Prairie Skies and Train Rides

A few weeks ago, I flew home to Saskatchewan to surprise my Mom for her 65th birthday. My Dad and brother and I had it all planned out. We made sure to NOT tell the nephews, because we didn’t think they could keep the secret ๐Ÿ™‚

I flew in on Friday night – Dad had to make an excuse to get Mom to leave my brother’s place, so that my brother and his family could pick me up from the airport!

On Saturday morning, we headed out to a restaurant for breakfast, and waited for the birthday girl to arrive. The surprise was exactly as I hoped it would have been. The look of recognition, then confusion, then shock, then realization (all within a second or two)… Then the tears came (for both of us!).ย It was priceless ๐Ÿ™‚

For Mom’s birthday in the evening, my Dad had booked the entire family on the Southern Prairie Railway train ride through southern Saskatchewan. The train starts in Ogema (a bustling community of 400 people, about an hour southwest of Regina) and travels to Horizon or Pangman, depending on the tour. We did the evening train ride, which heads out to Horizon for a โ€œSettler’s Dinnerโ€ in an old church (aka a classic Prairie Church dinner, complete with an epic pie table).

On the way out to Ogema, we had to wait for road construction, so had a few minutes to snap some pictures of the local scenery.

Once in Ogema, we had a bit of time to kill before the train ride started. So, we checked out the main street of Ogema, played on the wooden train structure, and had a peak atย the restored train engine that would be whisking us away through the prairie fields.

The Southern Prairie Railway is completely run by volunteers – the two train conductors (one driving the train, one punching tickets) were both retired CP Rail conductors, and another woman (a local from Ogema) was our tour guide. She pointed out bits of info about the area as we were passing through the countryside.

The train ride took about an hour to get out to Horizon. We could either walk over to the church for dinner, or take a school bus. With three young nephews who had energy to burn, we chose the walk ๐Ÿ™‚

The train ride back to Ogema showcased a perfect prairie evening – big, open skies and a setting sun.

It was a great weekend to spend with the family! | Foggy Beach Walk, Kits Beach, Vancouver BC

Foggy Beach Walks

I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan and as far back as I can remember, our neighbours were Peter and Caroline, an elderly couple known fondly as “Peanuts and Chickie”. Once or twice a week, Mom would head over to their house after her day teaching, for a coffee and a treat. Sometimes my brother and I would go along for the treats (I remember a lot of Wagon Wheels…). | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

I was never old enough to take part in the conversation, other than to answer questions about school and various activities I was in, but there were a few nuggets of information, “Peanuts” would always say, that have become firmly lodged in my brain, 30-odd years later.

He would take a cod-liver oil pill every day, and make the claim that those pills were the reason he was never sick (he passed away in his late-90’s, so perhaps he was onto something!). | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

And if we ever had extended periods of foggy weather, he would always say “Well, we’ll be gettin’ a lot of precipitation 3 months from now!” I have no idea where this statement came from – the Farmer’s Almanac? Saskatchewan Folklore?! Regardless, Mom would make a little note on the calendar: “Peter says lots of rain/snow”. | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

Apparently my childhood memory would suggest that “Peanuts was always right because, to this day, whenever we get a lot of foggy weather, I still make a mental note of the calendar season, wondering how much rain we’ll be getting in 3 months time (because, let’s face it, rain is the guaranteed form of precipitation in Vancouver)! It’s funny how certain memories stick with you ๐Ÿ™‚ | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

On New Years Day, we wandered down to Kit’s Beach. There were a few people out walking and jogging, perhaps kick-starting their New Year’s Resolutions. By the time we walked from our car to the waterfront, a dense fog had pulledย  in over the water, and there were moments where you couldn’t see much more than 10 meters in any direction! | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

After about an hour, the fog started to pull back over the water, but didn’t disappear completely. I think we probably had two or three good days of fog. | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

So, now we’ll all be wondering – “Was Peanuts right?!?!”

I guess we’ll find out in April ๐Ÿ™‚ | Foggy New Year's Day walk on Kits beach

Christmas Stay-cation: Hipsters sign

Christmas Stay-Cation

Is it too late to talk about “What I did on my Christmas Vacation”? If so, just pretend I didn’t get the memo ๐Ÿ™‚

We took vacation between Christmas and New Year’s, and had one of Jonty’s brothers come to visit. The week went by far too quickly (as it usually does), and the weather ended up being quite good for all but one day (where it rained non-stop, and we deemed it a good day to see a movie).

