Tag Archives: photos

September adventure

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Last week I took off from Toronto and went to visit my sister in Fort St. John, B.C., which is pretty far west and north from me (it’s more-or-less in line with Fort McMurry and almost as far north as Juneau, Alaska). The travel time was a bit crazy, especially since I missed my original flight (which is to say, I missed the baggage cut off, by four minutes, and so while I could board my bag couldn’t, which meant I couldn’t really board, so I had to wait for the next flight. Ugh.) but it gave me lots of knitting and reading time.

Anyway, it was, of course, entirely worth it. I hadn’t seen my sister since May (right before she moved up there), so getting to hang out with her and her boyfriend — and their dog and their cat! — was awesome. That they happen to live in a beautiful part of the country, and that I managed to time my visit perfectly, was really just a bonus. I don’t have any photos of the actual town, but here’s a little tour of the countryside.

View of the Peace River.

View of the Peace River.

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

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Charlie Lake.

Charlie Lake.

Tully! He's an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

Tully! He’s an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They're actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there's less water moving over them.

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They’re actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there’s less water moving over them. (I took this just before it started to rain, so there are a bunch of photos from that day that have water splotches on them.)

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After the rain.

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View looking back over the mountains toward Tumbler Ridge.

That last photo, of the wind turbines, is a really good explanation of what it was like up there: both wild and completely affected by industry. There’s a lot of mining and oil and gas work, so even when you think you’re somewhere untouched you turn around and see that the side of a hill has been carved up or terraced. It’s a strange dichotomy, but makes for very striking views. Rest assured, if they’re still living there in a year, I’ll for sure go back.

California, part 2

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Holy moly, the Pacific Coast Highway is not fooling around. Every time you turn a corner (and there are a lot of corners) you’re greeted with a new and stunning view. Honestly, it was all I could do not to pull over at every little off-road pocket. Stunning, stunning, stunning.

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Can you tell how happy I am to be on the road? This is the second big coastal drive L and I have done together (the other was on our Cape Breton trip) and it really doesn’t get old. We shared the driving, with whoever was in the passenger seat responsible for deciding where to pull over for great views. We left San Francisco in the early afternoon and drove as far as Carmel Valley, where we stayed for two nights. Having an extra night gave us more time to explore the area, and also to go for a hike. Our Airbnb was really close to a trailhead, so on the second day on the road we set off on foot. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the first half of the hike (basically a continuous, and relatively steep, climb for two miles, in the heat), but as usual it was totally worth it, and once we were up, the hike along the ridge and then the descent were very pleasant.

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While I’m not sure Carmel Valley is every exactly lush, the drought was very evident there. The lower part of the trail had some interpretive signs, one of which talked about spawning fish in the river, but there was no river. The trail was sandy and very dry, and near the top there was a little plastic container with a sign asking hikers to donate some of their water to help the local wildlife, which we happily did.

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After the hike we were all geared up to swim, so we went back to where we were staying, took very quick showers, and set off for Carmel-by-the-Sea. Never was California’s micro-climate so stark: where the valley had bee hot and sunny, Carmel was cool and overcast, and too chilly for me to swim. L was debating whether he was going to swim and then we saw dolphins (!) so that settled that and in he went. Swimming with dolphins. It just about made up for our late arrival in Monterey — in what is becoming an unfortunate holiday tradition for us, we got there just a half-hour before the aquarium closed, which made the admission fee just a little too steep. Next time for sure, though (Audry recently went to the aquarium, so if you’re wondering what we missed out on, she has all the details.)

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Day three was another big driving day — Carmel to Santa Barbara, through Big Sur. We didn’t have the best weather when we started out (that’s the bridge right before Bixby Bridge, but of similar design), but once we got over a few hills we found the sun.

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We stopped at two beaches in Big Sur. We stopped at Pfeiffer Beach, which was bright and sunny, but also windy, for lunch. We had a little picnic, and I was napping in the sun when L came running over to tell me there were whales just offshore! All our photos are of the puffs from their blowholes, splashes from their jumps, and the rise of their tail flukes, but we think there were at least three, and our best guess is that they were Gray Whales, which migrate along the coast of California. We were too busy watching them frolic to take very good pictures, but they were amazing to see so close up. After Pfeiffer Beach we drove along to Sand Dollar Beach, which was overcast with no wind (or whales). The lack of wind was really nice though, so I finally went swimming (the water was really cold, but definitely worth it). Naturally, L swam at both beaches.

