Weekend Fun at Qualicum Beach

The weather here in Victoria BC is still holding. It has been a beautiful summer albeit a bit smoky at times re the forest fires raging all around the province and into Washington and Oregon.

A couple of weekends ago I actually had a weekend off of work. It turns out that Kevin got contacted about a band reunion that was being held on the Sunday in Qualicum Beach. The timing was perfect so we made arrangements to join in the fun. This was a band, Chevy Ray and the Fins (sorry have no idea why that name) that is still playing in the Nanaimo area today. Kevin played in it for 3 years in the 80’s so this was quite the reunion with as many different former band members that they could contact. One even traveled here from Ontario to be a part of the reunion.

Since I had the weekend off Kevin and I decided to make a weekend of it and traveled up the Island on the Saturday, taking our time and making some “touristy stops” that we don’t normally do. It was a lot of fun and the weather was sunny and warm. We stayed at the Buena Vista by the Sea in beautiful Qualicum Beach BC on Saturday Night.

We checked in at 3:00 pm and then I settled down on one of the lounge chairs on the patio with an audio book where I could learn and enjoy the fantastic scenery at the same time. Kevin went down to the water and enjoyed a swim in the ocean. I prefer the tropics for that type of activity although he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

This was the view of the back of the Inn and one of the loungers I enjoyed.

The next day Kevin and I spent some time reading on the beach and then had a lunch in town before making our way further north to the reunion.

We had a really great time and even though it was only a one night getaway we both really felt like we had a wonderful break from the everyday things we do. What do they say, a change is as good as a rest.

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Time vs Money

What a beautiful summer we have been having here in Victoria BC. It has been a busy one too.

Have you ever thought about the term Time vs Money. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. We had a woman come into the store where I work the other day and she wanted a new sewing machine which would use a ruler foot (a foot that allows one to use long arm rulers on a domestic sewing machine). She had a sewing machine but it would not take a ruler foot and someone told her that machine quilting with rulers on a domestic sewing machine would solve all of her problems.

Here was the difficult part though. She didn’t want to spend the money to get a decent machine to make free motion quilting easy. She wanted the cheapest machine she could get. Unfortunately the more inexpensive machines, while being able to get a foot to fit, didn’t have the throat space she would need to enable the ruler to fit. The other factor is the more inexpensive machines may not have the best stitch quality for free motion quilting either.

When I started asking questions like how much experience she had with free motion and since she was just doing baby quilts why not just use a walking foot I got some interesting answers. First she had tried taking free motion classes and she said she just wasn’t any good (none of us are when we first start out). Second she said she was now using stencils and marking the quilts and then using a walking foot but she keeps going off the line and so it wasn’t perfect.

So why did she want to try rulers?! She was told by a group of woman that all her problems would be solved by using rulers on her domestic machine.

First it takes TIME to be good at anything and you are not going to be perfect when you first start. When you were little did you just hop on a bike and start riding? No you more than likely had training wheels and had a few falls first.

Second it does take MONEY to be good at something. You need to invest in the right tools. A good machine helps, you don’t need to spend thousands but a Walmart special may not cut it either. You also need to invest in some good classes whether they are in person or on-line. The rulers themselves are not cheap.

As I started asking this woman questions to find out how best I could serve her I learned that she wanted perfection without spending either the time or money.

Well, for one there is no such thing as perfection unless maybe you invest $30,000 in a computerized longarm and even then you have to spend time to learn how to use it.

For another, well, you just have to put in the time and practice and be willing with the knowledge that the quilting is hand guided and it is never going to be perfect.

So, sadly I was not able to help this woman as she was after something that simply did not exist. She wanted perfect machine quilting without spending the time to get better and without spending the money on the tools that would help her.

This incident has led me to think about things in my own life. Time vs Money how many times have we all come up against something similar?

Let me know in the comments if you have come up against this time vs money thing.

