The Eagle Has Landed

Yesterday evening, my 14 year old nephew and my 11 year old son wanted to go out before dinner.  They asked everyone in the house to give them a ride. Each person kept sending them away and told them to ask someone else.  Including myself. Finally I asked where it was they wanted to go. 

My nephew talked about a place just up the road called Eagle River. He mentioned pools of water and cliff diving. I decided that it sounded kind of neat, and I really didn’t know what kind of cliffs a young boy would imagine. Next thing I knew, I was driving four children for a quick dip before dinner. I’m glad my wife came along as well to help look after the kids.

My nephew directed me towards the location that we could take the vehicle to. The river run directly under Highway 101 on the outskirts of Powell River. As you walk down, you can see the water running off and forming a large pool.  The cutouts in the rocks almost made it look like old Aztec ruins.  Then you round the corner and the views continue to be amazing.

There was only a few guys on the far end.  I went over and took a look.  One guy was doing backflips off the waterfall into a pool of water below.  I was most impressed.  These were definitely cliffs and it was definitely not something I was about to attempt or let the children who were with me attempt. That was a young man’s adventure. I’ve been cliff diving before, but didn’t want to encourage the small ones to try it.

So we stayed in the first pool of water.  By one edge it was fairly deep, so the two oldest did their version of cliff jumping about ten feet up from the water. Even though it wasn’t nearly as high up, the kids still had a bit of fear in them as they teetered before the first jump.

If we return next summer, this is going to be a place we hit for longer than an hour.  It was secluded and essentially empty. The water was clear with a jade hue, but clean nonetheless. Sometimes taking the time to listen to a kid can lead us on a great adventure. Eagle River was exactly that.

Powell River

Powell River is a silent little city that my sister and her family lives near. There are two ferry terminals that you can use to get to off this rock towards more civilization. The summer months are absolutely beautiful here.

My sister is right on the water with a view of the ocean and Texada island. Her home could be a Bed & Breakfast if she wanted.

I spent the morning enjoying a coffee as the boats sailed by. It was a great way to start my day. But my allergies were not being my friend.

For lunch, we drove out to Beach Hut Fish & Chips.  It was recommended by a friend of mine. Boy, was it delicious. Some of the best deep fried goodies I have had in ages.

After lunch, we drove to the end of Highway 101 to a bakery that my sister recommended.  $48 in cinnamon buns for tomorrow’s breakfast were picked up.  Our car smelled heavenly for the 45 minute drive back to my sister’s home.

This afternoon is pretty much the same as the morning. Only it’ll be a cold beverage and a deck chair as I enjoy the views. My kids are down exploring the rocks and the ocean while I write this.  

This quick getaway visiting my family is exactly what I needed to start my vacation time. Now to get back to lounging and doing nothing.

Campbell River

We had 48 hours in Campbell River.  So we made the most of it.  

My wife and I hit the Shelter Point Distillery at lunch and then off to the Beach Fire Brewing Company for some more samples.

My wife and I had a lovely afternoon together sampling booze.  We paused at the 50th Parallel for a short walk and enjoyed the scenery. We returned to my mother’s place for dinner with the family and then headed out again.

We goofed around with a selfie stick and the kids took pictures at the beach with their cameras.  We took my mother’s dog with us for a walk as well.  My family has stopped using her slave name Jodie and renamed her Snowball. (Rick and Morty fans would love this dog!) 

We checked out this year’s wood carvings.  It added a bit more silliness to our night.  Then we headed back to Gramma’s for some dessert and another sampling of Sunshine in a Barrel before calling it a night.

This morning we went down to the local beach near Gramma’s for an early morning stroll. Our oldest daughter grumbled and argued about going. In the end, we “forced her” to come along. We parked near the sea walk and her and I wandered out towards the water.  

There was a large rock that had an entire ecosystem living at the base. We saw sea stars, crabs, hermit crabs, a sea anemone, some eels and a sea slug. My daughter took some photos with her cellphone.

