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Articles Archive 2017

October 2017
DOWN UNDER IN KURANDA
Riding the Rails on Land and Sky

by Margaret Deefholts

I’m fanning myself with a newspaper while sitting on a platform bench at Freshwater Station, a small railway junction, a short distance away from Cairns in Queensland. The 35-degree temperature and humidity isn’t relieved by a breeze, and the adjoining restaurant behind me is doing a roaring business in ice-cream and iced lemonade sales. Like the crowds of Japanese tourists milling around the station, I’m eager to board the small train which will chug me uphill through the Barron River Valley to the little town of Kuranda. ... read more »


HAUNTED D’ARCY ISLAND
by Cherie Thiessen

Can an island be hostile? We’re beginning to think so. “What is it about this place?” My partner, David, asks me uneasily as we struggle through the shadowy, claustrophobic tangle of torn limbs and dead trees, trying not to trip over the vines underfoot. ... read more »


IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO – TWO DESTINATIONS IN ONE
by Ray Chatelin

Midway down the west coast of Mexico are two destinations you can visit for the price of one. In fact, the only extra charge you can expect is an 11-peso bus fare.

For while Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are marketed as a single destination, each has its own character, history and culture and each place appeals to a distinctly different vacation personality. ... read more »


CAPTIVATING ARMENIA
by Irene Butler

Republic Square has a beauty that touches one’s soul. The hues of serene pink to soft orange of 19th century edifices in locally-mined stone called “tuff” take on a different persona with the rising sun, in mid-day’s bold light, and during evening shadows. This square is Rick’s and my spectacular debut to Yerevan, the capital, which rests in a valley with the Hrazdan River winding through it. ... read more »


September 2017
BREATHTAKING BAKER
by Jane Cassie

In our opinion, September is the best month for hiking. It's often sunny, usually bug-free and not as busy, especially mid-week when the kids are back in school. From our White Rock deck, Mount Baker juts up like a frosted pinnacle and prompts us to dust off our packs, poles and boots. Although not the highest Cascade peak, it’s definitely the iciest. No doubt, that’s why the Lummi Indians coined it Koma Kulshan, meaning, “The Great White Watcher.” ... read more »


TAKING ENGLAND LITERALLY
by Margaret Deefholts

It is a modest little brick cottage by the side of the road—one which I could have easily missed were I not specifically looking for it. Yet, this home in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, was where one of England’s greatest poets and writers, John Milton, once lived and worked. ... read more »


IN AWE OF ORCAS
by Karoline Cullen Photos by Karoline & Gary Cullen

It’s a quiet summer morning on Galiano Island and I am comfortably ensconced on a deck chair. Song birds flit back and forth between their feeder and the bird bath. A deer slowly munches its way along the hillside, passing through sunbeams filtered by Garry oaks and arbutus trees. I relish the calm as I sip my tea and scan the waters of Active Pass with binoculars. It looks empty but then I look again. ... read more »


BOSTON – AMERICA’S HISTORICAL HEARTLAND
by Ray Chatelin

BOSTON, MA - This city is all about history – American history. And all you must do to enjoy it is to follow the red line painted along the brick sidewalks. ... read more »


August 2017
SCOOTIN'THE SCENIC SAN JUANS
by Jane Cassie

The continuous archipelago of the San Juan Islands extends along the ocean’s bed from the southeast tip of Vancouver Island to the northern part of Fidalgo Island. Orcas Island claims centre stage and is our first of two stops during this weekend escape. ... read more »


CANADA’S UNCLE TOM’S CABIN
by Margaret Deefholts

The log cabin is crouched against the wind, its weathered timbers blurred by snow flurries. Along with a group of visitors, I try to imagine the man who once lived within its walls. His name was Josiah Henson and although his abode is located on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site” in Dresden, Ontario, the reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a symbolic rather than factual. The fictional Uncle Tom never lived in Canada, and his cabin would have been located on a plantation in Kentucky. ... read more »


NATURE, ADVENTURE CLOSE UP IN COSTA RICA
by Lauren Kramer

This travel story comes with a caution: if you’re visiting Costa Rica for any reason other than its nature, don’t bother. Don’t come for the food, which is easily forgettable. The most popular dishes are gallo pinto, which is rice-and-beans, and fried pork skins known as chicharrones. While local Costa Ricans love this food, if you’re not from here you might well be mystified by its appeal. Don’t come for the driving conditions either, as the winding back roads leading to the coastlines and volcanic regions inland can be perilous, with bathtub sized potholes and no streetlights out of the city. ... read more »


