Monday, December 24, 2012

Wildlites ~ BC Wildlife Park ~ Kamloops, BC

The BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops, BC joins in the festive season with a wonderful display of colorful sights and Christmas sounds!  This is a great place to take the family and enjoy the entertainment offered for young and old.

entering the light display in the park
Wildlites in the BC Wildlife Park
The 15th Annual Wildlights Festival is happening on December 14th to January 6, 2013 this year, except for Christmas Day so there is time to get out there and enjoy the excitement between 5pm to 9pm. 
light displays in the park
Follow the walk in the BC Wildlife Park 
Once you pass through the Visitor Center, you are greeted with lights galore that hang in the trees and line the walkway.  Your walk will take you past light displays of animals and Christmas displays. 
The lights create an Arc
The Arc on the lake in the BC Wildlife Park
The lake has an Arc in lights that reflects on the lake, home to some swans and other waterfowl that were hard to see during this visit to the Wildlife park, perhaps they were inside the Arc! 
Santa display in the park
Santa in lights
 Memberships are a wonderful gift to give and can be used all year round.  There are so many activities offered throughout the year.  The BC Wildlife Park membership also means you have free admission to zoos in Vancouver, Edmonton and Saskatoon, Sask. 
Campfires to warm up at
Campfires in the Wildlife Park
Chris the Clown is a regular entertainer at this event and keeps the kids smiling with his fun antics and magic shows.  He has scheduled shows at 6 pm & 8:30 pm during the evening, be sure to check it out.  He’s not far from the bonfires and seating where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and get warmed up, too.
Lights and music make a great show
Laser Show at the BC Wildlife Park
The second year for the Spectacular Laser Light Show is happening in the amphitheatre each evening at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm.  Be sure to take one of those in but I suggest taking a blanket or cushion to sit on the outdoor seats.
display of bears in colored lights
Bear in lights
Clover, the Kermode or Spirit bear will be in hibernation during these winter visits but will be ready to meet us next year.  He brings something special to our Wildlife park and he will be residing in an area built especially for him that will include a bear interpretive center once the funds are raised. 
Wolf waiting for dinner at the fence
Wolves in BC Wildlife Park
The feeding time happens during the evening hours for the elk and wolves so if you’re able to time it right, you can watch the elk get fed at 5:30pm and the wolves at 6:30pm at each of their enclosures. 
light displays in park
Dinosaur lights in the park
The BC Wildlife Park has a great motto: Conservation through Education and programs are offered to support that.  There are Kids Science day camps happening for kids 6 to 12 yrs where they learn about the wildlife and nature; to learn more, click here. 
School programs and field trips including free class rides with the Kamloops Transit System available, to learn more about those, click here.  That sounds like a fun day for school.
The miniature train and all shiny and ready for a ride
Wildlife Express Miniature Train
Wildlife Express Miniature Train covers a kilometer track that circles around the park.  The rates are great, only 50 cents for the kids and $1 for adults.  You will see sights all lit up throughout the ride.  
lights of flowers line the walkway
Flowers line the walk
There is the Wildlights Maze to have fun getting lost and found in and the barn with the little petting animals that enjoy some attention, too, so don’t miss them.  The Wagon ride is available and makes it all part of a fun family evening.

The restaurant in the Visitor Center is open for snacks and the gift store to enjoy while you’re here, too. The Wildlife Park is a non-profit organization so purchases made in the gift store contribute to support the park, as well.  To learn more, click here and see all that the BC Wildlife Park has to offer and how lucky we are to have this in Kamloops, BC.

The Wildlites at the BC Wildlife Park is just another reason why we love Kamloops,
there is just no place like home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Santa Claus Parade ~ Kamloops, BC ~ 2012

Here comes Santa Claus!  He is in the annual Santa Claus parade in downtown Kamloops.  The event was held on Nov. 24 after the kids woke Santa from a sleep while waiting for the parade to begin.  The day was overcast but quite mild and lots of smiles can be seen as everyone enjoys the parade celebrating the Kamloops Bicentennial this year.
Float with princesses and costumed characters
Enchanted Teacup in Santa parade
The Enchanted Teacup is a local them party business and features princess parties for  the princess in every little girl.  They had a float full of princesses and placed third in Santa’s choice category.

