Sunshine Coast

Bella Beach Oceanside

Bella Beach Oceanside

As usual we left it to the last minute to decide that we were going to go away for the weekend.  The Labour Day long weekend in the middle of a Pandemic we figured finding a place to stay would be easy. What a mistake that turn out to be. Pretty much every place was booked on the Sunshine Coast. Bella Beach Oceanside was the only Motel showing up as available with a price of $260.00 a night if we used Booking dot com. I’ve stayed there before and there was no way I was going to pay that amount for Bella Beach Oceanside. The other issue was a year prior to this the place was closed up. Not open for business and I was not loosing money on a booking.

Finally, I decided to call Bella Beach directly. Because last time I was there, they were not open. The first exciting thing was a King-Sized Ocean facing room was only $199.00 for the Saturday. Sunday had the price down to around $160, I was more then happy to book. What I did not know, was that the hotel had undergone a full renovation. 

Bella Beach Oceanside

The Porch

When we arrived the place was packed, there is a new Restaurant there called the “Porch” which is certainly a nice touch.  The food was good and there were a few Plant Based food selections which made it nice for me.

The room make over was nice.  There were electric blinds, on the sliding doors, new furniture, the bed was very comfortable, and the bathroom was amazing.  There is now a big walk-in shower with a Rainfall shower head which was simply amazing!  The mirror has a built in anti-fog system and

The best part of the room was the simple fact was it was ground level and facing the Straits of Georgia and the spectacular sunset each night.  If you have a plan to come to the Sunshine Coast, I would definitely recommend staying at Bella Beach.  

False Creek Water Front

Lower Mainland – It’s Been a Longtime

It’s been close to a year since we have been able to leave Merritt and head down to the Lower Mainland. An area that for the most part feels so much like home. Michelle and I often say how the Pandemic has not really had a negative impact on us or on our lives. Our work has continued to thrive, there have been no reductions in the amount of work that is for sure. Other than wearing a mask when we go into a store there has really been no negative impact.

Science World Lower Mainland

Or so we thought

We were not down on the lower mainland for more than a couple of hours and we have discovered we had been under a lot of stress. Michelle wanted to head down to Joyce Street where she could go to the small Filipino area and get some home-cooked food. We sat in the car, dazed, actually seeing something other than tall burn grass, the smell of Hog and shaving all so prevalent in Merritt.

The other thing that stood out was the number of Telus cars that were there I would have to say every 10th car was a tesla and there were fewer Pick-Up trucks in town, and since everything was closer and tighter, it was far more difficult in my truck.

Science World Lower Mainland

Sunset Photography

There is certainly one part of the Lower Mainland that simply takes my breath away and that is the beautiful photographic opportunities there are for sunset pictures. Michelle and I seem to gravity at to Science World for those special sunset pictures. The picture to the left here was shot back in 2018, we were living in a Van and we traveled down to Science World and waited for the best time to shoot some images. This is one of my favorites.

It’s almost two years since I have picked up my camera to shoot sunset pictures. I have been so caught up with work, long hours stressful days, nights, and weekends…I’ve forgotten how much I love taking pictures. This weekend, had me shooting with my Canon 7D Mkii, but the nicest picture I took was on my iPhone if you can believe it.

It does not matter what the weather, or the time of day, week, month or year, my true love is for the lower mainland, the ocean and sunset images. If you have a passion, don’t let your work interfere with you enjoying some me time! Get out there and enjoy life!

Trans Canada Hwy – BC

Trans Canada Hwy - Kicking Horse Resort
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

After six hard months of work, we finally made it out on vacation.  Michelle and I love to travel, and we decided we would explore the Trans Canada Hwy.  We spent a month and a few thousand dollars to upgrade Freedom Freddy, so we were able to get out on the road and explore this beautiful province. 

