Tuesday, March 22, 2016


A bayou is a Franco-English term used in the United States for a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides and which contains brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton.

The word was first used by the English in Louisiana and is thought to originate from the Choctaw word "bayuk", which means "small stream".


These marshes or wetland areas move very slowly and make ideal homes for creatures like alligators, crawfish and catfish -- all of which are popular bayou foods.

The bayou culture is actually more diverse than many may think. There is no doubt that the most closely associated culture to the bayou is the Cajun culture. The Cajuns were French-speaking settlers relocated from Nova Scotia. They were actually known as "Acadians," but the local dialect eventually led to the word becoming "Cajun." In South Louisiana's bayous the culture is as diverse as the ingredients found in the local gumbo. In addition to the French Canadians that were the foundation of much of the bayou culture, there are also significant influences from Spanish, German, African and Irish settlers as well as Native Americans. In modern Cajun culture on the bayou, the people are a blend of all these cultures. In the Southern Louisiana bayous today, you can often find people who consider themselves "Cajuns" who primarily speak French, but have last names like Smith, McGee or Manuel as well as the French surnames common in the region.


The “Wishing Tree” which was used in Disney’s “The Princess and The Frog”.

One of the first things to strike you with a sense of wonder when you visit the deep South is the grandeur of beautiful, draping Spanish moss decorating the huge trees.

If you don’t live there, then the charming and somewhat spooky appearance of the silver-gray strands, hanging like natural Halloween decorations, summon images of old plantations, bayous and the swamps seen in movies. 

When it sways in the wind at night, this tangled “tree hair”, as the Native Americans called it, is both eerie and intriguing. French explorers dubbed it “Spanish Beard” as an insult, so the Spanish then named this moss “French Hair”. It has been used as bedding, stuffing, upholstery, insulation, mulch, medicine and in arts and crafts; it has even been used as an ingredient in making voodoo dolls. Yet this flowering plant is not even a true moss. It is a distant member of the pineapple family and grows until it looks like it is dripping from large trees. It can grow over 25 feet long and does not kill the giant, ancient trees.







Monday, March 14, 2016

New Orleans, Louisiana

Bourbon Street – New Year’s Eve:


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hornby Island

Camping on Hornby Island last summer.

Local artists were commissioned to paint the volunteer fire department's water tanks in a dozen different locations around the island.

Tribune Bay Provincial Park

Here, shallow waters meet near tropical temperatures during the summer and the bay is considered to be one of the warmest salt water swimming areas in BC.


Gabriel pretending to be eaten by a bear-shaped rock.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Archaeologists believe Cobá was one of the most important ruin sites on the Yucatán Peninsula. The design and purpose of this settlement was very different from other Mayan cities, with various settlements existing in one area. The white roads lead from each settlement to the main pyramid, Nohoch Mul.

Cobá means ‘waters stirred by the wind’, an appropriate Mayan name as this settlement is surrounded by two large lagoons. For many years Cobá was an ignored piece of Mayan history due to its location. Located between Tulum in the state of Quintana Roo, and Valladolid in the state of Yucatán, archeologists first learned about the site in the mid 1800’s, but dense jungle, the Caste War and lack of funds made this site a difficult area to penetrate. This Mayan site is still largely unexcavated making it a true wonder in the Yucatán. Visitors can enjoy shaded walkways that are the original sacbe (white roads), three settlements that show the architecture and vast area of this once large city, 2 ball courts and climb the highest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatán, Nohoch Mul.


Renting bikes to tour the vast Cobá site

Arriving at Nohoch Mul Pyramid - A 42 meters tall (137 feet) pyramid that boasts a remarkable view of the Yucatán and non-public areas of Cobá including both lagoons; Macanxoc Lagoon to the east and Cobá Lagoon to the southwest.

Unlike Chichen Itza's Kukulkan Pyramid, Nohoch Mul is still open for the public to climb its 130 steps up to the top of the site. 120 steps lead up to the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid, and reaches 137 feet in height. This is the tallest temple pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula. Chichen Itza has 91 steps leading up to the top of the Kulkulkan Pyramid.

Taking a break during the climb

At the top

Heading back down

When Cobá was a functioning centre more than 1,000 years ago, it is estimated that 50,000 people lived here in an area of 80 square kilometres. Only a fraction of the structures that existed then have been cleared of the dense jungle cover (for example, the back half of the Nohoch Mul pyramid is still covered in jungle).

Touring other Mayan ruins at Cobá

Mayan Ball Court


Top of Nohoch Mul

Mayan Ball Court

Cobá Ruin

Thursday, December 3, 2015


A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

The term derives from a word used by the low-land Yucatec Mayats'onot — to refer to any location with accessible groundwater.


Stairs leading underground to a cenote

Cenote Tankach-Ha

Cenote Cho-Ha


Cenote Tankach-Ha

Cenote Cho-Ha