#37 – Ride a Horse

Out of my bike saddle and on to the next. This one was much more comfortable but I wasn’t so sure about the whole riding thing while in the ring getting used to the horse, the commands and who was in charge. My sister looked comfortable with her steed, poised, sitting tall, hands holding the reins comfortably. She has ridden before. Bev, our guide and owner told us the horses would test us and they did.

The Ring

Practising in the ring

Bev is the proprietor of Paradise Acres Ranch  located just around the corner from where we live. Her and her husband own 11 horses and board another 47. Their property is spectacular and spacious tucked away between Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Moriarty on Vancouver Island.

Avalanche was the name of my horse, a white Cremello with big blue eyes. My sisters’ was Blazen, a grey Arabian Quarter horse with large brown eyes.


Jackson, Pony Dots, Blazen and Avalanche

To get Avalanche going I had to do a clicking sound with my cheeks. Problem was that my instinct was to pull on the reins at the same time. Bev told me that that was sending a mixed message to the horse because pulling on the reins is asking the horse to slow down. Poor thing, I can imagine what he was thinking, “Ok lady, stop or go, make up your mind”. A simple “whoa” with a tug on the reins made the horse stop and then you released the reins again. Your legs should be relaxed at the knees with the heel of your foot pushing downwards. I had a tendency of squeezing my legs, which made Avalanche go faster. Oops!

Getting Going

Getting ready and heading into the trails

Our horses obviously knew the route and when Bev’s horse Jackson started to trot, they all did. When trotting, the reins are shortened for better grip because you get bounced around, up and down, out of the saddle a bit. It’s a whole new experience and you have to wonder who really is in control. I tried to go with the flow of my horse’s trot and started to laugh because my head was now like a bobble head. I can’t imagine what a full gallop would be like but apparently it is a lot smoother and quicker. I didn’t need that my first time out.

In the first hour we were both getting used to our horses and how they reacted to our movements and commands for turning left and right, adjusting our postures forward or back depending on whether we were going up or down hills. Through the narrow trails, low-lying branches, fallen tree trunks, I was amazed at how smart and agile these animals are for their size. They have instinct and are able to negotiate the paths even with a ditch on the side. How do they not slide off or take a misstep?


Back at the ranch, legs don’t fail me know

After 2 hours we both felt much more in control and I think the horses also stepped into a grove. They also knew when we were heading home because they started to speed up. “Whoa”, “whoa”…. They knew what was waiting for them, a soothing brush down and an apple treat. They did not want to hang around for pictures either at the end of the ride. And it is really hard to take pictures while riding a horse. I can visualize me working on a ranch but auditioning for “Heartland”, that’s out of the question.


#28 – Bike to Courtenay

I challenged myself at the end of my first year at university to bike home from Fredericton to Caraquet – 290 kilometers or 180 miles. My high school volleyball coach said I couldn’t do it. My teammate who also lived in Caraquet and went to UNB was game to ride too. It took us 2 days. Luckily my oldest sister was working in Chatham NB at the time, which is a little more than half way, and we stayed with her for the night. When we rode into Caraquet, we went directly to our coach’s house to prove we had just completed the trip. I remember him standing there, looking at us, shaking his head and being totally impressed.

I have always wanted to ride around Prince Edward Island but never have. I have always wanted to participate in a “Tour of Something” and haven’t signed up for that yet. So it is no surprise that I added a long bike ride on my list. I chose Courtenay on Vancouver Island because you can ride the back roads with less traffic and the scenery is beautiful along the water.

First stop

First stop Union Bay to repair flat and take in scenery

We rode in reverse (same difference) from Courtenay to Parksville for 2 reasons, 1) our drive was only available in the morning and 2) psychologically it’s easier to ride towards home then away from home.

