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A Glimpse of Hope

It seemed that not long after we were definitely in the mountains, we stopped in the town of Hope for gas, both the automotive and human varieties. (I jest: the food was fine.) Outside the restaurant, I had my picture taken beside this fine wood carving.

After breakfasting at lunch time and pumping both our waitress and the nearby tourist centre attendant for information, we walked across the street for a view of the Fraser River, the mountains, and more wood carvings.

Here the girls play the roll of hobbits beside a Gandalf-esque figure.

A few views from the park.

We had been told that the salmon were spawning at another nearby site, so we left to park to try to find them. On our way, we saw quite a few more wood carvings, and it is at this point that I should reveal what is extra special about these works of art, for in addition to being wonderful in their own right, I was astounded to learn that they were all carved by chainsaws. How incredible is that?! Here is a link to more photos.

Before we leave these incredible carvings behind, however, I present one of those stereotypical touristy shots. Who’s that silly guy in the bonnet and the frock?

One more anecdote for the day: at breakfast/lunch, when discussing tourist options with the server, she asked if we had the book of hope. Some wiseacre at the table (guess who?) asked her if she meant the Bible. Considering where they seated us, it wasn’t such a bad question (see photo below).

… And Into the Desert

When Cuppa and I visited Vancouver and British Columbia two years ago, we rented a car for the whole time and got around quite a bit. This time, we decided to stick close to home base for the most part and limit ourselves to Shank’s mare and public transit. However, with the girls, we also took a quick two-day trip into the dry interior and back.

It’s a 400 km trip from Vancouver to Osoyoos (see blue squiggle on map below) and a total change in geography. Right on the Pacific, Vancouver and the windward slopes receive abundant precipitation, but the interior, leeward side is in a rainshadow to the point where parts of it can be considered desert or near enough.

While travelling, especially in scenic BC, one wants to take many pictures, but there are very few opportunities to stop. So, we made the most of our situation and snapped away to our hearts’ content whilst travelling at speed, which is why I called them the Fuzzy Mountains in the title. Taking photos became even more problematic on return trip with the windshield liberally bespattered with bug carcasses. Nevertheless, I’m going to inflict some of my attempts upon you.

The mountains are never far away in Vancouver, but I’d say we were definitely in them somewhere around Abbotsford or Chilliwack (click on the map to enlarge it if you wish to find these places). At that point they looked something like this: heavily forested with trees from the summits to the valleys.

The next two photos were also taken in the windward, rainier regions.

Soon, however, perhaps somewhere between EC Manning Park and Princeton the vegetation changed noticeably with trees becoming sparser and the surroundings beginning to look dry.

Of course, this change continued until we were in a desert or extremely close to such as we neared Osoyoos, which is about a stones-throw to the America border. We picked Osoyoos because we wished to visit wine country and heard that there was a unique native-run winery there. Perhaps, I will say more about Osoyoos at a later date. In the meantime, Cuppa has mentioned it here and here.

While I have known about windward and leeward slopes and rainshadows for a long time and always seemed to be referring to such in my geography classes, it was quite interesting to drive through the transition myself.

One week ago, we were on our way to the airport. This morning I am sitting in the quiet at 5:30 PDT and typing in the dark. The girls remain sleeping on the air mattress (bless their hearts for giving up their bed) on the other side of the couch, and I sit computing in the dark. I can do that with Pufferpoo’s lighted Mac keyboard. Cool, eh?

We’ve been busy, even when we’ve been not busy. To wit: yesterday was an unplanned day as both girls had to work and study all day. That left Cuppa and I to our own devices, and we opted to walk the circumference of Stanley Park — around the seawall. We ambled around for much of the day, timing our return to coincide with sunset.

At sunset, we’ve more than once found ourselves sitting on, oddly enough, Sunset Beach, which is just outside their front door. We watch as Old Sol quenches his light into the cool Pacific. Of course, we’ve taken photos of this and everything else, but I won’t be posting be posting any until I get home. However, I couldn’t resist popping in to talk to y’all for a minute since I am up early this morn.

What I really wanted to focus on, although it’s taken me three paragraphs to get here, is yesterdays rather unnerving encounter with the local raccoons.

Cuppa and I had been enjoying a snack at Prospect Point in Stanley Park around supper time yesterday. We had finished our munchies and remained in place for some time looking out at the ocean and across to the mountains. When it was time to get up to begin the long trek back to the apartment, we decided to remove some left over food items from our bag to deposit into the nearby trash container.

That was when were were swarmed by four, yes four, bold and frightening raccoons who were desperate to snatch our leavings. Their movements were incredibly bold and more than a touch alarming, let me tell you, especially in light of our experience on the previous night.

We had been sitting in the living room conversing about nothing of consequence when we heard a dog yelping a rather frantic and continuous yelp. When we sprang to the window in alarm, we beheld a large raccoon chasing a woman and her small dog. Really. She fell in the street and was in danger of being struck by a car, but the raccoon was relentless in his aggressive pursuit. Fortunately, she and her dog were able to escape into the apartment building, and the raccoon disappeared into the bushes.

So, you see, when we were swarmed by four of the blighters the very next day, we had every reason to be just a tad alarmed. In retrospect, I don’t think they would have actually assaulted us, but I assure you that we were in no frame of mind to test that theory, and we both made haste to leave the rascals behind.

For those who haven’t seen it, I leave you with our raccoon encounter of two years past when we last visited Vancouver and Stanley Park. While I’m sure that most locals live here for years without such encounters, we short term visitors seem to attract the blighters. I wonder if anyone captured this latest episode, for there seemed to be some cameras trained on us? In fact, bystanders seemed to think it was pretty funny.

