Autumn in Golden Ears Provincial Park, October 11 2018

This page is dedicated to my dear friend Carla van Zalinge, who left this world so suddenly, in the autumn of her life.


Molecules flow through space
ebbing and eddying
a single cell forms into life
touching another, making love
cellular strings lace outwards
forking, branching, frolicking
mosaics of networks emerge
a model of life surges
finds home on land
on this blue planet
the network is mycelium
rejoices in creation
in elegance and grace, to form
a mushroom
the universe smiles

By Paul Stamets

Posted in Autumn in Golden Ears Provincial Park, Oct. 11 2018, British Columbia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sun Peaks and the Okanagan

September 4-8 2018

Birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, all thrown together into one magnificent gift from Raj, Ailish, Priya and Neve: a 3 night stay at the Pinnacle Lodge in Sun Peaks, BC.
We added a night in Kelowna in the mix as we wanted to drive back through the Okanagan, hoping for clear skies after all the smoke, due to countless wild fires.

We drove hwy 7 towards Hope followed by hwy 5 to Kamloops. We detoured into Merritt, never having stopped there before. We wanted to check out what else it had besides the music festivals.

Nice and warm in Merritt. We drove on towards Kamloops, passing Lac le Jeune where I had been in June. Beautiful memories of that place.
North of Kamloops we took the turn off to Sun Peaks. 33 KM from Hwy 5 to this BC Alpine village. The road reminded us so much of the many trips we took to Poole Creek, BC. Arriving at the Pinnacle Lodge we were pleased by the laid back, friendly atmosphere. Being there between seasons surely made everything very relaxed. We were right away invited to join in for the afternoon tea. Checked our room afterwards before even checking in officially. In the evening we walked into the village for dinner.

Next morning, after a very nice breakfast buffet, we headed towards Wells Gray Provincial Park. My third visit but Hari had not been there yet. And as we were more or less in the neighbourhood (about 192 km one way…) and the weather was very promising, we decided that it would be perfect. And it was. Once again the scenery did not disappoint us. It was a WOW factor for Hari as well, just the same as the 1st and 2nd time for me. After the Spahats Falls we drove farther into the park to the Helmcken Falls and to Bailey’s Chute, where, we were told, we would be seeing (Chinook) salmon struggling against the forceful current. A certain end to their short life..
Chinook salmon could be very big but the few we saw jump were very small.

Next day we stayed in the Sun Peaks area. We were trying to drive to McGillivray Lake but the (logging) road was so bad that we turned around. No sense in trying to navigate lots of stones and ending up with flat tires. We did have a beautiful view over the village though. Gorgeous, very big houses everywhere.
We followed the directions we got from another guest at the lodge to the Whitecroft Falls.
A peaceful walk through the woods brought us to the falls. Small, compared with the ones we saw the day before, but nice nevertheless.
Hari decided to take it easy for a bit and meanwhile I checked out a country road. Not paved but smooth. I passed by horse and cattle farms. Saw farmers harvesting hay. The sun was shining, the sky was clear. Beautiful and so quiet.
A soak in the hot tub was a perfect end of the day.

After breakfast on September 7 it was time to leave the Pinnacle Lodge. We had a fantastic time there.

We drove back to Kamloops and took hwy 97 towards Vernon where we stopped for a coffee and perhaps an information centre. We saw the signs, but that was all. So we continued. At a fruit stand along the road in a tiny town called Oyama we got some maps of the region. Another stop was for a picnic lunch at Kekuli Bay. This day we had poor visibility. The fires were definitely still wreaking havoc with the sky.
Arriving in Kelowna we checked into the Days Inn, went for a swim and had a delicious dinner at a small Indian restaurant.

