Places to Go

In Search of Snow…


I have lived my whole life in the land of frequent rain, and while I love the blue/green/grey landscape with my whole heart there are times when even I get sentimental for other weather…


A few years ago, when she was quite small, Miss G. cried inconsolably when we put away the Christmas decorations before she had seen actual snow.  It seems that snow, in particular, is emotionally tied to our winter celebrations.  There are pictures of snow on Christmas cards, sparkly snow in globes, and snow filled landscapes in almost every holiday film we watched.  Here in Vancouver, though, no snow.  This year, to avoid the blues that can follow a green Christmas we promised to whiten up with a trip to the mountains in search of some real snow…

We were spellbound on the switchbacks up the mountain by the blanketed city lit up below us…

  … then outfitted with snowshoes, poles, snacks and many (many!) layers of woolens we found ourselves a little winter wonderland along the Cypress Snowshoe Trail on Hollyburn Mountain.
I have wanted to do this for so long, and am so glad we finally got around… Beautiful, bright and so much fun for all of us (even dragging G. Jr. up the tiny inclines by pole…)

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Snow Fort

It all starts
with the quality,
the density, the size
of the snow bank.
True now, true forty years ago;
it is the critical ingredient.
We piled it high, over successive storms,
waiting not so patiently
for the right time. The right mix
of wet and cold
Snowman snow.
Digging, with shovels, with hands
creating a dome, an inner sanctum
interconnected tunnels, in and out
meeting in the middle
all within the pile of snow.

(Raymond A. Foss)

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Places to Go

Ambleside Beach (and the end of Summer…)

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Our favourite place to go this summer – the place we returned to over and over – was a quiet stretch of beach on the north shore of Vancouver.  The sea and sand and sun were just the things to soothe our city dwelling souls.  Half an hour from home we could dip our toes in the salty Pacific or squish them into the seaweed and sand.  We watched float planes, cruise ships, sail boats and shipping tankers coming and going about their business.  We built castles and sculptures, swam and fished (for smelts!) and whiled our time away…

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“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” (John F. Kennedy)

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Miss G. is always up for art – she has a knack for creating “found art” sculptures with an amazing sense of place…

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I’m not sure what is more inviting – the statue, or the seagull sharing the view…

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“Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts. Always keep your body filled with light and heat. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.” (Morihei Ueshiba)

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The sound of the waves, the feeling of the wind, the smell of the salt and the sea… these are the things that I keep close as the season changes and the burdens of real life resume, layer by layer.

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“It is of great use to the sailor to know the length of his line, though he cannot with it fathom all the depths of the ocean.” (John Locke)

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Summer, the season of recuperation and rejuvenation, is disappearing minute by minute each day.  The days are cooler, shorter, and increasingly more demanding as the business of daily life piles up… but the summer in our soul cannot easily be replaced.  The light and loftiness of those beachside afternoons are stored away in that summer self, to be called upon when we find ourselves in need of a lift…

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““Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”   (Albert Camus)

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Places to Go

Burnaby Village (Volume 3)…

There are some places that our family “field trips” return to over and over.  Burnaby Village is one of those amazing venues, and although I have shared about our previous visits both in summer and winter I can’t stop taking photos every time we go!  If you live nearby and haven’t visited, please go!  It really is incredible that this slice of history is just minutes away from our daily life.

On our most recent visit we had the chance to see the village with fresh eyes – we were there with family friends who had travelled half way around the world.  This made us even more aware of the culture that we are lucky to inherit…

The farmhouse and the heritage dahlias in the garden…

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The schoolhouse…

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The heritage garden…

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…barber shop…

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…drugstore…

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The vintage kitchen…

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…the general store…

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…the music studio…

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…and of course my favourite drygoods store (where all of the hats would look amazing on me, I’m sure, but the grey one is just so lovely…)

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This is the house I thought I would live in when I grew up. (Still might happen.)  This is the house I imagined with every Nancy Drew mystery I read…

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On this visit the embroidered linens were hanging to dry in the kitchen…

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The “lady of the house” was amassing her trousseau…

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Every time we visit I leave wishing I could stay.  Just past the village is Deer Lake, which offers a contemplative space …

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…and a musical interlude to bridge the gap back to our here and now…

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“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” (Virginia Woolf)

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Places to Go

Burrard Inlet by Boat…

We are a month into fall and, while some days have been beautiful, there have been enough rainy days for me to miss the summer sunshine that already seems so far away…

Although we are fortunate enough to live close to the water, we don’t get out on it much.  Lucky for us, one of our great friends has both a boat and the patience (madness!) to take it out on the water with our crazy family in tow…

Just a few weeks ago we spent an amazing late summer day enjoying the view of sun, ocean and blue sky from the best vantage point possible – the middle of it all.

