As lockdowns continue, I reflect with joy and happy memories of family and freedom during our last Christmas/Festive Season prior to Covid 19. Presenting December 2019 on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada.
The restaurant in Nanaimo was called “The Modern Cafe”… the delicious entrees were far from “Cafe” fair.
Back at the house….My mom presented us with a stunning, colorful quilt which our rescue kitten Sophia instantly proceeded to check out!
On December 24th we relaxed around the house and played with our kitten Sophia. Tomorrow family would be arriving!
Sophia (7 months old) is always involved in all activities… and much loved 😽. Our kitten suffers from PTSD from her unknown history before her mother and litter were discovered in the forest. She can be extremely wary and anxious in many settings… but she is content and happy with the 4 of us.
We were not blessed with the joy of young children zealous to commence festivities on Christmas morning this year…but we had fun activities planned and more family arriving from other areas of B.C.
Two trips were anticipated to pick up family members who were crossing by B.C Ferries from the mainland of B.C. to Nanaimo. The first 2 visitors arriving are coming from Prince George — my brother Mark and lovely Begona. Mark’s sister, Ingrid, is also arriving later from Vancouver.
Here are a few highlights from our last Christmas and Boxing Day prior to Covid 19. May this happy video bring smiles and memories of times when masks were not necessary and there were no physical spacing limits to worry about.
From our home to yours we wish you peace, happiness, beautiful memories, and optimistic hope of future family Christmas times again soon….
Reflections of December 2019. Our life was so free and hugs were plentiful. Family and friends could gather and interact without masks or 2 meter distancing. This blog post is dedicated to memories of that time and optimistic hope and appreciation for our future …
My son Alexander, and our rescue kitten Sophia, truly bonded while my husband and I were relaxing and exploring around Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I’m so thankful that Alexander decided to return home to Canada prior to the global pandemic after living/working in Bangkok for 6 years as a senior Design Engineer at Western Digital. There is something magical about mother/son reunion hugs!
I am retired after spending 35 years educating students. My husband, Mark, is semi retired. Yet, we are always busy learning and exploring new ideas or commencing new projects. One of our most time consuming projects is home renovation!
Our newly updated kitchen and living area space is such an improvement on the previous version. Although my talented husband completed the majority of the renovations, it was lovely to sit back and have our backsplash completed by a tiling specialist just before Christmas!
Next…. we removed the protective plastic off the stainless steel appliances! It’s tougher than it looks lol
While kitchen renovations kept us occupied indoors, what was happening outdoors near our home?
The Canadian animals on Vancouver Island are busy in the autumn and early winter. Black tailed deer are regular visitors around our yards consuming lots of leaves and plant life while their coats thicken in preparation for upcoming colder temperatures and snow.
We have reached a truce with the deer…The backyard is off limits and “deer fenced” to protect our flowers, vegetables, and shrubs. The front yard is open ‘game’ to our nibbly, cute visitors. Does and fawns regularly visit, but bucks are less common in the residential areas. Sophia is fascinated by the deer and often watches or sometimes approaches the fawns as they feed.
Deer and raccoons are common here. Beavers, elk, and black bears are viewed occasionally if you are lucky. But when the cougars come out of the forests and roam freely, we are fascinated–yet greatly concerned.
Cougar attacks on people are rare, but can occur if nature’s balance is upset, or a cougar is sick or starving. This cougar (with 3 kits) was photographed by a friend in a nearby community in December.
How does our rescue kitten, Sophia, react to all the action inside and outdoors? With definite mixed emotion….
That’s enough! Time to climb some trees and chase some deer!
Next, it’s time to string popcorn, decorate the tree together while listening to festive music and drinking eggnog, and enjoy the festivities leading up to Christmas.
Time to enjoy family (mom is arriving soon) and good friends. Our art isn’t up yet on the walls, but we are so excited to socialize with those we care deeply about.
How lovely it was to socialize with friends we haven’t been able to visit now for nearly 1 1/2 years. How grateful we will feel when once again we can share meals together in our homes.
