Friends

British Columbia July 2008

Sandra, Christina, and I had not been back to my home province in four years, since the Abel family reunion. I had found a special rate on the fabulous Empress Hotel in Victoria and booked three nights, the most I could get in a row. With just those three days set, I lined things up afterwards, eventually ending up at 22 days. I kept the first five days a secret from Sandra, because I knew she would be excited about staying in the Empress again.

Victoria

After we flew into Vancouver, we spent a night there with friends, and then headed over to Victoria by ferry (and rental car) the next day. The Empress Hotel looks out onto Victoria's "inner harbour", and you can see seaplanes taking off and landing regularly on the water. The British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the British Columbia Museum are on the inner harbour as well. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and has a British feel. We made sure to eat at the fish and chip restaurants often. I haven't been able to find halibut in Michigan, so it was a special treat for us.

Our favorite Victoria breakfast spot, the Gatsby Mansion. We ate there every morning, we liked the food and atmosphere so much we knew it couldn't be better anywhere else. The last picture shows a kite surfer as the fog rolled in very quickly.

The Empress

The Empress hotel is so majestic. I had been there for comic book conventions many years ago. Sandra has had conventions there. Whenever I was in Victoria, I made a point of going there to check out the art gallery and to just walk around in the building admiring the architecture and atmosphere.

Butchart Gardens

The world-famous gardens near Victoria, which attract visitors from all over the world. The gardens were built in an old rock quarry. The second picture was taken from the top of a rock pinnacle that you can ascend using a steep stone staircase.

Tofino

Sandra and I had spent a few days in Tofino with her parents many years ago, and had a great time, so I decided that it would be fun to revisit it and take Christina there for the first time. We were surprised to see a number of tsunami warning signs, which gave directions to the nearest high ground in town. We stayed at a hotel on the beach, and it was beautiful along that beach, particularly at sunset.

The trip to Tofino from Victoria had some pretty sights, particularly this rocky area with a waterfall. It's surprising that on an island, you can have snow-capped mountains.

On the beach in front of our hotel (Best Western). The elderly man in the last picture actually swam in the water, even going underneath completely. And it was NOT warm ...

In Tofino, a little town with good restaurants, art galleries, and fantastic scenery.


At Long Beach, a beach five miles long. People rent wetsuits and surfboards and try their luck in the ocean. On the days we were there, the waves were tiny and people weren't getting up on their boards for more than a few moments.


Osoyoos

We always like to visit Osoyoos. Sandra particularly likes the Haynes Point campground, which sticks far out into the lake. My parents lived in Osoyoos for a while after Dad had to stop working. Sandra and I visited them in the house they were in, which was on the edge of an apple tree orchard. Osoyoos is famous for the fruits that are grown in the heat there. My Dad also logged near Osoyoos with my brothers Ross and Grant.

It's not shown on the map on the left, but we stayed in Cloverdale with our friends Al and Wendy before heading out to Osoyoos. Click on the "Friends" link for a few pictures of them and our other friends that we visited on this trip.

Sights along the way from Vancouver to Osoyoos, including Bromley Rock, where brave people jump into the river. We saw a boy jump from the top, which must be around 60 feet high. It took him a long time, but it was worth our wait.

From the Anarchist Mountain above Osoyoos, and at the beach in front of the hotel we stayed at. This beach is on the part of the lake visible behind Sandra and Christina.

Rock Creek

My Mom and Dad lived in Rock Creek when they were young. I have memories of my Dad cutting Christmas trees and my brothers and I "hauling" them into piles when were were very young. Rock Creek is a pretty place with the rocky Kettle River running through it.

You can see from the map that the lake in Osoyoos is both in Canada and the United States. I wonder if you can swim through without being noticed?

Click here for a history of Rock Creek (and other towns in the area).

Christina at the cemetary, learning about the grandfather she never saw. A couple of pictures near the Ingram Bridge over the Kettle River, a favorite spot of my Dad's.

Enderby

My birthplace, and the central location of the Abel family for many years. I lived with my Dad, Mom, and three brothers in this area until I was 14. I have a lot of good memories of Enderby, including time spent playing Little League baseball, thanks to my uncle Doug, who signed me up at the age of eight. I went to school in Enderby for a year, and fondly remember lunchtimes at Granny's house.

