Category Archives: Geoff’s Musings

Brunch? You Get Brunch?

The morning after the leopard sighting we are out for our morning game drive. Did I mention that morning game drives start at 6am so you are up at 5:30 or so. This means, of course, that there aren’t any late nights, which at our age isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of the cool things you get are fantastic sunrises.

Wow. Just wow

Plus you get to see cool spiders.

This is a close up – we didn’t get too close.

We couldn’t get out of the vehicle too much, but Shaun said Terry could get out to check a footprint we saw. This is an elephant’s rear footprint – and Terry doesn’t have what one could call a petite foot.

An elephant footprint and Terry’s foot

We saw lots of animals including a herd of about 25-30 wildebeests. These two were very curious about what they were seeing.

Totally placid – much like myself.

Now I have a photo of something else we saw just before these two characters. Shaun is driving along and hits the brakes. He says that there is a new zebra nearby. We ask how he knows this. “That is VERY fresh zebra afterbirth there. ” Terry won’t let me post the photo, but for those who want to see zebra afterbirth send me an email and I’ll fire it off to you.

Next we stop and Shaun says he has a surprise for Terry and Cindy.

Our fantastic hosts at Nyeliti – Donovan and his lovely wife – Lee-Ann.

I mentioned to Shaun in the first couple of days that the whole purpose of this was to celebrate Terry’s 65th birthday in May and that Cindy was also celebrating her birthday. He then arranged to have a special brunch set up in the middle of the reserve for us. It was fantastic.

Champagne and OJ to start

Exquisite food – the cinnamon buns were incredible. Thanks Lindsay!

Fabulous company – please ignore the goof 2nd from the left

What a tremendous surprise.

After brunch is was off to see a few more critters.This is the Lavendar Crested Roller.  He is perhaps the most beautiful bird we saw on the safari.  Later on I’ll post a photo of one in flight.

Impalas are so cute – but they are also on the menu for almost every animal around. Thus there are and awful lot of them.

Cool Weaver nests

Then it was back to our bush camp – locally known as Nyeliti.

Our Home away from Home

Our humble abode for three days and nights

It’s a tough life but…

In the evening we were out again looking for more game. We saw another giraffe with another bird

Apparently this rhino had been released into the reserve from a neighbouring area. In order to protect him from poachers, his tusk had been cut off so that any poachers wouldn’t kill him.

It’s cool to cross a river in a Landrover.

Zebras are just as cool in black and white.

And another fabulous sunset



The 10,000 Most Walkable Cities in the World…

and Johannesburg didn’t make the list. A few years ago we were in Seminyak, Bali and we commented on the “quality” of the sidewalks – see below

This is why it is dangerous to walk the sidewalks of Semanyak.[/caption]

Here’s the thing though – Seminyak HAS sidewalks. We were out exploring yesterday and many parts of where we were just didn’t have them. Jan Smuts Road – a four lane, major arterial route with homes along it – no sidewalks. In residential areas sometimes yes, sometimes no. It was almost as if the homeowners (more on them in a minute) had put them in themselves. We find it fascinating, given that walking seems to be the most prevalent method of transportation for many many people.  Crosswalks are also at a premium.

Now about those scallywag homeowners. We are staying in a reasonably upscale, affluent area where 99.9% of the homes have walls in front of them and either barbed wire or an electrified fence running along the top.

A lovely street nicely bordered with lovely walls.

What is particularly heart warming are the frequent signs on the walls.

Note the electrified fence on top

Note the sign promoting safe suburbs

I’m thinking safe means behind those walls and not a sense of security due to a high sense of community.

Beautiful door

Bur even the beautiful door is behind bars.

Many of the homes have an interesting way of announcing the address

Yes, that is the address.

Oh, did I mention the gates?

They were definitely spectacular gates

Now, to be fair, there may very well be a reason for this security. Liz, our lovely hostess, has been very clear that if we are out after dark we are to take Uber home. Last night we decided to go up the street to Dolci for dinner. It is a 5 minute walk, 400 yards away. When Liz heard we were going she said that Tagala, her assistant could run us up and the restaurant would likely run us home. When we mentioned that we were staying at Liz’s, the restaurant owner said that when we were ready to leave, to wait and he would have someone walk us home. This is a level of security/possible danger or whatever we have never felt anywhere.  (Let’s be honest here.  Geoff tends not to worry about even these clear and definite warnings.  It’s Terry who pays attention and insists that we ask for an escort.)

Ah yes, the restaurant. It was interesting. When we walked in and said we didn’t have reservations we were given a choice of two tables. Ours looked very much like this one:

Note the chair.

Other than ours and this one, every other chair looked like this one.

Nice cushion, don’t you think?

