Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected. – The Daily Post

sentier des chutes

sentier des chutes

Going deep into the forest on a hiking trail, the breath of fresh air from going into something so deep into nature that its like a calm clearing makes us forget about the busy urban every day life and here’s where I feel deeply connect to nature.  I’m taking this past week’s theme to a figurative and literal interpretation 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Serenity (noun):
The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. – The Daily Post

This is right up my alley, right? Honestly, Tranquil Dreams could have very much also been Serene Dreams.  It just didn’t appeal to me as much.  When you see the word Serenity in Chinese on any items in stores, you are looking at a part of my Chinese name.  Isn’t that nifty?

Anyways, enough of my rambling.

Despite my blog name, I am not very serene because I’m a worry-wart.  Where do I get away from these things? Thats where my hiking trips come handy. Nature is where I find this. Nothing quite beats being engulfed in nature, surrounded by trees and especially bodies of water: streams, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans…you get the idea.  I just love the sound of water.  Its so calming.

Saguenay Lac Saint Jean

On the way to Saguenay Lac St. Jean, August 2014 at a viewpoint

Trou de la Fee

Green Corridor (Trail) on Trou de la Fee Park in Saguenay Lac St. Jean, August 2014

Sunrise Old Montreal

Early morning sunrise session in Old Montreal, December 2014

Finally, I don’t get hiking every day so my constant serenity comes from my sleeping cat.  She purrs *really* loud (more than normal) and she just calms me down when she does.  Its a little weird but it helps me sleep. So, here’s a little bonus picture…finding her under the covers.

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What makes you feel serenity? 

Saguenay, QC: Centre d’observation de Falardeau

The last day of Saguenay was for the Centre d’observation de Falardeau.  Its a observation centre for animals.  They  hold only a few of certain animals but they take very good care of them.  Right when you go in to the reception hut, they have a bunch of baby animals there. You can pet some of them and some are in their cages depending on how interactive they are.  I really wanted to get a chance to pet the tiger cubs but they already outgrew that stage so it was the first weekend where they were back to just viewing.  But thats okay, I still got to pet baby kangaroos and baby raccoons. One day, I’ll get to those baby tigers and have a chance to pet them…one day, it’ll happen! 😉

There’s really nothing to say about this observation centre or we can even call it a zoo to a certain extent.  Its amazing to see actually pretty happy animals (or at least they look that way) and healthy.  They all look excited to see everyone thats there and they live in a fairly decent amount of space for them to roam around.  It should give them a natural habitat sort of feeling. It was a very memorable experience.

Without saying anymore, here is a portion of the pictures that I took there.  A lot were behind cages (like bears and tigers, etc) so I just gave up on showing those pictures because its not clear enough.

Saguenay has a lot of beautiful things to offer and this observation centre goes right along with everything else I’ve done here.  They actually have another zoo that I went to last time in St. Felicien which is more of a zoo and bigger.  Its also worth the visit and I invite you head over to check it out if you missed it back in 2012 right HERE! The most epic moment goes to my distant staredown with a wolverine.

I’m falling really behind with a bunch of this travel stuff.  I still have stuff to post up from Hong Kong.  Hopefully,  I’ll manage to do some catching up and sharing a bit more of my travels this year throughout September 🙂

Have you gone on your vacation yet? Where did you go? Are you a fan of zoos? Which was your most memorable zoo visit?

Saguenay, QC: Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fée

This year, my boyfriend and I had a big purchase: our house.  With a few other events budgeted in, we had to make cuts.  That went to cutting down on the vacation we had together in the end.  However, we did decide to take a trip since it was nice to take a breather, relax and just be together away from everything.  Thats what weekend getaways are fantastic for.

Our choice was Niagara Falls and Saguenay.  Seeing as we’ve already been to Niagara Falls two times in the last 6+ years, we decided to go back to Saguenay and do what we weren’t able to do last time.

The first one was scheduled for Day 1 for a cave exploration and walking and hiking trail located in Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fee. What that directly translates to is “Fairy’s Hole Cavern Park”.  The park is actually very affordable with a guarantee of at least 3 hours of activities. Its separated into 4 parts.

The first part is going for the 15 minute cave exploring.  They are known for their wide settlement of bats, except summer isn’t the season and with some climate changes, its caused an irregularity from what the guide said.  Inside the cave, it was impossible to see anything so I didn’t even bother to take any pictures but I promise you, there is actually a shape of a fairy in there on the walls and there’s a little piece of history attached to it.  However, the walk to the cave had a few pictures.

Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fee

Overview of the park area at the start of the trail

Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fee

Looking back from the bridge over the falls

When you reach the other side, its a little bit of a hike and then you get to the cave, where we wait for a little bit and head in to explore.

Parc de la Caverne Trou de la Fee

Waiting to go into the cave!

If you recall, I actually did another cave exploration earlier this year.  This one had a little bit more maneuvering around rocks.  It had some narrow spaces but it was short enough to not be too much of a problem. There was three chambers to go through and some stairs to climb here and there. It was pretty impressive!

Coming out of the cave, the second part of the hike is following the path back, except when we cross to the other side of the bridge, there is an actual hiking trail to the Three Falls.  This trail does a loop and leads to an open area with three waterfalls.

Parc Caverne Trou de la Fee

Lots of water around the site! Love it!

Parc Caverne Trou de la Fee

Near the falls!

Parc Caverne trou de la fee

A beautiful rainbow

The hike is a simple family trail.  Its easy and comfortable.  Coming back into the loop, you come back to the main path and this time, instead of heading back the way we came, you go down to walk on the old electric dam facilities which now forms a tunnel with some information about what this site used to be used for.

Parc caverne trou de la fee

As you walk through this, it is connected with some wire barriers like this one, which leads to wooden pathways.

parc caverne trou de la fee

This path eventually leads to the final part of the trail which is the Green Corridor/Coulée Verte. This part is yet another hike but a super calming and beautiful fun.  The only thing is this one gets a little more challenging with narrow paths and some slippery uphill areas, rocky paths and that sort of thing.  Hiking shoes are useful not only for the caves but also for this trail.

During this path, I gained my new obsession on this trip, aside from waterfalls and flowing rivers: assorted berries and mushrooms, especially along mossy areas.

The Green Corridor was long and curvy.  It was pretty tiring as the ending of this trail, mostly because our day started at 6am and a 6 5+ hours drive.  However, it was a great preparation for warming up the muscles and getting ready for our actual hike the next day.

If you are in the Saguenay Lac Saint Jean area, this area is a must do.  Its not expensive and you get a whole lot of activities to do which makes it completely worth it.  Its part of getting in touch with nature.  You can always choose to not do the cave and just do the trails and that costs less.  Or you could choose to do everything including the 350 feet high zip line crossing.  I wasn’t brave enough to do that.  I’m not actually sure of the actual height but its pretty high so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.

Thats Day 1 in Saguenay for us! Getting in touch with nature, a bit of hiking, lots of water, calming and refreshing! I loved it! 🙂

Day 2 coming up tomorrow! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

This week, share a photo that foregoes the straightforward in favor of the twisting and winding.- The Daily Post

Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery

Zigzag path near the top of Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery

Le Labyrinthe

Zigzag in Le Labyrinthe in St Jean sur Richelieu

Reserve faunique Laurentides

On the way to Saguenay Lac St Jean

Western Monastery

Stairway zigzags in Western Monastery

A few pictures from past vacations and activities from the past few years showing the zigzags in my life.

What do you think of when you see the word “zigzag”? 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

BEYOND reminded me of the beautiful places I’ve been.  Last summer, I took a few days off in July to take an extended weekend with my boyfriend to Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean.  These pictures are all from the trip.  I have posted before about this in a few previous posts about the landmarks if you’re interested to see it, you can visit HERE, HERE and HERE!

When you look at wonderful landscape, do you ever wonder what is BEYOND the next curve in the road?

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How about whats down the the river bend that gets faded away by the mountains?

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Whats beyond those fields of green? Is it more vegatation does it have water running between it?

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That is what adventure is after all, right? Seeing whats beyond the next horizon!

If you’d like to join this challenge or see other entries, please click HERE!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Silhouettes are the outlines of an object.  Many times we get that through having a brighter or more brightly lit background and it contrasts the closer images to be darker.  I really like these effects in pictures but then I don’t use them a lot because you can’t have silhouettes of everything and not see the details and the actual image, right?

Saying that, I do have a few that I’ve taken.  Some are from past festivals that I’ve been to and one was from this summer.  I had posted a similar picture in a previous post about my trip up north of Quebec to Saguenay Lac Saint Jean region.  Its probably one of my favorites shots I’ve ever taken.

