Category Archives: Nature

No Squirrels Today

Actually, the squirrels are abundant. The biggest distraction I dealt with today was actually a TV show. One I watched the first season of last night (not hard when there are only eight episodes at 20 minutes each) and then had to watch most of  with my husband again today before he went to work.

Had to. Not optional. Had to.*

Anyway… We were going to be talking about my work habits today, but obviously I’m in no position to talk about those. And I’m a bit busy for it. In spite of all of the time I continue to waste and today’s flat-out failure, I am busy drafting book one for my pen name project series. And I really shouldn’t be taking too much time for blogging.

I mean, bless the handful of you who actually read these posts, but this site ain’t paying any bills, you know? 😉

But I can’t leave you with nothing. So here are a few photos from a recent autumn morning in Newfoundland. A magical morning of mist and fog and frost. Like… THE BEST morning. Pictures don’t do it justice. You can click the photos to enlarge.

No filters, of course.

Enjoy!

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*The show, for anyone who’s curious, is Galavant. I don’t enjoy TV most of the time, but this one is just delightful. Music and humor and anachronism and witty dialogue and more humor and beautiful people and more music. Love it.

It’s on Netflix. So good.


Landscapes

A friend who read Bound told me that the landscapes seemed familiar to her. I wasn’t surprised. She’s from Newfoundland.

This place inspires me. The ocean, the rugged beauty of the land, the untouched forests (and even the touched ones). There’s something wonderfully mysterious about a field strewn with boulders, looking like the aftermath of a battle between the rock-hurling giants in Narnia.

Actually, the real explanation for that one is pretty interesting. Those boulders were picked up by glaciers, carried here, and dropped as the glacier melted. They’re called erratics.

I thought I’d share here a few of the landscapes that remind me of Darmid and Tyrea. If you’re ever in the area and want to visit them, I’d be happy to point the way. 🙂

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one taken on a clear day. It’s hard to stop for photos when you’re travelling with kids. Picture blue skies… I’ll get a better picture some day.

 

stunted trees

(from Bound, chapter 17)

 

Not all locations in the books correspond directly to places here. It’s more the feel. The roughness, that hard land (wait until you see [redacted]), the sparkling lakes and the foggy afternoons.

The forests, the fields, the harbour towns and the water were all influenced by this place.

forest

 

These mountains near Corner Brook (western Newfoundland) bear a striking resemblance to those worn-down old mountains that separate Tyrea from Darmid, though I didn’t discover them until after Bound was published.

They could be a little higher, but you get the idea. These mountains make the Rockies look like young punks.

mountains

 

Ever wonder how Glass Lake got its name? The landscape’s a little off, but the water is perfect.

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The seasons are inspiring, too.

(from Bound, chapter 4)

(from Bound, chapter 4)

Here are a few more pictures.

river

river 2

 

icebergs

 

Seriously, come visit. It’s super cool. 🙂


Friday Fun: The Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium

Hey, guys! I know, I said we’d do stuff this week, and I haven’t posted a whole lot. The good news is that things are going so well with actual writing (like, the book some of you are waiting for) that I’m worried the house will have a meltdown again. The bad news is that I’m not going to halt that momentum to write blog posts, so things might continue to be a bit sparse here next week.

Also, I’ve got kids at home full time. Writing time is limited, you know?

But speaking of those kids, I did take a week off for a family vacation. Stopping work cold turkey nearly drove me mad, but after a few days in my favourite city, a relaxing and fun weekend at a friend’s cabin, and lots of walking around beautiful landscapes, I started to relax.

One of our stops was the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in… well, it’s in Petty Harbour. You probably guessed that. Smarty pants. It truly is mini. I mean, they didn’t take a ray-gun and shrink a fish tank down (dangit), but they do have a lot of amazing exhibits packed into a TINY space.

I thought, since most of you won’t make it out there this summer, that I’d share some pictures and information (all facts and figures courtesy of the aquarium). Many of their exhibits are temporary, as they show off creatures brought in by local fishermen which are then set free after they’ve done their time. Nice, right? We missed the wolf fish by a few days, but I hope he’s very happy… um… doing whatever wolf fish do.

