Vancouver

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Into the Mountains - Part 4

There are all sorts of interesting flowers and plants and animals up in the mountains as well. Sandy is quite the little naturalist so wanted Mama to tell him what all of the plants were...
First off, Sandy spotted tonnes of long-bearded anen... anem... amenomes... (oh shoot)... you know what he means! They are different than the ones down in the prairies.
There was also some pink mountain heather - but it wasn't quite the right season for blooming - and there were only a few little flowers. It makes for a nice springy walk.
Sandy has met the Richardson Ground Squirrels near home, but up here are the Columbia Ground Squirrels. They are quite pudgy some of them and very curious about such a little bear!
This lump had Sandy stumped for a while... mineral? vegetable? animal?... Mama said it was a puff ball mushroom and that it might be yummy to eat. But Sandy is not a friend of mushrooms (not even honeyed mushrooms!).
 There were also these white flowers and some blue forget-me-nots... The white flowers are... er... white flowers (for now).
Sandy has seen red Indian paintbrush, but this was the first time he saw pink ones... almost fuschia... beary pretty!
There were even some white/yellow ones...
 But the pink ones were his absolute favourite flowers up there.
Finally... there was a rabbit! He looked like a young rabbit and not a very smart one either. He noticed all the people (and the little bear) and hunkered down behind a bush and got very still.
 Which meant that Mama could get beary close and take a close-up of him...
It was great to be up in the alpine! Sandy learned a lot about mountains and flowers... and that even anemone seed-heads can have a bad hair day! (hah-hah!)...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Into the Mountains - Part 3

Hiking in the mountains (particularly these mountains) means you encounter all sorts of trails. Most of the trails are crushed stone, which makes for beary easy walking.
 Sometimes, though, Sandy had to toddle along a board walk that was clinging to the side of a mountainside. Stay in the middle and don't look down!
Sandy also got to cross raging rivers... well... babbling brooks at least. But when you're a little bear, a babbling brook can look pretty wide!
 There were even some more primitive board walks that crossed swampy areas. They were quite wide enough for a little bear but got a bit narrow in spots for the humans (with their big feet)!
Sandy rested several times but this was his favourite spot. It is the third little lake in Sunshine Meadows and is called Grizzly Lake! No grizzly bears were seen... and Sandy didn't meet any tourists to frighten...
Way up in the mountains, you can get an awesome view from several points.
And then there was more climbing... this time on stairs... whew... those are tough on little bear legs!
 But finally... Sandy managed it... he climbed a mountain (or at least a tiny little hill in the mountains).
 That is Rock Isle Lake in the background... that is quite a ways for a little bear to climb...
Sandy is feeling beary proud of himself and kind of likes being on top of the world. Do you have mountains where you live??

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Into the Mountains - Part 2

Romping through the alpine meadows is a lot of fun for a little bear! For one thing - he can see long distances without all of that annoying underbrush in the way!
 And... unbeknownst to Sandy, he is about to cross two types of borders!
 The first border is the Great Continental Divide! Water on one side of the Divide flows to the Pacific Ocean... and water on the other side flows to the Hudson's Bay area (at least from this part of Alberta).
 Sandy decided to straddle the Continental Divide - one foot on either side! Ooohhh.... ahhh...
 The Continental Divide here just happens to coincide with the Alberta/British Columbia border as well... So Sandy can now say he's hiked the Continental Divide and hiked from Alberta to BC (sounds more impressive!).
 There are many pretty lakes up here in Sunshine Meadows. They would look even prettier if the sunshine was actually shining - but it isn't - which makes Sandy wonder why it's called Sunshine Meadows! This little lake is called Rock Isle Lake (because it has a rocky island in the middle of it).
This one is called Larix Lake because up here in the alpine, there are many Larix trees.
 The Larix tree - also called Larch or Tamarack - is the only coniferous tree that loses its needles in the winter. In the fall - they turn bright yellow - which would be beary pretty! Sandy is holding a larch branch and they aren't prickly at all.
 Although there is a perfectly good trail through the Meadows - Sandy is determined to do a bit of mountain climbing... But it is a lot of hard work...
 If you look closely, you can see big patches of sweat on Sandy's back! Silly little bear... climbing rock faces when there is a trail right there.
After all of that... Sandy needs a bit of a break - and finds a bench near Rock Isle Lake - beary peaceful and relaxing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We interrupt this hike for... Mail Call!!

