Monday, June 17, 2019

Wings Museum ~ West Sussex ~ England

June 6, 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  This special day was celebrated by many war veterans who survived those days and were in England to sail to France.  We were in England for this time; we saw several celebrations for them and many of them emotional.  Our dad was there 75 years ago so the occasion holds special meanings to us.

Wings Museum
During our stay in England, we visited the Wings Museum.  It is Remembrance Museum for World War Two and began as a family project, founded by Daniel and Kevin Hunt with their father, Brian Hunt’s support.  It is an incredible tribute to those who gave so much for our future.

Hawker Hurricane 11B
I’ve never been too keen on knowing the details of war that kills the young men who fight so valiantly for their countries, but seeing this museum certainly brings home the stories of these men.  It is quite an emotional visit just reading so many personal stories included in the Wings Museum.

Soldier's stories
Families have donated the memorabilia of many of these fallen soldiers and tell their story for them. The ages of so many was so very young and one cannot imagine what they faced unless we’ve walked in their shoes, but these stories do give us some ideas of the struggles they faced fighting this war.

Japanese battles

They have an enclosed “Dora” room, which included Hitler’s artifacts and the story of the Holocaust, with images and artwork from those days.  The name ‘Dora’ is in memory of a young Jewish women who was killed by German soldiers because she was Jewish.  They tied a rock around her neck, threw her into the river and shot her.  I chose not to go into that room.

Propeller Hub
We were surprised to learn that the propeller hub was wooden!  Looking closely it was basically several pieces put together rather than one big pole.  Amazing!  This tells the story of the plane this was taken from.

Ghost of the Tundra
Aircrafts have been recovered from the Russian front where they were shot down 75 years ago. They are displayed depicting actual crash sites.  Story boards describe the remains of these aircrafts and what they were before the crashes. 

Lilly Bell 11
We were able to walk inside a Douglas C-47 Dakota, made famous because of its’ D-Day landings.  The plane was for carrying paratroopers so there was no fancy seating inside this plane.  The authentic sounds and images add to the experience.  There was a hole in the side of the plane, so glad they have no plans for flying this one anymore.

Cockpit of Lilly Bell 11
Volunteers are an important part of this museum and the displays, as well.  They have been involved in building this to what it has become and are there to offer information about displays.  They were rebuilding an old plane while we were there, too, which must be an ongoing part of the museum as new things appear.

Not to be forgotten
Videos can be seen and music of the era can be heard over the sound system, carrying us back in time. Even if we weren’t there then, it evokes memories of those times, as only music can do.  This museum was developed so that the war and their soldiers would never be forgotten.  I hope this continues as time passes by.

Learn more about the Wings Museum by clicking on here.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Chemainus, BC ~ Heritage Murals

Chemainus, BC is a small town on the east coast of Vancouver Island that sits between Nanaimo and Victoria.  Its claim to fame has to be the 44 outdoor murals that are seen all over town sharing the rich cultural history of the town.

Early logging town
Chemainus was originally founded as a logging town in 1858 and still considers the forestry industry its main one but in the early 1980’s the big mill shut down and the town was facing the recession than many others at that time did. 

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The murals were a way to hopefully attract tourism and it worked.  The government grants helped and the talented artists worked their way around town, covering sides of buildings that would tell the story of some of the early days.

Chemainus First Nations
Chemainus is the home of the Original First Nations and the name comes from a shaman and prophet “Tsa-meean-is” meaning “broken chest”.  The legend says that he overcame a large wound in his chest to become a chief. 
Logging with steer and manpower
The Chinese were there and worked in “bull gangs” in the forestry taking large logs to the boats then later also worked to build the railway.  Perhaps the "bull gang" name derived from use of cattle but the dictionary definition is "a crew of unskilled laborers".

Memories of a Chinese Boy
The Chinese, Japanese and East Indians blended their cultures with the Scots and Germans working in the mines, forests and fishing.  In the 1880’s the railway was built and by the 1920’s the population grew to 600. 

Temporary housing for road builders 1912
This mural shows temporary housing for the work crews that came to build the roads in 1912.  The reminds me of a summer cabin my dad built in a logging camp in Fountain Valley one summer so we could spend our holidays with him.

First school house 1883
The school was built for grades 1-8 with one teacher in 1883 who taught all eight school age children of the town.  It was moved to be a private home in 1928 but has been saved by the Historical Society before demolition was to happen and moved back to its original location.  The oldest building of the area still has the original floor and is open for visits on weekends.

Chemainus Hospital 
The mural on the Chemainus Medical Clinic shows the hospital in 1902 and depicts actual people who were staff or residents.  Many of the murals do the same for those who were part of the history.

Telephone Company circa 1915
This mural shows two ladies who worked for the telephone company and one of them is the great grandmother of a friend.This makes things quite personal for those whose ancestors were part of the history of this interesting town and shown on the murals.