I would probably know this if I’d seen the exhibit.

TO THE PHOTO TOUR!

I’m a bad, bad promoter. I didn’t get an exterior shot of the building. *ducks away from flung flotsam and jetsam*

But inside…

Good to know!

Good to know!

 

This is Lady Blue, a temporary visitor to the aquarium. Blue lobsters are fairly rare: one in 2,000,000 has this lovely colouring.

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Casper the white snow crab is another oddity, if somewhat less pretty. I wasn’t as impressed with his colouring as I was with his astonishing fashion sense. Check out that escargot chapeau!

 

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“Leave me alone.”

 

Flounders are… um… interesting.

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The sea ravens were my favourite. Our fish might not be tropical-pretty, but we have some lovely sea monster inspiration!

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Here’s Pharaoh. He’s a golden lobster (1 in 35,000,000 are this colour, and this summer the aquarium has two of them!)

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There’s so much more to see, but I don’t want to take up all of your time with my fish pics– cod, sculpin, something called a lumpfish… aww, heck, here’s a picture of the lumpfish, because it’s kind of hilarious:

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The Mini Aquarium may be tiny, but it’s a lot of educational fun. They have daily puppet shows and story time through the summer, too, if you’re hauling kids around and they’re into that. Oh, and the touch tanks are MIGHTY COOL.

Cue touch tank pics:

"Hey, how's it going?"

“Hey, how’s it going?”

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I didn’t have the heart to tell this guy it’s too late to audition for back-up dancer in The Little Mermaid

So there you go. If you’re ever in the St John’s area, head on down! It’s on the way to Cape Spear, too, which could make for a fine day of fun.

Now, kiss the Pout, and we’ll all be on our way.

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I Feel Like This is My Fault.

Remember when I was talking about how everything is brown, and spring is coming, and yadda yadda?

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HAHAHAHAHA!

No.


Anticipation (ROW80 Update)

The sun came out yesterday. This isn’t big news, I guess. The sun tends to do that every once in a while, even during April showers season in Newfoundland. But blue skies still manage to take me by surprise sometimes, especially when I don’t get a headache to warn me that they’re coming. Yesterday was one of those times.

And what did the sun shine down on? Brown. Relentless, monotonous, winter-coloured brown. Dead grass. Bare branches. Dirt. Even the evergreens we have around here have a brownish tone to them, though they’re called black spruce. No flowers yet. No buds on the trees bursting into green life.

Oh, but the rocks are grey. Kind of brownish grey, but still. We have a lot of them to break up the scenery.

Honestly, it’s a depressing time of year. There’s no pretty snow anymore to cover up the bare earth and last year’s leaf litter, but life hasn’t caught up to the change in the seasons. It’s just… blah.

It’s hard to see the end. Though I know in my mind that spring (real spring, not calendar spring) will come eventually, it’s difficult to truly believe that. It seems like the aggressive brownness is eternal and inescapable. My facebook friends have pictures of green lawns and flowers. I have brown.

But yesterday I chose to look at it differently. There’s beauty in every season, even those that are difficult or dull as housework.

Yes, the world is brown. The plants look dead. In fact, most of them are dead.

But the world is waiting, isn’t it? This is the part where Nature holds her breath, waiting for just the right moment to explode back into life and growth and wonder. No, spring isn’t here like it is in other places. Our lawns are brown, it’s too early to plant gardens because of frost, and most of the birds haven’t returned. But it’s not an empty or useless time. It’s the season of anticipation and preparation for every amazing, beautiful thing that will be here.

It will start small, with fuzzy little buds on branches and an escalation of the twitterings in the trees that I only started to notice yesterday. Small patches of green will appear on lawns and spread, overtaking the brown.* We’ll have to watch out for mama and baby moosies on the roads– they’re still brown, but in a far less depressing way. Flowers will come, some day.

But for now, the world waits and prepares.

Yes, I’m procrastinating.

