Thursday, June 10, 2010

Half Way

So, it's only taken me 2 weeks to finally get a moment to sit down and post to the blog. Sorry to all the peeps who emailed me. It's been an adventurous first half of my time here in BC and I simply have not had a moment to sit down and write. The entire first week we were here I had a terrible cold. What away to start my time here, right? I felt like my brain was just swimming in my head, and am so glad I am myself again!

The girls and I have been having a great time visiting family and friends, checking out the sights and enjoying the cooler weather. We have seen sun 3 whole days...but the rain hasn't stopped us from exploring, hiking and getting out and about. My Mom, sisters, niece and nephew have joined us on most of our outings. I think we might actually be wearing them out, but we are an active family as you all know.

During the first week we hit the Greater Vancouver Zoo. It's completely different than our zoo in Houston. Situated on rolling hills that cover 120 acres, the animals (including giraffes, elephants, hippos, wild pigs, cappaburas, lovely roaming peacocks, bears, herds of elk, bison, and deer) enjoy huge enclosures and the feeling of the great outdoors. The girls all rode their scooters and Cooper watched from his very cool stroller. We picnicked in a grassy area that was trimmed with weeping willows, fir trees, and a small lagoon. Juliane said she had dreamed about being in a beautiful place like that. And it was like out of a dream for sure.

We hiked several times to Bridal Veil Falls. It's a really short hike uphill to the falls and its been wonderful every time. I forgot how GREEN it is here. Like you are walking around in an emerald city. I can't stop smiling it is so beautiful. (Twilight fans, can't you just imagine Edward running through this?). The girls like crossing the little bridges along the way. The creek that comes from the falls is quite small in comparison to the falls itself. I imagine in the summertime that families who enjoy picnics there cant resist dipping their feet in the crystal waters.

I am also in awe at the height of the trees. The forest is so huge here. Look at the towering trees in the picture below. The kids look so small and it doesn't even show the treetops!

We have also been spending time visiting family. Next week we will be heading over to Vancouver Island (The Island, to locals) to spend Father's Day weekend with my Nana and Grandpa. We have been over to see my grandparents, Bob and Sheila and my Aunt Barb, Uncle Bob and Ariel on their horse farm, Rabbitswood. They have the most beautiful horses and dogs. I grew up on the same property and it brings back so many memories! It's very fun to take the girls there and walk them through the back of the property where we used to play in the forest. It seemed to me at the time to be acres and acres of land, but when we walked back there it was so quick to come to the end. Funny how things look when you are 7 years old. All the same wild flowers still grow all over. The tall bell-like flowers in white, purple and pinks, purple and white clovers (that I showed the kids how to eat), and fields of buttercups. One of the horses, Taliesin, was roaming around the yard while we were there one day. The girls were thrilled to pet him and he was happy to oblige. Grandad taught me to play Cribbage. I had always wanted to learn and got lucky and nearly skunked him on my first try! As a child my neighbor and oldest friend, Diana, had lots of adventures there. I took the girls over to her new place and got to snuggle her newest little edition, Brooklyn. Juliane and Sydney played with Hunter in the yard for a few hours. It was so great to catch up with her. We also took some time to meet up with another one of my favorite people, Jaida, for lunch in Fort Langley. We ate at the Lamplighter and then set off for a little stroll along the Fraser River. I am very thankful she made time for me before setting off on a new life adventure. With both Jaida and Diana it feels like our time apart was weeks and not months or years. So many more folks to meet up with and see again.

We couldn't come to BC without making a stop to Fort Langley, the birthplace of British Columbia. It took us forever to get out of the house that day, so we didn't get to Fort Langley until lunchtime. We enjoyed our lunch snuggled up by a fire in this adorable little cottage bistro. I wish I could remember the name. I had Siemens Honey Brown to go with my fresh green salad topped with candied pecans and goat cheese. After lunch and a stop at a quaint little toy shoppe we drove over to the Fort. The stars were aligned for us as we arrived an hour before the Fort closed and it was raining. This made for a personalized tour of the Fort. What an experience! We will probably never get to recreate our time there. We were in for a real treat when we met the Lady of the Big House. She took us in all the back rooms of the house. You know past those barriers that allow you to only peek into rooms. She showed the girls where the children of the home slept, and some of their toys. We were shown a delightful array of old dolls that represented the people who lived and worked in the fort. The Lady was so animated and told the girls delightful tales involving the different jobs that the people had. She finished off by asking us to sit in the kitchen (another restricted area) while she played a delightful tune on the piano from the old days at the fort. We all sang along. It was a wonderful treat. 
On the 3 sunny days we have enjoyed amazing views of Mount Baker and the Twin Peaks. I have been fascinated with Agritourism and have been taking the girls to different farms. They have divided the Fraser Valley into different districts with a map to the farms that offer tours and have shops to sell their wares. We've been to the largest Honey Farm in BC,and  a lovely Dairy Farm that is only minutes from my parents house and has the best ice cream. We've frequented the gorgeous park on Eagle Mountain. On a sunny day you can see the whole Fraser Valley from up there.

Last Sunday, my Mom, 2 Aunts, 2 Cousins, 1 Sister, 1 Niece, 2 Kids and I participated in the BC Children's Hospital Foundation Child Run. I ran the 5K with Virginia, Aunt Barb, Ariel and Naomi, while my mom and Aunt Barb (I have 2 Aunt Barb's!) walked the 1K with the kids. The 5K took us over many hills through Queens Park in Vancouver. It was very fun and a memorable morning. I am used to the fast flat races in Houston that I had completely forgotten about hills! These hills would be mountains in TX!

On Monday I arranged for all the ladies to go hiking with the kids at Lynn Valley Regional Park and Suspension Bridge. This forest is a chest full of treasures. This temperate rainforest has suffered a forest fire many 100's of moons ago. There we found huge hollowed out redwoods and the second growth beauty of Western Red cedar, Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock.The Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge began our hike down to the 30 foot pool. The map we got at the Eco Center stated that it would be a 10 minute walk to the pool, but it took us more like 30. That might have been because of all our stops to examine trees and rocks or to take pictures along the way. It could have been because we were hiking with 3 kids under 5 and my nephew strapped to Tara. Perhaps though, the Creator of the map forgot to take in to account the terrain. It was rocky at times, full of roots and hills, stairs and plenty of mud. None of which made the trip any less fun, interesting and invigorating. I think all in all everyone was thrilled with the experience. The Suspension Bridge was not as large as the more famous Capilano. Still, it offered breathtaking vistas of Lynn Valley, the Lynn Valley River and several waterfalls. From there we walked down via stairs and downhill slopes to the banks of the river. We followed the path until we reached the 30 Foot Pool. It was only about 65 degrees that day, but the pool still looked incredibly inviting. Had it been warm out, I would have been forced by nature to take a dip.

Well, that pretty much brings everyone up to date. Juliane, Sydney and I have really been enjoying ourselves, but we also have been a tad homesick for Texas. Sydney tells me every day that she wishes to go home to see her Daddy, whom she likes very much. And Juliane, although has been having loads of fun and isn't ready to go home just yet, has been wondering if the pool will still be open when we get home. For me, home is where your heart is...and my heart is with Paul in Houston. I am really looking forward to seeing him in a couple weeks and kind of kicking myself that I didn't arrange things better. I cant imagine anyone likes being away from their beloved on their anniversary and our 10th is this Friday. We have come so far from the days of long distance dating! Thankfully we have many, many more years to make up for 1 anniversary apart.