Adventure Day Five

Adventure Five began as a spur of the moment Easter Sunday drive up the Sea to Sky highway. Loosely planning sushi for dinner in Whistler – adventure days rarely unfold to even the loosest of plans. Barely past Horseshoe Bay, Britannia Mine Museum beckons. My husband and I had taken the tour, but 2 of our group hadn’t – extremely pleasant ticket lady gives us a family rate of $92, even though our kids are 25 and 30, and one of the group was a girlfriend. As museums go, Britannia is outstanding. A guide takes you up steep stairs, providing hard hats as you settle tentatively into tiny rail cars and enter the mine. So focused on the tour, fighting claustrophobic anxiety – I didn’t even notice actors Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber and the fact their children were the kids tour guide involved in her presentation, until after making our way back to glorious sunlight.

Next stop – Shannon Falls just outside Squamish.

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Adventure day five made it for dinner in Squamish, who knew fair weather and opportunity would continue the next day. This time up the Fraser Valley past Chilliwack to a Tulip Festival. Crossing the Fraser River at Hwy. 9 delivered us to Kent, following signs for a few Kms. to Seabird Island. Paid the $10 for parking, balked at the ridiculous line-up for buses and walked  2 Kilometers to the tulip fields.


Adventure Day Four

It wasn’t forceps at birth, the unfortunate placement responsible for virtually no vision in one eye – never knowing anything else, she managed just fine. A “good eye” was more than enough – published writer, poet, artist, teacher – she saw more with that eye than most people absorb in a lifetime. Her vision allowed others to see – she used language to evoke wonder, transforming everyday ordinary into extraordinary. Infectious, she enveloped people lucky enough to glimpse the world through her good eye.

She lacked depth perception – no big deal. Never an issue, nobody expected her to drive at night – we couldn’t truly fathom her difficulty. None of us saw the demise of “good eye”. In hindsight, I’m certain she  fought with stoic denial for years. None of us took it seriously – the car accident, followed by a immediately revoked driver’s license got our attention. It seems “good eye” had developed holes – Cone Dystrophy to be precise. Degenerative, irreversible, incurable – imagine having only one good eye, ponder losing that eye to growing holes across your field of vision. My mother is legally blind.

I can’t give sight, criticize depression, shrug off bouts of despair or begin to comprehend her increasingly dim reality. That said, I refuse to coddle or patronize – as long as she’s able to stand on her own two feet, I’ll give her light. Adventure day four delivered.

If a more spectacular late December day transpired, I must have been out of town. Weather reports promised sunny and cold, we weren’t advised of perfection. Boarding the 9:30 AM ferry to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, we catapulted into the realm of fairytale light.

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Mom at Ruby Lake

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Adventure day four deserves more than a few pictures on my phone. Like taking a picture of the Grand Canyon – it simply doesn’t work, you have to be there. The truth is – it doesn’t matter. Light cast a spell, it’s part of me now. Light’s greatest gift went to my mother – light allowed her to see long shadows, exquisite hues and reflections. Even if only in her mind’s eye, it’s part of her now.


Adventure Day Four

Indian Arm is a 20 kilometer body of salt water extending inland from Burrard Inlet. A steep  rugged fjord separating Vancouver from West and North Vancouver – a fixture responsible for the “Lower Mainland” sprawling east between the “arm” and Fraser River. Indian Arm narrows and bends north at Port Moody. Adventure day four’s destination was Buntzen Lake, a short drive from Port Moody along the eastern side of the arm.

Buntzen Lake is one of a series of recreational areas less than an hour from the city.

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Adventure Day Three

Last Sunday afforded an opportunity for adventure day three – a drive to Stave Lake following a series of Pacific storms. We got as far as the Ruskin Dam on Stave River, a power station responsible for Hayward Lake. Hundreds of local fishermen, families and the curious lined any soggy bank able to support them. Every few minutes, silence interrupted as another behemoth Salmon is pulled from the lake. Shores littered with fish heads and entrails, only noticed by those of us arriving without purpose. Without question, a most satisfying adventure.

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Map of Mission, BC

Adventure Day Two

Waking to a perfect fall Sunday, adventure day two was launched – destination Squamish.

First stop – the “estuary”, a narrow spit running a Kilometer or so into Howe Sound. A little tricky to find – following signs marked “windsurfing” led us along washboard gravel roads until forest gave way to a narrow piece of land.

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From the estuary it was back to Squamish. Following the main road through town, pavement turned to gravel – a brief bumpy ride past massive stacks of logged ceder, to a lot designated “beach parking”.

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Adventure Day

All too often we follow the path of least resistance. Busy lives, hectic schedules and routine, meet lack of imagination, or silly notions of how we’re supposed to spend free time – precious days off become “to do” lists. Hurry up, catch up, clean up – one day, two if you’re lucky, to convince yourself this is living. “Time off” becomes a hectic scramble. So much to do, so little time –

Today was my first break after 9 unrelenting days of work. The house looks like a bomb dropped – back to work at 7 AM tomorrow morning for another stretch of who knows how long. I should have spent it cleaning, washing and shopping – not a chance, today was the inaugural “Adventure Day”.

Adventure Day wasn’t premeditated – as with all good ideas, it was seized and implemented without the slightest hindrance of discussion or doubt. Chores could wait, adventure day couldn’t. Setting out – not a cloud in the sky, barely a hint of fall chill – it was decided, rain or shine – Adventure Day took precedent over laundry. Adventure Day arrived, and will stay for as long as we’re able to hit the road.

Likely 20 years since driving the canyon to Harrison Hot Springs, we happily pointed the car in that direction.  From Vancouver heading east, the Trans Canada highway is preferred by travelers headed for the interior or places beyond – a divided freeway capable of depositing you in Hope, (a small town marking a definitive end to farmland, and first of many mountain climbs) in less than 2 hours. Highway 7 (also known as the “old highway”) eventually lands you in Hope – unlike the freeway , a straight blast through wide open farmland on one side of the Fraser River, Highway 7 is a winding 2 lane road hugging the opposite side. Beyond urban sprawl and bedroom communities, a lazy route for those in no particular hurry. Perfect for our first adventure day.

At Mission it started feeling like an adventure. Mission is named for Westminster Abbey – a Catholic seminary perched at the top of a steep hill. We’d seen the “tower” from below, but never taken time to drive up the hill. In fact, we didn’t even know it was a seminary until parked inside the gates and approached by an 85 year old monk.

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We took pictures of his prize flowers, and watched another priest play soccer with students in a field below.

The “mighty Fraser” is a river most locals take for granted – a body of water we’re forced to cross at all too few bottleneck bridges. Highway 7 lends perspective to Fraser as a vibrant, working river. Lumber mills cluster along her banks, log booms rest patiently and every accessible inch in between is taken over by boat launches.

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Burnt out shell of a boat in the foreground, with smouldering wood pile at a mill in the background.

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Harrison Hot Springs is a sleepy little tourist mecca on the shores of Harrison Lake – just a few miles before Hope. The “hot spring” enclosed in the Harrison Springs hotel complex, best left to tourists, the lake – peaceful, idyllic, and enjoyed by families out for a Sunday picnic.

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Round trip, our first Adventure Day covered around 250 Kilometers. Just over 7 hours from start to finish, and well worth every minute. I have no idea where the next one will take us, nor does it matter. Adventure day is about spur of the moment frivolity. It can’t be scheduled or given much thought – there are enough places we have to be during our work lives, we deserve one day a week dedicated to carefree adventure.