We live on a planet

Vancouver 125: Summer Live

I shot this on the final day of Summer Live in Stanley Park this past weekend. We were out of town for most of the event that celebrates Vancouver’s 125th anniversary of being the city that it has become, and this was quite the party that the city threw.

Truth be told, sixty4media developed the website for the year long celebration(celebratevancouver125.ca) that is going on, and it was a little rewarding to know that Rebecca and I played a bit part to help spread the word about Summer Live. With everyone hanging out on their blankets, people throwing the frisbee around, all the folks hula-hooping, and so on, I really wish we could have been around to check out more on Friday and Saturday.

“We live on a planet” is what Beck said when I showed her this photo because of the way the moon slipped into the shot. All of this within a 15 minute walk from the west end makes me hope this becomes a regular event every year.

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.

The fish monsters of Lost Lagoon

Yes, another post about Stanley Park, but a long standing question of mine was answered this morning. Are there any fish in Lost Lagoon? The answer is a resounding yes.

We were passing by this morning and only had my cellphone on us. The quality isn’t the best, but a lot of people were stopping to see all the splashing. The fish, as I say numerous times in the video, are huge. At minimum, a foot long, and their swarms were creating ominous waves in the middle of the lagoon, making it seem like some sort of X-Files[imdb] like creatures had moved in.

We had seen good sized turtles basking in the sunshine sometime ago, and Rebecca found that hard to believe but understandable. After that, I kinda imagined that if there were fish in there, they wouldn’t be much in terms of variety and size. Of course, I’m wrong, but this is amazingly surprising.

Update: Almost uncanny timing, a new video of Nessy has surfaced.

Horse vs. Dog in the park

This is purely an observation, but there is something that I have noticed for a long time when it comes to the numerous trips I make into Stanley Park. The place is a bit of an obsession, but I’m not the only person who likes to run in or around the place.

Expensive Dog Beach In my best Seinfeld impression, what’s up with all the horse poop on the trails? Not only that, but it shows up on the Seawall path as well! Big, honking clumps of horse manure, green in all of its glory. Little land mines just waiting for some sucker to not watch their step and get a nice, aromatic surprise.

The thing that kills me is that dog owners face fines for not having their pet on a leash, taking their animal is prohibited areas, or not picking up “the business” of that all dogs must do. If it’s not a few hundred dollars of a fine, it’s got an extra zero or so tagged on to the punishment.

Now, I am not a dog owner, never have been. Love all sorts of animals, but this is something that still confounds me. Why is it that horses can crap where they please without punishment, not to mention a complete lack of clean up? I’ve ran around piles of these green apple treats for a series of days before the rain can come around to help wash off the pathway, and this is in high traffic areas like around the Nine O’clock Gun or the little information center by the aquarium.

The worst speculation that I have is that a potential, common offender here is horseback police patrols, as I’ve passed just a few in the park while living here. If this might be true, then I really think something needs to be enforced to deal with this horse crap. Double standards stink. Literally.

Serious tourist traffic congestion

If you are someone who walks along the Seawall in Stanley Park, then you know about the amount of traffic that can happen. Some of this is from the locals out for a stroll, walk, jog, run, skate, or bike ride. The other, painful part is the amount of tourists that are either lost, stopping to take pictures, completely taking up the pathway with no regard for anyone else who might be trying to “share the road”, or just screwing up the flow.

So imagine my surprise when I ran into this a few weeks ago by the Rowing Club.

Tourist Traffic Congestors 1

Oh but it gets better. There’s another one about fifty meters further, and there is no other way to get around it except go through it.

Tourist Traffic Congestors 2

There are hints that this might be temporary, but this would completely stink if it wasn’t. Being that this is the portion of the park that is so close to Coal Harbour and in easy walking distance of cruise shippers that have a day to run around Vancouver, the volume of foot traffic can get aggressively annoying, especially if you are a runner like me. Funnel hundreds of people through a tiny opening like that and… well that just sucks.

Ever try to say “excuse me” to someone and have them look at you in complete blankness? It can happen here a lot in Vancouver because you never know what language someone can or can’t speak.