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Getting back to Normal (whatever that is)

Wow the smoke from the BC Mainland fires is really making things look like fall around here although it is still really warm outside these days. It would be downright unbearable if we could actually see the sun. I had a text from a cousin that lives south of Seattle and he sent a picture of the skies above him and the smoke from all of the Mainland BC forest fires has even reached down in his area. I don’t think I have ever seen a fire season as bad as this one in my lifetime. I am hearing of a lot of homes being lost and that is so sad.

I myself have been feeling better although I did overdo things yesterday and am paying the price today. It’s fine though and I am finally back to quilting (OK maybe not today but I have been).

  

This was a fun quilt to do. It was a Dresden plate quilt design made up of all different types of fabrics. In keeping with the more traditional design of the quilt, the client decided on just simple stipple quilting in the background. I know some people don’t like stipple quilting however, for this application and design I think it worked well.

I used three shades of Superior threads So Fine 50. A Royal Blue, Soft Mint Green and a yellow. I can’t recall the numbers at this time though.

I just completed another quilt for the same client, she had made a quilt using old hankies and had hand quilted most of it however decided she didn’t want to hand quilt the sashing and borders so asked me to again just machine stipple quilt it. I don’t have a picture of this quilt but we used a soft yellow to tie the colours in the hankies together and it worked well.

I finally got a picture of Kevin wearing the hat I knitted for him. So here it is.

This was a simple hat to knit and it should keep him nice and warm this winter when he is working outside.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far now to go and see about maybe having an ice cream cone.

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Life Update

OK it’s been way too long since I last posted. Life got in the way and not in a good way either. A few weeks ago I decided to move the blog to another site so I can start uploading videos. I was right in the middle of trying to figure it all out when I got sick!

Has anyone ever experienced vertigo before? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it. I had a few warning dizzy spells but nothing serious. I had another dizzy spell one morning but after a few minutes it went away so I went on with my day and hoped it wasn’t anything serious.

Next morning I woke up and the world was spinning and completely out of control. I had my Mom take me to the emergency room where I spent the next 8 hours going through numerous tests and scans to ensure I didn’t have a brain tumour, or suffered a stroke. The good news is that all these tests came back negative. The bad news is that I was still sick.

This lasted for over a week with me barely being able to get out of bed. Not fun. It finally started to get better and then the fatigue set in. You know get up and do a couple of things then go back to bed and sleep for two hours, get up and do a couple more things and repeat process.

It’s been over two weeks now since this all started and I am only now getting back on my feet. I am still not 100% either as I am still off balance and now suffering from bad headaches. Today was the first day I woke up actually feeling closer to my normal self so fingers crossed I am finally on the mend.

Luckily I didn’t have a lot of client quilts waiting. I have been busy and it’s summer so I had wanted to take a bit of time for me so I only had one client quilt on the frame and nothing waiting. That said I wasn’t able to work on that quilt for over 10 days as I couldn’t stand at all let alone make it down the stairs to my studio. As soon as I could stand though I was downstairs working on the quilt even if it was only for 30 minutes at a time.

Here are pictures of a client quilt I finished before I got sick.

The other thing I was working on before I got sick was a knitting project. I picked up some wool last August at the annual fiber arts festival here in Victoria called Fibrations to make Kevin a hat for working outdoors in the winter. Well, last winter has come and gone and we were cleaning up and I found the skein of wool I had purchased.

I have now finished the “beanie” it was a free pattern I found somewhere on the internet however I still have to photograph it so that will have to come next post.

The wool was 70% Alpaca and 30% merino hand spun and hand dyed locally. It was wonderful and soft to work with. It would make an awesome sweater but the cost would be insane as one skein was $35.00.

Ha, as I was writing the above, the price of fabric and how much it costs to make a quilt just flashed in my mind so I guess it is all relative as the sweater would be beautiful, soft, warm, fairly waterproof and one of a kind so …..

Well, that’s about it. I will have pictures of the finished client quilt quilted (so much for quilting my own quilts although that may still happen yet) and of the finished hat maybe I can even talk Kevin into modeling it for me.

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Happy Canada Day

Well here we go again another two weeks goes by and no post. Last post I mentioned maybe quilting one of my own quilts before my schedule got crazy. I should have known better, life got really crazy and still is. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel though so that is good.

