Sometimes you need to go far away to get away from it all.
Last week, Rolf and I left Calgary and drove all day to Hope, British Columbia where we spent the night.
The next morning, we drove another two hours to the ferry at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. It was only a short wait for the ferry, but I had enough time to get a latte at the Lookout Coffee House.
Once I am on the ferry, I feel like the vacation has begun.
We had lunch onboard and landed in Nanaimo one and a half hours later. (Yes, Nanaimo is the home of the bathtub races.)
Then we drove up island to Campbell River where we spent our second night on the road.
That evening we had the best ever halibut and chips at Dockside Fish and Chips. I also had a pint of the excellent local pale ale called High Tide. It’s available at Campbell River’s Beach Fire Brewing.
In the morning, Rolf and I got most of the groceries we would need for the next week. Then we caught the ferry from Campbell River to Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island.
Here we visited the Saturday Farmers Market and waited for the rest of our family to show up.
Earlier that morning, like about 3 a.m., one of our sons reached the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. He was driving from Alberta in his truck which was loaded with camping and fishing gear. He also had Makita with him. He caught the first ferry out of Horseshoe Bay, and by 10:30, he was at the Comox airport (south of Campbell River) to pick up the rest of the family.
We all met up at the Farmers Market: six adults, one two-year-old and a Labradoodle.
Next, we drove about a half hour to Heriot Bay on the other side of Quadra, and then another half hour to the area called Bold Point where we found Dragonfly Lakehouse. Our home for the next week.
About a kilometer away from the lakehouse, there is a dock on the ocean. Our son launched his Zodiac from here.
There are oysters all over the beach, so our meals were supplemented with barbequed oysters most nights. We also had crab and salmon.
I brought a printed proof of my next book, WEDDING BELL BLUES. Only I didn’t get to proof it because my D-I-L was reading it and I was spending a lot of time swimming or just sitting in a chair on the deck and looking out at the water. I will finish checking the proof this week. The story is set in September, so the book will be released early in September.
This is our cottage.
Dragonfly Lakehouse – as seen from the lake
down the stairs to the lake
and out onto the dock
I love sitting on that dock and feeling the gentle rock of the water. I also love my morning yoga spot.
sun salutations here
Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Is it a long way from anywhere? Do you enjoy early morning yoga in the fresh air? How about swimming across the lake?
The leaves in Calgary are changing to gold. No frost yet and, so far, none in the forecast. Of course, it’s still technically summer until the twenty-first. And I’ve heard predictions that we’ll get a very warm autumn. That would be nice.
This past July, we spent over three weeks in British Columbia.
On July 4, we left Horseshoe Bay on the mainland , taking the BC Ferries ship called “Coastal Renaissance” and landing 90 minutes later at the terminal in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
From there we drove north to Courtenay to stock up on groceries. Then we headed back down the island to Buckley Bay where we caught another ferry, a much smaller one, which delivered us to Denman Island where we stayed for a week. During that time we visited Hornby Island twice.
Denman and Hornby are two small islands on the east side of Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island with Denman and Hornby in the circle
Denman and Hornby
Our son (Ryan) and daughter-in-law (Liz) and their Labradoodle (Makita) joined us on Denman. They were coming from further north on Vancouver Island where they had spent a week at Nootka Sound salmon fishing.
We stayed in a little cottage and, with a five minute walk through the trees, we could be at the ocean shore.
nighttime on the deck of the cottage
Denman Island is about 19 square miles and home to approximately 1000 year round residents. Tiny Denman Village is made up of a general store, a bookstore, a couple of cafes, a hardware store, some craft stores, a library, a church, a school, a community hall and a post office.
Hornby Island is a bit smaller, about 11 square miles, and also has about 1000 year round residents. During the summer months, the population can swell to 5000.
The people who live full time on these islands are farmers, crafts people, artists, potters, writers, retirees and others looking for a laid-back lifestyle.
~ Walking around the “downtown” on a warm summer’s day ~
While exploring the island, we visited a vineyard. The farmer was out with her vines so she left this note.
We called her, she returned and invited us inside to taste some wine, and I bought three bottles of the Sandy Island White.
On Wednesdays, there’s a Farmers Market on Hornby Island so we took the ferry across.
Makita watching the ferry’s progress on the short trip to Hornby Island.
~ Approaching Hornby Island ferry dock ~
The market is in a treed area with a huge array of stalls selling muffins, jams, vegetables, jewelry, clothing, wine, massage, pottery and more. After the market, we went into “downtown Hornby” to one of the restaurants.
~ Watermelon, cucumber, feta, mint and spices ~
~ A wrap of avocado, romaine, red onion, cucumber and hummus ~
Later we walked down to Tribune Bay.
