Grad Dinner..?

Our oldest Graduated three weeks ago from Grade 12. Besides the ceremonies being cancelled, so was the Grad Dinner. My wife and I have been trying to get our daughter out for a special dinner since then, with no luck. Our oldest originally wanted a special meal like the one my wife and I did Last Year at the Bacchus French Restaurant. But it hasn’t opened yet because of restrictions.

Today, we finally went out for a meal. Our oldest also wanted her siblings along, so we ended up at Ramen Bella in Langley. Where we each got a large bowl of ramen, and our daughter got herself a Poké Bowl.

It was a good treat for everyone and also very filling. I’m glad our oldest picked a place that the family could enjoy, even though my wife and I were trying to offer her something special just for her. It seems as though our daughter is still very family oriented and loves sharing experiences with her brother and sister.

To me, that shows she is growing up into a wonderful young lady. Each day I am becoming more and more proud of her.

White Rock Kayaking: Nicomekl River

Day three in a row of my wife and I hitting the water in our kayaks. Today we drove further southwest and put in the water at Ward’s Marina in White Rock. The smell of the fresh sea air was pleasant as we paddled throughout the afternoon.

This spot opens daily at noon. So it is generally not very crowded, even for a Saturday. The weather was cooler than it had been the past couple of days. And with no trees to shade us, today was a perfect day to enjoy this adventure.

Of course, as we paddled from Elgin Park towards Blackie Spit. The route had some tough spots where we had to work more. But the neatest part was going under the BNSF train bridge as the train crossed overhead. The vibration made the water push us away from the location. Making it difficult to stay still in order to get a good photo.

On our way back home, we stopped by the Fraser Valley Cider Company and sampled some of their ciders. There was live music as we sat in the farmer’s field and enjoyed some local beverages and cheeses from other local farms. Stopping at a place like this was a nice way to end the afternoon. Plus it supports local businesses which I wholeheartedly encourage.

Three days off flew by quickly. I enjoyed our kayaking adventures over the last few days. I really enjoy the time I’m spending with my wife as well. We needed the companionship as we relax with time away from our hectic lives. Plus we are getting some good exercise as we go.

Pool of Thought

At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.

Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.

Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.

Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.

Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.

Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.

Houston Trail

On Friday, the family and I went off to hike another local trail. This one was much busier than Aldergrove Regional Park. But everyone on the trails were respecting the idea of Physical Distancing. Way to go people! The 3.3 km hike around Houston Trail took us around 45 minutes.

We stopped a few time to really admire nature and it’s wonders. The natural way the cohesive balance of life intertwines still amazes me. My family and I somehow got on the topic of “The Matrix” and how the corona virus is almost like a reset of humanity . Giving us pause to reflect on the simple things in life that we take for granted. Such as these walks that we can saunter through without feeling rushed to get to the next big event.

I’m glad the BC has kept the parks open for people to wander. The fresh air and natural beauty helps to clear the mind. Even if we were plugged into the Matrix, the computers are doing a decent job at randomizing life.

Panic Purchasing? Butt Why?

Oh man. There is a lot of panic in the world right now. Especially regarding COVID-19. Unfortunately paranoia is causing folks to be a tad bit irrational.

On Saturday morning in my hometown of Langley, a video was taken of people rushing into a Costco to buy toilet paper of all things. The media has been reporting of the scarcity of the butt tissues for some time now. As if a lack of shit tickets is the cause of the virus outbreak. But people love to spread misinformation on social media causing panic thus creating a real shortage now. It’s a strange catch-22 that we entered over the past couple weeks.

Yes the virus is real and over 100,000 people in the world have been diagnosed with it. There are 5 million people living in British Columbia- 32 of which have the virus; and 4 of those have overcome it already. Less than 0.0000064 of BC’s population has the virus.

I’m not going to compare these numbers to cancer or the flu. I’m just trying to figure out why toilet paper and racism is taking hold of our society. And I’m at a true loss to explain it.

But if the world runs out of toilet paper, maybe it’s time for purchasing that bidet I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now. Washing my bum was a pleasant experience while traveling in Tokyo.

How is your toilet paper supply?

Are you stocked up?

Four Years of Beers

Last year I went to Trading Post in Langley to celebrate Three Years of Beers. The year before I enjoyed Two Years of Beers. I was also there for the Grand Opening when they first started up. I have been a loyal customer and beer connoisseur of what the Trading Post has to offer. I have visited their three locations and will continue to do so.

