“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Indiana Gnomes and the Last Crusade

This is the story of one brave archaeologist in search of adventure - Indiana Gnomes. He'd learnt that the fate of the Holy Grail was in jeopardy, so made off to the Middle East to collect it and keep is safe for future generations.

It all began with a long journey to the middlest of the mid-eastern countries, Jordan. Gnomes found himself deep in the Wadi Rum desert, a region so dry and barren that it's best known as The Martian's stand-in for Mars. But shortly, Gnomes discovered he was ill-prepared for desert trekking.


 
  
 Dehydrated and exhausted, Gnomes realised he was in over his head. He had almost given up when he was discovered by a local Bedouin man.


 
Gnomes was extremely grateful for the man's assistance, though the Bedouin was equally as excited to meet an outsider to the desert. Gnomes rarely make this trek, you see. 

 After discussing his mission to the Bedouin Man, he was offered a camel as transport. Gnomes was thrilled to oblige, and the camels were all too happy happy for a featherweight load.

Along the way across the desert, Gnomes met with other local desert people, who offered him shelter from the sun and herbal tea as comfort. Gnomes was learning the the Jordanian people were extremely relaxed, friendly people who enjoyed sharing the company with others.

But his journey plodded on. He had continue his trek, and couldn't just drink tea all day. He came upon the northern ruins of Jaresh, where large Roman columns and amphitheatres stood proud and tall.  

Musicians watched over the ruins, and asked that Gnomes join in as they played. It was strange that they played the bagpipes, but the acoustics were fantastic!

Indy Gnomes continued his trek through Jordan, and soon he could just make out the carved stone facades that made up the grand city of Petra. Hopefully, the Grail would be inside!

 He reached the Treasury by nightfall. It was beautiful! So immense! So perfectly intact, despite thousands of years since its creation. But Gnomes would have to wait until daylight before venturing inside.

  ..It was kind of a long wait. But daylight did come eventually. It was time for him to grit his teeth and plough on.

  
Through a cavern and several doorways, Gnomes eventually made it into the city. But how would he know the location of the Grail?

 And then out the doorway, Gnomes found himself at a gift shop. It was fully serviced, and would accept Visa despite being at the top of a rocky outcropping. With so many trinkets and cups and statuettes, it would be nearly impossible to choose the true Grail from all of the false ones!


 Not really, though.

 But Gnomes had to stay on his toes. You see, It turns out that Gnomes dropped his wallet when he was lost in the desert! He would have to steal off with the Grail and excape!

 It took him a long time to get out of Petra. The city is about 7km long, and his legs are rather tiny. But he did get to see t he city at night again!

 Crossing the desert again took pure strength of will. He nearly dried out. But he had to keep going. He had to finish his mission....

...and catch his red-eye flight back home. His airline supper tasted all the better with the grail in hand. Gnomes had succeeded in his mission, and was extremely pleased with the adventure that came along with it. Perhaps he will go back again one day.

**This story is entirely fictional and no ancient relics were actually stolen. Actually, the true story doesn't even have the same timeline, nor were there any actual camel rides. The story also omits visits to overly salted seas, coral reefs, and castles. Indiana Gnomes isn't even his real name. This is story telling, not history-making. Yeesh.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

It's All That I Want

In the last 6 months, I've made a lot of new decisions. I decided to take a positive attitude when my job contract expired and wasn't renewed. I decided to go back to school. I decided that I was going to do some more theatre. I decided I was going to try and take better care of myself.

Shit, though, these decisions were difficult to carry out all at the same time.

For various reasons, but mostly because travelling is so important to me, my employer couldn't renew my status at work, but I can pick up shifts casually. During November, December, and most of January, I only worked 3 shifts. Yes, that sucked, but I was able to spend time thinking about why we were in Sudbury in the first place - and it sure as hell wasn't because I wanted to work. We came to Sudbury so Michael and I could travel! Without being tied down by my schedule, we could decide easily on several more grand adventures. And as a bonus, I wasn't obliged to work on Christmas or New Years this year - we just went home to Kamloops for 2 weeks instead. So, for the short term, it really isn't so terrible that my work schedule is fluid.

Still, with all that extra free time between shifts and trips I wanted to keep sharp. A couple of years ago, I started taking a specialty nursing course in wound care. Strange as it sounds, I love wounds, so I may as well learn more about them! But back then, I was also transitioning from mental health to acute care nursing and my brain nearly exploded from all of the stuff I was trying to learn at once. I took a break, and in January I started it all up again. To be honest, what I'm learning is great information but it's mostly geared towards chronic wounds in older populations (and I've never cared for someone older than 18.). My ultimate goal would find me the wound care RN at a Children's Hospital. All wounds, all children, and it comes with the 9am-5pm schedule. A girl can dream, can't she?

