Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pieces Of White Rock In South Surrey

I STEPPED onto a ceramic mosaic depicting the historic Marine Drive portion of White Rock while visiting the Semiahmoo Mall in neighbouring Surrey. The tiles mingled with the bricks on the sidewalk.



This could, in fact, be the only way Surrey gets a piece of White Rock which has resisted merging with the larger city surrounding it on three sides.

It was difficult to capture the mosaic at my feet in its entirety because of the shadows and washed out effect of the noon day sun.

The design, by an unnamed artist, looked about five feet across. I took its picture bit by bit.

It has been ages since a steam locomotive came through town to pick up passengers. Nowadays, trains going by are largely freight and the Amtrak, neither of which stop at the former train station that is currently a museum.

I don't recall hearing about elephants (right upper corner in picture above) coming to town. I suspect this was a moment of whimsy by the artist.

Many more cars cruise along Marine Drive nowadays.

The increase in traffic inspired recent talk about closing off a portion of Marine Drive from cars to make it fully pedestrian. Although unlikely to happen any time soon, this could be a possibility in the distant future.

What never changes is the love of sand, sea and sun. This part of the mosaic shows people at the beach decades ago.

The ocean shore has changed very little over time. However, the once laid back City of White Rock has had a huge increase in train and car traffic. Small cottages have been replaced by palatial homes, towering apartments and bulky condos. The one thing that has gotten a bit skimpier is the bathing suit attire.

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cardboard Boat Race At Crescent Beach

THE EXCITEMENT of children and families gathering along the sandy shore with watercrafts in tow that perhaps were once cardboard boxes was quite a surprise. Each day brings something new to our walks but this was the first cardboard boat race we stumbled upon at Crescent Beach or anywhere.

The dozen or so boats had individual themes and names. Each one was beautifully done and I am sorry I did not manage to get pictures of them all.

An event such this must take considerable planning and engagement with children by imaginative can-do parents. Creating something from scratch and seeing it applied is one of the best ways to learn. The project combined sports, artistry and construction to build a well-rounded sense of accomplishment.

Soon the race along the shallow shoreline to the pier (about 200 yards away) would begin. Lifejackets were strapped on and lifeguards positioned themselves close by.

The Seahorse was ready to sail.

Black Pearl was sure to have a good start.

Pirates dodged sea creatures and were one of the first to arrive at the pier.

The colourful ketchup bottle made a big splash with its towering design.

The military boat was built for success.

Seahorse was valiantly building up speed.

A birthday boy was in one boat. What a cool way to celebrate turning seven.

Although some children were accompanied by grownups, the two Hawaiian-themed girls (top photo) braved the sea on their own.

They circled round and round, eventually finding the rhythm of their oars.

The boat pictured in the forefront looked invincible.

Here is a better look at the sunshine boat.

The boat with two boys and a big baby bird ...

made a good showing at the pier.

I suppose this grownup superhero was learning that the lighter the load the better the chances of the boat not sinking.

From superhero to super sandwich ... who would not love a pickle to help out at the end of the race?

Some boats survived to race another day but most probably did not.

No worries if soaked paper boats crumpled like beached whales. This neighbourhood experience was more about building happy memories that would stick with these families for a lifetime.

For those thinking of building their own cardboard boat, I found a site online that gives some good tips HERE.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hot In Alaska, Pt 7: Service With A Smile

"We spray paint them on," joked one service provider when I asked how they keep smiling when as soon as one group of nearly 2000 passengers disembark a new batch is getting on board, expecting fresh faces and excellent service.

There are 800 crew members on Noordam's Holland America. The officers are generally Dutch. Service providers are largely Indonesian. Others are from across the globe. They work long hours for months at a time going back and forth along the same routes. Their windowless quarters are below sea level at the bottom of the ship. There are times, no doubt, when they do not want to smile but most do. Some even make a point of remembering your name.

