Lighthouses of PEI

There are 63 lighthouses on PEI according to a 2016 census with 35 still active and 7 which are privately owned.  How cool would that be to live in a lighthouse!  In no particular order are 10 favourites with location and a bit of history.

  1. West Point Lighthouse
    img234Located at 364 Cedar Dunes Park Road in O’Leary.  West Point is the tallest lighthouse at 60 feet, 8 inches and likely the most photographed.  Since it was restored in 1984, it operates as a museum and Country Inn open mid-June till the end of September.  Distinguished by it’s black horizontal banding.  This is the only Island lighthouse that had a dumb waiter which transported oil from the first floor to the fourth floor lightroom.  Due to some unusual unexplained happenings, the West Point Lighthouse had made a list of Canada’s most haunted places.  So for you adventurous types, another
    reason to go and check it out.

 


North Cape Lighthouse2.  North Cape Lighthouse – The biggest advantage of traveling through the western portion of Prince Edward Island to the northernmost tip is that it is much less frequented by tourists. The seacoast is spectacular and the fishing towns like Tignish have lobster, never a bad thing.
North Capes historic lighthouse was built in 1866 and still warning mariners off the treacherous rock reef at its base. The lighthouse is located on a narrow peninsula jutting northeast into the sea and exposed to the elements.  View the fabulous natural rock reef, walk along the beach at low tide, and check out the hundreds of inukshuks that have been built by previous visitors or build one yourself.  Fenced in and not the most attractive of lighthouses but the location is stunning.  Today the lighthouse is almost dwarfed by the giant telecommunications tower adjacent to the lighthouse, as well as the giant windmills at the Atlantic Wind Test Site.



3.  Cape Bear Lighthouse
– 42 Black Brook Road, Cape Bear. Cape Bear is located on the southeastern tip of Prince Edward Island. The coast consists of generally rugged red sandstone cliffs and small secluded beaches. Its high banks offer a good location for viewing seal. The Cape Bear Lighthouse has been in existence since 1881. The lighthouse is a square three story tower with a warning beacon on top. It has gabled windows at each level on three sides of the structure and is open to the public.  The Cape Bear Lighthouse is operated by a volunteer non-profit group, the Northumberland Community Development Corporation. It is open to the public during the summer months. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower to learn about the lighthouse and area. One of the highlights of the museum is a re-created telegraph office.

The "Cape Bear Light" painting captures the Cape Bear Lighthouse

claim to fame – received distress signal from the Titanic which sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912.

Painting on the right is by James Charles who gave me permission to post.  Prints are available from the artist.  Click on photo to visit his website.

 


 

4.  Panmure Island lighthouse – Octagonal in shape Panmure was the first wooden lighthouse on PEI – built in 1853 on Route 347 – 62 Lighthouse Road, Montague – In 1984 the Panmure Head lighthouse was recognized as a heritage site and the light was automated in 1985 when the lighthouse keeper retired.  In 2013 it received Official Designation as a Heritage Site.  Panmure Island LighthouseIn December of 2015 the Panmure Island Lighthouse Association, a community volunteer non-profit group, took over ownership of the lighthouse.  The beach, during the summer season has bathroom facilities and a little ice cream shack. It’s incredibly picturesque and not at all crowded.

 


 

5.  Wood Islands Lighthouse  173 Lighthouse Rd, Wood Islands.  Built in 1875-76, the Wood Islands Lighthouse is a well preserved three storey tower clad in cedar shingles with an adjoining one and one half storey keeper’s residence.  Great place to check out while you are waiting for the ferry to Nova Scotia. There is plenty of space to sit and relax and enjoy the view.  Interactive displays on rum running, sea glass, fishing, knot tying, audio interviews with lighthouse keepers, and a climb to the top of the light for some fantastic photo ops but be forewarned as the stairs are rather steep. Wood Island Lighthouse

In 1984 the bottom floor of the tower was renovated when a generator and fog alarm equipment were installed. Recognized as federal heritage building in 1992, it was moved inland 70 m (230 feet) in 2009 because of erosion.

In 1998, the Wood Islands and Area Development Cooperation opened the lighthouse to the public. Visitors will find a gift shop in the lighthouse along with a period bedroom, kitchen, and keeper’s quarters.  It also houses a collection relating to the history of the Norththumberland Ferry Service.  On September 25, 2013, the lighthouse was awarded a Provincial Designated Heritage Place plaque and certificate.