This blog post was a mixture of memories and events from December 2019. The next post will be memories and fun from the last festive season before the global pandemic. Stay tuned. It’s coming soon!
Reflections and flash backs from our last International trip abroad prior to Covid 19. Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Dec. 2019. Fun in the sun!
As Covid continues to affect us all globally, and we are increasingly familiar with our homes and yards; it is soothing and peaceful to reflect upon fun and adventure from prior to the global lockdown. This blog post reflects the laughter, sun, and fun from our most recent trip abroad to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I invite you to travel virtually with me to sunny Mexico.
Mark, Lynda and I decided to take a taxi and explore the nearby community of Playa del Carmen. This coastal town is located along the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. The resort community is located in the Quintana Roo state. Quinta Avenida pedestrian area is a shoppers’ souvenir haven where blocks of shops, street vendors, restaurants and bars are located near the beach.
Lynda had fun posing with the men in cultural bird regalia. We appreciated the colorful street graffiti and I was intrigued with all the beaded art creations for sale.
It was time to catch a taxi and return to the resort as tonight was “Mexican Cultural Extravaganza Night!”. The Sandos provided quite a cultural experience for us–from food, to costumes, dancing (including the traditional Mexican Hat dance), and Mariachi bands. We were immersed and felt the energy, pride and vibrancy from this beautiful country. An added surprise was when they called up visitors celebrating a birthday as I was one! We danced. We laughed. We made lots of noise!
Here is a short video depicting highlights from the Mexican Extravaganza Night at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort.
Within this brief 9 day trip to Playa del Carmen my husband and I have explored the famous ruins of Chichen Itza, swam with catfish in cenotes, explored “Xcaret by Mexico” during the day and evening, and snorkeled at Puerto Morelos Reef National Park.
We have laughed each day while getting reacquainted with dear friends from Orange Beach, Alabama, and definitely celebrated my 60th birthday in style! The warm enticing oceans and pools were appreciated each day as were the endless aspects of staying in an ‘all inclusive resort’. These Mexican adventures have been recorded and celebrated in 5 previous blog posts.
Our final day was spent relaxing around the resort with our dear friends Terry and Lynda.
Who knew this would be our final gathering in close quarters for an unknown duration due to covid?
These were days of relaxing in the sun without accompanying face masks and bottles of sanitizer. There were no signs reminding us of 2 meters physical distancing or washing hands with soap regularly while singing the Happy Birthday song two times.
I am grateful to my caring, loving husband who surprised me with this birthday trip to Mexico to celebrate my 60th year. We are appreciative that we reunited with delightful friends, Terry and Lynda. We are thankful that Mexico embraced us and shared their beautiful festive cultures, sun, and history. We are hopeful that once again our world will be free to explore and share with beautiful people from all countries around our magnificent globe.
My husband and I returned back to Canada tanned and relaxed. There was no premonition that this would be our last International adventure for an unknown period of time…
Future blog posts will be dedicated to creative ways to keep optimistic and active during covid times… Keep safe my friends!
December 2019. Our last International trip prior to Covid 19. Is Xcaret Mexico truly the cultural Disneyland of Mexico? This blog post explores the park during the day then includes the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular night performance.
Today we are exploring the multi award winning Xcaret Mexico theme park culminating with the famous evening cultural performance entitled “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.” After breakfast we departed from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
The distance from Playa del Carmen to Xcaret Park is only 7-8 km. Many resorts promote tours and we booked a few ‘tours’ on the day we arrived in Mexico. If you are looking for a cheaper option, there are buses available (March 2021) for only $1-$10 CA depending on your route and bus company. Taxis are also available for $12-15 CA and take about 10 minutes each way. There are multiple websites to assist your research including: https://www.rome2rio.com
Once the tour bus drops you at the entrance parking lot and you pick up your Admission package, you are given a 14 page directory/map in the language of your choice and you’re off to explore the park. http://www.xcaret.com
$124.72 CAD per adult (March 2021 price quote) bought us the Xcaret day admission to the park including Xcaret Mexico Espectacular evening performance. Our goal was to focus on areas depicting live animals and wildlife from Mexico prior to attending the evening cultural show.
