Monday, 25 April 2016

Grinding, Grinding, Grinding

Here is some music to play.  I'm not sure it goes with this post, but I haven't heard it in a while and it's a classic ;-)  And the little giant prince just died
STYLING in 2011

Let's call racists dumb chickens, not as an insult, but because that's what they are. Most aggression stems from fear.  In this case fear of the unknown.  And an unwillingness or inability to learn to overcome that fear.  So there: dumb chickens.

The bike broke a spoke in the rear wheel about 2 weeks ago and yesterday I realized (after hearing some more noise from there) that a few other spokes were dangerously loose.  Hmm. It's been almost 11,000 km, I guess the wheel has earned service ;-)
Not my wheel

Last night I took the bus up to Grandma and I liberated Le Velo again, so the mean green machine can relax at the bike store for a few days to get fixed.  This is actually perfect timing, because I'm heading to Surrey tomorrow to meet Zu, who will be my co-rider on the June trip. She'll be able to test-sit/ride Le Velo, so that there won't be any nasty surprises (like I can't reach the pedals) on June 5.

That's when it all starts going wrong.  At Steeds bikes I am informed that they won't be able to fix my rear wheel until next Wednesday.  K, no problem, I still have the other bike.  I'm at Slocan and Broadway in East Vancouver when it happens. The pedals turn but that's about it. The same thing has happened before in Holland.  No easy fix available either.  So I walk to the Skytrain, take it to Waterfront, take the SeaBus, and then lift the bike onto the rack of a bus that's fortunately already waiting at Lonsdale Quay.  I sit next to one of those mid sixties to mid seventies white-haired PROPER Canadian women on the bus.  She is talking to another woman in the row behind us and most likely not very happy with me sitting next to her because she is blocking half my seat with one of those pull-behind shopping bags. I ignore the hint but wish I hadn't because now I have to listen to her. 

"THEY keep talking in THEIR language even if you stand right there and you JUST know that THEY talk about you.  I mean, there is SIGNS there that say ENGLISH only, but they IGNORE them.  I'm sorry, I would settle this the CANADIAN way. If you don't like OUR rules, GO HOME.Things are BAD ENOUGH as they are!"
Not my old lady on the bus.

The woman is PURE VENOM.  She is talking about the Philippine staff at an old age home.

Hon, I'm sorry that your son or daughter doesn't want you in their house (even though I think I know WHY) and I'm sorry that CANADIANS are NOT WILLING to take CARE of you for the same LOW WAGES that the workers from the Philippines earn, but why let it out on the only people that CARE for you???  Racism is DEEPLY rooted. I'm working hard not to be drawn into the conversation because if I have to say anything, it would NOT be pretty. She's talking about people who take care of her. Can you IMAGINE what would come out of that FOUL mouth if she were confronted with the subjects of SIKHs or, God forbid, First Nations people?  And remember, this is only the trash that she feels comfortable voicing aloud in public. I'd shudder at the thought of what else is going on in that mind but fortunately never makes it into sound.  Viva Democracy because it puts power into the hands of people like that.

The owner of the now defunct Evolution bikes, who replaced the stupid motor on Le Velo 2 years ago for $1000 offers to do the same thing again. I think NOT. 
with respect to speed: They are only passing me because I stopped to take a picture ;-)

I meet Zu in Surrey (Thanks for coming all this way, Zu), down a 9oz glass of wine in an attempt to wash down all the ugliness encountered along the way.  That is after Zu test-sits on the mean green machine (MGM hereinafter ;-) with the seat all the way down. It fits!  

One big worry out of the way ;-)  It looks like she will ride the MGM in Europe while I will ride the yet to order bigger-size-frame New MGM, which I have been thinking of ordering for a while now.  The Chicken Caesar Salad at White Spot is atrociously BAD.  The waitress doesn't ask how the food is and doesn't care about anything anyway.  I ride the bike from Surrey Central to Scott Road Station, get rained on quite a bit, but LOVE it. 
I could be stuck in one of these gas-guzzling contraptions. What a HORRIBLE thought
Surprisingly Good Pizza at Earls.

In the evening, I eat where the other side of North Vancouver eats.  Earls Tin Palace.  The crowd is AFFLUENT, on the FAT side, and UNBELIEVABLY  LOUD. I am reminded of why I mostly eat where I eat. The food is not bad, but not good enough making it worth having to put up with the noise and the attitude.

There seems to be great excitement about a black (African-American?) person on a US 20 Dollar bill to come in the future. Everyone says 'This is how far civil rights have progressed'


(A quick aside re. 'black': A German was talking to the Cuban receptionist of a Persian-owned hotel in Canada (on Native land) and tried to describe another receptionist that had been there before "He was African-American or African-Canadian or where-ever he came from"  The Cuban replied: "Oh, you mean the black guy, he was from London, England and originally from Mali"  So beware, you politically correct speakers, most time your verbal walk on eggshells will turn you into a mumbling idiot ;-)  Now, will black people from Mali be called African-Maliers or does one only call white people from Mali Non-African-Maliers?  See my point?  As the lady in the bus exemplifies:  Racists and bigots will remain racists and bigots, no matter what language they speak.

