Vancouver Island Tour

I’ve been on Vancouver Island, British Columbia for over a week visiting my sisters Faye and Betty. We’ve had an awesome time so far touring the lower half of the Island. Last week, we rented a car and left for our adventure, stopping at Port Alberni in the middle of the Island mountain range, to watch my niece, singer/songwriter Brodie Dawson, sing at the first stop in her fall tour (watch her here on YouTube). We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast accommodation called By The Quay simply because we drove by while looking for a decent place to stay for the night, and went to the door and asked Rose if she had room for us! She had the most comfortable mattress we’ve ever slept on!

Tofino

Tofino

The next morning, we left for Tofino, the surf capital of Canada! The day was sunny and warm as we drove through rain forests, the Pacific Rim National Park, and walked the beach at Incinerator Rock, Long Beach watching several surfers ride the ‘high wave’. It was awesome! We walked around ‘the rock’ and ended up getting trapped by the incoming tide lol and had to climb the rock to avoid another soaker. We checked in to the Schooner Motel in Tofino which had a magnificent view of coastal mountains, a glacier, the Pacific ocean, and Clayoquat Sound (home of the 1993 largest non-violent civil disobedience protest in Canadian history which involved logging precious rain forests). Even though the motel beds were hard as a rock, we had a fun time:  we sat outside in the evening, enjoying the scenery while watching the sun set and went on a ‘walk about’ around the town inhaling the incredible sites and sounds of this rain forest oasis.
We left Tofino the next morning, driving back through the rain forests, including Cathedral Grove which is the home to a stand of old-growth Douglas fir trees, and made a pit stop in Coombs at Goats-on-the-Roof (where goats literally live on the grassed roof of the Old Country Market). Afterwards, we headed for Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

Brodie Dawson

Brodie Dawson

We attended Brodie’s Victoria show at the Solstice Cafe after enjoying a delicious supper made by Betty’s son Curtis. The next morning we toured around ‘Vic’ taking in the harbour while stopping in at garage sales and thrift stores. My sisters and I can’t help stopping in at second-hand stores whenever we can!
Then we left via ferry for Salt Spring Island, the jewel of B.C.’s southern Gulf Islands. Salt Spring is a beautiful island where winding roads meander around mountains and valleys. We arrived in the main town of Ganges during a rainstorm so we ducked into the Embe Bakery to pick up some food to eat later. We decided to drive around the top half of the island and enjoyed beautiful vistas of nearby islands in the blue waters of the Strait of Georgia and mainland snow-capped coastal mountains in the distance. It was breathtaking! Then we paid a visit to our cousin whom we hadn’t seen in decades, who lives on this island. We enjoyed a delicious fresh fish ‘n chips supper at the Seaside Restaurant which sported the most beautiful view of Vancouver Island and the ocean. Unfortunately, our Bed & Breakfast accommodation was not up to par but, on the bright side, we met some nice people from San Diego and Britain.

Seaside Restaurant view

Seaside Restaurant view

We left Salt Spring Island the next morning on the ferry to Crofton on Vancouver Island. As soon as we got off the ferry, my sister spotted a thrift store so we paid a visit and spent a leisurely hour hunting for bargains (50% off that day!) lol. We had a great time! Our mission for the day was to take another ferry to Gabriola Island to visit a friend of my sister Betty. On Gabriola, we ate lunch at Robert’s Place restaurant where I had the best seafood Chowder I’ve ever eaten. After driving from one end of the island to the other, we said our goodbyes to our friend and took the ferry back to Nanaimo on the ‘big island’.

Gabriola Island view

Gabriola Island view

Many times I’ve visited my sister on Vancouver Island and we’ve never taken the ferry over to nearby Denman Island so this year we planned our first day trip there. Hornby Island is another island beyond Denman which is only accessible via ferry from Denman Island. We took the two ferries and landed on Hornby Island where we drove through winding forested roads hugging the shore to Tribune Bay. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of Carrot-Ginger soup and a sandwich at Jan’s Cafe then walked to the beach to relax for a bit. Afterwards, we went to Ford Cove and walked along the wharf spying a few sea lions on a rock in the water.

Ford Cove, Hornby Island

Ford Cove, Hornby Island

Then we took the short ferry ride back to Denman Island. We drove ‘the scenic route’ on some unpaved interior roads through former logged areas that now had new growth forests. It reminded me of the shameful exploitation of this pristine island’s Coastal Douglas Fir habitat decades ago before the local citizens banned together to protect it. The view of Vancouver Island was amazing from this vantage point.

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We arrived back to my sister’s home weary but happy that we had visited SO many places and met a lot of lovely people in our travels. We were really lucky to have great weather all during our Vancouver Island tour.

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Visiting Vancouver B.C.

