Sky Sights

The skies were amazing this week. From rain clouds to completely cloudless. I enjoyed the pink clouds and the sunsets from our beach.

The stars at night were vibrant and awe inspiring. My iPhone could not capture the beauty at night. But the daytime skies have been equally as tremendous.

Here is a collection of the views we have enjoyed. Hope you like them as well.

Night Shift is For The Birds

Oh man. Finished the night shift yet again. I enjoy working at night for the simple fact that the world is calmer and not so busy. I’m so lucky to be home to hear the birds chirping and singing before the world gets busy.

Sure, it’s nice and tranquil most of the time. I used to pull all nighters as a teenager/twenty something. I would be out wandering parks or fields and listen as the birds slowly woke up. It was like a concert firing up. An overture played from eons of nature growing and practicing together.

Falling asleep to the sound of birds is very different than waking up to hear their lovely tune. I want to say I enjoy it, but it’s keeping me awake longer as I wait for the sounds of cars and human noise to lull me to sleep.

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.

Aldergrove Regional Park

Today my wife asked if we could go for a walk together. She has been going around the neighborhood daily for a few years now. Yes, years. And since the weather was fairly decent today, she wanted to go elsewhere. We ended up going to the Aldergrove Regional Park.

We took a lovely stroll along a horse trail. We saw four horses (no, not the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse) stride past us with a quick hello to the riders. But that was about it. The park was quiet. I think people forget that we have such beautiful locations that we can still enjoy during these crazy times. Even I forget.

The walk was serene and peaceful. The fresh air and lack of worries really cleared the mind. I think I need to do this type of activity more often, even though it feels forced by my wife. That’s only because when she’s ready for the walk, it means we are both to be ready. That brings up some conflict which usually has me lounging at home and her enjoying a walk.

What I’m saying is that she was right. Enjoying nature has it’s mental healing properties. And I’m glad I went.

Somebody Out There “Rocks”

My wife goes for a walk a couple of times a day around our neighborhood. Sometimes she detours through the trails at the nearby Steele Park. (Mostly because my wife still plays Pokémon Go and the park is a Pokéstop.) Today I joined my wife and she showed me something cute along the way.

Someone or someones have been leaving little surprises along the trails. They have been painting rocks and placing them back along the pathways. It’s lovely to see. My wife says she has fun trying to figure out if there are any new ones put out.

To whomever is doing this- thank you! It’s a pleasure to see these works of art. I’m glad my wife took me to see them as well. Such a simple idea, and I love that they just leave them out in the wooded area.

Autumn Skies

I’ve been enjoying the colours of the sky over the past couple of days. Autumn astounds me at how majestic it can be.

The morning sunrise has pink hues as the sky starts to light up. I pause for a moment at the end of my night shift to enjoy my country living.

The night sky offers a faded orange backdrop to an industrialized world that I am a part of. The black shadows of straight edges are a harsh contrast to the randomness of nature.

Yet there is still beauty to be found in both.

Ack Ack Kayak!

So… I was at the Grade Seven camp a little over a week ago when I tried Kayaking for the first time. I enjoyed it tremendously. My wife hates me because of this.

She hates me because for years now she’s been trying to get me to go kayaking with her. When I finally did go on a whim without her, I wanted to go again. I really should listen to her the first time around…

As I mentioned yesterday- I put on a new Roof Rack on my Nissan Rogue. It was to prepare for the possibility of getting a kayak. My wife finished work at six last night and wanted to go price some kayaks out. I’d been looking online at places and prices earlier in the week, but it was my wife who wanted to go and search for herself. Unfortunately we only went to one place- Canadian Tire. Not my usual place to go shopping- however we do find some great deals on occasion- like our bbq grill about four years ago.

Anyways, window shopping for a kayak turned into buying a kayak. Make that buying two kayaks at a wickedly good price (they had them marked incorrectly but honored the price). These kayaks also came with oars and straps to take them away on the roof of my car. (As reference I found similar ones at Costco by the same manufacturer for $160 more each.)

I’m happy with the purchase to make our lives healthier. We just need to find the time to hit the water together.

And maybe my wife will forgive my ignorance all these years. Or she’ll drown me. Either way- we own a couple of kayaks now!

Short Walks

Lately I’ve been enjoying walking. Years ago, I used to walk everywhere. Most of my jobs in the past had me on my feet where I walked a lot.

When I was a projectionist looking after 19 auditoriums- I was spending eight hours a day going back and forth between them.

Working at Home Depot was a bit rougher on my feet since it was a concrete floor. But when it was slow, I wandered around to learn as much DIY as I could.

Chuck E Cheese also had me on my feet keeping track of customers and running food. Plus the occasional dance routine…

Then came CN. Where I would walk miles and miles outdoors every shift. This was by far the best exercise I ever received. Until I started working in the office. Then I became stagnant. That has been the past few years now.

I’ve been missing walking. So my wife is encouraging me daily to get back at it. It has started with walks around the block or parking at the far end of a mall parking lot. Now we are trying to wander through trails and enjoy nature instead of asphalt. I’m starting to enjoy meeting birds on my walks as well.

Silverdale Creek Wetlands

On Friday night my wife and I often take our children to a thing called “Dry Land Training” at our speed skating coach’s home. This involves a 30 minute drive followed by a two hour training session. Sometimes my wife and I stay to chat with other parents. Other times we go grocery shopping up the road. Last night we went for a walk at one of the local parks.

This is a typical park setting. With signage and info about the land. It was a beautiful stroll through extremely well kept trails. But there was one thing that made this park stand out amongst other trails in BC.

Birds. Lots of birds. And birdhouses!

On top of several pillars in the marsh were numerous birdhouses. Every single one of them occupied with a feathered friend. The houses that were close to the pathways had birds that weren’t scared of people wandering by. This made me happy. They watched and sang as my wife and I meandered along the pathways.

We chatted and strolled holding hands and just enjoying nature. We greeted only a couple of other folks along the way. It was like we had our own little private forest filled with song. It was a nice way to relax on a Friday evening with my wife.

I have a feeling we will visit the Silverdale Creek Wetlands again in the future. I hope that this will get others to visit there as well.

Taking This City for Granted

I’m always excited to travel to other countries, states, provinces, and visit different cities. I enjoy driving around certain cities such as Los Angeles or Calgary. Some of my favorite cities to walk around are Seattle, Tokyo, and San Jose. As well as the beaches of California and Hawaii. And of course, Disneyland.

Our adventures over the years have taken us to see some beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes. From unique architecture to forests to parks to beaches. But I forget that Vancouver is unique and beautiful in its own way. With many of the things I have experienced elsewhere.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work downtown Vancouver. It made me want to come down to this city more often. I’ve begun to take the time and just wander around Vancouver as well as take in a Hockey Game with my son. Vancouver has parks and architecture that you can only find here.

The outskirts of Vancouver boast beautiful trails located in many municipalities; and White Rock’s beaches aren’t crowded. This year, we aren’t planning any big trips or vacations. I’m going to plan more daily explorations of our current stomping grounds. Let’s share what the Lower Mainland has to offer.

By all means, give me some ideas of places to visit and things to do. No need to keep secrets about this exquisite locale we call home.

Wildlife House

I love animals. Always have. I think I could’ve been a veterinarian if it wasn’t for my allergies. Living in the countryside means more woodland creatures all around.

Yesterday when we returned from camping, there was a squirrel hanging out on our back deck. The fact that we were able to walk outside and it didn’t move, meant something was wrong.

After about thirty minutes of us eating lunch outside next to the little dude, we decided to catch it and take it into a place called Critter Care Wildlife. A local organization that specializes in mammal rehabilitation.

We put a box over the little critter and put a towel on top. We dropped it off and the staff was really happy to take it in. They gave us a case number so I followed up today to see how Mr. Squirrel is doing. He’s been integrated into a new group of squirrels and is bouncing back. The organization is unsure as to what was the original issue, but they will be keeping an eye on the little guy.

This afternoon another woodland creature entered our home. We had left the sliding glass door open and the bird flew right in. It bumped the window and perched itself on our cds. My oldest and I grabbed a towel and tossed it over top and I gently carried the bird outside to set it free.

Mr. Birdie took a moment after I uncovered its head before taking off. (Our son names every animal and stuffed animal MR.) We have had numerous animals visit us for brief moments. My favorite moment was when we rescued a hummingbird.

I think that when I retire, I might get into bird watching.

You know, like old people do- ’cause I’ll be old. And I’ll need a reason to look up from my smartphone once in a while.

Back To Basics

Yesterday I got to do something at work I haven’t done in ages. I was able to be the conductor on a train from North Vancouver to Squamish and back again. I don’t usually get asked to help out, so it was a refreshing break from my usual office work.

I was also lucky enough to be with an engineer that was a pleasure to work with. That made the ride more relaxing and enjoyable. Years ago I would work as a conductor taking this train up and down along the west coast. Not every experience was a good one. Especially in the winter.

This route is one of the most scenic routes I know of in North America to take by rail. During the summer months, The Rocky Mountaineer passenger train also takes this trip. For those of you who like trains- the Rocky Mountaineer is like taking a cruise by rail. It also costs about the same. Seeing the beautiful landscape along British Columbia is worth it in my opinion.

My job is pretty amazing at times, that’s for sure. I’m really lucky to be able to have the experiences I do. In the end, it’s all about how you perceive the workload that makes a job worthwhile.

Crescent Beach Sunset

On Tuesday, we went for a dinner at Crescent Beach as a family. We go at least once a year to eat fish and chips along the water’s edge and watch the sunset.

Each of us grabbed a meal from the Red Baron to go. It’s an older place run by an elderly Asian couple. Their deep fried cod is amazing and their fries are nice and crisp. The restaurant doesn’t look like much, but it sure is satisfying. It’s also a couple bucks cheaper than anywhere else nearby- and it’s in a great location at the end of Beecher Street.

The orange glow brought out our smiles and cheekiness as we finished our meal. We then walked up and down the coastline waiting for the sun to set. We laughed and talked as we strolled along. Minutes before the sun went down, we found a nice log to sit on and watch the day end.

Living in the West Coast is absolutely breathtaking. Taking the time to enjoy the beauty that the world offers is important.

Sharing these moments with loved ones is equally as important.

Golden Ears Park

Today we went for a hike at Golden Ears Park. I haven’t been to this park in almost 25 years. It’s still just as beautiful as ever.

We followed the East Canyon Trail to the water falls. It was straight uphill for about 2.5km. Then we followed some BC Park signs down to the falls. The water was nice and cool, so we took a quick stroll through it to a shady spot and had a picnic lunch.

After our lunch, we waded around in the water a bit more admiring the views. It was peaceful and calm with hardly anyone around.

We returned to our car down the Lower Falls Trail. This was a straight and easy walk instead of an uphill hike- like we did on the way towards the falls. We stopped occasionally to take some pictures of the trees as the sun began to set.

Exploring the Lower Mainland on the outskirts of Vancouver is something that we try and do. Today’s 5km hike/nature walk was exactly what we needed as a family. Even our pooch was worn out by the end.

If you know of any other easy to moderate hike in the outskirts of Vancouver, feel free to share with me!

Leafers

I couldn’t believe what they were stealing from my property today.  I was at my kitchen window in plain view of them. These two older, retired women entered my yard and began snipping leaves off of our vine maple.


Mind you, it didn’t bother me.  But curiosity came over me, so I went outside to speak with them.  They were super friendly and told me what they were up to.  Of course, my thought was that they wanted the fall coloured leaves for some Pinterest inspired art project or flower pressing.  But I was wrong. Turns out they wanted the green leaves only because the red and orange ones wouldn’t work.


They were collecting the leaves in order to create a dye for silk scarves.  Scarves that they were going to give away to friends and family at Christmas. It was a lovely idea. I told the ladies they were welcome to come back any time to collect leaves because it saves my children from raking them up when they dry up.

In the end, it looks like I have made some new friends in my neighborhood. Even though they were leaf thieves.

The Eagle Has Landed

Yesterday evening, my 14 year old nephew and my 11 year old son wanted to go out before dinner.  They asked everyone in the house to give them a ride. Each person kept sending them away and told them to ask someone else.  Including myself. Finally I asked where it was they wanted to go. 


My nephew talked about a place just up the road called Eagle River. He mentioned pools of water and cliff diving. I decided that it sounded kind of neat, and I really didn’t know what kind of cliffs a young boy would imagine. Next thing I knew, I was driving four children for a quick dip before dinner. I’m glad my wife came along as well to help look after the kids.


My nephew directed me towards the location that we could take the vehicle to. The river run directly under Highway 101 on the outskirts of Powell River. As you walk down, you can see the water running off and forming a large pool.  The cutouts in the rocks almost made it look like old Aztec ruins.  Then you round the corner and the views continue to be amazing.


There was only a few guys on the far end.  I went over and took a look.  One guy was doing backflips off the waterfall into a pool of water below.  I was most impressed.  These were definitely cliffs and it was definitely not something I was about to attempt or let the children who were with me attempt. That was a young man’s adventure. I’ve been cliff diving before, but didn’t want to encourage the small ones to try it.


So we stayed in the first pool of water.  By one edge it was fairly deep, so the two oldest did their version of cliff jumping about ten feet up from the water. Even though it wasn’t nearly as high up, the kids still had a bit of fear in them as they teetered before the first jump.

If we return next summer, this is going to be a place we hit for longer than an hour.  It was secluded and essentially empty. The water was clear with a jade hue, but clean nonetheless. Sometimes taking the time to listen to a kid can lead us on a great adventure. Eagle River was exactly that.

Little Birdhouse In Your Soul

Yesterday I complained about rats in my post Screw Ratatouille.  No complaints today.  I want to talk about something more fowl. Birds.  Stop with the dad jokes already.


Yesterday I discovered a woodpecker had made a new home in a dead tree near our house.  A friend on Facebook mentioned that it is a Western Flicker. Most people would be all, “nice bird pic” but I find it cool that someone out there knew the exact breed.


Even though we have lots of trees, the birds usually find nests elsewhere. A favorite spot is on top of a wood carved sculpture we have near one of our back doors.  Every year a red breasted robin makes its home there.  


Even my derelict AT-ST had a nest on it.  Birds just seem to be attracted to our man made art pieces. Seeing all of these birds finding shelter near our home is great. Sometimes they fly in and out of our home.  But my favorite adventure with these birds was the time a hummingbird flew inside our home.

We left our doors open like we usually do in the summer.  A stray hummingbird made its way into our dining room.  It got trapped by our skylight.  My wife devised a plan to cover the skylight with a blanket while I stood on our table and caught the bird in my hands.  Its little heartbeat was going at a furious rate.  I stepped outside and opened my hands to release it.  The bird took a few moments, then flew off. 

Birds are much more beautiful than rodents.  It’s funny how the cuter an animal is, the less likely I want to kill it.  

Sunrise After The Rain.

I just want to say “Thank You” to the sun this morning.  I had a few rough days recently, but there was the sun this morning- doing it’s daily thing.  It was a beautiful sunrise I experienced on my drive home from the nightshift.  


Yes, I understand science tells me that the sun doesn’t actually rise, but the term is one that has been used for eons.  It still doesn’t stop it from happening.  

