, late Friday morning. We're hoping Problem 2 will be resolved with a download of the latest version of Microsoft's video editing software. Problem 3 was resolved following a Google search. And Problem 4 may be occurring as a consequence of our rather infrequent posting of late, which has caused us (perhaps) to forget some of the lessons we've taught ourself about how MT's html functions best.

On to VanRamblings' glorious, hot and perspiring Saturday, after the jump.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:24 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 13, 2011

Montréal: A Potpurri Posting As VanRamblings Settles In

Jardin Botanique de Montréal, Japanese Garden

Wending our way into a second full day in Montréal, having had two good night's rest, we are once again feeling energized and ready to explore the Québécois city where we will reside for the next six days.

Today's posting will seek to provide cursory impressions gleaned during our first 48 hours in Montréal, glancing observations under the Montréal sun, perhaps not particularly insightful, but not devoid of value, rather a wholly subjective take. Make of what follows what you will. Of course, there may be a bit of the travelogue, words about the Métro and the Jardin Botanique de Montréal, about Dunn's Famous and Royal Victoria College residence.

So, without further ado, let's get today's VanRamblings posting underway, as we tackle Montréal in point form, covering a whole gamut of topics ...

  • Royal Victoria College Residence: Call us parsimonious if you will, but when travelling and on vacation, VanRamblings has long made arrangements to reside on a university campus in the city of our destination. Royal Victoria College Residence is but one example. Last year, we spent about a week in total at Dalhousie University's Howe Hall. And, why not? Daily rates are only $45, a comfy bed in a spacious dorm room, wifi at the ready, centrally located, friendly students to serve your every need, professors participating in symposia, and young, energetic and friendly travelling students residing in groups. And, did I mention that there are family rates for family groupings? What's not to like? Inexpensive, fun, if you're not Harrison Ford or Brian Mulroney, residing at a university while on vacation is the way to go!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:50 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 12, 2011

On Which VanRamblings Celebrates Our 61st Birthday

McGill University's Royal Victoria College

Arising a bit late on our birthday morning, this after getting in late from our 13-hour journey from Vancouver to Montréal, and unpacking and readying ourself for sleep, subsequent to posting yesterday's entry from our McGill Royal Victoria College Residence dorm room, VanRamblings made our way over to Saint-Denis in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.

According to Wikipedia ...

The Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood takes its name from its location on relatively flat terrain north of Sherbrooke Street and downtown Montréal, and is located just east of Mont-Royal. Formerly a working-class neighbourhood, with the Eastern part being largely Québécois, and the Western part largely Jewish, the neighbourhood was the childhood home of Québec writers Michel Tremblay and Mordecai Richler where both have set stories in the Plateau of the 1950s and 60s.

Characterized by brightly-coloured houses, cafés, book shops, and a laissez-faire attitude, and home to Schwartz's Deli (famous for its Montreal smoked meat), and a weekend street fair during the summer that sees extremely crowded streets, in 1997, Utne Reader rated it one of the 15 "hippest" neighbourhoods in North America.

Due to its proximity to McGill University, in the 1980s the area's bohemian aura attracted gentrification, the area now home to upscale restaurants, nightclubs, and any number of trendy clothing stores that have taken their place along this strip of St-Laurent and St-Denis.

When considering the Plateau Mont-Royal neighourhood along Saint Denis, think Kitsilano's West 4th Avenue, in the area over by Caper's and Brown's Social, mixed with Robson Street, and you won't be far off the mark.

While ambling along Saint-Denis, we stopped in our for birthday Starbucks coffee (free!... a grande caramel frappucino), a breakfast sandwich, and surfed the 'Net on our iPhone. Now rested and sated, we next meandered towards downtown, and finding a nearby Métro station we employed our newly acquired STM card ($16 for unlimited travel for three days, a good idea BC's Translink should implement), landing nearby the gigantic Cinéma Banque Scotia Montréal, where we took in a 3 p.m. screening of The Help, the much buzzed about potential multiple Oscar nominee.

Set in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, The Help, Tate Taylor's adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestseller, tracks the stories of three women (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone), and their contemporaries, each of the three women attempting to come to terms with life in the deeply racist Deep South. An outstanding and emotionally wrenching film, and just the sort of moving, intellectually enlightening film VanRamblings would wish to see on our birthday, The Help's tough historical subject matter is occasionally leavened with humour. By movie's end there wasn't a dry eye in the (surprisingly packed) house, including those of VanRamblings.

VanRamblings is glad that we brought along our handkerchief.

star.jpg star.jpg star.jpg

After the film, we wandered around downtown for a bit, finding our way along Rue Sherbrooke, back to our McGill University 'resting place'.

For dinner we walked along Sherbrooke (and took the bus along St. Laurent) to Schwarz's Deli, where we enjoyed a humungous and authentic smoked meat sandwich. After dinner we took the Rachel bus back to Saint Denis, wandering the streets til just after 11 p.m., when we decided to take the Métro to the McGill station on Rue University, after which we made it 'home' by around 11:30 p.m. We were kind of tuckered, so read our Kindle for awhile — we're 24% of the way through New Yorker and Vanity Fair columnist Ken Auletta's altogether tremendous Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, a much-appreciated present from a friend.

By 1 a.m., we were truly ready for bed, and surprisingly, once again, we slept the sleep of angels right through to mid-to-late morning.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 11, 2011

The Birthday Jubilee Doth Commence With Minor Tribulations

Montréal from the air

Thank you to one and all friends for the attendant and hearty Facebook congratulations in celebration of VanRamblings' august 61st birthday. Such warmly expressed salutations are appreciated, as anyone who is familiar with the inimitable and gregarious Mr. Know-It-All has long realized.

Although we've truncated our stay in Montréal — due to pesky real-life, if you will, considerations — this is, after all, our most anticipated celebratory birthday (today!), and despite those 'real-life' considerations we have every intention of enjoying ourselves during our 8-day stay in la belle province.

