Saturday, December 24, 2011

there were a thousand other faces

"Old Streets of Antigua, Guatemala"

I have so many photos that I am dying to post, but time is short for now because of the holidays. Once I head back into Fernie, there will be an abundance of posts and stories and photos. I promise. Merry Christmas to all my blog followers! I'm back!

The trip was incredible. I have learned an incredible amount about the cultures in Mexico and Central America, and have a new outlook on life here in Canada. The richness of the individual people in Central America, the simple lives they live, and the warmth they surround you with has truly enlightened me.

More to come, very soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres

"Wherever you go, do as you see."

Two men with their borro in tow on the beach.
We are almost three weeks into our trip, and there are so many, many stories that have accumulated on the sheets of paper in my journal, that it is difficult to narrow the utmost important down. For they are equally influential in this journey.

We left Mexico City in a hurry last week, on an 18 hour bus ride to Puerto Escondido. Cramped, uncomfortable, trying to sleep as the bus swerved down curves on the Mexican highways, arriving at check stops every couple of hours, men holding fully-loaded machine guns, searching for criminals, searching for anyone who doesn't quite belong. Like ourselves. The busses are given the go ahead, so we don't need to stop, but my nerves are so wound up no sleep comes easy.

Juan and Omar, our fish guides, with a bonita fish.
But Puerto is beyond words. We step off the bus to stretch our legs and are met with a blanket of humid weather, my palms suddenly sticking to everything they touch.

I've learned that traveling quickly becomes a part of who you are; aching for the next destination, embracing whatever it is that the locals do, whether it be surf at this beach or that, eat this food or that. If you just take a step further, out from the hostel or the hotel or the resort that you feel so safe in, you wouldn't regret it. I'm becoming immersed in Mexico, and want to further myself as a traveller here, not as a tourist.

In all honestly, it is the people that make it so. Not the beaches, not the cheap jewelry. The people.

Playa Zicatela (Zicatela Beach) at sunset.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

el sabor de Mexico

The sound of Oaxaca cheese sizzling on a taco on the grill on the street, the spices, the Spanish floating to my ears; I can't understand much, if any. I am in Mexico. It is mucho bueno. It is so incredible, and so different, and so not easy to summarize into a small blog post. A taste of Mexico in my first week. 

Debido a que es tan hermoso que tiene que ser compartido.
Because it is so beautiful, it has to be shared.

Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Sun.
The best friend, the blanca Mexican!
Zocalo, the centre of Mexico City, with Parliament.
A non-authentic Mexican day at Six Flags.
Traditional Aztec prayer and dancing in Coyocan.
 Who knows where we'll be next week. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

travel, journey, voyage, explore, backpack.

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. - Seneca

I'm sitting on my bed, in my room, in Canada, and I don't really want to be here. And tomorrow, I won't be. Nor will I be for the next three and a half months. Because I am going to Mexico and Central America! I have no idea where I will be in a week: the only thing I know is that at 8:05 p.m. tomorrow night I will have landed in Mexico City, quite possibly the biggest city in the Western Hemisphere (21 million people). I will be going for tacos with my long-time Fernie friends and my new Mexican friends, and on Sunday, I'll be walking through Teotihuacan.

Packing for such a trip has proven to be most demanding. I have a 75 litre bag, with the desire to only fill half of it. But, alas, that is impossible. I've tried desperately to cut back on my belongings: a pair of Toms, a pair of hikers, flip-flops, a sheet (for those nasty hostels with nasty sheets), soap, lotion, 6 pairs of underwear/socks, three pairs of shorts (one jean, swim, lulu), long johns (for those long nights in the highlands of Guatemala), two pairs of jeans (comfy, skinny, 'cuz a girl has to have her skinny jeans), my Loki rain coat, two shirts, three tanks, one long sleeve, an American Apparel sweater, eye cover (for dreary hostel sleep ins when I want to drown out the light), and nick nacks of medicine which includes: advil, aleve, cream, carmex, a knife, a lock, Immodeum (diarrhea prep) and Malaria pills. This is not all I have in my bag, but it's all I will include so as not to overwhelm those of you reading this.

