Before They’re Gone

Here’s an article I wrote last summer. Since then my husband and I have each lost a dear auntie and uncle. The auntie in the story below has turned 90, though, and is still chugging along! Time passes quickly. It’s hard to imagine that there might not be another tomorrow to spend with the people we love, but that might be the case. Spend your time now.

Take care, dear readers, and have a good, healthy week ahead. ~ Lori

My IMG_7016message here today is simple: visit your old folks while you still can. Time is tricky and days all run together so closely resembling one another and moving us ever forward. Before we know it, time has passed and so have the people we love.

 Why would I use a dating service? I’m 89!

Last Monday, we had the best visit with my husband’s auntie. She told us that a credit card company contacted her because some suspicious purchases had been made on her credit account.

“What kind of suspicious purchases?” she asked the company representative.

“Well, there are several charges for a dating service.”

My husband’s auntie shook her head and told us, “That was the best laugh I’d had in a long time! A dating service. I’m 89 years old. What do I want with a dating service?”

Her outrage at the idea of her needing a dating service was so fun! Auntie has been a widow now for decades and enjoys independence in her own home that she shares with a huge, orange cat. The credit card company refunded all her money, had her cut up her old card, and sent her a new one. All’s well that ends well.

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This is a random photo of me at the Bar U Ranch posing as a calf.

She knew we were coming to visit so she’d made ginger snap cookies, cheese biscuits, and fresh coffee for us. There were also fresh pickles from cucumbers right out of her garden to sample. They were crunchy and made my lips pucker. We brought a jar of them home. When we were done eating, we toured her garden and she talked about the strength she’d built up in her arms this seasoning by watering her garden pots using buckets of rain water.

She told us, “I use my mother’s wagon to haul those water buckets. She watered her garden the same way when she got old.” My husband’s auntie’s eyes filled with tears. It just goes to show that no matter how old we get, we all miss our mothers when they’re gone.

I have a passion for recording stories.

It’s one of my favourite things, visiting with the older people in my life. I’m a lover of stories and old folks often have great stories to tell. I do know some older folk who don’t care to talk about the past. They live in the now and prefer not to reminisce. That’s just fine, too, but I really like the old stories. That’s why I’m passionate about helping people to get those colourful memories recorded before the colourful storytellers are gone.

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to right than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.

~ Marcus Aurelius

If you’d like to record your family history in its entirety or to simply write down some of those good old stories, please get in touch. I can help with everything from writing to editing to publishing. It would be my pleasure.

 

I Sipped Margaritas While the World Burned

IMG_1015 (2)It’s astonishing how quickly the world can change both on individual and collective levels. It’s also surprising how while disasters touch some, others are left relatively (or completely) unscathed.

Me? I’m pretty much unscathed. We booked a last-minute trip to Mazatlán, Sinaloa, MX, just before the world went to pieces. Admittedly, some moments were a little unnerving. One evening, we sat on our king size bed, comfortably scrolling through the headlines and videos regarding the rapid descent of the coronavirus. “Snowbirds and travelers outside of Canada, come home immediately.” The Prime Minister’s message was clear. We returned on our previously-scheduled flight a few days before the airlines shut down completely to tourist traffic.

During our time in paradise we stayed at a beach hotel and every night, we listened to the waters of the Sea of Cortez moving in and moving out over the rocks that lay close to the shoreline. One night as I slept peacefully with the sound of the waves echoing in my dreams, our friends’ house burnt to the ground. That old house’s wiring didn’t care if its inhabitants were in the midst of a global pandemic. It started a fire that burned hotly and swiftly, leaving nothing but ashes and memories where, for a long time, lives had been lived.

Fortunately, our friends were the only ones home on the night of the fire. Their grandchild had gone home with her mom earlier in that evening, and our friends’ adult son who sometimes stayed at home when not on shift was at work. The smoke detectors did their job and our friends found their way through the patio door off their bedroom and out into the frigid night from where they called 911.

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A lamp post in the Historic District of Mazatlan.

