.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

The Griffith Observatory: Los Angeles’ Art Deco Treasure

01 Griffith Observatory

One of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, which is situated on a hill (in massive Griffith Park) overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Designed to be an observatory of the planets and stars, it’s a beautiful Art Deco structure that houses space and science exhibitions and has a great planetarium. 

While smog obscures the views from the Observatory most of the time, the place is especially memorable for its great views on a clear day like the one I had the

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park

desert

Unless you’ve driven across them, it’s hard to comprehend how vast the deserts of the American Southwest are.  While at first glance the region seems nearly lifeless, it’s rich in a diverse variety of hardy plant and animal life.  An excellent way to see this assortment of desert life is to stop everywhere and explore.  A much easier and more convenient way is to visit a botanical garden which, while not a perfect experience, is highly educational.  A place I’d recommend is the Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, California (very near Palm Springs), which provides a one-stop chance to explore the flora and fauna of America’s deserts –with an African sampler to boot!

Giraffes, Living Desert Museum

The Living Desert occupies …

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.All Trips / Massachusetts / North America / Northeastern USA

A Day at the New England Aquarium, Boston

10-New-England-Aquarium

I love visiting zoos and aquariums — at least most of them.  I believe they offer an excellent chance for people to see and study our planet’s fellow inhabitants, and that they are one of the most important conservation tools available to us.   People are much more likely to conserve animals and ecosystems they have an emotional tie to.  As a life-long student of biology and nature, I always find something new and fun everytime I go.

Boston’s New England Aquarium, while far from the biggest or best, is a nice place to spend a day with a family.  It is a popular tourist destination, hosting more than a million visitors each year.  Besides the aquatic attractions within the Aquarium …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

A visit to the Library of Parliament, Ottawa

Parliament Hill 02

When you stand on the bank of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, (especially by the Canadian Museum of History), and look across the river you see the Canadian Parliamentary buildings.  This is the view captured in the above image.  The rounded building with flying buttresses in this complex, which is the one in the foreground and closest to the river, is the Parliamentary Library.  Before we step inside, let’s take a look at the history of the Library.

A Brief History of the Library of Parliament

Canada’s Library of Parliament began in the late 18th century with the legislative libraries of Upper and Lower Canada.  These two libraries were amalgamated in 1841 when Upper and Lower Canada united.  It was not …

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.All Trips / California / Food / Southwestern USA

Signs of Grand Central Market, Los Angeles

03 Grand Central Market Los Angeles

Even though I lived in the Los Angeles area for more than 2 decades, it was not until I moved away from the city that I visited its famous Grand Central Market.  Situated in downtown Los Angeles (on Broadway), near many of the city’s massive skyscrapers and businesses, the market has been a landmark for 100 years (established in 1917).

The market has changed with time and it’s not like most of the markets you’ll visit.  Sales of fresh and bulk food , while a component, are a small part of the operation.  It seems these traditional market elements have been pushed out to make room for more restaurant vendors.  People now go to the market to buy prepared food.   …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 1, 2017: Canola field, Saskatchewan

08 Canola Field, Saskatchewan (1)

I had a pleasant drive across the Canadian prairies this summer with my father.  While the landscape is flat and lacks relief, it was a great time to do the trip because the canola and flax were blooming, adding a lot of color to the landscape.  And the first cutting of hay was being bailed, putting a fresh pleasant scent in the wind.  

Canola has become a popular crop in Canada these past few decades and canola fields are everywhere.  The plants are about a meter high and produce beautiful small yellow flowers that ripen into bean-like pods.  Black seeds from the pods are harvested and crushed to create canola oil and meal.  Canola seeds contain about 45 percent oil …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 25, 2017: A Rambler in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Q.C.I.  004 Prince Rupert.  Totem and Rhododendron by courthouse

I spent a rain-drenched day exploring Prince Rupert, B.C some years ago.  I’d flown to Prince Rupert (via Vancouver) to catch the ferry to Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) and had a full day to kill before departing.  As with any such travel opportunity, I pulled out my walking shoes and camera and tried to experience as much of the town as I could.

Prince Rupert sits on the Inside Passage just below the Alaska Panhandle.  A coastal city set against the mountains, it’s one of the few times in my life I’ve landed on an island airport and had to be ferried to the mainland.  The town’s industries are timber-related, fishing and mining, as is the …

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.All Trips / North America / Oregon / Pacific Northwest / Travel Talk

Solar Eclipse 2017 as viewed in Baker City, Oregon

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I’d only seen one prior solar eclipse in my life and that was long ago when I was a university student.  That one occurred on a cold winter day in February 1979, in my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  So when I heard of the proximity of the American solar eclipse of 2017, I knew it was definitely time to view another.

There’s no question that this week’s eclipse was a popular event and thousands of people planned on visiting the areas of totality well in advance.  In fact, I couldn’t find a hotel room for less than $1000/night (which I refuse to pay) within the thousand mile stretch across the Northwestern USA that was of interest to me when I …

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