We will set about to explore Montréal, duly recording our experiences on photo and video (the photos due for a Flickr slideshow presentation mid-week next week). As we have not had our morning coffee, after the jump we will briefly — the term 'briefly' constituting a relative term when it comes to describing VanRamblings' perambulations, he of 'long of wind' and an adherent to the philosophy, "Why employ 100 words when 1000 deliciously exploratory observations will satisfy just nicely, thank you." — relate the events of yesterday, and today's early morning hours.

Steady yourself. Up next, we'll explore our August 10th Montréal flight.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:46 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

August 10, 2011

A Sojourn to Montréal, The 61st Birthday Jubilee Commences

Montréal, Quebéc

If it is 9 a.m. and you are reading this first travel post covering our journey to Montréal, we are somewhere over the Rocky Mountains, aboard WestJet Flight 366 (on a Boeing 737-800, seated near the front of the plane beside a window, in seat 6F), heading towards Toronto, where (the gods willing) we'll arrive at 3:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time, before continuing what will be our Québec adventure. We will arrive in Montréal at 5:10 p.m.

VanRamblings has brought along two cameras: our trusty Panasonic Lumix FZ28 and our somewhat newer Canon Powershot Elph 300 HS, both of which shoot photos and video in glorious HD. Over the course of the next 8 days we hope to record anecdotal photos and video of our experience in la belle province. Yes, we're going to take in the sights: old Montréal; the world famous Schwarz's Deli (hey, VanRamblings is Jewish; oy vey, like we're not going to partake of an authentic smoked meat sandwich); the Notre-Dame Basilica; and ... well, you're just going to have to come back to VanRamblings either later tonight or tomorrow morning for a couple of photos, and maybe, just maybe, a brief, illustrious and spectacular video.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:06 AM | Permalink | Montréal 2011

December 27, 2010

Christmas Time at The Hotel Vancouver

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:42 PM | Permalink | VanRamblings

November 26, 2010

Tofino 2010: As We Take Leave of a West Coast Paradise

On this, our final day at the Middle Beach Lodge, along the coast of the Pacific Rim near Tofino, we chose to leave the door to the balcony open overnight in order to listen to the sounds of the storm raging outside, and the waves crashing on the rocks and the shoreline. There's something very elemental in being so close to the ocean and the power of nature, for once we came from the sea and it is near to us, within us, a part of us always.

We take our leave of British Columbia's western most region to return to the city, to our work, our home, our friends, and to prepare for the coming holiday season, our brief sojourn to the Pacific Rim almost at an end, at least for now. But we will return again next year, perhaps in the spring, perhaps in the summer, to experience once again life in the rainforest, and the primitive, unbridled, natural Pacific Ocean which beckons us always.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

November 25, 2010

Tofino 2010: A Blustery Day on the West Coast of Canada

As promised, the rains fell from the heavens, pounding down relentlessly throughout the day, in this western most region of Canada, the Pacific Rim National Park, where hour upon hour we were buffeted by 60 kilometre an hour winds, and torrents of rain that fell raw and unbridled, the likes of which may only be experienced in a region so close to the Pacific Ocean.

Although the daytime temperature warmed up from days previous, the Pacific region climes remained bitter and cold, as the harsh, unforgiving winds and drenching rain pierced our skin, dampening our eyes such that we felt almost immersed in those rains, every part of our being soaked, intoxicated, a near spiritual assault seeming to infiltrate our very soul.

As expected, then, we arose to a blustery west coast morning, with near tsunami-like wind and rain, and crashing waves, the perfect 'storm watching' weather which bring so many patrons to Pacific Rim National Park.

Before heading out for the day, we took a late breakfast in the Middle Beach Lodge dining room (oatmeal with yogurt, orange juice, coffee, and a slice of wholegrain toast with raspberry preserve), admiring the stormy view through the restaurant's rain-slicked bay windows, not quite realizing what the day held in store for us, the deluge & near drowning experience which awaited, as we headed eastward towards the darkening skies of Ucluelet.

Wrapping ourselves in our rain togs, we drove the 40 kilometres to the Island's other west coast metropolis, Ucluelet, a must-do (whatever the weather) when one relocates on the north-western perimeter of North America — where we savoured a warming, hearty seafood chowder at the Eagles' Nest Pub overlooking the misty, rain-soaked Ucluelet harbour — among other salutary endeavours which are recorded in today's video.

Fortified, we drove home, again in the dark — the near blinding sheets of rain assaulting the windshield in a most unrelenting manner — a slow, arduous but relatively safe affair, as we rarely drove more than 40 kilometres an hour (pulling to the side of the road to allow more seasoned west coast drivers to pass), almost enjoying the drive back as we listened to a dozen or so rousing iTunes songs to aid in our journey — the quest for home and safety — and the warmth of Middle Beach Lodge's Room 44.

Today was our last full day in the Pacific Rim region of our province. We've enjoyed our stay on Canada's western most coast frontier, feel quietened and rested, and are ready once again to resume our rather prosaic life.

Tomorrow, we will take a leisurely drive over the mountain roads towards Port Alberni, Parksville and then Nanaimo, where (should we arrive early) the 5 p.m. Queen of Coquitlam ferry will await to transport us home to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and our welcoming co-op apartment.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:47 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

Tofino 2010: Florencia Bay, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island

VanRamblings has been traveling to Florencia Bay for more than 40 years.

In the 1960s — when we had returned home from our travels to Lloydminster, Alberta / Saskatchewan; Nelson and Courtenay, where we'd worked respectively as an all-night, evening and afternoon radio announcer (there's something salutary to be said for being a deejay when you're just a teenager) — when we found ourselves living in Kitsilano, in an apartment on West 1st Avenue with a gorgeous view of the beach and the mountains in the distance, in the summer we hitchhiked out with friends to the west coast of Vancouver Island, over gravel roads (this was before the Canadian government had designated the area as a national park), to Florencia Bay.