Trans Canada Hwy – Revelstoke & Golden

After a marathon week of renovations and some repairs, and the final installation of the Cubic Mini wood stove into Freddy was ready for her median voyage of the year.  Our plan was to head East on the Trans Canada Hwy towards Lake Louis and Banff Alberta.  We wanted to spend time exploring the mountains hiking shooting pictures and flying the drone.

We left Merritt late on the afternoon of our first day.  Hoping to make it to Salmon Arm on our first night so we could start exploring side roads.   We never really stopped anywhere on the way, so we made pretty good time.  Our first night was spent in a cute little town called CanoeCanoe was pretty easy to access as it was just off the Trans Canada Hwy, and right down on the Shuswap Lake.  

Our next morning we played around on the beach with the drone, trying to get some pictures.  We had to fight the fog and smoke from the forest fires that were in the area, though a couple shots worked out.  After an hour on the beach, we decided we were going to head off to get to Golden.  As we started to drive the idea of stropping for a good coffee started to take over our daily mission. This is how we ended up at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.  

Stop back in next week as we describe the incredible Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.  We only had an opportunity to spend the afternoon there, but it was an incredible place with so much to see and experience.  

Phantom 4 Pro – One Month In

Phantom 4 Pro - One Month in
Phantom 4 Pro – One Month in

It’s been awhile since my last post, life has been busy, busy with working, busy with flying my Phantom 4 Pro.  It has taken literally 2 years to finally decide on buying a drone.  The last 3 months on trying to decide which one.  In the end, I decided on the Phantom 4 Pro for numerous reason, but mainly the camera.  One month in, and I have to say I am absolutely loving it!

Phantom 4 Pro – How Easy is it to Fly?

The first thing that concerned me was how difficult would it be to fly this silly thing?  So of course as everyone does I set off searching the annals of Youtube and I was certainly not disappointed with all sorts of Phantom 4 Pro videos talking about the drone, how to fly the drone, and camera settings for the drone.

Phantom 4 Pro - One Month in
Phantom 4 Pro – One Month in

The first video’s I watched for the ones that compared the Phantom 4 Pro with the Mavic Pro and Air.  I have to admit, I was very close to choosing the Mavic Air and my drone of choice. Every time I was in the store ready to make the purchase the drone was not in stock.  I am so glad that was the case, as the reasons for me leaning towards the Mavic Air were really only the size or lack thereof.  I thought of getting the Mavic Pro, but with a $1799.00 fly more sticker price, I could not bring myself to pull the trigger when the Phantom 4 Pro was for sale at London Drugs for $1649.00.  It was really a no-brainer, 20mg Camera, full 1-inch sensor, mechanical shutter, I just had to do it.

After unboxing the Phantom 4 Pro, I spent a couple of hours updating all the software and firmware for the drone.  There is a flight simulator with the DJI Go 4 app, that I strongly recommend you go through before you actually fly the drone.  In the end, though, it is not really that difficult to fly.  Just remember, if flying manually just let go of the joysticks if you have problems.

Phantom 4 Pro – No-Fly Zones

One of the cool things with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the built-in No-Fly zones in the DJI Go 4 app, though it does not seem to stop you from launching.  The one thing I would strongly recommend is checking in at Transport Canada’s website for the rules for Drone Flights.  Really, in the end, common sense is so important.  I was an Advanced Air controller in the Canadian Navy, so I feel I have a good understanding of flight rules.  So, I work on the idea when IMC is said to exist, you fly VFR  see and be seen rules, keeping my aircraft 400 feet and below.

In the end, I have to say this drone is fantastic, and I am happy with it!  My next article will be about the cool Drone bag Michelle got me for Father Days.

Exploring Merritt

Exploring Merritt & Nicola Valley

Exploring Merritt
Exploring Merritt – Nicola Valley

I can’t believe it but we have been in Merritt now for almost 3 full months. I am always amazed how fast time flies.  We’ve only ventured out to explore the area mainly because we have been working some pretty long hours.  Two weeks ago I was about to make it back to Abbotsford to pick up Freedom Freddy.  With Freddie back in the picture, we will be able to spend more time exploring Merritt.