Seagulls and Ships

You will, no doubt, agonizingly recall my camera dilemma when contemplating the recent trip to Vancouver: whether to take the DSLR along with the point and shoot or not, and whether to upgrade the point and shoot. You may also recall my decision: to just take the point and shoot and not upgrade. Take it we did and have more than 500 photos to show for our troubles.

Here is one that I liked, taken on our first morning whilst walking along the Seawall by English Bay: a seagull seemingly between two ships anchored offshore (as they could hardly be anchored onshore). The original (albeit somewhat post-processed) photo comes first, followed by two of my feeble attempts at creativity. In the first attempt at artistry (second photo, below), I try to make it look more like a painting. What kind, I know not. The final image is a more outlandish take.

I know that I am not posting about itinerary or events yet. I may or may not; you must wait with bated breath see how the spirit moves ole AC. In the event, Cuppa has begun to post our doings over at her blog space. She has written three posts so far: our arrival (in a post entitled Nice to be Home), our first walk along the Seawall (After Dinner Stroll), and our second stroll along the Seawall (Early Morning Coffee).

Meanwhile D1, Thesha, also has travel plans; she’s making a similar pilgrimage to the left coast in a few weeks. She has purchased a new camera. We’re definitely a camera-obsessed family, but she really needed one. Really.

Palm Trees in BC

While it’s possible that something further may come to mind, as far as I know now, this will be my last post about our recent trip to British Columbia. While I was blogging about the trip, I did mention that that we had seen palm trees. Indeed, there was one right outside our motel room window in Tofino. However, having enough on my plate to blog the basics of our comings and goings, I never quite got around to following up with photos of some of the trees — until now. The first, below, is the view across Denman St from the Starbucks which we frequented. The next two are closer shots of the same trees, focusing on their odd, hairy trunks.

Palm Trees in BC

Palm Trees in BC

Palm Trees in BC

This was the one (actually a group of palm trees) that was right outside our motel room in Tofino, and there was another in the same yard, obviously a different variety.

Palm Trees in BC

So there you have it: proof that there are palm trees in The Great White North. As you can see, that part of Canada isn’t at all white. Winter temperature, at least on average, remain above freezing. I might presume that micro climates right by the ocean where the trees were all located allow them to survive the occasional general dip below the freezing point.

Cross-posted to Raindrops.

Day 20

On our last day in Vancouver, we took a final walk in Stanley Park. On the previous evening, Althegal had mentioned that The Lost Lagoon was a pretty place and wondered if we had seen it yet. She had given us an idea of its general location, so we set off to find it. As it turned out, the lagoon was, indeed, a little bit lost because we had some trouble finding it. Even after obtaining directions from a passing cyclist, we were thwarted by various access paths being temporarily fenced off. On good days, I have a bit of a nose for directions, so I kept on heading where I thought it might be, and I eventually saw it off to my left and exclaimed to Cuppa that we had found The Lost Lagoon.

Unfortunately, even on her very best day, Cuppa has no sense of direction. In point of fact, I have never come across any mortal with a worse sense of direction. So, when I pointed out that the lagoon was no longer lost, she wailed rather desperately, “Yes, but where are we?” You see, because of her lack of directional sense, she becomes a trifle rattled when she doesn’t know exactly where she is and how to get home from there. Did I say “trifle rattled?” That, my friend is a trifle of an understatement.

But I did get her there, and we sat at this lovely spot for a while and looked at the fountain, the geese and ducks (see top photo), and even two swans that paddled by (see next photo).

Day 20

As lovely as it was, however, the apprehensive lady was not really enjoying herself (see her anxious posture below).

Day 20

So, I didn’t keep her there very long before beginning to guide her back home: except I took a route other than the one we came in on, along interior streets rather than the familiar path by the bay. This did not assuage her perturbed state in the least, for she became more lost than ever. It didn’t help too much that I was reasonably sure of our position because unwilling was I to state it categorically with 100% assuredness. There were times when she was rather desperate to ask someone of our whereabouts, but I refused. I am a male and have some pride after all.

Well, it turned out that I did know where we were and was able to escort her ladyship back to the safe confines of the apartment. It was all quite straightforward really.The next day, however, when we arrived in Ottawa after a long flight which included a transfer in Toronto, we discovered that one of our pieces of luggage didn’t make the transfer and was headed to Halifax. It was my luggage as a matter of fact.

The triumvirate was complete: Lost Lagoon, Lost Lady, and Lost Luggage.

Cross posted to Raindrops.

From Sweats to Sweat

What a treat to have my laptop open on my own desk and to be sitting in my good, old back-friendly chair. We got in late last night, but I was too stunned to do anything but hie to bed. But that was after a visit with the kids and the dear Smudge who was perhaps not quite herself after enduring a myriad of two-month inoculations yesterday.

In a not unexpected twist of irony, we woke up to absolutely beautiful weather in Vancouver yesterday and were able to see the mountains more clearly than ever before. That was after three solid weeks of cloud and rain, or so it seemed. But there wasn’t much time to enjoy them. We headed to the airport at nine o’clock PDT (after an atrocious breakfast out, I might add), and didn’t pull into the kids’ place until until almost eleven o’clock EDT.

And was it ever steamy here!! Temperatures reached into the 90s — very humid 90s too. After three weeks of it barely being warm enough to remove jackets, I was soon peeling off my clothes in a frenzy. There was no tease to that strip, let me tell ya.

So yes, we went from sweats to sweat in a very short period of time. But it’s still great to be home, at my own desk, with a company-starved cat by my side.

Cross-posted to Raindrops.