More Majestic Mountains, Some Hoodoos And…A Raven – Alberta Road Trip Wrap-up

With a free Parks Canada pass in hand, Hubby and I enthusiastically visited several national parks while on our recent Alberta road trip. Last week, I shared stories and photos from Mount Revelstoke, Yoho and Banff National Parks, ending with lovely Lake Louise. (Check them out here)

From Lake Louise, we took the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff, hoping to increase our chances of wildlife sightings. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single critter.

Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain, Vermilion Lakes Wetlands, Banff National Park

Mount Rundle

Cascades of Time Garden, Banff, AB

Banff Springs Hotel

Imagine having these beauties in your backyard.

Following our oldest son’s suggestion, we stopped at Bow Falls while in Banff. Such a pretty river setting.

We drove the Tunnel Mountain loop, taking a short detour to view the Bow Valley Hoodoos.

Hoodoos with Mount Rundle and Bow Valley in the background.

Taking in the view from farther down the trail.

Bow Valley with Banff Springs Hotel way off in the distance.

A zoomed-in peek of Banff Springs Hotel.

Three Sisters Mountains, Canmore, AB

In Calgary, our daughter-in-law fed us an incredible Thanksgiving feast, and we watched our grandsons’ hockey practices.

Roxy came to the rink, too.

Our eldest grandson showed me his new skateboard skills.

That’s our youngest grandson under the hoodie.

On our way home, I saw a grizzly bear in the distance, sitting on train tracks near Banff. Disappointingly, we had few wildlife sightings the entire trip. Besides the bear, I had a brief glimpse of a chipmunk on Mount Revelstoke, a squirrel in Lake Louise (are those even considered wildlife?), several jack rabbits (not really wildlife, either) and a coyote in Calgary. At least the incredible scenery didn’t disappoint.

We never leave Roxy alone in the car, so a downside of traveling with her is having to eat takeout. While Hubby got us some food in Golden, I prepared Roxy’s lunch on the car console. When I turned back around, this massive raven was staring at me through the windshield.

It immediately began ‘talking’, asking to share Roxy’s meal, or perhaps wanting Roxy for its meal.

This persistent bird was considerably larger than my wee dog, and I was relieved to have the windshield between us. It hung around until Hubby arrived to shoo it off.

Traffic quickly backed up during the hour and half delay for road construction east of Glacier National Park.

Wish I’d spent the entire time snoozing the way Roxy did.

Long traffic lines on the other side, too.

Lots of lovely fall colours and fresh snow on the mountains in Rogers Pass.

When Roxy woke up, she had to pee. Bad.

We stopped at Three Valley Gap, west of Revelstoke, as suggested by my older brother. Roxy was relieved to relieve herself.

We’re truly blessed to live in such a naturally beautiful part of the world, and I hope you enjoyed this small taste of it.

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Stepping Away…

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Monday Musings is currently on hiatus while I tend to other projects. I’ve left links below to some of my more popular topics in case you’d like to browse. I promise most of them include gorgeous photos.

Or you can pop over to my bookshelf or excerpts if you want more information on my books.

I’ll see you all in a few months. Happy reading!

Link to:  My experience with torn and detached retinas

Link to:  Cruising around historic Cuba

Sunday Funday Adventures – Exploring the Okanagan

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Link to:  Beautiful beaches and hiking trails on Vancouver Island

Link to:  Monkeys and more at Sandos Caracol and Riviera Maya

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Link to:  Fun in Palm Desert and San Diego, California

Steamboats on the Old Man River, trolley cars and beignets…Adventures in New Orleans

Icebergs and rowhouses…Exploring Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Favourite Furry Pets – And a few not so furry ones, too

 

Sunday Funday Wrap-up

On a Sunday Funday in the middle of July, Hubby and I set out to explore Kathleen Lake. Access to the trail is off Knox Mountain Road, and we intended to drive to the top of Knox Mountain, then walk the short distance down the road to the trailhead. What we didn’t know is that on Sundays the road is closed to vehicle traffic until noon. So we hiked up the Apex Trail to the first lookout, then took the road up.

An elevation change of eighty metres is listed on the entrance sign, and we found the trail easy, without any real steep sections.

1 Kathleen Lake Trail 2 Kathleen Lake Trail

We got a peek or two at Kathleen Lake along the first part of the trail.

3. Kathleen Lake Trail

As we climbed higher, the small lake came into view.

4 Kathleen Lake Trail

At that point, we branched off onto the Glenmore Ridge Trail. It appears to have been an old service road and vehicle tracks serve as the trail, which is lined with a multitude of Inuksuk.

6. Glenmore Ridge Trail 7. Glenmore Ridge Trail

Some of the Inuksuk are quite large and elaborate.

8. Glenmore Ridge Trail 9. Glenmore Ridge Trail

I found this little notebook inside an Inuksuk and wrote a short greeting in it. What a lovely idea.

10. Glenmore Ridge Trail

Our lunchbreak view of Dilworth Mountain and the Glenmore Valley. Even a glimpse of the lake in the opposite direction.

11 View from Glenmore Ridge Trail

5 Glenmore Ridge Trail

Hello up there.

12 Glenmore Ridge Trail

Back on the Kathleen Lake Trail, we followed another old service road. Very unusual to see green foliage in the middle of July. There’s usually little green to be seen midsummer in the Okanagan.