For additional $ there were many other tourist based options available including: special dinners, encounters and photo ops with (stingrays, sharks, dolphins, manatees), snorkeling tours, adrenaline fun, massages, etc. In addition, there were photo areas scattered around the park where your photo was taken and you could choose to purchase these photos later in the day.
Xcaret is a family fun park which includes a large children’s activity area, cultural presentations around the grounds, beach areas, and man made underground rivers which meander throughout the park. People can be observed maneuvering small kayaks, tubes, or swimming in the narrow rivers as you explore around the park areas.
Xcaret truly is a beehive of activity and offers options to suit various tastes and interests. The grounds of the park are vast and we certainly were not able to experience everything in only one day. Our preference is live fauna and flora from this lovely country of Mexico as well as cultural displays. Our photos are representative of this.
This video highlights our day tour around Xcaret …
But the highlight of our experience at Xcaret was yet to come… We were advised to queue in line as soon as the doors opened for the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. Prior to entering the huge auditorium each person was presented with a small cardboard figure and a candle.
The forum reminded me of a Canadian hockey arena after the ice is taken out. We followed the early crowd who immediately claimed seats near the main entrance doors. It turned out to be a prize location to view the elaborate show.
More than 300 artists performed 18 acts prior to an electrifying Grand Finale. The dancing, costumes, singing, bands, horses, massive props, colours, sounds, energy and vibrancy continued non-stop throughout the entire show.
In addition, we witnessed the history of Mexico. The journey took the audience from historical dances and rituals, through Mayan and Aztec culture, to Spanish conquest and the Mexican revolution.
From the physically rough Mesoamerican ball game and Ball of Fire game to the Volodores (Flying Men) and the traditional Mexican Hat Dance; the entertainment was expansive and expressive.
Of course, the Mariachi bands blared, the shoes stamped, and the skirts swooshed!
Click the video below to see highlights from the evening Xcaret Mexico performance.
The Grand Finale was stunning and the song “Mexico en la Piel” translated means “Mexico on Your Skin“. It is such an appropriate title because as we departed from the Xcaret by Mexico Concert, we felt as though we had been embraced by the the people and culture of Mexico.
I won’t give away any more secrets because in my opinion, this is a show you definitely should see if you are travelling near this area of Mexico! (Playa del Carmen, Cancun).
Before Covid 19. (December 2019) Our last International Trip
My husband surprised me with a trip to sunny, gorgeous Playa del Carmen, Mexico to celebrate my 60th Birthday. We had no idea this would be our final International destination due to the pandemic.
Gratefully, we had a fabulous experience and it was such a memorable way to announce my 6th decade milestone! From relaxing beaches and sunshine to walking snowmen, iguanas, howler monkeys, Mexican hats, food, friends, towels cakes, music and dance. Mexican birthdays are so much fun!!
After an emotional start opening birthday cards and gifts from family back in Canada, we departed from our room at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen to head off for a lovely outdoor brunch in the sun. En route we had quite a surprise when a troupe of Howler monkeys made an appearance outside our suite and the alpha male put on quite a vocalization performance for us.
For fun, I chose to interpret the deep, guttural vocalizations as an attempt to sing Happy Birthday. 🙂 It was the only time we saw and heard the howlers so close during our stay at the resort.
After a lovely brunch we explored the grounds and enjoyed the beach with our friends Lynda and Terry. A lady with a snowman passed by….Sure that’s believable? lol . Resort personnel were setting up domes on the beach for an upcoming wedding ceremony while people played beach volleyball or attended a beach aerobics class.
Today…We were fully participating in the relax mode. Besides…We had a birthday dinner reservation tonight!
When Lynda, Terry, Mark and I arrived at the Mexican restaurant, our table was colorfully decorated and we experienced spicy, delightful Mexican cuisine. Our waiter was a friend of Terry and Lynda’s and he made certain everything was extra special for us. Lynda and I donned traditional Mexican hats and a multitude of photos were taken of inebriated tourists!
