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Growing up in Merritt, BC

Growing up in Merritt

Why I love growing up in Merritt

 

“…I never had any friends later on like the ones I did when I was twelve..”Richard Dreyfuss spoke these words in the final scene of my favorite movie “Stand by Me” . For me this quote reflects my growing up in Merritt with my friends. While we may have never searched for a dead body, we did have some memorable adventures. Whether it be getting my two friends and I lost on a mountain and picking ticks out of our hair on the way down, or floating down the Nicola River in dollar store rafts, my group of friends and I did it all.  

 

Being raised in Merritt, My playground was the outdoors. Everything was in walking distance, and even if it wasn’t, we would still walk 2.5 hours in the scorching 40-degree weather to find a new cliff to descend into the river.  Summers were spent playing on the river, or trying our best to leave early to get the ‘perfect’ spot under the shady tree at Monck Park beach. Dirt biking up to the lookout point up Promotory , and geocaching in Lower Nicola.  

Hunting season in the Nicola Valley

As the leaves changed colours, so did our interests. I had completed my hunting core that past April. All I wanted for my birthday was to do an overnight hunting trip with my dad. On one brisk September’s day my father and I set out for our overnighterWe set up our camp under an old fir tree, 15 minutes outside of Merritt.

After we finished setting up, with a few hours of daylight left, we started down the rough terrain below us.  Although we never shot anything, we did come across a small group of mule deer heading towards the timber. About 15 minutes after we had spotted a beautiful large black bear. We sat and watched the bear in admiration for quite some time. When we got back to camp, I sat underneath the fir tree with a breathtaking view of the Nicola Valley. I relaxed as my father prepared supper. The trip is one I will never forget. 

Wintertime in Merritt

When snow starts falling in the Nicola Valley and winter approaches, Doug’s once green lawn turns into an ice rink. If you don’t have skates to wear, he supplies them without charge.  Sledding and snowshoeing in the Nicola valley are a thing my family and I have always enjoyed and now it is our family tradition,

it’s not a successful sledding trip if you’re not leaving without a black eye (at least in my family anyway!) .

Kane valley in Merritt

The lights when I come into Merritt always put a smile on my face; the streetlights are always so beautifully decorated that you just can’t help feeling that Christmas spirit. Of course, my most favorite thing about living in Merritt at Christmas time is the parade. It’s usually me, my mother and brother’s tradition to go every year to the Christmas Parade. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. No matter how old I get, I will still get that feeling of pure joy when I see the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ Norgaard truck float, and even at the end when Santa appears.  

  

I really couldn’t wish for a better place to grow up in. I know that when I get older and leave for school, a part of me will always be here in Merritt. There are so many memories and adventures built here and I’m so proud and grateful to be able to explore The Nicola Valley and call it my hometown. The mountains and lakes have so much to offer that I hope that in the future more  kids grow up and have a similar childhood to mine growing up in a small town.  

  

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Indian Restaurants in Merritt, BC – Mughal Gardens

Indian Restaurants in Merritt, BC

chicken korma mughal gardens merritt BC

Mild Chicken Korma at Mughal Gardens in Merritt Desert Inn

Mughal Gardens Indian Food Restaurant in Merritt, Canada

The Merritt Desert Inn is now home to a brand new Indian Food Restaurant!

This is great news for me because over the last few years I’ve really developed a taste for South Asian cuisine. Up until recently, there was nowhere in town for me to try new dishes and old favourites, so I was excited to go in for a meal at the new Indian Restaurant in Merritt.

I had eaten at the previous restaurant in the building many times, and I noticed that the dining area had been given a facelift, with new paint and centerpieces – it was bright and clean and attractive. The Christmas tree in the lobby was a nice touch. I was seated quickly by a friendly waitress who passed me a menu and brought me a glass of water.

mughal gardens restaurant merritt bc canada

Newly Painted Dining Room at Mughal Gardens Indian Restaurant

The menu selection is on par with food in larger cities like Kamloops or Kelowna

I love having a variety of food to choose from, and Mughal Gardens has an extensive menu. There are all sorts of dishes listed: chicken, pork, seafood, lamb, goat, paneer, korma… There is so much to try you could go back over and over again and not have the same thing twice.

veggie samosas indian food mughal gardens merritt bc

Delicious Veggie Samosas a Mughal Gardens specialty

I decided to try a veggie samosa – which was the special for just 99 cents! Golden, crispy and not oily at all. One of my absolute favourites is the Paneer Pakora – paneer is a firm and mild cheese, in this case coated and fried. It comes with a chutney dipping sauce that is just the right combination of sweet and spicy.

paneer pakora at mughal gardens indian restaurant merritt bc canada

Paneer Pakora at Mughal Gardens, Merritt BC

The waitress was very helpful, which makes a big difference to me, I like staff to be friendly and approachable, especially when I’m not familiar with the menu or what makes up a particular dish. With her help, I decided on the chicken korma. I wasn’t quite brave enough to try the traditional goat dishes, thinking of my little herd at home in the barn, no doubt snoozing peacefully without visions of curry dancing in their heads.

When eating at an Indian Restaurant with spicy cuisine, it’s a good idea to have a drink handy, and what better than a traditional Mango Lassi? Which I originally thought was a dessert, ha! I love mango in all forms, so how could I not order one?

mango lassi mughal gardens merritt desert inn merritt bc canada

A delicious Mango Lassi at Mughal Gardens

The waitress told me they would make it any way I liked, spicy or mild

Now, once I ordered from an Indian Restaurant and – feeling brave – I specified my dish be “medium spicy”. Oh, how foolish I was. If you do not have a high tolerance for spicy foods, always order “mild”. Because I’m quite certain that Indian chefs have a different standard of “spicy” than any other! I joke to this day about how my waiter at that restaurant must have laughed all the way to the kitchen and back about little blonde me (she who cuts back the taco seasoning to cool it down) and my order of “medium” butter chicken!

menu at mughal gardens indian food restaurant merritt bc canada

Browsing the Menu at Mughal Gardens

Not wanting to make that mistake again (because I don’t want to cry onion cutting tears at the table) I asked if my chicken korma could be made mild. The waitress told me they would make it any way I liked! Perfect! Anything from “very mild” to “very spicy” in just about every dish, so everyone can dine happily.

The food is quickly prepared, hot and tasty

Although the restaurant itself was quiet on a Tuesday night, there’s a nice atmosphere. You can tell by the way the waitress jokes and laughs with the cooks and how they converse with the owner, that there’s a great rapport among everyone. And the enthusiasm for this new venture shows in the way the food is quickly prepared and comes to the table with the chef eager to know how you’ve enjoyed your dish. As for me, I enjoyed it immensely! Tasty and hot with hardly any wait is a win in my books. And I enjoy a night out and a meal without the radio blaring or three different TV screens broadcasting baseball, hockey and football.

