Cool Thing #19: Trolley Car 23 in Nelson, B.C.

Riding Trolley Car #23

It was first built in 1906 for Cleveland then purchased by Nelson, B.C. in 1924. This was the third trolley car in a two trolley town and was eventually numbered “23” by citizens who wanted people to exaggerate the size of their public transportation system. In 1949 the town went to busses and Number 23 was used as a dog kennel, cabin, and a souvenir shop. Then, thanks to the Nelson Electric Tramway Society, it was put back into service along a new line that linked beautiful Lakeside Pak (an area of soccer fields, beaches, and playgrounds) with an area just under the downtown area. All day rides are $2 to $3 or $8 for the whole family.

Cool Thing #20: Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

Henna at Campground

We just love this Provincial Park. There is a crowded (but friendly) town park in Nelson, but this place, along the same lake that Nelson rests on, is just so gosh darn serene. Each morning we have taken a dip in the not-as-cold-as-you-might-think glacially fed Kokanee Lake. Days are hot and nights are cool and last night we were treated to a concert from the marina just a ways down the road. Life just does not get any better than that.

Cool Thing #21: Gibson Lake Day Use Shelter (Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park).

Gibson Lake

Do not let the ten mile winding uphill logger road scare you. Well it did scare us a little bit, but the rewards were spectacular. At the very end of the road there is a parking lot with a lot of chicken wire lying around. A sign warns overnight visitors to wrap the wire around their car or else risk porcupines eating the rubber of your brake line and/ or tires. Who ever thought that in the end it would be the porcupines that would get you?
Then it started to rain. A big cold rain and we ran to the shelter. Inside we met a very cool lady waiting on her boyfriend who was rock scrambling. We listened to the Luminaires and played some matching games (with Henna winning each time). It was such a nice, cozy time that we forgot where about the rain and was surprised when sunshine came through the windows. Thank you day use shelter. Noel 7/30/13

More hiking reviews

Hike #15: Joffre Lakes Hike: 4 Km.
Sorry for the hiatus, but we were off the grid for a bit enjoying B.C.’s Sunshine Coast of B.C. I will pick up a week ago while we were in the Whistler area. This hike was a lesson that in Canada a hike considered easy/family friendly, means something a whole lot different than it does in the States.
The Joffre Lakes hike took us past three different glacier fed lakes with the most amazing blue you’ve ever seen. The first lake, was a quick jaunt from the parking lot, and consisted of many folks wearing flip flops. To access the other two lakes, the trail took us up through rock and tree root scrambles, across a path of boulders that looked like a giant tossed them there, and past workers doing construction. More than one time along our hike the only clue we were still on the trail was locating a simple orange diamond nailed to a tree. We were at a stand-still at one point with Noel swearing on one direction while I was certain it was the other. Like life, this trail was long, strenuous, worth the effort but sometimes easier for someone else.

Us trying to look like it was an easy hike!

Us trying to look like it was an easy hike!

Hike #16: Wetlands Nature Trail, Sechelt , Sunshine Coast B.C.This was short board walk trail through a small wetland along the coast. It reminded me how much wetlands ROCK! They are natural purifiers of our water, a superb habitat for many plants, species and animals. How awesome is that?

Wetland hike

Wetland hike

Trail #17 Coast Purple Banner Trail:
Along the sunshine coast, the arts community is full on strong. Flying a purple banner outside a home/studio was an invitation for folks to come in, talk and tour the place in which these artists art comes alive. Henna, whom is our artist in residence, was excited to get a first- hand look at the places in which the art forms that she loves is created. We visited: a finger painter (and no this artist was not five years old), a weaver (who also knits, and makes her own yarn), glass blower, and a blacksmith. In each studio we were introduced to such a cool way of life, in which artist go from their home straight to their studio, while enjoying the slower paced feel of the coast. We talked about the coast, life, Chicago and what got them started in the art form that led to their lives work. It made me so wish that I had some kind of artist skill. So I’ve decided that in my next chapter I will definitely learn something new that is both artsy and amazing.

