Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Summertime and the living is eas(ier)
August 4, 2016

This column first appeared in the August 2016 All Month edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC

As I write this, I have vacation on my mind. 
Of course, when you live in a place that is someone else’s vacation spot, there can be challenges. Other people’s vacation keep many of us locals a fair bit more busy. And that’s a good thing. But it’s summer. And we all deserve to enjoy it. 
We really are so fortunate. I have enjoyed visits to the gallery for the Trail Mix Exhibit (don’t miss it) and WOW (don’t miss that either) and I marvel at the work being done by Roots and Blues as they prepare for festival 24. Amazing team. Please go. 
I’ve enjoyed evenings at the Hive and my kids have had a great time on the lake. I’m more of a beach dweller, myself. I live for the late night campfires in my backyard.
But I’m trading it all in come Monday for three weeks in North Bay on Lake Nipissing, the town in which I grew up. Crazy right? Who would leave the Shuswap mid summer? Me, that’s who. And I’m beyond excited. 
The thing about summer is that it’s about nostalgia. And I’m headed that way. North Bay is much like Salmon Arm, a tourist town on a beautiful lake. It’s no wonder I ended up here. Like Canoe, I lived in an older neighbourhood very close to the lake. We would wander over to the beach at all hours for a quick swim as my kids do now at the dock. We were about 10 minutes from town as we are here. As kids, we would ride and skateboard around the neighbourhood till dark. When the porch lights turned on, it was time to come home. Same goes at our house now. 
But my homing beacon is calling me back big time. Some years ago, facing some difficulty in my business and helping my best friend move to the East Coast despite the prospect of missing her and her family terribly, I made a decision. I went to my high school reunion in North Bay. I didn’t have the money or the time but I knew I needed to go. So I did. And I reconnected with people who have known me since I was seven years old.
It was a watershed moment. In that three day weekend I remembered that I am who I have always been. A happy kid from a small town full of ideas and optimism. And it was a reminder that I sorely needed. I have been back since and I’ll go anytime I’m invited. There’s something about spending time with people who knew you before you were a grown up with expectations and responsibilities that does a soul good. I can honestly tell you that since that reunion, things have worked out for me both in terms of my business and my connection to this community. I’m proud to be a city councillor and small business owner. I’ve now lived in Salmon Arm longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else. It’s my new home. And I Iove it. But nostalgia is a powerful force. 
This is the first time that my husband, my boys and my best friend will see where I grew up. I can’t wait to show them. I know they’ll say it reminds them of Salmon Arm.  We’ll see my parents, my brother, his wife and their kids, some cousins and some wonderful friends. I can’t wait. We’ll visit our neighbourhood, my old school, my hang outs and we’ll take quick dips in the lake at all hours. 
If you ever have to leave a place you love for a new place, please find a way to go back. It’ll help. Nostalgia is the best part of summer. I’ll miss Salmon Arm if only briefly but I’ll appreciate it more for going back to the place that made me fall in love with this town in the first place. 
Be safe. Be happy. Enjoy each other. That’s what summer is for. See you in September.

Lots on our plates
September 6, 2013

This column first appeared in the September All Month Edition of the Salmon Arm Friday Am

This summer, I visited five provinces: PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. In addition to taking in some great scenery and wonderful hospitality, I also took a curious interest in what the messages on provincial and territorial license plates really say about each place.

 Some inviting, others promising, some a bit perplexing, they are equally iconic messages sent between visitors and residents of cities and towns, highways and byways all across this country, every day of every year. Seen more often than passports or postcards, website or advertisements, they are a very effective promotional “vehicle” if you’ll pardon the pun.

In British Columbia – Beautiful British Columbia – seems a bit vain compared to the others, but it’s nothing short of the truth.

To understand Alberta’s plate – Wild Rose Country – I had to ask an Albertan who told me it’s that Alberta is both wild and beautiful (as well as very protective of what it  has to offer). It might even think it’s its own country but I wouldn’t go that far.

Saskatchewan is Land of Living Skies and anyone who’s driven through on a stormy summer’s eve would have to agree.

Manitoba – probably my favourite – is Friendly Manitoba. It’s a statement but also a service promise of sorts. I’ve never met someone from Manitoba I didn’t like.

Ontario has changed its tune over the years. It used to be bossy (Keep it Beautiful) but now it’s more inviting – Yours to Discover – and Ontario really does have a great deal to offer outside the big blob that has become Toronto.

Quebec is probably the most complex of messages – Je me souviens – which, translated means “I remember” but it can also be interpreted as “I will never forget” which are two entirely different things. Still, being mindful of who you are, how you got there and what you went through to arrive is always worth keeping in mind.

New Brunswick perplexes me a bit. Its plates, which are bilingual read – Be…in this place and “Etre…ici on le peut” – implying that you can be whatever you want in NB, just fill in the … – except you could fill in the blanks with some pretty unflattering things if you were so inclined. Still, New Brunswick is chalk full of opportunity and extremely scenic.

Nova Scotia is the most poetic in my view – Canada’s Ocean Playground – which speaks to its maritime heritage and its landscape.

PEI’s is Canada’s Green Province – both in colour and in attitude – going as far as offering compost bins in hotel room and fast food joints. It’s largely unspoiled by big boxy developments. The farms seem to out number the buildings by my count.

I’m always intrigued by the rare sightings of license plates from the three territories. Northwest Territories “Explore Canada’s Arctic”, Yukon “The Klondike” and Nunavut or “ᓇᕗᑦ ” in Inuktitut.

Newfoundland and Labrador has no saying, per say, on its plates but it does feature its tourism logo prominently featured in its storied tourism television ads.

Every province and territory has its charm and Canada really is such a stunning and diverse country. I wish it were cheaper to travel cross country so every Canadian could see what’s outside their own province. As it is, life sometimes leaves us with too much on our own plates to be able to make those trips. And while I’m very grateful for my time away, I’m ever so happy to be home in Beautiful British Columbia.