The first time I went to Algonquin Park was back in 2007, when I went for a long day trip. I hugged a big tree, saw a moose and a chipmunk and was generally delighted with how lovely it was there. It’s astonishing I haven’t made it back until this year, so I got pretty excited at the prospect of a 4 day weekend of camping there!
Friends Dan & Kirsty had been camping in Algonquin Park before & are all set up with great gear & know-how so they were our bastions of excellence for the trip! We decided on a pet-friendly campground (Canisbay Lake) so we could bring our dogs, and got all set with plans. Pals Fiona & Dan were coming too, so we bundled into their car with Jake for the trip! Luckily Dan & Kirsty had a lot of what we needed, and we were able to borrow a tent from friends here in Toronto who camp often.
It was so nice to get away for a slightly extended long weekend (thanks, civic holiday!). While the weather wasn’t perfect (rain showers each day, and big rain overnight our last night there), we made the most of the non-rainy parts of the weekend. For starters, we went canoeing! I had never done this before and was slightly nervous about being out on a big lake in a small boat – but it was so fun. Once we got ourselves sorted out and paddling nicely, we had a couple of trips. One was to toodle around a small island in the lake not far from the main beach, and then the other was to follow a bit of the shoreline around in a loop. It’s a calming thing, having a nice paddle on a gorgeous lake.
We also went on a nice big hike on the Track and Tower trail – it was lovely to be properly out in the woods and see a couple more lakes, and go up to the lookout there. We weren’t exactly right in the wilderness with our campsite, so the hike was great to have a taste of that and get some exercise. The dogs loved it too! Jake really took to wandering up and down the trail with us, and investigating everything. We didn’t see any wildlife, but heard a bunch of birds and saw gorgeous flora and geology!
Apart from the great outdoor adventures, it was just super to hang out with two of my fave couples! We did some fun camp cooking (and Dan and Kirsty were the BEST about bringing delicious stuff for Adam and I to add to our tofu etc), and I had my first smore and made a fire cone! And when we weren’t eating (which, let’s face it, we were eating a lot), we played some games! We also had some fun with weird fire and sparklers on our last night before the rain hit.
It was a great weekend, and I felt so rejuvenated being out there in Algonquin, which is a stunning provincial park. Having a dip in the lake, sitting by the fire, cuddling Jake and Adam in the tent and waking up to the sounds of birds was just what I needed! Sure it was nice to come home to creature comforts, but I’m already thinking about the next time I can get away camping!
If you enjoyed the photos here, my full set is on Flickr.
Disclaimer: I work at the Royal Ontario Museum, and do not have to pay the fee to see the exhibition (but I’m also a ROM Member). I was not involved in any way with the development of the exhibition, however.
In the week leading up to the opening of Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano at the Royal Ontario Museum there was an animation of the smoking peak of Vesuvius on the outside of the building. It got a little worse as the days went on – this was taken on Thursday night:
Then on Friday evening, there was this explosive display:
It was pretty spectacular! But does the exhibition itself live up to this excitement?
Much of it is fairly understated story of what life was like in Pompeii, to establish context. Although I’d seen a lot in UK/Euro museums about Roman life, the items on display are all very specific to Pompeii & daily life there, which piqued my interest. On top of that, there was a lot of great information about the geology of the area & how the eruption played out.
Displays on what everyday people wore, as well as nobles and the military started off the exhibition. There’s a great spot to see if you can tie a toga on and have it look as badass as the ones in the marble statues.
Information dipped into theatre, religion and sex too. Pompeii had quite a thriving drama scene, it seems – two major stadiums! I had no idea. (The first image below is that of two statues of actors). And then I was also enlightened to the fact that phalluses were a sign of good luck in ancient Pompeii/Rome, which explains this super fancy windchime.
That last image is of an earthquake scene Pompeii had survived prior to the massive eruption – what a volatile area of the Mediterranean to live in. But it seems like overall, it was a beautiful area to live, right on the water with a gorgeous mountain right there and thriving marketplaces. I was most taken by the carbonized food remains found at Pompeii – as much as anything, an amazing snapshot of people’s tastes and diets. (Just don’t read too much into how they made fish sauce…) Bread, figs and olives, oh my!
So – society, military, religion, fine foods.. what left but art? Gorgeous and usually functional pieces, friezes & mosaics pepper the exhibition. The glass at the end was found, likely having been trapped in an enclosed space set on fire by the eruption.