We were given four (4) 1 inch cubes of bread for dipping in the oil and vinegar. The couple next to us had a plate piled high with them. Just as our server was about to chat with us, the owner came over and sent her away and took our order. Clearly, he was doing everything to make sure we were in and out quickly, while other tables who were there before us hadn’t even had their orders taken. (On the other hand he did provide us an escort home.) From the time we walked in the door until we were finished our starters was 35 minutes. Luckily we had not yet ordered our mains. Then Mama from Ravenna came out. Picture the prototypical Italian Mama and that’s who she was. A lovely woman who informed us that at 9 months of age she either: 1) stopped taking her mother’s milk and started eating Tagliatelle al Ragu or 2) stopped taking her mother’s milk and started making Tagliatelle al Ragu. We weren’t sure which one it was. When I asked what I should have to eat she said “Me” and wandered away. Thank goodness because I had no idea how I would have responded. (My spicy chicken livers and Terry’s salad were fabulous, the entrees a 7.5 and the ginger buttercream torte with ginger ice cream fantastic.)

Side note observation from Terry – the only people of colour in the restaurant were the servers. An interesting observation given that the urban population of Johannesburg of 7.8 million is 78% Black African or Coloured and only 14% White. BTW Wikipedia terminology, not mine)

This guy came to visit yesterday. He wasn’t all that scary though.

At one point all you could see was his head peeking out from under the plug on the left hand side.

Not all that big, but patient.

Liz has a serious bird feeder in her yard. Yesterday there had to be 40-50 birds at different times come to eat. Terry is quite jealous – but then Liz has a veritable forest on her property.

What was interesting was that whenever the big one below showed up, the pigeons all scattered. Guess there is a definite pecking order…

Terry here.  About the art in the galleries we visited–very often dark themes, as one might expect with the history of South Africa.  Mostly, it was discouraging to view.  Then we came upon some light-hearted ones–larger than life size sculptures of hares, foxes and dogs; ‘paintings of giant flower heads made by stretching various tones of pantyhose artfully over canvas.  I could have put to use some of those old Cameleon multi-coloured stockings to good use! ( Note:  you had to be there.)

Today we are off on a tour of Soweto which should be interesting.



Just Another Trip Around The World – Day 1

Well here we go again, off on another wild adventure. And off to a good start we are. Terry forgot her noise reducing earphones at home, I forgot a firearm I was supposed to deliver from Penticton to Coquitlam, Terry’s phone didn’t make it from the car to the airport and the first of the 11 flights on this trip was 45 minutes late getting out of Vancouver. Then we had to eat our way cross the country.

Some basic info for those of you who don’t know what the heck we are doing now. We are going on a couple of safaris – Kruger National Park in South Africa and another one in Namibia. In between a four day wine tour. We travel right around the world getting there and getting home (Vancouver-Toronto; Toronto-London; London-Cairo; Cairo-Johannesburg; Johannesburg-Addis Abbas; Addis Ababa-Seoul; Seoul-Seattle; Seattle-Vancouver – a total of 44714km in the air (that includes three internal flights in Africa). 52:12 in the air there and back, 6:25 in Africa and 30:54 in layover time totalling 89:31 of our lives. BTW the circumference of the earth is only 40075km.

I convinced Terry all this flying would be fine since it was all business class (points not cash!). We are presently in London and so far so good. In Toronto we went to the Air Canada Signature Suite and were very politely told we needed to go to the Maple Leaf Lounge – the suite was for “full paying business class patrons only” Well la ti dah!

Contrary to many experiences we have had with Air Canada, both legs so far have been excellent – both the food and the service. Hopefully it will continue on the next two legs with Egyptian Air.

Two shots of Windsor Castle.

We are sitting in the Maple Leaf Lounge now watching construction of what is likely going to be another terminal. It is fascinating. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a government make work project.

This is the way it works:

In the foreground there are three front end loaders which are loading three earth moving trucks. These trucks then take the earth to the large pile of dirt near the centre of the photo, but on the right hand side and dump it. The front end loaders then gradually move it up to the top left of the large pile where it is then loaded onto the truck between the black and yellow blocks. After that truck is loaded and the earth tamped down it then drives off for who knows where. Most definitely an interesting process.

Earth moving on a peculiar scale

After two more flights – and 27 more meals (well that’s how it seemed to us!), we arrive in Johannesburg. Has this ever happened to you? You get on a plane and by the time you arrive at your destination you discover that the airline has lost your luggage? It has certainly happened to us – see our trip to Amsterdam or Singapore to Shanghai. I figure, 4 flights, halfway around the world there is no way our two bags are going to show up. And they didn’t – well they weren’t the first bags down the chute on to the conveyor – they were the 2nd and 3rd! Unbelievable. We are now on a high. We get in to the arrivals area looking for our ride to our B and B. No ride. Look around and wait ten minutes – we were early after all. No ride. Wait another ten minutes. No ride. Finally phone the B and B. Liz answers – “Oh did we arrange – just a minute – okay someone will be there in 20 minutes.” Great. 55  minutes later Abey shows up and we are off.