Dine In, Take Out and Catering

Of all places to eat in Merritt, Mughal Gardens has some of the most flexibility. You can eat in the restaurant or the pub or order your meal to go. They also offer catering (including a buffet!) They will bring the food to you, or if you need a venue they have a banquet/dining hall capable of seating 100 people, and the pub seats up to 254.

Hours and Location

Mughal Gardens is located in the Merritt Desert Inn at 2350 Voght Street and is also easily accessible from Merritt Ave.

They are open everyday 11:00am – 9:30pm

On your next visit to Merritt, plan to include some authentic Indian cuisine!

 

owner of mughal gardens restaurant merritt desert inn

Feeling Festive with the new owner of Mughal Gardens Restaurant

 

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Merritt Centennials – Hometown Hockey in the BCHL

Merritt Centennials – Hockey Night in Merritt

We watched the longest continuously run franchise in BCHL history

“Captain Crunch, started to shift momentum when he rushed the net for a lose puck and a melee occurred, a crowd gathered, some words were said, there was a shove here and push there.”

It was “Hockey Night in Merritt” for me as the Merritt Centennials (link to their website) in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada were about to take on their neighboring rivals from Salmon Arm, BC. I was stoked and ready to put my money where my mouth is starting with the purchase of 2 team hoodies. It is important to support community programs because if you do not support them you lose them to another community. No one wants that. 

Merritt Centennials

Its Official! Merritt Centennial Fan Club

Merritt Centennials Rekindled Some Hockey History

It was my first time setting foot in a hockey arena in over 10 years. To some not a big deal. To a hockey fanatic like me who played on frozen ponds, who rushed to road hockey games at the local lacrosse box every day after school, who suited up and played rep hockey most of my life and then graduated to junior hockey… it is a big deal! The last time I stepped on the ice was as a coach of the Pee Wee and then Bantam AAA Rep Hockey Teams in the Edmonton Minor Hockey system.  

Tonight Was About Hockey, Not Politics

Every hockey game, where ever you are, starts with the entrance to the hockey rink. Huh you may ask… what are you talking about? Here is what I mean. First impressions and feeling appreciated for attending can make or break any hockey experience. When I entered the rink I was greeted by name, with a smile and handshake by the Merritt Centennials President and former Merritt Mayor Neil Menard.  I was impressed with his hospitality and full of gratitude for his welcoming gestures. So far I was feeling good about my hockey experience.

Hot On The Scent Of The Merritt Centennials

As I walked through the doors of the hockey rink the atmosphere and the smell hit me like a ton of bricks. It is not a bad smell by any means. It is a hockey rink smell. Every hockey player, hockey mom, hockey dad, hockey fan knows what I am talking about. A community hockey rink has a smell of its own, a distinct smell, and when you grow up in the hockey world you recognize it no matter how long you have been away from the rink. 

But that is not the only scent I was seeking out. Not by a long shot! I skipped my dinner prior to the game so I could rekindle my love affair with the “rink dog”. To you newbies a rink dog is just a hockey word for hot dog. A hot dog at a hockey game conjures up many memories that go way back. When one combines the smell of a hockey rink with the atmosphere and the warm scent of a rink dog it is like stepping through the pearly-gates (or goal posts) of hockey heaven. For the fan it is like the pregame ritual in preparation for the game. 

The Merritt Centennials Coach is Coaching 

The puck drops and the game is on. However, the script had flipped and the home team was down 2-0 to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the first period. The crowd was silenced and some were stunned including myself.  This was suppose to be a top team in the league this year? How can they be down on the score clock so fast?

Coach of Merritt Centennials

Knowing when to call a time out.

The Merritt Centennial players came stumbling out of the gate slowly. They seem to have lost their legs on this night. Was I a jinx? I am not sure if it was just me, or my inner coach talking, but they were turning the puck over in their own zone at an alarming rate and their wingers were clearing the zone too quickly. Whats up boys? 

Merritt Centennials Flicked The Switch 

The Merritt Centennials were a better skating team but their execution was off and something was not clicking. It seemed the coach, being a good coach and having a feeling about his team, called a time out. As it turned out it was a good move. The real Merritt Centennials began to play. Now the score was 2-2 and it was game on! Nice call Coach Martin!

To be a contender you have to have a coach who knows his team on and off the ice. He knows which buttons to push and the when and where to push them. To be a good team its best players have to be its best players game in, and game out.  A team cannot be a good team living on the backs of its best players alone either. Never happens, just look at the Edmonton Oilers. A supporting cast down the line up, an aware coaching staff and caring trainers are all crucial to a teams success. Everybody needs to be in sync. 

Captain Crunch To The Rescue

Nic Wicks #9, the captain of the Merritt Centennials, came to play. Lets call him “Captain Crunch” and here is why. After the pep talk handed down by his coach the ice become slanted in favor of Merritt. Good timing too, because the team had dug themselves into a hole.  

The captain of the Merritt Centennials, Captain Crunch, started to shift momentum when he rushed the net for a lose puck and a melee occurred, a crowd gathered, some words were said, there was a shove here and push there. No worries for Merritt but maybe for Salmon Arm as the melee flicked on the light switch for #9. 

Merritt Centennial Hockey

A scuffle sparks some life into the team.

From the result of the final score it is probably best the Salmon Arm Silverbacks do not poke the bear anymore because they woke up “Captain Crunch” in a big way. First there was one goal by “Captain Crunch”, then another and then the hat trick. The crowd went wild! The captain of the team, came through in the crunch hence the nickname “Captain Crunch”. Hockey is full of nicknames, so what harm is another one. Maybe it will stick!

Merritt Centennials in Merritt

Captain Crunch scores!

We Win With Hockey

The game ended in a 5 -2 score in favor of the Merritt Centennials. The team started the night playing as individuals and finished the night clawing back as a team. There are many lessons one can take from watching a hockey game – the “ebs and flows” has teaching moments. There are many life skills one can learn from playing hockey including teamwork, hard work, determination, conviction, dedication, discipline and more. 

Merritt Centennial Hockey Team

Celebrating a Merritt Centennial win

Sadly to say, not all the players on the Merritt Centennials will take the next step to the next level of hockey greatness. However, many of the players will take the next step in the game of life and walk away from Canada’s great game with some very powerful life lessons which will come in handy as they continue to grow as men. 