Of course, everyone knows that the story of Pompeii won’t have a happy ending. Moving through the exhibiton, near the end you will find yourself in a darkish space – a statue slightly in the distance, doomy gloomy lighting and a projection of Vesuvius erupting on the far wall. An infographic off to the side lays out a lot of the geological information, and the timeline that the residents of Pompeii would have experienced – and the time at which it would’ve been too late for them.
After this, there’s a stark space that hosts a number of casts of the victims of the eruption, prone in their poses of death. The focus on their remains and their stories is really well done, with nothing to detract from that. (As opposed to the cast of the dog, pictured below, which is actually at the very start of the exhibition, and a pretty distressing thing to see straight up front.) I won’t show them all, as I think it’s worth going through the exhibition to learn about the lives the people of Pompeii led, and how unfortunate their deaths were.
I think the sombre end to the exhibition is the best way to finish the story of Pompeii, without going on afterward. My overall impression is the flow & design of the space weaves through the displays very well (although some parts are prone to bottleneck). Lighting is great, reproductions of art used for negative spaces & bare walls makes a huge difference in enjoying the exhibition, and breathes some life into it. I especially thought the dramatic “eruption” space with the gloomy/flickering lighting was effective.
Even though most of my visits have been fairly brief, I’ve had a chance to learn some key information and facts, because the text isn’t presented in overwhelming chunks. Short blurbs, quotes, etc draw the viewer in easily, and those more keen on finding out more can read on further – and I think the very focused nature of the exhibition and its story overall can help stave off visitor fatigue. It definitely makes a visit to just one part of a very large museum easier, too.
If you’re in Toronto and want to check out #ROMpeii (best hashtag ever, am I right?) then it’s running until January 3rd 2016. It’s an engaging look at the life and death of Pompeiians, with family interactives and great information. There’s a lot of events going on, too. And if you’d like to read something about the exhibition not by me, head to Justin & Lauren’s blog about it here. (They’ve even been to the real Pompeii!)
Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano runs until January 3rd 2016. Tickets are inclusive of general admission and cost: $28 adults | $25.50 students/seniors | $20 children 4-14 years (toddlers 3 & under are free) | Members FREE.
The ROM is open daily 10am – 5.30pm (and to 6.30pm on Fridays), except December 25th. Check out Best Value Fridays after 4.30pm!
The EMP Museum in Seattle is like someone asked “what is Nicole a nerd about?” and made a museum (minus the board games, get on it EMP!). The EMP Museum used to be the “Experience Music Project” but has grown to be generally a pop culture – film, movies, music etc – museum in a gorgeous Gehry building.
I was lucky enough to be in town while the Star Wars costume exhibition was showing, and made a beeline to see that first. It is a mix of costume and design information from the newer prequels, and also the original trilogy. Even though I’m not as much of a fan of episodes 1-3, the costuming is incredible and it was amazing to see it close up.
But I did get the most, nostalgically, out of the older info, designs and costuming. I especially loved the sketches and inspiration cited for many of the costumes, and the droid design. Beautiful stuff.
Next stop were a couple of smaller exhibitions as part of the (what I believe to be) permanent displays. I didn’t know they were part of the museum (I planned my visit poorly, obviously) and I was so excited to wander through. The first was “Can’t Look Away: the Lure of Horror Film“. There’s a little bias on some of the content due to the directors that consulted & curated clips of their favourite films (Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth), but it does a great job at looking at the genre overall, highlighting the history of the iconic movies in the genre, looks at monsters and fear and has loads of cool artefacts on display. I legitimately flipped out at the Sean of the Dead shirt. It had a lot of great information, and was a good primer for those not familiar with horror movies. And the design of the space, plus the audio playing around there, was perfect.
Heading out of horror into Sci-Fi, the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction exhibition has a bit less of a narrative, but still showcases the vastness of the genre in film and TV very well, old school and new. Terminator 2 is one of my fave all time movies, so I geeked out a lot at that little glass case, but really enjoyed all of the stuff on display. So much is from a private collection, I’d love to be in a place to have that stuff in my own collection!
Onto something slightly more laid back, the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibition was thematically a gorgeous space (down to the stone walls, magic tree structures and fake pine needles on the floor) and had a lot of my favourites in there. I really enjoyed the interactives they had on various screens in this exhibition too – taking quizzes to see what kind of fantasy archetype you are, creating a map of a fantasy kingdom etc. It was a real treat to see the Princess Bride costumes and weapons!
I wandered the “main” part of the building after that, popping into the Indie Game Revolution exhibition and also checking out the very cool Sound Lab interactive (I learnt to play a little hook on the piano!). Marveled at the massive guitar installation, too.