Back to the image of a black person on US$20 bill.  Yes, it's progress, and I wouldn't take that away from the African American population of America (Mumbling idiot syndrome). But there is quite a lot of people who aren't that excited about the new $20 bill.

Because times aren't right yet to put on paper the image of a leader who really cared about the well-being of his American people. No, it's not Obama I'm talking about, even though he definitely meets the criteria.
And sadly, this is how far civil rights have NOT progressed yet.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Back to the grind (RC to Langdale to Vancouver par velo)

I wake up well-rested and excited to tackle the day.   Maybe I'm heeding the message of my little motivational item that I posted on Facebook last night:

How many more springs do you have? Get out there and look and sniff and feel as if it was your last spring!

I pack my saddle bags, early practice for Europe in June, accept a new translation project, and get ready to pedal back to Vancouver.  I get to the Chinese restaurant in Gibsons in a record time of under 25 minutes!  At the time of this writing, 12:38, Hans & Denise, who are taking the CAR, are 8 minutes (and counting) late. The arrive at the table at 12:44. Ah well, my ferry doesn't leave until 2:30 pm and I'm on CT (Coast Time ;-).

How is this as a location for CHEAP & GOOD Chinese food?

Mongolian Chicken tastes as good as ever and I am now endlessly obliged to my host for paying for my overindulging wine consumption. Kamsa Hamnida, Hans!

I reach Langdale before the ferry and notice another cyclist (in shape and on a super-fast road bike) ogling my bike. Seems he entered the main road behind me (on my way to lunch) and couldn't quite fathom why he couldn't catch up with this older guy riding a bike with panniers. Now he knows why but I let him know that I can't believe how people like him get even close to my speed without a battery. (In Horseshoe Bay he will put his bike on the BUS though ;-(

The air starts stinking again halfway between Horseshoe Bay and Dundarave, where a Maserati and a Ferrari (I kid you not) go as fast as 60 km/h to pass this cyclist going 40 in a 30 zone.                                                                                 I'm whispering to Karma 'please let them have got stuck in this' when I cruise by the usual grid-lock around Park Royal 10 to 15 minutes later.                                                                                        But then, experience has taught me that Karma does quite well without a prompter;-)

A visit to Grandma (more pedaling) is quite uneventful. I open one of her white wine bottles of 1975 vintage and am amazed to see that there already is almost a whole glass missing. Corks LEAK after 40 years!
The taste is not the same as it was 40 years ago. It tastes more like alcoholic fruit punch now.  Can't complain ;-)
Another bike ride in the evening and on the way back to North Vancouver I am rewarded with a spectacular view of the setting sun reflecting in the glass fa├žades of down town and an almost full moon reflecting in the harbour.

Good Night, world, stay safe!

Country Living ( Life-of-Chris potpourri on the Sunshine Coast)

So I'm sitting on a couch doing something on the computer, when out of the corner of my eye I see an OLD yellow Lab start HUMPING the naked foot of his owner.  Not wanting to witness this and the unavoidable conclusion I head to the kitchen to refill my wine. That's when I hear the owner shouting "Chris! Can you bring me a napkin???" 

AAARGHHH!  I decide that I have to instantly cycle to the store to get more booze and to get to the door I walk through the living room again when I see the dog LICKING its owners foot.  


Thanks A LOT. NEVER AGAIN will I be able to watch a dog licking its owner's face again without having second thoughts !!!!!!

no, No, NOOOOO!

NOT (!!!) my kind of thing.

A bottle of Copper Moon Sauvignon Blanc quickly brings peace to my world again.

So do two images seen on FB


Donald's Grandfather was born less than 100 kms from the little German town that I was born in!
He he he ;-)

I fall asleep for an hour (blame it on the wine or on all the cycling) and when I wake up am royally rewarded by some delicious duck for dinner (alliterations abound!).  I burn my friggin fingers when my hand touches the hot handle but that's worth-while to get a feel of that fabulous fowl.  Thank you, my gracious Gastgeber!
One-legged duck ;-)

And the sun rises again ;-)  And it's WARM today. That's what the forecast had predicted but then it's safer to wait for the actual weather than believing the forecast in this town ;-)

Almost awake
The Pervert Dog is trying to use camouflage to hide from my eyes(see that embarrassed look on his face?).

A giant strange bird is doing acrobatics to use the feeder that is definitely not made for a bird of its size.

Time to Hop onto the bike and fly towards Sechelt.
During the mandatory stop at Davis Bay, I get my feet wet. I'm wearing sandals for a reason ;-)

Some things are so big they need to be towed

"I'll start building that bridge to the mainland"

HELL NO!  There's FISH in there !

Now here is a question: Do people at Davis Bay dress to match the colours of the public washroom building?

Or did they paint the public washroom building to match people's attire?

Back to the Vietnamese restaurant in Sechelt. This time it is spicy chicken on noodles.  Not a single green pepper in the veggies, only yellow and red peppers.  Cam On for not being cheap at the expense of the culinary arts.

