Travel

Of bucket lists and tramp steamers and such

A very long time ago I was a fan of the comic strip Terry and the Pirates. It was a wonderful piece of escapism with a swashbuckling hero traveling through exotic lands and surviving incredible adventures. The lure of faraway places with strange sounding names triggered something in my adolescent brain, and a nascent bucket list was born. I too would someday trudge the markets of old Rangoon, hike the temples of  mysterious Mandalay and stroll moonlit tropical beaches.

Bucket lists are funny things: ever-growing, they tend to morph over time, as tastes and circumstances and resources change. For myself, common sense has pretty well ruled out an ascent of the Matterhorn or a solo crossing of the Spearhead Traverse, and  my financial advisor has strongly suggested that if I wish to eat at least a couple of meals a day in retirement I should abandon any idea of a  submarine ride to the Titanic, or space tourism in general.

I confess to feeling a bit wistful as I stare down yet another birthday and the realization dawns that I may be running out of runway to make it to the bottom of a very long and ever-growing bucket list, but also chagrined, as I have just learned  that my list has unexpectedly amended itself

Last week the venerable  old mail ship the RMS St. Helena (one of only two Royal Mail ships remaining in the entire world), which has for decades been the only link to the isolated island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, embarked upon its final voyage and I have never had the opportunity to walk its decks.

A  voyage to the island has long been on my list, since it is reputedly stunning, is steeped in history, having been once Napoleon’s residence in exile, but moreover has had the cachet of inaccessibility.  I once investigated the possibility of sailing there aboard a square rigger,  but abandoned the idea after learning that it would have set me back over 50 grand and a year of my time, and I’d have to scramble up the rat lines to reef sails in all weather; so the mail ship was my only other option.

Alas the island has now installed an airport, destroying not only the mystique of sea-only access, but also the viability of the mail ship, which is being retired from service and sold.

Is an island now accessible to any tourist with a plane ticket worthy of a spot on the list? Thinning hair and creaking joints suggest a bit of bucket list triage is in order, so I am afraid St. Helena no longer makes the cut, which is a shame- it’s not the way one should remove items from the list. A big black  “completed” check mark is hardly preferred.

Speaking of which is anyone out there up for a wee jaunt up Mount Kilimanjaro?

Categories: Bucket list, humour, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

“The discontented man finds no easy chair “-Benjamin Franklin

We saw our first pair on the windswept point below the Mayne Island lighthouse: perched high to take advantage of the views over the Straits of Georgia and the entrance to Active Pass. A few months later, on a stormy winter day we encountered another pair, this time on the rocky promontory that juts into the Pacific Ocean at Green Point,marking the boundary between Combers Beach and Long Beach.

“They” are pairs of red Adirondack chairs, placed by Parks Canada in well over 100 locations across Canada, the first ones appearing in Gros Morne National Park over three years ago. they serve no purpose other than to invite the traveler to sit and linger and take in the view, and they are delightful.

For the ardent hiker they offer  the surprise of  an unexpectedly luxurious repose;  to the ambler, a ready excuse to dally a while, and to the photographer, a splash of color to help compose the perfect landscape photo. It’s not often that one can accuse  a government bureaucrat of harboring a sense of whimsy. but clearly one or two playful types have somehow infiltrated Parks Canada and I think our parks are better for them.

I feel compelled to register my approval of the Red Chair Project since it is not without controversy. There are it seems, purists amongst the users of the parks who are affronted by those little splashes of color, or feel that the wilderness is somehow tainted by the presence of the chairs. To each his own I suppose, but for the critics I think the words of Benjamin Franklin quoted above are apt.

For the rest of us-  let’s sink back into the comfort of these chairs, draw a long, deep breath, relax and enjoy the view!

 

Categories: Nature, Parks, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it too much to ask?

My heart sank this morning when I heard that a fuel barge with millions of litres of fuel on board was in danger of grounding itself  on the shores of the Goose Group, a tiny, uninhabited group of islands that lie offshore of the remote stretch of the  BC coast known as the Hakai. Continue reading

Categories: Environment, kayaking, Nature, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

When to throw in the towel

They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, and a lifetime of travel has led me to conclude that much of tourism consists of simply re-visiting the sites of those lessons. Continue reading

Categories: Caribbean, Nature, Politics, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

People of the Edge

Many years ago my wife and I succumbed to the lure of  a glossy brochure and signed up for a wilderness kayaking trip to Haida Gwaii. So long ago, in fact that the area was still known by its colonial name, “the Queen Charlotte Islands”. Neither of us had been in a kayak before, but the real lure of the trip was the “wilderness” as we both love the outdoors,  and the idea of pottering about in really remote places without the need to carry everything you own on your back, seemed sensible. And, after all, the family motto is: “How hard can it be ?” Continue reading

Categories: First Nations, kayaking, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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