After dinner we attended the nightly concert entitled Divas which included a talented Celine Dion impersonator. Upon returning to our room, we discovered a birthday fairy had visited! Wow! What a fantastic way to celebrate a 60th birthday. Thanks to my fabulous husband for making this possible!
May I repeat my birthday tomorrow? Just kidding. I highly recommend a Mexican birthday! Here is a short movie showing highlights from our day.
Tomorrow we have another full day of exciting exploration and discovery. We are heading to Xcaret Mexico for a day of fun followed by the superb cultural night show. Watch for the next blog post!
Today we depart from our resort in Playa del Carmen for a 1/2 day Snorkel experience with “Go native” tour company. For $79 CA plus $10 USD National Park preservation fee each person, we will “dive into the greatest coal reef in America”. We love snorkeling and interacting with marine life.
Our last coral reef exploration was The Great Barrier Reef off Eastern Australia. This stunning reef is a tough act to follow, but serious coral damage at the Great Barrier Reef was clearly visible compared to our snorkeling experience 10 years previously. Research points to the damage at the reef being the result of a combination of factors including: global warming, an increased rise in ocean temperature and pollution.
We are curious to see how the marine life of the largest coral reef in America, Puerto Morelos National Park, is fairing. Benito Juarez here we come!
This was our meeting location where we picked up flippers, masks, and life jackets. There were about 10-12 in our snorkel group including delightful identical triplet athletes from Memphis, USA. We boarded our little vessel heading off to 3 different dive locations on the reef.
Finally, we got to jump overboard! The water was warm and inviting. The visibility was quite good. It is always a delight to snorkel around reefs searching for interesting fish, coral, and unique marine life. Our snorkel guides were very careful about protocol around the reefs and confirmed the real concerns that global warming is negatively effecting reef life. Marine life is precious and fragile. We must protect it.
Here is a short video with highlights from our snorkel excursion.
It was inspiring to see racks of new coral being grown to supplement the reef population. While snorkeling we spotted some fish, a small nurse shark, and a variety of coral. There was limited diversity of life compared to the abundance of the Great Barrier Reef or cold ocean diving around northern Vancouver Island, Canada. However, it was a fun morning exploring in the warm ocean of beautiful Mexico.
After returning to our Sandos Playacar Beach Resort at Playa del Carmen we relaxed on the beach until a lively, full of fun, couple approached us. My husband’s close friends from decades past had arrived from Alabama.
This dynamo couple were totally entrancing and our bond was immediate! Terry and Lynda are a delight and made the rest of our vacation in Mexico full of fun and laughter. Tomorrow is my birthday…The next blog post will be Birthdays Mexican style!
What a day we have planned! As our visit to Yucatan, Mexico is brief and opportunities to learn exist in each new geographical location; we decided to immerse ourselves in cultural experiences with the local company Living Dreams Mexico and a private local tour guide. We selected the Chichen Itza Private tour with Sacred Cenote and Authentic Lunch“.
Although this tour was priced at over $300 CA each everything was included and our private guide was knowledgeable, adaptable, passionate and well respected by locals. We even had a surprising experience at the end of our Mexican buffet as servers broke into birthday song and we discovered it was our guide, Angela Rojas, Birthday! Here are highlights of our 7+ hour cultural tour around Yucatan with our amazing guide, Angela.
In order to minimize the rush of tourists at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza, Angela arrived at our resort in Playa del Carmen bright and early at 6:30 a.m. We stopped to grab a coffee and tasty morning treat while Angela explained the day’s agenda, showing us maps and sharing about the Mayan history and culture. Angela was a wealth of knowledge and bilingual in English and Mexican-Spanish.
During the 181.5 km drive from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza we took highways 305D and 180D passing through a toll station en route. The roads were not busy early in the morning and we arrived at our destination at 8:20 a.m. before the crowds of tourists and while parking spaces were plentiful.
