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Japan's Disposable Workers
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Thin Systems
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Gordon Campbell Won't Run Again?
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I Am Skooter  So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
I crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears / I crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here
— Woody Guthrie, Remember the Mountain Bed
March 19, 2016
Birch Tree: Toronto, 2016

Birch Tree, Rouge Valley Birch Trees become a muse of sorts fairly often when I visit Ontario. We don’t have them out west—we have Aspects instead (or Poplars as they’re known in some areas.) Aspens are nice but their bark is more of a silvery grey colour and there’s something about the pure white of birch bark that I find appealing. I grew up around them, and they’re not really a part of my life anymore. I miss them some.

I’m in Ontario, and have been for a few days. As always, these trips are bittersweet for me.

There were two motivations for this trip. My niece turns three soon, and her babysitter is on vacation so I had a chance to take care of her full time for a few days. Those days are priceless as this age.
Scarborough 86 Bus, Scarborough, Ontario

My mother turns 70 as well—tomorrow, as I write this, and those days are priceless at that age as well. She had a stroke a few years ago, and while he’s been totally fine it’s hard not to be very aware of her mortality in the face of that. While I expect to celebrate a lot more birthdays with my mother, the reality is that at this stage of life they’re countable.
Scarborough 86 Bus, Scarborough, Ontario

The bittersweet part involves being away from home, and it feels that way for a lot of reasons. For one thing home is just home and it’s comfortable and cozy and where I want to be. For another, there are people I miss a lot and a three hour time difference is just enough to throw me off kilter a bit. Home can’t come soon enough at this point, and I’m looking forward to the cherry blossoms that are blooming in my neighbourhood.

It’s going to be a great spring though: things are looking up, and I can’t wait to get on with the rest of this year. A visit to the parliament buildings is never bad way to stat, but there’s plans afoot, and they’re good ones. I can’t wait to get back.
Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario, March 2016

Posted by skooter at 6:08 PM
Tags: Family, Mom, Ontario, Ottawa, Parliament, Rose, TTC

October 28, 2015
Running Away

Signposts at Signal HillIt’s been quiet here for a long time now, and that’s not been planned. The reality is that work got very busy trying to finish a project and consumed a significant amount of personal time and energy. Only time will tell if it was worth it: I launched the project finally and things are going well, but it’s still early days.

Regardless, I ran away—about as far as I could, as it turns out. I’m in St. John’s, Newfoundland some 5,031km from home, give or take a few. This is a place that I haven’t been for a very long time and I’ve never particularly spent time in St. John’s at all. I figured it was time to get out of Vancouver and spend time with friends in one of the oldest cities in North America. Half way through the trip it’s been endlessly relaxing and I’ve no regrets at all—even if it did snow last night. (It made the hike up to the perennially windy Signal Hill interesting.)

I’ll write more about St. John’s later, but for now suffice to say that life is returning to a more comfortable level and pace and things are good. I’ve barely even logged into Salesforce all week—though I couldn’t avoid it altogether.

Posted by skooter at 4:46 AM
Tags: Canada, Newfoundland, Signal Hill, St. John's

September 6, 2013
Getting Downtown

Warden Subway Station Signs at Warden Subway Station TTC Subway Map Skyscrapers from Queen Street

Posted by skooter at 6:06 AM
Tags: Toronto, Travel, TTC

November 22, 2011
Winter Falls

Salt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island WinterSalt Spring Island Winter

Posted by skooter at 5:52 AM
Tags: Airstream, Frost, Salt Spring Island, Winter

October 31, 2011
Scenes from a Weekend

Posted by skooter at 9:00 PM
Tags: BC Ferries, Fall, Salt Spring Island, Travel

July 1, 2011
A Trip on BC Ferries

This is what I do when I get bored on ferries these days and I remember to bring my tripod (which I don’t usually do when I take public transit.)

I also had dust on my sensor. Blurg.

The time lapse section was shot by hand, not by remote. I took a photo every 30 seconds while standing on the deck.

This was mostly an excuse to assemble a project in the new Final Cut Pro X and, yes, there were some annoyances. The music may or may not be Nick Drake, because I was too lazy to search for some legitimate Creative Commons music. I may recut this with something different when I have the time to do it.

Posted by skooter at 1:31 PM

June 5, 2011
On the Joy of BC Ferries

I spend a lot of time on BC Ferries these days, moving back and forth between Vancouver and the Gulf Islands. It’s quite nice, but it’s amazing how quickly the beauty of a ferry trip becomes just another way to get back and forth from point A to point B. Most of the time, I’d rather just get there.

BC Ferries was officially privatized by the Campbell government in 2003 but it’s always been something of a farce. The ferries operate, at best, as a pseudo private organization still dependent on government money for a substantial portion of revenues. A couple of years ago Gordon Campbell himself announced that ferry fares would be cut by 30% leading anybody able to think clearly to wonder why the premier was announce a cut in prices for a private corporation.

I’m willing to concede that the ferries themselves can (and maybe should) operate as a private entity, but not without pointing out that the province made one huge mistake in doing this that effectively makes the entire process suspect: they gave the ferry corporation the terminals.

Such a bad idea, for so many reasons.

BC Ferries has existed for years, and serves as an essential link between British Columbia’s more remote communities and the Lower Mainland, which is the major economic centre of the province. Despite the fact that these communities are increasingly the domain of wealthy land owners using them as recreation properties, these links are essential. If nothing else, they establish territorial sovereignty over coastal waters.

One of the key jobs of governments is to tie the geography of their countries together: Canada itself is essentially the result of the Hudson’s Bay Company trading routes linking a huge territory togethe and a promise to build a railroad linking east coast to west. Roads, rail beds, air travel routes, radio frequency spectrum and ferry routes are all tools governments use to create a unified whole.

There are businesses in British Columbia’s remote communities that depend on links to the mainland: Salt Spring Island Cheese and the Salt Spring Roasting Company are good examples (though the roasting company has since relocated.) These businesses depend on ferry service being provided and in theory a competition based ferry service would provide them with the lowest possible cost of getting their goods to the mainland. They could fly their goods, but the cost of flying goods is quite a bit higher from both an economic and environmental standpoint.

Salt Spring has three ferry terminals, providing amples opportunities to get on and off the island but all four terminals are owned by BC Ferries. This means that if anybody wants to provide a competitive service they have two choices: secure landing rights and build a new terminal, or negotiate with BC Ferries before competing with them.

Seems a bit silly doesn’t it?

The terminals represent precious real estate located in bays and inlets that are sheltered and safe for landing. They have good and effective road infrastructure going to them, and that road infrastructure is paid for and maintained by tax payers. BC Ferries current terminals were constructed at tremendous cost to the tax payer, and given to them at a cost that doesn’t nearly represent what it would cost to build them from scratch.

This amounts to nothing so much as a private company having been given a total monopoly. There’s simply no way anybody can compete.

Maybe someone can explain to me how it makes sense the way the deal was structured, though I’m going to need more than a simple “the company wouldn’t have been worth it without the terminals.” It was given away: of course it would have been worth it. They had existing routes, and a head start with a fully prepared fleet. If the province had kept the terminals and established a standard landing fee BC Ferries could have continued to operate and paid the fees.

Another competitor might have emerged with similar or different craft: imagine a company operating a passenger only Gulf Islands Ferry with shuttle service to popular destinations once you got there. Such a service could operate all summer, paying the same landing fees but offering a service tailored to their passengers.

They might ever offer a boat with cupholders, a completely non-smoking service and maybe a place to store your bike (BC Ferries charges $2 for a bicycle, but no services in exchange—not even a rack to put your bike in.)

It’s never going to happen, because the BC Liberal Party gave the current BC Ferries the biggest subsidy in the history of BC Business, and guaranteed an eternal monopoly in the process.

Sort of makes you think about why they call the NDP socialists doesn’t it?

This was amended. The original post said Salt Spring Island had four ferry terminals. This has been corrected to three. Ganges is Salt Spring’s major town, but does not have a ferry terminal.

May 8, 2011
Slip Sliding Away

Rain on a ferry window Friday was stressful this week, for reasons that I won’t go into. A trip had been planned—an escape from the city to an island paradise of sorts—and I couldn’t wait for it to start. As the minutes ticked down towards the end of the work day I did my best to let the stress wash away and get ready.

Ferry hopping is fun, but time consuming. My trip involves a train, a bus, a big boat and a little boat. When I left work it was raining but everything went well for making connections and I found myself on the big boat sitting indoors watching the Pacific Ocean slide past as I made my way westward. There’s something very calming about it. Watching the rain slide down the plexiglass windows of the Skeena Queen was a soothing way to end the trip.

The forecast called for rain all weekend, but as it turns out our little island was warm and sunny and sheltered somehow from those rains. They certainly hit the city, but over in our world we saw as much blue sky as grey, and probably less than an hour of actual rain all weekend. It’s funny how so little distance can make such a huge difference.

So the weekend was on: good food was made and eaten, modest amounts of wine and spirits were consumed, the beginnings of a garden were planted, afternoon naps were taken and books were read. A good time was had by all.

The trip home was harder, as leaving a warm and wonderful place always is, but the city beckoned and with it life. Tomorrow is Monday, and that marks a return to life as normal, whatever that means. My normal routine of working, cycling, swimming and reading I suppose. I quite like it, and next weekend I won’t be slipping away but instead spending it here with company. It’s just as nice really: both lives have their charms. It’s the times in between that aren’t as much fun.

Posted by skooter at 11:17 PM
Tags: BC Ferries, Salt Spring Island, Travel

August 27, 2010
Cycling to Salt Spring Island

Moonrise over Ruckle Park

I haven’t really been out of town much this summer, and I certainly haven’t been camping. This past week I hatched a fairly hasty plan to solve both of those problems and boy did it turn out well.

Salt Spring Island is the largest of the southern gulf islands located between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Accessible by ferry from either Victoria or Vancouver, its geographic area of about 183 km2 is less than 10% the size of the Metro Vancouver area and its population fo 10,500 is less than 1% of Vancouver’s total and Ruckle Provincial Park on the island’s southern tip seemed like the perfect place to pitch a tent.

Oh yeah…I decided to do this all by bike. I’m all about the low carbon footprint these days, though I’m not sure how much lower I can get it.

Getting to Salt Spring

Getting to Salt Spring from Vancouver means taking a ferry from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which offers infrequent direct service to Long Harbour located on the Island’s north end, about a 22km ride from Ruckle Park. The alternative was to take a ferry from Tsawwassen to Victoria and then transfer to a smaller run from Victoria to Fulford Harbour: quite a bit closer to the park, but quite a bit longer in travel time. I opted for the direct route.

From my home to the Ferry is about a 35km ride, interrupted by the Massey Tunnel. Getting through the tunnel means taking a shuttle that runs hourly in the summertime (although hopping aboard a Translink bus is an option as well.) It took a bit more than an hour to get to the shuttle pick up point at Richmond’s 5th Avenue and Rice Mill Road.

Helmut und VeronaOn the shuttle I met Helmut and Verena from the Black Forest region of Germany. The two had spent the weekend in Vancouver and were on the first day of a trip to San Diego by bicycle. We cycled together to the ferry where they caught the next one to Swartz Bay while I had a couple of hours to wait until the next Long Harbour Departure of the day.

After an hour and a half ferry ride to Long Harbour I was well rested and ready to tackle the island. Salt Spring, like most of these islands, has a fairly substantial peak at the centre—in this case Mt. Maxwell. The 22km ride to Ruckle Park would take me through the Island’s largest village (Ganges) and up a steady climb before descending on the other side.

Loaded with gear, the ride took somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours in total. Ruckle Park was (as I’d been banking on) fairly empty and by 18:00hrs I had my tent pitched on the edge of the ocean and was boiling water for dinner. All told the day was a nice one of travel at a more human pace than the disconnect that cars can sometimes create.

Shortly after arriving I was joined at the neighbouring site by John, who had been on the same ferry as I. He was towing a trailer and took a more leisurely route than I which included a stop for dinner on the way. With both of our tents pitched and lanterns lit, the stars—each one a setting sun—revealed themselves overhead and we dozed off in our respective tents.

Monday: Salt Spring Cheese and Fulford Harbour

Salt Spring Island CheeseI had a stove and John had coffee so the next morning started with John and I having coffee together. He was packing up to head back to Seattle and I joined him on his ride out of the park with the intention of stopping at the Salt Spring Island Cheese company on the way. Of all the decisions I’ve made this summer, this may be the single smartest one.

The cheese company was an oasis of sorts for us, offering not only samples but free coffee as well. With friendly staff, friendly dogs and good food on hand we could have stayed all day—and very nearly did. It took about two hours to pry ourselves away from the sunny patio but eventually we did, both laden with the weight of purchased cheese. There are many more photos on my Flickr photostream of the cheese facility with notes from the self guided tour they offer. Don’t miss this place if you wind up over here, and don’t forget to bring some cheese home.
Salt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island Cheese

John and I said our goodbyes just around the corner of Beaver Point Road and Stewart Road where he headed for Long Harbour and I continued towards Fulford. John’s trip to Long Harbour was good and included a stop at Mt. Maxwell to hike it and a quick lunch in Ganges.