I was just sitting at my computer with a brownie in the oven that I was making for the church Canada Day picnic. I don’t like to leave the room when I have things in the oven. I tend to forget them and not hear the timer, this never turns out well. I received an email from Craftsy regarding a sale they had on this weekend, I haven’t looked at Craftsy lately so with 20 minutes to kill I thought I would take a look and see what was new.

There was one class that I hadn’t seen before on machine quilting so I watched the trailer and then went down to the reviews. Sometimes I don’t know whether to shake my head or just laugh. I actually do a bit of both. This particular class got mostly rave reviews but there were a few 1 and 2 star reviews so I read them.

This is where the head shaking comes in, after reading the reviews it is quite obvious that the writers reading compression is not very good. The few bad reviews all complained about how disappointed they were etc etc re whatever it was but here’s the deal, the class wasn’t about those things, in fact it clearly says it in the description of the class and in the trailer!!! These people are leaving bad reviews not because the teacher can’t teach but because these people can’t READ!

Oh well, I feel sorry for the class instructor though as these people who obviously have issues are bringing down the overall score of the class which is a shame. Hopefully the instructor realizes this and doesn’t take these comments personally.

On Sunday there was a silent auction for Dee’s Orphan Kitten Fund. It was fun catching up with an old work friend and seeing all of the items up for action. Kevin and I adopted our Mia through Dee’s and my friend had asked me to make a quilt for the auction. I heard it went for $180.00 which is below it’s value but still better than it could have been. I had taken a bigger picture of this from my phone but when I moved it over to the larger screen realized it was fuzzy. This was a small lap size although I put a hanging sleeve on it in case someone wanted to hang it.

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The other quilt I finished was a custom made quilt.

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This was a graduation present and it was made of fabrics that all had meaning for my client. Some of the fabrics she picked out at the Cloth Castle  and some were from old duvet covers she had growing up. The pattern was one she saw on pinterest and wanted me to make. It is just 2.5 inch strips cut at different lengths and made into 12.5 inch blocks. I cut some of the panels of the duvets apart and used them on the back of the quilt. I used the Bora Bora pantograph from Urban Elementz which you can purchase at the Cloth Castle. I love the way this turned out and hope she gets many more years from her memories.

So Happy Canada 150 to all.

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A Quilting Update

Well the days are whizzing by, or at least it seems like that. I remember being told that time moves faster the older you get. I could never figure that one out when I was younger but I am beginning to see how that saying came into being. Of course being busy helps with time appearing to move faster.

The weather here in Victoria continues to be unusual or at least it seems that way. It appeared to jump from winter to summer overnight, a few wonderful days and then back to winter overnight again. So far we appear to have missed spring altogether this year.

Here are a couple of random photos taken while Cocoa and I were on one of our daily walks. We ran across this turtle behind the pond near where we live. He/she had come out to enjoy the sun that had finally shown itself that day. Don’t worry Cocoa didn’t harm it. I picked Cocoa up and we carefully stepped over the turtle and left it in peace to enjoy the day.

My crazy work schedule has slowed down a bit and that is both good and bad. Good as I finally have time to relax and do some planning and maybe actually quilt one of my own quilts (we’ll see how that goes), and bad because slower work means less money coming in. Oh well, I am enjoying having a little time to sit back and actually think about what I want re the future. Besides come July 10 the schedule will go back into crazy mode again so I need to just enjoy the time I have while I have it.

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Recently I got the chance to work on this wonderful quilt. This was really fun to work on, the only drawback I had is that the silver Superior Sew Fine 50 thread I used as the background colour for a large part of the quilt ended up being back ordered. I had one small spool of the thread so I ordered a cone the same day I started working on this quilt and I didn’t receive the thread in the mail until 10 days later. Not great however it all turned out well and I love how this quilt turned out.

