Thursday, July 19, 2018

Canada By Rail: The Train To Toronto, ON

The Train finally left Winnipeg's Union Station around 2:30 am. This leg would be our longest. Originally it was scheduled to be thirty-four hours long but, as we’ve found for all trains west of Toronto, the trains never run on time.

In case of emergency summon Mjolnir and access the power of Thor, the God of Thunder. 
Riding economy class means we are in peasant class. We do not have access to the dining car as that is reserved for the elite sleeper class. The peasants have access to a snack car with a small, but tasty, kitchen. The firefighters who got on the train before us sealed our food fate when they determined that the kitchen was unsafe. The peasants were allowed to use the dining car but, frankly, many of the people in economy are there because they can’t afford paying the dining car prices. So for them, and us mostly, we were condemned to eat unhealthy junk food and unappetizing cold sandwiches for the thirty-plus hours we were on the train.

The thirty-four hours turned out to be thirty-eight as the trained lost four more hours before it arrive in Toronto. We couldn't have gotten off that train any faster.  We'd had enough.  We collected our bags and walked the block to our hotel.  We'd planned to do a lot on our arrival but, since the train arrived nine hours late we were limited to finding a bar that served food near by (The Loose Moose), eating a good meal, and going back to the hotel to pass out in our bed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Canada By Rail: A Return To Winnipeg, MB

We returned to Winnipeg and were bused to the Inn at the Forks, a very ritzy (by my standards) hotel in the Forks area of Winnipeg. As I mentioned in another post , the Forks refers to where the Red and the Assiniboine rivers combine. We would be spending the night here before moving to the hotel where we stayed when we first arrived in Winnipeg.

The next morning we checked out and left our bags at the the Inn before walking over to the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Red river and connects Winnipeg proper and the St Boniface district. On this bridge is the Mon Ami Louis french restaurant (I posted a picture of it in this post). We stopped here and had lunch since ... how many times can you say you ate in a restaurant on a pedestrian bridge. The place was very nice. We were the first to be seated and we had a very tasty lunch.

Mon Ami Louis restaurant and the Museum of Human Rights.
We completed our walk on the pedestrian bridge and found ourselves in St Boniface - the french district of Winnipeg. St Boniface was once an independent city but, due to lack of growth, joined with Winnipeg. In this area there are all french schools and colleges. French is the primary language used at home. French restaurants abound.

Sculpture near the old
St Boniface city hall.
We walked to the old city hall and sat down in the shade in a small sculpture garden. We were planning to take a walking tour of St Boniface but we were a little early. It was very comfortable in the shade with a strong, cooling breeze. In the sun it was broiling.

We were the only ones on the walking tour today and our college student took us on a short walk through St Boniface. I think our guide was a little short on the history of the area but made up for it by giving us the perspective of a young immigrant Canadian (she was from the Congo).

The tour ended at the St Boniface cathedral. The old cathedral had burnt and when they built the new one they kept the shell of the old intact. I was hoping to get good pictures but they were preparing for a church festival of some sort and scaffolding and banners obscured much of the old cathedral structure.  I did manage to get a picture from the water taxi tour earlier in the week.

By the end of the tour we were very hot and dripping with sweat. We made our way back to the bridge and bought a couple bottles of water. We headed back up the street to a Chocolatier Constance Popp and indulged in some ice cream to help cool our overheated bodies before heading back to our hotel, got our bags, and taxied over to our other hotel where we would spend two more nights.

Fa├žade of the old St Boniface cathedral.
As we checked in the Wife was starting to not feel well. She thought it might be allergies. It probably was a cold since it lasted a few days.

On Saturday we slept in to give the Wife some time to heal before we walked over the the Museum of Human Rights. The museum is housed in a very interesting building. There are seven levels to the museum connected by long ramps. As we moved up we learned about human rights struggles in Canada and the rest of the world. By the fifth level the Wife was starting to wear down and she was cold and clammy to the touch. We switched from ramps to elevators for the last two levels before heading up to the eighth level observation deck.

The interesting Museum of Human Rights building.
We took the elevator down and had lunch in the museum bistro, bought some magnets, and returned to the hotel so that the Wife could get the rest she needed. I did laundry.

Winnipeg Legislative Building.
On Sunday we were supposed to leave at 10:30 pm on the train. We decided to extend out hotel stay so that we could wait in comfort. We expected the train to be late and we were not disappointed. I did one more load of laundry, watched the World Cup finals (the french district was in a very celebratory mood after France won), and went for a short walk. A front went through overnight and the temperatures were much more comfortable today.

