18 in ’18: Funicular

41029665_10160888948686337_628599211440472064_n

Today is the last day of my vacation. I spent a week here ↑ looking at that view. The sky was blue, no rain or smoke from the BC fires. It was relaxing and zen. I loved it. It was my third time vacationing at the Pacific Rim National Reserve. I spent time in Tofino and Ucluelet. I recommend a once in a lifetime visit or regular visits. Whichever suits you. I think it is some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. I saw bears, bald eagles, osprey, salmon, ravens, and orcas. Eight orcas to be exact and on two different days. So there’s that.

It snowed in Edmonton yesterday and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I live in a northern-ish town and it has snowed in September and stayed…this time it’s not staying (Thank you universe!) But it IS my last day of vacation so I felt the need to do some Edmonton Touristy stuff. My parents are hobos as I have mentioned before. Soon they leave for Europe to winter and ride the rails as hobos want to do. I figured I would invite them on an adventure today to see things they haven’t seen in a long while or ever. I rarely invite people on my Edmonton Tourist adventures, only Captain my best pal as seen here:

12321374_10154162639611337_3508809850090194087_n

I picked up my parents for coffee at 10:00 am. We went to Crumb on Calgary Trail. I love their coffee and think their Pain du Chocolat is the best ever. I then asked if they had ever been on the Funicular. They hadn’t and neither had I, but it was on my 18 for 18 list so I needed to give it try.

We parked at Louise McKinney park because there is free two-hour parking if you are good at parallel parking. I am! My dad wanted to know if he should get out to direct, nope because I learned to parallel park from the best (him). Tight spot, first try, I win! I jumped out and did some She-Ra moves and flexed for everyone then I hugged my dad and said thanks for teaching me that skill.

We walked down Grierson Hill towards the Funicular. This was built and designed to make the river valley accessible to everyone unless you are entering from Grierson. Then you need to take stairs down to the valley path to catch the elevator or up the stairs to the upper deck to catch the Funicular. Dear City of Edmonton, you need a 3 stop elevator so Grierson people who park at Louise McKinney can access it. Kind of a no-brainer for an accessible feature. Perhaps you needed to include physically challenged folk to give feedback on the design.

We walked down the stairs to ride the elevator for the full effect.

IMG_1155

Up we went admiring the view of the valley. It is a great lookout point!

IMG_1157

IMG_1158

IMG_1159

The valley is just starting to turn colour and the snow has melted here, but not at my house. We walked over the bridge and looked at the public art. We were trying to interpret it. Is it waves? Is it a skateboard park? You decide.

IMG_1163

Then we finally made it to the Funicular. Pressed the button and waited a long time for it to descend.

IMG_1164

As we moved up, we did enjoy the view. These are my hobo parents.

IMG_1166

We rode up with travellers from Yellowknife. They didn’t know what they should see so I gave them a few fun free things to do and look out for and chatted with them about great lunch spots downtown. I showed everyone this.

IMG_1168

Take a risk, its the most Edmonton thing you can do.

I love it!

Then we walked to Churchill square to see the #HappyWall.

IMG_1179

There’s me. I was so happy to see the square and wall empty. So excited, I spelled it wrong because

  1. it’s harder than you think to flip a million tiles.
  2. proofreading your own work is hard.
  3. spelling is hard.
  4. I was excited

It was still there when we left our tour of downtown, so it was up for two hours. TWO HOURS! hopefully still up because it is relevant and important to our city.

We trudged through the construction (but when its all done the Arts District will be FANTASTIC!) to get to the Royal Alberta Museum or as they like to call it #NewRam. I am buying a Mammoth pass for $35 because of UNLIMITED ACCESS FOR $35! I did have to listen to how the British Museum is free, but I said talked to Rachel. It’s not RAMs fault. $35 is reasonable when a single admission is $25. Go twice and boom, worthwhile. Plus it supports culture and history. All the things that make Edmonton a great place to live.

IMG_1181

The countdown clock is up!

18 Days

23 Hours

53 Minutes

until grand reopening. 15000+ people were able to procure free tickets for opening weekend. I didn’t because I hate crowds and the website kept crashing on me, also work, ug.

These crates are all over the city, building excitement. It kind of reminds me of A Night in the Museum, only in Edmonton and not New York.

