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Articles Archive 2010

January 2010
FIJIAN TRIBESMEN'S POWER OVER FIRE
By Irene Butler

The Firewalkers of Fiji have long baffled scientists with their feat. It is my chance to get to the bottom of this, so to speak, as the chief's son Madigi obligingly raises his ample barefoot in front of my camera, while he and his two companions chuckle at my request...read more »


THE REAL INDIA FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT OF AN AUTO-RICKSHAW
By Chelsea Kot

Anybody who has ever traveled to India will likely tell you that the subcontinent is a land of vivid contrasts, of extremes co-existing with one another, and a massive assault on the senses. India's population of over 1 billion people has given the country a negative reputation, but within the villages of the tropical countryside and along the streets of the busy cities lies the true essence of a land that is among the most exotic and intriguing countries on Earth...read more »


SWITZERLAND'S SYMBIOTIC LUGANO
By Caroline M. Jackson

Like a double-flavored gelato, the Swiss town of Lugano offers a taste of both Switzerland and Italy. Snuggled between curvaceous wooded mountains on the northern shores of Lake Lugano, it boasts a Mediterranean climate. Palm trees line the lakefront while lemon mimosas and purple bougainvillea spill from hillside loggias. The undulating border with Italy is just a hairsbreadth away by boat or road. The train south to Milan takes just over an hour...read more »


3 GREAT POWDER ESCAPES
By Jane Cassie

With the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the horizon, powder hounds are heading up Whistler way to get a sneak peek -maybe even a trial run on a manicured slope. But why go that far? If you're in search of epic terrain, without the crowds, just head out your back door. These three great mountain escapes have heaps of wintry white fluff and lots of champion attributes...read more »


February 2010
CRAZY FOR ARIZONA
By Colleen Friesen

"Promise me you won't write about this crazy commune," Erica Rich, manager of Arizona's Office of Tourism taps her maroon-manicured nails on the website displayed on her phone. "Please, say you won't go" ...read more »


THE BEST OF BEIJING
By Margaret Deefholts

Despite warnings about Beijing's pollution, as I look out of my windows from my swanky Ritz Carlton Hotel suite this April morning, clear blue skies form a backdrop to a panoramic view of the city's financial district, and in a courtyard below, a group of citizens are practising Tai Chi exercises, their elongated forms in the bright sunlight, twisting and bending in a seemingly choreographed shadow-play....read more »


PEOPLE IN THE OUTAOUAIS ARE AS COLOURFUL AS THEIR AUTUMN LEAVES
By Robert Scheer

I was startled to realize that the woman in the striped dress was a mermaid. Then I chuckled when I noticed her right arm was a bird's wing. "She's Birdfishwoman," her creator told me. I was at the home of Russ Zeitz, a log house builder who is also noted for his whimsical wood carvings. Born in Saskatchewan, he studied log building in Prince George, BC before moving to Wakefield, QC. Russ is one of 22 artists in the Outaouais region of Quebec who open their workshops to the public for two weekends every year...read more »


March 2010
AH LA, SHÁ NAH!
By Jane Cassie

My husband's a total spa supporter. Not particularly for himself, but for me. He appreciates the effect that a good massage has on my tired torso. He likes the way my pasty skin glistens with exfoliation. He'll even comment on my painted pinkies after a new pedi. Yes, when I feel renewed and revitalized, ironically so does he. It has nothing to do with codependency. Bottom line -it's all about 'happy wife, happy life.' ...read more »


THE LURE OF GOLD - EXPLORING SOVEREIGN HILL
By Margaret Deefholts

It is a hot January day and I am in Ballarat, Australia, thinking about a man who lived here at the turn of the last century. The man was my grandfather, and this is where he came seeking adventure as a young bachelor. In his time, Ballarat was still a gold mining community; today the miners have gone, and tourists fill the town coffers with dollar notes instead of gold nuggets. Even so, the past hasn't entirely evaporated. At Ballarat's Sovereign Hill, a stagecoach drawn by four magnificent chestnuts rumbles by me, and I am warped into an era which existed even before my granddad's time...read more »


POSTCARD FROM SCOTLAND
By Caroline M. Jackson

If you like to send postcards of monasteries, mountains, haunting castles and lochs, don your kilt and visit the untrammeled regions of Dumfries and Galloway in the southwesterly arm of the Scottish mainland. ...read more »


