White

An unseasonably early snowfall has left us seeing white over the last few days in Alberta. Driving on the highway felt more like a trip in January or February, rather than just a few weeks into fall. The following are a few iPhone shots taken while driving down the Q.E.II highway. Not the best day for a drive.

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Alberta Rainbow

rainbow near nantonA quick through the window iphone shot of a rainbow we were treated to near Nanton, Alberta (Canada).

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The Blur of a Long Weekend

It feels like posting on my blogs has slipped by the wayside as of recent. It isn’t due to lack of things to share, but rather that we have been on the go constantly. Life has been non-stop.

Some people enjoy leisurely long weekends, kicking back, hanging out, chilling. We don’t do that……ever (seriously). Generally long weekends leave us needing another long weekend to recover. So I thought I would share our blur of a long weekend.

Rogers Pass, BC, Canada

Rogers Pass, BC, Canada

The coast was calling us. We had itchy feet and fancied a road trip of a leisurely drive west. We joke about our “evening drive”. It is for the most part an evening drive, we leave early afternoon, drive evening and part of the night to reach the ferry at Tsawwassen for the first boat of the day. We love the drive, all 1142 km of it, with world class scenery most of the day and an open road at night

Gold nugget at the Royal BC Museum

Gold nugget at the Royal BC Museum

The drive went so well (as did the nap on the ferry!) that we decided to make a quick detour through Victoria (BC, Canada). We’ve discovered that there is a trick to us enjoying Victoria, we have to do the city fresh off the insanity of Alberta. We have to still be in that high intensity mode to handle the busyness and congestion of the city. We have tried in the past to go to Victoria after the slower pace of being on Pender Island and it is just too much, leaving us wondering why we went to “town”. So now we go to Victoria before heading to our little Gulf Island and we thoroughly enjoy it.

The Royal BC Museum had just opened a new exhibit, Gold Rush!, and we were keen to see it. Our children were well into checking out the artifacts and anything involving mining; clearly an addiction to Minecraft fueled this interest.

Thunderbird Park

Thunderbird Park

From the museum we were off to Thunderbird Park and the amazing totems.

Munro's, Victoria, BC, Canada

Munro’s, Victoria, BC, Canada

Our parking time was ticking down, and the ferry time nearing, but we found time for a speed walk through town to Munro’s. Heaven. A real book store. Our children had never been there, but being massive readers they were in love.

blog may victoria fish and chipsFor us, every trip to Victoria must include fish and chips. We suffer chippy withdrawal often. When we lived in the U.K. we were constantly popping around to the chippy for fish and chips, pie and chips, chips and curry……..oooh, and chicken pineapple half and half (we’ll see how many readers recognize that one!). Our chippy withdrawal gets so bad that we have on occasion considered driving to White Rock (12-13 hour drive) just to eat chips (and fried clams) on the front. There is nothing better than chips eaten out of paper wrapping. Even though catching the ferry was touch and go, we hit a chippy, and feasted as we drove to the ferry.

Sunset From the Back of the Ferry

Long weekend ferry travel is busy, unpredictable, and sometimes insane. Perhaps if we didn’t ride the ferries so much in the winter we wouldn’t notice how different long weekends are. In the winter there is always space on a sailing, people are pretty chill, I grab a chai, head upstairs to the sitting lounge, and knit in relative peace (as much peace as you get when you have five children). In the summer cars are everywhere, people are everywhere, behavior is crazy, conversations are entertainingly pretentious….it is a treat. My husband and I could just sit and eavesdrop for hours. I’m not sure what it is about long weekends that makes everyone go all Fruit Loops, perhaps it is spending time with extended family, or the attempt to one-up their friends, but it makes for a people watching extravaganza.