It was educational watching the vendors pulling their wares along the sandy paths and setting up around the grounds at San Felipe Nuevo. Chichen Itza is a complex of Mayan-Toltec ruins centrally located on the northern half of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
A little background information:
Chichen Itza was listed in 1988 as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. My research reflects several meanings to the name Chichen Itza: “the mouth at the well of Itza” or “at the edge of the well of the Itzaes“. These meanings tie to the water located in natural cavities (cenotes) found throughout this location. (Which we will explore later in this blog post). Itza meaning ‘water magicians’ translated from Mayan Itz meaning ‘magic’ and a meaning ‘water’.
The sacred cenotes have further intrigue as scientists have theorized that the cenotes are located in a ring pattern across the Yucatan Peninsula and were created by the impact of a massive asteroid–probably also ending the existence of dinosaurs. Search “Chicxulub impactor“.
In ancient, pre-Columbian times Chichen Itza was a thriving civilization of Mayan- Toltec peoples. Archaeology records estimate the city at over 1,000 years old. The complex was conquered by the Spanish in the mid 16th century. Art and cultural influences are mainly from Mayan-Toltec (earlier) and Spanish (after conquest).
Please click the following video to experience highlights from our amazing guided tour around the Chichen Itzaruins.
The tallest structure in Chichen Itza is the ancient pyramid of Kukulkan, also known as El Castillo, which is 98 feet or 29.87 metres in height. In order to protect the archaeological pyramid from erosion, tourists are no longer permitted to climb the stairways. Other buildings at the heritage site which have survived include: the Warriors’ Temple, Circular observatory, Great Ball Court, Jaguar Temple, Group of Thousand Columns, and Tomb of the High Priest.
A reliable, educational source to check for further information, history and photos (available in several languages) is the UNESCO World Heritage website at http://whc.unesco.org Search: Chichen-Itza
After collecting souvenirs, we were off to explore a sacred cenote! The 40 km drive on highway 180 to Cenote Saamal near Valladolid took about 35 minutes. Our 2 hour visit at Cenote Saamal flew by so quickly!
The beautiful, soothing swim in the cenote was complete with catfish, dripping waterfalls, and a dive platform.
Despite your swimming ability, showers and lifejackets are requirements here.
After our refreshing swim, we had the good fortune of meeting a current athlete from the national Great Ball team. I can only imagine the damage those stone ‘balls’ would make on your body! Lunchtime! The Mexican buffet was extensive and delicious. We would love to return here. Plus….we had a surprise in store as we discovered it was our tour guide’s birthday!
Our final stop prior to the homebound journey, was to visit the city of Valladolid. This pretty city was very colorful and filled with flowers and gardens. Points to note include: the colonial buildings, the cathedrals and plazas, and definitely the Chocolate shops!
Thank you for the fabulous tour Angela Rojas! Our porthole into the history, culture, and customs of the Mayan people and the Yucatan peninsula has definitely expanded. We arrived back at Playa del Carmen Beach Resort in time for a relaxing sunset and dinner. What an inspiring day!
Tomorrow morning we head off to Benito Juarez to snorkel in the National Park reefs of this area. What will we discover?
My husband surprised me by planning a special destination trip, to bring in a certain decade birthday, in a very memorable way. Who would have known that this trip to Mexico would be our final International trip for an unknown time due to the global pandemic? No masks. No hand sanitizer or washing stations in sight! No physical and social distancing yet. Presenting our trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico in December 2019.
Conveniently, prior to our departure, The British Columbia Provincial Museum in Victoria was running an exbibit entitled Maya The Great Jaguar Rises. We drove 110 km south on Vancouver Island to our capital city of Victoria excited to gain insight and learn about the Mayan culture and history. The information about the archaeological site of Chichen Itza was fascinating and we vowed to visit the actual site while in the Playa del Carmen area.
Prior to our Mexico bound departure, we enjoyed touring our capital city of Victoria. Yes. It is winter time on Vancouver Island, Canada.
My son Alexander also purchased a sweet white Mazda 3 car. Our bags were packed, it was time to travel! Our float plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver departed at sunrise. In spite of some rain, the view of the islands and activity around the channel is always engaging. Conversation is limited though, as this mode of travel is very noisy! From Vancouver airport we boarded Westjet to fly via Calgary to Cancun.
