Saturday, December 27, 2014

Swans - Honk If You Like Me - Chilliwack's Winter Visitors

If you hear a loud honking overhead this time of year in Chilliwack, Agassiz, and the eastern BC Fraser Valley it will most likely be a large flock or "bevy" of Trumpeter or Tundra Swans. These birds fly down from parts as far north as Alaska in an effort to escape the winter cold and find food in our fields and farms.  
A Wedge in Flight©Stephen Mullock

The Trumpeter Swan is the largest native bird in North America and can weigh over 33 pounds. They are distinguished by their white feathers and dark beaks. These birds mate for life - so long as eggs are produced, otherwise, "divorce" may occur. An adult male is called a "cob" and a female a "pen".  Their offspring are known as a "swanling" or a "cygnet".

Trumpeter Swans

At one point, this fine bird was almost hunted into extinction.  A big, white target in the sky. So it is reassuring to see their return in numbers each year to Chilliwack, Agassiz and the eastern Fraser Valley. Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Perhaps there is hope for us yet.

Still, they are the noisiest bird in the sky. Not at all like our sweet trilled song birds in the spring these swans, honk and hoot like a drunken choir moving onto the next bar. Their flying could be improved as well - although they were doing pretty well on the day I took the picture above.

There are a lot of great places to see these birds including almost any large farm field but two areas in particular are worth the visit.

"Sardis Park" is a 14 acre park nestled into a southern part of Chilliwack. Its' large pond provides "birders" a wonderful opportunity to view many different types of fowl  at close range. A great place to take a walk with the family.

The Cheam Wetlands is a much larger park some 265 acres in size with a sizeable lake. It is not groomed like the more urban Sardis Park and requires some long lens if you want to take pictures.  Birds in flight as the sun is setting are a pretty sight.

Chilliwack and eastern Fraser Valley communities such as Agassiz, Harrison or Hope offer a special closeness to the wild. The arrival of the Trumpeter and Tundra Swans in November signals that late fall has begun and the winter season approaches.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Spirit / 2014 Rotary Chilliwack Santa Parade

Having a blue Christmas?  Lacking that certain Christmas Spirit?  You need to come out to one of the many holiday events being held in our area of Chilliwack, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. Events like the Rotary Christmas Parade which was held in downtown Chilliwack this past Saturday. Despite a steady rain drizzle, the streets were lined 5 people deep with the kids at the front. What fun!

Watching the parade on Wellington Ave.
The parade began at 5:30 p.m. and the magic continued for an hour and a quarter. A start and finish just right for families with babies/children to meet bedtime schedules.

The crowd, despite the rain, was in a very good mood and those on the floats were evidently having a fine time as well.

Hey, we're having fun on a Christmas Float
I had been asked by a Rotary member, buddy of mine, fellow Realtor© Ian Meissner, to help out with the photography. He would shoot the floats and I would take pictures of the crowd's reaction.  What a great assignment as it gave me a chance to talk to people along the route.  I was struck, once again, no surprise here, at how nice the people of Chilliwack are.

A special thanks should go to the Rotary clubs of Chilliwack and the City of Chilliwack whose financial support helped bring the Christmas Parade back in 2013.  The Christmas spirit is still alive and well in these Rotary clubs and just a single look at the smiling faces of the parade crowd would tell them this - this was money well spent.

While most folk viewed the parade standing at street grade I spotted some other interesting spots to take in the parade as well. On balconies, on shoulders, on chairs, bleachers and our Royal LePage Star 98.3 Kindness Crew partners even had a tent set up right at Five Corners. Free hot chocolate was offered to me numerous times as I made my way up and down the streets.  Christmas cheer.

Shoulder View
The Royal Box

At the very end of the parade just as the last float was going by I noticed this small group of kids holding hands....on top, Santa Claus.

That, my friend, is a Christmas moment to remember.

May you always enjoy the Christmas spirit of peace, love and understanding.

Take my hand, here comes Santa Claus

Next must see event is the CP Holiday Train in Agassiz - December 17th, 2014.  Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo will be performing. Cash or food donations requested.  See you there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Agassiz's Pioneer Park in November

Downtown Agassiz shares Pioneer Park with the Agassiz-Harrison Museum and the Agassiz Harrison Observer newspaper other than that it is a block long walk in an awesome urban forest.  Here the trees, some 80 feet in height, gracefully tower over grass yards, playgrounds and picnic benches - providing shade in summer and wonderful fall showing of colour.  Canada day celebrations are held here and recently a portion of the park was used for the Wayward Pines movie set.  Reseeded, the park is once again open for visitors.

