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Long overdue

Well, it's been crazy nuts! I can't believe how busy I've been these last few months. Whenever I have downtime, not that it happens much lately, I certainly haven't felt like playing and writing here on LJ. So, what's been keeping me from you all?

Went out west, as you all know. I posted a few pics a while ago. Since then, I've been to Montréal twice, Toronto once, Barrie for a few days, Peterborough for a workshop, Calgary for a weekend, and a partridge in a pear tree. There are probably other places I've been too that are just not coming to mind at the moment. This weekend, I'm off to Guelph and Cambridge, then back to Ottawa to finally spend some time with my hubby. I think we'll have to start all over with courtship and get to know w\each other again.

Work has been nuts too, but it's been good nuts. I'm doing great things - some of which no one has ever done in the School of Part-time Studies before (like consider a collaborative development project with the University of Calgary or develop a new program that allows graduates to articulate into a Carleton University degree program). I'm also busy building partnerships with organizations outside the college. Some cool stuff I'm up to.

Was in Toronto for pride the last weekend in June. In recent years, I've felt that pride in TO has been totally ho-hum and really couldn't have cared less if I was there or not. In fact, in recent years, I've always been itching to leave and come home almost from the moment arriving in TO. Not this year. For some reason, it was just fun. I enjoyed it a lot. Didn't do much of anything and didn't even see many people I knew, but I had a good weekend.

Was in Montréal this past weekend for Cirque du Soleil's newest travelling show, Ovo. It was an insect theme and they did that very well, but the show overall was just OK. Not their best. As shows go, I think down near the lower half of the list of Cirque performances. However, the travelling shows are all worth seeing. And even Cirque's worst show (not that any can be said to be bad) is head over heals better than any other circus I've ever seen bar none.

Took a Landscape and Natural History Photography course through the college and absolutely loved it. In fact, it's opened up a whole new world for me and I plan to join the Camera Club of Ottawa in September so that I can continue to develop my skills using the camera. It's nice to have a new personal interest.

Supposed to be going on a canoe camping weekend with a friend from Toronto sometime late July or early August. Just waiting for him to pick the date and then we're going to either Frontenac provincial Park or Algonquin provincial Park. shadcub  and I are going whitewater rafting as well on July 19, so that will be fun.

After such great fun and success on the West Coast Trail, I have decided to tackle one that has been on my "to do" list for at least 20 years - to hike the 105 km across the Akshayuk Pass in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island. That will be for about 2 weeks in July 2010. My best friend and first partner, Steve, is going with me. A friend in Vancouver might come too. Anyone else interested?

Tonight, I did a bunch of student marking and am all caught up on my courses. Things are going well in that regard, so this is good.

Well, that's about all there is to the Readers' Digest version of the last several weeks of my world. Hope you are all doing well!

Toronto Pride was Awesome!

Pride was awesome. I think I haven't had so much fun at Toronto pride in years. It's like it's back to the basics - but with a real focus on community groups and clubs - without the big time commercialization that had been creeping in. Met up with friends. Upsized a couple of piercings. Showed Ben off yo everyone who wanted to visit with him for a few seconds or a few minutes - though he seems to attract more women than men, so I'll have to Work on him on that  :)  Even had some great sex!!!

   


This coming weekend, I'll be in Montréal for cirque du soleil. I'm such a cirque freak and I've seen all of their travelling shows. The next weekend, I'll be in Guelph (west of Toronto) visiting a colleague of mine so that we can scheme ways to save the world. I know I'm supposed to be off canoe camping with a friend from Toronto later in July, but notsure yet which date.

On a Mission

My best friend, Steve, is all the way over in Calgary. He's been there for about 7-8 years now or so and I really miss him a lot. In any case, he's been going through a bit of a tough time lately so I flew out to Calgary to spend the weekend with him and, hopefully, distract him a wee bit. We stayed low key for the weekend, except for his concert with the Calgary Mens Chorus. It was the first of his concerts I've ever seen and I LOVED it. "Awesome" is a word that hardly does it justice. Anyway, it was nice to just have quality time with Steve and make sure he's OK. He is and he will be, if that makes any sense. Now, I'm sitting at the airport in Calgary waiting to board my flight back home.
   

