A Travellerspoint blog

Happy Halloween

Giaan's Birthday & Trick-or-treating

sunny 7 °C

While I think it's a good thing in some ways that Halloween isn't big in Australia, we just had to get into it while here in Canada. The fact that it was also Giaan's 10th birthday was another reason to get into the Halloween spirit. The night we arrived back in Kamloops, our fabulous friends, Barb and Brian, took us shopping to find a couple of big pumpkins. These joined two smaller pumpkins that their granddaughter, Kirsten, had selected for the kids.

On the morning of Halloween, after doing Giaan's birthday stuff, we set about carving the pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns (the photos should show our efforts). While Lesley and Robbo finished their creations, Angus and Giaan decorated the front of Barb & Brian's house. The afternoon was spent shopping and prepping for the evening. We called up our other Kamloops friends with whom we'd gone horseriding - Janet, Raphi, Isabel, Claire and Anna - to come over and show our novices how to do the trick-or-treating that night.

After Robbo cooked up his legendary birthday meal of tuna, cheese, spaghetti and potato chips (it tastes awesome - honest!) for the family and a very curious Barb & Brian, Angus and Giaan got into their costumes. The girls and Janet arrived and the spooks hit the streets for some serious candy collecting.

While the first houses were quiet, we turned the corner to see a heap of trick-or-treaters wandering the street. There were little monsters, fairy princesses, M & Ms, the Village People, vampires...even the parents accompanying their kids were dressed up! Angus, despite looking great in his Scream costume, soon learnt an important fancy dress lesson - full-face masks are a pain! It was quite cold but his face was boiling! Still, the amount of lollies he was getting from people eased his discomfort. He and the girls started at a brisk pace but, after about an hour, they got slower. I'm not sure if this was due to tiredness or because they were lugging about so much candy in their bags! By the time, Raphi arrived (he'd been mustering cattle), the kids were about shot. Raphi declared his girls would need to dosome Halloween fitness training for next year - jogging with two full bags in full witch costume, chewing 3 Snickers bars at the same time as drinking a can of Coke...these girls are in for a rough September/October in 2012!

Finally, after watching some local fireworks from Barb & Brian's porch, we said goodnight to our friends. Having a Canadian Halloween on Giaan's birthday was great but Giaan and Angus having some friends to share the night with made it very special. Thanks, guys. The kids flaked and Barb & Brian de-briefed Lesley and Robbo. What a special day they provided for us! We really can't thank them enough for their efforts.

Will write a little more about our visit to the snow and to an ice hockey match soon. Thanks so much to all who sent birthday wishes to GG and we'll be seeing you soon.

Posted by The Robbos 06:32 Archived in Canada Tagged halloween Comments (1)

Vancouver - the big smoke!

Downtown Robbos

all seasons in one day 10 °C

Have just finished our week in Vancouver. Despite this being our last week in Canada, there has been no let up in the packed itinerary. After our wonderful visit to Whistler, Vancouver turned on its waterworks and the rain tumbled down for Wednesday. Robbo said farewell to the Chevy Impala we'd rented for our time in Canada. After four weeks and a lot of miles, Robbo had pretty much had his fill of driving on the other side of the road. So, he dropped the rest of the family off at the Vancouver Science Centre, returned the beast and had the luxury of a taxi ride back.

Our day at the Science Centre was good fun - lots of hands-on activities for the kids and a science experiment show every hour. The demos would have a specific theme like Cold, Bubbles and Air and the presenters would get the kids in the audience up to do some of the experiments. It was a really entertaining and enjoyable day. Downtime was spent at the huge Vancouver Library. It was only a 200m walk away from our hotel so was very convenient. A much better place to hang around and wind down for the evening than our hotel room, I must say.

