What inspires you? Maybe a picture with a word or two

CaptureIn my travels, sometimes the pictures taken of nothing in particular end up inspiring me the most. They evoke certain thoughts, words, phrases, that just seem to fit.

Like this one.

If you like it, please feel free to copy, download, share, use it any way you want to. Because ultimately, through my words and photos, my hope is to inspire you, too…

Viking River Cruises: Traveling the world the Viking way

IMGP9948Viking Cruises is an international company that operates the world’s largest fleet of river cruise vessels in Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. Combining the ancient Viking tradition of exploring great waterways, with the most elegant comforts and luxuries, results in a sophisticated journey that’s second to none.

Viking’s state-of-the-art river boats are called ‘longships’ – and long they are. They’re also flat and streamlined to effectively traverse narrow locks and low-lying bridges. Compared to gigantic ocean liners, they’re considered small, with only three inside decks. On top is the very popular sundeck, where you can stretch out on loungers for 360-degree views of the ever-changing and charming European countryside. Read entire story.

Baby beluga in the deep blue (Hudson) bay…

Belugas - kayakThe sun beats down on my bright yellow kayak as gentle waves rock the hull back and forth. Directly behind me is the port of Churchill, one of the most diverse and interesting places I’ve ever visited. Directly in front is a pod of beluga whales swimming about, magnificent glistening creatures gliding gracefully in and out of the waters of the Hudson Bay.

I’ve spent the past half hour trying to maneuver my watercraft near enough to get a good glimpse, but they are awesomely elusive. Just when I get relatively close, they dart off in the opposite direction, leaving little hope I’ll ever get to see them. Until, all of a sudden, they turn and head in my exact direction. Dozens of them. Coming straight at me… Read entire story.

Cape Cod: Timeless beauty, historical pride, patriotism lend nostalgic allure

The east coast has always held an alluringly nostalgic attraction. It’s where early European settlers received first impressions of the mysterious New World after leaving their lives behind to journey far across the ocean.

As a newcomer to Cape Cod, my first impression of this timelessly romantic landscape was that it’s nothing short of impressive.

Just 120 kilometers from Boston, Massachusetts, the Cape is an arm-shaped peninsula and island region, and world-class summer resort area stretching along 900 kilometers of unspoiled coastline… Read entire story.

Sonoma Valley: Seeing the forest through the trees

IMGP6465Cruising through the rolling Sonoma Valley, we see winding asphalt stretched out before us, and rows upon rows of grapevines lining the idyllic countryside.

Every crest in the road offers a new view of something old – weathered barn, quaint windmill, cozy farmhouse – steeped in striking contrast to vivid fall colours.

Every downhill dip brings exhilarating speed and momentary relief to our hard-working legs. Every corner turned brings promise of the next vineyard, just around the bend… Read entire story.

Back to the basics at Calm Waters Rowing

IMGP8166I’ve been rowing longer than I should probably admit. What started as a curious and casual recreational pursuit many years ago has since become a mission to compete in the sport. Get as good as I can. Achieve my own potential. But it hasn’t been an easy road, not at all.

Let’s begin by saying I’m not a natural athlete. Whatsoever. In fact, I’m more genetically inclined to play bingo than sports. But I love sports! In school, I tried baseball, basketball, volleyball, water polo, racquetball, even cross-country. While I was “okay” at most activities, I excelled at none. Still, I kept trying, hopeful that one day, something would click.

In 2001, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime through History Television series Quest for the Bay. Selected as one of a crew of eight, our task was to row a York boat from Winnipeg to the Hudson Bay in the tradition of the fur trade – with gear, clothing and food the same as it would have been back in 1840… Read entire story.

New York: These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you…

P1020707Being a fan of Seinfeld and Sex And The City, I’ve wondered what it would be like to be in New York, walking around those famous streets. In fact, I’ve long romanticized the notion.

The Big Apple made an impression on me the moment I stepped off the plane into LaGuardia Airport. There was a bustle in the air, and different kind of energy. All around I could hear notable New York accents as people engaged in conversations. Toto, we’re not in Canada anymore. Eh??

Aboard the shuttle, the driver took off like a bat out of hell, weaving and honking fearlessly in-and-out of rush-hour traffic. The couple beside me struck up a hilarious argument with him about how many stops he had to make, how long it would take them to get home, and could he change his route. It went on for nearly the entire ride. I chuckled silently to myself, highly enjoying the accent-to-accent verbal sparring. It could have been a scene right out of a movie… Read entire story.

Mont Tremblant: Slopes, sleds, spas, and more to explore…

IMGP7477You know you’re someplace special the moment you step off the plane at Mont Tremblant International Airport. With forest view in every direction, smell of wood smoke in the air, and a cozy log cabin terminal with couches and fireplace, you might think you’re at a lodge instead of arriving at Quebec’s third international airport.

The 35 kilometer drive north takes you through a picturesque countryside with winding roads and quaint country homes, before the landscape opens to reveal the Mont Tremblant resort village nestled in the Laurentian Mountains. The scene is breathtaking, and with beckoning downhill runs looming as a backdrop, you’ll either feel keen anticipation, or rising anxiety. I mostly felt the latter… Read entire story.

Life lessons learned from taped-up glasses

big glasses - grade 4 - cropI just got new glasses. They’re the biggest glasses I’ve had since the days when I had big glasses.

Back in elementary school, “the bigger the better” was the eyewear trend. While I wasn’t thrilled in the first place about having to wear glasses at age nine, this shy awkward kid discovered a sense of comfort hiding behind large lenses.

My grade four glasses were half the size of my round little face, with beige-ish rims that matched my scraggly blond-ish hair. They shielded me from the world, making me feel safe and smart, maybe even a little bit special. In a nerdy kind of way.

I wore them all the time – at home, to school, to gym class, even during recess. My mom used to tell me to take them off when I was playing, but I never listened. I’d wear them every day, rain or shine, riding bicycles or horses, playing tag or dodge ball. Oh how I loved my glasses!

I don’t recall when or how it happened, but one day, I broke them. Oh how I should have listened to my mother! My nine-year-old heart was as shattered as the broken glass I could no longer see through… Read entire story.