About Scott White and Peter Fenton

Fenton & White is the name of a musical theatre writing duo based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their work has been published and produced across North America. Pete also works as a palaeontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum and Scott teaches when he isn't performing or travelling. They have a passion for life and a love of travel. Check out postings of our wacky adventures and take a peek at the world of Fenton & White

Fenton & White Welcome Winter

Winter is a time to bundle up and take in the cool fresh air, or snuggle into a blanket, enjoy the warmth of home and curl up with a good book or in our case … do some writing.  The leaves have fallen, the days are growing shorter and soon the holidays will be upon us.  Here’s a quick update on what has been keeping Fenton & White busy over the past month, and what the upcoming months hold as we get ready to welcome winter.

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Scott (far right) joins musician Davnet Doyle, author Christine Fisher Guy, and Moderator Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail in a discussion on the impact of Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act on artists.

(Image courtesy of Amy Cormier)

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Scott started the month with some advocacy work on behalf of playwrights, participating on a panel discussing how recent changes to the copyright act have impacted royalty earnings of writers in Canada.  Access Copyright has put out an excellent short video that explains what is at stake for people who work in the creative sector.  To learn more take a moment and click on the link below to watch this short video.

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Full Cast

THE GIANT’S GARDEN HAS A GIANT CAST

(Photo by Troy Patterson)

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Near the end of November, Pete and I had the opportunity to travel a few hours north of Toronto to see the gala opening of the Kincardine Theatre Guild Production of our family musical The Giant’s Garden.  The show had an enormous cast (as you can see above).  The love and hard work put into the production made our hearts glow.

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Gala with Cast

DIRECTOR SHIRLEY DODDS-BIEMAN (LEFT) WITH CAST

FENTON & WHITE IN THE CENTRE

(Photo by Andy O. French)

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After the show finished, the performers changed into their party clothes and we got a chance to visit with the many children who played both lead and chorus parts, the adult actors, and their families and friends who were bursting at the seams with pride.  The theatre presented us with a poster signed by the entire cast.

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THE SUMMER CAKE FROM THE GIANT’S GARDEN GALA

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There were two cakes provided for the party after … one was themed for Summer …

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THE WINTER CAKE FOR THE GIANT’S GARDEN GALA

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And one was themed for Winter.  It was a tasty treat and a sweet way to finish out the evening.

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Food Bank

NOT EVERYONE HAS CAKE DURING THE DARK DAYS OF WINTER

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After we returned home, it was time to look at ways to help others who are less fortunate during this time of year.  Pete is once again running the annual Daily Bread Food Bank campaign at the Royal Ontario Museum.  We are grateful for the ability to feed ourselves each week, but many are not as lucky.  Pete has been running the ROM’s campaign for over 20 years, and it is always heart-warming to see how truly generous people can be.

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ARTISTS GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

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We also want to give a shout out to Chris Wilson who organizes an amazing annual event called Cocktails and Candy Canes.  This joyful evening brings together some of Toronto’s top musical theatre talent to present a night of stylized musical offerings with proceeds going to The Daily Bread Food Bank.  Pete and I look forward to attending this year … and if you are in Toronto … you should too.  Not only are you helping out a great cause, but you will get a great night of entertainment.

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SCOTT’S NEWEST MUSICAL WILL PREMIERE AT THE TORONTO FRINGE IN 2018

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And for the New Year?  Pete and I have a number of exciting projects that will include continuing writing on our comedy Some Kind Of Happy, a few cabaret performances, readings of our work at the Western Ontario Drama League conference in the spring and in the summer … the world premiere of Scott’s newest one act musical Compulsion.  This is a piece that has been on and off the shelf over many years.  It was recently the first runner-up for the Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts – Paul O’Sullivan Prize.  The show will get an 8 performance run in July.  For more information go to the website at Compulsion The Musical 

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And that’s it for 2017.  We sent out our annual newsletter out on December 1st, but if you didn’t receive one and wish to get a full summary of the year, let us know.  We look forward to sharing more of our adventures in 2018.  In the meantime, wishing you and yours a winter filled with wonder and creativity.

