Saturday, 30 May 2015

shamed and almost speechless

So it seems at the same time that Dr. Mengele was conducting experiments on Jewish twins in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, the Canadian Government sanctioned experiments on its First Nations people.  

While experiments were not conducted on all, the fatality rate of children sent to the Indian residential schools exceeded 24% in some schools.

A CBC interview with Justice Sinclair everyone should WATCH

Thursday, 28 May 2015

T minus 13 (or Enriching the Tapestry of one's life)

Yes, there is a pun in there somewhere. Something about the tapestry ;-)

But what do you expect when planning a bike trip that passes through the town of Battle, UK, site of the Battle of Hastings, where the Duke of Normandy (of Viking descendent) conquered England...

William the Conqueror (He probably would be called something else if he had lost)
and if this bike trip ALSO passes through Bayeux, a town famous for the Bayeux tapestry, a woven picture depicting, you guessed it, the battle of Hastings

The loser of the battle: King Harold pulling an arrow out of his eye. In other accounts he is chopped up (literally)  by William and 3 others.
Naturally, the politics of the day were even more convoluted than that but there is a VIDEO  of some bicycle travellers travelling that area with a detailed explanation of the Bayeux Tapestry that sheds some light on things ;-) (Well worth watching; history lesson occupies  2nd part of 5 minute video)

And there is something I'm really looking forward to and it is depicted in the following segment:

It hit me hard when looking at pictures of the cities of Rouen and Caen.

Rouen; A river runs through it

Church Spires indicating the Centre of Town.  Every tiny French hamlet has one.  I miss them! This is where you went when looking for where people were.  Sure, cities today have great wonderful bank or hotel erections in their centre, but have you ever wondered through a banking district at night?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Big Time in Mission (not THAT big !)

The reason that I'm staying in Abbotsford (why would any sane person stay here?) is that there are no hotels or motels in Mission (at least not listed on

It's Mission I have to go to.  There is a Pow Wow being held there and I like drumming and chanting and watching dancers in colourful clothes.

The moment I check out of the Super 8, it starts to rain.  There is a Walmart right behind the hotel.

I buy a 'rain jacket' and a hoodie for the combined total of $30.  WTF? Clothing has become a consumable!!!
The grass was freshly mown but no one ever picks up garbage !
Of course, when I come out of Walmart the rain has stopped. After cycling 6 km to the Best Western Plus Regency Inn, I wish I had stayed at the old hotel.  Some people had told me that a BW + is something to look forward to but I am at a loss what that might be.  Does the Plus refer to the size of the guests?
Another thing I notice: The motel in Victoria had given over it's 'Recreation Room' to the bicycles requiring safe nightly storage. And there were about 15 of them when I was there.  Here in Abbotsford my bike vanishes overnight all by its lonesome into a roomlet used for office supplies and the single bike barely fits.

A beautified container in Matsqui

Mission Bridge

I'm 10 minutes late for the Grand Entry at the Pow Wow and enter the hall in the middle of a prayer for missing aboriginal women and those who had to endure life and abuse in Canadian Indian Residential Schools and still managed to keep First Nations traditions alive.  For those that are unaware of what these schools were:  The state forcibly removed Native children from their families and surrendered them into the care of  Catholic priests. Need I say more?  If you think that Canada learned from past mistakes and that things are much improved now, read THIS and think again.

Anyhoo, I missed the Grand Entry, the other main events are still hours away, and I'm STARVING, so I ride the bicycle down the hill into town again.  Now I understand why Mission doesn't seem to have a hotel.  The main street is 2 blocks long and that's it. At least the restaurant selection is better than in Fort Langley ;-)

Calamari lunch the size of a calamari dinner

On the way back I see this at a bus stop:  Did Cinderella lose her shoe AND backpack?  Just after I took the picture, a homeless guy walks up and lays his claim on the backpack but NOT the shoe. Is that a size 12? ;-)

Back at the Pow Wow, the dancing competitions have begun. I'm here in time for some fabulous drumming and chanting and dancing.

Attendance at this Pow Wow is very low both in spectators and dancers.

This girl is the only competitor in her age class
Even though she has already won, she still dances her heart out.  Especially when the drums get progressively faster and faster.

