When it comes to what inspires me to travel, the answer is usually, ‘anything and everything’.

A photograph, a TV show, a history book or the timing of an eclipse…the one constant is the feeling that I must see that thing, that place, that view, for myself. Here are three things that made me say “I have GOT to go there!”

1. Edward Scissorhands ‘ala Montreal’

I was flipping through the Toronto Star one Saturday a month or so ago when I saw this photo, and the minute I read that this was an exhibit at Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, I ripped out the article, and announced to my husband that this was GOING TO HAPPEN this summer! Maybe it’s all those Rose Bowl Parades I watched as a kid, with entire floats made out of hand-picked petals from some exotic orchid, or maybe it was Edward Scissorhands’ creative talent with suburban shrubbery, but anytime I see something magical made out of green living things, I bow down in admiration of its creators (Mother Nature included). Hence the pilgrimage we are planning to Montreal for the end of this summer. When something like this is within driving distance, there’s absolutely no excuse not to indulge your inspiration.

Edward Scissorhands' Handiwork

Edward Scissorhands’ Handiwork

TIP: The Mosaicultures internationales exhibit is on until the end of September, so if you are a foliage fan yourself, make a plan to indulge yourself as well. But if you can’t get there, stay tuned for our pics – Henk’s got a couple of weeks to figure out which lenses best capture ‘imagination’!

2. Dairy Queen Cones Made of Sand

A cover photo similar to the one that lured me to Antelope Canyon

A cover photo similar to the one that lured me to Antelope Canyon

Years ago when I was in the midst of planning my first ever trip to Arizona, a photography magazine happened to cross my desk at work, with one of the most amazing landscape photos on the cover that I had ever seen. When I searched for the photo credit inside and saw that the image was of a canyon in Arizona, I decided this place absolutely had to make it onto our itinerary, even though I had no idea where it was, or how to get there. Out came the map and after researching a lot of material, I located Antelope Canyon near a town called Page at the top of the state. Arizona, as you know, is a big place, so despite the fact that we were already criss-crossing 2500 miles or so of the state, we modified the route to include this slot canyon visit.

Photo by Paul Nicklen for National Geographic

Photo by Paul Nicklen for National Geographic

A sliver of a canyon, carved out over the years by rushing waters forced through narrow chasms in the rock cliffs, the results of Mother Nature’s sculpting are incredible. Being inside the dimly-lit corridor is like being enveloped in multi-coloured red, orange and rust-coloured Dairy Queen swirls, illuminated by sunbeams streaming in like heavenly spotlights from overhead gaps in the rock. We had to time our visit (and jeep ride out there) to coincide with noon in order to get the light directly overhead, which meant there were about 100 other admirers, cameras and tripods at the ready, positioned around every bend and curve in the canyon walls. Despite that, there was canyon enough for all, and with the sun rapidly moving out of position, we did manage to find a quiet chamber where we could just stand, look up and marvel.

TIP: You will need a guide to visit Antelope Canyon, so make arrangements ahead of time, and if you want to capture those light beams, be sure to time your visit for when the sun is directly overhead.

3. Extraterrestrial Doodles

The 70s phenomenon that featured the Nazca Lines

The 70s phenomenon that featured the Nazca Lines

The 70s phenomenon that featured the Nazca Lines

Anyone who is a grownup will probably remember the TV phenomenon of the 70’s known as ‘Chariots of the Gods’, the premise of which was that aliens visited us, leaving some pretty impressive signs that they were here – signs like giant designs of animals and aliens that you can only see from the air, that were carved into the surface of flat desert plateaus 1500+ years ago by Peruvian natives who were more typically known for their pottery.

These are the Nazca Lines in Peru, which, until I was planning a trip to see another iconic landmark, Machu Picchu, I had forgotten were in Peru. As soon as I realized these mystical, unexplained lines were to be found in the same country we were planning to visit, the itinerary got modified in an instant to include a visit there so that I could see these wonders for myself. It took a bit of ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ to get us there, but the designs are so impressive, they almost overshadowed the nausea I experienced as our small airplane did figure 8’s so that everyone on board could get a good look at each of the designs below us. There is no confirmed explanation for these designs, and some people have made it their life’s work to catalogue and study them, but one thing is certain: these 500 square kilometers of out-of-this-world artwork certainly justify the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Just another ‘must-see’ for the bucket list!

The spider

The spider

 

The hummingbird

The hummingbird

 

Small planes are not for the faint of stomach

Small planes are not for the faint of stomach

TIP: If you are sensitive to motion or airsickness, you might want to get some preventative medication, or an anti-nause patch, because although the flight isn’t long, the plane does circle each design and dip its wings so that passengers on both sides of the plan can get a great view.

From inspiration to destination, these were only 3 examples of the kind of things that piqued my curiosity, and led me on a travel adventure. Here’s hoping they’ll inspire one of yours.

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