Recapping a first-time American road trip

Yellowstone Norris

I am so bummed out that I haven’t posted since June! But at least we had a summer full of interesting and time-consuming activities, if not all productively undertaken.

Certainly, the highlight of our summer was our long-planned trip through the American northwest to Yellowstone, something we’d envisioned for over a year, that at last became reality at the end of July. Eleven days on the road, then a few days resting at our friend’s place in Vancouver, was a totally do-able trip that wasn’t exhausting (like some camping outings are).

We had pre-planned some camp sites and motel nights in Yellowstone Park, and then winged the rest of our itinerary, other than a general idea that we would drive through Washington towards Yellowstone and meander our way back to Canada somehow. We had couple days where we didn’t move – just stayed longer in one spot, no driving, no into-town visits, just reading, resting and playing in the water – and I think that was crucial to helping foster a sense of vacation, versus the pressure to get somewhere, to see something.

The best part of the trip, aside from the wonder of discovering the varied and rich geography and history of certain parts of the USA with le Mari and le petit, was the visual feast that the different, sometimes surreal landscapes provided. Yellowstone Park especially blew us away – it was much more interesting and beautiful than we had expected. We stayed 5 days here, but if we go again, we would stay longer to explore the various corners and less-travelled quiet places all over the park that we didn’t have a chance to visit this time.

In addition to the fascinating geological features of the hydrothermal basins of Yellowstone, I loved seeing: rippling wheat fields, dry hoodoos and red rocks, flat plains, and rolling dry hills, and this all in just one tiny northwest/central region of the vast US. We are planning for another trip further south in another couple of years next time.

Idaho Plains Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Yellowstone Lake Grand Prismatic West Yellowstone Norris Hills of Montana Larrabee Park

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A maiden voyage to India

It’s already mid-June and I’m catching up to post about the previous month. May was a wild month, which included a couple of unexpected events, the most prominent of which was an unscheduled trip for work.

It was my first trip to Asia since 2003 and my first visit ever to India.

india sikh

Brief background: In my first year of university, I had a year-long immersion into Indian literature and culture, including an in-depth study of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the Mahabharata and parts of the Bhagavad-Gita, a sacred Hindu text. There was also an Indian drama in which I was required to act, and a lot of poetry, examinations of film and group discussions. While I received a thorough cultural, scholarly introduction to the subject, the country and its people seemed to be too…too everything: too bright, too intense, too sensually rich to the extent that reading about it made me feel overwhelmed, too violent, too passionate. It put me off to ever visiting India. I was just not interested.

Four things since that university introduction eventually changed my thinking about visiting India:

  1. During the first month or so of our acquaintance, the man who eventually became my partner expressed that the country that he MOST wants to travel to and experience is India. Huh.
  2. During the past 12 years or so, there has been a revival of interest and media coverage of western (meaning North American and European) Indian writers: Rohinton Mistry, Kiran Desai, Jumpa Lahiri, just to name a few, whose works I read and completely fell in love with.
  3. I came across William Darymple‘s travelogue/history books about India : City of Djinns, Nine Lives, The Last Mughal among them. His stories and his telling of various events in the history of India, plus his obvious passion for the country and its people lit some kind of interest in me, to see for myself the places and people that moved him so much that 6 or 7 books later, he was still writing about it.
  4. Bhangra. Indian students at my work introduced me to it and we just completely love it at our house.

So, when I was asked to go to India, I was happy to do so and it was everything I’ve ever read about it. A month later, I’m still processing some of the experiences I had, and I may share it in a later post one day. But the thing that stood out, clearly and notably, was the kindness and genuine interest and drive of the people that I met.

R&R in the Kootenays, British Columbia

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L’arte

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quebec chalet visit

An ordinary moment in Quebec, extraordinary joy

Prompt: December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

In May, we went to Quebec to visit my in-laws and the rest of the (large) French family clan. We try to see them at least once a year, either in la belle province or in our neck of the woods.

Often times, when you visit family, it’s as busy as it can be wonderful – rushing around to say all the hellos, dinner and lunch appointments, old friends wanting to meet up – and this year our visit was the last leg of a trip to New York City, so we were already tired by the time we got to Quebec.

My parents-in-law have a chalet, a cottage by the St. Lawrence River that they move into late spring and stay until early fall – the rest of the year they live in a condo in the city, 30 minutes from the cottage by car.

quebec chalet

This worked out for us, because we were able to stay at the condo and still drive out every day to hang out with them.

This time in Quebec, it was very restful, just dithering around at the chalet (which was also the site of our wedding 4 years earlier). After the busy-ness and all the people (and wonder) of New York, it was good to come to the quiet of the St. Lawrence River and to the loving arms of family and people we could just relax with.

Our “activities” consisted of sudoku, reading books, looking at shells and rocks on the river’s shore, drinking lots of wine, eating maman’s luscious food creations, shared conversations and times of silence. It was in one of those quiet moments one afternoon sitting on the deck with a glass in my hand that I realized that this was one of the best times I’ve had, a time of such ordinariness and peace and fullness, with people we genuinely loved and who loved us. The moment passed but it keeps in memory and luckily in this day and age, in digital format.

collecting shells at the beach

grandpapa quebec chalet

quebec chalet visit

Mystery of airports

I’m sitting at YVR after a botched attempt to bring my mom home from her visit in Hawaii.

LOVE the anonymity of hanging out in the airport – where are all the people heading, journeying to and from, life events that have happened to them along the way…..

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I think it’s Pico Iyer who writes a wonderful essay about how the experience of and in airports can symbolize a global soul, a phenomenon that has only really very recently emerged: someone who doesn’t necessarily identify himself by location, not attached to one nation, but somehow linked to many on a global scale, always in movement, yet still “grounded” through the temporal place that is the airport.

I do a very poor job of representing his essay. Read it for yourself: The Global Soul.

Back from vacation

Took a break travelling east US and Canada, first family vacation, this time to the Big Apple and the folks in “la Belle province”. To sum up, it was all about the food. Great eats, great times, lots of walking and thank the powers that be for all that sunshine.



How I miss city life!

Apple flagship store, NY

So, I just had my first experience being in a room FILLED with Apple fans.

During our trip to NY, I visited the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.

(picture credit: Dan Herron)

What was it like?

Slow-moving lines. Barely enough room to move. Squished-in bodies. Crowds around the product tables. Lines for the elevator.

At 2 pm on a Thursday afternoon?

I barely got to hang out in the bags/cases/sundry corner, with the stroller. I’m sure many people were native New Yorkers, but there were LOTS of people from other countries, speaking other languages, who just looked like tourists. I knew I was crazy about Mac, but it was funny to see all the other people in the world who also had the store on their checklist of places to visit in NY.