air travel with a cat

by WizardOfWords on December 13, 2014

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Posts on this blog are generally related to books, virtues of life and the writing lifestyle. I generally save topics of travel for my travel blog. But as I’ve been travelling a fair amount lately, and have a multitude of posts in the queue, I’m posting this travel-related post here with hope you can help guide me.

Jimmy

In just three weeks, my husband and I will experience air travel with a cat in tow. Our cat Jimmy is too big a part of the family to leave him for the four weeks we will be away. And as we are going to a single destination for our winter getaway, with a fairly quick and straightforward flight plan, we opted to take Jimmy with us on the plane as we make our way to Osoyoos, British Columbia.

Have you ever flown with a cat in the cabin with you? We’ve already purchased the air-compliant soft-sided cat carrier, and Jimmy seems to like it! The recommended dimensions are 16 inches long, 17.5 inches wide, and 8.5 inches high. Jimmy is a fairly large cat, but seems to fit comfortably in his sporty new nylon Tuff carrier, which is 17 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 9 inches high.

cat carrier

He certainly doesn’t have a lot of room in the carrier, but as cats do, he makes himself small, and curls up in a way that gives me hope that this will work for all of us.

Jim in carrier

I was speaking with a friend yesterday who is extremely knowledgeable about cats. She told me, as I’ve heard from other sources, that it’s not advisable to sedate the cat prior to travel. It is recommended to have something you can possibly give the cat mid-flight if they become overly agitated. I will speak to our vet about this before we leave.

My friend also recommended we do not feed Jimmy anything the morning of our flight, or give him access to water. So I will feed him well the night before, and not feed or give him access to water the morning of our departure.

We’ve got Plus seats with Westjet at the front of the plane, so I’m hoping that will help as well. We’ll have a bit more elbow and leg room, and I can always put his carrier on my lap for a few minutes to calm him down if he’s agitated or meowing.

We have one short layover as there are no direct flights to our destination from Winnipeg, so our flight path will be Winnipeg to Calgary, and then on to Kelowna. Looking forward to the getaway.

I’m also looking forward to your guidance! Have you flown with a cat? If so, please share your tips and experience here.

And please join us back here the week of December 22nd for our final post of 2014.

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thankful for my friends

by WizardOfWords on November 28, 2014

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With thanks and gratitude being top of mind this week because of the celebration of US Thanksgiving that has just passed, it made me realize how grateful I am to have terrific friends–and friends who love to travel!

Sure, I’m fortunate to be able to travel the world for chocolate. But it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, or fiscally possible for that matter, if I didn’t have the companionship of my dear friends who not only provide me with a sounding board, a few laughs, guidance, and a tasting companion, but also help bear some of the costs associated with some of our amazing experiences while Chocolatouring the planet.

So in this post, I’d like to introduce you to the amazing women who have accompanied me over the past five years as I’ve made my way through a dozen countries in my research to date.

Kathe Lieber and me in the Grand Place, Belgium, Brussels, October, 2009 .

Kathe Lieber and me in the Grand Place, Belgium, Brussels, October, 2009 .

Kathe Lieber was the first to jump on the chocolate train. Kathe is a writer and editor who lives in Montreal. She was happy to arrange a mini-Chocolatour of Montreal for me. Kathe’s profound knowledge of and love for fine chocolate made my 2009 journey to Belgium, France, and Switzerland a most memorable journey. Kathe is also credited with suggesting that the title for my book be “Chocolatour.” So thanks to Kathe, for your friendship, support, and inspiration.

harvesting- cacao-in-Peru

Virginia Heffernan happily donned rubber boots with me to explore cocoa fields in Peru and Ecuador in March, 2012.

Virginia Heffernan is an amazing friend who accompanied me to Spain, Italy, and Holland in 2010, and also to Peru and Ecuador in 2012. Virginia is a Toronto-based writer who specializes in writing about geology and mining. But she also loves fine chocolate and wine, and kept me smiling through some challenging situations, including a mud slide in Ecuador and bug bites in Peru.

Suzanne and I had the pleasure of staying at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Suzanne and I had the pleasure of staying at the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii, February, 2014.

Suzanne Boles lives in London, Ontario, and also has made two Chocolatours with me to date. We visited London, England, together in 2011, and Hawaii in 2014. Suzanne has persevered through health and personal challenges, and via her impassioned writing, is helping others deal with grief. Suzanne also specializes in writing business profiles and has a book or two in the works.

