How I spent my summer vacation. (Queen + Adam Lambert, Fun Runs, Horses & Season Finales)

I awoke to a skiff of snow on my car.  It will be a brief appearance only to remind us that winter is coming.

Yes, it will melt and the days will warm again for a time,

but…Summer is over.  

Since I work at a university this is always marked by students returning. The new ones always look so excited and hopeful.  They haven’t yet cracked a book to study so anything and everything is possible (come December their look will be bleaker, caffeine riddled and hollow-eyed as they cram for exams) but this past week they were busy meeting new study buddies and checking out fraternities and favourite hangouts.

My grandson also started his first day of grade 1.  He was terrified until he met his new teacher, then he smiled from ear to ear in his new school duds, sporting his new shoes and shiny backpack.  Memories of my own back-to-school days reminded me that a common first assignment was to write about our summer vacation.  I hated that because I lived on a farm and every day was the same as the next.  Play, chores, sleep, play, chores, sleep. (yeah, I know, tough life)  As a child nothing seemed to be anything exciting to write about.  Chasing squirrels and catching snakes never seemed that thrilling to me.  

So in keeping with back-to-school, I am going to write about how I spent my summer vacation. Only, I will be doing it as a photo journal since a picture’s worth a thousand words. However, if I posted every photo in one sitting it would be the equivalent of War and Peace. Therefore, I will make this a three part sequel.  

Sit back, grab a coffee and browse some pics, after all, winter is coming.

Part 1.

Probably the highlight of my summer was attending three Queen concerts with Adam Lambert stepping into the formidable shoes of Freddie Mercury. They played 35 shows plus a preview show: across Canada, United States, Korea, Japan, Australia & New Zealand in 81 days, selling out many arenas including Madison Square Gardens. Their final show was in New Zealand on Sept. 4.

Here are a few previously unpublished photos of my concert adventures. The following pics are in no particular order but illustrate their Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver gigs. (All the photos and videos featured in this blog are my own.) 

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I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it's worth repeating!

I have published this one before but they are having so much fun it’s worth repeating!

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Take that bow.Taking their encore bows.

Vancouver after the show.

Vancouver after the show.

City lights

City lights

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

A final toast to a fabulous tour.

  Although the Queen + Adam Lambert tour has wrapped up for now, Brian May has hinted that future shows are not out of the question.  In the meantime, Queen will be busy with other projects which include releasing some previously  unreleased tracks featuring Freddie Mercury and perhaps Michael Jackson.  

Adam Lambert is also heading back into the studio to finish up his third album, of which his fans (myself included) are eagerly awaiting. 

Tomorrow, part 2, Color-Me-Rad

Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 3.

Before I start on my Vancouver highlights I just want to add a few more snaps from Calgary.  A word of advice to those of you that are planning on following Queen and Adam for more than one show- take a laptop with you.  I had my iphone and iPad with me but found it cumbersome to look through the over 500 photos that were taken.  Now that I am back home, with my iMac, and no this is not an Apple commercial- I have been better able to peruse the photos and have posted some new ones below.

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And that wraps up my photo journal for Calgary.  Now on to part 3:

Vancouver, BC.  June 28th, Rogers Arena

I was fortunate to have rented a condo directly across the street from the arena and had convinced my good friend, Jody, to come with me. She is a huge Queen fan but, thanks to my small obsession, was also familiar with Adam Lambert. And since I had dragged her all the way to Phoenix, Arizona in 2012 to see Adam perform live, she was fairly certain that he could, in his own style, handle the difficult role that Mr. Mercury’s music presented.  I am not even going to repeat the obvious here- that every blogger and journalist feel the need to state, there is only one, yadda, yadda, yadda.  No shit.  We were there for the music of Queen and the charismatic performance of Adam Lambert (with his own fierce vocal range), as were the hordes of other concert goers.

Although it had been pouring rain, for most of the day, the skies were clear and the sun was smiling warm on the long lineups waiting to get into the arena.  The concert appeared to be sold out.  Instead of selling tickets people were calling out to see who had tickets to buy.  This was further confirmed once in the arena.  It was full to the rafters, not a single seat was open around me.  We had upgraded our tickets to the 2nd row, seat 1 and 2 and were positioned left of stage centre.  Wonderful seats for live viewing but not necessarily great for photos without a proper lens due to the angle and lighting.