13 Kathleen Lake Trail 15 Kathleen Lake Trail 21 Kathleen Lake Trail

The upper lookout on Knox Mountain is visible in the centre top of this photo.

14 Kathleen Lake Trail

Kathleen Lake from a better vantage point.

16 Kathleen Lake Trail

Such a look of concentration on my face as I inch my way down the precipitous slope to the lake. After my tumbles on Okanagan Mountain, I’ve grown a tad cautious going downhill.

17 Kathleen Lake Trail

The small lake was lush and green and peaceful. Well worth the trudge down and back up the steep incline.

18 Kathleen Lake Trail

Way back when Hubby and I were first together, I once explained to him while on a road trip that I was so blind, I couldn’t tell a bear from a stump. Over the years, he’s teased me many times: “Look, there’s a bear!…No, it’s just a stump.”

Maybe this time, I’m right. Look – there’s a bear! (Dead centre)

19 Look, there's a bear, Kathleen Lake Trail

Oh, no…it’s just a stump.

20 No, it's only a stump, Kathleen Lake Trail

Well, it could’ve been a bear. We were definitely in bear country. And although we didn’t come across any actual bears, I finally got my first deer sighting on Knox Mountain.

22 My 1st deer sighting on Knox Mtn

The following Sunday, we hiked up to the Rose Valley Reservoir on the Westside, one of my most and least liked hikes of the season. I loved how well-marked this regional park’s trails are. There’s even a clean porta-potty at the trailhead.

We started off on the Bunchgrass Trail, a short .6 kms and rated moderate.

23 Bunchgrass Trail, Rose Valley Regional Park

Bunchgrass meets up with Yellow Bell Loop, which is 3.1 kms and also rated moderate. A small pond borders the start of the trail.

24 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Tiny, tantalizing peeks of the lake promised better views to come.

25 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 26- Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Benches are placed at viewpoints along the trails, offering a chance for a breather and to take in the beauty.

27. Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Kelowna waterfront and Dilworth Mountain in foreground.

28 Kelowna waterfront & Dilworth Mtn

WR Bennett Bridge and Kelowna city

29 Okanagan Lake from Rose Valley Regional Park

Knox Mountain (where we were the prior weekend)

30 Knox Mtn

Okanagan Lake, looking north

31 Knox Mtn & looking north

Mere steps further were views of Okanagan Lake from the Westside.

33 Okanagan Lake & Westside

City of West Kelowna, with Mount Boucherie (I’ve climbed that!) to the right and Okanagan Mountain (I’ve climbed that too!) across the lake.

34 Westside & Mount Boucherie

The Forest Loop branches off from Yellow Bell. This is an easy 2 km trail.

35 Forest Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 36 Forest Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Next comes Bitterroot Loop, 2.8 kms and probably the most challenging and definitely the most interesting. The trail circles the top of the mountain, and at times is barely discernible, as the following photos attest.

37. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 38. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 39. Barely discernible trail, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We took a break on this rock to soak in the view.

40. Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Close-up of Kelowna waterfront and Okanagan Lake.

43 Kelowna waterfront & Okanagan Lake

WR Bennett Bridge and Kelowna General Hospital.

42. WR Bennett Bridge & KGH

Vista view lunchbreak.

44 Lunchtime, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Off we go again.

46 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Rose Valley Summit, Bitterroot Loop.

48 Summit, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Great view looking north from the summit.

49 Summit, Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

Rose Valley Reservoir, a lovely oasis of water on the top of a mountain.

51 Rose Valley Reservoir 52 Rose Valley Reservoir 53 Rose Valley Reservoir

Another bench for our viewing and relaxing pleasure.

54 Rose Valley Reservoir

I made myself a little dizzy, going out on this bluff to check how steeply the trail drops off.

55. Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

It’s steep.

56 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

The reason I’d earlier said this hike was one of my least favourite is because, although there aren’t any steep inclines, the entire hike is steadily uphill, with few flat sections. That wasn’t a problem, but steadily uphill also means steadily downhill. Not only have I grown leery of descents, they’re extremely hard on my feet. By the time we reached the bottom, my Morton’s Neuroma was screaming, making every step an agony, and my two big toenails had partially lifted from their beds – owie painful.

57 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 58 Bitterroot Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park 59 Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We took advantage of the last bench on the trail to rest my feet and enjoy one final view of the lake. Total distance walked, about nine and three-quarter’s kms. And yeah, I’d do it again, with different footwear.

60 Last viewpoint, Yellow Bell Loop, Rose Valley Regional Park

We had company on our last Sunday Funday in July. My eldest son and his family came to visit from Alberta, making this Grammy very happy. We spent a gloriously sunny evening at Waterfront Park.

61 Waterfront park 62. Waterfront park 65 Waterfront park 66 Waterfront park

Even the dogs came along. And we won’t mention that Sukie, the lab, fell into the lagoon when she went for a drink. 😉

63 Waterfront park 64 Waterfront park

Fantastic panoramic shot my daughter-in-law took.

67 Waterfront park

And that’s a wrap-up of our Sunday Fundays…at least for now. Go to first Sunday Funday post here.

Not All Sundays, But Certainly All Fundays

On the last day of June, Hubby and I took advantage of one of those two for one deals to take a trip to the Kamloops Wildlife Park.