I was nervous. For a long time. Will a bring the right things? What am I forgetting? Will I be safe? And now, I'm just so excited there are tingles passing through my veins and my mind is constantly invaded with thoughts of climbing Maya pyramids and surfing turquoise blue waters, of swimming with sea turtles and drinking tequila with the local senoritas!

There is nothing more exciting that not knowing where I'll be. I never thought I'd say that. Packing through Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. All of them. Adios, Canada! Hola, adventura!

For my avid followers, I will be making a full-hearted time investment into blogging about the trip as it happens. They may be informal, short blogs, but if you are interested, follow along!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

good to have the sun on my face again

The water is so clear and so blue on my eyes that it makes me wish I could see underwater. Like a fish. Or a frog. Every time I make the hike up to Silver Springs, and ascend on the cliffs that overlook the lake, a rush of gratitude envelopes me. A deep breath in, a slow breath out, my eyes graze the lake that is so close to where I grew up. And even after what feels like hundreds of visits, the amazement remains.

A 23 foot leap off a jutting rock takes me deep into the water, but as I lean with my toes clutched to the edge, the jump I've done many times before leaves my heart thudding faster than it ordinarily would. And then I leap, and the water shoots up my nose, and I'm swimming in the deep blue to the surface where the sun warms my face. It's cold. I'm so completely at home. My own little Eden. Even if there are 30 others who feel just the same, now standing on the rocks above me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Climbing a mountain, or two.

At 1350 metres in elevation and six kilometres in, after having carried a 40-pound backpack through switchbacks for the last two-and-a-half hours, the pain in your shoulders becomes almost numb. The first three kilometres is a struggle; not yet in your element, with every step up towards your destination your legs shake. Your hips, where the waist straps of your bag sit, are aching and in connection with your hip flexers are sending signals to your brain saying, "Sit down, now." Still, you can't. If you sit, you won't get up. And if you won't get up, you won't see what you and your friends are determined to see, even if it takes all of your might to see it.

The Barrier lava dam as viewed from 1300 metres. Click
on the photos for a detailed view.
Last weekend myself, Ben, Jess Moir and Jamison Herron - after having spent far too much time in the city - felt it was time to hike into Garibaldi Park. Halfway between Squamish and Whistler, the park is one such area that is difficult to find words to describe. Not many people are aware it even exists, as most usually rush past it to get to Whistler. We packed our bags: emergency blanket, long johns, toque, sweater, extra sweater, hikers, socks, extra socks, toothbrush, can of beans, trail mix, sunscreen. Trying to prepare yourself for an overnight hike, without overpacking, is a challenge I haven't quite mastered. Trying to do so when you've heard there is still 2 metres of snow at the camp where you're headed, is even more troublesome.

Not deterred, however, we began or ascent up the mountain, passing fellow hikers (or in my case, being passed) - some hiking in, others hiking out. We made our way past the six-K mark, and then to The Barrier. For my fellow geography buffs, The Barrier needs no explanation. Still, it is such a remarkable remnant of the changing earth that it deserves attention. The Barrier is a lava dam that retains Garibaldi Lake. According to my good friend Wikipedia (and my knowledge collected last year from a Geography field trip), its thickness is 300 metres and is 2 kilometres wide. The volcano responsible for the flow is Mount Price, and more specifically, Clinker Peak (a west vent of Mount Price). At the time of eruption (9,000 years ago) a glacier existed in the Cheakamus River valley and the lava flow halted against it to form the barrier.

The area below The Barrier is extremely dangerous, so much so that the village of Garibaldi (below it) was relocated. It's possible that The Barrier could collapse following an earthquake or another event. Seeing it in its entirety was tremendous.