Seacow-Head6.  Sea Cow Head Lighthouse – 198 Lighthouse Road, Bedeque, PEI
photo reprinted with permission of the photographer Stephen Des Roches.  Please click on photo to visit his website.

Built in 1864, this octagonal wooden lighthouse has seen better days. What it does have going for it is great views of the Confederation bridge, it is very close to Summerside,  and has nice looking cliffs nearby. On the downside, the Lighthouse paint is peeling off and the parking area is just a circle of red dirt.

Automated in 1959, Seacow Head Lighthouse has been recognized as a heritage of Prince Edward Island place since October 2012.  Managed by the Canadian Coast Guard.  Mr. M.P. O’Raneghan, keeper of the Seacow Head light, was notable for his long tenure. He was appointed to Seacow Head on 21 April 1873 and served there at least 42 years.

The lighthouse appeared in several episodes of the television series Road to Avonlea


7.  Point Prim Lighthouse–  Point Prim Lighthouse has guided vessels through the southeastern entrance to Hillsborough Bay at the outer approach to Charlottetown Harbour since 1845 and is located at 2147 Point Prim Road, Belfast standing 18.2 m. tall. It is one of only a few circular brick lighthouses in Canada. The harsh weather took a toll on the brick and it had to be shingled just two years after construction. Automated in 1969.  In 2017 – With nearly $400,000 in federal funding, P.E.I.’s oldest lighthouse underwent a much needed makeover and now has washrooms.   Point Prim Lighthouse 1The parking lot was expanded and an open-air pavilion built for hosting events. The upgrades also included stonework along the shoreline to address erosion.  It is about 1/2 an hour drive from Charlottetown.  Open daily from 10 am – 6 pm in season.  Both the chowder house across the street and the bottle house down the road are worth a stop.  The lighthouse is leased by the Belfast Development Corporation and operated by the Point Prim/ Mount Buchans’ Women’s Institute. One of the interesting artefacts on display is an old fashioned fog alarm that is still in working order.


8.  Souris Lighthouse  – 134 Breakwater St., Souris. Built in 1880, Souris East Lighthouse is a white and red square tapered wood constructed tower on the cliff of Knight Point overlooking the town of Souris.  Lighthouse PaintingThe Souris East light station was the last of the 76 on the island to be automated. On June 18, 1991, keeper Francis McIntosh was officially replaced by technology. This is the only lighthouse where you can actually go outside on the top observation deck. Beautiful views of the town and the ferry going in or out, wonderful photo opportunity but again as in most lighthouses the stairs are rather tricky and steep. The Lighthouse contains a large sea glass interpretative display about the history and formation of sea glass.  Run by the Souris Harbour Authority.

 


9.  East Point Lighthouse built in 1866 –  East Point Lighthouse 1At the end of Lighthouse Road in Elmira.  It is situated on the extreme eastern end of Prince Edward Island where the mighty tides of the St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait meet to create a show of nature’s force. The most spectacular part of the convergence takes place at high tide for great photo ops. The lighthouse is well preserved and there is a small gift shop and cafe/bar adjacent, serving great local beer and plenty of parking.  Many visitors come to the site to view the spectacular scenery and tour the lighthouse during the summer months. The Friends of Elmira, a local non-profit group, operate the lighthouse during the summer.


 

10.  Indian Head Lighthouse – Indian Head Lighthouse in Summerside was built in 1881. Because of the small landmass it had to sit on, it was built with a keeper’s residence on the ground floor with its light jutting out of the roof of its octagonal structure. Despite the fact that there was a residence, none of the keepers who manned the light ever lived there full-time. Most rowed or sailed back and forth to the light every day.   In 1997, the lighthouse was decommissioned when Confederation Bridge opened to traffic.Indian Head Lighthouse print

In recent decades, a helicopter has typically been used to access the lighthouse when maintenance or repairs are required.  Still fully operational but not really accessible though if you wait till low tide you can walk out over the boulders to the lighthouse.  Not a beach walk for sure. Plans are afoot for the City of Summerside to take ownership of the lighthouse and promote as a tourist attraction for the City.


