June 02, 2014

Nature Photos Near Parksville, Coming Home from SEHAB Meeting

After the SEHAB meeting, I took a few hours to do some shooting around Parksville, including the beaches and Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. I then caught an evening ferry back to the mainland.

Beaches north of Parksville

beaches_20140601_1

beaches_20140601_2

beaches_20140601_3

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_1

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_2

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_5

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_3

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_4

englishman_river_falls_park_20140601_6

On the ferry heading home

foam_20140601

waves_20140601

sunset_ferry_20140601_3

sunset_ferry_20140601_1

sunset_ferry_20140601_2

sunset_ferry_20140601_4

sunset_ferry_20140601_5

sunset_ferry_20140601_6

Posted by Paul at 03:01 PM

May 14, 2014

Manning Park Beasts and Birds

Saw mammals large and small at Manning Provincial Park. I stayed in the car for the bear photos. The ground squirrels were way more aggressive, because they expect a constant flow of handouts. Not from me, though.

manning_park_black_bear_1_20140514

Black bear

manning_park_black_bear_2_20140514

Black bear butt - this is the end that you want to see moving away from you,
particularly if you're not in your car

manning_park_ground_squirrel_3_20140514

Too darn cute for their own health!

manning_park_ground_squirrel_2_20140514

manning_park_ground_squirrel_1_20140514

manning_park_turkey_vulture_20140514

A turkey vulture on the prowl.

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

June 21, 2013

Alaska Cruise–Sea Views, Ship Views

I loved doing lap after lap around the Volendam as we cruised the waters, taking photos of distant scenery, and exploring views of the ship and its equipment.

alaska_volendam_1_20130621

alaska_volendam_2_20130621

alaska_volendam_3_20130621

alaska_volendam_4_20130621

alaska_volendam_5_20130621

alaska_volendam_6_20130621

alaska_volendam_7_20130621

alaska_volendam_8_20130621

alaska_volendam_9_20130621

alaska_volendam_10_20130621

alaska_volendam_11_20130621

alaska_volendam_12_20130621

alaska_volendam_13_20130621

alaska_volendam_14_20130621

alaska_volendam_15_20130621

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 3

Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier

Our first port of call was Juneau, Alaska. Deciding against an organized excursion, Yumi and I wandered the town on our own, and took a bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier.

alasak_juneau_8_201306

alasak_juneau_4_201306

The Volendam

alasak_juneau_6_201306

Disney and Princess ships

alasak_juneau_7_201306

Float planes are everywhere in Alaska

alasak_juneau_5_201306

Juneau

alasak_juneau_9_201306

alasak_juneau_3_201306

Sarah Palin's old house (Governor's Mansion)

alasak_juneau_1_201306

Cruise ships and float planes - yep you see a lot of those in Alaska

alasak_juneau_2_201306

And salmon fishing

alasak_juneau_10_201306

alaska_mendenhall_2_201306

Approaching the Mendenhall Glacier

alasak_juneau_12_201306

Yumi on the trail

alaska_mendenhall_201306

Cool rock

alaska_mendenhall_3_201306

Nugget Falls

alaska_mendenhall_4_201306

alasak_mendenhall_5_201306

alasak_mendenhall_6_201306

Porcupine taking a snooze

alasak_mendenhall_7_201306

Mendenhall Visitor Center

alasak_mendenhall_8_201306

alasak_mendenhall_9_201306

alasak_mendenhall_10_201306

We saw no bears, but we did see bear poop, which was close enough

alasak_mendenhall_11_201306

alasak_juneau_11_201306

The park has an arctic tern nesting area

Posted by Paul at 03:03 PM

June 20, 2013

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 2

Apparently I didn't take many photos on day 2, which was mostly cruising up the Inside Passage
during the night toward our first stop at Juneau, Alaska. But here are some of our stateroom,
and a whale and some other wildlife.

volendam_stateroom_20130620

Our cosy stateroom

volendam_stateroom_2_20130620

We liked the location, speed, weather, and other data tracking on the TV.
For me, a bottle of Jim Beam to sip before retiring to bed; for Yumi, a bottle
of white wine. If you look closely, you may see an upside-down photographer in the
makeup mirror.

volendam_yumi_interior_20130620

Yumi checking out the interior

volendam_yumi_stefan_20130620

Yumi with Uncle Stefan

volendam_humpback_20130620

And the highlight of the day, a minke, no, a humpback, a minke,
no, the consensus ended up a humpback whale! One of a pod of
several. Would that ghostly whiter shape alongside be a youngster?

volendam_porpoises_20130620

Porpoises, no, dolphins, no, porpoises, oh, heck, frolicking beasties
splashing in the water

It's when you encounter photography situations like this that you
want an even longer lens!

Posted by Paul at 08:10 PM

June 19, 2013

Seven-Day Vancouver-Alaska Cruise, Day 1

Yumi and I did our first-ever cruise this month, joining a group of six more relatives for a 7-day Alaska sojourn with Holland America on the ms Volendam. While we had a few overcast days, and saw lots of rain in the distance several times, we experienced just a few drops of rain during the entire week, and plenty of warm sunshine. The sea was smooth all the way, even in the less-sheltered stretches, and neither of us experienced any seasickness.

Long story short? We loved it. We'd do it again tomorrow. We're hoping to win the lottery so that we can indulge in the well over 100 pages in the Holland America cruise-planning booklet.

I'll be posting day-by-day photos here retroactively as I have time. It's tough to come home from most vacations. Now I know it's even tougher to come home from a cruise!

Volendam_Day1_1_20130619

Looking aft toward Vancouver while still docked

Volendam_Day1_2_20130619

Volendam_Day1_3_20130619

The "sails" of Canada Place from near the bow

Volendam_Day1_4_20130619

Out at the bow. This was to be one of our favourite places to view
surroundings - assuming it wasn't too windy

Volendam_Day1_5_20130619

Yumi entering the bow area

Volendam_Day1_6_20130619

Under way! Passing beneath the Lion's Gate Bridge

Volendam_Day1_7_20130619

Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. We've hiked there many a time, but this was only
the second time we've seen the lighthouse from the water

Volendam_Day1_8_20130619

A passing tug

Volendam_Day1_9_20130619

Downtown Vancouver begins to shrink in the distance

Volendam_Day1_10_20130619

Revving up the engines as we're well clear of the harbour.

Volendam_Day1_12_20130619

Yumi at the stern

Volendam_Day1_13_20130619

The view straight down from the stern

Volendam_Day1_11_20130619

Checking out some of the interior. Beam me up, Scotty!

Volendam_Elevator_Days_20130619

We noticed this elevator rug the first day, and yes, they do change
it every day. After a few days we realized why - you can get discombobulated
very easily on a cruise as the full service kicks in and the days flow by

Volendam_Day1_14_20130619

As evening comes on, a last shot from Deck 3, the Promenade where
folks take their daily walks, and watch for wildlife

Can't wait for tomorrow!

Posted by Paul at 09:34 PM

April 28, 2013

Alice Lake Spring Stroll

To take the edge off of my increasing wanderlust as spring progresses and the roads and trails call, we headed up to Alice Lake Provincial Park just north of Squamish, BC, today. We had only a few hours, but it was enough to get out of town for a bit, and take a stroll around the lake. From June through September this park is crowded, and sometimes the road is closed when the parking lots fill up. But in April we saw only half a dozen other people on the lake trail.

alice_lake_yumi_20130428

alice_lake_1_20130428

alice_lake_2_20130428

alice_lake_3_20130428

alice_lake_4_20130428

alice_lake_5_20130428

alice_lake_6_20130428

alice_lake_7_20130428

alice_lake_8_20130428

alice_lake_9_20130428

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

March 24, 2013

Sunday Ramble in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver is one of our favourite place to get away for some rambling in deep woods near the sea. Yumi loves to explore the tidal pools, and there are lots of opportunities for photography.

lighthouse_park_west_van_yumi_2_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_yumi_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_pools_1_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_pools_2_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_pools_3_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_log_2_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_log_20130324

lighthouse_park_west_van_salmonberry_20130324

Posted by Paul at 07:10 PM

December 03, 2012

Major Service Keeps Subaru Faithfully Chugging Along

I coughed up nearly $800 at Docksteader Subaru in Vancouver for a major service for our 1998 Subaru Outback today. But at 14 years old and nearly 242,000km, or close to 150,000 miles, the car is still as reliable as the day I first drove it off the lot. A quality vehicle with regular maintenance. I hope to get a couple more years out of it!

I initially leased the car in Saskatoon, and have had it serviced at Docksteader for the entire 14 years since. In all those years, I've never questioned the Docksteader staff, and have always felt they are worthy of my trust. I'm sure the folks on the sales side would love to sell me a new Outback, but it's the service folks that customers deal with most, and they've always been uniformly good. So I'll likely buy another Subaru from Docksteader. . . some  day :  -).

The next major service will be at 288,000km, or about 177,700 miles, and that will be a milestone decision, as it will likely run over $1,000.  But at the rate we're putting on the klicks, that should give us over two more years before we face that scenario.

Posted by Paul at 09:21 PM

July 15, 2012

Debate on New Tires Settled by Lag Bolt

For the last month or two I've been thinking about buying new all-season tires for our 1998 Subaru Outback. It's been an outstanding car, but at 14 years and some 235,000km (~145,000 miles), I've been starting to wonder how much more to keep investing in it. It's still running fine, and I've always had it serviced faithfully and regularly according to the manufacturer's guidelines.  A month or two ago I had the winter tires switched for summer tires during a regular service, though the dealer warned the tread on the all-seasons was getting iffy, and doubted if we'd get much over a few months of safe driving out them.