I felt terrible about this fire! Of course, I sent a cheerful text when we got home safe and sound. “Had a great trip! Made it back safe. How are you guys doing?” I had no clue what had happened until I received a text in return: “Did you hear we had a house fire?”

After that, I called. I needed to know what kind of house fire. Was it a small grease fire that singed the wall behind the stove or was the house gone? Sadly, it was the latter.

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The rocks at Cerritos Beach.

But that’s how it goes. Rain falls on the rich and poor, and life happens differently to individual people. From some reason (or more likely for no reason), I live in this rural Alberta village and not in a Syrian refugee camp. This is a good fact to remember when I’d like to go for a walk with a friend because Netflix is not living up to my expectations.

Still, it was a stark contrast, my-lime-and-sun-drenched days compared to the destruction of my friends’ home during the world’s general upheaval.

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This has made me feel grateful, a little guilty, and has reminded me that sh*t happens and to not take it too personally. After all, it’s not personal. It’s just life.

Please take care, dear friends, and thanks for making me part of today’s distraction! ~ Lori

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Natural Hot Springs Adventure

IMG_6311Here’s a post I wrote a while ago about an unexpected experience at a river’s edge where there was a natural hot spring. I think next time I’ll spend the $6.00. I’ll miss the naked guy, but I’ll appreciate a shower and a nice place to change. Take care! – Lori

“If you want to save some money, there is a natural hot spring down by the river’s edge. It’s beautiful and hardly anyone ever goes down there. Just follow the second logging road in through the trees. You’ll find it.”

The woman at the tourist information centre made it sound like paradise: towering cedars, clear water, and bubbling hot springs. And all for free. Who could resist? And, really, why would you want to?

Listen to me read this post:

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She was right. It wasn’t hard to find. The logging road was well used and, although deeply rutted here and there, quite comfortably passable until we got to the spot where a tree had fallen across the road. A vehicle was already stopped at the tree because there was no way around the tree. Three people were working away to move the barrier. With our muscle added to the effort, the very heavy tree was rolled off the roadway.

We drove a bit farther and finally a little orange sign nailed to a massive tree trunk along the road indicated that this was where to get out and start walking.

The first path was wide and with many twists and turns, and it ended up at a large wooden tub that someone had built by hand. A green garden hose ran into the huge vat from an unseen source. The big wooden tub was full to the brim with steaming water. I stuck my finger in, pulled it out with lightning speed and thought, “If I had 4000 potatoes I needed to boil almost instantly, this set up would be perfect!”

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From where we stood next to the deathtrap hot tub, I could hear   water moving swiftly over rocks. We followed a narrower path around a bend and for a few metres before the river came into view.

There, at water’s edge, someone had painstakingly constructed a piled-stone wall enclosing a little hot pool area six by eight feet or so. A dirty and tattered blue plastic tarp also helped to dam up the separate pool. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Inside that roughly walled off section near the river’s shore, the water was still. Another green garden hose stuck out of the rocks that lined the riverbank. From this flowed more of the potato-boiling hot water I was telling you about. This hot water poured out of the garden hose and splashed into the cold water of the Arrow Lakes chain. Where hot and cold met in the rock pool, the water was pleasantly warm.

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A forest path.

We stripped down to our swimming suits, left our clothes on a rock and gingerly stepped in. Not bad. We hadn’t been in there long before someone emerged from the trees on that narrow path. In one hand he held a paperback novel and in the other, half a bottle of red wine. We greeted him. He quietly answered in French and smiled, the light brightening his dreadlocks as he moved out of the shade and into the sun closer to the water’s edge.

Then I watched in fascination as this young man set down his book and his bottle on a flat rock, and proceeded to remove every stitch of clothing. I knew I should look away but this was way too good to believe!

I assumed he was a tree planter, planting new trees in the forests that had been logged. Naked as the day he was born, he scooped up the novel and his wine, and sat down on a boulder. There he read and drank and let his toes dangle in the hot water. From where I sat, I couldn’t argue that he seemed right at home and I envied, just a little, this young stranger’s comfort with himself and the world.