Even though I previously posted that I am not a huge fan of doing pantographs there are quilts that call for just an all over edge to edge design. I am very good at doing simple edge to edge for kids and baby quilts and I really enjoy those however I thought it would be nice to have a couple more sophisticated edge to edge designs available for people who want them. The Cloth Castle where I work recently brought some pantographs in so I purchased two that I liked.  Both are by Urban Elementz, one is Deja Vu and the other is Bora Bora.

I have used the Deja Vu on a client king size quilt (which I forgot to take pictures of) and it turned out great and I have also used it on a smaller quilt for a client that needed a quick wedding present.

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I did like the way these turned out. I just finished a custom quilt (one I completed from start to finish) with the Bora Bora pantograph which also turned out really well, however I am still sewing down the binding on that one so the client hasn’t seen it yet other than in pictures I have sent so that will have to be posted later.

Good friends are like quilts they never lose their warmth

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Panama Canal Trip Part 5

Well here is the last part of the trip, then we can move on to more quilting. It has been fun to relive the trip through these posts though as usually you take the pictures and then just file them away somewhere.

Our next port of call was Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. I had been to this port before and knew that Mexico had done a great job of fixing the port up and so Mom and I decided not to do an excursion but just take it easy.

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The above are photos of the scenery as the ship headed into dock at the port of Puerto Chiapas. At the port they have shops and a central sunken dance floor (sorry I only have videos of the dances and I still need to move my WordPress account before I can do video). The dance floor showcases local entertainment. I feel sorry for the entertainers they go for a long time and there is no air conditioning in the building so it is very HOT. The port has also included a bar/restaurant and a swimming pool which can be used by the ship passengers. Mom and I toured the shops and watched the dancing for awhile before Mom went back to the ship and I joined up with my friends I had met on board the ship. We walked around the grounds, then went for a drink and a swim in the bar and pool provided. It was a nice relaxing day.

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The next stop was Huatulco Mexico. I love this place! I have been there several times now and have even stayed and toured in the area. This is a truly beautiful spot with shops, restaurants, a market and beach great for swimming, all steps from the pier where the cruise ships tie up. Mom and I elected to just walk around and visit the market in the morning. We went back on board the ship for lunch and then back out to the beach for an afternoon swim.

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Here is the beach, the photo was taken as we were docking.

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The area is known for its weaving. This loom is set up outside of a shop but they lost out on a sale as they don’t take credit cards. I realize that there is a commission but how short sighted, tourists aren’t going to be walking around with wads of cash on them to purchase expensive hand woven rugs. It turns out the store doesn’t have a web site even, just think of the sales they could generate if they started doing social media, online sales and accepting credit cards. They lost $100.00 for a 4% commission.

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A look back at the ships tied up.

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Mom enjoying a swim. The water was exactly the right temperature for a refreshing dip too.

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The next two days were sea days and the ship welcomed a group of Mexican entertainers on board. This was actually really fun, they gave Spanish lessons, lunchtime performances and also gave dance lessons in the afternoon. They stayed on board until we docked in San Diego.

Our next port of call was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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Views of Puerto Vallarta from the ship as we docked.

Mom and I have both been to Puerto Vallarta a few times so we decided to just check out the market within walking distance of where we were docked and then went back on board ship and enjoyed spending time by the pool and in the spa. That evening I had an unexpected opportunity to go to the Rhythms of the Night show. My friends had tickets however one couldn’t make it so offered me the opportunity. At the time we didn’t realize that the reason this person couldn’t make it was quite serious or otherwise neither Tom or I would have gone. The show was excellent though and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance and our in Puerto Vallarta.

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You are taken on a boat ride to an island and are greeted my a mermaid.

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They also host day trips here hence the hammocks set up for relaxing.

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Characters dressed up as you walk to the open air theater.

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Some of the before show performers.

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Little islands you can swim out to when you are there in the daytime.

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The show included a buffet dinner after the performance.

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The sunset on the way back to the pier. It turns out I had to say an early goodbye to my new friend Tom and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to his sister. There is a story here however it is not my story to tell.

The next two days were at sea where we just lazed around in the spa and by the pool catching up on more reading. The last port of call for this leg of the journey was San Diego. Here we were saying goodbye to 800 passengers and hello to 900 new ones while a good many of us stayed on to sail back to Victoria.

