James in His Jeep Getting Java–The Squamish Edition

13920366_10157174392585394_3528568145550851907_o

 

Last weekend I took a road trip to Shannon Falls near Squamish, BC. This time, pal Marcie asked to come along and I welcomed the company. Of course, as I’ve blogged about before, there is a risk when travelling with someone as opposed to going solo. Solo, I stop where I want, leave when I want, and do whatever I want. In a nutshell, I get to be selfish–and in order to recharge sometimes people need to be selfish. But when you’re travelling with someone, you have to be considerate of the fact that they may not want to see the same sights, or stay as long, or they may get upset with you when, for the millionth time, you’re lost.

Marcie was a terrific travelling companion and I put her to the test. Driving out of Vancouver I got turned around and couldn’t find the road that lead to the highway–she laughed and directed me so we wouldn’t spend the day circling one-way streets. Once on our way, we headed to Shannon Falls!

Just before Shannon Falls, there’s overflow parking to the left. I highly recommend using the overflow, especially if you visit on a busy long weekend like we did. Or, you could do what I did and make another wrong turn while attempting to find the overflow and wind up in the campground next door to it–which was where we took the photo of me beside the jalopy below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Across the highway (there’s a pedestrian crossing with lights from the overflow to Shannon Falls) we found a walkway that lead to the falls. While the park was beautiful and the falls were incredible, there really wasn’t much to do and after twenty minutes we were looking for more trails.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We found two paths–one that sloped down, possibly to a river, and one that lead up (and up and up and up) to the Chief, which is not a hike for beginners or for those with the wrong shoes–such as my Blundstones. At first Marcie thought it might not be so bad, but after a short climb we both agreed that we should see where the other path leads.

We expected to find a river, as that was where it seemed to head. However, it came out of the forest where the new Sea to Sky Gondola was situated. It was still early in the day, and Marcie said she was up for it if I was–so we went inside to see about getting tickets. What we discovered, is that there are two places to buy tickets. Inside where we went, at the info desk, there was no line up. Then, when we went outside to the cable car area, we found another ticket booth and a long line-up of people. (>insert evil chortle<)

There were two types of cable cars, and we took the one on the left (we assumed the one of the right was for supplies).

The view is amazing, and for those who may be scared of heights (like I am) this cable car felt very secure. It was an extremely windy day, but the cable car stayed pretty still.

13920137_10157174392180394_6523804549355365468_o

Photo credit Marcie Nestman.

 

When we got to the top, we discovered that there was a wedding going on. So I took photos, because that’s what one does when one sees a wedding in a public place. In case you want to book your wedding there, here’s the link.

At the top there’s a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and two smaller food kiosks. There are plenty of picnic tables if you bring your own food (such as what we did), and the walks around the summit are easy and short with amazing views. The suspension bridge was fun to cross.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

13914146_10157174392735394_2890513745586474390_o

Photo credit Marcie Nestman.

13923383_10157174393080394_3794802992089288473_o

Photo credit Marcie Nestman.

When we decided it was time to leave, the line up for the cable car was very, very long. It does move very, very fast though–so no need for stress. We lucked out when an attendant asked if we liked dogs, as there was one in a cable car and no one wanted to ride with him. We said yes, and thus I made a new friend below. (I don’t recall his name, but in my defence he probably doesn’t remember mine either.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Normally, I end the post with a theme song, but today, since Marcie is an accomplished actress, I’m ending with her latest commercial.

Dyslexia in the Zombie Apocalypse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Took a road trip to Shannon Falls today with a friend of mine, and as we were walking along the trails we came across a sign that warned about the safety of the hike and a caution that you’d best be prepared.

She and I hadn’t discussed what we’d be bringing, but we compared our packs and sure enough we had everything that was required–no doubt this was in due part (for me, anyway) from writing a story about a zombie apocalypse that made me really consider, “Am I prepared for a disaster?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prepared or not, Rise of the One-Eyed King paperback edition comes out on Monday, August the 1st. It’s been blurbed by two of the most well-known children’s authors in Canada–which, I have to admit, was a huge relief for me. Up until now, I wasn’t sure that I had written a book worth reading, but now I’m feeling confident and excited.

