Jolted in the West End

Car Explosion in West End of Vancouver, B.C.

It hasn’t been twelve hours since 6:48AM today, and the only reason I’ve been able to sort out that moment as the time of the explosion is to compare the blinking alarm clock time next to my bed and the current time on my cellphone.

I wrote an email to my family earlier, and most of what it said felt like a good summary of how we felt today in the midst of this “freak accident“.

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Spending a Saturday in New Westminster

Day in New Westminster: May 2012

You can get the full story on Rebecca’s site, but we made our way to downtown New Westminster a few weekends ago to explore the area. And quite honestly, I was really impressed by a place I thought I somewhat already knew.

Day in New Westminster: May 2012

Whatever you think you’ve known about the area of the New West core, it’s probably changed over the past few years.

Continue reading “Spending a Saturday in New Westminster”

First trip up Grouse Mountain

If there is one thing in Vancouver that beckons every visitor more than anything, it’s probably Grouse Mountain[wiki].

Up the gondola

After nearly three years of living here, I have finally braved the gondola ride and the heavy tourist crowds to ascend to the top of the mountain. Well, at least we ventured around the lodge and a few of the nearby trails, but we finally made it up there for the first time. Yes, even Rebecca has never been up there.

Gondola traffic

Lodge

The original intent of this visit was to enjoy a wonderful invitation by the folks who run Grouse Mountain to see what’s up there as well as take a ride on their newest attraction, ziplining.

Cloudy and soggy

As you can see, it was just a tad rainy on this past Sunday that we were there. Our thought at the bottom was that we would book our zipline time and hope for better weather up top, but our wishes didn’t come true. We’ll have to do a makeup trip another time, more so when you can see the end of the zipline or at least further than fifty feet ahead of you while traveling at 50km per hour.

One thing that this experience has done for me is drive my urge to do the Grouse Grind. I’ve wanted to do it since the day Rebecca told me all about it, but the intimidation of not knowing how to get there always prevented me. Truth be told, you can take a Seabus from Waterfront Station and hop a #236 Grouse Mountain bus on the other side to get there in about 45 minutes[googlemaps]. Hike up, take the mandatory gondola ride down for $15 $5!, and you’ve done the grind.

The lodge has a fair share of amenities at the top, and I’m told that the nachos are to die for. Not something I would be the most keen on after a hopeful 45 minute hustle up the side of a mountain, but they do intrigue me.

Probably the biggest highlight of the day for me were the grizzly bears. There are two, full sized bears in captivity within an easy walk from the lodge. Abandoned at birth, they are being cared for in a very respectable area, complete with a nice swimming hole and lots of trees.

Nature never seems to grow old in terms of my personal fascination. Grouse Mountain, even on a cold and wet day, was a thrilling experience. Water never hurts anyone, but I can’t wait to experience it when I can really take in the beauty on a clearer day.

Family and fun in KCMO

Rebecca and I got back yesterday from a one week stay in Kansas City, MO. My mother grew up there, and it’s where my parents met and got married. The road that took our family to Iowa is a whole other tale, but there is still a large portion of extended family that lives in and around KCMO.

KCMO from Liberty Memorial

My grandmother turned a young 90 years old this past Wednesday, so that, of course, means one thing for a family with hefty Mexican roots. It’s a party, and I think I’m still recovering.

The birthday girl

Otherwise, this trip was a chance to get away from the craziness in Vancouver, enjoy some family, and relax a little bit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, and you can see more of them in the Flickr set.

She really was here

Truly the “City of Fountains”.

Neptune

Pomona

Brusch Creek

Choices

I haven’t been able to find Mexican bread as good as this in Vancouver.

Mi madre y mi tia

My mom and my aunt, but you can’t see the three pitchers of sangria that were absolutely amazing.

La Bodega

And the scene of the crime.

Rebecca in KCMO

KCMO Pose

Liberty Memorial Park

It was a really great week in Kansas City. Hot, but great to see all of my family. Hopefully a trip to Iowa can be the next leg when we go to visit, but now we’re anxious to show them some of the sites here. Pictures can’t do KC or Vancouver justice, both great in their own right.

Weekend camping at Cultus Lake for drunkcamp02

Camping on Cultus

Three days in Chilliwack, B.C. at Cultus Lake with Rebecca, John, and Duane. Lots and lots of sitting around the campfire, laughing a ton, good drink, good food, and the weather was… good.

