From local explorations

New travel column for The Community Edition

New year, new column! I present, “Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye.”

hyperlocal travel column for The Community Edition
– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

Throughout 2019 I’ll be writing a local travel column for The Community Edition, a print publication in the region of Waterloo. The column will feature excursions, day trips, weekend getaways or hidden gems within the urban and rural geography of our region. Each month I’ll highlight something noteworthy within each of the three cities (Cambridge, Kitchener & Waterloo), all four townships (Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich and North Dumfries), along with a couple weekend outings to nearby communities.

Just because you live here doesn’t mean you can’t learn from or appreciate what we have with a traveller’s eye and thrill.

– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

I grew up in Wellesley Township and I now like in Kitchener. But, I suffer from wanderlust so I’ve travelled to 19 different countries, almost all Canadian provinces and territories and one third of US states. I will likely add 3-5 more countries to my list by the end of 2019. I’m privileged to travel.

Hyperlocal travel

But who’s to say far-flung destinations equals the definition of travel? I believe we can travel wherever we are – travelling is a mindset and an attitude as much as the movement of our body to different timezone.

Journey with me in 2019 for some backyard travel in our Waterloo region.

Local travel has some genuine benefits; visit destinations in your own community with a traveller’s curiosity and sense of adventure and there’s a good chance you will see things from a different perspective. Guaranteed, you will find places you didn’t know existed. 

– Waterloo Region Through a Traveller’s Eye

I went for a date to the moon this summer

Sometimes it pays to follow niche Instagram accounts, like the Stratford Writers Festival. I spotted a post in mid-August that mentioned a “Museum of the Moon” installation in Stratford, Ontario. Stratford is a 40-minute drive from my home in Kitchener and the photos alone were enough to convince me that I needed to visit the moon.

Even travels close to home can be exciting!

I discovered the installation was up for 10 days, until Sunday August 26. I had very few evenings available when I could go see it. Happily, both my husband and I found ourselves available on a Monday evening and it became an impromptu date night!

We grabbed a pizza from Pazzo Taverna + Pizzeria for a picnic by the Avon River, then crossed the footbridge to Tom Patterson Island to wait for darkness to settle.

As it grew dark, the 23′ diameter moon began to glow. The surface of the earth-bound moon is an exact reproduction of the celestial moon based on photos from NASA cameras. Artist Luke Jerram assembled the images into this stunning work that draws an admiring crowd, just like a spectacular full moon does. The Museum of the Moon was part of the brilliant programming for the Stratford Summer Music 2018 festival.

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Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018

Everyone could take a 360-degree walk around the suspended moon to catch a glimpse of the sides we normally can’t see from earth.

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Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018

My date, who always travels with a sketchbook, pen, ink and watercolours, had time for some night sketches.

Trent Bauman adds watercolour to his pen and ink sketch of the Moon Museum.
Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018.

I spent my time people watching, photographing the moon and writing “Moon Messages,” which visitors were invited to share with everyone. Reading all of the messages was entertaining and insightful! The Stratford Writers Festival encouraged sharing the messages on social media for a chance to win tickets and prize packages to their October Writers Festival events. Did I? Of course, I did.

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Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018

A Silent Disco took over the Tom Patterson Island to close out the night; a pretty perfect way to host a dance party, without all the noise issues!

Dancers adjust their headsets for Silent Disco with the Museum of the Moon shining behind a tree.
Copyright Juanita Metzger 2018

The Museum of the Moon reminded me of an upcoming exhibit at Kitchener’s Homer Watson House & Gallery by Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: Science and Art: 150 Years of Astronomical Imagery.

I’m looking forward to the opening reception on Sunday September 16, 2018 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm…. more moon, more stars, more night sky.

Shift the Way You Shop

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently in Phoenix, Arizona. While there are many think I don’t like about this sprawling desert city, there was also much to love. The least of which is a healthy local scene of independent local business. Arizona was whacked pretty hard in the 2008 recession and is still reeling. For sale signs and empty lots galore.

Shift the Way You Shop
image credit http://shiftarizona.com/

Here’s one thing I do love about Phoenix. This local campaign called “Shift the Way you Shop” encourages residents to shift 10% of their spending to local shops, foods, and services. Pretty do-able.

What I really love is that they launched the campaign with a HUGE wrap on the Metro Valley LRT!!! Brilliant. They also worked with an advertising company to launch a mobile app that points the user to local shops and restaurants around each of the LRT stops. How brilliant is that.

We could certainly do this in Waterloo Region with our new LRT on the way and planning in the works ‘as we speak’!

Find more at Shift ARizona.

Phoenix, Arizona. You won me.

Well, where to start with Phoenix, Arizona. I went there in early December for some sun and desert warmth. I found both and a whole lot more.

Being the localist that I am, I also explored and roamed as many local, independent corners and streets as I could. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Phoenix has a vibrant and thriving local scene, largely prompted by the initiative Local First Arizona. They’re all about buying locally, building community and supporting a vibrant local economy.

Local First Arizona
©2011 Juanita Metzger

With their Small Wonders guides, I managed to find some of the most wonderful and weird places on (and off) the map. Here’s a a small selection.

Urban Grocery at Pheonix Public Market
Phoenix Public Market ©2011 Juanita Metzger

Phoenix Public Market
Phoenix Public Market ©2011 Juanita Metzger

The Phoenix Public Market captured my interest for the better part of a Wednesday. It started out with lunch at the Urban Grocery & Wine Bar, followed by espresso at the back of the grocery/deli/bar, followed by some reading at the community bulletin board…. by which time, the outdoor market was starting to set up for the 4 – 8pm evening market. The big anticipation was all for the food trucks scheduled to arrive! They did not disappoint.

Starting with the Filipino truck, the Mondo Bowl of mung beans, rice, veggies and sauce only served to whet the appetite! It was the blackened catfish with rice, peas and salad that finished off the evening. That, and the fresh carrot bread….

Phoenix Public Market Food Trucks
©2011 Juanita Metzger

Roosevelt Row was another impressive area. Completely supported and promoted by the area merchants, there was a lot going on.

Roosevelt Row
©2011 Juanita Metzger

For more on my Phoenix explorations, also read, Shift the Way You Shop.