Thursday, March 25, 2010

WHO Expedition

I had the opportunity to take my first WHO expedition this past Wednesday, and it was a great experience! The entire group is pictured in this photo, shortly after we had stopped to chow down on the sack lunches we were carrying. WHO is short for Women Hiking (the) Ozarks, which is an affinity group composed of people that have at least two things in common---first, they are female; and second, they all enjoy hiking/walking. The turnout for the hike in the Tyler Bend area of the Buffalo National River ( )consisted of 17 hardy souls, ready for a day of experiencing the Ozark outdoors, on a beautiful spring day when the newly blooming wildflowers can be easily spotted against the brown leaves, that have covered their hiding places all winter.

We met at the magnificent Tyler Bend Visitor Center just off Hwy 65, near Silver Hill. If you haven't taken the short drive off of Hwy 65 to go down to the Visitor Center, I would certainly recommend that you do so, if for nothing else but to use the clean restrooms available there. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center has museum-quality exhibits about the area, a "theater" for viewing a short video presentation about the Buffalo National River, a fireplace, information desk, and gift shop/bookstore. One of my favorite parts of the building, are the wrap-around wooden decks, with ample seating for taking in the beautiful views, or enjoying a quick snack. After a brief orientation by National Park Ranger, Joyce (shown in green uniform in lower left photo, pointing out wildflowers), our group headed out on the River View Trail, that goes through dense forest, crosses stream beds (some with a bridge, like shown in upper right photo, while others had only stepping stones). Those who "survive" the moderately steep climb to the top of the ridge line of the trail, are treated to some expansive views of the Buffalo National River along the way, as shown in upper left photo. There is a wide range of ages in the WHO group, and the photo in the lower right shows one of the original WHO members, Hazel, with her granddaughter, Jessie. Being able to take a grandmother/granddaughter hike in God's great outdoors, has got to be one of the rewards for staying physically fit and healthy! Another reason for getting out on these trails is to see your tax dollars at work. As you can imagine, the trails in the Buffalo National River area were devastated by the 2009 ice storm. The NPS ranger said it was this year's governement stimulus money that paid for the additional workers needed to come in and clear the trails so that they would be ready for the spring 2010 hiking season.

We are fortunate that part of the National Park Service's mission includes historic preservation, and that is just what they have done for the Collier Homestead shown in this photo collage. The Collier Homestead is worthy of mention because of its unique origin. Although the Colliers did not come to the property until 1928, they were able to occupy it as a result of the Homestead Act of 1862. The 1862 Homestead Act gave folks a title to various parts of public land, in return for their making improvements to the land. ( The Homestead Act is significant to my family because it was one of the reasons my ancestors ended up settling in rural Boone and Marion Counties of Arkansas.) Because of the remoteness of the Collier location, and the physical difficulty of reaching it from the river, hundreds of feet lower down the mountain, it was an "island" of unclaimed land until the Colliers came. In upper left photo, Sharon poses in front of the barn that was one of the outbuildings on the property. The upper right photo shows the living quarters, and handsplit paling fence surrounding the cabin. The lower right photo shows Gay in one of the windows of the log structure. The cabin was built with a system for catching rain water from the tin roof, and storing it in the cistern (shown in lower left photo). In today's language, we would say the structure used "green", earth-friendly architectural design, because of its water conservation efforts. Probably, the Colliers would simply call it "common sense"!