Finally at Garibaldi Lake, where we stopped to view the lake
trout and indulge in our finally arriving.
Past The Barrier, it's another 2.5 kilometres to Garibaldi Lake and the campsite. The hike in from this point is beautiful - crystal clear lake water, streams and then the turquoise blue of Lake Garibaldi. Was there snow like what we had read? Absolutely. So much, in fact, that we had to trek around in search of a site that was snow-free, and upon failing, Ben and Jamison dug out a snow pit for our two tents. We ate lunch, unpacked, went for a walk and then spent the next few hours making dinner, playing cribbage, and recuperating from the 9.5 kilometer hike-in. Whiskeyjack (Gray Jay) birds were landing on our hands, and chipmunks were sitting at our feet. The rainbow trout swam in the lake. There was no sign that just hours before we had been surrounded by concrete and high-rises.

The following morning, after spending a cold, rainy night on the ground, surrounded by snow and wrapped in our sleeping bags like caterpillars in their cocoons, we were up and began our next hike. Garibaldi Park offers endless hiking opportunities and deciding which ridge to climb or mountain to conquer is more difficult that the venture itself (figuratively speaking). Thanks to Ben's topographic map, we decided on Mount Price for its yet unexplored territory (Jamison had already climbed the Black Tusk).

We did a bit of bushwhacking before finding the not-so-beaten trail in some crowded and rocky forest on the south-west portion of the lake near Battleship Islands. At first not even sure we were going anywhere (for our lack of knowledge about the trailhead), we quickly began hiking, not quite sure of where we were headed, excluding the moment when Ben pointed out, "We're going up there!" Marked only by flagging tape and a few faded footprints in the snow, we hiked towards Mount Price.

Mount Price and its vent, Clinker Peak (left and right); Jess and
Ben with a view of Garibaldi Lake in the background, and an old lava flow.
The hike mainly exists along the ridge of an old lava flow and partially through the flow itself. We zig-zagged through a basalt rock field that once would have been a solid flow of lava, now broken up after hundreds and thousands of years of weathering processes. The view from the ridge of Garibaldi Lake, and the surrounding landscape including Panorama Ridge, was a site to see.

Further up the ridge along the 4 kilometre ascent we encountered a colossal amount of snow. This past winter blanketed Garibaldi Park with so much white stuff the potential for colourful wild flowers was burried deep beneath. Instead, we gathered ourselves walking sticks and remained on top of the snow as we continued on our exploration.

As we reached the bottom of Clinker Peak, I noticed red streaks in the snow. Jamison informed me that what looked to be red spray paint was actually red algae, or watermelon snow. The algae, which is green algae with a "secondary red carotenoid pigment" thrives in freezing water and is common during summertime at alpine elevations.

Hiking in the snow towards Clinker Peak; Jamison, Jess and
Ben making their way upwards, and myself taking in the view.
Now on the ridge of Clinker Peak (reminder: this is where the flow that created The Barrier came from) the volcanic eruptions of its past became distinct. The direction of the lava flows heading towards The Barrier and into Garibaldi Lake, were easy to distinguish and even more remarkable from such a high elevation (1900 metres). The volcanic igneous rock beneath our feet, included Andesite, Basalt, and Pumice, was a geologist's dream come true. Reds, blacks, oranges, a rainbow of rock types. And the view from the summit of Clinker Peak of Garibaldi Lake was so vast that you simply cannot capture it in a 24 mm wide lens. At this point we ascended up a snow field and the view was so breathtaking that the aches in my legs were virtually non-existent.

Nearing the top of Clinker Peak, and Ben with the beginning of an incredible landscape.
Once at the top of Clinker Peak, we walked down into a concave between the peak and Mount Price. It was here, upon climbing towards the pinnacle of Mount Price, that the true limitless of Garibaldi Park set in.