Silhouette of the crowd on Formula 1 Weekend at night in 2010

 

Silhouette of my neighborhood park with the sunset during an evening stroll with my mom

 

Green River Ordinance opening performance for Boyce Avenue Concert at Metropolis

A snapshot of the silhouette of one of the band members!

 

An evening walk at Vieux Chicoutimi in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean region this summer.

Don’t you think sunsets are just the most beautiful? The silhouettes it creates are also the most enchanting and attractive, calm and peaceful.  All sorts of great feelings!

 

 

Trip to the Zoo

On the fourth day of my trip, we went to the zoo, Zoo Sauvage de St-Felicien.  It was definitely a big zoo with lots of animals.  The zoo layout was formed based on different regions, there was  Arctic, Mixed Forest, Mountain, Mongolia, Asia, Mini Farm, and Nature Trail Park.

So we can see these animals: (first row) Fox, Wolverine, Przewalski Horse; (second row) Polar Bear, Demoiselle Crane, Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear (last row) Japanese Macaque (feel bad for the one who lost that camera)

What made this zoo special was its caged train ride which lasted about an hour to drive along paths right next to certain animal habitats and showed us the evolution of civilization in the region and the significance of the Borealis Forest.

On the top you can see what its like to look out from the caged train and after that is one of the settings.  The following are some of the animals on the trail, they were really close so I rarely had to use any zoom.  First row has the baby prairie dogs and the adult prairie dog.  They were all over the plains area.  After that in the second row is the reindeer, musk ox and black bear.

Another highlight was the fact that they had feedings for most of the animals there which allowed everyone to see a lot of the animals come out of hiding so we could understand a bit more about each of them as well.  We didn’t see all the feedings but we did go to a good few animals.

The feedings we caught was for Japanese Macaque, followed by the next one with the Amur Tigers.  These are just the males though, the female is with her newborn cubs and could only be seen on live camera inside their resting area, since the baby tiger cubs were just born in early June.  After in the second row, we can see the Lynx patiently waiting for food, then the cougars and finally, we saw the Polar bear feeding.  The polar bear had just jumped off the boulder into the water to get the fish and shaking himself afterwards.

This zoo was so amazing.  I would definitely consider going again especially since the ticket also included two short movies.  One of them is a documentary and the other was a multisensory movie which was quite fun and entertaining.

Trip to the Fjord Museum

Saguenay is known for its fjords and its marine life and research on that level as it runs along the Saguenay River and ends at the Lac Saint Jean.  This museum is situated on the Saguenay Marine Park and featured multiple exhibits.  Please note that I didn’t take pictures for all the exhibits especially when it was for mostly reading material or photographs.

The first exhibit was when we walked down the hall from the reception area to the first exhibition hall.  There was an exhibition of photos titled “Underwater Beauties”.  It had pictures of various colorful marine species like starfishes, sea anemones, etc.

The second exhibit was in the first hall and was a temporary exhibit featuring various types of whales.  It provided information on all sorts of whales like the Beluga, Dolphin, Killer Whales, Blue Whales, Right Whales, etc.  It was accompanied by little interactive games to better understand how the animals functioned such as their hearing, adaptation, maneuvering through water.

The third one that we went to was about BALSAC, a program collaborated by multiple professors throughout Quebec universities that focused on building a system on the historical values and figures of the Saguenay region.  It focused on the roots and colonization and the development in this region.  We walked through the panels of this exhibit called “Roots and Dreams: A Fresh Look at the Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean region.”  I was interesting to see how the region itself has developed over the last 40 years or so, socially and economically.  This one not only had a whole lot of information but came with video clips, sound clips, articles, various objects from the pertaining period.  They also explained the programs and how each professor occupied a crucial position in putting together all the data in about this region.

The fourth exhibit is where we get the real deal.  We enter into the farthest part in the museum and we see 2-3 aquariums with various fishes.

The aquariums weren’t really crazy or anything.  I believe it was focused on the marine life around the area, typical fishes, etc.  The one thing I really enjoyed about this museum though was the fact that it had the pool where you got to touch some of the marine life and because it has less traffic, they actually carefully explain everything to you and gives you the full experience.

So lets check out the stars of the little observation pool full of…

STARFISHES!