Trail #18 Skookumchuck Narrows trail:
Skookumchuch means “strong water”, and since I had such difficulty pronouncing this trail I was at least glad to know what the heck it meant. This trial is a coast favorite, and leads you to tidewater that is forced through Skookumchuck Narrows and forms the Sechelt Rapids. The rapids are best viewed at high tide, and this specific day the rapids were being rated as XL. This 4K trail led us through a cedar nursery as this area was logged about 50 years ago, to drop us off at Roland point in which we were able to view the rapids. The viewing platform was simply an exposed barnacle covered rock that was assumedly much bigger before the tide came in. We especially enjoyed the small tidal pools filled with jelly fish and crabs. Henna explored these small worlds, and I fought back the fear of her falling back into the giant Hawaii sized waves behind her. We met some nice folks from Washington who took our picture. The guy taking our picture was a videographer and I felt like we were part of a vide shoot with the seriousness he brought to taking our picture.

Our photo shoot!

Our photo shoot!

We hope all is well at home and everyone’s summer is going great!

Cool Spot #12: Murrin Provincial Park

After never finding Lost Lake in Whistler and then barely dipping our toes in the glacial Joffre Lakes, we were ready for this swimming hole. With an overflowing parking lot and picnic spreads bigger than what you find at Ravinia, this place is not exactly a secret. The rock climbers like it here too and if you get tired of swimming in the not too cold, not too warm lake you can marvel at their skills. Henna and I, by the way, swam across the entire lake which made us feel like superstars. Corey enjoyed reading and catching some sun rays.


What I really liked about the place was the good vibes. The people were friendly and mostly locals. Before chilling by the lake we hit up a farmers market in Squamish. A lot of locals there too and it felt, especially when compared to Whistler, solid; a bunch of people spending their Saturday morning talking to friends and buying up a lot of produce. Tourists like us where there too, but it was not all about us. Really, it just felt good hanging out.

Pretty but too cold to swim in

Pretty but too cold to swim in

So after swimming and after lunch we started our search for lodging. First we tried the campgrounds and that was a quick no-go. That failure led us back to an adorable motel where I write you from now (funny how failure to us is a clean bed and a comfortable room; success is sleeping in our tent and smelling like smoke). It also led to a so-so sushi meal where the owner’s son is studying at the University of Chicago. This led to more conversation with other diners and soon we were talking to every single person in the restaurant about places we should check out in Canada. It was such a friendly time that before we left we felt compelled to say goodbye to everyone. One person went so far as to invite us to camp out on his lawn sometime.

To the road

To the road

One last thing; I love Canadian signage. Every exit here has a sign telling, in universal picture form, what exactly the exit has to offer. Besides the usual things like gas stations or hotels, they also express less common attractions such as waterslides, swimming opportunities, and farm stands. Sometimes we cannot quite figure out what the picture is trying to communicate and we are tempted to get off the road and find out. It is like a perpetual game of Pictionary. What a country! 7/20/13 Noel

Cool Stop #11: Horse Shoe Bay, BC

Rocking the white socks!

Rocking the white socks!

For cool spot #12 I went with Horse Shoe Bay which is just a little bit north of Vancouver. It is a stunningly beautiful place where ferries transport passengers to and from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. It was not our first time there and I hope it will not be our last.

