Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Discovering Vancouver!

As I flew into Vancouver, I looked out the window of the plane and saw the mountains in the distance, the ocean below me and the skyline of downtown Vancouver.  I was excited about my week in British Columbia, as I would be enjoying the time with my friends, Jackie and Linda.  Jackie has been living in West Vancouver for five years and Linda was flying in from Austin.  The last time we were all together was about 12 years ago in Honolulu.

I was landing about thirty minutes before Linda would be arriving.  I went through customs, located my luggage and then patiently waited for Linda.  She got there right on time. She got through customs and we gathered our luggage and headed out into the waiting area to find Jackie.

Just imagine three women who hadn't seen each other in a while and everybody was talking at once.

As we left the airport, we headed for Stanley Park to drive through the park and then to have lunch at the Teahouse.  Stanley Park makes up 1,000 acres and it borders the downtown of Vancouver and is almost entirely surrounded by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.  Much of the park is very dense with about a half million trees, some of which stand as tall as 249 feet/76 metres and are hundred of years old.

We pulled up to this adorable house which was the "Teahouse Restaurant".  It was originally built as a garrison and officer's mess during WWII when Ferguson Point was a military installation.  After the war, the house was used as a residence for the military and then in the 1950's it was opened as the Ferguson Point Tea Room in the summer.  It was closed in 1976 and then in 1978, the present owner renovated it, and opened it as the "Teahouse Restaurant".  We had a great lunch and I got salmon, which was fabulous.

As we left the restaurant, we drove towards the bridge that would take us to Jackie's home.  Passing through the downtown area, we saw some spectacular sculptures.  One was very unique.  It was titled "A-maze-ing Laughter" by Yue Minjum.  It was composed of fourteen statues, which portrayed the artists own image and all fourteen statues were hysterically laughing.

Due to the traffic, we finally made it to "Lions Gate".   The bridge refers to the Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver.  A pair of cast concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega, were placed on either side of the south approach to the bridge in January 1939.  It opened in 1938 and it is a suspension bridge.  Since this bridge does connect north and west Vancouver to downtown, the traffic volume on the bridge is 60,000 - 70,000 vehicles per day.  That is a lot of cars!

The drive to Jackie's home in West Vancouver was spectacular. The view of the bay and the dense forests that surrounded us were pretty amazing.

Jackie's husband, Jim, was at the house when we got there.  He was such a gentleman, as he carried our luggage upstairs.  I was a little embarrassed with my 45 pound luggage.  I quickly took off my converse and allowed my toes to breathe.  We enjoyed the evening by laughing, eating, drinking and playing with Sadie, the blue heeler.

Vancouver is so far north that sunrise is at 5 am.  My bedroom window faced east, so I was waking up by 5:15 am each morning.  At about 7 am, I headed down downstairs to fix myself a cup of coffee.  Sadie was ready to get going for the day.  Jackie fixed a hearty breakfast and then we were out the door headed to one of the trails that Jackie and Sadie love to hike on.

The fresh air at Cypress Falls was so refreshing.  As we walked along, we saw the signs stating "black bears" and what to do if you ran into one.  The signs tell you to stop, be still and start walking backyards, etc.......  Fortunately, we did not run into a black bear and if we had, I don't know what I would have done.  There were many people walking the trails.  Especially dog walkers with 4 to 5 dogs each.

Cypress Falls was the perfect hike.  Our walk took us through a dense forest full of old Cedar and Douglas Fir trees while we followed the Cypress Creek.  We were able to see 300 year old trees and various birds throughout the forest.  Sadie loved running from one rock to the next.

After our 2 mile hike, we headed to Granville Island.  This island is a thriving market and entertainment destination.  There is a marina, hotel, public market, performing arts theatres, great shopping and fine art galleries.  Back in 1915, Vancouver was growing and needed more room.  So two sandbars underneath the original Granville Street Bridge were reclaimed by dredging the surrounding waters of False Creek to create Industrial Island. Granville Island is known for one of the original tenants, Ocean.  This company started selling cement, aggregate and coal back in 1917.  As Vancouver grew, the need for an inner city industrial area diminished and many of the industries on the island declined, except for Ocean.  In the late 1970's, Granville Island began to transform into the island that it is today.

