According to Wikipedia, there are 2,562 songs written about New York City. And after traveling there, I can understand why.
Being a small city boy who has only ever seen New York in movies and in books, traveling to it was very unlike London or Osaka. New York is a beautiful, and incredible city, and they know it. Walking through the airport terminal, I stopped at a shuttle station and asked for some help getting around. I said, "I have never been to New York before, and I have no idea where to go."
The man looked at me and said, "Well, in that case: Welcome to New York, the Greatest City on Earth!"
Hopping on the shuttle, I left LaGuardia Airport and headed across the East River and into East Harlem, in Manhattan.
Although our direct route through the winding, crowded, honking streets of the island are unknown to me, I could tell we were in East Harlem and Harlem for quiet some time. The old, graffiti covered brick buildings were the first bit of realization that I was actually in the Big Apple. Even the areas of town where tourists avoid had an atmosphere about them that they were the prime examples of America's struggles and accomplishments.
I picked a quirky hotel in Midtown East called The Pod Hotel, and I stayed in Pod 51 for my four days in New York.
The Pod Hotel was very small, with my room only being a bed, a closet and a sink. The bathroom and shower was shared, with two being on each floor. My window faced another building, and I could hear traffic on the street below. But in so many ways, the hotel was perfect. Every night it had a movie night, and every morning there was a community breakfast where you could eat on the deck outside and get to meet the other people in your hotel.
I decided then to take a walk around my neighborhood. I had no desire to hit up any of the major destinations today. Instead I just wanted to see the city of NYC in it's natural habitat. And I wasn't that far from the river either.
I headed East on 51st Street and crossed FDR Drive. I stopped to photograph the cars speeding below me. It was at this time I began thinking that New York is like a organ; a never ending, beating, living thing. That feeling stood with me the entire time I was there. This isn't just a city; it's alive!
It was also here where I met another photographer, a very eccentric man who would photograph anything peculiar, including trash on the ground. Looking across the darkening river at Roosevelt Island I saw a strange shape siloetted against the trees.
"What's that?", I asked.
That, the strange building getting less and less visible in the twilight, was an old, abandoned hospital for children with smallpox. It was overgrown, and would soon be demolished. I needed a picture of it. But not tonight. Tomorrow. I will see it tomorrow.
And thus, I headed back, plan in mind, excited to learn what other strange secrets New York had in store for me.
Having no idea that the hospital was only the tip of the iceberg of places I would explore while in NYC.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
When I was younger, I really loved winter. I loved sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen. One of my favourite pastimes was visiting a little outdoor ice rink a few blocks from my house. Every winter my friends and I would climb over the walls of the rink and goof around on the ice. When we weren't falling over our feet, we'd play hockey with whatever snow chunks we could find. As these events became more frequent, we often talked about playing real hockey on the rink. Eventually, we would end up playing hockey, but we'd settle for the street in front of our houses instead.
Beyond childhood, the only other time I went skating was in high school. Everybody else's ice skating skills had improved with age, but mine were still that of a fourth grader. I remember standing in the rink, struggling to shoot while holding my balance, only to have a classmate swoop in and steal my puck! Ever since then, I've stuck to floor hockey.
As I got older, my love for winter dwindled. Now I find it cold, icy, dark and sometimes miserable. My blog usually slows down in the winter for this very reason. I've been trying to get out and enjoy our longest season of the year, but it's hard. Most days I just want to stay inside.
Last summer my family and I tried fishing up in Northern Saskatchewan. We had a great weekend, but we caught nothing. I wasn't too disappointed though, as I have never actually caught a fish. After 25 years of fishing and failing, I have officially given up on the sport.
That is until I was invited to visit Medicine Hat, Alberta and go sturgeon fishing on the South Saskatchewan River. I was hesitant, but I said yes. I really didn't want to spend eight hours out on the water just to come home empty-handed, but I figured to give it one more shot.
My guide for the day, Brent Thorimbert, picked me up at my hotel around 8:30 a.m. and drove us to a valley located just outside of Medicine Hat. We got out on the water about 9 a.m. and arrived at our fishing spot twenty minutes later. Brent explained that sturgeon fish are "bottom feeders" so they swim along the bottom of the riverbed and eat up bugs and small fish. Our fishing lines were weighted for this very reason. The bait should sit on the riverbed and would get sucked up by an unsuspecting sturgeon.
Among the tombstones of the Regina Cemetery are little blue and white flags. In 1993 the Regina Ethnic Pioneers Cemetery Walking Tour put together their first tour, which focused on the city's founding fathers. In 1999 they then put together the second tour, which focused on the diversity of immigrants that live within the city. The blue flags mark the path of the first tour and the white flags mark those of the second.
The walking tours are self-guided, and can be purchased at the Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery for $2. Together, they offer over eighty different locations to visit.
For this project I teamed up with Patti Haus from I Heart Regina. She's another local blogger that has just broken into the scene and blogs about food, drinks and things to see around the Queen City. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She provided many of the pictures for this article.