Well the day in Fiji was worth it. IT was wonderful to not be on a plane!. We got up reasonably early and took a taxi to Nadi. Certainly it is a bit down at heel but everyone was very friendly. I wanted to buy some more big shirts as the one I bought at Siritoka on the way over was both colourful and comfortable and many of the islanders are relatively large blokes too. We were dropped outside “Jacks” and after perusing their stock ( they didnt have lots in my size we went for a walk up the street looking at other shirt stores.After walking the length of the street we returned to one of the stores and I am now the proud owner of 4 new shirts. We stopped in at a small craft market and looked at the goodies on offer but our bags are getting fairly full and most of the stalls had the same stuff. We had lunch at the Wishbone cafe which uses the symbol of an upside down McDonalds symbol. It was simple but reasonable hamburgers.That was it for our activities and we caught a taxi back to the hotel. A nap followed as we were quite exhausted from flying. When we woke we went and had a swim in the pool and this was quite relaxing. Back to the room for a bit more reading( I left the Brass verdict in Canada .. only half finished!) so I am now reading “the Help”. Checking out time came and the hotel shuttled us to the airport. The lines were quite long but it just flowed through and we were back in the waiting area waiting for our flight about 6.00.This was only a 5 hour flight but it still was not fun and we are glad to see the end of planes for a while. Back in Australia( Melnbourne) and negotiated Customs it was now about 10.30 so we caught a Taxi to Madges to pick up our car and go home.It still was a tiring drive but to get home to our own bed was just wonderful.

Advertisements

Well now we are really going home.Yay! Up early enough, just finishing off Kathy Reichs “Spider bones”. The first one of hers Laurie has read.It is readable but he didn’t feel really satisfied. Marian is reading ‘The Prometheus Deception’ which is a death on every page and in every city thriller. The hero has been wounded twice but recovers in an instant.( Ludlum!) Breakfast at the hotel breakfast room which was all very pleasant. Then a loading of all our gear and checking out. A taxi to the sky train (fast and rude with our bags thrown out on the road ( I think he hoped for a fare to the airport!, the first we had encountered) and a trip to the airport to drop off bags for the day. We hopped back on the sky train and went back to Vancouver Waterfront for a quick walk down River St. to the Jade shop and getting a few souvenirs for assorted female family members. It certainly is a colourful area. We then walked up Richards St to look at a few bookshops but we didn’t buy anything as we felt our bags would never get through customs if we did. A quick stop in at the Catholic Cathedral/church that crossed our path and then down to Burrard St looking for the station and possible a Canadian greatest hits cd. Laurie had brought something similar to Canada (a CD of Australian singers) and thought it would be interesting to see what Canadian groups/singers were notable. We went into Sears (very like Myers Bourke St store) but they didn’t have a great range. We then walked across the road to the Future Shop and the assistant there said he hadn’t heard of such a thing. He suggested a walk down to the HMV store but our feet were still recovering from yesterday so we just gave up. We had a burger lunch and hopped back on the train to the airport. We were there early and we both found a quiet spot to lie down and nap. We were not alone as this travel lark is a bit tiring. Got our gear out of storage, checked in and waited to board an Alaskan air plane 767. It was fairly relaxed going through customs and we were seated in exit row seats but I was a bit cramped between another big bloke and Marian. Still survivable. Laurie had started the Sharpe book “Sharpes Prey” and this occupied him reasonably. He also slept a bit but not greatly as he is a bit of a squirmer as his leg and ankle ache until they settle.  Anyway the flight passed uneventfully and we deplaned at LA. Having been through there on the way over we had some idea of where to go and what to do. However either this first flight from Vancouver was a bit late (we only had been allocated 2 hours to get from one flight to another) or chaos descended. Los Angeles Customs was a relative shambles with really long lines and no real sorting of people who had flights that were earlier than others. We barely made our flight, doing little runs and very fast walks around the airport and we think a few missed out. This was an air Pacific 747 and I had expected a nice flight (although the last trip on the 747 sort of prepared me).We also had exit row seats (nothing much in front of us, so we had a bit of legroom) but the flight was hot, noisy and long (10 and 1/2 hours) and although I slept for a bit it was another long uncomfortable night. The plane was so noisy I couldn’t hear the Ipod properly! Finally we landed in Fiji at 5 am on Friday (we crossed a dateline and lost Thursday) and after another long wait through Customs we caught a taxi to our hotel ( TokaToka resort, just near the airport) and immediately went to sleep.  Home tonight, we hope.