Towards the end of our 7-day excursion to Alaska, staff were literally centre stage at the Vista Lounge where we saw performances nightly. They deserved the heartfelt burst of applause when they finally appeared in front of the waiting audience. The service staff, in fact, were the only ones I saw on stage getting a standing ovation, although the entertainers on board were superb.

Musicians, dancers and singers did their utmost to please. We enjoyed everything from classical music to the man at the Piano Bar, Michael Sara, who for hours on end fulfilled every request and could mimic such greats as Elvis. Unfortunately, I could not find an online presence for these talented artists.

A cruise ship is a floating hotel with a never-ending buffet. Each meal can be as large or small and as decadent or nutritious as the appetite desires. In addition to not cleaning or making a bed for seven days, not needing to cook a meal or brew a single cup of coffee was a treat for me. Come to think of it the service providers do everything I do regularly at home but they do it for 2000 people.

A variety of fresh orchids graced most tables and our biggest stress was trying to find a coveted window seat at the usually crowded Lido Restaurant.

From the restaurant windows throughout the trip there were often visual feasts. We saw whales spray from their blowholes and a school of leaping dolphins (perhaps escaping the whales) near the ship. It was an exciting surprise whenever wildlife appeared and I was too busy looking to take pictures.

Lido Restaurant I assume is named for Lido Island in Venice which we actually visited a few years ago during our European trip. The print below of romantic Venice hung on a wall of the ship near our room.

Ironically, I said the one place I would like to revisit is Lido in Venice. I never dreamed we would end up in a restaurant with the same name while cruising in Alaska ... but somehow it seemed perfectly fitting to celebrate an anniversary after decades of marriage in this special way.

(Incidentally, on a side note, I was thoroughly impressed with the creativity of the Greek government that recently repurposed a cruise ship by sending it to the Island of Kos to become a temporary shelter and registration centre for thousands of migrants fleeing war torn Syria.)

Our cruise was just for fun and it was, indeed, a good experience overall. Seven days on board a ship felt about right. Passengers were from across the globe and a nice mix of ages. Several people had some form of physical/health issue so my husband was not alone in that regard. I should not have been too surprised that the weather and geography in southeast Alaska was somewhat similar to the Gulf Islands near our home in southwest British Columbia.

Just as some folks further south think Canadians live in igloos, I mistakenly assumed most of Alaska was cold year round. Perhaps that is true in the northern mountainous regions but Juneau and the other places we visited were hot spots that proved to be no escape from the heat wave this summer.

Links to each of my Hot In Alaska cruise posts are as follows:
Pt 1: Setting Off From Vancouver
Pt 2: Settling Into The Noordam, Melting In Juneau
Pt 3: Skagway & The Historic Route To The Yukon
Pt 4: Margerie Glacier Interlude
Pt 5: Picturesque Ketchikan
Pt 6: Sunrise To Remember
Pt 7: Service With A Smile

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Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hot In Alaska, Pt 6: Sunrise To Remember

THE BRIGHT GLOW through the curtain in our suite on the ship must have woken me from my comfortable sleep. I checked the time to see it was not quite five o'clock in the morning. I pulled back the curtains to discover a powder blue sky draped over the sea. With no obstructions, it reminded me of a prairie sky.

It was eerily quiet when I stepped out onto the balcony. The only sound I could hear was the gentle lapping of water against the moving ship.

No haze or pollution marred the scene.

Pinkish clouds rushed towards puffs of dark clouds. Their drifting changing patterns transformed into two birds with large wings and long beaks. The birds flew towards one another.

Soon more sunbeams stoked the embers in the smoldering clouds.

A golden sheen poured over the seascape softening the horizon and making this dreamy Alaskan sunrise one I will not soon forget.

Links to each of my Hot In Alaska cruise posts are as follows:
Pt 1: Setting Off From Vancouver
Pt 2: Settling Into The Noordam, Melting In Juneau
Pt 3: Skagway & The Historic Route To The Yukon
Pt 4: Margerie Glacier Interlude
Pt 5: Picturesque Ketchikan
Pt 6: Sunrise To Remember
Pt 7: Service With A Smile

See more skies from around the globe at SKYWATCH.

