Monday, October 08, 2007

It's October 8th and still hot enough (25 degrees) to spend a day sunbathing on the beach - marvellous! Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and I've been enjoying the day off by relaxing at the Beaches in Toronto and giving thanks in my own way for such a beautiful day to top off what has been a lovely month.

For most of September my parents were over here and I believe thoroughly enjoyed their travels across Canada and back. They had a few days here with me before heading west to Calgary and Banff where they hired a car and seemed to have a great time chasing goats that they thought were bears.

After my rather hectic week volunteering at the Film Festival, I jumped on a plane and joined them in Vancouver. We had a good couple of days exploring the city and staying by the harbour watching all the seaplanes fly in and out. Dad and I managed to get over our vertigo to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and take the tree top walk in the forest canopy. All three of us enjoyed seeing the totem poles at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and exploring Granville Island Market. We had a lovely meal in the city's historic Gastown opposite the famous steam clock as it pumped out steam every few minutes.

On what was the foggiest day of our trip we boarded the Whistler Mountaineer and had a rather spectacular train ride along the coast and into the mountains until we arrived at the all-year mountain resort of Whistler. For some strange reason, I decided it would be a great idea to go for a ride on the gondola cable car to the top of the mountain. We could hardly see anything on the ride up but can at least now say we've stood at the top of the 2010 Winter Olympics downhill run! Our return journey was made even more pleasurable as we were served a rather delicious afternoon tea.

After a couple of days on the mainland, we headed across the water to the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, on Vancouver Island. We could look across the water and wave at the good ole US of A and the folks residing in Washington state.

We hired a car here and visited the Butchart Gardens in a disused quarry and then headed north the next day to Tofino on the Pacific coast. We stopped off at a place called Cathedral Grove on the way where we saw giant cedars and douglas fir trees towering above us.

In Tofino we stayed at a gorgeous hotel called the Wickanninish Inn located right on Chesterman Beach. You could lie in the bath and look out over the beach which seemed to change almost by the minute as the light, tide and weather altered. It was nice to have a couple of days to chill out and observe the natural beauty of the Pacific Rim National Park. We spotted a whale from Long Beach and spent an afternoon watching bears from a boat along the inland shoreline. We saw six black bears altogether, including one cub. It was incredible to see and hear them so close as they searched for crabs hiding under rocks at low tide. They really are magnificent creatures but I wouldn't like to get quite as close without the water between us!

Later in the week we worked our way back towards Victoria and spent a few nights perched high on top of the Malahat mountain at the Aerie Resort along with a few eagles. Dad and I had a super afternoon whalewatching. The sea was absolutely calm and we were incredibly lucky to see a humpback whale along with around ten orcas (killer whales), including another baby. We also saw stellar sea lions and seals as an added bonus. The extreme nature adventure was over all too soon and it was time to head back to the city once more.

Our five-hour flight back to Toronto was smooth and the last few days of my parents' visit saw them go to Niagara Falls and all of us spend a fabulous night watching the spectacle that is Cirque du Soleil. We saw the new show, Kooza, and couldn't help but gasp at the acrobatic daredevils who practically made our hearts stop as they performed various tricks on the wheel of death and suspended on the high wire. If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, I can't recommend it highly enough. Go! It really is worth it.

My parents left a week last Friday and I returned to work. I've secured a further contract at the University of Toronto until Christmas so that's keeping the wolf from my door.

Life continues to be very busy still and I've just started a new evening course in travel writing so hopefully you'll see some improvement over the next few entries!

Last weekend was something called Nuit Blanche and I had a great time joining about 450,000 Torontonians as we stayed up most of the night to take part in an all night 'contemporary art thing'. The city came alive with lots of modern and outdoor art exhibits, many involving performance. I was quite tickled by the spoof alien spaceship crash landing in the middle of the university.

This weekend has been my first Thanksgiving. Canadians celebrate it a month and a bit earlier than their American neighbours. I thoroughly enjoyed partaking of the turkey and trimmings yesterday along with some friends. Peter did a grand job in the end despite phone calls earlier in the afternoon trying to determine which way was up on the turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!