Tag: Long Exposure

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!

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.

VanLife - Lower Mainland

Boondocking – The Lower Mainland

Michelle and I have not had the opportunity to enjoy a weekend exploring the Lower Mainland since we arrived. We spent this past weekend exploring and taking pictures.  The area around the Science Centre in False Creek offers the photographer excellent opportunities for sunset images.

The Lower Mainland

Lower Mainland – Sunset @ False Creek

We spent Saturday afternoon searching for my ever elusive “Honey Bee” beer from Fullers.  This was one time my favourite beer which I could only find in the Lower Mainland.  Finally, after searching for 6 weeks, I found someone at the BC Liquor store that was able to find 48 bottles of this fantastic brew.  As is my luck, there was not a bottle at the branch I was at, but a short 15-minute drive to Cambie street, and there before my eyes was my quest!

Michelle, having a craving for pizza, was telling me how I needed to find her some good pizza.  Since we were near my old stomping grounds, I knew where to take her!  Bella Pizza, arguably the best pizza in the Lower Mainland!  We settled on the Bella Gourmet Vegetarian as the one of choice.  This had been my favourite pizza and after three years it certainly did not disappoint!  Living in Ontario like their beer is the land of assembly line pizza.  The same taste from every pizza joint.  Here in the Lower Mainland, however, there are fabulous unique flavours and tastes for those open-minded enough to give a try!

Our Boondock on the First Night – On the Lower Mainland

We decided to use one of our previous boondocking locations for the first night.  We went to St Mary’s church down off Joyce road where would go to church in the morning.  I get such a kick sleeping in the van while parked on the road.  Especially off Joyce there, the sounds of the city, the conversations that take place around the van no one the wiser of Michelle and I sleeping but a few feet away.  There is something so cool and interesting about that.

After church, Michelle and I headed to Granville Island.  I did my first Photowalk there back in 2014.   It was so much fun shooting around Granville Island that time, this time around since it was during the afternoon, I was there more to show Michelle around then to shoot images.  I love hearing the words Michelle says when she experiencing something new.  I love that she is getting to explore, something we both love to do.

False Creek Sunset Images – The Lower Mainland

VanLife - Lower Mainland
Lower Mainland – False Creek Panorama

Sunday evening was spent down near the Vancouver Science World where I set up some of the Sunset shots I was hoping for.  The area provides an excellent opportunity for the beautiful city scape images you see hanging on walls.  Truth be told, some of these shots are for sale in the Granville Island stories and since we are down here, I figure we need to give it a try.

We only have one tripod and Michelle knows how much joy I get from shooting landscape images she always refuses to use it, so she sacrifices her night shots for me, so try to do my best for her.  I’ve shot at False Creek a couple of times, though I think this time I got my best images.  I was sure we were there plenty early enough to be set for the Golden and Blue hour, and then I did some bulb exposures after it was totally dark. There is something so peaceful abuot Sunset photography!  If you get a chance be sure to give False Creek a chance for your images!

Our First Dreaded Knock on the Door

Our First Dreaded Knock on the Door

Boondocking – Our First Dreaded Knock on the Door

Another fabulous weekend behind us living the Van Life.  We spent Friday night Urban Camping in the Niagara Falls area.  Specifically under an overpass with fabulous graffiti covered walls.  If you want to see some of the images be sure to read our previous post.  The second night we were in Jordan Station boondocking on the shores of Lake Ontario, right next to the Abandon Ship, when that dreaded knock on the door came to us.

The Dreaded Knock on the Door

Michelle finished work around 3 PM, which gave us plenty of time to finish the few chores we had before heading off to Jordan Station.  We needed to do some shopping and a trip to World Gym so we could grab a nice hot shower.  If there is one thing I know, it’s how important it is to have that clean feeling, especially when one is on the road.  It takes away the aches and pains and makes you feel human.  Once completed on to the QEW we went. We could feel our spirits lift, as we headed off, knowing how much we wanted out of the Falls even if for a few scant hours.  We arrived at the Beacon Motor Inn area where there is what we learned is a private parking lot of the marina, which we will discuss more in-depth later.

Once we were all set up, dishes completed, Michelle pretty much fell asleep immediately.  I, however, had other plans.  There has been far to much time between my opportunities to get out with the camera to do some Landscape Photography. While we were living in the Philippines, I would be out everyday shooting Street Photography scenes, or landscape and I always had my camera with me.  Living in British Columbia, I would travel as well with my camera every day, even while at work.  The scenery though not as beautiful as the Philippines, but still beautiful.  Here in Ontario though, there are so few things I have an interest in, and at this point, I have shot everything, in the area that I have found accessible.

La Grande Hermine

With Michelle fast asleep I headed down to the La Grande Hermine to shoot some sunset images.  This is an area I have shot many times in the past and I never tire of it.  There is so much to offer, the Abandoned Ship, the breakwater, or the marina, there is always something to catch your interest. I spent a good hour and a half shooting the ship from different angles, some of those pictures you will see here on this post.

With the sky almost completely dark, I made my way back to Freddy.  I took one more shot of the ship, through our dining room window, then decided to dedicate my time to more domestic chores as Michelle caught up on her sleep.  There is one thing for sure and that is this area is lovely in the wee hours of the evening and wee hours of the morning.  My plan for the morning is to get up for 5 AM for the 06:09 sunrise to shoot what I am hoping will be an epic sunrise.  Epic is a word I feel is overused, but when it comes to sunrises it seems to fit the bill.  I have seen sunrises at sea on the Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and the South China Sea, so I know when to use that magical word.