ECO TOURISM IS HUATULCO’S WINNING INGREDIENT
by Chris McBeath

The van bumped and cajoled its way up into the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, kicking pebbles into the jungle precipice from the dirt track and lurching to a standstill every so often for us to view the local wildlife: a tarantula the size of Boris Karloff’s hand, an armadillo waddling out of our way, and a rattler warming its length in the Mexican sun. ... read more »


TIRELESS TAIPEI, TAIWAN
by Irene Butler

Taipei is like a jumbo box of Crayola’s with every colour of sign competing for attention along the capital’s shop-filled streets of Zhongzheng District. Voluminous crowds and mega traffic round out the stimulating atmosphere. We love it! ... read more »


July 2017
GOING UNDERGROUND AT KARTCHNER CAVERNS
by Jane Cassie

When my husband suggests that we go underground and check out some caves in Arizona, I respond with a big, "Really?!" He knows that I'm not a fan of dark, enclosed spaces, let alone bats that love to hang out in this subterranean environment. "Have no fear," he says, as if reading my mind. "There's no need for spelunking gear at Kartchner Caverns." ... read more »


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MUMBAI
by Margaret Deefholts

I am standing near a massive archway, appropriately called the “Gateway of India” where the Arabian Sea swells against the shores of India’s most powerful and dynamic city – Mumbai. The rise and fall of voices, the cries of vendors, the persistent beeping of car horns, the rush and roar of traffic are the sounds of a city that throbs to the heartbeat of twenty million people who call it home. ... read more »


THE ISLAND OF DOMINICA IS A CARIBBEAN SECRET
Story and Photography by Jamie Ross

Oh dream of dreams: here I am swimming through a sea of champagne, bubbles boiling all around me and rising gently to the ocean surface. I almost want to take the snorkel out of month and lap up the sparkling liquid – but I won’t of course, because sensibly I know that drinking and diving don’t mix. Besides, the gross salty seawater might spoil this dream that has me frolicking around in a goblet of booze. ... read more »


HARRISON HOT SPRINGS, BC
Going Natural in the Fraser Valley

by Chris Millikan

Just outside town, a sculpted wooden Sasquatch welcomes visitors to Harrison Hot Springs. Like us, many stop for photos with this legendary being. As well, similar sculptures pose in other village spots. Giant footprints decorate pavement tiles linking hotels, public pool, restaurants or shops selling ‘Bigfoot’ chocolates. ... read more »


June 2017
NEW ZEALAND – More Than a Walk Through Middle Earth
by Ray Chatelin

It’s very likely that Mother Nature used New Zealand as a test model before going on to the rest of the world, just to make sure her ideas worked. For as you tour the country, it becomes clear that the two islands that make up the country have every imaginable climate and topography, much of which can be defined by your nose. ... read more »


GETTING WET ON A MEXICAN RANCH
by John Geary

Splash!
I was in the water, and hanging on for dear life – or at least to prevent any embarrassment. And I was once again, swimming with an animal. ... read more »


COMOX VALLEY LULLABY
by Lauren Kramer

Victoria, Tofino, Parksville. If there are spotlight stealers on Vancouver Island, it’s this trio that garners all the attention. For road warriors who love to venture off the beaten track, this bodes well for the Comox Valley. On a summery weekend visit to Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland, we learned this verdant coastal region is an undiscovered treasure chest brimming with fun activities. Rich in history, what you see is what you get in the Comox Valley – and what meets the eye is unforgettable natural beauty, charming downtown cores, an emphasis on local, home grown cuisine and soft adventures through which you can taste, feel and touch the island’s bounty. ... read more »


BLISS AT BIG STICK
by Jane Cassie

A morning mist permeates the evergreen shoreline and cloaks the lake with a mystical veil. A boater slices through it silently. His reel is set, line is cast and he sits, waiting with patience. Shards of sunlight pierce the vapor and reflect off a nearby kayaker as she languidly paddles by. And at the adjacent river mouth a doe takes time to graze. ... read more »


May 2017
QUESTIONING CANADA
by Colleen Friesen

It was a quest.
We would drive across Canada and find somewhere new to live.
We’d been across the country before but this time was different. We rented out our Vancouver apartment for a year, put our severely-edited remaining things into storage and stuffed the rest into the teeny drawers of our new turtle-shell; a 17 1/2' RPod trailer. ... read more »


