I was sure I wanted to meet Erin from A Wild and Precious Life while we were down in the lower mainland but struggled with finding a way to go out and visit her. I could try and borrow a car, or get a ride but surely the bus would turn out to be too impossibly long. This problem never actually arose because it turns out Erin and family are used to car travel, not letting a little distance get in the way of fun and exploration!
We first met at the aquarium where the kids ran from one tank to the next in their excitement in meeting each other. Matthew and Brendan were eager to show Lily and Leif this place that they know so well. The dolphin tank held their attention for much longer than any other. We saw two trainer led shows, one led from outside and above the water and the other from the viewing room below. We even ate lunch in a quiet corner of the viewing room.
Matthew, Lily and I were avid photographers this day. It was so fun to watch the dolphins zoom by and even come to look at us through the glass. The trainers helped us identify the individual dolphins by their dorsal fins. The dolphin above is Hana, the youngest dolphin at the aquarium.
I feel conflicted about aquariums. Like any other zoo, I wish they didn’t exist at all and that animals were left in the wild. I realise though that so much learning is done in the aquarium by people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to see and understand these animals in their natural habitat. Seeing and understanding can create caring which is so important since the people that make most of the decisions about the welfare of wild spaces are often people who live in the cities- where zoos are located.
Matthew and Brendan gave us the royal tour. I was impressed with Matthew’s extensive knowledge (in and out of the aquarium)! We saw clown fish, an enormous and confused turtle found in Nanaimo, sharks, eels, frogs, whale bones, sea otters and a heron perched in the trees outside the dolphin tanks.
A personal highlight was meeting Erin herself. Calm, warm hearted, thoughtful, compassionate. She’s a mother after my own heart. She’s dedicated in finding adventure for her kids and spends plenty of time outdoors. She invites mentors into her children’s lives to expand their horizons and while family is paramount, community is also very important.
The kids had so much fun together. After the aquarium we explored a waterpark nearby and played in the forest. We had an epic moment when Erin had to courageously push through prickly brush to help Brendan who was stuck between a mossy log and the prickly brush. We found a seemingly intact, mostly defleshed squirrel skeleton which I bagged up and brought all the way home to Prince Rupert! We’ll completely deflesh it and try to put it together again.
Erin and family invited us out another day to explore Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver. This dam holds drinking water instead of producing hydroelectric power. It was a grey day and while everything felt damp, we were lucky not to be rained on. The damp and abundant green, particularly when walking in the trees made me feel at home. Cam was in town for his three day break halfway through his course and made us all feel a little bit closer to home as well. It was a wonderful visit with all.
There was so much to do. Spotting gondolas rising up a far away mountainside, tree climbing, exploring massive log booms, puddle stomping, bird watching, fungus and moss finding, feeling in awe at the towering trees, liquorice fern roots to find, clay to collect, wading in a creek… this last part turned out to be disastrous for Leify. About two seconds after I took the picture of Lily and Leif below, Leif went face down in the creek smacking his face on a rock and soaking is clothes in the process. He spent the rest of the afternoon happily wrapped in Cam’s jacket and tucked into the Beco on Cam’s chest.
I’ve already been thinking of future visits with Erin and her family, either the next time we visit the lower mainland or reminding her of the open invitation for their visiting up here.