LIGHTHOUSES TO MAKE THE NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST ARE:

1. Brighton Front Range in Charlottetown.

2. Cape Bear in Murray Harbour.

3. Cape Tryon Lighthouse in Park Corner.

4.  Covehead Harbour Light.

5. Northport Rear Range.

6. Panmure Head Lighthouse.

7. Point Prim Lighthouse.

 

10 Tidbits on Mount Rushmore

Located near the Badlands of South Dakota sits a majestic monument to the progression of the U.S. from its formation as a country to the great nation it used to be circa 2016 represented by four of the most recognizable faces of past Presidents.

Mount RushmoreGeorge Washington (1789 – 1797) was chosen because he was the nation’s founding father and first President.  President Washington laid down the ground work for what  today is known as democracy. He led his countryman to the American Revolution to win freedom against Great Britain. For his accomplishments he is the most prominent face on Mount Rushmore.  (This may soon change with the face of Donald Trump being carved into the space by George Washington – just kidding, I hope).

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was chosen to represent expansion, because he was the president who signed the Louisiana Purchase and authored the Declaration of Independence.  He put together and wrote the document that not only inspires democracy in the U.S., but around the world. Writing the declaration of independence is a pretty big accomplishment which definitely made the third President a strong candidate to have his face engraved on Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) was chosen because he represented conservation and the industrial blossoming of the nation.  President Roosevelt, the 26th president brought the right kind of leadership to the country as the century turned. The U.S. experienced quick growth from an economic standpoint and President Roosevelt was there to guide it. He was one of the reasons the Panama Canal was built, connecting the east to west. He also helped eliminate corporate monopolies and was a strong advocate for the common working man.

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was chosen because he led the country through the Civil War and believed in preserving the nation at any cost.  President Lincoln was the glue that kept our nation together during one of it’s most trying periods, the Civil War. He was behind the abolishing of slavery which was probably his biggest accomplishment as the 16th president of the United States.


  1.   The construction of Mount Rushmore National Memorial took 14 years, from 1927 to 1941.
  2.   Historian Doane Robinson conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore in 1923 to promote tourism in South Dakota. In 1924, Robinson persuaded sculptor Gutzon Borglum to travel to the Black Hills region to ensure the carving could be accomplished.  The mountain that Borglum chose to carve was known to the local Lakota as the “Six Grandfathers.”  It had also been known as Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain, and Keystone Cliffs, depending who you asked.
  3.   The mountain itself, at an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 metres), was named in 1885 for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York lawyer. The memorial, which covers 2 square miles (5 square km), was designated in 1925 and dedicated in 1927.
  4.   Despite dangerous conditions, not one of the 400 men who worked to forge the monument died during the entire project.  The men who worked on the mountain were miners who had come to the Black Hills looking for gold.  Although they weren’t artists, they did know how to use dynamite and jackhammers.

    The average workers salary on Mount Rushmore was .45 to .75 cents an hour. Talk about some affordable labor. The chief carver Luigi Del Bianco was paid $1.50 an hour.

  5.   Construction on Mount Rushmore—consisting of 90% dynamite blasts—began in 1927. The four faces of the presidents were slowly finished between the years of 1934 and 1939. Borglum died in 1941, leaving his son, Lincoln, to head up the project. But that didn’t much matter—construction ended in October 1941 when the project ran out of money. (The U.S. entered World War II not long after, which likely would’ve ended construction on the site anyway.)
  6.   The head of George Washington is 60 feet tall with a nose that is 21 feet tall. Theodore Roosevelt’s head is slightly smaller, Abraham Lincoln’s is slightly taller. Each of the eyes on Mount Rushmore are about 11 feet wide. Each mouth is about 18 feet wide.  Imagine climbing 506 steps to reach the top of Mount Rushmore-this was how many steps the workers had to climb each day!   The height of a six-story building!
  7.  A cave called the ‘Hall of Records’ sits behind the monument and contains a vault of 16 porcelain enamel panels with text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the 4 presidents and Borglum, and history of the U.S.

  8. The ‘Hall of Records’ played a role in the plot of the 2007 movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, starring Nicolas Cage.  Mount Rushmore was also used as a key backdrop in the 1959 Cary Grant movie North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  9.   The total cost of creating the Rushmore sculpture was $989,992.32, which included wages for 400 workers.  About 84% of it was paid for by the federal government.  Less than a million but irreplaceable!
  10.   Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open yearround with only the Sculptor’s Studio closed from October – April. Visitors in the winter will find it far less crowded –  roughly 5% of the visitors coming through the gates during December – March that would come through in July or August.  The day we were there it was very foggy and we were lucky to get a shot of it at all.

