Darkest Days of the Year
COVID gave us new plans this year. We
normally go to my Mom's house for Christmas, but the Provincial
Health Officer put out rules to keep Christmas to just your
household. Both of our kids are in school and Helen works in a
hospital so we didn't want to be jerks that brought another case to
the Island. I was time for us to buy a tree.
The kids are better off if they get
some outside time burn off energy. We got out their cameras
and went to Jerhico Pier to see if there were any birds
around. We saw a few female Buffleheads diving and a
seal. The buffleheads are funny - their tail feathers are
always flat on the water and I suspect can give them quite a kick to
help them dive.
Sand, sticks, running - the kids also ran
around on the beach. Of course it's cold so this doesn't last
We had reservations this year to go to Burchart Gardens to see the
Christmas lights there. Van Dusen didn't put on Christmas
lights this year. The Christmas train at Stanley Park was
virtual this year. The Bright Nights display put on by the
firefights was also canceled. With the "your household only" order,
we decided to see if we could spot some lights in the neighborhood.
People do put an impressive amount of work into their lights and
Nara is 10 and thinks she knows
quite a bit. She has been questioning Santa Clause, even after
we showed her the Polar Express movie. I was quite worried
there would be no gifts this year, but she must have had a change of
heart on Christmas even because Santa didn't just arrive, he was
The kids did a good job of making gifts and cards for other
people. Nara knit a scarf with glove pockets for Grandpa (went
by mail) and Claira is working on a knitted tic-tac-toe set.
Nara wanted books and Claira wanted some games. Both kids got
bean bag chairs.
New this year, we did facetime for
much of the morning. It's nothing like being there, but it's
certainly better than nothing.
Walking Around Whytecliff Park
We would normally book
skiing in the summer and the kids would get lessons at Grouse for at
least 4 days over the break. Grouse is serviced by
Gondola and having been pressed into that Gondola like a Japanese
train more than once, I can't see how they could maintain social
distancing. We decided this wasn't going to be year for
skiing. Dr. Bonnie Henry put in an order limited travel to
necessary travel only so going to the smaller resorts in the
interior was off the table. This was going to be a low key,
stay home kind of holiday. That said, there are still lots of
parks around Vancouver that aren't busy in the winter. In a
brief lull between winter storms, we decided to go Whytecliff park.
Parking was mostly empty, except for a few
people going Scuba diving! We went down to the beach to take a
look around. Whyte Island is very close to shore, but with the
tide fully in, there is no way to walk over. The kids wanted
to see how far they could get.
Nara has been
complaining about her small camera that was her Christmas gift last
year. While the camera is nice (and mostly weather proof), it
doesn't have the reach of Claira's older camera so she can't see
birds. For better or worse, I got my previous camera out with
a new battery and let her try that out.
I remember walking on the cliff as being fun,
but with the wet weather you don't want to get too close to the
edges. The kids still enjoyed scrambling around.
On the other side of
the cliff is a small secret beach. The channel is quite narrow
- you might have trouble turning around a full length ocean kayak in
here. The kids of course wanted to see every part.
Turning around, someone has covered the walls with driftwood.
English Ivy (nasty invasive) is filling in the gaps. While the
trees are still native, this is an "urban" park.
Last but not least is the viewpoint to Bowen
Island. There were a few small boats out, but with a storm
just finished and another one coming soon, I think most people would
rather stay home.
I've heard about Brunswick point a number
of times, but I've never actually been there. I have the
kids over the break (Helen is working) and with COVID, we can't do
our usual ski lessons. The mountains are open, but we don't
want to risk the exposure. When we are out in this part of
Vancouver, we usually go to Reifel Bird Sanctuary, but that is
also closed (COVID). We drove to Brunswick point I was
surprised to find the parking lot side of the road) was almost
completely full! It didn't help that today was the only
"less rainy" day in the holidays so everyone wanted to be outside.
I'm letting Nara use my older D800 camera, but she is currently
interested in seeing birds so she needs a long lens. We
aren't fast, but we get the big lens setup and she works on the
focusing and stuff. In some parks (Queen Elizabeth or
Stanley Park), you aren't see big lenses. In this park, I
saw big lenses everywhere. Apparently we are in the right
place for this kind of photography.
When you are shooting "long" - 400mm+ -
depth of field is a big concern, second only to motion blur.
On a dreary day, if you have a fast shutter speed (1/400th or
better), you wind up with razor thin depth of field. The
usual way to fix this is to take two photos, one for each depth
and combine the in photoshop. That only works if you
remember to take both photos and you aren't trying to claim it was
"made in camera". I forgot to take that second photo.
Luckly, Claira did take the second shot so I was able to combine
the two images (From two cameras) to get one with satisfactory
depth of field.
Outside is still a bit tough on the
kids. Both kids starting getting cold hands (I remembered
cookies, but no gloves) so we cut the day short. The kids
made it back to the car, but not before Claira found a mud puddle
deeper than her boot is high. Not the first time that has
Tags: Whytecliff Park(1), swing(1), lights(1), beach(1), stick(1), piling(1)
People: Claira(14), Nara(10), Helen(1)
Last Modified Monday, April 26th, 2021 at 22:36:14 Edit
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