ROW80 Update

Speaking of preparation, I’m waist-deep in it, wading through edits, exercising the superpowers granted to all writers (time travel, the ability to change the past and alter the fabric of fictional people’s reality, that stuff). It’s going well, but there’s still plenty to do. Having my own space to work is doing wonders for my ability to focus, even if my office doesn’t have walls. I’m discovering new angles and moments in my story that are making it better and more delicious** than it was before. I still struggle with doubts, but who doesn’t? And at least I’m moving forward, slowly but surely.

If you want specifics, I’m on chapter 12, after massive struggles with re-writing chunks of chapters eight and eleven. Coming up on more revisions as I simplify a few things and complicate others, trying to balance tension with backstory, action with dialogue… y’know. FUN STUFF.

In other news, a new friend and I have decided that “backstory” should be a curse word. I say it now when I stub my toe or drop stuff. So every five minutes or so.

I’m also beta reading a fantastic book. I wish I had time to get through that more quickly, but I’m getting there.

So there we go. I’m enjoying this process. It’s a little like May at times– it’s a hard slog, kind of dull after I’ve read this one story dozens of times already, and at times it feels like I’m not moving forward at all thanks to the need to go back and change history (which takes ages). But I am making progress, just as spring is. The difference is that I can’t sit and wait for this to happen. I have to work, and every bit of hard work and every irritating detail I don’t let myself skip is building to something grand.

In other news, this is why anyone who’s ever said “I could write a better book than _____, EASY” should actually try it. This stuff’s hard, yo. Rewarding, beautiful, but oh so challenging.

So there you go. UPDATED.

OH– and in other news, I’m a super huge dork, a bad friendquaintance, and a fool. A FOOL, I SAY. I signed up for a cover reveal, got the post set up, scheduled it to go live on May 1… and forgot to make sure the post wasn’t set to draft. Thanks to my absence from the WordPress-ular area, I didn’t notice until this morning. So PLEASE, stop by and give Adrian J. Smith and her book For By Grace some love on the post which has now posted. Here. HERE. Please.

 

 

*Well… not on MY lawn, because it’s just dirt now. But elsewhere. 🙂

**Books are brain candy. You know they are.


How I Met the Thorny Devil (and Escaped Unscathed)

That’s right. I encountered something called a Thorny Devil. It was large, and leggy. I interrupted it when it was trying to boff its unwilling mate, and I lived to tell the tale. All of which is to say that I went to the Newfoundland Insectarium with my mother and kids, and it was amazing. Care to join us for a tour? Good.

Confession: I wasn’t planning a blog post while we were there, I was just having fun. So if the photos are somewhat lacking, you know why. If you’d like to see more and better photos with less of me in them, click here for the official photo gallery.

The insectarium is in Deer Lake, NL, otherwise known as Too Dang Far From My House. This was only my second chance to visit, but I’m hoping for another trip next summer.

Because did I mention AMAZING?

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You walk in, and there are a couple of displays in glass cubes– one of beautiful beetles (beetiful beautles?) and one of butterflies. Then it’s OMGHOLYCRAPGIFTSHOP! But that’s not why we’re here. No, get your face off of the glass, you’re leaving nose-prints. You can stop on the way out.

Some of you (heck, most of you) might not like many bugs, but you probably don’t mind butterflies so much, so here’s hoping they’re what shows up in your WordPress Reader previews. The butterfly house is our first stop. It’s warm, it’s so humid that your camera lens fogs up, and it’s downright magical.

This little guy was totally flirting with me.

This little guy was totally flirting with me.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lowden, because this guy wouldn't sit still for me.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lowden, because this little beauty wouldn’t sit still for me.

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There were TONS of butterflies, because they’d got a late (accidental) shipment. Yay!

So then, up the stairs. Alllll the way up to the second level, where we find the main display level. Most of the insects up there are dead and mounted, but there’s a fascinating glassed-in bee colony, where you can watch the little buzzers doing their dances.

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The mounted displays are incredible… I wish I’d thought to get more pictures. Next time! There are butterflies and moths, beetles with massive “horns” and jaws, stick bugs and jewellery made from insects…

(Sorry- my computer refuses to turn this picture the right way around and save it. Curse you, Picasa!)

