Where I’ve been

RainforestFalls

Not Niagara Falls

May 28 – Niagara Falls, Ontario
The meeting starts at 8:00 a.m. and I arrive at 7:00 to make sure the internet connection works, put out the name plates for the attendees, distribute expense claims, test the conference phone. With everything ready to go, I stroll outside. At 7:30 on Sunday morning the town is quiet. I saunter along the path following the lip of the Niagara River gorge to find fog and mist obscuring both the river and the Canadian falls.

The meeting room overlooks the American side of the falls. I watch the falls fall all day while I listen and take minutes. I watch the flow of blue-raincoated tourists trickle down the path to enjoy river atomized in their faces. Soon the trickle becomes a stream and then a bursting spring run-off river of people barely contained by the railings. The falls smash into the rocks below, the river self-flagellates through the gorge and water spews upwards seemingly discharging hundreds of squalling gulls their bodies swirling in air currents like shredded tissues.

At the end of the day, I dismantle my portable meeting accouterments, tuck them into my backpack and wait outside to catch a shuttle bus to the Toronto airport. The air smells of diesel from the tour bus traffic that burps dyspeptically from casino to casino. Children war with parents to go up Clifton Hill to Ripley’s Museum. Across the street in the garden that skirts the falls river path, a bride picks her way over grass in stilettos that puncture holes in the manicured lawn, her train draped over one arm, a bouquet clutched in her hand while her groom hangs on to the other following a pace behind.  Groomsmen and bridesmaids and family trundle behind further, a slow human river.

The shuttle bus driver talks talks talks for the hour and thirty minute drive to Toronto which, when added to the six and a half hours of 15 people talk talk talking in the meeting, makes me want to leap out the window into the Welland Canal and hitch a ride on one of the lakers heading to Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.

RainForest

Sky the colour of rain or rain the colour of sky?

June 4 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
A basement meeting room, a missing dongle, a long-distance chairperson, a broken mp3 recorder, and a funny shuttle bus driver. He said as we crossed the Bedford Basin at 6:30 a.m. “Do you see that big yellow flying saucer up in the sky? It comes every once in a while and then disappears. Do you know what it is?”  I looked. Yes. I looked. I laughed.

June 19-20 – Victoria, British Columbia
More tattoos per capita than a biker convention in Vegas.

More lycra in public than at the Tour de France.

Rules: Every wait-person must have a nose ring. Restaurants employ foragers – mushrooms, dulse, god-knows what else.

Slugs the size of jalapenos.

Rain the colour of forests. Or forests the colour of rain.

Handsome bucks with big racks in back yards. Really. That’s not a metaphor.

Rose gardens thrive beside parking lots. Snapdragons grow in cracks in the cement in the breakwater. Yellow poppies poke out of pilings on the wharf.

FishChowderFacial

Chowder for chowder heads

At Fish Hook’s on Fort Street, the best seafood chowder anywhere. Ever. Made with coconut milk, it came in three sizes – 8 oz, 16 oz, and 32 oz., the latter suitable for a facial.  If you can’t actually finish eating it, just drop your head in the bowl and let the magic of the South Asian ingredients infuse your face with joy.

 

Craft beer heaven. My husband, who has embarked on a 150 Canadian beer project to mark Canada’s 150th birthday, knocked off 19 in Victoria.

Beer

Out of this world beer

The hotel: The Empress.
The meeting room: “The Library” overlooking Victoria’s inner harbour.
The service: Tea in china cups. Honey from the apiary in the garden.  Herbs from the rooftop garden. Fresh apples in the gym. Happy attendees. No glitches.

Ottawa – June 21
Home to my shabby little townhouse where the children forgot to water the petunias and the dog peed in nearly every room in my absence. The fridge: Empty.

Food: homemade. “Delicious,” the children said. It’s nice to be appreciated.

ParkingLotRoses

Parking lot roses

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31 thoughts on “Where I’ve been

    • And to think I took this job because it was supposed to have minimal travel. How things can change…. I struggled with how to describe the gulls for a long time so I appreciate your kind comment on that one!

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    • You are always so kind with your comments, Andrea. Thank you. What got me through 5 weeks of travel was knowing I could write about it and so each trip I took notes with that intention. It was a sanity saver.

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  1. What a lot of ground you’ve been covering and you manage to communicate SO much about the month in relatively few words. I guess that’s the point of great writing! Welcome home–I understand how you feel.

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    • I started out trying to write nice sentences like in the description of Niagara Falls but then just grew fatigued and so gave in to the equivalent of bullet points. which is kind of how I felt by the time I got home. SO glad to be in my own bed last night!

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  2. There really is no place like home. Even when the petunias are wilting and every room has been watered by the dog. No place at all.

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  3. Well that was just delightful. Wonderful descriptions and oh, with that last line, how you perfectly encapsulated the joy of travel and the joy of returning home.
    Welcome back 🙂

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    • I am HOME at last for at least 2 months. Yay! The good thing about travel is the rocket fuel it provides to the imagination and it makes me love my own bed and pillow more than ever.

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    • Hmmm. Not sure if there were shellfish. There were chunks of fish but I don’t think any crustaceans. I was so tickled to be able to eat it because I can’t do dairy and I think the last time I had a chowder was around 1978.

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    • Oh yes, 19 beers. We were there for a week so its not quite as staggering as you might think and some of them were little samplers like in the picture – which still counts as one beer!

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  4. You have been one busy lady this past month criss-crossing the country! I love the richness of your description of Niagara Falls and you made me laugh out loud with your description of Victoria 😀

    … and craft beer is a BRILLIANT idea for a Canada150 project! Your husband is a smart man 🙂

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    • My husband is a smart man and a happy man since he started this project. The beer effect maybe. Victoria has changed a LOT since I was a kid growing up on the Island. Back then it was known as the home of the “newlywed and nearly dead” but now it’s this hip fit active place with a great foodie culture. Even the 60+ folks are hip and fit, like you – and me. The Falls defy description. Such a strange place of natural beauty and man made abomination!

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      • The Falls isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be 20+ years ago. It’s turned down the tacky factor significantly … but I can see how your description of natural beauty combined with man-made abomination is very appropriate.

        I’ve been to Victoria only once many years ago. I fear I’m neither hip nor fit enough to blend in 😉

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    • Thank you, MMM. I have been so busy working and traveling for work I had to stop blogging and reading blogs for a while or I was going to lose my nut. One more meeting tomorrow and I’m done for the summer. Yay!

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    • I stayed at the Empress in the late 60’s, too, when I was about 12 years old but the decor was definitely of the times. It’s an awfully grand place to stay now. I’ve been to Butchart Gardens, too. It is beyond lovely.

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