Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A "Complete" Neighbourhood in Chilliwack

Waves Coffee in the centre of the shopping area.
 There's lots of talk these days about "complete" neighbourhoods. The idea of being able to live, work and play within your neighbourhood. I expect people have different ideas as to what exactly that might look like.

I just spent the past few days at the annual SARscene conference (Search and Rescue) which was held at the RCMP Pacific Region Training Centre (PRTC) in Chilliwack, B.C. Just across the main street I discovered Garrison Crossing, what seems to me to be a complete neighbourhood.

The "hub" of the area (for lack of a better term) has a coffee shop, a grocery store, liquor store, restaurants (Subway, a pizza place, a nice Japanese restaurant, and a cozy little bistro), a running store, an outdoor gear store, a flower shop, dentist and medical offices, a hair salon, a liquor store, a candy store, and various others. Some of the business buildings are stand-alone and others have condos above them. The closest housing is more condos, then townhouses and single-family homes on small lots as you go further out. Although I'm sure they had to cut down some trees to put in the new buildings, it seems they've made a concerted effort to keep as many as they can as there are lots of large pine and others trees that have obviously been there for many years.

Looking towards the park. Leisure Centre on the other side of park.
At one end of the business area is a park and a leisure centre with swimming pool and other fitness facilities.

The busier streets on at least two sides of all this have bike lanes and . . . the best part??? The Vedder River is less than a 10 minute walk away bordering the other side of the PRTC grounds.

Beautiful, quiet and 7 km in length. I was able to get out and enjoy the paths every day. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to walk the whole 7 km and back as I would have loved to visit the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve which is at the other end of that 7 km. We'll definitely have to stop there next time we're through this area!  

If I had to live in Chilliwack, I think this is where I would be!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Kayaking on a Beautiful Fall Day

Andrew and I figured we'd better get out kayaking while the weather was sunny and warm. The beautiful fall weather is not likely to last much longer!

I don't have a "before" photo but this "after the June flooding" photo of our
usual entry point in the water (closer to treeline) looks much different than usual! 

Andrew had a cooperative subject for a change (sea gull, right side, middle of photo on the sand). 
Lovely fall colours and geese thinking about heading south.

Sunshine and fall colours.
The river was flowing quickly and I'm sure Andrew did twice as much paddling
as I did since he kept floating backwards as he took photos.

See you again next spring!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Retirement - A Year in Review

Exactly one year ago I retired from the Saskatoon Police Service. Despite loving the job I was doing, I knew it was time to go and I have not regretted it for even a single moment. I've settled into retirement quite nicely!

Since Andrew has much more flexibility for time off from his work than I did, part of my retirement goal was to travel more -- which we did for over 1/3 of the days of the year. Using up some time off that I had to take before I left, we were already scuba diving and travelling around Baja, Mexico on my retirement date.

Four generations at Grey Owl's cabin.
Various other trips included six weeks around the United States by train (including a week hiking in Big Bend National Park in Texas and a week kayaking on the Suwannee River in Florida), hiking and rock climbing in Alberta, BC and South Dakota, kayaking and hiking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), a family trip to Anglin Lake with Andrew's sisters and a family canoe/kayak trip into Grey Owl's cabin with my family. And yes, we are most definitely thinking further and farther afield at some point in the future. Back to Asia is on our hit list.

As soon as we got back from Baja I joined the YWCA. Most importantly it's a convenient location but it also provides a variety of fitness options . . . a swimming pool (I swim slightly better than a rock now), yoga classes (I really need more yoga in my life), and of course the gym, weights, treadmills, etc. etc. I'm feeling good and even lost a couple pounds.

Water drains are fascinating things!
My nephew and his wife took advantage of my retirement by putting me on K-watch. My great nephew, Karsten, turned two years old in August and is an absolute pleasure to spend time with. He and I spent many a morning or afternoon at the zoo this summer or watching the "diggers" at work building new houses in the neighbourhood. In the spring we played in puddles and carefully inspected water drains. I know Thomas the Tank and all his friends (Percy is green, James is red, Diesel is black, Alfie is the excavator, Cranky is the crane, and so on and so on and so on). I can even sing along with a few "Raffi" songs but I would suggest you really don't want to hear that!

After being in Mexico for several weeks I was motivated to learn Spanish. I did really well for a while, studying almost every day. Then other things started to get in the way and, alas, I'm still Spanish illiterate.

SSAR training day.
In January I got involved with Saskatoon Search and Rescue. Despite my initial best efforts to stay on the sidelines I soon found myself on the executive as Communications Director, writing a monthly e-newsletter, looking after Facebook and Twitter, trying to get motivated to re-vamp SSAR's website, and helping to organize (we refuse to call it a committee) the annual fundraising dinner on November 16. Wanna buy a ticket? Got anything to donate for silent auction?? Contact me!

While on holidays in February I got a "have I got a deal for you" email from Chief Weighill. Damn! He and Deputy Chief Pannell didn't delete me from their contacts list! Anyway, this resulted in a six-month contract and about 200 hours of work to write or re-write policy and procedure as it relates to the new Headquarters building. It was a pretty good gig. I got to work from home (or while travelling) and on my own time, got a tour of the new building as it was progressing, learned some really interesting stuff, and worked again with a few friends including S/Sgt. Susan Grant who is always good fun. Sue and I were conference directors for an international policing conference in 2006. As Andrew said, "They're going to let you two work together again? Did they learn nothing?!?"

And what did I do with the big bucks I made? Well, I donated it all to charity. Yep, every single penny. It's an eclectic group of organizations that I supported ranging from environment and wildlife (Saskatoon and Calgary zoo's, Meewasin Valley Authority, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Saskatchewan Trails Association) to community organizations that I worked closely with through the Police Service (Crisis Intervention, Crisis Nursery, Saskatoon Food Bank, Friendship Inn, Lighthouse) to the arts (Persephone Theatre, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Symphony) and a few others. I got the inspiration for this from Andrew who donates to many good environmental initiatives.

In the coming year I'm going to try to get back to learning Spanish, have fun with Karsten, explore more of the world with Andrew and continue to enjoy life to the fullest! I'm very blessed!