We left early that morning, and the two-hour drive was lovely in the sunshine. Needless to say, we immediately got lost in Kamloops. In fact, I can’t remember a time when we haven’t gotten lost in that small city.

We arrived at the park in time for the grizzly bear feeding. I envisioned them tearing away at chunks of raw meat, but reality is far different. Staff actually hide the food – salmon, berries, veggies – all over the enclosure, and then release the bears to hunt for it, much as they do in the wilderness.

1 Grizzlies, Kamloops Wildlife Park 2 Grizzlies, Kamloops Wildlife Park 3 Grizzlies, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The Birds of Prey Exhibit holds many winged hunters, including this great grey owl.

4 Great Grey Owl, Kamloops Wildlife Park

A red-tailed hawk.

5 Red tailed hawk, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The bald eagles and golden eagles share the same enclosure, but they’re not real chummy. When a golden eagle invaded the bald eagles’ side for a drink of water, a noisy ruckus ensued.

8 Golden Eagles, Kamloops Wildlife Park

6 Bald Eagle, Kamloops Wildlife Park 9 Golden Eagle, Kamloops Wildlife Park

7 Bald Eagle, Kamloops Wildlife Park

I obviously don’t measure up well with a bald eagle.

10 Kamloops Wildlife Park

The Bactrian Camels were snoozy in the sunshine.

11 Bactrian Camel, Kamloops Wildlife Park 12 Bactrian Camels, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The Llama was snoozy in the shade.

12a Llama, Kamloops Wildlife Park

Snoozy seemed to be the theme of the day.

We tried twice to find the elusive Kermode Bear, but the closest we got to seeing him with through the camera’s zoom.

14 Kermode Bear, Kamloops Wildlife Park

Bighorn sheep

13 Bighorn sheep, Kamloops Wildlife Park

Rocky Mountain Elk

15 Rocky Mtn Elk, Kamloops Wildlife Park 16 Rocky Mtn Elk, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The cougars and lynx were disappointing no-shows, and we only caught a glimpse of a moose lying down.

24 Moose, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The two grey wolves reminded me of large dogs. What handsome creatures.

17 Grey wolf, Kamloops Wildlife Park 18 Grey wolf, Kamloops Wildlife Park

A park employee roused the black bears with the promise of snacks. The female woke up first and headed to the pond in search of apples.

19 Black bears, Kamloops Wildlife Park 20 Black bears, Kamloops Wildlife Park

When the larger male arrived, the female backed away.

21 Black bears, Kamloops Wildlife Park 22 Black bears, Kamloops Wildlife Park

My first close encounter with a coyote. Kinda cute.

23 Coyote, Kamloops Wildlife Park

The peacock was strutting its stuff, as peacocks tend to do.

25 Kamloops Wildlife Park

I flushed this little marmot out from under a cart and he rushed to ‘hide’ in the corner, keeping an eye on me through the reflective window. Clever fellow.

26 Marmot, Kamloops Wildlife Park

Our three-hour visit ended in the discovery centre, where this adorable little burrowing owl lives.

27 Burrowing Owl, Kamloops Wildlife Park

We took Roxy to Kelowna’s Waterfront Park the next day for Canada Day festivities. And mini-donuts!

28 Canada Day 28a

I was thrilled to get a glimpse of the baby osprey, and even more pleased that my crappy little camera sort of captured a shot of one.

29 Ospreys, Rotary Marsh 30 Ospreys, Rotary Marsh

The first Sunday Funday in July was especially fun because our daughter-in-law and Daisy joined us for a hike up the Boucherie Rush Trail. Mount Boucherie, the nub of an ancient volcano, is on the west side of Okanagan Lake, and this was our first time exploring it.

31 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

At approximately seven kms, roundtrip, and with an elevation change of 274 metres, the Boucherie Rush is almost twice as long as Knox’s Apex Trail with a similar change in elevation. I prefer the leisurely switchbacks over Apex’s steeper route.

34 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Daisy loves to lead the way.

32 Daisy, Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Impressive lake views were plentiful.

33 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail 46 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Volcanic rock lined the trail, a reminder of this mountain’s origins.

37 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail 44 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail 45 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Refreshment break

36 Daisy getting a drink, Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Shannon Lake

38 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Okanagan Lake, looking northward

39. Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Summit of Rush Trail, looking east and south. It was cool to view Okanagan Mountain, where we’d hiked the week prior, from across the lake.

40 Mount Boucherie Rush Summitt 41 Mount Boucherie Rush Summitt

Daisy posed for this picture all by herself. So adorable.

42 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Going down was as easy as going up.

43 Mount Boucherie Rush Trail

Yes, I shared lick or two of my cone afterward.

47 Daisy enjoying an ice cream cone

We set off the next Sunday in search of great lake views, choosing to explore Stephen Coyote Ridge. This area, located not far from the landfill in Glenmore, is classified as a conservation park and has no marked trails, which made me a little nervous. Not wanting to end up as a rescue story on the Five O’Clock News, Hubby left the occasional blue breadcrumb to mark our way.

51 Stephens Coyote Ridge

With no clear directions, we wandered here and there, and here again, enjoying the peacefulness and variety of trails, but never did stumble across any lake views.