IMG_1182

IMG_1183

We peeked in the window and saw the gift shop and a dinosaur ribcage at the admission door. He wasn’t quite finished being put together yet. We checked out the Post Office Murals that were left/donated/bought(?). This was the site of the Main Post Office in Edmonton and these murals were part of that. I love them.

photo

We turned around and walked back to Three Bananas for lunch because SOUP IS DELICIOUS and theirs is also good.

Then we headed back to the Funicular. We entered the Funicular and pressed the button to descend. Nothing happened for a really long time. Then the doors opened and it asked us to leave. So we walked down the stairs.

IMG_1167

We watched a guy run up and down carrying full water jugs. Go, Dude! You’ll be awesome at the next November Project stair climb!

When we took the elevator down, I saw a mom/granny struggling with her stroller. See City of Edmonton? You need to add another stop. So Dad and I climbed up the stairs and helped her carry the stroller down to the elevator because that’s what Edmontonians do even when the City Builders don’t.

The big takeaway from this other than having a great day with the hobos, is about what the Yellowknife tourists said to me. They couldn’t figure out how to get to the Funicular and every Edmontonian they asked couldn’t help them. Here is my advice for you Edmonton, get outside and explore your city. It is more exciting than you think it is and we are lucky to live here. We have a vibrant art and culture scene, our restaurants are amazing and our river valley parks system is some of the best parks in the world. What other cities can you see bobcats, bears, moose and deer in the downtown park? Banff and Jasper don’t count. Be present in your life, live it. Don’t let life happen to you.

Love The Edmonton Tourist. xoxox

The Dog-Days of summer in the YEG

It is late August and I look outside thinking, “Where did the summer go?” It’s not like I didn’t do anything. My summer was FULL as in ‘TO THE BRIM’ with fun things and not fun things.

I checked off more 18 in 18 things like visiting another small town. This time I went to Calmar. It is straight west of Leduc and I heard it had a fantastic bakery. The Calmar bakery has been a fixture in this town since 1949. Apparently, the donuts are worth the trip. I respectfully disagree, but the place smelled delicious! There are a few antique shops, a post office and a mural. The fire hydrants are cute. We spent 5 minutes walking the length of the main street and popped into 3 shops. 20 minutes later we were like, “What do you want to do now?” We were fairly close to the University Botanical Gardens so we went there on a rainy day. That made the day worthwhile. Then we stopped off at Bon Ton bakery for a rustic loaf of bread to eat with soup. Next time you find yourself in Calmar…keep driving.

HGHCE8040

I saw the moon at the Muttart. The big giant indoor moon. It was amazing.

HHJME6265

I checked out Folk Fest during some of the smokiest days we have had, thanks BC fires. So we live in a dystopian future now. We are past the tipping point of climate change and blue skies have been non-existent here in the blue sky capital of Canada. Its been blazes hot and smoky or ice cold and rainy. Everyone is cranky and suffering from SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder because the sun has been a tiny orange disc in the sky.

IMG_0693

IMG_0842

We went to Fort Edmonton to recognize Treaty Six Lands and participate in the events there. We learned more about my children’s Métis Heritage, scripts and attended a Pow Wow. This was likely the best day of the summer. The Pow Wow was powerful and moved me to tears. Fort Edmonton goes dark next year for refurbishment, so make sure you catch it this long weekend!

photo_2

 

I spent a day admiring murals that are popping up around my beautiful city! The new one by Holy Roller/El Cortez is a stunner. But what I didn’t know about was the Jill Stanton Piece on the Varscona Theatre. I think that one is my favourite piece.

photo_1

IMG_0741

I tried out a new brunch place, Pip, for my birthday. It has a great vibe and Tommie our fab server gave me a heavy pour Mimosa to help me celebrate!

IMG_0742

I Fringed! Twice! Some of my best summer memories are Fringing. This year I went to the box office and said, ‘randomly give me something at 8 o’clock.’ We walked to the Garneau and saw Scratch, a long-form improv that was complicated but was neatly wrapped up in a bow during the final scene. It was brillant. These guys have been appearing at the fringe for 14 years. They are worth catching if you see them next year. Risk taking is the best part of fringing. The following day we caught Sad Ass Cabaret. It was SAD – like cry sad. But the narrator could have read me the phonebook and I would have bought a recording. His storytelling abilities were fabulous. I loved it. The music was meh. We bought street-art for a friend my daughter is visiting, we ate green onion cakes because that is a must-do at the fringe. I won a prize on a spin wheel and the dude tried to give it to my daughter instead of me. ‘Um, exCUSE ME???? I won the prize, she is just cute and didn’t do anything.’ An old dude felt the need to explain to me why he was dancing. – Dance on dude! It’s the fringe! Enjoy yourself! I saw a dude in a Sombrero, he may or may not have been a real Mexican but the drunk guy he gave his guitar to could play Nirvana, and that was cool.

