Category Archives: Recreation

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Fly a Kite

Summer is slowly fading and the first colds of back-to-school season are kicking in. We had a great summer with waterpark trips, biking along the seawall, beach parties, a lot of popsicles, and happily no wildfire smoke or asthma hospital trips (hurray!).

Family Reunion

In July, right after Astrid got her cast off, we spent 4 days in Kamloops and Chilliwack with my sisters and Astrid’s cousins. We were grateful the cast was gone because we spent almost everyday in the water. The kids had a blast swimming at the lake, riding the water slides at Cultus Lake, and eating ice cream at Harrison Lake. Photo album here.

Cousins
Ice Cream

We also hosted two playdates – one with daycare friends and one with the Hirtles. The key to a successful kids playdate appears to be rainbow popsicles, fresh cucumbers from the garden, playdough, and a big empty box.

Rainbow Popsicles
Carrots and Cucumbers

It’s hard to believe, but Astrid is even more proficient on her balance bike and has started to wear out the toes of her shoes as she skids to a stop after flying down hills.

Our little girl is really growing up, she’s now in the 3-5 room at daycare. She transitioned very smoothly and handled the change well. Her gradual entry report card included these gems:

  • Enjoys risky play and exploring her boundaries.
  • She will say she needs to use the bathroom when others are going even she doesn’t actually have to.
  • Sometimes takes big bits and needs reminders to take small bites.
Rooftop Garden
Risky play
Eating Cucumbers from the Garden
Big bites

More photos from August and a few from September.

Seawall Sunset
Umaluma Ice Cream

Camping – 3 Nights at Porpoise Bay

Breakfast

For our summer camping trip we spent 3 nights at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast.

BC Ferry Ride

Porpoise Bay is a great family-friendly campsite close to Vancouver. It only takes 2 hours to drive there, including an hour long ferry ride in the middle where the kids can run around.

There are a few things that make it stand out from the other BC provincial park campsites.

  • There are more tents and less RVs. Probably because the ferry is expensive with a RV.
  • There are no campfires in the campsites. Instead there are communal fire pits.
  • It feels like you’re in nature, but you’re only a few minutes from Sechelt which has restaruants, grocery stores, and other conveniences if you need anything. They also have a great little farmers market on Saturdays.
  • The beach is along the ocean, but because it’s a sheltered bay and shallow. The water is pleasant to splash in at high tide and during low tide there are lot of tide pools to explore.
Low Tide

On the less possitive side:

  • There is an active float plane terminal nearby and you can hear float planes taking off during the day. It’s not too bad, but it’s noticeable especially in the morning.
  • The southern edge of the park backs onto cottages. Campsites 76-84 are right next to the backyards and are not very desirable.
Communal campfire

We thought the communal fire pits would be a downside but it turned into a great way to meet other campers. In the evenings, a lot of families would show up to roast marshmallows. Astrid enjoyed running around with other kids and we got a chance to chat with the parents. Before we knew it, Astrid was running off with the other kids to play in the woods. And during the daytime, kids were coming by our site to play with her. One kid even came to say goodbye when we were leaving.

Leaving with a Friend

The communal fire pits are small and there are only 3 of them, so they’re not great for cooking on. We managed to roast veggie sausages and corn but I would be prepared to do all of the cooking at your own site using a propane stove.

Smugglers cove

There aren’t any hiking trails in Porpose Bay Provincal Park, but there are a few good trails nearby. We hiked the trail at nearby Smugglers Cove. It’s an easy 1.5 hour hike out to a sheltered bay with nice views. Seemed like a great place to jump in for a swim on a hot day.

Starfish

We visited Smugglers Cove back in 2007 and were amazed that there were starfish everywhere. Sadly, we didn’t see a single one this time. In 2013 starfish wasting disease wiped out almost all of the starfish and it the population hasn’t recovered. It’s really sad. We did find a single starfish on the beach in Davis Bay, but it was the only one we saw all trip.

Night in the Tent

Camping was made a bit more difficult this year because of Astrid’s cast. She couldn’t go in the water, she didn’t sleep well at night, and we had to watch her a bit more closely at the playground, not that it discouraged her from climbing. Having a cast wasn’t ideal for camping but Astrid’s a resilient kid.

Bikes

Like most campgrounds in BC, Porpose Bay was full of kids getting around on bikes. We’ll have to bring Astrid’s bike next year (assuming she’s not in a cast).

The sunshine coast is a beautiful area to explore and Porpoise Bay is a great campground to use as a base. Sechelt, Davis Bay, and Smuggler’s Cove are all close by.

Logs

We’re looking forward to finding a new campsite for next year. Maybe something in the Okanagan. Last year we did 2 nights at Alice Lake and in 2017 we spent 1 night at Golden Ears. Tradition dictates that we do a 4-night camping trip next year. We’ll see if that happens.

More photos here.

Sechelt

Astrid – 3 Years Old

Happy 3rd Birthday, Astrid!

