Monday, 31 March 2014

After the flood

It stopped raining.  Not soon enough for the people in Oso, Washington, but it finally stopped raining.

The wetness wasn't the only problem (although towards the end I almost developed an allergy against water ;-).

What really gnawed away at the psyche was the monotonous featureless GREY accompanied by the always present hissing of car tires on drenched streets.

The roads are finally drying and thanks to evaporative cooling, it's quite chilly.

But there is a certain brightness in the sky that hasn't been seen in a while and the monochromy is slowly giving way to colours!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Welcome to the third world (or S L O W U P L O A D S )

The title is not in any way meant to pay disrespect to the 'real' third world, where people suffer from illness, hunger, and violence RIGHT NOW.

I've been whining for a while to friends, only partially in jest, that the display of webpages on my computers seems to have been faster in the days of good old dial-up internet service.  And when I started to upload 3 pictures to this blog, after 10 minutes of watching the slow progress bars decided to go for a cigarette, and found on my return that the bloody pictures still had not completed uploading, I knew there was something not right.  And then I read this:

Canada also rates below the G8 average of 8.8 Mbps and is being outperformed by several developing nations, with upload speeds in Manitoba and British Columbia comparable to those in Honduras and Iraq, respectively.

Forgive me for not including pictures with this post;  I just don't have the time ;-)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Thanks for nothing, Amtrak (or Feeling trapped in this city)

Not my pic

This post should have been titled 'T minus 72 hours'.   The plan was to take Le Velo on a train south and in 5 days time to cycle over this bridge:

not my pic
 And it almost would have become reality. Because this train, the Amtrak Cascades, would have happily taken Le Velo et moi to Portland, Oregon.  And Le Velo would not have to suffer the indignity of being disassembled and being stuffed in a box.

not my pic
But to travel by train further south than Portland, one has to change to the Amtrak Coast Starlight. And while the Starlight offers great comfort to its human passengers, bicycles are not that lucky:  It's disassemble & box time ;-(

Unfortunately, Le Velo does not take kindly to being boxed, as several tiny mishaps on the way from France to Vancouver have shown.

The really sad part of it is not that I'd miss cycling over Golden Gate. It's that I will not be able to cycle the road below. A one-line e-mail from my secret source of worthwhile travel destinations (aka my  'ferry consultant') triggered an intense hour of mapping (the Google kind) and I was already ecstatically looking forward to going on a 3 or 4 day cycling trip along the coast of California along the Cabrillo Highway:
not my pic

not my pic

I guess it's time to settle back and rethink. I know I will cycle down there at some point, but the logistics will need some more work.

Thank you for the inspiration, Alan & Happy Cherry Blossom Festival, Saki !

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Bike riding days are here again !

It's sunny and 10 degrees. Not that great in the grand scheme of things, but not bad either and definitely better than monsoon season and 4 degrees ;-)

I decided to bring some more colour into the tiny bit of soil in front of my hotel room.  The flowers might actually grow now and the butterfly dances as soon as the sun hits the small solar panel.

Gotta make use of the sun before the rains come back, so off I go to cycle over the bridge again ;-)

While the above view can still be considered pretty, I'm not sure about the view when getting downtown.  At least in Hong Kong's residential people silos, the high-rises are usually arranged in a row, so that almost every suite gets a view of something that is not another high-rise. 

While this all looks nice and sunny and warm, the stiff cold breeze coming from the ocean, stirring up sand off the beach and abraded filth from tires & brake pads off the roadways, makes this trip not as nice as it may look.  And if some people call cities 'cold' they're probably not only referring to the mentality of people, but also to the temperature in the shaded concrete valleys.  Say Hello to the new 'Vancouver Specials':  Riding along the seawall on the other side of downtown, I notice that groups of maybe 2 or 3 of those towers have started to give themselves names like something-or-other neighbourhood.  Ah well, if people have friends on Facebook, might as well call a high-rise a neighbourhood.

The way back along the southern waterfront of downtown is prettier again (unless one focuses on the cement factory on Granville Island ;-) but also cold. The wind off the ocean becomes very noticeable again.

There are people on this beach !

And despite the temperatures, there are lots of bicycles out here.  Unfortunately most of them are of the 'see & be seen' type and most likely were carted here from somewhere on the back of a car. When I get back home, I realize with astonishment that I have cycled 39 km today.  Really no need to use the internal combustion engine any more ;-)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

On a sunny Sunday

not my toes !
Could the webbing between my fingers & toes be drying out ?

It was wet last night. Very wet.
It was so wet that some careful soul had issued an advanced heavy wetness advisory.
not mine either !

But it's all over now.  The clocks have changed.  That change brings a spark of hope into everyone's heart.

After all, Daylight Saving Time is colloquially known as Summer time and not Soaking Time.

Some brave souls from the Sunshine Coast will be competing in the UBC Triathlon competition today.

NOT my sign

 Last year I went over there to cheer on some friends, but had forgotten about the time change
and arrived too late.

This year I have a haircut appointment instead.  And I will take the bicycle, because ...

And waking up at 8 am (7 am old time) today, I am greeted by sunshine streaming in through the windows!  If the word jubilant was in my vocabulary, it would be the one to describe my state of mind ;-) Finally some exercise. Finally no need to drive around in a friggin car ! Finally my solar toys will work (solar butterfly pictured on stove).

