Sunday, April 14, 2019

Chasing Waterfalls : Yosemite National Park


"No temple made by hands can compare with Yosemite" wrote the naturalist Jon Muir, who efforts led to the establishment of Yosemite Park in 1890.
 quoted in 1000 Places to See Before You Die, p. 584

For March break, we spent the week in San Francisco including a few days in Yosemite National Park.   The original forecast was poor, but changed in our favour.  The temperature ranged about freezing to 10 C and sunny the entire time.  We did not require chain for the tires.

During the off season, there are not many accommodation options in the park.   We stayed at the historic Majestic Hotel in the park (formerly called the Ahwahee Hotel).   


Built in 1927, the hotel has an interesting history and architecture.   I highly recommend joining the daily tour.  I don't think you need to stay at the hotel to take the tour. 

Hotel guests can enjoy tea at 4 pm each day in the great room.


During the off season some of Yosemite's trails and climbs are closed due to the conditions.  For our day hikes, we hiked the Bridalveil Fall (which was very icy), Lower Yosemite Fall, Mirror Lake, Lower Vernal Fall and the Valley Floor Loop.  There is a complimentary shuttle which can take you to the trail heads.  From the shuttle, the driver pointed out a bobcat which was a rare sighting.  Yosemite's waterfalls are spectacular.



Above: Although Bridal Veil trail is classified as easy, the mist from waterfall made the approach to treacherous.
At the Yosemite Village, there is a post office, a small gallery, and a National Park Store where you can pick up souvenirs. We picked up a patch for our blanket!




Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Doll Advent


For those celebrating, I hope you had a happy Christmas surrounded by those you love. 

I didn't make too many handmade gifts this year.   As pictured above, the children's gifts were wrapped in little personalized fabric sacks from Michaels.  I found the idea / tutorial here.

To start off the Advent season, I made Lily a brush lettering Advent Calendar using two Walmart tea towels - the slots were filled it with watercolour pens from Miniso.
I also put together an Advent calendar for Hope and her dolls.   It took some planning, but it was fun.  I would have like to include a mini jar of Bon Mamam and a jig saw puzzle and a mini sled, but I could not find those items.  
Top Row
1 Winner gift card holder stocking and mini envelopes and Christmas cards
2. a copy of the Grinch
3. a bucket of snowballs
4. a mini snowglobe
Second Row
5. gingerbread house music box
6. mini Nativity and St. Nicholas chocolate
7. antler barrettes
8. hotwater bottle (actually a handwarmer)
9. baking aprons
Third Row
10. nutcrackers
11. Russel Stover chocolates
12. Tim Horton's 2018 holiday ornament (coffee tray)
13. Santa Lucia braided hearts
14. pillowcases
Fourth Row
15. mini pannettone
16. fancy drinks from Tim's and Starbucks
17. mini fondue set (Babybel cheese)
18. handknit cowl
19. mini Nutella
Bottom Row
20. vinyl holiday albums
21. solstice birdhouses and seed
22. trainset and personalized ornaments
23. quilt
24. Santa's key and a copy of the "Night before Christmas"

Our Walton's Mountain Road Trip 2018


When I was selecting a family photo for our Christmas card, I came across the Walton's Christmas message and a lovely wish ...

....You children may squabble and bicker among yourselves but you’ve been taught to love and to give, and that’s the greatest present your Momma and Daddy could have given you. So take pleasure in the trappings of Christmas. Be merry like the songs say. Revel in the tinsel and the glitter and the sparkle and sing the old songs for all the joy that’s in them and the memories they bring back. But to touch the real Christmas, to feel the true spirit of the season, look to your own heart and find all the secret treasures that they’re there to give. There is one wish that I make every year. I never said it aloud before, but I’ll tell it to you now. I wish for all the seasons I have known, endlessly to come and go; the dogwood Spring, the watermelon Summer, the russet and gold of Autumn. I wish for Christmas to come again and for each of us to be here again next year at this time...together, safe, warm and loved as we are at this moment...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Flower Show 2018


One of my favourite holiday traditions is a visit to the Christmas Flower show at Allan Gardens.  This year's show does not disappoint.









I loved this little house so much.  In the background (not pictured) was a working model train.  If you happen to be in downtown Toronto be sure to pay the gardens a visit.  I am fairly certain the gardens is open every day, even holidays.

Monday, December 10, 2018

First Night: Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons



This past weekend, we took a day trip to Midland, Ontario to experience "First Light" at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.  Sainte-Marie is a reconstruction of the first (17 century) French Jesuit Settlement on the Huron / Wendat territory and a historical landmark (more on the area's history can be found  here).

For nearly 20 years, the park has been open for three weekends in November - December for a festival called "First Light."  Visitors can explore the site at night by candles and lanterns (approximately 5000) candles are lit.

We opted for the full experience and had a traditional French tortiere supper at the Restaurant Sainte-Marie.

 
Below are a few photos (grainy due to the low light) of the our experience.  It was about -2 degree C.    If you plan to attend it is important to dress warmly and wear winter boots.  There are a variety of activities in the buildings (musical entertainment, crafts, nature demonstrations) and there were many young families. This past weekend was the last weekend so there was a special fireworks display.

Musical entertainment in many of the buildings (lit snowshoes)

Settlement - 5000 lanterns and candles light the settlement

Duck Quill Pen and Ink




corn husk doll making
duck quill greetings

learning about tawny owls
Fire works to end the night
Visitors can follow the underpass and walk from the settlement under the road and up the hill to Martyr's Shrine. This church is closed during the winter months, but during First Light we were able to take a peek inside.  The interior roof is wooden, I read that it is meant to imitate a canoe.   The church honours eight Jesuit Saints who worked and died in the area 350 years ago.  Each season, over 100,000 visitors make the pilgrimage to the visit the Church and the grounds. 

The Martyrs' Srhrine




Friday, July 13, 2018

Fallingwater

From Virginia we traveled to western Maryland.  We stayed in the historic town of Cumberland, Maryland and then headed to southwestern Pennsylvania to see the Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater.  Construction of Fallingwater finalized in 1938.  The home was originally owned by the Kaufman family and in 1963 was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. 

Given the home's popularity, advanced reservations are recommended.  Photography is not permitted within the home.  The interior tour was interesting.   Our guide provided a great deal of information concerning the Kaufman family's relationship with Wright and the home's construction.   Wright designed almost all the furniture and most of the furniture is built-in.  The hallways are very narrow.  The main floor is open concept and the bedrooms are quite small.  The interior includes nearly all of the original artwork and tchotchkas which are quite varied.  The Kaufmans were certainly well-traveled and eclectic collectors.  The exterior paint colour was chosen based on the back side of a rhodo leaf. Rhododendrons flourish in this environment.  



The tour of the interior runs approximately one hour.  There are also trails to be explored so you would want to leave at least two hours for your visit.  The setting is beautiful. 
From Fallingwater we headed north to visit my husband's family north east of Pittsburgh. It the perfect way to end our vacation before returning home to Toronto. We traveled approximately 3200 kilometers on this trip.  These posts provide a tiny snap shot of what we saw along the way.  As an audio book for the longer car rides, Eric and I listened to Les Miserables.  It is hard to believe that this was the 34 chapter "condensed" version from Audible. It is hard to believe that we still have about  6 chapters left!