Debra from the Morningside CafeI spent the day in Fulford exploring the Morningside Cafe and chatting with the lovely Deborah, shopping for books (my constant weakness,) sitting on the swings and more or less waiting for the Fulford Inn to open so that I could grab a bite to eat. After an early dinner it was about a 45 minute bike ride back to camp and a sunset spent reading and dining on a baguette and soft goat cheese. Life was pretty good.

Tuesday: Ganges

On Tuesday, I decided to cycle into Ganges and explore the town a bit. The ride took about and hour and a half each way without just my single pannier. Ganges itself has plenty of small town charm: the Salt Spring Coffee Company cafe offers some of the best coffee to be had anywhere including a well made latte, the Treehouse Cafe has live music every night (although it was closed for a staff party the night I was there,) bookstores abound. A small farmer’s market was taking place while in the United Church’s yard, offering a range of fresh local produce for purchase.

After a latte I headed to Black Bond Books where I picked up a copy of Susan Orleans’ The Orchid Thief to read on the ferry ride home. The book store itself felt rather like home: I’d read about 3/4 of the books on their staff picks shelf already. There’s nothing quite like a good bookstore to make a town for me.

Swarz Bay Ferry Passes Ruckle Provincial ParkI headed to the Coast Guard dock to grab some fish & chips for lunch—tasty, though not nearly as good as the food at Vancouver’s Go Fish—before heading back to camp over the Stewart Road route.

Since I hadn’t had a shower for a couple of days I figured I’d see what the ocean offered. A five minute dip was about all the refreshment I could handle. The Island offers 11 lakes for swimming as well as a public swimming pool in Ganges, and in future it would be wiser to choose any of these options. Swimming in the ocean is pretty special though.

Satisfied with my day I looked forward to yet another beautiful sunset with a couple of books to finish. The Island didn’t disappoint, and after a couple of hours of reading I faded gently into as good a sleep as a 3/4” thick Therm-a-Rest can provide.

Wednesday: Homeward Bound

Wednesday morning dawned sunny and warm and though I had little desire to leave the park reports of an imminent change in the weather brought thoughts of home. I packed gear into panniers, said my farewell’s to the coast and headed towards Fulford.

Before leaving the park I visited the Ruckle Heritage Farm, rumoured to be the province’s oldest family owned farm. The farm is still in use and though the heritage buildings are maintained as an exhibition space the farm animals roam the entire area freely.
Ruckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring Island

Naturally I stopped at the Salt Spring Island Cheese company again. I needed to stock up my fridge.

The ride home was shorter than the ride here, and the Fulford ferries are well scheduled to allow transfers to the Victoria-Tsawwassen route so the journey takes just slightly more than two hours. The volume of traffic on the Tsawwassen causeway was overwhelming compared to what I’d been dealing with for the last four days, but, but the shoulder on the road was wider. The trip from the ferry to the Massey tunnel shuttle took just slightly more than a half hour. A serious accident had obstructed the northbound on-ramp which meant waiting for about an hour with the driver. I was in no rush, and the flat ride through Richmond was reasonably pleasant—although the city of Richmond really needs to update its cycling route signage to make the new Cambie Line bridge easier to find.

Final Thoughts

This was my first time on Salt Spring Island, and my first really successful bike tour as well (an earlier attempt at the Kettle Valley Railway Trail ended when I got not one but two flat tires on the first day. I was quite happy with the trip.

My Kona Sutra held up well and was reliable, but special thanks go to Ed at Mighty Riders for finally finding me a front rack that fits this thing (and a very nice one at that.) The disc brakes on the Kona have made this a challenge, and it was nice to finally have confidence in those front panniers. I will upgrade the rear rack as well. I’d still like to replace the bike with a Surly Long Haul Trucker equipped with Campagnolo Veloce triple gearing, but that will have to wait a bit longer.

The North Face Slickrock tent that I’ve travelled with more than any other tent I own—and I own three—was as nice as always. The short poles fit in panniers easily and make it a good choice for cycle touring, which was one of the reasons I bought it. Putting the tent body on one side and the poles on the other does a fairly nice job of balancing the load. I still have a lot to learn about packing panniers.

My Coleman Exponent Expedition stove is on its last legs, having been discontinued by Coleman. The whole system uses a specialized fuel and I love the lantern but its useful life is roughly equal to the amount of fuel I have. It takes up a fair amount of space, and I may in the future switch to a SnowPeak butane stove that fits inside my titanium cooking pot to save space. I will be sad to see the end of life for the Coleman equipment, but that’s what you get for developing a proprietary fuel.

The complete library of photos is below and you can click through to see the images on Flickr.

Don’t worry Salt Spring Island: I’ll be back. A lovely time was had by all.

July 3, 2010
Stanley Park 9 o'clock Gun

Posted by skooter at 6:30 AM
Tags: Cannon, Stanley Park, Vancouver

April 20, 2010
Trenton, Redux

Lock #1, Trenton, Ontario Window at St. George's Anglican Church, Trenton, Ontario Golden Hawk, Centennial Park, Trenton, Ontario

Petrified Turtle, Trenton, Ontario Wooden Gravestone, Trenton, Ontario St. George's Anglican Church, Trenton, Ontario Lock #3, Trent Canal, Trenton, Ontario Stairs to Mt. Pelion, Trenton, Ontario Lock mechanism, Trenton, Ontario Dam on the Trent Canal near Lock #2, Trenton, Ontario Clouds, Trenton, Ontario

Posted by skooter at 2:19 AM
Tags: Family, Trenton

October 7, 2009
The New York Times on Squamish

The New York Times’ Frugal Traveller visits Squamish and likes what he sees.

Really, what’s not too like? Squamish is a great place, if a little isolated.

Posted by skooter at 8:07 PM
Tags: Squamish, Travel, Vancouver, Vancouver Olympics

August 13, 2009
Don't Buy a Fancy Funeral / It's Not Worth it in the End

Stan & Mary Rohatinsky, June 26, 2009, Star-Peno, Alberta Away for a while, rambling down to Oregon first and then across British Columbia to the Alberta Praries—across the country’s spine to the other side to say goodbye to an old family friend. More photos to come.

Posted by skooter at 4:21 AM
Tags: Family, Obituaries

June 14, 2009
Tragedy on Half Dome

Sent by a friend, who was hiking on Half Dome at the time.

Yosemite hiker dies in fall from Half Dome
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, June 14, 2009

As many as 30 horrified onlookers saw a male hiker plunge hundreds of feet to his death Saturday as he was climbing Yosemite’s world-famous Half Dome, park rangers said.

The man, who was not identified pending notification of relatives, fell at 3:40 p.m. as he climbed the granite edifice in the midst of a hail storm. The hiker fell to a shoulder of the dome about 1,800 feet from the top.

Half Dome from the floor of Yosemite Valley

Posted by skooter at 4:58 PM
Tags: Half Dome, Yosemite

January 24, 2009
Neko Case is Paste Magazine's Cover Girl

Neko Case has entered the Forest Neko Case makes the cover of this month’s Paste Magazine suggesting that anticipation of her new album is high. The new single was released this week, and the album is due on March 3rd as is the new release from a band many have heard of named U2.

Frankly, I’m more excited about Neko…iTunes doesn’t have it for pre-release purchase yet, but they will, damn it, they will.

According to Paste Neko’s bought a farm property near Montpellier, Vermont. I love New England, and for years I’ve said that New Hampshire was my favourite state, because I liked the mountains better than in Vermont. Vermont’s Green Mountains are rolling and tree covered while New Hampshire’s White Mountains are rougher and sharper, and include Mt. Washington, an impressive peak.

Vermont has Neko now, and I think my loyalty might have shifted.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 AM
Tags: Neko Case, New England, Travel

December 20, 2008
Royal Canadian Air Force Museum, CFB Trenton, Ontario

Posted by skooter at 2:38 PM
Tags: Air Force, Grandpa Lobb, Military

November 13, 2008
If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Highway 97, the major connector road or the interior, opens again after being closed for more than two weeks:

“Highway 97 in Okanagan Valley reopens”
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 9:35 AM ET
CBC News

A major highway in B.C’s Okanagan Valley reopened Wednesday morning after it was closed more than two weeks ago due to an unstable rock face that threatened to collapse onto the road.

The reopening came as crews were able to stabilize the hillside along Highway 97 by blasting tonnes of rock off the top of the slope and piling it at the bottom to act as a natural doorstop.

But Highway 99 on the coast closes (at least partly) for the same reason.

Rockslide slows Highway 99 traffic
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | 11:28 AM ET
CBC News

A small rockslide on the Sea to Sky Highway connecting Vancouver and Whistler has reduced traffic to a single lane.

The rockslide occurred one or two kilometres north of the junction with Marine Drive near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal early Wednesday morning.

Posted by skooter at 1:30 PM
Tags: Olympics, Roads, Sea to Sky, Travel, Vancouver

September 27, 2008
Listen to the Bell, Mr. Premier...It Tolls for Thee

Gordon Campbell today announced at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting tolls would be removed from the Coquihalla Highway as of 13:00hrs today. The Vancouver Sun provides sufficiently pedantic coverage.

The logic is pretty obvious here: the new Port Mann bridge is going to be tolled, which means this effectively just moves the toll farther up the highway. The route from Vancouver to the Interior will only be toll free for a short period of time. The Lougheed Highway provides an alternate, probably permanently toll free route to the Coquihalla but from Vancouver it adds quite a bit of time: for most people, it’s not practical.

The obvious question though, is what happened to the 2003 plan of privatizing the Coquihalla. At the time, Transportation Minister Judith Reed explained the decision by saying that:

“As the 17-year-old highway ages, maintenance and rehabilitation costs will grow. These improvements must be made in a way that ensures the 81 per cent of users from outside the southern Interior pay the largest share, and benefits frequent travellers - especially local residents.

The government—the same government—at the time insisted that privatization was the only way to keep the Coquihalla running effectively into the future. There was just no other way.

The government press release is archived here but I’ve excerpted it after the break in case that URL changes.


For Immediate Release
May 6, 2003
Ministry of Transportation


MERRITT - A new maintenance and operations arrangement to manage the Coquihalla Highway will improve services, reduce costs for residents who are frequent travellers and create new infrastructure for the southern Interior, Transportation Minister Judith Reid said today.

Under the new arrangement, the Coquihalla roadbed and right-of-way will remain publicly owned, while a private-sector investor will be sought to assume responsibility for the operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the highway between Hope and Merritt. Legally binding service and safety standards will be set under a 55-year contract, ensuring long-term reliability and predictability in operations.

“The Coquihalla Highway is a major trade route for the southern Interior and has the potential to be an even stronger economic engine in the future,” said Reid. “As the 17-year-old highway ages, maintenance and rehabilitation costs will grow. These improvements must be made in a way that ensures the 81 per cent of users from outside the southern Interior pay the largest share, and benefits frequent travellers - especially local residents.

“By providing more efficient and reliable operations over the long term, the new model will help transform the Coquihalla to create new economic growth, improved infrastructure and new opportunities for southern Interior residents. The Coquihalla is a great asset. And it can be so much better, with new capital, new energy and a new focus on improved customer service.”

Tollroad News (a finer example of micro-marketing I can’t possibly think of) has an archive that includes a look at the economics of the B.C. governments proposal.

September 19, 2008
Land of the Giants

The New York Times visits California’s Redwood National Forest, and sends my mind wandering to that golden, scenic coast.

Maybe next year. Maybe on a bicycle.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM
Tags: Articles, California, Travel

September 12, 2008
Sea to Sky Construction in 2008

Upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway have been going at a rapid pace, largely driven the the Vancouver olympics. These photos show the highway just north of Horseshoe Bay from the Bowen Island ferry. The colour one in July, the black & white in September.

Posted by skooter at 4:21 AM
Tags: Construction, Sea to Sky, Vancouver Olympics

September 9, 2008
End of an Era

My beloved Yamaha Virago has moved on to a new home, one that will see it getting the care that I, with my reduced space, was never able to properly give it.

My last ride was one back from Tofino, in rain that can only be called a torrential downpour with me completely improperly dressed. Despite this, there are a lot of good memories attached to that bike: my trip to California being the highlight among them.

I will be going without a bike for a while. This has, in any case, been the year of the pedal in my life and that will continue for a while. A new motorcycle may be in the cards, but with new requirements. A Honda ST1100 or ST1300 would be an ideal choice.)

Life goes on. I’m happy the bike is going to a good home.

Posted by skooter at 3:33 AM
Tags: Motorcycle, Virago

September 7, 2008
New Photos

Lolita Some new black and white photos in the Lynn Canyon galleries and the first results from my trip to Clayoquot Sound are on Flickr. Another roll to be posted this week.

