Sunday, 3 June 2007

Back in Australia with some free time

We got back to Australia on May 21. Finally caught up on sleep and laundry, put most of the stuff away in my new studio (the builders came while we were away) and now have a little time to write some stuff. I think we were in Toronto the last time I wrote anything. Once we started on the guided tour part of our holiday we didn't seem to have much free time.

The day we went to Niagara falls was Murray's birthday and our wedding anniversary so we hired a limo (not a stretch one) and driver - sounds extravagant but it was only a little bit more expensive than the bus tour and 4 hours shorter. The falls were amazing! A lot of water from melting ice and snow was starting to come down the river but it's still a bit early in the season, so most of the spring melt is yet to come. The water looks very green - there's no tannin in the water so it doesn't have the brownish tinge that many of the rivers at home have. There is still too much ice for the boat 'Maid of the Mist' to be running yet so we had to be content with looking over the side. The power of the water is hard to describe. You'll have to see it for yourselves!

We also went to the Butterfly Conservatory which is about 6 miles away. Took lots of photos, everyone there was snap-happy. Thousands of butterflies, all different colours and sizes. The most beautiful one was called blue morpho and is hard to photograph. The upper side of its wings in a gorgeous irridescent blue and the lower side is a mottled brown with a large darker brown patch that looks like a big eye. Only problem was when it landed it closed its wings together so all you could see was the bottom of its wings. We had a laugh at one young couple there - she was taking a photo of him when he jumped up in the air waving his arms around. She asked "what on earth is wrong with you?" "Aaargh, one was flying at my face!" he shouted. It was a butterfly - not a man-eating monster. Wimp.

The next day we caught the Trans-Canada train to Edmonton. The train station was very conveniently placed across the street from the hotel so we conned one of the hotel staff into taking our luggage across. We booked a double bedroom cabin on the train. Sounds good, right? It was about 5' x 8'. There are 2 chairs that fold down flat to the floor at night so the baunks can be set up, and when the bunks are set up there is about 18" left of the cabin. Very cosy! We did have our own loo though - most important LOL.

First half of the day we passed many lakes with cabins around them. Someone told us it is known as 'cottage country'. Many people from the nearby cities have cabins there and visit on the weekends. Very pretty area but hard to take photos from a moving train. As we travelled further west, a bit of snow started to appear. We saw lots of beaver lodges and a few beaver dams. Didn't see any beavers though. Not a heck of a lot to do on a train - luckily we took a pack of cards and a crib board. There was a session of mini golf but we missed it. Darn, I would have liked to know how you play golf on a train.

Second day on the train and the landscape is changing again. Much colder and most of the lakes are still frozen. Mist rising from the ice is thick and seeing it through the trees makes the scene look quite eerie in places. After lunch it all changed again as we headed into wheat growing country, very flat and open. After dinner I don't know what it was like outside as we had a few games of 4 handed crib with Shirley and Bud, an elderly couple from Sacramento, California. They were in their eighties but seemed younger. Bud had been in the navy and fought in World War 2 and the Korean war. By the way, the girls beat the boys, 3 games to one.

Next day, May 23, I discovered it's not easy to have a shower on a train going full speed! Yesterday the train had stopped so it was much easier. Off the train at Edmonton then straight to the airport to catch a plane to Vancouver. Someone from APT Tours met us at the airport in Vancouver and had organised a car to take us to the hotel. We got outside to find a huge grey stretch limousine! Bit hard to talk to the driver though, as he's so far away. Interesting experience that will probably never happen again.

Think I'll finish here and do some more later. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Delta said...

It's good to see you back!