Sunday, January 2, 2011

Celebrating 2010 and welcoming 2011

Our plans to celebrate the ending of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 were flexible: drive toward Harrison Springs, stop if any photo moments called, find a place to stay where Black Jack would be accepted, and if we were really lucky, find a nice place to eat.

It was cold (for the lower mainland) but sunny and I enjoyed taking what we call truck shots. I'm guessing this was a little over half way between Vancouver and Harrison Springs.

There were many fields along the way, laid out ever so meticulously. Can anyone help me identify the crop?

Some of the scenes were reminiscent of my childhood. There were no mountains in southern Quebec, but the farms and equipment had a familiar feel to them.

Our first wildlife viewing spot was just before arriving in Harrison Mills. We climbed up an embankment at the side of the road, and got quite a lovely view of Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, and a variety of ducks on Harrison River. This eagle had an air of wisdom and a slightly different appearance (we thought) than that of the eagles we normally encounter around Vancouver.

Trumpeter Swans were very busy, more often than not, feeding with their heads down and their bottoms up, but I caught this trio traveling together to a new spot further along the river.

Every once in a while, I would look across the road at the beautifully lined-up crops. I took this photo, and decided to take one more after I made it back down the embankment to the road.

Landing shots are a favourite of mine. Oh, to achieve a sharper focus.

The crop at road level. Berries, I'm guessing, but what kind?

I'm hoping one day to find on-line a map or picture of all the mountain ranges around BC with the names of the peaks included. We had no idea what this mountain's name was, so Bill called it Mount Carol:)

We decided to continue on to Alice Lake. What a beautiful spot! Black Jack was very keen to play on the beach, and Bill obliged, though it was almost dark and c-c-cold and windy too.

The Spa Motel was probably about half the cost of any of the more "ritzy" hotels in the area, but we loved it. The owner was very kind, and we could seriously have eaten off the floors.

This lamp, just outside the hotel, had a little man inside. Can you see him? Bill could.

Once Black Jack was fed and happily settled in her bed, we decided to look for somewhere to eat. Walking into The Black Forest Restaurant , we heard someone in the group ahead of us say, "We have reservations." "Uh-oh," Bill said, (and I thought) but again, we lucked out. We were given a little hide-a-way table. It was raised up a step, and in a small alcove, so it felt very private. We loved it.

The food was of German tradition, and when I told the waitress I was vegetarian, her response was, "How can you survive?" As you can see from my plate (the closer one), I survived extremely well. It was the only vegetarian option on the menu, but was so plentiful (and delicious!), I shared some of it with Bill. His salmon was fine, not the best he had ever eaten, but definitely acceptable.

After our meal, we went back to the motel, got Black Jack, and started out on a walk. We stopped on the way at a small store and picked up coffee to take back to the motel later. The girl at the counter was very friendly, and we learned that she had adopted a dog from Turtle Gardens. She was hoping along with us that they would win the Pepsi Challenge. I guess the final tally of votes has not been made, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that Yvette and Dave will soon have a new van. Thank you to everyone who helped out with votes!

We continued on our walk, but man, was it cold!! The wind had come up, as you can see by this wind sock. (Thanks, Penelope, for teaching me that new term:) Our walk was quite a short one, and even Black Jack seemed to think that was a good idea.

We had a quiet but lovely evening after that. I checked Jean's blog, and was simultaneously sad and happy to read that Lucy, the dear dog that she had fostered, had gone to her new forever home. Fostering takes great courage and my hat is off to Jean. You can read all about Lucy's story here. We also watched a movie on Knowledge Network called "Young at Heart." It conveys a serious message about the power of music in our lives and does it with humour and tenderness. No fireworks, no midnight countdown, no formal wear (phew!). Just a good time.

The next morning we prepared to spend the day out of doors. I have never been able to convince Bill to wear long underwear, but I did, perhaps with memories of our walk the previous evening still fresh in his mind, convince him to wear his pyjama bottoms under his jeans. They are only light cotton, but a second layer is always good, don't you think?