While the enthusiastic fella behind me was busy explaining the virtues of Mr. Lambert to his buds, strident Queen fans were the dominant force.  Directly in front of me was an especially passionate Queen fan.  He had seen Queen in Vancouver twice previously- 1978 and 1980.  He not only knew every song but also the album they were first recorded on, in addition, to Freddie’s solo work.  It was like getting a Queen history lesson.  He was a lovely man with a generous spirit.  I asked what he thought of Adam Lambert and he said although he wasn’t familar with him he trusted Brian May and Roger Taylor’s judgement.  I figured it would be interesting to see what his opinions were after the show.

There was excitement and the energy was palpable.  As Adam sang the first notes of ‘Now I’m Here’ (written by Brian May) the crowd gasped and needed no further convincing.  They were on their feet- standing, dancing and singing.  The curtain lifted the crowd roared and my final night began.  I would need to soak in every minute.  Later in the evening as Brian May was about to sing ‘Love of My Life’ he encouraged the crowd to singalong if they knew the words.  Well the arena came to life as everyone sang in harmony. (I’m no singer so I listened) Vancouver has some seriously good voices.  Even Brian looked surprised.  When a visual of Freddie appeared on the screen, to sing the final lines, it prompted a woman behind me to sob.

Yup, Queen does that to folks.

Later, after a rousing drum solo and duel between Roger and his son, Rufus; Adam Lambert once again strutted the stage to join Roger to sing ‘Under Pressure’ and EVERYONE was into it.

My friend, Jody said it was the best concert she’s ever been to.  This was a common refrain heard around me.  The ardent fan with the Queen history lesson even let me jump up to front row so I could take some pics.  He was impressed with Adam and loving the show but was very disappointed that ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ got dropped from the setlist for Vancouver.  Not sure why they cut that short, perhaps they were running over.  I also noticed that there didn’t seem to be as much interaction with the VIPers as in the previous two shows.  But overall the show was brilliant and Adam was phenomenal.  Personal highlights for me, were Fat Bottomed Girls, I Want it All, Somebody to Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and my favourites- Love Kills and Who Wants to Live Forever -which Adam soars on.

So before my final set of photos for Vancouver, here are my final takes on the three cities:  Keep in mind that these observations are influenced by my vantage points. Your experience may very well be quite different than mine but rest assured, you will be thoroughly entertained by Queen and Adam Lambert.

Loudest Crowd- Edmonton – also only city where I saw the wave done.  (Mexican wave someone called it, news to me, but some believe that the wave was actually created in Edmonton during sporting events back in the 70’s.)

Most Cowboy Hats- Calgary – Even Brian May got into the act, putting one on for his solo.  Calgary gave the love for sure.

Best Singalong- Vancouver- It sounded amazing.

Now down to business, here is the final set of photos from my little adventure.    Enjoy.

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the end for now…

 

Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 2.

Calgary, Alberta

The trip to Calgary was filled with delicious anticipation. I had bit the bullet and decided to go for broke and bought an OnStage ticket. I really wanted to get a different perspective and figured this would do it.  The OnStage package included all the bits and bobs that come with VIP packages (T Shirt, souvenir ticket, ect.) with the exception of also sitting on stage and receiving a backstage tour.

Our tour guide, Andy, a carpenter by trade, had the job of building everything that was needed for the massive stage production, which included set up, take down and obvious other tasks (such as tour guide, lol) and apparently that massive metal Q was damn heavy.  He, along with 44 other stage crew would be with Queen throughout their tour, which, so far, is set to finish in Australia.  For the North American leg the crew travels about in one of 13 buses. However, Roger, Brian and Adam (and likely the rest of their band and entourage) fly from venue to venue, usually leaving from the concert to go directly to the airport and rest assured, they do not fly commercial.

Andy showed us around and introduced us to several members of the crew. They were all a lively bunch and seemed to love their jobs- who wouldn’t?!  I found out that the big screen used on stage has a million pixels. Also learned, that some of the guitars Brian May travels with are the same ones he used from the early days. Andy also remarked on Dr. Brian May’s great intellect and how England should be knighting him any day now.

Andy had great praise for Roger, Brian and Adam saying that they are friendly and great fun to work for and often take the time to greet or chat with the crew.

Finally we were shown to the VIP pit and warned that there would be absolutely “no touching the performers”, what? damn!