The Hudson Bay Company founded in 1670.
We checked out of our hotel at 10:00 pm and walked to the train station. The train was roughly five hours late. This would cut into our limited time in Toronto. It felt good getting out of Winnipeg. It’s a nice city but the train schedule had forced us to spend too much time here I think.

Photographs can be found in my 2018-06 Canada By Rail Google Photos album.

Onward to Toronto.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Canada By Rail: A Side Trip To Churchill, MB

There once was a train that would take you to Churchill, MB from Winnipeg but the undermining of the track due to melting and shifting permafrost has cut the remote town off for at least a year now.  The only way to get to Churchill today is by air or sea.  We flew in with Lazy Bear Expeditions.

Along with bears and whales, the flowers were everywhere.
We were picked up at the airport and started our bus tour of Churchill.  Our guide was a photojournalist chock full of information and a sense of humor.  He made the tours a fun experience.  This was important since Churchill is a small, gritty town of homes, apartments, and a few double-wide trailers.  There is a layer of sand and grit on just about everywhere.  There are no stop lights - there is a four way stop sign that nearly ended in disaster when three vehicles arrived at the same time.

The land and shores around Churchill are rocky and ruggedly beautiful.
After our town tour we arrived at our log cabin style Lodge where we had lunch.  The Wife and I walked down to see if we could find some insect repellent (the airline security confiscated her spray can).  We were unsuccessful but we did explored some of the town.  The lodge offered bug head nets that we should have purchased the first day.  We didn't and learned our lesson soon afterward.

Bears sometimes get too close to town.  They are trapped, kept in a bear holding
facility (bear jail) and eventually flown fifty km or more away from town.
The first afternoon we got back on the bus and explored more of the town and the surrounding areas.  We learned about the history of the area and we visited the park interpretive center for a history of the First Nation's people in the area.  During a visit to the beach the Wife dropped her phone in the Hudson Bay.  Salt water is not good for phones.  It did not survive.  The Wife was bummed.

Our boat for the day.  Landing to look for polar bears.
On Monday we had a slow morning for self guided exploration followed by an awesome boat ride in the afternoon.  The boat was a landing craft with the fold down bow for hitting the beach.  As we went out we slowed down a bit to see the beluga whales feeding.  This time of year there are as many as sixty thousand belugas in the area.  The whales (actually a relative to the dolphin) were friendly and a bit curious approaching the boat many times.

A few beluga whales near our boat as we head up the coast.
We finished loitering around the belugas before heading up the West coast of Hudson Bay to a small peninsula.  The way North was rough and our flat bottomed boat slapped the water hard.  It was not the most comfortable ride I've had.

A polar bear way off in the distance.
We pulled up to the shore and the bow was lowered so we could walk on the shore.  Our guide went ahead of us carrying a shotgun just in case.  He would wave us ahead once he checked everything was safe.  After a short walk we saw our first polar bear.  It was just a white spot on the horizon (even through my camera) but the polar bear is the biggest predators in this region and getting too close was not a wise thing to do.  We crept as close as we could safely and we all watched the bears through our cameras and binoculars.  We saw four bears on our walk.

A polar bear way up close.
We got back on the boat and began following the coast until we saw another bear - a juvenile.  It was wandering among the glacier dropped boulders along the shore.  We thought it had walked over the ridge of the peninsula and the boat was about to turn and head home when the bear came back over the ridge and headed to the shore.  The boat was floating about ten to twenty feet off the shore.  The bear came all the way down to the water before standing on submerged stones.  It finally got in the water and was about fifteen feet away from the boat before it decided to go back up on the shore.  It was an incredible experience seeing this large animal up close.

We headed back for the hour or so long trip back to Churchill stopping briefly for some more belugas.  We ended up being out on the water for eight hours.  During that eight hours we both lost several pints of blood to the mosquitoes that were everywhere.  The mosquitoes were joined by huge biting horseflies (known as bulldogs in Churchill).  We ate late dinners, bought mosquito head nets, and went to bed.

We had most of the Tuesday off so I went walking around town.  I bought some magnets, got stamps in our passports at the post office, and took pictures of things we'd passed in the bus tour.

I can just see the smile of the beluga's face.
Tuesday evening we went out on zodiacs to get up close and personal with the beluga whales.  It's really hard to get pictures of animals in the water.  Twice during this trip I saw a beluga stick its entire head above water and twice I did not get a picture.  All I got mostly is pictures of grey humps in the water.

