A day on False Creek

On our final day in Vancouver, the rain had finally stopped and we decided to spend the day playing tourist.

Vancouver has two inner harbours. Burrard Inlet, the fjord that separates the north shore with its coastal mountains from the city proper, is the main port and welcomes ocean going freighters and cruise ships. To the south of downtown is the smaller inlet known as False Creek. False Creek is home to a vast array of pleasure crafts, some houseboats, and the little False Creek ferries that shuttle passengers between Granville Island and eight other stops along its shores. 

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We parked beside the Vancouver Aquatic Centre ($14 for a full day). Ferries between the Aquatic Centre and Granville Island run every five minutes, so we had only a few minutes to wait before beginning our adventure. Climbing aboard the little blue ferry, we purchased day passes which would allow us to hop on and off wherever we wanted all day long ($14 each for children and seniors, $16 for adults).   

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Granville Island which is really a peninsula, is home to a Public Market and many interesting shops. We decided to leave it for later in the day so that if we bought anything, we wouldn’t have to carry our purchases with us for the rest of the day. We had to switch ferries at the Island stop and wait for one of the boats that travels the red route #3 on the map. They run every 15 minutes all day long. 

Our first destination was David Lam Park. After disembarking, we first walked along the seawall to nearby George Wainborn Park, then back to David Lam enjoying the sights. 

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We had planned on getting back on the ferry to ride to the next stop at Yaletown, but soon realized that we had walked most of the way! Continuing on foot, we soon came across a delightful art installation known as The Proud Youth. 

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I first read about the gigantic 5.5 metre high (18 feet) boy with the mischievous grin back in March when Vancouver blogger, Frances Sprout of Materfamilias Writes, published this post. The whimsical sculpture by Chinese artist, Chen Wenling, is meant to encourage us to live a carefree life in a world of strife; to embrace our inner child and have some fun! What a perfect message in the midst of a worldwide pandemic!  

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The sculpture is so big that it can be easily seen from the other side of False Creek as seen in this photo taken later in the day. 

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Still walking, we admired the many sailboats and yachts in one of many marinas along False Creek. If you look closely, you can see the top of a gigantic super yacht towering above the others in the right hand side of the photo. That’s the 46 metre long (152 feet) After Eight, owned by the Don Wheaton family. 

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Further along our walk we came across another interesting art installation, the Time Top by Jerry Perkins, looking like it had just arrived from outer space! 

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After strolling around the trendy Yaletown area a bit and enjoying lunch in one of it’s many restaurants, we boarded another one of the little ferries and rode it to the final Village/Science World stop.  

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The giant “golf ball” that houses Science World was originally built as the signature building for Expo 86. Today, the sparkling structure is an iconic part of the Vancouver skyline. 

Our next stop was at Stamps Landing where we again went for a walk and enjoyed some of the sights. Though it had been cloudy most of the day, the sun was beginning to come out and I love the way the sky is reflected on the water in this final photo. 

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Returning to Granville Island, we wandered through the market and browsed a few shops. By this time it was late afternoon, so we crossed the water one last time back to the Aquatic Centre where we’d left the vehicle several hours earlier. 

If you’re ever in Vancouver and wondering what to do, I’d highly recommend a day on False Creek. Though I didn’t get photos, we even saw a couple of harbour seals and, at a distance, a giant sea lion! 

Two rainforest hikes

I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past two and a half weeks which hasn’t inspired a fashion post for today. Instead, I’m going to begin sharing some highlights from our trip.

Two full years had passed since our last real visit with our son and his family and my brother at Vancouver. I’m not counting the four days that we spent at the coast at the beginning of December 2019 helping my father settle into long term care and dealing with the contents of the assisted living suite that had been his home for several years or the return trip three months later when he passed away. Those trips were all about doing what needed to be done and left little time for anything else.

Though Covid still made traveling somewhat of a concern and we were extra cautious due to the clinical vulnerability of some of the family members that we’d be visiting, we felt that we couldn’t wait any longer. Grandchildren change so much in two years! 