Family pictures at Doug and Gail's house: with my aunts Elsie, Elaine, and Gail. Christina and Sandra with my uncle Doug fresh from work before cleaning up. Sandra with my cousins Sharon and Joan. The famous Enderby cliffs, from Doug and Gail's back yard.

Williams Lake

I went to high school here, from grades 9 through 12. It was kind of a rough place in comparison to Enderby, and one thing I missed a lot was that I could no longer play in organized baseball leagues. I played alto saxophone in band for all of those years, though, and enjoyed it a lot, particularly some of the field trips we went on. I met some of my bandmates again years later, but I haven't seen any of them for a long time. My brothers and I all worked as loggers for my Dad here, and I often wish we had taken videos of that time.

We passed through Kamloops on the way, where I went to school at what was then called Cariboo College. I took Digital Art and Design and really enjoyed it.

The hills and lake near Kamloops, Painted Chasm between Clinton and 70 Mile House, and a tourist information center in 100 Mile House.

My brother Ross, his girlfriend Melissa, and Christina with her cousins Nicholas and Amelia. Ross led us on a hike up to the top of a hill on the South side of the lake. Coming back down from the peak, some of us decided it was too steep and so they slid down on their bums.

Prince George

I worked in the main office of School District 57 as a programmer here. I wanted to see the building, but when we got there, it was just a construction site - they had torn it down and were building something else in its place. I guess things changed in the over 20 years since I had been there last. I played on a slow-pitch softball team for the first time, and I got to play quarterback on a flag football team once again. This city really knows how to remove snow - one night I was woken by a convoy of several loaders and many dump trucks clearing the downtown streets.

This is a Northern industrial town, as you can tell by the vehicles you see on the road. It felt like a dirty ghost town when we rolled in on a Sunday evening, but it was quite busy the next morning.

We had just eaten at this restaurant and came out to a spectacular glow on the wet pavement at sunset and a double rainbow.

Fraser Lake

My first full-time programming job was working for a very small software company owned by a dentist, a doctor, and a building supply store owner. I'm friends with the dentist's son Erik, who I met at university while playing foosball. His Dad was a dentist living and working in Quesnel, who also had a practice in Fraser Lake, and I actually stayed with him and his wife in their home in Quesnel while working for the company. We drove to Fraser Lake every week, along with the original programmer, and stayed over one night before driving back to Quesnel. While there, we worked in the doctor's office and finished developing the software directly with the office staff.

The lake and "mouse mountain", which had a trail to the top that I liked to hike. The school in the picture is Mouse Mountain Elementary, and the entrance to the trail is right behind it. That's the "mouse" you can see over the top of the school.

This is what the building that we stayed in looks like now. When I worked there, this pharmacy didn't exist, but the dentist office (around the side) was there and is still there. In fact, the dentist's name, Dr. Rune Lindholm, is on the plaque in the picture. He wasn't there, but the pharmacist told me that he is still working there and that they have been trying to find a replacement for ten years! I remember sitting on this same back step that Christina is on the first day that I was there.

This is the medical building, and it has been renovated since the mid 80's. The room I worked in was down this hallway, but the building was locked up when we were there, so I couldn't go in. The last picture is the hotel that I used to purchase meals in.

The pharmacist told us to make sure to go out to Stellako Lake, and I remembered being taken to dinner at Stellako Lake Lodge. It was closer to town than I had thought, and it was indeed a great view coming around the corner and seeing the lake. We ended up talking to the owner of the Lodge, who you can see in the picture. The river comes out of the lake under this bridge and flows past the Lodge, going into Fraser Lake in a few miles. It's a world-famous fly-fishing river, I'm told.

Kelowna

We stopped to stay the night in Kelowna on the way back down to Vancouver and I was fascinated by how they have expanded the city up into the hills. These hills have quite a few trees, but they look rocky and inhospitable. In the first picture, you may be able to see the outlines of the homes on top of that hill. They have put a lot of expensive homes on top of them. Most of these homes are really nice and many of them have great views down into the valley.

Vancouver

We stayed in downtown Vancouver for a few days before we flew back to Michigan. There was a lot of construction going on, as Vancouver prepared for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was great to hang out in the city that we enjoyed so much in the past.

UBC

We always go out to UBC when we're in Vancouver. It holds a lot of special memories for both of us. We lived on campus for about six years, and it was great to be able to walk to work (me) and school (Sandra). UBC is always in a state of change, and things seem different every time we're there, but it really is a special place.