Posted by skooter at 8:19 PM
Tags: Kayaking, Tofino, Travel

August 29, 2008
One Business I Wouldn't Want To Be In

That Zoom airlines collapsed isn’t really a surprise. It’s really only a matter of time before Canada is back to having only Air Canada as a carrier. I doubt even Westjet will survive. The population is simply too small.

Then again, I may be wrong. We’ll see.

Posted by skooter at 1:42 AM
Tags: Airlines, Airport, Business

August 28, 2008
Yay, New York City!

I’ve never ridden a bicycle in New York City, and I’ve been told it’s…challenging. I’m glad to see the greatest city on earth doing more to encourage cycling and, more importantly, to actively discourage driving.

August 27, 2008,  5:41 pm
Bike, Don’t Drive, City Tells Its Workers

The city has drastically cut the number of free parking permits it gives to city employees, including teachers. So how else are civil servants supposed to get to work?

On Wednesday, city officials said they would expand secure bicycle parking for employees at five municipal buildings in Lower Manhattan in the fall. Three existing bike parking facilities will be enlarged, going to 110 spaces from 46, and two others will be added, creating 24 new parking spaces.

While we’re at it, hurrah to both New York and the always interesting David Byrne for the most interesting bike racks I’ve seen in a long time.

Posted by skooter at 2:56 AM
Tags: Cycling, Music, New York

August 24, 2008
Back from Clayoquot Sound

Six days of paddling including three days of rain were followed by a two hour motorcycle ride to the Departure Bay ferry terminal. Eight days of a beard came off this morning, laundry was done and dry bags have been unpacked.
Riding the ferry home after paddling for six days Vancouver Island from the Ferry

More pictures to come shortly. Patience, naturally, being the nature of shooting film.

August 2, 2008

I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid going to Edmonton, but work had me there for three days recently.
A user group sponsored training course was the reason I was there.
Can-Cell industries hosted the training courses at their main warehouse.

Drinks at Joey’s only (we went to two locations.)
My first (and hopefully last) visit to the West Edmonton Mall. It actually felt remarkably small.
The view from the hotel. Stunning.

Posted by skooter at 3:43 AM
Tags: Canada, Edmonton, Travel, Work

August 1, 2008

I don’t think I’ve been this shocked in a very very long time.

This particularly gruesome detail was the most chilling:

Then the incident became even more macabre. The attacker returned to the victim’s side and began sawing through his neck. A few moments later, he walked to the front of the bus holding a decapitated human head, displaying it to the 34 passengers and the bus driver standing outside.

Posted by skooter at 4:51 AM
Tags: Bus, Crime, Greyhound

July 15, 2008
Going Down the Road - Places Captured in Time, but Not Frozen There

The North Cascades Highway is a spectacular, hilly, twisty route through the mountains that I love riding on a motorcycle and would one day like to cycle.

Winthrop is a strange little town that’s been made over in a complete western theme, complete with saloons instead of restaurants and pumping stations that look like old style general stores. It’s a bit weird, but not without it’s charm.

The New York Times has an article about Winthrop today but they left out some details about its sister city Concrete.

Chief amongst these is that the place is overrun with cops. I’ve never seen such a ratio. The population is estimated at just over 800 people, and the last time I was there I saw four cars pulled over.

They love to give out speeding tickets down there, and every motorcyclist in the world seems to know it. It’s kind of a running joke.

I might get to do this ride on Sunday, if time and my energy level allows. I’m heading to Midway for one of my regular visits, and I might come back through the states.

Either way, if you haven’t driven it you need to. Better yet—ride it.

Posted by skooter at 11:39 PM
Tags: America, Diners, Motorcycle, Road Trip, Travel

April 28, 2008
Liberated Photos

So, in quite a random fashion, I discovered that one of my photos was liberated the other day. You can see it here and the original is posted here or on my Flickr profile here, which is where it was actually liberated from.
BC Mining Museum, Britannia Beach, British Columbia

It’s funny. It’s a good shot, that one. it was a gloomy day, and I’d driven up the road there. The tripod was deployed (of course) and the museum was wonderfully draped in the mist and fog that happens so often in that part of the world.

The museum’s seen some investment recently. In its current condition you’ hardly recognize the photo: gentrification has no limit, it seems. The entire community of Britannia Beach is going to look nothing like it did when I moved here. Somebody else opened the kayak store that I thought would be a great fit there: islands and a rocky coast offer endless opportunities.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the photo being used without my permission. I’m flattered on one level. On another, I wish they’d let me know. There’s an alternative view that says what they’ve done is theft, but I’m happy to see my shots in circulation frankly so I’m not going to kick up a fuss for now.

Posted by skooter at 7:14 PM
Tags: Britannia Beach, Sea to Sky, Squamish

April 19, 2008
Snow in Manning Park

April Snowfall in Manning Park

Posted by skooter at 5:49 AM
Tags: Snow, Vancouver, Weather

March 26, 2008
27.3 Kilometres

27.3 Kilometres is the length of a return trip on my new commute to work, largely along Vancouver’s Midtown bike route out to Boundary Road, crossing every major street in the city. It’s quite pleasant really, a bit hillier than I’d thought, but not too bad.

I pass a cemetery, several chinese restaurants, the Purdy’s Chocolate factory, the biggest liquor store in the city and the headquarters of Burnaby’s Electronic Arts Inc.

This is twice as long as my old commute, and it takes about twice as long to ride it (about an hour door to door, including time to get changed.) I’m not sure how it will feel when winter comes, with its relentless rain: new, more powerful, headlights might be a good idea but that’s a decision that can wait for a few months. Spring (with its promise of summer looming just around the corner), is a great time to change jobs for a bicycle commuter. It’s just nicer to ride with long days of sunshine (such as it is in Vancouver, of course.)

Tonight it rained on the way home, quite a bit as it turns out. I didn’t mind too much: at least I was on two wheels.

Posted by skooter at 2:01 AM
Tags: Commute, Cycling, Vancouver, Work

March 7, 2008
Henry Dorsett Case's Airstream?

Airstream Trailer at William Gibson's house That’s not a trailer, it’s an Airstream. This isn’t Chiba City, it’s Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood. The phalanx of Volkswagens has been replaced by an extension cord running out of the house.

Posted by skooter at 1:01 AM
Tags: Shaughnessy, Volkswagen, William Gibson

February 20, 2008
Wilco, Riviera Theatre, Chicago, Illinois

Wilco at the Riviera Theatre, Chicago

Posted by skooter at 7:20 PM
Tags: Chicago, Concerts, Music, Wilco

January 11, 2008
"Because It's There"

Sir Edmund Hillary passed away yesterday, a loss to the mountaineering community and the world of exploration.

Hillary was one of the first two men to stand atop Everest, never revealing whether it was himself of Tenzing Norgay who achieved the summit first. True class.

A long time ago—not one, but two lifetimes ago—I went to see Hillary speak on a first date. Hillary was asked about the famous “Because it’s there” quote at the event: he never said those words, and it’s one of the great misquotes of history…the truth hardly matters anymore.

Spending time in the mountains this weekend seems like a great way to remember the man.

Posted by skooter at 2:13 PM
Tags: Exploration, Obituaries, Outdoors

November 5, 2007
Bourbon & Bluegrass

I have a fondness for good Bourbon (generally keeping a bottle of Knob Creek in my desk at home.) This is one of those great road trips I’d like to ride…

Bourbon & Bluegrass
Published: November 4, 2007

ONE Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, while most people were at work, I stood in a room at Maker’s Mark distillery, in rural Kentucky, breathing in the pungent fumes of fermenting whiskey mash and feeling a kind of mild contact buzz.

Posted by skooter at 8:43 PM
Tags: Alcohol, America, Bourbon, Kentucky

Cycling in Portland

Portland has long had a reputation for being an extremely bike friendly city—perhaps more so than any west coast city. San Francisco’s hills, it seems, plague it; Los Angeles’ traffic destroys all hope. Seattle and Vancouver have much in common with Portland (including the rain,) although the geography of both is bumpier.

The New York Times has an article on Portland’s cycling economy. What other city could have produced the phenomenal Full Wood Fenders from River City Bikes.

The cycling traffic jam I hit on the way home from work tonight was felt good, but they are rare here in Vancouver. Portland’s a great town.

Posted by skooter at 4:08 PM
Tags: Articles, Bikes, Cycling, Environmentalism, Portland

September 17, 2007
Sea to Sky, in Style

I headed up the Sea to Sky Highway on Saturday morning, later than I’d intended (I apparently needed the sleep, and didn’t wake up until 9 a.m.) but eager to spend at least one more night in Garibaldi Provincial Park for the season. At 1,500 metres in altitude, it gets cold up there.
De Tomaso Pantera on the Sea to Sky Highway The Sea to Sky is a spectacularly twisty road, second only to Chukanut Drive on my list of favourite rides within an hour. The North Cascades Highway could be on that list, but it’s a bit too far away…at least the best parts.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that familiar rumble of an Italian engine on the highway when in a blur, I was passed by a half dozen Ferrari’s in the Lion’s Bay area. There was a Porsche as well…we shall not discuss Porsche’s. Lovely vehicles, to be sure, but they (alas) are not Italian. Their teutonic nature lacks the passion of those majestic beasts. The Lamborghini’s in the crowd are interlopers as well…mere imitations; Chrysler products with a roaring bull on their nose; roughly hewn machine of speed, less than works of art.

De Tomaso Pantera on the Sea to Sky Highway

A few minutes later, another passing lane opened up and I slid into the right hand lane: one must Show Respect for the Faster Machine™ when it’s appropriate. Had I been on two wheels, I would expect the same from others.

I had to merge between these finely crafted machines and wound up behind the rare De Tomaso Pantera which I followed almost all the way to Squamish, my windows open in order to enjoy the firm note of that exhaust. Tim Horton died in a Pantera; Elvis shot his.

Just before Squamish, the last of these engineering marvels passed me including, of course, a red 1980s Testarossa. I’ve always liked that car in its yellow colour, but fundamentally I’ve always just liked that car. A true masterpiece…a true work of art.

I find going fast on two wheels much more entertaining than four. I suspect that anyone of these machines could have changed my mind quite easily.

Garibaldi was, as always, spectacular with the little rain that fell overnight doing nothing to make it less worthwhile. Fall is here, with shorter days and the the ghosts that come out at night. Time still for a few nights perhaps, but if this is the last one it was well worth it.

Posted by skooter at 8:41 PM
Tags: Cars, Ferrari

August 18, 2007
Truly Naked Motorcycling

Installing a new tire.

Posted by skooter at 12:53 PM
Tags: Cameraphone, Motorcycle, Virago

July 2, 2007
Alexander Island, British Columbia

Three days of sailing the gulf islands have left me a bit sunburned, tired and knowing a great deal more about sailing than I used too.

I spent last night moored at Alexander Island, one of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s outposts in the Gulf Islands, pictured in the magnified view below.
Alexander Island, RVYC Outpost Location

The winds were light but the sails went up for a few hours through our weekend and we got to enjoy the absolutely beautiful feeling of carving through water at speeds in excess of 6 knots in virtual silence. It really is a magic feeling.

Tomorrow I’m back to life on two wheels rather than none, and I’m looking forward to it, but sunsets like this will be missed.
Sunset on Alexander Island

Posted by skooter at 7:37 PM
Tags: Sailing

February 16, 2007
Best Postcard Ever

Postcards from New Zealand

Posted by skooter at 5:54 PM
Tags: Benjamin, Elizabeth, New Zealand

January 23, 2007
Brico Restaurant, Island Highway, Vancouver Island

Posted by skooter at 6:18 AM
Tags: Black and White, Boats, Vancouver Island

January 22, 2007
Toronto, Adelaide & York, December 27th, 2006

Software Development Services

Posted by skooter at 6:19 AM
Tags: Software, Work

January 6, 2007
Seattle vs. Vancouver

There’s a fairly gentle rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver. Generally speaking the people who live in either city like the other equally well (if not more) but there’s a recognition that these cities are…twins. We share and we compete and the same time.

A large investment in Seattle’s port for cruise ships is not going to be good for Vancouver’s port.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Port files to build new cruise terminal
Plans $60 million site at Magnolia


The Port of Seattle has filed applications with the city of Seattle seeking permits for a $120 million project to move its cruise terminal from Terminal 30 to Terminal 91, reconverting Terminal 30 to container use.

Posted by skooter at 7:48 AM
Tags: Cruising, Economics, Seattle, Vancouver

December 26, 2006
Cruising the 401

When the guy in front of you orders a Triple Triple you know you’re not at Starbucks. This is Tim Horton’s country, my friends.

If this is Horton’s country, it must be Ontario and three milks and three sugars in your coffee is perfectly fine. A bit unusual, but fine.

Mom and I drove today from Ottawa — where we spent 3 days around Christmas — to Toronto. We took the scenic route out Highway 417 and then down 15 through Smith Falls passing numerous beautiful stone house and churches in between.

