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Rated: 18+ · Book · Personal · #2017254
My random thoughts and reactions to my everyday life. The voices like a forum.
I do not know quite what happened or when , but my hubby and I now qualify for seniors' discounts at some venues. This creates a quandary; in order to save money, but not face, we have to admit to our age. HMMMM..... We definitely do not consider ourselves to be old. In this day and age ,when people as a whole are living longer and healthier lives why are 'young seniors', those in their fifties, like moi, considered 'old'?? It's so true that age is just a perception! "Maturity" is very objective/subjective, and I object! Whew, a few years have skittered by since I composed this biography block. Those "fifties" are in the rear view mirror and they are distant, fond memories. Oh, I do not plan to stop writing any time soon.
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May 31, 2024 at 3:07pm
May 31, 2024 at 3:07pm
         This was my first white-water rafting adventure. I live in Canada and water is everywhere. I've sailed, boated, bobbed within an inflated tire, snoozed aboard a single-sized pool raft as it slowly drifted along a lake, paddled a canoe and a kayak and a rubber dinghy. As such I am quite familiar with the concept, the reality of a soaking. I expect water to be wet.
         Then there's the experience of white-water rafting. I imagine it's similar to being thrashed within a churning washing machine. Was I dropping in an elevator of roaring water, or hurtling along in a roiling rollercoaster? My stomach flipped, flopped and lodged in my throat. Icy water slapped me, pummeled me and stung my eyes. I was beyond dripping. I gasped and spluttered. I whooped and hollered. I swear the so-called raft attempted to buck me out. As I said, I'm Canadian. I apologized for the shoulder slamming and hip checking I could not control. I would describe this entire experience as exhilarating. It got my heart pumping.
         My legs were still trembling and I could only pant as I stumbled onto the big bus that drove us to the Icefields. Just reclining and admiring the gorgeous scenery returned me to a calmer equilibrium. The lakes resembled gleaming polished glass and they mirrored the majestic mountains capped with snow. I admired the emerald green water we passed. Obviously fresh water needn't be blue.
         It did seem strange to be sliding along a vast field of solid ice at this time of the year. Hey, it's all good if I do not have to shovel or break it up. Huh, ice is slippery and cold no matter where it forms.
         Thanks ladies for accompanying me on this month's virtual expedition.
May 30, 2024 at 3:49pm
May 30, 2024 at 3:49pm
         At long last our virtual travel group is in Canada. Hooray! This is a novel experience for me the Canadian. I have yet to explore this glorious province and it is on my bucket list. I have driven straight through Alberta enroute to British Columbia, but for some reason I've never lingered there. Many times I have meandered through the Rockies and marveled at the majestic beauty. There's no place like it.
         After our exhausting air travel it feels wonderful to relax in a mini bus and gawk at the incredible scenery from a sitting position. No huffing and puffing. No undo exertion. I can point a camera and shoot, or just point. All of us had our respective noses pressed to the panes of the immense windows as we espied wildlife oblivious to our gawking. Lyn's a Witchy Woman , 🌸 pwheeler - love joy peace , 💙 Carly , Apondia and moi oohed and aahed nonstop. We laughed at the antics of wrestling and tumbling black bear cubs. We speculated about the endurance and the balance of those stilt legs moose teeter about on. We envied the incredible view the swooping eagles must enjoy and their effortless gliding in a vast sky of blue.
         Of course The Rockies framed everything. They posed as a towering backdrop.
         We were more than ready for our afternoon culinary culture tour. Appreciating raw beauty works up an appetite. There's always room to sample and sip, n'est-ce-pas? As long as cucumbers were not contaminating any of my food, I was game to taste anything. Sauntering from restaurant to cafe also guaranteed that the calories did not make themselves at home. No one wanted that type of souvenir. I for one wanted a lifetime in my memories not on my hips. I also believe the gabbing/chin wagging burned any potential super calories. We're writers, eh? There are so many words to describe the enjoyment, the flavour of food. Scrumptious. Superb. Magnifique. Delicious. Savoury. Sweet. Incomparable.
