Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ski Canada Whistler : Whistler Air Airport Transfer New Service from Vancouver (YVR) to Whistler (YWS)

If you're planning a ski trip to Canada's Whistler this winter, there's a new faster, more luxurious limo and charter flight combo service from Whistler Air to transfer you and your group from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) via Pemberton B.C. (airport code CYPS) to the condos and ski hills at Whistler.

Less time on the road means more time on the slopes, is the idea: By shaving about 5 hours (based on round trip travel time only) off the time of a road trip, you can get in a lot more ski time.
Whistler Air already operates seasonal (summer) scheduled service from downtown Vancouver's Coal Harbour (airport code CHX) to Green Lake in Whistler (YWS). The 2009 dates for this existing non-ski-season service are early April 2009 to mid-October 2009.

Laura at Whistler Air sends these details of the new year round executive class airport transfer service:
"The new product that we are launching this year is a private service directly from the Vancouver (YVR) airport, with Whistler as the final destination. It will be offered year round. This service will remove up to 2.5 hours off your transfer time to or from Whistler.

"In winter, flights will land in either Pemberton or Squamish (airport code YSE), depending on the weather. In summer, flights will depart YVR South Terminal and arrive at our Green Lake terminal. We have a new Cessna Caravan with leather interior that will be used specifically for this flight.

"Executive limo service is included in the price (flight, transfers and limo -- $2,100 one way for up to 8 passengers). This is a full service package, and different from a regular charter. A driver will meet the group at the arrivals gate at YVR and assist with luggage to the plane at the South Terminal.

"Upon arrival in Whistler (or Pemberton / Squamish), another driver will be ready to take guests direct to their Whistler accommodation."
"Often times, a couple of families or a group will travel on a ski holiday together. This is ideal for those small groups as the cost of a car rentals and parking at a hotel for a week or 10 days can actually cost a small fortune!"

The Pemberton - Whistler - Squamish area is one of my favourite parts of British Columbia, sited inland from another one of my favorite spots in Canada: B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. I love this mountain country with its fresh, pine-scented air, and the handsome coastline and numerous islands.

By flying to Whistler, on clear days you'll get a priceless bonus: Fabulous views of Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast mountains and inlets, and the dramatic peaks of Mt. Garibaldi Park.

See Sunshine Coast pictures: (
and Sechelt BC pictures (

See for the fine print on booking and baggage allowances, and for some amazing aerial photos of this part of Canada.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Colors Port Credit : Leaves, Lake, Rainbow Lake Ontario

Port Credit (Mississauga, Ontario) is having a really good Fall season: Some days are hot and sunny, some are rainy and blustery, and this past week, most days have been alternating between the two, several times a day. Brilliant sunshine and glorious sunsets simply beg you to take their picture. Here are a few random pics I've taken over the past week.

Port Credit Village Trees behind LCBO on Lakeshore Road
The best way to see thr colors is first hand, in person, as my valiant little Canon Digital cannot do the reds justice. (LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, where one may purchase wines, beers etc. Or so I am told :-)

Rhododendron Gardens Park Lakeshore Road Mississauga
One afternoon, just as I'd finished working in the new Rose Garden in Rhododendron Gardens (we need something to show off once the rhodos are done blooming in June), the clouds parted briefly to set the golds and reds ablaze. Just as quickly, they took away the light.

Blustery Winds Make Waves Lake Ontario :: View of Toronto
I took this picture from the beach in the part of Rhodo Gardens at the end of Godfrey's Lane. Until a few days ago, I hadn't known that this park are was part of the main Rhodo Gardens, as it's separated from the main park area by a private residence.

Sunset Lake Ontario Rhododendron Gardens
The setting sun turned the waters of the Lake salmon-colored. I took this picture just before 7 p.m. on the weekend just past. The days are noticeably shorter now, and as I write this, it is dark at 7 p.m. This weekend the time will change back to EST (Sunday, November 2), and so it will be dark at 6 p.m. or a bit sooner.