Car made to look like the tv Thomas, the train
Thomas the Train in Santa parade in Kamloops, BC
Thomas the Engine will be a familiar face to many with the popularity of the books and the television series that began in 1984 featuring Ringo Starr, drummer for the Beatles, as the voice of Thomas.  The books, the Railway Series, television and videos are still current and available today.
The band dress up in costumes to entertain and the Keystone kops ride their firetruck
The Kamloops Rube Band and Keystone Kops
Any parade in Kamloops would never be the same without our world renowned Kamloops Rube Band. Their wild costumes and antics have been around for over 50 years and have been seen performing worldwide as ambassadors for Kamloops.
The Keystone Kops of the Shriners are based on the old silent movies known for their fun antics and are driving their 1934 Chevy, restored after originally being used as the firetruck in Chilliwack, BC.
the well known characters walk in the Santa parade
Ronald McDonald and the Root Bear in Kamloops Santa parade
Ronald McDonald, the clown mascot that everyone is familiar with, saying hi to all.  This clown was first created by Willard Scott, the Today Shows weatherman of many years, in 1963 to be used in the first commercials for the hamburger company. 

The loveable Root Bear has been the goodwill ambassador for the A+W since 1974 and can be seen in activities like walking the parade with his A+W buddies. 

The Grinch is in the jail on the cart
The Kamloops + District Crime Stoppers
 Crime Stoppers is an independent non-profic society and registered charity.  They are managed by a Board of Directors and worth with all levels, local citizens, media and police.  They’ve done a great job of catching the Grinch (who stole Christmas) in the Kamloops Bicentennial year theme.  Click here to learn  more about the organization.

The float has several animals on it and being followed by more.
4-H Club of Kamloops in Santa parade
The BC 4-H club has been around for over 95 years and offers several programs and teaches leadership abilities and skills for several different interests for those 6 years to 21 years. Click here to learn more.
The truck drives in the Santa parade in Kamloops, BC
Red Chevy carries Frosty & Christmas tree
Syd Smith, a regular participant in the Santa Claus parade, has their little red Chevy truck decorated and loaded with a big Christmas tree and snowman. 

Derby Dolls carry a banner in the Santa parade
Tournament City Derby Dolls of Kamloops, BC
Tournament City Derby Dolls were there in the parade, but without roller skates, much to my surprise!  Click here for their website to learn their history.  I could find no future events but am sure there are some in the planning stages.

The bus that operates as the mobile library in the Santa parade
The Bookmobile in the Santa parade
The Bookmobile has been out visiting rural areas in the Kamloops District for many years, making it easier for those who are not able to visit the Kamloops Library. Click here to check their schedule for a visit near you.

School band and enthusiastic students on the float enjoy the Santa parade
We 2 Me and Brocklehurst Middle School celebrate the schools in Kamloops, BC
The Brocklehurst Middle School Band is representing the school bands this year with their horn section carrying the Canadian flag.

ME 2 WE is “an innovative social enterprise that offers socially conscious and environmentally friendly products and life changing experiences”.  Their large events are attended by those who earn their tickets, which cannot be purchased.  There are thousands who flock to see the inspirational speakers, e.g. Spencer West, a man without legs who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  There are more who help others around the world.

Santa and helpers ride on sleigh with reindeer on float
Santa has arrived in Kamloops, BC
Santa appears with his helpers and waves to all. The magic of Santa and seeing him every year puts happy faces on the young and old, now we just wait for that special day to arrive. May everyone enjoy a very Merry Christmas this year.

Unfortunately I missed part of the parade and learned later that the Donkey Refuge was chosen as the Parade Star, so was especially sorry I missed them. We’ve been out to the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge a couple of times and are so impressed with it, check it out by clicking here and plan your visit.

