Friday, August 29, 2008

It’s A Small World After All

We have just completed a four day tourist road trip in Florida and thought we would let you in our activities. We are currently staying with friends in Port St Lucie and will write more about our time here in a bit. During our road trip we went to Disney Magic Kingdom, a county park and Kennedy Space Centre.

Our day at Disney Magic Kingdom was a full one. The hotel shuttle left at 8:00 am and the only return rides were at 6:00 and 10:00 pm – we elected for 10:00. So we made it for the grand opening of the park when Mickey comes from the train and were greeted by the staff waving with mouse hands. Then on to rides and shows and sights. The kid’s favourite rides were Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin (which we rode four times) and Splash Mountain. Late August is a great time to go if you can stand the heat – the Florida kids are in school and the rest of North America has yet to arrive. We went to Space Mountain first and waited in line for five minutes – which was a treat after having waited about 2 hours when I was a kid. So we shared the park with lots of little kids dressed up like princesses. And if this is a slow time I would hate to see a busy time. All in all we had a good Disney experience and the one day was plenty for our sore feet and weary bodies.

The next day was a lazy day at a county park. Kelly Park/Rock Springs is a natural springs and there is a 3km route that you tube down. We read that this park is a secret Floridians keep to themselves and it did not disappoint. The water was a great temperature to beat the heat and the 30 minute cruise was a wonderful ride. We were shocked while walking back from our first ride to see signs warning us about alligators in the river. We were told, however, that they were small ones only! This didn’t stop us though and we had a great afternoon floating and swimming beneath the trees.

On our final day we learned about space exploration. The tour and many videos at the Kennedy Space Centre were outstanding and we learned about the Apollo program that put people on the moon, about the space shuttle program and about the international space station. We were amazing by the size of the Apollo rocket (large) and the space capsule the astronauts were in (small). We also appreciated learning about and experiencing, the space shuttle launch. This seemed particularly interesting knowing that our friend Andrew will be down from Vancouver to be with the astronaut’s families during the upcoming October launch.

We are back “home” in Port St Lucie, enjoying the hospitality here and getting ready for our next journey to Nicaragua.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

While in Vancouver .... make applesauce

We've had a fabulous time in Vancouver catching up with so many special friends. We've visited some of our favourite spots - Kits beach, Sophie's Cosmic Cafe, Granville Market and the Aquarium - but the highlight has definitely been spending time with all the folks out here who are our BC family.

We spent a week with friends in Surrey who have a neighbour with an old apple tree. Mel decided it was time to pick some apples and make some applesauce, and she enlisted Simon and Danielle to help her out.

Danielle and Simon wrote this recipe for making applesauce:

1. Find a neighbour that has an apple tree and get permission to pick apples
2. Get pails and ladder
3. Pick lots of apples – about 100
4. pick only good apples
5. your neighbour
6. Go back home
7. Take apples and wash in water (and try bobbing for them in the sink)
8. Cut apples into quarters and take out insides (core)
9. Boil apples on stove with an inch of hot water – boil for 10 minutes or until very mushy
10. Find large bowl with apple sieve, stick and holder
11. Put mushy/gushy apples into sieve
12. Put round part of stick on the palm of you hand and roll it around the edges of the apple sieve 13. The pulp that comes out is the apple sauce
14. Put stuff left in the sieve in the compost
15. Taste the apple sauce
16. If needed, add sugar
17. let cool
18. EAT

Post Script to Bowron

While in Vancouver we visited with our friend Yolanda who had done the circuit with us all those years ago. This is incredible but true ... she and some friends were on the circuit at the same time that we were. She left about 4-5 hours earlier on the same day that we did, and stayed 2 or 3 campsites ahead of us the entire way. On the last day that we were on the water, we canoed within 50 metres of where she and her friends were camped. It was her first time back too! When we got together we shared our stories from this trip, and retold the bits and pieces we could remember from our first trip. I still can't really believe it!