Rainbow Over Lake Ontario October 27, 2008
East views towards Toronto: This rainbow is mirrored in Lake Ontario. Tonight, there were dozens of birds bobbing on the almost-still waters. Various types of gulls, a few Canada geese, and a wading bird or two. I must get out my Bird Book to find their names. I counted about 6 dozen in all in this small bay at Rhododendron Gardens beach, and wonder if it's migration time again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mississauga Road South to Lake Ontario

For those not familiar with our part of Ontario, the north-south oriented Mississauga Road loosely parallels the Credit River that flows south from the Brampton - Mississauga border to Lake Ontario at Port Credit.

As I walked south from Lakeshore Road along Mississauga Road, with the mothballed Petro Canada lands to my right (west) and tidy houses to my left, I could see a band of dark blue across the lake.

Clouds Mimic Mountains -- Lake Ontario Mid Autumn

This band of blue colored clouds looked for all the world like steep land rising like a mountain on the far shore. Now I am a reasonable person and know that there are no mountains across Lake Ontario from Port Credit but it was a terrific optical illusion.

Cyclist On Waterfront Trail Mississauga

I picked up the path and walked west along the waterfront trail past the south side of the fenced off Petro Canada lands.

The clouds in this view still mimicked shoreline across the lake; on a clear day, you'd be seeing parts of Hamilton in the distance. The dark needle of land projecting into the lake (middle, right) is Clarkson.

Lake Ontario at Dusk, Looking West Towards Clarkson (Mississauga)

I had hoped that the on and off blustery winds had set up interesting waves, but they hadn't. This beach is part of Rhododendron Gardens, and until volunteers this year removed weeds and scrubby shrubbery, was largely unnoticed.

Now, most days, but especially on clement weekends, it's a magnet for visitors.

Late-blooming Rhododendron -- Fall Color in Mississauga

While all the rhodos are sporting next springs chubby buds, this little rhododendron just couldn't wait that long. Mississauga had had a few wonderfully warm summer-like days that must have coaxed him out.

Update: By the next day, someone had picked the rhodo. (Sigh). The gardens are now named Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens and I manage a new and separate blog dedicated to the BRG.

See how this part of the Waterfront Trail looked on Thanksgiving weekend, a few days earlier.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Travel And Poverty Awareness on Blog Action Day 2008

October 15 marks Blog Action Day 2008 with thousands of bloggers posting on the subject of Poverty Awareness, and Snapshot-Travel is no exception. That most of the people in this world live in abject poverty seems hard to imagine to those of us who don't.

Most North Americans, Europeans and Australians, among others, are among those who don't live in poverty. They may see homeless persons from time to time in the cities where they live, and think, "These are the poor."

But 'the poor' in North America, Europe and Australia are rich when compared to the 'poor' in other parts of the world. The Have countries have social programs, charities and other resources to help those who need help. Here in Canada, everyone has health care, access to social assistance funding and more. Lose your job? We have several programs to help you out. And the list goes on. To be sure, Canada isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn good.

Travel is a great eye opener to how the world really is. Do you holiday in Mexico? Take a look outside the resort, like I did in Acapulco. From my 4th floor window overlooking a hillside, I could see several family groups living rough with only loose tarps for shelter, gathering bits of wood to make a cooking fire. Then I went down to my dinner and show.

Traveling to Manila or Rio de Janiero, or India? The slums in these cities are infamous. In Sri Lanka some years ago, I traveled by road from Colombo to Galle, on the southwest coast. We drove past miles and miles of ramshackle hovels that filled the hundred or so yards of scrub land between the railway tracks and the ocean. When the tsunami hit the following year, my first thought was,"OMG! Those slums and and everybody in them must all be washed away."

Haiti is often referred to as 'the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere', a phrase almost meaningless in conveying the conditions under which most Haitians try to survive.

The list of the poorest countries goes on and on. Apparently, 'the poor will always be with us' but the gulf between Haves and Have Nots grows wider, to our shame.

Our world has the resources to feed and care for all its citizens, yet we choose not to. From time to time, usually following a natural disaster or at holiday time when alms-giving is popular, we may donate a few dollars to charities and urge our governments to fight poverty.

But other than writing a cheque once or twice a year, most of us continue with our lives, raise our families, send the kids to camp or music lessons, take our holidays, and worry about our portfolios.

"How can we do more," you well may ask. "There are so many of them. Where do I start? What can one person do?"