Waterfall Park
The downtown area, which was not developed until after WW2 leads us to the Waterfall Park.  The park is part of the original mill’s manager’s house and also offered access to the lumber yard which is shown in the entrance mural. The manager’s house was torn down in 1952 and the area has since become a very inviting park for the young and old.

HMS Reindeer 1869

I cannot possibly show all of them but a display of Chemainus murals would not be complete without one of the early ships that passed through the Stewart Channel or visited the shores of Chemainus.

Chemainus now has a population of 3900 people living within 4.02 km2 (1.55 sq. mi), a small town that offers plenty of sights, activities and attractions here and in the area. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Island Carvings ~ Vancouver Island, BC

Vancouver Island is home to many carvings done over the years.  The totem poles are the most colorful, as a rule and there are so many of them in Duncan, but the Island also has different carvings in other towns so we will now have a tour of Island carvings.

City of Totems
Duncan is considered the City of Totems.  With the world’s largest outdoor collection, they have earned that name and within this small city there are plenty to enjoy seeing.  The big growth in totems began in 1985 and now allows carvers and their families to tell the story that the totem tells in dedicated signage.  Duncan also shows there is cultivated cross-cultural appreciation and co-operation as these communities come together.

The Feast
The Feast, which was carved in 1987 is 3.6m tall and tells a local Quw’utsun’ (Cowichan) legend.  The story says that the Killer Whale was eating all the salmon in the river so they called on the Thunderbird to help them.  The Thunderbird, Tzinquow, took the Killer Whale up to the top of the   mountain and ate him.  Spirit Helpers are also part of the carving.

Raven's Gift
Doug LaFortune, also known as William Horne, grew up in Duncan and began carving at the age of 19.  He is quoted as saying, “I strive to do better every time I do something”.  Doug with help from his brothers Perry, Howard and Aubrey carved this collection in Duncan, including the Raven’s Gift.  These ones are on display near the Cowichan Valley Museum.

Eagle carving
This may be one of my favorite carvings.  The bald headed eagle is such a majestic proud looking bird, and I love to see the real ones and this is a great replica and very lifelike.  We stayed at Seal Bay RV Park in Comox Valley, a privately owned park which is off the main roads and not on the Bay, a 30 minute walk from the park, but we sure did enjoy the park and all its’ many carvings. 

carvings at Seal Bay RV Park
I understand the owner of this great RV Park is the carver of all of these incredible works of art.  His talent is shown on carvings displayed around the park, and only a few are shown here.  The seals are the base of a large table dedicated to the carver’s son and also beautifully done.  There are many beautiful carvings, including the one of the eagle.

Campbell River pole climber
I must admit that when I first saw this pole climber, my quick glance led me to believe he was real.  Once the sun was no longer in my eyes, I could see he was not.  Quite a sight in downtown Campbell River, though.

Campbell River Shoreline Arts
The Campbell River Shoreline Arts Society has an annual chainsaw carving competition.  We were not there to see the carvings being done but saw the results of the 2018 competition, “Transformation on the Shore”.  The background is the Discovery Passage, the view couldn’t be better for this display.

Elk Falls - Campbell River
This lonely fellow was once part of the Campbell River Shoreline Arts competition but now stands at the entrance of Elk Falls, ready to pose for photos with the visitors to this area.  

Tyee Spit graveyard

This graveyard sits on the Tyee Spit at Campbell River and honors several with totem poles.  I wasn’t able to learn anything about this but the history could be very interesting to learn.  It appears to have been here for many years and has a very diverse selection of headstones. 

Needless to say, there are many talented carvers on Vancouver Island who share their talents for us to enjoy.  I hope these are enjoyed for many years to come. 

To see more of our visit to Vancouver Island, click here.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Notre Dame de Paris ~ France

The tragic fire of April, 2019 which destroyed the Spire and other treasures of this incredible building is heartbreaking.  Here are photos of Notre Dame Cathedral taken on our visit in 2011.

                                    Notre-Dame de Paris means The Lady of Paris

                                                  The architectural details are amazing. 


          We took a boat ride down the River Seine and had another view of Notre Dame Cathedral                    which includes the spire that was lost in the fire..

I have similar photos but some information included in the blog I did after this visit, click here if you wish to read that.

Washington State in Springtime

We are now on the last days of our travels home and are in Washington State.  Mountains, plateaus, lakes and more sights to enjoy.

Fields of snow in Washington
Early Spring travels may include some snow scenes.  It is always more interesting when there are beautiful mountains to see plus some old barns and buildings, as well.  Blue sky and a little bit of sunshine and it couldn’t look better!  I think we are looking back at Mt. Hood in Oregon but am really not able to be sure.

Mt. Adams and Mt. Ranier
We have crossed over the Columbia River and are now following Hwy. 97.  We will stop at a rest area after the climb up cross over the plateau of the Yakima Indian Reservation.  The rest area has a viewpoint and signage that shows Mt. Adams at 3751 metres (12,307 ft.) and Mt. Ranier, 4392 metres (14,410 ft.).  That was quite a sight.