The dealer quoted around $700 for a new set of premium all-seasons, so I said I'd think about it, and began checking out places like WalMart and Canadian Tire. I certainly didn't want to buy high-end tires for a car approaching the end of its life, but on the other hand, I didn't want overly cheap ones, either. Tires are not something you scrimp on. They are key to overall vehicle safety.

The debate was settled yesterday when a bolt was driven into the right rear tire during an errand. Thunka thunka thunka. . . Something had to be done about that immediately, and I wasn't thinking of plug-and-patch on a tire that already had nearly 100,000 klicks on it. We headed straight to Canadian Tire where they were having a 25% off sale on their in-house Motomaster brand (some of which to my understanding are made by Hankook, and higher-end ones by Goodyear).

Canadian Tire quoted me about $450 for four Motomaster AWs on "4 f0r 3" sale, installed, with tax, and enviro disposal fees for our old ones. They said they had nine in stock, and could get them mounted the same day. So I drove my wife home (thunka, thunka, thunka), and went back to get into the queue.

An hour later, as I wandered the strip mall, I got a call on my cell. The nine P205-70-15s supposedly in stock had resulted in only three turning up. And he'd called three other stores within a 20k-radius with no luck. So there was our car, up on the lift, with no wheels, and no tires, and the guy at the desk was saying they did have the slightly more expensive Motomaster SE2s available, also on sale at 25% off, for around another $70.

Now of course I immediately thought this was a bait and switch, despite all the "Reader's Choice" awards mounted on the walls of the service waiting room from local newspaper surveys.

But after calling the wife, and the manager offering to throw in their cross-Canada premium protection plan (which I had declined in the first place) at no extra cost "for my time," I bit the bullet. A total of $528 was still better than $700, and from all I'd researched online, the SE2s had better reviews than the AWs.

So we now have a new set of all-seasons that are rated at 110,000 km, plus a set of winter tires that likely have around 40-50,000 km left on them. Will the car do another 150,000 km? Unlikely, but as I said, you don't want to mess with being cheap on tires. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

July 11, 2012

ESL Streets in Japan No Longer Paved with Gold

I occasionally get information and advice requests from friends whose kids wonder about going to Japan to teach English.

I went to Japan in 1985, taught for several years, and then moved into journalism. (I had degrees in Arts, Education and Journalism to back me up). After an initial tight year or two I eventually developed some great teaching gigs, all private contracts through personal connections. At one point I was teaching just three days a week (albeit leaving home at 6:30 a.m. and returning at 9:30 p.m.), averaging around C$60/hour, and enjoying four-day weekends.

That largesse is long gone. . .  In recent visits to Japan one and four years ago, I was shocked at the low wages on offer in ESL job adverts, accompanied by some high education requirements.

I've been back in Canada for over ten years now, so my knowledge of Japan's ESL market conditions are not what they once were, but when I got a recent request, I contacted a couple of buddies in Japan for insight.

Here is my initial stab at giving a Mom some advice for her daughter who was looking at teaching English in Japan:

It's been over 15 years since I was last in the English-teaching biz in Japan, and a lot has changed. A few of the leading chain ESL schools there have gone bankrupt over the last several years. I avoided the chain schools anyway (drudgery hours at low pay), lucking out with a private school that sponsored my work visa, and let me pick up my own contracts on the side. I'm not sure how well XYZ would get along without a degree -- that's been pretty much a minimum qualification for decent teaching work going back to the 80s. My sense is that TESOL qualification has also become more of an advantage since my heyday of the mid-80s/early 90s before I shifted to journalism. Please don't take what I say next the wrong way (but it's a fact of life, eh?) tall, attractive, young, blondish women have always done well in Japan... And while Japan is, relatively speaking, one of the safer countries in the world, it's also not that difficult to "stray" if you don't have a good grip on where you are, who you are, and, what you want.

To my gratitude, both friends in Tokyo responded to my e-mail plea for more up-to-date info within hours, confirming that the English-teaching boom that began in Japan in the early 80s and rolled along for 10-15 years, was over. The market is much tighter now, and higher qualifications are required for decent positions.

A succinct take from Kevin Ryan, a professor whose blog you can see at http://www.kevinryan.com/:

Had a friend with a daughter who just graduated university. She got a job at a chain school, and it was very exciting at first. She was able to get set up in an apartment, but ended up using most of her salary for rent and food, paying the "company store". She worked hard hours, about 30 contact hours a week, in a suburb of Osaka. It was OK, but she didn't have any time to do much else but work and live. She left after about 6 months. You need a solid MA in TESOL for anything more than that. The market has tightened up tremendously since you were here.

And a broader response from Mike Lloret, recently retired from corporate communication and training at a leading Japanese electronics firm. His blog is http://balefires.blogspot.ca/:

First, a quick response to the mother's points:

  • Experience working with children and tutoring is a plus; many schools, especially smaller private ones, derive more of their income than you'd think from classes for kids. Note that some of them can be very young kids, who may have little-to-no exposure to English outside the classroom.
  • Some sort of TESOL certification is becoming very important, as Paul notes. A degree is pretty much an unavoidable minimum requirement, and these days there is a strong preference for degrees in education, linguistics, TESOL, etc. Some employers are seeking those with Masters degrees.
  • There can be a little wiggle room with regard to the degree if the job-seeker has extensive experience, especially in Japan, but I wouldn't count on it, and that doesn't seem to apply in this case, anyway.

It might be instructive for the young woman to take a close look at gaijinpot.com, paying particular attention to the length of time the job offers have been there. Except for the openings in Fukushima and prefectures close to it--most of which are hard-to-fill replacements for teachers who fled what they saw as danger after 3/11--the openings represent employers holding out for better-qualified and/or cheaper applicants, not a lack of job seekers.

This might be instructive for background knowledge:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703zg.html

Your comments about attractive blondes are accurate, as noted in this anecdote:

http://1000thingsaboutjapan.blogspot.jp/2012/07/will-miss-466-ease-of-getting-hired.html

and if the young woman is unaware of the Lindsay Hawker case, she should look it up.

The bottom line is that I don't think much of the young lady's chances of getting a decent job here, and definitely wouldn't recommend that she come over before getting a binding contract.

So, unfortunately, the good times seem to be over for "experience Japan by teaching a little English on the side." I'm not saying it can't be done, it just won't be as easy or fun as it was when money seemed to slosh around in abundance, and a ramen shop on the Ginza offered gold-dust garnish for your broth. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

June 19, 2012

Building Community–Social Connections Matter–Metro Vancouver Sustainability Dialogue

I enjoyed the above event this afternoon, and there are a couple more in the same series coming along over the next few weeks, so sign up and participate if you can.

There were thought-provoking and succinct presentations from the following panel:

Opening/Closing Remarks:
Wayne Wright, Director, Metro Vancouver Board of Directors and Mayor, City of New Westminster

Facilitator: Peter Holt

Panellists:

This particular series of dialogues was prompted by a Vancouver Foundation study on alienation in society in the lower mainland of BC, which has been heavily reported on in the press over the last few days. The report can be found here.

Some of the results were troubling in the sense of many respondents reporting feelings of loneliness, disconnection from their community, difficulty in establishing community relationships, etc.

I may question what Metro Vancouver can do about such issues, but I laud it for confronting the situation and inviting the public to meet and share ideas along with experts in related fields.

There were lots of questions and comments from the audience, and I didn't have a chance to speak so I'll share a few thoughts here:

  • if I look at my own micro-community, a townhouse complex with 101 units, I can understand some of the concerns. People drive out of their individual garages in the morning, and drive back in when they return, and few linger on the streets and some seem to never use their front doors or the shared walkways.
  • the free local papers are delivered right to all 101 doors, and I'd guess that on a regular basis, about 90 of those end up flying around in the wind, accumulating in eventually soggy piles against those unused front doors, etc. Partly language issues, but mostly I think people don't care about their wider community and what's going on around them.
  • I was on the strata council for over five years, with, if I recall, three as president, so I know more people than most folks here, but I still interact with only three or four of those 101 units on a regular basis.
  • How do you get folks involved? Strata AGMs rarely attracted more than 10-15% of the ownership, with perhaps a maximum of 30% (including proxies) showing when special levies were in the wind.
  • In my neighbourhood, there are over 100 home languages in the local schools.
  • I think the immigrant experience has changed dramatically. When my grandparents came to Canada, they knew it was a one-way trip with no return. And, to bear this out, of the four of them, only one ever made it back to the "old country" for a visit, and that was 40 years or more after the initial move. Now, immigrants can readily access TV, movies, music and news in their home languages, video-Skype relatives and friends for free around the world at a whim, and travel back "home" from, er, "home", on a regular and frequent basis.
  • I have always been a proponent of multiculturalism, but I sometimes wonder at the linguistic shift over the last several decades. When I was growing up, the big linguistic issue was the loss of the "old country" language over the generations, but now the issue seems to be becoming the lack of learning the new/host country language.

So, I'm not a Burnaby native or even lower mainland native. I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I spent 14 years working in Japan, married a wonderful Japanese woman, and we moved to Canada some 12 years ago. So how did we integrate and make friends? Volunteering. Our first couple of years here were pretty quiet, but then we discovered streamkeepers, and that made all the difference. From initial contacts in streamkeepers, I joined the local business & community association, the Burnaby Board of Trade, became involved on City of Burnaby committees. . . 

You have to make the commitment, you have to give before you get, you have to learn about and respect your community's history, get to know its "elders", and then you can start to receive, and be embraced by others.