Great win. Thanks for the entertainment and I cannot wait till the next game. 

Merritt Centennials – Hockey Night in Merritt

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WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

Creative Exhibition at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, Merritt Canada

Fishermen, Hunters, Photographers, Collectors, Artists…

Things to do in Merritt

Taxidermy, fly ties, carvings

Things to do in Merritt…A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style: taxidermy, fly ties, rods, skulls, pelts, eagle photography, moose airbrush painting. Collections of stuffed birds, birds’ nests,  shells…lots to see!

Who’s showing their nature art and collections at the Gallery?

  • Peter McVey, fly tier and fisherman extraordinaire. 
  • Willie Kiegerl, providing us with a variety of animal skulls to identify. And other wildlife. 
  • Dawn Shackelly’s eagle photography, and owls, big horn sheep, baby ducks… 
  • Jessie Rabbit with her bull calf and fireweed, her beautiful airbrush painting. 
  • Cindy Trent with collections: skulls, BC shells, sea stars, and bird’s nests 
  • Rory Hepner has provided beaver and coyote pelts, and animal skulls 
  • Artist Renee Hartwigs’ tri coloured owl and Joel Reid’s “find the bird” painting 
  • Mischelle and Bill Pierce have contributed both creatures and colourful fly ties 
  • Fran McMurchy created three small watercolour creeks for three fly ties in oak frames. Unique! 

And Murphy Shewchuck, who put down his fly rod years ago. And picked up his camera… 

A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style…

Things to do in Merritt

Nature collections and Renee Hartwig’s Owl Art

Our Nicola Valley, surrounding the town of Merritt Canada, is filled with hunters and fishermen and women. Lots of families in the area raise their children with skills to provide for their families from the land around. From berries to deer to lake trout. Children and adults alike celebrate bringing down their first deer, or catching their first salmon.

We are set in a grassland valley, filled with creeks and lakes, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain ranges. There are a lot of choices, many paths to take, and backroads to follow- to hunt, fish, gather. Lots of nature.

Our exhibition reflects this focus on nature in the area!

I have long been fascinated with the art of fly fishing and fly tying. As a child, my family just fished with rods that fit in our Rambler. We fished enough, and I enjoyed it enough, to make sure my own kids had rods and gear enough to catch Lake Trout at Monck Park, which we ate for supper on the camp fire.

But we had friends who were hooked on fly fishing, and I watched movies with fly fishing action (looks close to meditation). And I could see the charm of those long, supple rods flashing the line out over water. And the flies…

We have one of the most well-known fly tiers in our area displaying his flies, ties, and accoutrement. Peter McVey not only told stories at our WILD! Reception, but left his book so we could read more about his adventures…

We have vintage suitcases displaying flies that others have created. Works of art!

What if you wanted to get started on fly tying?

From Gear Junkie

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Things to do in Merritt

Fly Tie Watercolour art by Fran McMurchy

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies…. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies.

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams.

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas. 

Yes! That’s what I thought when, as art gallery director in our small community, we were brainstorming Art Exhibitions.

This area is filled with fishable lakes and streams. One of our oldest slogans is “A lake a day, as long as you stay!”

The Nicola Valley is a perfect place for a Fly Tie show!

Things to do in Merritt

Ruffed Grouse, birds’ nests

And, my buddy said…taxidermy too! Well, sure!

Most of us have seen taxidermied creatures, in museums, at our uncle’s house… Taxidermy is an art in itself.

What does taxidermy mean? From answers.com

Taxi is Latin for move. Dermis is Latin for Skin. Taxidermist is a mover of skin. Taxidermy is what he does. A taxis is a division of classification especially when concerning animals. Dermous means skin, Dermy is an activity concerned with skin. So — Many types of animal skin activity.

In the Nicola Valley, we have several taxidermists. They do work for locals and also do spectacular mounts for clients outside our area. I’ve seen photos…

At the Gallery we have stuffed birds: ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, blue grouse (the smart ones), a beautiful owl… And a mounted fish.

We also have amazing carvings of birds and fish that look like the real thing…

And if you want a taste of the big critters, we have photographs of mountain sheep, bald eagles, an air brush painting of a moose calf. And real antlers of moose and deer, a buffalo hoof, a coyote and beaver pelt, two bear skulls…

Lots of skulls! Of all kinds! Coyote, beaver, raccoon, fish… Hummingbird skeleton! You can barely see it!

So here we are, in the middle of an exhibition showcasing the work of many people local to our area. Collectors, painters, fly tiers, taxidermists.

Things to Do in Merritt… Come and Visit & Get Involved!

From Oct 11-Nov 3, 2018, at the Courthouse Arts Gallery.

Things to do in Merritt

WILD! Poster by Kim Leclair

Got skulls? We are looking for donated animal skulls, bones, antlers, for a painting workshop!

This should be fun…. Want to join us?

Register for Saturday, Oct 27/18. 1-3pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery in Merritt. $20. $10 if you bring your own skull…

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook Page for more info!

And if you miss it, we’d love to collect skulls and antlers for more artwork, for another time. Call 250-378-6515 to donate.

Also fly tie expert and fisherman extraordinaire, Peter McVey, is telling stories, Friday Nov 3/18, 4-6pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt, BC

Visit Nicola Valley Arts Council‘s site for more about the arts in the Nicola Valley.

Read my blog about Open Mic Nights in Merritt, held every Friday night at Kekuli cafe 7-9pm. Come on out!

Jano Howarth, promoting creativity in our community

Jordyn Lee

Jordyn Lee

Hi! my name is Jordyn Lee, i’m 15 years old, and i have spent my whole life in Merritt. I have been very interested in writing from a young age, and intrigued in adventure and the outdoors at even younger. I am very excited to share my stories and thoughts as being the youth blogger for Merritt!
Jordyn Lee

Latest posts by Jordyn Lee (see all)

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Artists of Merritt, Canada – Libby Dybikowski

Artist of Merritt- Libby Dybikowski

“I like to work quickly and spontaneously…”

Libby believes art can help you see the world in a different way.

Artists of Merritt

Turquoise Vase 16″x20″ Acrylic on Canvas

Libby Dybikowski is one of our popular and prolific Artists of Merritt. Her work is known for colour vibrancy, for bold brush-work, and for simple themes with lasting appeal. She says the enjoyment of the Nicola Valley surroundings and the pleasure of travel to exotic locations drive her choice of subject matter. 