Agassiz Harrison Museum and CP Caboose ©

The many tree species found here and most are unique to the area and identified by plaques. There are European Copper Beech, Acer Maple, Dutch Elm, Oak, Akebono Cherry and the London Plane deciduous trees just to mention a few.

Pioneer Park details © Stephen Mullock

I am so pleased that whomever selected these trees chose these now giant deciduous trees.

There is a well known correlation in real estate between "green spaces" and property values.  Tree plantings can add aesthetic beauty throughout the seasons and a sense of grace year round.  Even now, many bare of their leaves they remain majestic.

Imagine living here...take a walk in the park

All pictures © Stephen Mullock

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maple Memories in Scarlet

This time of year we see some pretty spectacular fall colour in the Chilliwack, Sardis, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs areas but not a lot of red maples unless you have planted them.

Our very stately Norwegian maple was planted some 24 years ago in our back yard. During the spring and summer, the leaves are green providing us with privacy. In the autumn, the leaves are transformed into the most beautiful scarlet.

I love catching a glimpse of its blaze of colour from the interior of our house - it is a fantastic backdrop.

Of course, deciduous trees have to be raked and this can mean a couple of hours of work outside.  I picked the bright sunny, but somewhat blustery day we had yesterday for the job.  Usually I have helpers but not this year, everyone was away, getting some early Christmas shopping in at the Circle Craft show in Vancouver.  In years past, I have taken a number of photographs of my family being buried in a leaf mound or lying on top of them.  There might even be one of my daughter Emily with her published children's book "Go Away Unicorn" down then left side column of this blog.

This year however, it was just me, my camera, a rake and a big tree....

Turns out raking with someone else IS a lot more fun.  I recommend never doing this alone. Some jobs need more than one person.  For example, when I jumped into a big pile of crunchy leaves - there was no one to see it. :(  

Maybe I should have taken a selfie.

Selfie in Maple©

Enjoy these beautiful fall days we having, what a great place to live.

  • FYI - raking up leaves will ensure that your property does not appear neglected.  Grass needs oxygen and sunlight for proper growth. Leaf removal will also ensure that garden pests will not find refuge in the decaying plant materials affecting the health of the next year's yard. 

 All pictures © Stephen Mullock

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sardis Park - My Fall "Walk About"

Sardis Park is a 5 ha (12.28 acres) park complete with a lovely circular path, some play equipment for the kids and a lot of birds.  I took a "walk about" this past week hoping to capture some fall colours.

Sardis Park© Stephen Mullock
Chilliwack is rich with parks both small and large. All are worth exploring with the family. There are 17 "major", 6 "nature" and 96 "neighbourhood" parks in total.  These open spaces are an important part of Chilliwack's charm as a family community.

"Sardis Park" is one of the "major" parks and is surrounded by a wonderful and sought after residential neighbourhood.  It is an area that I quite often short list for my buying clients based on a number of superior locational attributes.  I have to admit I also like this area because I have a lot of fond memories growing up here - even swimming in this man made pond when it was still allowed.

Let's take a walk.

The place name "Sardis" was selected by Mrs. Vedder back in 1887, who when asked to provide a moniker, opened the Bible and choose "Sardis" the Fifth Church of the seven Churches of Revelations.

It had originally operated as a gravel pit, but, I heard the operators struck a "spring" and the pit gradually filled with water.

There are plenty of birds and at this time of year large flocks of Canada Geese descend to rest on their journey southward. Plenty of honking can be expected as these visitors are a little bit nervous around people and can really work themselves up.  Don't get alarmed if they take flight - it's not you - it's them.

The ducks are a different story.  Whether watching them catch dinner amidst a swirl of colour or catching the last rays of sunset on a log - they are delightful to watch. 

The park has changed with the times. The noisy days of summers past have been replaced with quiet and the hues of autumn.  Quiet, that is except for the occasional honk or quack.

Imagine living here....

