Dad and Darwin Bike Barntson

My wife and I got our Honda Element serviced and back on the road today. Since it was my day off, I decided that I was going to take the car for a bit of a longer drive to work the engine back in. I asked our middle child if she wanted to come with me. So we packed our bikes into the Element and headed to Barnston Island.

We parked by the “ferry” and unloaded our bikes. We packed a couple of water bottles, donned the sunscreen and made our way to the 9.8km bike ride. (Took us 1hr and 4min to complete btw.)

The ferry ride is essentially a tugboat and barge that brought about 5 or 6 cars across with us. Once we got across the water, we took a right and planned our trip. This little island has one road that loops around. Okay- the plan was easy. So we waited for the four cars to go past us and we began our ride.

We went about a quarter of the way before our first pause. We stopped in some shade on the side of the road. We dismounted and chugged back some water. While we were there, the first car in about twenty minutes was driving up to us and slowed down. A kind elderly man rolled down his window and asked how we were doing. I told him we were just stopping for some water. He smiled and drove off. Our only interaction with the residents was very kind and super friendly.

At around the halfway point, we were in direct sun with hardly any shade available. We stopped to get the obligatory photo of the Golden Ears Bridge. The same bridge we went over yesterday on our way to Golden Ears Park for our hike.

Once we returned to the end of the route, we were out of drinking water and feeling the heat. On the ferry, it was just us and another family of cyclists. Back on the mainland- we packed up our bikes into the Honda Element and cranked the AC to cool off.

We had a great ride and I would recommend this bike loop- it’s easy to get around.

If you know of any other family friendly rides, let me know! We are always on the look out for adventures.

Leavenworth Day 2.

Wednesday was our full day of exploring Leavenworth. Maybe not all of Leavenworth, but at least some. Here is our little adventure:

We started with a lovely breakfast delivered right to our suite. Fresh fruit, sausages and waffles gave us full bellies because we needed to be ready for our first adventure of the day. We didn’t know that it was going to be almost dinner by the time we ate again. So we headed out bright and early (10:00am) to enjoy some…. tubing!

We went tubing along Icicle River. (It lives up to its name.) As exciting as it may sound, it was just a casual float down the river. The mountains and scenery were beautiful and calming. Some geese and ducks swam up to us along the way. We also saw a deer and her fawn hopping through the river towards the end. It took us 3 hours to float 4 miles. The hardest part was the arm strength needed to paddle from time to time. But the cold water balanced out the hot sun as we enjoyed the scenery. By the end, I was glad it was over- the sun was directly overhead at that point.

When we returned to land- we grabbed a couple of cold beers. Tubing made us feel youthful, so we decided to have a bit of silly fun. It was late afternoon by this point. Many shops would close by 6pm. We had at least two more places we wanted to see. What better way to have fun than….

Visiting a Nutcracker Museum!..??? 😦

Ya. Very not my thing. But with over 6000 nutcrackers inside- I learned a lot about the manufacturing and discovered that this is a huge collectible hobby. It made me realize that I don’t have an obsession with any one thing and need to fill my life with it.

After the Museum, we went for a quick wine tasting at Eagle Creek Winery. This is where we ended up buying a bottle to bring home. There are so many wine tasting locations in Leavenworth that it was difficult to decide which ones to hit.

After the winery we went for dinner at Gustav’s. A lovely pub located at the start of the Leavenworth shopping district with a patio balcony on the second floor. They boast having 30 beers on tap! During dinner we chatted with another couple who we had met while tubing.

Our last stop for the day was at Bushel And Bee Taproom. My wife taught me how to play Cribbage over a couple of drinks. I won two of the three games. My wife says “beginner’s luck”. I say “natural skill”.

All-in-all Leavenworth is a cute little town with lots of places to drink. I enjoyed our visit but I don’t think it’s the kind of place we need to return to.

Leavenworth Day 1.