Canoeing Bowron

More than 15 years ago John and I canoed the Bowron Lakes circuit in northern B.C. with our friends Yolanda and Dianne. When we decided we would be traveling across Canada for the summer, doing the circuit was one of the first things on the list of things to do. John did a phenomenal job planning and organizing the trip. On the trip from Quesnel to Pemberton, after finishing the circuit, we "interviewed" each other about the experience. Enjoy the photos too! The scenery is spectacular!

The view from campsite #24 on Isaac Lake.

How was your Bowron Lakes trip?
S, D, J, P – Awesome!

Day 1 - ready for the first portage from the registration centre.

How long did it take?
Seven days and six nights. We started on Wednesday August 6 with an orientation at noon and we were on the first portage just before 1pm. We beached our two canoes back at Bowron Lake Lodge at 7:30pm on Tuesday August 12.

What was the most exciting moment or event for you on the trip?
D – bouncing on the waves in Laneezi Lake when it was very windy. We called it La-hardy Lake
S- building a log cabin out of logs, carving a paddle, and meeting new people
J – camping on the beach at site #24, seeing the mountains change colour as the sun went down; watching the clouds clear after the rain and seeing fresh snow on the mountains
P – every time the lake was so calm and the sky so clear and being surrounded by mountains. Seeing the eagle snatch the fish off the water. Paddling through the Cariboo River with Simon. We got stuck twice but we navigated the fast water very well together.

Another day and another view of Isaac Lake.

What is your favourite camping food?
S – Dung brownies. They are called that because they looked like a pile of dung but they tasted great.
D – chocolate almond bark
J – blueberry pancakes made with organic dried blueberries (50 cents a bite)
P – butter chicken (without the chicken) and lentils with naan bread

John paddling through the mini-Chute with Simon and Danielle.

Did you see any wildlife?
S – we saw 5 eagles on our last day of canoeing, and out on Babcock Lake one snatched a dead fish off the water less than 50 metres away from us
D – we saw a bear swimming across the Cariboo River near Babcock Creek. It swam very fast.
J – as we entered Bowron Lake we watched an osprey dive-bomb into the lake trying to catch a fish
P – We saw so many types of birds – loons in every lake, ducks and ducklings, kingfishers, a hummingbird, heard a woodpecker, little birds along the bank, osprey, the eagles

Lots of different wildflowers and other "flora and fauna" to discover.

What was the hardest part of the trip?
D – canoeing the whole time
S – setting up in the rain
J – canoeing in the cold and having cold feet
P – the first two portages, and not sleeping when I thought I heard something outside the tent

Portaging on the last day with lighter packs and a lighter canoe.

What was the fun-est part of the trip?
S – the last two portages because they were so short. And meeting new people.
D- playing games with other kids
J – running a bit of white water with Simon and Danielle
P – swimming in a glacial lake after a long day of paddling Isaac Lake and getting a brain freeze

Skipping stones in the setting sun.

What was the weather like?
D – 3 days of rainy weather, and 3 days of sun
J – the first 3 days were glorious and then rain at the end of the 3rd day, 4th day gorgeous in the morning but rain at the end of the day, non-stop on the 5th day, and drizzly to start on the 6th and cleared in the afternoon, sunny with the wind on our back on the seventh day
Trying to get all the details recorded in our journals (bear cache in the background).

Do you think you would do the trip again?
D – Yes
S – Yup
J – I’d love to.
P – It is a rare and amazing place that no one but God could design. I’d love to share it with more people.

Back at the registration centre. We're planning on going again in 5 years. Want to come?!

7 Weeks and 5 Provinces

Travelling across Canada has been a fabulous way for us to start our Round The World journey. We live in such a great country - and even after 7 weeks and only seen half the provinces and none of the North - and there is still so much we want to explore!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Music, Mountains and Much Much More

A couple days before we left Calgary I was talking to the kids about leaving soon. Danielle said, “I wish our trip was two years then we could stay here for a year.” Simon quickly agreed. By “here” they weren’t just talking about the city of Calgary, they were hoping they could stay with their cousins at their house! It’s been a treat for all of us to play and swim, dance and read books, and pass the time together.

