A Versatile Little Maple Leaf…

Many people don’t  realise that, in addition to being both hilarious and generally fabulous at life, I’m also a published author and an avid reader.

If you’re interested in those things, you’re welcome to follow me at:

Book Squirrel A blog about books, authors, new releases, and generally bookish stuff.

WordyNerdBird where I blather on a bit about life as a writer, reader, word nerd, teacher, and director.

Shakespeare Nerd where I fully indulge in my love for Shakespeare’s works, and try to help others appreciate and understand them better.

WordyNerdBird Writes  where I publish my new writing as a “road test” for the next book!

Where The Wind Has Taken Me A blog about the places I’ve visited and things I’ve seen.

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Niagara Falls, ON, After Dark.

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It’s fair to say that the falls are every bit as majestic at night as they are during the day. They’re given a little extra help in summer, though, with coloured lights that shine on them in different configurations, giving rather magical effects.

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Sometimes they use particular colours to signify a particular group of people or a particular event.

The night Sean and I were there, they made the falls on both sides a greenish colour for ten minutes to signify the soldiers who were serving overseas. I thought that was pretty special. I realise that it makes no difference at all to the experiences of the soldiers overseas, but anything that reminds us that we’re at home in relative comfort, and they’re doing it tough on some assignment thousands of miles away, is a good thing. The other people there obviously felt the same way, because everyone spoke in hushed tones and there was a minute or so of almost complete silence except for the pounding of the water to pay respect to those who had lost their lives in service of their nation.


The other really special thing that happened that night at Niagara Falls was that Sean and I had our own little adoption ceremony where we took each other as brother and sister, at least, as officially as we could. That is just one more thing that makes Niagara Falls incredibly special to us both. It’s a night neither of us will ever forget.

2015-09-25 20.57.28 Niagara Falls at Night

The lights of the skyline beyond Rainbow Bridge are really pretty, especially The Niagara Skywheel at Clifton Hill. I do like the way they’ve kept the developments and buildings back a bit from the falls themselves. It makes it possible to enjoy the majesty of the falls without all sorts of commercialisation being thrust upon you.

It wasn’t raining. It just looks that way because of the mist plume that produces its own “rain”. If you’re going to the falls at night, and someone tries to sell you a rain poncho for $2… don’t say no.

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Toronto Zoo, Ontario, CA.

I love Toronto Zoo. I visited for the first time in April, 2014 when it was still freezing cold and some of the animals were in hibernation.

This visit came at the end of summer, so I got to see everything I missed last time!

The highlights for me were the animals I hadn’t seen before, especially the bears. I completely skipped the Australian section and majored on North American animals. I also made a point of visiting the big cats and the monkeys and gorillas, because who doesn’t want to see those?

This is a marmot. He was hanging around in the rhino enclosure. I didn’t know what it was, at first – it looked like a beaver to me but didn’t have the tail.
A fellow visitor to the zoo told me what it was, and added that marmots make a whistling sound. There are so many of them around the ski resort town of Whistler, BC, that they gave the town its name!

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The big cats were out sunning themselves. With warm sunshine and a slight breeze, it was a perfect day for being a cat.

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Those who have never visited Toronto Zoo should be aware that if you want to see Canadian animals, they’re going to make you walk down a very large, very steep hill to see them, and then you’re going to have to walk back up it to get out of the zoo again. Sean and I both have mobility issues, but we braved the hill because I was fully committed to seeing the bears, moose, lynx, and raccoons.

The moose were not friendly enough for me to get a decent photo, but I did see the others.

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Grizzly bears are amazing creatures – so strong and beautiful. I wouldn’t want to meet one in the wild, though – look at those claws!

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Raccoons are adorable. I know, I know… they’re vermin, they’re annoying… but gosh, they’re cute. They chirrup at you, and look at you with those eyes… yeah, I’m smitten.

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I was fascinated by the lynx. It never stopped moving – which made getting a really good photo almost impossible. So, I’ve included my mediocre photo here instead. Also – they stink.

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Like the other big cats, the cougar is a mighty animal of power and stealth. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one, and I was struck by its beauty. Again, I wouldn’t want to meet one in the wild.

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And finally, I am pleased to be able to show you my one and only picture of piranhas! They don’t look anywhere near as mean as their reputation makes them out to be… but I don’t plan on ever finding out for myself!

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As I was taking this, the zookeepers came and said that the zoo was closing and we had to leave. So I didn’t get to see the polar bears, which were next on my agenda. I did, however, see them last time, so I didn’t cry and beg for 15 more minutes. I was tempted, though.