Qualicum trail

Qualicum Beach Trail

The trip was 84 kilometers or 52 miles and it took us 5 hours. The actual bike time was more like 4 hours because we had to stop twice to repair flat tires, a half hour lunch, some quick shopping and picture taking along the route. It was another glorious fall day with lots of sunshine, little wind, traffic steady but kind. The trip rounded up with a cold one at our local pub, The Black Goose.


Enjoying a cold one at The Black Goose

Cycling on Vancouver Island is the best!

#38 Bike on the Galloping Goose

It’s a picture perfect sunny autumn Sunday and I am out with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and husband biking the Galloping Goose in the city of Victoria.


Heading out

The last time I did this was 15 years ago. The Galloping Goose/Lochside trail stretches from Sidney to Sooke, a distance of 80kms. We rode the section from West Victoria to Mattick’s farm, 24 kms round trip. Over 450,000 people have enjoyed the trail so far this year. At midday when we went by the counter, 844 people had already been through.

Sunday is not our favorite day of the week because we often long for our kids and family. But this Sunday was special because we were together.



As we left the city, the trail became a tunnel of bowing trees in their splendid colors of orange, red, yellow. The trail was scenic from a stream filled with Canada Geese, to horses grazing in the fields, and vegetable and flower stands along the way.

Bike Ride

The Juan de Fuca Strait comes in sight and then there is Mattick’s Farm that caters to bikers. It’s a beautiful farm market with funky boutiques, a restaurant and ice cream stand.


Mattick’s Farm

I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than being outside in the fresh air enjoying a family outing and exercising while at it. And no bike ride would be complete without having to fix a punctured tire.


Like a true Scout, “Be Prepared”

#22 – Ride a Zip Line

My husband didn’t want to join me on this one and neither did my daughter but my son-in-law was totally game and eager to try this out.

We arrived early which gave us time to walk around and take a good look at what Wild Play was all about. I was puzzled at first because I thought we were just going to ride zip lines. This was an obstacle course nestled high up in the trees. It reminded me of the “Amazing Race”.

Monkey Pants

Monkey pants


We were fitted with our Monkey Pants and given a learner course. You couldn’t move onto the actual course until you proved you knew how to stay safe. We passed with flying colors and off we went.


At first the obstacles were low to the ground and apparatus evenly spaced out. As we progressed, the obstacles became harder and more challenging as we climbed higher into the trees.


Navigating poles and slamming into cargo net

The zip lines were short and sweet at first but as we got higher they became longer and faster. What a thrill with arms extended, back and legs straight out, as you whizzed down the line. It helped to bend your knees slightly as you punched the safety bag on the platform to come to a stop.

Hanging on

Riding the zip line and hanging on

We completed the Classic Course and then proceeded to the Extreme Course – higher and harder. Not for the faint of heart. The logs swung more and were not as evenly spaced. The cargo nets were more challenging and the apparatus were such that you had to look down. Oh gosh! Yikes!


Obstacles on the Classic and Extreme courses


More obstacles

I was glad for the last zipline that brought us back to the base where it all started. I found the uneven logs spaced out vertically and horizontally the hardest. My son-in-law found the cargo nets the biggest rush. We both loved the challenge and the 2 hours it took to complete the courses went by like a flash.

The billboard advertised “Primal Fun and Games”. I think my son-in-law summed it up when he said, “I think primal is appropriate because you are exercising your inner monkey”. How true after playing on ladders, cargo nets, wobbly bridges and logs, riding the zip lines and swinging from the trees like Tarzan.

I had just completed the hike on Mount Benson where my quads were still sore from that experience, now my arms and core are sore. I guess that makes me a total sore package. Well worth it and we both would do it again!

#4 – Hike Mount Benson

The path into the park is wide, soft and cushiony under foot from the thick layer of fallen needles. It’s brisk first thing in the morning but pleasant. Pass Witchcraft Lake, which is strewn with dead tree trunks giving it its eerie look, we come to the trail on our left that will lead us up to the first vista. The entrance path was short lived because this one is straight up, dry, narrow and dark. Every now and then, we climb over rocks and dead trees, all the while going up. I am huffing and puffing in no time, stripping layers as I climb. But that’s me, it takes me a good 20 minutes to get into a rhythm.