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Although I admired his youth and sense of freedom, I decided to leave some of my own clothes on that afternoon because I no longer share his youth and I’ve never quite been that free. Still, the tree planter made the experience of the natural hot springs just a little more natural, and that was great!

Thanks for reading. Have a great new week! – Lori

 

 

 

 

Live Dangerously

 

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Beachfront bar in Sayulita, Mexico.

I have to admit that I re-read this the other day and laughed out loud. I was so irritated by the travel advice given in the photocopies I received when I went to get my Twinrix vaccination. I really resent being made to feel afraid of the big world around me.

Yes, I realize that I could get sick or attacked or injured while traveling. But any number of terrible things could happen to me at any time and anywhere. I refuse to let this fact keep me from experiencing life.

Am I sometimes afraid? Of course! I’m nervous about entering a lot of new situations. I try to explore those unfamiliar sights and tastes and sounds anyway. No, it doesn’t always work out and occasionally I feel disappointed or a little ill or generally let down. And then I get over it.

I hope you have a very nice weekend and, if you’re in my neck of the woods, keep warm and take care!

~ Lori

Not so long ago when I went to get my Twinrix vaccination, I received from the pharmacy what I call The Red Folder of Fear. In it was information about all the devastating things that could happen to me if I leave my house.

For your benefit, dear reader, I’ll share some of these tips with you here. You can find more information to keep you at home at or, at the very least, keep you afraid at Health Canada’s website.

After all, travelling isn’t about enjoying the world. It’s about enjoying safety precautions.

“Too much sun can be harmful, so be careful!”

Yes. Here’s a newsflash: Sun can cause sunburn and sun can cause us to age, just like life does.

Listen to me read this post:

“If you are in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., [You daredevil!] wear long pants, long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim.”

Safe and attractive. Don’t go out after dark, either, because that’s unsafe for a whole heap of other reasons. That gives you two or three hours in the morning, and another two hours before supper to experience the paradise you flew five hours to see and the vacation you spent a month’s wages on.

What’s my recommendation for avoiding the afternoon sun? Find a shady bar or a lawn chair under an umbrella and keep hydrating with whatever they’re serving. Prefer not to sample the local beverages? Go for a massage. That’s pretty safe, and it will get you out of that ridiculous hat and those long pants.

For the sake of all that’s good in the world, even if that dangerous sun is shining, leave your hotel room.

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Iguana at the Marina in Puerto Vallarta.

Here’s a good one:

“Wash your own salad greens in a solution of six drops of chlorine bleach in one litre of safe water. Soak for thirty minutes, and then rinse with safe water.”

Is the water safe? How can you know for sure? This whole water scenario sounds risky to me.

“Lori, are you coming downstairs for a margarita?”

“No, you go ahead. I’ve got lettuce soaking in the bathroom sink and I still need to peel some vegetables. Also, I’m frightened of the sunshine.”

Yes, peeling your own vegetables (and nuts?) is also advised in The Red Folder of Fear:

“Peel your own fruits, vegetables, and nuts.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve peeled a nut. It might be fun to try that again.

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A dangerous heap of coconuts.

“Beware of local buses. They are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and in a hurry.”

Suggested interpretation: If it’s good enough for the locals, it’s not good enough for me.

Local buses can be your ticket to affordable adventure. Seriously. Local public transportation can take you places you’d never think to visit on your own. Riding the bus is a great way to tour and a good chance to rub elbows with the locals.

Sure, don’t lick your fingers after clutching the bar on the back of the seat in front of you. But why would you do that? You’re a world-travelling bus rider. You’ll wash your hands and then lick your fingers.

Why were you clutching the seat bar or the one above your head? Because, often, these buses are in a hurry, so hold on tight and enjoy the scenery!

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Some of the 24 suggested first aid items.

Don’t leave home without it.

The Red Folder of Fear lists twenty-four handy items you could pack in your travel medical kit depending on a list of ten factors I’m not going to mention. I suggest antihistamines, a pain reliever, bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, something for nausea, and sunscreen.