Throughout the 1970s, '80s and 90s with our spouse and children, and following the skilsmisse, with lovers & intended, friends & acquaintances, and all those who feel about the west coast of Vancouver Island as VanRamblings does and continues to feel to this day, Florencia Bay became our 'country home' to which we return annually, when we are feeling just a tad unmoored, and in need of a little peace and restoration of the soul.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:41 AM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

November 24, 2010

Tofino 2010: A Wintry Sunset in Tofino, British Columbia

We awoke this wintry west coast morning to a light dusting of snow. Temperatures were in the minus range, walks were slippery, as were the outside stairs leading down to the reception area, lounge and restaurant at the Middle Beach Lodge, where we've resided the past couple of nights.

Roads were a tad treacherous along the Pacific Rim highway, as were the paths to the various beaches we visited throughout the day (Wickaninnish, Chesterman, Mackenzie, Middle Beach, Florencia Bay), all of which were ice-covered and very slippery, indeed. We stepped very gingerly wherever we went, and were judicious (we believe) in not hazarding the stairs leading to Florencia Bay, instead staying on the path overlooking the secluded bay.

The skies were leaden from the outset of the day til days' end, the sun nowhere to be seen (the view from our ice-covered balcony was pretty spectacular, though, even considering the inclement conditions). The Environment Canada weather forecast for Thursday currently calls for 20 to 30 mm of rain, and blustery winter southwest winds of up to 60 kilometres of an hour in the early morning hours through til noon, with daytime temperatures of plus 9. We thank the heavens that those leaden clouds were prepared to wait til Thursday to dump their 'payload', otherwise we just might be socked in here, in Canada's west coast winter wonderland.

Apart from visiting various of the beaches today, all bundled and wrapped in our finest winter gear, we spent some time in Tofino, where among other endeavours we visited at the local Co-op store, where we were taken aback at the prices being charged for staples: $3.85 for two litres of milk and $7.85 for a dozen organic eggs, two foodstuffs that cost 30 - 50% more in Tofino than on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia where we shop.

Driving back to our accommodation in the pitch black of 6 p.m., winding roads and no lights other than on the old Mediterranean blue Nissan Altima proved somewhat of a challenge, as we almost drove off the road once at a bendy turn, as well bypassing the unlit road leading us to Middle Beach Lodge. Thank goodness that we arrived home safely, if a little chilled.

Wifi continues to be spotty, even in the lounge area, so we employed our iPhone tethering service to upload the video you see above, and to post this latest update on our west coast sojourn. Tomorrow, we'll head into Ucluelet (quite a journey, that) for a bit of lunch — warming west coast seafood chowder would hit the spot — and on the way back 'home' will stop in at the Wickaninnish Inn for no other reason than we want to, although we'll probably read the complementary New York Times and Globe and Mail, and perhaps partake of a late afternoon tea as we peruse the newspapers.

For now, though: well, it's almost time to find ourselves between the covers, with a good book and a warming cup of tea. Goodnight, one and all.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:05 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

Tofino 2010: A Wintry Day at Long Beach on Vancouver Island

Upon arising this morning, it was a chilly -10 Celsius, and throughout the day it hasn't warmed up appreciably, so we bundled up — earmuffs, toque, gloves, scarf, winter jacket — for our very cool walk along Long Beach.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 3:16 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

Tofino 2010: A Peaceful Respite in The Middle Beach Lounge

Middle Beach Lodge lounge

In 2004, when Corinne and VanRamblings traveled to Tofino for a brief respite on the west coast, we stayed at the Inlet cottage in Tofino, providing easy access to the town which has become justly famous for kickstarting British Columbia's then nascent environmental movement.

In 1984, the protest of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples — with significant cooperation from environmental groups (most particularly Greenpeace) — who erected a blockade, prevented MacMillan Bloedel from logging Meares island, traditional native land located just across the harbour from Tofino. Eventually, the Meares Island protest lead to a cessation of clear-cut logging across British Columbia, and the adoption of sustainable practices for the logging of old growth forest across the province, a globally recognized sustainable forestry practice that remains in effect to this day.

As for VanRamblings and family, for more than 40 years we have made the sojourn to Long Beach / Florencia Bay / Tofino, on Vancouver Island's west coast, an annual practice about which we'll write at greater length before week's end. For VanRamblings, there is no more beautiful, nor more serene environment anywhere on the planet than can be found amidst the old growth rainforest and utterly pristine Pacific Ocean on Canada's west coast.

Over the years, we've built lean-to's on Florencia Bay and hunkered down for the summer, camped with our children, and vacationed in many of the quietening bed and breakfastses and oceanside cabins that dot the west coast landscape. Prior to our 2010 visit, we had never stayed at the Middle Beach Lodge, although we had breakfasted in the Lodge lounge (pictured above). We're glad we made the decision to stay at the Lodge this time.

Last evening, once we were settled in, had uploaded our videos for the day (wifi is spotty at the Lodge, but in concert with our iPhone tethering met our necessary posting criteria), at 8 p.m. we repaired to the Lounge, where we partook of the fresh-baked cookies on offer (we decided on a couple of oatmeal cookies), had ourselves a cup of herbal tea, and along with the habitués of the Lodge snuggled into a comfy sofa chair by the window and read late into the night, before retiring for the evening shortly after 11 p.m.

This Wednesday morning, we partook of a scrumptious free breakfast (free works for our parsimonious nature): oatmeal with yogurt and a smattering of granola, hot coffee with cream and a bit of brown sugar, a selection of fresh fruit, orange juice and a fresh-baked and warm cinnamon bun, during which time we caught up on the events of the day on our ever-handy iPhone, glancing up every now and then to admire the palatial view through the windows of the restaurant of the storm-tossed Pacific Ocean.

Having posted for the morning, we're now heading out to Florencia Bay (on the same road which accesses the oceanside Wickannanish Restaurant), about which we'll write — and hopefully post some video — at some point later today, after which we intend to head into Tofino in the afternoon to do a bit of exploring, visit The Common Loaf and walk down to the wharf.