IMG_0852

A woman my age or possibly older told me how much she loves my converse. They are my homage to Doctor Who. She seemed envious that I have the courage to wear a shoe that is intended for young people. Listen friend, wear the shoe, eat the green onion cake and always give zero fucks because it’s your life and only you can live it.

HGWCE5565

When Fringe ends, it always feels like summer ends. Except for this year, my vacation starts September first, so my summer is not ending until September 15th. I promise not to waste the remaining days of summer.

 

 

18 for 18: Exploring Edmonton’s River Valley

photo_20

A couple of years ago, Edmonton opened the Terwillegar Foot Bridge adjacent to the Terwillegar Dog Park. I explored that park as part of my River Valley Parks series. But I didn’t cross the bridge. I have been wanting to walk this part of the valley for ages, so I put it on my list. The 18 for 18 list.

photo_16

When you cross the bridge to the north side of the river and follow the trail, it leads you to the Fort Edmonton Footbridge. This is my favourite bridge. The Fort Edmonton loop is the loveliest little 5k. One time I ran briefly with Kelly Buchburger, former Edmonton Oiler Captain. That was a thrill, he was kind and friendly, then he opened up his stride and left me like I was standing still.

I had always wanted to walk that north section of the trail but never did, so I put it on the list. My pal Captain and I decided to walk it today. When I walk with Cap, it is like walking with my brother or my Chatterbox. I walk, they run ahead, run behind, run off to the side. Basically they ran an extral mile for every mile I walked. There was so many things for him to explore and sniff.

When we crossed the bridge, I was surprised to see grassy meadows. When I walk to through the valley, I expect to be in the woods as in the case with the other parks I explore. Closer to Fort Edmonton, the path is lined with trees, so I expected the same landscape. The meadow started as short grass, but as we climbed the hill (slope? incline?) the grass became taller. Wild flowers were growing sporatically all over the field.  We saw vetch, bedstaw, clover, wild roses, dogwood, morning glories (why is morning glory growing in the river valley?) canola, and camomile. There were butterfiles everywhere! One little orange guy few along with us and booped my chin to say good bye when we entered the woods.

photo_13

The path was filled with walkers, runners and cyclists. Dogs stopped to say good morning. But one thing struck me as we strolled along, it was silent. I could hear the wind in the trees and birds singing but I did not hear traffic. It felt like I was in the middle of no where. That was the best part of the walk.

photo_10

I one point there was a giant rock cairn, not as uniform as in the Scottish Highlands, but it was the kind of mound my dad would encourage me to climb. When ever we walked past a pile of rocks, I needed to climb them, walk past water and we needed to spit in it, walk past a hill and we had to run up it. All were the rules of the walk. This time I just took a photo. Gone are my climbing days but I could imagine my ghost of walks past climbing up to the top. That was almost as satisfying.

photo_8

When we rounded the bend, I saw the familar sign indicating the Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge.

photo_7

Now I was in familar territory. The river is down once again and beaches are springing up again. This one was filled with people playing fetch with their dogs.

photo_3

I enjoyed the silence today and loved watching the butterflies, but I think I still prefer walking through the ravines. I have two new areas of the valley to still explore and they are ravines. Soon, I will visit them.

Freewill Players: Shakespeare in the Park

IMG_0334

Summer nights in July and my first thought goes to warm evenings. So why wouldn’t I want to sit in the middle of Hawrelak Park and watch a play? Can you think of a better way to spend the evening?

It rained for most of the day and I was feeling cold but eager to head to the Heritage Amphitheatre for one of my favourite festivals of the year. We left the house at 6:30 because even when you pre-purchase tickets for a particular night if the place fills up, you risk having to sit on the grass. It sounds fun, but grass isn’t as soft as I remember as a kid. As it turned out, we were able to secure second-row stage left. The gates opened at 7:45 pm and they scanned our phones, technology is cool. My daughter bought tickets for last night’s performance in the car on the way. I found myself telling her an old-person story, “I’m from a time when you didn’t pre-purchase tickets except for Rock Concerts, and then you had to camp out at the box office to have a chance to see anyone decent.” Buying in the car is still amazing to me!

photo

I had the forethought to bring a quilt and a scarf. I regretted not bringing my winter jacket and gloves. It was damp and 16C felt very cold for me. I bundled up and snuggled in with the program while my companions decided to take in the preshow Puppet version of the play. We were seeing Comedy of Errors but Shakespeare isn’t written in a style that makes sense without having studied it and focusing on the cadence of the language. You can get the gist of it by watching the show unfold, but having the background is helpful. The Freewill Players have a short 10 minutes synopsis preshow to help people following along. It makes it a better experience if you understand the show.