Warmest Regards,

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Fenton & White

 

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Fenton & White Prepare To Meet Another Giant

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SOMETHING BIG IS GOING ON IN KINCARDINE

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October is a month we use to promote and market our shows to both community and professional theatres across the country.   Theatre companies often make decisions about what goes on their stage months … and even years in advance.  We are thrilled with every chance we get for our words to go from the page to the stage, and that’s why we are so pleased about an upcoming production of The Giant’s Garden presented by the Kincardine Theatre Guild.

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WHIMSICAL IMAGES FOR THE GIANT’S GARDEN MAKE US SMILE

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The image above is by an artist named Andrew O. French who has been creating a series of fun graphics for our show, including a set of post-cards from the Giant while he is away.  Of course … the Giant is coming back very soon.  Our sources tell us he will arrive in Kincardine on November 16th and will be there until December 2nd.  It is fun watching from a distance as photos of the rehearsal process appear on the Kincardine Theatre Guild website courtesy of Andrew.  Here’s a few glimpses of the hard work going on to put up our EPIC show.

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THE  5 PIECE BAND WILL BE PLAYING NEW ORCHESTRATIONS

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A CAST OF OVER 40 ACTORS WILL PLAY ON THE STAGE INCLUDING A HUGE NUMBER OF YOUNG PERFORMERS FROM THE REGION

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For more information on the production at the Kincardine Theatre Guild and for information on tickets click here.

Pete doing his ROM Patrons Circle Talk

PALEO PETE PRESENTS TO THE ROYAL PATRONS CIRCLE

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Two short days after we arrived back in Toronto from our travels out west, Pete was back hard at work at the Royal Ontario Museum.  On Monday October 2nd, Pete did a special tour for members of The Royal Patrons Circle.  The Royal Patrons Circle is made up of donors whose giving level entitles them to special behind-the-scenes access to various parts of the collections at the museum.  Pete had a fantastic time sharing his passion for fossils.   To see more of this tour, click here.

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SCOTT ADVOCATES FOR COPYRIGHT REVENUES ON BEHALF OF CREATIVE ARTISTS

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On November 6th, Scott was invited to be a guest on a panel made up of creative artists discussing the challenges of earning a living in the arts.  This panel was part of a conference organized by the Canadian Copyright Institute and included an interview with Supreme Court Justice Marshall Rothstein (who has been influential in several rulings on copyright law in Canada), a presentation by Lui Simpson, the Executive Director for the International Copyright Enforcement and Trade Policy Association of American Publishers, and then a lively panel discussion with novelist/journalist Christine Fischer Guy, Singer/Songwriter Damhnait Doyle and Scott … representing playwrights and composers.  The panel was hosted by the Globe and Mail Film Critic and Arts Columnist Kate Taylor and was filled with honest reflections on how important it is for Canadian artists to ensure that there is payment for the use of their work as copyright laws change to adapt to new technologies.  It was an informative afternoon.  If you want to learn more about the Canadian Copyright Institute and the work they do … click here.

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THIS IS AN EVENT THAT PROMISES TO BE THOUGHT-PROVOKING

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And speaking of advocacy, it is time to advocate for a fantastic Canadian author who puts his time into global social justice causes and creates works of fiction that provoke thought and entertain at the same time.  For those who read this blog in Toronto, mark Thursday November 16th down on your calendar.  Author Stephen Law will be reading from his newest novel Under Her Skin.  The evening will also feature a performance by contemporary African Dancer Liliona Quarmyne.  For information on the plot of Stephen’s latest book click here.  We’ll be there.  Come and join us!

We hope that wherever you are reading this blog, that you are keeping warm as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler.  We are bundling up for a fun fall and send you  … truly … Warmest Regards

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Fenton & White

Fenton & White Wend Their Way Home

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THE JOURNEY HOME TOOK US THROUGH THE LAND OF TALL TREES ONCE MORE

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We were so glad to see the Tofino/Ucluelet area, and we hope to some day return to explore more of this magical landscape.  Sadly, all  trips eventually must come to an end and it was time to check out of our loft and point the car eastward.  We returned along highway 4 and stopped two hours into the drive to stretch our legs.

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THE CATHEDRAL GROVE TRAIL IS A WONDERFUL STAND OF DOUGLAS FIR TREES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL

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The Cathedral Grove Hiking Trail is a short level walk that allows you to stroll among the giants.