A lot has changed in the past year. Astrid is definitely more opinionated, adventurous, and bossy than she was a year ago. Pretty standard stuff for a ‘threenager’. She’s also sleeping in a bed, diaper-free, communicating with full sentences, and loves to ride her bike. So there are plenty of positives too.

Zoomer

A newfound love for her bike has been the biggest change in the past month. It started during Bike to Work Week when she rode her bike to daycare a few times. Her balance has steadily improved and now she can zoom around lifting her legs to glide. I’m excited that soon I’ll be able to go running with her biking beside me.

Banged Up

Now that asthma is no longer an everyday concern, she’s replaced wheezing trips to the hospital with head injuries. Earlier in the month, she banged the back of her head on the corner of the wall.
Three weeks later she smashed her face on the concrete while playing on the railings in our rooftop garden.

Climber

Both incidents were pretty scary and she was lucky not to do more damage. The head injuries have made me more paranoid, but Astrid still loves to climb and be adventurous. We’re trying to teach her that there are safe places to climb that are less dangerous.

Tiger Team
Daycare Friends
Neighbours
Cousins

Astrid is a social butterfly. She loves spending time with her daycare friends, neighbours, and her cousins. After daycare, she usually spends half an hour playing with her friends in the square. And then when we finally drag her home, all she wants to do is play on the rooftop with our neighbours.

Quarry Rock

For Canada Day, we went hiking along the Quarry Rock trail in Deep Cove. Astrid spent most of the hike in a backpack, but she also walked for a surprisingly long time, including a long uphill section. On the hike back, she had to pee, so we said she had to go in the woods. Before I could offer help, she had pulled down her pants, squatted, and peed without getting any on her pants or shoes. It was the first time she’s peed not on a toilet.

Vegan Ice Cream

Astrid’s birthday party has been split into 3 small gatherings. One with her cousins when we spent the afternoon at the splash pad in Prince Edward Park. We had a small party with her daycare friends in the bird plaza with cupcakes, bubbles, and chalk. And next weekend we’re going to the Second Beach pool with some of our family friends.

20190629_173705
Birthday in Bird Plaza

More photos from June and photos from May.

3rd Birthday

Camping – 2 Nights at Alice Lake

Tent
Last year we celebrated Astrid’s 1st birthday with 1 night of camping at Golden Ears Provincial Park. This year, we celebrated her 2nd birthday with 2 nights at Alice Lake Provincial Park. I think we can keep this tradition going until she’s at least 14.

Eating Marshmallows

We were very close to cancelling the trip. When Astrid got hand, foot, and mouth disease and the forecast was nothing but rain, we didn’t think it was worth going at all. But Astrid got better and the forecast improved so we decided to go for a change of scenery if nothing else. We were prepared for a disaster, but Astrid loved it and slept well. It was a great experience.

Alice Lake Playground

In many ways Alice Lake is a perfect family-friendly camping destination:

  • It’s close to Vancouver, only an hour drive.
  • The campsites are quiet, with lots of trees, a picnic table, a fire pit, and plenty of room for a tent.
  • There are lots of other families with kids zooming around on bikes and scooters.
  • There are some easy hikes from the campsite around Stump Lake and up to Edith Lake.
  • You can rent a canoe, kayak, SUP, or paddleboat if you want to explore the lake.
  • There is a great playground for little kids and an introductory mountain bike course for older kids. There are also mountain bike trails for adults.
  • Lots of space at the day-use beach areas and new picnic tables. Just watch out for the geese — they will steal your lunch!

The only downside is that it is very popular. It is practically 100% reserved all summer, so you need to get reservations as soon as they become available (3 months before the date).

Canoeing on Alice Lake Little Chopper

It was awesome seeing Astrid’s excitement discovering our campsite. She enjoyed playing in the tent and helping with the chores (like preparing food, washing dishes, and chopping wood). She kept her distance from the campfire (it was too hot for her) but she loved the marshmallows (although it did take some convincing to try the first bite). She showed us again that she’s not a water baby. Our canoe ride only lasted 30 minutes and she spent about 5 seconds in the lake. Probably for the best considering all of the geese poop.

Sleeping in the Tent

Astrid slept well at night (it was really cold the first night and we all had toques on). She wouldn’t nap in the tent (it was too much fun) but she fell asleep in the backpack as soon as we went for a hike.

Modo Boost
Our battery died on us (twice) and we had to get a boost from our neighbours, who also happened to be driving a Modo vehicle.

Monkey on my back

Full album of pictures.

Commuting with Mobi Bike Share

Mobi Bikes

In November I won a free annual membership to Vancouver’s bike share program, Mobi by Shaw Go. At the time I was working in Richmond and commuting 15 km each way on my Norco road bike. I didn’t need a bike share membership but thought it might come in handy occasionally.

