Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai…#1

28 Apr

And the winner is….

A surreal place in Kauai where you find yourself imagining that you’re in a scene from Jurassic Park, where you’re sure you’ve heard the screech of a pterodactyl echoing against a faraway slope, where the distant turquoise ocean crashes against cliffs of deep green and reddish brown hues, and you can find a sign pointing to “the wettest spot on earth”.

You’ve arrived at my favorite scenic highlight of Kauai:  Waimea Canyon, nicknamed by some as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.

# 1: (West Shore) Waimea Canyon Views & Hike

I think the best way to tell you about Waimea Canyon is through pictures.  Even then they fall well short of being there, because you can’t truly capture the vast panoramic views available at many of the lookout points (especially when you’re a point and shoot photographer like me!).   Hopefully it gives you a hint at the unique beauty of this canyon area, and one day you can explore it yourself.

Waimea Canyon is easily accessible by car from the western town of Waimea via Waimea Canyon Drive (just remember the word “Waimea” and you’ll probably find your way!).   We discovered that the scenery is far more interesting on this route when we returned partway down on it’s alternative, Koke’e Road, which leads into the town of Kekaha.  Drive carefully up the long and winding Canyon road, and be prepared for some hairpin turns and steep inclines.

Lookout points

We stopped at many of the lookout points as eager tourists do.  It’s worth stopping for many of them if you have the time, and breaks up the drive nicely.

Further up the road, the more dramatic the views became.  Many tourists flock to the Canyon lookouts, but we seemed to be able to beat the large tour bus groups when we arrived at each viewpoint.

View along Canyon Drive

From the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, we took in sweeping views of Kalalau Valley below, where the Na Pali Coast begins.  Later in our trip we approached Kalalau Valley from the North Shore along Kalalau Trail – a relatively short distance without any roads connecting this side of the valley to Haena.  The swampy ground here has prevented the successful completion of a connector road and perhaps this has helped preserve the pristine beauty of the area.

Clouds quickly gathered above and below us when we arrived at Pu’u o Kila Lookout, and an ominous sign indicating we were near “the wettest spot on earth” seemed a sure forecast for rain.  However, we experienced an unusually dry and warm day at Waimea Canyon.  The only downside of this was the lack of waterfalls normally seen cascading from the steep sides of the valleys after a rainfall.

Hike to Waipo’o Falls via Canyon Trail

After a picnic lunch at the park near Kokee Lodge, we ventured out on an afternoon hike to Waipo’o Falls.  Our steadfast Kauai Revealed travel guidebook described this hike as “moderately strenuous” and we’d agree.  There was lots of down, down, down, a bit of flat trail, and then of course returning back up, up, up again.  The afternoon sun and humid heat in the forest also saps you of energy, so we were grateful we brought lots of water with us.

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Turns out, the destination of this hike is a little tricky to find.  Especially when there’s been a stretch of dry weather.  The Waipo’o Falls were more like a trickle when we visited, so we could neither see or hear the roar of the falls to guide us at a critical turn.  So we ended up at another smaller waterfall and pool with some other lost tourists, wondering “Is this it?”.  We decided it couldn’t be Waipo’o Falls, since they were supposed to drop 800 feet down, and these falls were maybe 20 feet tall.  After returning to the key intersection described in the book, we asked a Californian couple if they knew where to find the bigger falls.  Luckily they knew where to go, and guided us to the two step waterfalls described in the book.  The biggest drop however is below you, and of course you can’t really see it, especially when there was barely any water running down from the small pools above.

Probably the highlight of the hike was a view of an unnatural looking rock arch to the south of the open plateau portion of the trail.  It definitely looked manmade, although its inaccessibility would make it impossible for anyone to build it.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my Top Five Highlights of Kauai as much as I’ve enjoyed re-living our visits to some of the amazing scenery of Kauai.  I can’t wait to come back! 🙂

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Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai…#2 (North Shore) Kalalau Trail

16 Apr

Can you feel the suspense building?  🙂  As we creep slowly but surely to my absolute favorite highlight of Kauai, it has been a wonderful experience to relive the sights and sounds of the Garden Isle through writing these posts and sharing them with you.  The trip doesn’t feel so far away and long ago, even though it’s now been over 2 months since I was soaking up the unforgettable in Kauai.   And that helps this frozen Canadian deal with a very wintery April so far.  Hard to believe I was out cross country skiing in Calgary in a fresh 10 cm blanket of snow only yesterday!