Bright sun, blue skies and strong winds met us as we began the day.

The grasses that I found so beautiful did not really show the power of the wind.

On the way out of town, Bill slowed the truck so that I could capture (not very well) a truck shot of the Harrison Springs holiday decorations at the town border.

We stopped at this bridge, parked by the roadside, and climbed down to the Harrison River, where the wind suddenly disappeared. It was astounding to me that it could instantly feel so much warmer.

There were several eagles perched in the trees, all keeping a close eye on us (and Black Jack!)

The Trumpeter Swans were thrilling.

I hope this next photo does not upset anyone. The beach was strewn with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of salmon carcasses, or perhaps, I should say, salmon skeletons. Their faces seemed almost human to me. Poor Bill! While I took pictures, he had to keep Black Jack from grabbing the bones. She was fascinated and quite a handful; Bill really had his work cut out for him.

Snow crystals were everywhere as well.

Pylons between metal braces (not sure what to call them) lined up scenically.

There were many Killdeer running and sometimes flying. They were quite shy and it was difficult to get photos.

I tried hard to keep from gushing, but I was so happy, it was hard to contain myself. We left that area, climbed back up to the truck, and continued on our way. As we drove a short way down the road, I spotted a hawk over a field, and Bill immediately (but safely) found a spot to turn around and let me out to try to catch a photo. Unfortunately, by the time I got out of the truck, the hawk was long gone (or hiding just out of view). Undaunted, Bill turned the truck around again, drove about 30 seconds further, and pulled into a driveway by a house. The owner was driving up the long lane from the riverside as we approached, and he kindly told us to make ourselves at home. He had a variety of birds at the many feeders all around his house.

Here, I think perhaps, a Dark-eyed Junco.

My first picture, ever, of a Steller's Jay. I'm fairly happy with this shot, especially since the camera began to rebel (the cold?), and getting focus, correct exposure and the bird's cooperation all synchronized was quite a challenge.

The man's place was a feast of sights.. we could have spent the entire day there, and still I'm sure would have missed many of his personal touches. This is just a taste.

At first, I didn't realize these "antlers" were actually driftwood.

I was looking at this small shed, and realized I saw Bill's reflection in that circular piece of tin-like material. Then, I managed a group photo:)

We walked down the path to the riverside, where we saw more eagles, lots of ducks and this shorebird. Poor picture, but I'm wondering if it might be a Yellowlegs.

A poor shot again, that I liked in an "artsy" sort of way.

I thought I saw a face in this little pocket of ice.

Back up to the man's feeding station, I tried once more to catch a Steller's Jay.

I'm not at all sure about this picture. At first, I was really excited that I might have caught a Western Bluebird. However, I suspect it is far more likely that the poor focus made washed out black appear blue. There are also slate-coloured Juncos. The only definite thing I can say is that all id's are guesses.

This lovely old bicycle was hanging fairly high up in the trees at the front of the property.

A first really good look, I think, at a raven. It was huge!

Back in the truck again, we headed to Kilby Provincial Park. Miles and miles of beach met us, and Black Jack enjoyed a good run. I was still struggling with the camera but love her energy here.

Then, we met Shirley and her three dogs. I did a separate post for her, but am showing my two favourite shots of her dogs again here. It was great fun talking with her. She is a cyclist (365 days a year, so even more obsessed than I am), animal lover, nature lover, at one point had a motorcycle, and worked in Vancouver for Canada Post (my parents ran the post office in my home town for 25 years). So many connections.

Bill felt that my day would be even more complete if I could add a hawk to the list of birds we had seen. Just before we left, I spotted this one - I do believe it could be a hawk. It was taken at quite a distance, and the light was fading, so no id guesses.