(Sorry- my computer refuses to turn this picture the right way around and save it. Curse you, Picasa!)

Oh, and some live insects, too.

We were fortunate to be the only people visiting, so we had a chance to speak to a few of the people who work there, and one of them offered to let us hold the stick bugs.

There, you can see some of the butterfly displays behind me.

There, you can see some of the mounted displays behind me.

That little guy was so light, I could hardly feel him on my hand, and he just kind of laid there like… well, like a stick. Good job, little bug!

The next ones he (the guy, not the stick bug) took out were called “Thorny Devils,” which apparently are also known as Marijuana bugs for the scent they produce when they’re agitated. They’re a lot scarier-looking than the skinny little stick insects, but the guy got one out, so I asked if I could hold it.

BIG bug. Heavy bug. Kinda creepy, very interesting. I’m not going to lie and say I was completely comfortable with this girl’s scratchy little claws digging into my skin and her boyfriend waving his feelers at me (yes, I held both) but I’m glad I did it.

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That’s right, I can hold one of those, but a little house centipede makes me freeze and squeal like an injured puppy. THAT, apparently, is where I draw the line.

Side note: this one (the big female) was missing a leg, which led to a discussion of how insect matings aren’t generally gentle or consensual. I said, “Like ducks?” This was the first time I ever surprised and impressed someone with that bit of knowledge (he was just going to say, “like ducks.”) I don’t expect this to ever happen again, but hey, it was special. IT WAS A MOMENT, YOU GUYS.

This level also houses the leaf-cutter ant colony, which I find fascinating. See those green dots on the log in the middle? Those are ants carrying cut-up leaves back to their colony, where they feed it to the fungus they then harvest and eat.

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Guys, THE ANTS ARE FARMERS.

Wow.

You know, I kind of don’t want to post pictures of the tarantulas, since we’re having so much fun here, and I know some of you don’t like spiders. Hmm… I’ll tell you what: no hard feelings if you want to leave now and go back down to that lovely gift shop to wait for the rest of us. I’m heading upstairs to see the Very Large and Hairy Arachnids, which are kept on the third floor for the benefit of those who don’t want to see them. For those of you leaving us now, thanks for coming along!

Stop by the comments (um… just scroll down REALLYREALLYFAST) and tell me about the scariest thing you did this week, whether it actually frightened you, or just stretched you outside of your comfort zone. Heck, even if it’s just looking at the pictures down there, tell me about it!

For those of you brave enough to take a peek, scroll down…

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“Hellooooooo, ladies!”

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They have eight live tarantulas in all… if you’re into that.

Thanks for coming along! Hope you had fun. If you’re ever in Western Newfoundland, I highly recommend a live visit. For more information, including seasonal closures and hours, click here!


Where Did THAT Week Go?

Seriously, how is it almost Wednesday again? Seems like only a few days ago I was listening to the garbage truck go by and thinking, “Huh. Should have put that garbage out.”

And now I’ll be doing it again tomorrow.

Well, I can tell you one place that week went: Corner Brook, NL. The kids and I drove out there last Thursday to see my mom while she was in town. In town for a JOB INTERVIEW. Yep, if everything goes as I’ve instructed my evil minions planned, I’ll be living within 5 hours of my parental units for the first time in eight years. I can’t party too hard over it, because moving out this way would mean big sacrifices for them and the rest of my family. But really… yeah, I’m excited. It was a good surprise.

So anyway, Corner Brook! I’d been told that I had to see it in the fall, and I’m so glad I did. Newfoundland is lovely in autumn, but not every town has as many deciduous trees as we’d like. *glares at black spruces* Corner brook is old mountains covered in trees. In October, when the leaves are changing colour, it’s like a glorious 70’s shag carpet all over the place.

Er… perhaps not the best simile, there. Damn, I’m getting rusty. I need to get back to work.

But first: A few photos for you, because I know there’s nothing you want to be doing right now more than looking at some weirdo’s stranger’s scenic photos. Enjoy!

This is the pond next to the hotel where I found those creepy ghost kids. The pond is hardly creepy at all!

