Have you heard about the Float’em Garden?

During my stay in Tofino, I walked along the main streets in the village and discovered the Float’em Garden. I thought I’d share the artist’s message and the story behind the objects in the garden with my blog readers.

About the Float’em Garden

The Float’em Garden is located along the sidewalk on Third Street between Campbell Street and Main Street in Tofino. It’s an outdoor public art installation comprised of eleven individual assemblages made entirely from marine debris. Pete Clarkson, the artist and a park warden, has been creating his unique marine debris art since 2000. The Float’em Garden was opened in June 2018.

Art from recycled marine debris

Sea Chimes by Pete Clarkson
Sea Chimes by Pete Clarkson
Plastic Water by Pete Clarkson
Plastic Water by Pete Clarkson
From Sea to Tree and Little Bear by Pete Clarkson
From Sea to Tree and Little Bear by Pete Clarkson

Message from Pete Clarkson

Here’s an excerpt from Pete Clarkson’s message inscribed at the Float’em Garden:

I hope you’ll take a moment in this spectacular place to enjoy the Float’em Garden, and consider your own role in the marine debris story. As these objects remind us, there’s no longer an ‘away’ when we throw things away. Everywhere is somewhere, and the ocean is downstream of everything. The daily decisions we make – what we buy, what we throw away, what we value and support – can add up to a chorus of positive action. Let your actions show how much you care. We can all make a difference!

I find the Float’em Garden art installations visually interesting and the message behind the marine debris thought-provoking. It’s a good reminder that we are all connected and we need to reduce waste that is harmful to our environment.

Practicing the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

My family and I have made a diligent effort to practice the 3Rs in our day-to-day living. We follow our municipal waste reduction movement and help keep items out of landfill. Some of the actions that we’ve taken:

  • Borrow books or DVDs from public libraries.
  • Buy locally-grown fresh produce as much as possible.
  • Cook and eat most of our meals at home with no food waste.
  • Donate clothes and linen to recycling organizations.
  • Put recycling, organics, and garbage into the right bins. Blue bin for recycling, green bin for organics, and black bin for garbage in our city.
  • Read or subscribe online for news and community event notifications.
  • Re-purpose cookie tins and glass jars for storage.
  • Trade in old items when purchase their replacements (where trade-in is offered).
  • Use refillable water bottles.
  • Use reusable bags for grocery shopping.

We shop consciously, plan ahead, buy only what we need, and consider the impact of packaging when making purchases.

I wonder to what degree Pete Clarkson’s message and similar environmental reminders affect consumers’ shopping habits, especially around the holidays when people tend to have more purchases and more social gatherings.

How does the marine debris story from the Float’em Garden affect your shopping habits? How well is waste managed in your city? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

October Wrap-Up

Hello November and goodbye October! October was a beautiful month with gorgeous autumn foliage everywhere I looked, an extra-special Thanksgiving, a trip to Sault Ste Marie and Agawa Canyon, and plenty of leisure activities. Let me share my highlights and I invite you to tell me yours.

October 2019

Arts

I viewed many interesting artworks at the Community Film and Art Festival, Nuit Blanche event, and Toronto Biennial of Art event. However, my favourite artwork in October was Mother Nature’s autumn foliage palette, from various shades of green to light yellow, to golden, to orange, red, and stunning crimson.

Red maple trees
Red maple trees

Blogging

I wrote five blog posts in October and used my phone to take all the blog photos which turned out better than I expected:

Books

I enjoyed reading six books in different genres. I had read The Old Man and the Sea a long time ago and re-read it. The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. It’s an impressive novella to me because the writer packed a powerful story with vivid descriptions in under 100 pages.

  • The Endless Beach – a romance novel by Jenny Colgan.
  • All Things Consoled – a memoir by Elizabeth Hay.
  • The Old Man and the Sea – a novella by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Elevation – a science fiction novel by Stephen King.
  • Happy People Read & Drink Coffee – a romance novel by Agnès Martin Lugand, translated from the French by Sandra Smith.
  • Kingdom of the Blind – a crime fiction novel by Louise Penny.

