Category Archives: B.C.

A week in Whistler – all about family & friends

DSCN0474We spent the last full week of September up in Whistler, hoping to catch some indian summer days while paddling, biking and hanging with friends. We got a few beautiful sunny afternoons to start and end the week, with 48 hours of torrential rain in the middle. We also ended up with surprise visits with friends from Whitehorse who happened to be down for 2 separate conferences in Whistler – that was a treat!

Our friends Steve and Kim live right on Green Lake at the beginning of the Green River. Thanks to recent rains the level came up a bit and we were able to go for a family run down it. We made the most of the paddle and turned what is normally a 45 minute run into a 2.5 hour run, taking time to play on anything we found. Hunter even taught me how to stern squirt (put the back of my boat down under water on purpose).

We gave Tim the next day off and he did some construction at Steve’s house and then they headed out to paddle the CalCheak, which was low but they still managed to find some fun on their way down.

We stayed at the Riverside Campground which is just north of town and had fun biking on the fabulous Valley Trail system, which has over 30 km of paved biking/walking trails. We discovered the skate park and bike parks in Whistler, which were definitely worth the visit!

The highlight of the week for Hunter was the full 48 hours that he got to spend with his cousin Robin who was up from Vancouver. They spend the first 24 hours living with us in the campground and managed to fit in a round of mini golf, a trip to the Village on scooters to play in the skate park and get ice cream, and lots of time spent running around in the woods. The second 24 hours was spent with Aunt Dawn & Uncle Colin at Intrawest where they played in the pool and the games room, explored the village some more and generally ran around.

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Any time we stop near a major centre it is expensive as you feel more like a tourist and money gets spent on dinners out and ice cream. We try hard to balance things and find ways to explore for free while being open to spending money on great experiences or time with friends and family. It’s a juggle for sure!

Exploring the trestles of the Kettle Valley Railroad

DSCN0398The Kettle Valley Rail Road was first built in 1915 throughout the Thompson-Okanagan region of BC to move mining resources but only lasted fully until 1961, when some pieces were starting to be shut down, and the final section shut down in 1989.  Once shut down people started using the abandoned railway sections for hiking and biking, with them eventually being turned into a provincial park and the trestle section was declared a National Historic site in 2002.

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Tim and I biked the trestles before a lot of the restoration work was done and both ATV’d and dogsledded the trail in 2001 and 2002 before the fires of 2003 that destroyed most of them. Biking the trestles with Hunter was top of our list of things to do in Kelowna as we figured he would love them.

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The main trestle section is 12 km in length, made up of 18 trestles and runs from the Myra Canyon trailhead to the Ruth trailhead, which are just east of Kelowna.

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We rode from Ruth to Myra Canyon and back which made it 24 km round trip.

The trestles themselves vary in length and height depending on the gap that they are covering – pretty amazing engineering from the early 1900’s.

There are also 2 tunnels in the trestle section, both of which were adapted and reinforced through the years.

DSCN0383There are some interesting historical remnants (this is an original stone oven for one of the railway camps) and plenty of educational sign posts to learn more about the railway, the local geography as well as flora & fauna.

DSCN0444Because this was a railway there is never more than a 2.2% grade in the trail which makes for an easy ride or hike for pretty much anyone. There are a number of scenic look outs and benches for resting along the way. It’s a must do for anyone travelling through Kelowna!

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Down time in the Shuswaps – or not…

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After what felt like a nonstop summer of either driving or kayaking, we opted to spend the first week after labour day in the Shuswaps – thinking lazy days at the beach with no one else around as the rest of the world had gone back to their daily lives… Unfortunately NOT QUITE.

We booked into the Blind Bay Resort, whose web site shows water front sites located right on Shuswap lake – private dock, pool, games room etc.. Everything we look for when booking some down time! Rolling into this small town after driving 6 hours was a definite let down – the RV sites are all 2 blocks back from the beach front (where they are in construction of new sites), lake levels are very low thanks to the low water summer so there is no swimming from their beach, the pool had been closed that day and the games room was only open from 9am – noon when the office was staffed. Welcome to the off season!

On top of that the stink bugs arrived on our second day – if you haven’t experienced stink bugs BE GRATEFUL. They were everywhere (camper covered, always trying to get inside, in my hair) but if you kill them they stink so you have to be careful to ensure you whack them outside away from main entrances.

We took a few days to wash boats, vacuum out the trailer, sort gear etc. and then were feeling restless and bored. Some quick google searching found some local bike trails so out came the bikes, which really hadn’t had much use since Burns Lake in mid June.