On Saturday we checked out of the motel and drove to a winery in Kelowna, Grizzli Wineries. A short walk around, some tasting (Hari) and we followed our trip south through the Okanagan to Summerland. We remembered the “Dirty Laundry Vineyard” there and wanted to see it again. The weather had cleared, probably thanks to the rain we had overnight, so the drive was very pleasant. We did find the vineyard, even saw the Kettle Valley steam train pass by. We noticed white and black netting all over the grape vines and were told that this was to keep the birds (starlings) away. A flock of starlings could easily amount to about 8000 birds. Imagine what this would do to a crop! And not only that. Once the grapes are damaged by the birds, the sweet juice attracts bees and bears….That would be the end of the crop, hence the netting! Not pretty but necessary!
Back towards Kelowna we took hwy 97C near Peachland to Merritt and the 5 and 7 back home.

We drove a total of 1511 km this wonderful week.

Posted in British Columbia: Sun Peaks and the Okanagan, Sept 4-8 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Journey to the North End of the Island

August 21-24 2018

When my friend Joanne asked me if I was interested in joining her and her ‘WOW’ (Walk On Wednesday) group on a trip to northern Vancouver Island, I did not hesitate one minute. What an opportunity to join a group, so diverse, so knowledgeable in many subjects to a tour, taking us to Port McNeill and Alert Bay. The road trip was organized by Jay Stewart, and we were accompanied by her husband Peter Macnair as well as Chief Henry Seaweed.

August 21
Joanne was so kind to take 3 of us in her car and we started our road trip in Nanaimo. Our first stop was in Courtenay, where we visited the local museum, thinking that the special exhibition we wanted to see was displayed there. We walked around the very interesting fossil displays there and were then directed by the friendly staff to the local art gallery, where the  exhibition,  Hiłt̕sist̕a’a̱m (The Copper Will Be Fixed), was held. A passionate and knowledgeable young Haida girl gave us a tour. We must have spent about an hour with her, learning more and more as the time passed.
Before continuing the drive to Port McNeill we had a picnic on the parking lot.


Arriving in Port McNeill we dropped our 2 fellow travelers off at their hotel and drove on to ours, the Dalewood Inn. We caught up with the rest of the group who had already arrived and started preparing for our potluck dinner. How many people and how much food can you jam into one hotel room? Many and a lot. That’s for sure. It was a fun get-together.
Off to bed early as we had a full day ahead of us with a fairly early start.

August 22
Joanne and I went down for breakfast relatively early and found the breakfast room packed with firemen. They were stationed at this and other hotels, as well as in tents in town and were fighting the many wild fires on the island. There were at that point close to 70 fires on Vancouver Island.
Space was made for us in an adjoining room and slowly we were joined by the others.
Around 9:00 am we started to walk towards Mackay Whale Watching. After registering we met with the rest of the group, including Chief Henry Seaweed, his son Les, Les’ wife Donna, and Henry’s great-granddaughter Alexis.
There were of course other people on the boat, aside of our group, making it a total of about 36 people. Captain Bill Mackay was in charge.

We were all welcomed by Chief Henry in a ceremonial way. What a beautiful way to start this boat trip. 8 Minutes in the journey we spotted the first Orcas. Even though the visibility was poor due to the bad air quality (wild fires) it was an amazing sight, specially the mother with her young one. We drifted on the water, enjoying the antics of the killer whales, trying to predict where they would surface next…
Thanks to Chief Henry we detoured to the island where he was born, Ba’as, and with his ceremonial permission we were allowed to go ashore. We walked the beach and saw emptiness where once a village stood. The government moved everybody off the island, children were sent to Residential Schools. A sad and bad time in Canadian history.

Back on the boat and in more open waters, we saw humpback whales. We were literally surrounded by them. They surfaced on one side of the boat, others spotted them on the other side. A feast for the eyes, for sure. We also saw a rookery of sea lions; noisy, big, beautiful in their own way.
By that time the sky started clearing as well, one blue patch at the time. The winds were now blowing in from the ocean. What a relief.

Almost 6 hours after departing in the morning we arrived at Port McNeill again. A short walk to the hotel and a wonderful dinner at the Archipelagos Bistro at the Dalewood Inn with the whole group.
It had been an amazing day.