Back to the some Top Five escapism.  Here we go…

# 2: (North Shore) Kalalau Trail & Creepy-crawlies

If you end up driving along the North Shore of Kauai, which I hope you do when you visit, then you absolutely should go for a walk or hike along the Kalalau Trail.  This hike starts from the Ke’e Beach parking lot at the end of the Kuhio Highway, described in my first Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai post.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of wearing proper footwear for this trail.  Do not wear high heels, flip-flops, or bare feet and expect to enjoy yourself or make it very far, as the trail is rocky and slippery, even in the dry weather we experienced.  Hiking shoes or running shoes would probably work best.  I struggled in my rubber sandals (Dawgs) and wished I’d grabbed my runners from the car.

You can walk/hike a very long distance along the Kalalau Trail (11 miles one way) only if you are prepared for it and are in very good shape.  We didn’t have much time to explore it the day of our visit, so we ended up only hiking about a mile one way before it became too slippery and steep for us to continue comfortably.  Thankfully we still experienced incredible views of the coastline to the east and west, including the eastern edge of the spectacular Na Pali coastline.

Along the way we came across some wildlife that is supposedly rare to see…the dreaded centipede.  It’s no secret to those that know me well that I have a silly phobia of centipedes, and they are only typically about an inch long here in Calgary.  So, in Kauai, the centipedes have apparently adapted extremely well to their environment and therefore grow to a much larger and longer dimension (about 5 inches)!  And of course we didn’t just see one centipede skitter out from under a rock along the trail – a second one joined the first and then who knows what happened after that because I had ran another mile down the trail to get away from these vicious creatures!  Ironically I had just read about poisonous centipedes in Kauai in the car in our Kauai Revealed travel book, and that their bitecentipede with foots were extremely painful.  Kim didn’t think we were serious when we warned him of this fact, and took a photo (below) with one of the creepy beasts for posterity!  Luckily, there were no centipede attacks to report.  Yeesh, another reason to wear proper shoes when hiking along Kalalau Trail.

Kalalau made it to #2 in my Top Five Highlights simply because it teased us with its beauty over a very short distance, and beckoned us to go farther.  It took all of our collective will to turn around and decide that we would return another day, with a lot more time to discover more of the scenery that this hike had to offer.

Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai…#3

13 Apr

Number three in the countdown of my favorite scenic highlights of Kauai should be no surprise to visitors of the Hawaiian Islands….

# 3: (South Shore) Ocean life delights – fish, turtles & seals

Wherever I’ve travelled, sightseeing the local wildlife usually stands out as a highlight, and Kauai was no exception. I’ve already rattled on about the chatty chickens dominating the Kauai landscape in an earlier post, however for this land-locked prairie girl, the more exciting members of the animal kingdom spend most or all of their life  in the ocean.

Swimming with the Fishies

Let’s start with tPhoto courtesy Kim Brochuhe reef fish that seem to come in all sizes, shapes and colors.  We couldn’t wait to snorkel during our stay on the south shore of Kauai, where there are easily accessible coral reefs off the shore of the more popular beach areas.  Poi’pu Beach offers some excellent snorkeling, particularly on the right hand side of a sand spit that is visible at low tide.  The left (east) side is much shallower.  I’d recommend flippers to protect your feet from the reef and to help you swim in the strong currents.

 We also checked out Lawai Beach (on the west side of Poi’pu beside the Beach House restaurant), mentioned by a friend and in some travel literature for its quality snorkeling.  Although we snorkelled on an unusually cool and windy morning, it was obvious that this rocky beach is worth several visits to take in the extensive corals and reef visitors.  The deeper waters seemed easier to navigate until we realized that a current had sneakily pushed us almost to the unprotected edge of the reef, so beware of currents here.  Lots of yellow and black butterflyfish, black and white spotted tobyfish and a few parrotfish and wrasse.  {Note: All of the fish photos in this post are courtesy of Kim Brochu who was smart enough to bring an underwater camera on our trip!}

Sea Turtles

In Kauai, we didn’t spot any green sea turtles (honu) while snorkeling.  However, we did see a few surfing the waves at Brennecke Beach and hanging out near the shore at Poi’pu Beach.  Agile swimmers, these serene creatures are completely adapted to their ocean life, easily handling both the rough surf and shallow waters of Kauai’s southern shores.  Despite this fact, they are currently listed as a threatened species by the U.S.government, although the Hawaiian green turtle is under consideration for delisting from this status due to a recovering population.