Ducks all lined up in a row © Stephen Mullock

MAP of Sardis, B.C. - the park can be accessed by vehicle off of Manuel Road, or by one of the three walkways around the park.

Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Real Estate Foundation Land Awards Gala 2014 - Meeting Peter Mansbridge

On Friday night, I had a chance once again to wear my used rental tuxedo and attend the prestigious Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia Land Awards gala. While there I  met and briefly chatted with CBC "The National" anchorman Peter Mansbridge.  Turns out he is a super cool guy to talk to. Wouldn't you know it.

Real Estate Foundation BC Land Awards 2014 © REFBC

I'll admit I was looking for a local angle to our eastern Fraser Valley communities and I had always wondered if Peter Mansbridge had ever lived on our Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack; now called Garrison Crossing. Sadly no, although he did say that he was in the Canadian Forces for a time in the late 60s and had been posted to Esquimalt B.C.  There he became well acquainted with every hill in the town as they had to run up them as part of their training.

Later, Peter Mansbridge spoke to a sold out audience about, what it is to be Canadian, from his personal perspective and experiences from around the world.  It was so quiet as he spoke and he touched the hearts of all present.

The Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia has since its creation by the Provincial Government in 1985 awarded over 68 million dollars in grants to communities throughout BC.

This was the 5th gala awards event which recognizes Best British Columbia land use practises both on public and private levels as well as leadership in the form of Land Awards and a very a prestigious Land Champion award.

It was amazing to see some of the exciting initiatives in this province and celebrate with the nominees and winners.  Fortunately, short videos have been made showing the creativity and pluck of these groups, available at this link on Land Award Videos. Enjoy.

If you are wondering about my connection. How does a small town Chilliwack/Agassiz real estate agent wind up in a used rental tux at such an event?  How does he did get a chance to talk to Peter Mansbridge?  I could tell you luck, and in part it is, I fortunate enough to serve as the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia representative to the as a Foundation Governor for a 6 year period.  I am thankful that REFBC still remembers its former Governors invites us to take part in its continuing good works.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Eaton Lake, B.C. Hike

This Sunday, I hiked up to Eaton lake with 4 of my hiking buddies and once again was struck by the beauty of this lake and our province of British Columbia.  I think it very fortunate that this is a day trip for the people of the Fraser Valley. One of the many advantages of living here.

The blues& greens of Eaton Lake © Stephen Mullock

Easy to reach simply leave Highway 1 at exit #168 and take Silver Skagit Road 16+ km to the Eaton Creek Recreation Site sign on the left side of the road. Turn here to park, the trail head is about 300m away.

This hike has quite a steep grade - you climb 915 m over a 6km distance so this is a hike not suited to everyone.  To put it in some sort of perspective the Empire State Building in New York is 443m in height - so twice that height. 

You will also want to watch out for wet days there are a couple of "log" bridges that can be fairly slick after a rain.  

There are a number of beautiful waterfalls on Eaton Creek, one about a third of the way up which is worth a look. Even in September, the water was thundering down Eaton Creek. Take a few minutes to enjoy the view and catch your breath.

Eaton Creek and Devil Club ©

The environment changes quite a bit with elevation.  Douglas Fir and Cedars everywhere of course, but, it starts with a forest surrounded by moss beds, then woods with ferns and finally berried plants and trees.  There are of course all sorts of exotic mushrooms and fungus to admire as well.

Strange Forest Growth ©

The trail switches back and forth and picking your footsteps is essential as the trail has a lot of tree roots crossing it.  About half way up you cross a bridge and there is a little bench beside a mountain stream.  Take another break and snap a picture or two.

The trail is steep for a while after this until you get into a pond and boulder section and a pond.  There is another log jam to cross and some balance is needed but it is easy enough.

Crossing the log jam ©

After this point, the hiking is easy and the lake is not far away. We were lucky in that both blueberries and huckleberries were ripe and plentiful. Yum.

Wild Blueberries soon to be picked ©

The lake provides some primitive campsites and we could see trout swimming in it. There are generally not many people around - no one in fact while we were there.  On a good day, the whiskey jacks will eat from your hand - so bring a few nuts for them.  We were out of luck this time but last year I feed some.

Feeling alright © Stephen Mullock

A beautiful day at Eaton Lake.