My wife and I arrived at Leavenworth yesterday in the late afternoon. We drove down Front Street and found a parking spot rather quickly. The obvious aspect of this town is that it is styled with a Bavarian theme. Immediately I noticed two things about the town.

1. There are a lot of overpriced souvenir shops.

2. There are a lot of places to drink. A lot.

So we wandered into the Goose Ridge Vineyard Tasting Room and sampled some white wines and a dessert wine. The hostess was very friendly and knew about the wines she was serving. But when we asked questions about Leavenworth, she didn’t have any real answers. Which I found to be rather odd for a tourist destination.

We left the town so we could check into our Bed & Breakfast. We booked a suite in the Pine River Ranch which is about a 20 minute drive out of town. The room we are staying in is the Natapoc Suite: a super cute half cabin. There’s a fireplace, log furniture, and a soaker tub next to the kitchenette in the middle of the room. With it is included 3 bottles of wine (and a wine tour as well) and a cheese plate that was waiting for us when we arrived.

After a glass of wine in our b&b, we went back into town for dinner. We stopped for a couple of beers first at Icicle Brewing before heading into a restaurant called “Mozart’s“. We were seated at a table near the window and a lovely little Happy Anniversary card was waiting for us.

We had ordered the escargot to start and a share platter for the main. The meal was amazing. Well worth the prices in all honesty. The taste sensation of every bite had me wanting more. If you got to Leavenworth and want a celebratory or romantic meal- this is the place.

We made our way back to our accommodations and finished off a bottle of wine and a bath. I won’t tell you the rest- but it did involve the bed. Alright- we were asleep by 11pm. Relaxed and done for the day.

So day one was a success. Onto a full day now back in town.

Nowhere To Go, Can’t Wake Up Late

Today we left my sister’s place at 8:15am. We weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere. Our ferry was to depart at 9:20 and it was just up the road.

We were one of the first few on board. But it seemed that they over loaded the passenger count. Turns out that there were four charter buses filled with choirs from around the world on the ferry. The ferry ended up departing 20 minutes late. Meaning we weren’t going to get the connection to our next ferry. I had no problem with this since the choirs were rehearsing on board the ferry. These were very talented kids and teens and a real pleasure to hear. They were also filled with smiles and wonderment as they enjoyed the ride along the water. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to have British Columbia as a home.

Because I knew that I wasn’t going to make the earlier ferry at the next spot, I chose to leisurely drive and stopped at a couple breweries for a growler fill. Unfortunately the first one I stopped at was closed, so I proceeded to the Persephone Brewing Company. While they filled my growler, a young kid sitting a a table with his father offered to do a magic trick for me. Again, I was impressed. He might’ve been about 12 years old and his card force skills were impeccable.

A rule of thumb that I follow for street performers is that if they can stop me and hold my attention for a few minutes- it’s worth giving up some money. This boy was talented and a really good showman. I hope he continues on his journey to entertain and perform. Donating a small token of gratitude can go a long way at any age.

That’s how today went. Easy breezy but unexpectedly entertained by talented youngsters.

Day 2 of More Nothingness

This vacation is filled with no plans, but we are still doing stuff. This morning I slept in and was served bacon and pancakes. It seems that when I was drinking the night before- I had agreed to take my son and nephew to the driving range. So I had to live up to my drunken promise.

We took some old clubs and my brother-in-law and I tried to explain how to golf to the kids. A few good hits, but mostly terrible form. We had lost of laughs and busted up a few dozen tees in the process.

While we were gone, my daughter used her free time to write. She is taking it upon herself to write a novel this summer. In a couple of years she wants to major in writing at school. This trip has been a great excuse for her to express her ideas.

Afterwards, I took each of my kids for a rip on the quad. They even took turns driving. We made a few videos and took a bunch of photos. It ended up being a fun day of nothingness again.

That’s the best way to spend a vacation.

Extended Family Visit

Today I am traveling with my two youngest to visit my sister and her family. We are only going for a couple of nights, but the journey takes us a bit. At least an hour drive from our home to Horseshoe Bay to catch the first of two ferries. But traffic wasn’t being helpful in the first part of this journey.