48 Stephens Coyote Ridge 52 Stephens Coyote Ridge 53 Stephens Coyote Ridge 55 Stephens Coyote Ridge 56 Stephens Coyote Ridge 57 Stephens Coyote Ridge

When thunder rumbled overhead and the sky began to darken, we headed back to the car.

58 Storm clouds coming, Stephens Coyote Ridge

On the way home, we happened across a road sign for Robert Lake Regional Park and decided on a detour to check it out. An incredibly picturesque spot, Robert Lake is a salt flat and home to several species of birds.

59. Robert Lake Reg Park 60 Robert Lake Reg Park

We saw a few ducks and lots of Canada Geese.

61 Robert Lake Reg Park 62 Robert Lake Reg Park 63 Geese, Robert Lake Reg Park 64 Geese, Robert Lake Reg Park

I thought these little guys were sandpipers, but they’re called Wilson’s Phalarope. Cute, anyway.

66 Wilson's Phalarope, Robert Lake Reg Park 67 Wilson's Phalarope, Robert Lake Reg Park 68 Wilson's Phalarope, Robert Lake Reg Park

Summer’s flying by, but stay tuned for more Sunday Fundays in the coming weeks. Go to first Sunday Funday post here. Jump to next post here.

2015 – The Year of Challenges

2015 was definitely my year for overcoming challenges. Lots of challenges.

January started out incredibly. Hubby and I vacationed at the Sandos Caracol in the Riviera Maya, and it exceeded all my hopes. My blog posts with tons of photos start here. This is just a taste:

Mayan River

1501-1 Mayan River

We met adorable Coatis.

1501-2

A troop of spider monkeys live on the resort.

1501-3 Spider monkey

They eat bananas just like we do.

1501-4 Spider Monkey

They also eat them like this.

1501-5 Spider Monkey

Avendia Juarez beach, Playa del Carmen.

1501-6 Avendia Juarez, Playa del Carmen

Tulum is gorgeous.

1501-7 Tulum 1501-8 Tulum

I climbed Grupo Nohoch Mul at Coba. This is a shot from the top.

1501-9 Grupo Nohoch Mul

The resort’s beach.

1501-10 Riviera Maya, Caribbean Sea

Swimming in Cenote Cristalino.

DCIM999GOPRO

DCIM999GOPRO

Somehow, I acquired about six unwanted pounds over Christmas and while on vacation (thanks a lot, Piña Coladas). This gave me the push to begin exercising regularly, although I focused more on improving my cardio than losing weight. I started with a measly ten minutes on the recumbent bike at resistance one, about six days a week, with hopes of increasing both the duration and resistance over time.

1501-12

I visited my oldest son (DS1) and his family in February. Luckily, the Alberta winter was mild, and we were able to play outside in the sunshine.

1502-9

I watched my six-year-old grandson play hockey and take his turn in net. He thinks he might like playing goal. (Yikes!)

1502-15

My dad’s only living sibling turned 100 years old in February, and he’s doing wonderfully.

1502-24

My third published book, Dare to Risk All, was released on March 11th. Buy link

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I spent much of March and April researching a trip to Vancouver Island for our June vacation. I’d wanted to go there for years and was quite excited to start planning.

On Easter Sunday, Hubby and I hiked Bear Creek Canyon Trail. Lovely views, a few challenging elevations, with plenty of flatter grades to catch my breath.

1504-1 Bear Creek Canyon Trail 1504-2 Bear Creek Canyon Trail

My old bike was big and heavy, and difficult to handle, so I bought a new one in April. It’s built for a shorty like me. And it’s cute too.

1504-3 New bike

Last Christmas, I gave Hubby theatre tickets, and we eagerly anticipated seeing Addams Family in April. Then, unbelievably, we both totally forgot to go! Thankfully, they let us reschedule. We didn’t forget a second time, and it was an excellent performance.

1504-4a 1504-4b

My second novel, It’s Complicated, received a glowing 5 star review from InD’Tale Magazine earlier in the year, making it eligible for the 2015 RONE Awards. The public voting round started mid-April, so I spent a stressful week begging family and friends to vote.

That same week, Dare to Risk All’s shipment of paperbacks arrived. I don’t think seeing one of my books in print will ever get old.

1504-5 Dare to Risk All

My bookshelf is still rather skinny, but I’ve added to it every year.

1504-6 My books

By the middle of April, I’d lost four of my extra six pounds, and managed to up my bike riding to half an hour, still at resistance one.

To close the month, BIL bravely drove my mom, two of my sisters, a niece and me to Washington for the weekend. We met up with another niece at the Tulalip Casino. I’m not much on casinos, but it was fun to have an outing with my family.

1504-7 Tulalip 1504-8 Tulalip

At this point, you’re probably saying “Where’s the challenges? Life sounds pretty good.” And that’s because May hadn’t hit yet.

At a pit-stop on our way to see DS1 and his family at the beginning of May, our little Roxy fell off a picnic table and broke her leg. She was such a brave girl, but it was quite the ordeal for both of us.

1505-8 Roxy 1505-9 Roxy

Despite that traumatic aspect of the trip, we had a lovely time with our grandkids. We visited Bowness Park, an old childhood favourite of mine. Nothing like a big pile of rocks to entertain little boys.

1505-2 Bowness Park 1505-3 Bowness Park

I also attended my youngest grandson’s Mother’s Day celebration at his preschool. It was pretty special for both of us and I appreciated DIL1 offering to let me go in her place.