The evening was spent at Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver.  Jim had purchased some tickets to attend this cute community of about 1,000 residents.  We were each given a brochure of all the merchants that were promoting the evening.  There were several live bands that were performing.  One of the stores had an artist painting and promoting her art pieces.  There were 32 merchants that participated in this event.  You had to go to each store and get your card stamped.  As you went into the stores, they would give you a gift.  Some of the gifts were a bottle of water, a bag of candy, the dentist gave a toothbrush/toothpaste, ice cream, coffee, etc.  This activity went from 5 pm to 8 pm.  If you got all of your merchants stamped, you would turn in your sheet with your name and there was a drawing for some great baskets filled with goodies.  No one on our team won anything, but it was a great way to see what the various stores were within the community.

The next morning, we enjoyed another hike on another trail.  Even with it being overcast and drizzling, the waterfalls were nice and it was a great way to get some exercise before we drove up to Whistler, which was about 1 1/2 hours north on Highway 99.

The drive to Whistler was pleasant.  The scenery was beautiful and the conversation was delightful.  As we drove, we did spot a baby bear that was right up against the guardrail.  He was snooping around looking for something.  Needless to say we didn't stop.  We kept on driving.

As we approached Whistler, a 24 feet sign "Welcome to Whistler" greeted us.  Of course, we had to stop and take pictures with us in front of the sign.

Whistler is one of the largest North America's ski resort.  Winter Olympics 2010 was held in Whistler.  There is snow skiing, snow boarding, snowshoeing, tobogganing and ski jumping.  The hub of Whistler is at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain.

By the time we got to Whistler, it was time for lunch.  We walked around the village and then located a place to eat.  After lunch, we did some grocery shopping and then drove to Jim and Jackie's condo.  The condo was very comfortable and cozy.  We got the groceries and luggage in and then headed to the trails to do some exploring.

Saturday morning, it was raining and chilly outside.  Before we headed back to Vancouver, we enjoyed breakfast at the cutest diner, Southside Diner and then went to the Audain Art Museum.  The displays at this museum ranged from works of Michael Audains personal art collection which traces a visual record of British Columbia from the late 18th century to the present day.  It also includes one of the worlds finest collections of old First Nation masks, a collection of Emily Carr paintings and works by other well-known Canadian artists.

Driving back, we took a break and stopped at the Provincial Marine Park, Porteau Cove.  There were other cars that had stopped and were having a picnic and enjoying the beautiful views.  This Cove is a very popular area for scuba diving, with a series of artificial reefs including two sunken vessels.  There are also areas to camp, swim and windsurf.

Our evening ended with a great dinner and a spectacular sunset.

Sunday morning, we were up early, as we needed to be at the ferry at Horseshoe Bay by around 8 a.m., so that we could head over to Vancouver Island.  This island is off Canada's Pacific Coast.  It is known for its mild climate and thriving arts community.  On the southern tip of the island is Victoria, British Columbia's capital, the Inner Harbour, neo-baroque Parliament Buildings, grand Fairmont Empress Hotel and English style gardens.

The ferry ride would take about two hours for us to get to the island.  We passed the time by eating breakfast and I did some walking around the ferry.  I needed to get in my 10,000+ steps for the day.

As we unloaded the ferry, Jackie wanted to take Linda and I to the town of Chemainus.  This is a quaint community of about 3,100 residents.  It was founded as a logging town in 1858.  In the early 1980s, the large sawmills closed.  The town did not want to die so they began to paint murals on the outside walls to remember their history.  The town started out with five murals and now it is known for its thirty-nine outdoor murals.  The murals, the theatre, antique dealers and restaurants have brought Chemainus back to life.

After enjoying some ice cream and photographing the murals, we drove to Victoria, known as "The Garden City".  This cities population is 86,000, while the metro area is 368,000.  The city is named after Queen Victoria.  The city's Chinatown is the 2nd oldest in North America.  San Francisco has the oldest Chinatown.

There is a lot to do in this area, such as: visit the Parliament Buildings Royal BC Museum; Craigdarroch Castle; Empress Hotel, Butchart Gardens and so much more.