             This giant monument is celebrating its 78th anniversary in 2019

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano BridgeOne of the attractions of the beautiful City of Vancouver, BC is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.

Vancouver is a beautiful city—whether you’re talking about the mountains, forests, and ocean or the glistening modern skyline of glass skyscrapers. There’s a reason so many films and TV shows are shot on location in and around Vancouver. If it’s scenery you want, this is the place.


Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver across the iconic Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver lies the  Capilano Suspension Bridge, originally built in 1889 hanging 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River offering breathtaking views to the canyon floor below.

This is a popular tourist site so plan accordingly to avoid long lines.

The park offers more than just the bridge. Its surrounding 27 acres celebrate nature, history and culture in unique and thrilling ways.
On Treetops Adventure venture from one magnificent old growth Douglas-fir to another on a series of seven elevated suspension bridges, reaching as high as 110 feet (33m), for a squirrel’s eye view of the forest. Guides, signage and interactive exhibits throughout the park help you in your understanding of rain forest ecosystems and their sustainability.

The view from the bridge is spectacular, and while there is minor bounce, it’s relatively easy to navigate. The bridge is reminiscence of the one in Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom “Hang on, lady. We going for a ride”. Equally, or even better, is the single-file walk on Cliffwalk, which follows a granite precipice along the river with a series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms offering views at every turn.
There are other trails on the other side of the suspension bridge.
  • There are 9 different types of trees in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! There are 2,014 Douglas fir, 157 Western Red Cedar, and 144 Western Hemlock.
  • The suspension bridge can hold 97 elephants. That’s 203 moose, or 4520 beavers.
       HISTORY

CapilanoIn 1888, a Scottish civil engineer and real estate developer named George Grant Mackay purchased 24 square kilometres of old growth forest on both sides of the Capilano River just north of the city and built a cabin at the southern edge of the canyon. The 65-year-old engineer hired two local Coast Salish natives to help with the construction of the first bridge in 1889 that was made from hemp and cedar planks.  Ten years after Mackay’s death in 1903, the bridge was replaced with one made of wire cable.

Rae Mitchell, bought the bridge in 1953. In 1956, he rebuilt the bridge completely, strengthening the cables and the anchors.  In 1983, Mitchell sold the Capilano Suspension Bridge to his daughter, Nancy Stibbard who is still its present owner.

Tickets are rather pricey, a little under $50.00 but if you have young ones under 6, they can get in free.  I think this is worthwhile if you are going to do some hiking while you are there and maybe pack a picnic.  You definitely want to arrive early to avoid all the shuttles and crowds.

Note:  There is another similar bridge not far away, called the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. In addition to being free and “just as nice as the Capilano bridge,” the Lynn Canyon bridge leads to some of the best walking trails in the area and is far less crowded.

Clipart Of A Leaf Inspirational Maple Leaf free graphics Flower Leaf Pinterest……………………………………………….the end!          Totems

Spirit Bears, Eagles and Orcas of BC

In the summer of 1999, Chicago cooked up a tourism ploy that not only worked like a charm, but also inspired countless imitators. Fiberglass cows–300 strong–decorated by local artists were placed around the city. The “Cows on Parade”–inspired by a Swiss project in 1998–began in early June and lasted through Halloween.

“Moose in the City” was a year 2000 project by the City of Toronto in which 326 life-sized moose sculptures were placed throughout the city and decorated by local artists.

orcas_eventlogo“Orcas in the City” was a 2004 British Columbia fund-raising project for the B C Lion’s Society, the first of four such events that I am aware of.  Many locals do not share the idea that this ‘art’ represents their city and find some of them downright embarrassing or kitschy and would just as soon not have them displayed throughout the downtown.  I, however am one of those people that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and I commend the imagination and artistic ability that is showcased in many of the works of art and the camp in some.

 


‘Bears in the City’, was a British Columbia charity fund-raising initiative in 2006 where life size (approx. 7ft) custom formed fiberglass Spirit Bears were distributed across BC to local artists who created a unique design and applied it to the surface in the medium of their choosing. The Bear became the artist’s canvas. Once the work was completed the Spirit Bear was displayed in prominent public spaces around the participating cities.