Sand came home today and checked the mail box... and there was more mail for him than there was for anyone else!!
 Holy mackeral... There was a packet from Jerry and Ben (more on that in a bit). And two lovely post cards, both from Hammie!

One is from Hammie's home town and has a very nice steam train on the front. Cool!! And the other one is from Ditzum (where Hammie was on holidays). Sandy got two beary big hamster hugs from Hammie! Getting mail is so much fun!
 And then there was Jerry and Ben's packet which had the medals from the Bear Olympics. Sandy got a gold medal in gardening and a bronze in Napping. Zotti and Teddy got medals too in Gardening - but both of them are on hiatus so Sandy graciously accepted their medals and promises to pass them along!
 Then there were stickers... AND a postcard... whew... that is quite a bit of mail for a little bear!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Into the Mountains - Part 1

Before the big adventure to Europe - Sandy went into the Rocky Mountains for a few days and had several adventures there. But there wasn't enough time to get it all posted before Europe... so here it is! (Who knew a little bear could have so many adventures!

Sandy has been hankering after a mountain hike - he is a little bear after all. And finally, after much delay, the trip was happening! First up was a place near Banff called Sunshine Meadows.
 It is promoted as "Canada's #1 Day Hike" (by Lonely Planet no less)... which sounds very good. And the brochure looks very appealing - flowers and mountains and blue alpine lakes!
 This is a map of the general area... lots of mountains (which means lots of hills!).
People come from all over North America to hike here... so it must be a great spot!
 And people come from Europe too - even The Netherlands and England!
 Sandy wants to practice a bit - so gets in front of a big wall mural that shows Sunshine Meadows... wonder if those people see the little bear in front of them?
After all of that excitement - it's time to actually get there. Sunshine Meadows is actually a ski resort in the winter time, so getting there in the summer is an adventure! First you have to drive from Banff to the parking lot at the base of the gondola.
 There's a road that goes up to the ski village but it's a private road - so you can only get up there in the summer time by bus (because they don't run the gondola).
 Road conditions today are good!! So we shouldn't have much trouble. Mind you - the "bus" is an old school bus and the "road" is a very narrow gravel road with steep drop-offs which have Sandy shivering in Mama's backpack!
 But after all that... we are finally at the ski village and on a trail! This is kind of cheating... because you basically get to drive/ride into the alpine... but it works! Sandy is very excited to be up here finally (he's never really been in the alpine).
And one of the first things he scavenges for himself is a walking stick... all good hikers must have a walking stick/pole! Sandy is ready for this adventure...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Of Bears and Dragons

Sandy was finally pried out of bed today with the promise of an exciting bike ride with Mama and partner... Sandy isn't always thrilled at bike rides (mostly riding in a backpack or perched precariously on Mama's handlebars)... but today he got to ride in style in a bike basket!
 That made the bike ride far more fun... and the good weather helped as well. Where were we headed? Down to the reservoir.
 
 What are we doing down here?? It looks like there are docks and things...
 We are watching the Dragon Boat Races!
 And they do have dragon heads on them! Ooohh... scary! We actually knew someone paddling in one of the boats - so that made it more interesting too (although they did finish last in their heat)...
 There were lots of people there!
 The Dragon Boat society had a big canoe full of life jackets for people to use... don't think any of them would fit Sandy... who thought the idea of riding along would be much fun!
 Some races were pretty close and it was pretty exciting!
It was very warm out (but not as hot as Berlin)... and Sandy thought a dip in the reservoir might be a good idea but... they don't allow dogs to swim in it... so little bears probably aren't allowed either!