1505-4 preschool

As always, the scenery to and from Alberta was spectacular.

1505-1 1505-7 Canmore

I bought Hubby April Wine tickets for his birthday and we were so excited to go (didn’t forget this one!), but it ended up being a bit of a letdown. I loved April Wine’s music back in the 70’s and 80’s, and eagerly anticipated hearing it live. There were lots of long guitar riffs and several drum solos, but very few songs we recognized from their early days.

1505-9 April Wine

Last year, our youngest son (DS3) directed and produced his own movie in South Africa. Lord Jones is Dead completed post production mid-May, and Hubby and I got a private screening. We were so impressed with its professional quality, and Hubby likened it to Monty Python.

1505-10

Around the middle of May, we realized we needed to cancel our Vancouver Island trip. Even though Roxy doesn’t actually walk when we hike, the rigorous trip would’ve been too much for her with a casted leg. Talk about disappointment! Then a few days later, Hubby was miraculously able to book a rare week off in August. The trip was back on, several days shorter than originally planned, but I wasn’t complaining.

On the May long weekend, our ancient A/C unit decided to permanently retire. Naturally, the weather was unseasonable warm, and we had company. Worse part was, we couldn’t get a new unit installed for six weeks.

I was notified on May 29th that It’s Complicated had garnered enough votes to make it to the judge’s round of the RONE Awards. My family and friends had come through for me yet again!

2015_05_Contemporary_Sweet_FIN_S

Outside commitments kept me extremely busy most of the spring and summer, forcing me too put my writing and many other aspects of my personal life on hold. I was also at the beck and call of my invalid dog, who couldn’t even get herself a drink of water. With our house constantly overheated, I had to come up with ways of keeping her cool, including sharing my popsicles.

1506-4 Roxy

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Hubby and I took a day of R&R at nearby Beaver Lake at the beginning of June. It’s a lovely spot, and we hope to return one day with our kayak.

1506-5 Beaver Lake 1506-6 Beaver Lake

Family and friends came from near and far to honour my mom with a weekend of celebrations for her 90th birthday in June. She’s certainly a well-loved lady.

1506-7

Our new A/C unit was installed on July 2nd, and we focused on how cool the house finally was, rather than the expensive bill we had to pay.

The next day, Roxy got her cast off. The vet had concerns about the way the bones had healed and she didn’t put weight on that leg for the longest time, but we did physio with her every day, including some adorable hydro-therapy in the bathtub, and she slowly made a complete recovery.

1507-1 Roxy

The only difference we can see is that the leg keeps getting hairier and hairier (weird, right?) and the healed joint is bigger than it used to be.

1507-1a Roxy

Hubby and I explored the charms of Brandt’s Creek one balmy July afternoon.

1507-2 Brandt's Creek 1507-3 Brandt's Creek

I flew to Alberta at the end of July to celebrate my grandson’s birthday. We played in the Elbow River, an activity I did as a teenager.

1507-56 Elbow River

We spent a very entertaining and informative day in Drumheller at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and viewing the hoodoos.

1507-57 Royal Tyrrell Museum 1507-58 Hoodoos

And we capped the weekend off by attending a Stampeders football game. I hadn’t been to one in over forty years, so it was quite nostalgic for me, and my team won!

1507-59 Calgary Stampeders VS Montreal Allouettes

At the beginning of August, The Wild Rose Press contracted another of my books for publication. It’s titled Visual Effects and I’m guessing (hoping) it’ll be out next spring.

Because of the busyness of my summer, we only got out kayaking once, ambitiously paddling from Sutherland Bay to Paul’s Tomb and back.

1508-1 Paul's Tomb 1508-2 Paul's Tomb

By August, I had lost twelve pounds. I was still riding the bike for half an hour several days a week, but every time I tried going to resistance two, my knee would act up. Wearing a rather cumbersome brace has helped to stabilize the knee.

1508-8 Knee brace

Back in May, I discovered Roxy had a rotten tooth. The vet wouldn’t pull it without a multitude of tests first, so we hoped it’d just fall out on its own. When I had the vet check it again mid-August, it practically fell out in his hand. I told Hubby how it only cost $30, adding that I deserved some good karma for all the hard work I’d been doing. I don’t usually talk that way, and I should’ve kept my mouth shut, because only minutes later, I had a freak accident, which resulted in a severe injury to my foot. So much for good karma!

1508-9 Foot injury

1 Foot injury

Lots of bruising a couple of days later.

1508-11 Foot injury

To make matters worse, this injury happened mere days before our Vancouver Island trip. With serious nerve and tendon damage, I wasn’t supposed to walk on it, but I did anyway, determined not to let it ruin our wonderful trip. I shared many vacation tales and photos here. These are just a few of the highlights.

Schooner Cove Trail

1508-17 Schooner Cove Trail, Pacific Rim Park

Florencia Bay beach

1508-18 Florencia Bay beach, Pacific Rim Park

Lighthouse Loop

1508-19 Lighthouse Loop, Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

Big Beach, Ucluelet

1508-20 Big Beach, Ucluelet

On the last day of August, I received the sad, if not completely unexpected, news that one of my publishers, Secret Cravings, was closing its doors, effectively orphaning two of my books. I immediately started revamping the books to submit somewhere else, and my other publisher also offered to look at them, but to date I’ve made no decisions on what to do.