Horse Shoe Bay, BC

Horse Shoe Bay, BC

Highway 99 leads from Stanley Park to Whistler and then some actual Canadian desert before it eventually joins a bigger road in Kamloops. Along the way it passes harbors, mountains, resorts, and wilderness. For a lot of people the destination is Whistler (home of the 2010 Winter Olympics). I got to say though that the resort town just is not doing it for us. When it comes right down to it, what I don’t like about Whistler is that it is not a national park. It’s not a town either. It is a loosely connected group of high end villas, restaurants, and gift shops mixed amongst a lot of dirt trails ideal for mountain biking around the valley. I am guessing there are some ski lifts too but we have not gotten around to checking those out. Our campground is clean, offers great showers, propane grills, and WIFI but only offers walk in sites. There is also a fire ban in effect and this leaves us defenseless against the swarms of mosquitoes that are everywhere. I will be honest, I wasn’t liking the place too much but then we stumbled onto the Whistler Olympic Plaza and caught the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra playing. It felt good, listening to tunes and just being in the moment. I wouldn’t mind coming back here either.

Whistler Olympic Park

7/19/13 Noel

Hikes #12, 13, and 14: Sea to Sky

Hike # 12: Hike to bathroom from our campsite (Orcas Island) and hike to our tent (Whistler, B.C): Total mileage too numerous to count.

Alright, I did admit that I was going to stretch my definition of hiking on this trip, but when I started thinking about it, I should count these small treks as a hike. Let me explain. For the trail leading to the washroom from our campsite on Orcas Island, it went from the back of our tent straight up about 20 ft. This also included a lot of small roots to stumble over, and often left my calf’s burning and me out of breath. I have often joked that our small treks to the bathroom really keep me in shape. I have even gone so far as to consider each morning before going to the washroom walking around the block first. It sounds crazy, but I think after the summer trip is done, I’ll have walked an extra 10 miles during these treks. As for the walk to our campsite in Whistler, it too is a trek, maybe not a back packing kind of trek, but a walk in site, in which our car is far away. I love it, as it keeps these old bones warm until our next hike.

Hike #13: Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C.

Ah…Stanley Park. We have been here before, and I think it’s actually prettier than Central Park in New York. It’s a gorgeous wooded city park, nestled on the coast, with many wooded trails throughout. Today’s hike led from the aquatic center/ children’s park (which was bustling with day camps) to a beach and then off into the woods. Along the way we came across a mama racoon who eyed us with contempt as her children scurried behind her. We walked away slowly as if they were black bears. I find it interesting how mom’s across the species have a drive to protect their young.

City park hiking is superb as it mixes the feel of hiking through a forest, with city views every now and then. Remember, I’m both a city mouse and a country mouse. I think that I woud feel right at home in Vancouver. Now if I could just talk the whole family into following us.

Hike #14: Lost Lake trail, Whislter B.C.

Once we hiked all of gear to our walk in campsite, we decided that we needed a walk to rejuvinate us, and get our bearings. We have never been to this part of B.C., and have only ever heard wonderful things, therefore we were excited to start. We were told that a trail behind our camp ground would lead us up a mountain and to place we could swim. Great we thought, swimming in a lake is our favorite thing to do. So we grabbed out stuff and headed out. We were happy when we found the sign to “lost lake” and headed up, only to find that the trail forked at some point with no signage! Ugh! This goes back to our general theory, people give horrible directions, no matter who they are. So after many aborted attemtps, and asking other frusturated hikers, we gave up finding the “lost lake” and played a round of mountain disc golf with rocks instead of actual frisbee’s at a course along the trail. Funny how when your looking for one thing you can find another. Improvising is the key to having fun and keeping things moving along, even when the directions suck!
July 18th, 2013

At Second Beach

City Park

The San Juan Islands

View from fire tower at Moran State Park

Cool Spot #11: The Fire Tower at Moran State Park

I have been eyeing Moran State Park (on Orcas Island) since I first purchased my National Geographic Book on State Parks. It has been our home now for three days and I have to say it is a pretty special place filled with hiking trails, swimming lakes, and old growth forest.

Check mate!

Check mate!