An interesting learning experience from our fort guide at the Prince of Wales fort.
We landed on the shore opposite the town to visit the Prince of Wales fort.  A gentleman in period costume interpreted the fort with its forty cannons which housed forty men.  It never held soldiers and mainly served a part in the area's fur trade.

The polar bear jail decorated with one of the SeaWall murals.
Thursday was also mostly free.  We'd signed up to snorkeled with the whales and many of the water related activities were held during high tide which was early evening.  We were told to put on as many layers as we could since the water was cold and the dry suits we would be wearing would not be warm enough by themselves.  It was in the upper 80's Fahrenheit (nearly 32 Celsius) so once we put on all our layers and the dry suits we began sweating buckets.  That changed rapidly once we got in the water.  The water was around 40℉ (5℃).  We were tethered to the zodiac and slowly towed through the water.  I had my small waterproof camera on me but ... it failed soon after I tried to use it.  Olympus will be getting a letter from me.  No pictures this day for me.

The brilliant orange lichen that brightens most of the landscape near Churchill.
We got in and out of the water three times searching for curious belugas but many of the belugas seemed more interested in eating than us.  I saw maybe a half dozen over the three attempts with only one getting anywhere near me.  This would have been find but I was cold ... I mean COLD.  The low number of belugas did not justify the cold for me ... especially when I started to shiver involuntarily.  I tapped out and was the first back in the boat.  While this excursion was not totally successful, it's easy to understand that these animals are not tame and you can't predict what you are going to get.

Back on the beach after a ride on the cold Hudson Bay waters.
The sun barely sets this time of year.
We were exhausted when we got back to the lodge.  We ate another late dinner and then rolled and tossed in our beds sweating and, frankly, not getting a good night's sleep.  Fortunately this was our last day and we would have time later to catch up on our sleep.

Our tundra crawler.
On Thursday, our last day , we took a short Summer tundra tour in a massive tundra crawler.  Wildlife was a bit rare this time of year and we only saw a bald eagle but it was still cool to see the tundra landscape.  We also saw the shipwreck of the SS Ithaka which was a bonus.

The SS Ithaka shipwreck.
The holes at the bottom are big enough to drive the tundra crawler through.
Our flight was late so we went back to the lodge for lunch and went out for another bus tour to see the SeaWalls public art around the town.  The murals added some meaning and a lot of color to Churchill.

An arctic Fox bounces around looking for lunch. 
Our charter flight finally arrived and we winged outreach way back to Winnipeg.

Except for the bugs I enjoyed Churchill.  At times the town felt like the most remote place I have ever been.  I'm not sure why.  We had all the amenities.  We even had cable.  But there was something that made it feel like we were on the edge of the Earth.  No matter how much we enjoyed the whales and bears, we were ready to get back to civilization.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-06 Canada By Rail Google Photos album.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Canada By Rail: Winnipeg, MB

We walked from the train station to our hotel a couple blocks down on Main st. Not many people or cars at 4:00 am. We checked in then passed out in our bed until nearly noon.

We finally got out of bed and headed to a diner we’d seen on our walk from the station. We ate and planned out the remainder of our afternoon. We called a taxi and went to the only thing on our itinerary for the day, the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Royal Canadian Mint building in Winnipeg.
The Mint in Winnipeg only makes coins. They make fifteen million coins a day for Canada and several other nations. We took pictures of the really cool building before joining a tour of the mint facilities. It was interesting to learn about the processes used to make coins and to see the variety of coins Canada issues. Makes me wish the USA would take the time to redesign our coins. I also wish Americans would use dollar coins but, for some reason, we just don’t like them.

We took another cab back to the the hotel area and stopped back at the diner for milkshakes - vanilla for the Wife and Banana Fudge for me. They were yummy.

A restaurant on a pedestrian bridge crossing the Red river.
I went out for a short walk around the downtown/Exchange area of Winnipeg. This area is trying to be hipster but it’s not quite there they. A few more years and I think it will be a fun place to spend time at.

On Saturday we walked to the Forks area of Winnipeg, named after the fork where the Red and Assiniboine rivers combine. We rode a tourist bus around seeing the highlights of Winnipeg. The city is a one of big dreams with little payoff. An example of the coasts beating out the heartland. Having said this, there is lots of potential in Winnipeg.