The trip in to Johannesburg, totally uneventful with the exception of hearing about how the Chinese are taking over Africa by bringing workers in to develop projects and then leaving them here. (Hmmm, sounds familiar somehow.)

We finally arrive at Liz’s on Lancaster – what a fantastic place and Liz is so apologetic about the airport fiasco, even I begin to feel guilty. We have a quick shower, a fabulous breakfast (it’s almost 10am) and collapse in to bed – and get 4 1/2 hours sleep falling asleep to the sound of teeming rain – harder than most Vancouver rains. Clearly, we haven’t lost our touch of bringing rain to very dry areas!

After our rest, we chat with Liz. “Where can we walk?” “Well, if you are going to take your back pack/camera bag, don’t go in to the park. In fact, you may not want to walk anywhere with that – just take your cell phone.” And we are in one of the nicer areas of Jo’burg. (Like that?) We wander off to Parkhurst – an upscale area full of restaurants and lots of people.  We enjoy a very fine meal (Veal Limone with incredible vegetables for Terry and Filet Medallions with fantastic french fries for Geoff. Add a bottle of Fat Bastard Sauvignon Blanc – $57 including tip) and then we order up an Uber to get us home. The Uber bill is $2.06 Cdn –  to go the same distance in Vancouver – $10.40. No wonder the taxis don’t want any part of Uber.

We are now home, Terry is soaking in the tub and I am listening to the thunder and pouring rain while enjoying a glass of lovely red wine provided by Liz as an apology – and Terry’s white is cooling in the fridge. What could be better.

Tomorrow – who knows!

(BTW Photography through dirty windows doesn’t show off my developing (LOL) skills!)

5 Days In and…

I have my golf clubs and Peter has his clothes! He’s definitely smelling a little fresher. Jan and Peter arrived Sunday evening after their fascinating travel from Vancouver to Burgau.

I’ll try to summarize: they were on the plane a half hour late in Vancouver and then sat while the flights ahead were decided. By 6pm, they were still on the ground. At one point they were told that they were taxiing back to the terminal and those who wanted to deplane could and the others could just stay on board. Two people decided they wanted to get off but when they tried, there was an announcement that if just one person got off they would all have to get off which would cause further delays. The two kindly sat back down. One gentleman wanted to use the toilet, but was sternly told that wasn’t possible until they were in the air. When they finally took off. The flight attendant (American Airlines), announced they had 5 sandwiches and some containers of Pringles available for sale. Meanwhile the business/first class passengers were served their normal meal. I am amazed there wasn’t physical altercations all over the place. Anyway, they arrived in Dallas around midnight and were given vouchers for a meal and then breakfast- sadly the restaurant and store in the hotel were closed so no food. In addition, they weren’t allowed to pick up their luggage since it was checked through to London. They left at 5pm the next day, missing their flight to Faro and thus having to drive to the Algarve. Peter’s suitcase of clothes showed up 26 hours after he did and in the meantime, my missing golf clubs showed up.

Aahh, travel – ain’t it grand!

Anyway, we are now having a great time. The sunny coast is under the influence of “the Beast from the East” – a massive cold front out of Siberia which has had a huge impact on all of Europe. We are making do though. Terry and Jan have done a couple of good hikes, Peter and I have played a couple of games of golf and today we saw some incredible sights at the coast. We have had some wonderful Portuguese meals – Saturday night Terry and I went to a local restaurant after wandering around in a daze for the afternoon. Ate a fantastic meal of octopus, and roast potatoes, came back and slept from 8pm to 10:22am, catching up on some of our missed sleep.

Monday we went to Portmao, where we drove around and around and around until we found Dona Branca – a restaurant in a small square that housed three other open restaurants. Ours was the only one with a wait for a table. The squid was sublime and filling.

Peter and I played Vale de Lobo yesterday. How exclusive was it? The guy getting the golf cart for me said he didn’t think I would be allowed to play since my shorts were “beach” shorts. Right, I’m a big beach guy.

A few of the homes – photo 1 is two homes and photo 2 IS one home and photo 3 is just … well you decide.


Anyway, the starter didn’t have any trouble with them. (By the way, the rate went way up today, so we didn’t pay so much). The wind did howl on the 15th and 16th holes though. The 16th is a 200 yard par three.

The ocean wind was blowing!

1. Neither of us put the ball on the beach. 2. Neither of us had the nerve to start it out on the left and let the wind carry it back. And 3. Neither of us parred the hole. Enough said.