My last stop was the Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition. I came a little late to being a fan of Nirvana, but in the mid 90s I was a huge fan of grunge in general, especially Pearl Jam. And that also influenced a lot of the music I ended up getting into, especially other punk and riot grrl. This blurb about the exhibiton says it as well as anything else: “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses explores the public and personal story of a single band, but it also invites visitors to discover the underground music scene in which Nirvana developed.” I very much enjoyed the look at the band’s development in context of the local scene, and especially the ‘oral history’ of music around that time, which was accessible at screens throughout the exhibition to sit down and explore. There were also lots of music stations throughout the exhibition to listen to Nirvana’s music from certain periods, along with their peers.
I felt a lot of emotion and connection to the exhibitions I saw at the EMP Museum. Usually when I’m visiting a museum in a city, it’s pretty history-centric, about a place/culture/environment. This was about stuff I loved, and it was great to have that experience when visiting a museum.
The EMP Museum is open daily, you can buy tickets online & also (like I did) get them as part of the Seattle City Pass. The price is a little high, but for the extensive content on display, I believe it’s worth it – especially when you are passionate about pop culture!
Alright friends. Let’s think happy thoughts. First up, because Craig on the show and his anger management tactic of listing things he loves is totally relevant..
We spent much of our anniversary evening last night catching up on the latest season.. It’s gonna be over soon 😦 So sad. This is really the only comedy/sitcom I’ve legit laughed out loud at in forever. That and maybe Bob’s Burgers.
I’m still loving where I work and my new job! It’s been a great couple of months settling in and starting to get to know people. I love the spaces, the places, the people, the programs, the objects. It’s just great being here, y’now?
I still can’t believe how amazing Bunners is. That bakery is killin’ it, with amazing and delicious vegan & GF treats. I mean, I love gluten, but I will ALWAYS put Bunners in my mouth. Here’s a couple of recent, love-themed highlights. So delish.
And finally, I love sending/receiving snail mail! I’ve probably mentioned it before. But I get so excited. This week I sent a little package off to a Twitter friend in the Seattle area, and also started on doing Postcrossing. It’s so neat just having people on tap to send postcards to! Postcards are my fave, I love their little snapshots and their sense of ephemera. If you, reader, ever want to exchange postcards, I’m more than willing to do so!
This past weekend I strolled the galleries with Laura and her husband, Chad, plus our friend Lauren. It was nice to head to some of the galleries I don’t normally get to with friends, but also see the usual excellent dino gallery too. Here’s some photos! (Also yes, shush, I know I work here but it’s nice to stroll about with friends!)
Oh, hello there! It’s Thursday. I used to do this much more often, so it’s time to crack on and get back into it! Let’s start with..
Excellent socks. There’s now a sock-only shop here in Toronto which has awesome stuff. I gave and received many cool socks this holiday season, among them were these:
Next of all, I love museums! Now, shush. I know this is an obvious one, but my firey love has been stoked by my new job at the ROM and getting to visit the collections. I love museum collections so much! There’s a special feeling about them. Plus I get to see cool things:
All the delicious food I get to eat daily, weekly, yearly! Looking back over my Instagram feed is like a delicious feast. I’ve never been happier to be vegan and enthusiastic about cooking, and living in an amazingly vegan-friendly city. It’s why we get to enjoy delicious treats each Saturday when we visit Bunners in Kensington (who I LOVE LOVE LOVE) for a start:
Speaking of food, this soup! OMG. I love it. Southern style black eyed bean and collards, just for new years. Plus it’s hella cold here right now.
I love this new giant scarf I got at American Apparel cheap on Boxing Day. Keeps me so warm.
And then.. this smushface pup. N’aw.
Hello all! welcome to the new year. I haven’t forgotten about blogging just yet. I used to do a more frequent random drop of photos, so here’s a few from fairly recently. More to come!
Back when I was working at 500px, one of our team outings was to a Second City show. It was great, and I was doubly excited to see these photos of Colin Mochrie, who I love, in the random old photos of previous Second City actors.
Back in the summertime, when there were outside hangouts for games. Jake hangs with us.
Many of you will know that I’ve recently started working at the Royal Ontario Museum, which is pretty great! I am there in an administrative/executive assistant capacity and it’s amazing to get to go to work in such a fantastic institution every day. And I really love the building.
I’ve been getting to see a lot of the collection spaces too! That’s especially great, because it’s where my interest in museums really lies.
Also I know I shared this already on social media, but it’s me getting to hold some Mars rock and Moon rock and some of the oldest Canadian rock so whatever!
More wandering photos..
And here’s me looking goofy with Jake.