Happy New Year 2011!

Happy New Year and welcome 2011! It is a gorgeous sunny day looking out over snow-capped mountains here in Gibsons BC. No wind, not too cold with positive temps, and an all-around pleasant way to start the new year.

The New Year tradition in Gibsons is the Polar Boar Plunge on Armours Beach. Yes, most communities have a Polar Bear Plunge, but in Gibsons it is sponsored by the local rugby club known as the Pigs. Therefore, we have a Polar Boar instead of a Polar Bear.

Lots of brave souls made it out today to enjoy the sunshine and dip their toes in the ocean. Look at the energy of the front runners as they dive into the water.

I always admire the variety of characters who take part in this event. Little kids, teenagers, adults, and seniors gather together and dive in. Everyone is welcome and equal as they line up on the beach for the challenge. Family and friends cheer them on from the safety of the beach and dock. After the swim, the participants gather for soup and hot chocolate while the onlookers take a stroll down the beach.

Maybe some day I will take on this challenge. For now, I prefer to watch and cheer on everyone else.
Here’s to a great year ahead. I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions, but this year I want to do a better job of taking time to value the natural world around me. I want to share all the great hikes, the great days at the beach, and the never ending supply of local festivals. It can all go by so fast if you don’t take time to think about all that has happened.

Best of luck and welcome 2011.

Soames Hill – Aug 10, 2010

I can’t believe 6 months went by since my last hike up Soames Hill. I love this place. From 0 to 250m elevation in about 20 minutes and what an amazing trip.
The trails that wind around the base of the hill are similar to other rainforest trails. Amazingly tall trees, huge ferns, boulders…the sounds of the forest and protection of the trees keep out the busy sounds of the outside world.
206 steps take you straight up and really get your heart beating and blood flowing. It brings you alive as you work your way up.

Then just as soon as you’re a bit winded, you’re at the top and the view takes your breath away. This photo is looking south over Gibsons Harbour with Vancouver Island in the background. There are 3 vantage points at the summit, so be sure to take them all in.
The best part about the quick workout on the ascent is that you are more than happy to sit and relax at the summit. At first it is to get your breath back, but then you just soak in the view and sit in the sun. Linger for a while and just enjoy.

This is looking east at Keats Island with the Paisley islands just behind. Straight on would be the city of Vancouver. It would be interesting to see this at night…you should be able to see all the city lights.
See the huge boat in the harbour? Two tugs took it out into Howe Sound while I rested. So interesting to sit and watch it make the trek.

Forget all your cares. No better way to excercise and de-stress. I won’t let another 6 months go by before I return.

Gibsons Sailing School – July 13, 2010

Today was one of those gorgeous summer days…perfect temperatures, sunshine, and absolutely necessary to get out of the house and enjoy.

I had the opportunity to go sailing today with Greig & Gillie from Gibsons Sailing School. Both are certified sailing instructors with the Canadian Yachting Association and both are comfortable and easy to talk to.

After a few minutes of introduction and safety instruction, we were off into Gibsons Harbour. I was aboard the “Sailing Still”, a Catalina 36′. These photos are of the “Django”, a 28′ Grampian.

After a bit of instruction, I was allowed to take the helm. I must say, this was a pretty cool experience. Greig did all the hard work working the ropes and managing the sails. I learned to tack and come about, and now I know the difference between the main sail and the jib.

Greig specializes in 4, 5, & 6 day courses designed to teach you to sail, read charts, and receive various levels of CYA certifications. You eat & sleep on the boat…plenty of room in the cabin. Sail across the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gulf Islands.

Gillie specializes in a 3 hour “Introduction to Sailing course. This is designed to help educate a person in the basics of sailing, gain some basic terminology, and have a wonderful experience on the water. She loves to take women out for “Ladies Day-Sailing”, a chance for women to learn and enjoy a very different and empowering experience.

For more information on Gibsons Sailing School, visit http://www.gibsonssailing.org/.

Gibsons Landing with part of Mount Elphinstone in the background.

All of this amazing scenery…only 5km from Arcturus Retreat B&B. What an amazing place to live and to visit.

Soames Hill – Feb 22, 2010

Heaven on earth. This was my thought today as I basked in the warm sunshine atop Soames Hill with beauty all around. Simply amazing…I could have stayed for hours ( I did stay 1 hour).

I can’t believe I waited this long to make this hike. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by the description of 205 wooden steps to the summit. When I first moved here, I wouldn’t have made it to the top. I was in such poor physical shape.

Today I made it up those steps in about 20 minutes…breathing hard, but not tired. Then it is just a bit farther up the trail to the summit. So worth it! I will be back the next sunny day with an extra hour for a workout.

Today was another spectacular day. Glorious sunshine on a warm day. Flowers are blooming and pollen is in the fresh air. It feels like April or May…not February.

The sun was so bright that these first pictures miss the vibrant colour. These are looking south toward Gibsons…what a beautiful village by the sea. In the distance you can just make out Vancouver Island, but it was easy to see in person.

Keats Island. The tug made its way through Howe Sound and home to Gibsons Marina. Think how smooth the water was to create a wake like this from a slow-moving tug boat.

The vibrant blue and green really stand out in the photos facing east and not facing into the sun. Keats Island is in front and Bowen Island is in the distance.

Paradise only 5 minutes from my home….ok 5 minutes and then 30 minutes up to the summit. I hope to spend many more days atop Soames Hill on BC’s spectacular Sunshine Coast.