I was probably the happiest mom on the planet when my brown-eyed boy (DS2) told me in September that he and DIL2 were moving back home after eight long years living in eastern Canada!!

It’s Complicated didn’t place at the RONE Awards ceremony in September. Because the book was no longer for sale, and I’d already won the award for Show No Weakness, I was content to have finaled.

Hubby and I checked out Kuiper’s Peak at the end of September. Although the trail itself was short and uninspiring, the views of Okanagan Lake were exceptional.

1509-4 Kuipers Peak 1509-5 Kuipers Peak 1509-6 Kuipers Peak

We made our annual trek to Alberta for Thanksgiving and once again were blessed with lovely weather. DS1 got us tickets to a Stamps football game, and although my team lost, it was a fine night and we enjoyed ourselves.

1510-1 Stamps VS Eskimos

DIL1 drove us to Bowden where I experienced the fun of a Corn Maze for the first time.

1510-2 Bowden Corn Maze 1510-3 Bowden Corn Maze

We celebrated both DS1 and DIL1’s birthdays while there.

1510-4

The landscape on the trip home was alive with glorious fall colours.

1510-5 Three Valley Gap

By mid-October, my foot had healed enough for me to resume my bike riding regime. I had concerns about not having pedaled for two months, but I was able to quickly ramp up to a half hour at resistance two.

DIL2 treated me to a Bare Naked Ladies concert in October. Alan Doyle (formerly of Great Big Sea) was the opening act and, wow, what a great night of music. And such fun to share it with my DIL.

1510-6 Alan Doyle 1510-7 Bare Naked Ladies 1510-8 Bare Naked Ladies

The return of DS2 and DIL2 means Daisy’s back too. Daisy and I kinda love each other, and she certainly hasn’t forgotten me.

1510-22 With Daisy

Remember the bit about the A/C unit breaking down in May? Well, our ten-year-old furnace bit the big one in November. We could’ve had it repaired—if we wanted to wait four to six weeks for the parts. In November? Uh, no. So after ten chilly furnace-less days, we had the latest and greatest (and hugely expensive) one installed. Fingers crossed it lasts longer than its crappy predecessor.

The book cover for my new release, Visual Effects, was finalized mid-November. I’m quite happy with it, and I’ll do a cover reveal as soon as I get my release date.

It was a pleasure to celebrate DIL2’s birthday with her this year.

1511-14

We also had the privilege of attending her call ceremony in December. Such an accomplished young lady!

1512-20 Call ceremony

We hung memory ornaments for my dad and MIL at the local cemetery. My MIL loved Christmas, and I believe she’d be pleased.

1512-1 memory ornaments

Like our past several Christmases, this year wasn’t traditional. We spent part of Christmas Eve with lots of little ones at my niece’s beautiful home, where Santa made an appearance, and DS2 and 3 got a visit in with their grandma.

1512-21

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Christmas day was very quiet, just Hubby and DS3 to open a few presents with. Later, DIL2 hosted a lovely dinner at her parents’ place.

1512-23 1512-99 Christmas dinner

We cooked our turkey dinner on the Sunday after Christmas and had some family over to share it with us.

1512-25 Belated Christmas dinner

Traditional Christmas or not, it meant so much to me to have more than one special present under my tree.

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2015 wasn’t my best year and, while it certainly wasn’t my worst either, I’m glad it’s in the rear-view mirror. I look forward to what 2016 holds.

The Trip That Almost Wasn’t…Was Exceptional

I’d researched several places for us to hike while in the Nanaimo area, but we ended up not doing any of them. For a couple of reasons. The first being my escalating foot problems. If the foot injury, multiple blisters and Morton’s Neuroma weren’t bad enough, yet another issue had arisen. This ugly foot picture will help explain.

1 Foot injury Day 13

Note how the big toenail is sitting at a cant, and there’s a half-moon bruise just below the nail and visible bruising under the nail. This is the result of a subungual hematoma lifting the nail from the bed. I’ve had these before, but this particular one was the worst I’ve ever experienced. This painful condition is sometimes called runner’s toes, and is usually caused by improperly fitted shoes putting pressure on the toes while walking/running. In my case, it’s because my toe curls upward. So, yeah, my owie foot suddenly became a whole lot owier.

The other reason for not doing the hikes was the weather. Nanaimo got some badly needed rain overnight, with the possibility of more showers that morning, and I didn’t want to chance slippery trails or sudden downpours. After all the glorious trails we’d already taken on that trip, we weren’t overly disappointed about cancelling these few.

One of the limitations of travelling with a dog is the ability to eat in restaurants. We refused to leave Roxy alone in the car for a single minute, so unless we had accommodations, all our meals were of the picnic or takeout variety. That morning, we had breakfast in the parking lot of the Nanaimo McDonalds. I ate pancakes on my lap. Very gourmet.

2 McDonald's breakfast, Nanaimo

The rain continued to hold off, so I checked the GPS for local attractions and came up with Petroglyph Provincial Park. There were several interesting concrete replica castings of petroglyphs; however, the actual sandstone petroglyphs were a bit disappointing. Safeguarded behind a fence, they were covered with leaves and debris, and difficult to see.

3 Real petroglyph, Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo 4 Real petroglyph, Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo

The walk through the park was lovely, though. I thoroughly enjoyed the mossy, rocky setting.