IMG_2072

The Hubs and Chatterbox went to the puppet tent and had a great time. They both commented on the way back to the car they commented without the puppet show they wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I admitted I had no idea what the prologue was about until the final scene, then it all made sense, but I had no trouble following the storyline. I did study Shakespeare for three years in high school (Julius Ceasar, Macbeth and Hamlet) and in University (A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Romeo and Juliette, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, King Lear and The Merchant of Venice). I felt confident I could follow along.

IMG_0317

There were several concession tents, one for food and one for beer and wine. There was also a souvenir tent selling shirts, squirrels and pins. Two different contests were going on, a 50/50 draw (I didn’t win) and a survey that enters you in for a dinner to Chanti’s (I didn’t win that either but the gal behind me did). I did have some popcorn at the intermission because the scullery maid ran across the stage chasing Dromio. She paused and said, “this will take several minutes, so why don’t you go get a beverage and some popcorn?” That sounded like a great idea so I gave $5 to Chatterbox and off she went.

IMG_0327

Not to give too much away, but one of my favourite things about the Freewill Player comedy productions is the Bollywood ending. Its fun and kitschy. Watch for no other reason than to see Jesse Gervais and Hunter Cardinal dance with their partners. They were hilarious.

IMG_0326

Comedy of Errors plays odd dates and Hamlet plays even dates. Pay what you will is Tuesday night and I think I might go see Hamlet or at least catch it on the weekend. I hear it is the best of the two productions and I thoroughly enjoyed Comedy of Errors so Hamlet might be worthwhile for me to head back out.

IMG_0316

 

Tickets and Showtimes available here. Remember to bring a blanket. Shakespeare in the park ends July 15th.

IMG_0333

18 for ’18: Rockin’ Robyn’s Diner

IMG_0023

My Papa Bear is 19 years older than me and he just had his 70th birthday. It was one of those moments where I realized I think of him as the young guy sitting beside me on Main Street in Disneyland waiting for the Electrical Light Parade. I was six so that would make him twenty five. I think of dad with dark brown hair, tall, fun, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I then see my dad and realize he is 70. it always knocks the air out of me.

My mom appreciates finer cuisine, so its fun to take her to high-end brunch places. We went to Café Linnea for her birthday. My dad however, loves a really great diner. Old school diners that are decked out in vintage items. I had heard great things about Rockin Robyn’s Diner and knew the wait could be long to eat there. If we went early, I didn’t think it would be too bad. I put it on my 18 in ’18 for two reasons:

  • She spells her name correctly with a Y
  • I heard she was an Alice in Wonderland fan. I am a Disney fan so I suspected we were kindred spirits.

We arrived at 9 (not early but whatever…) to a line up at the door. There were 4 parties ahead of us. We were given a pager and decided to wait outside. 20 minutes later, it was out turn.

We were seated at a table beside the large mural and Dad noted, “I have never been to a drive-in that had any of those fancy muscle cars. Never. Where did people think young guys got the money for something like that?” Good point dad. But the art on the walls was interesting. There was a juke box at the other end of the diner and it was playing 80’s rock. This reminded my daughter of a great story about The Salt and Pepper Diner. Give it a listen, I promise you won’t be disappointed. It’s hilarious.

IMG_0037

We looked over at the lunch counter and surmised they make a great milkshake because of the equipment sitting there. The decor was fun too, black and white checked tiles, Alice in Wonderland items, retro ceiling fans and red booths!

IMG_0035

We ordered coffee and checked out the menu, coffee was straight up and good, this isn’t a latte and cappuccino kind of place. The waitress was sassy and hilarious. I am pretty sure she is my spirit animal, or at the very least me in a parallel life. I asked her to marry me after some fantastic zingers she through at my dad. She was his kind of waitress too. Fun, efficient and the right amount of sass you expect at a diner.