The bear was actually the rare “Spirit Bear” or “Kermode Bear”. A First Nation legend states that the Raven, their creator, made these bears white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with snowdrifts and ice blue glaciers. Raven promised that these bears would live in peace and harmony forever.

The exhibit ended with the great ‘Spirit Bear Auction’, a gala event where the Spirit Bears were put on the block and auctioned to the highest bidder. Spirit Bear auction proceeds benefited the BC Lions Society’s Easter Seal Operations and the Vancouver Canucks for Kids Fund.


‘Nazzy Bear’ was named in honour of Marcus Naslund – the captain of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.  The artist was Dean Lauze who painted it for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment.  More of a promotional piece than ‘art’ could be argued here but definitely a more light-hearted version of spirit. Besides, how do we know that kermodes don’t appreciate hockey!

The ‘Kody’ bear was designed by my brother-in-law Gene Sebelius who did all the mosaic work and his good friend and artist, Bonnie Spencer who did all the painting.


 

Note:  The Eagles can be found on this website with an explanation of the project and photos of the work.  Keep in mind however that this was from 2010 and I could not find any contact info on this site so the eagles they say were not purchased at that time may indeed have sold by now.  www.eaglesinthecity.com

The front and back photos on right were by the renowned artist Jerry Whitehead


 

Below is a link to a newsletter regarding the Terra Cotta Warriors initiative of 2012

Terra Cotta Warriors 2012


Presently in Bonn, Germany you can find these and other representations of their beloved Ludwig van Beethoven who was born in this city.

 

If you know of other artistic displays of fiberglass statues that are auctioned off to raise funds for worthwhile charities, I would love to hear about them and see some of your photos!  Thanks for visiting and have a tremendous day!

A little slice of paradise!

Looking for an exotic oasis of freedom with crystal clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, warm weather all year round and authentic, friendly locals.  Look no further.  You can do as much or as little as you like in the Cook Islands.  Still largely undiscovered by North Americans, the Cook Islands are like Hawaii was 50+ years ago only with all the modern conveniences.  Made up of 15 islands, they are a mix of coral atolls and volcanic islands abundant with marine creatures, both big and small.

You will not find row upon row of high-rise beachfront hotels and apartments nor chain resorts as there are no buildings higher than a coconut tree.  You will not find chain stores or McDonald’s, even a stoplight is hard to find.

The Cook Islands are named after Captain James Cook who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777.  By 1900, the islands were annexed as British territory and included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand.  The Cook Islands government is a parliamentary democracy with its own executive powers and laws (became independent in 1965) but carry New Zealand passports.  A seafaring people, Cook Islanders consider themselves descendants of Polynesians from nearby Tahiti, who first settled the area about 1400 years ago.

English is the official language and is taught in school.  The common vernacular is Cook Islands Maori, also called Rarotongan similar to New Zealand and Tahiti Maori.  Dialects vary, and in the north, some islands have their own languages.  Cook Island Tribal Tattoos These Meanings Of A Polynesian Tattoo Will Seriously Impress You

The Islands total 240 square kilometres or approx. one and a third times the size of Washington, D.C.  Rarotonga is the biggest Island but is only 11 kilometres in length.  The main road which goes all around the Island is 37 kiolometres so you can circumnavigate the Island in an afternoon.  Scooters and bikes are very popular modes of transportation but it was the buses that caught my eye.  They run in two directions:  Clockwise and Anti-Clockwise.  A simple and efficient means of getting around with some very entertaining drivers who will fill you in on the folklore and history for free!