Today we were off to Lagos (pronounced Lagosh) for a wander along the promenade and then around the old town.

It was a little breezy in Lagos

From there it was off to Sagres which is the western most point of Europe, where it was also very windy.

The three cuddled up. It was windy but not cold.

It was amazing to watch the water come off the cliffs and then go out again, meeting the incoming tide.

There were places where it was shooting up 50 feet in the air – and we figured we were standing 80 feet above the sea.

The surf was just incredible.

This guy was having way too much fun!

Just another massive wave hitting the cliffs.

That’s about all for now – we have to get our wine ready for the afternoon. Cheers.


The Boma Part 2

Not an awful lot to write about here – just some photos courtesy of Cathy, Karen, Shannon and Cheryl.

A view of the roof from inside.

The light inside the home was not great. There was only one window and it was quite small.

The bed – clearly. The “blanket” was a tanned cow skin.

To the woman’s right is the fire where meals are cooked

The one window is about 15 inches by 12 inches.

I love this photo. Often times when you wanted to take a photo, even if they had agreed, the person would look away.

Inside wall under construction. I’m not sure what the piece of aluminum is but I doubt that it is an eave.

Finished inside wall with the jerry cans waiting to be filled

This was actually a very comfortable stool.

The inside of the bomb was very dusty. I can’t imagine living in it day after day.

The man on the right is the son of the Mama.

This is a “kikuyu” or gourd. It is a from a calabash plant and is used to keep goat milk cool for a couple of days.

And now some of the kids

This little girl was carrying the littler on all the time we were there.

They were fascinated by either the smoothness or the whiteness of the skin.

This was the “head” mama. I think that everyone here was related to her – sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren.

Very cute kids

He was a happy little guy – always smiling and giving the big thumbs up.

I’m not sure what she was carrying on her back.

Grandma and a couple of the little ones

I’m not sure if this was a play house or served a more practical purpose but the kids seemed happy.

The Shoe Glove Blog

After an afternoon of smearing, all the gloves had to washed and dried in anticipation of their next activity.

All clean

Next post – Off On Safari.

In to Africa


Well here I sit at YVR waiting for:

Plane ride #1 – Vancouver to Paris 9 hours and 45 minutes

Plane ride #2 – Paris to Nairobi 8 hours and 5 minutes

Plane ride #3 – Nairobi to Kilimanjaro City 3 hours and 11 minutes.

Leave Vancouver 1:30 Sunday afternoon and arrive Tanzania at 3:10 Tuesday morning.

I’m going with the Me to We organization. Check out what they are all about.

Should be a wealth of incredible experiences. Helping to build a school, seeing how people live in a small African community, going on a one day safari, climbing to base camp of Kilimanjaro and living with 23 women and 1 other man for 13 days.

Should also be interesting in terms of photography- it is frowned upon to take random photos of people. One needs to have developed a relationship with individuals beforehand. Chances of continuing the Shoe Blog might be limited.

Finally, we will have limited (read no) access to the internet, so although I will write a daily (hopefully) post, I won’t be able to publish until the 21st or 22nd. Look for them then.

The Shoe Blog

Okay, so I am not really supposed to have done this, but on the other hand I did take it on the beach in Penticton yesterday so it doesn’t really count.

Look closely- Just what you wear to the beach

Asante Sana

The Houses of God

First, an advance warning (I cross out advance because a warning is, in itself, in advance just as YOU CANNOT PRE-BOOK YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT as you are often asked to do in haircut places. You either book an appointment or you don’t! Note some frustration there?) Anyway, back to the warning. In our next blog, which will cover our visits to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Bryce Canyon, you will be entertained by the eloquent words and stunning photos of the original writer of this blog. Yes Terry is coming back. (Rah rah, cheer cheer) However she has had a few very taxing days and needs time to recover and prepare. I assure you though,

“It will be worth it, if not for the sake of this song blog but for the
Sake of your own peace of mind.”      The Animals – San Francisco Nights, 1967

Now for the Houses of God.

After our sojourn getting us to Page, Arizona we enjoyed a fine dinner of Pringles, chocolate and wine in our room. It was like a kid’s picnic. The next morning we traipsed into downtown Page to the tour company’s office. We passed by these churches – all different denominations. They were all right next to each other – all on the same side of the street. I guess if you didn’t like the sermon in one, you could just slip next door. Church Street in downtown TO has nothing on Page.

There were actually two more - one photo was blurry and the Jehovah Witness church was a half block down a side street.

There were actually two more – one photo was blurry and the Jehovah Witness church was a half block down a side street. We particularly liked the middle one on the right – the sign is for Lord’s Gym!

