Sometimes the service is exceptional

On top of the Creston Salmo Pass

This summer has been a busy one.  Lots of shooting and lots of events to attend.  One of them was in Abbotsford for the marriage of our grand daughter Alysha followed by the 65th birthday celebration of our good friend Phil Hood.  So we left on the 18th of July in the early morning to drive to Vancouver.

Nancy Green Provincial Campground
Osoyoos, BC from the top of the mountain

On the way out we enjoyed amazing weather all the way and decided on the first night to stop at Nancy Green Provincial Park for the night.  After a bit of a concern about an engine light, which we discovered was a faulty reading on an EGR valve, we got to the park around 5:00 PM and went down to the beach to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  We were settling down after supper and I asked Maggie where the suitcase was. She replied that it was in the back of the van and we discovered that we had left it at home.  Oops!  It had all our special clothes in it as well as medications, toiletries and unmentionables.  Maggie suggested that we could call our son Tom at home and perhaps he could get it Fed-X’d out to Abbotsford in time for the wedding.  We had a plan, whew!  No cell phone coverage.  Oh crap!  Now what do we do?  So into the van and a mad dash toward Rossland, the closest town to us, to get into range.  Finally seemingly a thousand miles later we had two bars and I pulled over.  I sent him a message.  Nothing!  I sent him another.  Nothing!  I tried calling him on his cell.  Nothing!  At last I called Angie at the house and she picked up.  I asked her to go into our bedroom and look on the little bench at the end of our bed.  She said “Oh crap.  Your suitcase is here.”  I suggested the plan and she agreed to pack it up in a box that I knew was out in the garage and to ask Tom to send it to us in the morning.  I received a message in the morning telling me my options and he put it on the Greyhound just 10 minutes before it was leaving Lethbridge to arrive at 3:10 AM the next morning in Abbotsford.  Thank you son and Angie for a job well done.  My daughter, Christene and I went and picked it up the next morning and we finally had our stuff for the main event that day which was the marriage of our grand daughter Alysha at 2:00 PM.

Alysha getting hitched.  Boy was it hot!

The wedding was held at a beautiful estate close to the Fraser river with rolling hills and a magnificent home on the property.  It was a warm, sunny day…Perfect for this important event and she was beautiful and he was handsome as could be.  It was a lovely, although meltingly hot, service and we had a great time and for once I wasn’t shooting so I could watch the photographer do her stuff.  She was professional and attentive and seemed to get it all.  I think from my vantage point that she did a good job and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the images.  All I had was my iPhone and I got a couple of shots, but mostly we just enjoyed the day and what a great day it was visiting with old friends and making lots of new ones too.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  My grand daughter was simply radiant and so was her mother.  The pride of the family was just bursting through and love was in the air.

A Vancouver tradition, flowers for sale

An old fireplug in Kitsilano
Getting a bit seedy

Before we left for Vancouver on this trip, we had decided that this would be a working vacation and we would add to our stock library and do a comprehensive tour of parts of Vancouver that we wanted to see again.  Our plan included meeting up with our good friend and fellow photographer, Dorothy Hilde from Victoria.  We were so looking forward to the day spent with her, but unfortunately at the last minute she was unable to come over from the island so we went on without her.  Perhaps another time.

The familiar Hollywood Theatre
Still some Greek roots left

Granville Island produce shopping and Maggie learning to shoot from the hip

We began our tour at old Hastings Mill, which is Vancouver’s oldest building, at the end of Alma Street in Kitsilano and carried on from there. We spent time on the beaches and near the water and at our favorite place, Granville Island.  The photo opportunities were wide and varied and we took great advantage of it.  We visited Kitsilano Beach and ran across the hot sand to dip our toes in the water and I’d forgotten how good it feels to dig your toes into the cool sand with the ocean water swirling around our ankles.