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BOARD FENCES GUIDE YOU ALONG THE INTERPRETIVE TRAIL

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It was a sunny day,  but in the shade of the trees there was a chill and  we put on sweaters and a light coat to keep the cold away.  This area is a bit more mountainous than the far west coast and the temperatures here are noticeably cooler.  The foliage is no longer dense rainforest, but thinner patches of fern and plants that grow in more acidic soil.

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THE SUN PEEKS THROUGH TO THE FOREST FLOOR

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THE TREES GO WAY UP

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So how tall are the trees in Cathedral Grove?  Well the biggest one is actually taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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NATURE MAKES MAN-MADE STRUCTURES LOOK LESS IMPRESSIVE

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LOOKING UP AT THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST CAN PUT A KINK IN YOUR NECK

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There are some unique features to this trail, including a tree that had a small, naturally occurring hollow where the base of the tree was starting to deteriorate.  Someone lit a fire near the base, which damaged the tree in an unusual way.  The flames got into the sap and burned out a section of the inside of the tree, but the top of the tree is still alive … and the bottom … the roots in the soil didn’t burn, so the tree still stands.

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PETE STANDS INSIDE THE HOLLOW TREE IN CATHEDRAL GROVE

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THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN WITH A FLASH INSIDE THE TREE.  YOU CAN SEE THE SCORCH MARKS FROM THE FIRE

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THE UPPER SECTION OF THE TREE IS ALIVE AND HEALTHY

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The interpretive signs explained that the two primary enemies of trees this size are fire and wind.  In fact during windy days, it is not advisable to walk on the trail as it is possible that a tree with shallow roots may come crashing down.  There were a few cedars among the Douglas Fir and we discovered that when a tree falls, that there is a natural preservative in the sap in the wood that can sustain the structure of the log for up to 1000 years before it starts to decay.  Bugs and birds slowly chip away at the surface and over many centuries, the wood begins to crumble providing a fertile environment for new trees to grow out of .  This fallen tree is known as a nurse log, as it nurtures younger trees.  Only one in a thousand trees that grow on a nurse log survive.

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FENTON AND WHITE BID FAREWELL TO THE FORESTS

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We drove another 90 minutes and checked into our hotel in Nanaimo.  Our plan was to relax for the evening.  We arrived early enough to go and see a movie at a local theatre and then picked up take-out Thai food and lounged about in our room, reflecting on our Vancouver Island adventure.

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OUR FINAL FULL DAY MADE FOR A GLOOMY CROSSING FROM NANAIMO TO VANCOUVER

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We rose early the next day and took a ferry from Nanaimo to North Vancouver.   This is a large ferry with multiple indoor passenger decks and outdoor viewing decks similar in size to the ferry we had crossed over to Victoria on.  The crossing takes 95 minutes and the ferries run every two and a half hours.  The fare was close to $90 for the car and two passengers.  The picture above shows the rainy weather and gloomy skies, but by accident we captured a young couple embracing on the edge of the car deck in the lower right corner of this shot.

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A FEW LAST VISITS TO FIT IN BEFORE DEPARTING

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After turning back the car in Vancouver and checking into our hotel, we fit in one additional afternoon and evening visit.  This is a photo of the afternoon visit with friends Brian and Cori at the Craft Beer Market where we drank beer and ate a lot of nachos … just like we used to do in my university days.

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WE ARE SO LUCKY TO LIVE IN A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

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The following morning, we took the sky train to the airport and flew back to Toronto.  When we look back on this trip, we will think of friends, gorgeous gardens,  fine food and drink, tall trees, endless beaches, and sea lions and whales.  We are lucky to live in such a beautiful and varied country and it is humbling to see places that make us understand how small we are in a larger world.  We hope that you have enjoyed traveling with us through these blogs, and we encourage you to get out and explore the beauty of Canada.  It is truly an extraordinary place.

Gratefully yours …

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Fenton & White

Fenton & White Experience Technical Difficulties

Technical-Difficulties

Apparently, the video of the sea lions is accessible on the Word Press site, but it may not have come through in your email if you are a subscriber. Sorry about that.

 

If you want to see the 20 second video that was mentioned about 2/3 of the way down the blog simply press here which will take you to the Word Press version of the site

or copy and paste this url address…

https://fentonandwhite.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/fenton-white-white-watch-whales/

into your chrome/foxfire or whatever browser you are using  … you will see all the same information as you saw before,(the full blog) but you should be able to view the video of the sea lions.

Sorry about the technical difficulties.