Making my way up to Prospect Point

I figure that it’s about time that I do another Stanley Park update. As a quick recap, you can read this post, but the basic jest of the story is that a horrible storm damaged a large portion of the park back in December 2006. I’m doing my best to post updates of what I’m seeing as the park cleans up and opens more portions back up to the public. After all, it’s one of my favorite places to go running.

Last week, I tried going into areas of the park that I’ve mentioned previously, but they were still closed to the public the last time I did this, at least officially. It was very easy to go around these orange and white barricades that had caution tape tied from it, spanning to nearby trees in almost spiderweb like fashion. This time around, the trails were not blocked off, seemingly open for business.

The trails were cleaned up more than the last time I was in the area around Beaver Lake, so I decided to try my chances and head over the foot bridge to the other side of the causeway. Everything on that side looks really good, but heading down the Tatlow Trail ran me into a huge, fallen down tree that is about 50% from being fully removed. There is no easy way around it other than climbing, not hopping or straddling, over the trunk that is about half my height.
Continue reading “Making my way up to Prospect Point”

Stanley Park: Going where you’re allowed

20070208(009) After my last run in with the park folks, I’ve been taking running routes through Stanley Park that don’t involve areas where you are, technically, not supposed to be. And for the most part, it’s not that different than what I’ve seen from inside of the park. It’s ugly, there’s an abundance of skylight coming through where the canopy use to shield a lot more of it out, and the clean up process seems to be taking forever.

You can see some more pictures that I snapped today here. This was the first time that I brought my cellphone with me on a run with the intention of taking some pictures. Might I also add, I saw a pair of runners duck into the trails on the back side of Lost Lagoon. It’s tempting, but the last thing I want to do is have to climb of huge tree trunks across the trail. I’ve had to do that already, and it’s not much fun.

Prior to these storms that sacked the place, I used to marvel at the huge stumps that are left over from the first time this area was settled and harvested for what it was worth. Most of what got knocked over recently is second growth. However, there was a lot of fallen trees in the park before the winds demolished what it did. Not to this extent, but what was there was left to be. Concern was given to keep the trails passable, but that stuff was just shoved to the side.

There are millions of dollars being appropriated for the clean up of the park, and yet this process is going at a snail pace. There are some that say that this money would be better off going towards individuals that are struggling and in dire need of help, and I can’t say that I disagree. From everything that I’m seeing, I need more proof that something more is being done.

Stay off the trails, but Stanley Park is open

It’s been a while since I’ve addressed the actual condition of Stanley Park, and a recent commenter on my last post regarding this issue has prompted me to make another report on what I’ve been seeing.

IMG_0042 Rebecca and I have made some small treks into the park, aside from the video podcast we did a few weeks ago. At that point, and in those locations, we knew that we were not supposed to be in that area. Besides having to climb over the trees laying everywhere, it’s the trees that are leaning in the loose soil that you really have to be mindful of. Luckily, there wasn’t any wind on that day. If there was, I wouldn’t have even thought about heading near the trees, and that’s a mindset I have while running through the area as well.

Does it look like a war zone? Absolutely. There is not a better way to describe it. And when they talk about “restoring Stanley Park” in the news, that’s what is called journalistic and/or political rhetoric. There is no such thing as a short term solution. The clean up will take time. The recovery of all the trees that have been destroyed or damaged will take a few lifetimes.

IMG_0040 Today, I made a running route that followed the Seawall out of Coal Harbour with the intention of seeing how far I could go on that side of the park. As I assumed, the path is still restricted at the 4.5 km mark, just prior to the point where the Seawall goes under Lions Gate Bridge. From there, I was able to cut across Park Drive and head up Pipeline Road. There’s various piles of debris and fallen tree parts along the road, but the sidewalk is reasonably accessible.

Now these are the areas of the park that are “officially” open. I say that because just after crossing the wooden bridge on Pipeline Road, which would have taken me past the Rose Garden and out of the park, I turned right to follow a trail that would take me to Beaver Lake. When we explored this area over the weekend, I knew that I could take the South Creek trail on the other side of the lake to make my path towards home.