The other day I received a message from a person whom I met up with last year at the anniversary. He was hoping to meet up again this year. Our friendship was formed over a mutual friend… and beers. I also met with a couple former coworkers from various past employments of mine.

As the afternoon went on, we had some good talks and loads of laughs. It was great to meet with everyone who makes life a bit more enjoyable. It’s all about networking, right? Or just enjoying life.

Now, I have a nice collection of specialty glasses each celebrating the various anniversaries from Trading Post. I also have a great collection of friendships that I have accumulated over the years. Taking the time to enjoy people’s company over a beer or two makes me happy.

Anniversaries are a great way to keep in contact with others. An anniversary of a brewery is even better.

Local Beers

As I have mentioned numerous times before- I love to shop local and support small businesses. If you live in Langley, BC I recommend you follow Tourism Langley on Instagram. They are always out there sharing great moments in our little neck of the Fraser Valley.

Yesterday they shared this picture. Langley grew over the past year adding four more breweries to their name. Previously it was only Dead Frog and Trading Post that graced us with craft beers.

I was excited to hear about the other breweries that opened This Year, that I went out and filled some growlers to share tonight. We have a few friends and coworkers stopping by for the Winter Solstice. And what goes great with food and friends? Sharing beers. I picked up samples from Dead Frog, Trading Post, 5 Roads, and Farm Country. I’m excited to try them and share with everyone.

Hopefully the beers I grabbed taste as good as their names sounded. We shall find out tonight.

Hi Knoll Hike

It was a beautiful day on Saturday. My wife and I decided to take the kids for a leisurely walk. So we went to one of the parks in Langley.

Hi-Knoll is an easy hike that I would recommend. We went through a field and over a small bridge that crossed a stream. We ended up walking along the far edge of the park before cutting back into the wooded area. There were a few other people meandering along the pathways. We each nodded or said a “Hello” out of respect- the way many people do when out on nature walks.

It was a peaceful walk that ended up being extremely pleasant. Our kids enjoyed the mild hike as well. We talked about me growing up near the area and the adventures I once had with former friends. It was all so surreal as my mind picked out snippets of a life that once was.

I’m looking forward to future walks with my family. Perhaps there will be more stories to share. Only time will tell.

Do you know of any other good parks to check out? Where do you go to clear your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Longines FEI World Cup Experience 

Yesterday was an experience to say the least. One that my wife and I spoke about afterwards as something we would like to do more often. It seems being a part of such a luxurious event is in our blood. The event was held just up the road from our home. Even though we didn’t know about it prior to last week.
We were invited to attend the FEI World Cup Jumping at the Thunderbird Show Park. (I found out TBird is North America’s premier equestrian show facilities next only to Calgary). It was Olympic Caliber Show Jumping and was open to the public to enjoy as well. I was ecstatic that I had been given an opportunity to view the show from such a nice location. We had a firsthand view of jump number 2 and 10.


Our seats were under a shaded tent at “The View Rosé Party”. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of Sparkling Rosé and some finger foods as the horses and riders ran the course throughout the afternoon. Prior to the show beginning, there was a live band on stage. They graced us with the Canadian National Anthem as well.  This show was impressing me already.

My wife and I joined a table of very knowledgeable spectators. My ignorance of how the show worked didn’t deter them from answering my questions. In fact, everyone at our table wasn’t just willing to give me advice and answer my questions, but they were also eager to bestow their knowledge upon me. As an outsider to the venue, I really appreciated the help.  The explanation of how the course works, the timing and penalties made me more focused as we watched.


The other people at our table have been to numerous events and knew many of the riders as well. I even got a bit of my “Nerd on” when I found out Jennifer Gates- daughter of a certain Bill Gates- was riding that day.


The food and sparkling Rosé was delicious as we watched the riders from our table. There was no slow down in the action. As soon as one rider was done, the next would take the field. I found myself getting more enthralled as each rider ran the course. My wife pointed out that I have a cute way of saying “awwww” when something bad happened. But the entire crowd would make this noise.


As the temperature began to rise towards 30°C I was appreciative of the bottled water supplied to us. I couldn’t imagine the sweat from the horses and riders as they pushed to make a great time. After the 27 riders finished the first run, it came down to the final seven. The show’s excitement came to an end as the final rider took to the course- and won. A picture perfect finalé for a wonderful afternoon.

It was the kindness of the fellow spectators that really made my wife and I want to return. (Which I think we shall attempt again next year.) A huge thanks should be given out to the volunteers and the hosts as well: both TBird and The View Winery. My wife and I will be back next year- we really enjoyed our afternoon date.