Some interesting facts on the Cook Islands

  1.  The major industries are agriculture and tourism.  Rarotonga receives nearly fifty thousand tourists a year.
  2.   black-pearl-variation-600x400The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.  Although they were named for the colour of the shell they are found in, the pearls come in hues of blue, silver and deep green.
  3.   The Islands are known for their wood carving, and many young people who live there are taught by older generations of wood carvers how to perfect those skills.
  4.   Rugby is the most popular sport followed by cricket and soccer.
  5.   Polynesian healers have used noni fruits for thousands of years to help treat a variety of health problems.  A cure all for the ages it is an important export
    Noni pulp
  6.   On Sundays the Cook Islands are buttoned up tighter than a clergyman’s collar.  Businesses shutter, the buses do not run and if you want a drink you’ve got to stick to your hotel.  Virtually all the people are Christian with 70 percent belonging to the Protestant Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) and 30 percent divided Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, or members of other denominations.  Everyone dresses up and wear intricate hats woven by hand.
  7. Though there are formal church cemeteries they are far outnumbered by private  burial plots on private land.  The spirits of ancestors live with everyone, are a fact of life, and nobody to be feared.  In some cultures, having a view on your parent’s grave from your living room window might be rather unsettling but it is commonplace here and treated with the utmost respect.  Family land runs from the coast to the inner hills of the island and cannot be bought or sold.  It stays with the family or is leased (one of the main reasons there is not so much outside development).  The large and sometimes opulent burial vaults found in front yards most often belong to the woman of the family who built the house.  Shoveling dirt onto a woman is a disgrace so the body is sealed entirely in concrete.  For sanitation reasons, this practice spread to everyone.

    burial plot in front yard.JPG

    Next time you are planning an exotic get away, give some thought to the Cook Islands – a little slice of paradise!  The Islands are renowned for its many snorkeling and scuba-diving sites

Impressions of Claude Monet

The paintings and sculptures of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cassatt, Morisot, Pissarro and their contemporaries exemplify the Impressionist movement which began to flourish in the Paris of the 1880’s.  Likened to the glimpse out the window of a moving locomotive, these artists strived to convey light and movement and its effects on gardens, landscapes and vignettes of people; to get out of the studios and paint in the open air capturing the natural beauty of its subject.  For Monet this was key; it was the excitement of painting as directly as possible the visible, contemporary world that fired his imagination.

Though their paintings sell for millions of dollars now, when they had their first show in Paris the staid art society of the time scoffed and ridiculed them.  It is one of the ironies of history that their paintings were received with incomprehension and derision by many of the same sort of people who today find them so appealing.  Though Edouard Manet is regarded as “the father of impressionism” it is Claude Monet whose works are more familiar today.  His water lilies series alone are more renowned but Manet was also a master of the style and Degas’ ballerinas are superb.  You would be hard-pressed to say that Renoir was any less a painter than any of the others.  They all deserved and still do the accolades bestowed upon them then and now.

Since I have been following in the footsteps of my extremely lucky sister-in-law while she travels through Europe, I am focusing on Monet as she recently visited one of the towns in which he lived.

Less than 2 hours by train from Paris, Giverny is a village in the region of Normandy in northern France.  Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926. The artist’s former home and elaborate gardens, where he produced his famed water lily series, are now the Fondation Claude Monet museum. Below is a link to the organization.

http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm

If you are in France and have the opportunity to visit this quaint little village, I would recommend you go and see the inspiration for many of Monet’s masterpieces.  A great day trip from Paris.  C’est marvielleux!!

The Magical World of Jules Verne

If you are lucky enough to travel through France and have time to visit other cities as well as Paris and Versailles then I recommend Nantes, birthplace of the renowned author Jules Verne and Amiens where the “House with the Tower” is located and where he wrote many of his works.

Jules Verne is often described as the “father of science fiction,” and among all writers, only Agatha Christie’s works have been translated more. He is such a successful and popular author worldwide that many people forget that he was French.  Verne wrote numerous plays, essays, books of nonfiction, and short stories, but he was best known for his novels.

Part travelogue, part adventure, part natural history, his novels remain popular to this day.  You might even say that he was one of the first travel bloggers of his time.

Many of his novels have been made into movies, television series, radio shows, animated children’s cartoons, computer games and graphic novels.  

Jules VerneJules Gabriel Verne was born February 8, 1828 in the seaport of Nantes, where he was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer but quit the profession when he visited Amiens to be the best man at his friend’s wedding, he fell in love with the bride’s sister (and the city). And as the story goes, the rest was history – he died in Amiens on March 24th, 1905 of diabetes mellitus). Verne rests in the serene Cimetière de la Madeleine, beneath Albert Roze’s sculpture of him, which is titled “Towards immortality and eternal youth”.

After major renovation works, the “House with the Tower” in Amiens, where Jules Verne lived from 1882 to 1900, turned into a museum once again offers visitors a space where the imaginary world and the daily life of the author mix. This luxe 19th century mansion witnessed the success of the writer, who wrote most of his “Extraordinary Voyages” there.  The house reveals the personality, sources of inspiration and memories of Jules Verne and is well worth a visit if only for a small glimpse into the fertile machinations of his brain . Verne’s most famous and enduring novels were written in the 1860’s and 1870’s, at a time when Europeans were still exploring, and in many cases exploiting, new areas of the globe.  Exploiting cultures and land is still a popular pastime for many today!  Pity!