Concerts

I attended seven amazing classical concerts, some with my friends. The performers are all award winners at international competitions. They played wonderful music composed by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Edgar, Rachmaninoff, Schumann, and more:

  • David Potvin, piano.
  • The Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), and Jialiang Zhu (piano).
  • Tristan Savella, piano.
  • Peter Stoll, bass clarinet, and string quartet.
  • Younggun Kim, piano.
  • Timothy Ying, violin and Lydia Wong, piano.
  • The Ezra Duo: Jacob Clewell, viola and Sasha Bult-Ito, piano.

Family

My family had an extra-special Thanksgiving dinner this year as my uncle and aunt came to visit us from Montreal. Aside from a delicious meal, I enjoyed every bit of the pumpkin pies that we had for dessert. Pumpkins are another sure sign of autumn here.

Pumpkins

Friendship

I met my friends at some of the concerts mentioned above. On a nice autumn day, we went for a walk to check out the newly opened Garrison Crossing bridge. It’s the first stainless steel bridge in Canada.

Spanning over two rail corridors within the core of downtown, the full bridge required two separate installations. The first and north end of the bridge is 52-metres-long. The second and south end of the bridge is 29-metres-long. I like that the bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists only.

Garrison Crossing bridge
Garrison Crossing bridge

Health

I completed twelve strengthening workouts in the gym, four swimming sessions, and nine yoga classes. I also meditated and walked outdoors 5 to 8 km (or 3 to 5 miles) every day. October was the perfect time for outdoor walks as temperatures were cooler and autumn foliage provided gorgeous scenery.

Autumn foliage

Learning

Some of what I learned include my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo, Garrison Crossing bridge construction, the history of Sault Ste Marie Canal, how the locks work at the Canal, and Agawa Canyon.

Movies

I watched four movies and liked Red Joan and Toy Story 4 the most:

  • Alladin
  • Toy Story 4 – surprisingly good for a sequel.
  • Stuber
  • Red Joan – based on a true story of Joan Stanley, who was exposed as the KGB’s longest-serving British spy.

Travel

My family and I travelled to Sault Ste Marie, a city located in northern Ontario. We did a few hikes in Sault Ste Marie, and took the train from Sault Ste Marie to Agawa Canyon where we did more hiking.

When we exited Sault Ste Marie airport, we saw a green Welcome sign on the left and a glimpse of colourful autumn foliage on the right. I’ll share more details in a future post.

Welcome to Sault Ste Marie
Welcome to Sault Ste Marie
Autumn splendour
Autumn splendour

Overall

Every day in October was amazing. I look forward to enjoying November with my family and friends, continuing my health and leisure activities, and plotting new adventures.

How was your October? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Hiking the Tonquin Trail

One afternoon during my stay in Tofino, a solo traveller named Anna from Chicago, approached me to ask if I knew of any nearby hiking trail. It so happened that I was heading out to explore the Tonquin Trail myself so we went together.

From Tofino village centre, we followed the sign to the Tonquin Trail Connector, and walked about 1.2 km before reaching the Tonquin Trail trailhead. We passed by old growth forest, a small wetland, and a few small creeks.

Tonquin Trail Network

Once we entered the Tonquin Trail, we were surrounded with beautiful tall trees and shrubs. It was September and after the recent rainfall, the forest was lush, looking fresh, and smelling fresh. The trail path was sand mixed with gravel, fairly easy to walk on.

Tonquin Trail outbound

Amid the greenery, I spotted some Canadian bunchberry plants, native to this part of Canada. Their bright red fruits are edible to humans.

The Tonquin Trail is about 1.2 km long. It took us about twenty minutes to reach the wooden staircase that leads to Tonquin Beach. We could hear the soft sounds of the ocean before reaching the end of the staircase.

A wide sandy beach with islands in the horizon greeted us. The expansive views were incredible. The sea water was shimmering in the sunlight. The natural thing to do was to inhale deeply and exhale slowly and savour this beautiful environment.

Tonquin Beach to the north
Tonquin Beach to the north

We sat on the rocks and basked in the warm sunshine for a while before walking along the beach to check out the driftwood and look for seashells. There were a handful of other people at the beach, quietly enjoyed the moment.

Tonquin Beach to the south
Tonquin Beach to the south

Although the trail signage warned us about wildlife such as bears, cougars and wolves, the only wildlife we saw on our way back were a few Pacific banana slugs. They looked long and healthy with brown blotches all over their yellow body.