Who closes a zoo at 4pm in late summer? Toronto Zoo does. That’s who.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, CA.

Have you ever had that experience where you visit some place, and you feel within your soul that you were always meant to be there?
I had that feeling the first time I visited Niagara Falls, and on every visit since. It’s one place on earth that I cannot get enough of.

This was my view of the falls walking down to Niagara Parkway from Clifton Hill. It looks beautiful, and even from a distance, it sounds majestic.

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The American side of the falls is, without a doubt, beautiful. It’s easy to lose yourself in the sight and sound of the water.

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The Canadian side of the falls is known as the Horseshoe Falls. While the American side of the falls is beautiful, the Canadian falls are simply breathtaking. The water pounds over the cliff and an enormous plume of mist rises from the river below as a result of the power and sheer volume of the water.

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The ‘Maid of the Mist’ has been an iconic feature of the falls for decades. Sadly, the ‘Maid of the Mist’ only goes from the American side now. Hornblower Cruises run an identical cruise on the Niagara River that takes passengers up to the falls on both sides for an “up close and personal” view. You can tell the two cruise lines apart: Maid of the Mist passengers wear blue plastic ponchos, and the Hornblower passengers wear red. Only very stupid passengers choose to not wear the plastic rain poncho.



Sean, Jenn and I took the Hornblower Cruise on a beautiful, sunny and rather warm late summer afternoon. This was definitely another item on my bucket list that was about to be checked, so that added to my excitement at getting even closer to the beautiful falls that I love so much.

The first thing that really impressed me was the turbulence caused on the river by the falls as we passed right by. There is some serious power in that water!

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This was the moment that I understood why it’s called the Rainbow Bridge. I had gone over it in a vehicle before, but looking at it from this perspective made me appreciate it so much more.

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Even from quite a distance away, the mist was hitting us like rain. It’s hard to not be in awe of a scene like this when you’re right there!

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Obviously, the boat can’t go right under the falls or it would sink. Even so, just being under the mist plume is incredible. The water comes down harder than you’d find comfortable in a shower – it’s more like spray from a pressure hose. It’s an amazing feeling, and you’ll see more rainbows at this point on the river than in any one place for the rest of your life. It’s like a shimmery rainbow curtain of falling water.

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We returned to the falls later in the evening for some sunset photos. We walked back past the Table Rock tourist centre to look at the rapids behind the falls.

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Even as the sun sank below the horizon, the scene was still magnificent.

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Standing right beside the falls at the Table Rock centre, there was no way for me to feel except awestruck. There were no words, only profound amazement and wonder.

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I will be back, Niagara Falls. And until then, I’ll just wish myself there.


Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Canada.

Clifton Hill is an entertainment/retail area an easy walk away from Niagara Falls, but not right at the falls. It’s a vibrant, fun place to be, with lots of places to spend your cash.

The  Niagara Skywheel is prominent in the skyline both day and night. I love the look of ferris wheels, but you won’t get me on one. Immediately in front of that is the Dinosaur Mini Golf. The dinosaurs rawr at you when you go past. That in itself is cool… and rather entertaining when the people in front of you aren’t expecting it.

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0013 2015-09-22 14.36.59 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON

Falls Avenue extends off the Niagara Parkway along the lower side of Clifton Hill.  Highlights for me were the Hershey’s Chocolate World and the Coca Cola stores.



After walking along Falls Avenue, we headed down to the falls where we spent the rest of the day. We came back to Clifton Hill in the evening for dinner. I ate at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara, NY on my previous trip, and I wanted to make it a matched set by dining at the Canadian one!

Carole King was right – some people can’t stay away from the Hard Rock Cafe! It’s possibly a good thing that there isn’t one anywhere near where I live in Australia.

I love the way the Hard Rock Cafes are always so incredibly decked out. And the food… OMG. Seriously.

Confession: We shared the onion rings between three of us, and I still couldn’t finish my burger & fries. Delicious!

2015-09-22 18.23.46 Wax Museum at Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, ON


Roadtrip! from Detroit, USA to Niagara, CA.

After visiting with my cousins in Detroit, we crossed the border and went roadtripping through Canada to meet with my brother. Having crossed on the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls on my last trip, I was keen to cross into Canada on another iconic bridge: Ambassador Bridge at Detroit/Windsor.

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I could almost feel the bump as we crossed the border. Well… almost.

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There are a lot of storybook-worthy-looking farms on this side of Ontario.

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Getting closer! The whole while, I was mentally rehearsing for driving on the right hand side of the road once I got to Sean’s. That’s a big thing for an Aussie!

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