Thursday, 7 July 2016

Green Timbers Urban Forest Park

When our younger son Chris went away for a weekend to visit friends in Kelowna we agreed to go to his home once a day to feed the cat and spend some time playing with this devil's spawn. She was not the least bit interested in us and slept under the covers of his bed. When we would touch the bed she would hiss and growl. Oh well, we were there just to keep an eye on things...

Shelagh had discovered a nearby park and we decided to explore the place...

Green Timbers Urban Forest Park is located between 96 and 100 avenues at 144 street in Surrey, BC, Canada. It is an absolute gem of a place and we went there three days in a row. Here's a brief history of the park.

The park is dotted with these handy signs

The property once belonged to a much larger forest of giant trees. Before the area was logged in 1929, people came from as far away a San Diego to marvel at the enormous 200 ft trees. The present forest is new and the first effort in the reforestation program in the history of British Columbia. The province transferred ownership if the land to the city if Surrey in 1970. In 1987 the Green Timbers Heritage Society was formed and spearheaded two referendums which have resulted in the formation of Green Timbers Urban Forest Park.

Last winter's storms have taken some trees

An additional 30 ha. of land adjoining the park was transferred by the province in 2008. This added land combined with a Cultural Capitals Grant in 2007 resulted in the Surrey Nature Centre, which offers a wide variety of school and public programs complimenting the natural and cultural heritage of Green Timbers.

Over the three days of exploring this park we have walked nearly every trail. The trails come in various shapes and widths, from narrow ones taking you through dense forest to wide ones over the meadows and lush new growth. The wide trails are so well kept that even people in wheel chairs can navigate them.

Learning how to fish

In the centre of the park is a beautiful lake which is stocked twice a year with rainbow trout. You do need a licence to fish here if you are over 16 years of age. The daily limit is two fish per angler. Also on and around the lake are many birds to watch, including large raptors high in the trees. There is a nice balance of nature here where the wildlife cycle is completely evident.

Crossing Green Timbers Way to the Surrey Nature Centre you come upon a place offering kids a chance for some hands on learning. The interactive displays are a fun learning tool for young and old alike. Here you can also borrow a back pack stocked with nature activities ranging from bird watching to learning tree species. You can also borrow a fishing rod with reel and tackle here for use at the lake. A variety of day camps are available for children and pre teens.

Borrow a back pack

To access the park use 100 avenue. A parking lot is near the T intersection with 144 street. There is a large picnic area near the lake where lunch or dinner would be great after a few hours of fun in the sun. This park is also excellent for running or jogging.


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sasquatch Provincial Park

A message arrived from our friends Stuart and Cindy inviting us along on a weekend of camping fun in Sasquatch Provincial Park. Since we are always ready for an adventure we gladly accepted. Our camping gear is very well organized. Everything is packed in totes and loaded into the car in minutes. All that needs to be done is planning a menu for our turn doing a dinner and a breakfast. Easy peasy!

Sasquatch Provincial Park is situated just east of Harrison Hot Springs, a 1.5 hour drive from home. The park has three campgrounds and Cindy had booked us a site in the Lakeside campground which fronts on Deer Lake. The other two campgrounds are Hicks, on Hicks Lake, and Bend.

Shelagh likes to re-organize the totes while camping
Our small tent

We left home at 10:00 and found our campsite just in time for lunch. The site seemed a bit small so we decided not to pitch our large tent because Stuart and Cindy camp in a 30' class A motor home, which needs some room to maneuver into place. When they arrived in the late afternoon, Stuart expertly backed the rig into the campsite and now we knew we had enough room for our large tent. So we took down the small tent and opted for a bit more comfort. Shelagh and I have owned our large tent for about 20 years and we manage to get it set-up less than 15 minutes, so it did not take long to get to happy hour followed by dinner.

Our large tent

Friday is our turn to cook dinner because Stuart and Cindy have worked all day and arrive later. Our contribution this time was my not yet world famous bacon-cheese burgers with a Caesar salad. After dinner and dishes done we got the fire started, and relaxed for the evening catching up on the latest bits and bobs that make up our lives. Off to bed at 23:00 for a well deserved sleep. By 05:00 the birds were up and chirping and by 07:30 the children were out in full force doing what children do when camping. We got up too and got the coffee going. Saturday promised to get to 32C with a sunny blue sky.

Morning coffee
Hicks Lake

I made a breakfast of ham and scrambled eggs that tasted yummy and filling, just right to fuel us up for a hike. I had read on the BC Parks website that a trail exists that circumnavigates Hicks Lake. It ranks the hike as level with minor altitude changes and with a length of four km. Should be doable because Shelagh has two bad knees and a dodgy hip. Sadly the condition of part of the trail is deplorable, with many bridges that cross creeks completely rotted through. This part of the trail is quite dangerous for people who are no longer too agile, but once through that part the trail is more road like and easy to walk. Another bad thing is the mistake on the website about the length of the hike; it is actually four miles, so six km. Too long for Shelagh who finished the hike but only just. She was in quite a lot of pain but powered on like a trooper. Once back at our campsite she took an hour or so to get herself back together. Now a few days later we still do a couple of walks a day albeit short ones 'till she is once again back to normal.

These wooden path bridges are in rough shape

Lunchtime arrived and we usually do a shared buffet of snacks and fruits and veggies. I threw some hot Italian sausages on the grill and Cindy had crackers with Baby Bell cheese and guacamole. So tasty and easy.

Feeling a bit better
Chardonnay helps

In the afternoon, assembly began of a string of solar powered patio lanterns from a popular Swedish homestyle place. No Allen key required! The lanterns are made of a plastic composite and will not fall apart in inclement weather. The small solar panel can be placed on top of the awning to collect the sun's energy. It was a fun project but the installation was a bit scary with our tent so close to "Irv" the motor home. With combined effort the lights went up and with the solar panel switch set to "auto" we waited 'till the lights came on at dusk.


Dinner time approached and Stuart got busy on the grill and cooked some wonderfully marinated chicken thighs along with some Rempel's Farmer's sausage from Abbotsford, BC, while Cindy baked some delicious potatoes in Irv's oven. The potatoes were large enough to share, so Stuart and Cindy went home with two of them. We sure don't go hungry when camping. It was the same when we went sailing, there was always plenty to eat.

Fun times with good friends

A wonderful evening was had with another nice fire. Thank you Stuart and Cindy for bringing the firewood. Irv's basement has a lot of storage capacity. The park sells firewood, but at a rather inflated price... Off to bed a little earlier this time, we were all a bit done after the long hike we did. Sleep came quickly and soundly. Nobody snored...

C'est un bon fire

Sunday came as early as Saturday with very ambitious birds chirping away. The kids soon followed and I got the coffee started. Today's breakfast by Stuart and Cindy was French Toast and fresh strawberries with icing sugar and bacon. Needless to say we enjoyed every bite. The dishes got done in Irv, Irv has a water heater, the tent does not. Then it was time to break camp. Every thing back in its place and stowed into the car. It is nice that our little car can handle all our stuff, but we are contemplating the purchase of a small utility trailer to haul all the permanent bins of camping gear and use the car's trunk just for the cooler and clothing. We'll see...


We said goodbye to our dear friends and took the slow road home along Lougheed highway. Usually it ends up being faster because the freeway tends to get clogged up with weekenders returning home. Once home the car got unloaded quickly, then we got de-camperised in the shower. We enjoyed a nice lunch on the deck outside and got a visit from a bunny.

Life is good.