The architecture is one of the things I miss most about Ontario, particularly the old churches. On Christmas Eve I headed just down the road from my brother’s house to a large and stunningly beautiful French Canadian Catholic church to look for a midnight mass, but found it closed. It seems that since it was a Sunday they simply performed their normal early evening mass. I took photos of the church nonetheless.

I also saw my Grandmother today, for the second time on this trip. On Saturday she was not well and today she didn’t remember that previous visit. Her mind was sharp today, but her body was not — she lay there, with her eyes closed the entire time. When I asked her why she just said that she liked to keep them closed. We talked about other things.

These visits are hard, as spread out as they are. I’m never quite sure how aware she’s going to be or how much she’ll want to talk (sometimes not at all, sometimes quite a bit.) Still…they’re important. I may get a chance to visit her again on Sunday, but we will have to see if time allows. It does seem likely to be my last chance.

I ended the day watching Snowcake which is an excellent movie filmed in Wawa, Ontario and staring Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss. Well worth seeing, although I don’t feel like giving away anything of the plot which starts with a shock to the system. The movie unfolds from there as a slice of life, and a reasonably satisfying one at that.

Posted by skooter at 8:01 PM
Tags: Coffee, Grandma, Tim Hortons

December 25, 2006
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul

James Brown is dead, and I’m no longer certain what I’ll listen to while riding across the United States. Living in America is a pretty classic road trip tune.

My favourite quote from the New York Times article about his death comes from Chuck D. of Public Enemy

”James presented obviously the best grooves,” rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy once told The Associated Press. ”To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one’s coming even close.”

No one near as funky indeed, and few as inventive.

Posted by skooter at 6:35 AM
Tags: Obituaries, Soul

December 21, 2006
Coming Home, Via Toronto

There’s a great song by Wilco called Via Chicago that’s rolling through my head now, and has been lately.

I painted my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white, dry pages
Was all I tried to save
But the wind blew me back via Chicago

I know I’ll make it back
One of these days and turn on your TV
To watch a man with a face like mine
Being chased down a busy street
When he gets caught, I wont get up
And I wont go to sleep
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Via Chicago

For a long time I’ve felt like I’ve been searching for a home, but not anymore.

Vancouver is home, but this Christmas I’m getting there via Toronto.

It’s 0400hrs and I’m up, drinking coffee and getting ready to head to the airport for an eleven day trip to Toronto, where I spent most of my first 29 years.

Christmas Day will mark the begining of my 7th year in Vancouver. I left Toronto on December 23rd of 2001 at about 1530hrs, and this will be the most time I’ve spent there since.

I was torn when I booked this trip. I get to see my Grandmother, who I haven’t seen in a while and may not get to again; it’s Maya’s first birthday and I’ve never met her; I get to see the friends in Toronto who are closer than my own family — the friends that I grew up with and have known for more than 20 years.

It also means missing a few things. it’s the first Christmas for Paige, Benjamin and Elizabeth and I won’t be there. My friends in Vanouver who are my family won’t be around.

It’s a trade off, and one that I haven’t made in quite a while. Paige, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Georgia have a lot more Christmases ahead of them, and I’ll be there to share many of them. There’s lots of time.

So this Christmas I leave Vancouver but only for a while.

I’m coming home, via Toronto.

Posted by skooter at 4:18 AM
Tags: Benjamin, Elizabeth, Georgia, Paige, Toronto, Wilco

December 20, 2006
Flying to Alaska

Alaska Airlines

More pictures from Alaska — my film, instead of the digital. I will post more soon in the galleries.

Sunrise over Alaska

Posted by skooter at 7:25 AM
Tags: Alaska, Planes

December 11, 2006
The Sun Also Rises

It’s 0930hrs in Anchorage, and the sky is slowly turning a bright blue. This is not something I’m familiar with, and this strange world confuses me.

Posted by skooter at 10:41 AM
Tags: Alaska, Anchorage

December 10, 2006
Pictures from Alpine, Alaska

Me standing in front of the CD4 drilling rig Me standing in front of the CD4 drilling rig. This was the wamer day — -44 degrees Celsius — about 5 miles south of the Beaufort Sea

Checking exhaust fans in the M9 unit

Posted by skooter at 11:53 PM | Comments
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, ConocoPhillips, Oil

Heading Home, Via Anchorage

Another 4 a.m. wake up call, and another day starts in Alpine. My last.

After a presentation on Sapphire (which I don’t need to attend, but will out of interest) I’ll be packing up our equipment and then my personal belongings. At 1400hrs, I depart on the twin otter and start the trip home with three flights stopping in no less than five cities.

I hope it’s warm in Vancouver tomorrow. I could use it.

Posted by skooter at 5:58 AM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, Anchorage, ConocoPhillips, Oil

December 9, 2006
At CD4. -48 Degrees Farenheit

I’m out, again, at the CD4 drilling well at the Alpine facility. I have no idea what the production of this well is, but it’s big.

It’s only -48 today, and the wind is less gusty than it was yesterday. This makes it much more manageable. At 0900hrs, the sky is still pitch black and the snow is blowing hard enough to create what they call a snow fog here.

While we’re waiting for somebody to caulk a seam, I’m sitting in a glycol heated trailer drinking fresh coffee and, of course, checking email and posting this note. It seems a bit bizarre.

Today is my last full day here. I got a baseball cap from one of the guys here. It’s a small souvenir, but a nice one.

My trip home starts tomorrow, but doesn’t end until Monday. The first leg will be via Twin Otter from Alpine to Prudhoe Bay, the same Twin Otter I arrived on. This is about a 15 minute flight.

From Prudhoe Bay I board an Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage at 0542hrs. This arrives late in the evening at approximately 2215hrs. My stop over in Prudhoe Bay is going to be slightly more than three hours. Lunch, and Internet access, at the Prudhoe Bay hotel again.

I stay in Anchorage tomorrow night, and then board another Alaska Airlines flight to Vancouver at about 1300hrs the next day, finally arriving in Vancouver at 2000hrs after transferring in Seattle to a Bombardier Q200. I could catch an earlier flight, but I plan on taking advantage of some time to sleep. Not much of that in my life lately.

It’s a very long trip home.

Posted by skooter at 9:47 AM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, ConocoPhillips, Oil

December 8, 2006
Staring Into the Wind

Today was my major day of work here in Alaska, and I woke up at 0430hrs. It’s now 2100hrs and I’m just getting to the end of my day.

But today was a great day.

I stood on the Alaskan Tundra north of the arctic cirlcle wearing a parka and a hard hat, and stared into a 22 mph wind which made the temperature feel like it was -57 degrees.

There are a number of drilling rigs here — I can’t recall exactly how many, and I’m too tired to search for the information — and we headed out to CD4 where the chemical stabilization module is protected by Sapphire.

I, of course, forgot the most important rule of travelling with electronics, and particularly electronic devices that one is not familiar with: there are no points for being a hero — don’t push your battery.

It died, and we had to drive back to camp to grab the power supply through a fog of snow so thick the moon is the only clue which direction is up. Despite this, life is relatively normal up here. Planes landed and took off, and everybody went about their daily jobs because they are, in fact, their daily jobs. It’s just a different kind of normal.

It was after we had completed testing that I had a chance to just stand there, soaking in the space.

It was awesome.

Posted by skooter at 9:55 PM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, ConocoPhillips, Oil

Wind Chill

Everybody knows that weather all about windchill. Outside right now it’s “only” -7 degrees. Farenheit, of course.

The windchill makes it -57, thank you very much.

There is a lot of waiting around for people and things to be in the right place here.

The facility up here produces about 160,000 barrels of oil a day. For fire suppression, most areas are protected by the world’s largest fine water mist system installed by Dooley Tackaberry. The control room for that system is impressive.

I will be testing a new stabilizer module which is protected by Sapphire (or Novec 1230). The principle is similar to an alcohol still: a large, tall column separates the oil by temperature into different types. This module, when it comes online, will increase production by 6,000 barrels a day, or — expressed in more direct terms — US$360,000 of revenue a day. This makes my flight seem…cheap.

Posted by skooter at 9:38 AM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, ConocoPhillips, Oil

5 a.m., Alpine, Alaska

It’s 5 a.m. and my day is starting, or it’s already started. The current plan has me doing a test on at least two rooms, one of which may not be until 1830hrs. A long day.

The weather is howling today, with a wicked wind blowing across the Tundra. At about 1200hrs it should brighten up a bit to start looking like twilight. Until then the sky has a blackness to it that reminds you at every moment that there’s a whole universe out there and how small you are in it. It’s amazing.

I’m here at the ConocoPhillips Alpine facility, one of the most productive and profitable oil fields in North America. The facility is impressive, the food is good, the rooms are comfortable (but small.)

I will, hopefully, get some pictures today on a digital camera and see about posting them. The Nomex jumpsuit and down filled coat I’ve been issued need to be seen.

Internet access here is limited to two public terminals, despite the fact that there is sattelite TV. I will post a note later today when I get done with work.

Posted by skooter at 6:18 AM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, ConocoPhillips, Oil

December 7, 2006
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska: Someone Get Me a Low-Fat, No Whip Latte!

Landing in Prudhoe Bay is pretty special. This place puts the podunk back in “podunk town.”

It sure is fun though.

At the local Starbucks…oh…wait. There’s no Starbucks here.

At the local hotel, the buffet lunch is $15. I appear to be the only non-oil worker here. Non-hotel diners need to register at the desk…this is basically home for a bunch of people whenever they’re not actually in field.

At noon, it’s like twilight here. No dark, but definitely not light.

Prudhoe is the start of the Alaska pipeline, and as you descned into the airport you cross right over it. You can’t help it.

From a distance, it could easily be mistaken for a fissure in the ice, or maybe a recently cleared roadway. It’s only on approach that it becomes clear what it is. It runs like a scar above — not on, but above — the seemingly endless white Earth that surrounds Prudhoe Bay.

In just under 3 hours I board a Twin Otter and head to Alpine. It will be pitch black by the time I land, and I’m not sure about my Internet access.

Off we go.

Posted by skooter at 1:16 PM
Tags: Alaska, Coffee, Oil

Heading to Prudhoe Bay

Anchorage Airport provides public internet access, although it appears to be port 80 only — no email, or instant messaging.

Running the ring of security here was pretty stringent. Boots off, everything in separate containers. My wonderfully luggable Patagonia Burrito Suiter garment bag is sitting in the hold, thanks to a single stick of deoorant. Welcome to the new world.

Especially when the Homeland Security Terrorist alert level here at Ted Stephens International Airport is Orange.


Prudhoe bay in 4 hours, after two stops. The first in Fairbanks, the second in Barrow.

Alpine, Alaska is the land of 24 hour darkness. My ultimate destination. My Ultima Thule. For now.

Posted by skooter at 6:46 AM
Tags: Alaska, Homeland Security, Politics

December 6, 2006
Alpine, Alaska

Tomorrow, I step out of a Twin Otter airplane and onto the Alaskan Tundra.

I’ve been here before but that was different. The Vollendam cruise was fun, and pleasant but it was summer. It was also a cruise, which meant a few minutes in over trafficked ports of call designed specifically to separate tourists from their dollars.

This is different.

I’m here for work, on very short notice.

At 10:00 a call came that meant that I had to get to Alaska pretty quickly. Today, I flew from Vancouver to Seattle and then from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage has a population of about 300,000 people and aside from the fact that the local bookstore didn’t have a copy of Twilight of the Superheroes it’s a lot like any other large American city. I settled for some Alice Munro instead.

I had dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The Spice Rubbed Halibut was phenomenal.

Tomorrow I fly from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay and then board the Twin Otter at 1455hrs to Alpine, Alaska. My favourite Wikipedia comment about it says:

As of the census of 2000, there are no people living in the location.

Alpine is an oil spot of some sort, and I’ll be performing a door fan test on one of their facilities. I’m a bit vague on details given the short notice.

I’m also a bit excited, and managed to pack a few lenses and a camera.

Tomorrow, I step out of a Twin Otter and onto the Alaskan tundra, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.

Posted by skooter at 10:03 PM
Tags: Alaska, Alpine, Oil, Work

October 13, 2006
Chuckanut Drive and Retiring for the Season

Chuckanut Drive is the only road I’ve ever been on—unplanned, at least—with more motorcycles than cars. This is a narrow twisty road that follows the Washington coast south from Bellingham into farm country.

I had to go to Bellingham for work today, and went gladly when I checked the forecast and realized it wasn’t going to rain. Cloudy but warm, it said; perfect for motorcycling, I said.

I sparked up the Virago early this morning and crossed the border around 0815hrs, worked for a while and then hit Chuckanut after wrapping everything up. It was a great ride-a bit foggy, with the sun struggling to peak through.

As I got to the border it warmed up and the sun came out in earnest. The ride was warm, and pleasant and made for motorcycling. The forecast called for rain for the next few days.

