Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My hometown

Trivia question: What is the smallest province in Canada? Answer: My hometown Prince Edward Island, it is also the birth place of Canada as well. The trouble is deciding if my "hometown" is the capital town of my Province, Charlottetown. The one more easily recognized. The one I for the most part went to school in, worked in, and partied in. Or the very small town of Cherry Valley, where my actual home is. The one I grew up in. Played with neighbors in. Had my first kiss in.
                                                             My Back Yard in Cherry Valley
Ultimately, I had to go with familiarity. Even if you were able to find Cherry Valley there is not much to do there besides take in the view and the scent of earth as the potatoes are being planted, and I would give you about 5 minutes on my property before my Dad chased you off.
So let me paint the picture of Charlottetown that I grew up seeing. When you live there and see it's beauty day in and day out, and when you see it's beauty tainted by the late April muddy snow piles it becomes average, just like any other city. I had to live in other cities before I came to realize just how special Charlottetown is. Sitting on Richmond St. also known as The Row a block closed down to cars you may think you've just entered the third pig's neighborhood because everything is brick. Except the collection of restaurants and art galleries would never be blown down by the big bad wolf they have withstood the test of time since the late 1800's. The afternoon sun shines down on the four outdoor patios as you past the first "Cafe Diem" the wonderful robust scent of coffee beans roasting drifts out. As you walk by the second "Globe world Flavours" you never know what you will hear. It could be an upbeat dance tune by Girl Talk, or you just might get lucky and catch Adam rocking out on the piano. As you walk by the third "Fishbones" your mouth starts to water at the sight of their expansive oyster bar. By the time you get to the fourth "Castello's" an Italian place you realize you have no idea which one to sit at. Since it is a favorite for most locals and tourists alike, sometimes your only choice is the place that has an available table, but thankfully there seems to always be at least one table ready and waiting for you. One of the many pros of having such a small population, other pros include; no high rises to block the sun and your view, as well as no 6 lane highways. In fact on some roads you can stick your hand out the car window and pick the colourful lupins that cover our ditches. With so many sea shores what with it being an island, a walk on the beach can easily be found, most times the beaches are so secluded that if you were looking for more than just a romantic walk privacy is not an issue ;).
                                                Blooming Point Beach (clothing optional)
But if you would rather do a little people watching the boardwalk that runs along Victoria Park is a wonderful choice. Grab an ice cream at Kiwanis' and watch the sun set. Victoria Park only a ten minute walk from the downtown core of Richmond St. is also a wonderful place to fly a kite with the wind coming straight off the ocean. I do feel it would be irresponsible of me not to warm you to be sure you have a good grip of your kite winder. If you lose your grip the wind will snatch that kite and possibly take it all the way out into the water forcing you to go for a potentially chilly dip as my room mate learned the hard way one night.

                               Room mate's kite went in just to the right of where this shot ends
 The best thing about coming home to Charlottetown is remembering that you can look people in the eye when you pass them on the street, that you probably should or you could miss seeing a relative, or a family friend. Even if you are from away all you will find in the eyes of the locals here on P.E.I. is kindness. I am very proud of where I am from if this description didn't already convey that feeling, but like I said I had to leave and come back to remember what makes it special. The world is so big and so diverse that a place this small could never contain a personality that is this curious. I love where I come from but I love where I am going more...No offense Charlottetown.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paragliding into Baby Shower Bliss