Once completed my morning shoot, I headed back to Freddy.  If there is one thing I love to do whenever possible is to prepare breakfast for Michelle.  I made Michelle our usual oatmeal, bran, kasha, nuts and fruit cereal, and a nice fresh coffee press.  After all, we need to have good coffee or there is no point in living!  After breakfast, we crawled back into bed for a nap.

Then it Happened – That Dreaded Knock on the Door

Our First Dreaded Knock on the Door
Boondocking – Our First Dreaded Knock on the Door

Fast asleep, enjoying the warmth from the early morning sun, we were awakened by a pounding on the side of the van.  It had finally happened, that dreaded knock on the door the voice said, “Hey Buddy you can’t stay here!!”  I jumped out of my skin by the pounding, but I knew what it was right away.  I searched for words as I tried to wake myself up enough to respond to the voice outside.  “Move on, you’re in the Way!”

Not to cause problems we quickly complied.  We had a lot of luck this weekend and we knew we would sooner or later experience that dreaded knock on the door.

The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines - Cere's Terminal
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines – Cere’s Terminal

So the gang got together this month in Bacolod City and dediced we should head down to The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines, and boy was it an adventure as always.  The countryside on Negros Occidental Negros Oriental always is picturesque, to say the least.   With all the beautiful Rice Paddies and the fields of Sugar Cane, to the Mountainous regions and back down to the Ocean, I could travel around forever as my eyes are always hungry for the beauty of the Philippines.

As with any trip, we seem to take, it begins at the Cere’s Bus Terminal and for this trip we headed to the South Terminal, which is pretty rugged compared to the Northern Terminal so, do come prepared.  The cost of the “Aircon bus” was 377 Peso’s which is very reasonable for the distance we need to travel.  Be sure to come early as at this point you are not able to purchase your tickets before hand, so it comes down to first come first serve, and you purchase your tickets from the Conductor on your bus, he arrives maybe 1 hour prior to your departure time.  Michelle, my wife is very wise, and she was able to find out which bus we were taking, and got on board with the kids, and got seats while I waited in line to purchase tickets.  Smart cookie eh!

En route to The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

The bus trip was advertised as a 6-hour trip but we were able to do it in less than 5 hours and I figure that was due to the fact we were on the Night bus and there was very little traffic which is very unusual here in the Philippines.  We arrived in Dumaguete at about 4 am, wich was 3 hours early from the time we said we would be there, so it was a need to wait once again.  Being use to this kind of travel it was simple for us, but I know Becca was getting a little tired of the waiting.  In a world of instant everything, it can get very trying for those who are not used to it.

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines - Beach Front
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines – Beach Front

We had the option of taking a second bus that would let us off near the road we needed to get to the Resort, and there would be a need of taking a Tricycle or Moto to the Resort which would be very exciting for those who are not used to this form of travel, but with a group of 5, two younger children, I figured we would pay the extra for a pick up at the bus terminal and boy was it worth the amount it cost us.  We were in a van, and it took us easily `1 hour to reach the road that Nest was on, and then another 40 minutes down a road filled with construction.  Our driver was fantastic navigating all the obstacles and got us there safe and sound around 8 :30 am, about 3 hours before we could get into our rooms, but we were able to get breakfast and the girls were quick to head down to the ocean.

The Resort

I have to say the resort was beautiful!  Rustic, clean with plenty of things to do.  Everyone headed off into the ocean for some swimming, and snorkelling though this happened to be the first time for the girls to go into the ocean, and Michelle was so very

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

excited to introduce the girls to joys of snorkelling, and seeing all the wonderful critters in the sea.  Me being a former PADI Course Director, it was like finally coming home to the water where life for me makes sense.   I had an opportunity to speak with Jamie and Nikki Ingram the owners of the resort.  Both people are very friendly and they go out of their way to make sure your stay at the Resort is a pleasurable one.  They offer Snorkelling rental sets, scuba diving if you are certified as well as Diving courses, which would be amazing to learn in such a beautiful place compared to where I learned how to dive.  There are also a couple of Kayaks so if you would like to tour the beach front and coast, plus some pretty cool nature walks.  Plus for me, some spectacular areas for shooting pictures and some amazing sunsets for sure!!

The Driftwood Cottage

Michelle and I decided on the Driftwood Cottage mostly for the space and the number of beds.  We had three adults and two

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

children and needless to say the number of beds was very important.  The cost of the Cottage was $1,500 peso’s, which I felt was very reasonable.  Our view was the ocean and we were just feet away.  There are no words that can describe how beautiful the area was!

Every evening we were treated to a huge congregation of Hermit Crabs coming into the Restaurant Area, as well the various walkways and walls.  All you could here was the little clicking sounds of them walking around catching up with all the other crabs.  I know I should have taken a few minutes to shoot some macro pictures of the little guys, after all, I had off camera flash with me, but as is the case on some occasions, I just never did.  Speaking of the restaurant, the menu was had many different selections, some local, some Thai food, and a selection of western food, which was a godsend since Becca was having problems with the local foods.  I found the costs were really quite reasonable, and the dishes were a good size but not so big that you could not eat them.

The Kookoo's Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines
The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines

As with any trip we seem to take, it’s always difficult to leave.  We wanted to stay for a couple of more days if it was possible, however, the kids started school on Monday so we had no choice but to gather everything up and head back to Bacolod City.  The Kookoo’s Nest Resort Zamboanguita Philippines will be on the top of our list for a return visit.  Definitely another opportunity to enjoy more photography, and maybe the next trip will have some diving it in for me.  If you are interested in visiting The Kookoo’s Nest you can reach James and Nikki through this link or by calling +63 919 695 8085.  Also if you are interested in seeing more pictures be sure to visit the gallery found here.



Thanks to Ken Dunlop Photography for the use of their images!