Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CRAM: The One About Vancouver

Vancouver is a pretty cool place.  I know this because when I visited there back in July, I said to myself "self, this is a cool place."

See?  Proof.

So its like day 4 of our trip out to Western Canada.  We lovingly ditched our kids at the grandparents in Ontario, and my wife and I have flown westward until we found a cool place, and started exploring.

We landed at Vancouver International a few days ago, but we didn't stick around to check out the place.  Today we fix that oversight.

We started our day by driving, quite literally, around the city looking for some highly favourited geocaches, then we used an ancient technique I developed in Taiwan called "spiraling inwards" to get to the downtown core of the city".  We first stopped off and checked out the giant inuksuk (Canadians cannot resist a good inuksuk - it must be encoded in our DNA or something.)

Afterwards we headed downtown, parked the car in a car park, and walked around for the rest of the day.

But first we had to navigate an Imperial security checkpoint (naturally).
Most of our exploring was on the north side of the city, along the harbour front.  The other side of the harbour was North Vancouver, at the base of the mountains.  As you might expect from such an arrangement, the views were spectacular (even tho they were overcast.)
One thing that struck me about the area was the large amount of nautical travel, especially the float-planes. Particularly charming are the gas stations in the middle of the water.
One of the highlights of the Vancouver Shoreline is Canada Place.  Canada Place is a conference center type place build for the Expo '86 Worlds Fair, and is distinguished by the 5 large sails in the middle of the building that act as a roof.  
Canada Place is also the port where all of the cruise ships arrive in Vancouver.

Heading down the shoreline a ways brings one to a dock full of those floater-plans.
As one may expect, the shoreline is one marina after another.  The tall glass buildings make for a nice clean modern looking cityscape.
So we walked along the shoreline for a while.  Then during a break we schemed, we plotted, we dreamed, we even discussed, a plan.  Then we spent some money.  Then we waited.

While we waited we decided to head west to Stanley Park.  Stanley Park is a huge (queue Trump: yuuuge!) park on the western tip of the city.  It is, apparently, larger than Central Park in New York, but shaped differently.

We didn't actually have a great deal of time to explore the park, but we did check out some awesomesauce totem poles.
We also checked out the views of the harbour, and the Lions Gate suspension bridge.
We'll see a bit more of that bridge later, as our plans would take us right underneath it.

But how?  Stay tuned to find out!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 29, 2016

CRAM: Learning To Whistler

This series of posts tells the tale of a road trip my wifey and I took (sans-kids no less!) across British Columbia and parts of Alberta in July of this year.

We woke up on this fine morning on Vancouver Island.

Our goal was to travel along the Sea-To-Sky Highway (aka Highway 99) from Vancouver to Whistler, and back.  The scuttlebutt being that this road was quite scenic.

I like scenic. Scenic is good.  I'm about to get scenic all up in my face. (etc.)

Since we fell asleep on an island, and our destination... well... isn't, our first course of action was to grab the ferry.

(not pictured: a ferry)

Shortly afterwards (if by shortly afterwards you mean 2.5 hours - its not a quick ferry), we were on the mainland and headed north.  We were soon in scenery so scenic it can only be described as "very."

Before we actually hit the Sea-To-Sky, we visited a lighthouse (see above photo).  It started to rain, and was raining, or misty all day, so everything had a veneer of dampness.

Then we hit the highway, and was soon deep in Gods territory with mountains on one side, and water on the other.  Kinda looks like this:
Just kidding, it looked *exactly* like this.

While were were pulled over at a Provincial Park, a bald eagle flew right over my wifey's head.  I only caught one picture of the swoopin' eagle of doom.
A couple more shots, and we were back on the road.
There were a surprisingly few geocaches along this route, but there were several earth caches.  One of which led us to Shannon Falls.

Shannon Falls is several hundred feel of rock face and falling water.  An impressive sight to behold.
Our next stop was at Brandywine Falls.