We departed Nanaimo, Western Canada at sunrise and were famished when we arrived in Cancun, Mexico at sunset. However, we soon discovered that there were more line ups and waits ahead prior to arriving at our resort in Playa del Carmen. The WestJet holiday package promised to have a representative meet us and take us to our resort. Hundreds of tourists were in a similar situation. Eventually, we were divided up and put on various buses. The bus we were allocated to stopped at 5 or 6 resorts, and Sandos Playacar Beach Resort was last on its agenda.
It was dark and the restaurants were about to close when we finally arrived at our resort. Although tired and a little disillusioned, the lobby was spacious, bright and inviting. The staff were friendly and helpful. Our room was fabulous and the grounds looked clean and enticing. The restaurant staff welcomed us staying open late and served us a most delightful meal. We could not wait to see the resort in the daylight and make the most of our all inclusive resort.
This was our view at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort the morning after…. December 1st 2019.
Although we like to explore and be active, we allocated this day to chill and relax around the resort exploring the pools and the ocean. We donned 50 sunscreen and slowly, carefully added some color to our winter time pale Canadian skins. Mark was approached by one of the beach vendors to purchase some Cuban cigars. He thought they were great!
We had a wonderful day. The following video depicts some of the fun and highlights of our first full day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico including an AC/DC tribute band in the evening.
Tomorrow we have a private full day tour planned — Chichen Itza, swimming in cenotes, and learning about Mayan culture. Guess what I’ll be blogging about next?
Based on estimates from several veterinarians, Sophia’s probable birth was late May. We adopted this little rescue kitten when she was approximately 7 weeks of age after she was discovered in the woods near Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. Sophia’s markings are quite unique and gorgeous. Her cat coloring is classified as a blue diluted Tortie with white.
Sophia continues to suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and can be aggressive and anxious; but she is learning to trust and adapt to our family and neighborhood.
Her snuggles are becoming more frequent and she truly melts our hearts. One moment she is fascinated watching water drip through a drain, the next she is burrowing and hiding.
But whether Sophia is curious or timid, playful or resting, aggressive or calm; she is always amusing and unpredictable.
Sophia’s happy place is definitely outside exploring the yard and climbing trees. So with her recent freedom (at aged 4 1/2 months) to explore the outdoors, came the responsibility of wearing a collar and a bell! She was not impressed!
We started with a safety quick-release collar with no bell. After several attempts, she eventually decided to leave it on and not rip it off anymore. Next, we introduced a safety quick-release collar with a bell attached. It took persistence, and eventually she gave in to wearing that collar too.
Sophia has long, incredibly sharp claws (trust me!) and a light muscular body. She leaps up fence panels and literally nearly flies through the air at times. She seems quite fearless outside in nature.
Look carefully at the trunk of the Hemlock tree… Sophia is camouflaged in her position to the left of the tallest silver ladder. She zipped up the tree with her legs spread-eagled apart at an incredible speed. At approximately 5 metres from the ground, her pace slowed and she stopped holding on to the tree trunk. Then she proceeded in reversing by backing down (spread eagled) until about 2 metres from the ground, turned her body around still attached to the tree, then jumped down head first to land on the ground. She has clearly done this before, or has incredible survival instincts!
Whenever we work around the yard, Sophia thinks it is playtime and she happily races around the yard and climbs trees near us. She seems to have a playful sense of humour. She loves to hide, then leap out and tag me on the leg (no claws)or hide in a tree and tap me on the head if I am gardening below her. She is also getting quite interactive with my husband and adult son.
Sophia is always curious and her trust has grown to the level where she now investigates whatever we are involved with. Sometimes we end up with extra little white paw prints in unexpected areas!
All this activity can be quite exhausting for a 5-6 month old kitten. She is such an expressive, cute little sleeper!
My adult son, Alexander, returned home to Canada after living/working in Bangkok, Thailand for 6 years. Thankfully, he arrived home just prior to the Covid pandemic! Sophia’s circle now extends to my husband and I, Alexander, my mother, and the neighborhood deer.