Tribune Bay, on the south side of Hornby, has a white sandy beach and warm, shallow waters.
Still later we ended up at the Cardboard House Bakery for some blueberry sour cream pie.
That’s Makita hiding in the shade of the picnic table.
The next day, we went back to Hornby using Ryan and Liz’s boat.
~ Makita in her life jacket ~
We anchored in Tribune Bay for some swimming. This is me with Makita. We both like swimming but I think she prefers fresh water over the salty seas.
Then we motored over to Ford Cove for fish and chips.
Here I am relaxing on the boat.
There’s a public boat launch at Bill Mee Park on Denman.
Liz is lining up the boat and Ryan will secure it to the trailer.
While Ryan and Rolf went fishing, Liz and I relaxed at the cottage. Liz (an artist, as well as an engineer) did some painting. I did some writing. And we both worked on this jigsaw puzzle which reminds me of Tribune Bay.
On Saturday, it was time to leave Denman. We said goodbye to Ryan and Liz and Makita. They headed back to Calgary and we were going up island to Campbell River.
It started to rain that morning, a very welcome rain considering the island (and much of the west coast) had been experiencing drought. The Denman Island Farmers Market is on Saturday so we stopped in before we left.
As I wandered around with my umbrella, I bought a hand woven dish towel and another bar of homemade soap. I also had a cup of steaming hot coffee and the best rhubarb coffee cake I’ve ever tasted.
I love stopping at the fruit stands as we drive across British Columbia.
That lovely time between the heat of summer and the chill of winter.
Sunny days, warm weather, bountiful harvests.
I wish that autumn lasted longer.
Yesterday, Rolf and I returned from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, British Columbia. On Saturday, March 29, 2014, our son Ryan married Liz at the top of the mountain.
And what a celebration!
It began on Thursday. Ryan and Liz and their Labradoodle Makita drove from Calgary in their truck. Liz’s parents, Bill & Tina, flew in the previous night from Ontario and they drove from Calgary at the same time. Rolf and I were about ten minutes behind them. The six of us met in Banff for lunch at the Keg and then we continued to Golden.
At Kicking Horse, Ryan and Liz booked a pet-friendly room in the Glacier Lodge at the base of the mountain. Rolf and I were in the room across from them so we could help with walking Makita.
When I wasn’t skiing or talking to relatives, I actually did a bit of writing and Rolf brought me lattes from the Double Black Café in the bottom of our building.
A ten-minute walk from the base, Bill and Tina rented a chalet to house four families. The huge kitchen and family room became Meeting Central. And this is where family members were treated to a pasta dinner on Thursday night.
Rolf and I only skied on the Friday but everyone else got in lots of runs. Here’s the thing about Kicking Horse. The mountain is so big you can have three weather systems on it. The top was clear on Friday, but on my way down, I had to pass through cloud.
Then I reached a sunshiny bottom and I had a chicken club on gluten free at the Peaks Grill.
Friday night, we brought in pizza for the rehearsal dinner at Bill and Tina’s chalet, and we met even more relatives.
The Wedding Day
In the morning, Rolf was in charge of taking Makita for a long walk. Since she was not allowed up the gondola, we wanted to make sure she was plenty tired while she stayed alone in her room at the base.
About 2 pm the groomsmen met in Ryan’s room to get spiffy in their tuxedos and read the instructions for tying their fancy bow ties.
I met Tina (Liz’s mom) at the gondola base and helped to carry up the flowers. We rode up with some skiers and snowboarders and talked about the wedding.
One of the boarders held a box of flowers for me so I could get off easier. Then Tina and I brought the flowers to the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant and upstairs to the bridal suite where the bride and her bridesmaids were busy doing hair and makeup.
and Ryan’s boutonniere
As I was returning to our suite, I met one of the groomsmen, James, heading to Ryan’s suite. He was with his wife Chelsea and daughter Catherine. Chelsea and Catherine got ready in my suite. My other son, Kyle, was also a groomsman. His girlfriend Carol joined me and the other girls in our suite.
Rolf and I, and Carol and Chelsea and Catherine went up ahead of the groom and groomsmen. I wore Mukluks while I was outside and carried up my dancing shoes for inside. The bride had white Mukluks.
Here we are boarding the gondola.
The Golden Eagle Express Gondola carries eight passengers 4000 feet up, for a length of 11,266 feet. It takes just twelve minutes and the wedding guests get blankets.
- The top of Kicking Horse is 8,033 feet.
- The Eagle’s Eye Restaurant is at 7700 feet.
At the top
While we were waiting for the others, we watched the staff putting the final touches on the reception room and setting chairs outside in the snow. You can see the chairs behind the restaurant, on the left side of the photo.
