O Canada: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Our national anthem!!!!  Of course!!

‘O Canada’ came about in 1880 as a song for Saint-Jean-Baptiste day celebrations.  In French!!!  The English version wasn’t created until 1906.  I honestly thought the English version came first!  I’m learning stuff about my own country doing this challenge! We have sung ‘O Canada’ as our national anthem since 1939 but not officially until 1980 by an Act of Parliament and Royal Assent.

Today we sing it almost always as a combination of French and English.  Here are the lyrics:

O Canada! Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,

Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée

Des plus brillants exploits.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Of course though, the lyrics aren’t always so clear.  Most of my American colleagues only know the first two words and tune of the anthem, and also take it upon themselves to sing said two words to Canadians whenever they see us Canadians.  So now, I continue the song for them!  They sing “O Canada….”  and I sing back “something, something, something!”

Because I love creativity, here’s the song as sung in English by four…. of the same guy.  It slightly creeps me out that he’s looking and smiling at himself while he sings, but it’s a great rendition!

While the U.S. has specific rules regarding the playing and singing of their national anthem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner‘, there are no specific rules regarding how the ‘O Canada’ should be performed. Unofficial etiquette is to start or end any ceremonies with the song, men remove their hats and military members come to attention and salute the flag.

Both countries are obviously extremely proud of their national anthems.  And we know how important they are to each other.  In November 2014, the microphone cut out during the singing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ during a Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Nashville Predators hockey game, prompting the entire crowd to complete the song, Canadians and Americans alike. Not long after, to repay the favour, Nashville Predators fans sang the Canadian National anthem at a home game in the U.S.A.!

 

Avro Arrow: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Good morning!  I didn’t have a theme reveal, but I decided – since I’m a Canadian living in Colorado – that I am going to focus my #AtoZChallenge on Canadiana.  Words, phrases, things, foods, places.  This should be interesting.  Believe it or not, I’ve had a hard time coming up with topics for every letter of the alphabet: I think mostly because I take those things for granted.

So, today I’d like to talk about the CF-105 Avro Arrow! This is a little different than my usual kayaking and adventure posts, but I hope you’ll find it interesting…

The CF-105 Avro Arrow made its first test flight almost exactly 58 years ago (March 25, 1958). It was supposed to be a state-of-the art Canadian designed (and made) delta-wing, hypersonic interceptor, intended to fly at Mach 2 speeds over 50,000 feet.  This aircraft was going to put Canada on the aviation map.

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Source: The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

 

But it didn’t quite happen that way and has gone down in history as a legend, a conspiracy story, a failure.

In February of 1959, the entire project was cancelled and within two months, there was very little evidence that the aircraft ever existed.

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Source: canadianhistoryforkids.com

 

This is where things started getting interesting. There were so many theories abound: one that a Russian spy had infiltrated the production line; many political theories; and rumours that one Avro Arrow was hidden from destruction, to name a few.

Only five years ago, information surfaced suggesting that an ejection seat from a CF-105 was found in the United Kingdom, owned by a private collector, refuelling speculation about the possibility that a complete jet was saved from destruction and possibly flown across the Atlantic. The owner of the seat told CTV News that he was “100% positive” he saw an Arrow land at RAF Manston Air Base when he was a teen, living near the base.

The Avro Arrow will go down in history as a Canadian legend, and unsolved mystery and to many a missed opportunity to make aviation history.

The art of packing….

Packing when traveling is something I have never mastered!  I ALWAYS bring way more than I need, and usually come back from a trip with only half of what I packed actually used.  Now, I get that you have to be prepared for various weather situations, but it was clear to me that I wasn’t being as efficient as I could be.

My trip to Africa was my first foray into ‘thoughtful packing’. I had a friend assist me in packing up one 60L backpack to last me two weeks.  Not only that, but said pack also needed to hold my mountain climbing clothing, altitude layers, sleeping bag and resort wear for the last two days in Zanzibar.

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Not too long ago, I discovered the freedom of flying without checking luggage.  I flew to Toronto from Denver for a wedding and only brought a small roller carry-on.  It was exhilarating!  I was able to walk in, get on the plane, and walk off!

So a month later, I tried it again – flying from Denver to Bangor, Maine. This time, I was a bridesmaid.  I carried my dress in a garment bag and laid it on top of the overhead luggage. On the way back I just crammed everything into my carry-on suitcase.  It worked so well!

I started learning how to come up with coordinating garments that would allow me to make multiple outfits out of a few pieces of clothing without anyone really knowing.  One pair of jeans, a couple of blouses and jackets.

Then I started rolling my clothes to make more room.  And I came up with this on my most recent ‘checked-bag-free’ trip from Denver to Washington, D.C.:

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This was actually a business trip.  I had dress slacks, jackets and blouses in there, along with workout clothes, a laptop, and toiletries!!