The VIP pit was situated on the left of the stage beside a ‘screamer’, which is what they call the metal steps that jut up and off the stage on both sides (a performer runs up them and the crowd screams, hence the name).  There were 10 of us and I sat in front, next to one of the screamers.  The pics from this view would mean taking a lot of side shots but the live views would be incredible as Adam’s water station was beside the pit. Most of my fellow VIPers were contest winners. (lucky devils)
Only two of this group had personally met Brain and Roger, during a white hat ceremony, a Calgary tradition apparently, where they presented Brian and Roger with white cowboy hats.  They did not meet Adam.  (We had been told prior to our tour that any meetings with the band would be by chance as they were all in their dressing rooms prepping for the show).

Sitting next to me was a lovely, buxom blonde who amply filled her stunning outfit. (this will have relevance a little later).

I realize I might be biased but the Edmonton crowd were louder and more enthused than that of Calgary.  Edmonton had stomped, sang, and cheered for Queen to come out; the noise level filling the air with such excitement that it had showed on the faces of the band when the curtain went up.  As Adam noted on Twitter with a tweet later that night, Edmonton was pumped!

Whereas Calgary’s crowd seemed willing to patiently wait with sporadic hoots and whistles. I asked my lovely new blonde friend if Calgary seemed quiet to her and she commented that they were a rather reserved crowd in comparison to other cities. (Her boyfriend was a musician for a famous performer, so I figured she should know.)

This is not to say that Calgary didn’t go crazy when the curtain finally went up. Adam was in fine form and gave his all. He sang with emotion and the crowd responded. The day off between shows was evident in his vocal acrobatics as he sang more glory notes and runs than he had in Edmonton, where he had performed back to back concerts. (Saskatoon was the night before Edmonton.)

Brian May, Roger Taylor, Neil Fairclough, Spike Edney and Rufus Taylor all came over to us at some point to say hello and we were close enough to touch the face of any one of them but behaved appropriately (under threat of tackle and expulsion by security, hahaha!).  Roger and Taylor were class acts and their touching songs and nostalgic videos of Freddie and them in their youth brought a tear to the eye for many, I’m sure. Brian’s guitar solo although different from Edmonton was equally impressive as were Roger and Rufus’s drum duelling.

Adam also acknowledged us in the pit as he came over to get water- he waved and smiled, yes- there was swooning. HaHa!  During ‘Somebody to Love’ he walked towards myself and my lovely blonde friend, stared right at us and held the mic up to our faces.  If he wanted us to sing, which he did, it wasn’t happening.  He laughed and joked with my lovely buxom blonde friend and said (to paraphrase, as Adam’s language was much more colourful) that with her large bounty, surely the girls could sing.  We erupted in laughter and with that he twirled about and finished the song. After the show Spike shook our hands and Rufus Taylor presented my lovely blonde friend with one of his drumsticks. (apparently she has quite the collection).

Sitting OnStage was a fabulous experience to get up close to the band and I’m really glad I bit that bullet.  Bear in mind the following pics are from the side stage vantage point.  I also took some short video clips but since I am working on an ipad I am having some issues with loading them and will do that when I am back home.  Next stop, part 3- Vancouver!!

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Queen + Adam Lambert, The Tale of Three Cities, part 1

I have been a fan of Adam Lambert for a couple of years now ever since a co-worker showed me one of his videos.  I guess you could say I fell down the rabbit hole, as I found myself intrigued with his musical journey towards success.

Of course, if you ask any of my friends they will say I am batshit crazy obsessed…haha, well luckily I only need a fix every other year.  The first time I saw Adam Lambert live was in 2012, while he was on his own tour to promote his album, ‘Trespassing’, in Phoenix, Arizona.  He possessed the ability to really captivate his crowd and thrill his rabid throng of Glamberts.  At the time I considered myself a fan, but maybe not crazy enough to label myself a Glambert.

Fast forward to Sept 2013, in Vegas, at the iHeart festival I watched Queen featuring Adam Lambert’s entire set, transfixed. He nailed the complicated vocals easily. Pass me my Glambert badge.

When Brian May and Roger Taylor announced that they would be embarking on a North American tour with Adam Lambert, I knew I was in.  I was thrilled when they listed the cities that would be hosting them. Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver were on the list and I decided then and there that I would do all three cities.