Within its comprehensive list of twenty-four items, The Red Folder of Fear suggests bringing:

  • A thermometer.
  • A first aid book.
  • Shampoo for treating lice and scabies.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Disinfectant.
  • A Swiss army knife. (I love this one and so do the folks at airport security!)

By the end of this list, I’m wondering if I’m becoming less of a tourist and more of a serial killer.

I get the impression from The Red Folder of Fear that the only safe place to vacation is on my big red couch at home. If I stay there, I decrease my chances of illness and injury, of trauma during and following a wild bus ride, and of having any fun.

While that folder increases my chances of staying alive, it greatly reduces the chance that I’ll get to experience life at all.

Did you like what you read here? Consider following my blog either right here on WordPress or through email. This way, you won’t miss any of my posts. Thanks for reading! ~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

Before They’re Gone

My IMG_7016message here today is simple: visit your old folks while you still can. Time is tricky and days all run together so closely resembling one another and moving us ever forward. Before we know it, time has passed and so have the people we love.

 Why would I use a dating service? I’m 89!

Last Monday, we had the best visit with my husband’s auntie. She told us that a credit card company contacted her because some suspicious purchases had been made on her credit account.

“What kind of suspicious purchases?” she asked the company representative.

“Well, there are several charges for a dating service.”

My husband’s auntie shook her head and told us, “That was the best laugh I’d had in a long time! A dating service. I’m 89 years old. What do I want with a dating service?”

Her outrage at the idea of her needing a dating service was so fun! Auntie has been a widow now for decades and enjoys independence in her own home that she shares with a huge, orange cat. The credit card company refunded all her money, had her cut up her old card, and sent her a new one. All’s well that ends well.

IMG_7044
This is a random photo of me at the Bar U Ranch posing as a calf.

She knew we were coming to visit so she’d made ginger snap cookies, cheese biscuits, and fresh coffee for us. There were also fresh pickles from cucumbers right out of her garden to sample. They were crunchy and made my lips pucker. We brought a jar of them home. When we were done eating, we toured her garden and she talked about the strength she’d built up in her arms this seasoning by watering her garden pots using buckets of rain water.

She told us, “I use my mother’s wagon to haul those water buckets. She watered her garden the same way when she got old.” My husband’s auntie’s eyes filled with tears. It just goes to show that no matter how old we get, we all miss our mothers when they’re gone.

I have a passion for recording stories.

It’s one of my favourite things, visiting with the older people in my life. I’m a lover of stories and old folks often have great stories to tell. I do know some older folk who don’t care to talk about the past. They live in the now and prefer not to reminisce. That’s just fine, too, but I really like the old stories. That’s why I’m passionate about helping people to get those colourful memories recorded before the colourful storytellers are gone.

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to right than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.

~ Marcus Aurelius

If you’d like to record your family history in its entirety or to simply write down some of those good old stories, please get in touch. I can help with everything from writing to editing to publishing. It would be my pleasure.

Thanks for being here with me today. Take care and have a very happy week!

~ Lori

 

To B&B or Not to B&B

If that’s your question, then this article might help you to decide if staying at a bed & breakfast is right for you.

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The view from the lower deck at The White Horse Bed & Breakfast.

On our recent vacation through southern British Columbia and then down into Washington, we spent two nights in a lovely bed & breakfast in Osoyoos, BC, situated right on the border between Canada and the United States.

The White Horse Bed & Breakfast is positioned above the Osoyoos town site and offers stunning views of the valley and lake. There are three guest rooms downstairs: The Prairie Room, The Northern Room, and The Wine Room. We stayed in The Wine Room. Our hosts, Ron and Darlene, made us feel welcome and both mornings, Ron prepared a full, two-course breakfast at the dining room table located just off their top deck and with views overlooking Osoyoos. Delicious and beautiful!

Our hosts, although new to the bed & breakfast business, ran the B&B smoothly and professionally. Both seemed relaxed and genuinely happy to have all of us strangers sleeping in their basement and eating their food. Ron and Darlene are great people, and I admire their adventurous attitude and their business-savvy.

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Me on the Osoyoos Desert Walk.