Once again Downtown Business Association (KCBIA) has put on a great Santa Claus parade for everyone to enjoy, with a variety of interests and new floats for us to see, proving that there is just no place like home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sun Peaks Resort ~ Canada's Alpine Village ~ Kamloops, BC

Winter means snow, snow means skiing and that means Sun Peaks to many avid skiers.  We have one of the greatest ski resorts right out Kamloops' back door.  We visit Sun Peaks at different times of the year as there is always something to enjoy with year round activities, (click here to see Sun Peaks other seasons) but it has been awhile since we were there during the winter months. 

Looking back towards Kamloops hills from the road to Sun Peaks
Rolling hills and valleys on Heffley Louis Creek Road
 The Kamloops sky is blue with sunshine making today a perfect day for a drive up to Sun Peaks. The views on the way up offer some great photo opportunities but I am anxious to get to Sun Peaks while the sun is still shining and getting the best chance of some great photos. 
ski hills are visible from the village
Sun Peaks ski hill on a cloudy day, Kamloops, BC
 The low lying clouds up ahead were moving in and as we drove into the village of Sun Peaks, there was no sun to be seen but there was fresh snow on the hill, which is a good thing, too. The clouds in Sun Peaks will never discourage true skiers, there is a full parking lot so that meant that skiers had come up for this mid week day early in the season to begin their ski season.    
Racks hold the skis while the skiers have lunch
Snow boards and skis wait for the next run
There had been a time when we spent most Sundays here, pre Sun Peaks Resort, when it was Mt. Tod with the Burfield Lodge and a couple of ski lifts. Although we are no longer skiers, we have some great family memories.  Skiing is a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages and the snowboards also seem to be very popular not only with the young. 
the map shows all the ski runs and the village at Sun Peaks
Alpine Trail Map of Sun Peaks
Sun Peaks Resort has grown over the past several years, and looking at the map of the ski hills, shows a zillion more routes to ski than there used to be.  There are 124 trails including 13 glade areas, which are the ones not regularly patrolled, so never ski those alone.  Most of those trails are above the clouds today, now that would make some great photos!  Fresh new snow and sunshine while looking down on the clouds!
Several ski runs converge into the village of Sun Peaks
Ski-in to the village at Sun Peaks, Kamloops, BC
 There are all kinds of reasons to stay at Sun Peaks for more than just a day of skiing.  There are hotels, hostels, B&B’s, inns, lodges, condo and town homes, too for overnight visits.  Many of them are ski-in and ski-out which sounds like the best way to go. There are restaurants and nightclubs, too, as well as many events to enjoy all through the seasons.
Soup and sandwich makes a good lunch
Lunch at Mesa's Grill in Sun Peaks
 The day wouldn’t be right if we didn’t spend some time sitting and watching the kids enjoy the bunny hill and others skiing out of the clouds to the bottom of the hill.  The best way to do that was while we enjoyed some lunch at Mesa’s Grill, great service and food, too.  There are a total of 11 lifts including 5 quad chairs on the 3 mountains of Sun Peaks including the Sundance Express seen from our viewpoint in the village.  Mt. Tod is the tallest peak sitting above the clouds today with an elevation of 2152 m (7060’).  There  are plans for opening up more runs on Mt. Tod and Mt. Morrisey, elevation 1675m (5495’), coming soon.
Stores and condos line the streets of the village
Alpine Village at Sun Peaks, Kamloops, BC
The village is quiet today but stores are open for business, and they offer great services and merchandise, be sure to visit them while you’re visiting the alpine village at Sun Peaks Resort. There is also an outdoor skating facility, tube park, a sports centre with a heated outdoor pool and the Sundance Kids Center for child minding.  Sun Peaks is a great place to visit for every member of the family, even if you’re not a skier. 
The t-bar and conveyor belt to take young skiers up the small hill
Platter and Carpet Lift at Sun Peaks
The enthusiastic young group on the ‘bunny hill’ is having a great time and use a conveyor belt to get back up the hill.  That is something I’d not seen before, but it has been awhile since I’d been on a bunny hill and a lot has changed since then.  Wish they had them when I was struggling to stay upright holding onto that t-bar!  Not all ski memories are good ones. (:  
Sign posted for driving winter conditions
Mandatory for winter driving
 We turned off the Yellowhead Highway at Heffley Creek to follow Tod Mountain Rd. and it was right at this junction that we were stopped in a road block on our way to Sun Peaks.   The time had come for the winter tires or chains to be put on the cars and trucks, and there was no passing this location unless that had been done.  The roads may look good to this point but winter conditions have arrived in the mountains and care must be taken.