ON TOP OF THE WORLD AT CATHEDRAL LAKES PARK
by Jane Cassie

Thirty kilometers from Keremeos and two thousand meters skyward, awaits Cathedral Provincial Park and some of the most heavenly hiking that you’ll find in BC. The 33,000-hectare (80,000-acre) mountain wilderness is splashed with azure lakes, cloaked with alpine meadows, and backed by some mighty majestic peaks. ... read more »


LEICESTER’S ELUSIVE CELEBRITY
Who was Richard III?

by Margaret Deefholts

Was he or wasn’t he a monster? That is the question!
According to Shakespeare, he was a cruel despot and a cold blooded murderer. But as some historians would have it, Richard III was badly maligned – he was nowhere near the psychopathic character portrayed by Shakespeare, whose play of the same name has its share of historical inaccuracies. But who cares...Richard as an anti-hero makes for splendid theatre, and riveting drama! And so the deformed man who bewailed “the winter of my discontent” as he hobbled hunch-backed onto the stage, remains lodged in our minds. ... read more »


THE SILENT SENTINALS OF SGANG HWAAY
by Karoline Cullen

They are silent sentinels standing above the shoreline. Leaning, crumbling and decaying poles, carved more than 100 years ago. Blank eyes still stare out to sea and their symbolism reaches across the ages in a mystical way. ... read more »


April 2017
RV-ING WITH OUR CANINE COMPANION
by Jane Cassie

When our suitcases come out of the closet, our Schnauzer, Kalli, goes into panic mode. She neurotically shakes, scurries and gives us the occasional whimper. There's no need for conversation. Her pleading brown eyes clearly relay her thoughts: "Do I get to come along or are you leaving me behind?" As we transfer our travelling possessions from the house to RV, she has the answer. And she's the first one in the driver's seat. ... read more »


NAMBIA'S SHIFTING SANDS
by Chris McBeath

Namibia has many names. The bushman call it The Land God Made in Anger. Seafaring Portuguese named its coastline the Gates of Hell, likely for the hundreds of shipwrecks still wallowing in the shallow waters. And others speak of A Thirstland Wilderness. Intriguing, harsh, and beautiful, Namibia is all these things. ... read more »


CYCLING THE LOIRE VALLEY
Chateau de Villandry

by Chris Millikan

Our dream of a self-guided Loire Valley bike trip finally becomes a reality.
To simplify planning, Macs Adventure develops our ‘Chateaux and Gardens’ itinerary. With input from us, family-run lodgings, breakfasts, dinners, rental bicycles, helmets, maps and luggage transfers are all arranged. And we’re off! ... read more »


ST THOMAS – WITHOUT A DOUBT
by Margaret Deefholts

I am standing in a cramped, musty cave. The gloom is pierced by a shaft of sunlight filtering through a narrow aperture at one end of the cave, and the ray rests on what looks like a large rough handprint on the rock floor. ... read more »


March 2017
LEONARDO DA VINCI'S AMBOISE
France’s Renaissance Capital

by Rick Millikan

Site of France’s early royal court…and Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, Amboise inspires wondrous investigations. Strolling across the main bridge into old town, a cobblestone street leads us past bistros, patisseries, 15th century clock tower and antique shops. Winding up a hillside, we admire half-timbered homes and marvel at cave dwellings carved into chalky-white cliffs, common in the Loire Valley. ... read more »


IMPRESSIONS OF IRELAND
by Margaret Deefholts

Ireland, on this my first visit, is a mélange of impressions. For starters, looking out of my plane window as we circle the countryside on our approach to Dublin, I can’t but think how appropriate the description “The Emerald Isle” is even though it borders on cliché. Below me are fields flung like green counterpanes over the land, bottle-green hedgerows that frame thread-like lanes, olive-green groves of trees which border clusters of town houses, and lustrous green-leafed deciduous trees shading the lawns of stately county estates. ... read more »


SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – A Walk in The Past
by Ray Chatelin

You can’t escape the past in Santa Fe. It clings to you at every corner, stares at you from every doorway and window, and speaks to you from the ancient cliff dwellings in the nearby hills. Here you’ll find a physical and spiritual combination of an aboriginal culture, an imported European past and chic 21st Century Americana. ... read more »


RIVER CRUISING THE CANADIAN WAY
Boating Ontario’s Trent-Severn Waterway

by Jamie Ross

I have always been excited by the mysteries of river travel. Voyaging aboard a large cruise ship across the ocean has never held must fascination for me, but a slow boat down a meandering, well-travelled waterway stokes my imagination. After reading Mark Twain, what spirited youngster has not dreamt of being Huck Finn, drifting down a river’s wide expanse, the changing scenery, passing vessels, the bustle of activity and the characters you meet lead to new adventures and fresh discoveries around every bend? ... read more »