After our beach stops we really had a bust a move to get to Santa Barbara before it got too late. We were driving along and doing pretty well at not stopping for every view when L said, “You need to pull over.” I thought maybe he didn’t feel well, but when I pulled off the road he looked at me and said “Whales.” That man has eagle eyes. We were up quite high, but over the cliff and out in the ocean he’d seen them: four or five more whales, just playing. There were some German tourists stopped and watching them as well, and one of them said he thought they were Orcas, but I’m pretty sure they were more Gray Whales. L did quite a good job to get one in mid jump, I thought.

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After that we really had to get going. We stopped at Taco Temple in Morro Bay for dinner (Audry, thank you so, so much for the recommendation, it was amazing!) and drove abandoned the coast for a speedier highway to Santa Barbara where we spent the night. We wandered through a city a little in the morning and then got back on the road to drive the last leg to San Diego. Let me just tell you now that driving from Santa Barbara to San Diego (218 miles/350 kilometres) takes longer than flying from Toronto to San Francisco (approximately 2,500 miles/4,000 kilometres) and leave it at that. L drove, I knit, peace remained. San Diego was a bit of a whirlwind for me, and it was the only day of bad weather we had — not that we could complain about a rainy day in a state that so badly needed it. It seemed like a fun city, though, and I would definitely go back. There were a lot of restaurants I would have liked to try.

Such a fun trip. It’s almost hard to believe that I was there just last week.

California, part 1

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I got home Sunday night and have been debating ever since how best to write about our trip. It was so, so great: the perfect mix of busy and relaxed, with great weather and great company. We honestly saw and did so much in eight days that as soon as I started going through my photos (899, to be precise) I realized one post would be crazy. Instead, I think I can do it in three — San Francisco, driving Highway 1, and LYS visiting — and I’ll warn you now, they’re going to be pretty photo heavy. Ready? Let’s do this thing.

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We stayed in the Noe Valley neighbourhood, which was a great area but definitely not downtown. Although we started taking more public transportation later on, we did a lot of walking up and down – and then up and then down again – San Francisco’s hilly streets (my hips decided to pretty much fall apart while we were there, which has never happened before and was really inconvenient). The steepness is pretty much impossible to capture, but suffice to say that the street in the photo with the long view was at about a 45 degree angle (L is an engineer, so I trust his judgment on such matters) — we walked up it (on tip-toe) as part of the climb to the top of Twin Peaks, which we reached just in time for the fog/clouds to start spilling over the top.

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Our impromptu visit to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park was on of my favourite things we in San Francisco. We packed a little picnic and wandered through the park to the gardens, which were really lovely. It was the closest we came to seeing big redwoods, and the California Natives garden meant we got to see a lot of the plants and flowers that weren’t flourishing because of the drought. Besides the dozens of succulents that seem to thrive in California, the other plant we saw a ton of on our trip was nasturtiums (the first, very orange, flower). It’s one of my favourite flowers, and to see it growing wild all over the place was such a treat, and added shocking blasts of colour to an otherwise fairly pale landscape.

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Of course, we did the touristy stuff too. Neither of us grew up watching Full House, but a trip to see the Painted Ladies just seemed right. And then, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge herself (himself? itself? what gender do we assign to bridges?) The bridge was covered with a tube of cloud for our first two days in the city (as in: the sky everywhere else was clear and lovely, but the there was a line of cloud low and over the bridge anyway), but on our last day somehow everything worked out and we had a clear view. We walked across it, and then back across it, and it really does live up to the hype. It’s a pretty fantastic piece of infrastructure, and the little interpretive centre on the city side of the bridge definitely added to my appreciation of its design and art deco details.

San Francisco was a great introduction to California and I could definitely have spent more time there. We even made it over to Berkley and Oakland — more on that in the LYS post. Next up: driving down the coast!

Going Coastal

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L and I had a great time in Nova Scotia last week. Mostly we spent our time hanging out with family and friends and eating really good food. It was a short trip, so there wasn’t too much sightseeing (unless you count various restaurant interiors and living rooms), but here’s a taste of our trip.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy's Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy's Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy’s Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy's Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi'kmaq god Glooscap.

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula-looking thing is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi’kmaq god Glooscap.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

I mentioned before that one of the things I was hoping to do was find some yarn. Specifically, a match to this skein. I am thrilled (and, honestly, pretty surprised) to report success! The woman who dyed this yarn lives quite close to my parents, and she invited my mum and I over to see if she could find a match. She raises sheep and has a Suri Alpaca, spins and dyes yarn. Marilyn is amazing. I didn’t take any pictures, since we were in her house, but the big basket of handspun sitting in her living room was incredible. Anyway, it turns out that the yarn I was trying to match is a wool/mohair blend dyed by her but spun at the MacAusland woolen mill in PEI. The mill doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, so there is still some VM in the finished wool, but that doesn’t bother me. Plus, Marilyn explained that the chemicals actually weaken the yarn, so if that bit of VM means my garments will last longer, I’m doubly fine with it.