We had a great visit to Sun Peaks in spite of the lack of sunshine and know you will, too.  Winter has arrived so let the fun begin. To learn more, visit the Sun Peaks website.

Just another reason why we love Kamloops.  
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Paul Lake ~ Pinantan Lake ~ Scheidam Flats ~ Kamloops, BC

The low lying clouds covered the hilltops but we were hoping to rise above that to enjoy some sunshine above the clouds.  We are heading up to Paul Lake and Pinantan to see what colorful treats the fall season has for us and hope to see some sights on our way up there, as well.

A foggy day makes the sights ominous
Rock sculpture on Scheidam Flats, Kamloops, BC
We see that someone has been busy creating this rock pile that resembled an inukshuk, a stone landmark and by definition is “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”. It may be watching over the horses grazing nearby as we pass through Scheidam Flats.
The mare and her cold graze on sagebrush on a foggy day.
Paint mare and her colt on Scheidam Flats, Kamloops, BC
This beautiful paint and her colt, which I believe to be Tobiano, were grazing in a roadside pasture and a photo was definitely a must!  The mare came over for the apple offered but the colt was timid and kept his distance so no friendships were established there.  I hid behind the sagebrush to get this photo, but he was watching to make sure I didn’t come any closer. All paints can be called a pinto but not all pinto are paints, unless registered as one, so I may be incorrect in calling them a paint.  Whatever they’re called,  they’re gorgeous. 
old buildings sit in the fields of a ranch near Pinantan Lake
Old homestead near Pinantan Lake, Kamloops, BC
We followed the road up to Pinantan and passed by this great looking old homestead. The fields of autumn offer no bright colors but the calm quiet scene with a dusting of snow appears to be a painting.  The sun is trying to break through the clouds to offer some sunshine.
We look across the Jandana corrals and see Martin Mountain
Snow covered Martin Mountain near Pritchard, BC
We’ve stopped for a brief visit at Jandana Ranch and were given a mini tour on this chilly November day.  We are seeing Martin Mountain far off in the distance in Pritchard. The ranch overlooks some wonderful views, including Pinantan Lake, which means shoe or moccasin in traditional Aboriginal language.  The lake is shaped like a moccasin.

Albert the horse looks over the gate from his corral into the barn.
Albert of Jandana Ranch, Kamloops, BC
Our Jandana visit includes meeting Albert, the oldest horse on the ranch.  He seems quite happy meeting us and enjoys getting a nuzzle over the gate. Friends have spent time at the ranch and have highly recommended it for a visit to stay a few days. Click here to learn more.
Aspen trees without leaves on the driveway from Jandana Ranch
Aspen trees line the roadway
We may have left it too late in the season to get many autumn leaves on the trees, especially in higher elevations but the trees without leaves are still a great sight on this brisk sunny afternoon and offer interesting landscapes. 
The snow geese can be seen as they take flight
Snow geese on Pinantan Lake, BC
As we drive around Pinantan Lake, I get a quick glimpse through the trees and see some snow geese on the lake.  By the time I get the car stopped and run across the road for a photo, I hear their big wings flapping against the water in their noisy effort to get airborne.  Snow geese typically head south for the winter so perhaps they have stopped here for a rest on the calm waters of Pinantan Lake
looking down the length of Paul Lake to the west
Paul Lake views, Kamloops, BC
The ice has begun to form on Paul Lake and typically will freeze over for the winter months but looks like this would be a great spot for birdwatching in the springtime. Paul Lake Provincial Park is now closed for the winter season but offers great summer fun on the lake.  Paul Lake, about 4 km long, sits at an elevation of 796 metres (2611 ft.) and has an average depth of 30 metres (98 ft.). The sun is hidden behind the clouds as we head back down the hill and summer time on the lake seems a long ways away now. 

cattle of many colors graze roadside on Paul Lake Road
Cattle on Scheidam Flats, Kamloops, BC
Some of the cattle on this range were curious about the camera on the other side of the fence but not curious enough to wander over my way.  I tried to learn what kind of cattle they are, without much luck; they were not too forthcoming but they’re much more colorful than those we are used to seeing in our hills.