“Smart and crisply written.  If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead you’ve found your next read!” –Eric Walters, bestselling author of the Rule of Three series.

“Zombies? Check. Non-stop apocalyptic action? Check! This book will get your heart pumping. Read it with one hand on a machete (just in case).”  –Arthur Slade, bestselling author of Dust.

Click on the cover below for the Amazon page.

9780993748653

What I haven’t told very many people until now, is that there is also a special paperback edition that features a font called, Opendyslexic. This is a font that increases the readability for those with dyslexia, and I’m hoping that by creating this edition teens (or adults) with dyslexia may have a book to read that will be less of a struggle so they can concentrate on enjoying the story and not just with the mechanics of reading. (Click on the cover below for the Amazon page for the version with Opendyslexic font.)

I should say that none of my characters in the story have dyslexia (not that’s mentioned, anyway), and that my reasons for making this edition was from working in a bookstore and struggling to find books for teens with dyslexia. I’m planning on releasing this format for another paperback edition of Rancor: Vampyre Hunter, as well. But that’s a future project! For now, give Rise of the One-Eyed King a try!

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.40.15 PM

And for those of you who may have missed the book trailer, here it is again!

James in his Jeep Getting Java–Cottage Town

2016-07-02 15.41.55

A friend commented that this pic looks like a Mad Max Road Warrior photo.

 

 

 

A couple weekends ago I took a road trip to Lynden, Washington, a town I visit quite regularly. I follow the Lynden Dutch Bakery on Instagram, and they’d posted a pic of all the fresh raspberries they’d acquired and so I knew a trek was in order.

While Lynden was my destination, I’ve always said that a good road trip isn’t where you point your Jeep but where you ultimately wind up. This day was warm and sunny, hitting a nice 25C by noon. From the Canada/States border, the road to Lynden is called the Lynden/Birch Bay road. Turn left to Lynden, turn right to Birch Bay. (The latter is where I always stop for my coffee at the Woods Coffee.)

In Lynden, a town of just under thirteen thousand, I got my Raspberry Delight as pictured below) and attempted to get a selfie of me and it. A woman was sitting at the table beside me with her newborn, and offered to take my photo for me. We wound up chatting as she and her husband had just been to Vancouver for the first time, and we compared stories of what it’s like to live where we do. She and her husband had moved there from Texas, and they were finding it difficult to meet new people.

Below are photos of my walk through the historic part of Lynden, and they can be compared to my earlier journey there from January. I did stop at a new place for lunch, and while I enjoyed the meal I had a rude comment from the manager that I had intended to blog about. But, to be honest, sometimes the best way to let people know about a bad experience is to just not give that place any advertising. Next time I’m in Lynden, I’ll stick to the Lynden Dutch Bakery since they are always friendly and the food is always amazing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

20160702_120141After I had my lunch, it was still early in the day so I decided to drive down to Fairhaven and just enjoy the rest of the sunny day. I often go to Avenue Bread for their iced coffee and some sort of pastry.

As I walked through the town, I kept thinking about that Lynden/Birch Bay road and how I’ve only ever driven the Lynden route and never all the way to the end of the Birch Bay area. I was curious what was there, and while I could Google it nothing beats actually venturing it yourself.

The photos below are a collection of Fairhaven from that trip and a previous trip in May. The red bus is Fairhaven Fish and Chips which makes a great, greasy fish and chips meal.

I also recommend taking a stroll through Fairhaven Park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When it was nearing time to head home, I still had a couple hours of free time. As I neared the Lynden/Birch Bay road, I decided to turn left down towards Birch Bay and see what was there. At first it was a typical country road, but then I came across Birch Bay State Park and had to stop to purchase a pass.

