28 June 2014

The Trip part 4

We all traveled down to Ottawa together on the Thursday so that I could fly back home on Saturday.

We were treated to the hospitality of two wonderful families. I stayed with the Branch President's family and Dad and Tina stayed around the corner at the home of the former Branch President. I have met so many great people on this trip and their kindness and hospitality was truly appreciated.

President and Sister Brulé - my great hosts

Elder and Sister Rhodes with Brother Brent Conway (former Branch President),
my travel agent to get to Val d'Or and our Friday night tour guide
We arrived in Ottawa Thursday night and went straight to the Canadian Museum of Nature. On Thursday nights, museums are free, except for the special exhibit that we paid for and the main reason for going to this museum. 

The Canadian Museum of Nature, "The Castle" built in 1910 in the Tudor Gothic style. This was once the former home of the Museum of Civilization, The National Gallery of Art and even Parliament after the fire in 1916. (Picture from Tina)
I had seen posters everywhere for the exhibit "Creatures of Light, Nature's Bioluminescence" with a great image of a jelly fish. I had seen a fantastic jelly fish tank down at Epcot in Orlando and when I saw that the exhibit included live specimens, it sounded like a good choice. The poster and my expectations were not realized - sure the mushrooms that glowed were pretty cool but the live species were a few plants and a couple of teeny tiny fish with a little glowing light. No jelly fish! (unless you count the fake plastic creations displayed in the room). 

So not what I thought it would be but I loved the minerals section (took lots of blurry pictures there - more camera issues) and the birds and animals were displayed well although stuffed and the zoo is a much better way to see these. Oh well. 
Canadian Museum of Nature - including the skeleton of a blue whale - 19.8 metres
Saturday morning we enjoyed a yummy breakfast with the Brule family before heading down to Parliament Hill for a tour. The skies were grey and we had to pull out the umbrellas once or twice. We picked up our tour tickets and walked around the grounds until it was time to go inside.

Monument to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.
It was first displayed at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900.

Statue of Lester B. Pearson, Canada's 14th Prime Minister and
recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to create the United Nations peace-keeping force.

The guide to the Hill tells visitors to rub his left shoe for luck. When I told Dad, he promptly put his own foot up on the plinth and rubbed his shoe. "I make my own luck." 
We had a tour guide from Alberta who took us in at the Peace Tower and through the Centre Block. I enjoyed seeing where the home of our Federal Government, where debates are held and decisions are made. Now I want to go back someday and watch from the gallery. But with the renovations (a 30 year project), when the West Block is completed, this building will be closed for its turn for renovations. I'm glad I had this chance to visit.

Tour of Parliament Hill, Centre Block
Top Left (clockwise) The Senate Chamber, The Centennial Flame in front of the Peace Tower and Centre Block,
the main door to the House of Commons, Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, The House of Commons,
Hallway leading to the Parliamentary Library
After touring inside, we completed our walk around the grounds. Such gorgeous lilacs and views of the Ottawa River and buildings nearby. Dad and Tina tried out the whispering wall and it really works! It was good to see the familiar set of sculptures of the women of "The Famous Five" that has its twin standing in downtown Calgary in Olympic Plaza.

Pictures from the grounds.
From top left (clockwise) Exterior of the Parliamentary Library, The Alexandra Bridge across the Ottawa River,
Notre Dame Cathedral, National Gallery of Canada, Statue of  William Lyon Mackenzie King,
Two of the Famous Five (Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney),
Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Baldwin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
on top of a whispering wall

Friday night - we met Brent Conway for dinner and then got a guided tour from one end of Ottawa to another. We drove around the area by Rideau Hall, out to the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators, along the canal and around Dow's Lake, and finished up at Hog's Back Falls Park.  
View of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Shore from Rockcliffe Lookout, built in 1924
Hog Back Falls Park

Saturday morning was time for us to say our goodbyes. It was good to know that it was just for a short time and that I would see them again back in Alberta this summer. (update: approximately Aug 5)

We enjoyed pancakes at the Conway's home and we made a plan for me to get to the airport but still do some final sightseeing before my late afternoon flight. We drove down to the Byward Market area and parted ways. I headed over to the Notre Dame Cathedral to check out the inside. A beautiful building. 

Notre Dame Cathedral - a 170 year old basilica and a National Historic Site of Canada

After the Cathedral, I took a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint. It seemed fitting after my time in the Valley of Gold to finish my tour holding a 24 K bar of gold (under watch of a guard that did not allow a photo with him in the background).

"Lift a 24 K gold Bar, cast right here at the Royal Canadian Mint.
The bar weighs approximately 28 pounds."

And then my final walk through the market, finishing up with lunch at Wang's Noodle House.

Ottawa, Byward Market
Byward Market stall

Ottawa, Byward Market
Lunch in Byward Market - Wang's Noodle House

It was time to make my way to my meeting point with Genvieve - my ride to the airport and holder of my luggage. I'm glad we planned to meet outside of downtown - with the traffic all shut down from the road race on the weekend, I was happy to be traveling against all the cars trying to get to the city center. And glad to be heading home after being on the road for three weeks.

26 June 2014

The Trip part 3

Val d'Or
Elder and Sister Rhodes with Val d'Or behind them (Taken up on the Rotary Tower)

It was so nice to see Dad and Tina. They met me at the bus and after meeting the  missionaries next door, visiting and getting settled we headed to bed to be up for church in the morning.

