Our planned long weekend camping trip being cancelled, we decided to fill up Saturday with a series of things exploring our city that had been on our radar to do for a little while now. We slept in (D's main request for the day) then headed downtown to spend a couple of hours at the National Art Gallery, seeing works by Caravaggio at the temporary exhibition, then touring the main gallery to "ooh, ahh" at some pieces and "huh? really?" at others. R and A liked the more realistic works, while M was quite taken with cubism.
A walk back to the market, itself alive with the farmer's market, shops, and street performers, to La Moulin de Provence, garnered us some delicious pastries. Refreshed, we headed to the Hill for the main adventure of the day: UrbanQuest.
I had booked our quest, printed up our clues, and we had set the start time as 4pm. Why the start time? This is one thing we loved about the UrbanQuest idea: you have a quest (okay, that part is pretty obvious). Clues to find, fill in, and solve as you walk around the area exploring. Ultimately, the completed quest leads you to a restaurant for dinner, where a reservation is waiting for you two hours after you start your quest.
The girls had a great time searching for the next place to go, deciphering the poem that gave our clues. Some answers were found by observation, some by reading signs, and a couple with a google search and asking people. A lot of walking, but we had been warned about that part, and we got a good, not-too-strenuous workout. Once finished we had solved a phone number to call to get the final clue, which took all the info we had and gave us the key to our code. This, entered online, would give the last piece of the puzzle: the address of the restaurant. This was where we got a little derailed as we tried to use D's blackberry but couldn't access the site. So it became an exercise in innovation as we hopped over to the Mac store at the mall (just closed) and finally to an internet cafe (got it!). I realized later, they had sent a very nice email to me as our quest began, with a mobile link that would have worked fine. Oops. We'll know for next time.
Supper was great as we relived the day, ate some good pub-type food on the outdoor patio, and generally shared some laughs about what we had done and seen. While there we decided to stay in town for one final show, so hiked back to the truck for our folding chairs and blanket, then meandered back through the Market (did I mention, a LOT of walking? Not sure of the distance, but out of curiosity had started my ipod pedometer after the art gallery. The end of the session had 13,000 steps) to Parliament Hill.
We staked out our spot, then sat in chairs and lay on the blanket, waiting until 10pm when the Mosaika show began. Side note: there is just something wonderful about sitting on the lawn in front of the national government buildings, relaxing (yes, I dozed off) and laughing with thousands of other people around us doing the same. We are truly blessed in this country of ours.
As to the show - wow! A half-hour show of music, sound and light projected onto the Parliament Buildings. Seeing the grand structure used as a sort of movie screen was amazing, and the show a creative, well-executed mix of history, culture, and national pride. If you see the Mosaika website, those images are not enhanced; it is literally how the show looked. It was educational, too, and conversation as we walked back to the truck involved the trans-Canada railway, strikes during the Great Depression, the Famous Five, and Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. Looking up at the sky, a few stars could be seen and so light pollution became another topic. We returned to a quiet farm, the sky full of bright points of light, all tired but happy with our day.
Today, my legs are complaining.