Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Excellent spring skiing at Whistler, B.C.

Billowing clouds added to dramatic mountain scenery

by Keith and Heather Nicol    

On Saturday, April 25 we headed to Whistler with daughter Kristie and her boyfriend Eric in tow.   Through the week the forecast for Saturday had alternated between sunny and 6 C at top to 10 cm of snow and-3 C at the summit. April is a time of changeable weather in coastal B.C. where one day you might have great spring conditions and the next day you might be skiing powder. As it turned out we had a sun/cloud mix with highs of -1 C or so in the alpine which gave us great packed powder skiing up high and good corn snow skiing at mid mountain. Since only Whistler is open at this time of year we parked at Creekside which we like since it means a short walk from the covered parking lot to the lifts.
Kristie skiing packed powder in Harmony Bowl
    We started by heading up to the Peak and trying the “Upper Peak to Creek “ run which gave us an idea of what the conditions were like from the summit to the base of the Big Red Express. We were pleased that conditions were good all the way down with packed powder skiing at the top changing to very turnable spring snow down lower. We sampled just about all the lifts on this day including the T-bars, Harmony 6 Express, and Peak Express and found conditions were very good just about everywhere we skied.  Some of our best skiing was on the T-bars but we also did several runs on Peak as well. There was abit of powder left from snowfalls earlier in the week but generally we skied the groomed runs which were in very good shape. There are some great spring skiing deals at Whistler right now and we hope to be back one more time before the winter season ends on May 18th.  Check out this web site for updated information on ski conditions, skiing packages and other information: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/
Keith skiing "The Saddle"

Eric enjoying a run off the Harmony Express

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Sea kayaking from the Comox Marina

by Keith and Heather Nicol
      We have tried most of the sea kayak put ins in the Courtenay – Comox area since we arrived in early November last fall but on Monday, April 20 we decided to check out the Comox Marina. For some reason we hadn’t launched from this location but we had heard that the Comox Valley Paddlers use this site for their Wednesday evening paddles so we decided to investigate. The day was sunny and warm (temperatures hit 18 C in the afternoon) so it was a great day to be on the water. The launch point is well protected as you might expect and in no time we were paddling out through the breakwater. There was quite abit of sailing activity going on as well and these boats provided a colourful foreground to the Comox Glacier which lay in the distance. 

Heather paddles in front the sailboats and Comox Glacier
Once beyond the breakwater an obvious destination is Goose Spit and it looked almost tropical with the golden sand and glistening blue water. We landed at the tip of Goose Spit for a snack and to enjoy the setting and then paddled around the spit for an hour or so before returning to the marina. Along the way were joined by several  standup paddleboarders who were enjoying the perfect conditions. The Comox Marina is located at the base of Beaufort Avenue in Comox and there is a nice park in the same location. To see the other launch points we have discovered in the local area your can search this blog. Use the search bar in the top left and type in sea kayaking in courtenay and comox.
Goose Spit is only a 15 minute paddle from the marina

    The day before we paddled at Point Holmes in Comox and had spent several enjoyable days in this area kayaking during the spring herring run in March. We have done previous posts on this amazing event and fully recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it (see: http://keithnicol.blogspot.ca/2015/03/sea-kayaking-with-sea-lions-and-eagles.html) .  On Sunday, April 19 we were interested in seeing what wildlife was around and we weren’t disappointed. We paddled west toward Goose Spit and saw several small gatherings of sea lions along the way which was a nice bonus. 
We saw several groupings of sea lions west of Pt Holmes

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Comox Valley Farmers Market is back outdoors

There is lots of food to sample
Andrea Smith performed on Saturday,April 18

by Keith and Heather Nicol
The Comox Valley Farmers Market (CVFM) is a great place to buy some local products, meet friends, enjoy some great spring weather and even catch some music. We enjoyed taking in the CVFM through the fall and winter at the Native Sons’ Hall in Courtenay but now that it is outside it is even better. Our most recent visit was on Saturday, April, 18. The market is located at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds for the spring and summer and has room for close to 60 vendors. The CVFM has a long history starting back in 1992 and focuses on products made in the local area. You can buy everything from vegetables, wine, cheese, meats, soap, sea salt, baked items and a whole lot more.  The CVFM has been voted the best Farmer’s Market in the Province in 2014 by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets which says something about the quality and variety of items sold here. The CVFM is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning from 9:00 am to noon.  See http://www.comoxvalleyfarmersmarket.com/  for more information.

The CVFM usually brings out a large crowd
You can get all sorts of locally grown products

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Snowbirds in action over Comox- Part 2

by Keith and Heather Nicol
The Snowbirds over Comox
Saturday, April 18 was sunny and warm so we decided to check out the Snowbirds at Air Force Beach in Comox where they were practicing for their upcoming spring and summer airshows. Air Force Beach seems to be the spot to head to and when we got there we found few parking places left. There were families with young children armed with simple cell phone cameras as well as photo buffs with telephoto lenses as long as my arm. The Snowbirds put on a great show and the setting couldn’t have been better-the sandy beach below, glistening Georgia Strait and snow capped coast mountains in the distance. After the 40 minute Snowbird practice session, a lone pilot in a very fast and manoeuvrable CF 18 took to the air for solo show. Our previous blog has the times and dates of their remaining practice sessions so be sure to take one of them in this April.  For more info see: http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/snowbirds/index.page

We loved the pattern left by some of the flying sequences
The CF 18 can do some amazing stunts in the air
The beach is well worth exploring either before or after the show

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Check out the Snowbirds at Air Force Beach in Comox

by Keith and Heather Nicol    
Although some people come with big lenses they are not needed
We had a treat on Wednesday April 15 when we took our friends (Martin and Molly Ware) from Newfoundland to Air Force Beach in Comox to see a practice session with the Snowbirds. The weather cooperated and we got to see some great flying. Coincidentally, we had met the Snowbirds in the Black Fin Restaurant the night before and we got a photo of Molly sitting with the pilots. Evidently they will fly twice daily weather permitting until April 29th. Here is the schedule for their practice sessions.

The Snowbirds have been here for a few days and will be practicing until 29 April.

Sunday to Wednesday
0940 – 1020 hrs
1430 – 1515 hrs
Thursday and Friday
0940 – 1020 hrs
1605 – 1645 hrs
0940 – 1020 hrs
1450 – 1535 hrs
Molly with some of the pilots
 Although we saw people with big telephoto lenses we got some good shots with a basic telephoto lens. However we did put it on action mode and clicked off lots of shots.We plan to get out again in different weather and lighting conditions.
Snowbirds over Comox

Snowbirds in tight formation