The Mountain and the Valley: Pemberton Weekend

No, this isn’t a post about the Canadian novel of the same name by Ernest Buckler, one of my all-time favourites.


I borrowed the title to show pics of a weekend spent in Pemberton this month, hiking the rainy heights of Joffre Lakes and biking the flat streets of Pemberton Valley for their annual Slow Food Cycle.

Joffre Lakes

This hike rewards you with 3 beautiful lakes along the way—Lower, Middle, and Upper lakes, fed by glacier runoff. You see the Lower one right away, which is always nice to have a view for motivation early in the hike.

Lower Joffre Lake.

Lower Joffre Lake

Walking into the mystic vale

Walking into the mystic vale

As you can tell from these pictures, we chose one of the rainiest days this summer to do the hike. But the mist added its own beauty to it. I was thankful the fog started clearing by the time we arrived at the Middle Lake so we could get this mysterious view.

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view


The longest stretch of the hike is from the Middle Lake to the Upper one, but even then, I was surprised at how quick it was. The hike took us about 3.5 hours in total. Much easier of a climb than Garibaldi. We didn’t stay too long at the top because we were cold and wet, but we could see the outline of the glacier behind, and it made me eager to return here on a brighter day to see it in all its alpine glory.


Upper Joffre Lake with glacier

Slow Food Cycle

I was thankful the hike wasn’t more strenuous because the next day, we did a 20K bike ride along Pemberton Meadows Road, stopping at various farms to enjoy local food as part of Pemberton’s 11th annual Slow Food Cycle.


One of the stops

Stopping for lunch at one of the farms


Here’s a video that explains more about it:

What a fun way to spend a Sunday, biking in the lap of majestic mountains and enjoying produce fresh off a farm. Such a different experience than I’ve ever had biking in the city! I think I’ll be back to do this again one summer.

Get Your Harmony and Arts On!

Tomorrow is the last day of the week-long Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver. This annual August festival has been going on for 25 years, but this year marked my first.


The Ferry Building Gallery

The Ferry Building Gallery


What a fun time it is! Good food, good art, good vibe (and not overly crowded, either!) I went last Sunday and it was a beautiful day to be strolling the art market where local artists (many West and North Van ones, but also ones from Surrey and Victoria) were set up with their white tents, selling all sizes and styles of paintings, jewellery, handmade wood flutes, pottery, glassware, and many other items. They were all incredibly friendly and it was neat to run into some that I’ve encountered through working at an art gallery.


The white tents of the Art Market


Here are some of my favourites:

dconstruct (jewellery)

Anouk Jonker (visual art)

Nicoletta Baumeister (visual art)

Haejin Lee (ceramics)

Leanne Christie (visual art)

Heather Johnston (photography)


Ambleside Pier

This flamboyant display of silver and magenta balloons in the distance is not just party decoration—it’s a public artwork by Matthew Soules called Intense the Heat. (I actually couldn’t tell it was a public artwork from far away so I didn’t go under it (oops) but now I wished I had!) This temporary installation on Ambleside Pier “offers shade from the August sun while transforming the experience of strolling the pier or gazing from the shore. The balloons sway in the wind as a subtle reminder of the dynamic energetic systems that make up our surroundings. The result is a magical and celebratory space for all to enjoy.” (from the festival website)


Other things to do include taking in the live music acts on stage, live artist demonstrations, viewing the group exhibition under the white tent and community art in the Ferry Building Gallery, enjoying food from one of the food trucks, and getting cozy on the grass for a movie in the park. Check the schedule on their website to see what’s on the last day.


Eating my poutine from Raglan’s Soul Surfer food truck and watching the cruise ships go by!


The lovely Lions Gate Bridge that the cruise ship just slipped under.

If you have some time tomorrow and enjoy community art festivals, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Lingering in Lonsdale

Today was a spontaneous Friday. I found myself running some errands downtown and was finished by mid-morning. After having read a few chapters of Wild by Cheryl Strayed on a small patch of grass near the Province building where office workers were taking their lunch break, I glanced at the ramp leading from Waterfront Station to the Seabus and thought, In all my years living around here, I’ve never taken the Seabus. I’ve never even been to Lonsdale Quay. This is ridiculous!”


