August 16, 2018

Perth’s Playground

Back in 1984, Perth businessman Dallas Dempster had a smart idea. Let’s get rid of this dump! Burswood Island, an island in the Swan River just a couple of kilometres from Perth’s city center, was the site of a large landfill. Dempster suggested to the Western Australian government that the site could be better used for a resort casino. The government agreed and Dempster and a Malaysian business partner were granted a casino license in 1985. The plans called for a casino, a 400 room hotel, a golf course, a convention and exhibition centre, an amphitheatre and more. The casino, of course, was finished first and opened in December 1985….

January 16, 2018

Rottnest Island

Follow us on Facebook! Australia is a biologically distinct continent with many species of both plant and animal life that live nowhere else in the world. These include, of course, the kangaroo, the wallaby, the koala, the Tasmanian devil, the emu, and a wide variety of snakes and insects. Some of these flora and fauna are particularly limited in their range. One of these is the quokka, a small marsupial about the size of a large cat that looks something like a miniature kangaroo.  The quokka is found only in Western Australia, and only in a limited range in the southwest of the state. The largest population group, estimated to…

December 5, 2017

Les Jardins de Versailles

Follow us on Facebook! My last post covered our visit to le Château de Versailles.  That grand old palace, built by Louis XIV, and now a museum is certainly amazing. But equally extraordinary are the surrounding grounds and gardens. The entire estate covers over 800 hectares or almost 2000 acres. That’s about twice the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park or Perth’s King’s Park. It’s also larger than San Diego’s Balboa Park (1200 acres) or New York’s Central Park (843 acres). Louis the XIV commissioned the brilliant landscape architect André Le Nôtre to design the gardens and work began simultaneously with the Château. It took forty years to complete. The picture…

July 25, 2017

The Forgotten Island

Follow us on Facebook! When we think of the Bahamas we think of the cities of Nassau and Freeport and maybe of the fabulous Atlantis Resort. We also think of an island archipelago with many sandy beaches. The Bahamas, in fact, has over 700 islands of varying sizes. One of them used to be the home to an American Naval Facility which operated from 1957 until decommissioned in 1980. This island also used to be a playground for the rich and famous – mostly Americans, mostly Hollywood types, who maintained vacation homes there. Now that island is largely forgotten. Tourism is still its mainstay, but it is a permanent residence…

May 25, 2017

Rome’s Colosseum

Follow us on Facebook! The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built and a must-see highlight of any visit to Rome. We spent a day there before taking a Mediterranean cruise in 2011. After the cruise we spent another day in the city. That first day had us take a hop on/hop off bus around the city and one of our hop off points was the Colosseum. We grabbed a light lunch and then walked around the perimeter. It is an ancient building and in remarkably good repair considering it is almost 2000 years old. Construction started under Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD. He died in 79 AD and did…

March 3, 2017

Where Two Oceans Meet

Follow us on Facebook! How many oceans are there and can you name them? Most people can come up with three – the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They are, in fact, the largest. But there are two more – the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. The Southern Ocean is sometimes called the Antarctic Ocean. It is so-called because it blankets the southern hemisphere, encircling the continent of Antarctic. The boundaries, however, have shifted over time. The first map published by the International Hydrographic Association in 1928 had the northern boundaries touch Cape Horn, the southern end of Africa and the entire southern portion of Australia. That’s the area marked as…

January 22, 2017

An Epistle About the Ephesians

Follow us on Facebook! You may recall the New Testament book called Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. The Ephesians were the people of an ancient city called Ephesus. Today its ruins have been well excavated though new excavation continues to this day. This archaeological site is about twenty kilometres from the Turkish port city of Kusadasi. Built in the 10th Century BC, Ephesus was a flourishing Greek city for almost a thousand years. The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, (around 550 BC) was near here. Little of the temple remains today. In 129 B.C. the city fell into Roman hands. In 88 BC a short-lived revolt brought…