Posted by Paul at 09:19 PM

June 11, 2012

108 Mile Ranch

On my drive home from northern BC, at one point I stopped for a rest and snack at 108 Mile Ranch, where a number of pioneer buildings have been collected at a beautiful site. The ranch dates to a post house on the Caribou Trail in 1867.

108_Mile_Ranch_1_20120611

108_Mile_Ranch_2_20120611

108_Mile_Ranch_3_20120611

108_Mile_Ranch_4_20120611

108_Mile_Ranch_5_20120611

Posted by Paul at 08:51 PM

March 31, 2012

Los Angeles, Western States Road Trip–Part 2

Another day on the road heading south to LA. Note that we did this trip in mid to late March, and I'm posting photos now starting a couple of weeks later.

One place we greatly enjoyed along the way despite the poor weather was MacKerricher State Park in Northern California. We spent several hours walking the boardwalks, watching birds and seals, and even passed through the mouth of a whale!

mackerricher_state_park_1_201203

mackerricher_state_park_3_201203

mackerricher_state_park_2_201203

mackerricher_state_park_5_201203

mackerricher_state_park_4_201203

mackerricher_state_park_6_201203

Posted by Paul at 08:40 PM

March 30, 2012

Los Angeles, Western States Road Trip–Part 1

Over ten years had passed since our last road trip to LA where my sister lives with her husband and kids. It was well past time to visit them, so we cobbled together a little over a week for my wife, and two weeks for me. The plan was to drive down the coast, taking five days to get there, including a couple of days in San Francisco, then Yumi would fly home after a couple of days in LA. I'd spend a few more days with my sis, and then drive back.

Unfortunately, we hit one of those wet patches that now and then covers the entire west coast. We had rain, snow, and wind all the way down, but still enjoyed being on the road.

We left one evening after work, and made it as far as Olympia, WA, the first night. The next day was the first of a couple on the coast. Unfortunately is was rainy, foggy, and cold, and let me tell you, though I generally love driving, it was a bit nerve-wracking on some parts of the narrow, twisty coast road, particularly in fog.

But here are a few shots of some fun along the way. The Avenue of the Giants.

Avenue_of_giants_20120315

Avenue_of_giants__yumi_20120315

Posted by Paul at 08:25 PM

March 29, 2012

Blog Absence Due to LA, Western States Road Trip

I was off for two weeks on a road trip to Los Angeles to visit my sister and family, and though I was taking lots of photos, I decided not to blog en route. That explains the absence of material here, but I aim to start posting again soon.

Posted by Paul at 08:41 PM

December 17, 2011

Gulliver’s Travels in Japan

My wife Yumi likes to call these the "Gulliver" photos. That's me with her dad, and me with her mom on our last visit to Japan in October this year.

Yes, I need to lose a few dozen pounds. That's why I'm signed up for the BMO Vancouver Marathon next May. My goal is to power-walk the half-marathon, and to lose 10kg (about 22 pounds) as I train.

Here we go:

Gulliver_Dad_small_201110

Gulliver_Mom_small_201110

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

December 07, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 8 of Photos—Aomori

More photos from around Yumi's hometown in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan, taken in late October.

yumi_eito_aomori_201110.

Yumi with Eito, the family pup

eito_aomori_201110

Eito on an access road out in the rice fields

aomori_field_3_201110

Early morning sun breaks over a forest edging the fields

aomori_field_5_201110

aomori_field_2_201110

aomori_field_201110

Colors get richer as the morning progresses

aomori_field_4_201110

yumi_meito_aomori_201110

Meito, the goat

meito_aomori_201110

Reaching out for a nose scratch

papi_paul_201110

Papi the cat and I, love at first sight : -)

OK, a big, warm lap.

Something that strikes me about these animals is how they all instantly accepted me.

Yumi went to Japan earlier and spent a week with her folks and relatives before I followed, so she got to know these animals, all of them new additions since our last visit. Now, I know many animals are good judges of character, of whether or not someone is comfortable with them, or is a threat to them, or to their "family." But they are also fast judges of relationships. They're Yumi's parent's pets, but obviously they quickly grasped Yumi's place in the hierarchy, and then when I came along, they immediately understood my relationship to Yumi.

So there was no fear, no anxiety, no protectiveness.

Now I'm a nice guy, but I suspect I'd have gotten a very different reception if I'd walked into the yard the first time all alone.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

December 05, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 7 of Photos—Hirosaki

A few photos from the small city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, where my lovely wife Yumi went to university. I'm getting confused myself as to the numbering of these blog posts! I guess it's the 7th "day" that I've posted photos to this blog, but it doesn't correspond to the days of our October trip to Japan.

hirosaki_201110

The old library, constructed Western style in 1906

hirosaki_2_201110

Interior staircase

hirosaki_3_201110

Yumi by a display of Hirosaki historic buildings at miniature scale

hirosaki_4_201110

And moi by another model

hirosaki_5_201110

And here I am in front of the actual preserved building just a couple
of blocks away from the miniature display.
I love these perspective changes.

hirosaki_6_201110

Heading toward Hirosaki "castle." I put that in quotation marks
because while it's a lovely sight, it's not really a castle. It's one defensive
tower.

hirosaki_7_201110

Still looks imposing, and beautiful

hirosaki_8_201110

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

December 04, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 6 of Photos—Aomori Fall Colours

Continuing photos from our Japan trip in October, we finally made it up to Yumi's parents' place in Aomori, near the northern end of Japan's main island. We borrowed their car, and headed out to explore the autumn colours of the famous Oirase area.

swan_yumi_aomori_201110

There are usually a couple of swans hanging around in this river near
Yumi's parents' place

swan_aomori_201110

red_dragonfly_aomori_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_1_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_2_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_3_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_4_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_5_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_6_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_7_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_8_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_yumi_201110

Yumi on the bank of the stream

aomori_bees_201110

Two bees, or not to bee : -)

aomori_autumn_colors_10_201110

aomori_autumn_colors_9_201110

aomori_raptor_201110

A raptor soars near Lake Towada

Posted by Paul at 08:26 PM

December 03, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 5 of Photos

Back to posting more photos of our Japan trip in October. These are from Kakunodate, a town in Akita Prefecture that is known for its preserved samurai homes and thick-walled "kura" storehouses.

kakunodate_1_201110

kakunodate_2_201110

kakunodate_3_201110

kakunodate_4_201110

kakunodate_5_201110

kakunodate_6_201110

kakunodate_7_201110

kakunodate_8_201110

kakunodate_9_201110

kakunodate_11_201110

kakunodate_10_201110

Posted by Paul at 08:01 PM

November 25, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 4 of Photos—Part 2

OK, I'm finally getting back to posting more photos of our Japan trip in October. I'd left off with shots from Nikko, a World Heritage Site that I'd visited several times when I lived in Japan. It was great to be back, and as I mentioned, my wife Yumi and I arrived on the day of a biannual parade that re-enacts the transfer of the remains of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to the site hundreds of years ago. While folks in the thousands gathered for the parade, Yumi and I explored remoter parts of the beautiful shrine complex, then trotted back in time to catch the parade.

nikko_parade_1_201111

nikko_parade_2_201111

nikko_parade_3_201111

nikko_parade_4_201111

nikko_parade_5_201111

nikko_parade_6_201111

nikko_parade_7_201111

nikko_parade_8_201111

nikko_parade_9_201111

nikko_parade_10_201111

Posted by Paul at 08:39 PM

November 09, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 4 of Photos

This next set of photos finds us in Nikko, Japan, a World Heritage Site, and a place were a few of Japan's founding shoguns are enshrined. It's a lovely place, with flamboyantly carved and decorated shrines, lush forests, and, often, crowds of people. Little did we know that we arrived on the day of a biannual recreation of a parade re-enacting the transfer of the remains of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to the site. That actually proved to be beneficial, as we wandered the further reaches of the lovely grounds in peace while most folks congregated along the parade route. No worries, I'll have parade photos up in my next post.

nikko_bridge_201110

nikko_1_201110

nikko_2_201110

nikko_3_201110

nikko_paul_201110

Me in front of a fabulous gate

nikko_monkeys_201110

The famous monkeys

nikko_4_201110

nikko_6_201110

nikko_5_201110

nikko_7_201110

nikko_9_201110

nikko_lantern_torii_201110

nikko_8_201110

nikko_stone_fence_201110

nikko_trees_201110

nikko_rest_area_201110

A lovely little rest area

nikko_bullet_train_201110

Yumi getting ready to board the bullet train : -)

nikko_water_201110

Nikko is famous for its water, and there are many public fountains
along the main road between the station and the shrine area

nikko_station_201110

Nikko Station

nikko_kitty_201110

And what's Japan without Hello Kitty?

fujisan_train_201110

Mount Fuji from the bullet train as we zoom off back to our hotel
in Utsunomiya. Eerie scene is the result of a tiny pocket camera from
a train doing over 200kph at dusk.

I think this was my third or fourth time in Nikko. I believe my sister and I visited together when we first went to Japan in 1985, and then I went there at least once, if not twice, during the 14 years I lived in Tokyo.

There were gaggles of Japanese high school girls in their short plaid skirts on the local train from Utsunomiya to Nikko the morning Yumi and I went. It occurred to me that the first time I went to Nikko was well before they were born. And I had not a single white hair. Sigh. I whispered to my wife "would you like to be a high school girl again?" No way! The cruel awkwardness of youth is behind, and our best days are yet to come, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM

November 08, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 3 of Photos

As mentioned, I am not giving exact dates to these photo collections. They are from my trip to Japan from Oct. 10-24. These are from Osaka.

