The Parents Who Volunteer

Fort St. John is a small community with a large Speed Skating Oval. While here, our kids got to experience a true sense of a tight knit community supporting their dreams.

The parents of almost every skater has volunteered their time in many aspects. From photography to lap counting to place judging and every background position possible. Setting up these meets and camps just to promote the kids and their goals.

The statue out front of the Pomeroy Sports Centre shows a father tying up his kid’s skates. This is the perfect representation of how sports bring forth a sense of family and camaraderie. I’ve tied my fair share of ice skates for many kids already. It’s a sense of encouragement that can mean so much out there.

I also love to hear the cheering going on for every child out there on the ice. The parents, coaches and other skaters cheer one another on. I’ve mentioned this before, but I still delight from the enthusiastic energy produced.

It makes all the difference in the world to many of these kids.

Olympic Dreams

We spent thIs past week in Fort St. John in order for our kids to get some Long Track Speed Skating training. It wasn’t until Thursday that I realized this is an Olympic Goal for many. Even those not just in British Columbia, or let alone Canada, but around the world.

When we were in Calgary we saw the Chinese Olympic Speed Skating Team doing their training. Now they are training in Fort St. John alongside my kids. This seems crazy to me because of course I want our son to succeed in his goal. I thought our 12 and 14 hour road trips were extreme. But flying in from China- that’s dedication.

This week our kids had an opportunity to learn and skate with Denny Morrison. A Long Track Olympic Speed Skater for Canada who got his start here in Fort St. John. Our daughter was even excited to have her Speed Skating helmet signed by Denny Morrison. I think our kids forget that they get coached by Eden Donatelli and her husband Julian Green. Both of these coaches have competed in the Olympics (having met at the 1988 Olympics).

After asking our son if he remembers a time before Julian, and he does not. The drive and ambition to achieve an Olympic Dream is strong in our son. He’s been coached for many years and has a strong backing supporting him. If he wants to get to the world stage, then we shall help him any way we can. Including these trips to Fort St. John or Calgary and any other provinces or counties this may take us to.

Peace River; Taylor, BC

British Columbia is beautiful in many aspects. This week, my wife and I did a couple excursions with our new kayaks in Northern BC.

The other day we went to Charlie Lake which was 15 minutes north of Fort St. John. On Thursday my wife and I headed 15 minutes south towards the town of Taylor, BC.

We wanted to hit the Peace River for some kayaking. However, we knew the current would be strong because of the information we read about when we went to the Site C Dam lookout. After some research on Google and using the Google maps satellite view- I found a small alcove near a boat launch on the south side of the Peace River. So we went exploring.

This had to be the most peaceful kayaking we’ve done yet. The waters were calm and the views were spectacular. It was so leisurely that we spent almost two hours floating around without having to put much effort in.

It was a pleasant excursion and made me glad we toted the kayaks almost 1200 kms just to experience this. Perhaps one day our upper body strength will be better and we could try tackling a stronger current.

But until then, I’m content to put my feet up and relax.

Why We’re In Fort St. John

I guess I should write about why we’re up in Fort St. John for the week. This is another week of Speed Skating training camp at a Long Track ice rink. Our son is getting more and more competitive at Short Track Speed Skating and wants to set his sights higher. So last month while we were in Calgary: The Fastest Ice we picked up some Long Track boots and blades for him. This week he is doing more training and he’s learning lots. Our daughter also wanted to come to the camp. We rented her some Long Track skates for the week and she is wanting to learn the officiating aspect as well.

We’ve spent the last few days at the Pomeroy Sports Centre… okay I’m a liar- we drop the kids off and they spend the day training. The building boasts two hockey rinks on the main level, a large oval on the second level and a walking track on the third level. Every day my wife and I show up early for pick up and walk the track for a few laps.

Both of our kids have made a ton of friends this trip. Wednesday night was a BBQ hosted by the local Speed Skating Club. Our kids abandoned us so they could hang with these friends. One day they will also be the competition, but they are all getting along famously right now.

I like the Speed Skating culture. Everyone is encouraging and wanting the each other to be successful.

Charlie Lake

About 15 minutes outside of Fort St. John is Charlie Lake. Yesterday my wife and I decided to go and check it out with our kayaks.

The boat launch that is there is in disrepair, so you can only bring kayaks, canoes and small boats in the lake. This meant that yesterday- we had the lake to ourselves.

This is a small lake only 3 km wide and 13 km long. There are a few homes situated along the shore, but none if you paddled north. Near the shoreline was heavy in algae which gave it a green tinge and made it tough to paddle through.

Once we ventured out about 500 meters, the water was pristine. Our mid day paddle last a good couple of hours and we paused at one point for a lunch break as we bobbed up and down on the slight waves.

This was yet another easy kayaking adventure. No challenge to it. But because of the amount of time we spent on the water- we can feel the burn today in our muscles. It feels great.

Fort St. John

We are in Fort St. John for a Speed Skating camp that our two youngest are attending. My wife and I are free for the whole day while the kids workout and train. Which now begs the question- “What does one do while in Fort St. John, BC?”

For starters I took a nap while my wife played video games. Not too shabby a start.