After an enjoyable walk, we went back to Gramma’s and I made breakfast. We were getting ready to pack up and head out to my sister’s place next when my sister called. My kids decided that we should invite Gramma to Auntie Nikki’s. More because they wanted her dog to show up.

We ventured forth to another ferry. And waited for almost two hours to catch this ferry.  We wanted to be early so we could wander the beaches nearby and our oldest could take better photos with a digital Canon Powershot S5 that we lent her.

All-in-all it was a good 48 hour visit to Campbell River. The family and I are all smiles going on these journeys. Our puppy was happy as well.

Shelter Point Distillery 

Today’s adventure was something I never thought I’d truly enjoy.  It was few steps above brewery tours and a step above a winery tour. I’m talking about delighting in a Distillery tour.

The Shelter Point Distillery is in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. They use barley that they grow themselves as the sugar for the base. It is soaked in hot water after crushed. A ton of grain gives 5000L of Wort. One tank is filled every day. It takes seven days for wort to become wash. All grains are from BC. For single malt, they use their own grain grown on site. Fun fact: Whiskey is distilled beer. But you wouldn’t want to drink distilled beer. It is 10% alcohol.

The Shelter Point Distillery uses pure copper tanks, 1/4″ thick and 18 feet tall which were hand made in Scotland. The tanks were extremely impressive. Turning liquid into steam, back from steam to liquid.

Then it goes into a condenser. Then back to a spirit cell. This creates a purer alcohol. Nothing is wasted. They separate the heart (the good stuff) from the head and tail during this process. Three barrels worth of alcohol are created, then a desicion to make either vodka or whiskey happens.

They distill four times and make a beautiful tasting whiskey. Shelter Point started production seven years ago.  Whiskey barrels stay in warehouse for a minute minimum 3 years or it is not considered whiskey. It takes 5 years to make their gold winning whiskey. Fun fact 2: Their whiskey is 20% faster to reach maturity than in Scotland. Because of the temperatures in BC. Each year 2.5% evaporates from the barrels. This is considered “The Angel’s Share” in old Scottish terms.

For the flavored vodkas: they use only pure natural flavors with no sugar added. It take 3-4 weeks to make vodka compared to almost 3 years for whiskey.

The tour was given to us by an older gentleman named Brian.  It was from him that I was able to parlay all of my whiskey wisdom in today’s blog post. It was a good thing I took notes… He gave us samples of whatever we wanted to try.  After sampling the vodkas and the whiskeys, my wife and I had to make some purchases.

Barrel of Sunshine is one of the best tasting liqueurs I have ever tasted.  It was a tasty mix of orange,chai spice and maple.  It is a perfect dessert sipper to end a beautiful day. Three bottles are coming home with us! Plus a bottle of Red Apple Vodka.

A safe ride after was in order. It was a beautiful day to visit Shelter Point Distillery and sample BC’s only quadruple distilled Whiskey.  And only the second Distillery in Canada that makes quadruple distilled whiskey besides one in Nova Scotia.


Rest and Relaxation

Day one of vacation began at the end of a 12 hour night shift.  And it was Go Time right from the beginning.  I had planned an early arrival at the ferry terminal to connect with a ferry about an hour and a half later.  So I took a nap in the back seat of our Nissan Pathfinder. 

We boarded the vessel and I took another nap in the back seat with our puppy.  Our kids went onto the upper deck and played some cards- like typical BC ferry riders! I had a tough time falling asleep because a car alarm was going off two rows over throughout most of the ferry ride.

Our puppy enjoyed the time we had sleeping.  He also enjoyed going for walks at the ferry terminal. Lots of neat smells and places to mark apparently.  He was even treated to a couple 67¢ McDonald’s Hamburgers.  McDonald’s was doing a one day promotion to celebrate 50 years in Canada!  Thank you for the dog food McDicks!

We stopped in Coombs again on the drive up to Gramma’s.  I wasn’t hallucinating, there was a goat on the roof.  And it was a busy little location.  Picked up some road trip candied and smoked salmon before we were on our way again.  A couple brewery stops to fill some growlers were a must as well.

