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2017 Comes to a Close

In other words, I had a birthday!
Because I am beginning a new year of blogging, it seems like the appropriate time to remind my readers that I am not a professional writer, only one who enjoys writing. If I were, there would be an editor attached to this page, and my frequent mistakes attest to the fact that there is not! Nonetheless, I won't let a little thing like grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing stop me, but you kind of guessed that already, didn't you? 11 year anniversary coming up in February!

Friday after our loved ones left, Bruce went to the office while I cleaned and did laundry, leaving Saturday available for an early birthday present adventure. For months now I've wanted to go to the bird sanctuary in Ladner, about twenty miles away. Situated on the opposite side of Boundary Bay from White Rock, we took nearly the same route, however, instead of going West, this time we went East. I've told you already how much I love seeing the mountains in town and it goes without saying I'm thrilled when we see them from afar. Turning onto River Road...whoa Nelly...
I've surprised myself by embracing winter, going so far as to enjoy the contrast of the brown field with the bluish sky. Although it was meant to be COLD, it was meant to be sunny, however, with a steady breeze, and ultimately cloudy skies, I was pretty darn cold in spite of wearing many layers. The Fraser River , pictured below, has played a very important role in this part of the world.
Here's all sorts of info should you be a river person and want to know more. We crossed over the river on a one lane bridge,
where much to my delight, we came across a field filled with migrating Snow Geese.
There are loads of small farms in Ladner making it a very scenic drive into the sanctuary where we  were shocked to learn that anyone over 60 qualifies for a "senior" discount. Prior to this little wonder, everywhere we go they insist you be 65, unlike in Orlando where some places call you a senior if you are 55. After Bruce paid for his bird seed, I asked the lovely woman about owls. Yes, as a matter of fact, someone just said they'd spotted two Great Horned Owls and she gave us directions!! But first there were ducks, and plenty of them. As in hundreds and hundreds! I fell in love with this Pintail Duck. So handsome!
Bruce had the ducks eating out of his hand. Count me astonished!
With map in hand, Bruce led me to the place of the owl sighting along a path lined with Douglas Fir.
They were still there, albeit with one turned away from the gawkers. I swear, that face looks more like a cat's face than an owl. What do you think?
There were seemingly hundreds of chickadees whose appetite for sunflower seeds seems to have no end. There are two things to note in the photo below...me wearing two pairs of gloves because it was so cold, AND, the cute hat Matt knitted for me!
Since when have I quit worrying if my clothes match? Since now. Will wear what it takes to stay warm is my motto these days!! Bruce is wearing on his head yet another Matt creation.
Who knew that a Sandhill Crane would eat sunflower seeds?
The ducks! Oh my, there were SO many!
I mentioned it was cold, right? My hands, in spite of two pairs of gloves, were crazy cold, convincing me that perhaps it was time to go. Where was the sun when I needed it?  As we were driving out, I spotted a Bald Eagle that was really too far away to get a good photograph and these Snow Geese are too, but they are making an appearance because, really?, how many times will I see a sight like this again?
Around a bend, Bruce spotted what he thought was an eagle, high above our heads. Well, only one way to tell; pull off to the side of the road and get out to confirm. My first ever Golden Eagle!
Apparently camera shy, he would never get in a good position for a photograph. I will tell you that those geese are crazy loud in a field. Oh my, it probably makes the neighbors crazy. From here we checked out the port where you board a ferry to Victoria, Vancouver Island, the capital of British Columbia. One of these days we will do just that.

Taking the scenic route home, we crossed over the, very tall, and very long, Alex Fraser bridge for the second time in as many weeks. Perhaps you will recall that I have a bridge phobia, however, somehow, this time I was okay.
After lunch in Kitsilano, it was time to get home to Baxter, and watch the Orange Bowl.

Birthday morning I opened my gifts from Bruce, Matt, and Jane. All winter weather related, including this lovely cashmere scarf Jane sent from England.
Following church, much of the rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with loved ones, and did you notice something in the above photograph aside from the scarf? The blinds are closed because it was TOO sunny! That's right, the sun made a rare appearance, as in full on, an exceptional present in my book. Above I am dressed to take a little seawall walk to soak it in before the next onslaught of rain and grey.
Days of rain melted all the snow in the park; plenty of folks had the same idea as me. Instead of going out for dinner on my birthday I decided to cook, and instead of a regular birthday cake, we bought two cream puffs from Beard Papa, that Japanese place I noticed during my early days here. I'd yet to try it and now seemed like a good time. Realizing that I was out of sour cream for my baked potato, Bruce offered to walk to the store to get some, and while there, he bought those candles that will live on forever in this space. While talking to Bill and Fallon, I mentioned that there was a huge NYE celebration going on at Canada Place, however, I told her I didn't think we'd go because it was cold and late. "So what?" was what Fallon said, "you will only be there for one NYE!" Nothing like having young folks to prod you along. I cannot imagine what it was like for the midnight fireworks because, I'm telling you, it was so packed at the 9PM show, you could hardly move. I'm not sure I've ever been in such a crowded place before.
Both of us were glad we'd made the effort, albeit to the early show! It was a good way to end the year here, walking off our dinner and coming home for our treat.

Do you have time for one more adventure? We'd seen the sign for the Polar Bear Swim when we walked to Stanley Park with Matt and Tom and decided it was yet another new thing to witness. So, after watching one bowl game, we walked along the seawall with a whole lot of other folks heading in the same direction to witness the 2:30 plunge.
The sun was shining, yet again, with the plunge time temperature about 34 degrees. We had no idea what to expect but I had read something about some folks wearing costumes. Well, yes they did.
Actually, the beach front was already so crowded we could not begin to get close to where most of the swimmers went in.
Gumby went in!
More plungers...
and phone cameras as well! Most of the action and the races took place further down the beach which we could only see from a distance.
According to the Vancouver Sun, about a thousand swimmers went in the water at what they claim is the oldest plunge in North America, starting more than 90 years ago. Spectators covered the sand along Beach Avenue.
Once we climbed the hill to Beach, we saw just how many people had gathered although this is as people were leaving.
My goodness we have packed a lot into the last few weeks of the year. It's a darn good thing we did because the 10 day weather forecast is pretty grim. Nothing but rain but it will be in the 40's so there's that to look forward to. Further, there are more daylight minutes day by day.

yours truly,

Gail



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