Now, if you are me (which you are clearly not, tho you may want to be - and who could blame you?) when you hear the name you think Brandywine, you think river, which leads to The Shire, and the jaunty half-pint Hobbits contained therein.  A little bit of excitement stirs in your soul as a brief fantasy of visting Middle-Earth crosses your mind...

Then it is dashed upon the rocks of reality (stupid reality!).

To get to the Brandywine Falls, one has to cross active train tracks.  We thought we heard a train coming, so we waited.. and waited.., and waited.  Some other folks came along, thought they also heard a train, and they waited.

Eventually one fellow decided to see if he could hear the train on the tracks (I know, right?)
He didn't hear anything.  Eventually we decided what we were hearing was the falls, so we moved on. Soon we were treated to this view.
The trail continued on, and so did we.  Soon we reached the end and was shown this magnificent vista:

So, after this we arrived in Whistler.  Whistler proved to be annoyingly disappointing.  It looks like an awesome resort town, but it was way to busy to enjoy walking around, so we did a u-turn and headed back to Vancouver.

On the way back the rain rained, the wife dozed, and the Dave cranked the tunes and drove along some amazingly beautiful highway.
A couple hours later we arrived in Vancouver and checked into our hotel.  Shortly afterwards we met up with a couple of geocachers who I knew from my podcasting days: The LAN Monkeys, for food and drinks.

Thus ended another day on the road.  Tomorrow we're sticking close to town, but a town we've never been in before, so it should be filled with tales of exploration.
Stay tuned to find out if I'm right.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CRAM: Mother F'n Goats On A Mother F'n Roof!

For those just tuning in, this is the story so far.

A month or so ago my wife and I dumped the kids at the grandparents, and flew to British Columbia, wherein we have commenced another epic road trip.

4 posts in to this adventure has only brought us to noon on the second day.  So far we've travelled to BC, been jerked around by time zones, took a detour thru Plan B, and visited an arboreal place of worship.
Now it is time for lunch.  So we headed off to a place that supposedly has goats on its roof.  Its called, shockingly, "Goats On The Roof".

It is a market that has a bunch of stuff - tho I didn't pay much attention to it.  Once I confirmed that there were indeed goats on the roof, I concentrated on the second most interesting detail of the place:  the ice cream parlour.

I also noticed this sign, which seemed ironic given there are literally animals *ON* the premises.
If you can't read it, the entrance to the building with goats on the roof reads "No animals allowed on premises".   LIES!!!!.

After lunch my wifey decided that it was nap time.  I agreed, and immediately went geocaching.  As she attained a state of slumber in the passenger seat, I drove off to a place with a highly favourited cache.  Turns out, it was this cache:
 I then took a drive down the Trans Canada Highway heading eastward for an hour or so until the wifey sufficiently deslumbered.  We ended up in a town called Duncan that was littered with totem poles.
Also it is home to the worlds largest hockey stick and puck:
See?  Large!

After this we headed over to Nanaimo to visit some Scavenger friends who live nearby.  They would have the honour of being the first Scavengers visited this trip (tho they would not be the last - I mean, what fun would that be?)

We arrived a bit early, so we headed down to the waterfront and checked out their harbour.
The harbour was notable for a small number of pleasure craft, but a lot of utility type boats.  They even had a floating Petro-Canada - which is charming.
After this we headed over to a bar to meet my friends.  Astute Canadian viewers will realize that this means I have reached a pun, for I was in an authentic Nanaimo Bar! (this is where my non-Canadian readers scratch their heads at that joke and go "huh?".  Don't worry, non Canadian friends, to actual Canadians that joke will illicit a slight guffaw, but leave them slightly hungry).

Once we were done, we were done.  We headed back to the hotel.  Tomorrow we head back to the mainland, and drive a scenic highway to an old Olympic village - and live to tell the tale!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 22, 2016

CRAM: Cathedral Grove

So... back to Plan A.

It is about time too, don'tcha think?

