Monday, August 31, 2009

White Rock ~ bicycles, beaches and bedheads....

White Rock, British Columbia is located about forty-five minutes from Vancouver and just five minutes from the Canada/US border. It is a quaint seaside community clustered around an eight kilometer sandy beach and the warm shallow waters of Semiahmoo Bay. There is a promenade that is two and a half kilometres in length, a train station, a long fishing pier and colourful sidewalk cafes. And they have a 'white rock'...

...of course. The large, white rock figures prominently in the legends told by the local Coast Salish native peoples...who are known as the Semiahmoo first nation. Semiahmoo is the Salish word for 'half-moon'...describing the shape of the bay. They visit to White Rock is complete without a photo of yourself in front of this historic white rock. I'm not really sure why I needed to borrow my photo from Wikipedia I have been to White Rock on many occasions through the years! And did I mention that the sun always shines in White Rock? They claim to have more hours of sunshine than any other city in our fair province. Doesn't it sound like the perfect destination for a camping trip with our granddaughters?

It was Emme & Spencer's turn to go camping with Grammy and Grandpa...since Ryder and Ranen had their chance earlier in the summer. So much earlier, it seems...that it was all but forgotten...and Ryder was quite determined to come along with his sisters.

We stopped by to load the girl's bikes and bags...and stood outside talking to their mom and dad while Emme and Spencer said their final good-byes to their many kitties. I saw a cat jump into the motorhome...and it was quickly expelled. Soon we were ready to hit the road...and I made one last check for stow-away cats. Sure enough...I noticed the blankets on our bed were moving...and thought a cat had burrowed in. It was then I noticed a few blonde curls peeking out...

...and I found a Ryder tucked nicely under the blankets...and beneath two bikes which were stacked on our bed. He's very good at hiding...and was quiet as a mouse...and had I not been on the lookout for cats...he may just have managed to sneak along. We left him behind and drove to a lovely RV park near White Rock....a few miles from the beach.

The girls were on their bikes in no time...

...exploring the park and making new friends.

They found Marmalade on the bench right where they left him two years ago...and soon forgot about all their kitties back home. They stayed up until all hours....playing Mexican Train with us.

And in the morning...they weren't in any big hurry to get out of bed!

They looked out from their penthouse suite...sporting bedheads and big smiles...and wondering what was for breakfast. We were still at the breakfast table when Auntie Lisa called...she was driving out to White Rock with cousin Ranen to spend the day at the beach with us...and she had the little stowaway along!

We picked up the pace a little...and got ourselves down to the beach...planning our sand activities for the day...even lugging a wooden framework assist in making the best sand castle ever.

There was just one little thing we had not thought of...

...and that is something called 'high tide'. Why was I thinking that high tide always happened in the evening...or during the night? Where on previous visits we had dug in the sand...we found boats and geese bobbing happily on the waves.

Ryder and Ranen had no idea that this beach is supposed to be miles of sand...and they found lots to amuse themselves with. Emme and Spencer were somewhat disappointed that their plans were not quite working out...

...but soon set about collecting rocks and shells...

...and finding jellyfish and crabs.

Before we left the beach for the day...the girls moved one large beached jellyfish back into the water...and set it free.

Back at the campsite... was pool time. I was thinking I might just sit on the chaise lounge and watch the fun from the sidelines...but they wouldn't hear of it. And guess what? They never get cold...and never get tired!

There were no complaints about the camping meals...let's just say I left anything gourmet at home. There was, however, quite the disappointment when they realized we could not have a campfire (still a total ban on campfires in a very dry province)! How would we make smores?

Where there's a will...there's a way!

The days time passed before we knew it...and soon we were on our way home. As we were exiting the RV park...the girls begged for one more chance to say good-bye to Marmalade...and are hoping they will find him on the same bench if they ever return.

Soon they were home...and their welcoming committee came out to greet them. Bentley is patiently waiting...while Emme is opening up a 'doggie bag' with goodies just for him. What would they do without their pets?

All in was a grand camping experience once again. There's always next build castles in the sand!

Have a great day...

