Saturday, May 30, 2009

And the results are in! Here are our winners:
Hotel: Brooks Super 8
Bed: Brooks Super 8
Pillow: Brooks Super8
Restaurant: Sobo
Meal: Big T's BBQ
Pool: West Edmonton Mall
City: Vancouver
City most likely to live in:Vancouver
Attraction:Vancouver Aquarium
Wild Animal: Bald Eagle
Tame Animal: Prince (Dog)
Museum: Royal Tyrell Museum
Drive:Naniamo to Tofino
Environment: Mountains and Sea Tied
Thanks for following our Blog the last three weeks> I hope you had just as much fun as we did.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Awards of Excellence

As our cross-western Canada trip comes to an end, we will be voting on our favourites in the following categories:

Tourist attraction
Animal (wild)
Enviroment (e.g. Rain forest)
Best Museum

Place Most Likely To Move To

Stay tuned for results!!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Poetry by JF


In Vancouver the mighty city
We all missed our little kitty.

We flew in for the first time ever
No one got lost - no never never never.
It was great. We stepped outside.
We stood on the bridge and had a ride.
It swayed and swayed but no one got sick.
(Lucky for us, it wasn't slick!)

At the aquarium with fish galore
MORE! we shouted. We want more!
All the fish had scales that looked fun
and they all glinted in the sun.

we went to a beach so grand.
It beat all the others in the sand.
The water lapped at my feet.
I try some - it's salty, not sweet.
I leave footprints in the wet sand.
I also leave some with my hand.

The eagle soaring so high.
It goes up high in the sky.
Its great brown feathers cut through the air.
It spots its prey - the swift hare.
It swoops down to make the kill.
He carries it to eat at the mill.

Ah Victoria - the garden city.
Yet there were no gardens - that was the poty.
At the museum with treasures so great,
All you have to do is go through the gate
To experience it, trust me it's wonderful.
The food is great - eat till you're full.

The Scratch Patch has so many colours.
You could see the brighters and the dullers.
All different shapes and sizes.
All the bins have surprises.
Panning for gold is so fun.
All the gold glints in the sun.

All the Rockies have peaks so high
You think they go up in the sky.
Snow-capped peaks look so cold
but the snow is warm enough to mould.

On the side of the road
the elk get rid of their load.
Look - a deer!
Don't forget to steer!

Let's go dig for dino bones
Look carefully in the stones.
Be careful what you pick at.
Otherwise I'll turn you into a mat.


We are in southern Alberta now. We apologize for the lack of blogging the last few days, but first, we got waterlogged at the West Edmonton Mall and then thoroughly dried out in the Badlands. So,we blame moisture levels.

But, dinosaurs and fossils...

The Badlands of Alberta were created through a series of events over a loooooong period of time.
- Alberta was covered with an inland sea a long time ago.
- Then, an ice age came and the land was covered with a large glacier.
- When the glacier started to retreat, it left behind a large chunk of ice which acted as a dam for the meltwater.
- When that chunk melted, all the melted water rushed back toward the glacier and hit it with a thud. (This part took only about 48 hours)
- The swirling glacier water stirred up all the surface rock and swept it toward Hudson Bay, leaving behind softer sedimentary rock that had built up over many many years during the time that dinosaurs lived here and that the inland sea was in Alberta.
- Over the last 12,000 years, the softer rock (sandstone, ironstone, mudstone) has gradually eroded away to create the Badlands.

You drive along the flat (flattish) prairie, covered with grass and cows and some pronghorn elk and prairie dogs and suddenly on the horizon, you notice that the earth suddenly drops away. As you get closer, you start driving downhill quite steeply into valleys - or the Badlands.

The Badlands were so named by early French settlers who called them "les mauvaises terres". Some settlers could not even get across the Badlands. The Badlands are a semi-arid microclimate valley that follows a river.

Dinosaur Provincial Park comprises 80 square km of the Badlands. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 because of three unique factors:
- alarge number of cottonwood trees
- the Badlands
- the quantity and quality of fossils.

The boys of our family went on a bonebed hike to see a mass grave of centrosaurs. They concluded that the most likely cause of death was a flash flood, but other possibilities were that they were chased into a river or attacked.

The girls in our family went on a bus tour of the Natural Preserve and saw hoodoos, dinosaur bones, a complete skeleton of a dinosaur, and learned about the Badlands.

This was possibly the best interpretive centre we went to on our whole trip!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Animals We Have Seen En Route

We are now in snowy Jasper. Yes, that's right - we are blanketed in a good 6 inches of snow. Two days ago we were walking around n shorts and bathing suits outside in the mountains and now we are kind of storm-stayed. That's fine with us though - we needed a bit of a quiet break.

