Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Day 14: Canada/Alaska – A Day with Martha!

It’s always lovely meeting up with blog readers. We’re guaranteed to like each other – because why read the blog of someone you dislike? – and we can jump straight into conversations without much of that ‘getting to know you’ stuff.

At least on their side. As it happens, most of the people I’ve met up with from the blog are people who have NEVER COMMENTED!! They simply pop up when I mention I’ll be travelling in their area. (I’m looking at you, Deana, Loretta and Martha… haha!)

Here we are, posing at the bird sanctuary Martha and her husband John took us to. I think you can all tell who the Canadian is in the photo. Coat casually unzipped. Meanwhile, Megan and I were rugged up to the eyeballs.

Canadians are made of sterner stuff than Australians.

The sanctuary takes in injured birds and, if possible, rehabilitates them to be released out into the wild. Some birds, though, are too badly hurt and have to live their lives in big outdoor aviaries.

Big Daddy, was brought here in 1992. He’s a Bald Eagle who flew into power lines and had one wing amputated after he was electrocuted.

He has a partner, but at the moment she’s off in another cage, fostering new eagle babies and teaching them that they’re birds, not humans. She’ll be back once the new babies have flown the coop.

 After the group had moved down to cages further down the row, John, Martha’s husband, called us back.

“I think Big Daddy wants some more attention!” he said.

Our guide said that over 80% of birds of prey don’t live past their first year.


But in captivity, things are different. I’m not sure how I feel about this poor old thing:

Blinky has been here since 1983. They think that he’s about 45 years old.

He’s completely blind and deaf, though he can sense vibrations around him. Due to this, he’s hand-fed.

He’s usually with another owl who takes care of him, but she’s in another cage fostering real babies. When she finishes with that, she’ll be back to keep him company.

Cessna was hit by a plane, while Connie was confiscated from someone who had her in a parrot cage in their lounge room for 12 years. Imagine what an awful life that would have been for her?

They were put together and they decided that life was for the living. They’ve had babies.

There used to be two females here called Laverne and Shirley, but Shirley exhibited an unexpected aptitude for flying, so she was released two weeks ago and they put young Squizzy in here to keep Laverne company.

Snowy owls can eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year.

Interesting fact.

They sure like their taxidermy in this country!

After the aviaries, there was an indoor museum.

A happy woodland scene…

… in which this owl was NOT happy about spending eternity.

Martha – who is an absolute powerhouse! – and John drove us to Granville Island. Remember we were there for a little while on the first day of the coach tour? This time, we were back to look at the Art.

Two things stopped me from buying this exuberant bust for almost 1K… the fact that I’d just spent $2,200 at the emergency vet for Poppy, and the fact that it was stone and weighed a tonne.

There was a blacksmith there who had incredible things for sale. I loved so many of them, but they were either too big or too expensive.


Martha took us for a walk along the wharves, where we could see some of the beautiful buildings that Vancouver has.

I was able to get wifi on GranvilleIsland, and that when Georgia told me that our vet was hopeful that Poppy may have Addison’s Disease. He gave her an injection of a hormone that would make her appear much better in only a few hours, if that was the case. I spent most of today crossing my fingers and feeling hopeful. All of her symptoms matched the ones for Addisons.

Meanwhile, we talked and talked and talked. Here’s an action shot:

Look at these BROOMS!!!! Martha has a broom from here.

Aren’t they amazing? I didn’t get one because they’d never get through customs, but they were amazing – and the people who make them were busy at the back of the shop, making more.

I told Megan one of the steroid seagulls from Canada was behind her. It’s a scary thought!

We all caught a bus to the mainland and we said goodbye to Martha at the end of the day. When we walked back to the room and had dinner, I received a phone call from Georgia, saying that the injection hadn’t worked and Poppy was crashing again. She was calling it, and I agreed. Later that day, they were heading in for the Green Dream.

Poppy was in her bed, with her nose in the top I’d worn the last day I was home. Georgia had fished it out from the washing and given it to her.

Jordan came around to be with Georgia. By the time he drove over there, Georgia had already dug Poppy’s grave, right where I wanted it.

I waited for the phone call. It came at 2 AM Vancouver time.

Poppy was gone. She had a peaceful death with Georgia and Jordan at her side.

They did everything for Poppy exactly as I would have done it. I’m so proud of them. She was given the dignified, painless death she deserved.

I stayed up for a while. Then I snuck into bed without waking Megan.

The cruise starts tomorrow.


  1. Loretta

    I comment, hahaha!!

  2. Loretta

    Ooops I should have read to the end. So very sorry about Poppy. It is such an awful, sad thing to lose a beloved dog. Our spoodle Pepper died in January and am still not over it

    • FrogdancerJones

      They take a piece of our hearts with them, that’s for sure. I’m not looking forward to going home without my little brown and white shadow there…

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