August 23
Another early breakfast. This time without the huge group of firemen as they had been sent to Woss as another fire apparently had started there.
We took the 8:40 am ferry to Alert Bay, a short, 25 minute boat ride.
It promised to be a gorgeous day weather wise and as it turned out, it was a fantastic day all around.
We checked out the small village and the old burial grounds. Then we made our way through town to the U’mista Cultural Centre, an experience not to be missed. With Peter explaining about the many First Nations People, we meandered through the building, soaking up history.
And as is always the case in history, we learned about the good and the bad.

A picnic near the playground followed: Sun, view over the water, good food, great company!

After finishing up we walked to the Big House, where a performance by the Tʼsasała Cultural Group awaited us. It is heartwarming to see how much effort is made by the Elders to teach the present generation the culture and language that was almost lost.
And how enthusiastically the young ones embrace their culture. It was another eye-opening experience to see the dancers and singers of all ages. At one point we, the audience, were asked to join in which was such a fun experience.

Then it was time to say good-bye to Alert Bay. We took the ferry back to Port McNeill and reminisced about the day we so much enjoyed.


August 23
Time to head south again. Quite different now we could actually see where we were going. Coming north was under very smokey skies, now it was clear and blue.
We stopped briefly in the logging village of Woss.
The next place we wanted to see was Sayward. Unfortunately we only found out later that if we had gone just about 1 km farther, we would have been at Kelsey Bay. Never mind. That’s for another trip 😉
We were meeting with the group in Campbell River, at Koto Japanese Restaurant.
After a delicious lunch we went “caravan style” to Bill Henderson’s carving shed.
Bill Henderson carved the totem pole which is standing next to the Campbell River Museum. His father had carved the original one but it disintegrated and was beyond repair. After his father’s death, Bill decided to burn the pole ceremonially on the beach. The new pole was raised in 2017.
Bill and his family showed us the totem poles they were working on and explained some of the tools they use. They were all very happy to answer all our questions.

The Campbell Museum was next. A beautiful building with very tastefully exhibited treasures. Another learning experience.


And then we started the last leg of our trip: back to Nanaimo.

Thank you Joanne, for doing all the driving for us.

And many thanks to Jay, for making this trip possible. The organization of it must have been quite something but it was worth every minute of it.
Thank you Peter, for all the information, your stories. Your knowledge is phenomenal.
Thank you Chief Henry Seaweed, for showing us places we would never have seen otherwise and sharing stories about your family and culture.

It was an unforgettable, marvelous journey.






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The Canadian Rockies, 2018

The long awaited holiday was finally here! My sister Birgit and my brother-in-law Gerard flew to Calgary where I was going to meet them. From there we were ready to tackle the Rockies, mosquito spray in one hand, a camera in the other.

On June 17 I drove -solo- from Maple Ridge to Sicamous, a distance of about 452 km.
The weather was beautiful, the traffic easy going. Much earlier than I had calculated I arrived at the simple but convenient Super 8 Motel in Sicamous. I was very happy to discover it was just minutes walking from the waterfront, where I watched houseboats and other watercraft, people enjoying the hot sun on the piers, on patios. A vacation atmosphere for sure!
I was given a very spacious room and after a good night’s sleep and a “breakfast on the house” I was ready for leg 2 of my drive to Calgary.

June 18 (489 km)
The Sicamous to Calgary route took me through 4 national parks: Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho and Banff National Parks. A beautiful drive under sunny skies. I lost an hour due to time difference, getting near Alberta. At the BC/Alberta border I met a group of cyclists. They were pedaling from Vancouver to Newfoundland, a journey they anticipated would take 10 weeks. They were now on day 10.
I went for a short walk on a skunk cabbage boardwalk. Nice and peaceful.
By the way, for the next 2 weeks we saw everywhere strategically placed red chairs
I safely arrived in Calgary, found the hotel we were all staying at, settled in and waited for B&G to come back from their day in downtown Calgary.
Happy reunion late that afternoon. Dinner in a nearby restaurant, walking back to the hotel over freshly asphalted (!) roads.