It was a nice short hike on a beautiful afternoon in Tofino. Altogether we did about 5 km return trip (just over 3 miles). Nature recharged me and gave me new energy. I looked forward to exploring other trails in the area. Happy trails!

Tonquin Trail

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

On Nature’s Edge in Tofino

After having a wonderful time in Victoria, I took the Vancouver Island Connector bus to Parksville and stayed there for two nights. Parksville is about 150 km north of Victoria, a perfect mid-way place to break up my full day trip from Victoria to Tofino and to meet up with three fabulous blogger friends as mentioned here.

From Parksville I continued my bus journey to Tofino, a small coastal village at the western edge of Vancouver Island. The driving distance from Parksville to Tofino is about 170 km (105 miles). The winding road and Kennedy Hill upgrades along Highway 4 meant the ride would take about four hours. The picturesque scenery made up for the time delay.

From Victoria (A) to Parksville(B) and Tofino (C)
From Victoria (A) to Parksville (B) and Tofino (C)

Tofino is situated in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, who have called the area home for over five thousand years.

Welcome to Tofino

It is surrounded by the vast, breathtaking expanse of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. Being in Tofino means being close to nature, the ocean, the rainforest, the mountains, the islands and inlets.

Lone Cone Mountain
Lone Cone Mountain, Tofino, BC, Canada

I stayed at a hostel situated at the waterfront in Tofino, overlooking a harbour on Clayoquot Sound. The views were breathtaking and ever changing as the wind moved the clouds. They filled me with a sense of wonder.

Morning view in Tofino
Morning view in Tofino, BC, Canada

The green domes in the photo below housed my “neighbours”, an eco-lodge operated by WildPod for luxury waterfront glamping. One morning I saw a family of sea otters came right up to the pier and the rock wall to say hello.

On nature's edge in Tofino
On nature’s edge in Tofino, BC, Canada

Tofino centre is grid-like and very easy to navigate. There are many shops specialized in outdoor activities such as surfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), sea kayaking, scenic flights, whale watching tours, bear watching tours, and hot springs tours.

Tofino marina
Tofino Marina

I was drawn to the many public art works seen throughout Tofino, such as the Weeping Cedar Woman created by artist Godfrey Stephens to protect the ancient rainforests of Clayoquot Sound and Meares Island, and the Totem pole in Anchor Park, created by Master carver Joe David.

Weeping Cedar Woman, Tofino
Weeping Cedar Woman by Godfrey Stephens, Tofino, BC, Canada
Totem pole by Joe David, Tofino
Totem pole by Master carver Joe David, Tofino, BC, Canada

I took the self-guided Tofino Art Gallery Walk that featured five individual artist owned galleries, each a five minute walk apart. The bigger gallery of the five is Eagle Eerie Art Gallery by Roy Henry Vickers, a world-renowned Canadian First Nations artist.

Roy Henry Vickers Art Gallery, Tofino
Roy Henry Vickers (Eagle Eerie) Art Gallery

Within walking distance from Tofino village centre is a network of hiking trails that go through ancient forests and lead to various beaches. I’ll share one of my hikes in another post. I leave you with a view from my bed in Tofino. At night, the sky glittered with millions of stars. I’m so grateful.

View from my room in Tofino
View from my room in Tofino

Have you been to Tofino? What were your impressions?

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

A Whale of A Time in Victoria

I mentioned in my September Wrap-Up post that I traveled to Vancouver Island. My itinerary included Victoria, Parksville, and Tofino. All three stops are in the Province of British Columbia, on the West Coast of Canada.

From Toronto to Victoria, the flight time is about five hours. I had been to Victoria before so on this trip, sightseeing-wise I intentionally chose to do things that I cannot do in Toronto and skipped a few things that first time visitors to Victoria might do.

Be close to the sea

I strolled the Causeway circling Victoria’s Inner Harbour, to the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked James Bay Unity Wall and Breakwater. The sea air was refreshing, the views were wonderful, and there was always something in the surroundings to engage my senses. When I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf early in the morning, most of the shops were still closed, the water was so calm, it mirrored everything.

Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria
Fisherman’s Wharf, Victoria, BC, Canada

Snap pictures of totem poles

I loved the totem poles at Thunderbird Park. I had seen them on my first visit to Victoria years ago and wanted to see them again. I was unsure why my obsession with the totem poles. I just took a lot of pictures. I think they are expressive, visually captivating, and unique artworks.