 

I’ve been in the wonderful city of Vancouver B.C. for the past few days visiting my oldest son Robin and his wife Nici. We’ve had a great time! On Sunday we drove up to Whistler, the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, in Rob’s Mitsubishi Delica and went to the top of Whistler Mountain on a small gondola.

Top of Whistler Mountain

Top of Whistler Mountain

There, we had a magnificent view of distant mountain tops, many with snow caps or glaciers. Across the deep gorge between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, was a larger gondola connecting the two mountain peaks together. THAT is why we were there! The sun was shining, the air was warm, and we were all pumped to take the gondola high about the valley below! I’m usually afraid of heights, but conquering that fear is on my ‘bucket list’.
Today was the day. The ‘Peak 2 Peak Gondola’ was fantastic!! It wasn’t scary at all. I was quite comfortable walking about the enclosed area taking pictures even though I expected to be hanging on to the seats and posts with a firm grip. lol

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Whistler village was crazy busy with tourists and adventurers. Many of these folks came to bicycle down the mountain – yes, you heard me right. These people take their bikes up on the ski lift or gondola to various points up the mountain and bike down!! ……..ya, I know, isn’t that insane?! Okay, they have to wear helmets, but it’s optional to wear protective padding in vulnerable areas. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I witnessed them going at break-neck speed down the twists and turns of the dedicated pathways (Of course they have to buy tickets to use the facilities). And I was stunned to watch them leave the peak of the mountain. I saw two ambulances while I was there, making their way up the mountain to retrieve damaged bicyclists…… Crazy.

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

While Robin and Nici were at work on Monday, I went on an adventure. Now let me just say, that I have not been on public transit in my nearby city, ever. But I’ve enjoyed the transit system in British Columbia. The bus drivers are always helpful when I tell them I’m just visiting their wonderful city as I ask them if they can let me know that I’m getting off at the right stop. Of course, I researched my route extensively on the internet and printed out the directions. So my adventure was taking 4 buses and two trains to get to nearby Richmond to visit Nana Lil: a marvelous 93 year old lady who was my neighbour 45 years ago when I was a teenager. I was told that she has dementia but she certainly remembered me! We talked over and over again about the memories that she had. She was SO happy to have me visit for a few hours. I was SO happy to visit her for a few hours. She still lives in her little ‘seniors apartment’ with help from ‘Meals on Wheels’ and other assisted care. Even though I spent more time getting there and back than visiting, I’m really glad that I made the time to bring some happiness to her.
Nici had made a delicious soup for supper as well as apple pie! Oh it was SO good!! Afterwards, they took me to the University of British Columbia where they worked to show me their labs and offices. It was really great seeing all the gadgets they have to work with on a daily basis and now, when I think of them during the day, I can visualize exactly where they are!

Vancouver Island awaits

Vancouver Island awaits

I had such a successful transit trip to Nana Lil’s that I told Robin that he wouldn’t need to drive me all the way to the ferry terminal, fighting traffic there and back – I would take the bus! It was easy-peasy: I just hopped the bus 3 blocks from his place which took me downtown and then transferred to the Horseshoe Bay Express bus. I likely got there faster than a car would have. After a short wait for the ferry, I was on my way to Vancouver Island. So now I’m sitting here in the ferry terminal in Nanaimo B.C. waiting for the bus to take me up island where my sisters Betty and Faye are awaiting my arrival! Then its more adventures with the ‘clucking triplets’ as Robert calls us………… lol.

 

Grammom vs. Oil Goliath

It’s true.  The rumours I heard about a nearby Natural Gas pipeline being converted into an oil pipeline are true – TransCanada Pipeline’s Energy East Project.  And I am horrified.   This aging pipeline passes under our Rideau River just a few kilometers downstream from my home.  Now that the shock has settled in, I’m fighting mad!  Just like a mother Grizzly Bear defending her cubs, I feel like I have to do my own little Grammom part to defend my children and grandchildren.  I won’t accept this quietly.

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The Energy East proposal is about converting a 50+ year old pipeline that was built to transport Natural Gas to an oil pipeline.  The purpose of this conversion is to pump over a MILLION barrels a day of thick (like pudding), toxic, Alberta tar sands bitumen oil through my area to St. John, New Brunswick.

This  pipeline discreetly passes under farmers fields and beneath the road leading to the nearest town a few kilometers up the road from me – it’s hardly noticeable!  It also passes under highway 416 unbeknownst to the thousands of vehicles that drive over it daily.  But the biggest, scariest part is that this old pipeline runs across the bottom of the Rideau River through Baxter Conservation Area, a sensitive ecosystem – which just happens to be too close for comfort to me.