We missed the 1pm ferry and had to wait for the next one at 2:20pm. While we waited, we played some “Knowledge Is Power” in the car. It’s an app for our iPhones as well as a game we enjoy on the PS4 at home. It really tests your knowledge on everything. Missing the earlier ferry means we will be delayed to get the next one which is just over an hour drive from the first.

It was a hot one outside. So I ended up turning the car on a couple of times to crank the AC while we waited. It seemed as well that people were talking a lot about the weather on social media. It’s pretty normal when the weather has extreme changes. I love seeing the outdoors of BC on a sunny day. Everything is a beautiful green and blue.

The ferry ride through the Georgia Straight is alluring. My daughter and son took numerous photos of the scenery as well as a few time lapse videos of us moving along the water. I think they are getting ready to make another fan music video like they did for our trip to Japan. Check it out here: Big in Japan

Theory and Darwin are looking forward to seeing their cousins again. It’s been almost a year since the last time we saw them. Even though it feels like they live pretty close, taking two ferries is expensive and time consuming. Which is why I’m only taking two of my kids while my wife and oldest are staying home.

It should end up being a pleasant visit with my sister. I brought back some books she leant us, and we may grab a few new ones from her. Time for some rest and relaxation with no worries for the next couple days.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’ve been searching for something the past few days. Actually, it feels as though I’ve been searching for something for ages now. I’m not sure what it is I need. I keep looking towards travel as the answer.

Our recent trip to Tokyo was amazing. The exposure to another country and culture was uplifting and pleasurable. We experienced traditional temples and cherry blossoms surrounded by a bustling city. It was awe inspiring to say the least.

As I said- I want to travel more and see other countries. I feel the need to experience cultures that are vastly different, but in some way similar to ours. I am unsure of where to start. Do we hit up another major city or see some beautiful countryside and old buildings?

I keep getting drawn to the idea of Peru or Hong Kong. I’m tempted to make a trek to Germany and Czech Republic as well. Unfortunately, all of this costs money.

Without having the ability to spend a ton of money on a whim, I have to figure out some more economical ideas. Later this week, I am taking two of our kids to go visit my sister and her kids. It’s only for an extended weekend, but the last time I was there was last summer. Next week, I am also planning a small getaway with my wife for our anniversary.

Later in the summer, I will be taking my kids to a rustic cabin followed by camping on the lake. Then in the fall is our regular trip to Disneyland to experience the new Pixar Pier.

In the end, it feels as though I have a lot of time off- because I do. I really want to see the world, so I’m trying to sprinkle some local trips in with one or two bigger journeys. I want to share the adventures with my family and am trying to include them every chance I get. The kids will grow up so fast one day, that I won’t be able to enjoy these type of moments:

The biggest question still remains- Where do we go from here?

Boarded Fort Langley

Fort Langley is the birthplace of British Columbia. The price of homes in this Langley neighborhood are some of the highest in the district. Some houses hitting almost $1.5M for a teardown. The new houses going up are monstrous modern models that aren’t keeping with the heritage feel that the council wants to force elsewhere.

Usually I enjoy visiting Fort Langley. But lately it just doesn’t have the luster it once had. Mainly because of the shops, or rather, the lack there of.

Walking down Glover Road in Fort Langley, you’d think the place was turning into a ghost town. This is the main drag of the town. What once had small businesses and shoppes, is now an eyesore with many storefronts boarded up. One developer isn’t getting his way with the council, so he is making a statement. The council wants a style of building to represent Fort Langley, but it isn’t the same vision the developer has.

Personally, I like what the developer has done with his other properties. It has enhanced the feel of Fort Langley. One of my favorite restaurants is in one of his storefronts. It’s a shame that there isn’t a resolution in the foreseeable future.