I first met Libby at a Nicola Valley Community Arts Council meeting. And I discovered a focused, articulate lover of arts and cultures, with skills of great use to a social-profit organization. We worked together when I first took on the Gallery Director job for the arts council. She hung my first show, collaborating with the three lower mainland artists for the “Poetic Language of Landscape” exhibition. I will always be grateful…

Artists of MerrittI first encountered Libby’s art, when I invited her to fill some spaces for a community show we held. A lot of the art contributed by the community ended up, to a large part, smaller in scale than I anticipated. Libby’s work is all sizes. And she brought in several large canvases, covered with bold colour and form. I became a fan…

From the words of Anne MacKay, Chief of Conservation at the McCord Museum in Montreal, “Libby Dybikowski’s skillful handling of colour and form give her work an impact that is hard to deny. Strong, sensuous and daring, her paintings grab the observer at first glance, and continue to engage with every viewing.”

 

Montreal beginnings, Vancouver life… 

Artists of Merritt

Burrard Inlet, Before 18″x24″

Born in Montreal, Libby spent her first twenty or so years in Montreal. From her website: Libby has been a lifelong appreciator of the arts, including music, theatre, dance and fine art. A graduate of McGill University in French language and literature, with a year at the Université Aix-Marseille and two summers at Cornell’s Hotel School, her professional achievements prior to painting included management strategist, negotiator, and founder of a successful national executive search business. 

Libby enjoyed painting as a child, and watched her father, an architect, paint “en plein aire”. As a teenager she found more interest in music, and playing the clarinet and appreciating classical and jazz forms.

From age 20 to retirement, Libby worked in Vancouver, in human resources for Hilton International and the Bay, and as a university administrator at UBC, and finally owning and operating her own executive search firm, Provence Consulting, that specialized in searches for university administrators for universities across Canada..

Artists of Merritt – Libby Dybikowski in the Nicola Valley Artists of Merritt

Upon retirement, Libby and her husband spent more and more time in the beautiful Nicola Valley. Here she ran across a watercolour workshop given by Jean Kiegerl, picked up her brushes, and hasn’t looked back since. She switched to acrylics and now paints often, in spurts. Inspired by her surroundings: the landscapes, the animals and people around her, and her travels. Libby includes mixed media is some of her work, like paper and netting.

She has a studio where she can leave out her paintings in progress. Libby walks away from them when the artistic flow stops or slows down, and returns to them when the time is right.

One of her pastimes, between painting bursts, is spending time with her horse, Buttercup. For a while Libby also created jewelry with semi-precious stones.

More About Libby

Artists of Merritt

Libby and fellow artist Kim Vizi-Carmen

Libby enjoys playing bridge with friends.

She prefers coffee to tea, dogs to cats. 

Libby watches tennis and late night talk shows – or parts, like Stephen Colbert’s monologues. Her favourite movie is still Lawrence of Arabia. And favourite books are Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

Libby loves to bake and enjoys French cuisine. 

And France is her favourite country to visit.

Libby loves to travel, creating her own travel adventures with her husband, Jim.

Support, Inspirations, and the place of Art in Society.

Artists of Merritt

Libby and husband Jim

Libby feels she gets a lot of support for her painting, from Jim, and her friends and fellow artists, like Kim Vizi-Carmen and Jean Kiegerl. She has received mentoring from many artists, including Joanne Beaule Ruggles and Patricia Peters. She has enjoyed painting alongside artists, like Cyndra Bradford in California. Libby says she has learned a lot in the company of other artists.

When asked about the challenges she has encountered in pursuing her art, Libby talks about the importance of pleasing herself when she paints and not being affected by the opinions of others.

 

She believes that art stretches society, that it can help you see the world in a different way. “Bigger and better…bigger skies, deeper oceans.”

Libby has long admired Canadian Group of Seven artist, Lawren Harris. She visits art galleries and museums for inspiration in cities when she travels- Paris, Barcelona, Nice. “Amazing!” And most recently, Marrakesh, a city she would return to…

Merritt 2 Marrakesh 

Artists of Merritt

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Libby is showing at the Courthouse Arts Gallery. There are over 30 paintings depicting three themes: her recent trip to Morocco and the exotic city of Marrakesh, the city of Vancouver, BC, and the Nicola Valley. From horses, to mountains, to colourful city scenes, to flower still life, and in all sizes, Libby has something for everyone to enjoy. And all of us in the Nicola Valley have the opportunity to acquire a Libby Dybikowski painting of our own.

Come and see Libby’s work at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Valley in Merritt. Or visit Libby’s website, where you will find her paintings are available for the world.

See for yourself and tell a friend! September 6-29, 2018

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Read more about other artists of Merritt and art and culture in the Nicola Valley, here on Experience Nicola Valley.

Check out our local Nicola Valley Community Arts Council site to see what is happening in the arts in the valley.

Jano Howarth

Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation: it changes us.  Lawren Harris

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Walks in Merritt

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Seven Trails to Choose From

From super easy to good uphill challenges, these Merritt walks offer

Walks in Merritt, Canada

I love walking trails!

something for everyone!

As a senior, walking is something I seriously enjoy! It gives me plenty of gentle exercise while offering interesting nature views, busy urban scenes and sometimes – ice cream! And walks in Merritt, Canada offer all of these!

These seven walks are great not only for seniors but also for everyone who enjoys a good walk. Turn your walk into a serious hike, if you must, by choosing two or more challenging walks in the same day.

I am going to give you step by step walking instructions, but I have included a map of these trails at the end of my blog.

Walks in Merritt #1 – Coldwater River/Voght Street – 3.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

River trail

Are you a bird watcher? Or would you like to see the salmon run? Then this is the walk for you!

Start just past Central School. Enjoy the views as you follow the scenic Coldwater River and the western boundary of Voght Park to Canford Avenue. Next, cross Main St and walk along the river to the bridge.

At the bridge, stop and see the spot where the Coldwater River flows into the Nicola River. Then turn back a short distance to the place where the trail meets Quilchena Ave.

Follow Quilchena Avenue to Voght Street, then turn right and return to your starting point.

Now, isn’t this a great walk? One of my favs to walk, or bike ride!

 

 

Walks in Merritt #2 – Collettville/Voght Park – 3.2 km

Here is another good walk, not only for bird watching but also for salmon viewing. Begin at the corner of Coldwater Avenue and Voght Street and head south along Voght Street.

This walk first takes you past Central School (on your right), then over the bridge that crosses the Coldwater River. Turn right onto Lindley Creek Road, then right again at Fir Ave. Follow Fir Avenue to Hill Street. Now turn right and follow Hill Street. At Main Street, cross the bridge and follow Main Street to Canford Aveue. Now turn right and walk along Canford Avenue to Cleasby Street. Turn left at Cleasby and then right at Coldwater Avenue. Walk along Coldwater Avenue as far as Voght Street. A good place to look for Salmon is as you cross the Coldwater River. And the southern half of this route is the best area for bird watching.