One of the things that we had hoped to do while we were at the coast was hike. In spite of several days of heavy rain (6 inches in one 48 hour period!) we managed to enjoy two wonderful hikes in the coastal rainforest; so different from our prairie hikes close to home. 

Cypress Falls, West Vancouver

We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, October 11. While our daughter-in-law was preparing a delicious turkey dinner, hubby and I joined our son and his youngest for a hike to Cypress Falls in West Vancouver. 

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Just a short distance from the highway, Cypress Hills Park is easy to access. Though we were never far from civilization, this was definitely a wilderness park. The first part of the 2.7 km out and back trail was easy, as shown in the photo above, but it became somewhat steeper and more rugged further on.

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Mist from the water thundering over the lower falls hung in the trees above and provided a perfect environment for lush ferns and mosses. 

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Many varieties of mushrooms grew on the forest floor. I particularly liked these little splashes of colour. 

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Continuing on through stands of old growth Red Cedar and Douglas Fir, we reached the impressive upper falls at the end of the trail.

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Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver

The following Sunday, after days of rain, the weather cleared enough for us to enjoy a second hike, this time with the entire family.  Lynn Canyon Park, which is home to several beautiful trails, is located within walking distance of our son’s house as well as my teenage home. We hiked from the north entrance of the park, across Pipe Bridge and down to the very popular 30-Foot pool. Leaves from the park’s many maple trees formed a wet, but beautiful carpet.

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Never have we seen the creek and the pool so full!

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Toward the end of our hike, we crossed the 40 metre (130 foot) long suspension bridge that hangs 50 metres (160 feet) above the canyon. For much of my life, an extreme fear of heights kept me from crossing the bridge and enjoying the trails on the far side of the creek. Several years ago, however, I conquered that fear and this time I was able to stop and take photos from the middle of the bridge! 

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These are just two of the many beautiful places to hike on Vancouver’s beautiful north shore. In my next post I’ll share another one of our adventures, but this time in the heart of the city. 

Bergen Rocks!

The blog has been unusually quiet for the past couple of weeks. We spent the first week of August at Camp Harmattan in the valley of the Little Red Deer River between Olds and Sundre. There, we had no internet or cell phone service.

One afternoon, we took a short drive to the rural community of Bergen to visit Bergen Rocks International Sculpture Park. Sculptor, Morton Burke, has hosted four international symposiums on his acreage where the park is located. Twenty-three sculptors from around the world have visited, each for a period of one month. While there, each artist created a monumental sculpture in stone that was then placed in the park. One of Burke’s goals for the Bergen Rocks program is to have the sculptures moved from his property to public places in central Alberta where they can be seen and enjoyed by a wider audience. At present, two such exhibits exist, one in Olds (more about that later) and the other in Sylvan Lake. “If we can establish a few more, it’s conceivable that central Alberta will be able to claim the title of Sculpture Capital of Canada and we will start to experience art tourism which will be a new industry in our area,” says Burke. 

Come take a walk around his property and look at some of the sculptures with me…

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Carved in sandstone by Ireland’s Paul Haggins on his second visit to Bergen in 2009, The Elder, is an imposing piece inspired by the ancient monuments that the artist explored as a boy. Though it’s difficult to see in the photo, an eagle feather carved into the shaft of the cross represents Canadian heritage while a triple spiral, or Celtic Triskele, on the reverse is an ancient Irish symbol representing the Earth, the moon, and the sun.

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The torso is a common theme for German sculptor, Tanja Roeder. In 2010 she came to Bergen and created Reflection. Carved in marble, a woman stands beside a waterfall. Directly in front of her, the water is turbulent, but further out there’s a calm pool where she can see her reflection.

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Movement in Space, a sandstone sculpture of a man diving through the air with a baby on his back, perches atop a tall granite pillar. It was created in 2008 by Peerapong Duonkaew from Thailand. His objective was to create a feeling of lightness and movement using heavy rock.

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Moods of the Sea, created in 2008 by Armenian sculptor, Vahe Tokmajyan, consists of three marble seashells and represents three moods of the sea; peace, tranquility, and turbulence.