So, to play catchup, this is the tale of a road trip my wife and I had over a month ago.  We left the kids in the care of their grandparents in Ontario, then flew to British Columbia for an epic adventure, and to hang out with Scavengers. We are currently on day two of our adventure, on Vancouver Island.

In the timeline of this tale we have just pulled into the parking lot of a place known as Cathedral Grove.

Cathedral Grove is one of few remaining patches of old growth forest.  It is full of the towering Douglas Firs, many over 350 years old, as well as some giant cedar trees.

The park that contains these trees has several miles of well groomed trails where one can walk among these gentle giants, which we gladly did.  It was very peaceful in those woods, and surprisingly insect free.

There were also a couple geocaches, of which both now have my signature in the logs, as one would expect.

Of course the dappled light filtering down from the tree tips made for some excellent camera fodder.
 I even caught a glimpse of a rare wood elf, (don't tell my wife, but this wood elf captured my heart with her mysterious elven powers... someday I shall marry her...).
The trails leads one to the edge of a lake (in fact the same lake that is featured at the end of the previous post, and this one for that matter.)
The geek in me needs to point out that these woods reminded me of Endor (the moon where the Ewoks live in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi).  I know that the Endor scenes were filmed in the woods in northern California, however I believe (tho am not certain) that these woods are a continuation of those woods, so these woods could simply be considered the dark side of the moon. (cue Pink Floyd album references!)
So we spent a couple hours here, and was one of the highlights of our trip (tho there are many more highlights to come). It was time to keep on going down the road.

However before we do, its time to take one last look at that big lake, Cameron Lake.
So check one big item off the trip target list.  It isn't even lunch time on the second day!  Not to shabby.

There is still more day to come, but that will be in the next post.  It is action packed, and contains livestock in places where livestock is not normally stocked live, and living out literally a figurative Canadian metaphor.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

CRAM: A Slight Detour

If you recall from the last post, my wife and I have travelled to Vancouver Island to start an epic road trip. 

We've barely been travelling for 24 hours and we've already travelled by air, car, and boat.

We've also found a geocache, and had a torrid love affair with timezones, and their effects on travellers.

So this morning I woke up really early to find an amazing early morning sunrise lurking outside the hotel window, so it deserved a pause to capture it with my lens. (check the image on the left to get a flavour of it).

So far this trip everything has just happend to us like we've been a ship without sails in a storm, so you may be asking yourselves "does Dave have a plan at all for this trip?"

My response: "Hi, have we met?  My name is Dave... of course I have a plan. I know plans. I have the best plans."

At this point my wife and I would jump into our rental car, dramatically put on sunglasses, and drove off in a cloud of dust and squealing tires to execute the best of plans (it helps to play Bad To The Bone when imagining this particular scene.)  Plan A awaits!

20 minutes later we executed Plan B, right around the moment when we saw a sign for Little Qualicum Falls. 

It turns out the falls, for there were two of them, were at a provincial park (the aptly named Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, oddly enough).  Since we were still very early in the day (see references to the perils of time zones elsewhere in this series), and the hike seemed short and easy, we decided to stop and check them out.

We were soon surrounded by deep old forests, and a scenic river: 

 And a scenic set of water falls.
Since we were off script, I had to check to see if any geocaches were in the area.  Turns out there were two, right along the path we intended to take.


So as we hiked, we cached.  While heading down a side trail to find the first cache, we came across a new friend.
Turns out he's a great friend.  Doesn't have many demands, and is a *great* listener (he does have small hands tho, and is a little orange - beggars can't be choosers).

Once the cache log was signed, we took the path heading up stream,  and were soon at a bridge over a waterfall.
My wife stopped to take pictures of the bridge.

I stopped to take pictures of my wife (one of the things that prove that I am better at picking spouses than she is, is that she gets stuck with me, but I get the pleasure of looking at her. See? I win!)
I felt it best to use a stunt Dave to document my participation in this hiking adventure:
 So that was our quick detour for Plan B.  It was time to get back onto Plan A, so we hopped back in the car and headed down the road.  One quick stop (Plan C?) to check out a lake later...
... and we were back on track.