Hawaiian Monk Seals

Lucky for us, a couple of Hawaiian monk seals basked on the warm sand at Poi’pu Beach for several days during our visit.  The seals were cordoned off from the ogling tourists with some tape to let everyone know that although the seals looked soft and cuddly, this wasn’t a petting zoo!    According to the State of Hawaii web site, the Hawaiian monk seal is critically endangered and we should keep our distance and let them rest if we find them resting on a shoreline.  The sun-loving seals at Poi’pu seemed oblivious to the snapping cameras and sightseers around them, until one day they just disappeared back into the warm waters. {Seal photos are courtesy of Kim Brochu}.

Hawaiian Monk Seal at Poi'pu Beach

Hawaiian Monk Seal at Poi’pu Beach

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Catching rays at Poi’pu

Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai…#4

1 Apr

Continuing with my top five list of must-see scenery in Kauai that we experienced earlier this year, is an easy stroll along the South Shore.

# 4: (South Shore) Po’ipu coastline walk to Shipwreck Beach

Thanks to recommendations from other experienced Kauai travellers, and insights from an excellent travel guidebook, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed, we made a point of spending a morning strolling the picture-perfect coastline eastward from our Nihi Kai Villas condo near Brennecke Beach in Poipu towards Shipwreck Beach.

This was our first morning in KaView towards Poipu Beachuai, and the weather was near perfect (as it was most days): clear blue skies, sunny, pleasantly warm, with a slight ocean breeze.  With two companions still recovering from a long bout of a nasty flu, we took an easy pace and first stopped at the rocky shore across Hoone Road in front of our condo complex.  We enjoyed watching the waves crashing into the rocks and scrambling around on their uneven surfaces with our sandals – not the best footwear for doing this, as I discovered.  From this vantage point, on this day and others, you could often spot vacationing humpback whales in the distance.  Our condo also treated us to a spectacular ocean view where we had seen our first whales upon arriving the previous evening.

From this point, we took a little detour up a residential street (Pe’e Road) past numerous beautiful resort condo properties, until a public access footpath through brush lView from Makahuena Pointed us back towards the coastline.  Here we stumbled upon Makahu’ena Point which provides unbelievable south-facing views of the open ocean.  And this was one of the best places we found in Kauai to watch the humpbacks.  On this morning we were entertained by several pods of the gentle giants offshore.  I can only imagine the views here at sunrise or sunset.  The vistas and opportunities to watch the whales along this walk are the main reason I included it in the Top Five Scenic Highlights.

From here we continued eastward along a dirt path until we intersected with a more official looking pathway system that led to the sprawling Hyatt resort. This pathway system is part of the Koloa Heritage Trail, a series of walking and biking trails that tours you through cultural, historical and geological sites in the Po’ipu region.

The sand dunes of Keonelao Bay are home to birdlife, plants and some interesting history.  As far back as 200 A.D. early Hawaiians may have used this plentiful bay for fishing camps.

Sand dunes of Keoneloa Bay

Sand dunes of Keoneloa Bay

As we arrived at Shipwreck Beach, the sun was getting higher in the sky, and we realized that maybe we should have put on more sunscreen!  The beach felt overrun by tourists, but we enjoyed sinking our feet into the soft, warm sand.  The surf must be rough here because there were red flags signifying poor conditions for swimming activities.  On the southeast end of the beach (and bay) we noticed an intrepid young man jump from the cliffs at Maha’ulepu into the surf below – not a jump for the inexperienced.  If we were prepared with more water and sunscreen, we could have continued on towards those cliffs for more spectacular views.  We’ll have to leave that for our next Kauai visit!

Shipwreck Beach – very soft sand!

Leaving our mark

Leaving our mark

Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kaua’i….#5

25 Mar

Incredible coastline along the North Shore, viewed from the Kalalau Trail.