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Ancient Memories by Iranian, Mohamad Reza Yazdi, was one of my favourite pieces. Carrved in 2010, the marble sculpture of a father goat and his kid was inspired by earthenware found in the ancient city of Susa. The little kid looks up to his father with his majestic horns and dreams of someday exhibiting the same magnificence.

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At first glance, Repression by Saeid Ahmadi from the Ukraine, looked less appealing, but then I read the description. Made of sandstone and steel at the 2010 symposium, it is a visual representation of the stress and strain of life in modern times. It gives the illusion of a solid material being bent and twisted by pressure created by the cables and wires tightening around it.

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This one, Holy Horses by Amgaian Tsmegmid from Mongolia, was hubby’s favourite. Carved in marble in 2011, two horses stand in a patch of bushes on the Mongolian steppes. The artist captured the movement of the wind blowing their manes and tails and if you look closely, you’ll also see little birds flying out of the bushes that they’re standing in.

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Connection is another marble sculpture that was created in 2011 by Min Kyoung Uk from Korea. The millions of fibres that would make up the two enormous ropes represent the different peoples of the world interacting with each another, but not completely connecting. If mankind figured out how to properly connect with respect for one another, the knot would come together and we would have made the right connection.

Our daughter and her three children joined us for our final weekend at Camp Harmattan and then we brought the grandkids home with us. That explains why the blog continued to be silent for another week! On the way home, we stopped at the sani-dump station in Olds to empty the trailer tanks. While our oldest grandson helped Grandpa with that task, the younger two joined me for a quick walk along the Olds Rocks! Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway. Here are just a few of our favourites…

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Dominating one end of the pathway stands another cross created by Paul Haggins on his first visit to Bergen in 2008. Like The Elder, Ancient Cultures pays homage to the early cultures of both Ireland and Canada. The Celtic cross references Ireland while once again an eagle feather on the shaft speaks of the ancient cultures of Canada.

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Canuck, a stylized portrait of an Iroquois man, also pays homage to our Indigenous people. It was carved in marble by Canadian sculptor, Tony Deguglielmo, at the 2009 symposium.

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Prelude, also carved in 2009 by Carlos Valazquez Darias from Cuba, depicts a couple sharing a kiss.

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Peerapong Doungkaew from Thailand created Rising Sun on his second visit to Bergen in 2010. It was inspired by his first visit when he saw the sunrise from his bedroom window each morning.

Now I look forward to seeing the sculptures in Sylvan Lake someday! I also join Morton Burke in hoping that other communities here in central Alberta will join the Bergen Rocks program so that more of the works that stand on his secluded rural property can be moved to locations that are more accessible to the public to be enjoyed by a much wider audience. Until that time, however, it’s well worth a drive out to Bergen to see them if you’re anywhere in the vicinity.

Are you high maintenance?

LogoWhen we travelled to Europe two years ago I learned that I could easily fit everything I needed for three and a half weeks away from home in a teeny, tiny carry-on, but when we take the vehicle, moderation or minimalism go out the window! After all, there’s a lot of space in a large SUV! On the way home from our recent trip to Jasper, we spent the weekend in Edmonton with our son and his family. I took some good-natured teasing from both hubby and son when they discovered that I’d packed six pairs of shoes for one week away! I was laughingly told that I’m high maintenance.

That led me to wonder… what makes a woman high maintenance? One definition I found online says that a high maintenance woman “places a strong emphasis on her own image, wants, needs, and desires. Her feelings are her highest priority, and she expects everyone around her to conform to her self-created worldview and value.” Ouch! That’s certainly not the kind of woman I want to be!

As often happens, the idea for this post took me down several online rabbit trails looking for information about what people really mean when they refer to a woman as high maintenance. I found lists that included traits such as needy and controlling, self-obsessed, hard to please, always plays the victim, wants you to be her personal chauffeur, makes you feel like her errand boy. Interestingly, most of these were written by men. I can’t help wondering how many of them were coming out of a bad relationship when they wrote these things!

