Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kaden James McNaughton

It’s a boy!

Kaden James McNaughton
September 22, 2007
7 lbs 11 oz
21 inches

Friday, September 21, 2007

Baby When?

39 weeks and 6 days.

Our baby has decided to set-up shop in mom's tummy for a while longer. High definition just became available in the area and the football season has begun. Mom's convinced we are awaiting the arrival of a boy. I cannot think of any other reason why he hasn't introduced himself. Should it be a girl; good things are worth the wait. The due date is September 22. We were told by our doctor to expect an early delivery so the feeling is that the baby is late. Funny how that is. But we actually still have one day to go to win the baby derby.

Mom can hardly move and she can't wait to pop. Dylan must think we've been pulling his leg the past two weeks (or nine months) and that no baby is coming. If I nest anymore I will have to start building an extension to the house. I have gotten so squirrelly that I have been working online while on vacation. Argh!

"Okay, our little love bug the family is waiting. I have proof. Our call display has at least 10 messages per day requesting updates on your arrival. Mom has all your baby clothes laid out and has begun to consider changing your name. Your brother keeps kissing your mom's tummy and pastes stickers to it sharing his favorites with you. Dad nervously keeps reorganizing things around the house. We can't wait to hold you in our arms, keep you safe, and love you dearly. See you soon little one. How about tonight? With love, Dad."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Baby Boom!

My wife Lara is now 36 weeks into her preganancy and full term. Our second child is expected to arrive in September. Lara cannot wait for the pregnancy to be over and is exhausted from the experience. It seems the baby is running out of room and is keen to move out very soon. The doctor tells us everything has developed perfectly. We have kept the sex of the baby a surprise. Dylan refuses to guess if it will be a boy or a girl, and says simply "it's just a baby". Although we can tell he is keen on the idea of being a brother. I know how excited I am as we approach the due date. I am looking forward to doubling our pleasure with our two children!

Baby Center

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Murk of Porteau Cove

I was introduced to the thrill of scuba diving in Maui. It was there that I received my PADI Open Water Certification. Over several days I was required to study the dive manual, review video, and write examinations rather than bumming around the island. It was worth it! I was fortunate to experience five fabulous tropical dives in sublime conditions. I was surprised to learn from the local divers that some of the most exciting dive sites to be found are in the Pacific Northwest.

I finally dove into the British Columbia coastal waters after a three year hiatus. I received my PADI Dry Suit Certification in preparation for the dive. This helped me to muster the nerve to submerse myself into the cold water of Howe Sound. The refresh proved to be a valuable experience orienting me to the foreign conditions. Diving within a dry suit was daunting at first. What could possibly be worse than air ballooning around your ankles and thrusting you into an uncontrolled assent! I told myself "No worries, stay cool". I continued to practice in the safe conditions of a swimming pool until I was confident that I could control my buoyancy and respond to the unexpected. By virtue the mental challenge of the sport fuels the adventure. And so it was within the murk of Porteau Cove.

I decided to join the dive class that would be visiting Porteau Cove on Saturday. My wife and two year son accompanied me to the dive site. The road trip was less than two hours from our home. It was there that I met with the amphibious troop and we prepared for the dive. I slipped into a cumbersome suit and slung on the gear. The warm air and fair skies hung over the surrounding mountains. I began to sweat the beneath the layers of fleece and rubber that I wore to stay warm in the depths. Together we waddled to the boat launch to the left side of the pier and stepped cautiously into the water. We paddled backwards to the end of the pier and then the swift tide carried us quickly toward the buoy. It was there that we were to make our descent. Precariously steering myself through the flow I was able to grasp onto the buoy. I would have floated along at the tide’s mercy had I missed my grasp.

My first attempt at descending was unsuccessful. I did not have enough weight on my belt to pull me under. Fortunately, the dive master had some weight to spare and he tucked the lead bags into my buoyancy control device. On my second attempt I sank beneath the surface at an easy pace. I could barely see my hands holding onto the dive chain as the current pulled my body in the opposite direction. The murk was a blowing storm of algae that reduced the visibility to a mere few feet. I could not see the dive master or the others until my knees landed upon the surface of the wreck 40 feet below. Beneath the torrent layer was a dark aquatic world with a spattering of marine life.

My observations were hindered by the fact that my attention was focused towards the fins of the dive master. The adrenaline remained in my body following the descent. Racing through my mind were all the possibilities of what could wrong. I had to redirect myself to concentrated on the essentials. I then found good buoyancy, steadied my breathing and moved easily through the water. My mind was now into the adventure as we circled the sunken navy vessel and plotted throughout the Cove.