         If we wobbled and teetered from the final festive eatery it was most likely due to the robust fresh mountain air.
         What better way to cap a perfect day than to attend the Jasper Planetarium in the evening. Is there anything more awe-inspiring than a vast ebony sky bejewelled with gazillions of sparkling stars? We encircled a roaring, crackling campfire with dancing flames of yellow and red. We inhaled pungent wood smoke. We peeked through the lens of a powerful telescope.
         I overheard another tourist mention magnetic midnight. Apparently, this occurs most often between eleven p.m. and one a.m. It is supposed to be the optimal time to be outside awaiting the appearance of aurora borealis. It blessed us with a spectacular light display. Vivid splashes of neon green shimmered and undulated across the night sky. Pulsating purple shimmied amongst the dark sentinels of evergreens. It was magical! At one point I held my breath and feared blinking. It's also awe-inspiring.
May 29, 2024 at 5:16pm
May 29, 2024 at 5:16pm
         The seafaring vessels on display at the Nao Victoria Museo fascinate me. I cannot fathom crossing the Atlantic Ocean aboard one and surviving in one piece. They are nothing but joined timbers. The storms battered them. The non-stop waves slapped and jostled them. The winds pushed and pulled.
         How impressive that Charles Darwin signed on to the HMS Beagle as a naturalist and spent five years exploring. What an unusual name for a British ship. Was this scientific voyage so named to reflect the superior tracking instinct of this detection dog? An ocean vessel possessed of this canine's attributes could be invaluable. Could it be said that Darwin beagled/sniffed out his discoveries as tenaciously as these hunting dogs?
         I suppose Charles was an eco-tourist before this became a thing. He collected plant, animal and geological samples from every port of call. He kept notebooks filled with his observations. Imagine five years' worth of material stored aboard a ship and ferried back to England. How did it survive salt water, dampness, mould and mildew, insect infestations, raiding rats, humidity and more? This occurred in the 1830s. There were no Ziploc baggies, or resealable plastic containers. Valuable information could not be forwarded to the Cloud for safe-keeping. Were there never crew disputes, grumblings, misunderstandings? No one ever threatened to torpedo his precious papers, or tear them up to make a dramatic point? Not once did The Beagle encounter a storm so fierce that jettisoning unnecessary weight had to be considered? Both Darwin and his five years of accumulated data were preserved?
         I find all of this to be mind-boggling. Darwin and his fellow sailors were tenacious, I'll give them that.
May 28, 2024 at 4:41pm
May 28, 2024 at 4:41pm
         Well, this Sandy finds herself exploring Puenta Arenas, aka Sandy Point in Chile. After all of my virtual touring I am at the end of the world retracing the steps so many others took attempting to map and understand this vast globe. The buffeting wind that nudges me once pushed them along and tugged at their clothing, too. Considerate locals have strung up a stout rope between buildings that serves as a means for me to stay upright. It's kinda like rock climbing horizontally in an urban setting. Hand over hand I pull myself along the streets. This natural klutz appreciates the thoughtfulness. I'm not saying you could blow me over with a feather, but this gusting exaggerates my wobbliness.
         In anticipation of there being no such refinement or consideration in Torres del Paine National Park I purchased a sturdy walking stick. With three legs I should maintain some sort of equilibrium. Once again I found myself in an area of breathtaking, raw beauty. All efforts to regulate my huffing and puffing are forgotten when I see the snow-capped majestic mountains silhouetted by an azure, endless sky. My feeble hiking stumbles paled in comparison to the roaring power of Salto Grande waterfall. Simply put it is indeed grand.
         I just stood in awe with my mouth agape witnessing the ice floes from Gray Glacier. Nothing compares to this momentous sight.