Seriously though. The city’s slogan is “The Energetic City” so there best be something behind this. Only… I think the slogan isn’t about the nightlife. We decided to do the “Number 3 Tourist Attraction” which I found in Google.

We ended up at the Site C Dam visiting a lovely chainlink fence. Actually the telescopes opened up the ability to see more of the construction going on. There were plenty of information kiosks in the parking lot explaining the history of the land and the plans to keep the project environmentally friendly.

Afterwards we stopped at Beards Brewing for some of the best beer I’ve tried in quite some time. This stop is a must if you end up in Fort St. John.

We are hoping that today the weather clears up after raining all night. We brought our kayaks and are looking forward to exploring some local waters.

Safe Travel Day

As I mentioned yesterday in my blog- Off To Fort St. John– we had a road trip taking us fairly far North in British Columbia. We left our home at 6am and made it into Fort St. John by 8pm. we made it in one word:

Safely.

That’s the key that I want to mention about this road trip that I always overlook when talking about driving. I love taking the roads through the mountains, deserts, countrysides and cities. Road trips are a good way to bond with my family on these vacations. But the journey needs to always be taken safely.

We left before the sun came out. But we stopped twice before even hitting the freeway. That’s because I was uncertain about one of the front straps on the kayaks I had mounted to the roof. Because of my anal retentiveness- this prevented any possible issues during our drive. Every time we stopped for gas- I rechecked the tie downs. All was good.

After about eight hours of my hand at driving, I realized I was becoming extremely tired and had my wife take over. I hopped into the back seat with our son, while our daughter sat up front and played “DJ”.

After a couple of hours driving on the single lane roadways- my wife was behind a slow moving vehicle. When an opportunity arose for her to pass the RV, she signaled and began to pull around. At which point the truck behind her also decided he wanted to pass both our car and the RV. He had no signal and a lead foot. My wife had to jerk back into our lane narrowly avoiding hitting the front side of the truck and the rear bumper of the car in front. There was no reason for the guy behind us to try and run us off the road. But he felt he was more important.

My wife remained calm and then passed the RV. The other truck was now barreling down the road ahead of us at close to twice the posted speed limit. Oh well.

About an hour before we were to get to our destination- there was the remnants of a bad accident. It looked as though a train had collided with a semi trailer at the only train crossing around. The flag people were in position alternating the flow of traffic. We weren’t held up for very long.

Needless to say, we encountered a few indiscretions during our fourteen hour drive. Road trips are long and can be tedious. But keeping your occupants and fellow drivers around you safe should always be number one. We preach safety at my work, and I take that home every day as well. I’d much rather get to our destination safely than in a hurry.

So we made it to Fort St. John safely.

Off To Fort St. John

Today we are driving North. This will be the furthest North I have ever driven. Prior to this was back in Grade Eight in 1988 when I went on a band trip to Prince George. That was memorable because we stayed at the host homes of one of the schools up there.

But today we are driving for about another four hours past Prince George. Driving North. I can’t get over how far this is from our home.

But it’s not the furthest we’ve driven from our home. We drove South one time almost all the way to the Mexican border. Driving South usually means warmer weather and a more fun destination.

Earlier this year we headed East. Not quite out of Alberta. But getting pretty close. The distance is almost as far as our travels today. But the time to get there is quicker. Most likely due to the route and my tendency to get a speeding ticket in Alberta…

As for driving West- Gold River On Vancouver Island was the furthest so far. Can’t overly drive through the Pacific Ocean. The ferry only gets to the islands nearby.

Do you enjoy roadtrips as much as we do?

What’s the furthest you’ve driven?

Any sights you’d recommend on the drive North through British Columbia?

Let me know in the comments!

What Does $1000 Look Like?

Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.

I treated my wife to a night out on the town at a spa and hotel. We needed that time off. Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

We bought tickets to Queen for the five of us. Such an amazing show. Queen

We now have a back up generator for when the power goes out. Like it does every year… sometimes for days on end.

My son got a pair of Long Track Speed Skates. Chasing that Olympic Dream! Fastest Ice

We bought a couple of kayaks and accessories. Gotta stay in shape as we grow older. Kayak Adventure

That’s all from this year. In the past- a thousand dollars bought three iPad Minis, or a video game system and accessories, or tickets to Disneyland, even a new mattress…

Like they say, a thousand here and thousand there- pretty soon it adds up to real money.

I’m starting to feel broke. Maybe it’s time to slow down on the spending. The kids need a post secondary education. A thousand bucks might buy a couple of textbooks.

We Have a Set Of Doors!

Last week I had a hole in the wall leading to the outdoors. Read about it: Oh No! This week, the doors are up and I finished the staining to match the rest of the wood throughout our home.

And the doors look amazing!

*Pats self on back*

I’m also happy with the hardware on the doors and how they will protect our home. I put locking pins in the doors that go directly into the steel beam along the door frame. Because the doors swung outwards- the hinges are secured and not able to be knocked out. To complete the doors- all I have left to do is paint the frame and add weather stripping. That’ll be tomorrow morning once the stain sets.

Yay! I love completing home renovations. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with a job well done.