See you back here later today.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:56 AM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

November 23, 2010

Tofino 2010: The View From Room 44, Middle Beach Lodge

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:46 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

Tofino 2010: Vancouver Island's Cathedral Grove on a Wintry Day

Those of us who reside in British Columbia are experiencing extremely chilly, record low temperatures in these latter days of November.

Across Vancouver Island record snow blankets the ground and the surrounding flora and fauna as a cold front from B.C.'s Interior has snuck in, creating a beautiful Pacific, pre-Christmas winter wonderland.

Surprisingly, the roads were not all that treacherous along Highway 4, as we were able to make pretty good time on our sojourn, on the way to Middle Beach Lodge, near Tofino, for a few days of rest and relaxation.

We stopped in at Tim Horton's in Port Alberni for a bit of lunch (an oh so delicious warming chili, garlic toast and a coffee), and by noon were on our way again, arriving at our destination on Canada's west coast a bit before 2 p.m. Once we registered at the front desk, up we went to Room 44, with a private balcony, and a spectacular view of the pristine Pacific Ocean.

Later tonight, we'll post our final video of the day: the pacific view from Middle Beach Lodge's Room 44

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 4:57 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

Tofino 2010: Waiting For The Queen of Cowichan at Horseshoe Bay

Here we are on the first leg of our sojourn to the west coast of Vancouver.

Up at 5:30 a.m. to catch what we thought was a 7:45 a.m. B.C. Ferry to Nanaimo, it was only after we arrived at the Horseshoe Bay terminal that we discovered that we had read the Tsawwassen ferry schedule, and at Horseshoe Bay the Queen of Cowichan would not be leaving til 8:30 a.m.

Still, there was a silver lining to the affair: we were near first in line, boarded first, and disembarked first, which in the end made the whole B.C. ferry experience somewhat more pleasant. The ferry ride over to Nanaimo was uneventful, the ferry decks near deserted, this being winter, and mid-week.

We have a couple more videos we'll attempt to upload later, wi-fi willing.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Tofino 2010

August 19, 2010

VanRamblings Arrives Home From Our Maritime Adventure

VanRamblings has finally arrived home from our Nova Scotia vacation.

As is our wont, we did not sleep much the early morning hours prior to our departure from Halifax Stanfield Airport. Quite honestly, VanRamblings is surprised that we made it on to the plane on time, and left behind only our Vancouver Canadians baseball cap somewhere in greater Halifax (we're prone to losing things), and had our 100+ ml Vichy sunscreen confiscated at the airport (whoops, guess we should have packed it in the suitcase ... oh well). Otherwise, all went well, and we were Toronto bound by noon (you'll notice from the video above that Airbus seat 18a's window was just a tad streaky), finding ourselves in the air for about an hour and a half.

Landing and taking off in Toronto went fine. As we were rushing from one plane to another, we stopped off at Starbucks for a coffee and date square, shortly thereafter finding ourselves in seat 12f (with a non-streaky window). The five hour jaunt from Toronto to Vancouver was a bit much, but we did manage to watch The Losers, which provided everything it promised: an action-packed comic strip adaptation, a hot, tough-as-nails 'girl' (Zoe Saldana), big explosions, and gleaming bad-ass cinematography.

The flight was uneventful, but a tad jealousy-inducing for VanRamblings. Why? Seems that everyone around us had an iPad. iPads with external keyboards, and in leather 'cases' that would act as a stand, causing the device to look like a screen. VanRamblings wants an iPad, but we'll wait for an iPad-versary, a faster, leaner, sleeker, less expensive mobile device with front-and-back facing cameras, USB and HDMI ports, an HD 16:9 widescreen, built-in flash (so we can watch YouTube videos), GPS, the ability to multitask, a longer battery life, and ... so we'll just wait for now.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:25 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 17, 2010

VanRamblings Bids a Fond Adieu to Our Maritime Home

Coburg Road & Robie Street, HalifaxA rainy day in Halifax; photo taken at the corner of Coburg Road & Robie Street. iPhone photo

VanRamblings' Maritimes vacation ended as it began: with blustery winds and rain, although not the torrential downpour with which we were greeted a couple of weeks back. In fact, as the day progressed the sun did emerge, along with a most appreciated cooling breeze to temper the heat of the day, allowing us (and many tourists) to once again appreciate Halifax in all its glory, from the Public Gardens to a rejuvenated Harbour Waterfront, where we saw Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas leaving harbour.

VanRamblings' Air Canada flight departs at 11:55 a.m. on Wednesday morning. We are almost all packed, and ready to go. Upon arising we will visit Anna's Café, on Hollis Street, which is reputed to prepare the best breakfast in town; as we will not be eating again until 9 p.m. Atlantic time, we want to fortify ourselves for the long trek home to our place of birth.

We feel ourselves fortunate for having secured our preferred window seats for the return journey to our west coast home, seat 18a from Halifax to Toronto (the same seat we had on the way out), and when we switch planes in Canada's hub city, another window seat - this time 12f, which 'Net research suggests is one of the best seats on the Airbus 320.

VanRamblings very much enjoyed our sojourn to the Maritimes, and we will miss the east coast more than words can express. Still, the time has come for us to return to the 'big city', and the many joys of our life in Vancouver.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:08 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 16, 2010

VanRamblings' Triumphant Return to Halifax (Or Not)


Well, folks, here we are back in Halifax, and writing this post from our cozy 'dorm room' at Dalhousie University's Howe Hall on Coburg Road.

Now, just in case you're wondering, the picture above was taken at 8:17 a.m. this Monday morning, while VanRamblings was waiting outside the Annapolis Royal Inn, a bit south of town (on the road to Digby), for our Acadian (Acadien?) Lines coach to pick us up for transport to Halifax.

Once the fog lifted, the weather was great all the way to Halifax, and stayed sunny and warm in the province's capital throughout the day. By about 2:30 p.m. we got ourselves squared away at our university residence, and headed into town to continue our exploration of the city. By late afternoon, the humidity became a bit wearing, so we snuck into a cinema to see Salt, about which we were unthrilled (we would tend to agree, then, with the critics: 'basically, a thrill-less thriller'), although the film did provide a couple of hours diversion, not to mention relief from the humid conditions outside.