There were five of us and we ordered Eggs Benedict, a stack of pancakes with eggs and sausage, waffles , and mom can’t be easy and order a menu item so she went with 3 sides. We waited ten minutes at most before massive portions arrived before us.

Every dish came with fresh fruit and eggs were made to order. The food was delicious and I immediately understood why this place was so popular. My dad raved about this place and loved every minute of it. Excellent  value all around!

After breakfast we went to the counter to pay and were given tiny little candies that said “Eat Me”. I was over the moon with the Alice in Wonderland reference. We were told there is a Alice in Wonderland Mother’s Day Tea Party that happens every year too. Mom and I will have to remember to check that out next year.

Now I think I want to give lunch a try or maybe a milkshake. If you haven’t been before, I recommend it. I think it’s the best diner fare in the city.

You can find it in west Edmonton at 16604 B- 109 Ave or give them a call 780-756-5656

 

 

Rainy Days or the Ohana Donuterie Day

rain

I love a rainy day. Curling up by the window with a cosy quilt and a great book, I am lost in the coolness of the day. Or give me an umbrella and I am ready to walk and explore my neighbourhoods to see what people are up to when they are not outside enjoying the sunshine. Both are good rainy days.

Yesterday was a rainy day. This was an especially nice alternative to the snowy day we had one week prior. I was sitting on the love seat in my room, gazing outside through the rain splattered window and had the urge to go exploring. I bought an umbrella in Vancouver two years ago and love to use it every chance I get. This may seem odd, but it doesn’t seem to rain enough to use it here in Edmonton. We get rain, often at night with accompanying thundershowers, short downpours that last 10 minutes at most. A long slow rain is my favourite and it calls to me.

I had finished reading and decided to go try a doughnut place in Old Strathcona that I heard about but had not yet explored. I called to my daughter, she was game and then asked the hubs if he wanted to join. I didn’t feel like driving and he is often game. I told him the name and let him look it up on the map. I also didn’t feel like navigating.

Chatter Box and I grabbed our umbrellas and hopped into the car. Soon we were navigating the streets of Old Strathcona when I asked, “Do you know where it is?”

He said, “It seems to be in a back alley, which is odd but I might be wrong.”

He wasn’t wrong. Ohana Donuterie is indeed in a back alley – sort of. 10347-80 Ave, Edmonton, AB. Lots of parking out front. You will understand when you arrive, its an alley but it’s not. It’s the kind of place I would take friends from out of town. It’s warm and welcoming, unusual and delicious.

IMG_9345

Walking into the space, I immediately like the bike rack, it obviously understands the clientele.

IMG_9346

I looked around the room and decided it felt like a ‘new’ Hawaiian shop. It is a new distressed shop. I loved the palet, I loved the decor and I loved the smell of coffee and sugar when I walked in.

IMG_9347

I had heard this place made doughnuts to order while you waited. That meant they would be warm when they arrived on your plate. On a rainy day, warm doughnuts are the perfect snack, pair it with coffee and I am a willing participant!

img_9350.jpg

Chatterbox ordered: Vanilla Dip with Coconut Cream and a Chai latté with coconut milk and cinnamon. The Hubs ordered Vanilla Dip with Chocolate Cream and a latté. I ordered a Vanilla Dip with Chocolate Custard and a latté. For my son, we ordered a Chocolate Dip to go.

We wandered over to the window to watch them make our doughnuts.

IMG_9358

IMG_9351

I have many friends who have visited Honolulu and RAVE about Hawaiian Donuts. They were originally Portuguese malasadas. Long story short, when you go to Hawaii you are asked if you had a donut. If you haven’t, people moan and are sad for you because apparently, they are life changing. I wouldn’t say that, but they are delicious!

These are just as delicious.

But it isn’t fast food. You cannot come here hoping to order a dozen and be on your way – that place is called Tim Hortons and it comes with a drive-thru. Ohana’s is slow food. Just like Hawaii. Things are slow and worth the wait. Except my coffee came after my donut. I like my coffee WITH my donut. I could have waited but there is a very good reason I didn’t.

IMG_9355

The doughnuts come warm. Fresh from the fryer. Yes, warm doughnuts are better. I had a chocolate custard and it was cold. It tasted like Laura Secord Pudding (does anyone remember what that tasted like? I was instantly transported!) I wanted to eat it while it was warm. My coffee came way later and it was just okay. It doesn’t make my top ten coffee list. BUT, its a really decent cup of coffee. Way better than typical donut shop coffee.