I also found several “How high maintenance are you?” quizzes that assign points to traits such as wears high heels every day, owns 20+ pairs of shoes, wears makeup daily, takes 15+ minutes to apply makeup, buys high end makeup, has painted nails, wears acrylic nails, has nails done professionally, has a regular pedicure, gets a massage regularly, wears a lot of jewelry, carries a designer purse, etc. According to those, I am definitely NOT high maintenance!

Clearly, there are women (and men) who excel at self-indulgence and others who take absolutely no interest or pleasure in their own appearance. Then there are the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle. Not only do we not really know for sure if we’re high maintenance, we probably don’t even care! Instead of worrying about whether or not I’m high maintenance, I prefer to focus on what kind of person I am. Am I a person of integrity? Am I kind, compassionate, and self-controlled? Do I exhibit patience and humility in dealing with others?

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And now, about the six pairs of shoes! I took my hiking shoes, my walking shoes, my white leather sneakers, a pair of casual flats, and two pairs of sandals. I wore all of them except the dressy sandals which I would have worn to church except that it was cool and rainy that morning. Instead, I wore the flats. Come to think of it, I actually had my water shoes with me too and wore them when we went kayaking. And my rubber boots were in the back of the vehicle! They stay there all summer in case they’re needed when we’re camping.

Don’t anyone tell my husband or my son that I actually had eight pairs of footwear with me! 🤣

Family and fun in Jasper National Park

After more than 15 months of life limited by Covid-19, Alberta lifted all restrictions on July 1 and declared the province “open for summer”. With barely over 50% of the eligible population (those age 12 and over) fully vaccinated, we’re skeptical that this will last, but in the meantime we’ve made spending time with family our first priority this summer. Since the beginning of July, we’ve enjoyed visits with both our Alberta kids and their families and last week we headed off to Jasper to spend some time with the oldest member of the family. My aunt, the last remaining member of my parents’ generation, is 97 years old and is very special to me. After spending much of the last year alone in her own home, she recently moved into a seniors lodge and is absolutely loving it!

While in Jasper, we were also able to enjoy two of our favourite summertime activities, kayaking and hiking. With hundreds of wildfires burning across western Canada, smoke hung heavily in the air partially obscuring views of the mountains, but there was still much beauty to be seen. 

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A quiet paddle on Pyramid Lake


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Pyramid Island

While enjoying our peaceful morning paddle, we saw an elk grazing in bushes alongside the shore and had the opportunity to observe a pair of loons feeding their half-grown chick. Unlike the air above, the water was so clear that we were actually able to watch the birds swimming below it’s surface! I wasn’t able to get a clear photo of the youngster, but one of the adults stationed itself between us and its offspring providing me with great opportunity to photograph it at close range.

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There are many, many hiking trails in the Jasper area, but we decided to do the Valley of the Five Lakes again. We first hiked it four years ago with our oldest son and his family. While I remembered the spectacular views of the lakes, I’d forgotten that the trail is quite steep in places. With roots criss-crossing it and many rocky outcrops, good footwear is advised. 


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First Lake

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Second Lake

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Third Lake

We enjoyed the view of Third Lake, my favourite of the five, from a pair of iconic Parks Canada red chairs. Read more about these chairs, found in national parks across the country, here

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Fourth Lake

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Fifth Lake

For clearer smoke-free views of the lakes with mountains in the background, take a look at this post from our previous hike. 

There’s also plenty of beauty in Jasper National Park that can be seen from a vehicle. We spent an entire afternoon on a sightseeing drive with my aunt as our guide. She toured us around Lakes Edith and Annette close to town and then decided that we should head up the longer road toward Maligne Lake. The air was a little clearer up that way which was nice. I especially enjoyed the views of Medicine Lake. 

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Medicine Lake

At Maligne Lake, we enjoyed a coffee/tea break on a patio overlooking the lake where we could watch tour boats come and go. 