Having my son home opened up the freedom for my husband and I to escape south to Mexico! Little did we know this would be our final International trip for an unknown duration due to the Covid 19 global pandemic. Playa del Carmen, Mexico here we come!!!
The year 2020 was challenging and the covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented change. However, 2021 offers renewed optimism and a fresh start. I can officially state I’ve had my 2 doses of Moderna now! Thank you Canada! There will be new ways to explore, have adventures, stretch comfort zone levels, and develop new insights. My blog is my chosen venue to share my story.
Background information is provided by clicking on the Menu (upper right). The Search feature assists quick location of previous blog posts including travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Northern B.C., Vancouver Island, Canada, and Mexico. You are welcome to join my journey. Virtual Hugs Sandy.
During a period of time when our home was undergoing substantial renovations/updates, I saw online photos of a tiny kitten recently rescued from the forest up around Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. My heart swelled with maternal love. I knew I needed to adopt this tiny creature.
After phone calls and a hasty drive 4 hours north, we adopted this tiny waif on the spot. We named her Sophia as we were quite taken by her beauty and the “eyeliner” look around one eye. People commented….She is so beautiful and sweet.
It did not take long for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to show its colours. She was terrified of overhead revolving fans…most men…and multiple things she encountered.
Her personality would change instantly from an intense need to be around me (I guess I became the surrogate mom) to racing around biting and destroying things. Challenging, was a mild prognosis. But I loved her from the moment we met. I have abundant love and patience and I believed she was worth the effort. Besides, she was so darn cute and had a tail like a monkey!
The drive back down Vancouver Island from Port Hardy to Nanaimo was a prediction of what lay ahead! She meowed endlessly in panic trying to hide until finally she fell asleep tucked into a blanket on my lap. It was a long, slow 390 km trip home! Thankfully, she was toilet trained!
Once Sophia arrived home, she explored everywhere! In spite of her tiny size, she was strong and coordinated. She raced up and down the stairs, jumping up and climbing up, on anything she could find. But at regular intervals she checked in, and was immediately anxious if I was out of her eye range. One of Sophia’s favorite tricks, if I wasn’t giving her enough attention, was to sit on top of my laptop screen until she managed to close the lid then look up at me.
Sophia continued to be extremely worried, anxious, and aggressive at times. In addition to consistency, and lots of time and love; 3 different veterinarians agreed she needed to use a Feliway pheromone diffuser, Zylkene medication, and calming chews to assist her ability to cope and calm down.
We tried them all. Some helped for awhile. (After she was spayed and started spending time outside and inside, we were able to reduce to only using the pheromone diffuser.)
All 3 vets agreed upon Sophia’s probable birthdate. Their best guess was that Sophia was about 7 weeks of age when we “adopted” her. Sophia’s markings are classified as a blue dilute Tortie with white. She is a domestic short haired cat. While a kitten, Sophia was non stop active until she crashed, then she fell asleep in the funniest positions!
Sophia is always curious and has an insatiable appetite for exploring and experiencing new things. We were quite stunned one evening as we watched a documentary about Africa, when Sophia jumped up and watched the entire show from a front row seat! She was not frightened of the animals or sounds. She even moved her body as the animals moved on the screen.
After a couple of months together, Sophia continues to be curious and her trust of humans is evolving–even letting me cuddle her periodically. Her coat is becoming lush and the rest of her body is catching up to her incredibly long tail! She loves napping beside me with her front paws over my leg and playing peek a boo from inside any type of bag.
Sophia’s instinctive desire to be outside increased as she aged past 3 months. She sat at the window meowing to go outside and she was becoming more aggressive trying to escape outside. I had been advised by several vets to get her spayed early and allow her outside access.
So….Each day I put Sophia in the travel carrier and we went to different areas of the yard. While I worked in the garden she would be beside me in the travel carrier. I spoke to her and introduced different things from around the yard into her box. She loved chewing grass and playing with pinecones, small apples, etc. Initially our visits only lasted about 5-10 minutes before she got restless and noisy. Eventually, she grew to enjoy her outdoor time and most daily visits lasted about 30-45 minutes.