Elk - Furry antlers. You must keep your distance from elk or they will ram into you. They are seen on the sides of the road right in Jasper.
Mountain goats - They cluster together
Bighorn sheep - They run away from cars
Bald eagles - white heads and tails; rest of body is brown. There are 30,000 along the BC coast. We saw them frequently. They would try to attack raven nests but the ravens would chase them away.
Anemones - If you put your hand on one, it will stick. They look like plants but they are animals and they eat fish. Colours - red, blue, green, clear, pink.
Sea stars - Ochre stars are most common. If you cut a sea star in half, it will grow into two sea stars. They can live out of water for 6-8 hours. They are the top predator because nothing eats them.
Orcas - They swim in pods. There are three kinds near Vancouver. They are dangerous. BIG teeth.
Banana slugs - Slimy. Six inches long. They decompose decaying plants and trees.
Hawk - They are bold.
River otter - They eat sea urchins on their backs. They hang out in groups.
Columbian ground squirrels - They squeak or cheep. They have short tails and live in burrows in the ground.

We have also seen dogs, cats, cows, horses, crabs, herit crabs, sculpin fish, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, goats on a roof.

We have not seen bears, moose, cougars, mountain caribou - but we think we saw cougar footprints and scat.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Mountain Alphabet

Sometimes we have to play little games in the car to keep us all cheerful. Today we decided to come up with an alphabet of adjectives to describe what we were seeing. Here's our list:

A is for Awesome
B is for Big
C is for Colossal
D is for Dangerous
E is for Extreme
F is for Freaky
G is for Gorgeous and Gigantic
H is for Humungous
I is for Icy
J is for Jagged
K is for Kingly
L is for Lofty
M is for Mountainous
N is for Nasty (but that referred to a smell in the van, sorry to report)
O is for Oppressive (and Optimistic!)
P is for Precipitous
Q is for Queer (ie dizzying)
R is for Regal
S is for Snow-Capped
T is for
U is for Undulating
V is for Vertiginous
W is for Windy
X is for Xtreme
Y is for Yeti (Ok it's not an adjective, but we were being distracted by beauty)
Z is for zigzaggy/

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I love the mountains

I didn't think I would. I'm kind of an ocean girl. I thought I would find them oppressive, but now I am singing their praises. We drove through Rogers' Pass today, which is very very high above sea level. I think the level we drove at was 1300 metres above sea level. And then the mountains still towered over us. We have been reading about the people who discovered the pass - it was the 10th pass the railwaymen tried and the discoverer - Mr. Rogers of course - who was a mightily-sideburned man who swore and chewed tobacco and lived off hardtack for weeks, said there were many times in the process of determining whether the pass would work that he wished he were dead. And the railway company reported that the men who worked on building the line lived in dread of avalanches, which were a real threat. We have also learned about the Chinese immigrants who built tunnels along and through the steep banks of the Thompson River, being treated and paid as less than human, and who often paid the price with their lives. I don't know that the men working on these passes were mistreated, but their life certainly could not have been rough.

In the Rogers Pass Centre, Dave overheard an older couple asking about the glaciers and how much they had receded. They themselves had walked out to the glaciers many years ago and the walk was significantly further away now. The park staff said that in the 100 years since the park had been open, the main glacier (of many!) had retreated 1.2 km. Many of the trails in the park were closed too because they were giving wide berth to the endangered mountain caribou's winter habitat. (Yes, although the temperature was warm enough for shorts today, the mountains were still very much snow-capped and we stood by massive drifts at the side of the road and heard about snow in the last few days. We read that snowfall on the Rogers Pass mountains is, on average, 49 feet per year! In addition, they get a couple of feet of rain in the summer months. There are only three snow-free months in the higher latitudes here.)

John reports that if you poured a glass of water over the top of Mount Snow Dome in the Columbia Icefields, it would fall (technically) into three oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic because it is the top of the Continental Divide. Cool, eh? And we are going near there tomorrow. If we pour water, look for it near you!

Today was also one of our favourite days on the trip because it was an amazing water day: we swam outdoors under snow-capped mountains in a hot mineral spring for a couple of hours this afternoon. We highly recommend this. Then, our hotel in Golden has had the best hotel pool we have ever found - with salt water and an amazing dizzying water slide. So we are water-logged, dizzy from heights and delighted. We are also glad to move our clocks forward an hour so we can drift off to sleep a little earlier after a great day

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random facts we have learned

We haven't been good at keeping up our blog the last few days. Too much beach-playing, rainforest-hiking and driving. So here are some things we have learned on Vancouver Island.