Osaka_Castle_1_201110

Approaching Osaka Castle

Osaka_Castle_paul_gate_201110

Me, by a gate

Osaka_Castle_2_201110

Osaka_Castle_3_201110

The canon is a signal piece from a later era

Osaka_Castle_4_201110

The reconstruction shows the gaudy style preferred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Osaka_Castle_yumi_stone_201110

There are many massive stones in the moat and base, some weighing
over 100 tons. What's amazing is that often they came by ship from
hundreds of kilometers away, donated by vassal daimyo. Remember,
we're talking late 16th C technology here!

Osaka_safety_training

A more modern building with fire/quake practice underway. Must
be quite the slide down one of those chutes!

Nissan_Leaf_Osaka_201110

An electric Nissan Leaf that we passed on the street at a rental car place.
The proprietor was very friendly, giving us a tour of the car inside and out.

Osaka_shopping_street_201110

It was our first time in Osaka, and in the evening we went to Osaka Station City to look for a place to eat. Took the escalator up ten floors to the restaurants. Each floor was 85% young women out shopping. Everything on the restaurant floor was $25/person and up. Not our style. We took the train one station over to Temma, figuring a smaller station would have cheaper eats. Found an amazingly long shotengai, or shopping street. Ended up eating too much for about $9/person. I had a Nagasaki sara udon set that came with five side dishes, while Yumi had champon noodles.

Posted by Paul at 07:45 PM

November 07, 2011

Japan Trip–Day 2 of Photos

As mentioned earlier, I am not assigning exact dates to these photo collections. They are from my trip to Japan from Oct. 10-24. These are from Izumo and Matsue.

izumo_yumi_201110

Yumi near the bottom entrance to Izumo-Taisha, one of the most
revered Shinto shrines in Japan. Unfortunately the main building
was under renovation, but we still enjoyed the trek up the hill, the
huge straw "ropes", and the other buildings.

izumo_road_to_shrine_201110

There is a series these "torii" or gates along the way

izumo_trees_201110

izumo_shrine_1_201110

izumo_shrine_2_201110

izumo_shrine_3_201110

izumo_shrine_4_201110

izumo_taisha_station_1_201110

paul_taisho_201110

The old Taisha train station is wonderfully preserved and evokes
memories of a bygone age.

izumo_taisha_station_2_201110

A fanciful, and somewhat phallic, turtle decoration on the roof tiles.
Turtles symbolize long life.

izumo_taisha_station_5_201110

izumo_taisha_station_3_201110

izumo_taisha_station_4_201110

And on to Matsue to visit the castle. Unfortunately is was raining steadily
but we persevered.

matsue_201110

Part of the moat

matsue_castle_3_201110

The lovely keep

matsue_castle_2_201110

View from the top

matsue_castle_1_201110

Just starting to get some autumn colors

matsue_castle_helmet

Samurai helmet with devil motif. There's an excellent collection of armour
in the keep

matsue_castle_armour_201110

matsue_castle_helmet_1_201110

Though I've seen lots of samurai armour, I'm always surprized
at how small these fighters were. Few appear to be over 5'4" to 5'6"
or so. And slender - so the armour could weigh nearly half as much
as the man wearing it. No wonder some accounts of battles describe
mass slaughter when exhausted forces encountered fresh opponents.

matsue_castle_4_201110

matsue_castle_bird_201110

And one little bird with one big bug on the keep's roof!

We enjoyed Matsue, despite the steady rain. Ironically, the city is known for the wonderful sunset views toward the Sea of Japan. So tourist info centres, kiosks, hotels, etc., have signs showing sunset time, and the probability of clear weather - which was zero percent during our visit. I'm sure the scene below must be lovely during a gorgeous sunset!

matsue_foreshore_201110

Izumo and Matsue are off the beaten tourist path, because it takes a good four to five hours to get there by train from the more populated and well-known Pacific Ocean side of Japan. But it was well worth the trip, and I hope some day we will personally experience a Matsue sunset!

Oh yes, it was also fun recognizing locations in Matsue used for photo shoots of Japan's NHK "Dan Dan" drama series, which we watched some time ago on TV Japan in Canada.

bento_1_201110

bento_2_201110

Passing the time on trains is a lot easier when you pick up bento boxes
of delectable food : - ) Most major stations have "eki-ben" or "station
bento boxes," often featuring local delicacies.

Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

October 30, 2011

Japan Trip–Day 1

Here are photos from the first day in Japan on our Oct. 10-24 trip. We walked and walked, from our hotel near Ochanomizu, around the Imperial Palace, past the Diet building, Roppongi, and to Shibuya. From there we walked to Meiji Jingu and Shinjuku, where we finally hopped a train back to the hotel.

Tokyo_Imperial_Palace_201110

A view of the Imperial Palace moat

Tokyo_Imperial_Palace_2_201110

Nijubashi at the Imperial Palace

Tokyo_Imperial_Palace_Sakuradamon_201110

Sakuradamon

Tokyo_Imperial_Palace_Yumi_Sakuradamon_201110

Yumi by the massive gate

Tokyo_Diet_Yumi_201110

Yumi in front of the Diet

Tokyo_Diet_Police_201110

There's always a hefty police presence near the Diet to deter fringe elements

Shibuya_201110

Shibuya, famous for fashion

Paul_Hachiko_201110

Moi with Hachiko, the famous dog that always waited for its master at the station

Hachiko_Bus_Stop_201110

And in the Land of Cuteness, a Hachiko bus stop

Shibuya_Hachiko_bus_201110

And a Hachiko bus

Yoyogi_201110

Approaching Yoyogi from Shibuya

Yoyogi_Stadium_2_201110

Yoyogi National Gymnasium designed by Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Summer
Olympics. It has held up remarkably well in appearance.

Yoyogi_Stadium_201110

Yoyogi_Stadium_3_201110

Meiji_Jingu_201110

Entering Meiji Jingu from the Harajuku side. This shrine was one of my
havens when I was resident in Japan, and I walked through its grounds once
or twice a week on the way to work for several of the 14 years I lived in Tokyo.

Meiji_Jingu_2_201110

Donations of casks of nihonshu (sake) to the shrine from all over Japan

Meiji_Jingu_3_201110

Meiji_Jingu_4_201110

Meiji_Jingu_5_201110

Meiji_Jingu_NTT_201110

The NTT Docomo Building as seen from Meiji Jingu

Meiji_Jingu_pond_201110

Pond in Meiji Jingu grounds

Meiji_Jingu_turtle_201110

Meiji_Jingu_turtle_2_201110

We love turtles!

Meiji_Jingu_crow_201110

One of Tokyo's impressive jungle crows

Meiji_Jingu_spider_201110

There were some pretty amazing spiders hanging about

Meiji_Jingu_grasshopper_201110

And a grasshopper.

Meiji_Jingu_wasp_201110

And some sort of wasp

NTT_old_Shinjuku_201110

Walking toward Shinjuku. Contrast between NTT Docomo
tower and one of the few remaining old buildings around

Shinjuku_Takashimaya_201110

Our final destination on this day - Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku

wako_201110

Where this Wako tonkatsu outlet was my destination :-)

wako_banner_201110

wako_paul_201110

A happy Paul chowing down after a loooong day of rambling

house_gone_201110

On our last several visits to Tokyo over the last 12 years since
we moved to Canada, we've always stayed at a reasonable business
hotel near Ochanomizu Station. There used to be one holdout, lovely,
w0oden house on this corner lot. We often wondered how long it
would last in a sea of hulking business towers.

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

October 29, 2011

Photo Stats from Japan Trip Oct. 10-24

The final photo tally from my Japan trip from Oct. 10-24 is: Nikon D300 DSLR - 1,604 shots; Canon pocket SD780IS - 465 shots. I will start selecting and posting photos to this blog over the next week. Rather than attempting to match blog entries to the actual Japan dates, I think I'll just use a "2011 Japan Trip - Day X" format.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

October 24, 2011

Back From Japan Trip Oct. 10-24

If any of my faithful readers are wondering at my silence, I was off in Japan visiting my wife's parents and doing some sightseeing for the last couple of weeks. There simply wasn't time to blog during the trip, but I'll slowly start catching up starting this week. Then again, I'm at the 2011 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver for the next three days, so it may be a bit longer before this blog gets active again.

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM

October 08, 2011

Paradise Valley Road

After spending the morning editing, I had to get out and clear my head, so I took a quick jaunt up to the Squamish area. I like checking out a few creeks and rivers up that way for spawning salmon, and sure enough, I could smell them before I could see them.

tynehead_spawner_20111008

Spawner seen through the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery fence

paradise_valley_road_3_20111008

Paradise Valley Road

paradise_valley_road_2_20111008

paradise_valley_road_1_20111008

Posted by Paul at 07:31 PM

August 20, 2011

Vancouver Big Bus Tour, Canada Place

I picked up half-price tickets for the Big Bus hop-on, hop-off, tour bus in Vancouver on Groupon, and today Yumi and I played tourists in our home city - well, next-door city, in that, you know, suburb of Burnaby : - ). It was great fun to just sit back in the "topless" bus in the glorious sunshine.

Here are a few photos taken from the bus, and from a wander about the Canada Place cruise ship terminal.

paul_yumi_big_bus_vancouver_20110820

A flattering shot with wide-angle distortion :- )

flying_lions_canada_place_20110820

Some flying lions

canada_place_flag_mountains_20110820

canada_place_reflection_20110820

Canada Place sails reflected in the new convention centre

paul_yumi_canada_place_reflection_vancouver_20110820

Paul and Yumi reflected in Canada Place

zuiderdam_leaves_vancouver_20110820

The Zuiderdam leaves the harbour. We thought she looked big.

