Unexpected Wildlife Photography

While we were in Manning Park for their Dark Sky Festival last weekend, we decided to talk a walk around Lightning Lake to explore the area a little bit.  I had never been, so when we pulled into the day-use parking lot, I knew I had to grab my camera for the adventure. 

It actually ended up to be a great opportunity to not only take some breathtaking landscape photos, but some animals actually stopped to pose for me along the way.

Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Spruce Grouse
Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Baby Squirrel

The shade was very cool, and the sunlight was gloriously warm that day.

Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Manning Park, Lightning Lake
Manning Park, Lightning Lake

Parliament Hill in Ottawa This Past Summer

Parliament Hill in Ottawa This Past Summer

I was looking through the photos on my phone and found this shot from this past August. It was a really memorable experience seeing the core of the Canadian government and learning a lot more about the country I’ve called home for just over 12 years now.

If you ever get a chance to visit Ottawa, do it. Your country or not, you’ll be guaranteed to broaden what you know about the world.

First trip up Grouse Mountain

If there is one thing in Vancouver that beckons every visitor more than anything, it’s probably Grouse Mountain[wiki].

Up the gondola

After nearly three years of living here, I have finally braved the gondola ride and the heavy tourist crowds to ascend to the top of the mountain. Well, at least we ventured around the lodge and a few of the nearby trails, but we finally made it up there for the first time. Yes, even Rebecca has never been up there.

Gondola traffic


The original intent of this visit was to enjoy a wonderful invitation by the folks who run Grouse Mountain to see what’s up there as well as take a ride on their newest attraction, ziplining.

Cloudy and soggy

As you can see, it was just a tad rainy on this past Sunday that we were there. Our thought at the bottom was that we would book our zipline time and hope for better weather up top, but our wishes didn’t come true. We’ll have to do a makeup trip another time, more so when you can see the end of the zipline or at least further than fifty feet ahead of you while traveling at 50km per hour.

One thing that this experience has done for me is drive my urge to do the Grouse Grind. I’ve wanted to do it since the day Rebecca told me all about it, but the intimidation of not knowing how to get there always prevented me. Truth be told, you can take a Seabus from Waterfront Station and hop a #236 Grouse Mountain bus on the other side to get there in about 45 minutes[googlemaps]. Hike up, take the mandatory gondola ride down for $15 $5!, and you’ve done the grind.

The lodge has a fair share of amenities at the top, and I’m told that the nachos are to die for. Not something I would be the most keen on after a hopeful 45 minute hustle up the side of a mountain, but they do intrigue me.

Probably the biggest highlight of the day for me were the grizzly bears. There are two, full sized bears in captivity within an easy walk from the lodge. Abandoned at birth, they are being cared for in a very respectable area, complete with a nice swimming hole and lots of trees.

Nature never seems to grow old in terms of my personal fascination. Grouse Mountain, even on a cold and wet day, was a thrilling experience. Water never hurts anyone, but I can’t wait to experience it when I can really take in the beauty on a clearer day.

Family and fun in KCMO

Rebecca and I got back yesterday from a one week stay in Kansas City, MO. My mother grew up there, and it’s where my parents met and got married. The road that took our family to Iowa is a whole other tale, but there is still a large portion of extended family that lives in and around KCMO.

KCMO from Liberty Memorial

My grandmother turned a young 90 years old this past Wednesday, so that, of course, means one thing for a family with hefty Mexican roots. It’s a party, and I think I’m still recovering.

The birthday girl

Otherwise, this trip was a chance to get away from the craziness in Vancouver, enjoy some family, and relax a little bit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, and you can see more of them in the Flickr set.

She really was here

Truly the “City of Fountains”.



Brusch Creek


I haven’t been able to find Mexican bread as good as this in Vancouver.

Mi madre y mi tia

My mom and my aunt, but you can’t see the three pitchers of sangria that were absolutely amazing.

La Bodega

And the scene of the crime.

Rebecca in KCMO


Liberty Memorial Park

It was a really great week in Kansas City. Hot, but great to see all of my family. Hopefully a trip to Iowa can be the next leg when we go to visit, but now we’re anxious to show them some of the sites here. Pictures can’t do KC or Vancouver justice, both great in their own right.

Weekend camping at Cultus Lake for drunkcamp02

Camping on Cultus

Three days in Chilliwack, B.C. at Cultus Lake with Rebecca, John, and Duane. Lots and lots of sitting around the campfire, laughing a ton, good drink, good food, and the weather was… good.

Home for three days

Nerd City

The forecast in the days leading up to the trip just got worse and worse. Everyone we knew told us that we were nuts for going camping this weekend. It ended up being awful on Thursday night, Friday was actually really nice, and Saturday was off and on in terms of being cool from winds that would whip up from time to time. Other than that, everything went off great.