So I changed that. I got on that ramp, purchased my two-zone ticket, and boarded a vessel that I thought would be more like a ferry where you can go out and walk about, but it’s entirely contained, and passenger-only. It really does feel like a bus on the sea.


View of the North Shore mountains from the seabus.

It’s a quick 12-minute journey across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver where the boat docks at Lonsdale Quay. Apparently my parents did take my siblings and I here when we were little. My sister and I picked out a few items from their miniature dollhouse store for the ones my dad was building us, but I have no memory of it.



There was no dollhouse store. What I did see was a kitchen store, a soup place, Kin’s Farm Market, a sugary sweet confectionary, a few ladies and babies clothing stores (not combined), an artisan wine store, jewellery booths, souvenir shops, restaurants, and a take-out food area with seating along the pier.


The Soup Meister looked tasty, except not on a 26 degree day.


View of the indoor seating area at the south end of the market.

It was charming and the best part about it? It wasn’t crowded and overwhelming the way that Granville Island’s Public Market is. I didn’t get lost and saw everything in an hour and a half’s time, lingering in some clothing stores and in the excellent gift shop/artists’ collective Favourite. So yes, it is a lot smaller than Granville Island’s market but it has a great atmosphere and is nice for something different.



These people were actually playing gigantic games of chess and checkers.


And they had this public piano in an awesome blue.


Lonsdale Quay: I will visit you again.


Doughnut peaches from Kin’s Farm Market.


View of the two-storied market, bathed in light.

Infinitely Polar Bear

I was intrigued by the title. And that Mark Ruffalo was starring in it. And then I saw the trailer and I was sold:

I am a sucker for movies that depict the everyday joys and triumphs of life, especially family life. And that’s what Infinitely Polar Bear does. It’s based on writer-director Maya Forbes’ own childhood in 1970s Boston where her father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was unemployable, and her mom went away to New York to earn her MBA in the hopes of lifting their family out of poverty.

According to this article in The Georgia Straight by Melora Koepke, Forbes “wanted to tell a story about everyday life, because those details are the most interesting things to me”.


It is Maggie’s decision (played by Zoe Saldana) that launches the movie’s bittersweet narrative as their two daughters, Amelia and Faith, get left in the surprising care of their manic depressive father Cam (played by Mark Ruffalo in an Oscar-worthy performance). This is where you see a chain-smoking father who so clearly loves his children but struggles with fits of temper, drunkenness, scaring his neighbours with aggressive kindness, and disorderliness to the point that his daughters don’t want to have any of their friends over to their “shit hole.”

I don’t have too much familiarity with bipolar disorder and yet I felt the movie did a fair job of showing the dad’s darker moments, but also showing his endearing side that made him an overall sympathetic character. Scenes of Cam yelling, throwing things, and then sitting depressed on a chair for days are combined with scenes of him spending all night sewing a flamenco dress for Faith or tagging along with his daughters to the park so he isn’t alone all day.


Mark Ruffalo does a brilliant performance as the manic depressive Cam in Infinitely Polar Bear.

This article disagrees, saying the movie “doesn’t like to spend much time in difficult places.” The author cites the movie’s title as an indication of the movie being “a tad too precious for it’s own good”. The title comes from Faith’s misheard version of her father’s illness.

But I don’t know. I felt there were a lot of deep moments that gave me pause for thought about one’s upbringing, shame, comparison, and the complexity of marriage and parenthood. Cam and Maggie live in a difficult place. The mom is torn every time she comes back on the weekends to visit her family and then leaves them again during the week. Cam is emotionally wrought, being a full-time dad & mom to their girls while their mother’s away, hoping that Maggie will invite him back to live with them all after she’s done her schooling so they can be a family again.