And sitting on the next pylon, this one. Bill wondered if we might even have a Golden Eagle in one of these last two photos. I don't know, but was happy to end the day with yet another wildlife sighting.

I do not remember where we stopped on the way home, but I remember well how kind the waitress was and how delicious the food tasted. We each ordered something different (linguini and an I-can't-quite-recall-the-name veggie option), then split the meal, and enjoyed a half-and-half combination.

As we drove the rest of the way home, the sky became more and more magnificent, but I had put my camera determinedly away. As we pulled up in front of the apartment, Bill rushed to get us into the apartment and then ran to open the balcony door. He was doing his best to encourage one more photo. I was sure it was too late to show that final glorious touch to the day, but it came out surprisingly well.

The red at the bottom of the picture is a reflection of the sky in False Creek.

One last shot taken from inside my apartment. If you look really carefully, you can see Bill's truck on the street. The window at the far right is the bedroom window caught through the open doorway.
Thank you, Bill! It was so much fun celebrating the new year with you. And, as said before, but always worth repeating, may you, my much appreciated readers, find peace in your hearts as 2011 makes its way forward.


  1. Berries with red leaves = blueberries. Leaves are green in the summer, but they turn in the fall.

  2. Beautiful photos! My parents lived out in Agassiz, near Harrison, for a few years. It got really cold in the winter and the wind was vicious. I remember fighting with Dad's storm door, trying to hold it open while he got the key into the lock in the inner door. Difficult!

    I don't know about the first field of stakes, but the red plants on the lower field photo are blueberries.

  3. First field with wires and stakes is raspberries.

    Lovely photos, and great travelogue. I think the mountain is Mt. Slesse, but I could be wrong. I'm puzzled about your comment you continued on to Alice Lake. Isn't that up near Squamish??? I can't think of an Alice Lake in the Mission to Hope area. More info, please! I thought I knew that area like the back of my hand (from when I lived in Mission and I camped in Harrison area and then owned recreational property just past Hope).

  4. Oh, Jean, I don't know why I every once in a while say Alice when I really mean Harrison. Sorry to confuse you and thank you! And, thanks for the mountain name. Do you know of a good site naming the peaks?

    Thanks also to you for the raspberry id and to dp and Susannah for the blueberry one.

    Susannah, we saw new condos going up, and I realized that, as lovely as the area is, I would prefer to visit rather than live there. Yes, it was that kind of fight-to-hold-the-door wind on Friday evening and again in the morning.

    One more mistake alert: When I first saw the antlers, I felt a bit "off" as putting dead animal parts on the wall is not my thing. Then, when I looked at the picture, I laughed at myself, thinking that must be driftwood, but Bill took a closer look, and thinks they are indeed antlers with a moose skull.

  5. Informative and compelling photos as always, Carol. I like the “Mount Carol” name and the cozy table for two you and Bill enjoyed over New Years. There was definitely a face in that frozen puddle! It takes a keen eye to notice not only the wonders above but also the things at our feet that often are missed. :)

  6. nice photos of the wildlife. I remember seeing you in Harborside taking pics with a 40D but what lens are you using?

  7. Thanks, John. Say "hi" next time:) The camera is a D90 and the lens is a Sigma 500. I've been really happy with both, but they've had so much use, I think they may be getting a little bit tired. Some problems have cropped up lately, with a "bulb" message frequently appearing and refusal to take the picture

  8. Hello again Carol,
    Shirley here, It's the cycling I don't do now and the motorcycling I do. Maybe I should switch to keep my Doctor happy.
    the hawks you showed in the photos are young eagles. They do look like golden's but you can tell by the plumage how old they are. One, two or three years and then they turn black and white.
    I have a question. Do you use a tape recorder to record your thoughts for the blog, might be time saving. Just a thought. Next time you come this way you may want to drop in for a visit or stay over and drive to Manning next.
    Today reminds me of New Year's Day. Cold and sunny. Must go to the beach.