 


 

The first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus was named after Captain Nemo’s submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Just a few years after the publication of Around the World in Eight Days, two women who were inspired by the novel successfully raced around the world.  Nellie Bly would win the race against Elizabeth Bisland, completing the journey in 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes.

Today, astronauts in the International Space Station circle the globe in 92 minutes. Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon presents Florida as the most logical place to launch a vehicle into space, yet this is 85 years before the first rocket would launch from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Again and again, we find the scientific visions of Verne becoming realities.


 

In 2007 a combined art installation and steampunk amusement park on the site of a former shipyard opened.  Île de Nantes is a 337-hectare island in the centre of the city of Nantes, on Brittany’s western edge.   Les Machines de L’île is a 21st century mechanical wonderland where visitors can catch rides on twirling sea creatures – Participants can choose to ride on three levels of mechanical creatures: squid and crab on the lowest level, suspended fish on the second and boats and jellyfish at the top – a breathtaking juxtaposition of old, new – and weird.

The island’s biggest showstopper, however, is a 48-tonne mechanical elephant. The creature, which carries 50 riders, stomps the entire length of the park – from the entrance, across the shipyard and past an old warehouse to the carousel, before looping back to discharge passengers and wait for new ones. The wild ride takes a half hour.  When this majestic beast emerges from its steel cathedral, it is a moving piece of architecture that sets off for a walk. The passengers on board can see what makes the engine and moving feet tick. A machinist will welcome you on board, tell you about its life and set off its trumpeting. As part of the crew, this is an invite for timeless travel in the birthplace of Jules Verne.

Mechanical elephant in Nantes

Quotes from Jules Verne

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.

Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.

We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones.

The sea is everything.  It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe.  It’s breath is pure and healthy.  It is an immense desert where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.

The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.

Either of these cities would be worth a visit but both would be fantastic.  Happy Trails!

I’d go the whole wild world

Recently one morning on Facebook they had one of those quizzes where they listed about 50 places and then asked how many you had been to and people were saying 11, 15 etc and I don’t pay much attention to these because they then tailor ads to you based on your answers and I feel they know enough about me as it is.  But it did get me wondering, so I added up the places mentioned and I had been to 30 of them which I didn’t think was that bad (I didn’t put this answer down however).  This of course led me to wonder how many places I haven’t been to and would like to go which eventually led to me trying to figure out how many countries and continents there were in the world.  I’m sure your day starts the same way, right?

You don’t have to google this as I will provide the necessary facts.

There are seven continents:  North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and Antartica though there is debate on whether Europe and Asia should be listed as one (Eurasia) as it is one large land mass.  There are also proponents of Oceania and New Zealand (Zelandia) but generally speaking just the seven.  Naturally, I was curious to see how many countries there were and unexpectedly opened a can of worms here!

For instance, my husband is from Scotland and they have been trying to become independent for centuries, the same applies to Ireland but they are not really countries but part of the U.K.  Taiwan, Tibet and Kosovo are similarly independent but tied to a sovereign country and not recognized by the UN – Greenland is not a country but a part of Denmark – who knew?  Geography is fascinating for me now but when I was in school I used to think what’s the point of studying this when I likely won’t ever leave Canada.  How wrong I was!

Below is a list of other places that lots of people consider countries but all belong to an actual sovereign member state.

  • Hong Kong (rightly or wrongly, China)
  • Macau (China)
  • Tibet (China)
  • Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales (the UK)
  • French Guiana (France)
  • Puerto Rica (US)
  • Lots of the Caribbean (BVI, Guadelope, Aruba, USVI, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Saint Martin and more)
  • Reunion Island (France)
  • French Polynesia (France)
  • American Samoa (US)
  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Madeira (Portugal)
  • Faroe Islands (part of Denmark)
  • Gibraltar (part of the UK)
  • Greenland (part of Denmark)
  • The Arctic (belongs partly to Norway, Denmark, Canada, the US and Russia)
  • The Falklands (part of the UK)
  • French Polynesia (part of France)
  • Guam (US)
  • Tahiti (French Polynesia, and therefore France. Same for Bora Bora!)

