I heart our planet!

I had the idea Saturday evening as I was reading by candle light during Earth Hour to do a post in honour of Mother Earth. Although I strive to participate in Earth Hour each year, I understand that it’s about more than just that one, symbolic hour. It’s what we do everyday to reduce, reuse, recycle and conserve that really makes a difference.

A large part of why I personally believe this is important is because I like spending time outdoors and and do not want to take for granted all the beautiful things Mother Nature shares with us, both locally and globally. The following photos are some examples of times I remember feeling in awe, or really appreciative of Mother Nature. Do you ever feel like that, so overcome with how beautiful and/or unique something is that it stops you in your tracks, and you take a moment to soak it all in?

First, for anyone who has had the fortune to travel, there are many famous vistas that are obvious in their beauty. Mountains are a pretty safe bet for some great scenery.

“The Three Sisters,” Blue Mountains, Australia

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Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Just down the road on the Icefields Parkway, is the Athabasca Glacier. When I was there in May, 2001, the bus driver who took us up onto the glacier showed us how much the glacier had already retreated. This was a stark reminder of how fragile nature can be, and how we must protect it.

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Then next 3 photos were taken from an airplane while I was flying from Ottawa to Portland, Oregon for a conference in the spring of 2014. These are mountains in the American midwest.

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Cliffs and other rock formations can also provide breathtaking views.

In July, 1997, I took a local hop-on, hop-off bus  that went up the Causeway Coast from Portrush, Northern Ireland. It stopped at Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, and Bushmills, home of the famous whiskey distillery. It was raining that day, but it was still one of the most thrilling days of all of my travels, and Northern Ireland remains one of my favourite spots I’ve ever been. The hostel I stayed at, Finn McCool’s, was also one of the best places I’ve ever stayed, largely due to the hospitality extended by the folks who ran it at that time. I took the coastal bus as far as Bushmills, and on the way back, I got off at Dunluce Castle and walked the rest of the way back to Portrush since the rain looked like it was going to hold off. I was absolutely enthralled with the breathtaking beauty of the coastline!

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As my two-and-a-half year stint travelling and working in the UK, Europe and Australia was drawing to a close, I was working in Bristol, England in the summer of 1999. Realizing I hadn’t yet been to Scotland, I booked a week bus tour in September. We spent a couple of days on the Isle of Skye and it was well worth it! The photo below was taken during a hike along the Quiraing route. It’s an absolute must if you ever find yourself in the area!

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There’s also something about water, whether it be falls, ocean waves crashing, or a quiet, calm lake, that mesmerizes. I’ve posted photos before of Niagara Falls; here are some smaller falls that I saw during a day excursion from Portland, Oregon. The first is Horsetail Falls, and the second, the base of Latourell Falls. The rock formations reminded me of Giant’s Causeway!

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I love water reflections! The first photo below was taken shortly after I moved to Ottawa in September, 2013, to begin my MA program at Carleton.

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Home sweet home – this shot of the Thames River was taken last fall during a hike in Komoka Provincial Park. You can see more photos of my beloved hiking trail here, and I promise in the coming weeks and months, to post more from spring and summer hikes.

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I love the great outdoors and do a lot of camping, hiking, and canoeing. The first photo below is during a hike on the Chikanishing Trail, which takes you to Georgian Bay shorelines in Killarney Provincial Park.

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While I’m talking about Killarney, I have to throw in this photo from another hike, “The Crack.” As much rock climbing as hiking, and not for the feint at heart, this tough hike has an incredible reward at the end. Those are the La Cloche Mountains in the background.

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This photo was taken during one of the many canoe trips I’ve taken with my Uncle Joe, who lives just outside of Sudbury. Walker Lake is southwest of Sudbury and north of Killarney.

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Another photo from my time in Ottawa, this was taken in September, 2014 (I had moved back to London a few weeks prior, but returned to Ottawa for a classmate’s wedding), during a hike in Gatineau Park. The fall colours were an added bonus!

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This photo was taken in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, in July, 2006 at the end of a French Immersion week-long program I participated in. The wonderful woman that I had the pleasure of staying with for the week lived just down the road from here on the outskirts of town.

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Finally, there’s nothing like a good sunrise or sunset to leave me speechless and smiling. Given that I’m not much of a morning person (okay, NOT AT ALL a morning person), it’s not too often that I see the sun rise. However, early mornings go hand-in-hand on canoe trips – especially with Uncle Joe! When I’m rewarded with sunrises like this, I don’t mind so much.

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This next one you’ve seen before, here. This was a fun, last night in the Dominican Republic that inadvertently turned into an all-nighter. But look what I would have missed if I had gone to bed!

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One last sunrise stunner that was during my travels to Australia, 1998, when I was much younger and could (somewhat) handle late nights followed by early mornings! As you can see, it was worth the few hours of sleep and 45 minute, uphill trek to the light house. As the most eastern point of Australia, this offered the best views, so we were told by the locals. And hey – who were we to argue?

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Below Left:  dusk in Santa Monica, California, November, 2004.
Below Right:  A beautiful sunset along the Pukaskwa trail. This was probably not the trail for a rookie hiker to cut her teeth on! I was ill-equipped and terrified, wondering what I had gotten myself into and certain that I would not be able to finish the first day, never mind a week. Thankfully, my uncle is a very patient man and the ‘high’ moments (like this one) outweighed the ‘low.’ You can imagine my feeling of triumph when we crossed the finish line!

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Another beautiful Pukaskwa sunset.

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After my immersion week in Trois-Pistoles finished, I drove to Quebec City for a week’s vacation. There is a beautiful, scenic route you can take if not in a hurry. Although I arrived in Quebec City quite late and got lost in the dark, it was worth it!

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Finally, the next 2 photos prove that you don’t always have to travel far to find beauty in nature. Both of the photos below were taken during my walks home from work, through Gibbons Park and over the Thames River.

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Although Mother Nature can be cruel sometimes, there are so many little and big things, locally and globally, where she is incredible and generous. Please join me in doing what we can to help preserve the beauty for future generations to enjoy. :o)

 All images by me; copyright Tina Beynen, 2016.

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