This is the pond next to the hotel where I found those creepy ghost kids. The pond is hardly creepy at all! Well, in this picture it kind of is. Um…

Glorious. Shag. Carpet.

There we go. Glorious. Shag. Carpet.

"My rock. Not yours. MINE." -Tree

“My rock. Not yours. MINE.” -Tree

Yeah, my kid coordinates with the landscape. Totally not a coincidence... *cough*

Yeah, my kid coordinates with the landscape. Totally not a coincidence… *cough*

Holy carp, these uploads are taking forever.

It's a shame that the beauty of maple trees' bark is overshadowed by their spectacular foliage. Loved these guys.

It’s a shame that the beauty of maple trees’ bark is overshadowed by their spectacular foliage. Loved these guys.

Brightest red leaf I've ever seen.

Brightest red leaf I’ve ever seen.

If you spend enough time in Newfoundland, you start to go, "Oh.  Another picturesque fishing village/river/forest/view. Le sigh." Still, this one earned a photo.

If you spend enough time in Newfoundland, you start to go, “Oh. Another picturesque fishing village/river/forest/view. Le sigh.”
Still, this one earned a photo.

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These vines covere the lower 1/3 of the inn. So lovely!

So… no, I didn’t get any pictures of the inn itself, but you can see it here, if you’re interested. I wish we’d had rooms in the old section so I could see the rooms there, but the new section was very nice, and probably less haunted, so kind of a trade-off.

I’ll see you all back here tomorrow (if I haven’t bored you to death, that is) for a ROW80 update which promises to be less than inspiring, and a WIPpet Wednesday contribution that may or may not actually be present.

Are you as excite as I am? Woooooo… hoo.

O.o


It’s About Autumn

Hey, all! Less than a week to DtP’s first blogiversary, so here’s a post from almost a year ago. I’d say the leaves are even prettier this year, but my feelings about the colours haven’t changed at all. 🙂

disregard the prologue

In the spring, I fall in love with green.

Well, maybe that’s not the right term. I always love green. It’s my favourite colour. But in the spring, what I feel for green borders on lust. I hold my breath waiting for the first tiny leaves to appear on the trees, and when they all open up, I get drunk on the colour. It makes me giddy.

By July, though, I’m like, “Yeah, green. Green’s great.” I still love it, but that thrill’s gone. In August I realize that I’m in the mood for something more autumnal.

In the autumn, my list of favourite trees gets switched around (you all have one of those, right?).  Aspens top the list in the summer, just for the way their leaves twinkle in the slightest breeze. Other leaves blow or rustle or flap. Aspen leaves FREAKING TWINKLE. It’s like magic, I swear. Looks…

View original post 183 more words


Cape Spear

(OK, so the picture showing up in the WordPress reader preview? Not Cape Spear. Not at all. Anyone know how whether we can change settings on that?)

Good Monday, my dear peoples! I hope you all had a great weekend, whatever that means for you.

Our weekend was quite fantastic. We headed to St. John’s as soon as school was done on Friday. There wasn’t time to get to all of my favourite spots. there never is; there are just too many of them. But the little guy and I got up to Signal Hill while AJ took Simon to see Man of Steel:

cabot tower

View from the lower parking lot. Yep, we climbed up there.

So that was fun. Then on Sunday, instead of leaving in the morning like we usually do, we decided to go up to Cape Spear. It’s probably my favourite place in the world. Why? Well, on a day like yesterday, you’ve got the fact that it’s the easternmost point in North America; not quite yelling distance to Europe, but as close as you’re going to get without a boat. The landscape is pure Newfoundland, rocky and rugged and covered with boulders left by glaciers, more kinds of beautiful little plants than you’d ever expect, and long grasses blowing in the constant breeze off of the ocean. Plenty of trails for walking, boardwalks over the mucky areas, and lots of room to spread out even on a ridiculously busy day like yesterday. Like, crazy busy: both parking lots full, cars parked on both sides of the winding road leading up to them.

Sheesh.

Sheesh.

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Dat landscape! (this is looking back toward the city; Signal hill is in the background there)

Also, stairs.

Also, stairs.