The Virago is now put away for the season with 63,578km on the odometer.

Until April.

Posted by skooter at 5:53 PM
Tags: Motorcycle, Virago, Washington

October 4, 2006
Seattle Terrorist Scare

An article in the Post-Intelligencer has an interesting comment…

Seattle-bound Ferry Gets Scare

“This is not the time in which you make any kinds of comments, or suggestions, about bombs,” said ferry system spokeswoman Susan Harris. “Especially on a ferry.”

I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to be making comments or suggestions about bombs, but it’s been five years since 9/11, and I’m wondering when it will be time to stop refering to this as “the time.”

Posted by skooter at 7:35 PM
Tags: Politics, Seattle, Terrorism

September 29, 2006
Gotta Like Yvon

Patagonia Over the past while, I’ve crossed a lot of borders — more accurately, I’ve crossed one border many times. Sometimes for work, other times for short trips and others for longer trips. Every time is a bit different.

When I crossed on my way to California I was warmly greeted by a lady who was warm and effusives commented that it was almost my birthday. When I crossed to go to the Mt. Baker Hillclimb two older gentlemen joked with us while applications for a travel document were completed (“No sir, I have never been affiliated with the Nazi party” is an answer that most, although I suppose not all, can give in honesty.)

When I crossed today, the border guard was in a pretty cranky mood.

I was asked annoying questions (“Got a business card so you can prove you work for this company?”) and generally seemed grumpy. When he asked for my keys I wasn’t surprised — it happens often, and I never worry about it — and handed them to him. Americans always have trouble with my trunk, unfamiiar as they are with the concept of a latch, and he was no exception but he got it open.

When he walked back to my side of the car, he handed me back my keys and said “Patagonia. Gotta love Yvon.” I was a bit confused, but he continued “He’s Canadian isn’t he.”

The reference was obvious — Yvon Chouinard is Patagonia’s founder and president — and I said “Yeah. He’s a personal hero. His father was French Canadian.”

We had a bit more conversation, but what I couldn’t figure out was why it came up. I happened to be wearing a vest and then realized that I was also wearing pants and a light sweater from Patagonia, but it still seemed odd.

Then I realized I had a sticker on the back windshield of the car, and he must have noticed it.

I always knew that sticker would come in handy.

Posted by skooter at 9:25 PM
Tags: Homeland Security, Patagonia

September 22, 2006
New Wheels

2006 Kona Sutra

New wheels. Next year, finally time to ride the Kettle Valley Rail Trail to Midway.

Posted by skooter at 7:45 PM
Tags: Bikes, Touring, Travel

September 19, 2006
California Photos

Welcome to California Photos from California are now up, and I’m begining to craft the tale of the trip. If you follow the photos in the following order, you’ll be roughly following the trip as it went.

Highway 395 was the begining of my trip, running along the eastern edge of the state and down through desert country.

Yosemite National Park is accessed through Tioga Pass by turning off of Highway 395 at Lee Vining. Lee Vining and Yosemite were the first missions of my trip.

San Francisco, that famous city by the bay, was my next mission and I visited it on my 35th birthday and got to see an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. The highlight of my trip.

Napa Valley and it’s world famous wines drew me in for a short mission prior to hitting the California Coast and that most famous of twisty roads — U.S. 1.

Heading north towards Canada led me to the Redwood Forest and finally back to Oregon and the familar geography of what we think of as the Pacific Northwest.

Posted by skooter at 8:56 PM
Tags: Motorcycle, Road Signs, Road Trip

September 8, 2006
California, in Black and White

Tree, Pothole Dome Working, Yosemite National Park The Virago has entered the Forest

Posted by skooter at 6:13 PM

September 6, 2006
California, in Colour

Back from California, the colour slides come first. Many many more later. Odometer on the Virago reads 62,930.5 kilometres, for a total trip distance of 4,598.4 kilometres (or, if you prefer, 2,857.3 miles.)

Sunset at Westport campgroud, August 31, 2006 Seagull on the beach Julian and his Truck at the 395 junction Wine, coast, and a gear box

Posted by skooter at 7:39 PM

August 24, 2006
Camping & Motorcycles

Motorcycles, it’s been said, are not made for camping. I’m aiming to prove this wrong. So far, it’s not going all that well.

Admittedly, I’m sort of pushing it by insisting on not carrying a backpack (cameras will be enough on my body itself) but still…these saddlebags have surprisingly less room than I’d like. I’ve had to ditch the very nice two burner Coleman Xpedition stove in favour of the single burner one, and as a result my good cookware. This means perhaps a bit more eating out, but we’ll see.

Admittedly, I’m packing more clothes than I might need but with a brief stop in San Francisco, I’m trying to be a bit civilized here.

So off we go. The odometer on the Virago reads 58,332.1 kilometres.

Yosemite. There are few more magical places in this world.

Posted by skooter at 9:42 PM
Tags: California, Camping, Motorcycle, Travel

August 21, 2006
The Oil we Eat

America’s biggest crop, grain corn, is completely unpalatable. It is raw material for an industry that maufactures food substitutes. Likewise, you can’t eat unprocessed wheat. You certainly can’t eat hay. You can eat unprocessed soybeans, but mostly we don’t. Agriculture in this country is not about food; it’s about commodities that require the outlay of still more energy to become food.

The Oil We Eat Following the Food Chain back to Iraq, Richard Manning
Harpers Magazine, February 2004, pp. 43

Posted by skooter at 11:36 PM
Tags: Articles, Energy, Environmentalism, Oil

April 20, 2006
Decisions. Decisions.

Suddenly, my decision to go to California instead of the Queen Charlotte Islands at the end of the summer is looking like a good one.

Ferry to Queen Charlottes ‘unlikely’ in 2006

Last updated Apr 19 2006 11:13 AM PDT
CBC News

BC Ferries says it is possible but “unlikely” there will be the regular summer ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands this year’s, following last month’s sinking of the Queen of the North

Posted by skooter at 8:32 PM

March 23, 2006
Korean Postal Envelope

Korean Postal Envelope

Posted by skooter at 7:33 PM
Tags: Asia

March 8, 2006
California's Been Good to Me

With a new job making Santiago less realistic (I really need to go for more than a week or two) plans for the end of summer have changed.

I’m officially announcing plans to head to California at the end of the summer, by motorcycle. Yosemite will be the ultimate destimation, with the California coast thrown in for good measure.

Look for pictures. It’ll be worth it.

Posted by skooter at 8:44 PM

February 21, 2006
Mountain Equipment Co-op

So, apparently, when I changed my address with the Moutain Equipment Co-op this time, I asked to start receiving correspondence in French. This is going to make my vote for this year’s board of directors very interesting…

Posted by skooter at 10:37 PM

December 28, 2005
New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve on Bowen Island with friends. I can’t imagine a better way to spend it.

Posted by skooter at 10:01 PM

December 27, 2005

My vacuum cleaner, car, roof rack and a good portion of my housewares are now Swedish.

If you can find a Swedish motorcycle do pass along the seller’s information.

Posted by skooter at 10:20 PM

December 24, 2005
Four Days in the Interior

It’s off to Kelowna, Oliver and Midway for four days to visit relatives. The drive up the Coquihalla should be pleasant.

It’s raining in Vancouver still - 6 or 7 days in a row at this point, but the weather is warm. This will change as we climb up the highway to snow, and ice and the kind of beautiful Christmas that people enjoy.

Back on Wednesday and aggressively into the throes of an election campaign - Merry Christmas to everybody.

Posted by skooter at 6:46 AM

December 5, 2005
It's Back

The Swedish Rocket is back. My other form of transportation will, in the future, be referred to as the Japanese Bullet

Posted by skooter at 10:08 PM

November 26, 2005
Read With Care

An extremely graphic article about a motorcycle collision and its aftermatch from the Toronto Star.

Read with care.

A few choice experts from the article.

The headline is “No helmet, high speed, hit a tree”. No helmet? Nobody should even be sitting on a bike without a helmet. Those half helmets those Harley kids wear should be banned too. Seriously. Full face should be an absolute requirement.

Later on:

Prevention is the only solution, Banfield says. “Knowledge is power. When you know what can happen, you are less likely to take the risk.”

Ask most trauma health workers if they’d ever get on a motorcycle and you’ll be met with a firm no.

According to provincial numbers, there were an average of 43 motorcycle fatalities a year in Ontario from 1994 through 2003.

No training is just silly. And 43 accidents is a very small number; 43,000 people die in car accidents in the United States a year - that’s 118 a day, and that’s only deaths. Almost 11,000 people a day are injured every day in car accidents.

Just a few things to keep in mind while considering those numbers about motorcycles.

Posted by skooter at 10:27 AM | Comments

November 25, 2005
Public Transit in Toronto

CBC’s Metro Morning is podcasted and I’ve been listening, which is really nice. A note from a November 10th interview with activists arguing for a Subway line in Scarborough shows why Andy Barrie is missed by those of us who used to live there.

“At the end of the day, is this really about politics rather than transit needs? We have a Sheppard line today - terribly, some would argue, underused - because Mel Lastman wanted one and that’s the simple political reality.”

That’s called calling it like it is. The always flamboyant Mel Lastman screwed up public transit in Canada’s largest city because of his ego.

Posted by skooter at 4:24 AM

November 13, 2005
Tofino Soon

Posted by skooter at 8:53 AM

November 7, 2005
French Riots

The French are storming the Bastille again, and Slate Magazine provides a great summary of how to torch a car.

Posted by skooter at 9:43 PM

A Highly Sensible Bicycle Law

Washington State has a highly sensible new traffic law, aimed at protecting cyclists. From today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

A new bicycle safety law is now in effect, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission points out. It’s now a traffic violation to pass another vehicle when bicyclists are approaching in the oncoming lane or on the shoulder. The law stems from a May 2004 crash near Walla Walla that killed a bicyclist. House Bill 1108 extended the legal zone of protection for bicyclists and pedestrians to highway shoulders and bicycle lanes. The law states that it is illegal to use the left-hand side of the road to pass when a bicyclist or pedestrian is within view and approaching from the opposite direction.

Posted by skooter at 6:20 PM

November 4, 2005
Salaries in Vancouver

The Cascadia Scorecard Weblog had a little tidbit about British Columbians and wages.

This refrain is not new - it is, in fact, one that is put forward everytime people speak about the differences between T-dot and Vancouver. The gist: people in Vancouver choose lifestyle over income.

I don’t see it as much of a choice. That jobs pay much less in Vancouver than in Toronto for the same career is simply entrenching the already enormous gap between the haves and have nots in this city.

Vancouver is home to the worst ghetto - perpetuated by the actions of our Mayor and City Council - in the country, known by that infamous acronym DTES (the Downtown East Side.) People buy condominiums in this neighbourhood in hopes that it will gentrify and their investment will appreciate. In the last 5 years that I’ve lived here, there’s been little movement. I worked in the neighbourhood - I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t face it.

A note on the comments made on the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog web site - people in Toronto are not unhappy. I guess this sort of punches a hole in the argument though.

Posted by skooter at 9:12 PM | Comments

November 3, 2005
Midway, British Columbia

Midway, British Columbia is home, in a manner of speaking. I’m from Ontario, but the family is from out here.

Like most small towns it’s not very economically diverse; like most small towns in British Columbia, it’s a one horse town. Now comes news that the only employer in town paying reasonable salaries is closing.

While Toronto fights against urban sprawl, this is British Columbia’s problem - sprawl of a different sort. The province is full of these types of places. They’re too far from the next town over - usually at least an hour - for it to be convenient and too small for any new employers to move to town. Old industries of the sort that moves atoms and not bits stays in place as long as the cost of keeping their atoms in place is cheaper than the cost of moving them.

Eventually, however, the scale changes and these employers leave these towns, and these towns become ghost towns, and little bits of history disappear along with the towns.

Posted by skooter at 7:26 AM

October 13, 2005
Barn, Birch Bay, Washington

Barn, Birch Bay, Washington

I would like to salute
The ashes of American flags
And all the fallen leaves
Filling up shopping bags

Posted by skooter at 9:45 PM
Tags: Washington, Wilco

October 11, 2005
Coffee at Alki Beach

!/washingtonState/coffee.jpg (Coffee at Alki Beach) 424x281!

Posted by skooter at 5:08 PM
Tags: Coffee, Lomo, Seattle

October 9, 2005
Scarborough, Rouge Valley

Leaf, Scarborough, Rouge Valley I grew up in Scarborough, and the forests of the Rouge Valley were my playground for a quite a few years. It’s where I started to mountain bike off road, where I started to turn my lenses in the direction of nature, and where I went when I just wanted to touch the earth.

In Vancouver, I’m surrounded by an astonishing amount of natural beauty every day of my life, but sometimes there’s no place like home.