Walks in Merritt #3 – Diamondvale – 2.2 km

Here is a peaceful walk around a residential neighbourhood. Begin at the corner of Clapperton Avenue and Menzies Street. Follow Armstrong onto Bann Street. Turn right and follow Bann for one block. Turn right at Scott Place and in the cul-de-sac look for a walkway on the right hand side. Follow this walkway to Sage Street. Continue on Sage to Clapperton Avenue. Turn right and continue to Menzies Street.

Walks in Merritt #4 – The Flagpole – 1.5 km

This walk may be short, but is it challenging! It is dusty and all up hill! My advice is to choose a coolish day. There is no shade on this route! The walk starts just before the cemetery on the north side of Juniper Drive and switchbacks up to the flagpole.

This is a good walk to exercise both your heart and your leg muscles. It is popular with dog owners but do remember to take water for your pet and yourself. Once you reach the flagpole, you reap a generous reward. Not just the workout itself but also the gorgeous, panoramic view of Merritt and the valley.

Walks in Merritt #5 – Parker/Juniper – 4.7 km

This walk offers some good views of Merritt. In addition, in spring, birdwatchers may want to take time to seek out meadowlarks around the golf course.

Begin at Grimmet Street and follow Parker Avenue to Juniper Drive. Continue along Juniper past houses, the cemetery (on your right) and the golf course on your left,  to Nicola Ave. Watch out for truck traffic on the lower half of Juniper above Norgaard Ready-Mix. Also along Nicola Avenue to the bridge. Turn left at the stop sign and follow Nicola Avenue to Cleasby Street.

Then left onto Cleasby and follow this street to First Avenue. Next, turn right and continue walking. Notice the beautiful Sikh temple on your right and the river on your left. When you reach Voght Street, turn left and continue up Voght Street to Grimmet. This last stretch is up hill. Central Park will be on your left, a fun place you may want to explore another time.

Walks in Merritt, Canada #6 – Rotary Park and Trails – 1.3 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Rotary Park Trail

This trail is popular not only with senior walkers, but also with bike riding children and dog walkers too.

Built by the Rotary Clubs of Merritt with the help from the City of Merritt and the City Public Works employees, this route starts at the eastern edge of Rotary Park. It follows the north side of Central Park. From the other direction, the starting point is near the RCMP station.

At Rotary Park, the paved walkway links to the path around the park’s circumference. This is an easy and pretty walk.

Lots of grass, trees, shade and flowers. If it is summer and you have children with you, bring bathing suits. They will enjoy the spray park and you will too!

In addition to all this, there is a band shell and music in the park so check this out!      

 

Walks in Merritt #7 – Walk of Stars/Murals Downtown Merritt – 2.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Walk of Stars display seen throughout Merritt

Do your handprints match those of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival’s past performers? Try them out and see! Almost 70 plaques of Country Musicians handprints are waiting in Merritt’s downtown core!

In addition, ten giant sized murals of country performers are painted on the sides of buildings in the downtown area. This is an easy, flat walk passing several restaurants, stores and (big bonus) places selling ice cream!

I may be a senior blogger but everybody loves ice cream! Yumm.

Let’s see you out on these walks around Merritt, Canada! I’ll be choosing a couple of these to do again soon!

Special thanks to the Rotary Club of Merritt for allowing us to share their map and some of their trail descriptions with you.

walks in Merritt, Canada

Enjoy these walking routes throughout Merritt.

 See you on the trails!

From your senior blogger,

Diane

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Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert

Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert

Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden and UniTea Cafe, Ashcroft, BC

“… a Mexican Fiesta of luscious fresh produce!”

There are many kinds of food adventures, and yesterday I had a particularly delightful one, involving not only ogling, handling and buying fresh, ripe, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, but also eating some with a dear, old friend! I fetched her for a journey from Merritt to Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden in Ashcroft. It was a grand day for a drive, not too hot, and the smoke had receded, revealing blue sky. Who knew we would find Mexican Food in our Canadian desert?
 
Just over an hour’s drive northwest of Merritt, through gorgeous sagebrush hills, Ashcroft is a delightful village whose Gold Rush historic downtown is couched between the railway tracks and the emerald Thompson River.  The town of Ashcroft straddles the Thompson, and Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden can be found on the west side of the bridge.
 

An Oasis in the Desert!

Driving through some of the Ranch’s gorgeous green fields, my first thought was, “Zowie! An oasis in the desert!”
Mexican Food in the Canadian Desert
 
Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden is aptly named because Ashcroft is found in a unique desert setting. According to Wikipedia, is “the driest place in Canada, south of the high arctic”!  According to Desert Hills Ranch’s website, “early in the 20th century, settlers of Ashcroft found that its rich volcanic soil produced some of the best produce in the world. They found that, as long as you added water to the fertile soil, it would grow nearly anything.”

 
Ashcroft BC

Painting of Ashcroft by E.J.Hughes, 1965

BC & Canada’s Hot Spot

Often the official hot spot for both BC and all of Canada, Ashcroft’s plentiful heat, soil and water helped its settlers become major producers of potatoes and tomatoes in the early 20th Century. Now potatoes and tomatoes represent only a small fraction of the huge variety of vegetables and fruits now grown at Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden. Family owned and operated since 1983, it draws folk from all over.

A Mexican Fiesta of Luscious Fresh Produce! 

Mexican Food

Pick a peck of perfect peppers

Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden is a feast for the senses. Outside, huge hanging floral baskets scent the air, while pots and pots and pots of kale, in their purples, greens and blues, line the outside of the packing shed. Walking toward the Market, we find boxes of fruit stacked high and ready for transport, their contents colourful and inviting. My friend grabs a grocery cart to assist her walking, I opt for a red wagon, and we head indoors to shop.

Mexican Food in the Canadian Desert

A harvest of many colours

Inside, a Mexican Fiesta of luscious fresh produce! Scores of large cardboard bins contain gorgeous fresh-picked fruits and vegetables in a multitude of colours: dark green cucumbers, jalapeños, watermelon, beans, broccoli and zucchini; purple peppers, plums, onions, cabbage and eggplant; orange peppers, nectarines & peaches; yellow peppers & melons; light green pears, cabbage and honeydew melons; white potatoes, onions, and garlic; red sweet & hot peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.
 
I can tell that the peaches and nectarines have been ripened on the tree by the telltale branch mark near the stem.  The watermelons ring with that perfect hollow sound when knocked.
 