The girl explained that starfish had their teeth at the center and they would suck out the meat of say the mussels

SEA URCHINS

Sea urchins are similar to starfish as they also have their mouth at the middle which if you look clearly has 5 little teeth.

This was really funny because while in my boyfriend’s hand it was leaking water out of it from the back.

HERMIT CRABS

Hermit crabs usually borrow the empty shells to hide themselves.

The one on the bottom was placed down upside down which made them crawl out a bit more.

SEA CUCUMBERS
To end off this exhibit area, I’d like to show you a little stunt our little friend, the snail has when near a starfish, as they are their primary predators.
After this exhibit, we went to the another new permanent one called Museum Vivarium. Its where we can touch amphibians and arachnids and insects.
This little guy here is extremely fierce. He went straight for the finger.  Thank goodness there was a glass.
After that, there were the frogs.  That little guy is sitting on my boyfriend’s hand.How cool is that!?!

After the frogs, we had this aquarium full of leaves and branches. Or is it?

Voila! Stick bugs!

It was actually funny.  These stick bugs camouflage with trees and their branches.  So when the guide open the door to get one to show us and touch, the bugs started moving up and down, as if there was actual change in the environment so it was wind blowing through them.  It was hilarious to look at!

This area had a few other little nifty things, for example, a horseshoe crab skeleton (that thing is massive in size).  They had tarantulas and crickets.  They had specimans of insects all around the world, even one of the biggest ones were winged insects in Malaysia and Indonesia.  I’m not much of an insect person so that was somewhat disturbing.

Overall, this museum was really fun.  It wasn’t as big as  I had expected it to be but because it was less populated with visitors, it allowed the visit to feel more personal and experience a lot more.

Hope you enjoyed our visit to the museum, next stop will be to the Zoo Sauvage de St-Felicien!


Falls Trail

I just got back from vacation as I had said in my previous post, Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moments. As promised, I’ll be posting in a bit more detail on my various adventures in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean.  The first place I visited was the Falls Trail (Sentier des Chutes) found in the Fjords du Saguenay National Park.  This trail was supposed to be a intermediate to difficult level hike.  They had some really crazy markers as well for distance.  Their 1 km didn’t feel like 1 km..more like 2km (but thats maybe because by the end of the path, it was just like a wilderness obstacle course of climbing big boulders, walking up steep hills and paths full of water running through it.  I’ll take you along for our walk on this trail!

LETS BEGIN!!!

The first 1.5 km was pretty smooth.  We had to pay with this envelope ($6 per person) then started off on a pretty decent dirt path between slight slopes and tall trees.  At the 1.5 km mark, there was the first Falls.  That one I featured in my previous post mentioned above. There was 3 levels that you could climb up to get close to the falls, which was just breathtaking (how many times have I said that already?)

At around 2-2.5 km, we had the viewpoint and the top of the falls that we were at before.  The view was so amazing (for lack of a better word).

The next point was at 3.5 km where the second falls was situated.  This one is a bit less majestic as the first but its located at a nice little peaceful area.

It was such a beautiful atmosphere to relax and regain energy before we decided that we’d try to move on for another 3 km to the top of the mountain with the limit that wherever we were, at a certain set time, we’d have to set back.

So the next place was undetermined distance from where we were.  This part for the last part was crazy…we had to climb a mountain and drop back down to reach the walkway to cross and walk over all sorts of crazy paths over mossy boulders, water and mud, etc.

In the last 3km path, we went by a few areas that were pretty nice.  Like the one before, where it was a stream or river or something running along the wall.  We walked on the slippery path on the side.

We also passed this lake called Lac mort, translates to Dead Lake.  For something dead, it sure was peaceful there.  It was really quiet and we made a stop here on the way back to recuperate energy.

After Lac Mort, that was it.  The path went from bad to worse.  It was just path of boulders and on top of that it was going up a steep path.  By the time, we reached the 5.5km marker, we had a flight of wooden stairs which lead to the boulders below.

At that point, our time limit was up, our water was all gone so with only a few hundred meters left, we had to just go back before it got too dark in the forest (since we didn’t have any flashlights).  Sad, but it was a decision that had to be made.  Next time, we will be better experienced and bring a whole lot of water and probably energy bars and maybe pack those hiking poles (or whatever you call them).

Hope you enjoyed that! More adventures from Saguenay Lac Saint Jean coming up!!