Five months later and now I’m using Mobi every day for my commute, logging 175 trips and 400¬†km. What changed? In December I started a new job downtown and discovered that bike share is surprisingly the fastest way for me to get to and from work. It’s about 2 minutes faster than taking public transit and 5 minutes faster than using my own bike, because of the time it takes to store my bike in the secure bike parking rooms on each end.

The Mobi bikes are definitely heavier and slower than my road bike, but I only have a 2.5 km commute so averaging 15 km/h on a Mobi bike is only a minute or two slower than averaging 20 km/h on my road bike. And that’s only because I have a long stretch without traffic lights.

What I like about commuting with Mobi:

  • I don’t have to worry about bike lights, flat tires, or worn out brake pads.
  • The bikes all have chain guards so my pants don’t get greasy.
  • I don’t have to worry if my bike will get stolen.
  • The station density is pretty good. I have 3 stations near home and 2 close to work.

What I don’t like:

  • Now that weather is getting better, it’s sometimes hard to find a bike, especially after work.
  • I miss my panniers and the storage capacity they provided. The basket on the Mobi bikes provides some space, but nothing compared to 2 panniers.
  • The shared helmets are a little gross, although they’ve worked out better than I expected. We’ll see how sweaty they get in the summer.
  • The closest station to my work is at Granville and Georgia, but the bikes are covered in pigeon poop.

I’m guessing my summer commuting experience will be very different from the past 5 months. In the winter, I rarely had a problem finding a bike or a space to dock it when I was done. But in the past week, I’ve had 3 days where the station I normally use was out of bikes. The¬†statistics below from MountainMath¬†show that usage has really increased in the past week. I’m sure that’s due to the nice weather and Mobi’s recent expansion into East Vancouver.

mobi_usage

Overall, I’ve been happy enough with Mobi that I’ll probably renew my membership. It doesn’t completely replace owning a bike for me – I still need my own to pull my daughter’s bike trailer. But for short commutes, I’ve been surprised to find it’s actually the most convenient way to get around.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Southlands Heritage Farm

To celebrate Thanksgiving and the beautiful fall weather here in Vancouver, we took Astrid to Southlands Heritage Farm to visit the pumpkin patch. Southlands is a bizarre neighbourhood in the south-west corner of Vancouver, with mansions on giant acreages, horses, and active farms.

Southlands Heritage Farm

Astrid wasn’t a fan of the horses. In fact she was terrified of them, which is odd because she’s usually fearless. But we had fun in the pumpkin patch, playing in the straw pile, and watching the goats.

Southlands Heritage Farm

We rode the Skytrain most of the way there (to Langara-49th) and biked back along the Arbutus Greenway. It was our first chance to bike most of the Arbutus corridor. What a great route. Nice gentle grade and busy with cyclists, walkers, strollers, runners, and people of all ages.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

Astrid fell asleep in the chariot and slept for most of the way home, which included a pit stop at the Kitsilano Farmers Market.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

Emily showing off the 15 km we biked today. The Arbutus Greenway is too new to be on this bike map.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

We ended the day walking around the Olympic Village and enjoying a beautiful sunset over False Creek.

Thanksgiving Sunset

Golden Ears – Astrid’s First Camping Trip

Alouette Lake Selfie

Astrid’s first camping trip was a mild success. We came close to making a midnight getaway with the tent strapped to the car roof, but we were glad we stuck it out.

We went camping on the July long weekend in Golden Ears Provincial Park. We only stayed for one night because because reservations were hard to come by when we booked 2 months ago, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Tent

Astrid had fun during the day, but had a hard time sleeping in the tent. She wouldn’t nap (thank god for Ergo naps), struggled to fall asleep at night, woke up at 11:30 pm, and cried on-and-off for 2 hours. We were close to bailing, but once she finally settled down, she slept until 8 am the next morning. It was cold overnight, but Astrid was bundled up and warm in the tent.

Getting Ready to Camp

Camping with a 1-year old is a lot different than the camping trips we are used to. We needed a bigger tent, a car accessible spot, and a lot more stuff (like diapers, toys, and a cooler). We spent more time in and around our campsite than we normally would and our big tarp came in handy as a play surface for Astrid.

Food time

Golden Ears was a good spot for a first camping trip – close to Vancouver (only a 1-hour drive), with some nice hiking trails, a beautiful lake, and a family friendly campground that was pretty quiet (when Astrid wasn’t crying). The only downside is the beach has no sand – only rocks and goose poop.

Creek Hiking

It was nice to spend so much time outside in nature. We split our time between the beach/picnic area, doing small hikes in the forest (often while Astrid napped in the carrier), and hanging out at our campsite. We even had an adventurous, off-trail “shortcut” down a stream that involved a lot of fallen trees and bushwacking.

Adorable

Astrid had a rough night, but enjoyed the rest of the trip enough that we are looking forward to going again next summer. By then Astrid will be walking and able to explore more. Maybe we’ll try 2 nights for her 2nd birthday.

More photos