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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 16 - July 30th - Thunder Bay to Wawa - Zip lining!

Rockies Trip - Day 16 - July 30th, 2014
Thunder Bay to Wawa 
... and zip lining!

We had one thing on our mind when we woke up in Thunder Bay this morning…. would the weather be conducive to a bucket-list ‘cross-off’ that we had planned since February, when we stopped over in this city on our way back from the Ice Caves.

Mark had seen the signs for Canada’s longest zip line at Eagle Canyon Adventures and he decided then and there that we would do this in the summer. We nearly dropped in on our way out west, but knew that we had a long journey ahead so we thought we’d wait and do this upon our return. Although local showers were forecast, we went for it.

Located just over an hour east of Thunder Bay, the canyon boasts two suspension bridges, one being the longest in Canada – and it also has the longest zip line in Canada. Built and run by a father and son team, it is situated in a very picturesque setting, great for pics as well as adventure. The entrance is via a dirt road – and its red colour is reminiscent of P.E.I. 

Alan on the longer bridge

The shorter bridge from directly below (canyon level)
Mark crossing the upper, longer bridge

The shorter bridge from the canyon floor

Now – here’s the story!! We had both purchased tickets after discussing the logistics of taking photos of each other while on the zip line. It was decided that we would both go to the shorter suspension bridge where I would wait with camera in hand, and Mark would continue the journey to the top (and longer) suspension bridge, where the zip line began. I would take pics of Mark and then he would rejoin me on the lower bridge to collect the camera from me and return the favour.

I saw Mark at the top, getting ready for his ‘flight’ and, just as I thought he was about to start his descent, a family of 5 got on the bridge and it started to move. Concerned that I wouldn’t be able to focus properly to get the pictures, I took some wonderful photos and a short video clip of the WOMAN WHO WENT JUST BEFORE MARK!  Not realizing my mistake, I then walked off the bridge to await the planned rendezvous with Mark. From his point of view, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t dutifully on the bridge taking his picture!! He thought I’d taken ill, or dropped the camera. When we finally caught up with each other, he asked me why I wasn’t on the bridge, to which I answered that I was and that I’d got his picture!

It was then that I discovered my mistake. Feeling guilty, I insisted that he use my ticket to repeat the ride. After much resistance, he reluctantly agreed, and this time I made sure that I did it right. If you click the pics to enlarge them, you might be able to see him as he 'yahooed' his way down! 

Better still, you can catch him on these two short video clips:

When we reached the entrance, Mark reminded me that I could go up again for half-price. However, I didn't feel like climbing up to the platform again, and so my turn will come the next time we visit Thunder Bay!

The views from the bridges were wonderful and, although there were intermittent raindrops, it stayed dry for most of our time there. 

Top of the zip line

Suspension bridge supports 

This man, and his son, built the Eagle Canyon Adventures 

Raspberries en route1

Highway 17 gives travelers some stellar views of Lake Superior. The sheer size of the lake brings with it a sense of awe. The road twists and turns to negotiate the rock formations and is well-maintained, with only a couple of construction moments.

We had no doubt that we were back in Ontario – the gas prices told us so! After paying $1.12 in Alberta, we had to acclimatize ourselves to the reality of our prices here in Northern Ontario. Another clue we were nearing home - at the Suspension Bridge, the biting bugs were there waiting to welcome us!

Just after we left the Marathon area, we hit a Superior Storm. The rain bucketed down and reduced visibility quite drastically. On the upside – our windshield and car body got a thorough (and overdue) clean! It was spotless once the sun came out and dried it off at no cost!  You lose some, you win some! 
Come Rain....

.... Come Shine!

We are now tucked up in our favourite Wawa motel, where we stayed just two weeks ago – The Mystic Isle. Great place – very basic, but clean and comfy.

Home tomorrow, but hoping that it will be warm enough for a dip in Superior before heading back to Elliot Lake. 
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Day 15 - July 29th - Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

Rockies Trip - Day 15 - July 29th, 2014
Winnipeg - Thunder Bay

A long ride today.... covering the areas we traveled through on our way out. We did see some moose along the roadside (these animals were very elusive in Alberta and we didn't see any there at all). 

The saying, 'No Place Like Home' is true - no matter how much you've enjoyed the time away - and believe me - we had an awesome time! When we crossed the border back into Ontario, there was a feeling of home-coming. 