Jamison and I heading into the concave dip before climbing
to Mount Price; Ben with the most incredible view.
To the southeast of us came into view The Table, the Warren Glacier, Garibaldi Neve and Mount Garibaldi. The Table (seen to Ben's left in the bottom photo) sits at 2,021 metres and formed beneath the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Behind The Table is Mount Garibaldi - for all intents and purposes - an active stratovolcano. At 2675 metres in elevation, the volcano is concealed by glacial snow. Even now, these photos do not do the landscape justice. "Wow. Wow. Wow." It's all I could muster up to say.

Minutes later, after digging through and picking up large chunks of Pumice, we made it to the top of Mount Price. A flat, rounded summit, Mount Price was by far the best choice for a hike. A 360 degree view from the peak (at 2052 metres) showed Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, lava flows and the glacier kingdom of Garibaldi Park.

No words. Just splendor.
We weren't at the peak for more than a half hour before the blue sky gave way to ominous clouds. As we explored the top, gray cloud moved into the mountain and concern about ill-tempered weather had us packing up and heading down. What was a steep and slippery climb through snow and rock on the way up turned into a fun slip-and-slide ride on our rain coats as we descended. No walking necessary - we wrapped our jackets beneath our bums and slid down the mountain. I may have had a little too much fun, but it's not every day you get to play in the snow in the middle of August.

Two hours later we were back at camp, packed up, and making our way down the dreaded switchbacks back to the truck. By nightfall we were still on the trail and, for some time, I sang to myself in the dark before Ben convinced me to strap on my headlamp. At 9 p.m., nearing the parking lot, my feet began to throb. Every step closer on the path sent agonizing pain through my body. After having hiked for nearly 15 hours in less than two days, my sprightliness for exploring dispersed. My back pained. My legs cramped. My feet swelled. My heart delighted.

All aches and pains were made up for with a view like this. Go the Garibaldi Park. Even looking at this, it gives little insight into actually being there and seeing for yourself how amazing it is to climb a mountain, or two.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Room between me and the ground.

As we ascended off the tarmack at Squamish Airport, what I thought would be nervousness in my first flight in a single-engine plane was actually utter excitement. The headset was on, the engine roared to life, and my good friend Stuart - who recently received his private pilots license - pulled back on the control column and sent us flying in the air. In seconds we were escalating above ground.

Before take-off he gave us the tutorial: "This is the tracking device incase we crash. Put your seat belt on like this. If I say 'hands off,' don't touch anything." And then, as if he had been doing it for years, Stu flew up to 7,000 feet in the air and imprinted within me an entirely different view of the Coast Mountains around Squamish and Whistler. A bird's eye view, if I dare to sound cliche.

 We saw the Stawamus Chief, not from the highway as most do, but at 3,000 vertical feet. The vastness of the granitic monolith is even more astounding from the air. And then we flew - in attempt to reach our desired elevation - through Garibaldi Provincial Park, which encompasses a volcanic field of nine different stratovolcanoes.

It was like a geography dream come true. You could see where glaciers from thousands of years ago used to sit in the earth, that have now melted away and left the ground transformed. And more, you could see the amount of volcanic activity that shaped the land in the first place during the Holocene (11,000 years ago). Above you can see the lateral moraine, a Roche Moutonnee (thanks to Malcolm's knowledge below) and U-shaped valleys from glacial activity.

And then you've got Garibaldi Lake, which is, in itself, absolutely astounding. It's depth is at 300 metres and exists due to a lava flow from Clinker Peak that created a lava wall barrier during the last ice age. The blue colour is the result of rock flour - ground up sediment from the glacier that, when the sun hits it, reflects the water in a bright blue. Adjacent to the lake is The Table, which formed below the Cordillera Ice Sheet. Flying directly next to and above these features, having never seen them at any close distance, was breathtaking. Not even an hour from Vancouver there is so much left to explore.