Until we walked around to the other side of the pier and gaped in wonder
at the Diamond Princess.

diamond_princess_bow_20110820

The bow area

diamond_princess_midships_20110820

Midships

diamond_princess_mid_to_stern_20110820

Looking toward the stern

diamond_princess_starship_view_20110820

The, er, starship, feature

diamond_princess_leaving_vancouver_20110820

Off into the gulf, and the Pacific

canada_place_sails_1_20110820

canada_place_sails_2_20110820

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

August 07, 2011

Burnaby, Hope, Lytton, Lillooet, Duffy Lake Road, Whistler Daytrip

Lovely day for a trip up the valley, up the canyon, back to the coast via the Duffy Lake Road, and home down Howe Sound. I love how you can travel just a couple of hours in BC and come across such distinct biological & geographical zones.

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_2

The blue Thompson enters the muddy Fraser at Lytton

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_3

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_4

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_5

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_8

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_9

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_10

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_11

Naxwit Picnic area near BC Hydro Seton Lake Recreation Area

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_12

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_15

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_16

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_17

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_18

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_19

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_20

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_21

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_22

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_24

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_25

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_26

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_27

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_28

Seton Lake

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_29

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_30

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_31

Duffy Lake

cipywnyk_hope_lytton_duffy_lake_road_1

Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

July 12, 2011

Russian Guns in Kingston–Tracking a History Mystery

I ran across some mysterious guns (cannons) when visiting Kingston, Ontario, in June 2009. Intrigued by what I thought were Imperial Russian markings on them, I went on a quest to discover how they had come to Canada.

 russian_gun_kingston

A close-up of one of the guns in Macdonald Park. The double-headed eagle caught my eye. . .

So as we continued visiting historic sites in Kingston, I kept asking about the guns.

martello_tower_kingston_20090602

I had no luck at this nearby Martello Tower. The student on summer duty did his best, even searching the Internet, but came up with no information. Also had no luck at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes not too far away, though it was fascinating in its own right.

Later we were out at Old Fort Henry, and that's where I hit pay dirt. Touring the fort was a wonderful experience, especially watching the re-enactments of drill, musket firing, and big gun firing.

fort_henry_kingston_3_20090602

fort_henry_kingston_20090602

fort_henry_kingston_2_20090602

It occurred to me to ask for the curator's email address, and I sent him my question. He had the grace to respond quickly, while I didn't even get around to posting on my blog until two years later. Sorry! Here's his answer:

Dear Paul,

Mark Bennett, our Supervisor of Programs passed along your request for information regarding the two guns with double-headed eagles in front of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first Prime Minister.

The guns are Russian, hence the Czarist, double-headed eagle emblems. Following the Crimean War, 1854-55, an offer was made by the government in London England, for guns captured at the great naval base of Sebastopol in the Crimea to be displayed in cities throughout the British Empire. The fortifications were taken by assault and the abandoned stores were captured and returned to England at the conclusion of the war. Many cities in the Empire applied for these trophy guns and they were subsequently delivered in the following years. The City of Kingston received two of these guns, whereas most locations received only one. I know of several cities in Canada that have Crimean Guns.

The Sebastopol guns are famous for another feature. Queen Victoria instituted a new medal for gallantry at this time. It is known as the Victoria Cross and has become the most sought-after decoration for gallantry arguably in the world. The simple bronze crosses are made of bronze from the cascables of guns  that were captured at Sebastopol (identical to the ones you saw in Kingston).

I hope that this answers your question. Thank you for visiting Fort Henry and we hope you will visit us again soon.

Regards,
Ron Ridley
Curator
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
St. Lawrence Parks Commission
Ontario Ministry of Tourism

Now that's what I call service. Thank you Ron, my apologies for my tardy post, and hope everything at Fort Henry is going well!

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

July 02, 2011

Mom Black Bear & Cubs

Saw this mom black bear and cubs grazing at the side of the road on northern Vancouver Island on the May long weekend. Needless to say, I took all my photos from inside the car.

black_bear_mom_cubs_vancouver_island_20110523

Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

Campbell River Estuary Shorebird

These shots are from a tour of the Campbell River estuary on Vancouver Island the May long weekend. The tour was part of the 2011 SEP Workshop (BC Streamkeepers' Conference). Even with my bird books, I'm not sure exactly what this is.

campbell_river_shorebird_1_20110522

Side view

campbell_river_shorebird_2_20110522

Front view

campbell_river_shorebird_3_20110522

In flight

Posted by Paul at 07:04 PM

Seattle Space Needle

I'm way behind on getting photos up on this blog! Here's a teaser from a trip we took to Seattle at the end of April this year. I took nearly 100 shots of the Space Needle and the fountain.

seattle_space_needle_20110430

Posted by Paul at 06:52 PM

April 25, 2011

Mega Bugs, Cool Stones in Chilliwack River

The day being overcast and gloomy, I checked the weather up the valley, and it was supposedly sunny near Hope, BC, on this Easter holiday Monday. So we saddled up our Subaru and headed out. Unfortunately, we never got out of the rain, but we did have a great time looking at cool aquatic bugs and rocks with all sorts of permutations of colours at the Chilliwack River in the drizzle. When I see stones like these, I wish I'd taken a geology class or two. . .

Can you imagine what sorts of forces and processes created such patterns? Mind boggling. As I wrote to a geologist friend of mine:

It's so exciting to be out in nature and drinking in the sights. There is so much to see at every scale ranging from micro to macro... I dunno why so many folks are so oblivious and/or so uncaring! While I may feel ignorant, at least I also feel awed and intrigued, and am always eager to learn more :-).

 

yumi_chilliwack_river_20110425

Whenever we stop by a creek, stream or river, Yumi has to
start turning rocks over to see who is living underneath.

caddisfly_rock_black_orange_chilliwack_river_20110425

A caddisfly

monster_bug_1_chilliwack_river_20110425

A stonefly

stonefly_chilliwack_river_20110425

Another stonefly, big and fat. We never get bugs this big
in our pollution-prone, urban Byrne Creek, where we
volunteer as streamkeepers

rock_black_orange_2_chilliwack_river_20110425

OK, now we get into the cool stones and rocks, which I
know nothing about!

rock_black_orange_chilliwack_river_20110425

rock_gray_white_chilliwack_river_20110425

rock_reg_green_chilliwack_river_20110425

rock_white_band_green_chilliwack_river_20110425

waterfall_rock_chilliwack_river_20110425

And this was the coolest of the bunch. What looks
like water, or snow, or ice, is some kind of solid rock
"flowing" into the other rock

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

April 18, 2011

2011 BC Endangered Rivers List Released

Kettle River tops BC's Most Endangered Rivers List for 2011 -

"Sacred headwaters" in second spot - list highlights issues such as the need for water policy reform and improved protection of northern rivers

The Kettle River has topped British Columbia's most endangered rivers list for 2011.

The Kettle River runs through BC's southern interior near the towns of Midway, Rock Creek and Grand Forks. This river, already suffering from excessive water withdrawals, seasonal low flows and high water temperatures, is threatened by significant new water extraction proposals near its source. The river is in dire need of a water management plan that recognizes there are clear ecological limits to the amount of water that can be withdrawn. Unless greater efforts are made to address this issue, the fate of this beautiful interior stream and its fish stocks may well foreshadow what many other streams in the region will confront in the face of ongoing climate change.

"Most importantly, the issues unfolding on the Kettle highlight the urgency of updating BC's century-old Water Act so as to ensure the needs of fish and river ecosystems are adequately considered before making decisions on water extraction for various industrial uses", said Mark Angelo, Rivers Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council and an Order of Canada recipient. The province has just concluded seeking public input on Water Act reform, and new legislation is hoped for in the coming year. "Modernizing the Water Act creates a significant opportunity to improve the state of many waterways, including the Kettle", said Angelo.

In the second position is the area widely known to the Iskut First Nation as the "sacred headwaters" in that it nurtures the source not only of the Skeena, but also the Nass and Stikine, all great salmon-bearing rivers. Located on the southern edge of BC's Spatsizi wilderness, the sacred headwaters is home to an abundance of wildlife, including caribou, stone sheep, grizzly bears and wolves; to many, this area is the "Serengeti of Canada" said Angelo.

Yet, the sacred headwaters is also the site of a major proposal by Canada Shell to extract coal bed methane gas, a highly invasive process that would compromise the biological richness of the great rivers that flow from this area. If approved, a maze of wellheads, roads and pipelines would spread across the proponent's 400,000 hectare tenure. Given the intensity of such development, concerns include the likelihood of altered drainage patterns and increased siltation. Vast amounts of wastewater, high in salts and heavy metals, may also be generated in the extraction process. Current plans call for re-injecting this polluted water back into the ground but this is an untested method that could contaminate groundwater aquifers linked to surface flows.

While there is a temporary moratorium on coalbed methane development in the sacred headwaters, it is set to expire in 2012, at which point development could proceed. "There is widespread support for making this moratorium permanent, which would do much to protect the legacy of the great wild rivers that flow from this area", said Angelo. "The threats confronting this area highlight the need to be more proactive in protecting our great northern salmon rivers", added Angelo, who also chairs the Rivers Institute at BCIT.

Coming in at the number three position is the Peace River, currently in the midst of an environmental assessment relating to the proposed Site C dam.

In the fourth spot is the Fraser River, which for the 18th time in 19 years, finds its way into the top half of the endangered rivers list. "Of particular concern this year are the development pressures facing the 'Heart of the Fraser' between Hope and Mission, one of the most productive sections of river anywhere in the world", said Angelo.

Coming in at number 5 is the Kokish River on Vancouver Island, southeast of Port Hardy. The river's salmon and steelhead stocks are jeopardized by a controversial run of river power project.