Paul Lake and Pinantan are located about a half hour drive from Kamloops, BC.  Follow Highway 5 north to Paul Lake Road and follow the signs.  These are just some of the treasures of the Kamloops area and another reason why there is just no place like home.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Remembrance Day ~ Kamloops, BC ~ Canada

November 11th , called Armistice Day until 1931 when it became Remembrance Day, is the day set aside every year when we remember all those who fought in battles for our country and did not come home.  We also honor those who did come home after fighting their valiant battles and are part of our country’s history, many have passed on since that time and need to be remembered as well. There are very few remaining who fought during WW2, and they will also be remembered on Nov. 11th.

This was taken with group in England
Jim Hughes during WW 2 in England, 1942
There were thousands of Canadian soldiers who did not come home from war. Those who did return had all left friends behind who had fought for their country but lost their battle to return home.  Many of us “baby boomers” had mothers or fathers who had been involved in World War 2 and we have the personal stories they shared to remember.  My dad, Jim Hughes was one of those fortunate soldiers who came home.
Taken when they were in East Grinstead, England
The Canadian Armed Division Support Group Coy R.C.A.S.C. in England, 1942
There were thousands of Canadian soldiers who did not come home from the wars.  66,665 were killed during the World War 1 when there was only a population of 7 million people in Canada. During World War 2, Canada lost 46,998 young soldiers from a population of 11 million, a high percentage for any loss.
The cenotaph was constructed following WW 1 to honor those killed in war.
Kamloops Cenotaph and Memorial Park
The Women’s Auxiliary to the Canadian Legion raised the funds that were needed to build and erect the Kamloops Cenotaph following World War 1 and the unveiling happened on May 24, 1925.  Names of soldiers lost in World War 1 were put on at that time and names have been added for World War 2 since.

Sad remains and a tribute to those who died here
  Hellfire Pass in Thailand
Several years ago during a visit to Thailand, we spent some time at Hellfire Pass which was built by POW’s during WW2.  The video we watched with footage taken at that camp was something I will never forget and although there were very few Canadian soldiers at this POW camp, there were about 16,000 soldiers who died.  One inscription on the plaque shown in the photo says, “When you go home, tell them of us, say we gave our tomorrow for your today”.  For more info on Hellfire Pass, click here.
Honoring all Canadian soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan.
Portraits of Honor visited Kamloops, BC
A Portrait of Honor (clik here for more info) was created to honor the Canadian soldiers killed in the war of Afghanistan and paid a visit to Kamloops during its tour of Canada.  A Kamloops soldier, MCpl Erin Doyle was honored during this ceremony and his name has since been added to the Kamloops Cenotaph at Memorial Park.
Kamloops soldiers names are embedded in the cenotaph to be remembered forever
Kamloops Cenotaph honors soldiers killed in action 
There are cenotaphs throughout Canada but the Kamloops Cenotaph and Memorial Park has one of few that have a clock within it.  The corner if 2nd and Battle St., which seems an appropriately named location, is the sight of the Cenotaph where Remembrance Day services were held. 
A monument to the soldiers killed in action in Kamloops, BC
Cenotaph in Riverside Park, Kamloops, BC
Due to the larger crowds that are part of this annual Remembrance Day in Kamloops, the ceremonies are now held at Riverside Park and the parade will leave to parade through the city from this location following the ceremony. The public is invited to attend to honor those soldiers we lost in war.
The poppy grows in Flanders Fields and used to remember the soldiers who died in war.
The poppy is the official flower of Remembrance Day
The poppy is the official flower that pays tribute to all the veterans of the wars. When we purchase a poppy, we not only show our support but we also offer some financial support to the endeavors of the Royal Canadian Legion.  The money raised annually in Canada is $16.5 million and funds collected stay local to supply medical equipment, home services and long term care facilities for those needing such help.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row;
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.  Short days ago
We live, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were love, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, thought poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