         The Cueva del Milodon is quite the expansive cave. How many people and animals have stepped into its silent shelter seeking a reprieve from the wind? Who first decided the massive rock formation should be christened as Silla del Diablo , or Devil's Chair? Is the prevailing logic only something unhuman/other-worldly would deign to sit there? I must admit it did provide a great view, a commanding view of the immediate site.
         All in all, this was a magnificent spot to traverse on foot. I imagine it has remained much the same for millennia.
May 27, 2024 at 3:45pm
May 27, 2024 at 3:45pm
         Today I embarked upon a feasting tour of Buenos Aires. I'm not much of a helmet fan, but protecting my noggin with one was part of the cost to see this vibrant city up close and intimately via electric e-scooter. I wobbled along the wide thoroughfares smiling and nodding. I returned many a hola and como estas? Spanish is such a beautiful language that rolls and drips off the tongue.
         Yes, sure there were plenty of impressive edifices to ogle, but I noticed the stupendous, often flowering trees. One immense specimen looked familiar. I'd spied one in my father's British Columbia neighbour's front yard. It's a strange looking evergreen nicknamed the monkey puzzle. If Dr. Seuss had ever designed a tree this would be it. Even within the obvious allures here it's not a pretty tree. For a showstopper the Tipa flaunts yellow blooms and the Jacaranda flashes stunning purple flowers.
         I admit I may have daydreamed a wee bit as I puttered along. I'm still digesting the furious tangos I witnessed yesterday and the intense energy the performers radiated as they commanded the stage. I've always associated this strong dance with the clutching of a red rose between the lips. My eyelids must have drooped and my steering wavered. One minute I was humming along and the next I impacted with something that pitched me into a stout tree trunk. I had to shake my head because I thought I'd struck a beer barrel forgotten on the boulevard. The guide informed me I'd collided with a drunk stick, and if so Argentinian tree limbs are humongous. He gasped for air as he choked out, "No, this is a Palo Borracho tree. We call it a drunk stick." I smiled weakly and then spit out the red flower caught in my teeth. I'm not certain, but it sounded like several of the pedestrians muttered, "Idiota," as they swerved to avoid me.
         One or two mimed the universal sign for drinker raising invisible cups to their mouths and I shrugged. I did imbibe the awful yerba mate concoction at one of our stops and I spat out the fernet de Branca. Not my cup of tea at all. People like this black licorice-flavoured Listerine substitute?
         I may have dented the loaner helmet and grazed my pride, but the alfajores I purchased survived with nary a crumble. This heavenly concoction combines all of my favourites: shortcake base, a caramel filling and cocoanut.
         With one last glance to assure myself I had not harmed the bruiser of a tree, the scooter wranglers and I proceeded to our final feast featuring a baguette stuffed with chorizo and chimichurri. I GOOGLED the mouth-watering ingredients and I vowed to replicate this tasty sauce /marinade at home. I'm sure I can find fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, oil, vinegar and chili pepper. I waved off the offer of a beer. I was drunk on this entire experience and besides, I did not wish to meet any more trees that jump out at unsuspecting tourists. Its bark left an impression.
May 23, 2024 at 3:41pm
May 23, 2024 at 3:41pm
         Another hot air balloon cruise? Yes, please!
         I was up for another early morning flight, not necessarily bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ( whatever that means), but I was awake. I may not have been coherent and I most likely mumbled. Why do sunrises have to blossom at such ungodly hours?
         That glowing ball of yellows and oranges displayed its brilliant answer. Those vibrant hues rippled through the floss of clouds and framed the High Atlas Mountains. Nothing equals its ta-da moment. Sunrises are a glorious testament to time.
          Once again I reveled in the soaring, the floating as the billowing balloon crossed the immense sky. It was if the various sky ships played tag above the desert.
         I must admit dining within a Moroccan tent was a first. Usually if I'm ensconced in a tent breakie must be cooked over an open fire. My fellow diners were in high spirits and raved about our experience. As early birds we were relieved not to be offered any worms. Flying and barely blinking as we strained our necks to gape at every incredible sight inspires a healthy appetite.
