Back from cruising with Mickey


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It’s been a heck of a few weeks!

Hubby had been away for two months teaching, and the day after he got back we took the pets to camp (the pet kennel). They love it there, or at least the dogs do. Who can tell with cats? Then we hit the road to NYC for our 10 year anniversary cruise for 5 nights on the Disney Magic to the Canadian coast!

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The cruise was fantastic, and I wish it would have lasted many more days. I guess I also wished that we were traveling to warmer weather, but it all worked out for the best since Hurricane Matthew was heading in and cruises were changing their itineraries from the Bahamas to the Canadian coast anyway.

We got a lot of much-needed rest on the at-sea days. On the days when we were in port (Saint John, NB and Halifax, NS), we got up and walked around town, then went back for a late lunch and rested until the evening show at 6pm, and then dinner at 8pm, and then some after-diner activities (such as the lavenous Mike Super magic show). Oh, and probably the most “Disney magical” part of our trip was being seated for dinner every night with two other couples that proved to be great table mates. I never thought we’d end up with such like-minded people (sharing love for Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, etc) and even wrangled coloring sheets and crayons from our server for the last two nights!

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We went to the museum in Saint John, New Brunswick (not to be confused with Saint Johns Newfoundland). During our tour through the museum my writer brain started wondering about life for the wives of these sailors. Saint John was a major port for sailing, back when ships of wood were made and used to transport. The wives would accompany their husbands on the ships. To my delight, there was a book on this topic in the museum gift shop, and can’t wait to start reading!

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I felt a bit guilty for sleeping and resting so much on the cruise. But I forget that in the two months hubby was gone I wasn’t just doing double chores (caring for the house, myself, and 4 furbabies alone), but I also worked a full-time day job (with 45-60 min commute each way), wrote and submitted a novel to a big publisher, wrote and submitted regular 5k word ghostwritten fiction bi-weekly, wrote a short story for a Halloween anthology, and, oh yea, PUBLISHED THAT ANTHOLOGY. That means co-editing each of the other four stories, project managing between authors and the other editor, formatting the interior, working with the cover designer, getting the ISBN and bar code, submitting for publishing, working on marketing… etc… sigh… I guess THAT’s why I slept a lot on the cruise! (If you’re interested, it’s available here: Amazon.com | Kobo (Canada) | Amazon.ca)

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Last Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving. We skipped it, as we were basically still full from the cruise. We did lentil and bean soup instead, a light meal we needed. It was hard to get back into the swing of things last week, and I’m still struggling to get my word count up, but I need to since time waits for no one! We’re already working on the December novel!

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These faces were glad to be home!

Winnipeg Used Book Hunting

Of the many things we could have done on our vacation, we decided that we wanted to spend a day visiting used bookstores. The Winnipeg Association of Secondhand Booksellers actually has a “Book Hunting Map”. We didn’t make it to all of them, as some weren’t open and there weren’t enough hours in the day, but we did quite a tour!

Red River Book Shop

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Tucked away downtown, at 92 Arthur Street, we found this location on Yelp and not through the book hunting map. This was a fun store, with many used books (and other items) to hunt through. It was not very organized, and there were piles of books on the floor down the aisles, which only made it that much more fun to hunt!

The Neighbourhood Bookstore and Cafe

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This store was not listed on the book hunting map, but it was highly recommended on Yelp. We stopped by because it was on our way to Whodunit Mystery, and we were ready to enjoy a London Fog. The Neighborhood Bookstore and Cafe sells board games and books, and they buy used books as well. It would be a very enjoyable place to spend time!

Whodunit Mystery

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Whodunit Mystery Bookstore on 165 Lilac Street has been open since 1994. They have new books as well as used, and they offer special-order and will ship out of town. They had a great selection, and as a mystery reader I had to hold myself back from picking up lots of new authors I wanted to try. However, this store has pretty steep prices, so I was able to stop from going overboard with shopping.

Black’s Books

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Black’s Books was the coziest of the stores we visited, not because they were small, but because they were full of shelves and shelves of books! They had many books of interest, from classics to current. It was located at 2059 Portage Ave, very close to where we used to live, unbeknownst to us! They have been open since 1979. Despite the inventory, we didn’t purchase anything.

Bravo Zulu Books

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Bravo Zulu Books at 3096 Portage Ave had a huge selection and great prices. We had a few great finds here. The downside for us was finding out that the owner was moving, and hoping to sell. If they don’t find a buyer, Winnipeg will be out a great store!

Cover to Cover

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Cover to Cover was my favorite of all of the stores we visited. It looks small, but it’s bigger on the inside. It’s very streamlined, and starts with comics and goes into a huge selection of contemporary books, romances, mysteries, and sci-fi and fantasy (of course). They are at 1187 Pembina Highway, and you can visit Cover to Cover on Facebook.

Bison Books

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Bison Books (424 Graham Ave) boasts a stock of over 20,000 items, and maintains a very organized and tidy store. Their offerings seemed great for collectors, with first editions, special bindings and antiques. They are located downtown. Great atmosphere, but we didn’t find anything to purchase.

Nerman’s Books

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This place was a bit of a paradise, as it took up two huge floors! Nerman’s Books is 6000 sq. ft. full of over 100,000 books and located at 700 Osborne Street . There were many current and classic books in the collection, and also lots of collectables. We bought a few books here, and even got to take advantage of their buy 3 get one free!

Dog-Eared Books

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Dog-Eared Books was a bit out of the way, at 1157 Henderson Highway. We hit rush hour traffic, and that combined with all of the construction on the way made it a pain to get to. This store was a bit smaller than the others, and we found the prices to be higher than other secondhand stores. However, it was worth the trip because we were able to find some great books that we couldn’t find elsewhere!

Reflection

I definitely recommend doing the Winnipeg book crawl if you have some free time and love books! It can be overwhelming though if you don’t have a list of what you are looking for. Too many choices can lead to buying too many books, or too few if you can’t decide!

Winnipeg Zoo

Our trip to Winnipeg had to include visiting the Zoo. They started on the redevelopment upgrades before we left, and we were able to catch some of them, including Toucan Ridge the Lion Pavilion, and the beginnings of the Polar Bear Conservation Center but none of the exhibits.

This time we saw the new entrance, the Australian Walkabout, and the completed Journey to Churchill. The Journey to Churchill includes the polar bear exhibits, Artic foxes, wolves, musk ox, caribou, snowy owl, and seal habitats. The Conservation Center also includes a 360-degree theater with cultural informational movie, and underwater viewing tunnels. I can definitely say that the Polar Bear exhibit is an upgrade from the old one. The fact that they are only taking rescued polar bears from Churchill makes it that much better.

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The Assiniboine Park Conservancy plans to raise and spend $200 million on the Park (including the Zoo) by 2020. They have already completed phase one (nature playground, Streuber Family Children’s Garden, Riley Family Duck Pond, Qualico Family Centre, and the Park Cafe) and phase two (Journey to Churchill). They will soon be opening the McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre. Phase three will be a horticulture attraction called Canada’s Diversity Gardens.

 

I couldn’t find any information on the plans for the rest of the zoo. There are many empty pens, or as we called them, “Goose Exhibits”, and most of the farm was closed. I was also dismayed to hear about issues the zoo has had, including wolves tunneling into the polar bear enclosure, and polar bears chewing through the silicone sealing and causing leaks in the viewing tunnel. It seems like those are some big oversights in planing. I can only hope that those responsible for all the goodness (such as the polar bear rescue) continue to fight for upgrades to the zoo, and for conservation and educational efforts that will help animals and humans for generations to come.