The Buffalo National River is one of the parks participating in in the AETN (Arkansas Educational Television Network) Passport Program, illustrated in this collage of photos. It was one of my Facebook friends, Fern, that first told me about the program, but YOU can learn more about it at Basically, it is designed to get people to visit Arkansas' national and state parks, by getting participants to collect a stamp from 12 different sites throughout the state, then entering their completed "passport" into a drawing, to be held later this year, for various prizes. The REAL prize you will receive, however, is that you will have visited some of the jewels our state has to offer. It is more than just a figure of speech to use the term "jewels", because Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the twelve designated parks on the list! You might wind up with the type of "jewel" you can put in a necklace! If all this talk about about being outdoors has been of interest to you, and you would be interested in participating in future WHO hikes, email Dawn ( ) for more information. I can certainly recommend the group as a great way to explore the Ozarks. I met so many new ladies, each with a unique story about how they have chosen the Ozarks as the place they now call home. Likewise, each had something to share about their life experiences, that I found interesting. It reminded me of the first part of Proverbs 13:20, that says "He who walks with the wise, grows wise..." so that means I am little bit wiser today than I was before the hike! Have a great weekend, with miles of smiles! Tricia
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Trashy Expedition

The "trashy" expedition I took today was to team up with some other volunteers in my Arkansas Master Naturalists group ( ) for the purpose of picking up litter along one of our city's frequently traveled roadways. Our group had partnered with the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Campaign ( that is running from March 1 through May 31. They are the ones that supplied a t-shirt, like those seen in the photo, to each of the volunteers today.

In addition to the t-shirt, the campaign headquarters furnishes other necessary items for trash pick-up, most of which are donated by the corporate sponsors of the event. This included Glad heavy duty trash bags, Nestle water, safety vests, disposable gloves, and (so I'm told--PRIZES!). However, any info I write about prizes will have to come in a blog post of the future, as there were no prize drawings this morning! The coordinator for today's event was Anita Hayden, who is shown in the top photo along with another member of the class, Lynn Green. That's me---armed for "combat"---in the bottom photo.

One thing I learned about roadside litter removal today, is that you spend as much time dealing with the briars and thorns, as you do the actual trash pick up. Lynn Green (the man with the green stick in above photo) escaped some of that, by using his handy, green "extricator" to get cans/bottles that had been thrown deep into a briar bush. I didn't use such a device, and as a result, my little orange safety vest was in shreds by the time I finished. But I fared better than Ken Johnson (shown in front in above photo). who was "attacked" in the face by a thorn bush, and got to try out the supplies in the first aid kit the campaign provides. Also assisting in the clean-up, but not pictured was Susan McNutt.

As I was picking up what seemed to be an endless string of trash that had been carelessly thrown out, from people in cars as they speeded down the road, I was reminded of the first part of one of my First Place 4 Health memory verses (http://www.firstplace4health/) that says "Do not defile the land where you live..." from Numbers 35:34a. In the First Place 4 Health program, we were discussing the verse in terms of not defiling our bodies---God's temple---by filling it with junk food and other harmful substances. Likewise, we need to not defile our beautiful Ozarks with unsightly litter and discarded junk. If such practices are offensive to you, there are two things you can do: First, get out there and pick up some trash!! Whenever you are out walking or hiking, always carry a bag with you that you can put any stray trash in that you come across. Secondly, SQUEAL!! To report littering, call 1-888-811-1222. Let's all work together so that our roadways will not provide "piles of ugliness", rather "miles of smiles"!! Happy weekend! Tricia
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Olympic Transportation Methods

The "futuristic" looking building in the top photo is one of the early buildings at LAX, and is often used as a geographic symbol in movies and videos to show the viewer the scene is located in Los Angeles. In this case, it was my point of departure for my Air Canada flight to Vancouver, Canada. I was delighted that the pilot flew over the place where my son worked, even though he didn't "honk the horn" to let him know I was overhead. The lower left photo shows Mt. Shasta in the foreground and Black Butte Mountain beside that, both located in norther California. My son works in the valley between those two mountains. Shortly after the plane crossed into Oregon, we were flying over Crater Lake National Park, shown in lower right photo.

My Olympic ticket covered the cost of taking the "Sea bus" (top photo) across the bay to the North Shore. Unfortunately, the Olympic ticket did not include free rides on the float planes! (lower photo)

My main method of transportation, once I arrived in Vancouver, was "by foot" (upper left photo). This led to interesting discoveries underfoot, such as the honorary sidewalk medallions given to artists in Canada's Entertainment Hall of Fame. My foot is pointing to singer Diana Krall's medallion. I used the Sea bus (upper right) to get across False Creek, that is between Granville Island and the park on the waterfront where the corporate sponsorship pavilions were located. I also used the "sky train" (lower left) and various automobiles (lower right). I didn't use a pedicab, but they were too cute to leave out of the collage!