We are staying at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City, where we had a real dinner. Apparently people who come to Utah can’t do math, as we also found this on the bottom of our bill at the pizza place we went to for lunch in Panguitch.

Just a little help for you

Just a little help for you

We got up this morning ready to go for our first visit to Bryce Canyon and found our bottle of water in the car quite frozen.

Chilly last night

Chilly last night

After a few hours exploring the canyon, we went into Panguitch for lunch – quite a good pizza.

C Stop - not quite sure what the C stands for though.

C Stop – not quite sure what the C stands for though.

On the back of the door in the women’s washroom was this poster.

For three counties

For three counties – Iron, County and Beaver

Now, when the sign on the door to the men’s washroom says “Closed – Please use women’s washroom” I am left wondering if anything could go wrong…

Panguitch is a town which had a population of 1,623 in 2000 and I feel confident in saying it hasn’t grown since then. The town has a significant Mormon population.

We asked the server at C Stop where we could get a bottle of wine. She told us to go to the state liquor store on main street “Next to the hunting store but look closely because it has just a small window and you might miss it.” We are, after all, in Utah now. (Remember Provo, Ken?)

Terry is in a hurry to get her wine

Terry is in a hurry to get her wine

The store was reasonably stocked – had a choice from about 20 reds and 20 whites and there was quite a range of hard liquor. There was a box of chocolate bars on the counter with a child’s hand printed sign “Help Sam go on his school trip $1.00” and another hand printed sign that said “Mixers – Cash Only“. Apparently the liquor is the state’s and the mixers are Heather’s (it is Heather’s Liquor Agency). Our final bit of conversation with the woman working there – not Heather, disclosed that “The Jack Mormons come to the back door, tell me what they want and I take their money, get it from the shelf and bring it back to them. They can never be seen in the store.” Aaahhh Mormonism.

It also has a Days Inn…

Not quite full today

Just not quite full today

Apparently windows aren’t a big feature of Utah schools. This is the high school.

Several windows, but small and not likely to offer distraction to the students studies.

Several windows, but small and not likely to offer distraction to the students’ studies. Look closely on the right – there are windows there.

The high school is a veritable school of glass compared to the middle school across the street.

We saw all four sides - these are the only two windows in the .

We saw all four sides – these are the only two windows in the prison school. Certainly would encourage focus.

As we drove around town we came upon this place – just someone’s home with a lot of stuff.


Home on the Range

Home on the Range – click on the picture for a better view.

and this one

Could they do eyes there?

Could they do eyes there?

Now some more Houses of God.

House 1

House 1 – interesting doors on the garage

House 2

House 2

House 3

House 3

Why, you might ask, have I called these Houses of God. It is because they all have two very distinct entrances to the home – one for each of the wives.  We think there is an entire street which has several homes like these in a row, but sadly we couldn’t find it and Terry refused to ask someone “Hey, where is the street of Mormon houses – we can’t find it on the map.” Talk about a no fun girl!

Well, that’s about all for now. I am giving you advance warning though. One day soon I am going to put together a blog of “The Many Faces of Terry”. Wait for it.


BTW Bruce – I was going to use spelunker, but I try to write without technical jargon getting in the way of my ramblings.


Man Versus Nature

Last time I wrote I told you we were excited to be going to Kartchner Caverns. They were highly recommended to us by everyone we talked to in Phoenix. We did all the requisite research and found out that it is 78° to 80° (25° to 26°) inside so no need for jackets or sweaters. They don’t tell you that you it is only 50° (10°) outside, windy with sleet and rain and you have to stand outside for the 10 minute talk and then another 5 minutes for the “train ride” to the cavern entrance. We went on two different tours and thus Terry had to suffer twice – and you all know how she just loves being cold! Anyway, both tours were amazing. In 1964 they were discovered by a couple of guys who decided to enlarge a sinkhole the size of a grapefruit to the size of a stretched coat hanger and then crawl through. True story. Then after discovering what was inside, they did what every explorer does – they kept it secret. They had viewed other caverns in the US (Difference between a cave and a cavern? Caverns have a gift shop at the end. Ha ha – tour guide’s joke) which had been ruined through litter and graffiti and didn’t want that to happen here. From Wikipedia:

The caverns were discovered in 1974, when cavers Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts found a narrow crack in the bottom of a sinkhole, and followed the source of warm, moist air toward what ended up being more than 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of pristine cave passages with the help of Erick Campbell – a local state biologist.[3][4] Hoping to protect the cave from vandalism, they kept the location a secret for fourteen years, deciding that the best way to preserve the cavern — which was near a freeway — was to develop it as a tour cave. After gaining the cooperation of the Kartchner family and working with them for ten years, together they decided that the best way to achieve the goal of protection through development as a tour cave was to approach Arizona State Parks.[5] In 1985, The Nature Conservancy acquired an option to purchase the land.[6] The discovery of the cave was finally made public in 1988 when the landowners sold the area to the state for development as a park and show cavern. Prior to its grand opening in 1999, the state spent $28 million on a high-tech system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment designed to preserve the cave.[4]

FYI: Stalactites grow from the ceiling down, stalagmites grow from the ground up and columns touch both ceiling and ground. The caverns are living caverns, which means that they are still growing and changing etc. This is because of the 6 heavy doors which create air locks and protect the caverns from drying out – which has what has occurred almost everywhere else.