Also the only competitor in his age class is this young guy who looks (can be deceptive) as if he has as much native blood in him as the German/French writer of this blog (i.e. ZERO).
But the empty arena gives him room to put on a WILD dance that includes CARTWHEELS ;-)

While for the taste of this German, the design of some of the dancing regalia seem a bit too confusingly gaudy, I instantly like this outfit:
The wearer seems to be under the influence of something though or maybe this is what happens when one wears bells around one's ankles.

The all-women-drumming team prepares a daughter of the house for competition

After a smoke break, I see that Dorian (the little guy) has joined some kind of hand-holding dance
Even Kookum (George's Grandma in Blue) joins the fray

Oh, before I forget (yes, this is related; George would have loved it): Congratulations to the amazing people of Ireland who with their vote to sanction Gay Marriage have demonstrated that being a Christian does not automatically translate to being a Bigot ! Also would have been a pity of having to cross Ireland off my list of travel destinations.  I've been there, liked it, and am glad to be able to go back!

And the forgotten pictures on the way back to Abbotsford: 

 Golf courses are better maintained than OLD barns. Too bad!

Signs of the times

Friday, 22 May 2015

On the road again (North Vancouver to Abbotsford by bicycle)

Yesterday I went on a quick bike ride to Horseshoe Bay and took a ferry to the Sunshine Coast to have lunch with Hans & Denise. Denise handed me a bag of her home-made Banana Bread to take home.  This stuff is so fabulous, it moved me to write a fake newspaper story:

Bomb discovered on BC Ferries Vessel

Not my picture
All details are not yet known, but our sources have confirmed that on a BC Ferries sailing from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay a German national living in Vancouver opened his backpack and immediately after exclaimed "A Calory Bomb".  The man then apparently ingested small quantities of the unknown bomb substance. Other passengers nearby report that as he kept eating out of his backpack the man mumbled words that sounded like "Good Bye Boyish Figure".  Attempts of other passengers and the alarmed crew to prevent the man from eating the entire bomb failed and the man exploded shortly before the ferry reached Horseshoe Bay

 When I came back to the hotel (unexploded) and looked in the bathroom mirror, a dark stranger looked back at me. Cycling every day in sunny weather can have that effect.

The day starts going odd this morning at the hotel.  There is some kind of a Girl's Rugby Contest on a sports field near by and all these over-estrogened teenage mutants seem to  stay in my motel, scream their hearts out when they jump into the pool (read: constantly) or shout at their mates in the rooms across the court yard.  Oh what Joy!

Yes, I'm in THIS MOOD again. There must be some kind of way out of here !!!!

not my picture
At noon, I cycle downtown to catch the SkyTrain. The ticket-vending machines on the Concourse Level surprise me with signs "Transit Free Today". I'm still wondering what the reason could be when an announcement proudly declares that the two SkyTrain lines are now back in operation and apologizes for the long long long wait.  Again?  And still no Compass Cards?  What is WRONG with this city?????

Since it's free anyway, I get off the SkyTrain at Commercial Drive to eat some sushi and consume some white wine.  Broadway Station Sushi has undergone a strange transition. Prices went up, filling ratio of the wine glass went down, and quality of service evaporated in a puff of smoke. Too bad, this had been a great place for 10 years. 

Then it's the SkyTrain to the end of the line again.  The most direct way to Abbotsford leads along the Fraser Hwy, but I have enough of the noise and stink of cars and follow the bike path under the power lines in an Eastern direction.  Good choice

I have to cross several major roads and am glad I'm not in a car

Hwy 15

I'm not crossing the bridge but wonder whether and how they charge toll for bicycles

 It is this or another intersection when I am treated to the infernal spectacle of three (3) 18-wheelers standing abreast at a red light and simultaneously accelerating when the lights turn green.  Hell couldn't be any worse!

Somewhere before reaching Fort Langley I loose the Wind Mobile signal (and it doesn't even come  back in Fort Langley). This might  be co-responsible for me getting lost in Derby Reach instead of heading straight for Fort Langley.