One of the primary goals of our journey is to experience other cultures. We have done that in our 12 day stay in Calgary.

We began our stay with our friends the Reinders (friends we met in Vancouver) and attending the Calgary Music Folk Festival. Phil and Betty are “professional” folk festival folks. They’ve been telling us for 10 years what an awesome experience it is. For Christmas last year they promised us a personalized orientation. We quickly learned it’s all about the tarps. John stood in line twice (once at 6:00am) to do the `running of the tarps``. Hmmm, I wonder if that is why they invited us?! No, no … everyone was able to apply their gifts to the process: preparing snacks, taking care of kids, carrying festival chairs, standing in line for coffee. The Festival was a wonderful time – friendly people those Calgary festival folk. The rain drove us out a few times but the kids enjoyed hiding under the tarp, dancing under the stars, listening to fabulous musicians, playing in the kids’ zone, and eating a rich diversity of food.

It's important to get a tarp with a view!

Rocking out to Bedouin Soundclash.

I’d never been to a music festival before. Going to the festival gave me a new appreciation of music and musicians. Music is one of those things we can so easily take for granted. It’s always with us – especially if you are traveling with John, who is often humming or whistling a simple melody over and over and over again. To sit and listen for hours to different voices and combinations of instruments is truly a gift. You forget about all the hours of traveling, practicing, and maybe even anxieties about getting up in front of thousands of people. And they make it all seem so effortless. Thank you to all the musicians I heard and those who continue to fill my world with music!

When the festival was over, we moved to the Goosens (Pam`s sister, Martha, her husband, Harvey, and their two daughters, Janelle and Marika). Harvey’s cousin, AnneMarie, was also visiting from Holland. They were gracious hosts as we have experienced many, many times. This was the first time that all four of us were in Calgary together. I have flown out many times on my own, or John has passed through on his way to/from Vancouver, or I’ve been out with the kids on my own. So it was very special for our families to spend so much time altogether.

We had a beautiful day hiking in the mountains around Canmore and Banff. When we were driving through Canmore to the Grassi Lakes, Simon said, “I’d like to live in Canmore. Do you think they have a school here?” I, too, would love to wake up surrounded by mountains everyday.

We visited the Banff Springs Hotel where the views are free.

The Strathmore Rodeo and a Calgary Stampeders game could be considered significant Alberta cultural events! The rodeo was a small-town rodeo but action-packed. We all enjoyed the bull riding and the chuck wagons but were amazed at the dangers of the sport. One fellow was thrown from a bull into a fence like a ragdoll. There was a chuckwagon accident but fortunately no one was hurt. We’re not sure about the horse though.

Look at these beautiful cowgirl cousins!

A Stampeders football game was also a raucous event. They were playing Saskatchewan and probably half the crowd was Rough Riders fans – and many of them were wearing hollowed out watermelons on their heads (hence the name ``melon heads``). It was a great game, but unfortunately Saskatchewan holds onto the winning record. The Stamps lost by only 1 point.

We were able to immerse ourselves in great vistas all day yesterday as we drove through Banff and Jasper National Parks. Today our compass is set on Bowron Lake Provincial Park in B.C. A week of canoe-camping. Are we ready? John has been making lists, checking them twice, packing and repacking food and gear. We have to stop asking ourselves that question because it can sometimes make you drag your feet and never get out the door. Yup, we’re ready to give it our best shot!

In Shifting Gears recently we read, “Trust that the same providential God who has blessed you with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will also provide … Set aside any false guilt that will only diminish the joy of unwrapping this daily adventure.” (p83)

Blessings to you on your adventure wherever it takes you this week!