On Thursday, the weather was cold but fine so we decided to hire some bikes andcycle around the beautiful Stanley Park. Anyone who visits Vancouver must come to this place and biking it is a great way to do it. Encircling most of the inner city is the seawall, a 40km walking/cycling track that takes you along the waterfront that borders most of the city. Gloves certainly would have been handy (pardon the pun) as we cycled along. The three main mountains that look down on the city from the northern outskirts had their first light frosting of snow for the year so we were zipping along into a rather chilly breeze and when you were on the shady sections of the ride - Bbrrrrrr! Just as were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, I looked over a saw a guy stand-up paddle boarding in the harbour. Another's misery always cheers me up! Honestly, the few hours we had the bikes flew by as the scenery - the blue ocean, the icing sugar covered mountains, lush green grass and stunning Fall colours of the trees - just sucked you in. While the bike hire was pretty expensive, it was certainly worth the money to see such a fabulous place on such a beautiful day in such a fun way.

Friday brougt more rain and we went off to visit Granville Island. This is a little peninsula south of downtown which is dedicated to public markets and lots of quaint shops and galleries. The food markets were filled with tasty stuff and groovy stalls. After the morning there, Lesley and Angus went wandering while Giaan and Robbo ripped about on ferries, buses and the convenient light rail system - the Skytrain.

The city has a lot of homeless people on the streets and, at times, the vibe was fairly uncomfortable. This might be due to our own feelings of sadness for these people's situations more than any feeling of being threatened but, either way, you kept your eyes open. Because Vancouver has one of the mildest climates in Canada, more homeless people come here so the problem is more visible (especially in Winter).

Saturday, our last full day in the city, saw Lesley and Angus head to Granville Island again. Giaan and Robbo used the train to get to some of the spots we hadn't seen yet like Gastown and Canada Place.That night, Angus and Robbo went to a Canadian Football game at the big enclosed stadium - BC Place. This was only 2 blocks from our hotel. While we would have liked to see a big ice hockey match, the tickets were very expensive (about $300 for the family!), so the BC Lions vs Edmonton Eskimos was a good option for the boys. While the game itself has loads of stoppages (1 hour game lasts 3 hours!), the atmosphere was good with lots of the crowd dressed up in Halloween costumes. Fun but Robbo will stick with rugby and Angus with soccer.

Caught the bus to Kamloops on Sunday in the pouring rain. The coastal mountains are such a rain block that, within 5 kms of reacing the summit of the Coquihalla Highway, the rain disappeared and the sun was blazing away. We arrived and it was agin wonderful to see our godd friends, Barb and Brian. It'shardtobelieve that, in only a week or so, we'll be home on the other side of the world.

Halloween beckons and will write more soon.

Posted by The Robbos 07:02 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (1)

Back in the big city...

Vancouver and Whistler

sunny 9 °C

For such a big city, it's surprising how quickly you can get out of the city and into the beatiful natural surroundings. I suppose it shouldn't be a shock considering how much Canadians seem to value outdoor activities.
On our first day here, we made use of the car that we have for 2 more days and took off to North Vancouver. While the Capilano Suspension Bridge is well known, less well known is the Lynn Canyon area. It, too, has a suspension bridge over a 50 metre drop into a canyon and waterfall area (it also doesn't cost anything!). The Robbos successfully negotiated the swinging, swaying bridge then went for a bit of a walk through a nice rainforest trail. Giaan and Angus then helped a petrified Japanese lady walk across the bridge with laughs all round. We then went for a drive through the very well-off West Vancouver area that fronts the harbour. Just like Uplands in Victoria.
Yesterday, the weather gods were smiling on us again and we drove a couple of hours to the famous ski town of Whistler. Some locals told us it was the nicest day they'd had up there for ages. There was snow in the mountains surrounding the village, the sky was blue and the sun was shining - gorgeous!
Lesley and Angus went on a zipline and ecotour (I'll leave these exciting details to Angus) while Giaan and Robbo wandered the town. Giaan's ankle has been giving her grief, so Robbo considered it physiotherapy. When the adventurers returned, we showed them our discoveries andhad a picnic in the Olympic Plaza. The scenery on the driveis beautiful, especially around Howe Sound. A few photoswill be uploaded soon.
Love to all

Posted by The Robbos 07:38 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (2)

This Victoria I like!