Where the trails of Beaver Lake and South Creek meet, there was a green and white parks’ truck, a black Honda CR-V, and a huge backhoe, all blocking access to the trail I wanted to take. About six people were just standing around, apparently having some sort of conversation, essentially not doing anything.

IMG_0039 I approached and politely asked if there was no way to get through. One guy looked at me like I was speaking in tongues, didn’t even give me a response. Then a lady turned around and said, “Actually, sir, all of the trails are closed. You are to use your discretion for your own safety if you plan on being on any of the trails.”

Great. I’m one of those people now. I thanked them for the information and continued all the way around Beaver Lake without any problem, then took the Tisdall Walk to cut back out to Pipeline Road, and followed the road all the way out of the park.

Oddly enough, I recall the news reporting a matter of weeks ago that Stanley Park was open again. This mainly applies to the majority of the tourist spots that are accessible by vehicle, but all of the trails are excluded from this. However, I wasn’t the only person roaming or running around the trails this morning.

For those curious, it’s not known as to the time line for the trails to open up, and the Seawall is just as questionable. That’s not to say that you can’t bike or inline on the portions of the Seawall that are open. You just can’t go all the way around. The other side of the park only goes as far as Siwash Rock, and let’s hope that changes by this summer. The trails are going to take a little more time due to tree removal and repair from root systems pulling up the gravel as trees toppled.

Every time we venture in there, I’m still amazed by what I see. Some trees just fell right over. Others look like a tank shell went right through the middle of it. Yes, it is as bad as they say it is. You just don’t get the impact of it until you see it for yourself.

Foggy times in the city

I’ve been fascinated by the amount of fog rolling into Vancouver over the past few days. It’s not so much the amount as it is the way that the sky goes from sunny to pea soup. We were in the park yesterday when we thought the sun had set pretty quick. Turns out, it was just fog, and lots of it.

IMG_0045
I wanted to walk around the back portion of Lost Lagoon, but Rebecca would have none of that. It was so creepy, only being able to see about 20 meters ahead of you. Because of that, I wanted to venture in that direction. For Rebecca, she didn’t want to venture in that direction for that same reason. We ended up heading home where it was much warmer, regardless if the the sun was shining or not.

What scary spirits lurk in the fallen trees beyond that fog? Looks like we’ll have to save that experience for another time.

Stanley Park storm damage – day 12

IMG_9670 Being that the park is one of my favorite places to tread through, I thought I would give a periodical report on the things that I am noticing as the clean up grinds along from the storm that damaged thousands of trees in Stanley Park on December 15, 2006.

One thing that bothers me to no end is the fact that I cannot run on the trails through the park right now. The furthest I have been able to get into the park, aside from our picture taking expedition[flickr], is the trail that goes around Lost Lagoon. That’s not to say that there isn’t a fair amount of damage to that area alone.

Talking to some friends who live on the north shore last night, the damage is not just inside Stanley Park. I’m not sure many people understand how badly the area was hit because they seemed to be surprised at what we were telling them. Our pal Preston did hit the nail on the head when we were trying to describe it to him. Indeed, it does look like the Iron Giant[imdb] took a nice stroll through the park.

The other day, I came across the point where the Tatlow comes out at Lost Lagoon. Of course, there are barricades preventing you from taking the trail into the heart of the park. I have to question why. Directly on the other side of the orange and white gate, there is a mess of trees lying crisscrossed over the trail. You couldn’t get too far if you tried.

The whole route around the lagoon took a hit as well. There are numerous points where a fallen tree has been sliced through the middle at the width of the pathway it blocked off. Sawdust is all over the ground in some areas, but the trail is easily accessible without having to crawl over or duck under anything. The forest of the entire park is noticeably not as dense as it was when you peer into the now forbidden zone. There are a bunch of branches and trunks resting at various angles as well.

I’ll do my best to relay other things that I notice as things progress. It’s taking some time for the clean up to really take shape, but the park is massive in scale. Access by vehicle is one thing, but without the trails being open, what’s the point? I think that’s going to take the most time to recover from.