A Weekend in the Mountains…

17 07 2014

Well, What can I say?

Last Year, I used my leave to go to the Canadian Rockies with my friend Ginger.   (Read the blog entry here.)  I thought it would be good to repeat the experience, but planned a slightly different trip.   Instead of visiting Banff National Park and Yoho National Park, the plan was to do a loop visiting Edmonton, Jasper National Park, the Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, and Calgary.

The trip started by going to Edmonton, Thursday Night.   Spent the night there and had some opportunities to visit some great friends, including a visit to The Buckingham (a cool place that everyone should visit).   On Friday there was a visit to Newman Theological College/St. Joseph’s Seminary, as I had just heard that they had built a new campus.   I didn’t get much of a tour, but did get to see the new chapel.   It was great, although, I was a little disappointed with the acoustics.

A highlight of being in Edmonton included driving along ‘Wayne Gretzky Drive’, seeing Rexall Place, and driving along ‘Mark Messier Trail’.  As a young kid, I had a bit of a thing for the Oilers, back when these legends played for them…

I had hoped to exchange a pair of boots on the base, but clothing stores was closed, so off to the mountains I went.

The drive to Jasper was awesome.   It took awhile to get to the park, and mountains, but was well worth it when we did.    Once in the park, I quickly saw the largest male Elk that I have ever seen.   But there was much more wildlife for the day, a big horn sheep, a young grizzly bear, and a mama bear and her cubs, and a few other elk.

Checked in at the HI-Jasper Hostel, and decided to go explore the mountains.   First stop was Maligne Lake, it was a bit of a drive, but well worth it.   I was quickly mesmerized my Medicine Lake.   It was getting late when I arrived to Maligne Lake, but not too late for a hike.   The Mary Schäffer loop, was the perfect length, only 3.1 Km to get the legs warmed up for the next day.   It was a great quick hike to stop and see some of the highlights of the area, exposing hikers to many different micro ecosystems along the way.

 

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It was still light, when I had finished the walk, so there was some quick photo stops on the drive back, and a chance to do some exploring near the Maligne Canyon, and its many bridges.   This made for some nice photo’s, including some flower shots.   Always time for some flowers!

 

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It was a good night.   Jasper is one of the largest dark sky reserves, and with the hostel, being outside Jasper, I thought I’d get a good view of the stars.   I stayed up till it was dark, but the sky didn’t look too different from what I was used to.  The next morning I was up early and it was off to Maligne Canyon.   I hiked from the first bridge to the fifth bridge, about 2.5 km, along the canyon, then I decided to go high above the canyon for a different view.   While in the canyon, the trails were busy although it was early enough there weren’t too many, but on the high trail back, it was fairly quiet.   Which is great.

 

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Back in the car and off to Mount Edith Cavell.   The drive was as beautiful as the hike.   I was surprised how many people were in the parking lot, and also hiking to the Angel Glacier, however, the Cavell Meadows Trail, was just busy enough.   It was also a difficult 8 km hike, with an increase in elevation of more than 500 meters, climbing to 2288 m above sea level.   Not as big as last years hike, but big enough.

 

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It was great to realize that in one year, I had went from the Rockies in North America, to the Andes of South America (even if it was a bit of a rough trip) back to the Rockies.   The year really did have a lot of ups and downs.

The hike was great, but the day was not over.

The drive to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, was long but beautiful, and included a stop at Athabasca Falls.

 

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I wanted to stop and hike a few other places, but wanted to get to the discovery centre, as I knew it would be busy and had reserved tickets for the Glacier tour/walk as well as the Glacier SkyWalk.   I was guessing this would be touristy, but had no idea what to expect.   WOW what a tourist trap.   Although, the activities were pre booked, it was unknown if I’d be able to do both.   But I did manage.   Although touristy, I’m glad to be able to say that it is something I did.   Once you got out off of the discovery centre, there were fewer people, and it became more manageable.

The Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure was Awesome.   I learnt a lot about glaciers, went for a ride in an ice buggy, got to walk on a glacier, and drink glacier ice water.   It was pretty cool!  Literally!