There's no easy answer, but here are a few ideas to explore. These are my ideas, and I offer them here. They do not apply for natural disaster emergencies, when immediate aid for water, food and shelter are needed.
  • Don't support your country's agriculture industry by buying domestic grain oversupply then donating it to 'third world ' countries. It's costly to ship, and often ruined by the time it gets there. Even worse, this 'free' grain undercuts the local economy, and exacerbating the problem.
  • Don't throw money at poor countries. After the tsunami in Asia, relief agencies were receiving huge amounts of donations with no idea of how to disburse them in a timely fashion. Think before you donate.
  • Don't send old clothing, etc. Most countries have textile industries, and charity clothing ends up at local markets, again undercutting the local economies.
  • Don't donate outdated pharmaceuticals; if they are useless in your country, why would they do any good in another? And again, the shipping costs, customs and duties are only supporting the transportation companies.
  • When you travel, don't take candies to give to kids. Sugar is the last thing malnourished people need.
Here are some Do suggestions that have shown great promise that you may like to keep in mind.
  • Do support companies and agencies that are working to supply clean water treatment equipment, and items like foot pumps to move water from ponds to irrigate fields.
  • Do support agencies that are making micro loans to small businesses.
  • Do research charities and NGOs (non-government organizations) to see how they work, and what percentage of donations are used for administration.
  • Do support agencies that provide mosquito netting and other products to help combat malaria.
  • Do support agencies like Doctors Without Borders who provide medical and dental care.
  • When you travel, do keep a discerning eye out for 'beggars'. As one friend said, "The few dollars I gave [the woman on the street] may be the only money she gets all day."
  • When you travel, do buy things you need from street vendors, like in Ethiopian cities; many street kids sell small packets of tissue or AA batteries. It's something you can use, and supports their fledgling business.
  • Get involved with anti poverty groups, or maybe do some reading on social justice issues.Think before you act. Who's getting the donation, how will they use it, and is it likely to do any real good?
Be aware of how well off you are. Even though your name may never make any Forbes lists, you have a computer, or access to one or you wouldn't be reading this, and you have the education to know how to use it.

When you read about or see media coverage of boatloads of Haitians trying to get the the U.S., or Africans trying to cross the Mediterranean, try to imagine how desperate you'd have to be to attempt such a foolhardy venture.

While newspaper headlines and television news reports cite enormous number about famines, national disasters and global poverty, these numbers are so large as to be meaningless.

Humanize 'The Poor'. Large numbers tend to diminish the people comprising them. Instead, try to see them as individuals, with parents, spouses, children, brothers, sisters and friends.

Imagine how you would help your own friends and family should they need a helping hand, and do it globally, for total strangers, one at a time if necessary and anonymously if possible.

We will all be the richer for it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Colors Thanksgiving Port Credit Ontario

Perfect weather -- more like summer than fall -- on this Thanksgiving weekend here in Port Credit (Mississauga) Ontario. And since we were dog-sitting Heinz the Rottweiler puppy for the day, we simply had to take him for a walk along the Waterfront Trail.

Fall color Rhododendron Gardens Park
The trees in the Gardens are just starting to take on their Fall colors, here along Lake Ontario. The color changes show best in bright sunshine, and just after noon, there was ample.

New views of Lake Ontario
Thanks to the weed-pulling and brush cutting efforts of Rhododendron Gardens volunteers, notably David the chief weed-whacker, new views of Lake Ontario have been opened up from the Waterfront Trail. Along the top of the bank, new daylily plantings promise a good show next summer.

Waterfront Trail Trees
One lone red orange tree commands attention among the lush greenery.

Fall's glory along Lake Ontario
In a few more days, barring any rain and wind storms, most of the trees should be wearing their fall colors. See how quickly the weather and leaves can change: Thursday's pictures Port Credit.

Heinz the Rottweiler gets his first look at Lake Ontario waves
While he loves the water, to the point of frolicking with his water dish, Heinz (named for the varieties he represents in the canine world) wasn't too sure what the noise and waves were all about. He managed to get his feet and nose wet, but then scampered off to explore the underbrush.

I shot a short (19 second) video of Heinz romping in the creek. (See YouTube if video not displaying below)