         The lurking calories never stood a chance to cause their usual mischief. I banished them as I strolled through the souks, or outdoor markets in the afternoon. Now this was a feast for the senses. Animation was apparent everywhere. The crowds of shoppers thronged every stall.
         Noisy would sum up my experience. Constant chatter swirled as vendors greeted and then chided us to notice them. No one need comprehend the language to understand the universal look-at-this motion and the beaming smiles. Hands waved and voices rose in the exchanges known as bartering. A few of the sellers seemed aggressive ,perhaps even intimidating. They did not hesitate to chase potential buyers in their pursuit of a sale, a deal. I admired their tenacity, their persistence.
         The souks are best described as a teeming maze. Each stall seemed to support the next. Words fail to convey the rainbow of material/cloth/fabric bewitching to my eyes. Kaleidoscope?
         The enticing aromas tickled my nose. According to the guide, Morocco has always been a vital segment of the spice trade route. Many I recognized such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, garlic. Heavenly! I cook and bake with these all the time. Locals apparently consider black pepper to be a necessity and I agree with them.
         I couldn't resist haggling for and purchasing harissa, a native spice blend created in a paste form. My taste buds were salivating at the gourmet list of ingredients: roasted red chilis, Baklouti peppers, garlic, caraway seeds, cumin, coriander seeds and olive oil. I anticipate a scrumptious feast! I'm certain this will prove to be my favourite sensory souvenir.
May 22, 2024 at 5:25pm
May 22, 2024 at 5:25pm
         What a day of stark contrasts. First, I saunter into a beautiful, serene hotel, The Residence Boutique Hotel. The rooms are created for sumptuous relaxation and feature private balconies. Everywhere I wander I respond in kind to smiling staff members and cheery hellos. I make a note of the soaker tubs and Jacuzzis, two inviting amenities. Then I embark upon a visit to a nearby museum, and, wham, I am thrust into the visual representation of apartheid.
         I have never experienced segregation, but it is represented by the entry ticket I received at The Apartheid Museum. In neutral language meant to lessen the chance of taking offence, I was randomly selected to the label of NIE BLANKES, or Non WHITES and directed to enter the building via the door marked for such persons. This demonstrates the reality of life that many experienced in southern Africa. To go about their everyday existence they were forced to abide by race classifications. Doors for the Whites, and doors for the non Whites. Did this really prevent mingling? Would that have been so terrible?
          The idea of apartheid is mind-boggling. I do not comprehend what drove this policy. Fear? Of what ? Ignorance? I'd say yes, but I'm an outsider. A sense of superiority? Perhaps? Arrogance?
         To see a display of ropes tied as nooses hanging from the ceiling is sobering. It is heart-wrenching that some people remember a not so distant time when these seemingly innocuous items were threats. I do not imagine all of the suffering can be contained in this one building.
         I suppose the existence of this memorial represents a new era of acceptance. History is not always pretty.
May 21, 2024 at 2:15pm
May 21, 2024 at 2:15pm
         Today I am busying myself exploring Cape Town's Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, or Kirsten's Forest. I'm not jealous, but I am saying I've never had a forest named after me.
         Wow, just wow! This piece of paradise is beyond words. It's gorgeous, fantastic, very green and lush, an oasis. Every bit of foliage and flora is lovingly nurtured.
         Although my feet never stopped moving I never felt as if I was hiking. In The Dell I marveled at the cool shade and sense of serenity from the towering trees. To refer to the leaves as a canopy is fitting. I noticed the camphor trees in particular with their immense stature and gnarled trunks. Locals brag this species is as tough as nails because it is fire, drought and insect repellent. It seems to flourish in any soil conditions.
         Its wood is perfect for building with since it is termite proof. The essential oil from the leaves is soothing for sensitive skin and the leaves are brewed as a tea to treat coughs and headaches. Quite the versatile tree.