At breakfast on the morning of our second night there, a fellow guest asked a good (but rhetorical) question: If you can stay in a place like this, why would you ever stay in a hotel? Immediately and silently, I began compiling my reasons. I’ll share these with you now.

A Stranger’s Home

For me, there was no way to feel completely at ease in someone else’s home. We whispered and tip-toed around so as not to disturb the owners or other guests. When in the common areas, the spacious TV room with wet bar and fridge and the lower deck, I was always on edge, nervous that someone would walk in and join us. I’m an outgoing and friendly person, perhaps a bit above average in this respect. And yet I felt I had to brace myself to meet someone new around every corner. At the bed & breakfast, I could never fully relax.

At a hotel, I pay for the service of staying there and then do whatever the heck I want. I’m quiet and courteous but I am also relaxed. I’m not worried that other guests will be disturbed by my presence in this big hotel. If I see other hotel guests in the hallways, elevator, or common areas, I can greet them or not. Friendliness is optional. I don’t have to be “on” all the time. I can lock that heavy door and fully enjoy the privacy I paid for.

Schedule

Breakfast was at 8:30 every morning. This was necessary, of course, as it’s a sit-down affair with all guests (usually six) seated around a formally-set table. Everyone is fed at one time.

I felt really hemmed in by this set breakfast time. Not because this time is unreasonable or unusual, but because I’m used to staying in hotels where breakfast is often available for several hours and I can eat whenever I want or not at all, which is also a nice option. At a hotel, no one is waiting for me to come to breakfast and wondering where I am if I don’t show.

At a hotel, I eat as little or as much as I want to. No one dishes me up and I clean up my own mess when I’m done eating. I’m most comfortable with this arrangement.

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A selfie in the desert heat.

Anonymity

At a hotel, no one cares about my life. I like that. Pleasantries and credit card information is exchanged at check in. New arrivals are told about the pool, the breakfast, and about check out time. That’s it and that’s enough. No one asks where you live or about your family or about where you’re headed next. No one cares and that’s fabulous.

At a B&B, especially around the breakfast table, there’s a mild expectation that guests will introduce themselves to other guests and share a bit about themselves. Sometimes I don’t want to share. I’m barely interested in myself. Why would I expect anyone else to be interested?

Sometimes I want to eat with my life partner without sharing a table with four total strangers. This shared breakfast experience was a little more than awkward both mornings. The other guests were all great, easy conversationalists with good-humoured dispositions. Yet I dreaded those morning meet and greets. The pressure of meeting strangers for a formal breakfast was anxiety inducing and is probably the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy the B&B experience.

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The Sonora Desert. There is a beautiful lake in Osoyoos. We never photographed it.

A Very Nice B&B

If you enjoy meeting new people and exchanging stories, a bed and breakfast is probably a great choice for you. I think The White Horse is a good B&B for those who like staying at B&Bs. The rooms are large and luxuriously appointed. Each guestroom has its own bathroom complete with bathrobes. Tea and coffee are available at the wet bar in the common area at all times, and in the evening, Ron brings down snacks for the guests. How nice is that?

I’m always learning new things about myself and my first B&B visit taught me that I’m a more private person than I thought. I enjoy my own space and I enjoy not feeling like I’m staying in my parents’ basement. I want to feel free to come and go and eat when I like. Above all, I want to be free and I guess that’s why a B&B is not for me.

Thanks for being with me today. I hope this piece gave you some insight in the B&B experience. If you haven’t tried one, definitely do! B&Bs may be just what you’re looking for and leave you wondering why you ever stayed in hotels at all. Until next time, take care.

Cheers!

Lori

One Bag Fits All

Peter and Me
Not the most flattering photo of me but my little green friend (Peter) is too cute not to include.

Hello again! After I posted my most recent Mexico travel piece, a reader asked me to share my carry-on packing secrets. This is a post I wrote the first time I packed super lightly and it includes a few handy tips. I hope you can use some of this information to lighten your load – both mentally and physically! Happy traveling!

Freedom From Luggage

For our last trip to Mexico, I packed one small carry-on bag. I felt so light and free. It was fantastic and here’s how I did it just in case, for your next week-long vacation, you want to enjoy that same feeling of freedom from luggage.