When we visited Kaua’i for a week at the end of January, I was expecting it to be as picturesque as the travel books, the web sites, and the descriptions provided by friends and family had touted it to be.   We weren’t disappointed.  Did we get to visit all the sights that we’d read or heard about?  Definitely not.  We approached the week as an opportunity to explore without being tied down by a strict schedule.  This was my first, and definitely not my last visit to this stunning outdoor paradise.

So here goes my top five scenic highlights of the Garden Isle during our short but memorable visit, starting with…..

# 5: (North Shore) Hanalei area & surrounding beaches

Wherever you’re staying while visiting Kaua’i, it’s worth spending a day visiting the North Shore area.  We were staying on the South Shore at Po’ipu, and packed enough food and supplies to last us a very long day driving all the way to the northwestern end of Kaua’i’s main highway.  A friend of mine had advised that it really doesn’t take much time to drive around the island but we thought it best to prepare for anything given our directional challenges on previous trips (a nice way of saying we get lost sometimes!).  Thankfully it is next to impossible to have “directional challenges” driving up to the North Shore because there is only one main highway around the island.  So once we passed the traffic bubbles in Wailua and Kapaa, we sailed (if you can sail in a Ford Explorer rental) into Hanalei in well under an hour.  In fact we passed Princeville because we arrived so quickly and there weren’t any signs announcing it’s arrival…a town to visit next time!

Bubba Burgers is like the Burger King of Kauai!

Main street through Hanalei

Main street through Hanalei

We ate lunch in Hanalei, which I would describe as laidback town, with a strong hippy vibe.  While you’ll still find the usual touristy shops, there’s also a mix of services and retail including a yoga studio, organic food and attractive local knick-knacks.  Lots of interesting restaurant choices too, both sit down and fast food.  We opted for the fast food variety and enjoyed Bubba’s Burgers in the early afternoon sunshine.

A very quick drive west along Highway 560 from Hanalei takes you to several gorgeous beaches, with crashing waves, and buttery soft sand.  On this day, the surf was rough and it was quite windy, so we were out of luck for snorkeling opportunities.  Usually the north shore beaches are calmer in the summertime months, which is when I plan to return here.  Although we were intending to stop only at Ke’e Beach, the last stop at the western end of the highway, a mammoth cave loomed up on the left hand side of the road that we just had to explore.

Looking towards the back of the Dry Cave.

Looking towards the back of the Dry Cave.

The Maniniholo Dry Cave (Maniniholo translates as “swimming Manini fish”) is right across the road from the large and busy parking lot for Haena Beach.  Haena Beach’s sand is soft and wonderful to walk on, but the big surf meant there was no swimming allowed.   The Dry Cave has a very wide mouth, and when you start walking into it, you don’t realize how deep and far back it really goes.  When it started getting a little too dark to see what might be hanging down above me so I turned back towards the road, but if you bring a flashlight it would be fun to explore the back corners.

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Once we arrived at Ke’e Beach we realized this is where a lot of visitors were heading.  Parking is competitive, so you’ll need to rely on your best parking karma to find a good spot.  And look out for some nasty potholes if you don’t have an SUV!  It was a bit of torture to look at Ke’e Beach and see all the signs forbidding even swimming, let along snorkeling at this reefy lagoon.  So it was off to our next adventure, hiking along the Kalalau Trail.  More on that in another post of my Top Five Scenic Highlights of Kauai.

If anyone has snorkeled around the north shore of Kauai, and can recommend their favorite spot, please share your comments, I’d love to learn where to go next time.

“You must be a hungry man.”

9 Mar

We should have known.  We really should have done more research.  And, well, we paid the price.  In calories, that is.

So maybe I’m being a little overdramatic.  But it’s hard not to exaggerate the staggering volume of pancake that we experienced last month, while stopping for brunch in Kapaa, Kauai on our way to the airport in Lihue.

Inside view of Kountry Kitchen restaurant.

Kountry Kitchen, along the Kuhio Highway that runs through Kapaa along the east shore of Kauai, is a quaint, kitschy cafe with loads of charming interioView from Kuhio Highway in Kapaar decorating and artwork that pays homage to, what else?  The Kauai chicken.  Can’t get enough of charming chickens on this garden isle.  Visit my last post to read more about them.