We still have a couple of things we want to do before we get home on Thursday evening - one of them on our bucket list, so we're looking forward to that on Wednesday. 

As we were on the road for so long, we took the opportunity to 'shoot the breeze' and found ourselves reminiscing about past experiences - mostly positive ones. When looking back at a past experience, we reactivate the vibration of it in the sense that the feelings we felt then can come flooding back. Having come to an understanding of how things work, we try to be careful what we give our attention to as we know that whatever vibrations we send out to the Universe, will be matched accordingly - whether we are thinking about the past, about the present, or about the future. What we think about and focus upon becomes a beacon of invitation, drawing other thoughts and circumstances into our experience that are similar. We caught ourselves talking about a couple of negative experiences and began to feel how 'off' that was. 

Not wanting to attract more of the same, we switched our focus to what made us feel good and so we were able to raise our vibration, once again, by remembering events that brought joy to us and people around us. 

In spite of some indicators that we may notice, life IS good, and whatever we may be going on in our lives, we still have a choice on how we respond to it. It may not be easy....  and life can be tough and challenging at times... but the choices we make will either enable us to move ahead to find a way to cope (and maybe thrive); or our choices will increase the disjointed feeling that comes from the lack of well-being. 

Some people may think that tending to your own feelings first is a bit selfish. This is not true - and I was reminded of this on our recent flight from Calgary to Winnipeg. During the emergency procedures that they run through before take-off, it was mentioned that if the cabin pressure suddenly fell, then oxygen masks would automatically drop down. The instructions were specific.... if you have someone with you who is less able (a child, or other dependent).... PUT THE MASK ON YOURSELF FIRST.... and then place the mask on the other. In this sense, when you look after yourself first, you are more able to be of assistance to others around you.

Personally, our family is going through a huge challenge right now. It's never easy to watch someone suffer - especially when you love them deeply. While acknowledging the reality of this challenge, we are going to try to focus on those things that tend towards well-being because, not only does it feel good to feel good, but we know that we cannot be of any use to others if we are not in a strong place ourselves. 

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day 14 - July 28th - Calgary - Winnipeg

Rockies Trip - Day 14 - July 28th, 2014
Calgary - Winnipeg

The flight from Calgary to Winnipeg was just under 2 hours. We had the very back seats in the cabin, which gave us a view of the luggage being loaded. Imagine our surprize when we saw our two suitcases sitting on the tarmac waiting to be loaded!! (We also saw them being unloaded at the end of the flight, because we were last out of the cabin upon arrival).

The Prairies in Saskatchewan

Winnipeg from the air

We had not had time to explore Winnipeg on our way out, and felt that we owed it some respect this time around. After settling in to the hotel, we used the GPS on our phone to take us to St Boniface Cathedral, the Legislative Building, and the House of Louis Riel.

The cathedral (the 5th one to stand on this place due to fire) had an impressive frontispiece which was actually part of the 'ruins' from the previous building. The round circle, which used to be the large front, stained-glass window, was now open so that you could see the sky and clouds through it. There is a fairly modern building behind the ruins that is in place while they are raising funds to restore the cathedral to its former splendour.

The '5th' Cathedral project

The ruins from the inside

Modern inside of St. Boniface Cathedral

Model of he Cathedral as it was before the fire

In the graveyard, it was easy to see the tomb of Louis Riel - now considered the founder of Manitoba, in spite of being hanged as a traitor. Even today, he remains a controversial character, and the subject of man opinions. However, there is evidence that, at the official level, he is recognized as a great Canadian historical figure who has influenced the relationships between French and English Canada. His story is an interesting one - and I am glad that I have rectified my ignorance now that I have visited this area, as I felt the need to read up about him. He has various streets and edifices bearing his name, and a statutory holiday in his honour (which is celebrated on the same day as Family Day in the rest of Canada - on the 3rd Monday in February).  

On the way to the Cathedral, we crossed the Red River and saw the Esplanade Riel - a pedestrian bridge connecting the old Saint Boniface with Winnipeg. It stands next to the newly erected and dramatic Canadian Human Rights Museum, which opens in September of this year. We have added a visit to this museum to our bucket list, as it looks imposing from the outside and speaks to an issue of which we have personal interest. 
Canadian Museum of Human Rights - opens September, 2014

The Red River is, once again, very high this year, as can be seen by the flooded walkway.