Seedless sweet watermelon

 
Mexican music streams from the speakers in deference to the many Mexican workers who work here, imported each spring & summer to assist with the planting, tending, picking, hauling & packing. It was fun to be able to practice my meagre Spanish on a few of the staff. They were so ready and available to help!
 

Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert!

Imported as well, are many Mexican grocery items. Facing one wall, with strains of Mexican music playing in the background, I felt as if I had been transported to my favourite grocery store in Puerto Escondido! Here I was, finding Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert: canned salsas & peppers, hot sauces, drinks, and spices galore, including my favourite, Chili con Limon! 
 
I find all I need to make a fresh Pico de Gallo – roma tomatoes, jalapenos, gigantic 2 pound sweet onions and cilantro. Finally, our carts bursting with fabulous, inexpensive produce, we head to the busy checkout. I can only begin to imagine how many mouths this farm feeds, with markets in both Ashcroft and Cache Creek. They are currently open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm.
 
Getting peckish, we inquire about lunch. We had heard that Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden also served terrific tacos, and we were eager to enjoy their authenticity.  Turns out tacos are available only on weekends. Next time, we will be sure to visit on a Saturday or Sunday.  There is a shady picnic area on the hillside, where you can enjoy your tacos, or a picnic of your own making, or a Foothills Creamery ice cream cone from the Market.
 
All watered up for Mexican food, and simply not able to let it go, I search online, and find that the UniTea Cafe in Ashcroft serves some Mex! We head downtown, doing a wee circle tour to enjoy the historical sights and lovely mosaics that abound.
 

More Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert

Nadine busy in the kitchen at the UniTea Cafe

UniTea Cafe

The UniTea Cafe is a groovy little tea room, serving comfort foods, a wide variety of drinks, coffee and, of course, perfectly brewed full-leaf teas. Also, quesadillas and, lucky for us, on that day, the special was burritos! Stuffed with many good things and cheesy-messy as they should be, and including a side of tomatoes and cucumbers from Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden. Both were delicious!  
 
 
 
Oh, and the UniTea Cafe is licensed, so I enjoyed a cold Corona with lime and, my companion, a chilled Chardonnay. All this, accompanied by a lovely collection of Spanish
tunes, and we were, again, transported, enjoying Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert!
 
The UniTea Cafe often hosts musicians, so check out their Facebook Page for upcoming concerts.
(For other coffee house music opportunities in the area check out Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada.)
 
Satiated and happy, my dear friend and I continued our circle tour, back through Spences Bridge, along the Nicola River, through the beautiful Nicola Valley and home.
What a treat to discover the tastes, sounds, smells and colours of Mexico, so close to home!
 
JGS
August 23, 2018
 
 
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Street Market Art – Merritt, BC

Street Market Art – Merritt, BC 

Community Art in Merritt, Canada

Youth Take Leadership and make Summer Nights Street Market Art

Street Market Art

Amy Maclaren’s creative flower crown

Street Market Art is happening every Friday night for the whole summer. Amy Maclaren has laid out a plan for character creation – decorating crowns and hats, belts and sashes, masks, and even shoe fun. And her fellow workers, Amrit Ahuja, Felize Omori, and Alexia Clark are a part of the action on the downtown Quilchena block in Merritt Canada.

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council is employing these four young people through the Youth Employment Program. So this summer, the arts community has help with all kinds of projects and programs!

From the Street Market, to Open Mic Nights, to Corbett Lake Paint Outs this young group is pitching in to make our summer events successful.

 

From Prep to the Market

Street Market Art

Alexia and Felize create flower crowns

First comes the idea of setting up an NVCAC gazebo at the Friday Summer Nights Market, and enlivening it with activities.

With Amy leading the way for this arts project, the activities planned are all about costume and character building. As a student in Costume Design, Amy’s creative direction includes everything from coloured sketches to rainbowsequins.

Amy sources her materials for the market activities in town, materials accessible to everyone who lives here or are visiting the Nicola Valley.

 

Street Market Art

Everything tied or taped down

Gazebo and other necessities are gathered and set up on Quilchena Avenue, the main block. Our first night’s set up was a gusty wind challenge. Duct tape and bricks were in place before flowers and feathers. 

Merritt is a windy town, so the locals are prepared.

But after our first night, we are adding a few bungee cords and table clips to our bin.

The YEP workers get everything set up, and then two of them leave to set up and help at Open Mic. Amrit works the sound and Felize and Alexia welcome the audience there at the Kekuli Cafe..

 

Neighbours on the Street Market

There is room for over 20 vendors or non-profits to set up on the town’s busy block. From a big food truck to gazebos, to small tables, the block is almost full. The Farmer’s market is to the west of us. And a variety of displays is to our east. 

Janet Roth is overseeing the Love to Dance Academy’s table. She is there to let people know what a great dance studio we have in town. And encourage memberships in the Love to Dance Society that supports it. 

Street Market Art

Janet Roth at the Love to Dance Academy table

Charlene Lively has set up the Pro Rodeo display, with information and some news about the High School event that was taking place just that weekend.

Street Market Art

Charlene Lively at the Pro Rodeo display

There are jewelry tables and displays of woodwork by local craftsman.

Tina has set up her Humble Hobo Hotdogs Stand at the end of the block. And there is a new Curried Chicken food truck that has line ups for their generous portions.

And there are baked good tables to pick up something sweet.

Music at the Friday Nights Market

Street Market Art

The Strange Companions

We can hear country music coming from the speakers on the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, right on Quilchena Avenue, our main street.

And if we keep going, more music…

A favourite local group, the Strange Companions, have committed to several Friday nights at the street market for the summer. They have created a board of info and calls to action, like “Go on over to Open Mics…” Read while you stop to listen!

This group has been playing together for years, with musicians and singers coming and going. We never know who is going to show up when we know The Strange Companions are playing… 

 

Back at the NVCAC Gazebo

Street Market Art

Felize and Amy help kids fancy up at the Arts table

Amy and the Youth Employment workers lay out the week’s art activity. Their first work was fancy name or character cards creation with foam letters, sparkles, and shape stickers.

The second week flower and birds were provided for crowns and embellishments like coloured feathers and foam sparkle stickers were attached to cowboy hats

Last week, the YEP workers got busy with face painting and created characters for the children coming by.

What’s up this week?

Support from the NVCAC Directors and Members

Beside our art activity table, the NVCAC Directors set up a membership table under our gazebo, ready to encourage passersby to join our Arts Council and support the arts in all of the the Nicola Valley. 

Street Market Art

Mischelle and Gale discuss the Street Market action and the dancing nearby.