The upper left photo shows the underground location of the light rail "Canada Line" that serviced many events. One of the stops on that line was called the "Roundhouse", and had a historic steam engine on display there. The photos on the right are forms of transportation, but more "for looks" than function! All these different forms of transportation provided me miles of smiles in Vancouver!
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Olympic Curling Match Scenes

The lady who sat next to me at the curling match had been on a curling team in the past, and she told me the reason the Olympic Curling Match opened with a traditional Scottish ensemble of bagpipes, drums, and kilts, was because curling was originally started in Scotland.

The Olympic team from Norway created quite a stir in the media because of their checkered trousers, in a sport that usually is more restrained in its choice of athletic attire. Any myths that men can't sweep, are destroyed in the game of curling, because they use those "brooms" they are holding to "sweep" madly, trying to make the solid granite "stone" get to the center of the target.

Some people say curling is a boring sport for spectators to watch. Apparently, this young man thought so, as he never looked up from his hand-held video game to see what was going on down on the ice.

There were four countries out on the ice at one time: Norway vs. Switzerland and Canada vs. Sweden. Since this was my first (and probably the only) curling match I will ever see, I was sort of "swept off my feet" with intrigue by the whole atmosphere!
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Olympic Hockey Arena Scenes

Thunderbird Arena on the left was the scene for the women's hockey match I attended. Canada Hockey Place (right photo) was the scene for the men's hockey game.

These photos show a women's hockey team and a men's hockey team. If you were sitting in the upper deck as I was, it was pretty difficult to tell the difference. Can you tell which is which?

The women were also represented on the ice during the intermission. Although the Canadian version of Zamboni machines caused some problems at the speed skating venue, they seemed to be getting the job done in the hockey arenas.

I had attended hockey matches in the U.S., but I would have to say, there is nothing like attending a hockey match in Canada! There is SO MUCH SPIRIT!! Even during the intermission, the crowd was kept on their toes by never knowing if they were going to be seen on the Jumbotron in the "Kiss Kam". The idea was if the camera spotted you in the crowd, you were supposed to kiss your partner. The crowd was having a great time with the diversion. This is the same arena where the "Game for the Gold" was held between Canada and the USA. Even though the USA lost that particular match, we can be consoled by one of the First Place 4 Health memory verses from 1 Corinthians 15:57 that says "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." So we can still have miles of VICTORIOUS smiles! Tricia
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"Island Life" in Vancouver

Since Vancouver residents are known for their active lifestyles, it is not surprising that this is reflected in the famous Granville Island. There one can arrange scuba diving, fishing charters, totem pole carving classes, or cycle/walk the beautiful waterfront promenade. There is even a special pontoon boat (lower left photo) to carry you and your bicycle across the water, if you don't feel up to pedaling on the busy bridge that connects Granville Island to the "mainland".

All this activity, of course, works up an appetite, and there are plenty of places to take care of that. I liked the clever "Stock Market" cafe that specialized in stocks (soup stocks, that is), and there were plenty of places to satisfy your sweet tooth, such as the strawberry tarts pictured here. After all that exercise, and a delicious meal, you'll probably want to rest, and there is even waterside housing available for the fortunate people who make arrangements for those accommodations (upper left photo).

I had heard on the NBC Today show about the Silk Weaving Studio, so I for sure wanted to visit that place. During certain times of the year, they actually have silk worms on display that you can see "manufacturing" strands of silk! I was most interested in their large floor-model looms, however, because my great grandmother had one of these looms and made the family several woven cotton rugs, that are now family heirlooms.