Mural

Today was an unveiling of a project that the grade 11/12 photography students created.  It was a rather large scale piece, and really suits the school and our community.  Being that my children attend the Langley Fine Arts School, it only makes sense that a project of this magnitude be unveiled with pomp and circumstance. 


The whole school was out to witness the unveiling.  The staff and parents were also awaiting the big reveal.  The mayor took the mic and shared some words of the history behind the idea of the mural.  The senior concert band then performed a piece written by one of the students as the cloth was lifted.


Seeing the mural in person is just amazing. It is pieced together with photos of all off the students and staff of the school. Read about the project here: LFAS Photo Mosaic. It is a large piece that really shows off the talents of the young people. Especially given such a great opportunity to express themselves in an Arts dedicated school environment.


This is the full mural.  Outstanding work.

Joe the Wine-o

Yesterday my wife and I were taken on a local winery tour by a couple of our friends.  We don’t drink much wine these days so it was a nice treat to go out.  Plus, we’ve never really gone out to sample wines at a vineyard.  The only place we’ve been to before is the local berry farm that has a winery.  Which is nice because we can walk home after…

Our friends, Megan and Russ, planned the day and Russ was driving us around.  Now, three out of the four of us are railroaders.  My wife is the odd one out, but she can curse and talk filthy just like the rest of us.  That being said, we are definitely not swanky or hoity-toity by any means.  Nor did we dress the part.  None of us acted the part either.  We were ready to have some fun.

At our first stop we sampled four wines.  The Chaberton Winery was elegant and high class feeling.  We also hit their bistro and had some lunch.  Can’t go drinking on an empty stomach.  The waiter was amused when we requested a bottle of rosé to accompany our meal.  I asked for it as a “bottle of pink and pretty”.  Clearly I am a gentleman of worldliness culture.


The next location was Backyard Vineyards.  It was more our style.  Middle class feeling.  Megan and I sampled four more wines and giggled as our significant others sat at a table reading the wine list and playing on their phones.  We ordered a cheese a cracker plate, grabbed another bottle and polished it off rather quickly.  

Then we went to the Township 7 to sample some more.  This is where I learned that the name is derived from the seven different locations that make up Langley.  As well as the fact that the vineyards in Langley align perfectly with France making the grapes equally tasty?  No clue.  We were having fun.

What we thought was our last stop turned out to be a lie.  While we were at the Township 7, the staff recommended a new location that had opened the week prior just up the road.  Off we went!


The Glass House Estate winery was by far the best place we went to yesterday.  We sampled four more wines including a very tasty ice wine.  We then grabbed a bottle of wine and enjoyed another cheese plate.  The four of us were giddy and getting loud.  There wasn’t a lot of people in the building so I’m pretty sure our conversations could be heard throughout.  The place was going to be open for another hour or so.  After our first bottle went empty, we decided to get another one.


That last bottle put the three of us past our limit.  Stumbling back to the car laughing and joking we were ending our evening at around 7pm on a Saturday.  Quite honestly WRECKED.  Wine drunk is different from beer drunk or hard bar drunk.  Wine drunk hits you fast and it’s always that last glass that puts you over the edge.  But at least you stop.

We had a blast.  My wife and I would do it again.  In fact, there is now a plan in the works with our friends to go tour the BC Okanagan this summer.  Or as my wife was trying to search it on her phone: “Ikanogon Wine Tour”.

I realized that in a few short hours, my bank account was down a couple hundred bucks.  Not something I usually do anymore when it comes to drinking.  But I’m willing to make a sacrifice like this once in a while. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be all wine connoisseur like and spit it out after sloshing it in my mouth and examining the glass.  But until that day, the wine gets to go into my stomach like regular folks.  

And unlike my poor wife yesterday- the wine stayed in my stomach.

Why is life so busy?

Last weekend was a long weekend.  But this weekend is when everything is happening around our town.  Specifically today.


Today in Downtown Langley is the Good Times Langley Cruise-In.  It is the 20th year of this volunteer run event that attracts car enthusiasts from all over.  It is also the only day in Western Canada that you can enjoy In-N-Out Burger.  Their Mobile Truck is often sold out early in the day with lineups that last a few hours.  


But if waiting hours to possibly not enjoy a burger, then heading to the Fort Langley Food Truck Festival is a better alternative.  Food, food and more food.  All in the oldest part of Langley.  Pretty much on the opposite end away from the Cruise-In.