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Maligne Lake

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Auntie Norma, an avid hiker into her 80s, handled the short trail from the parking lot like a pro! I’m sure no one who saw us would have believed that she’s 97. On our way back to town, she had no sooner expressed her disappointment over not seeing any wildlife when we came upon some Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. IMG_2693

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The icing on the cake, however, was a mama black bear and her very young cub! Unlike many tourists who threw caution to the wind trying to get a perfect photo, I took mine from the window of the vehicle!

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On the river again…

There isn’t going to be a Fashion Friday post today. We spent the last few days camping at Big Knife Provincial Park and when I’m camping, fashion is the furthest thing from my mind! Instead, I’m going to share a couple of kayaking experiences with you.

The weather forecast for Monday called for extreme heat, so after a leisurely breakfast we decided to head for the river before the day got too hot. The sun was shining, the air was almost still, and everything was so fresh and green!

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At this time of year the water is high, so we were able to leave the Battle River for a bit and paddle up the much shallower Big Knife Creek. It was like entering another world; a world of untouched and incredibly peaceful wilderness. Unlike last year, we spotted just one beaver and heard only one mighty tail slap. The rest of the time, the water was like a mirror and the reflections were amazing. 

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Returning to the main river, we continued upstream. On the way, we chose a spot where we’d pull ashore for a picnic lunch on our way back. 

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It was there that we had the most amazing experience. We were just returning to the boat when we heard a loud splash just upstream from us. A moose was swimming across the river and I had the camera in my hand!

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She even stopped on the hillside and posed for me before heading into the bush!

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When we started kayaking four years ago, I could only paddle for about an hour and a half before feeling like my arms were going to fall off. On Monday we paddled for almost four and the GPS told us that we’d travelled 10.5 miles (16.9 km). We were pretty impressed with ourselves, but also glad to be back in camp by the time the temperature rose to 35ºC (95ºF) later in the afternoon! 

Our second kayaking adventure was quite different and I didn’t even think to take any photos. We’d done some hiking on Tuesday and left camp for much of the day on Wednesday to go to Camrose for medical appointments, so we decided that we’d go for a short paddle yesterday morning before packing up and heading for home. There’s a bridge not too far downstream from the campground where Secondary Highway 855 crosses the river, so we decided to kayak there and back. The river widens in that area and when we got out on the water, we realized that the wind was MUCH stronger than it had appeared back in the campground which is quite sheltered. It was at our back, so we had no problem getting to the bridge, but when we turned around we quickly realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to battle our way back to the boat launch. Paddling as hard as we could, we were barely able to move forward. Water was splashing over the bow and I was immediately soaked from the waist down. Thankfully, we knew that there was a small road down to the riverside by the bridge that people use to go fishing, so we found a spot to land the kayak nearby and only had to carry it a short distance to that road. Of course, the vehicle was still at the boat launch and now one of us had to walk back to get it! Since I’m trying to walk lots anyway, I volunteered. Richard waited with the kayak while I walked almost 3.5 km (2.16 miles) back to the vehicle. That’s not a lot farther than I walk most days, but much of it was uphill and that horrendous wind was trying to blow me off my feet; the feet that were wearing only water shoes! That definitely wasn’t a fashion statement, but I can say that I’m very thankful that I don’t kayak barefoot! 

 

Kayaking, hiking, and bridge building

We kayaked to Saskatchewan yesterday. That might sound like an amazing feat, but only until I tell you that we were camping on the Alberta side of Dillberry Lake which straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. We were across the provincial boundary within 5 minutes of leaving the boat launch!

Camping, hiking, and kayaking are my favourite summertime activities and we chose Dillberry Lake Provincial Park for a short getaway this week because there we could enjoy all three. Though it’s less than two hours from home, we hadn’t been there since the early 1980s! The lake was much smaller than we remembered and we were able to paddle all the way around it in less than an hour.

We spent several hours out on the hiking trails the day before though. The “knob and kettle” topography of the area consists of hummocky mounds (the knobs) and water-filled depressions (the kettles) that form a series of small lakes. We hiked the entire trail system (8.93 km) which is made up of several loops alongside and around some of these lakes. With the exception of bazillions of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, we didn’t see any wildlife, but we saw plenty of evidence along the trail to suggest that they were there.