Fort Langley has always been important to me. I proposed to my wife at a coffee shop in Fort Langley while a tv show being filmed. We got married in a lovely 100+ year old church while a movie across the road was being filmed. Our ceremony stopped film production and the crew came to watch our small wedding.

I don’t like seeing Fort Langley boarded up. The problem isn’t that the developer wants to make something ugly. In fact, many of the storefronts that are boarded up needed to be torn down decades ago. Instead, there was a temporary “facelift” done back in 2012. I want to see newer, nicer stores that welcome visitors to Fort Langley.

It is the birthplace of BC after all. Maybe the township council needs to give Fort Langley a Re-Birth.

Pathfinder LE

Today my wife is trading in her 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. We bought it on her birthday December 6th, 2010. Here is her legacy…

The First Day. December 6/2010

The day we bought it was quite by accident. I was getting the windshield fixed on our minivan at the time and decided to browse used cars online. After booking an impromptu test drive, we spent the entire day at the dealership getting the paperwork in order. By nightfall, my wife had in her possession one of the most expensive birthday gifts ever. We needed a new vehicle at the time since our 2000 Chevy minivan was dying (and hated). Timing worked out that the Pathfinder was available on my wife’s birthday.

We brought it home and managed to get a Nightmare Before Christmas sticker for it to match our Honda Element. Both vehicles are silver and well loved. Seems we like owning matching colours of vehicles. The Pathfinder has taken us on many journeys up and down the West Coast.

In six and a half years, we managed to put on almost 200,000kms. Through deserts, mountains and beaches; windstorms, snowstorms and heatwaves: this SUV has been as big a part of our road trips as the destinations.

From ferry rides to doughnut shops; dinners at In-N-Out Burger to watching documentary films in the backseat: the comfort of the Pathfinder is unrivaled. For all of our trips, this Pathfinder has been the shit!

It will be sad to see it go. But as the kids grow older, our journeys have become more about the destinations and it’s time to see more of the world that the Pathfinder can’t reach. It is time to say goodbye to her.

One final night in our Pathfinder was spent at the Drive-In yesterday. A fond farewell to our summer routines in a vehicle that we have slowly outgrown for film watching. (We really could not fit all of us inside anymore.) The family talked about every movie we could remember seeing at the drive-in. We even spoke of the memories of killing the battery after watching a Saturday triple feature (on more than one occasion.)

Today we say goodbye to a family member. A piece of our past shall remain in photos and memories as we move forward into a new car. A car that can still fit our family as a local driver. A car my wife is excited to be driving. It’s new and a bit more sporty with a six speed manual transmission. Something she has been missing for a few years now.

It seems as well that my wife will be driving a white vehicle. Something I never would’ve expected. As I said, she likes owning matching colours.

Goodbye 2008 V8 Nissan Pathfinder LE. Your luxury and reliability did not go unnoticed. To whomever gets you next- may they have as many great memories and adventures as we did.

Farewell old friend. You truly were a Path Finder to us.

Music Video!

I’m really proud of our 14 year old daughter. Over the past couple of weeks she has been working diligently on editing a music video. This has nothing to do with school, it was for her own personal creativity. (I’ve added the clip at the bottom of today’s blog, don’t miss it!) She is equally pleased with her end result.

The app she has been using is called iMovie by Apple. It is a very straightforward app with easy to use editing features. Great for mixing together the videos she has taken on her iPhone.

It contains video clips from our trip to Tokyo back in March. Prior to our trip, she had planned on using the song “Big In Japan” by Martin Solveig, Dragonette, featuring Idoling!!! Throughout our adventures in Tokyo, she shot numerous videos that lasted only a few seconds. While we were gone, I used the hashtag #biginjapan for all of my Instagram posts. That way we kept the song alive while we traveled.

Our daughter has given me permission to share her music video. She has made it public on YouTube: so Click Here To Watch The Video. As I said, I’m extremely impressed as to how she strung the clips together and it flows really well with the song. Plus it was a lot of fun watching my kids get a bit silly.