Monday, September 12, 2011

A Milestone

Elise started kindergarten today, and it felt like quite a significant event, both for her and for us. I cannot begin to convey how excited she has been about this. She's talked about it for months. In fact, as we drove back from our weekend in Washington yesterday evening, she reminded us over and over that today was the big day! It's so cute she's so excited, but I'm sure that she'll be singing a very different song in ten years or so...

We had a nice weekend in Washington, although it involved much driving. We left Friday morning and drove to Coupeville and caught the ferry to Port Townsend. It was a glorious day and we enjoyed the 30-minute trip across which, by the way, only cost $14.00!!!

View of Mt. Baker from the ferry.

Once on the other side, we drove to Lake Ozette in the Olympic National Park, stopping along the way to pick up our backcountry permit and bear-proof food container. When we arrived at the parking lot, we did some last minute gear sorting and then hiked three miles in to the Sand Point beach area. The hike was along mostly flat boardwalk, which was perfect for Elise. She kept commenting on how big our packs were (ours, not hers).

As we got closer to the beach, we could hear the roar of the waves through the forest. Elise seemed quite taken by the fact that we were NOT going back to the car that night. Upon arrival, we choose a place above high tide on the sand and pitched our tent. Mistake number one: putting the tent right near the access trail for the beach (loud and drunk hikers bothered us well into the night). Mistake number two: not putting the fly on the tent immediately. Little did I know the marine fog and mist would slowly soak anything exposed as the temperature dropped throughout the evening. Luckily, nothing go too wet... Beach camping is new to me - lessons learned!

Strange tracks in the sand. We'd seen elk in this area before, and wondered if that's what made these impressions.

The beachcombing was good, but not as good as around Tofino the weekend prior. We did see a few interesting creatures, including this sea star.

Truth be told, Elise spent almost all of her waking time "minnowing", in other words, catching small sculpin with her fish net. She is absolutely obsessed with this activity right now and it can go on for hours if unchecked. In fact, she'll stand in ice cold water so long that she gets mildly hypothermic and we have to drag her out shivering. She is pleased in this picture because she's captured a couple of lunkers - one that's at least an inch long!

The sunset was beautiful...

There are sea stacks in this area, making the landscapes very dramatic.

After dark, we retired to the tent and played cards. This is the point at which my camera battery died. I put in the spare battery (carrying a spare is smart, right?) and the display said "battery exhausted! Pam looked at me and said, "You brought the charger, right?" Not to the beach I didn't! That would be trip mistake/lesson three I guess: Always check to make sure the spare battery is charged before carrying your camera into the backcountry.

Anyways, this is my last picture of the weekend. Enjoy...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vancouver Island

We arrived home from the Rockies after a long, but uneventful 12-hour drive. The trip was good, and we felt like we'd had a nice summer vacation. Here's a few stray pictures from our last few days:

Climbing at Carrot Creek. Our last week was quite hot and this location is north facing beside a cool creek. It was a good place to escape the heat and Elise enjoyed playing in the water. This is me at the crux of American Standard, 5.13b.

Elise making her own pizza at the Flatbread Co., a popular local pizza restaurant. She asked about this for weeks, and we finally relented. She looks pleased...

On my last day in the Rockies, Derek and I hiked far into Echo Canyon and climbed an excellent 7-pitch route called "The Tall Storey", 5.11c. The rock was excellent and the climb stayed in the shade for most of the day, which provided perfect summer conditions. Derek let me lead the entire route, which was a nice treat on such good stone. Thanks Derek! These are all pictures of Derek on the climb.

A couple of days after returning to Squamish, we headed off to Vancouver Island for the Labour Day weekend. We are trying to pack lots of outdoor activities into the summer and fall because Pam is starting work full time and Elise is going to Kindergarten this year! Preparation for the weekend was rushed, but we had a really nice time once we got across the straight. We climbed two days at Horne Lake and spent some memorable time at Pacific Rim National Park - a real treat! Elise enjoyed the ferry ride, swimming in the lakes, camping and, of course, the beach!

Here we are cooking dinner in the Wikininnish parking lot at Pacific Rim National Park.

We were super lucky to get the last walk-in camping spot at the national park campground - we were prepared to sleep in the van)! This is a pancake breakfast, again in the parking lot (because it was sunny and warm).

The beach combing was superb. We went down to Green Point at low tide and found tons of interesting sea creatures. Elise with a large starfish...

Goose neck barnacles.

Elise is obsessed with catching minnows. Much of the weekend was devoted to this pursuit, both in freshwater and in saltwater.

The starfish were thick!

Sea anemones.

Big waves at Green Point below the campground.

We spent an evening at Wikinnish walking the beach, looking for shells and enjoying the view. The sunset was truly spectacular. I couldn't stop taking pictures. These are a couple of my favourites.

We spent our last evening in Nanaimo where we had a good Mexican meal and walked the seaside promenade, watching people fishing for salmon at the river mouth and for crab off the pier. We got home around midnight - it was a long day! Next weekend, we are planning a short backpacking trip to Sand point at the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. We'll camp overnight at the beach will be a first for Elise. So far, September is starting with beautiful weather in Sqaumish. We hope it stays that way!