The land was a gift from former workaholic and governor of Washington Moran who was told by his doctors to either quit his job as governor or die an early death. He took this advice seriously and set off to Orcas Island where he built a kind of min-Hearst castle. Soon after he advocated that everyone spend some time in the country and did what he could to set up Moran State Park. In the 30s the CCC came and built a whole bunch of trails, shelters, and one awesome fire tower meant to recreate a 14th century tower built in Europe. I think it looks like a chess piece (a rook to be exact). Henna sees a tower; kind of like the one a princess might be forced to live in by a dragon. What is without any doubt is the amazing views seen from on top the tower (which at barely 2,500 feet I think is the highest point in all of the San Juan Islands). In one glance you can see dozens of islands, Canada, Mount Baker, and the equally snowy Cascade Mountains. Thank you Governor.


Cool Spot #12: The Washington Ferry System

For just over $70 Corey, Henna, myself, and our car where given a ticket that allows for passage from Anacortes to Orcas Island and then back again to Anacortes. It would be even cheaper if we did as many other passengers did and traded our car for bikes. What makes this ride even cooler is the fact that once on the island you can take it free (there would be a charge for a vehicle) to either Shaw Island or Friday Harbor. A lot of people living on the island take advantage of this. Some do not even bother getting off the boat which proves that there is only so much kayaking, hiking, sailing, and fishing one can do.

View from ferry to Friday Harbor from Orcas Island

We did get off the boat at Friday Harbor and pretty quickly regretted not paying the $20 to bring our car. Instead we took a bus filled only with tourists to Lime Kiln State Park to not see any Orcas. The bus driver treated us to a non-stop narrative of the island where he mostly gossiped about locals (“the lady who lived there used to be married to a pilot but now she is with the postmaster” or “see that house over there, the guy living there is a real curmudgeon”). He also threw in a bit of self-loathing (“recently my wife met a guy and she won’t admit, but she really wishes I was more like him. You know, that I was funnier or better looking”). My favorite though was when he brought out the truly depressing (“I used to see him walking around all the time, then he walked with one cane, then two, then a walker, and then I just stopped seeing him. That’s what happens when you get older, you kind of just fade away.”)


Lime Kiln State Park is supposedly the number one place on land anywhere in the world to see killer whales (they actually are a type of dolphin but don’t tell them that, they are not called killers for nothing). It was a pretty place filled with short but steep trails that led to great big rocks a few feet from shore that were ideal for us not seeing killer whales. Later we saw a lot of them in the gift shop where a DVD pretty much mocked our efforts at seeing them (look, if we saw them they might have jumped in the air then flopped on their side). By the time our bus driver picked us up (the same one from before) I was ready to kick back on my free water taxi back to Orcas Island where the driver of the ship wouldn’t try to entertain me and I might even get to glimpse a whale (didn’t happen). Noel 7/17/13

Hikes #9, 10, and 11: Seattle through Orcas Island

Henna made a friend

Henna made a friend

Hike #9: Downtown Seattle, Washington

Alright. Back to the hikes. I know Noel already talked a bit about our walk through Seattle, so I will make it short. Walking around Seattle reminded me that although I love to get away and be “one” with nature over the summer months, deep down under all this dirt inflicted by camping, I am a city girl. Walking through a city, is so much different than hiking on a trail, but I still love it. There is always an excitement upon turning a corner and not knowing what adventure awaits you. In this case it was glimpses of the space needle. City walking in Seattle also has its up’s and down’s. Literally. Up hill and down hill. So as we factored how far from Pikes Market to the space needle, we had to consider that we would be walking up hill most of the way, which left us tired as if we were hiking in Mt. Rainier. Not only did we have to factor the hard city walking, concrete and maneuvering through crowds of people, we had to consider the mental acuity required to remember where we left our car, how many hours left on our meter before we were hit with a $80 ticket, along with the information we digested along our way. Whew, city hiking is both mentally and physically stimulating. So, in the end I’ve decided I am a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.


