Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Snapshots

I am glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. ~ Anne with an 'e'

Let me share a few end-of-October postcards taken in my neighbourhood these past few days.

From the blueberry fields to the path along the river...

...it seems the whole world was aglow this October!

We have had record breaking warm temperatures this past week, and most of the snow has disappeared from the peak of Mt. Cheam.

The late grapes are ripe for the picking.
The birds are eyeing them too!

The last crop of grass came off the fields mid-month...but the grass kept right on growing.

Out with the petunias and in with the winter pansies.

One Sunday afternoon drive found us in Columbia Valley...
right along the Canada/US border.

There were no border  guards and no passports required...
though I suspect there were cameras on duty.

We stayed north of 'the wall'. 

Columbia Valley is a laid-back little community that dead-ends against the border. 
It's the kind of place where bikes are parked on the road and left unattended.

Memories of Thanksgiving...
which seems so long ago already.
There is much to be thankful for.
Every day.

Heidi traveled to Nepal on a Himalayan Life missions trip...
which left Maggie and Lucy without a 'hands-on-mommy' for a few weeks. 

Thankfully, Pauline was there for them.
And I took them to track events and music lessons.

Lucy started violin lessons this fall and is doing amazingly well!

Maggie is a long distance runner.
She runs effortlessly...
and always places near the front in district meets.

We had the privilege of seeing Roy & Rosemary in concert with Chilliwack Symphony orchestra a few weeks ago. So good!

A quick trip over the mountain passes and the long bridge...
had us in Kelowna to celebrate my sister-in-law Martha's birthday.
We surprised her big-time!

Kelowna in October is lovely! 
Snow on the Coquihalla pass...not so much.

Last week we were in Whistler for two days.
It was sunny and warm...
the leaves were beautiful!
Had we been there a week earlier, we would have been dealing with over a foot of snow.

We had nachos on a patio in the village and watched crews putting up Christmas lights.
Good thinking...
to put up lights while the weather is pleasant.

Every leaf is a flower!
And that is a wee peek into life 'on my front porch' and beyond during the month of October.

Wishing you many treats on this 'tricky Tuesday'!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Memories

Fresh snow-capped mountain peaks and churches seem a good way to begin this post.

It is Sunday, after all.

I'll start with the the corn harvest...very fresh in my mind, since the last of the corn came off the fields on Thursday afternoon.  Despite our very dry summer, the corn crop wasn't too bad.  And for that, we are thankful!

I don't recall ever having such dry and dusty fields during corn harvest in the valley.

Earlier this month, we celebrated birthdays. First one...

...then another. My dad's 95th birthday called for a big celebration, and we did that a few weeks earlier when all the whole gang was 'home'. But on September 14th we took him our for dinner, and (as always) he chose pie over cake. What a blessing to still have my dad with us, to have him share with us from his seemingly endless storehouse of memories, to listen to his wise council, and to enjoy his company.  Did I mention playing Rook?

After months of hot and dry weather, we finally got some much-needed rain mid-month.

Storm clouds and rainbows were a welcome sight.

Thankfully, once that rain was gone...we were back to lovely summer weather.

One weekend evening we drove up to the lake with Maggie and Lucy for square pizza on the deck at Beethoven's Pizza. They have a gal from Switzerland living with them for the next few months, and she joined us for the outing. It was a lovely end-of-summer outing and Pauline enjoyed seeing the lake...and the pizza, of course.  She has no choice but to speak English, since none of us speak French.  She is doing great!

Last weekend we attended a memorial service for an old friend.  He and his wife moved away from our community some years ago, and he has had many health challenges since that time.  The last time we chatted with Arwin was a chance meeting at a Tim Horton's in Merritt some time ago.  That quick stop turned into a lengthy visit.  It was meant to be!  Our hearts go out to his wife, Judy...left behind but not without  hope!

One Saturday we participated in a 'family bike ride' with Maggie and Lucy...an event that raised funds for Himalayan Life.

It was a lovely 16 kilometer bike ride along the Vedder Trail...until I had a flat tire and it became a 'walk-not-a-run' for me.

Maggie (right) and her friend, Emma, spent the rest of the day serving lemonade to hot cyclists and thirsty patrons at the Refinery Fest Market, all in an effort to raise funds to build a school in a mountain village in Nepal.  Oh, and Maggie also had a birthday this month.  She has a heart of gold, is a great sport and is a sweet nine-year-old who I am blessed to call my grand-daughter.