Here are some photos:

There is a colony of bats in the gave. In proportion this is how big their ears are. Terry needs new earrings I think.

There is a colony of bats in the cave. In proportion this is how big their ears are. Terry needs new earrings I think.

I would LOVE to be there when they have a tour of Chinese tourists come through!

It doesn't say it, but it does show cell phones and you can't bring those either.

It doesn’t say it, but it you can’t bring cellphones either.

You aren’t supposed to touch anything since we leave all sorts of things – lint, oil, skin etc. which are harmful to the bacteria which live their.

My shoulder accidentally touched a protruding rock, which was flagged for later cleaning. The guide said not to worry about it. He said that it is constantly being cleaned because it is so easy to touch as you walk by.

My shoulder accidentally touched a protruding rock, which had already been flagged for later cleaning. The guide said not to worry about it. He said that it is constantly being cleaned because it is so easy to bump as you walk by.

This is the size of the hole the two crawled through.

This is the size of the hole the two crawled through.

Now some photos of inside.


This is a soda straw stalactite. It is 21 feet long, hollow and the width of a straw, thus its name.


This is a helicitite formation. They defy gravity and no one has ever been able to explain the how and why of how they grow.


This is a turnip formation. They have applied for a series of permits and permissions to take one down and open it up to see if they can discover why it grows this way. Apparently it takes years to get permission.

These are just three examples of the stalactites. Now if you are wondering about the lack of color in the photos, it is because you are not allowed to take photos in the caverns. It isn’t because of any kind of damage to the caverns. Rather it is because they had so much trouble with people pushing and shoving to get the best photo or angle or lagging behind the tour that they finally banned them all together. Thanks, Man. (Check the links to see examples)

And here is another kicker. Since we couldn’t take any photos, I was all prepared to buy a coffee table book of photos. Alas, they don’t seem to have figured out that this might be a good way to make money to help pay for the expenses of a state park. There were three post cards, and two books which told the story of the discovery – lots and lots of text but had a dearth of photos.

This is a photo of the Kubla Khan column – taken from the internet. It is the equivalent of a five story building.

Kubla Khan - named after Kubla Khan from Xanadu.

Kubla Khan – named after Kubla Khan from Xanadu.

If you ever find yourself near Tucson take the 45 minute drive and see them. It is truly awe inspiring to see the power of water.

Now a few more photos from our otherwise uneventful trip to Tucson.

I didn’t take this because of the plaits, or the woman. I took it because how often have you seen three – yes three – blind* people standing on a corner chatting away.

(* See

Nice hair though man.

Nice hair though man.

This house won’t fade into the background.

Blindingly yellow

Blindingly yellow

Nor this

Blindingly white

Blindingly white

On our road north to Page, Arizona, home of Antelope Slot Canyons we saw.

Can you say striation?

Can you say striation?


or more striation

or Humphrey's Peak - one of the San Francisco Mountain Range outside Flagstaff?

or Humphrey’s Peak – one of the San Francisco Mountain Range outside Flagstaff?

Flagstaff’s main street

They had a foot of snow 24 hours before we arrived.

They had a foot of snow 24 hours before we arrived. The hello sign above the pickup truck is “Pato” – a fantastic Thai restaurant – just in case you ever find yourself in Flagstaff.

Marble Canyon 1

Marble Canyon 1

Marble Canyon 2

Marble Canyon 2

Somewhere in the middle of the pictures above is the Colorado River. Just at the end of the canyon it swings west and heads toward the Grand Canyon. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 20 miles from where we took this.

Tomorrow it is Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Every time we see something, we think it can’t get any better and yet, somehow, it does.

In the meantime

Isn't every ATM a 24 hour ATM?

Isn’t every ATM a 24 hour ATM?

BTW so far, Nature wins out!


The Desire For A Mexican Planter

Before I talk about acquiring a Mexican Planter let me throw in a few left over photos from Lake Havasu.

This beauty was parked in the driveway – likely waiting to go to Thursday night’s classic car show. Other than the big tires on the truck at Britannia Beach, I don’t think I’ve seen any this big.