We stopped along the water for a few more photos and I discovered some new friends.  These guys rock!  One was named Potato Rock and he came with us because he needed a new home. We made it to Gramma’s home and I took another nap. Now it’s dinner time and I’m going to crack a bomber from one of the breweries.

A good start to my vacation. Cheers everybody!

18 Days of Freedom…

I am doing a night shift tonight followed by 18 days away from work.  Nearly 3 weeks.  I’m looking forward to just chilling out for the end of the summer. It’s been years since I’ve had so much time off.  The last time I can remember having a block like this was when I was laid off. At least this time, I’ll be getting paid vacation.

As much as I am looking forward to my time away, I still need to remain focused overnight.  My work is not a forgiving environment when mistakes are involved. Statistically most accidents or incidents occur when it is right before a weekend or vacation. People’s heads aren’t always in the game.

I want to safely finish my day (night) and enjoy some time away from work.  A little rest and relaxation are in order. My wife is looking forward to spending time as a family as well.  I’m looking for to enjoying a couple of adult beverages and a tour of Shelter Point Distillery this week.


The Beach is That Way

After writing about Hawaii yesterday, my wife really wanted to hit the beach. So instead of going locally to White Rock or Crescents Beach, we went across the border to Birch Bay.  Even though it’s maybe a 45 minute drive from our home, I hadn’t been to that place in over thirty years. The only thing I remembered before going today, was the Candy Shop- which is still there.

We packed buckets and shovels to make sand castles.  The kids wore bathing suits because we read that the water is warm.  Into the car we went and discovered free parking and access to the beach.  All sun screened up, we excitedly made our way towards the beach.  And it sucked.

Hoping for nice sand or even pebbles, we found muck.  As we walked through, I suddenly remembered my childhood time there.  I had gone down with a friend one summer for a few days.  What I remembered clearly about that time was getting my boots stuck in the mucky wet sand.  I pulled my foot up trying to free my boot, but my socked foot came straight out. To regain my balance, I promptly stepped that socked foot into the wet muck.  That was the memory that hit me.  The rest of that childhood experience involved wandering around the crappy shops, driftwood and a poem about pink elephants.

Today was a bit better than that experience.  But the wind picked up quickly and made for a short stint.  I’m sure Birch Bay is lovely to go on short strolls or digging for clams.  It is not a place to enjoy the ocean air and water. My kids did their best to have a good time.  Our oldest brought her camera and took some great photos.  Including one of a barnacle covered tire that stood like a beacon, and a warning of the crappy conditions.  To make this short trip a bit better, we went to the candy store.

The candy was a nice treat to an otherwise poopy morning. But we can honestly say that we don’t need to go back to Birch Bay ever again. Time to plan a trip to some sandy beaches and warm ocean swimming…

Share the Road…

Yesterday we had a couple of last minute guests over for a Canada Day BBQ.  One was an old friend of mine from high school.  The other was her man she tagged along with as he brought a trailer down to the Fraser Valley.  He does a trip down to Vancouver once a week. It was neat to hear his stories of travel on the roads from the perspective of a trucker.

We have done road trips as a family throughout BC and Alberta. We have travelled down the West Coast of Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho. I have loved every minute of it. The majority of our drives are pretty spectacular.  The views of the mountains/ countryside/ cityscape are awe inspiring as they appear on the horizon.

As much as I hate being stuck behind a big rig or truck and trailer, I know that those people are just doing their jobs. Sometimes driving for long hours.  Really long hours driving, as I came to hear about yesterday.  It’s not fair to be upset at them for being on the road either.  Especially over a holiday long weekend. Because guaranteed, as much as I may be in a hurry to get to my destination- they are busy leaving behind family and friends. Of course there’s a bit of frustration when stuck in traffic or you set a time frame and miss it by an hour or two. 
But hey, your destination will still be there in the end.  So why not just relax. Read a bumper sticker or two.  Make silly faces at the van full of kids. Wave to the trucker as he safely pulls over to let you pass.

