February 23, 2013 | Tips from Travellers >
Cumberland, Arts, Culture & History Tours
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Every year, the Taiwanese Lantern Festival comes to Cumberland, BC. Colourful lanterns are displayed in a local hall for a week, and on the Saturday night, floating lanterns are released into the chilly February skies. They look like jellyfish, rising slowly through the darkness, and as they grow smaller, they create shifting constellations before vanishing.
October 22, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Mount Washington Alpine Resort, Hiking
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Mt. Washington, located on Vancouver Island, is renowned for fantastic skiing in the winter and remarkable hiking in the summer. But when we arrived in late October, it became immediately apparent that this was neither season.
As we left our car, a gust of bitterly cold wind sliced through my sweater. A skiff of snow covered the leaves, as if all the world had been dusted with icing sugar. The red leaves and golden grasses had now been dressed in a ghostly lace of frost. We set out along the trails of Paradise Meadows and saw very few people. The two or three hikers we passed were well bundled in rain gear, and kitted out with scarves, gloves, and bright red noses.
The temperature started cold, then warmed, then snow billowed around us, then the sun burned through the clouds and warmed our faces. The weather lurched from one extreme to another. We felt like we were standing on the middle of a teeter-totter, with one end in August and the other in December.
It was silent and beautiful. During summer and winter, the mountain can feel crowded with skiiers and hikers, but autumn provides a time for quiet reflection, when we can peer into the icy pools and admire the last crimson leaves. This season of transition reminds us of change, and you can almost feel the icy breath of Winter on your neck, creeping closer. When we stopped on the trail to take some footage, a chipmunk scurried up to my boot, placed its paws brazenly on my toes, and looked at me with suspicion. Why are you here, it seemed to say, when you could be home with a cup of hot chocolate in hand?
The answer is simple: I wouldn't want to miss this! The dramatic greys and silvers, the brooding forest, the eccentric shifts in the weather, all provide a breathtaking way to welcome the change of seasons.
September 04, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Comox, Science, Nature or Animals
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As I tugged my wetsuit over my legs and my partner grabbed the camera gear from the trunk of the car, he glanced over my shoulder towards the water.
"We're being watched."
I turned, expecting to see someone on the beach, but all was still. Most of the beachcombers were on the other side of Goose Spit, a sandy finger of land that juts out into Comox Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. We, however, needed calm water for our underwater photography, and we were the only people on the protected side.
"No, look out farther,"; he replied quietly.
I raised my sightline a few feet offshore. There, a glossy black dome with two puppy-dog eyes and trembling silver whiskers bobbed on the surface: a harbour seal.
We were close enough to hear the whisper of her breath on the water. Under her curious study, we checked the camera, strapped on weight belts, and adjusted our masks. She watched us until we stepped into the bay. Then, she dropped out of sight, as quiet as a ghost.
We filmed jellies, crabs and fish, but while I was quite aware of her presence around us, we never saw the seal again. I caught glimpses of motion out of my peripheral vision as we dove. She flitted through the murky depths like a shadow, watching us fumble in her aquatic home.
Sometimes, on the BC Coast, it can feel like you're a million miles from civilization. But our silent friend provided us with a poignant reminder: whether on land, in the forests, or on the sea, you're never really alone.