Hike # 10: Kayak Trail in Cascade Lake, Moran State Park (on Orcas Island, San Juan Islands)

Cascade Lake

After swimming around in Cascade Lake, Henna was eager to explore it further. I must point out that this was our first family Kayak jaunt that featured each of us in our very own sailing vessel. It felt more than a little weird. Usually family water excursions have lots of yelling and direction dictating to cut through the natural calm of our surroundings. Henna proved a natural at kayaking, and took to moving effortlessly through the water. We had planned for only a one hour tour, but located a small path under a bridge, in which folks were jumping into the water and boys shouted “Hijack the Kayak!” at us. But once safely under the bridge we were treated to calmer water, more beautiful scenery, and water lilies to play in while we simply floated and looked. We were gone for two hours, lost in this place we found. Henna won the family award that night (a tradition formed years ago, when one of us proves to have pushed us into something we all love), for getting us out of our comfortable zone on the beach in order to explore an area that would have been lost to us. Thank you Henna, I will continue to follow you on adventures forever.

Henna kayaking

Hike #11: Cascade Canyon Falls, Moran State Park Trail 5 miles.

So, finally after relaxing (although that kayaking worked on my arms bit), we donned our hiking boots, grabbed an isolated half filled water bottle and set off on a trail once again. Henna was not too happy, and was dragged up for quite a while. We originally had planned to hike only to the falls (less than a mile away). But after talking to a few people, we were persuaded to hike up to Mountain Lake (the source of the water falls). As a rule, we always have to see what’s up the path, even if it means believing folks when they say it’s just a bit more up the road. We’ve learned that most often when people give directions or information, they are wrong. So up the path a bit, became 1.9 miles UP the path. It’s important to mention here, that the hiking was lovely. We were nestled in a virgin forest, filled with hemlock trees that went on forever, with the sun shining through the trees. It was nice. But we were hot and in need of water. We learned that once you don’t have water, you become more and more thirsty. Boy, Henna was not happy. And an unhappy Henna on the trail makes pain for us all. So right at the end of our rope, we came across the lovely mountain lake. Two nice hikers then informed us that drinking water was just another half mile away. So we had a choice. Either continue half mile to replenish (or one whole extra mile) or head back with no water at all. We chose to continue on even after running into a very weird and intoxicated man who stumbled his way in front of us. Later after filling up our water bottle we saw the two nice hikers again and swapped hiking tales. Going back was easy partly due to us being hydrated and also because we knew what was ahead of us. A big note for future hikes, BRING MORE WATER! It all worked in the end though, and the stories it cultivated will last forever. Corey July 17, 2013

Cascade Falls

wild flower

Cool Stop #10: Sitting on The Roof of The World (or at least Seattle)

The Roof Sculpture

A couple of years ago my neighbor, Scottish Tony, had a good laugh watching me try to get up on my roof. It just felt too high and the ladder too shaky for me to venture up there. So I was pretty stoked when I came across this interactive piece of art at Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Called The Western Oracle: I Will Tear The Roof Off The Mother, 2013, Heather Hart’s masterpiece allowed Henna and I the chance to climb all over a house without having to worry about falling and breaking a leg. Per the hipster security guard watching over us, the whole park used to be an oil field just a few years ago. Now it’s a cool public space a few blocks away from the circus of Pikes Market. Tourists like us wandered among the sculptures while joggers and cyclists moved past us and a free aerobics class went on in the adjacent pavilion.

Another thing Seattle has going for it are plenty of tourists kiosks manned with knowledgeable and witty persons (when I asked directions to a bank the answer given was “go to the chocolate shop, get a sample or two, and then walk through the rear door to find the ATM.”) Another person I met showed a lot less sense of humor when she lectured me as to why Seattle’s China Town should be referred to as the “International District” (Rand McNally calls the area “China Town and International District.”) Either way there was a Dragon Festival going on but we did not get a chance to see it. I did grab a Greek Salad while Corey and Henna went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Or is it more polite to say I had a salad of Mediterranean descent. Noel

Seattle Sculpture Park

Cool Stop #9: Emmons Glacier Lookout (along Glacier Moraine Trail in Mount Rainier)

