Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2017

It was a busy year for us with lots of travel, to South America, to Mexico twice, to the US, to Halifax, and within BC. And most importantly, we had quality family time, and continued to enjoy good health.

We started off the year by travelling to Colombia. An amazing country, maybe the friendliest people I've ever met, certainly the most helpful, that's for sure.

We started off with a week near Santa Marta on the Caribbean Coast.
On our hotel balcony with Christa, our friend and travelling companion

An active beach in Santa Marta

Then we travelled inland. 
The city of Medellin from the top floor of our hotel

One of the attractions in Medellin

From the mirador in Villa de Leyva, a town not too far from Bogota

We arrived home at the end of January, and then went out to Ucluelet on the West Coast of the Island.

A close up shot or sea lions from my paddle board

My sister Doreen joined us for the weekend

We weren't home for long before we headed off to Bucerias, Mexico, for a great time with our good friends Mitch and Shari.

I'm the Outings Chair for the Harbour City Photography Club, and at the end of March we visited Riefel Bird Sanctuary in Ladner. 
We were treated to a show by these sandhill cranes.
 As well as photography, another hobby of mine is studying Spanish, and I have lessons, usually twice a week, via Skype with a teacher from Mexico. 

Then, we were home for a couple of weeks before off we went to Halifax where we joined my son Jan and his family for the Easter weekend at Oak Island Resort.

kids enjoying the swings

Mary-Ellen and Jan, with Kieran, Donovan, and Malcolm

Later in April, I competed in the Comox Valley Snow to Surf Race. 

Paddling with my friend David in the Snow to Surf Race. 

 At the beginning of May I headed to Toronto to visit my friend Mark Melymick and his family.. 

This time when I returned home I stayed put for a while, and went on some local hikes. 

Wesley Ridge in May, and yes, that's snow!

Meares Island in May

And in early June, Susann joined me and some friends for a hike to Keeha Bay on the west coast of the Island.

Susann on the "trail" to Keeha Bay

Our campfire at Keeha Bay.

In June, Susann and I went with or friend Judy to Port Renfrew, and enjoyed some "wet" coast weather.

Huge trees in Avatar Grove.

And at the end of June I returned to the Hesquiat Peninsula, the site of my 2013 plane crash. 

We enjoyed some beautiful beach hiking,

and much better weather for our return flight this time!

Later in July, we went on a boat trip in the central coast. We flew over from Port Hardy in an amphibian plane, landing near Calvert Island, south of Bella Bella. 

                                                 Chica wasn't too sure about it.

The plane taking off after dropping us off. We were met by our friends David and Evelyn, and boated to the Bastion City, our home for the next 10 days.


Later in August, we went to Saskatoon, and my sister Doreen met us at the airport. 

When we returned home, Susann's sister Christin and her daughter Emmelin visited us.

Susann and Emmelin enjoying Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo. 

Chica's favourite place in the whole world!

We celebrated Emmelin's birthday at our cabin at Horne Lake


The lake was enshrouded in eerie smoke from mainland forest fires

Our little piece of paradise

In ways, living where we live in Nanaimo is like living in the country, as attested to by these deer near our house last August. 

In September, we packed up the tent trailer and headed down the west coast, getting almost to the California border. Some amazing scenery!

Those men were actually fishing from the top of that cliff!

Chica and I also enjoyed paddle boarding several times. 

In late September, I took another ramble in Strathcona Park with the Island Mountain Ramblers.

Beautiful fall colours in McKenzie Meadows

I was home for a few weeks and did some work in our garden.

Our park-like back yard.

Then at the end of October I went to Pátzcuarro, in central México. I stayed with a lovely couple, Coti and Eliseo, 


and studied Spanish. 

My primary reason for going there, though, was to photograph the Night of the Dead. I went on a tour, and we went to three different graveyards, arriving home at 4:30 in the morning! Tiring, but an amazing experience. 

They believe that the souls of the deceased return on the night of November 1st, and many people gather in the cemeteries, bringing food and drink for their departed relatives. As you can see, it's a joyous occasion!

Revellers in the first graveyard. 

A beefed up police presence for "Los Muertos." 

On my way back home, I stopped to visit my brother Ron in Texas. It's always good to see him, but this time my visit was tempered by the recent death of his wife Beth after a lengthy illness. 

Ron on his ranch with 2 of his 7 dogs (and 8 cats, 2 horses, and 2 donkeys)

Ron's ranch house with the full moon rising. 

Susann, meanwhile, headed to México for the first two weeks of December with her friend Christa and my sister Doreen.

And while Susann was in México, I went to Saskatoon to visit Mom and friends.

Mom and I heading to a Christmas concert. 

And to finish off our travelling for the year we headed down to Victoria just before Christmas. 
We had lunch with Lali, my fellow plain crash survivor.

And then went to my cousin Wendy's house for the weekend. 

On Saturday, Susann and Wendy went shopping and I went to the museum and took Chica for a walk around the downtown harbour. Victoria sure is a beautiful city!

And that's about it for the year. Whew! It makes me tired thinking of all the travelling I've done this year!