Edmonton had their turn last night.  It was a warm evening and Rexall Place was full to the rafters. You could feel the anticipation; the arena came alive as the crowd of concert goers started a wave that wrapped the stadium and foot stomped, ‘We will rock you’.  When the lights went down the roar went up as everyone leapt to their feet to the first throbs of ‘Now I’m here’.  The curtain came down and Adam Lambert strutted confidently across the stage.  With Roger Taylor on drums (also accompanied by his son, Rufus) and Brain May on one of his many guitars, Queen came alive.  (albeit Freddie in spirit).  I had a great view in row 2, alongside the thrust and was able to capture several photos.  Old Queen fans were all around me and the lady next to me had flown from Tokyo just to see Brian May. I’ll let the following pictures tell the rest of the story.  Next up, Calgary.

 

Edmonton, Rexall Place, June 24, 2014

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2013, A look back to an evening with Oprah and friends.

January once again.  2014!!

I remember back when I was a child thinking ahead to the future, I figured the skies would be filled with flying cars by now (which would be silly considering the number of planes in the air at any given moment) and I also imagined, thanks to Star Trek, that we would speak to someone over a phone while seeing their face on a big screen or have televisions that would take up entire walls and Eureka here it is!!  I had envisioned that we would be travelling back and forth to the moon or some other exotic planet for vacations but that’s not likely to happen in this lifetime.  Instead, technology has moved in other directions giving us 2 year olds that can operate a computer before they can speak.  I mean they have cars that can literally park themselves.  Where were they when I was sweating my drivers test back in the 70′s.

But before I get thinking too far ahead I would like to look back on some of the highlights of this past year.

Two evenings in particular stand out.

Both January 21 and January 22 were memorable thanks to Oprah.

Although I was not a regular viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show, its 25 year longevity, meant I was bound to watch it from time to time.  My friend, Dianne, however was a devoted fan of Oprah’s work, whether it was her syndicated television show, book clubs, interview specials or her ‘O’ magazine; Dianne’s favourite mantra was, “well according to Oprah…” followed by whatever new bits of wisdom Oprah had decided to impart to the world.  So…when I found out Oprah was coming to Calgary (only a 3 hour drive from here) I leaped at the chance to surprise her with tickets.  Dianne’s excitement was contagious, I mean as a fan of Oprah’s or not, her power was undeniable and I looked forward to hearing her speak.  Then tickets went on sale here in Edmonton!!  I grabbed two thinking that I would sell the ones in Calgary.  That was, until Jeanie, my sis-in-law, expressed her love of Oprah, and since it was her birthday (a number I best not disclose here) I figured why not see both shows.

Oprah was brave to come to Edmonton in the middle of winter.  On the evening of her show it was a frigid -37C. The host gave her a painting illustrating Edmonton’s lush green river valley (as it would appear in the summer) which was a stark contrast to her current view of the frozen tundra from her room at the Hotel MacDonald.  She laughed as she wondered aloud why she would think coming here in January was a good idea!  Laughter and applause were abundant throughout her 2 hours on stage.  The last half hour of which she was joined by George Stroumbolopoulos for a Question and Answer period.

Oprah is a talented speaker and she spoke with eloquence and humour.  She recounted her life’s journey from near poverty in Mississippi to her present day Network ownership (with a billionaire status) of OWN.  We all have a purpose she said and “Purpose was really Spirit seeking expression” and that it was not a goal or something that we created but that it was something we would discover.  She said it was “the defining thread that connected all the experiences of our life” and once we had discovered this thread we were to use it in service to others.  Oh, I loved that statement.

Oprah could have been a comedian as she cracked up the audience with her many anecdotes.  One example was when she told us about one of the last times she ever flew commercial.  When visiting the airport washroom she began to notice feet outside her stall, then a few more and finally a small horde of women, standing outside her bathroom stall, all waiting for her to tinkle. I wouldn’t fly commercial after that either.  She also described a telephone call she had received from Steven Spielberg, while at a fat farm (or health retreat, wink wink), desperately trying to lose 50 lbs in 2 weeks.  She had auditioned for a role in The Color Purple and was sure that her weight would keep the part from her.  She had been running around the track in the rain, listening to her thighs slap together, praying and crying that if she couldn’t have that part – that she be able to let the obsession with it go, so that she could find peace.  She surrendered it up and that is when the call came through.  Mr. Spielberg informed her that, if she so much as lost a pound, she could lose the role.  Off to Dairy Queen she ran.  The audience roared.  They clearly loved her.

