Category Archives: B.C.

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.

Burns Lake – what more can I say…

lee's travels 1 - 034It was never a question in our mind that we would hit Burns Lake again on our way south. It didn’t even matter that we were going 2 hours out of our way based on our decision to come all the way down the Alaska Highway vs the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

lee's travels 1 - 031It’s always tough to return to somewhere that you had an amazing experience. What are the chances that you can replicate it or will you just find disappointment? When we stopped there in the fall of 2013 we equally loved the trails and the biking community, lead by BLMBA and Burnt Bikes. There is literally something for everyone – beginner to advanced and you can stay amused for days. Rustic campground facilities on site make this such a simple choice.

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With a lake right at the base of the trail network, and right beside the campground, it can be a tough decision what to do each day… bike the amazing trails, walk the boardwalk around the lake or set out on the SUP or in a canoe for a peaceful paddle.

While we were a bit set back by the rain, bugs and the cool temperatures, the trails and the community did not disappoint. Our first afternoon Pat and Susan just happened to be driving the shuttle van up the mountain just as we were set to head up – WOO HOO!!! Pigs Fly on fresh legs – what a way to start our riding here! Hunter had such an amazing run that he actually  wanted to ride back UP (never heard of before) to ride again. It was a bit gruelling due to the fact that you are riding up a mountain, even if it is a fire road, and the bugs that come before dusk. The ride down was still fun.

On Saturday we made the most of the weekend shuttles – an affordable $4 per person per ride up thanks to Burnt Bikes- and got in four runs, with only one variation off of Pigs Fly as it is Hunter’s favourite. It’s perfect for kids of all ages as it’s like a vertical pump track – incredibly flowy and you can get as much or as little air as you like.

On Sunday we sent Tim off for a Father’s Day ride with the local club (a good 20+km ride on their epic trail) while Hunter and I did yet another Pigs Fly run with some other local kids in the campground.

Smiles all around and fingers crossed that the snow will be melted when we head back up the highway so we can catch this on our way home again. The local group continues to do trail development and we can’t wait to see what new trails they add to the system over the summer.

Making our way south – yet again…

lee's travels 1 - 009As I think I’ve said many times before, it takes a LONG time to get out of the North! Two full days of driving gets you to mile zero of the Alaska Highway in Northern BC, also known as the town of Dawson Creek, what is considered “northern” by most people…

Our first pause to stretch was the Watson Lake Sign Forest in the southern Yukon along the Alaska Highway. We usually hit this every time we come north or south as it’s a great place to take a break and about 5 hours from Whitehorse. One of these days we will actually put up our own sign. Kids have a great time checking out the old machines and old and young can enjoy the wide variety of signs throughout the forest (over 72,000 of them!).

lee's travels 1 - 014We managed to see lots of wildlife over the two days (bears, moose, elk, foxes etc.) but the Bison herd was definitely the biggest hit, with Hunter leaning out the window trying to get pictures while telling Tim to slow down. Stopping is a moment by moment decision based on which way the big males are facing and gauging their mood… The majority of them cluster north and south of Liard Hotsprings – another must stop destination on the drive north or south!

This year we drove the extra distance to reach Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway at Hunter’s request. He did most of our trip planning for the first two weeks as part of his last school assignment and found key things he wanted to experience while also calculating mileage, fuel costs and travel distance each day.

lee's travels 1 - 025Night two found us parked in an empty parking lot in downtown Chetwynd, home of a large annual international chainsaw carving competition. The best part is that all of the carvers work is displayed throughout town so it makes for a wonderful scenic walk through what would otherwise be a pretty standard northern forestry town along the highway.

Night three and we made it to Prince George – land of cell service, grocery stores and other amenities. A great place to stock up before we continued west to Burns Lake for five days of Mountain Biking.