Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Celebrating 28 Years...

Yep... Much as I hate to admit it, truth is, I recently celebrated my 28th birthday.

I know, I know, "Only 28? Still so young!" Well, that may be true, but the fact that I'm so much more undeniably close to 30 than I am to 20 makes me sad. Not that I don't think 30+ is a great age, I just don't feel like it should be my age. And thankfully it isn't, but I'm a worrier, and so looking to the future, that's what I see right now. A great big looming 30 and nothing to show for it...

But ok, enough complaining and being all dark and dreary. My birthday, despite being my 28th, was fun. :)

I really wanted to go to the Foresta Lumina spectacle at the Coaticook Gorge last year for my birthday, but things just didn't work out. So this year I REALLY wanted to go (so much so, I added it to my 30 Before 30 list), and so my brother booked tickets for all of us (Mom, Dad, Reuben and myself - my ticket was my gift from him) to go on Saturday night, August 15th.

*SPOILER ALERT: If you are planning to visit the Foresta Lumina and want to be surprised, DO NOT read the rest of this post!*

Our reservation was for 10pm, but the website suggested going half an hour early, which we did. There were lots of people, we had to park a few streets over because the designated parking area was overflowing, but that's alright. I tried to take pictures, but my camera just really doesn't like lights and night-time picture-taking, so none of them turned out. :( But I did pick up some postcards that have very clear pictures of a few of the hot spots, so I'll try to include them.

So when you get to the entrance, there is a big gateway that says Foresta Lumina, all lights and twigs and cool looking. :) Stepping through that, you enter a magical waiting area. There are several picnic tables with little electric lanterns that flicker. There's an adorable little food truck where you can buy snacks and refreshments, before or after your trek through the forest. :) There are string lights hanging through the trees, and you hear wind chimes and trees creaking and the wind blowing, and there's a big lit stand in the middle that has the rules, but is also a big clock that has a little animation showing how much closer the previous group is to finishing. This clock and its animations reminded me a lot of the movie Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. So we sat there and waited for our reservation time. Reservations are every half hour, so since we were there at 9:30, we got to see how it all progressed. Every half hour, the clock strikes and the soundtrack plays wind blowing, and the lanterns go out for a few seconds. :) Then you go and line up with the hundreds of other people with the same reservation time, to get your bracelet and enter the actual forest...

The entrance to Foresta Lumina (I told you - bad pictures!)

The clock/rules

The awesome lanterns on the picnic tables

So, in case you were wondering, the Foresta Lumina is a 2 km lighted night walk through the Gorge park - yes, even across the famous suspension footbridge (which is the longest in North America, if you didn't already know)! There is a bit of a story to the whole  experience, several different characters who are based on local legends and indigenous folklore. So as you walk through the forest, you enter a pathway with twig lanterns overhead, and lit cutout signs describing the various characters you might meet in the forest, and their role. And there is a sort of gramophone where you can tell your wish to the fairies, pick up a stone, and then later on leave it at the riverbank as a gift to the fairies in the hopes that they might grant your wish. :)

Map from the website

As you continue along the path from there, you see and hear fairies giggling and dancing in the trees. Then a twig snaps, and they all disappear! When you get to the top of the steeeeep staircase, there are a couple of benches to catch your breath. ;) Then you continue along a narrow lit path to the bridge! If you've been on a suspension footbridge before, you know how much they sway and move, and it's no different at night. People afraid of heights have a really hard time with that, but I loved it! Partway across the bridge, there is a  lit up, misty gateway that's really cool. At the end of the bridge there is an animation depicting Mary (a young human girl) discovering the fairies, and how the other characters come into play. This is definitely one of the best parts. I believe it was after this that you come to a resting area with a big campfire and benches, more images telling more of the story, and access to toilets. From there, you go down a really steep path and come upon The Tree - a sort of Tree of Life figure. There's an animation projected right onto a real tree, making it seem like the tree has a face and its roots are moving. Going on a little further, there is a sort of electrical storm in the forest - lights on the trees to look light lightning, thunder and rain sounds. Then you keep going down, down, down wide wooden stairs until you get to the riverbank. There are little red, blue, and green lights everywhere - I'm not sure if they were supposed to be more fairies, or the spirit of the forest, or just a magical atmosphere, but it was beautiful. There are rock formations here as well, and this is where you leave your wish stone for the fairies. Then the rest of the walk is lighted paths, standing twig lanterns, and lit bridges, and you end up in the gift shop, of course! :)

The fairies in the forest

The gateway on the bridge
Mary and the fairies

The Tree

The rock formations on the enchanted riverbank
Standing twig lanterns lighting the pathway

It was a truly magical experience. I enjoy all things enchanted, fairies, and Disney-style magic so this was just perfect for me. I'm so, so glad that I got to go this year (another 30 Before 30 list item crossed off!), and I hope to go again next year - maybe make a tradition of it! :D

My actual birthday, on the 16th, was nice. My parents took me out for lunch at East Side Mario's, then we had a somewhat quiet afternoon at home, and then my aunt and my sister and her family came over for supper (we ordered pizza - my favourite). My mom baked a box cake and I decorated it with leftover buttercream and sprinkles from the cake orders I had the week before (a My Little Pony birthday cake and a butterfly decorated anniversary cake). :)

First anniversary cake for some friends

My Little Pony cake for a little girls 5th birthday

Cake to celebrate my 28th and my sister's 35th birthdays!
So it was a good birthday! I got some good gifts too... My entry to the Foresta Lumina, a new key remote for my care, a can of maple syrup, a personalized necklace, a hazelwood bracelet (I read somewhere that hazelwood can help with eczema and psoriasis), 4 books (including the newest release by my favourite author), a CD and a DVD that I've been wanting, and a bunch of other little goodies. :) Oh and one of the volunteers from work gave me a lovely card and a Tim's donut, and the girls in the office sang to me and gave me a card. I also got a few other cards in the mail and lots of Facebook birthday wishes. :) Big thanks to everyone who took the time to send me birthday wishes of any form!

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