We walked along Broadway from Trutch Street (where I was born) to sample the little shops along the way and feel the richness of the old neighborhood again.  It’s getting a bit seedy now and many of the shops such as the book store are moving out to better pastures.  It’s kinda lost its predominately Greek feel in this old neighborhood and that’s sad.  I remember how vibrant and alive it was with the smells of fresh bread and wonderful produce and the ever present Hollywood Theater which is still there, but not showing movies anymore.  It’s become a church now.  I’m a bit disappointed by the transition Kitsilano is going through.  It’s not the same as it was, but like all transitions in this great city, it will run its course and something new will arise and take its place and because of the nature of Vancouver and its people, Kitsilano along Broadway will rise again to become the place to be in the future.

Maggie said she wants this little boat

We drove across the Burrard Bridge and through English Bay and on into Stanley Park, and we stopped and parked to walk along the seawall and take in the sights and sounds of the harbour.  With its constant hustle and bustle as one of the busiest seaports in the world, Vancouver Harbour is wonderfully backdropped by the North Shore mountains and cruise ships at Canada Place and a beautiful skyline like no other in the world.

A ride around Stanley Park in style

We stopped for dinner at the White Spot which is a tradition of ours and it lived up to its reputation once again.  I could tell you a hundred stories of the experiences we have had at the White Spot, but that’s for another time.

Queen Elizabeth Park on Little Mountain

We capped the day off in the twilight hours at Little Mountain at Queen Elizabeth Park.  The lighting was superb and we loved wandering through the garden and drinking in the aroma of it all and that wonderful evening sunlight.  It simply doesn’t get any better than this.

Afterwards we drove back to Jean and Phil’s place in Abbotsford to enjoy another evening of good conversation and laughter and a good nights sleep’  They are such gracious hosts and we enjoy their company so much and meeting some of his family during his 65th birthday party.

The unique oriental wooden bridge overlooking the garden below.

Mikayla in all her glory

On Tuesday, we were invited to visit and stay with our daughter and daughter in law, but before that we were invited to visit with our long time friends, Charlie and Susan Pitchford at their beautiful home in Vancouver.  We arrived for brunch at 11:00 and talked about everything under the sun and then got on to a subject that may have far reaching effects into our future.  Charlie and Susan are independent travel agents and were interested in having us put on photo tours in various places around the world but primarily on cruises which is their primary focus in their business.  They asked me if I would be interested in teaching photographic techniques during these tours and of course I said yes.  We are, therefore, going to put some plans together to make this happen in 2014 and I can’t wait.  It’s been a desire of mine to take my teaching on the road for some time now and this is the perfect way to do it, in my opinion.  We met their daughter who is considering getting into the business as well and she’s looking forward to working with us too.  Charlie and Susan have put together a very successful business primarily in the group cruise business so the collaboration would be ideal for all of us and not only would it be profitable for them but could be profitable for us too.  This is going to be fun.

Something grandpa can’t do anymore.

That night after a bit of shopping at my favorite Eddie Bauer shop at Oakridge, we spent more time in Vancouver taking in the sights and then on to our daughter’s beautiful home for a BBQ.  It turned out that it was an early birthday party celebration for me and both of my daughters and two of my grand daughters were there to celebrate too.  We had a grand time and Maggie had an opportunity to hand over six months of things she had made and bought for the next addition to the family due at the end of August.  Both Julie and Stephanie were astonished and thrilled and Stephanie looks radiant as can be.  We’re so excited by the whole event and look forward to welcoming our first grandson to the fold in August.

We had to cut our trip to the coast short by a couple of days in order to get back for an important shoot in Lethbridge.  But before getting out of town, we spent the entire morning

Stepping back in time

at the Burnaby Village Museum.  This is a great place to learn the history of Burnaby and to get an opportunity to share with others who were dressed in period costume and a wonderful place to stop and explore.  Walking across the bridge into the park was like stepping back in time to a simpler era and a more wholesome time in our history.  They have done a great job in restoring and bringing to life this great place and we enjoyed it very much.  We had a light lunch in the Ice Cream Parlor and it was delicious.

