Saturday, July 26, 2014

More than half way!

Time is flying! I am now 3/5 done my French program, which seems crazy. This week was filled with a lot of exam prep, as we had what I guess were mid-terms. I'm glad the tests are mostly done. Its interesting (as a wanna-be employed teacher) to reflect on the amount of anxiety I feel over tests that really don't matter at all. I'm taking this course for me - not for the credits or grades, but still - tests freak me out. Also, classes where I often feel... dumb - where I don't understand what's going on, is a really good space for reflecting on the experience of many of the little people I've taught in the last while, who were new to English. Lessons to be learned, all around.

Today, I went on another hike. This time to the Vallée-Bras-du-Nord which is about an hour from Québec City. This was a better hike for me than the last one. Less steep, which was appreciated. The weather was great, not as hot - and the rain thankfully held off until we stepped onto the bus. 

The river was really pretty - it looked red-ish, but that seems to be from the riverbed. It was nice to hike with the occasional sounds of the river in the background.

Because I'm me, I took lots of pictures of moss and other green things... you're warned.

Seems like at some point, I need to post something with a maple... no?
Our first stop (after about 3.5 km) was a the Chut-Delaney. At the end of the hike, we were pretty close to the top of this waterfall, but further over. It's a long way up...
Thanks to Claire who took my photo for me!
From there, we started to climb. The rest of the way up, was about another 6km. It was so green, and the shade made it quite fresh. I'm not really adapting to the humidity here. I feel sticky, most of the time, so it was nice to have a slightly cooler day, while on the move. 

This from the lookout, about half way up.

From the top!
And then of course, you have to come back down. I am still undecided which direction I like better. I think it's part of the reason I like loops...

There were some plants that we were wondering about...
Anyone know what this is? It's a short shrub, that looks like it
might be related to a fir... but doesn't smell like one.
or how about the fern with the rounded leaves?
I really like the things that grown on trees! Especially how colourful some are

It's a funny thing, handing over your camera to ask someone to take a picture for you...
I get a lot of them back, where they're blurry. I am not sure why I can't seem to remember to switch
things to automatic before passing it over...
At this point there was thunder all around, but it still looked really nice out.
10 minutes later we were on the bus - and the sky opened up! Great timing.
It was a fun journey. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow.
Peace to you~ 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Aventure d'ete

I am currently on a mini-adventure, attempting to learn French in the lovely Quebec City. I just finished my second week (which seems astounding - I'm sometimes amazed at how fast time flies, when in other moments in creeps along so slowly). Anyway - I've been taking a bunch of photos - and I'm a bit behind on sharing them, for those at home, who told me to take lots! So here goes:

This is the building where I spend most of my days.

It's been great so far! My brain seems to be clinging annoyingly to Spanish, but I am sure that will continue to improve. I'm living with a host family again, and that is great.

We spend the mornings in class, but then the rest of the day is left to be filled by activities (put on by the school), homework, or whatever else you choose. Comically, I am part of the Club des maîtres which you need to be 28+ to be a part of, as the majority of students here are part of the J'Explore program and are between 18 and 24. The comical part, is I haven't yet had much success convincing anyone that I'm over 28 - and while I haven't been ID'd pertaining to alcohol, I get questioned about my ability to participate in activities almost every day.

My first week here, was the end of the Festival d'été de Québec - an 11 day music festival that has a bunch of free stages, as well as the stages you need a pass to get into. It was fun to be able to wander around, people watch, and listen to great music - in the midst of my worst week of language confusion. 

One of the open air, free stages.
I also went to see the Stars, which was a great concert.
One of the first activities of the Club des Maîtres was a wine and cheese tasting, that also included a beer tasting, all of local Quebecoise delights.

The evening began with a sampling of beer from a local brewery.
Following the beer, we had 3 courses, each with different cheeses and wines.
The cheese was better than the wine, although we ended with
this maple cream liquor - that was quite tasty.
It was a fun night - although I had not anticipated full glasses of wine at each tasting. Thank goodness for so much cheese, bread, and fruit - or my walk home would have been daunting. It was also nice to start to get to know some slightly older folks. For many of the students in my class, this is their first time away from home, which comes with its own adventure, that I'm having a hard time identifying with. 

Yesterday, I went along on the hike to Cap Tourmente, which is at a nature preserve. The hike itself was a bit tough for me, in parts. I am not used to steep uphills, OR the mix of 32 degrees and high humidity. The combination felt a bit rough, but it was pretty enough that it was totally worth it. The reserve runs along the St. Laurence. In the spring and fall it is apparently hugely important site for many migratory birds, which makes sense as it is a mix of forest, prairie grasses/flowers, and estuaries, before hitting the river. 

Does anyone know what these are? They were everywhere - and I think they're so pretty!
These were all maples!

As we got higher up the mountain, all the trees changed, as did the smells. It was really pretty.
The view from the top was really pretty, looking out over the river, but it was kind of hazy and my photos make it look very bland - so I won't show those. :)

There's been a lot of play, but I need to get on with my homework. Week three this week, and exams begin! 

I hope you're having a great summer! 
Peace to you~

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicago - the Shed Aquarium

There are lots of great things about travelling with Tia. She's funny, fun, organized, sweet... we have similar tastes in food, activities, transportation... but something I LOVE about travelling with her is getting to geek out, learning fun science-y things that I would NEVER learn otherwise. It was no different in Chicago. We went to the Shed Aquarium - and it was awesome! I took way too many photos, because I was captivated by all the jellyfish and other things that live under water that I usually don't get to see because 1) I live in the middle of the prairies and 2) most of the super cool things live deep in oceans, where I am somewhat scared to go.

Anyway, I thought I'd show you a couple of my favourites. What do you think? Wanna go? I'd love to go back sometime. I didn't get to see everything I had wanted to.

Yep - it's as big as it looks!
I got excited right at the beginning - there are even fish and other ocean things on the lights!
Looking at fish - I decided that cartoons have tainted my brain.
They all have really bizarre voices in my head...
Tia taught me about how sea stars eat! as I questioned why some were so 'puffy'
(guess who has a long way to go before being science-y)

I love the colour of this guy!
Belly up (a great time for a more advanced lesson about eating and movement!)

I have a jelly-problem. I could have watched them bob and float around for days. I need to figure out which photos to get rid of, as I took far too many to store, realistically. Aren't they cool?

These are the first ones that made for a quick (and great lesson on jelly-organs)!
According to the sign - these ones are still babies.

I have to admit, I'm not a great student... I don't remember a lot of what I was taught... BUT these ones live upside down, and have a relationship with the plants that live on them. They were SO pretty!
I can't even fully tell what part is jelly - and what part is plant. So neat.
I love polka-dots - and I think this one looks like it has ruffly pantaloons! I think this kind was my favourite...
but I change my mind a lot.

These ones looked to me like something out a Nintendo game. They were tiny - and adorable!
That said, they move SO fast, it was really hard to get a decent photo.
Another spot for a fun little lesson on barnacles - and how they eat!
Sometimes I forget shrimp have such sweet faces.
I don't remember which was which anymore, but this tank had sea horses, and sea dragons in it -
both were super neat!
The top side of a lot of sea things are pretty cool, but their bellies are just astounding!

It was a lovely adventure.