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.
He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.
And every branch that is grape-bearing
he prunes back so it will bear even more.
John 15:1-2 The Message

Our Father will take care of the long as we abide in Him. Our only job is to abide...He will grow the fruit. It is good to be reminded of the necessity of pruning...and abiding...on occasion!

Friday, August 28, 2009

chemainus ~ the little town that did

Chemainus...'The Little Town That Did' located on Vancouver Island's east shore...snuggled between a mountain range, the ocean, a river and a major highway.

Chemainus was a town built around forestry...and when it's only industry failed a few decades became a town rebuilt through the hands of artists. Through the vision of using giant outdoor wall murals to revitalize the town...

...Chemainus has gained worldwide fame as a tourist destination. Famed artists from all over the globe were commissioned to come to Chemainus...and paint pieces of history on the walls of the historic buildings. The work began in 1982...and murals have been added regularly since that time. There are now 39 murals and 13 sculptures...attracting about 400,000 tourists annually.

We visited Chemainus while on our tour of Vancouver Island a few weeks ago...and quite enjoyed our time there. We started a self-guided tour...following the footprints painted on the sidewalks...but decided we could learn a little more if we had some commentary to accompany our wanderings. And so we joined a German tour group on a trolley bus...and learned a lot...both in English and German.

I'll give you a capsule version of the history of the town...and then leave you with the images of some of my favorite murals. They all tell a wonderful story...but I'll let you hear those details in person when you visit Chemainus!

Mining, fishing and forestry were the original industries in this area...that gave work to many Chinese people. They worked in 'bull gangs'...struggling to move huge lumber planks to the ships in the late 1800's...and later to help build the Trans Canada Railroad. Later the Japanese and the East Indians join the Germans and the Scots who had come to find riches in the mines...and stayed to work in the lumber industry. The Cowichan Valley had been home to the First Nations people for countless generations...and their history was intertwined with that of the first white settlers. And so Chemainus has a colourful and multi-cultural past...little bits and pieces of which can be seen on the giant murals as you tour the lovely town.

Join me on a mural tour of "The Little Town That Did"!

I wasn't going to tell you the story behind each picture...but I just have to tell you this one. These were the two gals who were the local operators for the telephone a time when most residents did not have a telephone in their home. The bike was used to sprint throughout the town in search of John Doe who was wanted on the phone. That gives a whole new meaning to the 'mobile phone' business.

Heavy equipment has long since replaced these hard-working teams in the lumber industry.

Can you tell which is art...and which is real life in the photo above? They did a great job of blending the paintings into the landscape.

The Company Store...circa 1917...and painted by artist Dan Sawatzky who moved his family to Chemainus after painting this mural. He grew up in Castlegar, B.C. and has painted historical murals across North America...and has this to say about Chemainus...
"There's no place in the world I'd rather be! I can feel the sparkle in the air just approaching the town. I've never been so involved in a community".

This mural depicts a celebratory street scene from Chemainus...circa 1939.

The Hong Hing Store...a front for a bootlegging and gambling enterprise.

The Chemainus Hospital...a mural by artist Doug Driediger of Calgary. The hospital was built in 1899...and is still an important part of the community today. I was on the lookout for this mural...since it happens to be painted by my step mom's nephew.

Chemainus Harbour ~ 1910

The H.M.S. Forward ~ Royal Navy Vessel in Chemainus in 1863.

These 'sculptures' are actually crafted from paper mache'...and stand outside the muraled wall of the bakery (and a fine bakery it was!). So ends our tour of the murals for today...but I'll just show you a few other spots that caught my eye.

We brought our bed with us...but how fun would it be to stay in the Little Inn on Willow? It was once an old barber shop...and now it is billed as 'the World's Smallest Luxury Hotel'. It's rather a famous little place...since it was listed as one of the "Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest." So they say!

It may have have been summer vacation...but the Japanese students came in uniform...and looking quite serious about their tour.

And so ends our tour of Chemainus...along the waterfront, where it was quite obvious that the forest industry is still very much a part of this town.

