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Destinations Detours and Dreams December 2016

What's Been Happening

There is now snow on the ground, but Manitoba's November was exceptionally mild. That may partly explain why I don't feel wistful or out-of-sorts at being here with no plans to spend a significant part of the winter somewhere warmer. It will be the first winter in five years I haven't escaped from the cold. I may long to get away later in the season. But now, as I go back to yoga and tai chi, spend time with friends, attend book club and writing group meetings, and participate in work with my church, I feel as if I am reconnecting with a former life. It's made me realize that snowbirds give up more than the cold when they head south for the winter. I may write more about that on the blog. In the meantime, I reorganized the Snowbird section of the blog to make it easier for readers to zero in on particular pieces of information. 

Like many other Canadians, I spent a good part of the month mesmerized by our southern neighbour's elections. I am not going to wade into the political discussion, but I do hope all, Americans, Canadians, and others, on both sides of the polarizing campaign can move past the hate and fear of others which seemed far too prevalent.

I also hope we become more discerning about what we read, learning to recognize fake news sites and satire. I've written in the past about the ease in which misinformation can be disseminated via the Internet. In that article, however, I was thinking about how the desire for speed to get the story out resulted in short-cuts on fact-checking. I hadn't considered that sites were deliberately manufacturing stories.

Last month I reported technical difficulties with emails not being sent for those of you who subscribe to notifications each time a new article is published on Destinations Detours and Dreams. The technical difficulties could not be resolved and I have moved to a new notification service. That has partially resolved the issue, but I am still trying to figure out why it does not work for a few subscribers. Those of you who are not current subscribers but would like to be notified every time a new post is published (6 to 9 times a month) can subscribe here. I will also continue to provide a recap of the month's posts in the newsletter. 

In between re-organizing the Snowbird section, watching the election campaign and aftermath, dealing with technical issues, and publishing blog posts, I launched a Facebook page. Please visit Destinations Detours and Dreams on Facebook, like the page and share with friends.

What's On The Horizon

I will be in Manitoba for the month of December. I look forward to times with family and friends and even enjoying our first bit of winter. The first snows are pretty, especially when reflecting Christmas lights. No deep freeze temperatures are predicted for at least the first part of the month.

I have blog posts planned for December and I will be doing some planning for 2017, but I also plan to take a break at the end of year over the Christmas and New Year season.  

More Thoughts on Voluntourism

This month I was saddened to learn that the Fathom cruise line will cease sailing by summer 2017. Some of you read about my June cruise to the Dominican Republic with Fathom. While docked for three days at Puerto Plata, passengers had opportunity to participate in community development activities. I helped a family learn English and volunteered at two women's cooperatives, one making chocolate, the other recycled paper. My husband helped put a concrete floor in a dirt floor house. Before the trip, I'd wondered whether volunteer efforts by vacationers had any lasting social impact.  In the case of Fathom, I was very impressed with what I saw and experienced. The programs were done in conjunction with local agencies with a long history in the country. The impact was made not by any one group of travellers but by the cumulative efforts of vacationers week after week.

The community development activities are continuing, available as shore excursions to other Carnival line cruise ships docking in Puerto Plata. I hope there is enough interest to keep the programs going, but I think both travellers and those being helped in the Dominican are loosing out. There was a focus on board Fathom on social change and personal growth. Activities prepared us for the volunteer shore excursions. It made for a richer experience for the passengers and helped us be more respectful and serious about the work on the ground. 

The change highlights one of the dangers of work like this being done by for-profit companies. They pull out when profits fall, the trend becomes less popular or other opportunities pop up. Non-profit company initiatives can also be at risk when funding sources dry up, but some argue their commitment is stronger and more focused on the work.

November Stories You Might Have Missed

A Merry Time at Merridale Cider

An orchard walk, a cider tasting and faeries at Merridale Cidery & Distillery in Vancouver Island’s scenic Cowichan Valley

The Quaint Seaside Village of Cowichan Bay

Cowichan Bay village on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island: a picturesque place to visit


Abkhazi Garden: The Garden That Love Built

Abkhazi Garden in Victoria, British Columbia was a forty year labour of love for Prince and Princess Abkhazi


Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas

Viewing northern elephant seals at Piedras Blancas rookery along California’s central coast



A public art installation


Book Review: The Great Canadian Prairies Bucket List

Review of one-of-a-kind travel experiences in Canadian provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan

From The Archives

The most viewed post on Destinations Detours and Dreams to date is Winnipeg Fun Facts, a post I published in June 2015 with ten tidbits of information about Winnipeg. Winnie the Pooh, Slurpees. a James Bond connection, and more.
Donna Janke is the author of Destinations Detours and Dreams, where you can find travel stories from near and far, the familiar and the obscure, the beautiful and the bizarre, with a focus on history, gardens, nature, art, architecture, culture and the snowbird life. She tells her stories through a combination of narrative, photos and personal reflection. Sign up for the monthly newsletter here.

In addition to the monthly newsletter, you can also receive notification each time a new post is published (6 to 9 new posts a month) by subscribing via email here.

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