Restart

Honestly, it has been a while since I wrote anything here.  I did some other writing projects but nothing personal.  My reasons for staying away were/are valid. Still, this is a good outlet for me and I do enjoying sharing both my faith and my adventures.

As my Daddy still says, my middle name is “go” and frankly, sometimes “going” keeps me sane! We are  (I am) still traveling. I think since my last post in March 2017, Steve and I have been to:

  • Memphis to see Billy Joel in concert,
  • North Carolina for a week in the mountains,
  • Gulf Shores for a freezing weekend (seriously!),
  • Yukon to see the Northern Lights (missed them but loved being there!).

JoJo and I made a train trip to NOLA and a road trip to  Biloxi for a few days. I’ve been to NYC with my friend Ginger to see the revival of Sunset Boulevard and Billy Joel at MSG (yes – I really, really like Billy Joel) as well as to catch up with a friend who is in school there and see the World Trade Center Memorial.

Recently, I was able to share in a magical musical few days in Chicago with my friend and cello teacher Rebekah seeing Hamilton, playing tourist (Chicago River, Lake Michigan, Magnificent Mile, Hancock Tower for the 360 view, Millennium Park where we heard part of an open orchestra rehearsal, deep dish pizza with friends), and finishing with Yo-Yo Ma and the Chicago Symphony.   It.was.amazing!

First Baptist Jackson still keeps us both rolling. My volunteer hours have crept up but that is ok. VBS has rolled through twice during my hiatus as did Carols 2017, Easter 2018, and even another KidsRock musical, A Not So Terrible Parable (my last post in March 2017 was about Treasure Island). I am enjoying working some different sorts of tasks that really engage my gifts as well as spending time with my friends there, and, best of all, having the opportunity to mentor some terrific young adults.

The best thing I have done is begin cello lessons. My grandmother, Hazel Benton, played cello. I always thought I might want to do that. I finally decided to sign on to lessons at the FBCJ Academy of Arts and have loved every minute of it. My teacher is an amazing young artist and somehow “gets” how to deal with OCD me.  I love lessons and I love to practice! I even (thanks to my “friends”) allowed myself to be backed into playing in the spring recital.  This was far more nerve-wracking than any band solo auditions I did back in the day and I always managed to con my way out of piano recitals (seriously). My goal was to not embarass Rebekah or myself!  No one ran out screaming though I will admit that Bach and I are not consistently friendly!

Probably best of all, I celebrated my 14th year of being cancer free and the extended McHenry family welcomed two more little girls and the family at large is doing ok.

So – here is to a restart to writing. We will see where it goes! I leave you with this thought…

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 NIV

Still choosing joy!

Cille

It Is Wednesday and Banff

Wow – since posting Saturday as we arrived in Jasper via train, we have been busy (still). We spent two nights in Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper National Park. On Sunday, we had a “down day” which is you are on a cruise – that is like at “at sea” day s you can catch your breath and catch up.  We were in a cabin (4 units per cabin) and after being on the train, it was like our luggage exploded!!  This was our second time there. Our cabin this time was right next to the lodge.  While there we sat by the lake and read (pretty neat place for your quiet time), walked part way around Lake Beaufort and back, watched four women play golf on the 16th green of the beautiful Jasper course (honestly – I think they were playing to say they had done it – more like a comedy show!), and listened to Ginger and Kathy tell of their witnessing the end of an elk giving birth and then she and her calf being relocated by Parks Canada to a safer location for both the guests of the Lodge and the elk and baby.  The extent of wildlife Steve and I saw at Jasper were Canadian geese and a chipmunk! We have had great food on this trip but the very best meal was a steak (Alberta Beef) that Steve, Ginger and I shared (Yes – that big) while at Jasper Park. Oh. My.