  

  

I especially love the rose in the second row (1st image).

Passport

Well, the first passport I've had in probably 20 years just arrived yesterday and I picked it up in the post office today. This is way cool!

Writings about my trip west...

There were ostriches.

There were turkeys.

And all of the above were having sex. No, not together -- weirdos!!!

I arrived home on Saturday evening about 9 pm, exactly 25 days and 3 hours after I left on my trip. In driving more than 12,000 km (7,200 miles), my journey took me through Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. I went pretty much as far west as you can drive in our country and then came back. Here are the highlights:

The Roads
Surprisingly, the highways and roads were pretty much construction-free, an indicator that the much promised infrastructure money has yet to actually flow to where it will make a difference. Driving was on well-surfaced and paved roads most of the time, but I did venture onto the gravel logging roads on Vancouver Island, travelled 100 km down a gravel highway in southern Alberta and then did the 25 km dirt road through Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. In addition, sometimes there simply weren't any roads, so I took ferries at these points in the trip, whether the ferry be in crossing to Nanaimo or in crossing lakes in the interior of BC.

The Critters
Indeed, there were ostriches and turkeys. I would never mislead you.

The ostriches were on a farm near Edgewood, BC and, driving by and noticing them, I stopped to take a picture. A male in the yard came over to the gate and started all of these odd and weird contortions with neck going in odd directions and wings flailing. It was just strange and I attributed it to a sign of territoriality - not that he had anything to worry about. I wasn't about to try to dominate the yard of ostriches. In any case, I stood my distance not wanting to antagonize him further. Then, out of the blue, over comes a female who plops down on the grown directly in front of him and he... well, you know... does what ostriches do. Maybe she was his territory.
 

Now the turkeys were a whole other story and they were on the way home as we passed through Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Driving along the main park road, we see these two large birds in the middle of the road. One was a male turkey (his name might have been Easter) in full colour regaling a female turkey (named Christmas) with reasons to let him assume ownership over her body for a split second. And then off they went in the bushes to do turkey nasties...

Other critters were certainly encountered, but I couldn't make up as great of stories about them so I have been describing my trips as the unbelievably large bird sex tour of Canada.

None the less, there were other critters, as I said, and they included the following: beavers, sea otters, bison, elk, moose, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, columbian ground squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, snow geese, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, sea lions, a variety of ducks (including mallards and canvasbacks), bald eagles, pelicans, yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, a variety of hummingbirds, golden eagles, ospreys, black bears, magpies, foxes, wee little crabs, starfish, and Ben. I'm sure there were more, but that's a pretty impressive list. There weren't any of the much-hoped-for cougars and wolves.
 
   
 
 
 

The Weather
There was weather each and every day of the trip and it ranged from snow in southern Manitoba to hail in Calgary to fog in Waterton Lakes National Park to bright sunny days on vancouver Island to drizzle in the Kootenays. There was even one dastardly dust devil stirring things up in on of the valleys in the interior of BC. Despite all of these, the less desirable types of weather were the minority and the other types won out loud and clear.

The Conferences
I had two conferences when I was out west. The first was for work and I attended the National Education Symposium hosted by the Board of Canadian registered Safety Professionals. We were there discussing the need for anational education strategy within the field of occupational health and safety. It seemed that most institutions present weren't much interested in collaboration but we might emerge with the opportunity to work with the Continuing Education department at the University of Calgary in the development of a collaborative diploma program.

The second conference was in Calgary and it was called the International Conference on Ecology and Professional Helping - very cool of them combining ecology with other things. How absolutely forward thinking! The main keynote speaker at this conference, David Orr, who is the one and only reason I went in the first place, did not disappoint at all. It was awesome to listen to him speak. The other two keynotes were equally impressive and the few workshops I attended were great. I led a small workshop as well, but only 2 people attended. Despite that, it went very well and we had an amazing discussion.

The Walk & Visits
When I was in Edmonton, my family participated in a Recreation for Life walk/run event just east of the city and we were able to raise over $1,500 for the scholarship foundation that we created in memory of my mom. About 9 family members participated. This was cool.

In Edmonton, I also visited friends and family, including shivan_raptor  who I connected with twice while I was there. In Calgary, I visited with Steve and Stan.