Day Trip to Victoria BC

I volunteered to chaperone at my son’s school field trip to Victoria today.  It started really early in the morning at the school (and 14 hours later-still not home). We got on the school bus, and I promptly made my way to the back. So did the boys I was with. We laughed about poop jokes and cartoons.

The ferry ride was uneventful. My son and his buddy wanted to sit and play cards while we had a snack. We wandered the decks a couple of times and waved at a passing ferry. We got to Vancouver Island and boarded another bus. We took off to Victoria for the afternoon. Easy breezy and the weather fully cooperated.

Next came a whirlwind self guided tour of the Royal BC Museum.  We hardly stopped to check anything out.  Partly because museums are becoming a thing of the past when needing to get information out to the public.  Also partly because the schedule was so packed in.  I’ve seen this museum about a half dozen times in the past thirty years.  It hasn’t changed much.  We rushed from the museum across the street and into the Parliament Buildings. 

This was a guided tour that was extremely informative and the kids did a fantastic job being courteous to our guide. The children were also asking great questions and having answers that were asked of them.

Then we did a mad dash back to the Museum for the kids to watch an IMAX film.  This was only for the kids and the chaperones had some free time.  We took off almost instantly.

So a group of eight of us parents found a patio for the next forty five minutes and chilled out. I’m not saying I had a Bellini or that the others had sangria or ice cold beers, but we did… have some adult time.  We had good conversations about the school and kids.  It was a nice break before the hecticness began. After a cold bevie- we met up with the school and headed out for dinner.

58 kids, 29 parents and 2 teachers took over the Old Spaghetti Factory for one of the noisiest meals I have been at since my days at Chuck E. Cheese’s.  Absolute chaos was taking over.  As a smart parent- I suggested to the other parents that we let all of the kids get seated and we take a few tables at the other side. Best plan!

After dessert we ran to our bus because time was running out.  This time it wasn’t a school bus, but rather a charter bus.  With plush seats. The kids doubled up in the seats and the adults each took a double seat to stretch out.  The bus ride remained quiet.  All was good.

Our ferry ride back was calm at first.  Then the children began acting like caged animals.  The real issue today was a lack of recess.  Everything was planned to the minute and well organized.  But kids will be kids.  They had to burn off steam somehow- running around the decks was the only way to do this.  Us parents just didn’t have it in us to stop them.  The chaperones ended up in strategic locations in an effort to slow down the insanity.  The Chief Stewart ended up making an announcement over the PA system: “No running on the ferry please.” It wasn’t just our school.  Apparently another 200 kids were also on the ferry.  The poor passengers hoping for a calm ride to the Lower Mainland were now doing their best to ignore the children.

Our final bus ride calmed the children once more.  The bobble heads that the driver had on her dash mesmerized us all.  All around a good day.  I’m signing off now as we finish our ride back to the school.  Pretty sure a few cold beers will end my night at home.

It’s Over…

Quit being such a baby.

I’ve enjoyed the past few weekends of conventions, driving through the mountains and along the west coast. This week also had a bunch of quality family time and a lot of fun with my wife. But alas, all good things must come to an end…

The “old me”.

Back to the old grind for a couple of weeks of nightshifts beginning tonight.  At least I’m not on straight nights anymore like I was for years. Instead I do two weeks of nights, two weeks of days. As much as it sucks to have my vacation time end, I still kind of enjoy going to my job.  I mean come on, I move trains for a living!  That’s pretty cool no matter what age you are. I also have some fantastic coworkers whom I get along with. 

Even though my vacation is over, it’s nice to know that I have a decent job that supports my lifestyle and family.  Without this job, I probably wouldn’t be able to do the things we do or live where we live.  I could complain about going back to work or that I don’t want my vacation to end, but I won’t.  Instead, I’m going to make the most of my my time at work and look forward to my next set of vacation time later this summer.

I appreciate my job and my time off. All of that is a part of the work/life balance that people speak of. You need both to appreciate life. I’m working to try and make a better life for those around me. I also need the time off to enjoy being with those around me. Now I’m heading back to bed for my other favorite bedroom activity: Naps.