At first the seals weren’t particularly interested in us…

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…but then one raised an eyebrow…

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…and another woke up enough from basking in the sun to notice as we boated by…

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There were endless interesting boats to photograph…

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…and G. Jr. had to hold on to his hat.

(Literally.  We turned around three times to fish it out of the water after he let go and it blew off in the breeze.)

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The trip to Deep Cove (by car) usually takes us at least half an hour.  By boat it is a quick fifteen minutes of some of the most amazing watery views…

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Our reward for taking this leisurely trip was (naturally!) gelato

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…and then we headed back out on the water and north up Indian Arm.

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On our way back to the dock we could just see G. Jr’s favourite bridge – the ironworkers’ memorial – in the distance.

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He didn’t stay awake much longer – all that fresh sea air knocked him right out!  Good thing Miss G. was in full form – we needed her to help us tie up the boat.

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A day of sun and sea air can do a lot to bring some balance to a busy life.  Facing another week of blustery fall weather and the doldrums of the day-to-day, I am grateful to look back on the sea change and see things from another angle…

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“They change their climate, not their soul, who rush across the sea…” (Horace)

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Places to Go

Burnaby Mountain…

Vancouver is a city surrounded by nature – rivers, mountains, oceans, inlets… It’s hard for us to visualize the shape of the landscape even as we live in it every day. A great place to get perspective is to go vertical; part way up Burnaby Mountain, just west of Simon Fraser University, there is a gorgeous park with an amazing view.

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The lower part of the park contains this sculptural installation: “the playground of the gods…” or in our case the playground of two wildly rambunctious youngsters…

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…which is even more incredible with the north shore lights and setting sun behind it:IMG_7019

The north side of the park looks up toward Indian Arm…

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One of my favourite sights:

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…and then this gorgeous view west out towards the ocean – it always tempts my adventurous spirit to get on a boat and go… Where are those boats headed when they leave our port?IMG_7029

All the view and fresh air builds up an appetite… IMG_7003
… a scoop (or two) of ice cream will finish it off perfectly.  (The hardest part is narrowing it down from the 200 plus choices…)

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Places to Go

Granville Island (Volume 3)…

Another gorgeous day, another chance to get out into our city… (so grateful for the people and places that make it wonderful for us…)

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We try to get to Granville Island as often as possible.  It is one of my favourite parts of my hometown, probably because I have so many happy childhood memories of wandering around the market and taking in all of the sights and sounds.  I want my children to have the same happy memories and connections to the places that keep Vancouver alive for me…

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I have shared pictures from visits before (twice actually) but every time we go I love it and (of course) take endless photos.

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Boats, sunshine, saltwater, sandy beaches…

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I have the best memories of declaring as a small child that I would live my grown up life right here, in False Creek…  I haven’t had a chance to follow through on that promise yet, but there might still be time…

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I hope your day, wherever it takes you, has a tiny bit of sunshine and flowers to carry you through.

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Places to Go

Fort Langley (Volume 3)…

One thing (of many) that I appreciate about where we live is the crazy abundance of really diverse places to visit without driving more than half an hour or so – hauling children around on “adventures” has limits!  One place we love to visit (I have written about spring and summer visits before) is Fort Langley…  Every time we go I find new things to photograph and endless things to investigate.

On our most recent trip we managed some time searching for antiques and oddities before we headed into the museum.  I  captured my personal favourites for you:

…a BC Highway sign (which I still regret not buying…)

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…vintage tins…

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…carousel horse…

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…and some bowling pins…

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Our next stop was to check out the Fraser River’s Bedford Channel…

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…before heading into the fantastic museum.  Forgive me if you’ve been reading for awhile and these photos seem familiar – I always find myself enthralled with every nook and cranny and end up taking tons of photos – it’s a very photogenic place to hang out!

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We did take a break from taking pictures to pan for gold…

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…and Miss G. spent some free time playing a few tunes on the old upright.

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Of course I loved the library – they have two vintage editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the big house…

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The children always love the animals – the fort has a small replica of what would have been a functional farm.  Fresh eggs, goats milk, fruits and vegetables growing in the garden…

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        Spending a day at the fort is a little bit like travelling back in time, but mostly I love the way it makes us look at the little details – the most important things to notice are usually the smallest.    

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” (Junichiro Tanizaki)

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