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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunset on the Seawall

*The following is an old blog post from 2014 that I'm finally getting to now that my knee is injured.*

While my dad was visiting during reading week we decided to take a walk along Vancouver's Seawall. It was beautiful weather for the time of year, and we managed to walk along the west side of the wall just as the sun began setting. My dad seemed to really appreciate the view (although he also shared my dislike of the tankers hogging the horizon).

We also spotted a large flock of Common Goldeneyes diving for food along the seawall. They're fairly common birds here in the winter, but leave a soon as the weather starts warming up. Their eyes were glowing a beautiful yellow in the sunlight, making the reasoning behind their name obvious. 

The sunset along the seawall was beautiful and peaceful. In the summer this location would be booming, but February brings an early sunset and some tranquility along the water. The Vancouver winter hasn't been my favorite, but moments like this that I can truly appreciate. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sea-to-Sky Highway Lookout

To get to many of our destinations, my Dad and I had to drive up the Sea-to-Sky Highway frequently. On this particular day we were driving up North to Squamish and the view of Howe Sound from the car was beautiful. We decided to stop at a lookout point on the way back home.

There were some stands describing the history of the First Nation people in the area, since this land was on traditional Coast Salish territory. There was also a lovely totem pole standing out by the lookout. 

The view of Howe Sound was fantastic - mind you, I had to sort of break the rules to get the view that I did. This of course, was all captured by my dad and his point-and-shoot.

There I am smiling back at my dad cheekily. 

While the lookout was nice, it just didn't compare to the experience of driving alongside the mountains and water. After being cooped up in the city for so long, it was very refreshing to be on a road that's surrounded by nature.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Hello everyone,

Last week was my reading break from school and I was very fortunate to have my dad come visit me. He rented a car for his stay and we took advantage by going on day trips to places we both were interested in seeing. It was refreshing to get out of the big city and go on some light hikes.

Together we had a couple of small adventures that I can't wait to share, so expect a few posts over the next week or two.

The first hike was to Shannon Falls Provincial Park, which is home to British Columbia's third largest waterfall. It's normally quite busy during the spring and summer, but since we went in the winter it was relatively quiet. There were a couple of longer trails in the area, but my dad and I just focused on the small trail leading up to the falls.

It's humid and mild along the coast of British Columbia, and the area is considered a temperate rainforest. One of the biggest differences I've noticed is that mosses and ferns are everywhere. I'm used to very cold weather in the winter, so it's strange for me to see snow and green ferns and mosses in the same place. It's a striking contrast to see snow around so many plants that haven't gone dormant. 

When we first got to the falls there was a bit of fog rolling through the area. Fortunately it passed in no time and we managed to get a better view of the waterfall. Some of the falls were frozen, so I can only imagine how much more water comes down during the spring.

I hope you all are doing well and I can't wait to share more moments like these.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cathedral Grove

While on Vancouver Island, my Dad and I really wanted to see Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. It was such a beautiful place and my favorite part of the trip. Highway 4 runs through the park, making it very accessible. There is parking alongside the highway for any travelers looking to take a break and walk around Cathedral Grove. 

The most amazing thing about Cathedral Grove is that it's a protected old growth forest, with some Douglas fir trees are old as 800 years. The trees are beautiful and massive, and an impressive amount of mosses are supported in this temperate rainforest. It's an experience I don't think anyone passing through the area should pass up.

We walked the entire park, which is really accessible and well maintained. My dad and I managed to find the largest tree in Cathedral Grove. It was beautiful and over 75 meters tall. We took pictures, but I don't think we managed to capture just how amazing it was.

As if the location wasn't amazing enough, the sun started peeking through the clouds. The added sunlight made the grove even more magical, and meant better lighting for photos. I love macro photography, and Cathedral Grove did not disappoint. I have an abundance of shots to share with you all because I couldn't bring myself to select only a few.

If you're ever debating about visiting this park or just passing through, I encourage you to make the stop. Please comment and let me know if you've ever been here yourself. I'd love to hear what you thought of the location.

I hope you've enjoyed what I've shared of this beautiful place! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

When my father and I took a trip to Vancouver Island we prioritized a visit to MacMillan Provincial Park, but decided if we had time to spare we would also visit Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Fortunately, we ended up having a few hours before sunset to hike the upper and lower falls. The park had a very accessible trail that was only 6 km long, so we ended our day with a nice stroll along the Little Qualicum River.