Benson 4

The trail and one of many vistas

The trail continues with somewhat of a switch back that helps us side-wind the mountain as we climb but not by much. You can tell the trail has been well used. As I grab onto trees to help boost my way up, I can feel the worn-out bark’s soft smooth surface, like leather. We come to the first vista and a chance to catch our breaths. I know we have only done a third of the climb, but the views of the Strait of Georgia and the city of Nanaimo seem so far away. There is some cloud and a bit of fog in the Strait.

I am grateful to have my “sherpa”, Chef Smokin’ George. He has been climbing this mountain since an early age, is always well equipped when he hikes and keeps me entertained with his boisterous laugh and stories. He warns me of what’s to come. My breathing is rhythmic now but the legs are starting to feel the hurt. I’ve made it half way but the hardest part of the climb is yet to come. As George puts it, “the calm before the storm”. Sure enough, after a few more vistas with views more impressive then the last ones, we carry on, up, up, up. While resting, a young guy literally runs by us, followed by a young girl with her dog. Can people be that fit?

Benson 3

View at the top

My inner voice is talking to me and negative thoughts are filling my head. “Enough, this is my challenge. I have waited way too long to do this and I am going to make it to the top and relish the experience and the accomplishment”. At times, I am on all fours, climbing the rocks and using every tree to help me move forward. George is ahead and knows we are close. His encouraging words, “you are almost there” is what I needed to put me in overdrive for the last 300 meters. Et voilà, I am at the top. Ta Da ♫! 1,019 meters (3,343 feet) elevation.



The 360degree view from the top is spectacular and I am ecstatic! We can see for miles; Nanaimo and beyond, the small surrounding communities, the new developments, the clear cutting and the spectacular mountains in every direction. I packed some snacks and a special sign and for 20 minutes or so we basked in the sun, the wind, the view and the feeling of complete freedom at the top.


On the way down, I took the lead. People who hike with me know that is a no, no because 1) I get lost and 2) I like to do a loop rather then hike back the same way in. Sure enough, I zigged instead of zagged. George clued in quickly that the trail looked unfamiliar but let me carry on.

Benson 1

The orange trail. Whiskey Jack looking for food. George and me.

I was following the orange-tagged route. It took pretty much the same amount of time to come down as it did to go up and just as strenuous but this route was steeper. Our knees and quads were screaming, not to mention our toes shoved to the very tip of our hiking boots. I told him it was all part of the adventure of discovering a new trail. Truth be known, I didn’t have the energy to back track up part of the mountain. All in all, the hike took us close to 3 ½ hours and we covered roughly 7 kilometers. I’m thrilled!

Benson Park

Benson Park – Photo taken from RDN


#3 – Take Grandson Sailing

His Mom loves to ski and his Dad loves to sail. We like doing both. Since there was no snow on our local mountain this year and I doubt we will get our grandson out skiing later this year, we decided to take him sailing instead. After all, it’s all about having a get-a-way weekend with our grandson, spending time doing fun things together and introducing him to sports we did with our kids.

The weekend weather did not cooperate but we managed to get a day sail in. Our grandson was so excited and nothing dampened his spirits and excitement of being the newly appointed 1st mate sailing the good ship Rugosa. Not even the swell from the 30knot wind the day before or choppy seas.

Before leaving the wharf, the crew had to swab the decks from the early morning rain. “Ahoy, all hands on deck” our grandson chants, “Report to Captain”.


Getting Ready

He is so inquisitive and eager to help. He needs to know what everything does and why, from the navigational instruments to all the fasteners on the hatches. He listens to the radio and imitates the Coast Guard calls. He laughs at hearing a boat called “Banana Peal”. In no time, he finds his sea legs and by instinct straddles, feet apart, while he walks inside the cabin. Not easy when the boat is rocking.