Walk the history

I attended the 30-minute guided tour of the British Columbia Legislature. It was time well spent to learn about the history of the building, and to see the beautiful building interiors, including the stained glass windows that celebrate Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee (1837-1897) and Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee (1952-2002).

British Columbia Legislature
Legislature building, Victoria, BC, Canada

I also followed the seven Signs of Lekwungen to learn more about Victoria’s history. The site markers are bronze castings of original cedar carvings, conceptualized and carved by Coast Salish artist, Butch Dick. The markers depict spindle whorls that were traditionally used by Coast Salish women to spin wool. The spindle whorl was considered the foundation of a Coast Salish family.

Signs of Lekwungen by Victoria's City Hall

Visit the “superlatives”

I walked through Victoria’s beautiful Beacon Hill Park to see the Spirit of Lekwammen, the world’s tallest totem pole at about 38.89 meters (127 feet 7 inches). I also walked the narrowest street in Canada named Fan Tan Alley, and had a yummy snack in Victoria’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and a National Historic Site.

Meet someone famous

I “met” Our Emily, a bronze statue created by sculptor Barbara Paterson. The statue honours the renowned Canadian artist and Victoria’s famous citizen, Emily Carr. The sculpture features Emily Carr seated outdoors with her sketchpad. Her Javanese monkey, Woo, perches on her shoulder and her dog, Billie, stands nearby. The building behind the statue is the also famous Empress Hotel.

Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson
Our Emily sculpture by Barbara Paterson

Go whale watching

The weather was beautiful as I boarded the boat for my whale watching tour. It took about 40 minutes of travelling South to come across our first sighting. It was two humpback whales whose large blows were visible in the distance.

The pairing looked like a mother and calf. Initially they were a little spaced out from each other but eventually the mother soon caught up with her calf. The two flicked both of their tails up in the air in a synchronized dive. What an unforgettable sight!

Humpback whales

We continued watching this pair until we spotted another couple of humpback whales further away. These two were making large blows, swimming leisurely, and then captured our hearts with a few tail flukes.

See the seals and sea lions

The whale watching tour included a visit to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve where we saw the Harbour seals and California and Steller sea lions hauled out on the rocks. Some were sleeping in the sun while others were engaging in power struggles for the top of the rock. The Harbour seals blended very well with the rock colours.

Seals and sea lions

Conclusion

I had a whale of a time in Victoria 🙂 All of the activities mentioned were free, except the whale watching tour. I’d love to see whales in the ocean again. This trip was also the first time I took all my photos with my phone. They turned out better than I expected.

Have you been to Victoria? Have you ever watched whales in the ocean? What were your impressions?

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Happy 3rd Year of Blogging

I’m co-hosting the Wellness Wednesday October 9th link up with my blogger friend, Leslie. The optional prompt is Gratitude. October 10th marks my 3rd year of blogging so this is a 2-in-1 post to say happy 3rd year of blogging to me and to express my blogging-related gratitude in no particular order 🙂

I’m Grateful For…

  • Free templates on Blogger and WordPress: I can try something new without spending money up front. Without the free templates, I probably wouldn’t start blogging in the first place. I started on Blogger in October 2016 and moved to WordPress in June 2019.
  • Easy-to-use blogging tools: I find both Blogger and WordPress easy to use. The move from Blogger to WordPress is simple. I’ve been using the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg) for all my blog posts from June to date without any issue so far.
  • The digital nature of a blog: It allows me to write and keep a digital record which is a lot lighter in weight than a paper journal. Less paper used, less physical storage needed, less to dust. Win, win, win.
  • The first comment that I received on my blog: It came from a blogger in February 2017, four months after I started blogging. We’re both still blogging and linking up. Do you remember the first comment you received on your blog?
This group of totem poles made me think of the blogging community: unique and together
  • Friends who blog: I started reaching out to meet up with bloggers in my third year of blogging. It was a pleasure to meet Ann, Joanne, Donna, Sue, and Jude in real life. Have you met a blogger and started a new friendship?
  • The link-up hosts: Especially the hosts who reply to comments on their blog and visit linked-up participant’s blog to comment. I appreciate your time and efforts. You’re building a blogging community and I think that’s cool.
  • The readers who leave comments on my blog: I appreciate your time and thoughtful comments. If you have a blog, I try to visit it and leave a comment, too. Your kind comments brighten my day and enrich the blog conversation.
  • The time to blog for leisure: Every blogger knows that blogging is time-consuming and time is one of our most precious resources. I’m grateful to have a small chunk of time to blog for leisure and at my own pace.
  • The freedom to blog: How wonderful is it that I’m free to type and publish my thoughts? My blog is a canvas where I create, edit, save, share, and connect with people across the miles. I’m enjoying the journey!