The abundant moisture in Vancouver is one reason things grow so good there, as evidenced by the beautiful flowers and plants for sale at Granville Island. No visit to Vancouver is complete, without a jaunt to Granville Island, because you will have "miles of smiles" at every turn! Tricia
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Vancouver Live Event Center

At the Vancouver Live Event Center, one could have their photo made holding a replica of an official Olympic Torch. I stood in a long line to get this opportunity, and to pass the time, I just kept singing the song from my childhood vacation Bible school memories: "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!"

The Coke pavilion was definitely the most popular at this particular Vancouver Live venue. They were the ones taking photos of people with the Olympic torch, photos with the white polar bear often seen in their advertisements, giving you 8 ounces of Coke (regular or calorie-free, in a souvenir Olympics Coke bottle), and displaying evidence of their corporate participation in the Olympics for decades.

The top two photos in this collage were taken at the Samsung corporate pavilion. The hockey player on the left entertained while people stood in line, and the singer on the right performed for you once you got inside. The two photos on the bottom were taken inside the "all-blue-lights" Acer pavilion. It was mostly interactive games on the computers that they sell. I didn't spend long in that pavilion, thinking that I could play computer games at home!

The top three photos of this collage reference the tight security to get into the area where the corporate pavilions/live stage & jumbotrons were located. This security was fine with me, because it was a similar area at the Atlanta Olympic summer games where the bombing occurred. My husband and I had been at the Atlanta location earlier in the day, and knew exactly where the newscasters were saying the bomb went off. For the Atlanta games, there was no screening to get into the pavilion/stage area, and hence the bomber was able to casually place a bomb (hidden inside a backpack) near the stage. Another security measure in Vancouver was that the long blue fence surrounding the area (shown in upper right photo) was "wired", so that if someone tried to go over the fence to avoid security screening, alarms would go off alerting officials to the security breach. The rock band that was performing when I was there was called "Eagle & Hawk" and had a great sound. Their performance included a representative of the aboriginal culture, who did the traditional "rings dance".
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

If you have read this blog before, you may know that I have a background in foods and nutrition, as well as an interest in culinary tourism. It was for this reason, that I arranged a "behind the scenes" tour of Vancouver, Canada's, Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts ( My reception at the facility was typical of that famous Canadian hospitality (upper left photo), and Director of Admissions, Bali Mann, took time out from his busy schedule, to show me the various food preparation areas that support the retail operations of the center (bottom photo).

Mr. Mann explained that the senior level students were currently on assignment away from PICA at "The Olympic Club", which was the elite food service facility for VIP's involved in the 2010 Olympics at Vancouver. He was relating how exciting it had been for those students to have the opportunity to cook for, and serve, dignitaries that included visiting royalty, as well as corporate moguls. He said normally it is these senior level students that oversee the operation of PICA's on-site restaurant that is open to the general public. However, since the senior students were away, the "rookies" were in charge on the day of my visit. These so-called "rookies" did a fantastic job, and I can't imagine their food items being any tastier or prettier than those I received! The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts offers a variety of Professional Programs, Continuing Education Programs, Short Programs, and Private Cooking Classes. In fact, with all the famous people being in the Vancouver area for the Olympics, they had just that week hosted some very well-known television broadcasters for some private classes and Corporate Team Building Classes.

I was completely intrigued by the way that one of the students was making "curlycue's" out of caramel. She did this by swirling caramel, at just the proper consistency, around a metal cylinder (upper left photo), then gently letting the "slinky-like" product slide off the cylinder, once it hardened (upper right photo). I would see later just how these creations were used, when one of them came as a garnish to my dessert (lower photo). Although I had advance reservations for a meal in their dining room, one can still sample the PICA cuisine, even if you can't get a reservation in the dining room. This is because they have a bakery open to the public (8 am - 6 pm, Monday to Saturday) that serves both savory and sweet items made fresh daily on the premises. Purchases there can be dine in, in adjacent coffee shop area, or take away. Adjacent to the bakery is their Boutique where you can purchase their cookbook, logo mugs, gift cards, and t-shirts. Shop in person while there, or shop online from their website. Also on display by their Boutique were the numerous awards they have received. The ones that impressed me, were the "Healthy Chef" awards, as well as their Consumer's Choice Awards for Business Excellence.