"As one scans this year's list, the issues and problems outlined are extensive and diverse, ranging from the importance of pro-actively protecting productive salmon rivers and ensuring that adequate water management regulations are in place to the need for improved riverside habitat protection," explains Angelo. "The list also helps to create a greater awareness of the various threats that confront our waterways", he added. "These issues highlight the fact that you cannot separate the health of our fish stocks from the health of our rivers; they are completely inter-dependent".

Each year, the Outdoor Recreation Council solicits and reviews nominations for BC's Most Endangered Rivers from its member groups, which total close to 100,000 members, as well as from the general public and resource managers from across BC.

For more detailed information on the rivers listed, please see the endangered rivers backgrounder at www.orcbc.ca

BC's Most Endangered Rivers of 2010;

1. Kettle River (water extraction, development)
2. "Sacred Headwaters" of Skeena, Nass and Stikine (coalbed methane)
3. Peace River (hydro-electric dam proposal)
4. Fraser River, "Heart of the Fraser"(urbanization, industrial development, habitat loss)
5. Kokish River (IPP proposal)
6. Morice (pipeline proposal)
7. Taku River (mining development, road proposal, leachate concerns)
8. Similkameen River (cross border dam proposal)
9. Elk River (development, increasing selenium levels, wildlife migration issues)
10. Coquitlam River (excessive sedimentation, urbanization)
11. Bute Inlet Rivers (IPP proposal)
12. Atlin River (impacts of dam and Whitehorse, Yukon energy proposal)

Media only: backgrounder details on each river is found at www.orcbc.ca

For more information, please contact:

Mark Angelo - (604) 432-8270                        Robert Gunn - (604) 451-6860                  

Posted by Paul at 12:52 PM

March 18, 2011

Circles Within Circles

I have yet to write about the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The last week has been a blur, and I'll get around to it eventually. Immediately following the tragedy, after we eventually tracked down my wife Yumi's family and ascertained that they were OK, we decided we needed to refresh our quake kit here on the west coast of Canada where we've been living for the last 12 years or so.

We hauled it out of the front closet, and as I made my way through it, I realized that I'd bought the backpack that it was contained in around 1987 or 1988 while I was living in Japan. It's literally beginning to fall apart - signs of that hot, humid Asian climate that seems to eventually permeate backpacks with some impossible-to-get-rid-of mould that always rears its head eventually.

backpack

backpack_tag

Posted by Paul at 09:14 PM

February 20, 2011

Vancouver Waterfront Walk

Though I felt a bit under the weather--achy late yesterday and a tad feverish this morning--we decided to head into downtown Vancouver and put a few miles under our shoe leather. Nothing like fresh air and exercise to clarify if one is actually ill, or not!

We walked Robson St., which is always fun, and followed it all the way to Denman, stopping in at Hon's to fortify ourselves with potstickers and noodles in soup, and then along the shore to Stanley Park.

We love the Lost Lagoon area.

vancouver_waterfront_20110220

lost_lagoon_goldenye

lost_lagoon_gull

lost_lagoon_gull_2

lost_lagoon_gull_3

lost_lagoon_raccoon

lost_lagoon_raccoon_eating_crap

I doubt if processed white bread is good for raccoons. . .

Sez Paul, while chawing down on some fresh, home-made
French bread, washing it all down with a nice glass of red
wine. . .

lost_lagoon_ring-necked

lost_lagoon_swan

lost_lagoon_wigeon

yumi_coffee_20110220

Savouring cups of coffee and latte after a long walk

OK, Yumi insisted that I look cute, too, so I should include the following foto:

paul_coffee_20110220

I think that's wife talk.. Smile

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM

February 13, 2011

White Rock Still Pretty on Grey Day

white_rock_view_20110213

white_rock_pier_20110213

The pier

white_rock_eagle_20110213

Bald eagle

white_rock_gull_20110213

white_rock_beach_20110213

white_rock_beach_boy_20110213

Hey, wait for me!

white_rock_beach_boy_together_20110213

Ah, together again : - )

Posted by Paul at 07:11 PM

February 12, 2011

2010 Olympic Flame Re-Lighting 1st Anniversary

Yumi met me in downtown Vancouver today. I was at an Editors' Association of Canada workshop on editing narrative, which I greatly enjoyed. We found each other around 4:30p and headed over to see the re-lit Olympic flame, celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Brought back some great memories!

2010_oly_flame_anniversary_20110212

2010_oly_flame_anniversary_yumi_20110212

2010_oly_flame_anniversary_paul_20110212

Posted by Paul at 06:18 PM

February 09, 2011

Sea to Sky Jaunt

A lovely sunny day enticed me up the Sea to Sky from Vancouver to Whistler.

sea_to_sky_mountains_from_viewpoint_20110209

Scene from a viewpoint along the highway

sea_to_sky_mountains_chopper_20110209

Chopper passing by some peaks

sea_to_sky_shannon_creek_20110209

Shannon Creek downstream of Shannon Falls

sea_to_sky_porteau_cove_20110209

The pier at Porteau Cove

sea_to_sky_porteau_cove_gulls_20110209

Grazing gulls

sea_to_sky_porteau_cove_barrows_goldeneye_20110209

A group of Barrow's Goldeneyes

sea_to_sky_porteau_cove_herron_20110209

Heron at the end of the pier

Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

January 22, 2011

Larrabee State Park, Chuckanut Drive

Another shopping jaunt into Washington State got  side-tracked into more rural, nature-focused exploration, resulting in a few nice shots in Larrabee State Park and along Chuckanut Drive. We really have to explore more of the NW United States - some gorgeous areas and what looks like great camping!

larrabee_state_park_yumi_20110122

Not exactly hiking gear, but we hadn't planned to hit any trails, and
weren't expecting to get too far off road. But we couldn't resist. . .
My wife Yumi is cajoled into striking a pose : - )

larrabee_state_park_sunset_20110122

From the beach at Larrabee State Park.

chuckanut_drive_sunset_20110122

A sunset view from Chuckanut Drive.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 PM

January 03, 2011

Eagles Near Squamish, BC

The Brackendale bald eagle count was way down this year - another of several bad years in a row - likely due to poor returns of chum salmon to area rivers. Yumi and I tracked down a few eagles near the Tenderfoot Hatchery. Here are a couple of shots. I'll add more details later.

eagle_tenderfoot_squamish_tree_2_20110103

eagle_tenderfoot_squamish_20110103

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

December 24, 2010

La Conner, Whidbey Island Day Trip

The day before Christmas, we headed down across the border into Washington State for a daytrip and some shopping. As a Canadian citizen it's relatively easy for me, but my Japanese national wife Yumi needs to get a visa, along with fingerprint and eye scans. We hadn't been across the border since the new technology was implemented, and we were impressed by the new facility, and the efficiency and courteousness of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel at the White Rock/Blaine I5 crossing.

We drove to La Conner for lunch, and wandered around the quaint town which we had last visited some ten years ago. By the time we got there, the rain had stopped, making us pleased with our choice to head south across the border away from Vancouver's forecast of a week of rain. We continued south on highway 20 at a leisurely pace, going as far as Ft. Ebey Washington State Park on Whidbey Island. I chatted with a park ranger, and it seems like a great place for camping when it's a bit warmer.

We headed back north, stopping at Bellis Fair for some shopping, and got home late in the evening. Somehow it stayed dry in the States, but as we crossed the border back into Canada we ran into pouring rain again.

There were several cool salmon sculptures on the shoreline. I thought I'd snapped a photo with info about the artist, but I can't track it down. Anyone who knows can contact me at paul@cipywnyk.com so I can make proper attribution.

la_conner_wa_salmon_sculpture_1_20101224

la_conner_wa_salmon_sculpture_2_20101224

Love this gas-mask salmon -- that's how I envision the fish
must feel going up the Fraser and my troubled local creek.

la_conner_wa_salmon_sculpture_3_20101224

ft_ebey_wa_gun_emplacement

One of the 6" gun emplacements at Ft. Ebey.

Set up as defense against the Imperial Japanese Navy,
the WWII-era battery never fired a shot in anger,
though it won artillery contests against floating targets.

ft_ebey_wa_gun_field_of_fire

Part of the excellent field of fire over the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
er, I mean a lovely view!

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

December 11, 2010

Things to do in Tokyo

Friends of ours will be spending awhile in Tokyo, and I came up with a list of things to do. I lived in Tokyo for about 14 years, so the process made me feel very "homesick" for awhile. (Note that this list may be somewhat skewed toward an engineer who likes woodworking).

1) Railway Museum looks cool:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_Museum_%28Saitama%29
Yumi and I visited the old one when it was in a small building "downtown." We've never been to this new facility in the suburbs, which sounds impressive.

2) Akihabara Electric Town
The gizmo, gadget, computer, cell phone, electronic device capital of the world
http://www.akiba.or.jp/english/

3) Tokyu Hands - kind of like Michael's crafts, Staples and Lee Valley combined :-) South end of Shinjuku Station.
http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en/index.html

4) Kinokuniya - bookstore with English-language section. One of the largest collections of books for sale in English about Japan.
As I recall it's next door to the Shinjuku Tokyu Hands store.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_Kinokuniya

5) Japan Traditional Craft Center in Ikebukuro
http://www.kougei.or.jp/english/center.html

6) Meiji Jingu
Beautiful park and shrine located about halfway between Shinjuku and Shibuya, two main Tokyo shopping/entertainment areas.
http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/

7) Omotesando & Takeshita Dori
Tree-lined shopping street in the famous Harajuku (at the south end of Meiji Jingu). Fashion, kid hangout, lots of fun to amble the streets on a weekend. Used to be a really funky area with old apts, pretty much all razed in the last decade and replaced with cutting-edge architecture, tho I miss the old atmosphere...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omotesand%C5%8D,_Tokyo

8) Asakusa Senso-ji temple
Huge temple with famous gate.
Shopping arcade
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asakusa

9) Ginza, the super-upscale shopping district, can be fun to amble around in. The Kabukiza theatre is in this area:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki-za

UPDATE: My Tokyo friend Mike passed on this article about Kabukiza-closing down.