As always, we ate good food, drank good beer and wine, and tried to work off as many of the calories as possible by walking / climbing / sightseeing! | Sea-to-Sky Highway drive, BC

We drove up to Squamish to hike up around Murrin Park. It was the first time we have been up there since Jonty’s knee bailed on him (BTW – how quickly has 4 months gone by!?)

We were a bit unprepared for the amount of snow! I guess the large amount of precipitation the day before helped…

FYI: It’s still waaaay easier to walk up and down a snow-covered mountain, than it is to do so with a broken knee-cap and torn patellar tendon!

The views from the top of Murrin, looking down Howe Sound are just as beautiful in the winter! | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC

… Now make sure your glove is covering one-half of every picture… ๐Ÿ™‚

… And no drive into an empty parking lot full of snow would be complete without two brothers egging each other on to do donuts in the Subaru. | Murrin Park in the snow, Squamish BC

As for the food…

There was Beef Wellington and honey-roasted veggies and Yorkshire Puddings (no Christmas dinner with two lads from Yorkshire would be complete without them, and for the family members, Tom won the Yorkshires Bake-Off for the second time in a row, by what Jonty says is a much smaller margin this time)…

… lots of cheese (this one baked was fantastic!) and sausage… | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers

… and homemade crackers (recipe coming!) and roasted beet dip… | Vacherin Mont D'or cheese and crackers

… and there was a meal out at L’Abattoir. It was fantastic, and highly recommend a visit! | L'Abattoir, Vancouver BC

… with lots of lights…. | Science World at night, Vancouver BC | BC Place at night, Vancouver BC

We capped off our Christmas Stay-cation with a visit to Earnest Ice Cream. Double-scoop waffle-cones, all around, please!

All in all, it was a relaxing week off ๐Ÿ™‚ We hope yours was, too!

Winter in Vancouver: Sunrise on Sunset Beach

Winter Sunrise on the Sunset

I can’t be the only one to be wondering “Where the heck has 2015 gone??!” Exactly one year ago today, I was getting my office cleaned up and organized before leaving on my six-month sabbatical. In some ways, that day seems so long ago, yet the year has gone by in a blink of an eye! Is that the sign of getting older? I’m not sure. Regardless, we’re both excited for what 2016 will bring ๐Ÿ™‚ | Winter sunrise on Sunset Beach, Vancouver BC

We have been on vacation while Jonty’s brother was visiting for Christmas, and for the last few days the weather has been glorious! Clear skies have made for some cold days, but when playing the tourist in our own town, it’s much nicer to leave the umbrella at home in exchange for a toque and warm gloves.

The added bonus to the clear skies have been the superb sunrises!

We went to Sunset Beach for the sunrise (?!) a couple of weeks ago. Even though we were looking out to the west, the glow of the sunrise cast an almost ethereal light over the water – it was gorgeous and very calming! | Winter sunrise on Sunset Beach, Vancouver BC

… and cold!! | Winter sunrise on Sunset Beach, Vancouver BC

I think we managed about 20 minutes before we decided a hot cup of coffee would be the next best decision ๐Ÿ™‚

We hope you all have a safe and joyful evening tonight, as you ring in the New Year! Here’s to adventures in 2016 (and yes, the van is still supposed to be coming shortly)!

Happy New Year!

Weekend Meanderings: Sunday Sunrise

Happy Sunday – we hope you have had a great weekend!

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend we headed up to Queen Elizabeth Park to catch the Sunday morning sunrise. While the entire weekend was a mixed-bag of weather and it had rained quite a bit the night before, we were greeted with a few dry hours and clearing skies.

Due to the earlier rain, it was quiet up in the park, aside from a few other photographers aiming to catch the morning light, and a group of elders practicing their tai-chi – very chill ๐Ÿ™‚

We got married in this park, almost five years ago to the day, and it was remarkably similar on that day! Any month after, oh, August, can be a bit hit-and-miss in Vancouver with respect to the weather. So when the rain eases off, you better believe we savour each moment! ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sunrise from Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

We will have to remember this spot for future “Seeking Sunrise” pictures! Hopefully you don’t get tired of seeing these views because, unfortunately, I never get tired of taking them! ๐Ÿ™‚ | Sunrise from Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

ย | Sunrise from Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC

This was another photo session using the 50mm f1.4 prime lens I rented from Lens Lenders. I’ve got another lens booked in a few weeks and can hardly wait to try it out!

Happy weekend ๐Ÿ™‚