As soon as she was 4 months old, Sophia had her surgery. We waited the advised time after surgery and exactly 2 weeks later Sophia (aged 4 1/2 months) experienced freedom!
I must confess I was quite worried that as soon as she was given outdoor freedom, she would run away. But her reaction was pure bliss! I carried her out into the yard in her travel carrier as I had done so many times in the previous month. But today, instead of opening the door after returning inside….I opened it by her favorite location near the sunny retaining wall.
Her reaction was priceless! First she peeked her head outside the carrier. Next she exited the carrier and stood beside me. She was there looking around for a minute or so…and then she raced! With her tail fluffed out and head high she raced as fast as possible all around the yard. She leaped through the air.
She ascended our 120 foot tall Helmlock trees to about 5 metres up, faster than any logger I’ve ever watched in Logging Contests! I thought… Oh no! How will we get her down? Then, she independently backed down to about 2 metres above the ground, turned and jumped to the ground. She was ecstatic! I thought she would leap up the fence and depart.
Sophia stayed within the confines of our large yard–at least for today. Most importantly, she kept checking in with us and returned home for dinner. We all slept soundly that night. At 4 1/2 months of age our rescue kitten is now officially an indoor/outdoor kitty.
I have been taking a hiatus from writing. However, travelling through B.C.’s Caribou country this past summer was so noteworthy, that I find myself drawn back to my laptop to share the historical beauty and intrigue we witnessed this past July. Commencing in lovely Quesnel, then progressing through the B.C. Cariboo country to Historic Soda Creek and the Aboriginal Settlement at Xatśūll Heritage Village. Both communities at Soda Creek are located adjacent to the majestic Fraser River. Lunch at Williams Lake, then the day’s adventure concludes at quaint Clinton, B.C.
Quesnel is a city in the Cariboo Regional District of British Columbia located nearly evenly between the cities of Prince George and Williams Lake on the main highway to northern B.C. and the Yukon at the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers. It is a pretty community to walk through and have a coffee or meal.
About an hour past Quesnel exploring gravel roads meadering beside the Fraser River, we discovered the historic community of Soda Creek, B.C. There seem to be 2 distinct areas and histories in this area.
The first area we discovered had signage, a well kept cemetery and historic monument, and evidence of past homesteads and buildings.
There are even some families currently living beside the river. This area was developed during the mid 1800’s when a Cariboo Road was built connecting Lillooet to Alexandria for access during the gold rush period. Construction was completed to Soda Creek in 1863. The location was also deemed perfect as a sternwheeler terminus on the Fraser River. Steamers named the Entreprise, and the Victoria were based here to transport miners and supplies during the Omineca and Cariboo Gold Rushes.
In the early 1900’s, this area was also a thriving base during the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Additional sternwheelers, stage coaches, and automobiles were utilized during this busy second stage of Soda Creek history.
Upon further investigation and exploring, we discovered another historical site at Soda Creek called the Xat’sull Heritage Village. Xat’sull /ˈhætʃəl/ means “on the cliff where the bubbling water comes out”. (Wikipedia). The website created to promote this fascinating Heritage Village indicates the proper pronunciation is hat-sull.
We arrived at the Heritage Village; Unfortunately, there was nobody around to direct us or explain the spiritual, cultural, and traditional history. However, the grounds were spacious and fascinating to explore. There were several types of realistic sized dwellings displayed and it would be a fascinating tour with knowledgeable elders. One word of advice though…Bring insect repellent! The mosquitoes were brutal especially around the wigwams.
Onward to Williams Lake where we stopped to have lunch with my close friend, Julia.
Our final stop of the day was quaint Clinton which is located 40 km northwest of Cache Creek and 30 km south of 70 Mile House. For antique enthusiasts, there are several shops displaying stagecoach wheels and historic homestead supplies in this sleepy little town.
The remainder of the journey home to Vancouver Island includes heading south through the Thompson River area, Lillooet, Squamish, and finally the ferry over to gorgeous Vancouver Island.