I like fire

I even busted open my right shin a tiny bit when a piece of wood I was chopping got away and clocked me. That’s about par for the course, no other major injuries.

Sunset behind the mountain

Drowning tree

I can still smell the smoke, if not taste it. That’s only the real complaint of the trip, even if the coolness kept us all pretty close to the fire. Couldn’t even fathom jumping into the lake, no matter how inviting or calling it might have been. Fleece under a rain jacket was just right. Bone chilling lake water from ice run off from the mountains in the area, not so much.


Ah yes, we indeed called this drunkcamp02, complete with lanyards. It’s more of a statement of enjoying the time away from laptops and technology and becoming one with nature. Even though there are public washrooms within easy walk and Duane’s family brought us amazing food(perogies, cabbage rolls, and KFC), donuts from Tim Horton’s, and fire wood in three separate trips on Saturday, it’s tough country out there “in the Wack”.

You can see more of my pictures from the trip on Flickr.

A trip to Osoyoos in pictures

It must have been nearly a month ago, and it took me a long time to get the pictures posted from our trip to Osoyoos for a quick weekend getaway, so here’s a delayed recap in photos. Rebecca has some good posts about the trips and various portions of it here, here, here, and here.

Downtown Osoyoos

Welcome to the wild, wild Washington State

Those trees are really that huge

Lake Osoyoos below

Seriously, go slow

Burrowing Owl Winery

Vines getting ready to grow

Sahara Courtyard Inn Motel

Beef and pork on the grill

Lots of rest and relaxation, but we don’t own a car. It’s nice to take long drives through the countryside, see the land, and listen to music. That’s what makes us happy.

Some actual signs of progress in Stanley Park

About two weeks ago, Rebecca and I went for a walk in Stanley Park as we so often do. On one of my early morning runs that took me along the drive near Prospect Point, I’ve noticed a trail that was never visible since the storm damage from over a year ago. I always thought that it was interesting how you could see the Merilees Trail from Stanley Park Drive due to all the fallen trees, but then the gate blocking access to that and the Siwash Rock Trail was gone.

On our walk, I said I wanted to venture that way and see what we could find. What we found was somewhat surprising.

Nifty metal rail

Gone is all of the wooden, almost farm-like fence that separated you from falling fifty feet onto the Seawall below. Now it has been replaced with a craftily welded, metal railing that goes along the entire length of the trail, all the way to Siwash Rock itself.

Man made nature spot?

There was also this bit of landscaping that is destined to become a posh little spot along the trail. At first I didn’t think there was much to all the piles of gravel and the machinery in the area, but looking back at it from this angle, you can see the tiny steps going into a fun little spot that will be bound to attract multitudes of couples looking to make out from the nice viewpoint.

Bit of welding going on here

It’s nice to see that this millions of dollars being spent on the cleanup in Stanley Park is resulting in some obvious results. The landscaping is questionable, but there is also a vast amount of work down to improve the drainage in the entire area of Prospect Point. I’m sure this is to ensure that landslides will have less of a chance to occur in the future, but nature has its way of proving that wrong.

Of course, I already mentioned Hollow Tree, but it’s still sad to see it go. Stanley Park has been there a lot longer than Vancouver has existed, so life will go on, millions of dollars at a time.

Saying farewell to Hollow Tree in Stanley Park

Rebecca and I made a trek into Stanley Park this morning. With the hectic schedules that we have these days, it’s one thing that we both love to do, especially so we can see all the changes they’ve been doing since the massive storm that affected so much of the park.

Apart of that laundry list of damage is Hollow Tree. The humega tourist landmark is losing the battle and has recently been decided to be taken down.

The most famous tree in Stanley Park will soon take up a new home, horizontal, on the ground.

The Vancouver Park Board voted unanimously on a recommendation to take down the hollow tree rather than spend $200,000 trying to prop it up.

But even with braces on the tree, there was no guarantee it would be safe for tourists to surround.

The tree will now likely be sliced down the middle with each half laid out so that people can walk between them. [news1130]

With this information in mind this morning, we stopped by to see it before it’s gone. Well, at least before it’s turned into a different variation of a tourist landmark than what it already is.

I think it goes without saying that I am a huge lover of Stanley Park, and the fact that this tree has to come down is sad. However, nature should be allowed to return to nature.

The fact that this tree (which, last I checked, is a type of living organism with roots, bark, branches, and leaves) is being held together with nuts, bolts, cable wires, and steel beams (which I’m fairly sure isn’t common among most plant based organisms) says that maybe the time has come to let it go.