A Vista Villa Couples Retreat
A Hidden Oasis!

by Jane Cassie

What determines a great romantic getaway? Spectacular views? Luxurious accommodations? How about all of these and more? Well, that's what we discover at this unique sanctuary in the heart of BC’s sunny Okanagan. ... read more »


February 2017
PURE ESCAPISM
AT ARIZONA INN

by Jane Cassie

It's late Thursday afternoon and the gray ribbon of highway before us is cloaked with bumper to bumper gridlock. We inch along in our little red rental, butting up to suburbia vans, luxury Lincolns, and rust-bucket half tons, all who have the same purpose in mind. To get where they're going, and as quickly as possible. Although we're quite familiar with rush hour in our own bustling metropolis, the surrounding vista reminds us that we're not at home. ... read more »


72 HOURS IN & AROUND QUITO
by Lauren Kramer

When it comes to exploring Quito, Ecuador's capital, you have to venture into the cobbled side streets of the city's Old Town to learn what makes the area distinct and different. In the shadows of buildings centuries old, sample street food and breathe the air of ancient churches. Then head north on the Pan American highway to glimpse real life in Ecuador: country roads, small town squares and roasted pork sold one slice at a time by the side of the road. Here's our top choices for three days in and around Ecuador's capital. ... read more »


GENIAL GEORGIA – TBILISI AND COUNTRYSIDE
by Irene Butler

"First we eat...and then we do everything else." This restaurant billboard has my husband, Rick, chuckling, "Hey, my motto!" And this order of things is good advice with Georgia's delectable traditional cuisine. We especially can't get enough khinkali; twisted knobs of steamed dough stuffed with meat or cheese or mushrooms! ... read more »


KUCHING: MALAYSIA'S CAPTIVATING ‘CAT' CITY
by Margaret Deefholts

A woman in a blazing orange and green batik-print gown and embroidered head scarf examines pair of sunglasses bearing a designer label; a stout matriarch, floppy hat perched on her head, presides over her display of fresh bok choy and taro roots; a shop-keeper rolls out a bolt of shimmering brocade for a couple of teenagers, and two little girls giggle shyly as I stop to take a look at the array of fresh fish set out on green plastic trays. ... read more »


January 2017
COSTA RICA'S QUIRKY GEMS
by Chris McBeath

Most people come to Costa Rica for its tropical climes, secluded beaches, and endless eco adventures. For those who think they know the landscapes, or prefer a less trodden path, here are some gems to discover. ... read more »


THE SECRET WORLD OF THE MAYA AT EDZNA
by Margaret Deefholts

Mention the word "Yucatan" and friends immediately exclaim, "Wasn't Chichen Itza awesome?" I have to confess that I didn't visit it. Puzzled frowns: "You didn't?" "No," I say apologetically, then add brightly, "but I did see the Mayan ruins at Edzna." Nobody has heard of them, so eyes cloud over and the subject gets changed. ... read more »


PALM SPRINGS – More than Shopping and Golf
by Ray Chatelin

Travelers heading south for a week or more, are generally there for one reason - to escape the rain, snow and cold that grips our part of the world between November and March. ... read more »


FEASTING ON THE JUNGLE'S BOUNTY
by Hans Tammemagi

"Go ahead, touch it," says Ericson, our guide, holding out a seven-foot-long rainbow boa constrictor that is squirming and wrapping itself around his arms. I inch forward and nervously slide my hand along the iridescent skin. Surprisingly, the snake feels smooth and, well, almost pleasant. Nevertheless, I quickly step back. ... read more »


SNOOPING AROUND AGATHA CHRISTIE'S RIVIERA
by Jamie Ross

"No seaside town in the south of England is, I think, as attractive as St. Loo – which reminds one forcibly of the Riviera."

Such is the opening line of Agatha Christie's ‘Peril at End House.' The thoughts are from Hercule Poirot's associate, Captain Hastings, the city of St. Loo is actually Torquay in South Devon, and the famous detective and his friend are sitting on the terrace of the Hotel Majestic, high on a headland, overlooking the sea. My wife and I sit on the terrace of the Imperial Hotel taking in the same magnificent coastal view, whilst enjoying a Devon cream tea, an afternoon ritual which includes a rather surprising delicious pastry, a mixture of jam and clotted cream on a tasty scone. The Majestic and Imperial are actually the same place, and today I am the marvellous detective and my spouse the somewhat blundering side-kick, at least in my own mind. ... read more »


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