So Much Activity for a Single Month
Canada Day in Comox
My grandparents live in Comox. It's
far enough away that you don't pop over for a meal, but close
enough that you don't plan a major vacation around it. We
were thinking of coming over for Victoria day, but by the time we
got around to reservations, it was impossible so we fell back to
coming on Canada Day. I haven't been in Comox for Canada day
(ever!) so I was surprised at some of the activities.
We arrived Friday night so Saturday morning we went to the Canada
Day Parade in downtown Courtenay. It's been a long time
since I've been to a parade.
Being Courtenay, things are a little
different than a parade in Vancouver. The local military
base had a fly over and the local tractor club also had a good
show. The kids really like the free candy!
After the parade we tried to go to Lewis park to the where food
tents and activities had been organized. Big mistake - 45
minute lineups for everything. Instead we went to the deli
at the grocery store and then went to the beach for a bit of play.
Courtney/Comox saves it's fireworks dollars for BC day in August
but there are fireworks in Campbell River, about a 45 minute drive
North of Courtenay. After dinner, I drove up with my parents
and Nara. We arrived about two hours before the fireworks
and had no problem finding a front row patch of grass to take in
the fireworks. We took turns walking around the booths while
the rest of us staked out our grass spot. The barge arrived
about an hour before the fireworks went up.
The fireworks show was really well done - this wasn't the local
fire department launching a single shell at a time. I was
particularly impressed with the floating fireworks - they had
fireworks floating on the ocean burning for at least 30 seconds
while the fireworks burst overhead. I hadn't seen that
Long weekends are almost magical - on a regular weekend we arrive
Saturday morning and leave Sunday afternoon - roughly 24 hours on
the ground. We arrived Friday night and didn't leave until
Monday after lunch - two whole days in town. The valley has
a lot of beaches so we decided to visit a few. I'm a big fan
of Kai Bay when the tide is out (lots of sand) so we took a trip
down in the morning with the low tide.
Kitty Coleman Beach is another favorite - it's half way to my
Aunt's house and it has a great view for picnic's so we have
visited there for dinner picnics and to take in the view.
I enjoy taking photos, but sometimes mixing
photography and kids turns things into a death march. I've
discovered that getting up early and doing the photography thing
on my own is often a productive way to get some photography in
without making everyone else operate on my schedule. This
time I decided to go up to Mount Washington to see the sun rise in
I had this idea that I would try and see
Vancouver Island Marmot's, but it turns out they don't live
anywhere near paradise meadows. On the flip side, the
wildflowers and morning fog was well worth the effort of getting
up so early in the morning.
Visiting Great Grandparents
We have a minimum of one great
grandparent visit a day - some days two. We are a bit of a
handful (often coming over for lunch) so I'm sure everyone needs a
bit of a rest after our visit. I try to avoid every visit
being a photo session because the goal is to get people to talk to
each other, not to get wooden photographs. We were lucky to
get a sunny day for photos and Edna's flowers were in bloom on the
I am happy with how the photos turned
out. I took a minimum of photo combining which happens
whenever you get a group photo. Thanks everyone for hosting
Mark in Town for a Visit
Mark's Grandmother had her 95th
birthday. Mark flew out from Japan to celebrate. He
passed through Vancouver and joined us for a pot luck
dinner/birthday party at Eric and Gabi's party room.
We had five kids at the party of roughly overlapping ages -
thankfully Gabi and Eric had planned some kids activities.
The big balloons were a hit - we went into the courtyard and
played five kids keep two balloons in the air.
After some outside play time and a pot luck dinner we had some
The kids stayed inside and played with the balloons.
I can't say it was all exactly peaceful.
Beach Walk in Boundary Bay
Boundary Bay is an amazing beach in the
Lower Mainland - we don't visit often enough. The bay is
huge an so close to flat that the beach extends for kilometers
when the tide is really out.