From Jasper, we headed down the Icefields Parkway, stopping at Athabasca Falls, seeing many glaciers of many types (saddle, valley, hanging), and arrive at the Columbia Icefields, the second largest icefield in Canada. We changed our coach for an ice crawler and up the side of the glacier (Athabasca Glacier) we go. This conveyance weighs many tons, have 6 tires that are worth CAN$ 30K and run at a top speed of about 11MPH.  They can handle the 18 degree grade that you have to go down and come up to get to where you need to be.  Our driver was a 3rd generation driver for Brewster Canada (largest touring company in CAN and who have the transport concession for this).  He was mid 20’s was my guess. Our driver up to the transfer station (regular bus) was 18! These kids earn a good living doing support work for the travel industry and are very much into what they do.

We headed on south from there and ended at Chateau Lake Louise at the end of the day.  Our room overlooked the lake, the Victoria Glacier, and Victoria Mountain (and two others that I do not remember). The view is stunning and is the one you see in every Alberta travel guide!  Steve and I slept in (as in missed breakfast) and then we took off on an tour up to Moraine Lake. This lake is one of those that is disappearing as the glaciers melt off. It is beautiful.

Had lunch at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise Village (http://posthotel.com) – which is a very old hotel and was built by a Swiss guy who came here backin the 1940s to teach the Canadians how to do ice climbing and mountaineering and was built in the style of Post Hotels in Switzerland. Beautiful place. Excellent lunch. Could have piled up in the lobby and spent the afternoon!

Next on to Banff Spring Lodge – the oldest of the Canadian Pacific Hotels. This is built in the style of a Scottish baronial castle. You.will.get.lost.even.with.a.map.  Our room this go looks over the Bow Valley and Bow River and the golf course. This morning we floated (raft – class 2 (as in nothing) rapids) down the Bow River and took in the sights. Beautiful.

We wrap up here in the morning and head for Calgary and the airport (and the red-eye home)! It has been a wonderful experience. Steve and I have for years been a fan of western Canada and BC nor Alberta have ever disappointed us.

Over and over this week, I have had Psalm 23 come to mind. The Lord is MY Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…. I can say without a doubt that my soul has been restored this week.

Looking forward to being home. Still Choosing Joy!

Cille

Not Sure What Day It Is…

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Actually it is Saturday morning – 6:20AM Pacific Time. We are on VIA Rail and at a scheduled stop in Kamloops. This is a city of about 85,000 literally in the middle of the mountains. This is the halfway point between  Vancouver and Jasper.

We have been busy. Wednesday we left Vancouver for Victoria via the BC Ferries – a BIG European-style ferry. It is a lovely ride through the Straits of Georgia passing the Gulf Islands. Once in Victoria, we headed out along the Inner Harbor and ate local at a place called Ferris. This is a pub-like place with great food – they apparently are famous for their oysters and I had an oyster burger – seriously – which was really a pro-boy like sandwich on a round bun (excellent). We were ready for this for sure.

Thursday morning we loaded up and headed to Butchart Gardens. These are privately owned and a prime example of how mining reclamation should work. This was a former limestone quarry that the owner’s wife wanted made beautiful. And it is spectacular. This is our third different season to visit here.  The spring flowers were at or just past peak and the colors amazing.

Back in Victoria, Steve and I headed out the opposite direction from the night before along the Inner Harbor down to Fisherman’s Wharf to Barb’s Fish and Chips. This was pretty good too and seafood in the rough – floating fish stand with picnic tables along side on a floating dock. It was a busy place but appeared to be more local than tourists. Cruise season has begun but we managed to be opposite whatever ship was in port both in Victoria and Vancouver in whatever we did. Our dinner that evening was at the Pacific Dining Room at the hotel. The food was great and was art on a plate.

Friday morning we toured the BC Museum – this is a world class museum showcasing the history of BC beginning with the First Nation’s story (a.k.a. “Native American’s”). The collection of First Nation artifacts was broad and broken by the different tribes/nations and included a segment on language and dialect. From this start, you see the impact of the white man (Blythe, Cook, Vancouver were those naval types leading expeditions here) and their guns, alcohol, and disease. Very interesting and very well done.