Living in farm country keeps us fairly segregated from large crowds.  Since we didn’t want to go to either of those events today, we walked up to the JD Farms Fall Festival.  It is put on by the owner- who also happens to be the Mayor of Langley.  I enjoyed the food samplings, the live entertainers, and the kids had fun hanging out with their friends.  It was more low key than any of the other events.  Since it was close to our home, a kilometer away, we decided to enjoy an afternoon walk together.  


It was another nice peaceful day in our little slice of paradise.

Cooling off


Last year I took my children to a local water hole to cool off from the summer heat.  It was a place that was shared with me about twenty years ago.  When I posted photos of us last year, some of my old friends got all excited and were like: “I remember that place!”


After sharing about the rope swing and the shady pool of water, more of my friends asked where it was so that they too could go with their children.  There’s no greater feeling of joy than sharing a little piece of paradise with friends.  Later, I saw photos of my friends and their children enjoying a cool dip on a hot summer day.  Today I brought another friend there to share an afternoon of doing nothing, but having fun.  Even our dog cooled off from the summer heat.

The water isn’t chlorinated.  There is no payment required to enter.  There’s no fancy waterslide or waves.  Not everything in life costs money.  Today was all about just enjoying life.  Taking the time to experience nature and put down our devices can be very fulfilling.  My children even made some friends for the day and splashed around having a great time. 

Sure my phone came out to grab a few pictures, but hey, that’s what being a parent is all about.  I need to get some embarrassing shots for future use as well…

I love finding out about new places to explore locally.  A big thanks to all my friends over the years for sharing these places.  My children and I look forward to going around to these locations every time.  

Enjoy your summer!  And remember to stay cool!

This is my hometown.

I was born in Nova Scotia and within a few months we moved to Ontario. A couple years later we moved to British Columbia.  We lived in White Rock and Richmond in the late 70’s.  By 1980, we moved to Edmonton Alberta and four years later we moved back to British Columbia and settled in Langley.

From age 8 I have called Langley my home.  For a little over thirty years I have watched it grow.  Throughout the years in Langley, we have moved to a few different homes in a few different neighborhoods.  I am currently in my sixth house and have been here for nine years now.  It also happens to be the house that my wife’s father built in 1972. This house has always been my wife’s home.  Sure she lived elsewhere over the ages (including a short time in Turkey), but this is where she calls home.


This was my first home in Langley.  It was built in the late 70’s, so it has some character to it.  It is by far my favorite house I have ever lived in.  It’s the only home I’ve lived in that that had a swimming pool.  It may not look it, but this home is bigger on the inside.  If I could, I’d walk through this house just to relive my childhood memories.


Just before the 90’s started we moved to a brand new subdivision.  We watched the house get built from the ground up.  It was the summer of my transition from grade 9 to 10.  My father allowed me to have a friend stay over for a few nights only to make us work laying out a new lawn in the hot sun.  It was a much smaller home than the previous one, but everything was new.   My mother was happy but my father was miserable.  This house was sold two years later and we downsized again.  This was also partly due to some financial struggles that my parents ran into.  My father was about to lose his job and they were going through a legal battle because of an accident my sister was in at age 12. 

Unimpressed Josef


This was our third home in Langley.  It was in what was eventually referred to as “The Complex Complex”.  It was about half the size of our second home, so most of our stuff ended up in a storage unit or donated.  I was entering my last year of high school and the school was now a two minute walk away.  Let the rebel teen years commence!  Lots of emotional struggles in this home and a lot of soul searching for me.  This home was a hub of activity and I made lots of friends and had lots of adventures.

After this home I did a lot of couch surfing, then lived in a cramped basement suite with three other people, moved to a crappy bottom floor apartment with a friend, then met my wife and lived with her in a large home with four others.

Awww


Our first home together where my wife and I began our family.  I’m sure I have better pictures of the house somewhere, but I really like the photo of us on our third Halloween.  This home was a chance for me to learn the basics of home renovations.  My “Martha Stewart” skills became apparent as well.

Our home.


This is our current home, albeit a picture from a few years ago.  Not much has changed on first glance, but lots has changed when you look throughout.  I love this house with all of its quirks.  Any time I think we should sell, I think about my personal journey to get here.  It is apparent that my wife has been a big influence on my life and has really pushed me to set higher goals but also be content with what we have.  There’s a healthy balance that I believe we have found.   I’m also pretty sure my wife would like to stay here for many more years to come.  


Langley is my home and I have enjoyed most of the journey to get where we are.  Our door is always open to friends to come visit.  No invitation is needed.  

Our home is your home.  Anytime.