Tuesday 18 October 2016

Beautiful British Columbia…

After our incredibly busy summer spent on the Caribbean island of Utila, the smallest of the Bay Islands, Honduras, where I was working on my next novel 'Island in the Sun' while my husband Trav gained his PADI Staff Instructor certification and did his IYT Boat Captain course, as well as teaching scuba diving to students with the Operation Wallacea project, it was so wonderful to be able to take some time out at the end of it all to visit my family in Canada.

My mum’s brother Ed and his wife Dawn and my cousins and their families live in British Columbia. We’ve seen Ed and Dawn several times over the years when they have visited my mum in England and they have stayed with us when we were living in Scotland. Each time we have seen them they have always extended an invitation to come and stay with them in Canada and so at long last we were able to accept their kind offer!

We are off to visit family in Vancouver BC!

We arrived in Vancouver on the 28th of August and Ed and Dawn met us at the airport. By happy coincidence, the day we arrived was also my cousin Elise’s eldest daughter’s 7th birthday, so we were able to attend the party in Abbotsford straight from the airport and meet many family members whom we hadn’t met before including my little second cousins Brises and Jean. Afterwards, Ed and Dawn drove us back to their lovely home in the town of Hope. Yes, they really can say that they 'live in Hope!'

Birthday girl Brises with her fabulous birthday cake
Jean and Brises

Hope is a quirky small town surrounded by mountains and lakes. It is famous for its breath-taking scenery, its chainsaw carvings, and also for being the small town setting in the Sylvester Stallone movie ‘Rambo’.

Ed and Dawn can really say they 'live in Hope!'
With Ed and Dawn in the town of Hope BC
Me with a bear - one of Hope's many chainsaw carvings!

On Hope high street - a setting for the movie 'Rambo'

For our first day, the weather was sweltering - this part of Canada had been having a heatwave – and so we went down to the nearby Kawkawa Lake (http://www.kawkawalake.net) to go canoeing. It was the first time I’d tried canoeing and I absolutely loved it. It felt so amazing to be gliding so peacefully across this beautiful lake in such a fabulous landscape with Mount Hope soaring above us into the clear blue sky. It was one of those special ‘pinch me’ moments in life.

Canoodling on  KawKawa Lake

On the way home we stopped off at Tim Horton's coffee shop (we wondered if he was a relative?) and also at a corn field to buy a bag of corn to go with our BBQ that evening – the cooking to be done by Trav and Ed – while Dawn and I enjoyed the hot tub!

Trav wonders if Tim Horton is a lost relative...

British Columbia is a place to indulge in outdoor activities and although the heatwave didn’t last very long into our trip, we managed to enjoy lots of outdoor hikes and trails, including the local historic Othello train tunnels that over one hundred years ago were cut into the granite mountain for ill-fated Kettle Valley Railway. (https://www.vancouvertrails.com/blog/othello-tunnels/). While we were there we watched from the bridges to see mature salmon trying to leap up waterfalls in the violently rushing river below. It was incredible!

We looked out for bears around Lynn Canyon Park and walked across it’s exciting suspension bridge (http://lynncanyon.ca). We explored The Great Blue Heron Reserve at Chilliwack (http://chilliwackblueheron.com) and mountain hikes in the wild and fabulous Manning Park (https://manningpark.com) where summer shorts could still be worn – albeit it was a bit chilly around the knees at the top of the mountain!

On other days, we visited the town of Harrison Hot Springs where we had fish and chips. We also indulged in visiting the local Dead Frog Brewery (http://www.deadfrog.ca) to sample their strange fruity craft beers with bizarre names like the classically named 'Big Stump' and the ‘Weeping Reaper’ - a lager flavoured with blood orange or 'The Nutty Uncle' which is a beer flavoured with peanut butter!

Sampling craft beer at the Dead Frog Brewery!

We also visited one of the many wineries in the area to try the local wines, which at the Backyard Winery (http://www.backyardvineyards.ca) were served with a platter of delicious cheeses. Mmmm cheese and wine – two of my very favourite things in life!

In the vineyard 

All of these amazing experiences were punctuated with lovely evenings at home with Ed and Dawn, enjoying tasty BBQ food or Ed’s delicious Pad Thai, looking through old family photo albums and appreciating Ed and Dawn’s passion and talent for art by admiring their many paintings. Dawn plays the piano beautifully and entertained us by playing jazz and songs we could sing along to. It was all so wonderful and such fun!

My Uncle Ed and Aunt Dawn

A highlight with which we concluded our trip (although there must be of course a million other wonderful experiences to choose from in Canada) we drove north of Vancouver to go to Whistler (https://www.whistler.com) - home of Whistler Mountain – famous for its ski resort, for being the venue of the 2010 Winter Olympics and for having the Peak to Peak Gondola – the highest and longest gondola ride of its kind in the world!

In September, pre-season, the only snow around is on the top of the mountain – which of course is also where the best view is - so I had to conquer my fear of heights to take two gondolas to reach the ski resort area up on Whistler Mountain and from there an open chair lift to the very top. It was breath-takingly beautiful but also incredibly scary to sit in a chair with your legs dangling and only a bar between you and the rocky and icy glaciers below!

I finally found a bear!

What an amazing time we had! Thank you so much to my lovely Uncle Ed and Aunt Dawn for being such fabulous fun, for being so hospitable, for taking the time to show us around their beautiful country and for so generously sharing their lovely home. Thank you also to my cousin Elise and her husband Doug and their girls Brises and Jean for welcoming us to their home and to Brises’ birthday party. It was a great opportunity for us to meet Doug’s family also. Thank you to Dawn’s sister Melanie and family for sharing their home with us in Vancouver when we were on route to Whistler. It was wonderful, while at Melanie’s house that we also got to meet lovely Helen, mum to the family, and also Dawn and Melanie’s sister Katherine. We are sorry that on this trip we never got to meet Stephen, the brother of the family, or my cousin Chris and his wife Trina and family as they live much further north in a town called Terrace, BC. Next time perhaps?

Trav and I on Cypress Mountain Road overlooking Vancouver

Trav and I flew from Vancouver back to Houston and from there we flew, like birds on migration, onto warmer climes in Asia, where Trav and I are planning new adventures. My next post will be about our wonderful weekend in Kuala Lumpur, meeting up with our middle son James and his lovely Korean wife Sujeong, as they celebrate their second wedding anniversary. After which, Trav and I flew on to Bali (our very first trek into Indonesia) and to the tropical paradise of the Gili Islands, three tiny islands off the island of Lombock, which are easy to get to by boat from Bali.

Until next time… do feel free to leave me a message/comment as I promise to reply as soon as I get an internet connection. If you are interesting in seeing more of my travel posts do please explore previous posts and also feel free to check out any of my e-magazine travel features by clicking on the picture icons/links on the sidebar. If you are interested in any of my books, then by clicking the 'preview' tabs you can read a sample of the book for free without going to the buy page on Amazon.

Love Janice xx