Theatre, though, has been consuming most of my free time. I don't think it's a secret now that Michael is planning on going back to school, in which case I'd have to give up my life of leisure and take on the role of Primary Breadwinner. When this happens, I know it'll be a long, long time before I'll get another opportunity to do another show. It was an 8 year dry-spell between Anne of Green Gables and Tommy! last year, and I missed it so very much. By February, I found myself in rehearsals for two shows. At the moment, I'm in the final week of performances for Rock of Ages, where I am part of the ensemble with a few lines and a lot of dancing - including a lap dance and a tango with a gilded pole. The other show is Mary Poppins, where I play the titular role. I hope I can do her justice. At the very least, I think we have something in common in that we're both a little bit strange, but with good intentions and a rather healthy imagination. So my evenings and weekends are well booked up until May.

But what about the travelling? Ah, yes, you're right. I've hardly touched on where we've been off to.
Dad, at SilverStar
Like I mentioned, we went home for two weeks at Christmas. We spent a couple of days out skiing at Sun Peaks and SilverStar and Big White, and we were fortunate enough to hit some major powder. I'll have dreams of that whipped cream snow for ages.
This powder was legit
In January, we hit up Miami for some Scuba and Art Deco. We spent the first half of the week in Key Largo and went for three spectacular dives. The first two were spectacular because of everything we were able to see - turtles and fish and coral and rays and eels barracuda and even a shark! The third was spectacular for how terribly awful it turned out. We wanted to try out a nighttime dive, because we heard you could see lots of great things that are usually hiding during the day. Unfortunately, the group ended up a little larger than expected (making it harder to keep track of your dive buddy) and the weather didn't co-operate. We got tossed around a bit under water, and after I got back in the boat I ended up so sick, I tossed my cookies. I'm feeling nauseous just thinking about it. We ended the week at Miami Beach, which sounds warm and relaxing, but apparently Miami beach isn't all that warm in January. Also, it's rainy. But being the hardy travellers we are, we still went out each day to see the city and check out the fantastic Art Deco architecture. I highly recommend the walking tour given by the Miami Design Preservation League. Another highlight was stumbling upon the South Beach Dachshund Winterfest - it was a park full of Wiener Dogs! How very Miami of them.
"Essex House"
Looks pretty, but the reason there's nobody on the beach is because it's only 17 degrees (11 at night)
In February, we took another turn at snowboarding in Qu├ębec, this time at Le Massif with "the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies" and Mont Ste. Anne, a smaller hill nearer to Quebec City. Our visit to Le Massif was pretty fantastic, and the views over the St. Lawrence with its ice flows from the top of the mountain were worth the drive.
View from Le Massif
The next day, the weather wasn't co-operating so instead of spending a grey day on the slopes, we drove into Quebec City, where the Winter Carnavale was in its last day. Glad we did! Despite it being fantastically, nose-freezingly cold we had fun. We visited the Ice Hotel, and wandered around the Plains of Abraham looking for Bonhomme. While we didn't see him, we did spot some either very brave or extremely stupid people....
...just who gets on a ferris wheel when it's -30 degrees out?
Snowmobile carved from ice at the Ice Hotel
 I would call our second ski day an "adventure." It was really, really, really cold. Racing down a mountain while it's really, really, really cold only makes things colder. But at least the views were nice. Mike's a nice guy to listen to me complain about being frozen and having chronically frosted goggles all day and not get grumpy at me.

We knew that our drive back to Sudbury would be long (10 hours), so we decided to overnight in Ottawa. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, we booked a cell at the Ottawa Jail hostel. I mean, why not? This place is a real 19th century jail, used up until the 60's, where several people were put to the death sentence. The communal kitchen is next to the death row cells. When you book your bed, you can choose which type of accommodation you'd like, but the real reason you stay here is because you can choose to sleep in a real jail cell. Now, I'm not sleeping alone in a notoriously haunted place like this, so we booked a "double cell" which was surprisingly cosy. If you were a singleton, however, you might find yourself sleeping in a place like this: 
This is a spare cell. If you book this, you get your one single bed and a lamp.
At least here, they give you the key....

We've got another trip coming up next week. This one is definitely blogworthy, and I can't wait to go!