I wanted to try the other fillings because they had cream. No one would let me stick my finger in their cream filling. Probably a good call on their part.

I suspect they use a granulated sugar for this confectionary because of the gritty texture. It isn’t smooth like liquid sugar. It made it taste homemade – which it kind of was.

It was the perfect snack for a cool rainy day. It would also be a great late night snack and a snowy day snack. There is also a food truck so, probably a really great festival snack too. It can’t be compared to Doughnut Party because they are different. equally great, but VERY different. While eating this all I could think of was my mom and her love of the Bismark. Do you remember those? Essentially a jelly doughnut covered in icing sugar. They came from the bakery at a time before donut shops in Sherwood Park. The warm would appeal to her too.

IMG_9349

18 for 18: Adult Night at the Muttart

IMG_9070

There is this new trend, or maybe it is just new to me, Adult Night. There was a time where I was looking for family things to do. Now that my kids are adults themselves, I find the less I am around children, the better it is for me to focus on different things. I get very distracted by children, especially clever and hilarious ones. So an evening without them in the room allows me to see beyond and allow the silence in my head to relax me.

I was looking for a new class or something I hadn’t done before and I came across a meditation class at Edmonton’s Muttart Conservatory. I meditate as a daily practice and today marks my 440th consecutive day. I thought experiencing a different way to practice might be interesting. I like learning from other’s perspectives. This class was held on a scheduled Adult Night. Every Wednesday from 5-9 pm the Muttart Conservatory closes its doors to children. I added this to my 18 for 18 list early on, knowing I wanted to experience this. I am glad I made the list, I was tired and didn’t feel like going out but I made myself accountable to the list. So here I am.

I arrived at 5 and had decided to purchase an annual pass. I hadn’t been here since I was a child but had fond memories of going with my family at Christmas to see the Feature Pavilion. It changes with the seasons. An Adult pass is $45.00. Visit 4 times and its paid for. I anticipate visiting on Adult nights and want to go to the concert series this summer. So having an annual pass makes sense for me and ensures I return. I like to get value for my money.

I had time to visit a pavilion before the meditation class began. I decided to go clockwise and began with the Arid Pavillion.IMG_9038

I attended Catholic School as a kid and remember this pavilion from a field trip. The Crown of Thorns plant made quite an impression on me. But I couldn’t find it this visit. I was too busy watching my time so I didn’t miss the start of the meditation session.

IMG_9031

I arrived at 5:30 for the session to begin. The website information was different than the information the instructor gave. I was led to believe this was a 30 min session with 4 sessions that evening so people could come and go. It was one long session where people joined us. I wasn’t prepared for two hours of mindful meditation. Mostly because it involves the instructor talking. When I meditate, I want to sit in silence. However, she also led us on a meditation walk in the Temperate Pavillion. The sites and sounds were like an Edmonton Spring. We have had some extreme cold here this winter so this was a welcome visit.

IMG_9039

The method for the meditation walk was extremely slow. Slower than walking a Bride down the aisle, slower than walking in a crowd. It is akin to walking with a toddler who is just learning. Tiny even deliberate steps. I have severe arthritis in my knees and found this to be an effort to walk this slow, but it was calming and peaceful. It kept me mindful of my steps and breathing, which is the purpose of mindfulness. I can see me revisiting this method especially after a particularly stressful or busy day at work.

IMG_9044

We returned back to the classroom for what I call Savasana or corpse pose. I continued to sit in my chair because of my mobility issues but it was more my speed. The instructor read a short essay from a Buddhist monk that I found to be calming.

At 6:30 we were given a 30-minute break. Who needs a break from resting? I thought that was odd. But I decided to leave and not return for more mindfulness. I had already meditated for 2 hours that day. Time to experience life rather than contemplate it.

I went to Culina the restaurant in the Conservatory that receives rave reviews from Avenue. I think pretentious vegetarian food needs to be called out. The food was fine but I was disappointed. I ordered Shepherds Pie. I received a vegetable medley in gravy (?) topped with sweet potato. I prefer my Shepherds Pie to be traditional. If it isn’t, say so on the menu. The salad was too oily for someone who prefers dressing on the side. This place was full of ladies-who-lunch out for a women’s night because wine was $25 a bottle. I looked at the selection and passed. A single bottle is too much for a single person. Younger me would have felt out of place. While I was the only person dining alone, I wasn’t dressed trendy enough. Business casual was too casual. All I could think was, Avenue Magazine has a distinct set of followers of which I am not one of them. I tend to hang out with people who are comfortable in their own skin, not sitting somewhere hoping to be seen.