 

Tuesday in Vancouver

 

Well up again reasonably early but no drawing this morning as there was no view from our hotel window,just ivy. Had breakfast at the Barclay and then went down to the info centre to ask about Capilano bridge and also the art walk.

 

We got tickets to Capilano and headed off on the shuttle bus. Ross the guide gave a nice commentary and told us about the bridge we crossed made by the Guiness family and we were one of the first groups to arrive at Capilano Bridge. This is a suspension bridge hanging over a deep gorge, wonderful trees of giant douglas fir, spruce and hemlock. Marian read lots of info and me being a boy went straight over the bridge and walked around the path on the other side.

 

Marian has problems with suspension bridges and I had my doubts about whether she would attempt it. However when I looked back she was nearly half way across. It certainly rocked and bounced so I went back to just support her as she went through the last  part. We had a bit of a walk around the other side, saw a squirrel, a hawk with a handler and very pretty scenery.We worked our way back across the bridge and I then went on the cliff face walk. Absolutely wonderful place.

 

We then went back to Vancouver and booked in for a harbour cruise. This was on a paddle wheeler and it tootled around very pleasantly. The day was warm and sunny and this was just the thing. We saw seals and an osprey and all sorts of man made constructions. Vancouver certainly has a different perspective from the water.

 

We then walked back to the bus and took that down to the edge of china town near Gastown. This is where there are supposed to be a variety of galleries and bookshops. We decided to have lunch at a diner and this was not well patronised but served great food and mountains of it.

 

We then went to a bookshop across the road called Macleods and this was the book version of Jim’s shed. Shelves but double stacked and piles of books in nearly every available space. A book lover’s dream but a librarian’s nightmare. Wonderful! We bought a book of drawings , a book on Whistler and anothjer Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe’s Prey) and then followed the owner’s directions down to water street and wandered along the Gastown areas.

 

Lots of trendy shops and we found a few galleries of Native art. I enjoyed looking at a few but I have most of the ideas I want from their work and as we were not really going to buy, it seemed a bit pointless. We did see the steam clock in action and took a few photos and enjoyed the walk as it was warm and the street was colourful. Very touristy.

 

We caught a bus up to near the art gallery and I asked in the bookshop for the catalogue on Inuit art and Japanese influence (we had seen an exhibition of this at the Museum of Anthropology). They didn’t have it at all  so we just caught the bus back to the hotel where both of us enjoyed a nap!

 

When we had recovered (my feet and knees had been complaining) we again went across the road for dinner. Marian had the Pizza this time and I tried a souvlaki but it was not quite what I expected and had lots of rice, a potato a small pita bread and the Lamb pieces were on a skewer on the rice.Very nice but I didn’t eat all the rice. Back to the hotel for a bit of tv (nothing much) and reading to finish the day.

 

monday Quesnel..last day there

 

It was a beautiful fine sunny day, great for our last day.Laurie up maybe not so early due to reading “The Brass Verdict” by Michael Connelly. He went to the shed and put together the last of the mirrors and gave the box for Pat a last coat. No painting today.

 

We had breakfast and then went for a walk down the road and a stroll through the bush. This was the first time the weather has reallly been good enough for a bush walk. Saw lots of interesting fungi and aspects of the Milburn lake from up the road to Jim’s house. Still waters reflect beautifully.

 

Then back to pack up last of our stuff and dismantle our bed, which Laurie had raised on bits of wood.  Laurie sat on the verandah just enjoying the sun, reading his book until a lovely lunch appeared and then Ted next door offered to take us on the lake in his boat.

 

It was just a gentle ride puttering along  in a little tinny ( Aussie for small aluminium boat with outboard motor) but really lovely. Laurie and Marian took it in turns and again saw aspects of the scene not appreciable from shore. Marian’s first time in such a small boat and found it a bit wobbly.Jim’s side of the lake shows just bush (forest?)  with no houses in view but the lake actually has a number of houses on it but no public walk way around the lake which Marian thought was a shame.

 

Ted showed us through their house and it was very neat and lovely. Beautifully cared for, with lots of vegies growing in the upright beds and glass house, waiting for his wife to ‘can’. He is very proud of his grandchildren.

 

We were fairly keen to go HOME, so into the car and off to the airport where we went through security. We had forgotten the bottles and toiletries requirement for planes as greyhound buses didn’t worry as much  so had a few hiccups at the xray machine. We got our bags ready for loading (for all the fact we shipped off 5 bags of stuff in the crate, one of the bags was still overweight!)

 

We then loaded onto the Beechcraft plane, interesting as it is a row of seats against each window and a central corridor that looks right into the pilots cabin. Eighteen seats in all. We were in the second last seats near the tail. Off we went and it was the first time we had been in this size of aircraft so it was quite an experience.