Buried under Farmers' fields

Buried under Farmers’ fields

I could go on and on about the risks of this proposal.  First and foremost, is the very likely risk of a pipeline rupture creating a devastating oil spill either on land, underground, or in the precious river system.  Such a spill would kill our river (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) immediately and for future generations.  The impact of this cannot be underestimated.

It’s a nightmarish daydream to believe that this pipeline will increase our oil security.  This oil is slated for shipment to international markets at a premium price not to Canadians as the oil companies have erroneously allowed us to believe.  Canadians will end up paying more at the pumps because our oil will command more costly OPEC prices.  Shouldn’t we be trying to be more carbon neutral rather that carbon gluttonous?  Do the intelligent specimens in the corporate offices understand that their product is a major contributor to climate change?  Did the 2013 downtown Calgary flood (where their head offices are located) or the “hundred year” weather-every-ten-years, stimulate their curiosity?  Everything is out of whack and this pipeline proposal for more, more, more oil just exacerbates the world’s negative climate change condition.

pipeline

I’m sure you’ve heard of the XL pipeline proposal which was slated to go from Alberta through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico until citizens made it an election issue and the whole deal was postponed.  Around that time, Enbridge’s westward Gateway pipeline proposal received opposition from citizens, governments, and native groups in British Columbia, putting that project on hold.  So going east was the only way that TransCanada Pipeline could go now that it is backed into a corner.  Company profit is a huge motivator.

So the ordinary citizen has been motivated too.  One of my favourite sayings is from Margaret Mead:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Groups and people like me are rallying against the oil pipeline:  Ecology Ottawa, Sustainable North Grenville, The Green Party of Canada, and Rideau River Friends Against the Oil Pipeline , to name a few.   And we’re just getting started…… There are petitions to sign, rallies to attend, protests to support, etc.

Personally, I’ve signed the petitions and plan to attend rallies and local ‘open houses’ hosted by TransCanada Pipeline or Sustainable North Grenville / Ecology Ottawa.  In addition, I am making a large 4×8 sign to hang on a tree at my river’s edge which simply says “Stop the Oil Pipeline” inside a large red ‘stop circle’.  Thousands and thousands of people use the river during the summer boating season and the winter snowmobiling season.  Many of them might not be unaware of the impending disruption to their peaceful lives with this disastrous pipeline proposal.  It’s my duty to bring it to their attention.  I’ve written my local municipal counsellor to ask him where HE stands on this pipeline proposal…………let’s just say he’s not getting MY vote next election!   I plan to write to my provincial and federal elected officials as well and let them know that I will put my next vote where it counts:  against the Energy East oil pipeline.

Sunrise

Remembering September 11, 2001

I’m re-blogging this post from last year about my experience on September 11, 2001

Grammomsblog

September 11, 2001 was a day in my life that was one of the most profound and memorable.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t remember exactly what they were doing on that fateful day.  First of all, though,  I’d like to remember all those families who lost a loved one in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 started out as an ordinary day – the sun was shining brightly and the sky was the most beautiful blue without any clouds.  While waiting for the school bus with the kids at the end of our driveway, we watched a kinda crazy small plane that was doing some ‘loop de loops’ in the sky – that had happened a few times before as it appeared like someone was practicing his stunt-flying skills.  We watched and chuckled until the school bus came.  Chris and I decided to get…

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Silence

 

Silence. That’s something I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing too often! But really, is there any such thing?
This morning I sit here writing and I can see in my peripheral vision, the sparkling water of my beloved river, dancing like diamonds, silently reflecting off my glasses and clothes. I look up and I’m blinded for a moment by the extreme white patch on the river where the rising sun reflects off the flowing waters. In a few moments, the sun will have moved higher in the sky and the harsh, blinding white will become calm, sparkling water.

My 'Lake of Shining Waters' , Rideau River
I can hear the 2 clocks ticking around me as I sit here writing in the early morn. One clock rests on the cold wood cookstove, patiently waiting for me to paint the bathroom so it can take its rightful place again above the mirror. Hearing its ticking every second reminds me of life – one breath, one heart beat at a time – one that you can’t take away, give away, or take back….. each one at a time. That second is in the past before you know it and the next one is here before you’ve had a chance to think about it – regularly….. at exactly the same interval.

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As I sit here in my world’s silence, I’m greeted by the other clock’s bird chime on the hour – this hour being a black cap Chickadee call, one of my favourite birds. Then a real Blue Jay outside squawks to let me know he’s back. Around here, the Blue Jays seem to go into the woods for the summer. They come back in September to help me ‘clean up’ the fallen apples scattered over the grass and gardens. Their shrill call sounds bossy and dominant.
Soon I’ll be hearing the crackling of the fire in my wood cookstove while leaves fall and touch the metal roof quietly. Silence is a myth. Quiet is rare but enjoyed when I have the pleasure of experiencing it once in a while.

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