To keep things simple though, you can generally say there are about 200 countries (including territories) in the world depending upon your source of information.

According to the UN there are 195 but the chart below shows other governing bodies with different criteria.   To see full explanations please click on link below
Countries in the World

 

How Many Countries Are There in the World?

After pondering on this for awhile, I realized I haven’t really been anywhere in the larger scheme of things but I intend to keep on travelling as long as I’m able and discovering the beauty, culture and peoples of other places different from myself in order to gain a better understanding of them and me.  If you are lucky in life you never stop growing or being curious.  As much as I may dislike change ( I prefer being comfortable and safe), it is ultimately more rewarding to take risks and embrace change.  I think that now I would get far better grades in Geography than I did in school.  To those who love travel – Happy Trails!  Good luck on working your way through this list!

Nobody walks in LA

Like the lyrics to the Missing Persons song…..

I don’t know could’ve been a lame jogger maybe
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby
Shopping cart pusher or maybe someone groovy
One thing’s for sure, he isn’t starring in the movies

cuz he’s walkin in LA – nobody walks in LA, etc

The one time I flew to LA with a friend of mine it rained pretty much the whole time.  Once, when we were sitting in the rental car watching the  wipers flip side to side in the fog enclosed front seat where we were playing tic tac toe on the windshield, I suggested water-skiing behind the car but no one took me up on it.

The Golden State they call it, land of sunshine, blah, blah, blah.  I began to think that it was a tourist scam in order to get suckers to come visit, that it was make believe like all the movies they produced there.  Or perhaps the sun decided to take a vacation of its own and moved off to China or Mexico.  Suffice to say that my first adventure in CALIFORN-I-A did not come close to living up to the hype.

It used to be unheard of to walk around LA but with the refurbishment of the downtown core, it has become a place to be and be seen much like South Beach in Miami.  Millions have been spent revitalizing the derelict hotels, old department stores and office buildings into a hip and happening scene.  Witness the re-development of the Ace Hotel and now the Garfield and Merritt Buildings.

That first time I visited however; I crossed the street to go to a gas station/everything store and everyone was honking at me, people stared from the other stores, etc.  I felt like an alien; once I got back to the motel we were staying in, my friend told me there had been a shooting in the parking lot just a few hours ago and I shouldn’t have been out walking by myself.  Go figure!

The second time I was in LA things were much better as the sun was shining and we had driven down the coast from Seattle stopping to camp one night, hotel the next and visiting sea lions, the Queen Mary, and Hearst Castle along the way.  We took in a ball game in San Diego and visited the zoo to say hello to the Panda bear as well.  Walked from Venice Beach to the San Monica Pier and delighted in all the characters we came across in our journey.  It was a much nicer visit.

Shortly we will be going to Palm Springs to stay with relatives with a short trip into LA for an art deco walking tour of downtown, a visit to the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory and partake in some retro cocktails and good grub.  Will be sure to give you an update when we get back.  As we will be Walkin in LA!!!

 

Ladies Powder Room at Radio City Music Hall

The essence of travel

You may think that travelling is an adventure, a journey to a destination where you can uncover cultures, art and nature that you have never seen before….and it is; however, when you get older there are certain requirements needed when one travels.  For instance, I need to know that the plane trip is under 8 hours as my legs cannot handle the cramping one has to endure for that time period and I do not possess the kind of wealth that would allow me to travel first class.  Secondly, the place I am staying can’t be more than an hour from the airport especially if I am travelling by bus.  And last but most importantly, I need access to a bathroom on a fairly frequent basis.

This is why I don’t like to go to the theatre that much either as I can stream or rent a movie, make my own popcorn, enjoy a glass of wine AND pause the movie anytime I feel the urge to go so why leave the house.  Plus there is nobody behind me to give away the plot or kick the back of my seat not to mention the tall guy in front blocking my view.

When I was in my youth I didn’t worry about finding a bathroom so much as I had greater restraint and we could always pull over to the side of the road and go in the ditch if we needed.  Nowadays, I’m not sure I’d be able to recover from the crouching position.  Below is the toilet for visitors to Napier, New Zealand.  Top of page is one of many powder rooms in the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  So, you can go to the lavatory in style in certain environments.Napier2012 117