These two will soon be 16, but for now they are helping their friends celebrate. Yesterday we decorated a pumpkin cake together for their good friend, Haley.

 And those are just a few of the happenings around here this past month.

Fall has arrived.  Don't let the dandelions fool you!  This photo was taken a few nights ago as we were having dinner on the back patio. Enjoy the month of October!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nahanni ~ our flight-seeing tour

Nahanni National Park Reserve is the best known Northwest Territories park, and was the highlight of our visit there.

It is located in the southwest corner of  NWT, in the traditional territory of the Dehcho peoples.

We had heard of this beautiful natural area of deep river canyons, mountain ranges, huge waterfalls, hotsprings, and lakes...having read several books by Dick Turner set in the Nahanni. 

The park was originally established in 1972 with a total area of 4,766 square kilometres, became one of the world's first Unesco World Heritage sites in 1978,  and was expanded to 30,000 square kilometers in 2009.  UNESCO calls the Nahanni 'one of the most spectacular wild rivers in North America.'

The only way into Nahanni National Park is by helicopter or float plane...or maybe by foot, if you are a little crazy. We booked our flight months in advance with Simpson Air based in Fort Simpson and planned our vacation around it.

Our pilot for the day was Ted Grant, owner of Simpson Air. What a privilege to have him both at the controls and as our tour guide, with his vast knowledge of the area and decades of experience.  He came to Fort Simpson as an RCMP officer originally, fell in love with Nahanni and bought Simpson Air in 1981. His goal is to become the world's oldest bush pilot. I think he might just accomplish that.

We boarded the Cessna on the banks of the Mackenzie River, where we met a couple from Ontario who were our flight-mates for the day.  As it turned out, there were three float planes doing the 'Nahanni all-day tour' that day...and we met up at each of our stops.

We left Fort Simpson behind and then soared westward...

...over low swamplands and boreal forests

...and on to the canyons of the Nahanni.

The Nahanni River begins in the Mackenzie Range and winds it way through mountains and valleys before it empties into the Liard River.

We landed on the river just above Virginia Falls.  All was calm and peaceful here!

From there we walked to the falls...

...with a park ranger as our guide.

Virginia Falls drops some 96 meters (302 feet)...twice the height of Niagara Falls.  It was really quite spectacular!

We had lunch on a rock with a view...with a thundering river providing background music.

After lunch, we flew within arms length of the Cirque of the Unclimbables, a group of several cirques with 9000' granite peaks that drain through an alpine garden. First visited in 1955, these jagged rugged peaks were thought to be unclimbable.  Now they are a challenge to expert climbers from around the world.

There were hotsprings, geothermal ponds and Rabitkettle Tufa Mound...the largest tufa mound in Canada, standing thirty meters tall.  Thousands of years old, the mound is formed by thermal springs that bubble up from the volcanic ground, leaching calcium carbonate that hardens into a crust of tufa.

Our next stop was Glacier Lake.

Peaceful. Tranquil.

Until three float planes arrived.

It was also a fuel-stop.  Unless they gassed up, we would not be returning to Fort Simpson! That cabin-shed on the shore had a good supply of fuel...brought in by the barrel before the tourist season.  All that was needed was a Canadian Tire bucket, a funnel and a strong arm to fill up the tank. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Something on the wing needed fixing!  The owner sent the young Aussie pilot up to do the job.  And then, we were good to go.

We 'shared the chairs' at Glacier Lake, skipped rocks on the water, built Inukshuks,  and by the time the planes were serviced, it was time to go.  On to Little Doctor Lake...

...and Nahanni Lodge.  The lodge is nestled among the trees on the shore of  lake...a remote, private wilderness retreat.  It is owned and operated by Ted Grant, our pilot and the owner of Simpson Air.
A couple from Victoria, BC were staying there for several days, and came out to greet us as we landed. They were having the time of their life...and thought it would be a fabulous place for a family reunion.

As the day came to an end, we climbed back into our plane for the last leg...a flight of 100 kms. back to Fort Simpson.  Below us was the  Ram Plateau...grassy plains, deep canyons, as well as hoodoo and karst formations. We saw a group of Dall's sheep above the cliffs.

It was evening by the time we landed in Fort Simpson.  Our 6-8 hour day trip was extended to 10 hours.  And a most delightful 10 hours it was!

With only about 1000 visitors per year, we feel especially privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Nahanni National Park as Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.