 

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The Skywalk, was also just as touristy, but I needed to use the bathroom so bad (and none there), that I really didn’t take the time to enjoy it and take in the sights and the full tour.   But I did take time to lay on a glass floor, that overhangs the valley below.

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When I got back, I did use the bathroom, and it was far later than I thought.   I had just sat down to eat supper when I started to overhear different people talking about the road being closed.   Sure enough, it was.   The road ahead to Banff had been closed due to smoke from a nearby forest fire.   I decided to jump in the car and head back north.

I had heard that there wasn’t a hotel room left in the parks, nor a campsite.   I guessed there would be no rooms left in Hinton, and I’d be lucky to find one in Edson.   As soon as I had cell service, I employed some family help to look for a room.   They were able to book me a room at the McCracken Country Inn, in Hinton.   Although a big change to my plans, I made the best of it.

The next morning, I hit a few geocaches to remember Hinton, and was off, back to Penhold.   I cut across some back roads down to Red Deer, and made some great time, thanks to the lady that was running the McCracken Inn, for suggesting the ‘short cut’.

All in all, what an awesome weekend in the Mountains.

I look forward to the next time, we get to spend time together!

Canada truly is a gem, with so much to offer.   I was glad to visit a National Park, and even happier to see so many park users!

Have a great summer, get out there, and enjoy some nature!

Well, it almost took me a week to write this update…   But hey, I’m a working man!





Going Flying…

9 07 2014

Well, Here I am from Penhold.

Startup has been great. There are cadets on the ground and life is busy.
I have been going for walks again, when I can.

Before coming I had a great walk and swim at Blue Lake, and posted pics on my facebook feed.

Walking on the prairies is different, and I think I talked about it last summer. One of the first highlights, which I think I talked about also last year was seeing a wild rose. There is just something about seeing a blooming provincial flower, in the province where it is recognized as the provincial flower. I see lots of wild roses at home, and always have, and hopefully always will. Often, I pay them little attention, but have always kind of liked them. But when I see them here in Alberta, where I know they are the provincial flower, it warms my heart in a different way, and really does kind of makes my soul sing…

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Ok, enough with the ‘mushy’ flower talk, I know, I am a geek.

I did get to go on an adventure, something that will likely be a highlight of my life for a long time.

A B-25 Mitchell bomber was on the ground at the Red Deer Airport, I took a tour, and paid a ridiculous amount for a flight in it. But let me tell you, it was so cool!

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Although I work a lot with Air Cadets and am a member of the RCAF; I really believe and feel that I don’t know enough about aircrafts and/or flight. However, I have always liked this aircraft because of the shared name. By no means is it my favourite bomber, or my favourite WWII aircraft. My favourite WWII bomber would either be a Halifax and/or a Lancaster. I’ve read many stories about both of these, a great story about a crew and a base that was transitioning from a Halifax to the Lanc’s; B is for Buster by Iain Lawrence. However, I think my favourite WWII aircraft would probably be the De Havilland Mosquito.

That being said there was a B-25 here, and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly in it and experience, so I did. This wasn’t just any plane, nor did it just ‘share my name’. This aircraft is a flying museum, that served in World War II and has a long history since

This B-25J Mitchell Bomber; MAID in the SHADE, was delivered to the 437th Bomb Squadron, 319th Bomb Group, 12th Airforce based at Serraggia, Corsica in the Fall of 1944. Between then and early 1945 the aircraft participated in 15 missions to northern Italy and Eastern Europe. The B-25 was returned to the US and placed in storage in early 1945 when the 437th BG was transferred to the Pacific theater and re- equipped with Douglas A-26 Invaders. It was further used by the US Military to assist in the transport of VIPs. In the 1960s, the aircraft was purchased by Dothan Aviation in Alabama and converted to an agricultural sprayer. Throughout the 1970s the aircraft passed through several owners before being bought as scrap metal for $18 000 and being donated to the now Commemorative Air Force. This B-25 was assigned by the CAF to the Arizona Wing in Mesa, AZ in 1981. Extensive restoration work was then begun by the Wing’s volunteer staff and resulted in a complete teardown of the airframe to remove corrosion and the results of damage from agricultural spray. After 28 years of restoration the aircraft was flown in late May, 2009, and landed at the Red Deer Airport on the 4th of July 2014.

