Searching for locations: Toowoomba Flower Festival, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is held in September, and generally runs for ten days at the end of the month.

We visited the Laurel Bank Park, where there are beds of many colorful flowers,

open spaces,

statues,

an area set aside for not only tulips but a model windmill

and quite a number of hedge sculptures

There was also the opportunity to go on a morning or afternoon garden tour which visited a number of private gardens of residences in Toowoomba.

Searching for locations: Toowoomba Flower Festival, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is held in September, and generally runs for ten days at the end of the month.

We visited the Laurel Bank Park, where there are beds of many colorful flowers,

open spaces,

statues,

an area set aside for not only tulips but a model windmill

and quite a number of hedge sculptures

There was also the opportunity to go on a morning or afternoon garden tour which visited a number of private gardens of residences in Toowoomba.

Searching for locations: Lake Louise to Toronto, via Calgary

All the worries we thought we might have in getting from Lake Louise to Calgary, in the end, it was just like driving to work, only a little longer.

When we left the Fairmont, the car had two frozen bottles of water and a frozen donut, left in the car for the two days we were there, so hiding in the garage might not be a good idea.

At the garage where we refueled, it was so cold I could barely clean the windows and glad to get back into the warmth inside the car.

Thankfully as we got closer to Calgary, it got warmer.

We bypass the city going to the airport, but, as it turns out, we would not have had much time to look around anyway.It’s nice to go to an airport and actually find the car rental returns first go with adequate signing to get there.

Returning the car took a few extra minutes because we were at the end of a dozen or so others who turned up at the same time.  All good, they remembered giving us a half full petrol tank.

At the check-in, it is very smooth sailing, the kiosk working and once the booking reference was entered, it spat out the desired number of boarding passes and baggage tags.

Then to baggage drop, through customs where I managed to lose my jacket, which is amazing that you would be allowed to leave anything behind.

So…

We have an hour and a half to kill, so a long soda and two long island teas settle the pre-flight nerves if we had any to start with.

Time to consider the vagaries of the flight.

Today we’re on an Airbus a320, and we are seated in the very last row, row 33.  It’s always a bad thing to look up planes on seatguru.com, because it has painted them as the worst on the plane.

What’s the downside, sometimes the seat pitch is less than further up the plane, the seats don’t recline and you get the seat in front in your face, and you get the constant flushing of the toilets.  And my major bugbear there’s no overhead luggage space.

What’s the reality?

To begin with, the seats recline, but not very much.  We’ll wait till the plane is cruising before judging how far the seats recline in front of us.

The seat pitch is good and it doesn’t feel like were cramped into a small space, but again this is relative to what happens with the seat in front.

Overhead baggage space, none whatsoever, so if you don’t get on first you are basically screwed.  We were almost first to the rear of the plane so I suspect others also know about the lack of overhead bin space.

Being at the read most part of the plane affords you a view of how the baggage handlers treat your baggage, and it’s interesting, to say the least.  They smile a lot, so I suspect that a few bags might get the ‘treatment’.

Enough already.

We’re now backing out of the bay ready to leave.

We’re getting endless announcements in foreign languages so when next I fly with Air Canada I should at least learn French.

Or not…

Ah, the smell of kerosene floods our end of the plane.  So much for air quality, which so it happens is being covered in the safety video at the exact same time.

But as it turned out, the flight was uneventful.

Searching for locations: Lake Louise to Toronto, via Calgary

All the worries we thought we might have in getting from Lake Louise to Calgary, in the end, it was just like driving to work, only a little longer.

When we left the Fairmont, the car had two frozen bottles of water and a frozen donut, left in the car for the two days we were there, so hiding in the garage might not be a good idea.

At the garage where we refueled, it was so cold I could barely clean the windows and glad to get back into the warmth inside the car.

Thankfully as we got closer to Calgary, it got warmer.

We bypass the city going to the airport, but, as it turns out, we would not have had much time to look around anyway.It’s nice to go to an airport and actually find the car rental returns first go with adequate signing to get there.

Returning the car took a few extra minutes because we were at the end of a dozen or so others who turned up at the same time.  All good, they remembered giving us a half full petrol tank.

