On the road to…

I have done a few road trips. Some with my whole family ( when our kids were still quite young and later when they were teenagers). Now I go on road trip with my husband. We plan the trip together. We decide where we should stop for visit.  I usually  book the accommodation.  My husband is the driver and with the help of the GPS, we get where we want.

On this road trip, we had plan to visit Death Valley National Park as we were already in California. I did not know much about this National Park but I was very curious to discover this very special place.

We booked a room in Stovepipe Wells village. It just happen that the hotel was very close to the Mesquite Flat  Sand  Dunes.  It made it easy to go at sunset and  again early in the morning. One  experience I will never forget. If you have been to a desert you will know the feeling of walking on sand and climbing sand dunes. I had been to a sand dune in France in 2015  but this was totally different than what I saw in DVNP.

I will share a few pictures and let you get the feeling of it. The first picture was taken early in the morning   (7:50 ) when there were very few people on the dunes. We did not stay very long that day because we knew we would come back later and we had so many other places to see.

That night, it was almost full moon and many people wanted to see it from the dune. Because the temperature was cooler in the evening than during the day , it was a good time to explore.  But  Death Valley is known for warm, very warm temperature. Even for us with a visit  in March, the temperature went up to 101 F (over 38C).

I really wanted to go on the biggest dunes and the only way we could do it easily was to get up early and go right away before wasting any time. It was the best decision for us  as we were able to climb all the biggest dunes and take photos with almost nobody in it.

We stayed on the dunes for almost one hour and a half. It was a great feeling to walk bare feet . I am happy I did not see the desert sidewinder snake ( I only saw the trace ).

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are at the northern end of the valley floor and are nearly surrounded by mountains on all sides. Due to their easy access from the road and the overall proximity of Death Valley to  Hollywood , these dunes have been used to film  sand dune scenes for several movies including films in the  Star Wars series. The largest dune is called Star Dune and is relatively stable and stationary because it is at a point where the various winds that shape the dunes converge. The depth of the sand at its crest is 130–140 feet (40–43 m) but this is small compared to other dunes in the area that have sand depths of up to 600–700 feet (180–210 m) deep.

Thanks for reading  and  for writing  a comment.  I will  write more on DVNP and share other places we visited.  Now that summer is here, I might not post  every week.

THANK YOU.

 

 

 

Canada

July  1st is Canada Day ! Happy  Canada Day !

This year, Canada celebrates 150 years. Sesquicentennial. Ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al. It means a one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary, and if you perfect the pronunciation it’s a real crowd pleaser.

Some will say it is older than 150 years  but I think  Canada is still a young country. How old is  the country  where you live ?

Canada is a North American country stretching from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north. Major cities include massive Toronto, west coast film centre Vancouver, French-speaking Montréal and Québec City, and capital city Ottawa. Canada’s vast swaths of wilderness include lake-filled Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains. It’s also home to Niagara Falls, a famous group of massive waterfalls.

I am Canadian. I was born in Canada and lived in Canada all my life. I grew up in Quebec  but I am now living in British Columbia. So I moved from  almost one end of the country to the other end. Nature is very different in each  provinces. We have beautiful National Parks : Banff , Waterton Lakes, Jasper, Yoho,  etc… In fact there are 47 National Parks in Canada. All provinces have it special beauty.

I have not visited Newfoundland yet  but I hope to go there one day. You get there by ferry or by plane.

Maritime provinces are very interesting. I have traveled to Nova Scotia twice. I know some parts of New Brunswick.  I crossed Prince Edward Island to get to Magdalen Islands. The Magdalen Islands form a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 205.53 square kilometers. Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands form part of the Canadian province of Quebec. I have been twice to Magdalen Islands and I want to go back. I really love the wonderful beaches where you can walk a long time. It is very windy as it is in the gulf of Saint Lawrence. Some people like to go there to do  surf kite.

When I moved to BC, I drove across Canada by car. It was an interesting feeling to see my country.  And 22 years later, my family ( husband and kids)  went on a road trip across Canada.

In Alberta, we spent one night at the Prince of Wales  Hotel built in 1920. This hotel is opened only 4 months during the year ( end of May to end of September). It is located in Waterton Lakes National Park.

In Manitoba, we saw bisons.

I was very happy to see our famous Niagara Falls. They are a major tourist attraction for anyone who comes to Ontario.