Over the bridge:

I never realized that the amount of rowing in my youth would qualify me to be a trainer ;-) OAR SALAD !!

Of course, some roads are closed to film more bad movies.

Taking Second Narrows Bridge back to North Van was a mistake, of course. Not only is one of the itsy bitsy tiny narrow side walks closed, but that part of North Vancouver is also home to lovely chemical plants, a huge railway yard, as well as HUGE HEAPS of coal being loaded from trains onto ships. Let's just say the air there doesn't deserve its name ;-(

Friday, 7 March 2014

Time to leave again

My time on the Soaking Coast (after the past week's weather it seems wrong to use the name Sunshine Coast) has ended for now.  Which is too bad. The week in quiet surroundings with nice company and too much food was a much needed break from vicious Vancouver.

Last night I had a look at entries of this blog from March 2013 to see what I had been doing exactly one year ago.  One post relates how Telus charges outrageous rates (~$70) for the simple service of forwarding a telephone number to another number. One year later they are charging even more! Another post deals with seagulls at the nice old Burger King at Main Street & 2nd Ave (there are/were actual real trees on the parking lot). That place is either gone already or will be very very soon to make room for another high-rise.  A third post extols the virtues of a fabulous and cheap restaurant at Renfrew and First avenue.  That location and a few next to it are now vacant. Time to build something more revenue-friendly?  And you wonder why I call Vancouver vicious?

But there is hope on the weather front. Denise had a plan of finishing a quilt at the same time as the poor weather finally came to an end. While there is still some lousy weather in the forecast, the quilt is done. Remember: You saw it here first ;-)
copyright D.S.

Her garden seems to reflect her hope for warmer, drier, and sunnier days, because a few colourful thingies have dare to rear their heads out of the dirt.


crocus 2 ?



After quite a lot of stuff has been stuffed back into backpacks, shopping bags, and suitcases, followed bya yummy lunch with Denise at Bayview Restaurant,  I am catching the 14:30 ferry back to Horseshoe Bay.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Travelling on a Tuesday

solar roller coaster ;not my pic
The day does not start well.  Yesterday afternoon's DETAILED hourly weather forecast called for sunshine today from 8 am to 6 pm. Naturally I was all excited, because that meant that my solar-powered roller coaster, which found a temporary home in Hans' and Denise's south-facing window, would be going wild.

But when I stumble out of my bedroom this morning full of anticipation, all I see are raindrops.  By 2 pm the rain has weird white drippy things mixed into it.  Great weather forecast again, folks !!!

At 3:40 I leave the house and head for the ferry. Why take a ferry?  First of all it's time for a visit to Grandma, who has been on her own for 3 days.  Add to that the birthday of my pseudo-nephew's mother,which will apparently be celebrated in a revolving restaurant, and which apparently I am expected to attend.  And last but least, a new tablet/laptop I had ordered at Futureshop apparently was delivered by Canada Post this morning.

Even though I try to time my arrival at the ferry terminal close to the scheduled ferry departure time, I there 30 minutes before that time, and get to look at the usual extremely exciting view.  By now it is 4 pm and I feel like going to bed, even though the day hasn't even properly started yet.

At 4:30, the ferry leaves right on time and powers into the wet cloudscape.

 I've heard horror stories of the wetness of the Queen Charlotte Islands, but looking around me,

 I can't imagine how it could be any worse than here.

The birthday dinner takes place at Cloud 9 restaurant.  The weather actually cooperates and we get to see the thin moon among the LED 'stars' of the ceiling reflected in the windows!
There were more pictures of Chantal, but she's a bit picky about pictures of herself, so I limit myself to the following ones ;-)

Willing to pose for a good cause

Enough now !

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Day in the Dark or a Week in the Wet ?

The title should be enough to let the reader know all about the weather.

We got lucky with Saturday's walk:  it started SNOWING just a few minutes before we got back to the house.  No more snow today, but seems determined not to leave for a while.
All this winter weather has my feet complaining. For a few month now, I have been rotating between 4 pairs of summer socks.  Don't I have any winter socks?  Of course, I do.  But they are either in the camper van or buried deep in my storage locker.  And my feet are cold.

This is a good enough reason to leave the house and take a trip to Sechelt to visit the local Mark's Work Wearhouse to buy some thicker socks.  I buy a pair, which in retrospect are not as nice or price worthy as ones I could have bought at MEC in Vancouver, but alas, there is no MEC on the Sunshine Coast.

The route to Sechelt leads through Davis Bay, a location populated during the summer months with crowds of tourists basking in the sun at this gorgeous place.

Not so today.

On the next morning both the dog and I felt that we needed some exercise so we enticed Denise to take us on a beach walk.  And while it actually was not 'raining' per se, the pebbles on the beach all had a strange dalmatian appearance caused by individual drops of water falling from the sky.

Same Heron as last time?

This is when I found out that if one has a dog along one doesn't have to run oneself to scare up those photogenic taking-off-bird-flocks.

The weather is better somewhere over Vancouver Island  

Not a seascape, but a beached Arbutus log.