A hint was dropped by the shy but gracious waitress after my brother in law, Kim, ordered his breakfast.  He couldn’t help himself.  The menu tempts you with unique local flavors of pancakes like macadamia nut, coconut and pineapple, so as a first-timer, you feel like you can’t just order one flavor.  When might we ever get back here?  So, he orders one coconut pancake, one macadamia nut, and one egg, and a side of toast.  The waitress’ eyes visibly grew wider along with her smile, and she wisely responded,  “You must be a hungry man!”.  I obviously didn’t pick up on the hint, because I also ordered two pancakes, one macadamia nut and one chocolate chip, and two eggs on the side.

A short while later, our eggs arrived.  Then Kim’s toast.  And then, the grandest entrance of all.  Both of our double orders of pancakes were placed in front of us.    Kountry Kitchen came with a few glowing recommendations from friends and relatives who knew it was a culinary highlight of a Kauai visit.  What I recall them saying was “try the flavored pancakes, they’re really good”.  What I don’t recall them saying was that a single pancake is the size of a regulation Ultimate frisbee, and the thickness of a porterhouse steak!

The largest, thickest, heartiest pancake I’ve ever been served!

The four of us couldn’t stop laughing as we looked in amazement at the eating challenge we faced.  Thankfully, the quality of the pancakes matched the quantity of the pancakes, particularly when we drizzled the deliciously sweet coconut syrup on top.  My favorite was the macadamia nut flavor, and Kim really liked the coconut.  As much as we enjoyed the food, we surrendered after eating about a third of each serving.

A few recommendations:  Try a fruity pancake too so that you feel like you’re eating a little healthier!   And, we have a strategy for anyone not wanting to break any pancake eating records.  Have each person in your party order a different flavor of pancake, and then split them into sections so that everyone can have a taste.  And last, but not least, before you step through Kountry Kitchen’s doors,

“You MUST be a hungry man (or woman)”.

Chicken-spotting in Kauai

19 Feb

After vacationing in Kauai a few weeks ago, one of the many wonders of this island paradise was rather unexpected.  I’m talking about chicken.  Or should I say, chickens.  Everywhere. You. Look.

And by the way, you don’t just SEE chickens everywhere, you HEAR them too.  Because roosters on Kauai don’t really care if it’s sunrise, middle of the day, dinnertime, sunset, they LOVE to pepper the air with “Cock-a-doodle-doos”, even when you wish they would “cock-a-doodle-DON’T”!  Let’s just say we became early risers in Kauai, partly thanks to some natural alarm-clocks.

Now this may sound like I’m complaining, but actually, I’m not.  After awhile, these bodacious feathered creatures kind of grow on you.  I grew up in the city, so I’ve rarely been exposed to chickens in their living, squawking form apart from a few trips to developing countries and the occasional farm and acreage.  So, unfortunately, to this urbanite, this was mainly how I viewed chicken:

Chicken = meat,  and producer of eggs.

Who knew they could be so much more?  24 hour a day vocal gymnasts.  Strutters extraordinaire.  Not to mention their sometimes dazzlingly colorful plumage.

Well this tourist was tickled by seeing feral roosters and hens and chicks running free by the side of the road, in parking lots, at the beach parks, in the gardens outside our condo…like I said, everywhere you look!  And they were so tame they casually strutted close enough that they could gobble a scrap thrown their way, but without being aggressive to anyone except to chase away another hen or rooster.  We didn’t give them any food since we didn’t want to encourage their begging behaviour.  Besides, there must be lots of things for chickens to nibble on besides well-meaning donations from humans given the healthy population of chickens across the island.

According to one of the more popular theories for the population explosion, the  1992 Hurricane ‘Iniki damaged some chicken farms and released the feathered residents, and well, the rest is history.  Here’s a few photos I snapped while visiting Kauai recently.

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Returning to the lands of dwarves, hobbits and Gollum

15 Jan

This weekend we ended up checking out the latest Tolkien book brought to life by Director Peter Jackson… The Hobbit.  Since it was only showing in 3D Friday night, we paid our extra bucks and threw on the ultra fashionable 3D glasses for the ride through Jackson’s version of one of my favorite childhood stories.