It was on the ground mainly as a static display, of which the lines were long to tour the plane. However, 6 ‘charity’ flights were for sale for up to 36 people, who could experience the chance to fly through history, to an era long ago forgotten.

I chose to fly in the nose section. As part of the 21 minute flight (but 2 hour process) we got to rotate through 3 different seats, including the crew chief seat behind the pilots and the gunner seat in
the front turret, of which there was a fairly lengthy ‘crawl’ through a small, narrow corridor under the pilots.

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Two highlights on the ground included, as part of the preflight operations, I was asked to assist in hand turning the propellers. Then, after the flight, we were put to work, polishing the plane and rubbing/cleaning off all the oil that had spewed out of it during flight.

Anyways, Very cool Experience that I’ll never forget. The smile on my face for the rest of the day was pretty huge…. I may have also annoyed some snapchat friends with too many snaps… Lol

Take Care, and stay tuned for the rest of my adventures….

Capt. Mitchell

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An update, a long time in the making…

23 06 2014

Well, I know I’ve been absent for too long, but what can I say? (Long time since I’ve blogged = Long blog entry… lol)

Last I left you I was meeting with a doctor in Cusco, Peru on the night of 19 November, 2013.

I had prepared myself for what I thought was the worst case, but most likely answer that the Doc would recommend that I did not hike the Inca trail, due to my ankle. We met at the hotel at 9:30 at night. I was right… No Inca Trail…. :-(

Dr Luna was more concerned about the possibility of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot. He ordered blood work. The lab techs were at the hotel by 7:30 am, to draw blood.

I was to continue on the tour, but when the group departed on the Inca Trail, I would come back to Cusco for a few days and then meet them at Machu Pichu (Via Train) when they arrived. Although disappointed, this was still a good option.

It was a beautiful day. Entering the Sacred Valley was something that I cannot describe. So much beauty, taking a step back in time, to a great dynasty that ruled most of South America. A place with so much history, legend, mystery. Just breathtaking Beauty!

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Our first stop was to a little village called Ccaccaccollo, that was being developed by Planterra, a subsidiary of G Adventures. (Read more about the project here.) While here I got to help some ladies thread a loom. There were lots of demo’s, including how the wool was processed and turned into product. I really enjoyed that it is the raw wool that they were dying, using natural products. (Got to see some more cochineal beetles get squished). After this wool is dyed, it is then spun into wool, another cool process and highlight.

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From here we continued deeper into the sacred valley. First stop was the ruins at Písac. I had a great time hiking and exploring these ruins. Climbing to the top of the citadel provided an awesome view.

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Shortly after this stop, I had received the news I was waiting for. The tests suggested the presence of a blood clot; I was to return to Cusco that night, for further tests.

We stopped to pick up some cuy from a road side vendor, (roasted guinea pigs) a delicacy that has been dinned on since pre inca times and is depicted in many Peruvian churches in paintings of the last supper. We stopped for lunch, and for some reason, I had no appetite (it doesn’t happen often).

Next stop was Ollantaytambo. Another Incan city, that is well preserved. I was not allowed to climb through the ruins, as the doc wanted me to limit my climbing until the tests were complete and we knew what we were looking at. So I sat and watched the group, had a few conversations with Cynthia (our tour guide) and wondered around without climbing. We then went on a walking tour of the ‘modern town’ and I said goodbye and got into a taxi.

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We arrived back at the Clinica Mac Salud ‘hospital’ in Cusco around 9pm. An ultra sound confirmed that I had an extremely, large blood clot that was completely blocking blood flow in my leg. Apparently, it was all the way from the ankle to above the knee. I was immediately admitted into the intensive care ward.

For my Birthday, Cynthia and Wendy came to visit me and bring me cake. The nurses and doctors joined in singing Happy Brithday.

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I can’t thank Dr. Luna enough. Without him, the situation could have turned out much worse. It was always reassuring to see his face, although he didn’t work at the hospital he stopped in often to see how I was doing, and translate my concerns back to the medical team at Clinica Mac Salud.