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At one point, where a tiny wooden bridge should have taken us across the water exiting one of the lakes, industrious beaver had built a dam and flooded the trail. A temporary floating bridge had been brought in to enable hikers to cross, but clearly that wasn’t enough. Would we have to turn back?

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Where there’s a will, there’s usually a way. With a little temporary bridge building on Richard’s part, we were soon on our way again! The beaver had built themselves a fine home in the flooded end of the lake.

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A little further along, we ate our picnic lunch at a lovely rest spot overlooking one of the lakes.

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We were back on the trails for a short jaunt this morning before packing up to come home. This time we saw two majestic moose at fairly short range, but unfortunately neither one waited around long enough to have it’s picture taken!

Rocky Mountain getaway

After being cooped up at home and going almost nowhere except to medical appointments for several months, we desperately needed a change of scenery. First thing Wednesday morning, we packed the vehicle and drove almost five hours to Banff National Park where we enjoyed a couple of days surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains. One of the things we most wanted to do was some snowshoeing. We’d hardly done any this winter as we’ve had much less snow than usual this year.

Snowshoeing on Lake Louise

We woke to an absolutely perfect day on Thursday. The cloudless sky was a brilliant blue and there wasn’t a breath of wind. After several days of thawing and freezing, the snow around Banff itself was very crusty, but we found powder at Lake Louise. Strapping on our snowshoes, we set off across the surface of the lake toward the majestic Victoria Glacier at the other end.

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We made it most of the way to the far end of the lake before turning around, realizing how far we’d come, and deciding that it was time to head back toward the iconic Chateau Lake Louise in the distance.

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The Chateau has a special place in our hearts as we were treated like royalty when we stayed there on our honeymoon over 44 years ago.

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Marble Canyon Hike

After eating a picnic lunch in front of the Chateau and watching the skaters on a cleared section of the lake, we headed off on another adventure. This time, we crossed the BC border into Kootenay National Park to hike the short, but impressive Marble Canyon trail. Multiple bridges span the narrow gorge and the views were spectacular. My photos don’t really do them justice. 

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To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, Parks Canada placed pairs of bright red Adirondack chairs in select National Parks and Historic Sites across the country. “Connect with nature in the country’s most unique and treasured places. Whether it’s a place to rest after a leisurely stroll or to cheer your successful completion of a strenuous hike, our red chairs offer a place to slow down, to relax and to truly discover the best that Parks Canada has to offer,” reads a statement on their website. It’s always a delight to come across these chairs in unexpected places. This set were half buried in snow, but I couldn’t resist sitting in one anyway!

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After a wonderful day in the great outdoors, we welcomed a soak in the outdoor hot tub back at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort where we were staying! Due to Covid restrictions, we were able to book 25 minutes each evening and have the 16 person tub all to ourselves! There are definitely a few perks to travel during Covid. Banff, which is usually overrun with tourists, was fairly quiet during the week and affordable accommodations could be booked just a few days in advance. We had a cozy little one bedroom condo with a full kitchen and a living room with a wood burning fireplace for approximately $115/night, much less than it would normally cost. 

Hoodoos Trail Hike

Yesterday morning we enjoyed a second hike. This time we accessed the Hoodoos Trail just across the road from the Tunnel Mountain campground. According to the map, it’s a short 10 to 12 minute walk from there to the end of the trail overlooking the pinnacles of weathered sandstone known as hoodoos. 

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We soon discovered, however, that the trail continued much further along the ridge overlooking the Bow River below. We followed the trail to it’s very end. Out and back took us over an hour.

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Again, we were surrounded by beauty in every direction!

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And again, we found red chairs!

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On the way home today, we stopped in Calgary to help this little cowboy, our youngest grandson, Simon, celebrate a Covid compliant front porch birthday complete with an amazing Minecraft cake from Crumbs Artisinal Bakeshop.

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Hiking in November!