Running up Twyn Rivers Drive Twyn Rivers drive is short and crazy steep. The best way I used to describe it was by describing what it was like to go up on a bicycle. Mountain bikes weren’t so bad, but when I climbed it on my road bike my front wheel would regularly pop up about a half inch off the ground as I put downward pressure on the pedals and pulled slightly upwards on the handlebars.

I don’t think I ever ran up it, although I’m pretty sure I would if I lived out here today. This guy was impressive, nonetheless.

Toronto has grown, in some extremely interesting and shocking ways. My friend had told me he lived in Woodbridge, which when I last lived here was an Italian enclave north of the city. No big deal, I thought

I managed to visit him yesterday for the first time in this house and it turns out that Woodbridge now means five minutes away from Kleinburg. Roads I used to cycle on just to get out of the city — long, winding, slightly hilly but stop light free roads — now have strip malls and subdivisions along their entire length. These roads used to have fields and farms, and maybe the occasional golf course.

Kleinburg was a nice country drive to go visit the McMichael gallery — not anymore.

I’m torn between whether to call this sprawl, or growth. I think it may be a little from column A, and a little from column B.

Posted by skooter at 7:38 AM
Tags: Friends, Toronto, Travel

October 7, 2005

Toronto Subway
Nothing quite evokes Toronto like being on the Subway, underground. Here they call it The Better Way but it’s a dubious nickname.

Posted by skooter at 7:28 AM

September 25, 2005
What, me worry?

Posted by skooter at 9:37 PM

September 21, 2005
Surprisingly, I didn't buy these apples.

Seen at T&T Super Market. Who says signs shouldn’t be proofread?

Posted by skooter at 6:49 AM
Tags: Chinatown, Food

September 13, 2005
Roadtrip: Portland

My last visit to Seattle inluded a road trip to Portland, with two main goals. The first was to visit Mt. St. Helens, which was about to blow the last time I passed by; the second was to hit Powell’s bookstore, long my favourite online bookstore and the world’s best used store by far.

A funky new Lomo Fisheye camera got trotted out for this trip too - the results are below.

Mt. St. Helens
Cycling the road to Mt. St. Helens The road to Mt. St. Helens is a twisting, sprawling road to nowhere and one that positively begs to be ridden on two wheels. These girls chose my favourite mode.

Entering Oregon
Crossing the Columbia River from Washington Every time I cross the bridge over the Columbia River - something I’ve done 4 or 5 times - I love it. The Columbia is one of the world’s greatest waterways, and was planned, by the Hudson’s Bay Company, as the border of Canada. This bridge, even if it’s fairly new, is a piece of history simply as a result of its geography.

Bikes parked at Powells City of Books Powell’s has long been my favourite online bookstore but I’ve never been to the store itself. Wall to wall books with book cases that go from floor to ceiling. So easy too get lost. So much fun.

Portland is a great city - a cyclists paradise that doesn’t suffer from the urban sprawl that characterizes so many large cities. I love this place.

Gas Works Park, Seattle
Gas Works Park Back in Seattle the next day, a visit to Gas Works Park was in order. From Gas Works, you can watch the water based buzz of seattle happening. In this picture, you can just see a sea plane landing in the upper portion of the picture. The structures at Gas Works are remnants of a more industrial era - a time when cities were lit by gaslight with all of the attendant smells and murkiness that this implies.

Some things are best left as memories.

Posted by skooter at 8:37 PM
Tags: Portland, Road Trip, Travel

September 4, 2005
Seattle, by Motorcycle

This weekend marked my first road trip of any distance on a motorcycle - heading from Vancouver to Seattle on a borrowed Yamaha Virago cruiser.

When I got here - safe, sound and alive after having ridden almost 300 miles, I sent the note below to family and friends:

well, i’m alive

and in Mrka for the weekend. Trip was uneventful, except when I
figured out exactly how much fuel the “low fuel” indicator on this
bike means.

The bike’s speedometer and odometer are unhooked, so it’s difficult to
predict when it’ll be empty. A red light comes on, and that pretty
much means “get to a gas station RIGHT NOW if you’re doing 70 mph.”
engine started puttering on the off ramp, i switched it to reserve and
all was fine.

anyway, border crossing was fun. i jumped about 20 cars ahead because
a guard waved me through to the far right hand lane. nice little perk,
along with getting on ferries first. the guy told me to keep my helmet
on when i was messing around with glasses, which was kind of nice.

so anywyay, here i am - another holiday in Mrka (you have to say that
out loud - it’s a bit of a running joke) only this time on two wheels.

oh - the gas you ask? it’s $3/gallon and I’ve put $14 in. that’ll get
me half way home too. it’s the best thing about this thing, aside from
the fun.

This is a great way to travel, although I may have overloaded my courier bag a bit.

Virago’s are crusiers and this one is particularly Harley like, with a large seat pan that makes it extremely comfortable to sit in for a great distance. The bike itself though sends a huge amount of vibration through to the rider - this is most noticeable in the hands, which were quite sore by the time I got here.

Tomorrow I head home, swinging on a ferry out over to Bremerton to pick up a tank bag that’s for sale on Craigslist (an effective way to deal with the overloaded backpacks - tank bags are extremely convenient.) I may have taken I-5 here, but home it’ll be twisty windy roads the whole way and, I imagine, a border crossing from hell.

Such is life in the Pacific Northwest, where the flow from North to South is a constant, travel by ferries is frequent and the sun may not be visible but at least it never snows.

Posted by skooter at 8:02 AM

July 31, 2005
La Fleche

If Biggar was exciting La Fleche is, well….smaller.

Buzz around town is the excitement of a drug bust last week. Three cop cars pulled up - the town doesn’t own three, so we’re trying to figure out where the third one came from. Maybe the second one too; we’re not sure.

Mom-ster and I are here visiting an old high school friend of hers named Paula Uteck. We visited Paula often when she lived in Trenton; she and her husband retired to La Fleche, near the town her husband was raised in.

Paula has cancer, and I was startled by her appearance. She’s still Paula though - the same smile, the same face - I would have recognized her from a mile away, it’s just that chemo has made her hair fall out.

Picture day today, with shorter drive. I still haven’t broken out the Bronica, but I’m thinking tonight’s the night. While Saskatoon is a big city (work with me here) this is true prarie. Fields of wheat, churches and grain elevator. I’m thinking about swining out towards sunset, when the long rays of the sun are leaning on the earth.

First we’re probably going to take advantage of the town’s attractions. These are, in order of significance, the Hotel’s Ice Cream bar, and the Co-Op gas station / grocery store. And you think Vancouver / Halifax / Toronto / Frankfurt / Seattle has things to do! Bah.

I gotta get back to conversation now, so I’m keeping this short. It’s either that, or the Labatt Lite beer (work with me here) that’s doing it. It’s 35 degrees celsius here right now, and the closest comparison I can offer is to say this reminds of the time I visited Death Valley. That was warmer to be sure, but the general feeling is the same - at some point, it doesn’t matter if the heat is dry or not, it’s just heat.

Anybody want to go halves on a house? $15,000 in town here. There’s no jobs, but if you’re trying to write a book there’s no distractions either - at least until the next drug bust.

Posted by skooter at 2:00 PM
Tags: Road Trip, Saskatchewan, Travel

July 30, 2005

This is a very weird place.

The largest single crop in the province is wheat. They grow more of it here than anywhere in the country. There is only one brewery in Saskatchewan, and they don’t make a wheat beer.

But that’s just where it starts.

Biggar, despite what the sign may say, is not bigger than New York. Biggar may not, in fact, be bigger than the average New York grocery store. There’s probably less to buy too.

On the outskirts of the the town, there are three signs. The first is the famous sign referred to above; the second a tribute to one of Biggar’s most famous citizens - Sandra Schmirler, the Curler; the third a tribute to the Hanson Buck the world record white tail, shot 7 kilometres north east of Biggar.

That’s right - a gold medalist and a deer. Ask around town too…sure they say the Curler is more important to to your face but you can see it in their eyes; it’s really the buck.

People drive here too. Not that silly kind of three hours is a long drive thing - three hours is just a starting point. Biggar is an hour away from Saskatoon (where we’re staying) and people are doing the trip multiple times in a day! What’s up with that?

Festivities have been entertaining though - the town parade was a fairly typical small town parade, although there were more people there than expected. Many families have come home this weekend, and the Biggar cemetery saw more than a few coming in to visit while we were there, for a period of only half an hour.

Biggar traffic is weird though. While most cities or towns would have two way stops, allowing traffic to flow smoothly in one direction while the other provided the right of way, Biggar has two way yields. What does a two way yield mean, really? It has a certain discomforting ambiguity to it that I dislike.

Tomorrow is a motorcycle rally, but this fledgling rider won’t be sticking around for it. An absolutely gorgeous old silver and black Honda 450 was seen buzzing around town. If I had the money, I’d buy it flat out. This bike must be 20 years old and it looks like it just came off the lot - totally my style too.

The town is raffling off a 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. I’ve got one last chance tomorrow to get a $2 ticket for this bad boy - draw to be held in August. I might still.

Driving to Biggar (or anywhere in Saskatoon) from Calgary is interesting too. I’m pretty sure these roads are the ones that are going to be driven on auto-pilot first. There’s a few turns around Drumheller, but after that? Pretty much right ahead. All those old jokes about being able to see your dog for miles when it runs away aside, you could see your dog for miles if it ran away on much of this country. Flat doesn’t do it justice. My Grandmother’s sister Betty used an expression her father used to use, calling the flats the place “where even the Jackrabbit packed a lunch.” I’m not sure that made any sense at all, but I laughed anyway.

So my trip started with a visit to my Grandmother’s sister, headed east across the flatlands and now I’m in Saskatoon again having spent the entire day in Biggar. Lest you think there’s nothing to do…well, there’s nothing to do. No matter - fun was had, and a healthy pancakes breakfast was followed up by a heart roast beef dinner at which the names of the cows that had been slaughtered were posted on the wall.

I may have been making a bit of that last part up - I’m just seeing if you’re still paying attention. I’ll let you figure out the parts.

The Biggar museum, as part of this homecoming, has asked families to prepare pages for a memory book to be kept there. My mother’s lovingly assembled pages (with her cousin Pat) were there along with others. Lobb’s left bigger a while ago, and weren’t really prominent citizens, but we met a few people who knew my grandfather. That’s the kind of special thing these trips are made of.

It seems like every house in Biggar was built by the person who first lived in it. Most of these houses look like military style housing, and each and every one has both a huge TV antenna on it, and an ExpressVu sattelite dish. It’s pretty funny really, in a quaint way.

Tomorrow we leave Saskatoon (a one Starbucks town) and pass through Biggar again on our way to La Fleche, a town with about 2,200 fewer people in it than Biggar. That should be fun. It’ll be the first time in years I get to see my mom’s friends Paula and Don who used to live in Trenton, so I’m looking forward too it.

We’re trying to find a way to swing the Columbia Icefields into this trip too; if I’d known that, we would have planned it differently. How’s that for variety though? BC Mountains to Saskatchewan prarie to a receding Glacier. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Posted by skooter at 6:21 PM
Tags: Road Trip, Saskatchewan, Travel

July 27, 2005
I want to ride the ridge where the west commences

And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences

Saskatchewan, here I come.

Posted by skooter at 8:21 AM

July 5, 2005
The Emerald City and Independence Day

This combined Canada Day and Independence Day weekend marked my longest contiguous stay in Seattle ever. Four days of time spent in the Emerald City. I’ve been in the United State longer, but a great deal of this is usually camping time in off the beaten path places. This is a bit different.

So what did 4 days and 5 nights in Seattle teach me?

Independence Day in the United States is a very big deal; a (long) walk around the Alki beach area had us peppered with American flags - usually more than one at most properties. These people do wave their flag.

Having said that, I was a bit underwhelmed by the patriotism. The Capitol Hill gang celebrates differently than the Alki Beach gang. Signs were everywhere, but in a very understated way.

The most patriotic moment was attending a Mariner’s game, pitched by Kenny Rogers mid-appeal on his 20 game suspension. Not a popular man.

The singing of the National Anthem was astonishing though. I have never seen anything like this at a Canadian sporting event, although I’d bet a Stanley Cup final with a Canadian team (unlikely though that may be) and perhaps a world championship game. I doubt it though. Every hand and hat was held over heart without a trace of cynicism outside of my little bubble of Canadiana. I was, of course, busily pointing out the history of the song which celebrated a Canadian (O.K. - British if you’re going to be picky) attack during the war of 1812.BTW, any of my fellow Canadians proud of the fact that we’re the only nation to ever succesfully attack the Capitol? Anybody want to try again? C’mon. You know it’d be fun.

While we’re on that topic, how’s this for revisionist history. First, notice that the Americans were siding with the French. Regrets I’ve had a few. Should’ve seen that one coming anyway - when was the last time you heard “France has won!” being shouted in the streets? Anyway, we’re still here. I think we know who won this one folks. Deal with it.

The list of things to do in Seattle is substantially longer than any weekend in Vancouver. No Fun Vancouver? Absolutely.