Them are BIG tires

Them are BIG tires

Outside the Walmart in Havasu are a few of these parking spots for the disabled. I don’t know if it is a comment on the ability to park or the need to get scooters out of vans or what but there is a LOT of space allowed.

This is one big parking spot.

This is one BIG parking spot.

Or maybe the spot is needed for Mom.

That hold on BIG bottle

That holds one BIG glass

Well, after ten wonderful days with Rich and Nancy, including the opportunity to catch up with a couple of cousins from Manitoba who stay in the same complex, we were back on the road.

Sherrill and Bill - cousins from my father's side.

Sherrill and Bill – cousins from my father’s side.

As most of you likely know, the scenery in Arizona, while it can be spectacular doesn’t necessarily lend itself to scenic campgrounds. This is called “boondocking” – what a surprise.

Look carefully to see the RV

Look carefully to see the RV

Or join your friends under the trees

More "organized"

More “organized”

Our first stop was for lunch in Wickenberg, a town of 6600. We went to Lydia’s Cantina.

While Lydia's may have lacked in ambience, it was made up for in friendliness.

While Lydia’s may have lacked in ambience, was made up for in friendliness.

While having lunch we were entertained by a man playing the accordion. Terry asked the server if he played there everyday “NO, just Saturday and Sunday.” It was Friday. Terry enjoyed a vegetarian chicken cheeeeeese enchilada.

When we told Lydia we were from Canada she exclaimed that she had a very good friend from Canada who was a very good artist and had lent her all the paintings in the restaurant to decorate it.

You can have this for only $325.00

You can have this for only $325.00

I wanted to bring this statue home but Terry said No! Don’t see why not.


Yeehaw! Ride ’em Cowboy

Can anybody out there tell me what Tammy Whacking is?

No comment

No comment

From the time we left Penticton we were on the hunt for a Mexican Frog Planter (Ha! you thought it was different from that didn’t you! Ha!) Our plan is to go just across the border to Nogales, Mexico to get one.

Just north of Phoenix we came across two pottery factories. After spending 20 minutes looking at 4000 planters we decided to wait for Mexico.

A REAL Mexican Frog Planter

A REAL Mexican Frog Planter

Who knew you could find Ogo Pogo in Arizona.

Who knew you could find Ogo Pogo in Arizona.

Then it was off to Sun City to enjoy two days and three nights with Joanne Hamilton – a very delightful host.  We had so much fun I didn’t even have time to take any photos. We met some new people at a BBQ, played golf with Carole and Bob Murphie and Darlene Galer and friend Doug. Then we all had dinner, drinks and dice together. We were told by everyone there was no need to go all the way to Nogales. We could easily find the planter we want in Tubac, Arizona, just 45 minutes south of Tucson. Besides, once we crossed the border who knew if we could get back in. Just sayin’.

Sunday morning, we started at Biscuits Cafe. I asked the server what he recommended. He said that because he was a big boy (and he was) he really liked the Biscuits Burger. So…

2 slices ham, 2 rashers bacon, fried egg, cheddar cheese, tomato, onion and mayo - hold the lettuce. Comes with hash browns as well.

2 slices ham, 2 rashers bacon, hamburger patty,  fried egg, cheddar cheese, tomato, onion and mayo – hold the lettuce. Comes with hash browns as well. Ate everything except the hash browns and bottom of one bun!

Anyway, after breakfast Terry and Joanne went off golfing while I stayed home to prepare a wack’o appies for Oscar night. Instead, I got – uh – ill – and accomplished very little – T and J had to make their own Sparkling Champagne Limoncello Cocktail, Tapenade and Antipasto Vegetables, Chorizo & Chickpea Appetizer with Perfect Crostinis and Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Pizza while they watched the hilarity that was the 2017 Oscars.

So, today we were off to Tubac to find our planter. Someone doesn’t know where they are

Just messin' with your head

Just messin’ with your American head I guess.

After driving the 50 minutes, spending 1 hour and 30 minutes looking at 50,000 pots we came away with absolutely nothing – except a photo of a cool sculpture.

The Black White Rabbit

The Black White Rabbit

30 miles north of the US-Mexican border you have to go through another border security check.

Border Security

Border Security

For dinner we went all the way back to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Apparently no one involved in the restaurant is actually from Ha Long Bay but at least from Vietnam.

Apparently no one involved in the restaurant is actually from Ha Long Bay but at least from Vietnam.

Terry had Hu Tieu Ha Long Bay special - Hủ Tiếu Đặc Biệt more commonly known as Shrimp, squid, wonton and roast pork soup.

Terry had the Hu Tieu Ha Long Bay special – Hủ Tiếu Đặc Biệt – more commonly known as Chicken with shrimp, squid, wonton and roast pork soup.

Final photo but one for you – attached to Sparkle Dry Cleaners is…

Cool name.