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Our first ride was just a few minutes up the road and fairly low key. Hunter was somewhat grumpy getting back into the whole “uphill” thing and this got us all off on the wrong emotional foot. 2km in and we were all ready to throw in the hat but we persevered because we all agreed that a 4km ride wasn’t long enough. We pushed on and all agreed to turn around at the super steep part before the peak. It came with a screaming downhill section that put smiles back on everyone’s faces and then settled into a lazy flat section. I was busy watching Hunter zoom by me and completely missed the large tree section sticking out from the side of the trail – not sure if I hit it or my bike hit it but yet again I launched over my handlebars and found myself whimpering in a pile on the ground… Upon reflection Tim chastised himself for taking the photo after he had removed my bike from on top of me! Always looking for learning opportunities, we got Hunter to use his first aid assessment skills, which was a challenge as he was so busy laughing at me. End results was a lot of bruising and strained intercostal muscles on the left side.

With our taste for biking whetted we headed a bit further down the road the next day and had a fun afternoon at the White Lake Bike Park – a small area in the middle of nowhere with some great wood features and trails. I opted for hiking the trails and acting as the family photographer to give my very sore body a bit of rest.

We made a stop at Pebble Beach after our ride and were rewarded with a very fun and refreshing swim. They have a roped off swim area and 2 rafts to play on. I’m sure it is packed in the summer time.

Overall, not the stop we had planned but we tried to make the best of it. I got in a few runs and walks and Hunter had a fair amount of freedom to roam, which is important to him these days. Tim used the down time to get our gear back in working order and ready for the next adventure.

Roadschooling in Kelowna

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We came to Kelowna for a handful of reasons – to meet up with Hunter’s Distributed Learning Teacher, to find warmer weather and to bike the Kettle Valley Railroad. We based ourselves out of Canyon Farms RV Park and it turned out to be a great road school experience as well.

The RV park is actually 8 beautiful sites that are located at the back of a working organic dalia farm. Lesley, the owner, has raised 4 kids and is passionate about making farming a learning experience. With a simple question of “why did you build an RV park” we learned all about the pine beetles that devastated their forest and the spruce beetles that had travelled into southern BC and are now decimating spruce trees, along with wood worms.

Every morning Hunter goes up and collects the eggs with Lesley. He starts by feeding the chickens, which keeps them distracted and out of the hen house. He then goes and collects all of the eggs from the coops and has learned to inspect them as well to look at shell quality. The egg haul is sold as farm gate every day to Lesley’s local customers, with Timber the dog benefiting from any non-sellable eggs as snacks.

IMG_2189The laying hens are all organic and Lesley takes advantage of having extra kitchens on her property. Everyone gets a bucket to place all of their plant based compost in and then you get to go and feed it to the chickens. It’s fun for Hunter and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to not place our compost in the garbage.

Hunter has also been helping out in the garden with end of season work. They have pulled plants and then moved fencing to allow the chickens greater range to wander and eat. He has learned about how the chickens create great fertilizer for all the plants and that it is a symbiotic relationship.

They also have a net and a variety of balls and rackets to use. Hunter decided that badminton would be fun and we’ve been playing everyday, most times more than once…

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Although it’s a quiet place, filled mostly with “golfers and wine tour folks”, we’ve also found it to be a great road schooling stop. Lots to learn in our surroundings, close access to biking and walking trails and amazing internet access.

Our first kayak festival – Kootenay Paddling Festival

lee's travels 1 - 067When we started looking at the calendar and trying to put together the pieces of the summer plan, one of our goals was to hit the Kootenay Paddling Festival in Crescent Valley, hosted by the amazing Chris and Andrea Ryman of Endless Adventures. It seemed like the perfect fit for our first festival experience – a fun, laid back group of people coupled with great class III paddling options and somewhere that feels really safe for Hunter to spread his wings.

It was a weekend of extremes – lower than usual water levels (end of June water  levels that looked more like early August levels) and temperatures over 40c each day. Shade was at a premium and we spent as much time in, on and under the water as possible.

We rolled into Crescent Valley on Wednesday in time to catch the club paddle that night and never really stopped paddling until we left the next Tuesday morning. Many runs on the lower Slocan River with Hunter being able to comfortably navigate his own way down by day two, so he was then allowed to head off with various groups (other than his parents) which pleased him a lot. A fun day spent on Wilson Creek and all paddling made better by doing it with friends, new and old. We even got in a float on the middle Slocan where Hunter got to SUP down half and then row an oar rig raft down the last half – junior guide in training!

The campground and shop are located right across the road from the lower Slocan River put-in, which is also a family friendly beach area for swimming in the river. Gas station, grocery store and restaurants are all within 2 blocks so there is no real need to travel far. The local rail trail for biking and walking runs right beside the campground so there are options if you don’t feel like paddling.

lee's travels 1 - 074As always, Hunter found his place in the community. He quickly became a shop helper and was moving boats, blowing up inner tubes and even helping customers. He just loves being part of something! He is looking forward to heading back in August for 2-3 weeks and splitting his time between the river and the shop.

We definitely recommend the Kootenay Paddle Festival to anyone looking for a fun, family oriented opportunity to learn to paddle, improve their paddling skills or challenge yourself to stretch to the next level.