Thursday, August 14, 2008

Botanical Beach & Beyond

Posting things a little differently today. Since we have so many pictures to share from the last couple of days, I wanted to get away from the long scrolling posts that we've been creating. Instead, I've uploaded a bunch of our recent pictures to Flickr and I've created a little slideshow viewer that you can see below. You should be able to click through and see all of the pictures that are included in the slideshow.

It's been an excellent couple of days since the last post. Since the weather has been cooperating, we've spent a lot of time outdoors. We rented kayaks for a couple of hours and paddled from Brentwood Bay up the Tod Inlet, exploring all the shoreline surrounding Butchart Gardens. We took Trey to the Butterfly Gardens and had the good fortune of having butterflies land on us. We also drove out to Botanical Beach, near Port Renfrew. This beautiful beach, just south of Ucluelet and Tofino, marks the beginning of the 47 kilometer Juan De Fuca Trail. One day, we'd love to do the whole trail with the kids. However, we'll have to wait a few years until they're old enough to carry their own stuff ;-)

Please let me know what you think of this format for viewing pictures by leaving a comment. If you prefer this format, I'll stick with it for the next few posts.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Three Amigos

Yesterday was a lot of fun for all of us. Jennifer and I offered to take Trey for the day so that Maggie (and Layla) could get a wee bit of a break. We took Trey into Victoria and Rachel & Abby had a great time hanging out with their cousin all day.

We started out by the inner harbour, where we explored the Undersea Gardens. We saw tonnes of fish, crabs, anemones and starfish and the kids even poked some of these animals in the 'touch tank'. Our visit to the Undersea Gardens ended with the 'Live Dive', where a scuba diver went into the tank to show off some of the inhabitants, such as the wolf eel and the giant octopus.

As we moved away from Victoria's inner harbour, we stopped by Fisherman's Wharf. Many people live on floating 'houseboats' at Fisherman's Wharf, and you could always buy fresh seafood of your choice from the many fishing vessels that moor there. Unfortunately, Fisherman's Wharf has also fallen prey to tourism in a big way, and now there are almost as many restaurants as there are fishing boats. Fisherman's Wharf is also home to Sammy the Seal, who's grown even more than his reputation thanks to the generous handouts from the tourists and the locals :-(

Since the kids all looked as if they needed a rest, we took a scenic drive around Dallas Road and saw some of Victoria's most desirable tracts of real estate. This is a drive that Jennifer and I do every time we're on the island, but it never gets boring. Every glimpse of the Juan de Fuca Strait is breathtaking, especially on a clear day when you get Washington's Olympic Mountains as a backdrop :-)

Maggie and Trey joined us for a simple dinner, then they treated us to ice cream just up the street at the 'Big Moo' in Sidney.


The Three Amigos, riding strong :-)

Looking for crabs at Victoria's inner harbour

Exploring the 'touch tank' at the Undersea Gardens

Looking for 'Sammy', the resident seal at Fisherman's Wharf :-)

Overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait from Dallas Road in Victoria

The fishing pier in the town of Sidney

Monday, August 11, 2008

From Vancouver To The Island

So, it's been a couple of days since I last posted for a couple of reasons. First of all, there was a whirlwind of family activity surrounding Becky's wedding that kept me away from the computer. While this time is (and was) very important and enjoyable, it isn't always the kind of material that makes for great blog posts :-) Secondly, I'm starting to discover that blogging and kids don't mix. I like to think that I'm pretty good at multitasking, but having a child tugging on each sleeve while trying to type and think can make it quite difficult to concentrate on throwing together a 'quick' post... when a short little post takes an hour to create, you start to feel like you're biting off more than you can chew! Having said that, I'm holed up in a dark, quiet corner of my parent's house in Sidney, just north of Victoria, hiding from the kids so that I can summarize the events of the last couple of days :-)

The day after Becky's wedding, about 20 of us gathered for a leisurely breakfast at the White Spot. It was nice to catch up with some of the aunts, uncles and cousins that we don't get to see very often. Later that day, Bob and Wendy hosted a backyard party for over 100 people. Although the weather wasn't as sunny and warm as we would have liked, all of the many guests were able to find shelter from the rain and a dry seat from which to eat :-)

Yesterday, Maggie, Sarah and I (and all five of our children) took MJ and Dave out for brunch at Newlands Golf Course in Langley to celebrate MJ's 60th birthday. We presented her with a book and DVD that we compiled for her highlighting all of her children and grandchildren... it was very well received!

Following brunch, Jennifer and I took our kids for a little spin through Vancouver. We cut across town fairly quickly, then crawled into Stanley Park at a snail's pace. We thought about showing our kids some of the tourist attractions in West Vancouver, so we crossed the Lion's Gate Bridge and stopped at both the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. I have visited both of these places many times in the past, but when I discovered that it now costs about $30 per adult to visit either attraction, I very quickly lost interest. Tourism's taken over.

We discovered Cleveland Dam nestled somewhere between these two locations. There were very few people there, and it was free - exactly the kind of place we were looking for to kill a couple of hours with the kids. We went for a little hike, then ran around the park for a while to let off steam.