He is a natural sailor. He took control of the wheel, sailed a straight line and did a perfect tack. How exciting! We sailed back and forth, visiting the various islands within Schooner Cove watching the eagles and the seals.

Captain and 1st mate

Captain and 1st Mate

After being all over the boat, helping with lines, going up and down from the cabin to the cockpit, he settled and fell asleep. Fresh air and blowing wind did him in. My husband and I doused the sails, motored back to the marina, tied up all the while he was fast asleep.



That evening we heard his rendition of Coast Guard calls over a marina and fleet of boats made of Lego.


#41 – Attend a Sports Event

I am a huge sports fan. When I was young, I watched all sports on TV and secretly whished I could do them all. I’m convinced I learned how to play golf and curl by watching the pros.

Growing up, our town did not have much in terms of sport facilities. Before they built the arena, kids helped clear the outdoor skating rink to play hockey and broom ball. Our high school gymnasium was the size of an official volleyball court. I remember attending tournaments in bigger cities with gyms that held 4 courts. That was something.

Pan FB

It’s a real treat now to live on the West Coast where we can attend top end professional sporting events. The Maritime Provinces have always been deprived of the big leagues. There has never been any major team of any kind, be it football, baseball, hockey, soccer or basketball.

Last Thursday my husband and I went to Vancouver and attended a CFL football game between the BC Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place. Currently, Edmonton is on top of the leader board in the west division. We chose this event because we both enjoy football. We keep track of both the CFL and NFL, especially during playoffs leading to the Grey Cup and Super Bowl respectively. My husband is a huge Calgary Stampede fan and I, a Montreal Allouette fan. At this game, we cheered for the hometown team.FlagGame1

We enjoy live sports but sitting inside this building, after being in the wilderness for almost 2 months, was a bit overwhelming and very noisy. There is way too much distraction; cheerleaders, music, a drum section, prizes being shot into the crowd and crazy fans getting you to cheer louder and make even more noise. At the same time, it was fun to take in the pre-game events and watch the game without commercial breaks. It’s colorful, alive and you definitely get into the game more. “Touchdown” and everyone is on their feet cheering and yelling.

Game2Most of the game seesawed back and forth, with the odd touchdown and convert. Eskimos were leading by the half 23 – 10. Lions had to come out stronger and start completing their passes if they wanted to get on the scoreboard. At the 3minute mark in the 4th quarter, Eskimos were in the driver’s seat. BC had possession but threw an interception. Fans were leaving looking dejected.

RoofThe Lions got possession of the ball again and quarterback, Travis Lulay threw a pass to Andrew Harris, “touchdown!” They finished it off with a 2 point conversion giving them the win or at least get them into overtime should Eskimos respond with a 3 point kick. No such luck, ball is intercepted and Lions take possession again and that’s all she wrote. [Lions 26 – Eskimos 23]

Like the saying goes, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings”.

Too bad those fans left because the last 3 minutes were the best part of the game.

#48 – Fly in a 2-Seater Plane

My friend Dave is a pilot. He just retired after 36 years of service with Air Canada. We have many things in common but one is that we worked for the same company. I was a flight attendant during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. I didn’t know him then but maybe we flew together at some point.

Dave and I

Photo op before take off

Dave’s passion is planes. He co-owns a 2-seater Glasair Super II RG made of fiberglass and composite. He is also building an aluminum Van’s RV-8. Both planes have the same type of engine, a Lycoming IO-360.

I got strapped in like a race car driver, went through the pre-flight checklist and down the runway we went.  I’m glad I am not tall or plump as I filled the tiny passenger seat.



We climbed to 6500 ASL (above sea level) at 114 knots. What a great sensation. It’s like having your own wings and flying like a bird. I did not feel comfortable when he let me handle the controls. I was too short to see over the dash and couldn’t see where I was going. I was just fine looking and snapping pictures.