People also like to hang out at the Sony building in Ginza to check out the latest gadgets:
http://www.sonybuilding.jp/e/index.html

10) Odaiba is the new shopping/entertainment area out in the bay that I was trying to remember the name of.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odaiba

11) Minato Mirai in Yokohama is a fun area.
Historic sail training ship Nippon Maru
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minato_Mirai_21

12) For a quiet getaway with a taste of hiking, there's Mt. Takao about an hour west by train from Tokyo. Relatively easy trail, temples in the woods...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Takao
http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/index.htm

13) Nice day trip to Kamakura
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamakura,_Kanagawa

14) Oh, yeah, there are several museums in Ueno Park. We haven't been there in at least 15 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ueno_Park

Oops

15) How could I forget Yuzawaya in Kichijoji, another amazing crafts, toys 'n cool stuff store:

http://www.yuzawaya.co.jp/company/brochure2.html

Yuzawaya is in Kichijoji, right at the east end of the JR station. Kichijoji is a great dining, shopping area in western Tokyo where I spent a lot of time because we lived nearby. Inokashira Park on the south side of the station is nice, particularly in the cherry blossom season.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Kichijoji

Posted by Paul at 09:16 PM

November 07, 2010

Subaru Outback Hits 200,000 Km

Our steadfast 1998 Subaru Outback hit 200,000 trouble-free kilometers today. That's about 123,456 miles for those of you still on the British Imperial system for distances (like the U.S. Smile ). I like these numbers, because the last time I posted an odometer shot from the Outback was when it hit 123,456 km.

I know there are trusty Subarus out there with way higher mileage, but we don't use our car for commuting - I work from home, and my wife is a staunch Translink Skytrain work commuter.

98_Subaru_Outback_200K

With regular maintenance, this car has been absolutely dependable. Of course there have been a few other maintenance items like one blown fuse, a couple of light bulbs, and a couple of sets of wipers, but those are to be expected with normal wear and tear. The only unusual item was a head gasket that was replaced under warranty.

While I originally got the car new on lease in Saskatoon, it's spent 99% of its life based in Burnaby, BC. (we liked it so much we bought it out when the lease expired). I'd like to thank Don Docksteader Subaru for providing excellent maintenance services for 12 years. Docksteader Subaru Service quickly gained my trust, and I hope to see another trouble-free 100,000 km with their assistance.

Posted by Paul at 05:36 PM

October 09, 2010

Adams River Sockeye Run – Day 2

The Adams River sockeye salmon spawning run is in a dominant fourth year, and after a relatively quiet visit on Friday, Yumi and I went back on Saturday for more viewing. The Adams River Salmon Society's Salute to the Sockeye event draws a lot of people on weekends!

adams_river_1_20101009

The Adams River attracts chinook in addition to sockeye.
You can see how massive they are, with my size 12 shoe
next to one.

adams_river_2_20101009

This time we wandered down to Shuswap Lake on the cloudy,
moody Saturday morning.

adams_river_3_20101009

The shores of the lake were covered with expired salmon.
It looks wasteful, but each carcass carries a crucial load of
nutrients with it.

adams_river_6_20101009

A sockeye moves past a spawned out cousin.

adams_river_4_20101009

A biology lesson in the main event area.

adams_river_5_20101009

Vehicles pouring into the grounds late Saturday morning.
The event draws folks from around the world.

After lunch in Kamloops, we hit the road homeward. We decided
take the slower 5A south to Merritt through the ranch country.

nicola_5A_1_20101009

nicola_5A_2_20101009

nicola_5A_3_20101009

nicola_5A_4_20101009

nicola_5A_5_20101009

Posted by Paul at 04:37 PM

May 30, 2010

Camping, Canoeing, Bears at Birkenhead Lake

Friday:

The first camping trip of the year was met with rainy weather, but we forged on regardless and had a great time. We headed up to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park, one of our favourite parks because it's only about a 3-hour drive from Vancouver, yet it's remote enough that it tends to be fairly quiet, especially early in the season.

birkenhead_lake_20100529

And quiet it was! Of the nearly 100 sites in the campground, several walkabouts over the weekend showed only a few dozen were occupied. We had reserved a nice site up against Phelix Creek,  and the sound of the rushing water also helped to muffle any human noise.

Rain regardless, we put our canoe in the water on Friday afternoon and paddled for several hours until we were soaked and tired. Trolling a line behind produced a single bite, and no catch.

birkenhead_lake__yumi_canoe_20100528

Fortunately we had been able to set up the tent and rope up a tarp over the table before the rain hit, so were fairly comfortable on Friday evening with a cosy fire.

birkenhead_paul_yumi_camp_20100529

A 15-minute shot of sun through the clouds!

Saturday:

Saturday resulted in more rain off and on, and blasts of wind. We headed out in the canoe again, but there can be substantial winds with occasional heart-quickening, canoe-heeling and spinning  gusts on the  mountain lake, so we headed back in after only an hour or so out on the water.

The next bit of entertainment came as Yumi was washing some of the mud off our trusty '98 Outback at our campsite (15km of access road to the park is "gravel," or in other words, potholed, stony washboard, packed dirt :-). As she went to refresh her pail of water from a pool just off the edge of the tent pad, I saw a black shape silently lumber past through the woods just a few meters beyond her.

"Yumi, get back! Back to the car, right now! There's a bear!"

Poor Yumi didn't see a thing, but scampered back nonetheless. It was amazing how silently, and how fast, that black bear rambled by.

I immediately ran out into the road because I knew some kids had been bicycling up and down the campground, and sure enough a wide-eyed little boy zoomed off to his dad as I barked at him, "look sharp, there's a bear right in there!"

The father spotted the bear, policed his family, and then the two of us monitored the beast, while spreading the word to other campers, blowing our car horns, etc. The fellow said he'd heard from park staff that the bear had recently gotten into a cooler that some irresponsible camper had left unattended. The word was to make as much noise and be as uninviting to the little bruin as possible, in the hope that it would move on, and not get itself shot.

The bear moved back down the campground between tent sites and the creek, and disappeared. Half an hour later as Yumi and I set out to hike up to the Goat Trail Lookout, the bear burst out of the bush, ran across the road, and hightailed it into the forest on the other side with park staff in a truck hot on its heels, horn blaring madly. The attendant got out, hollered he was going to set off a bear banger, and, BOOM!

We saw no more of the bear, but we sure made a lot of noise as we climbed up to the Goat Trail Lookout!

birkenhead_paul_phelix_creek_20100529

Crossing high, fast, Phelix Creek on the Goat Trail

birkenhead_paul_woodpecker_tree_20100529

Now that's some head banging!

birkenhead_paul_goat_trail_viewpoint_20100529

The lookout

birkenhead_yumi_goat_trail_viewpoint_20100529

Yumi scoping the lake and mountains

birkenhead_lake__yumi_sun_20100528

An hour of sunshine, wow!

birkenhead_lake_canoes_20100529

There is canoe rental at the lake now, but we're glad we
have our own

birkenhead_red_breasted_sapsucker_20100529

A red-breasted sapsucker that let me get to within two meters
or so to get this shot with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera

Instead of canoeing the choppy lake, we decided to try the trail on the north side to where the wilderness campground used to be (now shut down due to hazard trees).

Not far down the trail we ran across a big pile of fresh green scat - OK, at least the bear's a vegetarian. Another dozen meters and lots more fresh scat, dark in colour, but at least no bear bells in it :-).

We ventured a bit further, but as our pace slackened and doubts increased, we decided that common sense outweighed valour, and turned back.

Sunday:

It still being cloudy and drizzly, we packed up in the morning, thought about another jaunt in the canoe, took one look at the cold, choppy lake and decided to head south. Coffee in Pemberton, a walkabout at Alice Lake, lunch in Squamish, and a leisurely drive home.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM

February 23, 2010

Dawn, Dusk on BC Ferries

The 7:00 am BC Ferries run from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, and the return 5:00 pm run produced some moody sunrise and sunset photos today.

The dawn run:

dawn_bcferries_20100223

dawn_2_bcferries_20100223

dawn_3_bcferries_20100223

dawn_4_bcferries_20100223

And coming home at dusk:

dusk_2_bcferries_20100223

dusk_bcferries_20100223

dusk_3_bcferries_20100223

dusk_4_bcferries_20100223

Posted by Paul at 11:31 PM

January 03, 2010

iPod Navigator

For a couple of months now I've been trying to catch this gizmo on sale at Canadian Tire. It plugs into the cigarette lighter on a vehicle to power an iPod, and it also transmits music from an iPod using a selectable FM band. (Our faithful and stalwart '98 Subaru Outback has no aux input for its stereo. . .) Such devices are often in the $40-70 range, but this no-name brand has been available at Canadian Tire for under $20 off and on, but has always been sold out when I get to a store.

Well, I finally found one during Boxing Week sales at a CT for $14.95. It's pretty flimsy, and it sticks out so far that I cannot put the vehicle in park without removing it, but hey, it works! When I finally saw one, I turned it over and over, wondering at its cheap appearance, and a fellow came along and said, "Hey, works great, I've got three of them!"