         I enjoyed roaming the Tree Canopy Walkway. The locals have named this The Boomslang, or tree snake. To my delight, I did not ever encounter an actual slithering snake. I strolled into and through the numerous trees. To stand still and gaze at the lush greenery is awe-inspiring.
         It felt a bit as if I was bouncing on a suspended trampoline.
         The most striking, eye-catching bloom is the crane flower or bird of paradise. It really does resemble a sharp-beaked bird's head. The vibrant oranges and yellows evoke happiness.
         I'd be more than content with a backyard like this beautiful garden.
May 21, 2024 at 12:06pm
May 21, 2024 at 12:06pm
" All right you louts. Look lively. The tourists are approaching in that rumbling, ocean-skimming device. Show them your good sides. Somebody nudge Earl. Why is he splayed out like a dead seal?"
"Um, sir? You seem to have a bit of fish dangling from your teeth. Nope, the other side. You've almost got it. Give it another swipe? Aha, you've got it!"
"Great, I didn't have time to clean my whiskers. Do you think they'll notice?"
         "Mommy, Billy just slapped me."
"Well, she stuck her tongue out at me."
"Twins don't make me give you a reason to cry. Billy! Keep your flippers to yourself. Cindy! Put your tongue back in your face young lady. You're being watched."
"How much is too much? Can they see all of my teeth? My jaw is killing me. Can I relax yet?"
"Hey, watch it! There's plenty of room on this rock. Stop crowding me."
"Ow! Who poked me in the eye? Must you wave at them? Where's your dignity?"
"Is Earl sleeping again? Just how many fish did he scarf?"
"Listen up. Are we ready? It's time for the daily dive and swim show. Let's show those gawkers how it's done. What about Earl? Maybe a splash will rouse him. Here comes a big wave. In we go!" *Seal* *Seal* *Seal**Seal**Seal*
"Awww, just look at them. They're so cute! They all huddle, or is that cuddle together on that rock."
"They must be sunbathing."
"I just saw a seal slap another one. Wait, I think that one is the mother and she doesn't look too pleased."
"Is anyone else noticing that fat one over there? Is he dead?"
"They sure are noisy animals. What have they got to talk about? All I hear is a lot of barking.
"Wow! Look at 'em hit the water. They're so fast! I wish I could swim like that."
"Ooo, that one is spraying cold water at me. That can't be right. I swear the other one is sassing me sticking its tongue out."
"You don't suppose this is all an act for our benefit?"
May 16, 2024 at 5:48pm
May 16, 2024 at 5:48pm
It is not my habit to greet the dawn. I've always been more of a night owl. For this dawn balloon cruise I made an exception and it was well worth it.
Imagine rubbing your eyes and yawning repeatedly in an effort to awaken. Your brain is insisting it's still dark and therefore it cannot possibly be the beginning of a new day. Someone hands you a steaming fresh cup of coffee and the caffeine slowly meanders through your blood stream urging you to greet the coming day. Fires flare up around you and giant silk canopies expand and bulge with hot air. They billow and strain against their anchors raring to go. Singsong voices coax you into a basket and you reflexively grip the edge as your rainbow hued balloon gently rises towards the horizon.
The sudden and brilliant sunrise takes your breath away. Only moments ago you noticed a yellow glow that exploded into a burst of gold. The shadows retreat as the light advances to reveal a world of lush, vibrant green. Morning has taken charge and banished the darkness. Soon, you are chasing your balloon's shadow across the landscape.
You hear yourself gasp, but that sound is muted. The roar of the flame envelops you. The balloon's structure ripples and dances. You float weightless above throngs of teeming wildlife. Your view is a panorama, unobstructed. Stunning, statuesque giraffe strut, or gallop. Hippos cavort and spray each other with water. Lion cubs roll and wrestle. Zebra kick up their feet.
You stare mesmerized unwilling to blink. The word breathtaking is not enough. You are struck speechless in reverence. This more than warranted my rising before the crack of dawn.

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