What are some of your light packing tips?

 

N = Nicaragua

NNicaragua is a country situated north of one of my favourite places: Costa Rica.  Despite some uneducated people warning me that Nicaragua was dangerous and that there was fighting along the border, I did some research and decided to take a day trip into the country from Guanacaste.

I’m so glad I did!

Nicaragua is a beautiful country, despite being one of the poorest in the Americas. I was happy to contribute even a little bit to their economy and to my guide. Tourism in Nicaragua is quickly growing, and I expect as more and more expats retire and visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua will be the next hidden gem. There is so much history, culture and fascinating architecture to experience.

One of the highlights of the visit was enjoying a local band play on the hill overlooking Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve.

Enjoy the photos I took from my short excursion!  I will definitely be back!

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K = Kandahar

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I spent some time in Kandahar in 2009. Things weren’t great when I was there. But its history has seen much, much worse than what I saw.

Here are some interesting facts I put together about the city of Kandahar:

– It is one of the oldest human settlements in the world.

– Although it seems to be in a rather barren, uninhabitable area, it has held great strategic importance over centuries due to its location along important trade routes between the different edges of Asia.

– It was believed to have been founded by Alexander the Great in 330 BC and “Kandahar” comes from a local interpretation of “Alexander”

– Kandahar has been witness to alternating periods of war and peace and as such, the people have evolved to be resilient and adopt a survival instinct to keep their families alive.

– Kandahar International Airport was built in the 1960’s, by Afghans but under USAID support.  Over the years it has been controlled by Afghans, Soviets, Taliban and most recently, NATO, over the years. While the airfield was controlled by NATO, it was considered one of the busiest airports in the world with up to 5,000 military flights of all varieties coming in and out each week.Today, six commercial airlines service the airport and it is still used by NATO forces and the Afghan Air Force.

– Kandahar is also where my country spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to make things better after the Taliban were forced into hiding and NATO moved in to prevent them from using the area as a safe haven and training ground for terrorists. Canada put effort into eradicating polio, building schools and other infrastructure (such as the Dahla Dam), training teachers and security forces.  Kandahar Province is also where many Canadians gave their lives toward the effort: at least 130 young Canadians lost, and many more Afghans gone from this world because of constant conflict in the area. May they rest in peace.

I only hope that one day, Kandahar can be a thriving city in the crossroads of the world. Although, judging by its history, I’m not so sure that could ever be possible.
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I = Iceland

II was intrigued by Iceland. It absolutely inspired me. I decided to spend two weeks in Iceland with my mom, travelling around the entire island and see what it was all about. What an incredible experience, and what stunning and gorgeous countryside.  This is a place of dreamers. There is so much majesty, you can’t help but feel the magic and imagine the generations of Sagas that tell wild and crazy stories of the country’s history.

I learned history, I tried local foods, I saw gnomes and trolls, I peered over waterfalls, I stood beside active geysers, I tasted million year old ice, I rode Icelandic horses (don’t call them ponies), I ate puffin (sorry birdie, had to try the local fare), and I met some of the friendliest people.

Enjoy the photos!

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D = Dubrovnik

DAs part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, once we post our blog entry for the day, we are supposed to go through this list, visit other blogs and comment.  I’ve been checking out the next four blogs after mine,and one (TR) or Travel blog each day! The other day I found this great blog entry written by Jeremy about traveling alone. Travel can be a completely different experience whether you’re in groups, as a couple or on your own.  I quite enjoy “lonesome traveling”.  It prevents distractions and allows me to see things more clearly and better immerse myself in the local culture.

One place I visited alone was Dubrovnik, Croatia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik is a fascinating walled city on the Mediterranean. Despite its protected status, the Yugoslav People’s Army didn’t seem to care and besieged the city for seven months in 1991 and 1992, destroying more than half of the city’s infrastructure. It didn’t take long following the most recent Balkan’s conflict to begin rebuilding efforts in the original style and originally used material.

Back to traveling alone:  I spent four days in Dubrovnik, simply walking around the city, taking in the sights and sounds, and concentrating on the remnants of a not-forgotten war. It was amazing how much was reconstituted in only eight years and how quickly the city gave the appearance of returning to a normal life.

** Neat Fact: Most recently, Dubrovnik has been used as various sets for the television show The Game of Thrones, depicting the city of King’s Landing.

Enjoy my pictures.  Taken in 2000, before I could afford a digital camera!

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Walled city with Lokrum in the background

Walled city with Lokrum in the background

Narrow streets and stairways

Narrow streets and stairways

Dubrovnik from above

Dubrovnik from above

Dubrovnik from above.  Looks like they had cable cars prior to the war - see bottom right corner of photo.

Dubrovnik from above. Looks like they had cable cars prior to the war – see bottom right corner of photo.