Leaving there, Steve and I walked around the BC Parliament grounds, saw the sequoia that is the BC provincial Christmas tree, enjoyed people and dog watching, and harbor watching. We then had High Tea at the Empress Hotel before boarding a Harbour Tours seaplane for the 40 minute flight back to Vancouver.  The trip was at about 1000 feet and it was neat to see the ferries, islands, freighters and even landmarks like the Lions’ Gate Bridge from the air. Upon landing, we toured the area of the University of British Columbia (about 60k students) and returned to Gastown for an Italian dinner. We then boarded the train for our trip to Jasper.

It is now about 7:50am – we just had breakfast in the dining car and have settled in to watch the view which is becoming more spectacular by the mile. Our train is 25ish cars long. We were in a sleeping compartment (Steve got the top bunk) and actually slept fairly well. We are due to arrive in Jasper around 4PM Mountain time if all stays on schedule.

Our group includes folks from PA, FL, AL, LA, MS (obviously), CA and I am sure others I have missed. We also have several Aussies in the group. On average, I would say we are the youngest in the bunch!

On a funny note (one of several) – Ginger was given the option to be the “co-pilot” on the seaplane. She got to wear the the headphones and hear air traffic control. And she was told NOT to touch anything! Kathy survived the seaplane ride (she loves to travel but is not fond at all of flying and particularly of flying in small aircraft) and was put in charge of the exit door on the plane! If the pilot who assigned her that duty had only known…. Her color has returned from green to normal this morning.  Steve who is an exceptionally good sport and has been traveling with this group of ladies off and on for years, was identified as “boss” by our waiter this AM. We all cracked up at that. He, unfortunately, seldom is boss on these adventures. Kathy also last night pulled out a tour cry from years’ back – the deal is when you see wildlife, you call out. Well she called out “MOOSE” and the other three of us immediately turned to look out the window (note: we were still within the city limits of Vancouver at the time)!

The river running along side of us (North Thompson River) is up due to the snow melt but it is apparent that it is no where near the flood stages of the past. We have passed one area where a forest fire recently happened and of course the fire in NE Alberta (Fort MacMurray (sp)) is still in the news. It has been a dry winter here and that will of course impact the summer season going forward. Victoria has water controls in place now and Vancouver is considering it.  Climate is changing for sure.

As we ride along we have passed pastures of cows, horses, and sheep as well as fields that have their crops just in or are going in now. This apparently is an extremely fertile valley.

Philippians 4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. I wonder if the people living in this valley consider that given the wealth of this land? I wonder if we consider it as we should given the options and opportunities we have. Pretty sure I am not always on top of that. And, since CHANGE in every aspect of our lives is a constant, we must depend on Him to lead us through these and know that He will provide for each and every one of us.

Still Choosing Joy!

Cille

Day 2 – Sea-to-Sky Highway

So really day 1 of doing anything except touring airports! It was a full day for sure.

We took a LandSea Tour up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the village of Squamish. To me, this is one of the most spectacular rides in the world. The water in the glacial fiord as you drive this rode is still yet powerful. You look out on the Gulf Islands and it appears they go on forever. And though the highway is better than it was when we were last here before the 2010 Winter Olympics, I was grateful I was not driving.

First stop – Horseshoe Bay. This is one of the BC Ferries terminals. These are ferries like they have in Scandinavia – big ones.  This village is on Howe Sound and the ferry terminal is the one for North Vancouver and above. The South Terminal is almost to the US Border but that is a story for later.

From here we went to Shannon Falls – for whatever reason we had never stopped here before. The falls are spectacular! This is within the BC Provencial Park system. 

Next up was the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. We (less Kathy who chose to stay on the ground level) rode to the top. Talk about views! Wow. We walked across the suspension bridge (we did that in NI – this one was longer but did not blow in the wind like that one did) and hiked the trail at the upper level of the gondola. We saw other falls in the distance, interesting wetland features (at a very high altitude) and were literally in the clouds. 

On the way back down we toured the Brittania Mining Museum. We had always seen this when here before but it was abandoned. Someone came in a did an amazing job of turning this into a museum of copper mining which was mined here until the 1970s. I learned a lot about how this worked – really had no clue before – and was reminded again how HARD industry was and how UNSAFE it was in the early 20th century.