Jackie had found a great place for us to stay.  It was an AirBnB and it was located right around the corner from Chinatown.  After unloading and freshening up, we were starved.  The owner of the AirBnB told us about this great seafood restaurant close to the water.  We walked to "FishHook" and got there just in time for happy hour.  The fish and chips were great!

After our meal, we walked about 8 blocks to the Empress Hotel.  This is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria and is considered one of Canada's grand railway hotels.  It opened on January 20, 1908.  The Empress is well known for serving England's most beloved ritual of afternoon tea.

After touring the Empress and seeing the Parliament Buildings, we headed back to our room.  It was such a pleasant evening with the cooler temperatures.  As we walked through the downtown area, it was nice to see that the older buildings have been kept up and that merchants are using them.

We began our morning by eating breakfast at the Mole.  This is a restaurant enjoyed by the locals.  They are known for their vegan and organic dishes.  I began the day with a smoked salmon omelette and a delicious latte.

The forty minute trip to "The Butchart Gardens" was a nice drive.  As we pulled into the gardens, we were in awe of the beauty.  A little history about this spectacular garden.  Robert Butchart was the pioneer manufacturer of Portland cement in Canada.  In 1904, Robert, his wife(Jennie) and their two daughters settled on Vancouver Island.  For the next five years, limestone was quarried from a massive excavation to supply the cement factory.  This barren pit became the inspiration for Jennie's "sunken garden".  She was so happy with the results that she began to plant rose bushes and other types of flowers.

In 2004, The Butchart Gardens celebrated "100 Years In Bloom".

There are 55 acres of gardens on the 130 acre estate.  As you walk through the gardens, you will visit the "sunken garden"; "rose garden"; "Japanese Garden"; "Italian Garden"; the various fountains and Butchart Cove.  This beautiful garden is still family owned.

For about two hours, Linda, Jackie and I enjoyed walking through all the different gardens and taking beautiful photos of all the unique flowers.

After our tour through the estate, we drove back to the dock to catch the ferry.  Before arriving at the dock, we stopped in Duncan to have lunch and to see the "Totems".  The tourism slogan is "The City of Totems".  The city has 80 totem poles around the entire town.  These totem poles were erected beginning in 1980.

Some more history about Duncan.  The city is named after William Chalmers Duncan.  Duncan has a large First Nations community and is the traditional home of the Cowichan Tribes, who are the largest band among the Coast Salish people.  They are the makers of the world famous Cowichan sweaters.

The ferry ride back to West Vancouver was nice.  The sun was out and the pacific was calm.

We enjoyed being back at Jackie/Jim's home.  Sadie was definitely happy to see that her friends were back.

Tuesday morning began with another walk along a different trail that was closer to the bay area.  We discovered some new flowers and beautiful views of the bay.  After our walk, we drove to the Museum of Anthropology.  This museum was established in 1948 and it promotes awareness and understanding of the different cultures.

After leaving the museum, Jackie drove us to the Seymour Golf & Country Club, where we enjoyed our lunch sitting out on the patio and watching the golfers.

Back at the house, we waited for Jim to arrive home.  We were going into downtown Vancouver to take part in "The Lost Souls of Gastown".   Jackie and Jim's house sitter is an actress and one of her gigs is playing the part of a fictional character as they tell you the story of Gastown.  It is a walking tour through the cobblestone streets that you step into the time period of the late 1800s and you discover the documentary history of Vancouver.  During this wild frontier time there was a devastating fire, smallpox outbreaks, the Yukon gold rush and unsolved murders.

As you walked through the Gastown area, you feel as though you were walking back in time.  Some of the places that we visited were the Hotel Victorian(Vancouver's oldest hotel); Holy Rosary Cathedral; Hudson's Bay(company warehouse); the iconic Gastown Steamclock; sites of the city's first jailhouse and many more sites.

If you have never have done one of these tours, you need to.  It was an enjoyable evening of walking and obtaining history of Vancouver.

Our last full day in Vancouver, we attended Jackie's Qi Gong class.  Qi gong is holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality and martial arts training.  Linda and I enjoyed the class and especially enjoyed meeting the instructor and the others who attended this class.