The Hot Springs
But, of course, there were hot springs! Two, in fact - or three if you consider that we went to one of them twice. We went to Banff Hot Springs with Steve and Stan and then, later on, we went to Ainsworth Hotsprings with Mike's daughter, Tara.

I guess I should mention Mike now. Yep, he's a friend and did the drive with me most of the way there and back (as far as the Kootenays). No, nothing like that which must be going through your mind happened. None of that between Mike and I. You're bad for even thinking it.

The Other Walk
One of the main reasons for going was to hike the West Coast Trail and I did - well, half of it anyway. I only planned to do half because I only had time to do half. So, after 59,858 steps and 33 km hiking on the trail, I ended up with tired feet, sore shoulders, bashed shins and a sunburned head, but I LOVED IT! Despite hiking through rainforest and across beaches, climbing and descending ladders, crossing bridges, traversing rivers in hand-propelled cable cars (quite a challenge when you are alone on the trail), I LOVED IT! Despite the theme of hiking in the rainforest shifting regularly from roots (and big honkin' roots at that) to mud and back again (and sometimes both together in almost impassable stretches of trail that tested either your creativity in staying relatively dry or not caring and sinking knee-deep in disgusting icky mud, I LOVED IT! Despite one sliver, one blister, not washing for 4 days, and a big sunburn on my head, I LOVED IT!
   

Have I mentioned that I loved it? The hike was amazing. It might have been even better because I did it alone, though there were a couple of guys hiking together (one from Halifax and the other from Victoria) who I ended up leap-frogging on the trail each day. It was peaceful and had some of the most breath-taking vistas overlooking the coast. It's a hard hike to describe because it would make you think "Why would anyone ever be so foolish?" However, many are and they probably feel the exhilaration, like I did, in completing a physically challenging hike through rough terrain and the ever-present threat of become lunch for a cougar.
 
   

I carried a backpack filled with about 25 kg (55 pounds) of stuff, most of which I used, for a distance of 33 km on the trail then an additional 7 km the next day when I found out I had to hike up to the West Coast Trail Bus pick-up point. To warm up, I hiked 14 km around Stanley Park in Vancouver the day before crossing to the Island. On the West Coast Trail itself, between Pachena Bay in the north and Nitinaht Narrows at the mid-point, I walked 59,898 steps. Yes, one of the items I carried was a pedometer - just for fun and to provide you all with this interesting tidbit of trivia. Aren't I so self-sacrificing???
 

The Other Stuff
There was other stuff mixed in and around all these things I've already mentioned - things like Ouimet Canyon, almost moose-tractor trailer-car-car-tractor trailer accidents (don't ask), audio books, and chipped winshield, doggie boarding, horses smaller than Ben, and discovering that they just don't make breakfast for visitors to southeast BC. All-in-all, it was a fabulous getaway and one that I will long remember because of what I accomplished.

The Next Trek
I am thinking Pangnirtung Pass in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island in July/August 2010. I dare any of you to commit to doing it with me!

Back from Alberta and British Columbia

Just arrived back home tonight after being away for 3.5 weeks. Had a blast. Definitely lots to follow - maybe tomorrow.

Calgary via Drumheller

We arrived in Calgary last night and came via Drumheller, where we spent about 4-5 hours in the badlands area and explored the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. Mike spent hours in the museum and I went through it quickly and then took Ben for a long walk out on an interpretive trail through part of the hills. We stopped en route to Calgary at Horseshoe Canyon and took a few pictures including several of a prairie dog and a young rabbit who were playing in the area.

Caught up with Steve last night here in Calgary and staying with him for 3 nights.

Checked out my schedule for the conference here - the International Conference on Ecology and the Helping Professions - and I've mapped out my plan. Don't have to register until 5 pm today so may only be at the University of Calgary for 2 hours or so early this evening. Tomorrow, I'll be there all day from about 8 am to 5:30 pm. On Saturday, I'll be there from 9 am to about 12:30 pm and I'll be leading my workshop from 11 am to 12:30 pm.

Then, we're off to Canmore for the night and an evening at the hotsprings in Banff and dinner at the Grizzly House - one of the best restaurants (IMHO) in the country. Steve and Stan are joining us in Banff as well for the night.