Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rocko in Philly!

When you think of Philadelphia, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? That Bruce Springsteen song? The heart-wrenching Tom Hanks movie that went with it? The Liberty Bell? Philly cheese-steak sandwiches? A well-known light cheese spread?
For me, dear reader, I’m afraid it’s none of these things. For me, it’s the Rocky movies. My pilgrimage in Philadelphia was to the Museum of Art, site of the famous steps Sly ran up when training to become the ultimate fighting underdog Champion.
I do not know where the meat factory he used to work (and work out) in is, or I would have gone there too, but I distinctly remember him running down this very lane!
Eric even filmed me recreating the scene, humming the theme tune as I ran up the numerous sets of staircases, throwing punches all the way, and struck my triumphant pose on the plateau. I know you’ll be saddened to learn that I cannot work out how to load video footage onto my blog, so I’ll give you just the first and last shots.
I felt totally pumped up like a champion afterwards. I made Eric call me 'Becko' for the rest of the day.
Eric did the same run, although he’d held my coffee and bag for me while I ran up, and the shot doesn’t look quite so cool when you see a Grande cappuccino and purse by his feet!
Later on we were to discover how many had gone this way before us when I found this book.
The top of the steps is a great place to see downtown Philly from.
There’s a great statue at the bottom of these steps. Here’s Eric, between two animals native to his homeland. And below a near-naked lady. Nice.
Here I am, kissing a buffalo. Yeah I know, I just ran up the Rocky steps, must’ve been low on blood-sugar to my brain or something!

We walked down past the Rodin museum, here’s Eric posed by the statue of the man himself. Contemplation or constipation, you decide!
I particularly like how on pedestrian maps in Philadephia, they’ve circled a “5 minute” yellow circle in a circumference from where you’re standing. Pretty cool.

Our next stop was the Liberty Bell, but we passed this great fountain in front of the City Hall (or would I call this photo Two Dubiously Shaped Towers?)

I’ll be honest, Philadelphia is much nicer than I’d expected.
There are many murals, all depicting scenes of independence and American history.
Indeed, on our way to the Liberty Bell, we passed the Center of Independence (with the mall of independence therein) where you could buy a set of three historical papers: The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution all printed on antique-look-n-feel parchment paper.
Hey look, you can have breakfast with Ben! I wonder if he has his eggs over-easy or sunny-side up, it’d be a chance to find out…..
The Liberty Bell is free to view. It’s been out of action for some time because alas, a sign of freedom it may be, but a good and functional bell it is not. I guess the Brits are to blame as it was cast in England. It’s so heavy that when it was mounted, it nearly toppled the steeple it was perched on when it was rung, and soon after it was placed there it cracked. It was repaired once, but cracked again fairly badly as you can see in my pictures.
I think it’s amazing that when commissioned, the cost of such a bell was estimated as “around One-hundred pounds (sterling)”. Oh, how times have changed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bike riding in Bar Harbor

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride in Maine, and Acadia National Park, about 5 miles West from where we docked is the place to take your rental out and put it through it's paces. We paid $15 each for our bikes because as is usual on our days ashore, one of us, this time it was Eric, had a rehearsal until noon, leaving us only a few hours to spare when you take into account the tender ride (here demonstrated by Eric, Duncan and the new trumpet-player Josh) and all-aboard at 4pm.

We turned from the Bar Harbor Bike Shop and onto Duck Brook Road, crossing a bridge after about a mile with gorgeous views of the turning leaves. Here we are on the bridge with our nice orange bikes. See, I had a difficult angle while I was setting the timer. We didn't really need to bend down, I see that now.

Here's our map. Our plan (which we executed perfectly, I-ah thankyou!) was to bike the 6 mile loop around Eagle Lake and take in the Port Description's write-up of the park: 'a wild, unspoiled paradise...John D. Rockefeller considered it one of the great views of the world.' There were signposts too, like these ones, and I instantly fall in love with names like Cadillac Mountain, Witch Hole Pond, Paradise Harbor, Aunty Betty Pond, The Tarn and Bubble Pond.

We talked about our favourite TV painter (come to think of it, I guess he's the only TV painter I know of!) Bob something-or-other, whom we both used to watch regularly as kids. He'd paint landscapes of trees, always calling them "Happy Little Trees", and describing the paints he was using and how he'd tap his brush to get the right effect. You were of course supposed to buy his paint-set and paint along with him, but his paints were never just called white, or light green. They had names like green ochre and titanium white.

If I were Bob, what would I have called these colours in my Happy Little Tree painting?

Sorrento Lime?

Tuscan sunset?


Terracotta orange?

Cabernet Sauvignon?

I love taking pictures while biking, I like the motion you can see in the foreground of this picture. Then I swapped camera duty with Eric and realised he liked taking pics while riding his bike too (sorry Mum, I didn't wear a helmet, but look, I did wear gloves, a hat AND a scarf!)

We also saw some Tandem Bikers. The tandem I like. The fluorescent matching get-ups, in broad daylight, I do not.

When we got to the tip of Eagle Lake we took a pause for the cause, because the ride had contained more uphill sections than we'd anticipated. Quite frankly I was cream-crackered. It was serene and beautiful. Although I couldn't catch them in a shot, we saw Kingfishers too.

Just before we left the park, we stopped for another Kodak moment. What a gorgeous place. My man looks awful happy!

For being such a good girl and biking so far, Eric decided to take me for a surprise. By asking him just two questions ("Can I eat it?" and "Will the food be kind of pinkish?") I was able to deduce that he was taking me for a Lobster Roll! We are in Maine after all.

On our walk there, we encountered this woman, wearing these purple tie-dye effect tights. Lady, I salute you!