I hope you have a wonderful week. Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian friends and readers!

Click here to join in on the Wellness Wednesday link-up.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

September Wrap-Up

Hello October and goodbye September! September was abnormal in a good way. First, there was one week of hosting our relatives who visited us from Germany and the USA. Then another week of travelling to Vancouver Island, meeting friends, and sightseeing. The rest of September was about catching up, enjoying local events, and chipping away at home projects. Let me share my highlights and I invite you to tell me yours.

September 2019

Arts

I revisited some of my favourite outdoor public artworks while showing my relatives around Toronto. I also saw amazing Canadian Native artworks on Vancouver Island. Since September was full of fun times with our extended family, I chose to feature the Immigrant Family bronze sculpture by Tom Otterness in this post.

Immigrant Family sculpture by Tom Otterness

Blogging

I wrote four blog posts to wrap up August and to share some of my fun experiences in Toronto and Kingston:

Just before I traveled to Vancouver Island, I received a message from Bree (3sistersabroad) who nominated my blog for the Leibster Award and the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you, Bree, for the nominations.

While on Vancouver Island, I met up with four blogger friends in Victoria and Parksville: Donna (Retirement Reflections), Sue (Sizzling towards Sixty and Beyond), Jude (Dr Sock Writes Here), and Ann (TheUnretired.life).

Beautiful smiles, stimulating conversations, good food, fun outdoor boardwalk, a tour of Qualicum Beach and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, and more. Thanks, Donna, Sue, Jude, Ann, Richard (Donna’s husband) and Mike (Sue’s husband) for a wonderful weekend!

Books

I read just three books due to being “on the go” half of the month:

  • The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown
  • The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

Concert

I attended one wonderful concert titled Beginnings and performed by the Gryphon Trio (violin, cello, and piano). I cancelled a few concerts to spend more time with my relatives.

Family

Since it was my relatives’ first time to Toronto, at their request, the week was full with visits to the main attractions in Toronto, including one of my favourite go-to spots and the Island. The weather was good so we had BBQs a few times and took them to a winery in the Niagara region and the mighty Niagara Falls as well.

Toronto skyline
Toronto skyline

Friendship

My friends and I did our catch-ups while we attended the Toronto Dragon Festival and the 35th annual Veg Food Festival. Who can resist a festival that says “Make Friends. Eat Food.”? It’s North America’s largest plant-based food festival with over 160 vendors and full programs for three consecutive days.

When I was in Victoria, I met up with a former colleague for lunch at the Flying Otter Grill restaurant. It was great to catch up with her while enjoying local fish and chips right by the waterfront.

Health

When I was at home, I completed my meditation and walk every day. Also got in three swimming sessions, four yoga classes, and ten strengthening workouts in the gym.

When I traveled to Vancouver Island, I was able to keep up my fitness routine except swimming. In Victoria, for example, Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful place for walking. I actually walked more every day when I was out sightseeing. For strengthening exercises, I used my resistance band and my body weight. For meditation and yoga, I practiced in the quiet space where I stayed.

Beacon Hill Park

Learning

I continued my daily French and Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I learned about the new-to-me artists, book authors, and their work. I learned new things from the four blogger friends and the international travelers I met on my trip.

Movies

I watched only one movie (Rocketman). The annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was on from September 5 to 15. I took my relatives to King Street where the red carpet for film celebrities and celebration zone was located. It was great to feel the energy and the buzz in the city from the festival attendees.

TIFF sign

Travel

I travelled to Vancouver Island on Canada’s West Coast, about five hours by plane from Toronto. My itinerary included Victoria, Parksville, and Tofino. It was a wonderful trip. More details with photos to follow 🙂

Overall

September was full of fun activities and movements. I look forward to October when autumn colours are at their peak and we celebrate our Thanksgiving on October 12-14th long weekend.

How was your September? What good things happened? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2019 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.