 

Laurie found the first part of the trip a bit unsettling and he  felt a bit hot and uncomfortable and a bit bumpy, but after we had landed at Williams Lake and then flew on to Vancouver, he thinks we were at a different  height and it seemed better. Mind you his leg was aching and it took a bit of squirming to get comfortable and he went to sleep for at least 1/2 the journey. He did take photos at various stages and the patterns in the Canadian Landscape are quite fantastic. A possible sculpture on this aspect. Marian loved the whole trip! It was marvellous to be so low to the ground and flying over the Rockies was just  amazing. She took a million photos.

 

We landed at Vancouver airport where there was a wonderful display of native stone sculpture as we walked through the concourse. We found the luggage and wandered around to where to board the skytrain. A comfortable ride back to the cityon the skytrain. This is a driverlesstrain. A taxi to the Barclay Hotel again and checked in for two nights. We went to  the place across the road for dinner (the White Tower).There were lots of people out and about as it was the long weekend (BC day to celebrate British Columba).We had a lovely tea of Pizza and Salmon and then back to the hotel for a bit of TV and they had a nice documentary on Emily Carr on which we enjoyed (informative).There was another show on the history of BC but we were too tired to do it justice so went to sleep.

 

Sunday second last day in Quesnel

 

Laurie was up early and reading book ” The Brass Verdict” by Michael Connelly. Everyone else got up and Laurie went to the shed and routed and sanded mirror frames. Made a small box for Pat., the lady in charge at the Art Centre.He came back inside for breakfast. Canadians call “the shed” a “Shop” but the effect is the same. A place for a man to hang out and make, mend or potter and get dirty. Australians are now developing a group “Men’s Shed” in our town where men come and make toys , learn lathe turning and generally have a good time.

 

We then got ready to go to Gallery to close up  the crates with the work from the exhibition. After a wait of sorts, we headed off there. Marian and Anita took the kids to the pool, while Jim and Laurie finished off putting the big crate together and then went to get bolts for the smaller crate.  They had been opened badly by someone during their voyage out and needed mending. Met one of Jim’s ex students and got the bolts.

 

We loaded the big bag of books into the crate and 3 bags of excess clothes and 2 bags of papers and receipts.Thank goodness we had space in these crates as we had bought so many books our excess buggage would haved been huge and/or the plane would have never taken off. The books are mostly Canadian art books and some books on the culture of Canadian life as in poetry or writing, that we have not seen in Australia.We get books, music and films from a wide section of the world especially USA, Britain and some continental areas so it was good to find some Canadian books that we do not have in Australia. I was then able to send an email to Angela ( back in Australia) regarding the shipping of the art.

 

All came out of the pool where a great time had been had. The pool had  a Tarzan rope, waterslides, a basket ball hoop and giant inflatable animals for people to play on as well as the usual diving boards. The pool for small children had inflatable rafts to sit on and rubber ducks and boats to play with. Children could wear life jackets if they could not swim well, which gave them confidence. This made the time very enjoyable as you were not just swimming up and down , you were actually being recreational in the pool. A hot tub was a great asset when you got very cold in the water and the hairdriers were wonderful.  Our local indoor pool in Australia does not have such delightful recreational tools, may be because of the cost.

 

Then we went to Boston Pizza for a varied lunch. Laurie did some sketches. Still puzzled as to what will happen to these big isolated buildings which house only one food outlet when the petrol (gas) crisis becomes so bad people cannot drive freely.

 

We then went to Quesnel and wandered around the local Museum,which was very well presented in the displays We bought some books! Oh no! the crates are closed. The books were drawings of the fashions and hats of the 18th Century  and a video of a local chinese shopkeeper Mr Hoy who used the end of his roll of film to take photographs of First Nation, Chinese and ordinary people of the town of Quesnel during the 18th Century. The photos are facinating and makes me want to document ordinary people in this same manner, maybe at our local market.

 

We then wandered over the pedestrian bridge over the Fraser River, and then walked around part of the river walk. The river is flowing very fast.Horses could only walk across so as not to set up too many vibrations. We saw some big machinery from the paddle steamers which used to ply the river. We saw banners showing  green headed Salmon and wondered if they were really green. Apparently not.

 

We saw the building that was the first Hudson Bay Company store built in Quesnel years ago. Imagine living in such a small town when that was built. It would have neen real frontier land.Life would have been so hard, especially in the winter snow. Our early Australians had it hard from heat and a harsh unforbidding country with completely different botany but it would have been even harder in the cold winters of Canada.