She told us of the two defining moments in her career that helped shape its future direction.  One of them being the time she attempted to bring some KKK clan members on her television show, which was live at the time, in an effort to figure them out, when in fact she realized to her horror that she had instead, given them a platform.  The other moment occurred when she had a husband, wife and his mistress on the show.  The husband disclosed to his wife, on air, that his mistress was pregnant.  Oprah saw the devastation on the woman’s face and knew that she was done with such sensationalism.  She changed the direction of future shows to bring positive messages to her viewers and became a phenomenal force for inspirational change and personal growth.

Her topic was the same for both nights but she delivered her message in a way that was personal to each audience.  She is a charismatic speaker and I found myself listening intently.  She spoke of how “Life comes in a whisper first.” One must listen to their gut and trust that little voice in their head.  “Your beliefs are the lenses through which you see the world.” “You become what you believe.”  “What you put out is always coming back.”  “Do all that you can do and then let it go.”  She had many gems like that.  And she would use her personal experiences to explain them.  It was an interesting, inspirational and entertaining evening.  I will end this post with something that Oprah said, of course, and that is, “Gratitude is the single force that can change your energy from a negative to a positive”.  I have always believed this to be true in my own life.  Feeling sorry for oneself does not move you forward.  Spending those two evenings with Oprah was memorable and I am especially grateful to have been able to share the experience with my dear friend, Dianne and my lovely sis-in-law, Jeanie. Thank you!!

Glee, Pass the Tissue

Writing about Glee was not my planned post for tonight.

I watched Glee, a high school musical drama, for the first few seasons and really enjoyed the quirky episodes about the glee club at McKinley High.  Finn (played by Cory Monteith) was a key character, a football quarterback, who joined the glee club and would stick up for the rest of the misfits in glee and eventually fall in love with Rachel (played by Lea Michele).  Their love was genuine, however, as Cory and Lea became boyfriend and girlfriend.

Unfortunately, Cory Monteith died of an accidental overdose in real life and the cast including Lea Michele had to deal with real grief during this particular episode. Tonight Finn would be mourned.

It was so sad. Watching it was hard. I think what affected me the most was the scene where Finn’s mother breaks down as she talks about getting the call and sobs, “how do they wake up every day, how do they breath…you have to keep on being a parent even though you don’t have a child anymore”.
The ‘they’ she is referring to here are the parents, the mothers, the fathers, her. Whoa, that was gut-wrenching.

I am a mother. I felt that. The raw emotion of losing someone you love. There are mothers out there, (some, friends of mine) who have lost their sons or daughters either tragically or through illness and how they get through each day is a testament to their strength.  Without forward motion towards healing the memories would be lost in the pain.

I pray I never have to personally experience this.

Bye Bye Birdie

Today I had frost on my windshield and I looked back on the past few months, with a wistful longing.

These Canada geese return each year to nest and raise their goslings in our backyard.  I think they are pretty amazing to watch.  They mate for life as a rule but will take a new mate if one dies and they can live up to 30 years, forming strong family bonds. The gander and goose take turns standing guard while the others feed off of green grasses and grains.  They are primarily herbivores.

I try to remind my husband of this as he grabs a shovel and bucket to clean up after them.  I’d venture to say he isn’t as impressed with them as I am.

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We watch as individual personalities develop.  The goslings always seem to have one rebel in the bunch.
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The ducks get along well with the geese and don’t seem to mind sharing the same grassy knoll.

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This year a Robin decided to use our outdoor speaker as a ledge for its very messy nest. The robinettes (what does one call baby robins) are visible as they await feeding time.

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We have a couple of rabbits that also call our yard home.

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The colours of autumn and the crisp morning air prompt flocks of geese to prepare for a long migratory flight south.

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It’s not long before they’ve streaked across the sky in their familiar V pattern, leaving us with an empty pond and a lonely sky.  Bye Bye Birdie.

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Now, I struggle with what’s ahead.

Goodbye Summer.

Winter don’t rush…last years memories of you are still very fresh!

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What about those dogs…an update.

One of my previous posts called ‘The dog whispers…bring me home,’ yielded much interest and I thought an update might be appropriate.