I think the grey is soft enough that I'm not worried about the bumblebee effect.

I think the grey is soft enough that I’m not worried about the bumblebee effect.

She had one skein left of the colourway I wanted, so I snapped it right up. She also had a few other colours – a really beautiful green, a variegated green/gold/grey, and some undyed skeins. I was really taken with the green, but I’m trying really hard not to buy single skeins unless there’s good yardage (or a plan), so I resisted and went with the two undyed skeins instead, which gives me just under 400 yds of each colour. I really like the grey/yellow combination, and am thinking this will either become the small version of Westloop (the leading contender) or the Great Divide shawl.

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:  Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan's Island  Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeinds Swan's Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:
Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan’s Island Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeins Swan’s Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

Of course, that isn’t all I picked up. I was in a bit of a mood I guess, and before I knew it there were 10 skeins of yarn to fit into my bag on the way home. The bottom row (above) is all from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which had a ton of new stock (at least compared to my last visit) and is definitely my LYS-away-from-home (or at home, depending on how you define things). The Swan’s Island is from Loop, a yarn shop in Halifax that I’d never been to but had a chance to check out this time. The Lilac is for me and the Midnight is for a new hat for L. I have at least tentative plans for everything I bought, and have already cast on some of the Fleece Artist — spring knitting, here I come!

Weekend getaway

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I tend to look forward to the weekends as time I get to spend at home. After a long week (and some weeks are longer than others) the prospect of an unplanned, low-key weekend is really appealing. For me. L often has other ideas, since he recharges in a totally different way. He tends to draw me out and get me to do things I might not otherwise choose, and generally, I’m thankful for it.

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This weekend, which would have been my first full weekend at home in a month, I was ready to return to routine – farmer’s market, do stuff around the house, snuggle under a blanket and knit, etc. – when our friend Josh, home from Germany, invited us to to his parents’ place in the country to spend the weekend cross country skiing. It was an offer too good to pass up, even when I was wistful for a quiet weekend, so early Saturday morning we set out, along with Josh’s friend Anna. And you know, I’m so, so glad we did.

Wooly cows!

Wooly cows!

Josh is a good friend, and someone we don’t see often enough. He came to spend New Year’s with us, though, so that plus a weekend away was pretty fantastic. He’s an excellent host, and the weekend featured great food, new games (Tichu!) and lots of outdoors time.

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There was too much storm damage to ski through the woods, so on Saturday we set off across the fields. There was a thing layer of surface snow over hard-packed try snow, over a thick layer of ice, so tracks weren’t really necessary and we all skied together. I’m not a very experienced cross country skier, but we weren’t doing anything technical and it was nice to get out all together.

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It snowed Saturday night, making for much trickier skiing on Sunday. Neither Anna nor I are all that proficient, so after Josh’s binding broke we decided to go for a wintry hike through the woods instead. I’m so glad we got to do both – there’s something magical about the woods in the winter. It’s so quiet in there, and the colours are so stark. We were out for over an hour, and I’ll admit to being quite cold by the time we got back to the house. L jokes all the time about wanting a pair of knitted long johns, but I think I need them more than he does.

Stepping-Stones in Cosmos, with surprise toes!

Stepping-Stones in Cosmos, with surprise toes in Chestnut leftovers!

Speaking of knitting, I manage to get in a little bit in and around all the other activities of the weekend. I cast on for a pair of Stepping-Stones (for me!) on Friday night, and cast off the first one last night. I’m knitting these up in some stashed Tosh DK in the Cosmos colourway, and they’re ticking right along, which is a good thing, because the temperature is going to take a dive tonight (they’re calling for -25C, which is -13F) and I’m going to need another pair of thick socks.

My favourite time of year

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Every fall, L and I make a point of choosing a day and going on some crazy walk around part of the city to look at all the fall colours. One of the best things about Toronto is that its downtown is criss-crossed by ravines, which are open to the public and allow you to walk between very different parts of the city without having to deal with (or often, even hear) traffic. It’s like a secret world, and it’s really, really lovely.

