Tag Archives: Travel

Once Upon a Blog…

A long time ago in a country far, far away, there lived a girl from Texas who was a blogger. She traveled far and wide across her beloved adopted country and blogged about everything she saw with pure glee. After more than three glorious years, though, the fairytale came to an end and she returned to the great state of her birth very sad and very hot. Fast forward exactly one year and, well, funny how things just seem to work out.

By way of reintroduction, I’m Carmen and, obvs, “she” is me. In case you are just joining the party, I was lucky enough to spend three years living and working in Canada. While there, I traversed the country forward and backward; I learned new things; I met a motherlode of awesome people; I ate new foods; I saw things I’d never seen before (I’m looking at you six foot high snow drifts); and had the absolute time of my life.

It took a long time — nearly a year, in fact — for me to finally see that when life gives you lemons, make a daiquiri! THIS IS THE SHOW! So I pulled myself up by my actual bootstraps1 and either sit inside my bubble and feel sorry for myself, or get out there like I always have and live an awesome life. I chose the latter. And a mere one year later, I’m back to my old social self. I’m making copious good friends; I’m dating very cute and very smart guys; I’m saving and am basically exploring and learning about Houston again. Not to mention the tens of you who have been begging me to blog again. Blog readers can be so demanding that way. But, really, who am I to deny you your happiness? 😉

I missed blogging, but what was there to say? Houston is hot. You have to live inside an arctic-level air-conditioned bubble seven months a year. And, really, how many times can you talk about going to the Galleria without it sounding like broken-record time? Not that many. My momma always taught me that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. So I didn’t. 

It started to seem like every time I was in a conversation with someone about Texas, though, I hadn’t experienced whatever it was they were talking about. I hadn’t done this or that; I hadn’t been here or there. I haven’t even been west of San Antonio and, trust me, there’s a *lot* of Texas west of San Antonio. I realized that I knew waaaay more about Toronto and Canada than most of its own inhabitants, and yet knew next to nothing about my own backyard. I know what a beautiful place Texas is and how fantastic the people are — hello, I’m one of ’em! Ergo, I’m officially blowing the dust off of my URL and am going to traverse my place of birth and blog about my amazing home — the places, the people, the foods and the crazy things I find — and where everything is bigger and better. Because that’s how I roll. Be prepared to shake what your momma gave you because we are going to have one helluva Texas-sized good time!

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Filed under Texas, Travel

It Really Is Like A Whole Other Country

For once, I’m changing subjects*. Instead of talking about how passionately in love I am with Toronto, I’m going to do a little educating about the beauty of my home state; yeah, you know the one — the Great State of Texas!

As I’ve lamented time and time again, Texas doesn’t really have seasons like other parts of North America. The beginning of Spring in Texas, though, marks a change in season unlike any other; the arrival of Spring brings some of the prettiest bursts of color you’ll see anywhere in the world.

Between March and May, the interstates in central Texas turn into virtual seas of blue and red wildflowers with an abundance of blooming Texas Bluebonnets (the state flower), Indian Paintbrushes, and Indian Blankets. Bluebonnets are so legendary in Texas, that, other than the Alamo and deer hunting, the thing you absolutely cannot miss is driving the Bluebonnet Trail through central Texas. In fact, it is a right of passage in Texas to take a “Sunday drive” through the Texas Hill Country to have your picture taken lying in an ocean of blue. I would post some of the photos of me doing just that, but the last time I went on this type of road trip was well before the earth cooled, by which I mean there is no digital proof**. Ahem.

The bluebonnet became the state flower of Texas in 1901. It wasn’t until Lady Bird Johnson returned to Texas from Washington DC, though, that the government of the State of Texas was persuaded to seed bluebonnets along highways throughout the state. The notion that she’s responsible for the gorgeousness along our highways was so ingrained in us in school, that when I see bluebonnets, I think of Lady Bird to this day. It was also ingrained in us that it is illegal to pick a bluebonnet lest you spend a year of your life in jail for wanting some color*** in your house. Alas, that is apparently NOT true according to Wikipedia, and I know Wikipedia would never, ever lie about something like this. The moral of the story is to pick away, but just don’t park your Ford F-90,000 illegally on the highway because THAT will get you thrown in jail, flowers in tow.

I’m going home for a special someone’s special birthday in a couple of weeks and I hope I get to feast my eyes on the loveliness that are Texas Bluebonnets, for as much as I love Toronto, there’s nothing like driving down a Texas highway and seeing miles and miles and miles of blue.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I’m adding a few more photos^, so you can read, weep, and book your ticket to Texas faster than you can say “bluebonnet”. 🙂

* Don’t get used to it. I’m just homesick. 😦
** Just physical proof. As in actual photos, which is likely crammed inside some box in my parents’ attic.
*** Yes, I’m spelling it the American way. Because this is an article about Texas. Also, see bullet one above.
^ Photos are courtesy of a friend of my family’s, who doesn’t need to be named, but knows who she is.

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Filed under Texas

One Week

This weekend, I saw what may possibly be the best Canadian movie ever made.  It made me so damn proud to be Canadian that I could hardly stand it.  And I’m American.

The film is called “One Week” and it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September to rave reviews*.  In an interview this week with CBC Radio3, the film’s writer and director Michael McGowan called it his “…love letter to the country” .  I can’t think of a more apt description, really.  You can listen to the March 3 podcast of the interview here.

The story is about a guy, played by Canadian Joshua Jackson (natch), who is drifting into a marriage and a life he’s not sure he wants.  He is diagnosed with a terminal illness (cancer) and decides to take off on a road trip instead of seeking treatment. Fantastic Canadian bands like Stars, Wintersleep and Great Lake Swimmers make up the amazing soundtrack as the main character travels west from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia.  The scenery alone is reason enough to see the film — Canada truly is a beautiful land.  The film is a quirky and soul searching trip jam-packed full of Canadian references to most Americans won’t get, including everything from rolling up the rim of a Tim Horton’s cup to the Terry Fox monument.

Interestingly, the narrator of the movie asked the viewer more than once “What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month?”.  It got me thinking.  What would I do?  Would I crawl into the fetal position and weep?  Likely.  Would I tear off my clothes and run naked through the park screaming?  Hmmm, maybe not. I don’t know what I’d do but I’m going to think on it this week and get back to you.  I think it’s important that we think about these things and not ignore the possibilities life may lay in front of you.  But enough with the heavy.

The question also led me to look back over my blog and what I found, my dear readers, scared me!  I have over 20 entries that I’ve never published and the majority of them were rather large trips I’ve taken since I moved to Canada 21 months ago.  The horror!  A few examples:

  • Trip to Montréal
  • Trip to Quebéc City
  • Trip to Vancouver
  • Trip to Ottawa
  • Trip to Machu Picchu and Lima, Peru
  • Trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley
  • Trip to Buffalo and the Erie Canal
  • Trip to Hell and back (kid.ding)
  • A private tour of the West Wing (I saw the Oval Office!)
  • Meeting David Sedaris
  • Shooting TV commercials with cool NBA stars
  • Watching Rafael Nadal play front row at the Rogers Cup
  • Going to the Masters Tournament and being 3 feet from Tiger (!)
  • A myriad of other things about which I was too lazy to write 

What I’ve been doing all this time, I don’t know.  But I will not spare you having to wait for them much longer…look for these exciting entries very soon.  I know you can’t hardly wait.


*well, from what I remember.  I couldn’t get a ticket, so it must have been good.

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Filed under Canada, films, toronto international film festival, Travel