5 Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo 6 Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo 7 Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo 8 Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo

Roxy’s pink camo didn’t blend in with her surroundings.

9 Roxy, Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo

Somehow, as we drove south down Hwy 19A, neither of us noticed we’d completely passed by Ladysmith. Hubby would’ve been content to continue straight through to Chemainus, but after skipping Nanaimo’s activities, I didn’t want to miss Ladysmith too. So we backtracked…and got lost in Ladysmith. We couldn’t locate Holland Creek Trail anywhere, and GPS was no help at all. With Hubby’s mood rapidly deteriorating, and mine on the verge of joining his, we happened across Transfer Beach, which was also on my list of things to do.

This old steam donkey caught Hubby’s attention.

10 Steam Donkey, Ladysmith

Ladysmith Harbour.

11 Ladysmith Harbour 11a Ladysmith Harbour

Transfer Beach Park.

12 Transfer Beach Park, Ladysmith 12a Transfer Beach Park, Ladysmith

From Transfer Beach, we took the Marine Walk.

13 Marine Walk, Ladysmith

Because of the summer’s drought, leaves were falling prematurely, and they were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

14 Marine Walk, Ladysmith 15 Marine Walk, Ladysmith

Yet another blackberry snack for Hubby.

16 Marine Walk, Ladysmith

Ladysmith marina.

17 Marine Walk, Ladysmith 18 Marine Walk, Ladysmith

Hubby waited patiently while I investigated the beach.

19- Marine Walk, Ladysmith

There were some old wrecks to check out, and I found the unusual black sand very curious.

20 Marine Walk, Ladysmith 21 Coal sand, Marine Walk, Ladysmith

We arrived in Chemainus several hours earlier than planned, so took advantage of the nice weather to stroll some of its charming streets. Chemainus is renown for its outdoor murals, and next week I’ll dedicate an entire post to them, but the town has many other appeals, as well.

33 Chemainus 34 Chemainus 35 Chemainus

When this 500 yr-old Western Red Cedar was felled many years ago, it was over 200 ft high and 11 ft around.

22 Cedar stump, Chemainus 23 Cedar stump, Chemainus

A sampling of the impressive outdoor sculptures.

Spool Donkey

24 Spool Donkey, Chemainus

H.R. MacMillan

25 H.R. MacMillan, Chemainus

The Water Wheel

26 The Water Wheel, Chemainus

Sea Captain

27 Sea Captain, Chemainus

In Search of Snipes 1913

28 In Search of Snipes 1913, Chemainus

Three Generations

29 Three Generations, Chemainus

The Older Generation

30 The Older Generation, Chemainus

Spirit of the Earth

31 Spirit of the Earth, Chemainus

Rope Master

32 Rope Master, Chemainus

Need I even mention, Hubby found blackberries.

36 Picking blackberries, Chemainus

A little grassed courtyard, just off Willow Street, was home to all sorts of adorable woodcarvings and topiary shrubs.

37 Chemainus 38 Chemainus 39 Chemainus 40 Chemainus 41 Chemainus 42 Chemainus 43 Chemainus 44 Chemainus

Hubby’s aunt lives in Chemainus, and she graciously hosted us for our stay. As pleased as we were to visit her, I think Roxy was even happier for the break from sightseeing.

45 Roxy, Chemainus

Cousin D joined us for dinner both evenings, and we had the pleasure of good food and great company. When Aunt S broke out her delicious blackberry wine that first evening, we liked it so much, we drove to Duncan the next day to buy more.

On our way back from Duncan, we met with Cousin D for a lovely stroll along the Crofton Community Seawalk. The weather cooperated with a break from the rain showers.

47 Crofton Community Seawalk 48 Crofton Community Seawalk 49 Crofton Community Seawalk 50 Crofton Community Seawalk

Black rock, remnants of coking slag from an old smelter, were scattered along the beach. Quite interesting stuff.

51 Slag, Crofton Community Seawalk

The ferry to Saltspring Island crosses at Crofton Harbour.

52 Ferry crossing to Saltspring Island, Crofton Community Seawalk

We hit the road early the next morning, back to Nanaimo, to catch the ferry for the drive home.

Vancouver skyline as we approach Horseshoe Bay.

53 Approaching Horseshoe Bay Terminal

Nine jam-packed days of incredible sights and experiences, with amazing sunny weather on nearly every one of those days. I’m so thankful we were able to overcome our many obstacles to make this fantastic trip to Vancouver Island. We will return. Click here for a post on the world-renown Chemainus murals. Start from beginning of trip here.

Cathedral Grove Park – Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Pecker Poles

As much as we would’ve loved to dawdle longer in Ucluelet, we were on a tight schedule, so after a whirlwind two days and three nights on the west coast, we started back to the other side of Vancouver Island.

The western section of Highway 4 is narrow and winding, with rock on one side and water on the other. Witnessing this loaded truck trying to negotiate a tight corner, I can understand why there’ve been some tragic accidents over the years.

1 Hwy 4 headed to Port Alberni 2 Hwy 4 headed to Port Alberni

Here’s that serendipitous tale I spoke of last week. While on the ferry to Vancouver Island at the start of our trip, I’d struck up a conversation with a young woman. She asked if our travels would take us to the Port Alberni area, and I said we’d be driving by twice, but not staying there. She told me of an enchanting and relatively unknown place called Hole in the Wall. She promised it was worth a visit. I made note of how to find it and, on our way through that morning, we kept an eye out for the Coombs Country Candy store, which she’d said is across the highway from the trailhead and a good place to park the car.