Oceanbeach Esplanade – July 22, 2009

Another absolutely beautiful day on BC’s Sunshine Coast. I took time today to head out to the beach for the first time in weeks. Oceanbeach Esplanade aka Bonniebrook Beach is on the southern tip of the Sunshine Coast just outside of Gibsons. This protected beach stretches on for about 5km. It is mostly rocky, but there are a few stretches of sand depending on the tide levels.

People walk and bike this stretch of beach 365 days a year. Today, on a somewhat hot day, (25C) it was warm enough to swim, stroll, or just about anything. There are multiple park benches along the route that I found perfect for relaxing in the shade and feeling the refreshing ocean breeze. A very pleasant place to meditate and enjoy the rhythmic pounding of the waves along with any number of birds.

In the background of the first photo, you can see Vancouver Island and, if you look really close, the ferry that travels from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

In the second photo you can see Canada geese swimming along the shore.

Music in the Landing – July 11, 2009

One of my favourite summer activities is Music in the Landing. Gibsons Landing puts on free concerts in various parks every weekend all summer long. Kick off the weekend on Friday nights at the Gazebo, Saturday afternoon by the Visitor’s Centre, Saturday night by the marina, and Sunday afternoon at the artisan’s market. Every concert features fabulous local talent and the series covers a wide range of musical genres.

Saturday nights are my favourite, as they are a great way to wrap up a long day following the Fiddlehead Farmers’ Market. Tonight’s show (sorry, forgot the camera) featured Chelsea Crawford and Verna Chan each playing 1 hour sets. Winegarden park is next to the marina. You’ll have to imagine sitting by the ocean, watching the boats come in for the evening, with picturesque mountains in the background listening to light jazz. Some people spread out the blanket and have a picnic. Others stroll by with gelato from down the street. Everyone greets their friends and neighbours who have come out for the evening. Kids run freely in the back with plenty of space for tag and other games. By evening, temperatures slip into the 60’s and with a light ocean breeze a jacket or a blanket is required.

What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday night! I can’t wait for next week.

Gibsons Landing Jazz Fest – June 13-14, 2009

Gibsons Landing Jazz Fest is my favourite festival of the year, and there are a lot of community festivals to choose from. Every genre of jazz is covered and there is a mix of great local talent and big names. Jazz week is 7 nights of live jazz in most of Gibsons’s restaurants. Excellent entertainment for the price of a meal.

The official 14th annual Jazz Fest kicked off Friday with Sibel Thrasher backed up by 4 excellent local musicians. Sibel really knows how to entertain and leaves the audience wanting more. A true professional and an inspiring spirit.

Saturday we were blessed with sunshine and 25C for our main event in the park…5 groups and 5 hours of music. Easily the most entertaining of the day was East Vancouver’s Carnival Band.

Endless energy fills this group playing Dixieland Jazz. Not to be limited to the stage, they marched through the park around the audience getting everyone out of there chairs and dancing. In true carnival style, clowns and ringmasters filled their ranks.

Sunday afternoon features free jazz in Winegarden Park for everyone to enjoy. Three hours of jazz from very talented local performers.
Definitely Divas always puts on a great show. Great harmony and energy help them cover a wide variety of tunes, from Bugle Boy of Company B to Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics.

The final act of the festival was the Elphinstone Jazz Band, from our local high school. This is a very talented group of kids, many of whom have a future in music if they choose.

Winegarden Park is the perfect setting for an outdoor concert. The hill makes for a natural amphitheatre to sit an enjoy the sunshine. And then there is the view….great music with a picture perfect backdrop as we watch boats come and go in the marina.

I can’t wait until next year!


Fiddlehead Farmers’ Market – June 13, 2009

My favourite Saturday summer activity….the Fiddlehead Farmers’ Market in Gibsons.

Today was the first market of the season and there was a record turnout of produce vendors. This is the Fiddlehead’s 3rd season and it has grown and improved so much since the first market. There is a core of faithful farmers and vendors who attend every week with tasty salad greens, herbs, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and fresh berries.

This week there were also turnips, fresh flowers, potatos and rhubarb. A few new members were welcomed this week and the consignment table was huge.

The consignment table is where backyard gardeners are encouraged to bring in some of their garden extras, even if they don’t have enough for a whole stand. Market volunteers take care of the selling and you get paid for your extra produce. Everyone wins and it is always a surprise as to what will be available each week.
Live music is also a part of the market featuring local talents. Our park setting mixed with music creates a fabulous atmosphere. Children run about with plenty of room, music fills the air, and customers visit with vendors over how the food is grown and other community topics.
I have a baking stand at the market most weeks. Rhubarb from my garden was the feature this week: rhubarb pie, rhubarb bread, rhubarb cakes and pineapple-rhubarb muffins. A successful day with only 2 items brought home…one of which was perfect for a Sunday picnic.
The Fiddlehead Farmers’ Market continues every Saturday until Thanksgiving from 9-1 behind the curling club in Gibsons BC. Come check it out!

Gibsons Marina – June 3, 2009

Today was clean air day. To celebrate, we rode free transit into Gibsons after dinner for a leisurly stroll around the marina. A marina full of boats is a sure sign summer has arrived. It is always an interesting stroll to see all the new boats that have arrived and all the different styles. The fishing and prawn boats are always around, but the pleasure craft just get bigger and more numerous.

Note the houseboat in the front of this picture. Yes, the entire house floats year-round and is a regular residence for some lucky person.

Gibsons Marina is a center of activity. Outdoor dining is available at Smitty’s Oyster House, Molly’s Reach and Sita’s Italian. Gramma’s Pub and the Waterfront Restaurant overlook the area as well. Music in the Landing begins in July and offers free concerts in the park on Friday and Saturday nights all summer long.