The afternoon was spent on top of Grouse Mountain-The Peak of Vancouver.  We rode the aerial teamway(Red Skyline) to the top of the mountain.  This mountain overlooks Vancouver and is 4,100 feet at is peak.  It gets its name from the sooty grouse(a game bird of the area), and it was named in October 1894 by the first hikers to reach its peak.

Due to the smoke in the area and the clouds/fog, visibility was low.  Even with low visibility, we enjoyed the Lumberjack Show and seeing the two orphaned grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola.  This has been their home since 2001.

For our last evening in Vancouver, Jackie, Jim, Linda and I enjoyed a delicious meal at the
"Salmon House on the Hill".  Even with the smoke in the air, we were able to capture the stunning view of Vancouver and Burrard Inlet.

Thursday morning, I was up early to finish packing and to enjoy a latte from the Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine.  It was such a treat to have a latte each morning.

It was quiet in the car as Jackie drove Linda and I to the Vancouver Airport.  It was hard to believe that our week was over and we were headed back home.  We packed a lot into those eight days.

This trip reminded us how important friendships are.  We are already looking at "France 2020"!

Surveille Paris!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What Storms Are You Facing?

I can remember back in May of 1974 and competing in a regatta on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.  I was in a small sailboat with another person.  There were over 100 sailboats in this race.  The morning had started out with no wind.  It took over thirty minutes to get across the starting line.  Everyone was frustrated, hot, sweating due to the humidity and lack of wind.

After we crossed the starting line, it was still very challenging in getting the wind to fill the sails.  Finally, the wind picked up and the sails began to flap and fill up with air.  The sailboats were finally cruising.  Everyone was so enthralled in getting the boats moving that no one really noticed the dark clouds moving in from the north.  Within minutes, there was thunder, lightening and force winds.  We were trying to batten down the hatches when all of the sudden, the strong winds picked up the hull of the boat that I was in and flipped it.  The boat capsized and there was no way to turn the boat over.  Fortunately we had on our life jackets.  We drifted in between the high waves.  A rescue boat was in the area and it assisted us and pulled us into the boat.  I was shivering from being wet and the temperature had dropped.

I will always remember this day.   For almost a year, I would get anxiety being around lakes and oceans.  I did not want to be near water.  I finally got back onto the lakes and I have even cruised in a small sailboat and I have been on several cruises.

With these thoughts, it helps me to reflect on the storms that we face in everyday life.  Circumstances in life can be so overwhelming.  And with being overwhelmed, fear approaches our life.   As I think about that day in the sailboat, fear came over me.  I was afraid that I was going to drown and that I would never see my family again.

In our life, it is certain that we will be faced with a storm or storms.  Storms can blow you off course; storms also expose our weaknesses and storms definitely produces fear. 

Some storms that we face are illnesses; relationships; finances; emotional; mental and even spiritual battles.  God does promise to rescue His people.  Isaiah 43:1-2 says "Israel, the Lord who created you says "Do not be afraid--I will save you.  I have called you by name--you are mine.  When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you."  We know that we are going to go through storms.  How are we going to face them?

The disciples even faced a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  They were trying to get to Capernaum.  Strong winds were blowing and stirring up the water.  They saw Jesus walking on water towards them.  Jesus told them "Don't be afraid".  They brought Jesus into the boat and immediately the boat reached land at the place they were heading for.  Notice how there was all of sudden calmness among the crew as Jesus got into the boat.  Jesus gives us the calmness to handle situations.

As storms come into our lives, we need to allow Jesus to get into the storm with us.  He is the one who will assist us to get to safe grounds.

Always remember, Jesus is bigger than any storm that we ever face!  He wants to get into the boat with you and as He does there will be a calmness that you will not understand.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

God's Gift

A beautiful day in Colorado.  Temperature of 64 degrees and humidity at 32%.

The cool breeze this morning woke me.  Before going to church to hear God's word, I enjoyed a walk.  The afternoon was filled with visiting friends.  I ended the day by riding my bicycle.  As I rode through the neighborhood, I enjoyed the beauty of the flowers, smelling the various fragrances and hearing the doves coo in the background.

A day of enjoying the world that God created.  A day of not allowing problems or conflicts to take over my life.

"Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land."  Song of Solomon 1:12

Saturday, June 8, 2019

May My Plans Be Blessed

"Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out."  Proverbs 16:3

As I look at my life and I am looking at what God wants me to do for the years ahead, I am seeking His direction.  I know that He has plan for me and I know that He will give me the desires of my heart.  My desire is to have joy and to share joy with others.

I am committing my life and direction to God and I am willing to put forth the effort that is needed to make these plans successful.

Lord, here is my life.  Take me and direct me and give me the joy that is needed to encourage others.


Friday, June 7, 2019

The Beauty of Wild Flowers

This morning on my morning walk, I was in awe of the beauty of the wild flowers.  With the nice temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms, the purple and yellow flowers are popping up on the nature trails.

As I looked at the wild flowers, I thought of the verse that I had read this morning:

"Look how the wild flowers grow:  they don't work or make clothes for themselves.  But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as on of these flowers.  It is God who clothes the wild grass--grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven.  Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you?  What little faith you have!"  Luke 12:27-28

This verse helped remind me that God is in control and He is taking care of me and He does provide for my needs.  Maybe not my wants, but my needs are provided.  It is good that I work and plan things.  I just don't need to dwell on what could go wrong. Worrying about something is foolish because God loves us and He knows what our needs are. 

Next time that I start to worry about something, I need to stop and reflect on the wild flowers and the beauty that God has provided for them.  If God can create beautiful plants, then He create something beautiful within me.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D-Day - 75 Years Ago

75 years ago today Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in France.  This is the day that we acknowledge as D-Day. 

This day was the turning point for WWII, especially the fight against Nazi Germany.  It was the biggest seaborne invasion in history.  General Eisenhower let the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force know that they were about to embark upon the Great Crusade.  Eisenhower stated "the eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

On June 6, 1944, 160,000+ Allied troops landed at Normandy, a heavily fortified stretch of French coastline to initiate D-Day.  More than 10,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded , but by day's end, the Allies had begun liberating Europe. 

Today, take a moment and reflect on battles that have been fought for our country.  Our men and women in the military continue to fight for the freedom that I get to enjoy each day.

God bless the U.S.A. and other countries throughout the world.

D-Day Invasion

My father-in-law who served during WWII.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Consider it Pure Joy!

This morning as I read my various devotions, I came across this verse: 

"Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  James 1:2-3

As I am typing this verse, I am thinking of so many friends that are going through such trials in their life.  One friend, is having medical issues; another friend, issues with her daughter; and then another friend is having troubles at work.  She is not having any joy in her job.  She can't afford to quit, but she is miserable.  What do you tell someone who is going through such pain, either physically, mentally, emotional or even spiritually? 

As Christians, we have been told many times, God will help you through your circumstances; hang in there; you will come out stronger; this is building character in your life, etc.  I know what my faith is all about.  I know that God is there.  But there are times, you just can not bear to hear those words "it is going to be all right".

When a friend is going through some heavy burdens, I just let them know that I love them and God does too.  Sometimes a person just needs a shoulder to cry on.

"God allows trials to come into our lives in order to prove the authenticity of our faith.  We are like a tube of toothpaste, when squeezed whatever is on the inside comes out.  Trials have a way of revealing character.  When our faith is tested, we have the opportunity to demonstrate the character of Christ being developed in us.  Our testimony is enriched as our faith increases.  Learning how to trust God when trials ensue is part of our spiritual formation.  God does not waste the trauma that comes into our lives.  When difficult circumstances are in view, our faith is fortified."  by Dr Stephen Trammell.

The next time that you have a friend or family member going through difficult times, just be available by phone or in person.  Listen to them and sometimes just be silent.  You don't have to say anything.  You could ask, if they would mind if you prayed a prayer and ask God for the wisdom that they need during this time. Ask them if it is all right if you let some other devoted prayer partners know about their situation.   God tells us that when two or more come together, our prayers will be heard.  A hug goes a long way.  If you live close by, try to meet them the next week for coffee/tea.  A great way of letting them know that someone cares.  If you don't live close by, drop them a note or send them a text of encouragement.

We all go through troubling times or feel that we have a black cloud hanging over our us.  Satan is at work everyday.  As Christians, we need to put on our armor and be available to our family and friends.