I really have to thank cousin in-law and friend Dave for this one. Just one mile in on the Glacier Moraine trail (which begins at the White River campground) the trail splits and will take you to Emmons Glacier. There are by the way over 20 glaciers within Mount Rainier National Park (and enough snow during the summer to wage over five million snow ball fights). Emmons is the largest. We did not hike all the way to the glacier but we did manage to find a neat overlook where we rested for about twenty minutes. Water was drunk, bladders were emptied, and food was munched. Dave was the one who pointed out the glacier (I would have confused it with a bunch of dirt) and he was also the one who later pointed out a bunch of goats. He also repeatedly ventured off trails which gave us confidence to take a few chances. Anyways, here is the picture he took. Notice the snake like White River which begins at the mud caked glacier. Take my word for it, the water coming down is both cold and powerful. Better yet, find out for yourself. Noel

Check out the ice cave!  Nice photo Dave.

Check out the ice cave! Nice photo Dave.

Hikes 5 through 8: Mt. Rainier National Park


Hello. Sometimes on a trip things just work. The weather. The hiking. The campsite. And the company. We just spent 5 glorious days in Mt. Rainier National Park, and let me begin by saying, the mountain does not always present herself to her admirer’s. But not this trip because from day one she looked down on us each day. The hiking was sublime, if not treacherous in spots (as my photo journal highlighting each hike below will demonstrate). Our campsite felt isolated, as if we had hiked miles to a spot within tall hemlocks. And lastly, the company. We met my second cousin David and his daughter Mariah who hail from Lady Smith, B.C. for this portion of the trip. As I explained to Henna one night, this was only made possible becuase it was our good fortune 13 years ago that we knocked on Davids mom’s (Lou) door which opened a wonderful relationship with far away and previously unknown cousins. I may not have grown up with David, but I can now say he feels like a brother to me. Mariah and Henna, who are two weeks apart in age, became fast life long friends. And Noel and David must have talked hours about everything. Along our hikes, David shared his love and knowledge of this earth and nature with us, showing me things I would have surely walked right by, but instead saw in a different way. I thank him for that. Mariah and Henna made, “nature food” for us each night, after proving to be awesome hikers during the day. What a joy Mariah was. David’s mom, Lou, recently passed away this year, leaving a hole in many people’s lives. Lou, was a wonderful spirit, and was known by most everyone in Lady Smith. She will be missed by so many, but as good people often do, she has left a spark in all who knew her. I know that during my days in Mt. Rainier I carried her along with me, and as David said, it was her doing that the mountain was out during our stay, shining brightly, beautifully just as I will always remember her.

Hike #5 Sunrise Nature Trail: 2 miles

Henna and Mariah on the trail

Mt. Rainier

Although a nature trail, it was a glorious first climb up to capture views of the mountain while in the snow.

Although a nature trail, it was a glorious first climb up to capture views of the mountain while in the snow.

Hike #6 Mount Fremont Fire Tower Trail: 6 Miles

Hiking along the treacherous trail

photo by David up at the fire tower

This trail almost sent me back to lower places.  We crossed snow covered rock scree that could have sent us into oblivion.  The views from the fire tower were marvelous and well worth any fear.

This trail almost sent me back to lower places. We crossed snow covered rock scree that could have sent us into oblivion. The views from the fire tower were marvelous and well worth the any fear.

Hike #7 Glacier Basin Trail: 7 miles

Henna and me on the trail

This hike took us to great shots of a glacier and the glacier basin campground that leads to the climb up Mt. Rainier.

This hike took us to great shots of a glacier and the glacier basin campground that leads to the climb up Mt. Rainier.

Hike #8 Paradise Nature Trail: 2 miles

Break time!

The last glimpses of the mountain this day were streaked with coming clouds.  This trail went straight up through the remains of winter snow.

The last glimpses of the mountain this day were streaked with coming clouds. This trail went straight up through the remains of winter snow.

Fare thee well. Corey

David and Corey