Just before I reach Fort Langley, my stomach tells me that it wants a Clubhouse Sandwich.  That should be easy in Fort Langley, shouldn't it?  NOPE.  2 Japanese restaurants, 1 fancy Parisian Cafe, 1 hipster place and various other touristy places, but none of the old-school restaurants that would have served a simple Clubhouse sandwich are left.  Fort Langley has sold its soul for tourist dollars.  I eat a roasted turkey sandwich (good, but not quite the same) at the hipster place and partially recharge my battery.

Google maps works and informs me that I still have 35 km to my hotel ;0( oops, the battery isn’t going to make it. Will I be sitting in the shade at the side of a gas station while my battery charges?

The Rocky Mountaineer is not moving at all when I pass it

The Fraser River from close up (try that on the Highway)

All of a sudden I am in a part of Abbotsford without barely any cars, just agricultural land with a couple of farmers in trucks or on tractors.  It is still QUIET here.

Bike path on a dyke
Somewhere after this dyke is a hill  that is so steep that the force of me pushing the pedals plus maximum battery assist pops my rear wheel out of the frame lugs.  Good thing I brought the minimum amount of tools so that the animals in the forest don't have to listen to my cursing for too long.

I should have recharged my battery when I ate Sushi in Vancouver because about 3 km from my hotel, the BPS decides that the battery is empty and I experience what it is like to pedal a fully loaded e-bike uphill without battery assistance (It's called pushing ;-).

Monday, 18 May 2015

Back to the cage (or getting from Victoria to Vancouver the scenic way)

image stolen from
I leave the hotel at 9 am. The receptionist asks me whether I'm off to see the parade, which puts a dumb look on my face.  It's too early in the year for the Pride parade.  Scottish parade? 
It never occurred to me that there would/could be a Victoria Day Parade ...


view from one of the many bike/pedestrian wooden viaducts
In contrast to two days ago, the wind is not blowing in my face the whole time.  Au contraire, blowing from behind it helps me cover the 31 kms to Swartz Bay in almost no time so that I am early for the 11 am ferry
The view East of Sidney
 This is the first time I'm on one of the largest of BC Ferries' ships, the Spirit of Vancouver Island.  It was built in 1994, just before the well-intentioned but ill-destined BC Fast Ferries.  In contrast to most other BC Ferries ships, this one has a unidirectional bridge, so that in one of its destinations, it has to 'back in' to the berth (see pic below).  It also carries the history of KILLING TWO PEOPLE on a yacht while trying to overtake the much smaller boat. 
Since the bottle of Inniskillin Chardonnay that I bought yesterday was still half full this morning, I put it in my saddle bag and had the sense to switch it into my backpack when I parked the bike on the ferry. With the help of a free paper cup from the on-board cafeteria, it is transformed into a welcome refreshment from Bringurown Vineyards, a very civilized way to cross the ocean.  
Cyclists (about 25 to 50) and foot passengers anxiously awaiting landfall. 

I consult Google Maps on the best route to 22nd Street station.  I don't want to ride along that nasty highway back to Scott Street station.  I'm appalled when Google displays the same bloody Highway, all the way from Tsawwassen.  But fortunately I remember from going off route last year along the same trip that taking the Mud Bay Dyke gravel bike path will get me far enough East to be able to switch to a fabulous bike path on the eastern edge of Burns Bog.  So I head to Mud Bay.

not camera shake, but HEAT ;-)

When I leave the dyke and head North, I'm not sure whether I'm more wary of the forming thunder clouds or the evidence of a large fire drifting into my travel path.   But I will arrive in North Vancouver un-soaked and un-smoked.
Again I manage the tricky transition from the dyke bike path to the bike path running along the eastern edge of Burns Bog. Thank You, Google Maps!

Unfortunately every nice bike path has its end.  Back to the concrete. Today I'm taking the high road; two days ago I was going South on the highway below!

After this it's only a short distance to 22nd Street station and I visit a few people on my way back to NV.  The wind is still blowing from the South and the smell of exhaust and industrial processes gets worse and worse the further North I get.  Once back in North Van, I can barely remember the fresh air of Victoria but I have this strange pseudo-claustrophobic feeling that wants me to flee from this oppressing air.