I was about ready to leave when a CT scan showed that a piece of the clot had moved into the lungs; Pulnonary Embolism. Due to this complication I shouldn’t be attempting the flight home yet. The team decided that I’d do better at lower altitudes so I was medically evacuated in an air ambulance to Lima.

I also need to thank RBC Insurance. I had great coverage thanks to my friend Jai who sold it to me. (ALWAYS listen to your travel agent, especially when they are a caring friend).

My insurance provided a bed side companion, so my sister Susan got to fly down and join me in the hospital in Lima, she spent a week sleeping on an uncomfortable pull out in my room at Clínica Inca.

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Eventually I was cleared and the insurance company provided a medical escourt to accompany me on a first class flight back to Canada on December 3rd.

As you can guess I never did end up making it to Machu Pichu and have since had a very hard time looking at pictures of the ruins. I guess one day I’ll have to return and finish the rest of the trip I was planning to take, however, I may have to do it in a few trips, comparred to just one long trip.

I’ve recently found out that all together my insurance claim for this trip was in excess of $50 000. I don’t know what I would have done without my RBC travel insurance.

Upon landing in Winnipeg, I went to Health Science Centre and was cleared through the emergency room.
All this due to ignoring an ankle injury. Hopefully a lesson was learned.

I was glad to be home. I spent much of the winter depending on my family. Thanks to many doctors visits, and a lot of physiotherapy I am almost back to 100%, and am feeling far healthier (and am far lighter) than I’ve been in a long time.

I really enjoyed my family time December through March and beyond. Together we had a lot of fun, just hanging out, and it became my ‘staycation’.

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In March I started back to ‘work’ but I’ll use that term loosely.

I sent a group of students to Costa Rica, on a trip that I was organizing, but couldn’t travel with due to my injuries. They seemed to have a great time, and it was one of many travel plans that I had to change. I’m still hoping to enroll students in a 2015, March Break trip to Belize.

Since then I did help out with the school, doing a few things. I helped set-up sound for the drama club’s production of Beauty and the Beast. The students were incredible. I really enjoyed seeing how much the students I had in Music Man had grown since their grade 9 year. I wish them and the rest of the cast and crew good wishes in their future. I also got to help out as the lead instructor for Conservation Camp. Although the program has changed a lot since I’ve done it some 20+ years ago, it is still important to me, and I was glad to be able to share my passion for resource management with this years participants. DHS’s Con Camp has been running now for 58 years, I hope it continues for 58 more. The last major project I did with the school was being the MC for graduation. This has always been an honour for me, and I was grateful to be able to spend a day with our graduates, wishing them well as they walk from our school halls into the halls of their future.

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I was fortunate enough to spend a second year in Toronto scoring literacy tests for EQAO. I always enjoy being able to read what students from across the province write. In the evenings I was able to visit with friends and family.

I also got in some work with the military. Specifically the Regional Cadet Instructor School (Central) as well as 906 RCACS in Vermilion Bay/Sioux Lookout. I spent a weekend in Borden in March to take my Commanding Officer’s course. I was back in CFB Borden in May to do some directing staff professional development as well as to instruct on the Senior Instructor Course. I was then off to 8 Wing Trenton to instruct on the Air Environmental Course. Besides some intense map and compass we also had a great aviation day that was very different than what I had done with RCIS Northwest. The highlights of the aviation day included a tour of the CC-177 Globemaster III, that was doing some pre-flight work ramping up to depart to Cold Lake to pick up some troops. Meeting the Bird Man(Lady) who works for Falcon Environmental Services. She had a very cool job, and if I was back in my university/post university days I might have been considering a different career path… We also toured the NAV CAN tower on the airport, as well as a quick tour of the National Air Force Museum of Canada.

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With 906, I spent some time with the cadets, helping with training, and ended the year taking command of the squadron on 28 May 2014 during our Annual Ceremonial Review in a Change of Command ceremony. To see photos of 906, and some of our training visit us on Facebook.

Through all of this, I continued to enjoy family time.  I extended my ‘staycation’ into two week chunks between work and some travel to southern Ontario as mentioned above.    It was great to spend so much time with family and friends, and I ended up having some great adventures, and have lots of new memories.

