Thursday, August 14, 2014

British Columbia, Canada Part 2: The Island

We ate s'mores. And they were yummy. And they were s'mores.

So we opted for a campsite not really close to where we'd be spending most of our time because it was kind of in the middle of our two main island destinations. It was a beautiful campsite.

Our campsite was at Englishman River Falls. There are two falls, the upper and the lower. The upper were pretty. The lower we couldn't even see because there was a log in the way.

There was a big black slug on the ground. The kids love to compare the length of their hands to the length of slugs. And notice Jeremy? There was a lot of photo bombing during this vacation. A Lot.

Fun tree branch :)

I don't know why the kids did this, but there were a lot of faces like Megan and Link's in this picture. They were being "Weeping Angels" from Doctor Who. I have no idea why. Weirdos.

Cathedral Grove

This is Coombs Country Market. Otherwise known as Goats on the Roof. It's a huge country store and tourist trap with reasonably price old fashioned toys for kids and on the top of the store live a bunch of goats.

Piper's Lagoon Beach

These little crabs were everywhere!!

Faye did not like the crabs at all.

Tons of starfish, too!

took me a long time to get this guy untangled from the seaweed

We spent a lot of time at the different beaches when we were in Nanaimo. It was awesome!! Our favorite, hands down, was Blueback Beach, otherwise known as the BEST BEACH EVER! Gorgeous beach, tons of sea life to explore, sand dollars everywhere! Did you know you can skip sand dollars like you skip rocks? The difference is, if you can't skip a rock, I promise, you'll still be able to skip a sand dollar. They skip a ton! Throw it upside down and it'll go about 30 skips!

We woke up early on Sunday morning (July 13) and it was Jeremy's birthday. We went to church attending the ward I was assigned to when I lived in Nanaimo. It was awesome! There's a family that I visited when I was there in 2001. They weren't coming to church often at all, after having been offended about something. When I looked in the chapel, I saw the husband sitting up on the stand with the bishop. He had cut his long hair, was wearing a nice suit, and was now the second councilor in the bishopric! I later found out that his wife is the Relief Society president! The family has turned around and I am so excited for them! Also at church we ran into the Holman family! They were in Cleveland the same time we were. Brad was a year ahead of Nathan in dental school and when he graduated they moved to Nanaimo. We were so happy to see them and really grateful for the friendship and kindness they showed us.

After church we wanted to do some fun things for Jeremy's birthday. We took the kids to the Silly Boat Regatta at the waterfront. It was really neat! Many different groups and businesses around Nanaimo come together and create silly looking boats and they race to see who's boat will last the longest and who can go the fastest. There were also a ton of free stuff, like food and ice cream. They had a wooden boat kit for the kids to put together and decorate. After the regatta we went to the Holman's house. They let us change into our swimsuits and together we went to Blueback Beach. 

Face painting! Emma got a rainbow, Megan got flowers, and Lincoln got a tiger face :)

At Blueback Beach.... 

If you watch the video, it's hard to see the sand dollar skipping, but if you keep your eyes on the right side of the scene, you'll see the last few skips. Black sand dollars, by the way, are alive. The white ones are dead.

 Clams and oysters!

Fun sand dollar castles

The kiddos

The Guys
notice Megan's photo bombing
 The Gals
Faye was exhausted, so I wore her almost the entire time so she could just sleep
 Being turned into mermaids!

Then it was time for dinner and birthday cake (and pie). The Holman's were so awesome! They made Jeremy's favorite: salmon. He had three helpings and even camped out by the salmon for a while. It was the yummiest salmon I've ever had. I'm not usually a seafood fan, but this was really good! They also made him a pineapple upside down chocolate cake. We'd bought a cherry pie for him the day before, so we brought that, too.

Tofino was high on our list of places to visit. It was quite expensive to park at Long Beach, where we wanted to be, so we drove around until we found Chesterman Beach, which had free parking. We bought skim boards at Tofino and at Chesterman I tried teaching a sport I'd never done and only see done briefly. Thank goodness for YouTube.
We also visited Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse

 Then down toward Victoria!
The Capitol Building

On the way to Victoria we went to an aquarium. It was awesome!
It focused on things you'd find right there at the Salish Sea.
Faye did NOT like the touch pools. "EW!"