Stuart then flew us in our loop past Mount Cayley, seen behind me here. Mount Cayley is a "potentially active volcano" that rises 7,428 vertical feet. Upon further reading I discovered that Mount Cayley poses future eruptions, with hot springs steaming up on the western flank. Also, seismologists have recorded earthquakes as early back as 1985, a sure sign that volcanic activity still exists beneath the mountain.

As we began our descent back to solid ground, pilot Stuart and the other passengers (myself excluded) decided that Negative G's would be a hilariously fun form of entertainment. As I gripped my hands tightly to the bottom of the seat, Ben and Mikey giggled like school boys in the back. I resisted the feeling of floating and yet my body leapt into the air as the plane dove. All was not well in Jesse's insides. Still, I refrained from throwing up and took a photo of the two, much more thrilled passengers. Flying is fun. Seeing the reflection of the tiny single-engine plane on the trees below had me feeling nostalgic. However, I can't quite put into words what flying through a volcanic belt, with glaciers staring back at you, is like. It's like knowing something is beautiful but the description of it isn't tangible.

The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension. A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one. - Wendell Willkie

Friday, July 29, 2011

Towers: Photo of the week

Near Seymour Creek a couple of weeks ago. Ben standing next to one of Mother Nature's giants, to which we have destroyed.

Creation destroys as it goes, throws down one tree for the rise of another. But ideal mankind would abolish death, multiply itself million upon million, rear up city upon city, save every parasite alive, until the accumulation of mere existence is swollen to a horror. 
- David Herbert Lawrence 

Central Americas!

The world is a book, and those who do 
not travel only read a page. - St. Augustine

Central America. September 17. Eight hours from Calgary to Mexico City. Yes, oh yes.

After five long years of school and work, of saving up money to pay for tuition and pay for rent, I am finally saving up money (though very little) to travel. Ben and I fly to Mexico City in September, where we'll be staying with my good friend Renee before backpacking our way down to Panama.

Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It is going to be amazing, and I can't stop thinking about it. Surfing, Maya ruins, jungle, parrots, culture, stories. I want to write so many stories while I'm there, I can feel my brain swelling at the thought of it.

I am so excited.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book 15

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Lisbon girls, a tragedy but for no particular reason other than they chose to be. The Virgin Suicides was an odd and yet compelling book about five sisters who over the period of one year all find unique and inexplainable ways to kill themselves.

Whether it be because their parents prevented them from experiencing the normal things every teenage girl should experience, or because they never found love, or because they felt no one understood them, they chose death over life.

I felt very little connection to this book. Odd, because I thought that it would for sure entrance me. The writing style was unique in that the narrator was a school boy (or boys) who observed the Lisbon girls from afar and wrote based on accounts conducted from interviews, but I felt nothing pulling at my heartstrings to continue to read on. Because there was so little development of the five Lisbon sisters, I never felt I knew their characters well or could distinguish the type of girls they were.

Still, I suppose that was the purpose of the book: to leave the reader trying to decipher for themselves the reason why five young and promising women would take their own lives, and perhaps lead is to question our own?

Fifteen down, ten to go.

Monday, July 18, 2011

kindness in a customer

I have worked many a job in my life. Most of them have involved working with other people, customers. At Dairy Queen I served up burgers and ice cream, at Montana's Cookhouse I seated people and cleaned tables, at Michael's I stocked shelves and helped people around the store. At the newspapers I've reported for I've interviewed and photographed and told people's stories. And now, this summer, I paint the place to which they live day and night.

In all of the above, if there is anything of value I have learned, it's that kindness is a virtue and it is one that is thin on the ground... it so rarely exists.

An employee is aware he or she must be kind; provide hellos, work hard, smile and do everything one can to satisfy the paying customer. But what is so rarely considered is the contrasting attitude of the customer. If you hope to see the people you've hired do a fabulous job of whatever it is they have been hired to do, do not hover over them and point out the smallest of imperfections at the beginning of a job. Give your workers a chance to prove that they suffice. Do not accuse them of "ripping" you off, or "changing a contract," and then proceed to ignore them when they are trying to communicate with you and clear the confusion.