In a very tender scene between Maggie and her oldest daughter Amelia (played by Forbes’ own daughter Imogene Wolodarsky), Maggie talks about how she met Cam in the late 60s, when everyone was having nervous breakdowns, so she didn’t think it was as big a deal as she knows now. Amelia looks wistful and says, “You’re probably sorry you married him.” “Never,” Maggie responds.

Even at the end of the movie, you still don’t know if they’re going to get back together. There is so much ambiguity. I like how Forbes describes it in the Straight article:

“I would think, ‘I’ll have the parents be divorced, because everyone understands that,’ ” she recalled. “But they’re not divorced, they’re separated. They’re in a grey area. And I decided to go with that grey area, to develop the characters slowly and not to worry so much about keeping them ‘likable’. Will Dad pull it together? Does he want to pull it together? Does Mom want him to pull it together? Sure, she wants their lives to work, but she’s scared, and everything is uncertain. It’s messy, like life. That’s the truth, so I decided to use truth as a guide.”

There were many moments when I laughed out loud—when Cam is dressed in short shorts and a shirt that are the same colour of obnoxious green (aka “the green bug” scene), and when he buys another beat-up car to drive that doesn’t have a floor and the girls are looking down at the moving road under their seats. Having Amelia narrate the story adds a child’s perspective to the scenes, and you feel their embarrassment about how their dad behaves with strangers, what he drives, and how they live. And then there were moments of crying at the difficulty of decisions you make when you’re an adult—how life is rarely ever simple.

The "green bug" goodbye scene

The “green bug” goodbye scene

It’s all very poignant, very well acted, and very in tune with the every day. If that’s your style, I would put this movie on your “must-watch” list of the summer.

The Gorgeous & Gargantuan Garibaldi

“You pick the hottest days to go hiking,” my mother texts me when I tell her what I did on Saturday.


Yup. Saturday was a hot one for doing Garibaldi Lake. But the 3 hours of mostly switchbacks up the mountain were in the shade, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We took the scenic detour through Taylor Meadows, making it a 5.5 hour round trip.


The trail is nicely groomed.


At long last, we reach Taylor Meadows. According to the Vancouver Trails website, “going left and adding a few kilometers onto the hike takes you up through Taylor Meadows, a magnificent area filled with colours from alpine flowers that cover the sides of the trail during the late summer and early fall.”

We didn’t see any flowers. Granted, it’s not quite late summer. It was still beautiful being up at tree level and seeing the towering peak of Black Tusk, but when you’re expecting wildflowers à la Sound of Music, it was a little bit of a letdown.



Black Tusk is the dark peak to the right.


It’s a few kilometres from here to the lake, where all that work finally feels worth it when you glimpse this:


And this:


View from the middle of a wooden footbridge that gets you over to the lake.


The view from the other side of the bridge.


Walking around the lake to find a perfect (and less crowded) spot for lunch.


to the island, it is!



The group I was with spent 2 hours at the top, eating lunch, taking a dip into the turquoise glacier lake (some even swam out to the island of inukshuks you see in the distance), and enjoying the spectacular views. It’s a shame to climb all that way and come back so quickly. That’s why next time, I would even want to spend a night camping, although the work in bringing all that gear up on your back would be that much more difficult.




Using a water filter for the first time. What a great invention!

This was probably my big hike of the summer. In comparison to The Chief, I enjoyed it more. Yes, the way up felt like it would never end sometimes, but I liked that the trail was so well groomed and there weren’t any stairs or gigantic roots to trip over.

Plus, there was this bonus viewpoint on the way back:



Goodbye, Garibaldi! What a beautiful part of the world we live in!


And it was all yellow

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Wedding Dress: Everything But The Groom
Bride’s Make-Up: Kork Artistry
Hair: East Vanity Parlour
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Annalyn Back
Flowers: Rainbow Flowers
Wedding Cake & Cupcakes: Helen Withers
Wedding Cake Toppers: Adam Back
Chair Covers, Sashes, & Table Linens: A Priceless Event
Decorations: Charlene Kwiatkowski
Caterer: The Banqueting Table
Ceremony: Knox United Church
Reception: Thea’s Lounge, UBC
Photographer: Patchwork Media