 

We marvelled over a large old steam digger that ran on railway tracks and puzzled over how it dug. We decided it would have dug beside the track as it would have been to silly to dig between the tracks. The kids enjoyed climbing all over it and looking at the parts.

 

We walked along a tree walk dedicated to the pioneers of Quesnel by later citizens which was lovely. Most Australian towns have elms and cyprus pine “Avenues of Honour” which are treed entrances along the main road dedicated to the First World War soldiers who did not return. Australia lost about one third of its men to this war ‘to end all wars’ which is a huge amount in the smaller rural towns. Each tree has one name and many avenues go on for several kilometres. It certainly held back the progress of many towns.

 

Christopher showed us a disused beaver dam. Marian has read about them in books but to see them for real! Great. She had not realised they were so big or that the branches they hauled in would be so large in diameter. What hard workers they are.

 

Back from that for some shopping then off to afternoon tea at Antoinettes , another artist and ex teacher.  She showed us some encaustic art which uses coloured wax to form the image and she told us a little of how she ended up in Quesnel as she came from Holland. We have quite a few Dutch people in our area who were emigrating to Australia at about the same time (1950s). Holland must have been having some difficulties post World War 2 to have so many migrants.

 

Then back home here, saw 3 elk on the side of road and then home. Anita and Jim did tea and I went to shed and sanded and painted box for Pat. Transferred some photos to Jim’s computer of our time in Quesnel and had tea!

 

Back In Quesnel Saturday

 

After a good nights sleep at the Sandman  in Prince George we put up 3 new blog entries. We went to Dennys for breakfast, the bill seemed to just add up to quite a bit, coffee extra, etc.I did some sketches there. We packed up and checked out and waited in the lobby for Jim and Anita to pick us up. I did some sketches of trucks outside the window.

 

Once Jim arrived, we went to Anita’s sister  Benita to pick up the kids and dog and returned to Quesnel in time to get the key to the Gallery so we could start the pack up.

 

We all worked on wrapping pieces and quickly got most of it done. One of the crates had quite a bit of damage so we did a bit of a repair job. The exhibition was not successful in terms of sales. We sold mainly my work, one small ink sketch, 2 dogs and a bird and one of the small girls. (Pat who organised the show bought two pieces). We gave the Bensons a large Kangaroo and one of the small pieces as a thankyou for all their help and everything else was packed. We gave one small piece called ‘Worlds Apart ‘ to the Gallery for its permanent collection.

 

We stopped during the afternoon for a pizza lunch ( we were all a bit tuckered) and then we packed up as much as possible and returned to Jim’s house. I had a quick nap and then started working on what books and papers we were sending with the crate ( as it was getting pretty heavy to put in our luggage).I went and had a look in the shed and saw what needed finishing tomorrow. Jim had also made us each a lovely pen/ pencil and Marian got one with a canada flag on it and I got a lovely blue sketching pencil. I finished typing the list for the crate and  we had a lovely tea.

Friday from Prince Rupert to Prince George

Up at 6.00, packed and down to breakfast, eggs and toast and bacon and coffee.Taxi came and took us to the train station at 7.00 am which is also at the ferry terminal. Must make sure I don’t confuse the ferry with the train! On train and leaving around 8.00 am. It gets in around 8.30 should be a short trip..oh..no.. thats 12 hours away!

Trains have so much more space ! I had a double seat and Marian had a double seat. I settled down to sketch/paint , listen to podcasts and read and without any problems apart from dropping off to sleep that is what I did for the next 12 hours!

We saw more trees, the odd mountain, lakes and rivers and more spreadout towns .Our towns spread along the rail tracks have nothing on Canada! The conductor had a wonderful dry sense of humour and he gave a commentary at odd places along the track such as calling
the people of Terrace Terracites and the people of Smithers Smithereens. These towns are small, under 2000 people. The whole area is very isolated with very few homes seen.  I did about 19 sketches
over the day, finished my new book (Blind justice by Bruce Alexander) and Marian finished Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs as well as taking a couple of photos.

Came into Prince George at  about 8.30 pm and got a taxi to the Sandman hotel. A dinner at the Dennys restaurant next door and we had had it for the night.

Tomorrow is Saturday and we start to pack up the exhibition. We fly out of here on Monday, Fly out of Vancouver on Tuesday, fly out of LA on Wednesday arrive in Fiji on Wednesday, fly out of there on the thursday( something to do with date lines) and arrive back in Melbourne on the Friday.Yay! ( I am starting to be a bit worn out by these long bits of travelling!)