Visit Postcards From Penelope Puddle for more BC scenes.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hot In Alaska, Pt 5, Picturesque Ketchikan

THE BUZZING sounds of one floatplane after another lifting into the air seemed like a royal welcome as our ship floated into Ketchikan on a bright sunny morning.

Of course, the planes were not performing for us but rather taking people on tours and business destinations. Since Ketchikan is on an island, the only way to leave the area is by air or by water.

You would never know that eight tourists and a pilot were tragically killed in a crash a week earlier in a similar plane giving a tour. My sympathies went out to the tourists who lost their lives in pursuit of wonder and beauty and the pilot who wanted to give them a great sightseeing experience.

Ketchikan is usually the last stop for cruise ships heading south from Alaska. The port was bustling with tourists wanting to see the spectacular scenery.

The some 8,000 people who live and work amid the picturesque forested hills maintain an authentic community. There is a medical centre, schools, churches and a Walmart in Ketchikan, in addition to quaint cottage-style homes (above).

There is also the historic section (pictured above and below) on a wooden planked street built over a bubbling creek.

Creek Street has restaurants, shops and a scant museum that was once home to a woman who "worked" in this former red light district. It took about two minutes for me to walk through Dolly's House, the green building below.


Near the main street section there is a grouping of statues.

The original native population, miners, pilots and lumberjacks made this area thrive. Nowadays, since there is no longer a timber mill and much of the area is protected parkland, lumberjacks put on contests and shows.

I wondered ... are tourists of wilderness areas big buyers of jewelry? We passed the usual row of mostly cruise ship owned stores selling jewelry on our way out of town with Sourdough Tours to the Saxman Native Village.

Along the way, beyond the bear and roped off area, I got an inkling of what it might be like to actually live in Ketchikan. West of British Columbia, it has a similar terrain and the weather is relatively mild year round.

A few folks were relaxing along the sandy shore.

Some were fishing for dinner.

I liked all the carvings at a nearby store ... they were like mini totems. We didn't see real bears but we did see real and majestic eagles overhead ... their appearance too fleeting and mythical to catch with my camera.

I once imagined mermaids were real. This carving (above) at a store selling jam was one of my favourites. As a child, I might have believed that the mermaid turned into wood for daring to venture too far from the bottom of the sea.

At Saxman Native Village our guide took us to what is said to be the world's largest standing collection of totem poles. There were several and they were spread apart so I took pictures of them individually. One was missing a wing, which according to our guide, was due to be replaced.

Our guide told us stories about the totems and explained that the symbolism of the images were often open to interpretation and a means with which to teach life lessons. The totem (above) was not tilting, by the way. Rather, it was my camera that was tilting.

The nearby abandoned house (above), on the other hand, was leaning, although the weather-worn totem next to it stood straight and tall. The glassless windows of the house stared at me with bottomless black eyes. The past seemed reconciled with the present in Ketchikan, my favourite stop and the last during our 7-day Alaska cruise.

Soon we would be back on board the ship, contemplating our first cruise experience that was in its final stages. As the huge ship carefully detached from the charming but small Ketchikan harbour, the service providers on board were busy making beds, cleaning suites, clearing off the dirty dishes and peeling potatoes for nearly 2000 people. Tourism is a team effort I was beginning to realize and the significance of everyone involved, especially the service providers (a subject of my upcoming post) cannot be overstated.

Meanwhile, up next is my moment of bliss with an Alaskan sky.

Links to each of my Hot In Alaska cruise posts are as follows:
Pt 1: Setting Off From Vancouver
Pt 2: Settling Into The Noordam, Melting In Juneau
Pt 3: Skagway & The Historic Route To The Yukon
Pt 4: Margerie Glacier Interlude
Pt 5: Picturesque Ketchikan
Pt 6: Sunrise To Remember
Pt 7: Service With A Smile

Visit Postcards From Penelope Puddle to view BC scenes.

To see more sights from around the globe visit OUR WORLD at the sidebar.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms