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.