We went to the Lobster Claw, on 54 West St. The owner can do your lobster roll four ways, as you can see. I went for the butter version, meaning they serve you just the fresh lobster in a toasted roll with lettuce and home-made potato-chips, but you get a tub of melted butter for dipping, which I thought was well-deserved after my bike work-out, AND still better than the mayo option.


I love this picture, check out the shadow: Chow Down, Eric!

It was so good, that having bought it for me Eric was keen to ask after my bread if I wasn't going to eat it (needless to say he was given short shrift for not giving a girl time enough to eat her lunch before jumping onto her plate) because we were given so much lobster in relation to carbs. The sign of a good sandwich, and a hungry boyfriend.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Grizzly Burr Cubs

Oh my. One of these days I'm going to see one of these gorgeous creatures in the wild, and I don't care if they take my peanut-butter and jam sandwich hidden under the pillow in my tent if I left it there carelessly! They're beautiful.

This picture is taken from First People - LinkTo Us, it's a great site about Turtle Island and Canadian Indians, and they have a lovely gallery of pictures.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Je Reviens a Montreal!

It's similar to the title of the song by Robert Charlebois (his is Je Reviendrai a Montreal, meaning "I WILL return") that Eric always likes to crank up on the stereo whenever he returns home, but quite frankly I'm getting to know it so well now that we both sang along really loud from the privacy of our hire-car as we drove from the Port Vieux (hey, my French IS getting better!) into downtown, and on to Saint. Sauveur where his dad lives.

The home of my favourite treat, Maple syrup (sirop d’erable) is in plentiful supply here. I love these frozen versions, you wait ‘til it begins to thaw, grab your lolly stick embedded in you treat, and chew! Our first trip after picking up the car was to Mont Royal (Mount Royal), with Eric’s mum. It’s a beautiful park on the mountain, where you can walk, jog or collect the falling leaves that are turning gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and red at this time of year. We walked to the terrace with great views over downtown, where between two buildings you can usually see the ship (that’s how used to docking here we are now!)
The squirrels here are seriously tame, if you talk to them they approach you, obviously thinking you’ll feed them. I struggled to convince myself not to feed them however cute they are.
This red squirrel was actually seen in Quebec, but I loved watching him as he checked if the coast was clear, worked out his straight path, then dived back into the trash can, grabbed his prize (a muffin case) and ran like the wind to safety!
Eric’s mum came back to the ship with us, and we went for a girlie chat in the Palm Court, before our run-through of the 50’s show.
Later that night Eric and I drove up North, to Saint-Sauver. I love driving at night, it must remind me of childhood road-trips to visit my grandparents or something. We listened to Michael Brecker on CD (in our CD player no less!) all the way, plus we stopped at a gas station for beef Jerky, chips and sugar-fixes. Ah, the small pleasures in life!
Hey, check out the Paint-your-own Jack O’Lantern pumpkins in grocery stores! I received this parcel from my Mum, she sent it for my Birthday to Canada (yes, I’m a year older, I’m trying to be positive about it!) and I bought this Bear-Cub (Burr Cub!) postcard to send to her as a Thankyou note. This is the TV listing of my Birthday onboard the ship. Thanks, captain.
We were fed a homemade chicken pie which Eric made short work out of, and slept in Eric’s bed at his Dad and Celine’s place, the best sleep I’ve had in ages.
The next morning, Eric cooked me pancakes, sausages and maple-syrup before driving me to Doncaster Park for the walk to see the changing leaves that he promised me.
Here’s our map, we’re being shown a 45-minute walk, a more challenging route that takes us alongside a stream.
Look, even Eric got bitten by a mosquito! But I thought it was a nice touch that he dressed so as to coordinate with his surroundings.
A kissing picture! How did that get in here?
The colours were beautiful. The leaves are turning, as I was promised they would be.
Here’s Eric by water. Look below him, yes, there’s a rock. Here he is again. I should’ve known. I turned my back and about thirty seconds later I heard a plaintive cry
“Becky…..Becky!” he’d tried to get to the rock, and gotten his feet very wet.
Apparently I'm obsessed with red squirrels, this one was just chilling with us in the park.
Back at the ship, Eric’s Dad Jean and Celine came onboard. Here we are, a bit tired but happy.
Eric’s friends, from left to right, Marc, J.P., Martin, Guillome, Julie and Melanie arrived later and they all stayed to watch the Welcome Aboard Show. This is truly embarrassing for me, because in the opening number I walk down through the house to the stage, wearing a practically see-through peche leotard, and a wig we’ve fondly named the “Soccer Mom”. Mmmm.
After both shows, Eric fulfilled another promise, to take me out for the best poutine I’ve ever had. This is his 24-hour, poutine joint of choice. Look at the selection!
Here’s my 3 Amigos Poutine, with 3 different types of Mexican sausage in addition to the fries, gravy and squeaky curd cheese typical of poutines. This is an excellent example. I forget what Eric chose, but he was pretty happy with it as you can see.
After our midnight mega-snack, Eric drove me to the lookout (read: make-out) spot. There was a great surprise awaiting a tourist like me, Racoons!
They really do look like their cartoon versions, I used to watch a show called the Getalong Gang when I was young and the racoon was always my favourite.
They were almost aggressive, Eric tempted them with a piece of paper and they weren’t happy when they realized they’d been tricked. I have a sneaky suspicion the racoons on the hill have become addicted to marijuana. I distinctly heard a woman yell “No, not my joint!” and when I turned around, I saw at least ten raccoons encircling the woman, fighting ferociously for the dropped article. Pot-head raccoons, what is the world coming to?
This is a racoon in a garbage can, I was too scared to try and re-take the picture! Here he is again. They’re big, and they’re living off our junk-food, folks!