A partial list of the things we didn’t do:

And here, a partial list of the things I did do:

A good weekend.

There’s a hot rumour that Seattle is not as safe as Vancouver. While one weekend does not provide a good example, two men were killed this weekend in Vancouver within steps of each other (at different times) near a Skytrain station, and Canada celebrated Independence Day by releasing Karla Homolka from jail.

I certainly didn’t feel unsafe in Seattle.

So go. Spend time. Our American neighbours are fun to hang out with.

I’ll be doing it again, I’m sure, although I hope the next time is on two wheels.

Posted by skooter at 6:28 PM

July 2, 2005
Canada Day in the United States

I was born in Toronto, Ontario raised in London and then moved back to Toronto. I’ve lived in Vancouver for almost 5 years now.

I have never before spent Canada Day outside of my home and native land.

It’s perhaps surprising, but perhaps not, to realize how blissfully unaware Americans are of our national holiday. Linkages between Seattle and Vancouver are closer than perhaps any other pair of large cities (except perhaps Windsor & Detroit) and yet this city seems barely aware of the existence of this holiday weekend.

So my Canada Day passed uneventfully. I spent time in a cybercafe, I visited a hospital to pick up some data, I took the bus in Seattle for the first time ever.

Of course, I visited the Patagonia store and bought a new frisbee (my old one cracked.)

I’m sure the 4th will be more eventful - they certainly know how to celebrate that down here.

Posted by skooter at 6:58 AM

April 15, 2005
The Emerald City

Glimmering on the western edge of the continent lays the Emerald City of the United States. It’s one of three metropolises I could see myself living in, although probably the third on that last. The first, of course, is the one I live in now (or, more accurately, an idealized version of the one I live in now.)

The Emerald City beckons, and I’m ready to answer its call. At least for a short while.

Posted by skooter at 8:25 AM

February 19, 2005

Mt. Fitz Roy
Cerro Torre

These places all loom in my head at the moment, and I’m planning a trip. Next year. Winter, of course, because that’s when I like to travel and the South American winter corresponds quite nicely with my birthday.

2006 will mark my 35th year, and I’m going to celebrate it in style.

Posted by skooter at 11:54 AM

January 29, 2005

having just got back from california, fond memories of things i’ve only seen once came back into my head.

these amazing, knotted, twisting trees haunt my memories. i was fortunate enough to spend one night camping in their midst, and it was awe inspiring.

i’ll be back soon, i’m just not quite sure how.

Posted by skooter at 9:23 PM

December 22, 2004
How to find you, maybe by your singing

From today’s National Post comes this headline:

Solitary whale serenades the West Coast

VANCOUVER A mystery whale singing a never-heard-before song has been passing within 100 kilometres of the B.C. coast, the U.S. Navy has found.

If I were to ever compile a list of the most poignant headlines I’d ever read, I’d probably put this on or near the top of the list. Some of the moments after 9/11 would be there, Pierre Trudeau’s retirement would certainly be there.

None of these things are quite so beautiful as the idea of an entirely new and unknown leviathan meandering past the coast of British Columbia.

I’ve lived out here for 4 years now, and haven’t really seen whales - not the way I want too. There were some way off in the distance from the crusie ship, but they were so far away they don’t really count.

These giants of the planet are amazing; the idea that this strange, never before heard sound is the first clue of the existence of something is a thought full of such beauty I can’t begin to do it justice.

Posted by skooter at 9:10 AM
Tags: Music, Whales

November 20, 2004
Cast Iron Railway Bridges are being stolen in Australia

At least, if I heard the news correctly. I suppose it’s possible that I mis-heard it, but really - do you think so?

I have a certain amount of admiration for anybody who can put together a plan to steal a bridge…that’s right out of a Superman comic book or something. Evil genius at its best.

I can’t make up stuff this good, even when I try.

Posted by skooter at 10:57 AM
Tags: Australia

October 17, 2004
Bike Fenders: Good

Although I’ve been cycling for well over 20 years, including sunny, rainy and Ontario winter days, I’ve never owned a set of bike fenders.

Having just slapped a pair of SKS Race Blade Road fenders on my Trek racing bike, and I can only say: what the hell have I been thinking?

I just got back from ride in the rain and I was, to a great extent, dry. These things are awesome. On in a snap, off just as easily and while they don’t provide 100% coverage, they certainly seem to provide enough.

Posted by skooter at 4:18 PM
Tags: Cycling, Fenders, Rain, Trek

September 30, 2004
Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens, September 28, 2004
That there in the distance, barely visible is Mt. St. Helens as seen from a BMW travelling at about 140km/h

Better look out: she’s gonna blow!

Posted by skooter at 7:43 PM

September 27, 2004
Fort Lewis, Washington State

Driving past Fort Lewis I can’t help but think about how many of these kids have died in Iraq. Too many.

Posted by skooter at 10:55 PM

September 21, 2004
Rock Creek Fair 2004

This wasn’t my first time at the Rock Creek Fair, but it was a bit different this year.

For one thing, it rained off and on all day Saturday. This did little to dampen spirits, but did cut back on some activities.

The guy at the right was all smiles though, even if it was a little hard to tell at times.

For most people, the Rock Creek Fair is about kids; the 4H kids are responsible for many of the animals at the fair, and they take good care of them.

For me, the Rock Creek Fair is about family - families like the kid above working with his mom, and the one below which is mine.

Caroline, Alberta & Susan Bubar
It wasn’t that long ago that my family was an active participant in the fair, although in recent years we’ve mostly just attended. There weren’t even any vegetables this year from the Bubar garden.

Judging Cattle

The fair is split into two basic parts: the barns & cages which house the livestock, and the show. I like to start at the barns.
Judging vegetables is an art that I have little understanding of. I’m astounded, for example, by the fact that this arrangement came in third. Shocked. I would have certainly said nothing less than second.

Despite the avian flu outbreak that seriously hit the Fraser Valley, there was an adequate showing of fowl this year. This was not the case in Armstrong, apparently.

I’m always astounded by the variety of chickens and other fowl at the fair. It’s pretty easy to think of chickens as, simply chickens but in reality there are hundreds or different varieties. All of these guys are in cages, but it wasn’t too hard to sneak the little lens of a digital camera through the cages.

Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is one of the fair’s most popular rides

Fair Volunteers
Of course, the fair - like so many others - wouldn’t happen without the efforts of many volunteers. The two below are some of the oldest.

But the cutest girls are, naturally, found behind the bar at the beer garden.

Posted by skooter at 10:30 PM
Tags: Kettle Valley, Ranch, Rock Creek Fair

September 6, 2004
Labour Day Weekend 2004

I always look like this when I get back from Bowen Island with my friends the Rogers’ and their family; this photo was taken by a little boy named Kai, and I couldn’t think of a better group of people or a better way to end the summer.

This trip was a little different though; it happened on two wheels and a new friend was thrown into the mix.

Vancouver and Stanley Park
My friend Marie has cycled quite a bit, including a seven week tour of New Zealand where her family is from. It was her idea to do this trip by bike, and I was more than willing to come along for the ride, as the saying goes.

Marie riding through downtown Vancouver

I haven’t done that much cycle touring - a little bit of it, but not much. I was a little surprised by the impact that loaded panniers had on my bike - my little used granny gear came in quite handy on this trip.

Crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge

North Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay
After crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge, we proceeded up Taylor Way and to the upper level’s highway (also known as Hwy. 1); this was tough going at first, but Upper Levels has the advantage of providing a long but gentle downward swing almost all the way from Cypress Bowl. Sometimes taking the tough hill in one shot is easier if it provides this kind of ride at the end.

Boarding the Bowen Island ferry is always fun, but this time it was also a nice rest. We weren’t far from home - only about 26km - but the hills here sap energy especially when combined with the extra weight.

And as a note to myself and others, knobby mountain bike tires are really bad touring equipment. I knew this, but have persistently refused to exchange mine for slicks.

From the Bowen Island ferry we were steadily moving uphill for about 7km. For about the first 4km of this the slope is gentle and rolling. The next 1.5km were not fun. Hitting 68.4km/h on the downhilll more than makes up for it though.

38km after leaving our door, we arrived shortly after Bronson’s birthday party kicked off, about 3 hours total after leaving home. Including the ferry ride, this is only about an hour more than the trip takes by car most of the time. With the party in full swing, the house was overrun with kids having the kind of fun that only kids can have.

Cowan Point Railway

The Cowan Point Railway is well known, and relatively world famous. The kids headed up towards, and Martin pulled one of his steamers out.

With my camera, I caught two movies - one of Martin intersecting Stephen & I on one of the electric engines:

and the other of Martin crossing a trestle (and maybe showing off a little bit.)

Back to Downhill

Kai & Lilly - best kids ever
Sunday was spent Downhill relaxing. Everybody expected Marie & I to be sore; neither one of us was, although I was certainly aware of my body in a way that only comes from solid exercise.

I handed my camera to Kai and provided some basic instruction. The two photos below are by him.

A game of bocce ended the day for Stephen, Bronson & Marie before an appropriately amazing dinner prepared by Val. This last night of informal summer couldn’t have been perfect, and couldn’t have possibly been spent with better people.

Heading Home

Downhill is appropriately named - the road is quite steep, and Martin convinced Marie that a drive to the top of the hill made sense. This took about half an hour off of the Bowen Island end of the trip: it was all downhill, and we cruised along at an average speed of 28km/h with Bronson in tow.

The best weekends in this province begin and end on BC Ferries. The 20 minute crossing from Bowen Island is no less pleasant than any other crossing just because its short.

Summer’s not officially over yet, but Labour Day always marks a transition even for those of us no longer in school. The ending of this one was perfect and the final 20km of the ride home flew past as we headed back towards Vancouver and home; at least until Marie got a flat tire on the Lions Gate bridge.

Fall is my favourite time of year, at least until it rains; I can’t wait for next summer though.

Posted by skooter at 8:40 PM
Tags: Bowen Island, Cycling, Trains

October 13, 2003
Rock Creek Fair 2003

The Rock Creek Fair is an annual thing, and one that my family has pariticipated in for years. I had never been.

Somewhat coincidentally, my Aunt Wendy was able to make a trip out here corresponding with this year’s fair; this also happened to be her birthday.


The star attraction of the fair is the rodeo, and I waited patiently for it. When I finally found a decent spot to take photos of the roping, I was standing next to a guy who owned his own ranch somewhere up Pemberton way. I learned lots.

For starters: if you’ve ever tried to make a lariat and loop it around your head like cowboys to in western movies, just stop. They use a special rope that’s quite stiff, more like plastic than any rope I’ve ever owned.
crooked) table in order to keep it steady.

Steer roping is good fun though, and the competitors (as competitors so often do) take it very seriously. My recollection of the rules is pretty basic: when they open the gate, you have to give the calf 60 seconds; you have to get the calf by the neck and the back legs. Most teams seemed to go the neck first, although this wasn’t always the case.

I wasn’t able to take photos of all the competitors: dinner was ready and - ask anybody in Rock Creek - when Alberta Bubar calls you for dinner, you go.

Apres Fair

Whistler has apres-ski, Rock Creek has apres-fair in the form of the Rock Creek Hotel.

My grandfather used to spend lots of time here, and despite having driven by it a few times I’d never gone in. Arthur Bubar told us he remembers getting kicked out of the place in 1949 or something like that, but the owners seemed to have forgotten.

A gathering of Bubars was present: photo below.
Bubars (and others) at the Rock Creek Hotel
L to R: Walter Bubar, Sour Kraut, Beryl Bubar, Arthur Bubar, Wendy Ouellette (nee Lobb), Alberta Bubar

Obligatory Drunk Guy Photo

It was early when we were at the hotel - probably 9 or 9:30 or something - but it was obviouse that some people had already been there for a while. The guy below, for example, wasn’t so much drunk as he was stewed - he’d obviously been absorbing as much as he possibly could for quite some time.

He kept getting up to dance, although that’s a generous interpretation. Definitely the center of attention for everyone in the bar, at least until the band came on. I’ve sort of nicknamed him shakey in my head, which is a shame because I’m really diggin’ Neil Young right now.
Shakey dancing at the Rock Creek Hotel
Photo taken with an Canon EF20mm lens at f8; the camera was sitting on our (apparently

Posted by skooter at 7:40 PM
Tags: Kettle Valley, Ranch, Rock Creek Fair

August 30, 2002
Sailing Prince Edward Island

The definite highlight of my recent week in Prince Edward Island was sailing the Northumberland Strait on Todd Dupuis’ boat.

Our intrepid Captain, Todd Dupuis.

View from Todd’s boat.

Robert, Catherine

Robert & Catherine at the cabin entrance.

Kelly Hickman

Kelly Hickman relaxes at the rear of the Boat.

Kip mans the ropes.

Another boat approaches from Charlottetown Harbour

Lost: One Pair Oakley OO’s

Lost on August 14th in the vicinity pictured blow. If found, please contact Reward offered.