Now, I find myself away from family once more; back in Red Deer Alberta at Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Centre. It is hard to believe that 1 year ago I was here, back at this desk, back in this same job starting my ‘year off.’ I wouldn’t change anything about it. It was exciting, it was challenging, it gave me new experiences, and ultimately I am WALKING away a better person; a better teacher as a result of all my experiences.

Although I am technically back to work; full time for the summer and then right back to school, I am going to try and have some adventures…  I’ll also try to post them here….   Lol
If you have read this to the end, thanks, and congratulations.





Belize; March 2015

21 04 2014

Travel to Belize with DHS in March 2015

That’s right; DHS has wrapped up an ecotour to Costa Rica this year, and is planning on traveling to Belize for March Break 2015. You can travel with us.

Check out the EF site to learn more about this trip;

To learn more about this trip come out to one of the parent / student information meetings on;

Monday April 28th @ 7pm in room 107,

or Tuesday May 13th @ 7pm in room 107

For more information contact Mr. Mitchell by phone (807)216-8106 or e-mail; ted.mitchell@kpdsb.on.ca

(Here are some pictures from the group that travelled to Costa Rica)

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More from Peru…

19 11 2013

(I actually wrote this a long time ago, posted it several months later, but backdated it…)

Well I guess we didn’t quite leave the desert in Nazca! Our next stop; Arequipa was also desert! Although you can’t tell from the pictures, that this city was in an arid district, it really was rocky/sandy outside the city limits. A highlight was visiting the local market, where there were many fruits (I’m guessing mostly from the Peruvian Rainforest). Overall, it was a beautiful city, that I think I could have spent more time in!

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But after that we did leave desert for highland! Next stop was the city of Chivay, in the Colca Valley. This town was absolutely beautiful, and I was glad we were here for two nights. Upon arrival we hiked on some inca trail, up to a nice lookout!

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We were up early the next morning to head to Colca Canyon, in hope of seeing some Condors! We needed some patience, but sure enough they put on a wonderful show! We hiked along the canyon before returning to Chivay;

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Next stop was Puno on lake Titicaca. Another beautiful city, we were only there a short time before heading out on the lake! First stop was the Uros (floating) islands. This was mind blowing. To think of a people who are so dependent on the lake. They create their islands, houses and boats using reeds from the lake; it is an on going job.

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Then we visited the island of Taquile for lunch and a walk! It looked like it would be a good up hill hike, and it was, the air is thin enough at 3 813 m in elevation, without walking another 200m up, but I guess it is good training for the inca trail. Our next stop was on Chucuito Peninsula, where we stayed in the house of a family, wake up call at 5:30am to go out and help with fishing. We also took some sheep out to pasture before going for a hike above the community.

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Now we are on our way to Cuscoe, where I’ll meet with a doctor to see if I should be hiking the Inca Trail. My ankle is feeling much better, I’ve stopped taking pain medication, however, my leg is still swollen. However, I’ve prepared myself for the likely answer that he recommends that I do not hike the Inca.

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Tomorrow the Sacred Valley





Peruvian Coast – A Desert!

12 11 2013

I knew Nazca, and the Nazca lines were kind in the desert, desert plain, desert plateau kind of place. But I had no idea how much of the costal region of Peru was desert. Aprox 20% of Peruvian land mass is desert!

That being said I’m enjoying my first bit of Peru! It is an interesting country to say the least! Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should say the ankle is improving, still sore, I still limp around, but it is feeling better all the time…

I didn’t do much in Lima, because I have a few more days there. First stop was Paracass; a costal port. It was quaint, beautiful, what you’d expect a beach ‘paradise’ to be like. I even have a nice sunset picture here for you;

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Next we were on our way to Nazca, but a few stops first. One a ‘winery’ that is well known for making Pisco (they call it a brandy, describe it as something similar to grappa, but to me it still kind of tastes like turpentine). This was very different, on many levels from the Italian wineries I toured last month. Very interesting. I did find one wine I liked, very sweet that the nicknamed ‘the baby-maker!’