Nature Vancouver organized an tide walk to check out the various
kinds of life on the beach. We started high on the beach
(lots of snails) and then walked
The real story of the day was the
Lugworms. These sizable (about 6 inches long) worms live
beneath the sand, slowly consuming and expelling the beach looking
for nutrition in the sand. In doing so, they move the oxygen
poor sand (dark colour) to the surface where it picks up air and
basically turn the beach over making new habitat. It's
reproduction time so each Lugworm has an egg sack attached near
it's head. The sack, roughly the size of an unfilled balloon
contains thousands of larval lugworms - each about a millimeter in
size. These are pretty large animals (compared to the
millions of snails) and there are a lot of them.
Nara helped us find some other worm
species. We found a bloodworm - a popular snack for
shorebirds during their migration. Closer to the ocean we
found a Giant Pile Worm. Both worms were quite active when
we put them in the tray - Nara added some sand to the tray and one
worm burried itself and stopped moving so much. She thought
it must be happy.
Giro Di Burnaby
Bob from work had a good time at speed
week last year so when he offered a ride up, I took him up on his
offer. The weather wasn't great (light rain) but the rain
stopped minutes before the first race (women's) started. By
the time the race was done, the roads were dry.
Being my first bike race, a few things surprised me. First -
the crowd isn't that deep. The course is a little over a
kilometer long so there is probably 2km of front row seats - more
than enough for the crowd that showed up to see the race.
Second - they are biking fast! I bike to work, but the speed
on display was really impressive compared to what I see day to
Finally, I was impressed by just how many
kinds of photos are available at the event. I brought two
lenses - a 80-200mm and a 14mm lens - two very different
lenses. I had no problem using both.
We had sent the kids to my parents for the weekend so we had a day
without kids in Vancouver. I decided to take Helen for a
mini-bird walk at Iona Beach. It was the heat of the day so
we didn't want to stay out for long and I didn't have much luck
with birds, but I get a photo of species I haven't previously
Summer Vacation in Victoria
Helen gets two weeks of summer
vacation. We spent one week camping, we decided to spend
another week in Victoria to visit Grandma and Grandpa.
Outerbridge Park is just down the road
from my parents house. This 9 acre park used to be someone's
personal property but they donated it to the city near the end of
their life. My mom actually met Mrs. Outerbridge at Hospice
before she passed. The city has organized volunteers to
maintain the space and it is a refuge for wildlife and people
alike. Sometimes I went by myself with a camera
and a big lens, sometimes I went with the kids and a small
camera. Each trip reveals something special.
Climbing Mount Doug
Nara heard of the grouse grind and wants to
run up it. She has no idea what that kind of ascent feels
like so I thought I would take her out for a little climb to see
if she is serious about climbing mountains. In Victoria,
Mount Doug has an access road to near the peak that is closed
overnight until noon so that people can walk up and down the
mountain without having to worry about cars. We drove to the
base and started walking.
I walked up, but I walked briskly. Nara hard to run to keep
up from time and she did feel it - she was sweaty and stopped for
water a few times on the way up. She caught her second wind
when she saw the parking lot at the top of the mountain and ran
much of the trail to the peak. It does seem more like an
accomplishment when you walk all the way to the top under your own
When we started our descent, there was a
bit more complaining. The big picture comparison with the
Grouse Grind is a bit of a worry - this ascent was roughly 150
meters - the grouse grind is 850 meters of ascent - roughly 5
climbs up Mount Douglas. On the plus side, Nara is still
quite enthusiastic. On our descent we passed a group of
Mom's with kids in strollers. Nara saw a Mom with a kid on
her back, another in a stroller and a dog on a leash - she was
In the summer Swan Lake has an full
schedule of activities for kids. Our trip included reptile
day, but for the kids it's really an excuse to get face paint and
see the animals in the Nature house.
The nature house sets up art stations
(reptile themed). Inside the nature house, they have some of
their smaller animals on display and in some cases you can touch
the animals. On previous trips we have seen snakes but this
time they had a bearded dragon on display. It didn't have
sudden movements so the kids were pretty keen to give it a try.