Do Your Research

First, I visited informative websites. These sites told me what is allowed in carry-on luggage and what is not, and how much of each allowed item each traveler can bring. I needed to pack my personal items in a one-litre, clear Ziploc bag and to pull that bag out of my luggage, and set it in a tray when going through airport security. This was very useful information because, when I packed my stuff on the afternoon of the flight, I knew to leave my Ziploc bag right on top so I wouldn’t be digging around for it in the line-up at security. I felt so prepared and the security officials didn’t bat an eye at what I’d packed.

Listen to me read this post:

The next thing I did was to purchase tiny bottles created for packing in carry-on luggage. Into these I poured body spray, sunscreen, aloe gel and mouthwash. These are other items I bought in the travel section of the drugstore: a 43-gram hairspray, a 14-gram deodorant, and 2 packages of 7 facial cleansing cloths. Of course, I also tucked in one of those sample tubes of toothpaste the dentist always sends home with me.

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Here’s everything I packed for that first carry-on trip.

What did I bring for clothes? Glad you asked! I brought 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, one sundress, a swimsuit and a swimsuit cover-up which pulled double duty as a nightgown, a T-shirt, 2 tank tops, a foldable sunhat and a pair of sandals. I also brought a down-filled vest that can be rolled up and stuffed into its own small pouch. This kept me warm back and forth from the Calgary airport and on the flights to and from Mexico. I also found room for my water-resistant camera and my sunglasses.

To save space in my luggage, I wore on the plane about half of the clothes I’d wear in Mexico. For the flight, I had on my light Skecher walking shoes, pants (Airline officials frown upon pants-less passengers.), a tank top, a T-shirt, a white button-up shirt, and my down-filled vest. I was cozy but not uncomfortable.

Everything Fit!

Everything I needed for a week surprisingly and easily fit into one carry-on bag. By the end of the trip, I realized that I could’ve survived without my red T-shirt, too, except that it kept me warmer on the airplane. I didn’t even bring a purse, just my wallet and passport placed into one of the bag’s exterior pockets for easy retrieval.

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Iguanas are not allowed in carry-on luggage.

I did have lots of time to plan what to pack for this adventure when at other times, I’ve been pretty rushed. But now that I’ve successfully done this once, I’d definitely just pack one carry-on bag again.

Thanks for being here with me again today. If you like what I write, please share it! And please stay connected. Follow me here on WordPress, write a comment, or just send me a friendly email. I’d love to hear from you! Have a really great day wherever you are.

Cheers,

~ Lori

Ya no puedo mas . . . If you haven’t heard this, click it! It’s too fun.

Mexico in June

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On our deck overlooking the crab-filled pool.

Crabs in the pool

“What’s that in the pool?” It was a big crab. I wish I’d seen it before getting into the pool.

Being a helpful Canadian, I stopped the first person in uniform who passed through the pool area. “I just want to let you know that someone has taken a crab from the seafood buffet and thrown it into the pool.” I am a helpful Canadian who likes to give a story context. Honestly, I had no idea how the crab got there.

 

 

Hear me read this post:

The pretty young woman smiled and nodded. She reassured me, “I will report that. Thank you for letting me know.”

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Flowers in bloom at the resort.

I beamed. I’d done my job and now the swimming pool would be crab free forever. It was a satisfying, short-lived moment.

Within minutes, we noticed that there were crabs in all the pools by our building. Some were dead, but many were walking along the pool floors. Each morning, a guy with a net on the end of a long pole fished the crustaceans out of the water. No one threw those crabs into the pool! They jumped in all by themselves.

We saw evidence of this later on in the week as we watched a crab amble sideways over the grass toward the edge of a pool. It was intercepted by the pool maintenance guy. Perhaps the crab would live to swim another day. Silly crabs.

The sweetest month

This was our tenth visit to Mexico, but it was our first June trip. I used to work as a teacher, and now I’m a student free to travel during that sweet month of June. What’s so sweet about it?