EVERYTHING'S SKOOKUM ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
By Karoline Cullen

Our boat skims over water so smooth it mirrors the surrounding mountains. The emptiness is vast and we have not passed another vessel in the last hour. There is evidence, though, of those who came long before us - petroglyphs on rock faces and abandoned logging camps. Bryce, at the helm, nods at massive Mount Churchill ahead and tells an old Sechelt legend. "It is said that if you point at the mountain, it is guaranteed to rain. No indication of when," he smiles, "but I don't test it!"...read more »


TAHITIAN TATTOOS
By Chris McBeath

The canvas of his entire head was magnificently adorned, its shiny surface a mosaic of intriguing lines, curlicues and sacred design. The effect was so mesmerizing that I found myself staring -- hypnotised by this ethereal being...read more »


April 2010
GLORIOUS AVIGNON:
HOME TO POPES AND ANGELS

By Chris Millikan

Massive weathered ramparts still encircle Avignon. Fondly nicknamed the Paris of southern France, dynamic summer drama, music and dance festivals maintain her claim to fame as a city of high European culture. Yet, the legacies of popes and angels excite history buffs like my husband and me...read more »


A TASTE OF NIAGARA
Wine and Theatre Highlight Canada's Prettiest Town

By Jamie Ross

The idyllic, 18th century Niagara-on-the-Lake has been called Canada's prettiest little town. It is home to some of North America's finest wineries, a sampling of great hotels, fine restaurants that specialize in local cuisine, eclectic shopping and the Shaw Festival. Blossoming flowers colour the neat and orderly downtown. Beautiful stone heritage buildings have been restored to their original splendour. Old-fashioned street lights illuminate the horse-drawn carriages that parade up and down Queen Street. Though its famous name has left it linked with one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the mood and pace of the charming town has little in common with the tourist-riddled, glitzy city of Niagara Falls...read more »


NORWEGIAN DARKNESS, DOGS AND OMEGA-3S
By Colleen Friesen

I am absolutely terrified. 51 sled dogs are screaming, baying and howling by the light of a fat-bellied cheesy moon. I am in Svanvik, Norway, as close to the Russian border as you can get without being shot. In spite of the crystalline air, or perhaps because of it, the smell of dog feces is sharp. I am dressed in a too-large snow-suit, felt-lined mukluks and wool-lined mitts. I'm freezing...read more »


BEHIND DOORS IN OTTAWA
By Margaret Deefholts

I felt right at home in Ottawa. It rained almost the entire week that I was there-typical B.C. Fall weather with a scrim of fine mist veiling the city in the mornings and a thin drizzle all day...read more »


May 2010
BIG ISLAND BAYS AND MANTA RAYS: Hawaii's Snorkeling Paradise
By Rick Millikan

The Big Island's underwater world fascinates me. From our Kona coast resort, my wife and I initially explore adjacent Kahalu'u Beach Park where a reef encloses a sublime bay. Meeting green sea turtles and collections of finny friends, investigations climax with a snowflake moray eel wiggly-jiggling into white cauliflower coral. ...read more »


HORSE WHISPERER INSPIRED BY EQUINE WISDOM
By Irene Butler

Powerful flanks move in easy rhythm. Prima is the first to reach me. I see my reflection in her gentle ebony eye as she tucks her nose against my cheek and whinnies a greeting. Paschar nuzzles in next, followed by Micah. Among these Warmbloods (sport horse breeds), I notice two Shetland Ponies, and...what? a bull! - his stocky form nonchalantly munching hay alongside several large equines. ...read more »


DESERT WATERS
By Chris McBeath

As Nevada's scorching desert sun soaked into my shoulders and back, I tingled all over at the prospect of plunging into the cool Mohave waters. And with only desert hills, the scent of sagebrush and a family of big-horn sheep for company, I inched forward until swoosh, giggle, splash, the heat of my naked body met its chill factor. But within minutes, I was back on board the houseboat, sitting atop the slide, and ready for the next descent! ...read more »