I didn’t have the greatest expectations of this movie, having read and heard the mixed reviews over the holidays from critics and friends.  However I was pleasantly surprised by the way this movie drew me again into the fantasy world of hobbits, dwarves, and wizards, not to mention elves, orcs, and trolls.  It helped that New Zealand’s incredible scenery served as the perfect backdrop to the story of Bilbo’s unexpected adventure out of the Shire.  Overall it was a stunning visual experience balanced with enough charm (courtesy of party-loving dwarves and bumbling trolls) and action sequences to keep me entertained for the full 2 hours and 46 minutes.

Out of curiosity, I googled some of the filming locations for The Hobbit, as some of the scenery looked familiar from our North and South Island driving tour of New Zealand almost two years ago.

Sure enough we stayed or tramped near a number of the on-site shoots, including Twizel, Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, Queenstown, Te Anau, Nelson, and Wellington area.  Here’s a few shots from our trip that I think could have stood in for Middle Earth in The Hobbit.  Makes me want to go back!

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Hooker Valley, Mt. Cook National Park
Hooker Valley, Mt. Cook National Park
in the forest near Rivendell

in the forest near Rivendell

Me without coffee in the morning. Could be Gollum too!

Me without coffee in the morning. Could be Gollum too!

Unexpected encounter with Gollum near Tongariro Crossing

Walking near Mount Ruapehu

A film set outside of Wellington that we thought was for The Hobbit - it wasn't.

A film set outside of Wellington that we thought was for The Hobbit – it wasn’t.

Near Wanaka, South Island

Near Wanaka, South Island

Egg-static about OEB breakfast!

8 Jan

If  you’re like me, you can’t say no to a traditional hot Canadian breakfast.  You know what I’m talking about…bacon, eggs, pancakes, french toast, maple syrup, hashbrowns, all in various wonderful greasy combinations.  Stop drooling! Even though I love those traditions, I’m always open to trying new and innovative approaches that introduce different ingredients and recipes to our breakfast favorites.

We found a bit of brunch nirvana this Saturday in Calgary that literally made us “egg-static”!  The place, none other than OEB Breakfast Company, owned by chef Mauro Martina. And yes, the OE in OEB stands for Over Easy, quite clever.  OEB is all about farm fresh eggs, proudly serving only free run, dark yolk, Omega 3 kind.  I really appreciate that they are going the extra mile to serve local food and hopefully from happier than average chickens?  Regardless, they also provide gluten free meats prepared by a Calgary based sausage maker and they cook their potatoes in all natural organic duck fat – wow!

The results are unbelievably great.  And they better be, considering you will probably wait an hour on a Saturday morning to get into the teeny tiny 36 seat restaurant.  I am sure that OEB is now hefty competition for another fave brunch place mine down the block, Diner Deluxe.

The four of us had trouble picking out what to have from their enticing menu.  After much hemming and hah-ing, I chose the Croque Madame @ OEB for $13.99.  Described as: Rosemary ham, stone baked rye, Fior di latte mozzarella, summer truffles, crisp potatoes, two eggs sunny side up, brown butter Hollandaise.

My friends also enjoyed their choices with interesting titles: Breakfast in Tuscany and the Threesome.  No one left disappointed, including my friend’s little boy, who dove into his mini chocolate chip griddle cake.  OEB, I just want to let you  know….I’ll be back!  Five smileys out of five.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

Breakfast in Tuscany

Threesome

Threesome

An act of kindness rings true

24 Dec

Do you ever read a story in the newspaper that reaches out and touches your heart unexpectedly?  This happened today as we sat in McDonald’s sipping our coffees and skimming the local paper.   I had to wipe the tears from my eyes as I read the article because it really shows how wonderful people can be to each other.

A local Airdrie boy battling cancer was didn’t feel well enough this Saturday to go for a complimentary visit to the local fire station, arranged by Irricana firefighters.  So they came to his house instead.  Over two dozen fire trucks paraded down his street as he looked out his window.  With generous donations, he was also made an honorary firefighter.  For the full story, you can read the article on Calgary Sun’s website: First responders create an unforgettable Christmas memory for an Airdrie boy.

When I read the story, I thought about how lucky my family is that we are all healthy this holiday season.  I am also so thankful we live in communities where people reach out to one another when the less fortunate are in need, whether they are family, friends, or strangers.   A generous act of kindness reveals what Christmas is all about.

Happy Holidays!

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