June 19. Calgary to Rundle Mountain Lodge in Canmore.
We had opted for beautiful road #40 (Kananaskis Trail) rather than the much shorter highway from Calgary to Canmore. A portion of Alberta Hwy 40 is closed until June 15 so we were very, very lucky!
We left Calgary, went south through some small villages like Okotoks and Black Diamond and turned north again at Longview, at hwy 40 which took us through Peter Lougheed Provincial Park with its highest paved pass in Canada, the Highwood Pass.
We had a picnic at one of the rest stops and were surrounded by ground squirrels, a tiny marmot, whistling to warn each other of danger (us).
There are no touristy stops (food/gas) along this road and we were so ready for a cup of coffee by late afternoon. We found one place, closed! But the giftshop was open and the lady with a huge cowboy hat behind the counter, directed us to Kananaskis Village. We expected a tiny First Nations reserve but found a huge, modern resort with all ammenities. A cup of coffee and for B&G a delicious dessert later, we continued north, and then west on the 1A, to Rundle Mountain Lodge in Canmore. After checking in we walked to a nearby restaurant where we had a late dinner on an outside patio. A perfect ending of a perfect day.

Movie clip of mountain sheep on hwy 40

June 20
We decided to take the Banff Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain. A short drive from our hotel, parked, and got in line for our tickets. They give you a fairly short allotted time on the mountain but that could easily be changed. We gave ourselves several hours!
The ride up was scary, the view from above absolutely breathtaking. We walked the long stairway path up to Sanson Peak, the highest point on Sulphur Mountain, a hike/climb that was well justified! Several benches (and red chairs) placed at convenient intervals lend rest to tired feet. And it was hot! The little inquisitive ground squirrels on Sulphur Mountain were not shy at all! Feeding is prohibited but they surely are fast and steal the food out of your hands if you are not careful. They climbed on our legs, checking to see what we had in our hands! As a result we ended up on many tourist’s photographs as they thought it was “so cute”!
At 3 pm we took the gondola down. Definitely not as scary as up.
Next we drove to Lake Minnewanka where we had a late picnic lunch and a leisurely stroll around part of the lake. Lake Minnewanka apparently is a very popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Another dinner at an outside patio, right by the railroad tracks….
Just one train passed by.

June 21
Rain in the forecast but the sky looked very promising after breakfast so we decided to go for a walk along Bow River. We drove into town (Canmore) and ended up in the middle of their weekly market (I love markets). We were directed to a good parking spot to start our walk. The temperature increased by the minute (at least, that’s how it felt) and the walk was beautiful. We saw the “Three Sisters“, mountains I know from a painting by Max Jacquiard (I worked for his publisher for several years). Amazing to see them in reality. We also spotted some female elk with babies. We watched people getting kayaking lessons on the river and admired some of the gorgeous houses along a stretch of the river. We walked about 11 km that day. Later the clouds started covering the blue sky and we heard thunder. We made it back into town before the rain fell. After a cup of coffee and some “goodies” we headed back to the hotel. Evening time we drove into town and found a great restaurant. The outside did not look like much. Stairs (colourful) led us up to the dining area. It was great. View over the mountains (partially covered because of the rain clouds) from huge, open windows,  Great atmosphere. Very good food.
Back in the hotel the power went out for about 1 1/2 hours. It was late anyway so it didn’t matter at all 🙂

June 22
We left Canmore and drove towards Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at the edge of Bow Lake, north of Lake Louise. Somewhere on the way we saw a grizzly bear. Too bad he refused to raise his head but I got at least some pictures of his huge body.
On the way we stopped at Johnston Canyon and hiked up to the waterfalls. Definitely worthwhile.
From the Johnston Canyon we turned west towards Field, to the viewpoints of the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering miracle. Too bad it was pouring rain, the tracks seemed to be under construction at one point and it was hard to see anything. No trains passing by while we were there. But good to see and check out anyway.
We arrived in the pouring rain at our next destination: Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at Bow Lake.
No cell phone service, limited WiFi, old, beautiful log building. Great dining room!