The sun’s rays had shone brightly, showcasing so much of nature’s beauty this morning.  I had to pull over to capture the moment on my cellphone before it passed me by.


The light and colours were magnificent.  This was a sunrise- post rainfall, late summer sunrise- that I needed to see this morning.  There was the sun, shining it’s way through the trees, making life glisten once more.

Thank you sun.  You brightened my day. 

(Wow.  Awful “Dad Joke” to end today’s post.  Sorry.)

I’m a spelunker now.

We went exploring today.  It was different.  It was adventurous.  It was fun.  


My mother lives on Vancouver Island in BF Nowhere.  It’s a little town called Gold River.  18 kms away is the Upana Caves.  We were given a map in the town and tried our best to follow along.


The Upana Caves are a fairly easy trek.  We took the kids and our German Shepard on this hike.  Total time exploring and hiking was under an hour and a half.  The main challenges were the darkness and the dog.  For me, at 6 foot 8, crawling thru the caves met my muscles and joints with some pain after the fact.


Here are the pictures form our little adventure.  I recommend this to anyone who wants to start spelunking or who have children under the age of 13.


I’m now a fan of this outdoor activity.  I would do this again in a heartbeat.  I’m excited to try this in other countries and see more beautiful formations and natural wonders.  If you’re ever on Vancouver Island, with some time to spare, check out the Upana Caves.  

British Columbia has some amazingly beautiful locations, preserved without vandalism and garbage.  These caves were prestine.  No one carved their names or painted words.  I’m proud to live here, and love the respect given to our wonderful province and the beauty it holds.

I live in Beautiful BC.


I don’t think I’ll ever move from my home.  We live about 35 minutes away from Vancouver, BC.  Our home is older, but has character.  We have a large yard and lots of trees for privacy, yet we know all of our neighbors.  There are local farms that sell fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance.  My wife and I have years of plans laid out for our home and property.  We are here for life.


The rest of BC has so much to offer in the way of sightseeing as well.  Recently, I explorered some of Golden, BC- about a seven hour drive from our home that sits close to the Alberta border.  Our previous visits to this town had us rushing through without ever taking a second look.  This time- I’m glad we stopped.  As we walked around the small town we read the plaques giving us tidbits of history and enjoyed the close up views of the mountains and the Kicking Horse River.

Golden,BC


My advice when you travel: Take a few moments in an unknown town to see what the locals know all along about what makes their town special.

The Early Bird

I love where I live- the outskirts of the suburbs on the fringe of the farming community.  It’s peaceful and somewhat secluded, but still close enough to society that we can get where we need to go.  Trees and animals are everywhere.  Every other home has a large dog and we all greet each other as we walk around the neighborhood.  It’s peaceful and serene.

Home amongst the trees.

Today, I was called for an early morning shift at work.  Saturday mornings are doubly quiet in my neck of the woods.  There was a fresh rainfall over night and the world was glistening with water droplets.  The only sounds I could hear were the chirping of the birds as they awoke.  Their songs echoed a serenade that I have enjoyed many times before.

In my later years as a teenager, nearly every night in the summer, we gathered together and enjoyed bonfires.  We would head to a beach, or a campground or our favorite place that we called “The Dunes”.  A procession of cars would be lined up down a dead end road and about twenty or more of us would cross the train tracks and hike up the sand hills.  Armed with folding chairs, cases of beers, some firewood, & things to smoke- summer never felt like it was going to end.  Most nights we would leave around 01:00am or so, but occasionally we would pull all nighters.  On those nights, we would watch the sun rise and hear the sounds of the birds as they began to sing.  I vividly remember my friend saying, “Just listen to mother nature’s orchestra.”  