Truth be told, dear and constant reader, VanRamblings is feeling a bit verklempt about the prospect of returning to our west coast home. As we looked out across the Annapolis River each morning this past couple of weeks, enjoying the pastoral view and the tranquil setting, the thought now of returning to the busy-ness of the 'big city' seems to us kind of daunting.

Still, we have the Vancouver International Film Festival to look forward to (we love the annual Film Festival), and walks along Spanish Banks and on the Pacific Spirit Park trails, riding our bike through Kitsilano towards Granville Island, going out to dinner with friends at our favourite Ethiopian (or other ethnic) restaurant — a 'gift' denied to our Annapolis Royal neighbours, Corinne points out — or even returning to our work on the Downtown Eastside, where we hope we 'make a difference' (as we all wish to engage in meaningful endeavour), not to mention our regular forays to Vancouver Canadians baseball games ... well, upon reflection, there are aspects of our life in Vancouver that inexorably pull us back to our home.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:06 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 15, 2010

Annapolis Royal, A Remembrance Of Our Maritime Vacation

Please find above a Flickr pictorial slide show representing VanRamblings' summer vacation, and 60th birthday celebration, in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. We thank Corinne for her warm hospitality, and the good folks of the Annapolis Valley for their tremendous kindness.

The slideshow is not fully complete, so in the days and weeks to come we'll fine tune the photo display, re-order parts of the slide show, and add some pictures and video. For now, though, please enjoy the current slide show.

To access a SlideFlickr version of the pictorial slide show above, click here. For a full screen version of the Flickr slide show above either click on the full screen expansion icon bottom right of the slideshow above, or click here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:02 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 14, 2010

Annapolis River, Days of Exploration and Wonderment


As VanRamblings composes this post, we are sitting in the front room on the top floor of Corinne's home listening to Rose Cousins in concert just down the street at The King's Theatre, her voice and music drifting through the night air to VanRamblings' most appreciative ears.

Today, although we continued our preparations to leave 'our Annapolis Royal home' early on this Monday coming (witness the picture above of our wash on the line), we did in fact make it to the Saturday Market, where we set about to purchase some small, we hope interesting, 'gifts' for friends in Vancouver, as we wandered through the many Market paths.

VanRamblings also attended at the Fish Market to locate Digby scallops, fresh off the boat. Anyone who knows VanRamblings appreciates just how much we love Digby county's awesome scallops, pan-seared in butter and oh so sinfully delicious. Where, in previous visits to the Maritimes, we managed to inhale a pound of scallops each and every day of our visit, on this vacation we've thoughtfully restricted our scallop intake to only a quarter pound of plump, large Digby scallops per meal, lunch and dinner.

On this scorcher of a Saturday, VanRamblings thought better of roaming the streets of town in the heat of the early afternoon sun, and took the opportunity to do a wash, allowing our clothes to dry in the reflection of the sun off the Annapolis River, a gentle river breeze aiding the process.

Instead, we wandered over to the Fort Anne Café, had ourselves a coffee and read the Globe and Mail, after which we took a restful afternoon nap.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:49 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 13, 2010

Annapolis Royal: A Relaxing Day As Our Vacation Winds Down


On our third to last day in Annapolis Royal, VanRamblings slept in, enjoying the peace of the early morning, before wending our way to the kitchen for our morning coffee. No breakfast today, though, as Corinne was having luncheon guests and a feast was planned. Time enough later for noshing.

By 9:30 a.m., on this warm, sunny summer's day (complemented by a wafting breeze off the Annapolis River), Corinne and guest headed in the direction of the Save Easy, on the outskirts of town, to purchase scallops and haddock for our visitors. Haddock could be found, scallops, not so much. Fortunately, there were fresh scallops in the fridge at home, which proved more than adequate for our guests, and present company.

While out on our stroll, vistas presented themselves that had previously gone unrecorded by VanRamblings, all of which photos should find their way into Sunday's upcoming SlideFlickr presentation, a sample of which may be found here (a photo taken of Annapolis Royal, from the Granville Ferry side of the river) and here. Nothing short of gorgeous, huh?

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:34 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 12, 2010

A Day of Gardens In The Annapolis Valley


Following breakfast, VanRamblings took a stroll with Corinne along the boardwalk, towards the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens.

The gardens were planned in the 1970s to celebrate the Annapolis Valley's rich heritage. Originally a French settlement, established in 1605 under the leadership of the Sieur de Mons, Annapolis Royal's founding colony was called l'Acadie, its culture referred to as Acadian, as it is today. Over a period of 105 years, the British made six attempts to conquer the Acadian capital, until they defeated the French in the Siege of Port Royal, in 1710. Shortly thereafter, the town's name was changed to Annapolis Royal.

Designed to represent the gardens of the Annapolis Valley at various periods in Acadia's history, the Historic Gardens has something for every garden lover: formal Victorian and Rose gardens, La Maison Acadienne et Potager (a French settler's dwelling), an innovative garden representing the modern period, a blush of perennial flora and fauna, a riot of textured, leafy shrub borders, and reproductions of pools spanning the centuries.

Covering 17 acres, and showcasing the Annapolis Valley from a horticultural perspective, as far as VanRamblings is concerned, Annapolis Royal's Historic Gardens easily surpass Halifax's Public Gardens.

Our garden tour continued long into the day with a visit to ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:08 PM | Permalink | Travel

Annapolis Royal: Bell Aliant and Rogers, A Frustrating Saga


A representative of Environment Canada approached Corinne, and requested of her that her home become the 'weather reporting station' for Annapolis Royal, for which they will supply her a laptop computer. A whole 98kb will be broadcast to Environment Canada every 10 minutes, recording temperature, wind speed, and other weather-related information (humidity, barometric pressure, dewpoint, etc.). Corinne agreed.

