It was the smaller, follow-up earthquake that did it for Christchurch and its eponymous primary landmark. The first – a 7.1-magnitude rattler that struck New Zealand’s third-largest city on September 4, 2010 – had injured locals, shaken buildings and raked downtown’s beloved cathedral with cracks and broken windows.
But the 1881-built Christ Church Cathedral – a hulking Gothic Revival icon that loomed over the city centre and dominated South Island postcards – remained standing, comforting Kiwis as a symbol of...
On a bright autumn afternoon, I’m nursing a warm cappuccino at a café in Old Leipzig’s pedestrian-friendly heart. Hard to believe just across the plaza, in St. Nicholas Church a movement began that would bring German communism to its knees.
Monday “peace prayer” groups had long been meeting in the pretty, while-columned church. Just a dozen-odd people at first-- no big deal-- but word spread, and crowds grew until, overflowing the church, they spilled out onto the streets. By October 9, 1989 they numbered 70...
America's Worst Weather: A Trek Up Mount Washington Can Be Delightfully Foul by Peter Johansen...
Destination British Columbia
Published inMontreal Gazette, July 14, 2014
Rik Dow apologizes. He’s guided us up the highest mountain in the American northeast for a panoramic view, but we’re shrouded in pea soup. “I’m disappointed for you folks that the clouds aren’t cooperating for scenery,” he says. “But they’re cooperating to show off the weather we’re famous for.”
At 1,917 metres, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington sits in a magical kingdom of peaks and valleys. Wild rivers course through. Shades of green escape counting. It’s so jaw-droppingly picturesque that painters (...
The piercing scream is sudden and unexpected, stopping us in our tracks on the muddy trail. An ugly confrontation is in progress nearby, but only the gnashing and growling makes it beyond the impenetrable wall of bamboo. Moments later, the prize we’ve been seeking for days stumbles out of the forest. It’s dirty and bloodstained, fresh from a brutal mating battle, but it’s the real deal: a rare giant panda.
We’ve come to the wilds of central China – the Foping Nature Reserve, high in the Qin Ling...
I always thought bird poop was something you wiped off your car or clothing as fast as possible. I never knew it was worth money, but for a few years in the late 19th century 80 percent of Peru’s income was derived from seabird droppings or guano.
Peru has been described as the ‘birdiest’ county in the world. With over 1800 species it rivals Columbia for most species, but Peru has more endemic species and more species counted in a single day.
Not only are the birds a visual delight, they are...
Published inAir Canada enRoute Magazine, October 31, 2013
On a whirlwind eating spree – and a spin through the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition – our writer follows Gallic cuisine on its quest to regain top spot on the podium of the world’s great culinary cultures.
Purple and blue floodlights wash over the historic city hall in Lyon, its marble fountains and archways looking like a 17th-century monument primed for prom night. Inside, the champagne is free-flowing as chefs Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller and Guy Savoy huddle around one of the cocktail...
They say the two islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are sisters. I see St. Kitts as the older one with a closet full of splashy outfits: casinos, sprawling resort properties, a cruise port and acres of duty free shopping. Little sister Nevis is the Cinderella of the duo. Modest and hard working; pretty with plenty of substance. It’s not that there is anything wrong with St. Kitts; it’s just that Nevis has … a better personality. There. I’ve put my bias up front.
Published inJust for Canadian Dentists, January/February 2014
It’s late in the afternoon and the sun has already dropped behind the western hills, now swathed in deep shadows, that stand sentinel over Algonquin Park’s southeast boundary. A light snow falls and there is a thick layer on the ground, fluffy as a feather quilt.
The silence is absolute but for the crunch our snowshoes make on the snow as we step onto the trailhead of an undulating path just inside the park.
Come July, visitors to Algonquin flood Highway 60, the park’s main artery...
The Happiest Place on Earth caters to guests with a range of abilities
I barely survived the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland when I was three, so I wondered if Bennett, my six-year-old autistic son, would embrace a pirate’s life or stage an epic tantrum in the middle of New Orleans Square from sensory overload when our family flew south to Anaheim, Calif., on vacation. But it turns out the famous resort, along with sister park,...
Published in Canadian Geographic Travel, Summer 2014
Behind the rodeo grounds on the edge of Pincher Creek, a small town in southwestern Alberta at the confluence of highways 6, 507 and 785, cowboys have improvised a locker room. Sitting in the grass, they tape themselves up for another ride, shoring up busted elbows and knees with Ace bandages. Steer wrestlers limber up with squats and jumping jacks, while saddle bronc riders put their saddles in the dirt and jerk back and forth in pantomime of the ride to come.
Northwest Passage: Where the Ghosts of History Roam by Bruce Kemp
Published in: West of the City Magazine, November 2013
The big, cream-coloured male bear paced with us along the shore not more than fifty metres from where I crouched in the bow of the inflatable boat. With his poor vision we were a fuzzy outline, but the outboard engine’s low thrum warned him interlopers were just offshore. Awestruck by his size and raw power of his movements, the thing I remember now was the hope that if he decided to charge, my boat driver could get us out of there in a big hurry.
On a remote isle adrift in the forbidding Atlantic off the Newfoundland coast, Murray McDonald weaves the islanders’ hardscrabble traditions into contemporary statements befitting the sustainability ethos of the visually striking Fogo Island Inn. XXX bundles up to visit a faraway wintry hinterland.
Out on the North Atlantic on the eastern edge of North America, the January winds wail and thick sheets of ice crack apart as we make our way on the ferryboat from Farewell to Fogo Island before driving another...
The ultimate Doctor Who: fan-boy pilgrimage to Britain by John Lee
Published in:The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2013
My replica Sonic Screwdriver doesn’t necessarily make me a nerd when it comes to Doctor Who, the world’s longest-running TV sci-fi show. But my TARDIS-patterned bathrobe and remote-controlled Dalek are conclusive evidence of a slavish love for all-things Gallifrey.
And if you understood any of those references, you’re likely just as excited as me about the weekend of November 23, when the show’s 50th anniversary special will be simulcast around the world.
Play hipster for a day in Portland by Joanne Blain
Published in: The Vancouver Sun, April 19, 2014
The only thing cooler than Portland just might be Portlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein's sketch-comedy sendup of the coastal Oregon hipster haven.
The hit indie show skewers some of Portland's best-known traits, including its love of dogs, DJs and coffee and its reverence for cyclists and recycling. And it's populated with enough oddball characters — including a slew of celebrity guest stars — to remind you that you're definitely not in Kansas any more.
Make no bones about it, Monty Wade was one pampered pooch. Until his passing earlier this year, the spritely half-cocker, half-bichon frise had logged more travel miles than most bipeds. He even enjoyed a retirement trip to California, where he relished lounging in a backyard pool in Palm Springs and strutting through Downtown Disney, before checking into his kennel at the park.
“Of everything Monty had done in his life, he still hadn’t seen the ocean. It...