Stay tuned for the next episode to learn exactly what Plan A entails.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but let me tell you, as stories go... its definitely one of them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CRAM: Timezones Are A Fickle Mistress

The events of this post happened mostly on July 5th, but ended on July 6th.

So at this point in the story my awesome wifey and I have landed at Vancouver International Airport, and have rented a car (Toyota Highlander, if you must know) and are driving towards a big boat.  The first leg of our road trip is on Vancouver Island, which, by virtue of being an island, requires a ferry to get there from here.

Long story short:  We got to the ferry, and spent the next 90 minutes or so checking out the views off the Strait of Georgia.  Looks a bit like this:

It was a rainy, foggy day so the views from the deck of the ferry while we were in open water were not super awesome, but we managed to make the most of it. We even met a guy named Bob.  We called him Bob On The Boat, because thats how we roll.

 From the deck we could also see other boats! (not pictured, our boat)
When we landed it was mid-afternoon local time.  However due to time zones being a heartless bastard, it was 3 hours later where we came from, and we've been traveling by plane, by car, and now by boat for almost 12 hours now, so we were getting a little weary.

However where we were it was just approaching mid-afternoon, so we decided to kill some time. Our method of time killing should be familiar with long time readers of this blog:  Geocaching.

Yep, it was time to find the first cache of this trip.  I checked my list and picked a nice looking one on the shoreline close to the hotel.  It took a few minutes, but soon I had the cache in hand:
After the cache we drove to the hotel and checked in.  Thru the magic of frequent travel programs we were upgraded to a suite, and given a room with a balcony and a view of the water (sucks to be us, right?)

Thanks to the perils of time zones, we fell asleep early.  However thanks to the wonderful magic of time zones, we also woke up early.  Much earlier than normal.  Which means, despite being the height of summer, and super long northern days, we opened our eyes right in time for the next morning's golden hour.

Yep, we opened the curtain on the balcony door to find this light.
If you are a photographer you are likely thinking "wow, look at that light!".  If you are not, just know a good golden light is like porn for photographers - unless they are actual porn photographers, in which case porn is like porn for them - however since I am not a porn photographer, golden light is my metaphorical seductive mistress. (My wife is my actual seductive mistress, however since my wife was in bed beside me, I was flush with seductive mistresses, and that is a pretty dang good way to start a road trip. Needless to say I was pleased with how things were going.)

I woke up my wifey, and we spent the next hour taking photos in our PJs from our balcony, looking out over the golden hour lit vista that is the Strait of Georgia.

Looked like this:
I know, right?  And it was only 6AM!

After this we got ourselves ready to spend the day exploring the island.  Time to kick this Western Canadian road trip into high gear.

To the Highlander! Breakfast at Tim Hortons awaits! And then... adventure.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Keep Calm And CRAM It.

So this all happened over a month ago - in fact this particular adventure started on July 5th, 2016, but life gets in the way sometimes.  However it is time to start telling the tale of my latest road trip adventure.
This adventure starts off as many good adventures do - with an early morning flight across the country.  The country in this case is my homeland, Canada.

This morning (that is morning in the timeline of the story, not the telling), my wife and I have left our kids at the grandparents, and hopped on a West Jet flight in Hamilton Ontario, and are headed west.

Our destination is Vancouver Island.  Our goal is to go on a road trip thru British Columbia, a province little explored by either my wife or myself, and end up in Alberta.  Along the way we hope to visit some friends, take some photos, sign some cache logs, and check out the majestic splendor that is the western side of Canada.

Our ultimate plan is to hang out with a bunch of Scavengers in Canmore Alberta at a hangout lovingly dubbed CRAM - the Chrysta Rae Alberta Meetup.  Frequent readers of this blog should already be familiar with the Scavengers - new readers will learn about em by the time this series is complete.

So sit back, relax, and over the next series of posts shall regale you a tale of our adventure on the west coast.

Stay tuned.