Do not assume that you are right - because you live here, or you are a contractor - and the painter is wrong, or does not know what he or she is doing. And do not assume that because we are "just painters" we are mindless hosts that lack the capacity to do anything properly.

If you ever hire a contractor, a plumber, a painter, a drywall man/woman, an electrician, a carpenter, or if you are ever in line at a Dairy Queen ordering food, please for goodness sake do not assume that because you are the one hiring, or the one ordering, that that gives you the right to mistreat the person behind the counter, or the one holding the brush.

Do not assume that because I have paint in my hair and drywall dust in my eyes, that I am an uneducated and inexperienced human being. And do not, when I am trying to communicate with you and saying that, "we must respect one another," turn your head from mine and wave your hand in my face as if to shove me off for being so ridiculous.

Kindness is so lacking sometimes in this world, and it is at brief moments (like today) that I encounter it. For goodness sake, be nice, people.

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. - Samuel Johnson

Thursday, July 7, 2011

sitting in the sun, breathing the salty air

"... The grandest and most pleasing prospect my eyes ever surveyed." 

This was how explorer William Clark put into words what he saw when seeing the Oregon Coast, and specifically the region near Cannon Beach, for himself in 1806. What my eyes too witnessed while recently visiting the same area was parallel. 

The Oregon Coast is phenomenal. I've struggled the last few days to find words that properly describe the coastline so as to give it justice, and there aren't many. Phenomenal will have to do. It is a region that shows the aged earth we live on; 400-year-old sitka spruce trees that blanket parkland, basaltic sea stacks left behind after decades of erosion. It is an area that I am not sure I can captive into one single blog post.  

Spiderwebs gathered morning dew near
where we camped in Astoria, OR.

Last Thursday, having had enough of the hustle and bustle of Vancouver, of working and eating and sleeping and repeating, we took the long weekend to go to Cannon Beach, Oregon, some 552 km and six hours of driving down south. It was the best decision I've made (as of recently). We slept the first night on a dirt road near Astoria (a difficult thing to do in the U.S., as state troopers often patrol roads and will send you packing to a campsite if they catch you). We parked on a sandy marshland/spit area, and in the morning heard the fishing boats heading out along the Columbia River estuary. Not quite sure yet what to expect of Oregon, we took a walk to the waterfront and then packed up to drive a few miles further to Cannon Beach.

We first rented surfboards when we arrived in Cannon Beach. I've surfed only once before in Tofino, and it was a challenging endevour - one I wasn't sure I'd try again. My hesitation at surfing lurked beneath my skin as I pulled on my wetsuit. And then it was off to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park - a beach surfers head to for some nice (I prayed) breaking waves.

Top: me surfing. Middle: Ben and
I with our boards. Bottom: Ben
at Indian Beach. 
The view of Indian Beach was incredible. Golden sand stretching as far out as possible, waves creeping up on giggling children running to escape the cold Pacific. Basaltic sea stacks in the distance with the white caps of waves crashing into them, and I, in my surf gear, terrified. However, as is evident in the pictures to the right, fear hath no place for surfing. After some coaxing from Ben, and a silent prayer to the surf Gods, I plunged into the water. I have never been more ecstatic, more thrilled, in my entire life, as I felt the first time I got up on my knees, and then my feet, on the surf board. The wave pushed me in, and I caught myself yelling out to anyone who would listen, "I'm riding a wave!" Perhaps my excitement goes misunderstood by those who haven't yet had the chance to surf. Still, it was invigorating.

Ecola State Park's Hiker's Camp.

We surfed all afternoon before putting into place the next two night's sleeping arrangements. Ben and I carry with us a certain refusal to pay to camp. Such an attitude is detrimental when in the States. So, we settled for the second best: pay $15 to camp two  in Ecola State Park. This meant hiking our gear up more than 800 feet in elevation and 1.25 miles to the camp. Exhausted nonetheless, we managed to make it up and spent two nights camping surrounded by a greener-than-green forest and friendly fellow campers near Tillimook Head. We carried up the tent, the food, the clothes. The site was magical; cabins, the biggest clover patches I've ever seen, and campfire shenanigans.