I sincerely doubt I will dine there again with so many other opportunities to try delicious cuisine in Edmonton.

After dinner, I turned right and went to the Tropical Pavillion.

IMG_9051

It was getting dark and the pavilion was lit up with soft lighting. Lovely but difficult for photography.

IMG_9052

The humidity was lovely. The room was filled with the sound of water and I thought birds, but I could be mistaken. I stopped to enjoy the orchid house.

IMG_9055

One of my favourite things about Muttart is the way they showcase artists. There was an exhibit in the centre with a No Photos signs. But I took my time to enjoy the installation. The very centre of the Conservatory is a glass fish installation – this was lovely from below.

IMG_9067

I finally made my way into the Feature Pavilion that changes with the seasons. Currently, it is set up for Chinese New Year. Early March it changes again.

IMG_9057

Red and yellow in a garden is one of my favourite combinations.

IMG_9062

It was beautiful. I sat and looked around for a while.

IMG_9058

IMG_9060

I can see myself visiting Muttart Conservatory everytime they change the feature pavilion. My next visit will be mid-March. I’ll keep an eye out for classes and concerts but mostly, I want to come here and sit on a bench to read. That sounds like my idea of heaven.

 

18 for 18: Ice Castles

VZELE9839

I am crossing the first item off the list – I went to visit Edmonton’s Ice Castles. Full disclosure, I received tickets from a friend so I did receive a free entry. Honestly, I am not altogether sure I would have paid to enter. $16.95 for Adults, it really doesn’t look all that special on the outside. I did go with an open mind. As I moved closer, it became more spectacular.

VHXJE2496

I timed my visit so I could hit the magic hour of sunset. 5:00 pm on the day we went. I wanted to capture photos before and after so I could catch the different light. I am glad I did.

GZUNE7787

Different coloured flood lights(?) LED lights (?), I am unsure of the tech, were lighting up the icicles. The time of day made for a very flat light and it was hard to see definition out in the open. As we explored caves and walkways the detail showed itself to be amazing.

RWFLE8826

I took time to speak to one of the staff about how they created this giant ice castle. He explained they grew the icicles by running the water then moving the small icicle to where it was supposed to go, then they built upon that by adding more water. The amount of water needed for this was staggering. I am not going to lie, it does concern me.

Environmental concerns aside, I let myself be swept up in the beauty of the art installation.   We wandered through the tunnels and found the fireplace in the centre of the castle.

IMG_8643

Soot was clinging to the ice and the hearth was melting but it was so cold -25C so the warmth was welcome. I didn’t dress nearly warm enough, I needed 2 leg layers but only had one. I had forgotten how much I love the smell of a wood fire. It was heavenly!

We kept meandering around and located the fountain room. This was beautiful.

KVFUE3262

As the night became darker the greens and pinks from the lights became more dominant.

FBEHE4876

We left to search for the slides, only one was finished when we went through.

NEACE3229

The line was long and I didn’t think my rear end needed to sit on ice. Maybe if I had worn my snow plants, but I passed on that opportunity. You would think Canadians would not find ice so novel, but we did! To the left, we found a throne and I quickly snapped a photo before the next couple sat down. Again, there were massive lines.

ODWPE4071

Not interested in sitting on ice, I did that plenty when I worked as a ski lift operator, or ‘lifty’. I remember it well and I have no desire to relive that, but LOOKing at it was so beautiful. I was very happy I decided to go and experience the beauty of the ice.

IMG_8696

Sunset was happening by this time. I looked up and there was the moon. Cold, crisp and beautiful.

BUT SO MANY PEOPLE! I would wait a long time for a shot clear of people.

IMG_8669

I would shoot up or close, fewer people in the frame.

We spent about 45 minutes and saw everything at least twice. There was a lot of waiting while parents were pulling their children through the tiny spots. People were polite and took turns with the exception of a few who knocked my camera over while pushing their way ahead of me. For a crowd this size, I was honestly surprised at the amount kind and considerate people there.

For the most part I found this to be a worthwhile experience. I do realize many families could not afford to participate in this activity but there are other free and beautiful things to do during Edmonton’s WInter. (Honourable mention to Victoria’s Skating Oval. The lights there are also beautiful and its free) Yet Ice Castles is an instagram photographer’s dream.