A great part of the world...

sunny 10 °C

Writing sadly from the ferry return7ng us to mainland Canada. While our destination is pretty good (Vancouver), the whole family has fallen in love with Vancouver Island. Victoria has been especially good. What a beautiful city! Admittedly, the weather has been exceptionally kind with only one rainy day for the whole week (fairly rare at this time of year, the locals tell us). The harbour is a wonderful focal point for the town and we've spent a lot of time on and around it.

The city centre is vibrant without being really busy and the buildings are traditional and attractive. We spent the first full day walking around town, and then drove around the beach areas of Oak Bay and Willows Beach - beautiful areas but very pricey! Our house at Hervey Bay would serve as a boatshed, perhaps.

The next day we spent walking around the harbour and floating on it using the Harbour Ferries. These are small boats that max out ar 12 passengers. This guy told us that the drivers are all retirees from all walks of life - airline pilots, dentists, lawyers, even a former mayor. They buzz you around the harbour giving you info about all the things you're seeing. On gorgeous days like we were experiencing, it must be a corker of a gig. While Lesley and Angus walked around that arvo, Giaan and Robbo went on an extended tour on one of the ferries further up the gorge that linksto the harbour.

We enjoyed the harbour so much, we kayaked on it twice. Lovely sunny days and the fresh breeze combined with water that was like a dancefloor were a perfect recipe for an very happy coupleof hours seeing the city from a different perspective. The regular arrival of seaplanes landing close by was also a treat.

We only had one rainy day and it slotted in perfectly with our plans as we went to the BC Museum. Wow! What a terrific job they've done thee. The exhibits on the 3rd floor tha ttrace the history of BC are excellent. They have re-created whole streets and dioramas filled with authentic pieces. My description won't do it justice so,if you get the chance, visit. That night, the kids and Robbo saw the last installment of Harry Potter on the IMAX screen. Great stuff!

A couple of nights. Robbo popped down to the James Bay Rugby Club to have a bit of a rugby natter with like-minded bods. Good blokes and a strong club. Thanks to all of them for their hospitality.

Off to Whistler tomorrow so hope the weather holds.

Best regards to everyone.

Posted by The Robbos 19:22 Archived in Canada Tagged victoria Comments (2)

Vancouver Island from Giaan

sunny 12 °C

It’s Giaan again,
Right now we are on Vancouver Island. To get to Vancouver Island we caught the ferry over but we had to bring the car onto it which was pretty cool. Our first stop was Ucluelet. Our accommodation at Ucluelet was very cool because we had a beach cabin all to ourselves. Our cabin had a bed upstairs in the loft, (a loft is an upstairs area that takes up about half the size of a second floor).

Near Ucluelet is a town called Tofino. We had a late start to the day and walked around the shops until lunchtime. We ate at a little place which made nice poutine – a mixture of chips, gravy and cheese which is delicious. There was also a very popular ice cream shop. I had 2 scoops of chocolate hazelnut hedgehog and pink lemonade ice cream. These were lovely on their own but pretty bad mixed together.

We then went for a swim at McKenzie Beach. It was absolutely freezing! I couldn’t believe we were swimming in the same ocean we do at Hervey Bay but, instead of looking at Fraser Island, we were looking at snow-capped mountains.

Ucluelet is a nice quiet little town but was great fun and we met very nice people there. The hot tub on our deck was awesome,too.
Parksville was a lovely town on the east coast. Angus and I played putt-putt with Mum and Dad during the day and again at night. It was a spectacular place. I flogged everyone in our first game, too. Dad was awful! Perhaps because it was too dark and he couldn’t see. The next day we played again and this time I was terrible and Dad won. Angus and I then played on these bumper boats (like dodgem cars on water) and shot water at eachother. It was great fun but really cold when you got hit. Up the road was a pretty place called Quallicum Beach. It didn’t have waves but was very nice.

l hope everyone back at home is well. We are certainly having heaps of fun here in Canada. I just cannot wait until Halloween. I am sooooo excited because we are going to carve a pumpkin into a Jack-o -Lantern and decorate the house like crazy with fake spider webs.
Will write more soon.

Posted by The Robbos 21:11 Archived in Canada Tagged island vancouver Comments (2)

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