Holland America did a really, really bad job of this transition. I won’t go into details however the lack of communication and organization at this port was really horrible.

Mom was not feeling well so she decided to stay on board. I was getting cabin fever so decided to venture out on my own. I was told I didn’t need a passport so got all the way off and ran into some friends on the way out but didn’t get far before being told I did indeed need my passport. The only port in the whole trip I needed it! Anyway I went back on got it and my friends (from our table at dinner) had waited for me so I didn’t have to go touring on my own. I thought that was wonderful.

I have been to San Diego numerous times but had never toured the USS Midway which is now a museum so the three of us wandered over that way. Wow we were there for hours and still did not see the whole thing.

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I took this from the flight deck on the USS Midway, you can see the Nieuw Amsterdam just across the way.

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San Diego as we are leaving port.

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Sea lions basking in the sun.

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The lighting is bad here but here is Mom and I dressed for dinner on our last night on board ship.

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We had another two days at sea and then home to Victoria!!

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Just clearing the breakwater on our very last leg of our journey.

It was a great trip and Mom and I really enjoyed ourselves but I have to admit I was so glad to see our familiar coastline and know we were home.

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Panama Canal Trip Part 4

Sigh OK it’s been awhile since I last posted. I have been working a lot and have had quite a few deadlines I needed to achieve. I have some hard decisions to make in the next few weeks as well but more on that later. Good weather finally arrived here in Victoria it went from winter to summer almost overnight and then after 10 days of awesome weather back to winter again. Oh well. I have 2 more posts of the Panama Canal trip and then I will post some customer quilt pictures.

So once we were through the Canal we had a day at sea and then our first port on the Pacific Coast side which was Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. Mom and I had both been to Costa Rica before so weren’t sure what to do there. There is not much to do at the port so if you want to see something you pretty much have to take a tour. Most of the tours were 6 or more hours and neither Mom or I were up for that so we decided on a 3 hour tour that took us to a small town where some school children put on a performance for us. We then went to a small market and just generally got to see some of the countryside.

When we docked in Costa Rica there was what looked like a beautiful beach (somehow I didn’t take a picture of it) and I was thinking I might walk down and walk the beach, however it was really hot so I decided not to. Our tour left at 1 in the afternoon and once on the bus we drove by the beach I could see from the ship. Oh my garbage everywhere it was really disgusting. The town was little more than a shanty town and I would have been a lone female walking by myself. I am glad I decided it was too hot.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures in Costa Rica as I really don’t like taking pictures from a moving bus. Above is a shot of the children just before they started their performance. I did get some videos of them dancing. Unfortunately I can’t load videos on this website and I haven’t had a chance to look into other options as of yet. Costa Rica was nice enough but it is not a place I would really want to spend a lot of time in although I know people that do like it.

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Random picture of the Easter desert on board.

The next port was Puerto Corinto in Nicaragua. Neither Mom or I had ever been to Nicaragua. We learned that the port was really an industrial port with not much to see so we decided to take a tour to the city of Leon.

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A look at the admin building at the port. It was defiantly a working freighter port. I sat outside writing an email to Kevin while there and boy was it noisy.

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The drive to Leon was very comfortable in an air conditioned coach. The countryside was pretty but there was garbage everywhere. The picture above is of a market located in the main city square of the town. The main cathedral was also located in the square.

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Here I am standing by the fountain in the square with the Cathedral de Leon in the background. The fountain could have done with a good cleaning and the water was green and full of algae.

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You can see the green water and the garden that could do with a little bit of loving care.

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Here are two pictures inside the Cathedral de Leon in Leon Nicaragua. It is the largest cathedral in Central America and it was beautiful but it was also didn’t have air conditioning and it was like a sauna in there. There were so many groups of tourists from two different cruise ships you could barely move. The temperature outside was 98F or 37C with almost 100% humidity. All I know is that it was HOT!! I would have loved to explore the surrendering streets around the square but after the sauna of the cathedral Mom and I were both done and we hightailed it (along with about 50% of the other people on the tour) back to the waiting, running air conditioned bus.