The dining room for the facility overlooks the waterfront on one side; there are large windows on the other side of the dining room, where you can observe the students preparing their culinary masterpieces. I took photos of my meal, with the upper left showing their artisan breads and butter balls. The "starter" item I ordered (upper right photo) was described on the menu like this: Dungeness Crab Cake and Quinoa Salad + Miso Aioli. My entree (lower left photo) was delicious and consisted of Oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomato, and pinenuts, Grainy Dijon Sauce, and Roasted Red baby potatoes. My dessert was also incredibly good and was called an Apple Galette with Cream Anglaise and Caramel Crisp. As I was enjoying this sumptuous lunch, in such an extraordinarily gorgeous location, I couldn't help but think of the Bible verse in Psalm 34:8 that says "Taste, and see that the Lord is good." Well, Tricia tasted and saw that the Lord was good, and so was the staff at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts!! They gave my taste buds "miles of smiles"! Tricia
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2010 Olympics "Nation Houses"

Many of the countries that come to the Olympics set up a specific location to showcase important aspects of their country, such as their cuisine or tourism aspects. Although there were 30 different "Nation Houses", I only had the time and energy to visit a few of them. This collage shows me at the House of Switzerland, where they had a Lundt chocolate replica of the Olympic symbol---The Inukshuk. In their house, they had free samples of the famous cough drop made in Switzerland---- Ricola; (Ricola was also a familiar sound echoing throughout the hockey arena whenever a team from Switzerland was playing. It was sort of like the "hog call" for an Arkansas Razorback game.) They also had a full-service restaurant of traditional alpine foods, served in a setting complete with a roaring fire in the fireplace, and great views of the harbor outside the windows.

The Aboriginal exhibits helped visitors discover First Nations culture in Canada. If you watched the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics, you saw that Aboriginal traditions were highlighted through many of the costumes, dancing, and music.

All things French were highlighted in the Place de la Francophonie House. The French are famous for their dress designs, and they had one on display that was "bigger than life". It was actually a tent where little children could go inside and see a puppet show. One of the displays inside the big red building was about, what is jokingly called, "The Canadian Language Police". This is a Canadian government entity that assures the "other" official language in Canada is not neglected. Fortunately the government employee at the booth spoke English, as well as French, so she explained to me what her duties were. I was careful to say "Merci" after she enlightened me!

The Italian house also featured Italian fashions, as well as gorgeous displays of Italian art and design. They also had a representative there telling about the TRUE origin of what we call Parmesan cheese in the US. That is a "wheel" of the stuff I am holding in the upper left photo. Another Nation House I was able to visit was the Slovak house, but it consisted mostly of a restaurant-type set up, with huge TV screens so that Slovak fans in Vancouver could all gather at one place to cheer on their teams, while eating and drinking their favorite Slovak cuisine. Getting to see and read about the various "Nation Houses", of course, brought to my mind the Bible verse from Galatians 3:8b that says "All nations will be blessed through You." I felt God had indeed blessed me with this experience!
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Olympic Omnivores

The lovely red and white, mapleleaf design of Canada's flag was EVERYWHERE---including the pastries!

Beautiful displays of fresh fruit caught my eye in every food market I visited.

These photos show some of the fresh produce for sale at the Granville Island Market. Note how the lettuce only has a rubber band around it, vs. a plastic bag like what is used in the USA.

Even Vancouver "street food" is special! The top photo shows local fishermen/chefs offering smoked salmon (NOT farm-raised!) on a stick, on the street beside the waterfront. The bottom photos show the healthy food choices available at the concession stand at the curing match. It included sushi, fresh fruit, yogurt, whole wheat sandwiches, and banana-nut bread. It was often time to bow my head and say "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food!" Amen!
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