Looking up, Jason Landry, 2011
Looking up, Jason Landry, 2011

My parents live on an acreage in Central Alberta and the back half consists of native bush and grasses. For this holiday we hatched a plan to build a bonfire and spend evenings outside eating, drinking and tobogganing.

The Woodpile, Jason Landry, 2011My Father building the fire, Jason Landry, 2011The start of something good, Jason Landry, 2011
Preparing the fire, Jason Landry, 2011

Yesterday we spent the afternoon building the fire, making some hot buttered rum mix and testing out the toboggan run. In the evening we brought down drinks, food, family and friends. There’s something special about watching your 58-year old mother screaming down the hill in the dark.

Bonfire in action, Jason Landry, 2011
Bonfire in action, Jason Landry, 2011

Tonight, we’ll do it all over again.

Prairie Bound

Southern Alberta, Mark Heard, 2010
Southern Alberta, Mark Heard, 2010

Today we’re headed to Alberta to spend the holidays with my family. I’ve been in Vancouver for over a decade now, but Alberta will always feel like home and I’m looking forward to returning. Friends, family, food & bonfires — all the wonderful things that make me happy.

To The Snow

Looking North, Jason Landry, 2011
Looking North, Mt. Seymour, 2011

This past weekend we joined our neighbours for an afternoon of fun in the snow. It was a glorious, sun-filled day so we headed to the top of Mt. Seymour with our tobaggans in tow.

Looking East, Jason Landry, 2011Looking South, Jason Landry, 2011
Looking East & South, Mt. Seymour, 2011

Mt. Seymour is a Provincial Park and for liability reasons, you’re only supposed to tobaggan in designated areas — and only after you’ve purchased your pass. This doesn’t sit well with my Albertan sensibilities, but we did it anyway. As I should have expected my kids weren’t keen to stand in line, so we wandered off and played on our own until the sun set. Pure magic1.

Looking West, Jason Landry, 2011
Looking West, Mt. Seymour, 2011

Vancouver sits on the edge of all the things I love and I’m lucky to be here.

  1. I really need to get a proper camera in 2012.

Labour Day Weekend

The view from the tent
Our lodgings, Gambier Island, 2011

This past weekend was a long weekend here in Canada and the weather forecast was probably the best it’s been all summer, so we packed the gear and headed to our plot on Gambier Island. Our like-minded neighbours joined us for the first evening and we stayed up late cooking yakitori, onigiri, steak and corn over the campfire. It was the longest, most enjoyable meal we’ve had on the island.

Fresh Salal berriesEnjoying the hammock
Salal berries and hammock time, Gambier Island, 2011

We spent the following day down at the beach playing in the water and doing a little fishing. We came up empty-handed, but we weren’t really expecting anything; the salmon have already begun their journey up the rivers so there is no reason to expect them on a riverless shoreline. So, no fish, but my wife did spot some salal berries, so we picked a few for our breakfast the next day.

Setting with the moon
Sunset with the moon, Gambier Island, 2011

The climax of our trip came that night while we were fast asleep and scared the hell out of my wife and I. It started with a loud crackling — like fireworks that are just getting started — followed by a very large thud and the settling of rocks. A tree had fallen in the middle of the perfectly still night, and judging by the sound, it wasn’t very far away. We both had a fitfull sleep that night, but we woke up to another beautiful day and the sad realization that we had to return to the city. Hopefully we’ll get back before winter arrives and begins dumping the Pacific.

Road Trip

Lincoln Rock State Park, Washington
Heading north through Idaho
A Gatekeeper
Moyie Lake Provincial Park, BC
Sunset over Moyie Lake
The Moyie River at Yahk, BC
Wildflowers in Yahk, BC
Sunset over Lake Osoyoos
Ridge above Osoyoos
The Similkameen River
Washington, Idaho & British Columbia, 2011

Last week, we went on a road trip to meet my family at Moyie Lake Provincial Park for a bit of R&R. To get there we dropped down into Washington and Idaho, staying a night at Lincoln Rock State Park. On the way back, we stuck with the Crowsnest highway through southern BC and spent our final night at the Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos. It was a wonderful time filled with sun, heat, swimming and fishing, but my nephew was the only one that caught anything; six small yellow perch.

A Glorious Weekend

FlorenciaCooking breakfastTofinoHimalayan BlackberrySunset
A weekend in Tofino, 2011

Beautiful weather, clean waves and delicious food; the weekend couldn’t have been better. Now we get to clean out all the gear and plan a menu for our journey to the east coast of Vancouver Island this coming weekend. As I said before, our tent is becoming a second home for our kids.


Snug in the Tent, Gambier Island, 2009
Snug in the Tent, Gambier Island, 2009

Brett Macfarlane, a friend and colleague, recently sent me some thoughtful words regarding the launch of this site, and in responding to him, I gave some further thought as to why I created it. I figured it would be good to share it.

Hey Brett,

Thanks for the kind words, I’m very happy you like it.

I grew up as a boy scout and spent plenty of time out in the woods as a kid, something most of my close friends didn’t do. By university, I had graduated from attending excursions to planning them with like-minded souls. However, after moving to Vancouver, something had changed. I imagine I was too busy meeting friends, changing careers and exploring a new city to pay too much attention.

Then, I had kids and quickly found myself having to explain the world to them. This rekindled a interest that had been a little too dormant for too long and Applied Observation is means for me to document my rediscovery. I have so much to learn about the west coast, but doing so will generate and intense bond with my family and the land we call home.

As you mentioned, as a society, we’re mostly moving further away from our connection to the land. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it is unfortunate – our relationship with the wilderness is such a compelling story, it seems silly not to celebrate it.


Montague Harbour

Looking West from Galiano Island, 2011Testing the watersDreaming of explorations to come
A weekend at Montague Harbour, Galiano Island, 2011

I spent the past weekend bicycle camping with my kids on Galiano Island and it’s a weekend I’ll never forget. It was a Father-child weekend with a group of friends and included a lot of relaxing on the beach, crab hunting, exploring and eating. For the kids, our tent is quickly becoming their second home. I couldn’t be happier.