In order for Corinne's home to perform its weather reporting function, her home requires an 'always on' high speed connection. As Corinne is not overly tech savvy, VanRamblings was asked to shepherd through the high-speed Internet order with Bell Aliant, the only game in town. A tale of woe and poor customer service followed, although, as of this writing, Corinne's home does now have a toasty fast wireless DSL connection.

A decision was made to have the Internet high-speed order placed first thing Monday morning (she had a meeting to attend at 9 a.m.).

The first of five calls (!) to Bell Aliant was placed at 8:15 a.m. Bell Aliant, like most other large corporations, contracts out its customer service offshore, to New Delhi, India; Lahore, Pakistan; the far reaches of China; the Philippines; and, in some cases, Montréal, or small provincial centres in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

The sad, instructive tale of Corinne's high-speed order placement, and subsequent setup, follows ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:49 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 11, 2010

Annapolis Royal: Birthday Celebrations Make For A Very Good Day


VanRamblings was up early to begin a day of birthday celebration.

Overnight, for the second night in a row, there'd been a spectacular thunder and lightning storm, the rain pelting down with gale force velocity. Just the kind of overnight weather VanRamblings loves!

Still, upon arising, the skies were blue, the sun was shining. Another spectacular day in the Maritimes, and a great day full of promise in Annapolis Royal. And, did we mention, it is VanRamblings' 60th birthday!

After our usual breakfast (granola, yogurt, blueberries, tiny home-baked muffin, and coffee), we headed over to the Market Square for the Farmers' Market, the mid-week summer market about one-third the size of the spring, summer and fall Annapolis Royal weekend market. Upon our arrival at the Square, we spotted a gorgeous hand-crafted wall-hanging quilt, and were stunned to find the price was only $10! Needless to say, we've been admiring our tremendously-priced, and beautifully-crafted, purchase all day.

Over the course of the hour we spent at the market (there was an Acadian fiddle player that kept us enraptured), we also picked up a jar of Gilbert's Cove crab-apple and cranberry jelly, and a glass jar of French Shore organic strawberry jam (nicely wrapped and now in our suitcase); a colourful print of a hand-painted depiction of Annapolis Royal, as well as a hand-printed 'post card' of the same (which we sent off to our friends, at work, in Vancouver); a tiny cinnamon bun and a couple of squares of milky fudge.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:28 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 10, 2010

Annapolis Royal, A Busy Couple of Days

For VanRamblings, Monday and Tuesday proved to be a busy couple of days (although 'busy' is a relative term when in come to Annapolis Royal).


After spending the morning exploring Annapolis Royal — walking along the boardwalk, sauntering over to The Queen Anne Inn, checking out the various museums, galleries and shops, as well as spending a bit of time at The Internet Cafe — it was home for a great lunch, fresh caught scallops and greens from Corinne's garden, made into a scrumptious salad.

After lunch, we traveled on over to Granville Ferry to Michelle's home on the Annapolis River (opposite side of the river on which Corinne resides) for Film Club, a monthly film buff discussion group. Consisting of a group of 7 - 10 Annapolis County women (sometimes men attend, as VanRamblings did on Monday), mostly retired, each month these erudite women meet to discuss a film suggested by a member of the group. This month it was Nick Cassavetes' adaptation of Nicholas Spark's 2004 best-seller, The Notebook. In September, the movie up for discussion will be Tim Burton's modern-day fairy tale, Big Fish (which, Christmas of 2003, VanRamblings' loved).

Monday afternoon's discussion revolved around the issue of Alzheimer's, the experience various members of the group had with the malady (friends, family), and how realistic was the film's depiction of the degenerative illness. The issue of 'passion' was discussed — some members of the group felt that 'passion' transformed as one aged, but there was dissenting opinion on the matter. Most group members felt that Joan Allen's seemingly latter-day humanistic conversion was inconsistent with her conduct throughout the film, and such plot device only served to take them out of the film. There was general agreement, tho', that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had very real heat in the film; VanRamblings offered that, in fact, Gosling and McAdams fell in love during the making of the film, and lived together for five years subsequent. Discussion group participants swooned.

Following Film Club, Corinne and guest traveled over to the grandeur of the North Hills Museum, an Annapolis Valley heritage home owned formerly by Toronto-based antique collector Robert Patterson, who in retirement moved to Annapolis Royal, and set up his home as a Georgian manor, a perfect representation, and collection, of period décor. Patterson bequeathed his home to the people of Nova Scotia, as a heritage site, in 1974.

Well, that was only part of what VanRamblings was up to on Monday. Just wait til you read about our many adventures on Tuesday ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:58 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 9, 2010

Reflections On VanRamblings' East Coast Maritime Vacation


For VanRamblings, one of the great joys of vacationing in Annapolis Royal revolves around the absolute tranquility of the evening and early morning hours. Life in Vancouver for us tends to be a noisy affair, at the best of times, and to arrive in Annapolis Royal and experience the peaceful serenity of the Annapolis Valley means more to us than words can express.

One week into our Maritime vacation, our east coast sojourn has proven to be everything that was necessary for us to transcend our protean life.

In Halifax, our stay at Dalhousie's Howe Hall was more comfortable and welcoming this time around than has been the case previously, and our welcome and stay has been pretty spectacular in the past. The habitants of Halifax were just as friendly and engaging as has always been the case. And, as per usual, hoofing it around town, when conducting our pedestrian self (and, yes, we get the pun ), we continue to be taken aback that when preparing to cross a street, when simply standing at a corner, vehicles proceeding down the road will always stop, not just sometimes, but always.

We also took note of one salutary change: every little coffee shop around the Halifax region serves certified organic free trade coffee. Were such fortunate circumstance the case in our west coast Vancouver home.

In Halifax, the buses run frequently, and it's easy to get around town. During the summer, Halifax's Metro Transit runs a free downtown / harbourfront transit service called Fred (Free Rides Everywhere Downtown), shuttling both Haligonians and visitors throughout the downtown core —
seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A first-rate tour service, with an on-board tour guide providing commentary on historical highlights, Fred transports appreciative passengers throughout the summer months. Again, Vancouver would do well to learn from the Halifax Fred experience.