3 Coombs Country Candy Store, Port Alberni

Just in the nick of time, Hubby spotted a road sign with exit directions for the store. He popped into the store to ask the helpful clerk how to find the trailhead. I can only imagine how many other tourists have done the same thing. Crossing the busy highway was a bit of an adventure in itself, but soon we were safely on the trail.

4 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

The unmaintained trail is hard-packed dirt, and there’s a fairly steep, rutted slope near the beginning, but the majority of the short walk was quite easy.

5 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 6 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 14 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 15 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 16 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

What a delightful setting. I’m so glad we took the time to search out this hidden gem.

7 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 8 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

Hubby crossed Roger Creek to have a closer look.

9 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 10 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

Stuck on the other side, I cursed my injured foot for preventing me from investigating the interesting volcanic shale rock.

11 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni 12 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

We met a trio of men while there, and a discussion ensued as to whether this was a natural or man-made phenomenon. I was quite positive it was artificial, not only because of the perfect roundness of the hole, but also because of the large concrete foundation on the bank directly across from it. A quick internet search reveals that it’s indeed man-made. There was a water reservoir in behind that massive rock formation and, long ago, a waterline through the blasted-out hole served as a shortcut for the town’s water supply. Nowadays, it’s simply a gorgeous and intriguing waterfall.

13 Hole in the Wall, Port Alberni

Back at Coombs Country Candy, we admired the flowers while cooling off with delicious homemade ice cream cones.

17 Coombs Country Candy Store, Port Alberni

The huge trees lining Highway 4 as we neared Cathedral Grove Park hinted at what was to come.

18 Hwy 4 near Cathedral Grove 19 Hwy 4 near Cathedral Grove 20 Hwy 4 near Cathedral Grove

Cathedral Grove Park has looped trails on both sides of the highway. We opted to do the southern side first.

21 Cathedral Grove

It’s hard to comprehend the breadth and scope of those massive trees. I’m afraid our photos don’t do them justice.

22 Cathedral Grove 23 Cathedral Grove 23a Cathedral Grove

Whenever possible, we used ourselves as scales.

24 Cathedral Grove 25 Cathedral Grove 26 Cathedral Grove 27 Cathedral Grove 27a Cathedral Grove

The largest tree in the park is an 800 yr-old Douglas fir. At over 250 feet tall and 30 feet around, trust me when I say it’s beyond immense. And impressive. Totally awe-inspiring.

28 800 yr-old Douglas fir, Cathedral Grove 29 800 yr-old Douglas fir, Cathedral Grove 30 800 yr-old Douglas fir, Cathedral Grove 31 800 yr-old Douglas fir, Cathedral Grove

This is a Western Red Cedar.

32 Western Red cedar, Cathedral Grove 33 Western Red cedar, Cathedral Grove

After wandering through all those majestic giants, we crossed the congested highway to the northern loop. The trees on this side aren’t quite as large or old, but there are still many points of interest.

34 Cathedral Grove, north side 35 Hollow cedar, Cathedral Grove, north side 36 Cathedral Grove, north side 37 Cathedral Grove, north side

This tree, which is basically two trees growing from the same trunk, is called a school-marm. I have it on good authority that this old logging term has rather risqué origins.

38 Schoolmarm tree, Cathedral Grove, north side

The trail is gorgeously green and lush, with ferns growing everywhere.

39 Cathedral Grove, north side 40 Cathedral Grove, north side 41 Cathedral Grove, north side

We stopped for a picnic lunch at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, which is located about three kilometers south of Parksville on Hwy 19A.

736 Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

There are many walking trails in the park, and I’d have loved to explore a few of them, but time constraints limited us to a short beach visit.

739 Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park 740 Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park 741 Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park 744 Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

At Moorecroft Regional Park, situated further south on Hwy 19A, we took the Vesper Point trail, which has several small coves to stop and admire along the way.

751 Moorecroft Regional Park 753 Moorecroft Regional Park 755 Moorecroft Regional Park

Vesper Point

758 Vesper Point, Moorecroft Regional Park

We arrived in Nanaimo around dinnertime. After checking into the Howard Johnson Harbourside, Hubby went off in search of pizza, while Roxy and I settled into our room.

763 Howard Johnson, Nanaimo

The hotel was exactly what we expected, modest and clean, and reasonably priced. Its location, just off the Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway, was the main draw for us. After we’d eaten, we wandered out to the walkway. The evening weather and the harbourside were both lovely.

767 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway 773 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway 775 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway 780 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

Hubby took a try at tickling the ivories on the street piano.

787 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

We enjoyed listening to a talented street musician. I wish I could recall his name.

792 Listening to musician, Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

Roxy posed for her obligatory photo.

793 Roxy, Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

It takes a certain talent to patiently balance rocks like this. I, unfortunately, have neither the patience nor the talent.

794 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

At the end of the walkway, we relaxed on a bench and took in the scenery.

800 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway 802 Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway

Another very full day had come to a close, and I went to bed that night in complete awe of the beautiful and diverse province we live in. Click here for next week’s post or here to start from beginning of trip.