20160702_15103320160702_154020

After getting my pass, I drove towards the camp grounds and found a road that wound along the bay. There were dozens of families enjoying the water, and I stopped at a picnic table by the water to finish my iced coffee that was leftover from Avenue Bread. It was a beautiful day.

 

Below, you’ll find photos of the campsite area and the road along the water. When I left, my GPS took me on a different route home than where I had begun. And that’s when I found the most amazing of places.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I saw the bright yellow from down the road and instantly had to find a place to stop. It felt as though I had stepped through a time portal and had wound up in the 70s where simple cottage life still existed. The C Shop was a cute little place that served ice cream and fudge. Birch Bay Village has a population of just under 8,500 people.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Families had gathered, and across the street were tables where people were selling their arts and crafts. Kitty corner to that was a yarn shop. As I watched the world happen (while eating my ice cream), a group of kids all rode by on their bikes and stopped for ice cream.

All of this got me thinking about a novel I have finished but have just not been happy with. There was something missing–something about where the kids live, why they have their conflict, and the reasons why they’ll never see each other after that last summer together. That story returned to me as I watched the lives unfold at Birch Bay, and many of the pieces I couldn’t figure out suddenly made sense.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I didn’t have nearly enough time to fully experience Birch Bay, so this will be a spot that I return to again when the sun is out and warm. I’ll sit in the cafe, enjoy a coffee, and be inspired by a slow way of life that sometimes feels completely lost.

And yes, as you can see below, I’ll also stop in at the Woods Cafe at Birch Bay Square to fill up my bottles of cold brew coffee.

20160607_170053

And what song went through my head when I saw the old C Shop and that cute cottage town?

James in his Jeep Getting Java–Langley Edition

20160625_140640One of the first historic places I visited in the Greater Vancouver Area back when I was first deciding if I should make the West Coast my home was Fort Langley. This area has a population of 3400, and was a former fur trade post of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The original site was 4km downstream from the current fort, and was constructed in 1827 in response to the Canadian border possibly being created along the 49th parallel. You can read more about that here.

These days, the site is a tourist mecca with old-style buildings  (a strict building code is in effect to preserve the town) and, of course, the fort. I visit here regularly with my favourite spots for java and I find the drive along the country roads through farmlands rather soothing.

Above and below are the streets, many of which you may recognize from movies. This is a favourite spot for filmmakers. Check out a list here. Planet Java Fifties Cafe is a fun spot for a burger and shake, or if you’re in the mood for something less greasy Wendel’s Bookstore and Cafe has good food and fantastic coffee.

 

Wendel’s, seen below, is part bookstore and part cafe. That’s where I chose to hunker down for part of the afternoon  for a meal and iced coffee. (Just look at the sign they had posted. How could you not stop there?)

On this particular road trip, I didn’t stop in at the fort. I’ve taken family to it twice, and I wasn’t really in the mood to see it a third on my own. I do recommend it, however, and so I’ve included a few photos from when I took my nephew last February. My nephew and I were in luck, even though it was raining on that February day, as we got to see a musket show. There are some very cool family friendly activities.

Another interesting attraction is the old railway station. Below you can see the CN Station, and the old cars they have restored.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The CN station is also a great place to nap, so I did. When you road trip with sleep apnea, sometimes a nap is in order to enjoy the rest of the day (I can take 15 minutes exactly and be completely refreshed for the rest of the day. You could set a clock to my nap time.)
A friend saw the photo of me napping on Facebook and thought it would be funny to make it look like I was walking and then create it into a meme. Oh, Susan C., you crack me up!

 

20160601_135319-1

After visiting Fort Langley I took a short drive south to Campbell Valley Regional Park. It was a sunny and hot day, so a walk through the woods was the perfect way to cool off. There is something about the tree canopy that cools down the air that makes the woods feel so welcoming. Nature’s air con.