An insight into Annapolis Royal after the jump ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:27 PM | Permalink | Travel

August 8, 2010

Annapolis Royal celebrates Queen Anne's Birthday

VanRamblings attended the annual birthday celebration of Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart, and the Queen of the British Commonwealth at the time the village of Annapolis Royal was first settled.

Bishop Park, on Highway 201 between Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown, proved to be the perfect open setting for this most august celebration set as it is within the verdant, rolling hills of the Annapolis Valley, the blustery winds of the valley providing relief from the heat of the day.

Tomorrow, VanRamblings will continue our exploration of Annapolis Royal, and in the afternoon attend, with Corinne, the Film Club (discussing Nick Cassavetes' The Notebook, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams).

We'll see you here tomorrow!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:40 PM | Permalink | Travel

Annapolis Royal, a 300th Anniversary Celebration


Today, VanRamblings will travel (with Corinne) to Queen Anne's Picnic, Bishop Park, Route 201, 1 - 4 p.m., having received an invitation from the Queen herself, this very morning.

We'll leave after a scallop and salad lunch (VanRamblings loves Digby scallops although we are, this time around, attempting to reduce our scallop consumption from one pound a day to a more reasonable amount).

Today, by the way, is Roger Brant's 57th birthday. A husband, father, blues musician of some note, union organizer and all around good guy, Roger is one of those unsung heroes who populate British Columbia's west coast metropolis, a citizen of our community who contributes to the humanity of VanRamblings' home, not least because of the annual contribution (for two decades) he makes by heading up a sound team at one of the Vancouver Folk Festival's day stages. Later in the week, Roger's wife, Audrey, also celebrates a birthday (same day as VanRamblings!).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Travel

August 7, 2010

Annapolis Royal, The Farmers' Market on a Saturday Morning

The Farmers' Market, in Annapolis Royal's town square continues as a summer staple, a decade's long institution. Lush, organic, a cornucopia of farm fresh eggs, milk, cheeses and meats and a panoply of fresh-baked breads, pastries and pies, as well as historical handicrafts of every description, Annapolis Royal's Farmers' Market is not to be missed.

After standing in line for fresh-baked morning croissants, warm from the oven, Corinne and company trundled on home for a mid-morning breakfast, fresh blueberries from the garden, organic yogurt, and homemade raspberry jam spooned on to the open croissants, which we tore apart with relish. We returned to the market throughout the morning (most of the video above was shot between 8 and 9 a.m., before the scheduled market opening). "Get there early if you want the croissants," Corinne averred.

And we did.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:08 PM | Permalink | Travel

Annapolis Royal, A First Morning Perspective

VanRamblings arrived in Annapolis Royal late on a splendid, star-filled Friday evening, proceeded 'home' to sit in Corinne's kitchen and partake of a glass of milk and warming gingerbread cookies, after which we proceeded to bed.

Upon arising at 7:30 a.m. this morning, we looked out our window and filmed the video above, an early morning perspective of the Annapolis River, overlooking the village of Granville Ferry (pop: 106). After experiencing the oppressive humidity and heat of Halifax, VanRamblings was pleased to feel the strong cooling breeze, keeping the heat of the sun in perspective.

At the moment, we're sitting in The Internet Cafe, given that Rogers' iPhone tethering has failed to work in Annapolis Royal (which may limit our posting in the days to come). We're attempting to sign Corinne up to Bell Aliant, and create a wireless network (which, it would appear, VanRamblings will not be able to avail ourselves of prior to our departure on August 16th) for our beloved hostess. In the meantime, on a limited basis, VanRamblings is able to avail itself of the wireless network at the town library (we sit outside on a bench under a tree ... romantic, yes, but a tad inconvenient).

Peaceful, serene and transformative, once again, VanRamblings in Annapolis Royal has proved to be a friend-filled, quietening experience. The Farmers' Market this morning (we purchased fresh-baked croissants, after which we proceeded home for breakfast) was utterly fabulous, as usual, as we were greeted by friends we've made while staying in Annapolis Royal, in the past.

We'll try to post a Farmers' Market video later today (over at the library).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Travel

August 6, 2010

Day 4, Maritimes Vacation: Making Our Way to Annapolis Royal


Much of the day this muggy Friday, August 6th, will be spent preparing for the next leg of our Maritimes '60th birthday celebration' journey. Yes, VanRamblings will engage in the prosaic tasks of doing laundry, packing our bags, purchasing a bus ticket on Acadian Bus Lines, retrieving our bags from Howe Hall in the afternoon and lugging them to the bus depot (we'd take a taxi, but we're cheap), finding a place for breakfast and a very late lunch (seems that the dining hall closed, as of Thursday afternoon), and bidding Halifax a fond farewell. We may even find some time in the course of our day to take the Dartmouth ferry, and do a bit of sightseeing.

VanRamblings has enjoyed the first part of our journey which, much to the chagrin of some of our closer correspondents, has proved to be a particularly laid back introduction to our Maritime summer vacation. You see, we've traveled to Halifax many times previously, so haven't necessarily felt the need this time around to do the expected 'touristy thing'. We've simply sat back and observed (this is what comes from possessing an undergraduate degree in sociology; who knows, there may be a monograph arising from all that we experience 'observing', as we are embraced by our Maritime hosts).

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:31 AM | Permalink | Travel

August 5, 2010

Halifax on a rainy day in early August, as the day progresses


VanRamblings decided to play tourist on our first full day in Halifax.

Wearing our waterproof jacket, we headed up leafy Coburg Road for the 15-minute stroll to Spring Garden Road, and downtown Halifax. We did some window shopping, took in the Public Garden, wandered the streets (along with a myriad other 'tourists'), and at 4 p.m. headed over to the Empire Park Lane theatre for a screening of Christopher Nolan's Inception.