Burnaby Village Ice Cream Parlour

We stopped at our favorite fish and chips place called Al and Jen’s Fish and Chips just up from where we used to live in Surrey for a snack on the way out of town and then stopped at Two E’s for the freshest vegetables you could ever buy.  Maggie loaded up and we filled our large cooler with fruit and vegetables for almost nothing in terms of cost.  $41 can buy a couple of weeks or longer supply of fresh vegetables and we took advantage of it.  We do miss the amazing value you get for your money in the Lower Mainland when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables.  After loading up we headed back to Abbotsford for gas and a legendary supper at our last visit to the White Spot and then a long drive to camp at Manning Park for the night.

Living in a caboose

The next morning dawned cool and clear and off we went reluctantly heading east once again.  On the way, we parked at a great jumping rock overhanging the river and swimming hole called Bromley Rock and sat down by the smooth running river and soaked our hot feet in the crystal clear water.  It was surprisingly warm and so refreshing.  When we got underway again we stopped at a small place we knew in the little village of Rock Creek and had lunch and a much needed cup of coffee and then on the undulating road until we got to a little place called Midway and we visited the Kettle Valley Museum.  This was another highlight to our trip that brought the history of the Kettle Valley Railway to life for us and it’s fun to visit.  They have done an amazing job with this museum and it’s worth a visit when travelling highway 3 in either direction.

Hot, sunny and beautiful Christina Lake

We stopped in Christina Lake for a few minutes and a pit stop and went down to the beach.  The temperature was in the high 30’s so we didn’t stay out in the sun for very long and got underway towards our place to camp at Nancy Green again.  Up in the mountains it was cooler and after a light supper and some chatter around the campfire with some new friends, Vince and Karen from Chilliwack we settled down to a good nights sleep.

Amazing staff at Clancey’s
Clancey’s Cappuccino

In the morning we awoke early and after clearing up and getting underway towards home, we decided to got through Rossland.  Rossland is an amazingly beautiful place to visit.  Just west of Trail up in the hills, it’s a quiet place filled with history and beautifully restored buildings from a bygone era that’s enticing.  We stopped in at Clancey’s Cappuccino for breakfast.  If you haven’t been there before, you have missed a treat. When you walk in you’re greeted by everyone and the place is inviting and beautifully decorated in a hiking sort of theme.  Murals on the wall show you all the hiking trails and features along them that you could enjoy.  Maggie saw the muffins and other pastries and immediately bought a couple for our trip home later that day.  One of the staff came over and told us the coffee was just over there and to help ourselves and gave us our menus.  The menu is filled with wonderful treats and breakfasts and we were hungry for a good home cooked meal using only the best ingredients, so we ordered.  Literally within seconds, it seemed, our breakfast was delivered and they were outstanding.  A few minutes later Kate in her yellow apron came out to ask us how the meals were and I engaged her in some friendly banter and we laughed.  This is what service is all about people.  They served us in the most unobtrusive way, without becoming pests, with laughter in their eyes and fun in their hearts and we loved it.  A simple place in Rossland in the mountains of British Columbia that we will send everyone to and go back whenever we’re in the neighborhood again.  If you ever get the chance to visit Clancey’s in Rossland, BC, you will not be disappointed, I guarantee.

So now the mad dash to make it home by suppertime and away we went. We stopped along the road to take a few shots and to have a rest but mostly we just scurried our way back home.

The trip was long, but enormously fun and we accomplished everything we wanted to.  The hospitality that we received from Phil and Jean and Julie and Steph was once again unsurpassed and it was fun to attend Phil’s 65th birthday party and be Jean’s official photographer for the day.  They are great hosts and we love visiting them as often as we can and of course love to host them when they come out to Alberta too.

But most of all, I want to thank my daughter Christene for taking the time to talk to her dad for an hour and a half on that Friday night and reasserting our love and deep affection for each other.  She’s a grand kid and I love her very much.

Thanks for listening everyone and we’ll see you next time…


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