This weekend was no different. people panicking to get on the ferry sailing, shouting at the ferry employee in the booth…frenzy. We sit in our car and watch in amazement. Worst case is that there is another ferry in four hours, and in our world that equates as a three and a half hour nap waiting for the next sailing. Naps are a luxury. We pull into our assigned lane with no hope of getting on the sailing due to leave in less than five minutes. Get settled in. Take off the cowboy boots (seriously…the red ones…..I have a collection!). Fluff the pillow (we come prepared) and plan for a nap. Well wouldn’t you know it our line starts moving. Car after car drives on to the ferry until we are at the front of the line. We’ve been there before, the car that doesn’t make it on a sailing, so we aren’t too hopeful. Just as we are settling in again the attendant says he is going to try to fit us on….and they do….at the back of the boat….sideways. I guess there is a first for everything.

blog may pender_8772 aOnce on the island we took care of the most pressing things. First was grocery shopping; yes we shop local (I’ll collect my gold star later!). Second was to sort out the garden. The vegetable beds were growing great . My new plantings from February and April were still hanging in there (it is an iffy area I’m trying to revive). The apple trees are in bloom with promises of apples. The planters still flowered. The forested part continues to get wilder and wilder. I got to work and watered and watered; hand watering with a watering can is a workout. Hours later,grass cut and plants watered, we headed for an evening walk down to the far end of Medicine Beach.

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Medicine Beach, Pender Island, BC, Canada

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Mark praying to the stair gods in hope that just for once something will be square and level.

The next day was equally busy. A trip to the hardware store was necessary to get materials to replace our deck stairs. Followed by a trip to the grocery store. Followed by a trip up to Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards. We were too late for the food truck (my fault, I was sending an epic text which delayed us!) but had a chance to check out the latest art exhibit. Quite a cool space to display art.

blog may pender sea starNext the plan was to work on the deck stairs some more, but we got side tracked by the sunshine as decided to put the boats in instead.

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Part of our fleet at Peter Cove South, Pender Island, BC, Canada.

Paddling over, we got back to work. Of course as dinner time approached we started to think of what we should make for supper, which morphed into “Let’s not cook, let’s get Pender Sushi.”

blog may pender_8925As Pender Sushi is quite a drive from home, we tend to do take out and eat dinner on the beach. The choice of beach for dinner was Roesland, a Parks Canada site. Food and fresh air are a great combination, and the view was passable…….

blog may pender_8920 aor possibly amazing.

Sunday saw us closing up the house, sorting out another knitting order (yep, always working!), a visit to a beach, and the night ferry out.

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Knitting at the ferry terminal at Village Bay, Mayne, BC, Canada.

And off we went across the sea, over the mountains, and back to the prairies of Alberta.

A blur of a weekend.

40 pounds for $8 – part 1 – Small Town Rambles

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea to add in a “small town rambles” section to the categories section of the blog. As we are always on the road I thought it would be fun to share so of the smaller places we find off the beaten track. Some of these places we have been stopping at for years, others are new discoveries. This is the first blog post for the new category.

blog apples demilles salmon arm

DeMille’s in Salmon Arm (British Columbia, Canada) is a favorite stopping place for our family. The other week, as we approached the entrance we saw a sign saying “Apples almost free, 40 lbs for $8”. The sign seemed almost too good to be true, so we just had to check it out.

blog apples 1As advertised……..40 pounds of apples for eight dollars! Not only that, but a choice of varieties. I was thrilled. Our family eats a lot of fruit, a huge box of apples for $8 means the kids can just eat and eat and eat. I actually contemplated whether we had room for a second box.

blog apples 3

As my husband lined up to pay for this amazing find, I checked out the rest of the store. They have a range of really interesting food products, many of which are made by small producers in British Columbia. I’m always on the lookout for local products.

blog apples 2DeMille’s in Salmon Arm is definitely a great place to stop to shop and have a break, especially if you are heading to (or from) the coast or the Okanagan. They also have a great little farm area that our kids love to visit.

 

 

In “Part 2” I will share what we did with the apples.