Home for three days

Nerd City

The forecast in the days leading up to the trip just got worse and worse. Everyone we knew told us that we were nuts for going camping this weekend. It ended up being awful on Thursday night, Friday was actually really nice, and Saturday was off and on in terms of being cool from winds that would whip up from time to time. Other than that, everything went off great.

I like fire

I even busted open my right shin a tiny bit when a piece of wood I was chopping got away and clocked me. That’s about par for the course, no other major injuries.

Sunset behind the mountain

Drowning tree

I can still smell the smoke, if not taste it. That’s only the real complaint of the trip, even if the coolness kept us all pretty close to the fire. Couldn’t even fathom jumping into the lake, no matter how inviting or calling it might have been. Fleece under a rain jacket was just right. Bone chilling lake water from ice run off from the mountains in the area, not so much.

Lanyards

Ah yes, we indeed called this drunkcamp02, complete with lanyards. It’s more of a statement of enjoying the time away from laptops and technology and becoming one with nature. Even though there are public washrooms within easy walk and Duane’s family brought us amazing food(perogies, cabbage rolls, and KFC), donuts from Tim Horton’s, and fire wood in three separate trips on Saturday, it’s tough country out there “in the Wack”.

You can see more of my pictures from the trip on Flickr.

A trip to Osoyoos in pictures

It must have been nearly a month ago, and it took me a long time to get the pictures posted from our trip to Osoyoos for a quick weekend getaway, so here’s a delayed recap in photos. Rebecca has some good posts about the trips and various portions of it here, here, here, and here.

Downtown Osoyoos

Welcome to the wild, wild Washington State

Those trees are really that huge

Lake Osoyoos below

Seriously, go slow

Burrowing Owl Winery

Vines getting ready to grow

Sahara Courtyard Inn Motel

Beef and pork on the grill

Lots of rest and relaxation, but we don’t own a car. It’s nice to take long drives through the countryside, see the land, and listen to music. That’s what makes us happy.

Some actual signs of progress in Stanley Park

About two weeks ago, Rebecca and I went for a walk in Stanley Park as we so often do. On one of my early morning runs that took me along the drive near Prospect Point, I’ve noticed a trail that was never visible since the storm damage from over a year ago. I always thought that it was interesting how you could see the Merilees Trail from Stanley Park Drive due to all the fallen trees, but then the gate blocking access to that and the Siwash Rock Trail was gone.

On our walk, I said I wanted to venture that way and see what we could find. What we found was somewhat surprising.

Nifty metal rail

Gone is all of the wooden, almost farm-like fence that separated you from falling fifty feet onto the Seawall below. Now it has been replaced with a craftily welded, metal railing that goes along the entire length of the trail, all the way to Siwash Rock itself.

Man made nature spot?

There was also this bit of landscaping that is destined to become a posh little spot along the trail. At first I didn’t think there was much to all the piles of gravel and the machinery in the area, but looking back at it from this angle, you can see the tiny steps going into a fun little spot that will be bound to attract multitudes of couples looking to make out from the nice viewpoint.

Bit of welding going on here

It’s nice to see that this millions of dollars being spent on the cleanup in Stanley Park is resulting in some obvious results. The landscaping is questionable, but there is also a vast amount of work down to improve the drainage in the entire area of Prospect Point. I’m sure this is to ensure that landslides will have less of a chance to occur in the future, but nature has its way of proving that wrong.

Of course, I already mentioned Hollow Tree, but it’s still sad to see it go. Stanley Park has been there a lot longer than Vancouver has existed, so life will go on, millions of dollars at a time.

Saying farewell to Hollow Tree in Stanley Park

Rebecca and I made a trek into Stanley Park this morning. With the hectic schedules that we have these days, it’s one thing that we both love to do, especially so we can see all the changes they’ve been doing since the massive storm that affected so much of the park.

Apart of that laundry list of damage is Hollow Tree. The humega tourist landmark is losing the battle and has recently been decided to be taken down.

The most famous tree in Stanley Park will soon take up a new home, horizontal, on the ground.

The Vancouver Park Board voted unanimously on a recommendation to take down the hollow tree rather than spend $200,000 trying to prop it up.

But even with braces on the tree, there was no guarantee it would be safe for tourists to surround.