The hedges throughout the property at our resort in Bucerias were covered with bright orange flowers that attracted hummingbirds. Those hummingbirds were everywhere! Some were small and dark green while other were larger and red throated, like the ones we have here in Alberta. The tiny birds would fly all around us, right close by, unafraid and busy eating. I’d never seen hummingbirds in Mexico before. I’d also never seen crabs in the pool.

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No biting bugs. Instead, we saw this HUGE butterfly on the wall outside our hotel room door.

No biting bugs

There were no biting bugs. During our July visits, invisible insects would sting us and cause wildly itchy welts. In July, there were also bigger bugs with pincers. They would bite and I’d think, “Hey! That didn’t even hurt.” Two days later, a crusty, pus-filled bump would form and eventually burst. Gross. I’d rather itch. I’d rather not be bitten at all. That’s why I like June in Mexico.

 

During June, the ladies are still set up to give massages on the beach just steps from the resort. They are well-trained professionals. If you’re too shy to take off your clothes on the beach, please get over it. The massages are well worth any lost modesty and the therapists do keep you covered up. I beg you to do it if you can. Life is short.

Quiet streets, beautiful artwork

 

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Pottery at Jan Marie Boutique (JMB) Gallery in Bucerias.

We visited a gallery while in Bucerias that featured some of the most gorgeous dishware, stoneware, and sculptures I’ve ever seen. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, check out JMB Gallery. It’s a visual feast.

In June, the snowbirds have mostly left the Puerto Vallarta area leaving it looking more like itself. There’s room to move and space to breathe. The restaurants and bars happily welcome you, and there’s time to chat with locals. It helps to know a few Spanish phrases, but it’s not necessary. Don’t be shy to try. People appreciate that you’re interested in speaking their language.

I met a couple nice snowbirds on a bus in Mexico last January. “We’ve been coming here for forty years. We never learned to speak a word of Spanish.” I liked them, but I don’t want to be like them. Dive in. You’re there anyway. Immerse yourself if you can. Spanish is a beautiful language and Mexico is a beautiful country – especially in June.

Did you like what you read here? Consider following my blog either right here on WordPress or through email. See the right sidebar to follow me. It’s easy and it’s free. This way, you won’t miss any of my posts. Thanks for reading! ~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Hot Springs Adventure

IMG_6311“If you want to save some money, there is a natural hot spring down by the river’s edge. It’s beautiful and hardly anyone ever goes down there. Just follow the second logging road in through the trees. You’ll find it.”

The woman at the tourist information centre made it sound like paradise: towering cedars, clear water, and bubbling hot springs. And all for free. Who could resist? And, really, why would you want to?

Listen to me read this post:

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She was right. It wasn’t hard to find. The logging road was well used and, although deeply rutted here and there, quite comfortably passable until we got to the spot where a tree had fallen across the road. A vehicle was already stopped at the tree because there was no way around the tree. Three people were working away to move the barrier. With our muscle added to the effort, the very heavy tree was rolled off the roadway.

We drove a bit farther and finally a little orange sign nailed to a massive tree trunk along the road indicated that this was where to get out and start walking.

The first path was wide and with many twists and turns, and it ended up at a large wooden tub that someone had built by hand. A green garden hose ran into the huge vat from an unseen source. The big wooden tub was full to the brim with steaming water. I stuck my finger in, pulled it out with lightning speed and thought, “If I had 4000 potatoes I needed to boil almost instantly, this set up would be perfect!”

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From where we stood next to the deathtrap hot tub, I could hear   water moving swiftly over rocks. We followed a narrower path around a bend and for a few metres before the river came into view.

There, at water’s edge, someone had painstakingly constructed a piled-stone wall enclosing a little hot pool area six by eight feet or so. A dirty and tattered blue plastic tarp also helped to dam up the separate pool. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Inside that roughly walled off section near the river’s shore, the water was still. Another green garden hose stuck out of the rocks that lined the riverbank. From this flowed more of the potato-boiling hot water I was telling you about. This hot water poured out of the garden hose and splashed into the cold water of the Arrow Lakes chain. Where hot and cold met in the rock pool, the water was pleasantly warm.