After 20 - 30 minutes we were signaled by the dive master to navigate our way back to the designated exit point on the beach. Following my compass I gradually ascended and made the safety stop. The current was more gentle within the shelter of the Cove. However, the murk persisted. My fins began to find the shallow bottom and I peered out of the water. I then stumbled along the barnacled beach to the stairs of the pier. Atop of the stairs my wife and son greeted me with a smile and a kiss. I was glad to have survived the first adventure.

An hour later I was back underwater!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Tunnels of Coquihalla Canyon

"In the early 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided a route was necessary to link the Kootenay Region with the BC coast by rail. The railway was built over three mountain ranges. In the Coquihalla Gorge - the river cut a 300 foot deep channel of solid granite. A straight line of tunnels were built through it which are known now as the Othello Tunnels. There are spectacular viewing opportunities available on the trail, through the tunnels and on the bridges. This park highlights the Kettle Valley Railway grade that passes through the canyon and 5 tunnels which were built in 1914. It contains a 135 hectare land base. It is a popular tourist attraction for the town of Hope and provides viewing, walking, fishing and picnicking opportunities. The hiking trail links to the historic Hope-Nicola Cattle Trail. The engineer Andrew McCullough was an avid reader of Shakespearean literature, and used characters such as Lear, Jessica, Portia, Iago, Romeo & Juliet to name stations of the Coquihalla subdivision." Ministry of the Environment, BC Parks

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baden-Powell Trail
Part 2: Grouse Mountain to Mosquito Creek

Three weeks after our first excursion on the Baden-Powell Trail we returned eagerly to follow the orange BP trail markers through the mossy woods. Propped up against the pillows on his bed Dylan and I began our morning flipping through the pages of our trusted hiking guide book. The Best Hikes and Walks of Southwestern British Columbia seperates the trail into four sections from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay. We previously hiked west from Lynn Canyon toward Grouse Mountain accomplishing a portion of the second quarter. We stopped half way at Mosquito Creek and then returned to Lynn Canyon. So it seemed logical that we complete the remaining half by trekking east from Grouse Mountain to the familiar brook. With our destination known I packed our gear and we made for McDonald's for an easy breakfast of greasy goodness. A quick stop at Tim Horton's was required to fuel my metabolic engine with the correct amount of morning octane. More than enough healthy trail mix was within our backpack to compensate for our endulgance.

Arriving at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver we parked our car in the overflow parking lot. There were swarms of people; those taking the cable car up the mountian, and those ready to duel the Grouse Grind Trail ascending to its peak. We on the otherhand had another mission which turned out to be the road less traveled. Shortly into our hike I was surprised by how few hikers and mountain bikes we encountered. Dylan was a chatter box and eager to talk about whatever was apparent to him. A game of I Spy and the songs of Raffi and Wiggles passed the time nicely as we sauntered through the forest.

The trail suddenly began to incline and appeared to gain 200 m in elevation over a short distance. Once it had leveled the timing was good to relieve myself of the backpack and for us to eat a snack and hydrate. Resting on the edge of the switckback we looked down into forest below breathing deeply appreciating the moment and our accomplishment thus far. To Dylan his surroundings must have appeared enormous as he sat beneath the tress peering down the mountain side. What adventure he must have felt within a wilderness far greater than his own backyard. I watched him proudly as he nibbled on his fruit bar smiling in my direction.

We came upon McKay Creek and I was excited by the obstacles to be traversed over the water and around the granite ridge. The precarious foot bridge required my attention as the white water ran beneath our feet. We approached a narrow trail that wrapped itself around a rock face before it stretched out onto more even ground. I was beckoned away from Baden-Powell Trail and seduced upward along a twisted path that seemed better suited toward hobbits than weekend hikers. My imagination went wild as I told Dylan stories of gnomes and elves who built and maintained the trails with care. I opted not to speak of trolls. It became apparent that we were off course, albeit by very little, and it made sense that we turn back to find our way.