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1 Day 1 World Project 2:00 am- 3:00 am – On the Road and Home

This time slot of 2:00-3:00 am lined up nicely with our return trip from the coast. Originally we were going to take the last ferry off the island on Saturday, make our way just past Vancouver (BC, Canada) and drive the bulk of the journey on Sunday. This idea seemed practical in theory, but once we saw how busy the island was with tourists we knew getting a hotel room for seven on a Saturday in prime vacation season was going to be a near impossible task. Instead we enjoyed one more night in our house on the island and headed out on the first ferry of the day. Being a Sunday the direct ferry runs later, so to hit the mainland as early as possible we first took the ferry to Swartz Bay (near Victoria, BC) and then a second ferry across to the mainland. Later ferries meant we were still on the road at 2:00 am.

 2 am harmonica

In general we spend A LOT of time on the road…….cabin every weekend May to October…….in a good year 10 trips to the coast (we’d like to do more!). Having things to do in the car is super important. I can’t read in the car as it makes me car sick, and I lose interest in looking at my phone or iPad pretty quickly. Mostly how I pass my time in the car is knitting, stitching and sometimes playing the harmonica. I always have the harmonica along, a blues harp in G. It is a great way to kill a bit of time and the fact I can play by ear amuses my kids (and it really irritated my piano teacher growing up!). So 2:00 am on the highway was a time for a little live music.

 2 am highwayThe highways were quiet by now. The crazies were all tucked in their little beds. It was the first time in forever that the QEII highway was actually a sane place to drive. No speeders, no police flying by, no accidents. Just quiet empty road…………..well that was until we reached Red Deer.

2 am rcmpNothing says “Red Deer”  like a wailing siren and a speeding cop car. Yep, welcome home. We made it less than 5 minutes within the city limits and we were back to howling sirens ALL…….THE……TIME. It boggles the mind how we can drive all the way from the coast, including THROUGH VANCOUVER, and never hear a siren until we hit Red Deer. But Red Deer sure made up for it. Sirens on the edge of town, as we drove through town, and a whole new batch of sirens as we went into our house. I wish I could say this is an isolated event, but it isn’t. This is what it is like living in Red Deer all the time now, not just at 2:00 or 3:00 am.

 homeWe pulled up to our house to find our sidewalk covered with tree branches and leaves, the remnants of a hail storm while we were gone. Into the house we went, gave the kids a snack, and tucked them into bed. Just before going to bed our four year old asked “Are we going to the cabin tomorrow?”. What can I say, our kids are travelers.

 

You can check out more “1 Day 1 World Project” posts here. Thanks to Northwest Frame of Mind for this fun project.

A Change of Plans

This coming weekend is a long weekend for us here in Canada due to the Remembrance Day holiday. We always try to make the most of a long weekend, so our plan was to head from Alberta to the west coast of British Columbia to escape the snow for a few days.

It always takes a few days to get ready as packing for a family of seven is a bit of a chore; but we have been debating of whether to go or not since last weekend. Last weekend a ferry hit a dock on the island of Mayne taking it out of service for a while; this ferry just happened to be the one we usually take. The ferry being out of service already made our trip take longer, but we were willing to risk it.

Field, BC

Yesterday we decided to go for it and head to the coast. We had extra homework for the children as we were taking a few extra days, my husband had booked off holidays, babysitting for the fish had been arranged, we were all set.

Driving to Banff was fine, busy, but fine. By the time we hit Castle Mountain the weather was coming in but doable. We thought it would get better the closer we got to the BC border, but it didn’t.

Field, BCJust after the turn off to Lake Louise things really took a turn for the worse. A quick tap of the brakes proved we were on pure ice. Passing a single vehicle accident proved the bad road conditions. The fastest anyone was driving was 60 km/h.

bad weather in the rockiesBy the time we passed Spiral Tunnels we were down to 40 km/h and just hoping to keep the car on the road. By the time we hit Field we were driving at 20 km/h and on pure ice. Things were not improving. A decision had to be made.

icy roads in the rockiesWe still had 813 km to travel. The roads were awful. Our ferry was out of service so we would have to take a longer route. This no longer made sense. We delivered the unpopular news to our kids that we were turning around and heading home; a five-hour drive back.

Bad weather is just a fact of life when it comes to winter in Canada. Sometimes you just have to surrender to it and make the safe choice.

This weekend won’t be filled with walks on the beach, instead it will be filled with shovelling snow. (Oh joy!)