Now for those who know me well, they know I hate being cold and I am usually not a fan of air conditioning, however it those temps it was very, very welcome.

The next port was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. I have been there before. Again, there is not a lot to see at the port itself you have to travel an hour to the small city of La Antigua which is the colonial capital and is a UNESCO world heritage site. I LOVE this town. I loved it the last time I was there and I loved it this time also. I really, really want to go here some day and stay for more than a few hours and truly explore all the small city has to offer. The scenery up to the city is really wonderful and there is not near the garbage around like there is in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The city is made up of cobbled streets with traditional walled buildings all which have wonderful hidden courtyards in them.  Since we were much higher up in altitude in Antigua the temperature was much more conducive to sightseeing.

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Here is a glimpse of one of the original tiled entryways. There are a lot of them around the city. You can just glimpse the courtyard oasis beyond.

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Here is a picture of the courtyard of the hotel that is right in the middle of the town.

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Here is another courtyard. In this one the indigenous woman have set up there hand woven clothing for sale to the tourists. In Guatemala 60% of the population are indigenous to the region.

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Another view of the blouses for sale. All hand woven by the woman. Aren’t they colourful?

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In La Antigua there is a really cool market that you have to know where it is as it just looks like a hole in the wall. Once you step in though you are greeted by all manner of wonderful handwoven treasures of the area.

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This was a hidden gem of a courtyard that I glimpsed as we were walking by as the doorway was open.

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Look what I found in that same courtyard. A patchwork blanket made of all those wonderful handwoven textiles covering a bench. Look at the wonderful tiled floor under the bench.

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Another view of the cobbled streets and a very old archway.

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I loved these wonderful doors. You can just image the secrets they have behind them.

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We had hired a guide to take us on a walking tour of the city. Our friend Tom who we had met on board the ship had joined Mom and I as his sister Karen had seen the city before. Here we are in a chocolate factory and Jose our guide is demonstrating something.  Notice the wonderful tiled floor.

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After a time we were very hot and thirsty so stopped in a small cafe where we got real fruit drinks that were heavenly. Here is a shot of myself, Mom and our friend Tom.

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The last picture for this leg of the journey is a sunset at sea.

So one more post to finish up and then onto more quilting posts.

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Panama Canal Trip Part 3

It’s been a busy week so far and the next few weeks look like they may just be as crazy. Oh well. The weather has not improved at all here. We have had a couple of nice days where the temperature was warmer and the sun was out but all in all pretty miserable. Moving somewhere warmer is defiantly looking appealing these days.

So back to the Panama Canal trip. This post will be a little photo heavy.

After leaving Cartegena, Columbia the ship hightailed it to the Canal. We were scheduled to start the transit just before 7:00 am. When transiting the Canal the ships open up the front part of their decks (these parts are normally reserved for staff only) Now I have cruised through the Panama Canal twice before but each time it is a thrill. There is something very magical about the whole thing. I was up around 6:00 am and went in search of my new friends as we had made a date the night before to meet in the lineup. You have to line up early to ensure you get a great spot for picture taking without a lot of heads in the way. Upon finding my friends we still had about 45 minutes before they were going to open up the viewing areas so we each took turns heading out to take pictures so we didn’t loose our place in line.

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It was still dark outside as the ship approached the canal. As you can see there were a lot of freighters hanging around waiting for their turn to head through the canal.

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When you get down near the equator you will find that once the sun creeps up over the horizon it doesn’t take long before it’s daylight. Dawn and Dusk are very short in that part of the world. Here is a picture with dawn just breaking on the horizon.

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A couple more shots of the surrounding area just at dawn before we start our journey through the canal.

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Here we are heading towards the first of the locks on the Atlantic side. Panama is in the process of building a new bridge across this channel.

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Here is a small ferry waiting to go across the channel. There were a number of small ferries such as this along the way. Maybe that is why the building of the bridge.