                                                     Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

  Lest we forget

Veteran's Day is recognized in the United States on November 11 and we were impressed by the honor they paid their lost soldiers with the American flag while visiting there a few years ago.  To see more, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Days ~ MacArthur Island Park ~ Kamloops, BC

Autumn or ‘Fall’ as we often call it usually conjures up visions of colored leaves in reds, oranges and yellows.  We see the leaves are falling from the trees, the days are shorter and the sun shines less frequently.  We are having shorter days of daylight and this is the transition season that takes us into winter, or did I miss a whole season?
Overnight snowfall in mid October covers Mt. Paul
October snow on Mt. Paul in Kamloops, BC
We had some early snowfall and with the cold snap we were experiencing, it began to feel we were going to miss the fall season.  We woke up one morning in mid October to see snow on Mt. Paul and in many neighborhoods in the higher levels.  Brrrrrrr….. it is too soon for this and thankfully does not last for long.
The Thompson River meanders around Rabbit Island as it passes McArthur Island
Thompson River and Rabbit Island, Kamloops, BC
I stopped on the Summit Extension corner to see the colors of the trees on Rabbit Island, which sits across from McArthur Park on the Thompson River, and the North Shore from this vantage point.  The clouds were low but breaking up to give us some blue sky and a possible break in the weather.  Those autumn colors always show better when the sun shines and we are going to have a fall season.
The colored leaves are reflected in the river on McArthur Island
The Slough reflects colors of McArthur Island
I’d been hoping for another chance to see how pretty autumn is in our city of Kamloops and that happened just Sunday afternoon when the sun came through the clouds and warmed up the day so off to McArthur Island Park we went.
Muted fall colors on the trees and shrubs surrounding the slough
More colors on McArthur Island in Kamloops, BC
The days that the leaves are still on the trees and the sun shines is a great time to get out there and enjoy what may be the last days of autumn so it was a perfect day for a walk through McArthur Island Park.  I passed several others who were out there doing the same.

A collage of different views of McArthur Island on this sunny fall day.
Assorted views of McArthur Island on a Fall day

We do live in a semi-arid part of the province and are not going to get all the colors of autumn that other climates get but with parks and plantings we get to see some of them, we just need to look in the right places. 
Photo is taken looking west at the tree lined slough from the footbridge
The view from the footbridge over the Thompson River Slough
The slough is the canal that wraps around McArthur Island Park, creating the island that has been developed into this beautiful park over the years. There is a path that follows around the outer edges of the island following the river and the slough and there is a bridge over the slough that leads to the park from a residential area on the North Shore.
There are several more ducks swimming nearby but this one swims alone
This mallard swims away from the large flock of ducks
The slough is the home of several kinds of water fowl and the occasional beaver, so I’m told and there are usually some ducks nearby to catch any food scraps that passersby may throw into the water for them.  
Sandy beaches of Rabbit Island is seen across the Thompson River
The geese swim on the Thompson River
The river level is very low by this time of year with only enough water for the gulls, ducks and Canada Geese also lining the shores, to enjoy.  The river is quiet and calm when the levels are this low during the fall season much unlike the summertime with all the boats that like to cruise our great rivers.
These geese fly between the fields and the river nearby
Canada Geese wander the soccer fields of McArthur Park
The Canada Geese are here for awhile yet before they begin their travels south for the winter.  I’ve seen them here during the winter months in recent years and was surprised they didn’t migrate but perhaps that is dependent on how cold the winter gets, they may have some ‘inside’ information that we humans are not privy to! (:   Note the snowfree Mt. Paul in the distance.
Kamloops is seen east of this viewpoint overlooking the Thompson River.
Views of Kamloops and the Thompson River from McArthur Island Park
As my walk around the park comes to an end I enjoy the view of the city and the sandy beaches of tree covered Rabbit Island, I am pretty happy with the way the weather has turned out today.  This was a beautiful bonus day after hearing the weather forecast and a day we can be so thankful for especially after learning weather conditions in other parts of the country……   there is just no place like home!