They had a fantastic program for kids where they played Survivor: Crab Style

Jelly Fish. We actually saw one out in the wild when we were on the ferry back to Seattle, so that was exciting!

 And that was the bulk of our vacation! It was amazing and I loved getting to be back in British Columbia, especially Nanaimo. I think if we ever decided to move to any place outside the U.S., which isn't likely, but if ever, we would move to Nanaimo. After 13 years, it still felt like home to me. I was there for almost half of my mission and when I was transferred, I was sad to leave.

If you ever decide to go to B.C. I can give you more ideas on things to do and places to see.  We didn't get to see everything I wanted. I guess we'll just have to go back :)

British Columbia, Canada Part 1: The Mainland

In August of 2000 I left to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. I went to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah first and was there for just a few weeks before heading out to the most beautiful place I've ever been-- Beautiful British Columbia. There's a reason that's written on their license plates, people. I was there for 19 months and loved it.

I lived in various cities while serving my mission: Victoria, New Westminster, Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Kamloops. I met so many fabulous people and learned so much about my Savior and His gospel. I always wanted to go back and visit the places and people.

Finally, this summer, Nathan helped make it happen. Usually he plans our family summer vacations, but this one he let me do. Let me tell you, I will gladly hand that job right back to him next year! Stressful :)

Here are some pictures from our vacation.

We started off in Langley to see the temple. The temple wasn't there while I was serving, but I remember fasting and praying for a temple every Fast Sunday. It was a really big deal for the members of the church there.
Vancouver BC temple

Then we went to Vancouver, to Gastown. Really we just wanted to see the Steam Clock. It runs on steam and is really cool! Unfortunately, we picked a bad day. The city was setting up for a bike race or something and half the city was blocked off. We couldn't take our direct route to it and ended up in a really unsavory part of town. We did eventually find it, took a picture, and practically ran back to the car :)  Vancouver didn't look like I remember it; every time we drove around I looked for familiar sights and came up with nothing, so I think the area I served in must have been closer to New Westminster than downtown Vancouver.
Gastown Steam Clock

Burnaby Living History Museum
In Burnaby there's a living museum. It was so much fun I considered skipping some of our planned stuff the next day so we could go again. They had a train, this antique car, a blacksmith show, a milking demonstration, all kinds of stuff. It was really cool. And free!

Campsite :)
We camped for nearly the entire trip. Good thing our family loves camping! This campsite was called Dogwood Campground and was for RVs and tent camping. It was a nice campground, and we were close to a playground. It was nice that we could set up the tent and watch the kids play at the same time. My only complaint is that it was really close to the highway, so while we were surrounded by trees, we could hear the cars. However, it was probably as "out in nature" as we could possibly get that close to Vancouver.

My one regret is that I didn't get pictures of two of my favorite moments. I got to see two of my friends, John Russell and his daughter Eliza. I didn't get to see the rest of their family, but John actually showed up at our campsite one night and we got to talk for a while. It was great to see him again. He was my "mission dad" and did so much for my companions and me. I got to see Eliza on the island when we drove down to Victoria.

University of BC Gardens
At the University of British Columbia there are a bunch of different gardens and they are beautiful. Jeremy loved swinging on the vines and got excited when he correctly identified "the Strangler" vine on some trees.

University of BC gardens

In another part of the gardens there's a tree canopy walkway. It cost extra to go on it, but compared to the another tree canopy place in Vancouver, this was a steal. It was amazing to walk up high in the tops of the trees. Poor Emma. She was terrified but she held it together and managed the whole thing.

Tree Canopy at University BC gardens

Tree Canopy at University BC gardens

We saw a couple hollow trees. These pictures are backward, I think. The first picture I think is from the University's gardens. The second is from Vancouver's Stanley Park.

University of BC Gardens

Hollow Tree at Stanley Park
 The Queen Victoria Gardens

The Maritime Museum just outside Vancouver

flemishing the rope

 This was an awesome museum. So many things for the kids to do!

The fish stick man!

Outside the museum there was a beach so we took the kids down to it and let them look for shells for a bit before we had to leave for our campsite.

Megan with her shells

On the ferry to the island. the sun was in their eyes, hence, Jeremy trying to keep his eyes open.

 They had an awesome program on the ferry. They had a marine biologist (?) who did a presentation on the sea life in the Salish Sea (that's the name for all the bodies of water in that area. She let Link play with her stuffed animals.