We spent the Friday and Saturday surfing, and Saturday night did a little exploring before heading back up to camp. We checked out the Lookout (right). Sea stacks are ever present - the ocean has, over thousands of years, eroded away any surrounding rock and what remains is this basalt section of rocks, making for a spectacular view. The rocks play homage to several different species of birds (including puffins) and seals, as well. In the state park, as a part of the trail that leads to Hiker's Camp, is the Clatsop Loop Trail, again a trail made famous by the Lewis and Clark expedition (read up on this, it's very interesting). On Saturday night we did the second part of the trail which runs along the cliffs to the camp, and the hike led us through a maze of trees unlike I've ever seen before. There was the view of the open ocean, with the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse (which closed in 1956), and the exploration of an old World War II bunker (also on the hike).
Sitka Spruce. The right tree began growing atop a fallen tree, which
then broke down into the earth, hence my ability to climb beneath it's roots.
Ben skimboarding along Cannon Beach
in front of Haystack Rock and "the Needles."
Far too soon Sunday morning came, and we left Hiker's Camp, said goodbye to some very friendly Portland people, and made one last quick stop at Cannon Beach. This beach is perhaps the most famous of them all along the Oregon Coast, if not for the view itself, for it's Hollywood claim to fame. The movie The Goonies was filmed on the beach. Haystack Rock, the most photographed, stands at 235 feet and is a monolith (meaning it is made up of one single type of rock), and is the third largest of this kind in the world. We flew our kite on the beach, ate a snack, and then headed our way back to Vancouver, reluctantly. 

For many years I've wanted to head down the Oregon Coast. I love my mountains, but the salt water and the Pacific, with its sandy beaches, welcoming surf, and even more welcoming sites, is grabbing a hold of my feet and pulling me closer. The north part of the Oregon Coast really is the grandest and most pleasing prospect my eyes ever surveyed... yet.

Photo credits to myself and Benjamin Ross.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book 14

The Magus by John Fowles

This book went recommended by my dad, who has the knowledge of intriguing books down to a science. The Magus follows Nick Urfe in a whirlwind mystery as he leaves his desperate girlfriend for a teaching job on a small Greek island. There, he meets a even more mysterious man by the name of Conchis, who will lead him on a 'game' where the main character constantly questions what is real and what is staged.

In the end, he discovers he has the potential to be a more compassionate, selfless individual, but not without losing the one person that led him to this rediscovering of himself.

I enjoyed the book, although it ended far too soon and without a sense of conclusion. There were moments within it, however, that I couldn't put it down, and it kept me guessing until near the very end.

I always pull things from the books that I read, and this was no short of ideas or thoughts to provoke me. Like the lesson Nicholas learns, my favourite: "Because the one thing that must never come between two people who have offered each other love is a lie."

And in one scene, where Jojo, a young and virgin-like woman, says to Nicholas: "I wish I was real pretty." He replies, "Being pretty is just something that's thrown in. Like the paper around a present. Not the present." I'm not sure if everyone would enjoy this book, but it made for an interesting read.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

animal planet

My undying love for little animals continues to become ever more prevalent. Meet Ms. Raccoon, resident of Stanley Park. Thanks Ingrid for taking the photos!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

cookie monster

When depressed, hungry, etc.. baking cookies makes me feel a little better. It helps that I have a great cookie monster book. If you ever see it, pick it up for yourself. It contains great recipes, like the All-American Chocolate Chip Cookie.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 pack semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture, beat until blended.
Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop the dough onto ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart in tablespoonfuls. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies, so I suggest doubling the recipe if you are a monster like me, or if you live with one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Drunk again in the rhododendrons

"Boy, what you gonna do with your life? So you want to be an artist, want to be a singer, want to be remembered for what you could create."  Bloc Party

That's it. Graduated. Degree in hand, a $30,000 slip of paper that says, "you've committed to something, now show that it was worth it." It's no ordinary thing to obtain a degree. It is the "what now?", however, that is even more peculiar. 