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Next was the desert oasis of Huacachina; I could have sat by the pool, or toured the sand dunes in a dune buggy (looked like something out of tank girl) and by going sand boarding. It was a hard decision. The dunes were beautiful, I can’t get over how much sand there was (and how much I took home; it got everywhere). But they really were remarkable! I also had a butt load of fun!

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We did finally reach Nazca, this morning we had a fly over of the Nazca Lines. The lines were remarkable, it’s hard to believe, why and how there are so many, and the figures were outstanding!

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Then we visited the Necropolis at the Chauchilla Cemetery; where we got to see the remains of several mummies that have suffered various degree of grave robbery, and weathering from being exposed for public viewing over the last 16 years. I found this place really dark and sad, not because it was a cemetery (because to be honest I don’t mind being in most cemeteries) but I think because of how much grave robbing went on, how weathered these mummies have become, apparently the skin that is now gone was perfectly preserved until the last el ninio. There were human bones lying all over the surface of the land, and you didn’t have to dig to much to find a tooth or some other artifact that had been dug up and left by these grave robbers. It also made me think about how much has been robbed from this culture, from this land, and from many others. The thought that cities of gold were disassembled, and moved to other countries, to be melted down to adorn their own places of significance. No wonder these people, and others who have faces cultural genocide feel lost and have so many problems. We can only pray that one day, as a ‘superior race’ we can truly overcome, forgive and move ahead. I guess at least these people are starting to learn their story, which I think is an important part of the healing process.

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We then were reminded that the earth has so much to give us, including all our food by participating in a traditional meal called Pacha Manka, where our meal was literally cooked in the earth, our group partook in a ceremony to remove the meal. There was lots and it was delicious.

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Well tonight I am on a night bus to Arequipa.

I’m thinking of all of you at home and am looking forward to getting together with you! Thanks for the prayer, support, energy and love that you all send me.

Ted!!

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Here is a link that you can click on anytime to follow my trip… http://tinyurl.com/pk22487





A lifetime of experiences in four nights…

7 11 2013

What can I say the Galapagos were truly amazing. I may have only been there a short time, but it felt much longer; not because I badly twisted my ankle, but in a good way.

I remember standing on a beach and thinking; who would believe that I (someone who dislikes the heat) would be standing on a beach at the equator. How did I get here? Funny story, I was thinking of taking a cruise that was being organized for members of the Cadet Instructor Cadre, but realized I’ve never really been interested in taking a cruise, but really wanted to do it to be with friends, I decided that is an expensive trip for something that I never really wanted to do, so I asked myself if there is anywhere I would ever consider cruising, and thought retracing some of the steps of Charles Darwin would be ultimate, and thus started my South American adventure!

It was a short trip, but a great one. Lots of great scenery, including walking across the islands, including walking across 600 year old lava flows and down lava tubes, and across sand beaches…

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Some great animal encounters; which included, magnificent frigates flying above,

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Marine iguanas; including having salt water squirted on my legs from them and watching them feed while snorkelling,

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Crabs, were everywhere, some flees when you got close, but not on every island,

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Albatross, mainly watching some of their courting rituals,

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Sea Lions, by the hundreds, I wish I could share the stench, umm I mean smell of them with you too,

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There were many more too, some of which I can’t post photo’s of until I get home and can take pictures off my camera, this includes, sharks, sea turtles, rays, tortoises, etc.

But a highlight was the boobies; I saw lots of Nazca Boobies,

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And the most exciting for me; the Blue Footed Booby. I remember the first one I saw, from a distance perched on a rock to the last. But getting close to two on land was a highlight, they were actually on our trail and wouldn’t/didn’t move as we all moved past them.

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My world is still rocking, it’s hard to believe that you can still feel the effects if the sea for a week afterwards, considering I wasn’t even on the boat that long, but I’ve been spending the last few days just resting my ankle. I think it is going to be a few weeks for this to properly heal.

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I was really impressed with how the Park was set up to handle the ever increasing pressure of tourists. The islands have had some pressure that has decimated the tortoise population, and currently have had issues with shark finning. But they really are spreading the message of sustainability and conservation. I wish them luck in continuing this, and hope that future visitors have as rich an experience as I’ve had.

I leave for Peru tomorrow, and am there for the rest of the month. Let’s see what adventures await me there.








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