Warmest Regards,

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Fenton & White (alright … White & Fenton)

 

Fenton & White (& White) Watch Whales

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ON TODAY’S JOURNEY FENTON AND WHITE WERE JOINED BY ANOTHER WHITE … MY NIECE

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The plan for the day was to pick up my niece Rachel who works at a hostel in Ucluelet and go whale watching.  We ate an early breakfast, hopped in the car, picked Rachel up and then headed north to Tofino.  We chose Remote Passages Marine Excursions for our tour based on their stellar reputation on TripAdvisor.  The full day adventure to the Meares Island Hot Springs was all sold out, so we decided on a 2 1/2 hour whale watching tour that left later in the afternoon.  That gave us a bit of time to visit, go to a few more beaches and get a bite of lunch.

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OUR FIRST STOP WAS TONQUIN BEACH

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Tonquin Beach is a nice easy 3 kilometre hike from a parking lot just a few minutes drive from the core of Tofino.  The trail meanders through the rainforest, and an easy descent of just over 90 stairs takes you to a sheltered beach.

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DURING LOW TIDE THE BEACH HAS GIANT PUDDLES LEFT IN THE SAND

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THERE IS A HEALTHY COLONY OF BARNACLES ON THE ROCKS IN THIS SHELTERED HARBOUR

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We spent about 30 minutes wandering around the small cove, and then made our way back to the car and since we had time, headed south to one of Pacific Rim National Reserve’s crown jewels … Long Beach.  The beach is over 16 kilometres long with huge stretches of uninterrupted  sand.  Unlike many other beaches around the world,  this area is protected from development since it falls within the boundaries of the National Park, meaning there are no piers or other commercial operations along the shore.

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LONG BEACH LIVES UP TO ITS NAME

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The beach is a popular destination for surfers from across North America (and even, from around the world).  The Pacific shelf drops steeply a few hundred feet off the shore creating perfect wave conditions year-round.  The water is cool, but with a wet suit … the surfers manage to keep warm.

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SURFERS HEAD OUT INTO THE WATERS FROM LONG BEACH

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WAVES VARY IN HEIGHT, BUT LONG STEADY CURLS OF 10 FOOT HIGH TIDAL WAVES MAKE FOR PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR LONG RIDES ON YOUR SURF BOARD

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We weren’t quite up for surfing, but we did take off our shoes and walk along the shore as the tide gently started coming in.

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PETE PUTS HIS FEET IN THE PACIFIC

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It was time to make our way back to Tofino and grab a bite of lunch.  Going out on the open ocean is fun, but even on a calm day the rise and fall of the water can be as much as 10 feet between the trough and the crest of each gentle wave.  Having a light meal in your stomach before heading out (at least 30 minutes before you go) will help avoid sea sickness.

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SAFETY IS A TOP PRIORITY AT REMOTE PASSAGES MARINE EXCURSIONS

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We were heading out on a 12 person zodiac for a journey that would take us through Clayoquot Sound and a few miles out into the open ocean.  The company asks that you arrive 30 minutes before the tour to sign waivers, listen to a brief safety lecture and get fitted for your full body flotation suit.  You are told that if you fall in the water, you must pull on the black straps on your legs and pull up the hood and tie it around your chin.  The jacket is designed to keep you afloat, while at the same time allowing certain areas to fill with water that keep you upright and protect the areas where your core body heat is.  The bright orange colour is to make you easy to spot amongst the waves.

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WE DEPART CLAYOQUOT SOUND

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Our boat was called the Sea Raven.  It had seating for 4 along each side, and two rows of 2 in the front.  At the back of the boat were two 200 horsepower motors.  At first we gently cruised past the docks, but once we got into more open water, the guide  revved up the motors … and were were going between 50 and 60 kilometres an hour.  It was exhilarating.

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AS WE ROUNDED THE BEND, THE LAND FELL AWAY AND WE HEADED OUT INTO OPEN OCEAN

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OUR FIRST DESINTATION WAS SEAL ISLAND

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It took us close to 30 minutes to reach a small outcrop of rock known locally as Seal Island.  If you look at the bottom of the island, you will see there are a number of seals bathing in the sun.

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SEALS AND PUPS RELAX ON A SUNNY DAY

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SOME OF THESE SEALS SEEMED CURIOUS WHAT THE STRANGE CREATURE WAS FLOATING BESIDE THEM IN THE WATER … IT WAS OF COURSE … US.