Maria Tremonti's confident yet smooth voice gently floats into my room breaking into my subconsciousness. Monica's alarm is going off, it's 9 am and even though I would rather stay in bed I know those sandwiches certainly will not make themselves. I still can't believe that today I will be going to my first baby shower, and even stranger I am the Host. The mother has been my mentor, my comedian, my best friend for 16 years. I force myself to leave that wonderful warm spot on my bed and head straight for the coffee maker. While it percolates Monica and I talk over what still needs to be done and decide who will do what. I say a silent prayer of thanks for good friends and start to settle into the routine of putting peanut butter and jam on bread. I take the first sip of coffee and the sweet aroma takes me back 3 years to the Dominican republic. Jess (the new mother), and I had planned it last second as a graduation gift. I am half in a trance reliving the trip when I realize sandwiches are done, and it is now time for me to grab a shower. I hop in and let the warm water rinse away the anxiousness and allow myself to be completely transported. I am on a boat and the gentle waves are giving it a slight rocking motion, the wind is warm and smells sweet like pineapple and coconut, or maybe that's the pina colada I had before we signed our lives away just to get a rush and a good view of the island. The boat is actually pretty nice, and the 4 other people willing to take the same risk for $60 US makes me feel a bit more secure. We head out into impossibly clear water and one of our...well I guess I can call him our guide but what his actual training was I dare not ask, says" Who will like to go first?" I always tell Jess that I have no idea why my hand shot up before the others could even realize the guide had spoken, but truth be told I wanted to get up in the air so badly (even if I was slightly skeptical of our equipments quality). Next thing I know I am strapped into a harness with Jess strapped into one behind me. Then all too quickly my stomach drops and that impossibly clear water becomes a distant turquoise.  "Were flying!" I say to Jess, she replies with an albeit nervous yet joyful laugh. We proceed to shout out a few hoots and hollers to let out some of the anxiousness we were feeling and then we allow the incredible beauty of the image before us to soak in. A silence overtakes us and we just stare. At the seemingly never ending white sandy beach. The many resorts just like ours that lie directly behind the beach. The incredible lush forest that still covers the majority of the Puerta Plata region. The beautiful Mt. Isabel de Torres as it rises from the sea green all the way to the top. I say in almost a whisper that I am really glad we did this. Jess says me too, and I say not just paragliding but the whole trip, to which she replies I knew what you meant. And I laugh realizing of course she knew. Then suddenly we begin to lower but the closer and closer to the water we get I realize the boat is nowhere close to us. I guess were going for a dip! My feet hit the water and I let out a squeal of pleasure, the water seems cold, really cold. That's when I remember I am in a now very cold shower and it was all a day dream. A lot has changed since that trip, the biggest change being the star of today's party Miss Willow Romona Redding, Jessica's new baby girl. I quickly get dressed and start to get everything organized for transportation over the the hall. We pull up to the hall and my mind is racing, balloons first, streamers second, put out tables for food, and for sitting. Monica always the savior sets up the sound system and puts some Neko Case on knowing it will help me relax. An hour flies by but we manage to get it all set up and guests are starting to float in. Everything looks wonderful. Just as I start to worry about where Jess and Willow are they pull up. As she steps out of the car and goes to get Willow out of her car seat my stomach drops and I become silent as I let the incredible beauty of the image before me soak in. My best friend is a Mom.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Shuck an Oyster

If you are a Seafood lover like myself than you know oysters reign supreme. You may also know that the East Coast of Canada provides a mecca of some of the best Seafood in the world. Granted I am slightly biased seeing as I grew up here, however, I've sampled Oysters all over the world including New Zealand, New England and Vancouver and I say we have the best oysters out there!

Now we all love to sit on a sidewalk patio enjoying the sun and sipping on wine while someone else shucks our oysters, but sadly most budgets can't really handle that sort of lifestyle. So what do you do? Sure it's easy to go to any local market and buy a box of fresh oysters, but how the hell do you get them open?  Well, no fear I've taken it upon myself to give you a step by step lesson.

First things first you will need a Shucking Knife found at any kitchen store. Shell out the extra few dollars for the nice one trust me the investment is worth it! (sorry about the shell pun it could not be avoided). You will also need a rather large kitchen cloth to protect your hands and to hold the oyster in place. Find yourself a nice flat counter surface that comes up to your waist. Believe me you will want to have leverage on those Phat Bastards ( A common brand of Oysters found on P.E.I.)

Now let's get down to it! Place the Oyster inside the cloth with the thicker edge sticking out. Hold the Oyster inside the cloth with one hand and take the knife with the other. Push the knife into the lip of the oyster. Once you get in start to rotate the knife in your hand so it pries open the shell but be careful. You don't want the top of the oyster to come off yet, you just want it to be open wide enough to be able to get your knife in. Once your knife is in the shell slide it along the top as close to the shell as possible so you can dislodge the meat from the shell, hopefully without tearing it too. Don't worry the first 20 times you probably will tear it but you will get the hang of it and in the meantime the oysters can still be eaten. After you have removed the top of the shell take your knife and gently slide it underneath the meat almost like you would if you were peeling an apple. Finally use your knife to gently clear away any shrapnel that may have come off the shell during the delicate operation. Now here's the best part pour a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc cut a few lemon wedges and grate some fresh horse radish, then all you have to do is sit back relax and enjoy the fruit of your labours. Mmmmm oysters

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Assignment 1

So since this blog will be for the most part about traveling I thought a brief history of my past adventures would be fitting.
I think my love of seeing a new place came from my Mother, she works in Tourism and as a child was very generous in letting me tag along on different press tours. I fell in love with the bustle of New York at age 12, the history in Montreal at 13 but it was 16 and Paris that truly took my breath away and confirmed my addiction to traveling.
Since Paris I have made it my goal to take every opportunity to see a new place I could. Unfortunately, universities tend to drain any funds you may have saved and requires that you stay where the campus is for the most part. However, they also can offer some great travel destinations if you keep your eyes peeled. Spending a summer studying at the Universidad Salamanca in Spain was a dream come true in more ways than one. I studied at one of the Oldest Universities in Europe, saw the running of the Bulls festival, and fell in love with a dreamy European….ahhh what a summer.
I have since finished my BA in Philosophy and have gone on to have adventures in New Zealand, San Francisco, Hawaii, Seattle and Vancouver. I want to see it all and experience it all. I love a good adrenaline rush from an extreme activity like sky diving or white river rafting, but I also enjoy a quiet day at a museum with a nice play. I think my favorite part about traveling though is the food and the landscapes. To me there is no finer moment in life when I am enjoying an authentic local meal with a great bottle of wine looking out on an incredible view.