We usually have snow to stay by the end of October, but as we all know by now, 2020 is a rule breaker! Though we had some unusually cold weather and a few flurries in the latter half of October, when we turned the calendar page to November, the weather took an amazing turn. The average daytime temperature at this time of year is barely above 0ºC (32ºF), so when the forecast said that today’s high would be 18ºC (64ºF), we decided to go hiking! Hiking in central Alberta in November? Unheard of!

This morning, we headed for the village of Donalda, about an hour from home. The last time we hiked in that area was over five years ago. It was already 18ºC when we arrived and we hadn’t been hiking long when we started peeling off layers!

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We started off following the woodland trail that leaves from one corner of the village. With all the leaves on the ground and the trees bare, there was a peaceful beauty about the place. Before long, we passed through a gate that took us onto 129 acres of private land that’s used for grazing cattle. Signs tell hikers that they’re welcome to explore anywhere within the area. We had the option of staying on the trail along the rim of the massive coulee, the northernmost part of the Canadian Badlands, but instead we turned toward the valley and wandered wherever our feet took us. Up, down, and around the bluffs we went seeking out interesting formations and views.

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Though there weren’t any cattle grazing in the area, we had to watch our step as there was plenty of evidence that they had been there! We did see some deer. 

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The weather is so warm this week that the golf course, which has been closed since October 12, has reopened with golfers playing on temporary greens. Richard had Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections in both his shoulders a week ago to promote healing of some old sports injuries, so he can’t do much with his arms right now. Golfing is out, but he certainly could hike!

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I have no idea how far we hiked, but we were out for about three hours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch overlooking the valley.  

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Eventually, we rejoined the woodland trail at it’s far end and made our way back to our starting point. Along the way, we passed this unusual sign on a fence post. We have no idea what it was trying to tell us, but it seemed very appropriate for this most unusual November day!

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My kind of birthday

If the weather permits and we’re not travelling, I usually like to play a round of golf on my birthday, but today I decided that I wanted to spend some more time hiking and kayaking instead. I just can’t get enough of the glorious fall weather that we’ve been enjoying and what could be better than spending it out in nature?

Big Knife Provincial Park on the Battle River is one of our favourite places within an hour of home, especially at this time of year. The campground closed in early September, but the park gates are still open which means that the hiking trails and boat launch are still accessible.

For today’s hike we decided to take a path less travelled. In fact, the trail that we chose doesn’t even appear on the park maps. I think it’s really just an animal trail that is occasionally used by humans. We first discovered it several years ago when we were doing some geocaching in the park, but we hadn’t hiked it again since then.

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The trail begins with a fairly steep climb to the top of the bluff shown above and then follows along the ridge. 

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Apparently, I took more photos looking back than ahead!

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The path eventually leads to The Hoodoos, a mini badlands area, and then joins the River Flats trail system . 

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If this is what 68 looks like, I’m good with it!

After hiking part of the River Flats trails and having our picnic lunch along the way, we headed for the river and launched the kayak. When you’re on a hiking trail, a river, or a lake, there’s no Covid, no politics, no racism, no hoaxes or conspiracies. There’s just you and nature; just beautiful peace and quiet!

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We spent three hours paddling. Every time we’ve been on the river in the fall, we’ve seen a blue heron. I always hope that we’ll be able to get close enough to get a good photo, but they’re very elusive, taking flight as soon as we get anywhere near. Today, it was almost as if the heron was playing with us. Every time we got close, it flew a short distance upriver and then appeared to be waiting for us to catch up. We never did get close enough to get the picture I was hoping for though!

This muskrat, on the other hand, was quite unconcerned with our presence. He was sunning himself in this same spot when we passed by on our way up the river. He slipped into the water and disappeared, but when we returned, he’d obviously decided that we were no threat and continued to sunbathe while we stopped to take his picture. In fact, if you zoom in, you’ll see that his eyes are even closed! 

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We got back to town in time to clean up and go out for supper. That’s definitely my kind of birthday… a day in the great outdoors and no cooking!