Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Tzoonie Narrows: a special wilderness spot by the sea

                                                                                                                       — Heather Conn photos

 Art and Aleta Giroux with grandchildren Lindsay (holding pug Molly) and Fraser


What a weekend it was. By day, hiking took us about a kilometre uphill through classic west-coast rainforest of mossy cedars, magnificient firs, creek beds . . .and plenty of bear scat.  At dusk, we dined on delectable grilled sockeye salmon and fresh oysters garnished with sea asparagus. At night, we watched the flickers and dance of light in the sea: the neon array of bioluminescence.


My husband Frank and I just spent a marvellous, too-short time at the Tzoonie Outdoor Adventures Wilderness Resort in the Inland Sea, which is part of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast west of Vancouver. We arrived on Friday night, after owner Art Giroux loaded us, his grandchildren Lindsay and Fraser, and our gear onto his 23-foot aluminum launch in Sechelt. We zoomed out past kayakers and salmon farms to a blissfully remote patch of beach and woods.



Ah, what silence and beauty this wilderness area offers. Our grand, spacious tent looked out onto mountains reflected in the sea, the low-tide shoreline full of oysters and sea asparagus. Our cluster of tents and small, wood-shingled cabins stood under the shady sweep of old-growth cedars and other trees next to giant ferns and a burbling creek, which served as impromptu fridge for brews and such.


At night, on our queen-sized bed, I heard nothing at all, even after straining my ears to pick up something. Fraser said that the background chortle of the creek directly below his cabin helped him fall asleep easily. In the morning, a kingfisher chittered by the beach and a small flock of seagulls squawked across the water close to the opposite shore. During our entire visit, we saw only two boats go by this idyllic site.


 We brought our own food and enjoyed communal dining in their open kitchen area, which Art has rigged up with solar power and 110-volt lighting. Art and Aleta both provided such warmth and caring, making us feel as if we were part of their family scene.  All of the taps offered fresh spring water for drinking, which was a treat, and I certainly didn’t expect the luxury of a hot shower and a flush toilet.


I joked that above the resort, the looming  mountain of wild forest and no roads (except one inactive logging road) would make the perfect habitat for a sasquatch. This part of the inlet has no dwellings at all for many kilometres on either side.


Although it rained hard for much of Saturday, Frank and I did a short hike in the late afternoon after it eased off. (We admittedly had a lazy day of snoozing and reading.) The forest canopy kept us mostly dry, adding only the light patter of rain on leaves and branches as accompaniment. (I was so grateful for the rain after weeks of dryness and hundreds of fires in B.C.)


Along our hike, I couldn’t resist some ripe thimbleberries, which the bears had obviously not yet touched.  We passed the camp’s 1,000-gallon water tank and a creek with water cascading down smooth, sloping rock. Everywhere, wild greenery offered multi-shades of saturated colour.  


Throughout the property, Art’s brother has built artful driftwood benches that add a cozy touch to the remarkable scenery. On one private spot on the beach, he’s built a homemade wooden swing for two people, the perfect retreat for a couple like us celebrating their anniversary. Sigh. Thanks, Art, Aleta, Lindsay, Fraser, and Molly for making our weekend such a peaceful pleasure.

August 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm Comments (5)

Congrats, Mike, for Special Olympics writing success & ribbons

                                                       — Heather Conn photo

I feel honoured to give recognition to one of my writing clients, Micheal Oswald, 28, who recently won a 2010 Writers Award and trophy from the Special Olympics on the Sunshine Coast (SOSC).


Michael, a Special Olympics athlete and volunteer,  received the trophy at a Special Olympics awards banquet held June 26 at the Gibsons Legion.  The budding reporter won acclaim for his fundraising efforts and coverage of the Sunshine Coast Special Olympics in Amateur Sports News, an Edmonton, AB-based publication that has operated since 1979.


This marks Michael’s first published article and byline and he has since written a second feature in the same newspaper.


“I didn’t expect this [award],” says Michael, a resident of Roberts Creek, BC. “I felt happy to have something published. It’s pretty darn inspiring and has inspired me to keep going.”


In his article in the spring 2010 issue of Amateur Sports News, Michael explains how vital an organization like SOSC is for people like him who have developmental disabilities. (Michael has a developmental disability caused by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.) He writes:


Had it not been for Special O., I might have never done any sports at all. School could not provide the right environment fo me to take part in athletics. No one could understand my needs. I felt that I was ostracized and out of place in the gym.

In Special O., the coaches and volunteers are trained to work with people who have special needs. . . When I find difficulty with certain aspects of the game, they demonstrate and teach me in a way that I can understand. They are always calm, encouraging, and warm.  


In the same feature, Michael writes that his practices are the highlight of his day. He adds: “The love and friendship is more rewarding than any wage in any professional association. . .[T]hrough this wonderful organization, we can complete any goal and attain any dream.”


Besides his writing achievements, Michael took home a third-place medal and two second-place medals at SOSC swim meets last winter in Vancouver and Powell River. Special Olympics on the Sunshine Coast comprises eight sports: basketball; softball; swimming; track and field; soccer; curling; rhythmic gymnastics; and golf. Forty local athletes and 50+ coaches and volunteers participated this year.


Congratulations, Michael. You deserve it. It’s been a delight to work with you on your young adult story that addresses self-esteem, the love of family, and the impact of bullying. I look forward to seeing it in print. I have enjoyed teaching you over the years and hearing your poems and spontaneous abilities with words. Here’s to continued success with your writing.

August 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm Comments (2)