Quebec City is a lovely city . The  iconic Chateau Frontenac ( Fairmont Hotel) is a wonderful historic building.  This heritage urban resort with its breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River and the architecture of the Old fortified City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site is always great to see.

Now that I live on the West Coast,  I want to see more of my province. There is so much to see here in BC. I love traveling and I plan on seeing more each year.

I share two photos  showing down-town (taken from the North Shore). The sea-bus is transporting pedestrians to and from the North Shore.

To all Canadians, Happy Canada Day.

…and to you all who read my blog, Thank you ! Maybe you can tell me what is your favorite city in Canada ( if you have been visiting or living here). I know it is a difficult question.

 

 

 

4 Seasons

Antonio Vivaldi wrote the  “Le Quattro Stagioni” ,  each of which gives a musical expression to a season of the year.  Beautiful music !   Today my  post  reflects on  our 4 seasons in Canada. Is there a perfect season ? Or is it just perfect that we  have 4 seasons  (at least here in Canada) ?

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Spring. La primavera. It was not my favorite season when I lived in Quebec ( for about 30 years). Ski season was over. We couldn’t cycle yet. The grass wasn’t green. The snow was melting too slowly (and was dirty) and it was still cold.  As a Vancouverite, spring has become almost my favorite season.  In February – it is still winter- but in my garden I am delighted to see snowdrops followed by crocuses. We start to see flowers (the bulbs) very early and the trees are blooming in March and April.  At last, there is not as many rainy days.  Except this year ( so much rain !).

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And lilac  is a good sign of spring.

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Tulip time is  fantastic when we can visit those  large fields. It has become an interesting outing for us who live in the Lower Mainland. Just south of the border it is also possible to enjoy such beauty. I took this photo in April 2014 in Agassiz, British Columbia. Isn’t it beautiful ?

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Summer.  L’estateSummer Solstice is on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm in Vancouver. This day is 8 hours, 4 minutes longer than  December Solstice day. The longest day of the year. Oh ! Joy! Dinners outside will  be in order and spending time in the garden to keep it nice.  I am not really a person who spend time at the beach  but walking by the water is wonderful with the smell and the wind.  When I am not traveling  I rather hike or cycle and it is why I really enjoy summer. The birds are happily singing early in the morning inviting me to get out of bed .

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Summer is also time to pick up berries. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  I like to have those local berries in my freezer for the winter months.

Sometimes, I enjoy splendid sunsets. This one was taken from English Bay.

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Too soon, for me, summer is fading away.  Days are not as long and not as warm although we rarely suffer from high heat during the summer months in Vancouver. The word fall is not my favorite word of the dictionary.

Fall is l’autonno in Italian.  Fall is a bit sad for me. Falling leaves, cool days  and more rainy days. But on a positive note we see magnificent trees and beautiful leaves.  And when we get  sunny days , we want  to be outside cleaning up the garden once more. Walking in the forest is  good to stay connected with nature that is preparing for a rest.

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Winter. L’inverno. We are getting more rainy days . The days are very dark. We might get snow in the city but mostly we get  it on our local mountains. I used to go up to do cross-country skiing. When snow falls in the city, why not making a snowman ? No need to have little kids around. I have my inner child.  I had fun creating  “Alfred” in December 2016.

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Now, you know that I like  the 4 seasons. You also know  which one is my favorite if you read until here. Maybe you can tell me which one is your favorite ?

Thanks for reading and your comments. Happy 4 seasons !

 

 

 

Mission San Buenaventura

Hello readers… another post on our visit to the Spanish Missions in California.

Finally, it was the day  were going to visit  Mission San Buenaventura, Mission by the Sea. Named  for Saint Bonaventure, a 13th century Franciscan cardinal and renowned philosopher. The  very last mission  we were going to see – of the 21st of all the Spanish Missions in California. Here is the front of the church seen from the other side of the street. The church has 5 bells, the oldest dating to 1781.

The first church was destroyed by a fire , the second was abandoned during construction. The present church was not completed before 1809 and was almost completely destroyed  by earthquakes and tidal waves in 1812. another earthquake damaged the church in 1925 and was repaired in 1950.

This Mission is located in Ventura.  On Easter Sunday March 31, 1782, Father Serra  raised a cross and celebrated Mass to found his 9th and final mission.  He died  two years later before the founding of Mission  Santa Barbara.