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Remote Passages is a responsible company that takes the safety of the marine life very seriously.  There are strict limits on how close you can get to the animals, and how you approach the wildlife in the water (particularly the whales).  A steady hand and a telephoto lense will get you the best pictures, but sometimes it is hard to take a picture as you simply want to use your eyes and take in the full scope of everything going on around you.

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NOT FAR AWAY, ANOTHER ROCK OUTCROP IS FILLED WITH SEA LIONS

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After watching the seals for 15 minutes, we made our way over to another rocky outcrop where the sea lions hang out.  This resident colony of “stellar” sea lions turned into the star attraction of the tour.

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AT FIRST A FEW CURIOUS SEA LIONS WANTED TO SEE WHO WE WERE

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THEN THEY TOLD A FEW OF THEIR FRIENDS WHO CAME TO CHECK US OUT
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The guide was being really respectful, but these curious animals got quite close to us.  Eventually the guide simply turned off the boat and let them come up to say hello.  Usually only a few of the sea lions show an interest, but the day was sunny and bright and the sea lions were in a playful mood.  Below is a video taken by my niece of the animals surfacing and splashing around about 20 feet from our boat.  Make sure your sound is up on your computer and click on the speaker icon at the bottom of the photo screen after clicking on the play button.    You may notice the rise and fall of the boat.  We were a fair ways out to sea and these rock outcrops have no land nearby.  Needless to say … it was pretty exciting.

SEA LIONS SPLASH AND PLAY TO THE DELIGHT OF FENTON & WHITE & WHITE

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THIS OTTER (IN THE CENTRE IN PROFILE) FLOATS IN KELP BEDS IN WATER 100 FEET IN DEPTH

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Remember how I talked about how long those kelp strands can get?  Well, we were in a depth of about 110 feet of water.  In this area, the sea otters have a nursery.  They live in and amongst the sea kelp, holding onto the floating bulbs, resting on their backs, and nursing the young otters on their bellies.  There were too many otters to count.

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IN THIS PICTURE, ALTHOUGH TRICKY TO SEE, THERE ARE AROUND 25 OTTERS, SOME ON THEIR BACKS FLOATING WITH PUPS ON THEIR TUMMIES.  THE FELLOW IN THE MIDDLE SMILED FOR OUR PHOTO

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The funny thing about going whale watching is that one is only allowed to get so close to the whales … and of course mostly what you see is a tail fin (if you are lucky) or the hump.  On the day we were out, the water was filled with spawn from the herring and we encountered a total of 5 gray whales feeding on the nutrient rich eggs.  The first two whales were surface feeding, which meant they kept their tails below the water, and simply raised their head, sieving the food through their baleen, which is like a giant mesh that filters the food from the water.

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THIS IS A BLURRY PICTURE OF THE HEAD OF A GRAY WHALE FEEDING.

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If you look below, you will see a clearer picture at a distance.  You can actually see that the mouth of the whale is open and it is feeding right at the surface.

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A GRAY WHALE FEEDS AT THE SURFACE

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THESE GRAY WHALES WERE 40 FEET LONG

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These pictures don’t really communicate the scope of the whale, but in the above picture, just below the land on the right side, you can see the head of the whale.  Behind it, you can see the ripple of the upper body, which extends for 40 feet.  It is little wonder that sailors who saw only the top of the head and the ripple behind thought that some sort of snake-like sea monster lurked below the surface.  We moved to another cove where the whales were diving.  They stubbornly refused to show off their tale flukes, but we did see them spouting after they dove to the bottom for food.

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A WHALE SPOUT IN THE DISTANCE

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THIS FIN BELONGS TO A SUN FISH THAT ACCORDING TO OUR GUIDE WAS FAR CLOSER TO SHORE THAN USUAL

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As we went along, the guide would show us other creatures both in the water and in the air.  The above Sun Fish is an unusual creature and it is usually many miles out to sea where it feeds on jellyfish eggs.  It played near the surface, putting on a show for us.  The guide said it was only the second one he had seen this year.

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SOMETIMES … YOU SEEM PRETTY FAR OUT FROM SHORE

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The water is deep, the sea rolls gently up and down and in the heat … we were all starting to feel a little like landlubbers.  We were fine when the boat was traveling at speed, but when it stopped in one position for 15 minutes or so … and the day was hot … well, let’s just say that after two and a half hours (for we spent extra time on the water, making the tour closer to 3 hours) we were ready to head back to shore.