Following the screening of Inception (suffice to say that we were not enthralled), VanRamblings sauntered down to the Halifax waterfront ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Travel

August 4, 2010

A rainy day in Halifax, outside Howe Hall at Dalhousie University

On VanRamblings' first full day in Halifax, we awoke to a Maritimes torrential downpour. We took one look outside, and decided to head to the dining hall for breakfast, first fortifying ourselves with a glass of fresh-
squeezed orange juice and a warming cup of Dalhousie Fair Trade organic hot java (don't you just love universities for being socially progressive?).

Upon entering the dining hall, we were greeted by a sea of young faces, mostly young women whose native language is French, and who are residing at Dalhousie as part of a cross Canada cultural exchange programme. Otherwise, there are families, visiting professors, and people such as ourselves who appreciate a 'good deal'. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, baked ham, French toast and all the fixings, fresh fruit, croissants and bagels, various coffees and a variety of fresh juices. We had a bit of everything (all for $7.50!), this being our main meal of the day.

Over the years, VanRamblings has found, when traveling, that the best accommodation (and food) deals may be found at universities across the globe. For our stay in Halifax, at Howe Hall, we are paying the august sum of $43 a night, tax included. For this we get a relatively spacious dorm room (with en suite sink and vanity, and the requisite room 'storage'), Internet access, an on site dining hall, fresh bedding and towels daily, coin-operated laundry facilities, and a central location with ready access to downtown Halifax, involving a pleasant 15-minute stroll from the university campus to Spring Garden Road, the main street of downtown Halifax.

For a future vacation, VanRamblings is looking to travel to Montreal, where we'll stay at McGill university. A dorm room at Royal Victoria College goes for as little as $25 a night. An RVC dorm room looks pretty deluxe.

VanRamblings will spend this Wednesday decompressing from life in the big city, reading, exploring Halifax (even if it is raining), and may even catch a movie or two, at either the Empire Park Lane or Oxford theatre, or both.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Travel

August 3, 2010

Nova Scotia 2010: Up, Up and Away and Heading to the Maritimes


The first day of VanRamblings' journey back east proved to be a long one.

As has been the case for many years, dating back to our enrolment in Grade One (oh so many years ago), VanRamblings has never been able to sleep the morning before a 'big event', and such proved to be the case Tuesday, August 3rd. No sleep, just more packing, and preparation of our humble Co-op abode for the coming onslaught of 'the plumbers'.

Yes, VanRamblings spent the wee morning hours boxing everything in our kitchen and bathroom, because bright and early this Tuesday morning Cambridge Plumbing arrived at the Co-op to commence with a massive re-piping of the entire Co-op, an event which VanRamblings (thankfully) will miss most of, as we find ourselves in vacation mode in the Maritimes.

VanRamblings also busied ourselves in the early morning hours purchasing medical and travel insurance online. Yes, VanRamblings loves nothing better than leaving things to the last minute. We finally decided on a great $48 dollar package from Pacific Blue Cross, but (unfortunately) not before we'd purchased medical insurance from BCAA ... oh well.

So, there we were at 6 a.m. on the #9 Broadway bus heading towards the Canada Line, ready to jump on the Airport line. VanRamblings' progressive lefty friends may not appreciate the Canada Line (it's a jobs thing, don'tcha know), but VanRamblings believes in a multi-faceted approach to transportation infrastructure — Community Shuttle buses, West Coast Express, Skytrain, streetcars and rail, as well as electric, hydrogen and clean diesel buses — so we're darned appreciative of the new Canada Line.

The plane boarded at 8:25 a.m. and lifted off on time for a Calgary hop at 9 a.m. Seems, though, that on the approach to Calgary, a passenger 'spilled', causing a half-hour layover in Cowtown, for cleaning. Thus, VanRamblings and fellow passengers found ourselves behind schedule for the 7:28 p.m. Atlantic Daylight time Halifax (we arrived at 8:02 p.m. ADT).

The remainder of the journey east was relatively uneventful, as VanRamblings watched Atom Egoyan's latest, Chloe, a rather inert Fatal Attraction knockoff, sans bunny.

Next thing VanRamblings knew, we were on the approach to the Halifax Stanfield Airport ...

More tomorrow, on the life and times of VanRamblings in the Maritimes.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:45 PM | Permalink | Travel

The Journey East: Nova Scotia for a 60th birthday celebration


At the time you read this, VanRamblings will be bound, on Air Canada Flight 184, on the first leg of our 60th birthday journey to Nova Scotia, arriving at Halifax Stanfield International Airport at 7:28 p.m. Atlantic Daylight Time. Choosing where to sit on the Airbus 319, we were fortunate to secure a window seat (18a), which will allow us to take photos we'll publish on the site later today. The 2nd leg of our journey will take us to Annapolis Royal.

Upon arrival in Halifax, we'll take the Airport Shuttle to Howe Hall at Dalhousie University (cuz staying at the university is inexpensive, central, and reminds us of our university days, oh so very long ago). We'll stay at Dalhousie thru Friday, as we roam about greater Halifax, and decompress from our too busy life in the big, bustling city on Canada's west coast.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:17 AM | Permalink | Travel

April 8, 2004

Corinne & Raymond: On The Road Again
Boy and His Volvo Limp Home From U.S.


While you are reading this, I am probably at the Canadian—U.S. border (if it's around 4 p.m.), on my way to Portland (between 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.), or have arrived safe and sound in the destination Oregon city ...

Yes, constant reader, yours truly has returned much too early from what was to have been a joyous sojourn to Oregon and Washington states.

C'est la vie.

Oh, what a beautiful day was this April 8, 2004. A brilliant sun limned the azure blue sky, which stretched as far as the eye could see. Once through the border crossing — no mean feat in these post 9-11 days — the journey along the I-5 — through Blaine, Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Arlington and Everett, and beyond Seattle — was everything that I might have wished.

Update, Sat., April 10, at the end of the item. Click on the link below.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:21 PM | Permalink | Travel | Comments (4)


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