With Dylan now on the ground leading the charge we could hear the water rumble through the gorge in the distance. Around the bend and through the trees Dylan then announced that we had arrived, "Mosquito Creek, Daddy!" Upon our second visit to the creek we found a more comfortable place to sit that was further up stream. There I sat preparing our lunch as Dylan explored the pools of water safely from the edge. Once again we ambitiously particpated in the sport of throwing rocks. Dylan was impressed by my distance and the loud clap of the rocks as they smacked the water. Having exhausted himself we then ate our lunch and prepared for the trek back. Within minutes after having departed Dylan was fast asleep on my back with his hands on my shoulders. I picked up the pace and made good time. My knees remained in good form. Dylan slept for over an hour and then awoke in very good spirits. He resumed his ecouragement by advising me make haste and plant my feet carefully downhill. His comforting chatter gave me the drive to complete the last kilometer without losing my momentum. More encouragment will be required from Dylan to get me through our next adventured from Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Baden-Powell Trail
Part 1: Lynn Canyon to Mosquito Creek

Early one bright morning in June, my young son Dylan awoke cheerfully by leaping onto me with big smile. I asked him, "What would you like to do today?" He pondered, and then blurted, "Go hiking!" His enthusiasm to share my interest moved me out of bed and towards the bookshelf for the Best Hikes and Walks of Southwestern British Columbia. We carefully considered our expedition at the kitchen table with me sipping coffee and he throwing scrambled eggs across the floor.

I confirmed that we would trek a 5 km portion of the Baden-Powell Trail from Lynn Canyon to Mosquito Creek. The trail is 48 km in length in its entirety beginning at sea level from Deep Cove. Extending high along side the North Shore Mountains it meanders through forest groves within the districts of North and West Vancouver. The iconic trail then descends from its highest peak of 1200 m towards the community of Horseshoe Bay on Howe Sound. The Baden-Powell Trail was forged in 1971 by 1000 Boy Scouts and Girl Guides commemorating the 100th anniversary of British Columbia. It bears the name of Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell who is credited as the founder of the Scout Movement in 1907. The trail it is distinctly marked by the posted blue fleur delise at its points of entry and intersections.

After a good breakfast I stuffed the child carrier backpack with the day's provisions. Eagerly we strapped on our boots and threw the items into the car. Traveling west on the Trans-Canada Highway from Surrey we were only 30 minutes away for our destination. Upon our arrival at the trailhead we were greeted by a menacing incline of wooden stairs that switchback upward into the forest. With almost 30 pounds of gear and toddler on my back the pace of our hike quickly moved into full swing. I bantered with Dylan about what we saw and heard as we navigated through the woods. He quickly learned that we were following the bright orange trail markers to stay the course. I encouraged him to locate them ahead and point us in the right direction. “Trail marker Daddy!” he repeated over and over until the next interest captivated his attention.

It was an estimated 2 hours to Mosquito Creek, and the terrain's level of difficulty intermediate. We took a few breaks en route to entertain ourselves without the constraints of the backpack. We shared the trail with mountain bikers who did not always yield and perhaps posed the greatest risk of danger. Cautiously, we paused at Kilmer Creek at the side of the foot bridge to throw stones and splash within the trickling water. Onward we later sat on a park bench juxtaposed over a narrow dell providing a strained view of Stanley Park through the treetops below. As we approached Mosquito Creek we could hear the rustle of the whitewater ahead and our anticipation grew as we clambered down the narrowing trail of precarious roots and rocks.

Spanning across the turbulent creek was a sturdy pedestrian bridge. Dylan asked to be let out of the pack and he began throw debris over the side of the bridge. The sun shone bright and the water shimmered as it churned cool air along its banks. Without an area to comfortably spread our self out we climbed over the rubble extending into the creek and then sat on a boulder for lunch. Within an area protected by large rocks it was safe for Dylan to continue his favorite pastime - throwing rocks in the water.

A half hour past and it was time for us to return given my that little trouper was long overdue his afternoon nap. He quickly went from irritable to asleep within the backpack, head resting upon his blanket and sucking loudly on his soother. My rhythmic steps kept him comfortably slumber as I followed the familiar route back to the parking lot. With 30 minutes of trail remaining Dylan awoke chirping “Trail marker, trail marker!” His motivation was timely since my legs were getting fatigued and my breathing labored. The steep pitch at the trailhead was more difficult heading back given my knees were jarred and my footing uneasy. Dylan was undaunted and continued to press me on until we arrived back at the canyon.

Five hours and 10 km later we were both beaming with pride, albeit exhausted. We were back on the highway and patiently enduring traffic on our way home. It seemed to me the passage we left behind was a world away. How awesome it was that we could escape our urban confines on a whim and then dwell into the hinterland. I promised Dylan that we would complete the entire Baden-Powell Trail before the summer’s end.

Video Clip: Mosquito Creek
Video Clip: Trail Markers