Imagine living here....

For more of my hiking experiences - type "hiking" into the "Search this blog" on the left side.

Helpful Links with Maps and Directions:

Club - Eaton Lake
Trail   - Eaton Lake 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hike - The Needle, Flatiron and an Alpine Lake - Coquilhalla B.C.

Chilliwack and the eastern Fraser Valley communities of Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope are close to some of the most breath taking scenery in the world.  I suppose this is one of the many advantages of living out here.

This weekend, I took a return visit to one of my favourite hikes up the Coquilhalla Highway to The Needle and the Flatiron.  With me were 4 hiking buddies and a family of 4 from German (all adults) out to enjoy a piece of Canadian wilderness.

The trail through the trees is quite steep and very soon your heart is pounding, your lungs heaving and your legs complaining.  This is a difficult hike with an elevation gain of 882m, a round trip takes 6 to 8 hours.  Do not undertake this strenuous trek without water, good hiking boots, poles and some provisions for the day. The winds can blow at the top so be prepared to don a sweater or vest while you enjoy a break.  Equipment aside - you need to be in decent shape.

The west coast forest is beautiful and the blueberries and huckleberries offer us a forest treat.  After about an hour the traffic noises of the highway disappear and silence with the odd bird call remains.

Climbing upward through the forest brings you into a lovely mountain meadow with some fantastic. views.  I like to imagine as I traverse the giant granite plates - that I am walking along the spine of the mountain.

To the right is The Needle and we can see people already at the peak.  I give a wave, but we are too far away to be noticed.

To the left I see the The Flatiron, it is here that our group is heading, but I am hoping to focus my photographic attention on a small glacier feed alpine lake to one side of the Flatiron.

I become entranced by the many splendid natural art sculptures time & weather have created with bleached wood.  It seems as if they have been placed here expressly for our viewing.

The waters of the alpine lake above spill onto a large flat granite plate - I think "it is here that rivers are born".

The alpine lake is as pretty as I remember, clear, cold, pristine.

The Needle is reflected back in this lake in a number of images I take that day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Windsurfing - Harrison Lake Style

Summer fun takes many forms on the beautiful Cultus and Harrison Lakes. I took my camera to Harrison Lake recently to get some pictures of my new beach front condo listing but was quickly distracted and awed somewhat by the speed and aerobatics of the windsurfers out on the lake. What a show they put on - easy to view from the beach or from a private condo sundeck.

Heron's Cove and Harrison Lake
3 Bedrooms, Beach Front - $385,000

I just had to investigate...

I found the launch area just north of the breakwater along Rockwell Drive and pulled in.  I could see 3 windsurfers already out on the lake and quite a distance from shore.  One went airborne as I watched. The wind was strong and steady coming from the south.  A rather tattered Canadian flag was flying straight out with very little flapping. 

Harrison Lake is famous for these inversion winds and as a result is a preferred spot for windsurfing.

The more I looked the more I wondered what it was like.  The edge of your board cutting through the water the winds pulling you along.  The tension of the lines, the acceleration as the winds pick up force. That moment where you rise from the water and for a few seconds, a pause, maybe it feels like an eternity, you are a creature of the wind. 

I asked one of the windsurfers, if it was difficult? He said that injuries such as broken bones and cuts are common.  You have to get proper instruction.  You need to be careful. There is no forgiveness with the wind and the water.  Fortunately, "Bruce" a windsurfing trainer was on the shore standing ready to assist with a launch. What a great guy to talk to. Bruce's knowledge and enthusiasm about the sport are very apparent.  I asked him if older people windsurfed and he said yes as he was in his late fifties. Seems the costs are in the vicinity of $2,000 and that a 12' sail is first recommended. There was a lot more, but just remember this - talking to the right people to get the correct information is key.  

I took the following pictures of Bruce helping with a launch and a little later I assisted Bruce with his sail.

There are 5 strings on these sails and it is quite a job to keep them untangled.

Once the sail is aloft the windsurfer lies on his back and checks all equipment before setting out... then he's up!  One with the water and the wind.

Fun Windsurfing Links:

There are great number of recreational properties currently for sale in Harrison Hot Springs - if you would like some information send me an email or give me a call.

Harrison Hot Springs with Mount Cheam