To refresh, on December 29, 2012, Buddy, a yellow Labrador (with a torn ACL in his hind leg) and Maddy, a female English Bulldog, went missing from the Baird’s acreage.  Alas they were never recovered.  What happened to them is still unknown and there as been much speculation as to the possibilities of their wherabouts.  The Baird’s even took the extra step of calling in professional trackers and hunters but to no avail, although it was determined that coyotes attacking the dogs was highly unlikely.  Equally doubtful was for them to have just run off, since the bulldog never liked to travel far from the front door and Buddy’s torn ACL was too painful to allow for long walks anywhere.     http://www.buddymaddy.com/

It is my feeling that these two adorable pets were picked up by someone and it’s my hope that they are at least being treated well wherever they are.

The heartbreak of losing a pet can be like losing a member of the family.  You go through all of the emotions of denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance but you never forget them.

The Baird family did everything they possibly could to try and find their dogs and although they have been unsuccessful in bringing them home, so far; something positive has come from their experience.  On June 15th, of this past year, they organized a Missing Mutts Awareness Day in honour of their missing dogs, Buddy and Maddy.  The intent of this event was to promote awareness of where to go and who to contact if a lost or stray dog is found.  It was also a means to bring attention to hundreds of other families that have lost or stolen dogs.

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There was an agility event, expert dog clinics, groomers, dog vendors, and behaviorists, as well as, several rescue agencies where you could meet adoptable dogs.  There was also a fun all-breed dog show.

The weather was threatening to rain most of the day but that didn’t hold back these diehard dog lovers.  In fact, the event was so successful that Carmel Baird is even thinking of making it an annual event.  (check back on their website for updates on that.)

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I thought long and hard about adopting this little guy but we travel too much to take on the responsibility.  He was just so soft and cuddly that he was almost impossible to resist.  I think about getting a dog every month, however, I have to be realistic; I don’t have the time required to properly commit to training and exercising a dog right now.

Someday… someday I will hear those little pads tapping on my floor as they make their way to jump on my bed for a snuggle.

Where have I been…a Vancouver Island pictorial

It has been 8 months (seriously, 8 months, what the hell have I been doing with my life) since I have written a post.  Let me blame it on Candy Crush.  Do you have any idea how difficult level 64 is!

Or I could blame it on my work or some new direction my life has been taking but truthfully my procrastination really has no excuse other than laziness (and candy crush, that one really does count).  So tonight- I get back on track.  On with the blog!

and we’re off…

In August we took one week vacation to Vancouver Island. We flew direct from Edmonton to Victoria and rented a car at the airport so that we could easily tour the island.  We stayed in Victoria for two nights at the very lovely Huntingdon Hotel and Suites on the Harbour which had an awesome location right in the heart of all the action.  Considering Victoria is a major retirement hub for Canada’s seniors, action might not be the word I’m looking for but Victoria definitely won me over with it’s captivating ocean views and relaxing pubs.  From Victoria we headed up the coast stopping along the way in Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.  After spending a night there we headed across the island to Ucluelet.  We headed back to Duncan and made our way via ferry to Salt Spring Island (not seen on the map) for two nights before ferrying over to Sidney for one last night before flying home.

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The Huntingdon Hotel and Suites on the Harbour was walking distance to The Empress Hotel, the Victoria Clipper Ferry, Fisherman’s Wharf Park and the British Columbia Parliament building.  I was sad to see the Wax Museum was closed down, however.

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We couldn’t resist taking a tour on the Victoria Hippo bus. These buses are specially designed amphibious vehicles that work as both bus and boat. As a bus we were toured around Victoria’s city attractions and parks for ~45 min before a very wet splash into the Pacific Ocean for a further 45 min tour along the coastline. Our guide was informative, of course, and her bubbly enthusiasm made me want two of whatever she’d had before embarking on the tour. There were three buses that have these amphibious capabilities and ours was named Henrietta. The other two were called Happy and Harry. There were people from the States, England, Australia, Belgium and Denmark on our bus. It was a great way to get an overview of everything downtown Victoria had to offer.

Some of Victoria’s local sights:

SAM_7866The Empress hotel is famous for its Afternoon Tea.

Float planes are an essential mode of transport between mainland Vancouver and Vancouver Island and the tinier Gulf Islands.Float planes are an essential mode of transport between the mainland and islands.