Next stop was the Provincial Legislative Building. Mark and I have promised ourselves that we will visit the legislative building in every Province and Territory over the years, and so this was a 'must' on our visit to Winnipeg. A very clean building, it is situated overlooking the Broadway, and is surrounded by green bushes, trees, and flower beds which are well-kept and manicured. In front of the building stands a large monument of Queen Victoria - a reminder of the importance of the era during which Canada became an independent country through Confederation. 

Queen Victoria Monument 

Lastly, we took a 20 minute ride out to the home of Louis Riel. Imposing in its simplicity, it stands beside the Red River and has been preserved for posterity by Parks Canada. 

Arriving back at the hotel, we decided to have an early night in anticipation of our long drive to Thunder Bay tomorrow. 
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Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 13 - July 27th - Lake Louise - Calgary

Rockies Trip - Day 13 - July 27th
Lake Louise - Calgary..... and Farewell to Friends!

Inevitably, the time we spent with our friends from the U.K. was coming to an end. Saddened to leave the mountains which brought me to Canada in the first place, we packed the car and left Lake Louise, cheered by the warmth of the sun and the bright, clear blue sky that lie ahead of us.

Not long out of town, on the Bow Valley Parkway, we crossed the river over a bridge upon which was built an eagle's eyrie. There were at least 3 adult birds in the nest and I just missed filming one of the rarest spectacles in nature. I had just been recording their movement in the nest, trying to catch the sound of their calls. A few seconds after I stopped recording, a fourth eagle - with wings at full span - descended upon the nest and dropped a live fish it had just caught into the nest before continuing its flight. I watched as it then chased off a blue heron in a battle in the sky, which it won with ease. I was in awe of these birds of prey and felt so fortunate to have witnessed something which I have only seen in documentaries. Here's a link to a short movie I was able to take. Eagle chasing Blue Heron.

On our way out to Banff, a week before, we had stopped in to Canmore and decided that we'd like to show Alan and Elaine this quaint town, with its own charm. A busy town, with a mining history, it shows itself off proudly - both architecturally and culturally.

Of particular interest to me was the old barracks of the North West Mounted Police. The NWMP provided support for the successful construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the subsequent settlemens ot Western Canada. It would eventually merge with the Dominion Police in the East to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920.

Upon leaving Canmore, we passed a few more mountains before entering the foothills and the rolling hills of the farmland.

The mountains speak to something deep within me and, as I mentioned earlier, they played a huge part in my decision to immigrate to this wonderful country, back in 1989, after I had taken the (then VIA) train from Calgary to Vancouver. It was a journey I will never forget and I am drawn to return here whenever we can. Luckily for me, Mark also loves the scenery and wildlife and so, I have a feeling that not too much time will pass before we find ourselves here again.

Speaking of Mark - he was delighted to see a deer on the side of the road. It's almost as if he was receiving a little message saying, 'Please some back soon!'

We took a detour through Cochrane and the northern ridge which overlooks the valley and gives a nice glimpse of Calgary on its approach to the city. This picture was actually taken from the south ridge, along which we traveled later on in the day.

Happily checked in to their hotel room Downtown, Alan and Elaine rejoined us and, as we had time to spare before meeting up with Sylvia, we decided we would go to visit one of the attractions just outside the city which they probably would not have had the time to do over the next few days before they fly back to the U.K. We gave them a choice of the Calgary Zoo or Heritage Park - and they chose the latter.

We enthusiastically set up the GPS to take us there, but forgot to check the hours of operation! Hence, once we arrived at the admissions booth, we found out that the park would be closing in just over an hour. So, we decided to take in a movie instead. We got to the theatre just in time for the next showing of 'Begin Again', a cute little movie with a musical theme - not, itself, a 'musical'. It was enjoyable with good performances from Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley.

We arrived at Sylvia's just after 7 p.m. and had a lovely BBQ along with her friend Pat. Great meal, and enlivened conversation, recalling the previous week and sharing memories of events on both sides of the Pond. We took our British visitors back to their hotel and bade them a fond farewell, with promises to 'not leave it so long' before we met again.

Tomorrow, we drop of the rental car, then head to the airport to head homeward bound, via Winnipeg.

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