Two active members, Director of Programs Mischelle Pierce, and artist and Gallery supporter, Gale Simpson, discuss all the arts action happening in town!

This week, right at the end of our Friday Nights Street Market, some good music and dancing is happening at the Adelphi Hotel. Some of our great country and western musicians play there regularly. And people come from far and wide to hear them and get up on the dance floor.

This weekend there was a group from Arizona dancing up a storm. Not sure if they were heading out to the Rockin River Fest event in the Valley. Or if they just staed in town and enjoyed the action right here on the main street.

 

Visitors from Hobart, Tasmania

Street Market Art

Jane, Jasper with mom Lani, and Jean

It’s Jasper! My grandson from down under. Jasper is chatting it up with Jane Bartle, NVCAC Treasurer, mom Lani, and president Jean Kiegerl. I think Jean is selling Jasper an Arts Council membership.

And I know Jasper ended up with enough RCMP Musical Ride tickets to take all of us! 

Jasper and family weren’t the only visitors from out of town. We have travelers weekly, often from Alberta, the States, Europe, coming to experience the Nicola Valley.

Join us for some  Street Market Art!

Come down on Friday nights 6-9pm. See what’s up, buy or make an embellished cowboy hat or flower crown. Check the current week’s activity!

Street Market Art

Wearing their embellished cowboy hats

Sashes? Shoes art? What Street Market Art are we up to?

It’s usually free, with people making donations to help us buy the next week’s activity materials….

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook page to check out the next event!

And be sure to come down and see us, listen to some music, grab some food, stop and chat. Make yourself a crown!

Jano, Arts and Culture Blogger

 

 

Street Market Art

Vanessa Trenholm led a community canvas painting again!

 

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Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Making smoked trout while camping is easy and fun.

So, would you like to know the secret to great Smoked Trout?

A secret about how to make the best smoked trout in all of the world? OK, at least the best in Nicola Valley? I am about to share it here! Keep reading!

Preparing for Smoked Trout

The Process

Teresa and Brad, camping friends I met last year here at Harmon Lake, have graciously shared their tips and techniques with me to share with you, the world!

Not only is this amazing to the tastebuds, it is a fun thing to do together with friends and family!

To make our Harmon Lake Smoked Trout you need…

  • nice fresh trout that you had fun catching.4-6
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 6-8 C water
  • 2-3 C ice cubes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup non iodized coarse salt, kosher salt, or just salt
  • paper towels
  • rubber gloves
  • cutting board
  • one strong large knife
  • 1-2 fillet knives
  • a good set of fishing bone tweezers!
  • containers and/or ziploc bags for brining.
  • Smoker
  • smoker chips
  • tray for air drying
  • plastic wrap

The Trout

First things first!  To make Smoked Trout, you need them! Catch them, buy them, ask your friends for theirs, it doesn’t matter. But you need fish! We happened to catch ours the day before! It doesn’t matter what size as you will fillet them and place them on the rack by size for best and even results.

The Process – Preparing the Trout

Filleting the Trout! Have the right tools to make this important part easy.  Having the right tools from the get-go will make your learning easier and you fillets clean cut and “pretty”.

I watched  as my friend masterfully filleted the trout and deboned them. She used a tool she purchased  specifically for deboning fish, and it worked great. You could use pliers, but she said this tool was worth every cent! 

Get started

Cut the head off first. then make a straight cut, across the fish, down to the bone near the tail. Starting at the cut. angle the knife on the fish and also angle the blade slightly up over the backbone and fillet away. Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on the  angle above the bone. With a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.

Keep going!

It may take some practice but when I did it it just took a few times and I was sliding the blade right up to the end. It really wasn’t that hard, just practice and a feel for it.

I learned that there is a technique and once you get the hang of it it becomes pretty easy!

Once both sides are filleted, you can fillet out the inner bones.  This is a bit tricky to explain but I will try!  Take the tip of the blade and cut lightly under the bones about 1/2 inch in. Start over and repeat with smooth motions. Three or so cuts should do it. Cut that piece off the fish. Clean up the edges with a clean swipe down the edges. Voila! A Fillet!

Tips for preparing the Trout

  • A good filleting knife will make the task easy and make your fillets look PRO!
  • Use  a paper towel under the trout on the cutting board to help stop it from slipping & sliding.
  • Don’t leave your fish in water (in the cooler where they could sit in water for example) after they have been cleaned. they will get soggy.
  • Keep the knife at an angle about 45 degrees with the fish.
  • Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on a slight angle above the bone on with a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.
  • Leave whole or cut into proportions that you would give away.
  • Practice.

The Process for Brining the Trout

This is simple yet tricky, the right mixture of the the salt (and what kind of salt), brown sugar, along with the right amount of water and then the brining time! My friends  secret sauce is 1 part salt to 2 parts sugar.

Dissolve the brown sugar and salt in 2 cups of water. Add about an additional 4-5 cups of water after you have dissolved salt and sugar. Taste test the brine. If you go “Echhhh! Too much salt!”, add more water and you could add some more brown sugar. You do want it to taste salty like the sea, but not so much that you can’t swallow it!

We used two extra large ziplock bags and and split the brine mixture in 1/2. Put the fillets into the bags. Seal the bags and refrigerate 2-3 hours. More time for larger fillets!

Tips for brining

  • You can experiment with different kinds of salt.
  • The brine should be ice cold to work the best so add some ice cubes about 2-3 cups.
  • Trout do not need to brine as long as other fish.
  • Put the fillets in ziploc bags to brine and make sure the bags are sealed. Get as much air out as you can.
  • Put the bags into a container that will fit in your fridge in case the bag leaks.
  • Do NOT brine in a metal container! Use glass or plastic.
  • The brine mixture proportions is the most important part and it will be different every time.

The Process – Smoking the Trout

Air dry the fillets on a surface of parchment paper or plastic wrap (never use metal) for about an hour.

Smoking time varies as does our weather! So you have to vary it each time. Wind and rain are not your friend for smoking fish. So let’s say its 70 degrees and no wind. Your smaller fillets should be ready in about 90 minutes. You can leave on the bigger fillets for an additional 1/2 hour.

We are using a Little Chief Smoker with alder chips, which pair well with trout!

The smoker is running from a 12 V battery and an inverter. We charged the battery with two 75 Watt solar panels. A generator works great too!