For times visit the website for more information.

 

Edmonton Tourist: The Science Behind Pixar

img_8337.jpg

Anyone who knows me well has a sense that I am an animation fan, specifically, a Disney/Pixar fan. I spent hours in my youth drawing and creating. I had originally wanted to be a Disney Clean-up Artist. A Clean-Up Artist removes all the extra lines to reveal a polished image. It is more creative than you think and much more involved than having an eraser,

IMG_8374
You know its Woody and Buzz, but the Clean-Up hasn’t happened yet. 

For reasons that coincide with what I refer to as the Dark Times, I didn’t get out of Edmonton, never mind finding my way to Los Angeles. However, that didn’t change how I felt about the artistry of animation. The level of detail is always what pulled me in. From my first moment on Main Street in Disneyland to searching for Easter Eggs hidden in movies, I enjoy all of it. So when my son came home back in November and said, “We just saw The Science of Pixar at Telus World of Science (TWOS). I think you will love it.”

 

He was not wrong.

I had planned to go to Bon Ton Bakery with every other Edmontonian on Saturday. TWOS is down the street, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to go! Bon Ton had a line outside in the dark waiting to get in, happily, I arrived at 9:03 am after the doors opened but the wait was going to be about 30 minutes.

 

IMG_8334
I enjoy the politeness and the information of this sign. Thank you TWOS for having a cheeky sign I can relate to.

 

Baked goods in hand, I left for TWOS and decided I would not go see it if there were a million kids, I would plan on going on the Adult Only night. I wanted to be able to take my time and thoroughly experience it. I can’t do that when I am letting kids try stuff.

We walked into the foyer and we were the only people there. The place was empty. The first day of Christmas break and the building was full of staff and a handful of visitors.

The cost was $30 per person (ish- it was actually a little less) The recommend 1.5 hours to go through the exhibit. I agree. To fully experience it, you need to watch all the videos and try out the interactive parts. I found this fascinating.

The first part was the introduction video. It had a cameo of John Lasseter, I am not going to lie, his shenanigans have left a dark mark for me on Pixar. But his abuse of power does not negate his creative brilliance. Then I think, there are other brilliant people in this world and maybe it is their time to shine. At any rate, I entered with mix feelings.

The exhibit has the following steps of an animated CG film:

  • Modeling
  • Rigging
  • Surfaces
  • Sets & Cameras
  • Animation
  • Simulation
  • Lighting
  • Rendering

I participated and at every section and watched every video interaction. I was blown away by the level of detail that goes into each frame.

Modeling was the least interesting for me yet it was fascinating at the same time!

It takes place after the storyboards and character development. The clay models are used to scan and get the image into the computer program so it can be animated.

Rigging was next, this step gives movement to that character, it makes all the parts move, from facial expressions to limbs moving.

IMG_8338

Surfaces add texture, it makes McQueen shiny and Mator rusty, Skully furry and Mike smooth. Such an involved process!

Sets and Cameras, where to put the camera determines the look of the set. This was facinating. IMG_8357

Animation, I basically learned it is all stop motion on a very advanced level. I gave it a try with the Pixar lamp and learned I do not have the patience for 26+ movements per second. I took a video of it and the lamp moved in a choppy motion. Although to be fair, I didn’t have the time to really do it justice,  it was super finicky.

The Simulation was all physics. Trying to get curly hair or fur to move the way it does, in reality, was a series of equations that simulated springs. Thinking about how to achieve the end result. Problem-solving at its finest!

Lighting was cool, I played with sets and sun levels, turning on and off interior lights. possibilities were endless…

IMG_8355

Rendering blew my mind away. It basically is a mathematical equation for colouring each pixel. The guy based his math on the hydrogen bomb equation and won an Oscar for it.

This exhibit gave me my Disney fix. I hadn’t been since January 2016 and it doesn’t look like I am going anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I am not fascinated by it all. I enjoyed wandering around and looking at the artist’s renditions. People are crazy talented and I  admire their ability.

Is it for kids? Sure kids will find it fun, but it isn’t a playroom. there are buttons to push and characters they will recognize. I think kids over 8 will get more out of it but the science and math involved will be out of range.

If you are an animation fan, Pixar or Disney fan, then this is a must-see when it gets to your neighborhood. Right now it is touring in Edmonton until January 7th and is also at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. It was developed by the Boston Museum of Science and Pixar. When it comes to your city, go see it!