Since we were already on that side of Vancouver, we ended up taking the Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo ferry, rather than driving all the way back to Tsawwassen. This turned out to be a big mistake as we didn't arrive back to the house in Sidney until just before midnight. However, it was a nice night for a ferry ride and I got to take way too many sunset photos as the sun sank below the horizon over the Strait of Georgia. However, it made for a dark drive over the Malahat :-)

Thanks for reading,

Birthday brunch for MJ - Happy 60th, mom :-)

Crossing the Lion's Gate Bridge into West Vancouver

The Cleveland Dam, sandwiched between the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain

One example of the 'nature' that Rachel was collecting on our little hike through the forest :-)

Just a few minutes away from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, on the way to Nanaimo...

A dark and lonely night for riding on the ferry - thanks, Chris ;-)

Friday, August 8, 2008

For Whom The Bells Toll...

Well, our girls pulled off their flower girl responsibilities without a hitch!

Both girls were included in all of the bridal party experiences, so they didn't hesitate to do anything that was asked of them. Whether posing for pictures, scattering rose petals, or even just wearing their dresses, both Jennifer and I were so very proud of our little flower girls!!

We'd like to extend our congratulations to both Becky & Cory, and their families, for a beautiful wedding and an excellent excuse to gather as an extended family!


Rachel and Abby both sat so patiently while they got their hair done for Becky's wedding :-)

Julie applied a little makeup to both Abby and Rachel.

The bridal party, getting ready to roll...

Ready to ride along in the SUV limo with the bridal party.

Picking up some of the rose petals as souvenirs of their flower girl experience.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

We're in Vancouver for the next couple of days. Friday morning, we hopped on the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. We had a few hours to kill before the wedding rehearsal, so I decided to take a little detour around my old digs in Richmond. It was a nice, albeit short, trip down memory lane... past the old school, my old house, pointing out friends houses. It's amazing how the memories come flooding back when you return to the places of your youth after a prolonged absence.

We drove out to Steveston Village, a little fishing community just southwest of Richmond. As a kid I used to ride my bike out to Steveston, past all the canneries, to see the fishermen pawning their wares fresh off the boat. Steveston was always a very quiet, rustic village. Boy, have the times changed this little community! Everywhere you turn, there are condos stacked upon condos, and the number of little shops, cafes, and restaurants is beyond comprehension.

I was really glad to see that one of the restaurants from my youth still stands in Steveston. Dave's Fish & Chips, as pictured above. While the restaurant is twice the size it used to be, it still looks like it did 25 years ago, with one small change... there's no ketchup on the walls!

You see, there's this story that my mom loves to tell, about how I was twisting a little ketchup packet with my hands and I was told repeatedly not to do this as it could break and squirt everywhere. Of course, I just wouldn't listen, and the unthinkable happened - the ketchup packet exploded. It sprayed all over the freshly painted white walls, the patrons, and even hit the ceiling and the fan, which enabled the ketchup to spread well beyond the confines of our table! I'm not sure how so much ketchup fit into such a tiny little package, but I'm sure that they put my picture up behind the counter as one of their forbidden customers!

To make a long story short, we met my parents and Sarah & Jack for lunch at Dave's Fish & Chips. They now have their own brand of ketchup bottles on the table. I think I may know why :-)

Thanks for reading,

Passing another ferry through Active Pass, just before crossing the Strait of Georgia.

Mount Tuam, on Saltspring Island, in the background... just a typical view in the Gulf Islands.

We devoured a huge flat of local raspberries. The world's best raspberries hands down!

Rachel and Abby with Becky, tomorrow's bride to be... I hope our little flower girls are ready ;-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Morning on the Seaside

After our uneventful flights yesterday, we arrived safely on Vancouver Island. We were greeted by MJ & Dave, and the duMonceaux family at the airport, then we were whisked away to their place in Sidney. We had a late dinner (yummy steaks with all the trimmings), then visited for a little while before calling it a night.

This morning, the girls were up at the crack of dawn and decided that no-one should be sleeping anymore if the sun was coming up. I had breakfast with them just before 6:00, then we walked out the kitchen door to do some beachcombing. Both of the girls were enjoying hopping from one rock to the next, but Abby was a little freaked out when she discovered that there were little crabs living beneath the rocks. She decided she didn't want anything crawling into her shoes :-)

We walked along the waterfront for a few minutes, and came upon the Sidney Pier within 10 minutes. After picking up some information about kayak rentals, the Sidney Spit ferry and some whale-watching tours, we made our way back to the house for breakfast number two just as everybody else was beginning their day :-)

Time for a nap,

One advantage to waking up at 5:45 a.m. is catching the colourful sunrises :-)

A few of the Gulf Islands at dawn...

The girls are searching for more sea anemones to poke with their fingers...

Found some ;-)

Flipping rocks on the beach uncovers some hidden treasures...

Rachel is holding one of the little crabs that she discovered :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

B.C. Bound :-)

After a couple of restful weeks at home, we're off to Vancouver Island tomorrow. We hadn't planned to blog our adventures on this vacation, but we've had many requests from people who were following our adventures in Europe earlier this summer at Across The Pond.

So, we've decided that we'll post a bunch of pictures and a few stories from our adventures out west. Although it may not be updated on a daily basis, we'll keep you informed if you check back here often :-)

See you soon from 'Beautiful B.C.'...
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