Stop at Davis Bay on the way back.

another example of 'Man plans and God laughs'
I buy some more Copper Moon and promptly fall asleep for 2 hours on the couch

Since it is almost 5 pm when I wake up, I'm not the least bit shy to start the day with a glass of wine ;-)

My hosts have guests over, and these include an older German widow by the name of Marlene.  I have no idea how old she is (North of 75?), but she has a ZEST for life.  She reminds me immensely of Frau Besuch, the woman with the Turkish coffee, the Gugelhupf, and the cigarettes who I used to visit until she died at the age of 89 a little more than a year ago.  Frau Besuch might be gone but it's nice to see that there are other fabulous women like her out there. 

Tutto Bene, Marlene !

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Ferry time again (or A brief escape from Helltown)

It’s time to leave this city for a while. I NEED to get out of the noise and exhaust stench of all the cars sitting in stop-and-go traffic.  Vancouver has become a giant parking lot. 
Now they're moving
Now they don't ;-(
Unfortunately, all of the parked cars have their engines running.  If you ever have wondered where all that exhaust gas goes, come to Vancouver and you not only will be able to smell it, it’s so bad you’ll be able to see it and feel it in your lungs and on your skin.  Yes, that’s right, if you hear about air quality problems having to do with ‘low level ozone’, what that really means and what no one will ever speak out loud is that your breathing is impeded by the result of an interaction between exhaust gases and sunlight; that’s how low level ozone is generated.  A term used by quite a lot of people in Vancouver now is “There’s no air in the air today”.  Ah well, go on, Vancouverites, keep on driving your cars and see how bad it will get.  But there is always China to point your finger at, so you don’t have to deal with the issue of how bad it has become where YOU live and breathe.

 Cycling to Horseshoe Bay, I have a reason to curse the Vancouver weather forecast again.  Sun was in the forecast; I’m being drizzled on.  This seems to have become standard in Vancouver. Not sure whether it’s the pollution or the weather forecasters having to beautify their forecast to satisfy their obligations for payments from real-estate developers, but Vancouver’s weather forecast notoriously paints a way too pretty picture. I’ve traveled quite a bit by now, and in most places the weather was actually nicer than the forecast. NOT in Vancouver. 
  I get to Horseshoe Bay and buy my ferry ticket with my Experience Ferry Card. I don’t know why car drivers keep whining about BC ferry prices.  A 40-minute ferry trip to Langdale AND the 40-minute return trip for me and the bicycle for CAD$ 12.40.   That’s GOOD value! Thank you, BC FERRIES. 

Within 10 minutes the fact that the bike is electric is noticed by two different people. A man with family comments “it’s a cheating bike” to which I reply “No, it’s a NO ferry wait bike”, to which he can only say “Sorry, I’m just jealous”.  I roll onto the ferry as the first vehicle and when I lean the bike against the designated railing, a BC Ferries worker says “Don’t lock it! I want to test ride it while you’re upstairs”, to which I can only say “Sorry, I’m taking the battery upstairs to charge it”.

I manage the remaining kilometers to Roberts Creek in record time (Brain surgery of the e-bike pays off big time) and am delighted to see that my hosts fulfilled my wish, namely hoisting a flag that I had ordered and delivered there for my arrival ;-)

 The rest of the day is filled with laughter, food, and good company. LIKE.

At 8 pm I call it a night.

Not really a surprise (because this happens every time I get out of Vancouver): I sleep for more than 10 hours. Gone is the sound of tires on asphalt, gone is the shaking of my bed every time a big bus or truck passes on the main road; gone is the appalling air that develops as soon as cars line up for Lions Gate Bridge. For me it's temporary (semi-permanent ;-(, but how can people live like that every day ?? 

Yes, I'm the fortunate one.

It takes me forever to get ready in the morning and part of the reason for that is that I only brought dirty laundry in my bike panniers.  Not entirely my fault, I was going to do laundry yesterday before my departure, was courteous to the two Asian kids cramped into the tiny laundry room of the motel by saying "take your time; I'll wait outside", only to find out that they separated their laundry into whites and darks and used BOTH washers.  Thanks a lot!

By 1 pm I get restless and have to hop onto the bicycle.  North!  It's not really sunny, more like sun-poking-thru-the-haze, but it's definitely better than yesterday. Davis Bay is always a nice spot to stop, even though I know that the fancy cloud layer formation on Vancouver Island south of Nanaimo is due to the giant pulp mill I cycled past almost exactly two years ago.

On to Sechelt, because there is a Vietnamese restaurant there that I haven't been to in almost two years. Again I just get a blank stare when I order ruou vang trang, a sign that I have to keep practicing if I ever want to drink white wine again in Vietnam.

Spicy and hot and sour mussels is the other thing I order.  It arrives, I take a bite/sip and CHAZZZAM, I am back in Vietnam.  The flavour! The Spices!  I hadn't realized of how much my tongue and tastebuds were deprived for the last two months!!

Koi. My lucky day?

A brief look at the amazing view from the houses of the Sechelt Band.

And a brief climb down to a beach close to Roberts Creek with the same Pulp-Mill view.
Super-Pulpy British Columbia !