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.

Watching the dolphinsMatthew and BrendanLeif loved the dolphins as long as they didn't come to stare at him through the glass

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.

Loving this dark space to see into the tanks

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.

ClownfishHeron outside the dolphin tankSea Otter

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.

Erin is as lovely as you can imagine

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.

Off to check out the water park

Way up high.I brought this guy all the way home with me.

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.

Cleveland Dam


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.

They found a stack of log boomsPuddle stomperSpyingOur favourite fungus to find


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.

Impressed with the huge tree

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8 Responses to A Wild And Precious Gathering

  1. I knew from your photos and the way you spoke that you had a great time with Erin and her boys but wow, it sounds even better now! I’m glad it worked out for you to all get together.

    Re: zoos and aquariums, I’m right with you. I didn’t really see the positive spin at all until Kev was finally able to drag me to Vancouver Aquarium on boxing day. He’d been wanting to take me there for so long!

    Actually, come to think of it, my experience at the Calgary Zoo was a bit of an enlightening one too. I spent 90% of my time in the Canadian exhibit and was more interested in the vegetation or the stories of animals that were brought to the zoo so that they could have another chance at life rather than being destroyed because of their behavior in the wild. Still, I’d rather live in the wild and see things as they are meant to be, but that’s not what everyone else is necessarily looking for.

  2. debra says:

    welcome back! your trip sounds wonderful and productive, and i hear you about finally getting Home. your photos are beautiful, and it is nice to have your presence back online!

  3. Debbie says:

    ERIN!!!! So nice to see your beautiful face.

    Wow, what a lovely time you all had. How nice to come face to face with online friends and get to know them in person. I’ve had the pleasure of doing that recently and look forward to doing it again in May.

    Thanks for sharing your time away with us…and I’m glad you are home. I missed you. :) xo

  4. tai says:

    So lovely to see blog friends meeting- so glad you and Erin met and had such a lovely time! Beautiful photos as always.

  5. Erin says:

    I share these similar views about animals in captivity…I have loosened my hold on my views a little as I see my kids appreciate and become interested in a deeper way to some animals due to being able to see them close up and watch their playful behaviour, or talk to staff/trainers about their life cycles and needs. But it is definitely there…we haven’t been able to go to the zoo out our way because for me, I don’t think I could actually go…

    Annie, you have so much room in your heart for friendship and that is a gift to all of your friends, new ones, older ones and those yet to be known. We really, really enjoyed getting to know you, Cam, Lily and Leif…and we hope that there will be many more times to connect and play and develop that friendship.

    Love to you all

    ~Erin xo

  6. dawnsuzette says:

    So wonderful you guys had such a great time together!

  7. jenny says:

    That’s so neat that you had a chance to visit with each other! I am really happy for the two of you (and kiddoes, too!). What fun it must have been.

  8. So neat that you guys got to meet and spend some wonderful time together!

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