We did some shopping around the Forks Market, ate lunch, and took a boat tour along the river. The boat tour was a nice break from the heat. As we took these tours we took note of things we would like to go to when we get back from Churchill.

We returned to our hotel, collected our bags, and took a taxi to another hotel where our Churchill expedition would start on Sunday.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-06 Canada By Rail Google Photos album.

Onward to Churchill for the polar bears and the beluga whales.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Canada By Rail: The Train To Winnipeg

Jasper the bear says goodbye.
We left Jasper on the fourth of July, the only day in Jasper where we actually saw the Sun.  The rain we had the other days didn't slow us down too much.  We kept busy but did have to drop horseback riding for the Wife and hiking for myself.  The clearing skies on our last day allowed us to see some of the mountaintops surrounding the town before we got on the train.

The train left about an hour late which isn't too bad but it did suggest further delays later on.  The fact that the west-bound train that arrived while we were waiting was twenty-two hours late was a bit foreboding.

The clearing skies made the exit from Jasper National Park a bit more scenic though I took no pictures.  The mountains, forests, and rivers of the park eventually became the flat plains planted with green things with bright splashes of yellow canola (rapeseed for you Brits).

The clearing skies let the mountains peek through as our train approaches.
As we headed east the train stopped often to let the freight trains go by.  The freight trains have the right of way on the tracks and this part of the railway was very busy.  Each stop made us a little more off schedule.  We originally were scheduled to arrive around 9:30 pm but we pulled in six hours late at 4:00 am.

Yellow field of canola.
We checked into our hotel and slept until nearly noon before we ventured out in Winnipeg.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Canada By Rail: Jasper National Park

We pulled into Jasper station on a rainy late Saturday afternoon. We’d been checking the weather reports for a while now and knew that the weather was not going to cooperate. We rented a car and drove to Becker’s Chalets. Becker’s rooms are cabins built along the Athabasca river. The Wife and I honeymooned here twenty-one years ago.

An early morning view of the Athabasca river.
After checking in to our cozy riverside cabin we returned to town and walked along the main street looking for something to eat. Most of main street is lined by the railroad on one side and touristy shops and restaurants on the other. We ended up at the D’ed Dog Bar & Grill.

We returned to Becker’s and had a relaxing evening in front of our gas fireplace trying to plan around the weather forecast.
Canada Day Clown.

Sunday was July first, Canada Day. We decided to skip the pancake breakfast and instead slept in and ate a late brunch at a diner style restaurant. The forecast had today being the only dry day of our stay in Jasper but the forecast was not correct. Soon, after we finished brunch and we made our way to a spot along the main street to watch the Canada Day parade, it began to rain. Umbrellas came out and people filled any covered space they could find. Fortunately for everyone the rain stopped right when the parade was scheduled to start.

The parade was a simple, small town affair. A few clowns, local social/business organizations, and first responders all waving and throwing candy to all the small kids in the front row. The Wife got a kick out of the small kids in front of us jumping up and down and chasing candy.

After the parade we drove south to Athabasca Falls. I took pictures until the drizzle turned to rain. We returned to Becker’s where the Wife sat by the river outside our cabin to read her book until the drizzle forced her inside.

Monday was the day of the deluge. We took a wildlife tour which was in a bus so the rain didn’t hurt. We wildlife was surprisingly scarce. It was cold (just over 40°F) which the wildlife likes but the rain seemed to keep it undercover. We did see coyotes (with cubs), a couple black bears, some eagles, and some deer.

The tour ended just before lunchtime so we went to a restaurant recommended by the wildlife tour driver (he kept saying “right on”). The Raven Bistro was excellent! Great food.

Monday evening, despite the continuing rain, we went on a walking tour of historic Jasper. Our guide pointed out the older buildings of the town and discussed the history of Jasper the town and Jasper the park. She would have pointed out the different mountains surrounding Jasper but few of the mountains were visible through the low rain clouds. It rained all day Monday.

Why did the bear cross the road?
On Tuesday we checked out of our room. Due to booking issues we would have to move to another room (the exact same thing happened on our honeymoon). We drove south to the Athabasca glacier and the Columbia icefield. We’d done the glacier and ice field on our honeymoon so we concentrated on the new. We ate a really good buffet lunch, watched a short film about the glacier, and we walked out on the Skywalk. The Skywalk was new for us. It was a glass floored ‘bridge’ that curved out over the valley. When I first heard of it I thought it would be on the side of a mountain or something. Instead it was along the road that follows the Athabasca river. Nevertheless the views from the Skywalk were amazing (despite the continuing drizzle). The Wife was slow to walk around it - she said it made her queasy.  While I liked the skywalk, I have to say it's a bit cheesy.
The Glacier Skywalk.