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Here we are sailing by the original cut started by the French in 1881 but this turned into a disaster with the death toll upwards of over 22,000. The project was disbanded and the jungle claimed most of it however this channel still remains.

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A picture of the dense jungle that was on both sides of us at this point.

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Here we are coming up to the first lock. You can see one ship heading into a lock on the left hand side. We would be going into the right hand side one.

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Another small ferry and you can see the jungle in the background.

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Gates opening up to allow us to go into the lock.

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A look back at all of the people up watching as we enter the first lock.

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A view of the surrendering area, again, notice the jungle is not that far off.

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This little cart is called a mule. They have cables attached from them to the ship. They are there to ensure we enter in straight and not hit the sides.

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In this picture you can see how high up the other ship is in the background. The water has lowered for us to be able to enter the lock. The water will then rise up so we will end up at the same level as the ship shown in this picture.

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Well we made it through the first locks locks (see map above) and have now entered Lake Gatun. In the last picture you can see the freighter that was in the left hand chambers of the locks as it sails ahead of us into the lake. Now it was time to go and find Mom and head for breakfast.

It would take the rest of the day to sail through the lake and through another two sets of locks before we reached the Pacific Side. We sailed under the Bridge of Americas around 5:30 pm.

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The Bridge of the Americas is a road bridge which connects North and South America. It is located near Panama City. You can see all of the freighter traffic near Panama City off in the background.

I was just able to take this picture before heading to the dining room for dinner. The next day was a sea day and then our first port on the Pacific side.

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Panama Canal Cruise Part 2

Finally a nice sunny day today! The weather has been so horrible in Victoria lately that I have been dreaming about selling up and hightailing it down to Mexico for good. Oh well.

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One of the towel critters left on the beds at night. They were all really cute.

So after two sea days we sailed into the port of Cartagena Columbia. Now the first time I went to this city I wasn’t too sure what to expect as you hear all of these stories about the drug trafficking etc however what I found was a very beautiful city with a lot of culture and very warm and friendly people who were very proud of their country. I really loved the old walled city that I saw last time I was there so I really wanted to see that again.

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Here are some pictures of the Cartagena skyline as we were coming into the port. It is a busy port with a lot of freighter activity.

Mom was not really up to walking a lot so we opted for a horse and carriage ride through the streets of the old town. I am not sure what I expected, maybe something like what we have here in Victoria where we have laws about animal abuse. What we got was an older carriage a little worse for wear. Now this part doesn’t really bother me what bothered me was we had one horse pulling 4 people plus driver and the horse was skinny and not well cared for. This broke my heart and really coloured my view of the whole tour so this is one excursion that I wouldn’t recommend and I will be complaining to Holland America about.

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Here is a picture of a wonderful old door and that beautiful ocher colour. Sorry about the picture being a little off kilter I found it was a little hard to take good photos from a lurching carriage.

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Look at these wonderful colourful baskets someone hand made. I just love the abundance of colour that tropical countries inspire. Doesn’t it just make you want to start a very colourful quilt.

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Here is another picture with the old architecture with that wonderful ocher colour mixed with white.

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Another view of the city skyline. This is looking from the old walled city over to the new modern part of the city. Lots of new hotels like the Hyatt and other well known hotels have been built just in the last 5 years alone. Once we had finished with the carriage ride part of the tour we had 20 minutes to go shopping (what is a tour without shopping). Luckily that is not enough time for me so I didn’t buy anything. We then had an hour’s bus ride through the newer part of the city where we got to see expensive condo buildings and lots of beach areas. I didn’t get any pictures of that though as I hate taking pictures through bus tinted windows.

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Here is a picture of a flock of pelicans.

We stopped at the Castle of San Felipe for about 5 minutes just so we could take some photos. One day I want to come back, walk the old city and tour this fort which was built by the Spanish to protect the city from pirate attacks.

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A lone man on a drawbridge. This was taken as we were heading out to sea.

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Can’t you just see the cannons firing from the portals on this picture. Glad it is no longer used.

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Some more views as we head out to sea. The next day we started our transit through the Panama Canal itself. I guess that will need to be Part 3.

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