At the check-in, it is very smooth sailing, the kiosk working and once the booking reference was entered, it spat out the desired number of boarding passes and baggage tags.

Then to baggage drop, through customs where I managed to lose my jacket, which is amazing that you would be allowed to leave anything behind.

So…

We have an hour and a half to kill, so a long soda and two long island teas settle the pre-flight nerves if we had any to start with.

Time to consider the vagaries of the flight.

Today we’re on an Airbus a320, and we are seated in the very last row, row 33.  It’s always a bad thing to look up planes on seatguru.com, because it has painted them as the worst on the plane.

What’s the downside, sometimes the seat pitch is less than further up the plane, the seats don’t recline and you get the seat in front in your face, and you get the constant flushing of the toilets.  And my major bugbear there’s no overhead luggage space.

What’s the reality?

To begin with, the seats recline, but not very much.  We’ll wait till the plane is cruising before judging how far the seats recline in front of us.

The seat pitch is good and it doesn’t feel like were cramped into a small space, but again this is relative to what happens with the seat in front.

Overhead baggage space, none whatsoever, so if you don’t get on first you are basically screwed.  We were almost first to the rear of the plane so I suspect others also know about the lack of overhead bin space.

Being at the read most part of the plane affords you a view of how the baggage handlers treat your baggage, and it’s interesting, to say the least.  They smile a lot, so I suspect that a few bags might get the ‘treatment’.

Enough already.

We’re now backing out of the bay ready to leave.

We’re getting endless announcements in foreign languages so when next I fly with Air Canada I should at least learn French.

Or not…

Ah, the smell of kerosene floods our end of the plane.  So much for air quality, which so it happens is being covered in the safety video at the exact same time.

But as it turned out, the flight was uneventful.

A photograph from the inspiration file – 6

For those who are wondering what this is a photograph of, it is a tree bordered stream that runs along a long valley that runs from outside Canungra, in Queensland, to the Lamington National Park.

It’s near a place we like to stay for a few days when we want to get away from everything, and I mean everything. There is no television, and cell phone reception is awful if not non existent.

So, you can see the benefits.

Sitting at the table on the veranda overlooking the fields, and this stream, you have time to just think, or not, about what it might have been like before the settlers came.

What is was like when the explorers we seeking new places to live, and they chanced upon this valley. It it was me back then, I would have followed the stream.

But, as for a story…

I have read a great many stories for the explorers of this country, and the hazardous nature of their treks.

What seemed to be the most common theme was crossing from south to north, that is from Melbourne to the Northern most tip of Queensland, or from Adelaide to the Northern Territory. In both cases they would have to traverse a very dry, very hot outback where the sight of a stream, or river, like above, would have been very welcome.

For some, it became an impossible quest, and stuck in the desert, they eventually perished. That in itself, the trials and tribulations of an early explorer would make a great story.

Australia is a very fertile country around the coastal regions, but one you start venturing inland, it is dry, dusty and almost uninhabitable. Unless there’s water from rivers, streams, or underground, or mining settlements, there is very little else to see.

The exceptions to this are Uluru and Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory, Shark Bay and The Pinnacles in Western Australia, MacKenzie Falls in Victoria, The Simpson Desert, the Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, and the Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland, to name a few.

One day I might get to see them.

A photograph from the inspiration file – 5

I found this:

The innocuous explanation for this photo is that I took it at my grand daughter’s little athletics competition, now most sensibly being held on Friday evenings.

For those who don’t know how the weather can be in Brisbane, Queensland, it is generally hot, particularly from November when temperatures are between 35 and 40 degrees centigrade.

But not only is it hot but humidity, the real problem, is around 100 percent.

So at the moment we have reasonably cool evenings, ideal conditions for the young athletes.

But, where a photo could be innocuous there can a more interesting, if not sinister description.

Lurking in the back of my mind, and perhaps a lot of others, that there might be an unidentified flying object somewhere in the sky.

Of course, there might not be any, but it doesn’t mean that we stop looking, or assume, sometimes that a moving light in the sky isn’t a UFO.