Visiting Leavenworth
A little gem of a town is Leavenworth, a Bavarian town that we had visited many years ago for an overnight stay when the whole town was lit up with Christmas lights.  I’ve never forgotten that, only wishing I’d had a digital camera in those days.  But it was worth having a drive through town to have a daytime look, lights still strung but our schedule didn’t allow for an overnight stay here.

Downtown Leavenworth
We’d taken a short detour off of Hwy 97 and followed Hwy 2 into Leavenworth in Chelan County on this sunny afternoon. This small town has a total area of 3.24 (1.25 sq. mi) with .05 sq. km (0.02 sq mi) in water.  A very small area with a lot of great sights to enjoy.

Great sights to see
The village was first built as a railway centre which relocated to Wenatchee in 1920 ans well as a timber community that began to fail in the ‘50’s.  Two Seattle businessmen who had purchased a family restaurant created the theme town idea and so it began.  The first building to convert was the hotel now called the Bavarian Hotel.

Wonderful storefronts
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum opened in 1995 and has over 5,000 nutcrackers from prehistoric days to now.   Leavenworth hosts an annual Octoberfest with several other celebrations throughout the year.  It is such a quaint village, so authentic and fun to see and closer than Europe.

Beebe Bridge over Columbia River
After an overnight stay in Wenatchee, we are again following Hwy 97 north and see Beebe Bridge and we are once again crossing over the Columbia River.  A peaceful sight but sure is nothing like it was the last time we were here in the autumn with lots of warm sunshine and colored leaves.

Such a peaceful scene and the hills reminding us of our hometown of Kamloops, BC.  Ironically, the further north we drove on this day, the less snow we were to see.  The Okanogan area of northern Washington did not have a lot of snow, and nor had we in the southern BC Okanagan area over winter.  Not sure why the spelling is different, but this is not a typo.

Welcome Home

We are now on home turf, and as much as we enjoy our travels, there is always a great feeling to be ‘home’ in BC.   This is the first day of spring and we arrived home with summer weather.  How nice was that?  Until next time!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Columbia River Gorge ~ Oregon

Our travels home after a great winter down south takes just over three days.  We have travelled parts of this route many times and like to make some changes to see other parts of the country so we are doing just that today.  We’re crossing into Oregon today and making our way on I-5 over the Siskiyou Mountains from California.

Southern Oregon
As we follow I-5 north, the skies are overcast and not showing blue sky and sunshine as we normally expect so we aren’t seeing all the mountain tops which offer incredible sights when the weather is right.  There are plenty of nice sights to see, including the view of this lake south of Ashland.  One day we shall take the drive east of Ashland to see Crater Lake but that is dependent on weather conditions.

Teepee camping
There are several RV parks along this route but I hadn’t noticed the teepee’s before. They may be a new addition to this park but would make for a fun summer camping experience.  Looks like they’ve had to cover the top to keep out the rain so choosing the right time for visits would be important.

Daffodils in bloom
There were several places along the I-5 in Oregon that we were to see wild daffodils in bloom!  We were a bit earlier than normal this year, so were quite surprised to see these, not normally there on our way home, they’d usually be finished their bloom by then.

Columbia River Gorge
We had planned on enjoying the sights of the Columbia River Gorge on this trip home.  We’d not been this route, Hwy 84 before and were lucky to now have some blue sky and sunshine.  The Columbia River runs between the states of Oregon and Washington for about 130 km (80 mi.).  We can see the highway across the river in Washington on most of this trip.

There are several falls along this route but the one that offers the most is the Multnomah Falls.  We parked across the highway from the entrance and took some photos.  We did not take the hike in to Benson Bridge to get a better view as it was a chilly windy day and figured we were fine without the hike.

Columbia River Gorge views
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is part of the Cascade Mountain Range and is the largest "scenic area" in the U.S.  It varies from a rain forest to a desert and a sea level passage to alpine meadows. There are several historical museums along this highway that have stories to tell about the thousands of years of history including the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Barge traffic
The river is very wide in parts which offers the room for the big river traffic like this barge.  We did see two or three of them carrying different cargo.  There were once sternwheelers using the river for transportation, as was done in so many places.  There are interpretive centers at The Dalles and Stevenson.  Then came the time for hydroelectric dams.

The Dalles Lock & Dam
The Dalles dam is one of three dams located on the Columbia River Gorge and was completed in 1957.  It sits 309 km (192 mi) from the mouth of the Columbia River.  The power house is almost ½ mile long and has 22 generators, enough power to supply two cities the size of Portland, Ore.  The dam also offers flood control for the area.  There are train tours here so it would be a great way to learn about the dam.

Columbia River crossing

We’ve now seen the Columbia River Gorge.  We were too early to see any sign of spring greenery or growth but the sights were great in spite of that.  We now cross the Columbia River at The Dalles and follow Hwy 97 north through Washington State to carry on.  There are several sights to share from this beautiful state, too.


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