Wednesday (the fourth of July) was our last day in Jasper. We slept it, checked out and went to town for lunch. We really didn’t have any plans for the day so we returned the rental car, checked our bags early at the train station, and waited for the train to arrive ... for several hours.

The Athabasca Glacier.
I’ve been trying to cut sugar and carbs from my diet lately and I discovered that waiting is the killer of good habits. While I waited for the train I fell off the wagon indulging in ice cream, banana bread, and a blueberry muffin.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-06 Canada by Rail Google Photos album.

Onward to Winnipeg.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Canada By Rail: The Train To Jasper

We arrived at the Vancouver Pacific Train Station about three hours early. We checked our bags and relaxed until they started boarding about an hour from departure time.

We had economy seats so it was a first come - first served format without assigned seats. We got a pair of seats near the middle of the car. I would say that Amtrak has more modern and comfortable seats but our seats weren’t bad.

Looking ahead to getting to Jasper.
Since our train left at 8:30 pm it got dark fairly soon. The Wife and I both managed to get some sleep in but I have had better. It didn’t help that the sun came up at 4:30 am. People started stirring when the food car started serving at 6:30 am.

Taking a break in Kamloops, Alberta.
The train arrived in Kamloops which was the only scheduled stop between Vancouver and Jasper. I got off to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. There was nothing in Kamloops. Not even a train station that I could see. We had twenty-five minutes to leave the train but there wasn’t twenty-fiver minutes worth of Kamloops near where the train stopped.

Low clouds above a river next to the train.
The scenery from the train got better as we headed east. The skies were overcast though and most of the approaching mountains were shrouded in clouds. The train slowed down as we passed by a rather spectacular set of falls only accessible from the train. It was drizzling when we saw the falls. As we got closer to Jasper it started to rain.

A waterfall next to the train with rain drops on the window
and a reflection of my red camera.
It was raining steadily as we pulled into Jasper station. This would be an indicator of what we would experience during out stay in Jasper.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Canada By Rail: The Starting Point - Vancouver, BC

Note: This post was drafted while on vacation, while I was tired, and on a cranky internet connection.  Be prepared for this post to be revised in the future.

We left Omaha last Tuesday winging our way to Vancouver via Denver. A short taxi ride got us to our hotel (the Moda Hotel) which had been suggested by my online friend Just a Girl (JaG).

Even though our flights and layovers were brief, we were both tired when we got to the hotel. Travel always takes it out of me.  We ate at a sports bar (the Red Card) just around the corner from our hotel and watched the College World Series on their big screen as we ate.

Before we went back to the room we decided to find a convenience store to buy some bottled water. As we approached the 7-Eleven we stopped short when we saw a man, clad in cowboy boots, a leopard skin cowboy hat, and a matching leopard skin speedo and nothing much else. He was making motions that looked like a cross between twerking and humping right in front of the 7-Eleven door. The Wife sucked it up and approached the door. The man reached out and held the door open for both of us. He held the door open as we left too.

The cool Vancouver Public Library modeled after the Colosseum.
The Wife went to the room and I went out for a short walk to check out the area. We were going to take a hop-on/hop-off bus the next day and I walked over to scout out where the pickup location was. I took some pictures of the interesting architecture.  I returned along a circuitous route that took me through the trendy Yaletown area of Vancouver.

I returned to the room and were both out shortly after 8:00pm.

On Wednesday we headed to the Vancouver Public Library where we would catch the bus. Before getting on the bus we found a nice little place that served breakfast called Le Petit Belge across from the Library.

There are two bus routes - the park and the city routes. We got on the park route bus and stayed on the bus for the two hour ride making notes of things we wanted to return to. Returning to the Library we stopped at McDonalds for a drink and snack. I had a croissant from the McBakery, something you can’t get in the US because we apparently are not worthy of fresh pastries at our fast food joints. As we ate we planned out our afternoon.

A water lily at the Sun Yat-sen gardens.
We got back on the bus and road it to Chinatown. Here we got off and checked out the Sun Yat-sen gardens before browsing a few stores (and buying magnets naturally).