The groom and his groomsmen rode up the gondola about 4:30. The guests came up about 5 pm. Once everyone was at the top, the gondola stopped running.
The staff gave everyone hot chocolate or coffee with Baileys to take outside and the groomsmen ushered everyone to their seats.
Claire from Dibble Photography was everywhere. She did a great job of capturing memories.
We were fortunate to have two meteorologists in the group who arranged for a break in the clouds for the ceremony. The sun was out, with a bit of overcast and there were a few snowflakes in the air.
At 5:30 pm, Andy officiated and gave us a beautiful ceremony with some light moments.
Following the ceremony
While the wedding photos happened on the other side of the Eagle’s Eye, guests were treated to cocktails and canapés, and a slide show of Ryan and Liz from the time they were babies up to the present. It was surprising how many activities they shared before they even met.
From 7 to 8:30, we had dinner and toasts and many funny stories. Tables were named after trails at Kicking Horse. Rolf and I sat at Northern Lights with the bride’s parents.
Instead of a wedding cake, a caterer from town, Pretty Flour, made a tower of these cupcakes.
Ryan and Liz had their first dance, a choreographed dance, and their song is:
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden
Here are the opening lyrics:
I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy.
I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need.
I love you more with every breath, truly madly deeply do.
I will be strong, I will be faithful ’cause I’m counting on a new beginning.
A reason for living. A deeper meaning.
I want to stand with you on a mountain.
And so it goes. Listen to it here.
The DJ completely understood the needs of the crowd, playing some favourites for the older guests early in the evening and moving into a pounding tribal beat as the night progressed.
When she brought up the lights at 12:30, there was a collective ohhhhhhh. So she dimmed the lights again and played one more song.
There were two gondola runs down the mountain, one at 10:30 pm and one at 12:30 am. Rolf went down on the 10:30 ride to walk Makita. I stayed until the end.
Here is one more photo: this one is of my other son, Kyle.
For the trip down the gondola, the liftie gave us blankets and set a flashing red beacon in the cabin. This alerts the liftie at the bottom that the cabin has passengers. It was snowing, making powder for the morning, and we could barely see the outline of the trees as the gondola glided down the mountain.
Ryan & Liz spent the night at the top of the mountain in the bridal suite. They had their own chef who brought them breakfast in the morning and their own butler who arranged for their wedding clothes to be brought down. After breakfast, Ryan and Liz snowboarded and skied down the mountain in fresh powder.
Rolf walked with Makita up the slopes of the Catamount Chair again. Then we joined the rest of the family for the after-wedding brunch at Bill and Tina’s chalet. And then finally, on Sunday evening, a few of the family members had a pasta and salad supper. After that, we took Makita for another walk on the ski hill. We made our goodbyes Sunday night.
Monday morning after another Makita walk, we said goodbye to the new Mr. and Mrs. Stengl and headed back to Calgary. The official photos will be ready in a couple of weeks. These are a few of my own photos and we’re all looking forward to sharing our pictures and memories via Dropbox.
Thank you to everyone who made this event so happy and memorable.
Congratulations Ryan and Liz!
I’m just back from the coast. Apparently, Calgary had lots of sunny weather. Vancouver Island had lots of rain. Good thing I like rain.
There was fishing, wiener roasts and walks in the rain. Some days, the sun came out and there was swimming. Mostly, we all relaxed a lot. Slept a lot. Read a lot. And we did a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Liz was determined to complete the thing and she put in the last piece before we finished packing up the cabin on Sunday. Then it was back to the ferry for another trip across the Strait of Georgia. As usual, we took two days to drive home.
Now, back in Calgary, it’s still warm, but the leaves are beginning to change. Our lawn needs watering and I still have to unpack, but I’ll do that later. Right now, I’m excited about the new book I’m working on so that’s what I’ll spend time on this morning.
I don’t have any children going back to school this September, but September still seems like a time of going back, getting ready, starting new.
One of my favourite memories of back-to-school is of when my mom took us to McKay’s Corners to get school supplies. I always wanted a new eraser. A brand new never-before-used eraser, even though we had plenty of erasers available at home. I remember looking forward to school—to walking down the gravel road, kicking through autumn leaves and returning to the one-room schoolhouse. Grades 1 to 8 were all in that room. I went there until I finished Grade 5 and then I went to school in the town.
However, my first five years stay with me. Long rows of desks, pull-down maps, chalkboards, few textbooks, a big wood-burning stove in the back of the room. And each September, there were new workbooks, new pencils, and a new eraser.
Do you have a favourite memory of returning to school in September?
chalk from istockphoto #000013770837