 

At each of the missions, we see a statue of Fr. Junipero Serra.

We visited the garden with a beautiful fountain.

In  the church, lots of restoration was underway .

It might be odd that we wanted to see all the missions  as we are not people going to church and we are not Americans.  As I often said they are nice places to see with lots of history . It gave us a good reason to stop in all the cities  where there is a mission.

The very first mission we visited was in March 2013. It was  Mission  San Juan Capistrano.  On that day, I had  purchased a  postcard showing the location of the 21 missions in California. Soon after  we made  plans to see more of them.   The last one we visited  was on February  20, 2017.  I am quite certain that many people living in California have not visited them all. If you read this and found it interesting, let me know. And I hope you still continue to read my blog on different places I visit.

Thank you .

 

 

 

Mission Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara  was the tenth mission founded (December 4,1786).  Three adobe churches  were built but the third one was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. The present church was built in 1815 and completed in 1820. Another earthquake damaged the church. Restoration work was completed in 1927. Santa Barbara is the only mission in the California chain remaining under control of the Franciscans without interruption from the day of its founding until the present time.

This Mission is also called “Queen of the Missions” and was named for Saint Barbara,   a legendary martyred  church  figure of the 3rd century. The Neoclassical facade is inspired  by 1st century B.C. architecture of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.

The fountain  built in 1808 along with the adjacent stone  “lavandaria” which was used by Native Americans.

The day we visited it was another  wet day  but most of the tour was inside. We watched a 18  minutes video and then went quickly in the cemetery garden.

We enjoyed the artwork  displayed in the church. Some of the interior detailing were patterned after an ancient Roman temple. It was difficult to take good photos in the church as there was not much light.

There were many things to look at in the museum. There was lots to read and great info.

And of course, there was a gift shop. Notice the beautiful handmaid decoration on the wall.

Another photo taken outside the mission.

It was another good visit and then we drove some more to get to Ventura where we would visit the very last mission on our list.

Thanks again for your visit.

 

La Purísima Concepción

The day after we visited Santa Inés, we were lucky that the storm was almost over. We went to Lompoc to see  Mission La Purísima Concepción.  The  11th of the 21 Mission  was named for Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It was founded on December 8, 1787 by Father Fermin de Lasuén This  Mission was destroyed   by an earthquake in 1812 and rebuilt in a different site in 1813.  It was  rebuilt again between 1934-1942.  Today,  La Purísima Concepción  is  a State Historic Park  where volunteers demonstrate what mission life used to be. It has over 20 buildings   and is the most fully restored mission in California. Rooms are furnished as they would have been in the 1820’s.

It was- in my opinion- one of the best Mission we visited ( as we only had 2 more to see after that one). We were lucky to see some docents in  period costumes. We enjoyed it very much. The buildings, the garden,  the animals, the information, the nice lady in the gift shop and the exhibits in the Visitor center.

La Purísima Concepción  is a “living history” museum and  the site is used for reenactments. To share my visit the text will be short, I will rather let the pictures tell the story of what we saw.

I think you would also  enjoy  visiting this Mission. I hope you can go one day. Thank you for your visit and comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Santa Inés

To share my visits of the Missions,  the text will be short, I will rather let the pictures tell the story of what we saw.

The architecture of the 21 Spanish Mission built along El Camino Real (1769-1823) reflects both the simple tastes of their Franciscan founders and the limited resources of material and skilled labor available. The missions were constructed of stone and adobe, finished inside and out with whitewashed mud plaster and topped with pitched roofs of hewn timber covered with red tile.

Located in beautiful rolling hills in the city of Solvang,  Santa Inés has been called the “Hidden Gem of the Missions.” It was founded  on September 17,1804. The 19th of the 21 Missions in California. It is named for Saint Agnes of Rome, a 13 year old roman girl martyred in A.D. 304. It is an active church, the responsibility of Capuchin Franciscans since 1924.

We arrived in Solvang with  heavy rain. I took the first photo through the window of the car. But it did not stop us to visit. My photos will tell more.

We really did not want to spend much time in the garden but we were happy with our visit.

After this visit,   there were only 3 more Missions for us to see  in California.

Thank you so much for reading and if you want to comment, you are welcome ! Have a great WE.