A bird in the hand…

Last year, a hummingbird
flew into our house and got trapped by the skylight.  With some effort and help from my wife, I was able to carefully capture the bird and release it back outside.  I held her gently in my hands and felt her heart racing against my palms.  It was a surreal moment, feeling like I belonged in a Disney movie, as I opened my hands and the hummingbird took a moment to realize that she was being set free.  I was one with nature at that moment.

Before the hustle and bustle of the daily grind- take a few moments one early morning (or really late night) and enjoy the sounds.  Hearing the birds in perfect unison, calling out to each other in stereophonic sound is fascinating to say the least.  Spring is in the air and summer soon to follow.  Take a deep breath and remember that there’s more to life than just work.

Finding beauty

Everyday I wake up and look out the window from my bed.  All I see is beautiful fir trees and it fills me with peace.  A gentle breeze or a bit of rain (ok, sometimes a lot of rain since we are in the West Coast) and the trees look like they are tickling the air.

 

My view every time I wake up.

 

Notice something missing from the view?  Here’s a hint: Blinds.  The old blinds were the cheap thin beige colored plastic type.  We haven’t had curtains or blinds hung up for a couple of years now.  As much as this has been ok, it makes sleeping because of shift work difficult.  I have been using a sleep mask for years now, and that’s been working pretty good.  But our room is still feeling unfinished without some sort of window treatment.

 

The window to the soul is through the eyes.

 

That changed today.  Now, I can block out the sun that keeps me awake during one of my Naps. However, I am losing my first view of nature in doing so.  I’m happy in a way of the final result.  Our master bedroom is coming along slowly.  Thank goodness we took out the 70’s shag carpet that even went into the ensuite bathroom when we first moved in…  

 

Blind installation achieved.

 
From now on, I’ll have to take a few steps to open the blinds and peer out into my yard.  I’ll still see the beauty of the trees, but I can also admire the beauty of our home as it gets closer to completion.

The Great Outdoors

As much as I love technology, I’m also a fan of nature.  My home is surrounded by trees and we will be growing another vegetable garden this year.  In our last home, I spent four years pruning our two apple trees and kept the cherry blossom tree shaped like a weeping willow.  It sucked to find out that the people who moved in there immediately cut the trees down.  I’m not innocent here either- we cut down about a dozen trees the first year we moved into our current home as well.  But those were for safety reasons.  The trees were either too close to the house, almost dead, or were close to falling down anyways.

We live in a forest, so why not build an AT-ST?

 

I have a favorite tree in our yard.  We call it the elephant ear tree.  It is a tall crooked tree with large leaves (hence the name elephant ear tree) and it stands alone in the middle of the back of our property.  The tree feels like Tim Burton himself created it.  Throughout the rest of our yard there are firs, cedars, evergreens, vine maples and birch trees.  None of them as majestic as the elephant ear tree (I have no idea what it’s really called).

Living in British Columbia is a real pleasure.  As a family, we often find ourselves going for walks through various nature trails.  We can see many amazing wonders within about a 45 minute drive.  

There’s North Vancouver which had Lynn Canyon Park.  Or head out to Chilliwack and see Bridal Veil Falls.  Or head a little further east and visit the Othello Tunnels located at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Or if water is more your thing, check out one of the many Vancouver area lakes.

We found a little spot five minutes away from home to cool off in fresh water.  We also hike into another spot that remains uncrowded.  Our kids and dog love cooling off in the water and we spend a nice picnic relaxing.

We also have beaches in the Lower Mainland.  My personal favorite is Crescent Beach in White Rock.  During the week in the summer is the best time to go.  Parking is free and there’s always a spot to sit on the sand.  Plus there’s really good fish and chips that you can enjoy while watching the sunset.

  
It’s great to have so much to do and see so close to home.  But even when we travel, we try and find sights that are awe inspiring.  In Alberta, we drove to the Hoodoos.  In Idaho, we drove out to Balanced Rock and Snake River Canyon.  We stopped numerous times as we drove from Death Valley through Nevada where the sky, the desert, the trails, are all amazing.