Such is the incredible story of "The Little Town That Did"! I've just scratched the surface...but if you ever have the opportunity, be sure to visit Chemainus...the town with the giant murals.

Enjoy the weekend...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

we must go down to the sea again...

Every summer...since these two were wee little...

...we have taken them camping. The first time they came with bottles...and diapers...and letters of permission from mom and dad to allow us to take them across the border. The first few years...we went to the Lynden KOA...and never left our site.

More recently...our camping trip has increased to several nights...and always includes a field trip to the beach.

It's that time summer is quickly coming to an end. The motorhome is packed...and we are off on a grand little adventure.

Their favorite penthouse suite is ready...

...I'll be back next week to tell you all about it.

And while I am away...I'll schedule a post about 'a little town that did'.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

polka dots...and petunias

We had friends over for dinner on the weekend...

...and my friend admired the planter at the front door. Then she stooped for closer inspection...and wondered about the black polka dots on the leaves.

Is it a polka-dotted potato vine...or are they bugs? Smile! We live on a farm...and I call them fly specks...when I'm being polite. Polka dots look lovely on my granddaughter's green dress...but not so much on my plants...and walls...and windows...and white motorhome. seems they are part and parcel of country living...and so I will need to learn to live with polka dots!

As for the petunias...I cut off all the blooms...and all the polka dots about three weeks ago. I've been told that they should be cut back severely once they get leggy...and they will thank you for it! Until this year...I've always been afraid to try it. But just before we left on vacation I decided to go for it...I wouldn't be here to see the sad looking flowerbed anyhow. And look at them now...

...blooming for all they are worth. After decades of pink petunias...I switched to pale yellow this year...and I like them. I guess change is good...sometimes.

Have a terrific Tuesday...

Monday, August 24, 2009

a true country fair...

There's something about a good old-fashioned country fair...that just keeps pulling us back...after all these years. When our children were young...we discovered the Northwest Washington a beautiful rural community just across the border from here...and it became our fair of choice. What's so good about the Lynden fair? For's clean! The people who work the fair are friendly, courteous...and clean! Back in the day...we bought wristbands for our children to have unlimited rides in the midway. Now that was a big hit! And...unlike some fairs we had visited...the midway was not a scary place.

We visited the fair again this past weekend...after staying away for quite a few years...and found nothing much had changed. It's just a good old-fashioned country fair....where the sun always shines.

It's always fun to check out the barns...

...and the 4H exhibits.

It seemed it had been a long and tiring week for these young farmers...

...and they were taking a wee break. There were dairy cattle...and beef cattle...

...and petite brown-eyed Jersies. And just when we thought we had seen it all...

...there was Ben...a 3250 pound steer...who was to big to fit in my picture. Not to mention the horse barns...the pigs, goats and sheep...rabbits and chickens. I could have thought of a grand or two who would have been quite happy to be there...but it was just us two this time.

The men stand around and kick tires...and talk farming....and find their favorite colour in tractors.

If we can drive retro cars...why not retro tractors? Brim has just the one for you.

There was an entire building filled with hobbies and crafts...
...including amazing quilts...unlike any I had ever seen.

And here is something else that was new and different...we somehow managed to spend an afternoon at the fair...and not go anywhere near the midway...and that was quite OK.

Is it possible to go to the fair without sampling fair food?

The Lynden fair has some strange and wonderful offerings when it comes to food...

...many with a Dutch flavour...and all smelling so good it is hard to pass by. I won't even admit what I called dinner while visiting the fair!

Another drawing card...the wonderful free horse events at the grandstand. What fun to watch chariot races, crazy eights, barrel races...and teams of draft horses slugging it out.

And every evening...featured entertainment in the grandstand. Over the years we have taken in many wonderful shows...including the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, B.J. Thomas, the Wilkinsons, and even Willie Nelson. But who would expect the Gaither Vocal Band to be performing at a fair? Only in Lynden! It was a sold out performance...and they put on a wonderful show. I hadn't heard them in years...and was so glad to see Michael English and Mark Lowry back...and three others that were new to me...but so talented. It was a great end to a day at the fair.

That's my kind of fair!