Friday, February 14, 2014

To Vancouver Island

The current itinerary for the father-daughter adventure is Port Alberni, BC to Nanaimo, BC. This is my first time on both BC ferries and Vancouver Island. The trip is an hour and a half long and the views from the ferry are spectacular.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


This semester all of the classes I'm taking are very quantitative and math heavy. This is definitely a good thing because I'll be learning the skills that are advantageous for my future career. Surprisingly, the transition to numbers was smooth and relatively painless. I've been trying for over 6 years now to force my brain to become more adept at handling calculations and logic.

It makes me wonder how much the creative side of my brain has suffered. I used to be an artistic person, but over the years I've only been drawing, painting or sculpting when it comes time to make a gift for someone. Lately I've been thinking: if I don't feed my creative side, will I lose it?

Britta, a fellow blogger, recently inspired me to buy a sketchbook. I follow her blog and she's so committed to enrolling in art courses and going out of her comfort zone. Seeing the progress from her classes over the past few months really sparked my interest in art again.

I figured I could benefit from scribbling a small sketch a few times a week, so I went on a hunt for a decent sketchbook. I managed to find one that was similar to what I had in mind. It has good quality paper and is small enough that I can easily fit it in my bag or purse.

 I was a little stumped about what to draw at first. An empty sketchbook is an intimidating thing to me. I used to be fairly good at drawing animals, so I knew that was the place to start. Fortunately, on Saturday the decision came to me. I was in a really big horse mood, so I watched Secretariat and then proceeded to draw the head of a horse.

His proportions are a little off, but I'm proud of him. I`m excited by this new pastime; it felt good to just lose myself in a drawing for a few hours.

Hopefully I`ll be able to share a new sketch with you guys soon. I`m excited to think of a new animal to draw, and perhaps eventually I`ll be able to move on to more intimidating subjects.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Vancouver Aquarium

I'm glad to report that I spent this weekend relaxing and enjoying some free time. Yesterday I took myself to the Vancouver Aquarium for a few hours.

At first I was a little apprehensive about going by myself, but I was quick to realize it was probably for the best. You see, I'm not that interested in the animals that most people are there to see. I can't stand to watch captive seals or dolphins (however, I give the Vancouver Aquarium credit because all their marine mammals are rescued animals that couldn't be released). What I really love are the invertebrates, and I think I might have annoyed someone by spending 15 minutes looking at the jellyfish.

Here is a small sample of the pictures I took:

A couple of sea anemones and two starfish are in the center of this photo. All of the light blue and red tuffs you see along the bottom of the tank are also younger anemones.

I've unfortunately lost the names for these two fish. I think the black fish is some type of rockfish. Both are native to the Pacific Ocean here in British Columbia.

A few starfish in the foreground and a stem of swaying kelp in the background.

This little guy is a roughskin newt. They are semi-aquatic and need to come up and get a breath of air occasionally. 

A closeup of some frilled sea anenomes. Aren't they gorgeous? Can you believe that this isn't a plant, but a predatory animal? Those little "hairs" you see are filled with nerves and will actually release a toxic sting when touched. Using this sting they catch and eat small invertebrates and larvae. 

And I've saved my favorite photos for last: the jellyfish. I was actually stung as a teenager by a jellyfish  and I still have the scar  but that hasn't changed my opinion of these animals. I don't know about you guys, but watching jellyfish gives me a sense of awe.

Japanese sea nettles

Lion's mane jellyfish

Fried egg jellyfish

Fried egg jellyfish

I also spent a fair bit of time trying to get a picture of some sea gooseberries that were in a small tank. Unfortunately, they're tiny and move so quickly that the macro setting on my camera couldn't do them justice without a tripod.

Sea gooseberries are a type of comb jellyfish, and move using the cilia (little hairs) on their body. Light gets refracted off of the moving cilia, which creates the most beautiful rainbow colors as they move about. In the picture above, you can see the two tentacles that drift through the water and catch prey.

If you're interested in seeing how comb jellyfish refract light, this is a great video from the Vancouver Aquarium's Youtube channel. I wouldn't hesitate to say these animals are awe-inspiring. 

Well, that's all I have to share for today. I hope I haven't overloaded anyone with photos or information! I just get so excited about these things because it's what I love and studied during my undergrad. It's a great feeling to get back in touch with these things.