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Dining options were many and we checked out a few pubs along the way.  There was a great selection of micro-brewed beers, ciders and local wines to try.

SAM_7601SAM_7844Fisherman’s Wharf was a must see for its colourful houseboats and famous fish and chips.

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SAM_7719It was a 30 min walk to the wharf from our hotel so we grabbed one of these water taxis for the ride home.

SAM_7850SAM_7717As cute as these houseboats were, I just would not be able to downsize to that extreme nor would I want tourists gawking in my windows.

SAM_7721Whale watching was readily available.

The British Columbia Parliament Building with its oxidized copper dome.

SAM_7629The secret to living a longer more loving life has been revealed!

SAM_7668SAM_7663SAM_7672SAM_7628SAM_7618SAM_7645SAM_7638SAM_7631We enjoyed our short visit to Victoria and would definitely love to return for an extended stay next time.

Next we were on our way to Qualicum Beach.

IMG_1810This family run hotel was comfortable and offered great views of the ocean tide coming in.

SAM_7878This was the view from our room, a very decent pub/restaurant was just across the road.

SAM_7879The tide is out.

IMG_1809And on its way in.

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IMG_1831Ucluelet is on the rugged, windy, beautiful and wild western coast of the island. It faces the Pacific Ocean.

It had several hiking trails and secluded little beaches waiting to be discovered but one must take care to not get caught out after dark or in the fog.

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SAM_7919The Salt Spring Inn, located in the charming village of Ganges, on Salt Spring Island was not only comfortable but boasted a fabulous restaurant.

IMG_1904The view from our room was of the Ganges harbour.

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These painted pianos were set on various street corners inviting many renditions of chopsticks.  Although not everyone is a Liberace, Salt Spring Island does have its share of famous inhabitants, as well as, a plethora of artists, musicians and winemakers.

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The final stretch, on the ferry to Sidney where we would spend our last night before flying home.  We had an amazing time on Salt Spring Island and I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.  I just fell in love with its charm.

SAM_7950 SAM_7959 IMG_2042 IMG_2043 SAM_7969 IMG_2014 IMG_2011 IMG_2031 SAM_7966 SAM_7967 SAM_7977 SAM_7988 SAM_7979What on earth are these creatures?

And the fellas below appear to be waiting for some fool to take a dive.

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So that concludes my pictorial summary of our Vancouver Island vacation.  I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed the journey.  If and when I ever retire I would definitely think seriously about joining the rest of Canada’s seniors on one of these islands.  I might even take up lawn bowling.

The Dog Whispers…Bring Me Home.

If you are a dog lover, this post may resonate with you if not…well then pretend it’s a cat.

My first dog memory was that of a child of about 3.  He was an Irish setter/collie cross named Rover and he was my dad’s constant companion.  Rover would follow my dad out into the fields trotting behind his tractor. All day. Every day.

Since we lived on a farm we always had dogs around.  We never had to go to a pet store to buy one since they would often just show up looking lost and confused.  People who decided that they no longer wanted that Christmas puppy would drop them off in the spring at the end of our long driveway.  It was the late 60’s, their ears weren’t microchipped and they didn’t come with collars and pet rescues were unheard of. We would end up taking them in and it would become Rover’s job to school them into the ways of the farm.  There was Rex, Blacky, Lady, Sheila, Carly, Rocko, and Fido.

Fido was special. He was mine.

He was a little white mutt and he followed me devotedly as I went about my daily chores.  He would sleep on my bed at night and race about the farm with me while I pretended I was on some secret mission.  I shared my ice-cream with him and all my deepest darkest secrets.  Since it was the 60’s, it was not unusual for my 10 year old self and my 7 and 5 year old brothers to be off in some meadow picking flowers and chasing each other through the bush.  Fido was always there.  Taking in the fun.

One day we were about a half mile from home in a ditch picking cattails. I had my doll carriage with me so that I could cart the cattails and whatever other flowers we found back home.  Fido would get to ride if he got too tired to walk.

That particular road was not a busy one and we would wave frantically whenever someone drove by.  But that day the white car that passed was driving too fast to give us a chance to wave.  We watched the dust settle as the car roared off.  It was then that I noticed Fido laying in the middle of the dusty road.  I called him, then walked over to him and nudged him gently with my toe.  He looked like he was sleeping peacefully.  He wasn’t.  The nudge prompted some blood to spurt from his little white nose.  I dropped to my knees, cradled him in my arms and bawled.  My dear Fido was dead.  Just like that.