FEELING ITALIAN IN ORVIETO
Story and Photos by Nancy Morgantini

I have to tell you about the "sausage convention" in Orvieto. At least that is what we called them..."the sausage guys". They were everywhere, in packs of 6 or 7, strolling the streets in their "going-to-town" suits and ties. My husband, Luigi, the Italian linguist, said that their dialect was definitely from the "south"...but, no, they were not, or could not be associated with the "M" word. Their not-so-great-fitting suits and fake silk ties gave them away (and I think they bought their "designer" sunglasses from one of those street vendors). They strutted around like "flocks" of roosters, roosters with cell phones. ...read more »


June 2010
CANMORE: THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN ALBERTA'S ROCKIES
By Ann Jordan-Mills

Look up. Turn a 360°. You are totally surrounded by high mountains; majestic, craggy, peaks. You might be seeing them unclothed, stark and defined against a vivid blue sky in summer, or covered with sparkling, pristine snow in winter. If you are here in the fall, look lower down to the tree line to see the vibrant yellows and oranges of the autumn leaves dotted among the dark greens of the firs and pines. Or maybe you are able to hear the rush and roar of streams and rivers swollen with snow melt in the spring. Whichever season you visit, the mountains look different, so there's always a lot to see - and even more to do. ...read more »


IN SEARCH OF ELUSIVE ELEPHANTS
By Donna Yuen

We cruise slowly up the muddy river straining our eyes to detect the exotic wildlife hidden in the trees. Old Eagle Eye, our Malaysian boat driver, cigarette hanging from his lips, suddenly cuts the motor of our boat and silently points upwards. Trees rustle and we catch our first glimpse of the Proboscis Monkey. The large protruding nose is unmistakable. Numerous members of his harem jump from branch to branch in the dense forest. ...read more »


THE ORKNEY ISLANDS
Land of Archaeological Wonders, Vikings and Otter Crossings

By Jamie Ross

It seemed a mysterious, enchanting and magical place. I stood alone amongst the standing stones known as The Ring of Bodgar. A tour bus had just departed, taking with it a throng of tourists. I had the place briefly to myself. The sun was low in the late afternoon sky, throwing long shadows from the weather-worn, textured stones and reflecting golden off the Loch of Stenness behind. The ground had the feel of history. I stood wondering what ancient ceremonies had taken place here. ...read more »


THE CONSTANCY OF CHANGE
By Colleen Friesen

"You probably believe that you will always live within a democracy," Lada Ptacek pauses, his index finger pushing at the bridge of his glasses, "I am here to tell you that you cannot assume this. Systems change. Regimes come. There is no guarantee of how it will be." His English is studied, as he tries to convey his truth to our group of American, Canadian and New Zealander cyclists. ...read more »


CANADIAN RAILROAD ADVENTURE
By Lauren Kramer

Calgary is sleeping soundly in the pitch black of an early fall morning when the Rocky Mountaineer train pulls out of Union Station. It's 6:15am and most passengers are bleary eyed but for the jumpstart of coffee, lulled into inertia by the fast movement of the train as we zip through the darkness en route to Banff. When the morning light creeps in there are towering mountains on either side of us, the sun breaking gently over their sheer, rocky slopes. ...read more »


July 2010
CANOE THE CANADIAN WILD
By Chris McBeath

The tent foundered between two spindly jack pines, looking more like a failed IKEA challenge than a domicile. It wouldn't have passed Boy Scout's muster but as we scrambled beneath its crumpled green sheets, our rakish habitat provided dry refuge from the sudden torrential downpour. It wasn't quite what I had imagined when embarking on our quintessential Canadian adventure but if there's one thing to learn in the outback, it's to stay dry. ...read more »


CYCLING B.C.'S KETTLE VALLEY TRAIL
A Two Valley, Two Mountain Loop

By Rick Millikan

Trans-Canada Trail crosses most of southern British Columbia atop the historic Kettle Valley Railway. Most mountain bikers pedal this popular KVR section one-way from Rock Creek to Penticton, yet our Zen Cyclopath group begins outside Osoyoos. Utilizing the less-traveled spur into Penticton, we'll loop back through Rock Creek to Osoyoos ...read more »


DINOSAUR HUNTING BY RV
By Lauren Kramer

My husband is grimacing as he tries to empty the sewage, known in RV terminology as 'black water,' into a dumping station at an Albertan RV camp. I'm marveling at the fact that he's hardly complained, even after driving our rented RV for hours along Alberta's highways, a process he likens to pushing a bathtub uphill. ...read more »


KILLERS, KAYAKS AND TOILET PAPER
By Colleen Friesen

There were many skills I thought I'd master on my recent kayaking trip in British Columbia's Johnstone Straits but learning how to burn pee-soaked toilet paper hadn't made that list.