Posted by skooter at 5:58 PM
Tags: Charlottetown, Oakley, Sailing

July 6, 2002
Of ships and shoes and sealing wax

Ironic, isn’t it, that it’s cheaper for me to reach the west coast of Washington than British Columbia; of course, we have an island and they don’t.

Nonetheless, Olympic National Park is stunning and was home for three days.

Olympic National Park: South Coast Unit

Seattle, like Vancouver, doesn’t actually border on the Pacific Ocean. This was a distinction that meant little to me when I lived in Toronto, but is now of tremendous significance.

The shape of the coast is different here; while Howe Sound or Puget Sound make Lake Ontario feel like a fishing pond, the wild shores of the Pacific Ocean are another thing altogether.

With that in mind, I headed to Olympic National Park for a coast walk. Olympic can be reached by driving only, although a half-hour ferry ride from Whidbey Island makes the trip much shorter; at US$8.75 for passenger and car, this is much cheaper than getting to Vancouver Island.

I left after three days, with near perfect weather (save some rain at night, which put my new tent to the test.) I drove home through a storm; if I had known this was going to happen, I might have stayed.

More photos are stuck in my camera, but these will do for now.

Scott Bluff

Giant’s Graveyard, as seen from my tent

Posted by skooter at 9:36 AM
Tags: Camping, Coast, Washington

April 18, 2002
There's Nothing Wrong With Polygamy, as Long as They're All Cute

Photos from Utah are finally scanned and assembled; between my EOS film, point and shoot film and a digital camera, there are well over 400 images to sort through. The bulk of these are from mine, although I’ve filled in some gaps when I was busy driving.

I’ve also added a search function to the site, although I can’t imagine why anybody would want to use it; nonetheless, here it is.

(I’ve pulled the search section on October 8, 2005 since Atomz no longer does free search without advertising, and Movable Type’s integrated search is fine.)

Posted by skooter at 11:45 PM
Tags: Road Trip, Travel, Utah

February 9, 2002
Prince Edward Island Uber Alles!

After another protracted stay in Prince Edward Island, I’ve now been home for four days. A few words of advice:
- If Air Canada ever loses your luggage, never stop harassing them
- If anybody ever asks you to go to Prince Edward Island in January, don’t

I’ve added some photos from this trip, with more to come.

Posted by skooter at 9:21 PM

December 8, 2001
Charlottetown isn't all boring...wait...yes it is!

As boredom slips in, I find myself staring at photos of my trip to Mt. Rainier National Park shortly before leaving Vancouver. An amazing place that I must go back to.

Posted by skooter at 5:08 PM

November 30, 2001
Charlottetown: November 2001

Charlottetown: November 2001

Ah Charlottetown - birthplace of the nation that now includes it as it’s smallest provincial capital, and my home for a brief stint. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said by millions of others?

It’s probably not as bad as people make it out to be; I’m not exactly there under the best of circumstances, and as a result my experience isn’t great. It’s a province where you need a car, with absolutely no public transportation at all. I don’t have one, limiting my roaming to the cityitself. New York it isn’t, but it does have its charms. I’ve found a reasonablelittle art theatre, and a Winners with leather pants. What more couldI want?

Ducks in night sky Ducks fly through the twilight sky.

Barn & Cows, Charlottetown hotel that I call home is located on the Trans Canada Highway, with the nearest neighbours being:

Port of Charlottetown

Akademkis Zavarickis tied up Unurprisingly, the port of Charlottetown is significantly smaller than the Port of Vancouver. The boat pictured here - Akademkis Zavarickis - is quite large by Prince Edward Island standards, and tiny compared to the ones that anchor in English Bay on a regular basis.

Akademkis Zavarickis

Posted by skooter at 5:56 PM
Tags: Charlottetown, Work

November 11, 2001
Remembrance Day in PEI

November 11th - Remembrance Day - and there’s a fresh, thick blanket of snow covering Prince Edward Island. Now if only I could ski.

Posted by skooter at 10:57 PM

November 7, 2001
Toronto to Charlottetown by train

Travel by train - while not suitable for every trip - is definitely a more civilized method. The bumpy rhythm of the rails can be soothing, and even the coach class car that I’m sitting in is vastly more spacious than an airline seat. If you can afford the time, and it doesn’t cost more than flying, I’d highly recommend this.

When I got off the train in Montreal and on the one to Moncton, I sort of started thinking that the train wasn’t that much more comfortable than the bus; then I got on the bus in Moncton. I’m assuming they use larger coaches for longer bus trips, but to call the one I was on for about three hours cramped doesn’t really do it justice.

Posted by skooter at 9:23 PM

October 29, 2001
Musical chairs, airplane style

As I write this on Air Canada Flight 116, I find myself endlessley amused by the game of musical chairs that is being played. I moved because the dorfy guy in front of me dropped his seat as far as he could before we even levelled off, and I’m now sitting with no one in front of me (thus making computing easier.) Meanwhile, the other woman in my new row of 3 seats just moved to a window seat with an unoccupied neighbour, in large part becuase my move limited her ability to stretch out here. There’s only about 6 empty seats on this enormous plane, and it’s all about the hierarchical battle for the best position.

Posted by skooter at 10:49 PM
Tags: Planes

October 9, 2001
Mel Lastman could screw anything up

Since leaving Toronto, I haven’t really been saying bad things about the place but I certainly haven’t missed it. On my last visit there, it finally struck me as a beautiful place in a very different way than Vancouver - particularly as night fell. There’s something magic about night falling on a city: the silhouettes of buildings offer a stark contrast against the sky, and the artificial lights begin to let off their glow.

The doors of the subway, as it left Warden station, shone like silver, masking the ugliness most people see within.

Now if only you could get rid of Mel Lastman.

Posted by skooter at 5:19 PM

September 5, 2001
Toronto to Vancouver on a roll of film

A long time coming, but I’ve scanned and posted a roll of photos that was taken when I traversed the country with my mother.

These photos were arranged as a web gallery in Photoshop. The titles indicate the date and time (MM.DD HH.MM). Times are approximate, as my memory is failing, but should provide a reasonable estimate of when the photos were actually taken. Times are approximately local, but the constant time changes made it difficult to keep up.

Earth Future Lottery Enterprise 250 ServerFor those of you who are familiar with the ongoing joke in my life that is the Earth Future Lottery, I managed to take a picture of servers on my recent trip to Charlottetown. We may or may not own these, and they may or may not get used in our project. (What, you expect it to start making sense now?)

Posted by skooter at 10:52 PM

September 4, 2001
Sailing the Northumberland Strait

Photos taken on August 14th while sailing in Prince Edward Island with Todd Dupuis.

Posted by skooter at 10:13 AM

September 2, 2001
9 days is not enough in California

Well, we’re back. Our 9 day survey trip of California is over. Lots of pictures to come, as I took more than 300 shots in both colour and black and white.

Posted by skooter at 10:14 AM

August 30, 2001
Kayaking Clayoquot Sound

On our latest Long Beach weekend I kayaked around Clayoquot sound. I paddled solo this time, in a Seaward Quest; both very nice boats, although mine was a little tippy with a very narrow 22.5 inch beam (width).

Both Kayaks

Looking down from my perch, this is what I saw. Two enormous pods of fiberglass, extending beneath.

The Necky is on the left, the Seaward on the right.

Adventure Cove

We paddled from Tofino through the harbour into the Lemmen Inlet. The inlet offered us a relatively safe area to explore with very few currents.

Our initial destination turned out to be only a short hop, so we moved on to a spot on the map named Adventure Cove. How could we not?

When we got there, there were relatively few monsters to be found, but there were two homes of a sort. Clayoquot sound is full of shelters - temporary and otherwise - that people have erected. One of these looked quite occupied, with a boat (the BC Eagle II) and dock. Unfinished Sculpture

Unfinished Statue

This statue, which I believe is not finished, was sitting on the dock. With 9.5 feet of kayak stretched out in front of me, this was as close as I could get. Adventure Cove: Abandoned Oven

Adandoned Stove

Just offshore, this stove awaited. Alas, we had neither food nor electricity to use it. (There were, however, salamanders that might have sufficed.)

Posted by skooter at 7:50 PM
Tags: Kayak, Tofino

July 20, 2001
Goderich, July 2001

The Fat Ass German Bitch & Maureen Puhlmann with Carol Nelson

The Goderich area is well known in Ontario as the home of Sifto on the shore of Lake Huron. The Sour Kraut homestead is located about 30km north in the small town of Kintail.

Our most recent visit to Ontario brought us back to Goderich for the first time in over six months. It’s easy to forget when you live by the ocean how enormous the Great Lakes are, and Huron is a spectacular body of water, particularly on from Goderich north to Tobermory, and in the Killarney area on the other side of Georgian Bay.

I was left with the opposite impression at the end of our trip when we were waiting in Burlington, at the very tip of Lake Ontario; it becomes very obvious how relatively small it is when you can see the other shore. Lake Ontario has other problems as well, most of them caused by the fact that it’s the most populous of the Great Lakes. I’ve never been to Superior, but I imagine that it would be a stunning place too.

We happened to be in Goderich when the annual craft show was taking place at the town square (actually a hexagon, but who’s counting?) This was an event that I used to go to with bizarre frequency, and none of my trips have ever been planned. I’m not sure why, I just seem to wind up there at exactly the right moment. A wall of teddy bears couldn’t be resisted.

Teddy Bears

Posted by skooter at 9:33 PM
Tags: Goderich, Ontario

University of Toronto & University College

My alma matter is the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest university and one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere.

Convocation Hall, CN Tower, Toronto The university’s campus is just on the edge of Downtown Toronto, and is a beautiful oasis of greenspace in the middle of a concrete jungle. In the summers, I used to ride down there from Scarborough just to enjoy it. Later, when I lived downtown and walked about an hour to work each morning, I usually made it a point of cutting through the campus.

The position of the campus creates some truly odd scenes. The CN Tower juts impossingly into the Toronto skyline from just about every angle on campus, but particularly above Convocation Hall.

Con Hall is an amazing round building, and a truly bizarre one to have a class in. It seats about 2000 people in incredibly uncomfortable chairs with three levels.

The hall is frequently used for Concerts (although the Who has yet to play there…the music tends to be a bit quieter.) I once saw Sarah McLachlan there, and the concert remains one of the more unique in my life.

Woodsworth College, Physics Building Physics students love their toys, and those toys require a smokestack to vent the waste - nuclear and otherwise - out of.

The physics smokestack is one of the tallest structures on campus, and sits just off of St. George street - the main campus drag.

Lash Miller Chemical Laboratory

Ventilation stacks on the Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories.

An air vent on the University College residences.

Posted by skooter at 9:24 PM
Tags: Toronto, University of Toronto

April 16, 2001
Orcas Island Camping Trip

Easter of 2001 was our first long weekend in Vancouver, and the San Juan Islands were the camping destination of choice.

Orcas Island is one of the larger of the San Juan Islands, accessible by ferry from Anacortes, Washington (about an hour and fifteen minute drive south of Vancouver.)

Our weekend started eventfully - we literally got the ferry by about two minutes, for a number of reasons that won’t be dwelled on. Our weather was beautiful - sun the whole time. We wound up camping at Obstruction Pass, a free campsite with the only problem being the lack of fresh water. We carried about four litres, and went out to a lake to pump new water each day.

The banner above is crazy sky. Clouds were so puffy they looked like you could jump from one to the other, even though they were miles apart. This picture is blown up and hanging over our bed, making sure we’ve got perma-sun.

The tidal pools formed on our beach were, as usual, teaming with life. This starfish was particularly persistent, hanging around for our entire three day stay.

The beach right in front of our campsite was gorgeous, and we basically hung out on it a lot. This picture was taken using a mini tripod.

Washington State Ferries
Ferries are interesting places, and Washington’s commuter ferries are quite different than Vancouver’s. They travel smaller, more sheltered routes and as a result are smaller in scale.

Our return trip was surprisingly empty.

Posted by skooter at 8:42 PM
Tags: Camping, Family, San Juan Islands

Washington's San Juan Islands

Added photos of our trip to Orcas Island, in the San Juan islands just off the coast of Washington.

Also added some old pictures from our summer trip before moving here, taken at the Parksville Skateboard park.

An amazing picture of the Vancouver Sky, looking out over English Bay.

Some photos from the Stawamus Chief hike, starting in Shannon Falls provincial park (just outside of Squamish, BC)

Posted by skooter at 5:11 PM

October 15, 1999
Soloing Killarey

So I used to have a thing for going to Killarney Provincial Park alone for a few days at a time. This was a picture I took of myself towards the end of my 1999 trip. This trip was nuts, with way too much portaging, including the steepest portage in the park.

Killarney’s a great place; better than Algonguin in many ways, not the least of which is that it feels less crowded lately.

No comments on the hair please - it looks much better now.

Posted by skooter at 8:44 PM
Tags: Camping, Canoe, Killarney, Ontario

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