Tips for smoking the Trout

  • Keep the smoker out of the wind.
  • Keep the smoker off the grass as in the summer it can be too dry and dangerous.
  • Line the bottom tray of the smoker with foil. 
  • Use non stick spray on the racks.
  • Wipe the trout skin with a paper towel before putting on the racks for “less stickage”.
  • Do not over fill the racks as you need the smoke to get in-between each fillet
  •  If you’re smoking some glazed with brown sugar, put the glazed ones on the bottom racks.
  • Put the thicker fillets on the outside edges as the smoke comes mostly up the sides.
  • Start timing from the time you see smoke.
  • No 2 batches are the same ever!

How would you like your fish smoked? Mild, medium or well done?

  • 2 hours for mild
  • 3-4 hours for medium
  • 5 hours for well done

The more fish on the trays the longer it will take.

When the Trout has smoked enough

Air dry for about an hour before removing the skin and refrigerating. Make sure the fillets have cooled down first. Best to place them on a paper towel and in a container or ziplock bag The paper towel is there to absorb any excess moisture. So, if you take them out of the smoker and they seem a little too dry, don’t set them on paper towels.

Teresa and Brad’s Philosophy: Keep it simple for best results! Particularly with trout as trout is so delicate!

Share and enjoy!

Moister or dryer, it’s up to you! When the trout fillets are smoked the way you like them, loosen from the rack right away or they will get stick to the rack. Take a picture and share! You earned the right to brag!

Then quickly put them away or they may just go missing. AKA, eaten all up!

That is how to make the best smoked trout in the Nicola Valley.

Trout, and other fish, have been smoked throughout history. Click here for some more information

 

Do you have special tips and techniques you want to share?

I would love to hear them! And see you at Harmon Lake!

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Geocaching in the Nicola Valley

Geocaching in the Nicola Valley

The fastest growing “sport” in the world?

There is an active group of geocachers in the Nicola Valley.

Geocaching is probably the fastest growing “sport” in the world. I use quotations because it isn’t a sport in the classic sense. There is no competition, in fact there is probably more cooperation and camaraderie involved in this sport than any other. Essentially it is a world-wide treasure hunt. Anyone, from the age of wonder, before they can walk, to so old they can barely walk, can participate. Enjoy Geocaching in the Nicola Valley!

There are many different levels of difficulty. Starting with, “park & grabs” to one I know of that requires a three day hike to reach it. There are some that require scuba diving or mountain climbing skills! Geocaching-Experience Nicola ValleyNo diving or hanging from a rope off a cliff, there are over 3 million geocaches worldwide. You won’t run out of the fun too soon. 

History

Geocaching started on the day that the U.S. government deregulated the system of satellites that circle the globe. A GPS could then be used to identify where you were on the earth, to within a few feet. Someone, I’m not sure who, hid an object, identified it’s coordinates, and published it to a few friends. It was found very soon after and the new game was spawned. Today, one of the goals of almost all serious geocachers is to find the original cache. It is still active after all these years!

Nicola Valley Connection

There is an active group of geocachers in the Nicola Valley. Over the years we have hidden over 250 caches within a reasonable distance of Merritt. I have hidden more than 50 caches myself. A group of us went out two ago, with the idea to find 100 caches in one day. We did it easily, on a dirt road, off the Coquihalla Connector, and ended up in Summerland! We saw some incredible country, and got some wonderful ice cream before heading back to the Nicola Valley. 

I organized and then compiled a book, A Taste of the Valley, as an educational initiative. High school students interviewed seniors in the Nicola Valley and then recorded those stories. Each story in the book has a geocache attached to it. Twenty-nine of them appear on Geocaching.com, but there are several more that only appear in the book. Some of them have never been found! Geocaching in the Nicola valley could be a great goal for geocachers looking for a challenge!

Personal & Family Benefits

Geocaching in the Nicola Valley - Experience Nicola Valley

Geocaching is for all ages!

One of the characteristics of the game that grabbed me right away was that anyone, of any age could play. It is a wonderful activity for families, especially for grandparents and the grandkids. Four of my own grandchildren did their first geocache when they were babies. They pawed through the little trinkets in the containers and traded for what they liked. Everyone loves to find something and sometimes the caches are works of art.

I’ve seen Chinese puzzle box caches, containers that require you to find a key and fake rocks! My wife makes them for me! I’ve seen gnomes sprinkled throughout the forest that eventually led to the cache, a large gnome city! What has been most important for me has been the time I get doing something fun with my family. I mean, you can’t play video games all day, every day! You can’t even waterski or go for a run every day. Almost everyone will enjoy a treasure hunt to break up the monotony of watching TV!

Equipment NeededGeocaching - Experience Nicola Valley

All you need for the game is a hand-held GPS, or a cell phone. Then register yourself for a free Geocaching.com membership. That will give you access to the website and the millions of caches available worldwide. The whole Nicola Valley awaits your first attempt to find a geocache. Go for it!

International Connections

As I’ve stated there are millions of little treasures hidden around the world. From Inuvik, to Cape Dorset, to the Nicola Valley, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, even Antarctica, they’re everywhere. My wife and I have geocached all over the western hemisphere and every place we go we meet other geocachers. One day, in Berlin, we ended up with three groups of geocachers trying to find the same cache. It turns out that Germans, Spaniards and Canadians can enjoy the sport despite language issues! We managed to talk about Geocaching and our holidays for several minutes. That is another reason I love geocaching, those international connections!

Physical Fitness

Geocaching in the Nicola Valley - Experience Nicola Valley

Fun and fitness!

My wife and I love to hike and geocaching, particularly in the Nicola Valley, gives lots of opportunity. The Kane Valley Ski Trails, Tom Lacey Memorial Trail, Sugarloaf Mountain and other sites abound in hiking and geocaching opportunities.

Geocaching in the Nicola Valley

There are many caches in the city of Merritt, the valley and the surrounding hills. Within the town there is a huge, fourteen stage multi-cache centred around the many murals in town. There are caches that focus on the coal mining and ranching history of Merritt. A series of caches, that teach about the food and medicinal plants of the First Nations people.

There are caches that will take you to incredible vistas.

Other caches show the hopes, passions, and dreams of the people who called, or call, the Nicola Valley home.

Great sport! Join in to the geocaching treasure hunt.

And hunt for some of the geocaches here in the Nicola Valley that have never been found!

Guest Blogger: Jeff Bloom

Guest Blogger - Experience Nicola Valley

Jeff Bloom

Jeff Bloom was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He played a year of professional baseball before returning to Kamloops, getting married, finishing his education and becoming a teacher. He and his wife Gail have raised their two children in Merritt and now enjoy their grandchildren. Jeff has taught elementary school in the valley for 43 years and most recently has published one children’s picture book, with more to follow soon.

Geocaching in the Nicola valley has been one of Jeff’s passions over the years.