I went to my grad, walked on stage, shook the Dean's hand, and two days later I found myself climbing ladders and painting window frames. I was angry and frustrated: had I really worked so hard the past four years to find myself wearing dirty painter's pants, combing the crusty paint from my hair? 

But then I was standing in line at 7-11 in my painting attire buying a much-needed chocolate bar after work, and a man whom I could only guess by his accent was from the Middle East, said to me, "You are sure lucky. Women in my country can't work [the way you do]." 

 I think the point of school, the point of work, the reason I have ripped my fingernails and challenged my fear of 30-foot ladders, or the reason for anything at all, is so that we can grow. So we can see ourselves develop and transform and change and change again. So we can confront complications and come out stronger.

So, I have my Bachelor of Applied Journalism degree. But I could be a painter. I could be an artist. A traveller. An author, I could make shoes or build fences. The point is, I can. And so, I will.

For those of you in these photos, I'm so glad you have been a part of my life. And I think it's great that so many of us decided to go to the grad, because I'm not quite sure I'll be gathering another degree anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

friends and anemones.

The ocean has got to be the most spectacular and magical thing on this earth. It's an underwater world of which we barely get to scratch the surface of. It's mysterious and strong, and I was just lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it this long weekend in Tofino.
Top: Surfing at Chesterman's Beach, Bryce, Teresa and Ben. Also, the crew skim boarding. The bottom photo was taken at Long Beach, a 10-mile long beach that is absolute paradise.
Ben and I camped for the weekend at Bella Pacifica Campground with some friends, and spent every hour of the day on the beach, myself completely mesmerized. On Saturday, I zipped up my wetsuit and took in some lessons from our friend Teresa on surfing at Chesterman Beach. I'm weak, the ocean is strong, and 15 minutes was all I could take. It was incredible though to feel the fast speed of the waves as they break. Next time I'll have to better prepare for the energy it takes to "paddle, paddle, paddle."

The following day we made out way to South Chestermans, where I walked along the beach to Frank Island for some exploring. The tide was just coming in and I was able to get to the rocky shore where sea creatures of all sorts reside. Sea anemones, sea stars, fish and clams.
The Green Surf Anemone (top and bottom). I'm not sure if the creature in the middle is an anemone. The anemone is a predator and eats all sorts, including a hermit crab (about to be eaten on the bottom).
 There was also hundreds of mussels attached to these rocks on Frank Island. The mussels emit strong byssus threads that harden upon contact with sea water and thus are able to attach securely to the rock. They call a collective of mussels such as the ones below "mussel beds."

The little sea animals are so intricate in both their colour and their design, as you can see below of the shells, the sand dollar and the purple shore crab. Shells offer up shelter for animals like hermit crabs, and the sand dollar is worth nothing in Canadian dollar exchange. This little crab was hidden under the first rock I overturned, and was the only crab I saw the entire weekend.

Shells, sand dollars (which are actually herbivores that have spines to move along the sand) and my friendly baby purple shore crab.
 My favourite thing to do at the ocean, which is evident in my photos, is to take my camera and just explore. I feel there is so much to discover in doing that, and my favourite discovery was the sea stars. Below you see the Ochre Sea Star in orange and purple. They feel hard to the touch and are just one of many species of sea stars. Another one we commonly saw (and held) was the sunflower sea star.

Unfortunately three days during the long weekend was not sufficient enough to see the sea on Vancouver Island. Thus, there is no other solution than to go back and stay longer the next time.Visit, meet new friends and see for yourself how incredible the ocean really is.

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