Val d'Or
My room for the week

Val d'Or
The view from the apartment before church
Packing up for Sunday meetings

I woke up in Quebec. My high school french was not going to cut it so I had to use the translation headphones during Sacrament meeting. I attended the English Sunday School class and then I sat with Cindy, another non-francophone, in Relief Society,  following along in the English manual and scriptures and trying to keep pace with the class. I remembered spending the greater part of my mission doing this in Korea. Despite not having a high council speaker this Sunday, the branch met for soup and sandwiches after the meeting.

Primary painted Prayer Rocks, Lunch after meetings, Dad doing dishes - his way, I'm sure
Monday was Victoria Day - not the biggest celebration in Canada but maybe especially so in Quebec. So while some businesses were closed and people enjoyed a day off, we went on a walkabout on the main thoroughfare - 3rd Avenue, Val d'Or.  I was familiar with the area all ready because of my virtual tours using Google street view, so it was fun to see it in person. Up and down the avenue, businesses had set up front sidewalk cafe seating by adding boardwalk extensions into the parking spots. Clever idea if the parking isn't essential.

Val d'Or
This is the front door of the church (meeting rooms and offices on the 2nd floor) on 3rd Avenue.

Third Avenue, Val d'Or
Monday night was Men's Night. We dropped off Dad and went to visit with Josette. Loved her home and garden. She has a very welcoming place and it was a great visit.


Men's Night - we arrived in time for the end of the game and snacks. 
Tuesday included some shopping:

This is obviously a favourite spot considering all the great deals on items now in their apartment. Dad was looking at silk ties and leather belts. Tina found a next to new spring green jacket that looked great on her. I resisted but browsed the books, art and knick knacks.

Entertainment in Val d'Or - Thrift store shopping
We stopped in at the mall as well. I found a new t-shirt (my luggage included more formal clothing than I wanted to wear - especially in the humidity in Ottawa. After the mall, we picked up some groceries and I learned about the availability of some new sweet treats - I've never heard of sugar or maple syrup pie before. So I bought the maple syrup pie to take home. Yum - especially warmed up!

Val d'Or
Sweet treats in Quebec
I was also called to action to teach English class that night. The topic was already chosen for me and I didn't have a good sense of how comfortable everyone was with their English but we worked it out - I always know after what I would have done differently but it was fun. I made puffed wheat squares for the snack afterwards.

English Class - Working with partners

English Class - sharing Puffed Wheat squares after the lesson
Gold was discovered in this area back in 1923 and Val d'Or (which means Valley of Gold) is surrounded by mines. Copper, zinc and lead are also important resources in the area. On Wednesday, after walking up the Rotary Tower and taking pictures of Val d'Or,  we drove over to an area of Val d'Or called "The City of Gold". It is the mining village of Bourlamaque, and the Lamaque mine, closed in 1985 when the supply of gold was exhausted. It is now used for mining training and was declared a National Historic Site in 2012.

The Historic Mining Village of Bourlamaque

Val d'Or
Lamaque Mine (taken from the Rotary Tower)
We also drove a half hour out to visit the nearby town of Malartic a hub of mining in the region since 1923. In 2008, Osisko Mining found an untapped reservoir of gold under the town and is now the largest open pit gold mine in Canada. While I was there, this mine was setting records in gold production with a value of $72 million recovered. The mine has a viewing platform that is opened for visitors when blasting isn't taking place. I enjoyed watching the gigantic equipment at work. You can see more pictures of this area on Elder and Sister Rhodes' blog here.

Osisko Gold Mine
Before we went out to dinner, Tina and I stopped in to visit Madame Gabrysz, landlady for their apartment. She was delightful to visit - a real treasure and graciously took me on a quick tour of her home.  I could have spent more time visiting with her. She has quite a rich history and an creative and artistic sensibility. I took some pictures but more didn't turn out than did. I am still learning about my camera - inside close shots are not its strong point - it does much better with outdoor landscape shots and zooming.  But here are a few - more are here, including a photograph of her with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Val d'Or
This is a great photo of Madame, one that she is quite pleased with. 

Val d'Or
This room has items of significance from WWII. (She put her hair down for me - gorgeous)

Val d'Or
The mannequins are adorned with furs, scarves, jewelry, hold instruments and have Barbie dolls perched on their shoulders. Whimsical and so much fun to see the kitsch mixed in with items of real value - gorgeous Inuit sculptures, paintings, etc.  
Her artistic creations are whimsical and so much fun, you will see the kitsch mixed in with items of real value - gorgeous Inuit sculptures, paintings, etc.   Madame Gabrysz is featured in a French documentary about her and the priest from the local Ukrainian church, The Cossack and the Gypsy.  Here's the trailer.

Our final meal in Val d'Or was poutine - what else would you eat in Quebec?

I am so glad I was able to come to Val d'Or and share in this missionary experience. Dad and Tina are happy and making a real difference in people's lives - they are loved and they love the people right back. I know they will be sad to leave but it will be great to have them back home again.

Elder Thia and Elder Luggo- saying hello

Val d'Or
Elder Luggo and Elder Thia - saying goodbye
My visit in Val d'Or wouldn't have been the same without the Elders next door. 
They greeted me my first night and bid me farewell before I left. 

And in between, we had fun sending messages using the communication method of a clothesline that extended from our balcony to theirs. The interesting accessories when they came to say goodbye was referencing a picture that had been delivered earlier. 

It all started when we noticed the message "Hello Lovely Neighbors!"  

Messages to the Missionaries - using the clothesline delivery system

Val d'Or
The Elders ready to teach the people of Val d'Or
We left Val d'Or Thursday to head down to Ottawa for some final sightseeing before I returned to Calgary. We stopped at the Chutes du Lac Roland as we headed south. 

Chutes du Lac Roland

The three of us on a roadside break at the falls
My trip is not over yet - a few more days left to tour Ottawa. More in the next post!

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