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ANOTHER BOAT SAYS HELLO AS WE HEAD FOR HOME

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WHEN TRAVELING AT SPEED, IT IS IMPORTANT TO HOLD ONTO YOUR HAT

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We got back late in the afternoon, and after we were out of our safety suits, the tour operator offered us cups of soothing warm peppermint tea to calm sea-tossed stomachs.  It was a lovely touch and a wonderful way to end our adventure.

We highly recommend this company.  The guides were knowledgeable, respectful of the wildlife and we saw amazing things.

Next time … the road home.  Until then, here’s a tip of the flipper from …

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Fenton & White Go Wild

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THE WILD PACIFIC TRAIL IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR HIKING PATHS IN THE UCLUELET/TOFINO AREA

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After a refreshing nap, it was was time to take on The Wild Pacific Trail. This amazing stretch of pathways is split into sections that are easily accessed by roadside trail heads with large parking lots.

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THE AMPHITRITE LIGHTHOUSE IS AT THE CENTRE OF A 2.6 KILOMETRE LOOP

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The first section of trail is a 2.6 kilometre circle called the Lighthouse Loop and Terrace Beach Interpretive Trail.  This is a stand-alone section that features graveled paths that hug the shoreline with stunning views of Barkley Sound.  Waves crash along the rocky shores and one can hear the pound of the surf around every corner.

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AT SOME OF THE SMALLER INLETS THE WATERS SEEM RELATIVELY CALM

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AS YOU WALK FURTHER AROUND THE CAPE, VIEWS OF DISTANT ROCKY ISLANDS EMERGE

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GNARLED PETRIFIED TREES SEEM LIKE SLEEPING SENTIENT BEINGS WAITING FOR AN INNOCENT HIKER TO STROLL BY

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THE SURF CRASHES INTO THE ROCKY SHORES WITH A THUNDEROUS ROAR

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THE MIGHTY PACIFIC EXERTS A POWERFUL FORCE, EVEN ON A CALM DAY

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SEA CAVES ARE FORMED AS THE WATER ERODES THE CLIFFS BELOW

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We took close to a hundred pictures along this trail.  Every turn, there was another stunning view.  We encountered a few more hikers on this path, but during the quieter fall months we only saw a couple of people every 5 minutes at stunning vistas where they had stopped to rest and take in the views below.  We spent close to 90 minutes strolling this spectacular route.  When you loop back to the car, you have the choice of driving to another parking area further along the road, or walking along bike paths to another section which is separated from the Lighthouse Loop by 1.5 kilometres of private properties.  We chose to drive further down.  Between kilometres 3 and 4 of the trail (once you pick it up again) is a descent to Big Beach which features a shipwreck and a large open beach area near the water.  This parking lot seemed crowded, and we had enjoyed our solitary beach time earlier in the morning, so we continued down the road another kilometre to the Brown’s Beach parking lot.

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THE WILD PACIFIC TRAIL HAS WILDLIFE IN MANY FORMS

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It is said that in the right season, you can see Orcas in the waters off the shores, and in the woods, you may encounter other animals.  During our time on the trails we saw a few otters in the water, and on the way the wildest animals we saw were dogs on leashes … well … that isn’t strictly true … we did encounter a few other animals.

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THIS BANANA SLUG IS 8 INCHES LONG

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Banana slugs are common in the rainforest.  We saw a number of them in different shades and colours.  They slowly plod along, feeding on the leaves of the rainforest plants.  The above banana slug had a mottled surface to help disguise it from predators when it was on the forest floor.  He had taken a trip to the edge of the path … perhaps to get a better view of the hikers traveling in the vicinity.

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DEER ARE COMMON IN THE PARK

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There were also many deer roaming freely in the area.  They seemed happy to simply ignore us as we passed by.

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THE TRAIL FROM BROWN’S BEACH TO THE ROCKY BLUFFS TRAVELS 3.5 KILOMETRES UP AND DOWN ALONG THE COAST

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The second large segment of the trail is one-way, so however far you travel in one direction, you will have to return back an equal distance to get to the car.  Along the route are a series or “artist loops”.  These little side trails go out to viewing platforms that look onto unique vistas of the coast, providing perfect places for painters, hikers or simply those who wish to stare out at the ocean and meditate.