And its been said that humans are quite arrogant in thinking that we are the only people in the universe.

Personally, I don’t think we are, and I keep an eye on the sky every time I’m out at night, perhaps the most likely time we might see one.

The only issue I might have is that if I am that lucky to see one, or that it lands nearby, what I would do when confronted by an alien.

And, yes, there’s definitely a story in that.

A photograph from the inspiration file – 6

For those who are wondering what this is a photograph of, it is a tree bordered stream that runs along a long valley that runs from outside Canungra, in Queensland, to the Lamington National Park.

It’s near a place we like to stay for a few days when we want to get away from everything, and I mean everything. There is no television, and cell phone reception is awful if not non existent.

So, you can see the benefits.

Sitting at the table on the veranda overlooking the fields, and this stream, you have time to just think, or not, about what it might have been like before the settlers came.

What is was like when the explorers we seeking new places to live, and they chanced upon this valley. It it was me back then, I would have followed the stream.

But, as for a story…

I have read a great many stories for the explorers of this country, and the hazardous nature of their treks.

What seemed to be the most common theme was crossing from south to north, that is from Melbourne to the Northern most tip of Queensland, or from Adelaide to the Northern Territory. In both cases they would have to traverse a very dry, very hot outback where the sight of a stream, or river, like above, would have been very welcome.

For some, it became an impossible quest, and stuck in the desert, they eventually perished. That in itself, the trials and tribulations of an early explorer would make a great story.

Australia is a very fertile country around the coastal regions, but one you start venturing inland, it is dry, dusty and almost uninhabitable. Unless there’s water from rivers, streams, or underground, or mining settlements, there is very little else to see.

The exceptions to this are Uluru and Kakadu National Park, in the Northern Territory, Shark Bay and The Pinnacles in Western Australia, MacKenzie Falls in Victoria, The Simpson Desert, the Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, and the Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland, to name a few.

One day I might get to see them.

A photograph from the inspiration file – 5

I found this:

The innocuous explanation for this photo is that I took it at my grand daughter’s little athletics competition, now most sensibly being held on Friday evenings.

For those who don’t know how the weather can be in Brisbane, Queensland, it is generally hot, particularly from November when temperatures are between 35 and 40 degrees centigrade.

But not only is it hot but humidity, the real problem, is around 100 percent.

So at the moment we have reasonably cool evenings, ideal conditions for the young athletes.

But, where a photo could be innocuous there can a more interesting, if not sinister description.

Lurking in the back of my mind, and perhaps a lot of others, that there might be an unidentified flying object somewhere in the sky.

Of course, there might not be any, but it doesn’t mean that we stop looking, or assume, sometimes that a moving light in the sky isn’t a UFO.

And its been said that humans are quite arrogant in thinking that we are the only people in the universe.

Personally, I don’t think we are, and I keep an eye on the sky every time I’m out at night, perhaps the most likely time we might see one.

The only issue I might have is that if I am that lucky to see one, or that it lands nearby, what I would do when confronted by an alien.

And, yes, there’s definitely a story in that.

Searching for locations: Vancouver to Kamloops, Canada

This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver.  It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place.  It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.

We simply walked straight past it.  Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.

However…

We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases.  It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.

It is more than adequate for our requirements.

Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new.  It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.

So far, so good.

We finally leave the hotel about half-past ten, and it is raining.  It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla highway for the trip to Kamloops.

It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks.  The rain is relentless.  At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush.  It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.

On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.

Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads.  Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s.  In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.

It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand.  And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.

The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern day expectations.  You can’t.  Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance.  Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.

In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.

Searching for locations: Vancouver to Kamloops, Canada

This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver.  It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place.  It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.

We simply walked straight past it.  Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.

However…

We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases.  It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.

It is more than adequate for our requirements.

Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new.  It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.

So far, so good.

We finally leave the hotel about half-past ten, and it is raining.  It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla highway for the trip to Kamloops.

It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks.  The rain is relentless.  At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush.  It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.

On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.

Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads.  Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s.  In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.

It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand.  And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.

The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern day expectations.  You can’t.  Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance.  Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.

In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.