Sea Kayak Adventures promised a wilderness experience extraordinaire. They delivered; Orcas, humpbacks, doll porpoises and eagles littered the landscape, the camp stove fare was gourmet and the guiding, expert. ...read more »


August 2010
THE HEALING POWERS OF THE DEAD SEA
By Donna Yuen

After a week of the towering red rocks of Petra followed by the drifting desert sand of Wadi Rum, Jordan has left my skin dusty and parched. The Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea is like an awaiting oasis-one that I'm eagerly looking forward to. My chafed skin desperately needs some help and I am dragging along a nagging cough from a recent cold. ...read more »


THE OREGON COAST - IN THE SLOW LANE
By Cherie Thiessen

Whale watching, jet boating, sand dune scaling, beach browsing, and guzzling 'razors'; we never tire of Oregon's 575-kilometre coast. ...read more »


A GREAT GAL-LOPING GETAWAY
By Jane Cassie

It's been a few years since I've straddled a saddle. And though my plump rump will likely survive the trot, I'm not sure about the rest of my aging body. Trepidation mounts as the horses charge up to the podium where I stand -or shake -in my boots. The only consolation is -the two other gal pals who are with me, are shaking even more. ...read more »


WINDJAMMING SAILS INTO A BYGONE ERA
By Chris McBeath

The cheers from below fueled my courage. Still, with every step the air currents seemed ever stronger, my knuckles grew ever whiter as my fingers clutched the rigging, and my refrains of 'Yo Ho Ho' sang out with ever decreasing bravado. But there was little choice. My ascent was a matter of honor borne out of a cheery time the evening before when I had blithely accepted a challenge to climb the ratlines. After all, how hard could it be? My ancestors had served in the British Royal Navy on craft such as this and surely somewhere, somehow, their salt was in my veins. ...read more »


September 2010
RURAL CHINA - RIGHT OFF THE BEATEN TRACK!
By Andrew Renton

Proud images of a country on a lightening race to modernize, spurred me into action. Is there still rural life in China or am I too late? ...read more »


HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY
By Colleen Friesen

There are no crack of dawn starts when you're traveling with Hungary's Vinociped's nine-day Wine and Bike tour. The name says it all - cycling comes second. ...read more »


MAGNIFICENT MASADA
By Margaret Deefholts

The land of Israel is ancient, powerful. It is as stark as death and as cruel as bitterness. Under the harsh white sun, its hills and valleys have echoed to the scream of bullets, the whine of grenades, the cries of the wounded and dying. The land of Israel is also hauntingly beautiful: mountains brood against the sky, buzzards ride the thermals against a blazing sun and parchment-coloured cliffs, wind-scribbled like ancient Hebrew scrolls, line the highway. ...read more »


LOVELY LUCERNE
"The Postcard Perfect Swiss Town"

By Jamie Ross

There is just something about the place names in Switzerland that lends a feeling of sophistication and romance. My wife and I are people watching, sitting outside of The Café Rathaus on the banks of the River Ruess. We are nibbling on a tasty pretzel pastry and sipping on a wheat beer brewed right on the premises in big copper cauldrons and served in tall thin glass steins. ...read more »


CARIBBEAN'S CONCH CULTURE
By Chris McBeath

When I think of the Turks & Caicos archipelago, captivating images of coral reefs, dazzling white sands, aquamarine waters and cerulean blue skies seduce my thoughts. Naturally, my imagination has photo shopped them to a perfection that reflects reality. Or does it? ...read more »


October 2010
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?
City Ghost Walks Perfect for Halloween

By Jamie Ross

Ghosts are not real. At least, I don't believe in them. Still, as our bus enters the massive Chinese cemetery in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I peer out of the window into the darkness with a sense of dread. I put on a brave face, as do all my ghost walk companions, but our laughter sounds a little forced. ...read more »