Then there are the lighthouses. We didn’t get all the way up to the old one on this trip, but they’ve got the inside set up as a museum showing what life was like for the lighthouse keepers way back when. At least, I think so… we haven’t paid the admission to go in yet. It’s beautiful, restored to the way it looked back in 1839. Great pictures here, and lots of information, too.

But there’s also the newer lighthouse up there, fully functional and doing its job.

...and apparently about to get smashed by my giant husband. O.o

…and apparently about to get smashed by my giant husband. O.o

You’ve also got military history up there: WWII cannons (sorry, 10-inch guns) and bunkers. Not the most cheerful place to have spent time back then, I imagine, and really creepy now, but interesting. Also, for the more mature among us, you can catch people standing near the guns and…

Heh.

Heh.

So yes, it was a lovely day, but why so busy? Well, we were there to see the whales, but it turned out there were other things going on that we didn’t now about. Oh, Cape Spear, you so crafty! Touch tables from the Ocean Sciences centre where the kids could interact with crabs, sea cucumbers, snails, and other local creatures, a colouring table, and a minke whale skeleton courtesy of a group that does whale/sea turtle/basking shark rescues, also available for touching and close examination. So interesting!

Smile!

Smile!

As for the whales? Well…

We saw them!

Humpbacks, and quite a few of them, some very close to the shore. It was AMAZING. I wish I could have got better pictures for you all, but I don’t have a camera that’s better than the one in my phone, and it’s a very, VERY bad idea to get too close to the water at Cape Spear. Even on calm days rogue waves can come up, and not a year goes by when at least one tourist doesn’t get swept away after he/she ignores the dozen “dangerous coastline, stay on designated trails” signs.

This doesn’t stop idiots people with no brains careless… um… well, people who think the signs aren’t for them from taking their little kids down to get closer to the whales… and the dangerous ocean. I love you guys, but not that much.

But I did get this for you.

See the light blue patch between the dorsal fin and the rocks? That’s one massive, white flipper right there. One was swimming away and we could see both stretched out to the sides… just amazing.

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When they exhale, they make a very loud “PFFFT” sound. AJ thinks they were just making fun of all of the crazy humans watching them from the shore.

One more thing before we leave the whales: When they go back under, the water pooling behind them leaves a flat space in the waves. This is called a whale footprint. Yes, I got pictures of the Prints of Whales.

You didn't think you were getting out of this without at least one stupid pun, did you?

You didn’t think you were getting out of this without at least one stupid pun, did you?

So that was our trip to Cape Spear. If you’re ever in St. John’s and have a way to get out there, I highly recommend visiting. Even if the weather’s not perfect and the whales aren’t around, it’s an amazing place. Have I ever showed you all my pictures from the foggy evening we spent up there last summer? It was creepy and surreal and quiet and kind of mind-blowing. We went past the old lighthouse:

Tell me this doesn't look haunted.

Tell me this doesn’t look haunted.

…and out onto the lands beyond. Very eerie in the fog! When I stepped close to the edge of the cliffs, it was like the end of the world opening up under my feet.

I got the most delightful shivers!

I got the most delightful shivers!

The ocean was down there somewhere. I know, because I could hear it whispering.

A few more pictures from last August:

foggy lighthouse

pitcher plant. Yep, our provincial flower is carnivorous.  How fun and creepy!

Pitcher plant. Yep, our provincial flower is carnivorous. How fun and creepy is that?

Remember when I said the glaciers dropped boulders all over the place? Sometimes they did stuff like this. I sat under there. It was cozy. :)

Remember when I said the glaciers dropped boulders all over the place? Sometimes they did stuff like this. I sat under there. It was cozy.

So there you go. That’s Cape Spear, and I love it. Highly recommended if you’re out that way, with or without the whales. 🙂


Breath of Fresh Air

We’re going to St. John’s soon. In semi-unrelated news, whales have been spotted near Signal Hill (this signal hill, in fact) in the past few days. I doubt we’ll see them, but still. EXCITING!

I wonder if a trip out on a boat is in the budget… probably not, since we’re trying to save for our trip to Ontario. How fun would that be, though?!


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