Headed back into Vancouver and had our initial meet-and-greet with the Tauck party. Looks to be about 45 of us on this tour. We head out to tour Vancouver, Granville Island and on to Victoria by ferry this afternoon.

I love the mountains and when there Psalm 8 always is on a continuous loop in my head: “Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

As usual on my iPad, my photos are loading in random order and I cannot tell what size they may render to the web (I am sure there is a fix for that but….)

More later.

Still Choosing Joy!

Cille

Sea-to-Sky Gondola
Suspension Bridge
Sea-to-Sky Gondola Overlook
Brittiana Mining Museum
Brittania Mining Museum
Britannia Mining Museum

Shannon Falls
Steve at Horseshoe Bay, BC
Shannon Falls
Shannon Falls
BC Ferries

Planes, Ferries, Trains, and Busses

The adventure began early this morning with a 2AM alarm! With all the TSA news and some specific news coming out of JAN regarding lines, large groups, and missed flights, we were at the airport 2 hours before flight time (and as Steve will affirm, did have to wait for the Delta counter to open). There was a line at the west TSA checkpoint and at the east checkpoint, we we were ahead of the bus load of teenagers on their way somewhere who appeared at 4:30AM (thank you Bob Gladney for that warning) headed out for some sort of adventure by way of Atlanta.  At any rate, we were off on time, made our first connection without problems, and are right now in the air over Billings, Montana, about two hours out from Seattle. We make our final change there and are scheduled to land in Vancouver at approximately 6PM Mississippi time.

So while I have a few minutes, this is what we are up to for the next 10 days. We are joining a Tauck tour of Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies tomorrow. Here is the gist of the itenerary.  We have two nights in Vancouver staying near Canada Place (the cruise ship terminal) looking out on the bay. This puts us in an absolutely gorgeous spot and close to Gastown, the historical section of “old Vancouver.” From here we tour the city, spend time at Granville Island and Stanley Park, visit a museum, and take a trip up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish. If you have been to Whistler or remember from the Vancouver Olympics, this is the main route that connected many of the venues and that gets you to ski country in this part of Canada.  

From Vancouver, we sail to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Victoria is one of the most (if not the most) British cities in Canada. While there two nights, we will get some chocolate from Roger’s (my absolute favorite), have tea at the Empress Hotel, see Butchart Gardens, and spend time taking in the sights along the waterfront. 

We return to the mainland by float plane (Kathy is not happy about that!) and board The Canadian, a historic passenger train recently restored by VIA, the Canadian national railway. While overnighting on the train, we travel through the heart of the Canadian Rockies to Jaspar National Park. While there we go rafting and spend a couple of days drinking in one one of the prettiest places Steve and I have ever been. For example, when here before, we were sitting by the lake in late evening and looked up to see that we were surrounded by elk taking their evening stroll through the grounds of the lodge. Elk get the complete right-of-way.  I hope to experience that again and this time have my camera or phone on my person! 

We will travel down the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefields  and take a trip up the glacier before heading to Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The lodge at Lake Louise sits at the edge of a stunning glacial lake surrounded by mountains. We will likely do a good bit of walking there around the lake itself while keeping a close watch out for bears.  Who knows – there may still be snow as they have had snow in both Jaspar Park and Banff within the past week!

Our final stop will be Banff. The lodge there is like a baronial castle and sits right at the edge of the little town. The views are spectacular.  Not sure what we will do there this time. Last go we walked in town and just hung out at the lodge and took it all in. We will see when we get there.

From there we will taking the red-eye back from Calgary (via Seattle and Atlanta). It will be a busy time and one we have looked forward to for a while. We love western Canada and it has been several years since we were last here so it will be interesting to see the changes.

Psalm 24:1 (NIV) reminds us of this: The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.  We will experience some of the most spectacular of God’s creation here. We will be strongly reminded that “It is HE who has made us, and we are HIS”  as we know from Psalm 100 (NIV). I need that reminder. I also need the reminder that the people we will encounter both in our tour group and in whatever we are doing are HIS, as well. I have prayed that we will be salt and light on this trip as we spend this time with new friends and old in this place. 

Pictures tomorrow, Lord willing!

Still Choosing Joy!

Cille