Cool name.

Tomorrow we are off to Kartchner State Park

Apparently they are incredible.

Apparently they are incredible.


Random Thoughts

(Ed. note: I have been craving the opportunity to write something – anything. My apologies if you find the following uninteresting or boring. Also, since I am now a sporadic (very) blogger, I am unwilling to pay the $100+ dollars I need to in order to buy a new domain name which is not called “”. Sorry, but you are just going to have to live with it – or feel free unsubscribe yourself from my notifications. )

We have been so very fortunate to have travelled to so many different parts of the world and seen so many sights. Bangkok to Beijing to Budapest, London to Lhasa, Moscow to Manila, Prague to Phnom Penh to Penticton, Shanghai to Singapore and so many many places in between. But a couple of weeks ago we experienced a city so unique it demands our attention. We spent three full days in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Okay, so it may not be as exotic as the others but we haven’t spent much time in the last four years wandering around our own “hometown”. Thus we (ok, I) have some observations.

We went to Nordstrom’s for lunch. Now I haven’t been to the Vancouver Nordstrom so it was interesting. It provided me with my first observation. There is a lot of money to be spent in Vancouver on high end products and if the clientele in Nordstrom is any indication, it is mostly Chinese. I can say Chinese because after living in China for three years I can recognize the language when I hear it! My second observation – there are a LOT of wealthy young (under 30) Chinese. The store teemed with them and their bags.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are also a lot of street people in Vancouver. One of the nights we walked from Granville, down Robson to Denman, along Denman to Davie, up Davie to Burrard and back along Burrard to the Art Gallery.

Our Route

Our Route

We were amazed at the number of people sleeping on the street. The one who stood out was a woman, asleep, with a sign that asked for any help (there was a wrapped sandwich and a bottle of water beside her) right on the northwest corner of Burrard and Robson – and I mean RIGHT at the corner. One almost to step over her to get from the crosswalk back on to the sidewalk.

(Ed. note: here’s an interesting coincidence. The woman sitting next to us at lunch in Nordstrom’s showed up the next day at The Nosherie, a bakery/deli where we were having lunch. Hmm.)

We were also taken with the number of boarded up storefronts on our route. A visitor to Vancouver walking the walk we did would not think it was a vibrant, prosperous city – but then maybe it’s not.

Our final observation was of the overwhelming number of Korean BBQ restaurants on our walk.   Yes, we saw ramen, pizza, a few Mexican, some Chinese (know by the large, open, brightly lit caverns) sushi restaurants and even the timeless Dover Arms, but the majority to our eyes were the BBQ.

I would be interested in hearing the opinions/observations of those of you who live in the Lower Mainland. Do you see the same?


Last night we went to see Bryan Adams. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, and at the risk of being accused of being unpatriotic, I have never been a Bryan Adams fan. Terry is a big fan so off we went. My observations:

        • Concertgoers in Penticton feel comfortable leaving their coats and jackets on their seats while they disappear for half the concert
        • Concertgoers on the floor in Penticton don’t care about the people behind them who can’t see – even when they are the only ones standing and they are 6 foot or more and 200 pounds or more
        • I am as tall as at least 75% of Bryan Adams’ Penticton floor standing fans since I had no trouble seeing when I was forced to stand up
        • Concertgoers in Penticton are constantly leaving their seats to go and get beer, missing a lot of the concert
        • It is okay for concertgoers in Penticton who have seats on the floor to leave those seats in order to go up into the empty seats in “stands” to watch the concert
        • Concertgoers in Penticton like to take selfies throughout the concert rather than just watching and listening to the artist they paid to see
        • Concertgoers in Penticton know the words to his songs and when prompted to sing along, do so with gusto
        • Paul Rodgers, (yes Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers)  lives in Summerland and can still sing as seen and heard in the two songs he sang in the encore (Bad Company and Feel Like Makin’ Love). Bryan Adams’ fans also know those word and also sing with gusto…
        • I agree with the fan, who upon leaving the arena, stated “I can’t F*&^ing believe I saw Paul Rodgers!)
        • Bryan Adams asks for a “Wild Woman” to dance along with the same named song. He got two in the spotlight, side by side. Crystal and Pamela must have been exhausted be the end of the five minute number, after dancing in the spotlight and being projected on the huge screen for the entire time. They rarely stood after that.
        • A lot of Bryan Adams’ song seem to have a similar formula and sound similar
        • Bryan Adams has some (but not all) cool visuals going on during his show
        • Bryan Adams put on a really good, but not great, 2 1/4 hour concert

The Shoe Blog

Pathetic, I know but at least it is mildly interesting – and guess the ancestral heritage of the owner. I think I even saw the same ones in China.


Until the next time I feel the need to offer mindless drivel…