Douglas Lake is an area we want to explore.  Photography is our main interest, we are constantly on the search for grand vistas to shoot that spectacular image for our Instagram Account.   Logan Lake is another area that has been recommended for us to explore.  However, finding the free time to get there is our issue.  As the weather improves and the long hours of daylight I am sure will make it possible to get the opportunity for Exploring Merritt.

Freedom Freddy  – Exploring Merritt

Exploring Merritt
Exploring Merritt – Nicola Valley

The Clearwater River runs right past where we live, giving us an excellent opportunity to shoot the river during the sunrise and sunset times.   It’s challenging to find the best composition, however, due to all the areas are private property.  I thought I would in most cases simply ask permission to enter the area for the image, but it is difficult to find the owner, or who the property belongs too.  One option I have been leaning towards is starting Drone photography.  I think this could be the answer to many of the problems, but there is quite the cost involved.

Drone Photography – Phantom 4 Pro

Exploring Merritt
Exploring Merritt – Nicola Lake

The Phantom 4 Pro would be an excellent selection to help Exploring Merritt and surrounding areas.  Using the Phantom would allow us to find various trails as well as points of interest to hike to in order to spend time shooting there.  It’s pretty difficult not knowing the area overly well and not really knowing anyone in the area that is truly into Photography in the manner in which Michelle and I are.   Hopefully, over time, we will meet some like-minded people but until that point in time, we will slowly explore Merritt.

Anyone in the area interested in going out to spend the day exploring Merritt to shoot some excellent images.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Clearwater Hotel

Honey We’re Moving to Merritt

Moving to Merritt
Moving to Merritt – Clearwater Hotel

So far 2018 has kicked off to an exciting start.  Michelle and I had deiced we needed a break from the Van life.  We had one problem arise right after another.  The primary issues were the lack of heat and condensation the past couple of months.  The next thing that popped up was the possibility of moving to Merritt, and with that came the need for an apartment.  My employer asked if we could relocate to Merritt, so not one to turn down an adventure off we went.

Moving to Merritt

There it was the middle of January and the opportunity to take a promotion but it was in Merritt, I mean really what can you say other than “Hell Yes”  The funny part neither one of us have been in Merritt, and here we are deciding to move there.   Michelle liked the idea of living in a small town and well if you know me, I really don’t care where I live….so off we went.  Starbucks is fantastic since it is pretty easy to transfer, though Sue, Michelle’s manager from Seven Oaks Starbucks, worked so hard to screw her around it was disappointing.  Having had the displeasure of watching Sue in action, how she would demean her employees, and she especially disliked Filipino’s so we could not get out of there fast enough.

Moving to Merritt
Moving to Merritt – Clearwater Area

Since moving to Merritt, Michelle has had many opportunities, she is at the Starbucks here with an amazing manager and staff, and she has another job working at a local hotel as Front Desk staff, she is fantastic with this sort of work.  Michelle has this amazing bubble personality that screams happiness and she is always very welcoming.  For me, I have slid into the new position, having had the opportunity to develop new skills, and I am able to utilize my organizational skills honed while in the military.

Transitioning to Life in Merritt

Life in Merritt is certainly much slower pace than in Abbotsford or the Lower Mainland.  That is good in some ways.  When you think of traffic, here in Merritt that means 4 or maybe 5 cars, not the standard 3 or 4 mile stretch of cars that you see on Hwy 1, when you are heading into Vancouver.  Choices are few after 4:00 pm for stores that are open.  Kekuli Café is closed by 5 pm, there are not many stores open, though Walmart and Extra Foods seem to be your only choices for many things.

Kamloops about 45 minutes up the road offers the big box stores like Costco, London Drug, Home Depot etc are not far away, though in the winter there seem to be constant snow storms and highway closures.  Moving to Merritt has certainly been an adventure, we are looking forward to some free time to get out and explore so we can shoot pictures to post.  If you get a chance, be sure to come visit Merritt, I don’t think you will be disappointed.