The tree will now likely be sliced down the middle with each half laid out so that people can walk between them. [news1130]

With this information in mind this morning, we stopped by to see it before it’s gone. Well, at least before it’s turned into a different variation of a tourist landmark than what it already is.

I think it goes without saying that I am a huge lover of Stanley Park, and the fact that this tree has to come down is sad. However, nature should be allowed to return to nature.

The fact that this tree (which, last I checked, is a type of living organism with roots, bark, branches, and leaves) is being held together with nuts, bolts, cable wires, and steel beams (which I’m fairly sure isn’t common among most plant based organisms) says that maybe the time has come to let it go.

A Saturday on Granville Island

Since I had strep throat on the official day of our two year anniversary, Saturday was the rescheduled time to do a lot of nothing.

Beck on the water taxi

After a breakfast in English Bay on one of the best days that we’ve seen yet this year, we decided to head out for a walk. First we thought Stanley Park, maybe venturing the whole way around the Seawall, walking with some coffees, etc. You know, the typical things a lot of people do who live downtown, just minus all the Lululemon gear.

What I envision when I think Granville Island

We ended up hopping the water taxi and spent nearly four hours on Granville Island, tooling around the painfully swarming crowds to offer up ourselves a sense of relaxation. That’s actually possible as long as you just keep telling yourself that you have nothing to do, nowhere to be, and in no hurry. Once you grasp that idea, you can do damn near anything.

"Post this one on the internet."

When we saw a crowd around this guy, there were flames on sticks and laughter. I knew we had to head that way and see what this “Byron from England” was all about.

He’s a street performer that juggles fire, escapes from a straight jacket and chains, and is incredibly funny. This photo was where I became apart of the act, posing and talking to me while making fun of me for taking so many photos (which you can see more of here). It was hilarious. If you get a chance to catch this guy, stop and see what’s up. I think our experience was well worth it.

The plan for the night was to get all fancy and hit a posh place to eat, but we could feel ourselves getting tired out from our all day excursion. We utilized the market for all it is worth, picking out incredible dishes to take home that were easy to make and amazing to taste, not to mention some outstanding desserts that were mind blowing.

All of this after a delicious coffee with a fresh croissant in a tucked away place on the island that was free of tourists. Good bless all your dollars you spend into the local economy, but Rebecca was able to lead us to a peaceful place to enjoy the sunshine, not to mention croissants that were so flaky and fresh that I was afraid the pigeons would soon be onto me.

A very Vancouver scene

Aside from getting a chance to explore a creative side through photographs with my nifty christmas present, we sat near the ferry dock to pause and listen to this man with his guitar. He sang in French, so I have no idea what he was saying. Still, the soundtrack couldn’t have been better with a backdrop of city, mountains, and water, who cares what he was saying.

We don’t get over to Granville Island as often as we probably should, and it’s the tough crowds that mostly likely make it that way. It’s really refreshing when you can have days like these, even more so when it’s far too convenient to take a round trip over there on a water taxi. You don’t get to do that very often where I grew up, and it beats the hell out of a bus ride.

Photos from the Canucks Open Practice 2008

In light of the recent episode #61 of The Crazy Canucks at the 2008 Open Practice at GM Place, I thought I would post a few of my favorite photos from the event that I took. J.J. had some great, extra seats that we took turns checking out from behind the bench, and Rebecca scored some good shots here as well.

Never afraid to pose
Rebecca poses as an Ultimate Canucks fan.
J.J. tapes the jumbotron interview with Rintoul
J.J. took the reigns on a 30 second shot with Scott Rintoul from TEAM 1040 on the jumbotron in GM Place. The rest of us got in on it as well in the background, including Alanah.
Dave poses with the true, but strangely missing, MVP of the day
DaveO poses with the real MVP of the day, who was strangely missing from the event…

Blocker save

Skating with the troops

Meeting at center ice 2

I have to say that it was a pretty cool day. We didn’t get to see as much of the practice as we did from press row last year, but it was a lot of fun to hang out with the guys behind the Ultimate Canucks Search, who are absolutely hilarious guys. They’re also pretty damn good at what they are trying to do.

One thing worth mentioning was the shootout competition that they had at the end of practice. Willie Mitchell pulled his jersey over his head in a headless horsemen-like fashion, skated all the way from center ice like that, and scored on Luongo. It was priceless. What a guy.