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THE SUN CASTS A STUNNING PATH OF LIGHT ACROSS THE OCEAN

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THIS RUGGED COAST WAS CREATED THROUGH VOLCANIC ACTIVITY AND TECTONIC PLATE MOVEMENT MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO

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THIS SMALL PLATFORM IS CALLED THE CROWSNEST … BUILT LIKE THE SPOTTER’S CAGE ON A SHIP

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THE OCEAN WAVES CHANGE IN INTENSITY AND SIZE EVERY MOMENT

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The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world with immense tidal power and large shifts in the patterns of the water.  It is easy to simply stare out at the waves for hours and listen to the surf crashing into the rocks below.  We spent three hours strolling along the coast, never making it to the Ancient Cedars section or the bluffs.  It wasn’t about the distance, it was that we kept stopping to admire the view for 10 minutes at a time at many of the viewpoints.  One could wander the trail for a full day.  We were starting to tire and the afternoon mists were starting to descend, so we headed back to our car via the bike path (a slightly shorter route).  We passed by a number of houses including the unique abode below.

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A HOUSE BOAT … OR IS THAT … A BOAT HOUSE?

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FALL COLOURS SHOW OFF AS WE HEAD BACK TO THE CAR

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It had been a wonderful day of hiking.  We were feeling relaxed and although we were planning on barbecuing, we opted instead for a cooked chicken and salad from the local grocery store and settled in for a quiet evening.

In the next blog … otters and sea lions and whales … oh my.

With wild abandon …

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Fenton & White

 

Fenton & White Browse The Beaches

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VISITORS ARE WELCOMED TO TREATY LANDS … WHAT A GIFT TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE WONDERS OF THE COVES AND BAYS OF THIS SECTION OF THE ISLAND

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For our first full day in the park the plan was to prioritize a few hiking trails and take in the gorgeous scenery.  We were told by a young local that when you look out from the west coast of Vancouver Island  … the ocean seems to go on forever.  You can see the earth’s curvature on a clear day.  This young man also said that the next large body of land looking straight west is Japan over 7400 kilometres away.  On our hike we couldn’t see Japan (must have been the curvature of the earth … or perhaps … that 7400 kilometre distance) but the ocean does indeed stretch as far as the eye can see … if the weather is clear.  We decided to try a trail that was a 5 minute drive from our accommodation.  It isn’t well signed from the road which meant that it was considerably less busy than some of the other trails in the area.

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THE MORNING MIST ADDS A SENSE OF WONDER TO THE FORESTS

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The Willowbrae Trail is a 2.8 kilometre path that starts along a wide gravel road and slowly turns into a narrower path as it wends its way through the trees.  As the bog and peat become more challenging to navigate, the trail turns into boardwalk.  At the 2.5 kilometre mark, there is a junction.  If you go to the left, you can descend a long set of stairs from the head of the cliff down to Half Moon Bay.  If you turn to the right, you walk a short distance and descend a long set of stairs to Florencia Bay.

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AT THE JUNCTION OF THE WILLOWBRAE TRAIL, THE BOARDWALK GIVES A CLUE THAT IF YOU GO LEFT, YOU WILL WIND UP AT HALF MOON BAY

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123 STAIRS TAKE YOU SAFELY DOWN THE CLIFF FACE TO THE BEACH

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We are usually early risers so we had made breakfast at the loft and headed out on the trail at around 9 in the morning.  The weather was misty but the sun was shining somewhere above the clouds and the temperature was relatively warm.  We made our way down the many steps to Half Moon Bay and the first thing that struck us when we got to the beach was the simple fact that we were alone.

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THE CRESCENT SHAPE OF HALF MOON BAY IN THE MIST

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We couldn’t see a long way out into the ocean … but we could make out the entire cove, the beautiful sandy beach and there was a certain magic in the air.  The tall trees come down to the water’s edge, and all you can hear is the gentle sound of the surf as the tide slowly comes in.

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PETE STANDS ON THE BEACH ALONE … LIKE A SHIP’S CASTAWAY

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We spent over an hour exploring the tide pools around the beach and slowly walking from one end of the cove to the other.  As we explored, the sun started breaking through and the mist slowly began to rise revealing more of the stunning landscape around us, like a veil being raised from the face of a stunning beauty.