Mary-Anne prefers not to have her photo on the internet so here is a shot of the town of Soufriere, St. Lucia

Mary-Anne prefers not to have her photo on the internet so here is a shot of the town of Soufriere, St. Lucia near where we stayed in December, 2012.

Mary-Anne Ignaszewski is a long-time friend I met through the insurance industry when I worked for Manitoba Public Insurance. She loves to travel, and when my husband Reg had to back out of our trip to St. Lucia, Mary-Anne stepped forward to join me on this amazing journey of luxurious chocolate exploration in December, 2012. I was extremely grateful for that, as although I have done several trips on my own, I really enjoy the companionship of a dear friend.

Susan Cooper and I met online but have become great in-person friends as well.

Susan Cooper and I met online but have become great in-person friends as well.

Mary Ann Porter (who prefers not to have her photo online) accompanied me to California on a Chocolatour in late 2013. I’ve known Mary Ann longer than any of the other friends I’ve done chocolate travel with (we met in 1974) and both our lives have made many twists and turns since the early days, but we’ve always held onto our friendship. The California Chocolatour was special in that it also introduced me in-person to a dear but relatively new online friend. Susan Cooper was kind enough to extend her incredible hospitality inviting us to stay with her while we explored chocolate in the California’s wine country. What a tasty journey that was!

It was great having Christine Peets join me at the Readers' Favorite Awards

It was great having Christine Peets join me at the Readers’ Favorite Awards

And most recently, Christine Peets of Napanee, Ontario, joined me in a Chocolatour of Kingston, Ontario, immediately followed by a trip to Miami, Florida, where I received my Readers’ Favorite award for Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate (volume I), and where we discovered some fantastic chocolate in the process. How wonderful it was to have a friend with me in Miami when I experienced the highlight (to date!) of my writing career. Christine is a writer and author who loves to travel, and is a joy to travel with–as are all of the amazing women named in this post.

My sincere thanks to each one of them for making the many journeys over the past five years INCREDIBLE.

Are you like me in that you prefer to travel with a friend, or do you prefer to celebrate the joys of solo travel? I hope you’ll share a comment here, and that you’ll join me back on this blog the week of December 8th for our next new post.

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Can you write a book?

November 16, 2014
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I was surprised when I heard Shelagh Rogers, the host of CBC’s “The Next Chapter” literary program, tell an author she was interviewing that she “could never write a book.” A person who spends much of her time interviewing authors and reading books believing (and admitting) that she doesn’t have what it takes to write […]

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augmenting the author’s income stream

November 8, 2014
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I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993. Although freelancing is challenging, and you have to weather the storms of either too much work at once or the dry spells when you have virtually nothing on the go, if you plan ahead, you’ll get by. But for the past year, I’ve pretty much been making my […]

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book review: Being Grateful, Being Thankful

October 14, 2014
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As we just had Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend, and the American Thanksgiving holidays will soon be upon us, I felt a quick review of this new e-book by Sarah Butland of Nova Scotia, Canada, would be appreciated by all. Being Grateful, Being Thankful: Appreciate Everything to Be Happy For Even The Rain Brings Rainbows is […]

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the messy baker — book review

October 2, 2014
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I met Charmian Christie a number of years ago in Toronto at a PWAC conference. I immediately liked her warmth, sense of humour, and smile. And over the past few years, I’ve loved receiving posts via her Messy Baker blog. Now … I’m able to enjoy some of those favourite recipes in Charmian’s new book, […]

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the importance of greeting cards

September 18, 2014
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When is the last time you mailed someone a physical card of congratulations, thanks, or support? People who know me well know that I love to send and receive cards–of all types! I have a drawer in which I have various categories of cards that I send out to friends, family, and colleagues when the […]

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award winning author

September 3, 2014
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Wow. Seeing those three words in a note of congrats that I rec’d from a colleague made me realize I had actually achieved something wonderful. I am now an award winning author. This week, my latest book Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate (Volume I) was chosen as a Bronze Medal winner in […]

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Have you found YOUR tribe?

August 21, 2014
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I’ve always been a joiner. I belong to numerous organizations, including Toastmasters International, the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada, The Writers’ Union of Canada, and the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. There are other organizations I may have belonged to and have left and may rejoin. I feel a bit like my interests and loyalties are in […]

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accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

August 4, 2014
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Many thanks to Chris Nash for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Chris knows me via the Travel Blogged group on facebook, and so he nominated my travel blog for the award in his post. But as it is this blog where I talk about the muse that leads my writing and inspires my […]

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