- Sea stars can grow to be hundreds of years old
- If you split a sea star in half, it will regenerate into two new sea stars
- We saw a two-footed sea star called the "west coast boomerang"
- There are many bald eagles here - like hawks in Waterloo
- If you get caught in a rip tide, you end up in Japan. (We have NOT done research on this. We stayed away from the 10 foot tides)
- Trees grow to over 60 metres tall and can be 1000 years old and have a circumference bigger than we could reach around
- Don't walk through old growth forests on windy days because the trees can fall without notice.
- There are three ways clams can get away from predators: digging into the sand, swimming away or sticking out a "foot" muscle to run away.
- The top predator at the seashore is the sea star because nothing tries to eat it because it is too hard.
- Sea stars eat clams and oysters and smaller sea stars - anything slow enough for them to catch.
- Nanaimo bars are hard to find in Nanaimo and they actually aren't as good in Nanaimo. Sad but true.
- Sea stars can survive out of the water for 6-8 hours so that throwing the sea stars back in the water ("for this one it makes a difference") apparently is not based on truth.
- Slugs are humungous - about 15 cm long - and gross but they have an important job: decomposing.
- You can hear tree frogs but they're hard to spot.
- We found cougar footprints and scat on a trail where a cougar had been seen.
- Humpback and grey whales migrate to and past this area for the summer. They eat krill, herring and sea lice.
- Orcas are also here. There are three kinds: offshore, ones that migrate and ones that live here year round.
- Sea anemones squish when you sit on them. Do not ask how we know this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vancouver Island!

Vancouver Island

we have a beautiful view from our deck!
awesome starfish and sea anemone!
Very long car drive to Tofino but fun!
Could not find nanaimo bars in Nanaimo.
we have seen 3 eagles!two of them were bald and one of them was an osprey.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Vancouver Aquarium

This Video is just one of the many amazing tanks with animals. The jumps in the video are miniscule to some of the other ones they did. Some jumps were 15 feet high! My moms favourite exhibit: J-J-Jelly fish!
My Dad's favourite exhibit: Bald Eagle

My favourite exhibit: Birds, Birds and........ you guessed it-MORE birds

My brother's favourite exhibit: Seahorses

My sister's favourite exhibit: CAIMAN!

Pro's and Con's of the trip so far

  • Good food
  • nice people
  • Bunk bed
  • Lots of birds
  • Tall trees
  • colorful fish
  • Beautiful sunsets
  • tiny Crabs
  • Salty water
  • Bright sun
  • Tide pools
  • Fun plane trip
  • No friends
  • No cat
  • 3 hour time change
  • Homework
  • Sand in shoes
  • Someone has to sleep on the floor
  • Construction by our residence
  • Weird noise outside window (right now)
  • No bowls
  • Cold wind
  • Weird writing on our car window
By: JFish

what boys do on holidays


The Capilano Suspension Bridge

Yesterday, my dad, Megan, John and I went on the Capilano suspension bridge. It is 230 feet above a rushing stream of slightly green water. The bridge itself was 450 feet across. The view from the bridge was breathtaking. We could see the tops of mountains just peeking through the clouds, many trees over 50 metres high, and about 30 different shades of green. Once we got over the bridge, we were in a beautiful forest surrounded by giant trees. The biggest tree, Big Doug, was over 60 metres tall! Many of the trees were covered with moss. I probably saw 7 different kinds of moss. Another fun thing was the Treetop Adventure. We were on a series of suspension bridges over 100 feet tall! They were connecting about 8 large trees. It was one of the most amazing places I have been in my life and I would love to go again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Flying to Vancouver

I have never thought of myself as a nervous flyer and I'm not, but as I prepared to take the kids on their first flight, I realized that I do find flying to be a surreal experience and I tend to kind of zone out rather than thinking about being 35,000 feet above the ground. I like to mentally cocoon myself and I didn't think I could do that with kids: I would need to be more present.

The night before we left, as i tucked Megan into bed, she looked up at me with sparkling eyes and said, "This feels like Christmas! I can't wait until tomorrow!"

When we arrived at the airport, John was dazzled by the size and technical complexities of the place. He looked like someone who had found his home as he walked along, wearing sunglasses and pulling his suitcase behind him with the worldweariness of an experienced traveler. And he saved our bacon when he realized that we were waiting at the wrong gate - we had confused 1500 hours and 1700 hours although we had the right destination either way. We had tried to get window seats but couldn't - until a man offered to switch with us just before we left the gate. As we pulled away from the gate, John excitedly said, "We're taking off!" and Matt began to take the first of 500 inflight pictures.

They loved it all and I did too. It was fun to help them figure out how to adjust lap trays and to direct fresh air onto themselves, how to not panic when you try to push the bathroom door out and it doesn't work, how to find jazz on the inflight radio and how to track our flight path.

I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button en route. Dave asked me after we landed what it was like and my answer was "epic" - not only because it was a long movie stretching over decades, but because it took me the whole entire flight to watch, between dropping a headphone into my tea, sorting out squabbles about how long someone could sit by the window, ordering a small barbecued chicken pizza (surprisingly good! and not worth less than its price), taking various small people to the bathroom, determining what kind of pop was ok for kids to drink, crossing the aisle to see ice-covered lakes, prairie fields and the Rockies, discussion of how awesome turbulence and depressurization were and finally a short conversation about whether you would always jerk forward in the event of a crash, just as we were about to land.

I hope that our children provided a pleasant diversion for those around them, rather than any annoyance. I think that was the case. They did for me anyhow, even if I missed my cocoon.