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THE SUN SLOWLY BEGINS TO WARM THE MIST AND CLEAR IT FROM THE FOREST

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PETE TOSSES SHELLS BACK INTO THE SEA

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Peace.  That is the only word that kept coming to mind.  No others around … no cel phones, no computer, no hustle, no worry … just … peace.  Many of the coastal areas are sacred to the local indigenous people and as we sat and watched the waves gently lap at the shore … we got a small understanding of the majesty of nature and the powerful pull of the ocean.

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A NATURAL SETTING WITH LIGHTING DESIGNED BY MOTHER NATURE

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Pictures can not fully capture what happens as the morning sun streams through thinning mist behind the branches of trees almost 100 feet tall.  A single sun beam is broken into several beams that stream in all directions.  What makes it even more magical is that the mist is rising, so the beams waver and seem to play among the branches.

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THE OCEAN KELP IS REMARKABLE

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The beach is strewn with varieties of kelp.  The strands in the pictures above are relatively small.  Later in our trip, we got out onto the ocean waters and were told that they can grow to several hundred feet in length.  These snaky looking vines have bulbs at the ends that float at the surface (and along the length of the stalk) to allow the kelp to draw energy from the sun.  When the tide goes out the stalks are left lying in the sand, but the tubes in the plant maintain their moisture keeping the plant hydrated until the next tide comes in.

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THESE COLOURFUL MARINE PLANTS PUT DOWN ROOTS

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In the top centre section of this photo, you can see something that looks a little bit like brain cells.  This tentacled part of the plant is the root which attaches itself to a solid surface such as a rock so that the plant stays in a fixed position.  When the tide comes in the plant tubes will float and bring the strands of kelp to the surface, but the roots will keep the strand firmly in place so it doesn’t get swept out deep into the ocean.

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WHEN THE TIDE GOES OUT, ANEMONES, MOLLUSKS AND CORRALS ARE EXPOSED

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AND THE BIRDS SWOOP IN AND FEED

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The colourful remnant of a bird’s meal above may be from a painted anemone, or perhaps even a young starfish.  When the tide comes in, it carries a host of plants and animals onto the beach.  As the tide recedes, some of these animals can’t catch a wave and get stranded.  If they have legs (and not all of them do), they must crawl as quickly as they can back towards the receding water’s edge.  Sand pipers are quick to take advantage of the bounty of stranded creatures.  The birds enjoy a daily buffet of sea food on the sand.

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THIS CRAB IS ONLY A SHELL AFTER THE BIRDS HAVE FINISHED THEIR MEAL

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After exploring the cove fully, it was time to go back up all those stairs and explore Florencia Bay.  It took us about 30 minutes to climb the stairs, walk the short distance to the junction point, and take the other fork in the trail which allowed us to descend to a much larger beach.

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FLORENCIA BAY HAS A DIFFERENT CHARACTER

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THE TIDE IS AN EVER PRESENT FORCE ALONG THE BEACHES

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The sky began to clear and we could see further out into the ocean … stretching as far as the eye can see.

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RIVERS OF FRESH WATER MAKE THEIR WAY TO THE OCEAN

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This beach is very wet.  The tide was slowly beginning to come in, and fresh water streams from the cliff at the back of the beach create miniature rivers that flow into the ocean.  At high tide, this beach is almost completely covered with water from both sources.

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THE COASTLINE OF VANCOUVER ISLAND CURVES AROUND TO THE NORTH OF THIS BEACH

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We only saw 3 other people that morning.  I’m sure during high season and later in the day there are larger groups of hikers and beach enthusiasts, but at this time of year …  well, that word again … peace.

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WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST GO UP.

  THERE ARE 173 STAIRS BETWEEN FLORENCIA BEACH AND THE TOP OF THE CLIFF

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We spent a full hour at this beach and as the tide encroached, we decided it was time to head back up all of those stairs to our car and then onward to our loft for a bite of lunch and a nap.  In the afternoon we planned on heading back to the Wild Pacific Trail to see it in the sunshine.  When we had attempted to hike the trail the day before, all we saw was rain and fog.

In the next blog … around every corner a gorgeous, rugged view.  Here’s a wish that reading this blog for a few minutes allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of your life and feel … peace.

Warmest Regards,

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