View from my seat. Up!

We did a maneuver called “Wing Over”. The nose goes up and then down slightly as the plane rotates 180° on the right wing and continues in the opposite direction. We executed the move on both sides.

We flew over our homes, the Schooner Cove Marina, the Fairwinds Golf Course and Mount Arrowsmith. I didn’t realize Mount Arrowsmith had a lake at the top. I wonder if there are any fish? I was shocked to see how much clear cutting occurs on the island. The good thing is that the lime green colour shows new growth. I particularly liked seeing part of the vast amount of water we just covered on our sailing trip and the many trails we use on our runs.


Schooner Cove Marina


Fairwinds Golf Course

We slowly descended, dropping altitude and lined up for the Qualicum runway. The landing is smooth. You would think he knows what he is doing. As you can see from the pictures it was a perfect clear day for flying.

Thank you Captain Dave

#29 – Try to Catch a Fish. Hopefully a Salmon


The big tuna caught in the Baie of Chaleur NB

I grew up in a fishing village. It was natural that I would learn how to fish. My Dad taught me. We learned to jig for cod and mackerel. And we went tuna fishing.

Although we didn’t get to use the rod for tuna fishing, we were too young and not strong enough, we had a job when we went and that was to chum the tuna with mackerel (like in the movie Jaws) and make sandwiches. Our neighbor owned a boat and he “jury-rigged” it with a barber’s chair so that they could follow the fish. One person would steer the chair while the other was strapped in with the rod. I can’t remember the size of the big one they caught but it made the front page in the “Le Voilier”, our local newspaper way back when as the biggest tuna ever caught in the Baie of Chaleur.

I’d like to mention that my father-in-law, all my brother-in-laws and my youngest sister are excellent fishers. My husband not. Being a biologist he prefers to study them rather then catch them. He also has no patience. Case in point, we drop the line and after a few casts he wants to move on to another spot. We repeat but you can’t catch fish when you are in a hurry. “Fishing = Patience”.

Catching fish for bait when at anchor is one thing and comes in handy for catching crab. But that is not my idea of fishing. No, I want to catch a big one, a salmon. One big enough for supper and leftovers for another.


Catching bait

Throughout our trip, we spotted sport fishermen close to walls and in 60 meters or so of water fishing. Slowing the boat down to a crawl, I tried repeatedly rod in hand doing the 3 light tugs, 1,2,3 followed by a quick hard tug like my Dad taught me. To no avail.

Until I met the Falconer brothers, who probably felt sorry of my missed attempts and took me fishing on their boat “Tintomara”. These guys know their stuff and are equipped with down riggers, flashers and good fishing gear. It took about 15 minutes to get to the fishing ground amongst a dozen or so other boats. Another 15 minutes to get the line organized and then we started to troll. First bite, within 5 minutes was lost. Their secret, anchovies attached to the line and hook. Reeled the line back in, attached another fish bait and back in business.

No sooner is the line back in the water, another bite. This time it’s hooked. Both brothers are coaching me as I reel it in. The weight is strong and line taut, rod bent to a 180° arc, drag set. The fish is fighting back, I can no longer reel it in.

“Let it go, the reel will do its job. When the fish stops struggling, start reeling again.”

I don’t know how long I kept doing this but all of a sudden I see a flash of silver. The fish comes to the surface, enough to see it’s a big one. And then all of a sudden, there is no pressure on the line.

“Damn, I lost it!”

“ No wait, keep rod tip up, it’s still on.”

Sure enough, it surfaced and then went down again. I’m reeling in faster now and then slowly as I bring the line beside the boat. The net is waiting.

The catch

In the net

Success! 13lb Chinook, definitely enough for supper and a few more after that. My biggest thanks and gratitude to the Falconer boys in helping me mark this off my list.


13lb Chinook


The crew on “Tintomara”