Beacon Hill Children's Farm
The kids seem to have a love hate relationship with the petting
zoo at Beacon Hill. They have good memories of the place so
they are excited to go when we offer, but they seem to forget that
goats aren't tiny and they have a mind of their own and they don't
always do what you want. We arrived for the stampede (which
I still haven't taken a good of) and wet in to pet goats after.
Claira still doesn't like the loud calls from
Peacock's but she is getting more tolerant. This time of the
year there were some chicks which the kids really enjoyed seeing.
We went to McMinn Playground a few times this
trip. The playground has two sets of equipment - one set for
toddlers, another for older kids. We often take the bikes or
a wagon over because it is a bit of walk from home. The kids
then run all over the equipment and sometimes they are a little
short of energy getting themselves up the hill back home.
That said, the next time we suggest we go to the playground, they
are quick to go out the door.
Swimming at Cordova Bay
A trip to
Grandma's house isn't complete without a trip to the beach.
For some reason, we wound up going after dinner, hoping to find
warmer water. The kids will swim in any water until they go
blue, but today they lasted longer than we had time for. This
trip they started building a dam in the runoff stream. I
worried about the water quality, but all I can do it hope people
aren't pouring bad things down the storm drains.
Another morning we went out in the morning at low tide where there
is more sand to dig and play in. Of course the car gets full
of sand, but that's part of the fun isn't it?
I've wanted to take a photo of the Milky Way
for a while. In the winter I tried to see the Northern
Lights but when they weren't there, I tried for the Milky
way. At this latitude, you can't see the Milky way in winter
- it doesn't clear the horizon. A few weeks ago I was in
Shuswap lake - again tried. The moon rose shortly after the
sunset and again I couldn't see the Milky way. (It was also
partly cloudy which didn't help). A week later and the
window of sun down, moon down was longer and I could reasonably
see the Milky way if I could find some place dark. I did a
bit of research - drive out past Sooke (I went to French Beach)
and the light pollution is quite low. So my Dad and I drove
out at 11pm (after refilling the car's fuel tank) and the milky
way was surprisingly bright.
Whale Watching Trip
I've been on a few
whale watching trips on the North Island, but never out of
Victoria. Nara was also interested so we booked a trip with
EagleWing (leaves from the Fisherman's Wharf) and headed out on a
tour. The first destination is Race Rocks - a few small
islands stuck out into the Juan De Fuca Straight.
Being out in the ocean,
there are no land predators to harass a sleeping seal or sea lion so
much of the water accessible rock is covered with lounging and
sleeping mammals. Because of the strong currents, there seems
to be lots of food and the boats don't get too close to the
rocks. Seems like a good place for seals to have babies, but
also a good place for Orca to go hunting.
After seeing the Seals and Sea Lions, we moved around to see a
solitary male (they say) Sea Otter. I didn't know they lived
this far down the island, but sure enough, there was a single sea
otter wrapped up in the kelp trying to have a nap. Everyone
one the boat was snapping away with their cameras.
I was really impressed with the Pigeon Guillemots flying
about. They have vibrant red feet and seem to land on the
largest island. There is no place around Vancouver (that I
know of) where these birds live.
After Race Rocks, we went to the coastline in the direction of
Sooke. We saw some eagles in the trees and flocks of
seabirds. Finally we turned back to the open ocean and drove
after some humpbacks.
Once we go the swell of the open
ocean, Nara started to get sea sick so I sat at the back with here
while the whales were showing tale flukes. Nara did get to see
some go by, but really I think she just wanted to be home.
Neither of us ate other than ginger suck candies.
Tags: Outerbridge Park(8), Mount Washington(7), marine mammal(7), biking(7), beach(6), fireworks(5)
People: Nara(18), Claira(18), Noelle(3), Philip(2), Edna(2), Mark(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2019 to 2005 > July 2016
Last Modified Sunday, October 30th, 2016 at 00:19:22 Edit
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