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We walked down the Beltline Trail to the Evergreen Brickworks, an area that used to be a quarry and brick factory but a few years ago was repurposed into a public park with interpretive trails, event spaces, and community classes about gardening, green living, etc. It’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to get to for years, but never have, and Sunday was the perfect day.

View of the city centre from the back of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

View of the city centre from the side of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

It rained just about all day Saturday and then for most of Monday, but Sunday was one of those glorious fall days when it’s hot in the sun and cool in the shade (ideal sweater weather!) and all the colours pop. So, so lovely. L mapped our walk after we got home and we wandered for about 8.5 kilometres (a little over 5 miles) and considering that most of it was in the woods, that’s not bad considering we never left the city.

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Knitting-wise, I took full advantage of our rainy Saturday.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

The first Saltburn sock is a couple of repeats away from the toe, so I should be starting the second one this weekend. Charade is also marching right along – something about two-row repeats feels super speedy, despite 72-stitch rows – and I’m really enjoying watching the colours progress. There is definitely some colour spiralling (too soon to say whether it will flash or just maintain this steady turn) at this stitch-count, but it’s slow enough that I don’t think I mind. I’m just an inch or so from dividing for the heel of the first sock.

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How was your weekend? Is it fall where you are?

I did not get lost in Boston

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These globes (each one meant to demonstrate green living) were everywhere. I loved that this one is wearing a rooftop garden like a jaunty hat.

These globes (each one meant to demonstrate green living) were everywhere. I loved that this one is wearing a rooftop garden like a jaunty hat.

Well, no, I did, but I made it back okay. Readjusting to regular life post-holiday has been a little crazy. It’s always a struggle, but for a bunch of reasons (including an angry little cat who refused to let me sleep), this time was harder. As a result, I’m behind on a bunch of things, but most especially I am shamefully behind on thanking you all for your excellent suggestions about where I should go and what I should do while in Boston! One of these days I’m going to write up little travel pages for each place I go, just so your trip advice won’t get lost in the archives.

One thing I learned by walking everywhere: Boston knows how to do window boxes.

One thing I learned by walking everywhere: Boston knows how to do window boxes.

Boston was an excellent city for solo travel (L was with me, but he spent most of his time doing conference things). Apparently the week we were there was the best weather they’d had all August, which meant bright and sunny and hot days – it was glorious. It was so nice, in fact, that I didn’t go to a single museum (I would have, but then L wanted to go see USS Constitution, which I’d already seen, but it was his only free time and how could I argue?) Basically this just means I’ll have to go back, and I’m pretty okay with that.

Freedom! (as long as you follow the path)

Freedom! (as long as you follow the path)

I sort of told you about Monday already, but on Tuesday I took to following the red brick line of the Freedom Trail. It was the hottest day (at that point – I think it got hotter later in the week) that Boston had had all August, so I slathered on the sunscreen and bought some water and went at it. I started in the Boston Common and took a guided tour as far as Faneuil Hall. It was exactly the kind of thing I would have hated as a teenager (our guide was dressed in period costume), but as an adult, I loved it. It has been a long time since I took American history, so all the extra details were both fun and helpful.

So tempting.

So tempting.

After the tour ended, I wandered around Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall for a bit before continuing on my way, which let me past the fabulous Mike’s Pastry, through Little Italy, and over a very serious bridge to the USS Constitution and from there, up to the Bunker Hill memorial: 294 steps are, it seems, no problem to get up, but after descending my legs were shaking so much I had to hold on to stay standing. And then I had to walk all the way back. It was a slow and painful walk (and my calves hurt for days), but it was worth it.

View from the end of Fan Pier. I love that waterfront architecture.

View from the end of Fan Pier. I love that waterfront architecture.

The next day, still in a bit of pain, I went over to Fort Point and poked around some of the little shops and restaurants. I also walked Fan Pier, which was lovely and offered a totally different Boston skyline than the one I’d become accustomed to seeing.

See what I mean about the window boxes?

See what I mean about the window boxes?

I did do some shopping in Boston, but sadly had no way to get to Webs. I did find one yarn shop, but it was so expensive ($69 for a 100g, 400-yard skein of 80% merino, 20% cashmere?) that I just left. I actually knit very little while I was away. I finished the first of my Skyp Socks on the plane heading home, and although I cast on for the second one, it’s one week later and I’m only two inches in. (After Boston we went to Ann Arbor for a wedding, which didn’t allow for much knitting either.) Luckily there’s a long weekend coming up and we have no plans at all.

So, what did you get up to last week? I’m still catching up on all my blog reading and e-mail responding, so if you get a barrage of comments/replies, that’s why.