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A forest path.

We stripped down to our swimming suits, left our clothes on a rock and gingerly stepped in. Not bad. We hadn’t been in there long before someone emerged from the trees on that narrow path. In one hand he held a paperback novel and in the other, half a bottle of red wine. We greeted him. He quietly answered in French and smiled, the light brightening his dreadlocks as he moved out of the shade and into the sun closer to the water’s edge.

Then I watched in fascination as this young man set down his book and his bottle on a flat rock, and proceeded to remove every stitch of clothing. I knew I should look away but this was way too good to believe!

I assumed he was a tree planter, planting new trees in the forests that had been logged. Naked as the day he was born, he scooped up the novel and his wine, and sat down on a boulder. There he read and drank and let his toes dangle in the hot water. From where I sat, I couldn’t argue that he seemed right at home and I envied, just a little, this young stranger’s comfort with himself and the world.

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Although I admired his youth and sense of freedom, I decided to leave some of my own clothes on that afternoon because I no longer share his youth and I’ve never quite been that free. Still, the tree planter made the experience of the natural hot springs just a little more natural, and that was great!

 

 

 

 

 

Something New Around Every Corner

 

We’ve been to Jasper National Park several times so I don’t know how we missed these attractions during previous visits. When we discovered Lakes Edith and Annette, Maligne Canyon, and Maligne Lake, I asked myself, “Have I even visited this national park before now?”

That’s the kind of place Jasper is. You can drive through those park gates and see something different every time. Each visit is a new adventure.

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Paved walking trail around Lake Annette – my kind of hiking!

Maligne Canyon

I’d often seen the sign along the main highway pointing the way to Maligne Canyon Road. And maybe, just maybe, a long time ago I drove up there and took that terrifying walk along the intimidating canyon, its roaring waters sculpting jagged rock into smooth, rounded forms, curved walls, and perfect bowls.

 

 

 

 

Listen to me read this post:

 

As we walked along, we did remember. “I think we have been here.”

“Yes, but there were a million people and it was hard to get a good view.”

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Me at the Maligne Canyon Lookout.

This last weekend in Jasper was the opposite of crowded. On the Sunday night before the May long weekend, it was just us, the carved stone, and the crashing water. The weather was warm, the leaves were popping out, and the whole forest smelled like it was coming to life.

 

 

 

 

 

Maligne Lake

To get to Maligne Lake you have to drive about 44 kilometres up into the mountains. We did and on the way, we stopped to see the Maligne Canyon Lookout, the Fifth Bridge, some nice hiking trails, and, of course, the Maligne Canyon.

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Lake Maligne: stark and serene.

The lake looked post-apocalyptic with its solemn, unrippled surface surrounded by lonely grey boulders like headstones, and acres and acres of dead trees, either burnt or diseased. I can tell by the tourism websites that this beautiful place was not always so desolate. Still, even against its backdrop of mountain peaks and green forest, a lake that is 22 kilometres long and that high up is bound to look a bit isolated from the rest of the world.

Lakes Annette and Edith

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Me on a walk around Lake Annette.

Lakes Annette and Edith are right next to one another and located near Jasper Park Lodge. There are picnic areas and long, narrow beaches with clean, white sand at both these lakes. Non-motorized watercrafts are allowed on these lakes and at Edith, you can rent paddle boards.

My favourite discovery this past weekend was the paved walking trail that runs right around Lake Annette for about two kilometres in total. There are benches along the lakeshore, and walkers are encouraged to stop and listen to the birds and the gently lapping water.

 

Alpine Village

 One consistency this past weekend was our accommodations. We rented a cozy heritage cabin again at Alpine Village and after each exploration of another corner of Jasper National Park, we headed back to sit on the patio or by the fireplace. It was pretty warm this weekend to take advantage of the big outdoor hot pool available to Alpine Village guests, but most times this hot pool is a great place to be after a full day of discovery.

"Bowls" carved by swirling water in the Maligne Canyon
“Bowls” carved into stone by the eternally-swirling water in Maligne Canyon.