TRIBES AND TRIANGLE OF THAILAND
By Irene Butler

At the village entrance we are met by a woman from the Karen tribe. With a broad smile she tells us (as translated by our guide) that this is the first day of wearing her shiny new brass neck rings. She holds up her old coil of rings to show us how the sheen has worn off. ...read more »


VENETIAN RHAPSODY
By Caroline M. Jackson

Following the recommendations of our Venetian hotelier, my husband and I set off to find a small family-run restaurant in the labyrinthine city of Venice. His directions seemed simple enough: "You go righta, then lefta, crossa the canal, passa the church and you will find the osteria in the campo." ...read more »


November 2010
A 'DOWN UNDER' ROAD TRIP
By Cherie Thiessen

We love our feisty little rental camper conversion. It's just so Aussie - friendly, bright, laid back, and no worries ...read more »


THE ISLAND OF JAMAICA
"Need a Tropical Family Vacation ... No Problem Mon!"

By Jamie Ross

It is a little disconcerting. The first road sign we see when departing the airport at Montego Bay outlines the number of traffic fatalities in Jamaica over the last five years. By my quick calculations, it works out to a horrifying one per day. Of course, we are driving on the left side of the road as we wheel into the first roundabout, horns honking and driver muttering. ...read more »


SUCCUMBING TO THE SONORA DESERT IN SCOTTSDALE
By Lauren Kramer

I'm flat on my back on a spa bed, my body slathered in adobe clay and wrapped hot dog-style in plastic and towels. The clay hardens, releasing its therapeutic minerals into my skin and leaving me in a transcendently relaxed state. It's been a decadent hour of massage, exfoliation and mud work at The Boulders Golden Door Spa in Scottsdale. ...read more »


FAMILY FUN AT SUN PEAKS
By Jane Cassie

A biting wind nips though our toques and while ascending to the summit, we hunker down and think of the day that waits ahead. One of our kids will be hoping this resort lives up to its name. Another will be dreaming about skiing the stash of fresh powder. As for our hot-dogging son, Shaun -it'll be the challenging terrain that fills his brain. But my thoughts aren't on any of these. Now that our five kids are adults, and we're nearing our 'golden years,' I'm just praying I can do the descent without having a face plant...read more »


December 2010
HOT! HOT! HOT!
Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii

By Chris Millikan

Leaving Kona at dawn, my family and I set off to explore natural wonders in Volcanoes National Park. Hiking and sightseeing throughout Hawaii's diverse wilderness, we reacquaint ourselves with Kilauea, the Big Island's active volcano. ...read more »


MERRYMAKING IN MAMALLAPURAM
By Irene Butler

A small herd of goats has the best view. Each evening they assemble at the top of the 12-metre high bas relief that forms the backdrop to this outdoor stage. The sculptured form of Shiva, a powerful Hindu deity, peers down from near the middle of the relief's 30-metre width, seemingly amused at the humans twirling to the rhythm of drums and melody of ancient wooden horns. ...read more »


TWO CANYONS AND A CRATER
By Karoline Cullen

I carefully lower myself into the crack in the earth's crust. I can barely fit and had the guide not said this was the entrance, we would have walked right past it. ...read more »


LONDON, ONTARIO:
Tree Carvings Form Alfresco Art Gallery

By Hans Tammemagi

Wood chips rained down from high above. Gazing upward I saw, silhouetted against the sky, a man brandishing a chainsaw. Robbin Wenzoski, a master carver was standing on a scaffold cutting vigorously at a large dead maple tree. As I learned, Wenzoski was spending four weeks carving the tree into a sculpture called the Western Fair Story Tree. Already I could see agricultural animals and birds, a clown and a Ferris wheel taking shape. ...read more »


ABORIGINE ROCK PAINTINGS ILLUSTRATE SECRET CEREMONIES
By Robert Scheer

I was in a remote Australian bush camp near the town of Laura in Queensland's Cape York peninsula. The place is noteworthy for its Aboriginal rock art, painted by the Ang-Gnarra people as much as 40,000 years ago. The petroglyphs only became known to white Australians when an amateur archaeologist discovered them in the late 1950s. In 1981, his son established Jowalbinna Bush Camp and began organizing tours to the rock art galleries. ...read more »


 

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