The Steam Clock of Gastown.
Next we took the bus to Gastown where we checked out the interesting Water Street. A few more stores and a large chunk of our Vancouver magnets were in our hands. We took a few minutes to watched the steam powered clock strike (actually toot) two o’clock (it’s running four minutes fast).

We got on the city route bus here and followed it around until it got back at the library. The wife went to the Red Card to watch the second College World Series game while I walked around downtown some checking out a few things we would be visiting on Thursday.

On Thursday, after sleeping in a bit, we made our way back to the hop on/off bus and headed back to Stanley Park. Our first stop was at the Totems. The variety and artestry of the First Nation was impressive.

We walked along the seawall for a short bit admiring the Vancouver skyline before getting back on the bus to head to prospect point. On the way the bus driver spotted orca in the bay, a rare occurrence. He pulled over and let people off to take pictures.

A sample of the many Totem in Stanley Park.
At prospect point it started to drizzle. We decided to eat lunch here. The food was excellent.

The Vancouver skyline from Stanley Park.
Back on the bus we returned to the library and walked to the Vancouver Lookout. On the way there we had our second ... interesting ... encounter. At the corner across from a 7-Eleven, I heard the Wife say something to me. I turned in time to see a ‘man' in torn up white pantyhose with nothing underneath ... or over and wearing high heels. He (she?) was having a hard time keeping his (her) balance on those shoes. I looked around to see how the Canadians were reacting to this person and the only ones reacting were the Wife and I. He went into the 7-Eleven which, for some reason, didn’t surprised me.

A small sample of the views from the Vancouver Lookout.
We made it to the lookout and to the elevator up to the top where you experience 360° view of Vancouver.

We returned to our hotel and we watched the third and final game of the College World Series. I was tired so I didn’t go out walking like I’d done the previous nights.

Friday, our last day in Vancouver, we met Just a Girl (JaG), her Boy, and their cutie patutie daughter E for breakfast. JaG had suggested a restaurant on Granville Island called Edible Canada. We met them at 10:00 am and found the place was not open for another hour so we strolled around the market area and chatted about things. E wasn’t sure about us but warmed up after we gave her a hedgehog purse from the Wife’s collection.

Whimsical painted silos on Granville Island.
The food was delicious and the conversation was fun and interesting and I’m glad we were able to get together. We said our goodbyes. They went to Whistler and we headed for the aquataxi to ride around False Creek.

We got off the aquataxi briefly at the Olympic Village before returning to other side off False Creek. Not having anything else to do, and it was starting to drizzle, we hopped onto the bus again and rode the city route. We got off briefly in Gastown to get something to drink. As we waited for the next bus and very normal looking guy walked by. He looked like he was in pain and bawling his eyes out and when he passed us he said “They are torturing me!” It seems we averaged one strange incident per day while in Vancouver.

We returned to the hotel and had some drinks and snacks before heading to the train station. Everything went smoothly there.

I like Vancouver. It’s a very cosmopolitan city with interesting architecture. The only issue we saw was the number of open, on the street, drug taking that we saw in certain areas of the city. I guess in the US either these people are removed off the streets or the Wife and I just have been lucky not to go into the wrong places.

Pictures can be found in my 2018-06 Canada by Rail Google Photos album.

Onward to Jasper.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book: Sylvain Neuvel's "Only Human"

My last read was the third book of the Themis Files series. In the first two book we learn about a giant alien robot hidden on Earth thousands of years ago. The third book, Sylvain Neuvel's "Only Human", introduces and fleshes out the alien race that built the robots.

I really liked the first two books of the series but this third book is a bit disappointing. The alien race is dull, uninteresting, and rather Meh. There was so much potential that was squandered.

Along with this disappointment, the pacing of the book was slow and somewhat uneven. The first two books had action and suspense. This third book had little of this.

I really wanted to like this book but I had to give it three stars out of five on Goodreads. Too bad.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

First Day Of Summer

Happy Summer Solstice!  Our spring has felt very Summer-like and now the first day of Summer feels like Spring.

A ladybug and some new leaves on the first day of Summer.
The weather lately has been ... odd.  It has been hot and rainy.  Thunderstorms have rolled through nearly every night this week (My cable modem died one lightning filled night this week - a possible victim).  The College World Series is going on in Omaha and they have had more weather delays than the past seven years combined (Omaha World-Herald).  The humidity seems higher than normal too.

The picture above is the first ladybug I've seen this season.  She/He is joining another sure sign of Summer - lightning bugs that twinkle in our backyard during the early Summer nights.

Again,  Happy Summer Solstice everyone!