Before I went for my walk, I read a sign that warned of bears, coyotes, and cougars that may be in the area. The warning about cougars: if you see one, DO NOT RUN. Apparently, if you have seen it, that means it wants you to see it as it has been stalking you for quite some time. If you make a dash for it, the cougar figures you are food. If you stand and fight (which you will probably have to do, so the sign warned,) you can show the cougar that you are not food. That made me a little nervous on my walk.

Below you can see my favourite parts of the walk, mostly around the boardwalk over the marsh. The only wildlife I saw were a few birds (in previous posts I have admitted to knowing nothing about bird species. I could make some stuff up about them if you would like, but maybe I’ll do that in another post). I did see a little bunny that kept hopping out of the woods.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The photos below are the most curious of the park. This was once the site of the Langley Speedway, a historic racetrack that was active from the 60s to early 80s. You can learn more about it here.

So, I leave you with a song that went through my head as I wandered the wooded area of Campbell Valley Regional Park. It was from a Robin Hood TV series that was my favourite in the 80s,  and I wound up with the DVDs when an acquaintance on Facebook was moving and wanted to unload them–but only to another fan.

James in His Jeep Getting Java–the Terra Nova Rural Park Edition

During my holidays, on May 30th, I visited (as I do on many an occasion) Terra Nova Rural Park. There are many reasons to love island living (Richmond, BC is only accessible by two bridges or a tunnel) and our nature parks are one of them. Terra Nova is 63 acres wide, has walking trails, historic sites, and a playground that will blow your mind and make you wish you could be a kid again.

Along the way, you can stop in at the Starbucks at Terra Nova Village on Westminster Highway and First Ave. Then, head over to the park and prepare to enjoy your day.

Below is the entrance just meters from the playground. If you’re not going to the playground, this is a quieter section to enter. You’ll find ample parking along the dyke, or if you have come as a cyclist the paths are quite cycle friendly. (Just remember that you are sharing the path, and it is your responsibility as a cyclist to make sure pedestrians know you are approaching by ringing a bell.)

If you are going to the playground, your kids are in for a treat. The structures look like something from a Flintstones cartoon, and it’s billed as an “off-leash” place for kids. The City of Richmond consulted with children before creating this place, and invested 1-million dollars in it. Click here for a better view and more information.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The slide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The zipline.

Myself, I venture over to the boardwalk that crosses over a (very small) marsh. There are benches to sit on and it’s normally fairly quiet, with the noise from happy children heard as background from the nearby playground.

One note I will make are the cigarette butts that are seen stashed between the floorboards of the walkway. If you must ruin your health by smoking, maybe you can think of others by taking your trash with you when your cigarette is done. It means we can all enjoy the space, not just you. (And to you smokers who do this already, thank-you.)

There are a few First Nations art installations along the pathways that are worth seeing. Below is a stone bench carved with a Raven, and a little history of the Musqueam peoples. It weighs 3200 lbs, so little chance of it getting stolen. It’s a great place to sit for a spell and take in the sounds and scents around you.

As you wind your way through the paths, you’ll come across a community garden. In a day and age where many people are living n condos, this space not only allows for the growing of fresh vegetables and fruits but also a place where neighbours can meet each other. People here are generally friendly and proud of what they are creating, and more than willing to engage in conversation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Below are the two objects that made me think of the zombie apocalypse. That bicycle would be great to use to cart stuff around, and that clay oven could either be used for baking bread or disposing of zombies. (Not both.) Ahhhh, the writer brain never rests.

Below is a house that I’m pretty sure was a community building for the gardens, but I wasn’t positive. I may have trespassed that day…

And you will see wildlife in the park. There are several species of birds, below you’ll find the heron and a couple ducks. Usually I see hawks and eagles, but none were out that day.

All in all, this is a great place to visit for a picnic or to let your kids get rid of their energy with the ziplines, slide, and many other cool things in the playground.

Not sure what the Queen song, Princes of the Universe, has to do with the mood of that day except that hikes through the woods sometimes makes me think of the movie Highlander. (There was only one movie–the others never existed. NEVER. EXISTED.) So, I leave this song as the theme for this post.