I placed him in the doll carriage and pushed him all the way back home.  Sobbing the entire way.  Once I got back to the farm I stopped outside the barn and called to my mom.  “Mom!  Mom! MOM!”  The mom, getting louder each time.  My mother responded in that exasperated way that mothers do when their kids are nagging for one last thing. “What!”

“Fido’s dead.”  Her face changed instantly as she ran to comfort me.  We buried Fido on the hill.  My dad  fashioned a little wooden cross and I scratched Fido’s name into the wood.  It’s probably there to this day.

Even though this happened over 40 years ago, it can still bring a tear to my eye.  The pain of that child’s loss seems fresh and becomes mine, once more.  I did get to mourn and remember him, however; much worse would have been not knowing what had happened to him.  If he had gotten lost, never to return- better to be able to mourn him than to forever wonder.

That brings me to the real reason for this post.

Two families that I know have recently lost a total of three dogs.  Both families live on acreages in the East Edmonton/ Sherwood Park area of Alberta.  All three missing dogs were purebred breeds.  A yellow Lab, an English bulldog and a Maremma.  Their families are heartbroken and desperate to get them back.

The first family, the Baird’s have lost two of their dogs:

Buddy, a 2 year old male, yellow lab, was wearing a camo collar with tag. He has been microchipped.  You may notice him limping since he recently tore his ACL (he was scheduled for surgery a few days following his disappearance).

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Buddy holds a special place in 12 year old Keghan Baird’s heart.  As his mother, Carmel, will tell you if she wanted to find Buddy she only had to call out her son’s name and Buddy would come running.

Keghan and Buddy were almost inseparable.

However, on that fateful day, Buddy was on bedrest due to his torn ACL; he had been housebound for 5 days when, his boredom got the better of him and he nosed the front door open.  It was ~ 2 pm in the afternoon and he wanted to join the other family dogs for a romp in the yard.

 

 

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Then we have Maddy, an 8 month old female, tan & white English Bulldog.  She was wearing a pink leather collar and was not yet microchipped.

Being a bulldog meant she wasn’t a fan of long walks or marathons.  Nope, she was a little lazy and  instead of trying to keep up with the other dogs, she’d plop herself down to rest and wait for their return.

Buddy and Maddy went missing together on the afternoon of Dec. 29, 2012 from their Northeast Edmonton acreage.    Both of these dogs were loveable and friendly.  Flyers have been posted all over the city and searchers have scoured every bush of their 40 acres but to no avail.  Even local and national news coverage has so far not brought them home.

It seems very likely that they have been picked up by someone and if they were picked up- they could be anywhere.

The Baird’s are asking the public’s help to get them back.  They are also offering a reward for their safe return or for any tips that lead to their whereabouts.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2013/01/03/edmonton-missing-dogs-reward-animal-tracker.html

http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/edmontonians-living-on-outskirts-of-city-fear-pets-are-being-stolen-1.1107678

https://www.facebook.com/LostDogsBuddyMaddy

If you find them or know of someone who may have seen them please contact the Baird’s at 780-964-0927.

Next we have the Barr’s.

They lost their dog, Rocky.  He is a 2 year old Maremma and he has been missing since November 16, 2012 from his Sherwood Park area acreage.

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His primary role on the Barr’s farm was that of a sheep guardian.  He would guard the sheep out in the field so that they could graze peacefully and safely.  The year prior to getting Rocky, the Barr’s had lost nine sheep to coyotes.  The coyotes would attack almost daily.  Once Rocky was on patrol, however, not a single sheep went missing.

He is white and was wearing a blue collar.  He is only two and has not been neutered.  He also still has his dew claws.  Rocky is still a puppy at heart and he loves to romp about his yard.  The last sign of him were tracks showing that he had crossed the road to the neighbours.  He was known to do this on occasion but had always returned.  If you see him you can Contact Rick or Amy at 780-416-4958.

Dogs become family members and their loss brings real heartbreak and sadness.  Of course these are just two families that are searching for their lost companions.  There are many other dog-loving families out there that are looking for their pets.  So the next time you pass by a ‘Lost Dog‘ poster please take a moment to read it and keep an eye out for all those missing loved ones.  Their return will bring back a lot of smiles.