I just realized that I badly dated myself - does anyone call them cigarette lighters anymore? I believe the politically correct term now is auxiliary power outlets.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

December 25, 2009

Christmas Jaunt up the Sea to Sky, Squamish, Brackendale

A Christmas daytrip up the Sea-to-Sky highway to Squamish and Brackendale resulted in some nice shots, though there were few eagles to be seen.

stonework_shannon_falls_20091225

Stonework pattern on washroom at Shannon Falls

spawner_tenderfoot_hatchery_20091225

Spawning salmon, green water, stones make for an impressionistic shot
near the Tenderfoot Hatchery

herron_tenderfoot_hatchery_20091225

Great Blue Heron watches salmon near the Tenderfoot Hatchery

american_dipper_tenderfoot_hatchery_20091225

An American Dipper keeps a sharp eye out for wayward salmon eggs

eagle_run_brackendale_people_20091225

Lots of people at the Eagle Run at Brackendale, but few eagles

squamish_river_mountains_20091225

Squamish River with mountain background

yumi_porteau_cove_sunset_20091225

Heading back home we stop at Porteau Cove - Yumi against the sunset

 moon_metal_porteau_cove_20091225

Moon at bottom with Porteau Cove pier structure

rocks_ripples_porteau_cove_20091225

Rocks and ripples at the ocean's edge

chains_sunset_porteau_cove_20091225

Chains anchor the sunset

bench_sunset_porteau_cove_20091225

Bench and rails frame the setting sun

sunset_mountains_porteau_cove_20091225

sunset_trees_sea_to_sky_20091225

Trees, sunset along the Sea-to-Sky highway

sunset_sea_to_sky_20091225

The sun dips in to the sea beyond the mountains

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

November 01, 2009

Silverdale Creek Wetlands

On the way home from Harrison Lake we took the slower route 7, and at one point before Mission saw trails and what looked like a spawning channel to the north of the road. We found an access road, and discovered the Silverdale Creek Wetlands. We'd heard about the project, so we set out to explore. There were "Mother Bear with Cub" warning signs all over, so we kept our eyes peeled, proceeded slowly, and made plenty of noise!

It was a beautiful area, with ponds, marshes, and a spawning channel. We found only one dead spawner in the wetland area, but saw several more dead, and one live one swimming upstream, from the bridge over the creek near the entrance.

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_11_20091101

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_1_20091101

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_2_20091101

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_3_20091101

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_4_20091101

Look closely - there, in the middle foreground, it's
a huge concrete salmon. Steamkeepers around the
lower mainland have been sharing the mold for
these beauties

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_5_20091101

Despite it being November, there were still lots of dragonflies about

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_6_20091101

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_7_20091101

Lots of bird boxes of various sizes adorn many erected perch "trees"

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_8_20091101

The only spawner we saw in the habitat

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_9_20091101

The same spawner can be seen in the foreground

Silverdale_Creek_Wetlands_10_20091101

And a close-up of a second concrete salmon in the habitat

Posted by Paul at 09:42 PM

Harrison Lake Colors, Aerobatics Flight

On the pretext of looking for spawning salmon in Fraser Valley creeks and rivers, Yumi and I took a day trip all the way up the valley to Harrison Lake. While we didn't see many fish, it was a gorgeous day. As we were strolling around the beach at the lake, a formation of aerobatics planes zoomed overhead.

harrison_lake_kayaks_20091101

Kayakers head out on Harrison Lake

harrison_lake_dock_20091101 

The dock near the hot-spring hotel

harrison_lake_clouds_20091101

Along the trail to the original hot springs pool

harrison_lake_tree_tunnel_20091101

Heading back toward the beach area

harrison_lake_planes_1_20091101

A sudden roar, and this formation unexpectedly flew overhead

harrison_lake_planes_2_20091101

A slightly tighter shot as I banged away while zooming in

harrison_lake_planes_3_20091101

Breaking into the blue

harrison_lake_planes_4_20091101

Heading back from a loop over the lake

Posted by Paul at 09:27 PM

June 28, 2009

Duffey Lake Road Trip

A day trip up the coast from Vancouver past Squamish and Whistler and then along the Duffey Lake Road to Lillooet and Lytton had us up at 5:00 on Sunday morning. It turned out to be a great day, sunny, and not too hot. We stopped at several places along the way for short walks/hikes including Brandywine Falls, Nairn Falls, Duffey Lake, Seton Lake and Lytton.

brandywine_creek_20090628.jpg
Brandywine Creek

brandywine_falls_20090628.jpg
Brandywine Falls

brandywine_trail_daisy_lake_20090628.jpg
View south to Daisy Lake from Brandywine

nairn_falls_yumi_20090628.jpg
Yumi on the trail to Nairn Falls

nairn_falls_20090628.jpg
Nairn Falls

nairn_falls_2_20090628.jpg
Nairn Falls

nairn_falls_3_20090628.jpg
Nairn Falls

bear_duffey_lake_road_20090628.jpg
Young black bear on Duffey Lake Road

duffey_lake_20090628.jpg
Duffey Lake

duffey_lake_2_20090628.jpg
Duffey Lake

duffey_lake_yumi_20090628.jpg
Yumi at Duffey Lake

seton_lake_20080628.jpg
Seton Lake

seton_lake_2_20080628.jpg
Seton Lake

seton_lake_3_20080628.jpg

seton_lake_4_20080628.jpg
Seton Lake

seton_lake_5_20080628.jpg
Road toward Lillooet

seton_lake_spawning_channel_20080628.jpg
Seton spawning channel

mountain_goat_5_20090628.jpg
We came across a nonchalant herd of mountain goats between Lillooet and Lytton

mountain_goat_2_20090628.jpg

mountain_goat_20090628.jpg

mountain_goat_3_20090628.jpg

mountain_goat_4_20090628.jpg

fraser_river_20090628.jpg
The silty Fraser River

fraser_thompson_lytton_20090628.jpg
The clear Thompson River flows into the silty Fraser at Lytton

osprey_crow_lytton_20090628.jpg
A crow harasses an osprey above the river lookout at Lytton

lytton_20090628.jpg

Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

June 22, 2009

Sea, Sky, Clouds at Porteau Cove

Porteau Cove is one of my favourite spots to stop on the Sea To Sky highway from Vanvouver to Squamish and Whistler. With the sea, the mountains and the sky, there are always photo opportunities.

porteau_cove_1_20090622.jpg

porteau_cove_2_20090622.jpg

porteau_cove_3_20090622.jpg

porteau_cove_4_20090622.jpg

porteau_cove_5_20090622.jpg

porteau_cove_6_20090622.jpg

Posted by Paul at 05:03 PM

October 24, 2008

Brandon, Riding Mountain Park, Dauphin, Swan River

Update when I get home.

NOTE: I am taking hundreds of photos, but as mentioned earlier, am traveling with an old Japanese Windows ME laptop that cannot load contemporary Nikon or Canon software (am carrying several cameras :-)

Dauphin, Manitoba -- nice town with some gorgeous buildings.

Highway 10 heading north from Dauphin in Manitoba lined with Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic churches, many nearly in ruins, along with cemeteries.

Ukraina, Manitoba -- a dead village several kilometers east of Highway 10 named after the home country of many early settlers, with a neglected, rotting church, open to the elements. I felt sadness, shame, and resignation... But there is nobody left, so who is to blame?

I got that feeling a lot along the 10 north in Manitoba.... Tough country that it appears a lot of people gave up on....

Ethelbert, Manitoba -- dueling Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches at opposite ends of town :-).

Transition from prairies to forest comes much faster than equivalent central Saskatchewan latitudes.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

October 23, 2008

Brandon, Riding Mountain National Park, Shilo

I will update this later when I get home from the road trip.

Beautiful Clearwater Lake. Many golf courses. Shilo Canadian Forces Base -- sobering sight of hundreds of yellow ribbons on fence posts for miles and miles around the base.... Assiniboine College -- site of former "insane asylum" -- not my words but those on a historical photo, is another beautiful site with impressive old buildings and beautiful grounds.

Posted by Paul at 07:54 PM

October 22, 2008

Regina to Brandon

I will update this later.

Posted by Paul at 05:51 PM

October 21, 2008

Swift Current, Red-Coat Trail, Moose Jaw, Regina

This is a placeholder to remind me to update this later.

Windy southern Saskatchewan -- can barely stand up!

Was taken aback at how hilly and "bad-landish" it is south of Moose Jaw on the No. 2...

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre in Regina. Beautiful new museum that reviews the force's amazing history and proud heritage while glossing over or omitting the less complimentary bits.... Don't get me wrong, I have huge respect for the history of the NWMP and its successor the RCMP. I have worked with RCMP members to improve communities. I just figure it wouldn't hurt to be honest and own up to a mistake or three? The best PR is when you admit all... and do better...

Anyway, one item that irked me aside from the rah-rah intro movie was several references to the "disappearing bison" that resulted in a massive socio-economic-environmental disaster on the prairies, that completely disrupted the lives of First Nations tribes. It was never explained how or why the bison "disappeared" in a decade or two after being sustainably harvested by First Nations for thousands of years. Was it magic?

Right... There was no mention of the slaughter for hides by Caucasian killers -- I do not deign to call them hunters -- that arrived in the mid-to-late 19th century that took bison to the brink of extinction, along with the First Nations that relied so much upon them.

No self-respecting historian would let such a reference go unexplained. This ain't no political polemic, it's the facts...

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 20, 2008

Medicine Hat, Cypress Hills, Red-Coat Trail, Swift Current

This is a placeholder to remind me to update this when I have more time.

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

October 19, 2008

Lethbridge, Head Smashed In, Medicine Hat

For some reason I woke up at 5:00 this morning and could not fall asleep again. I got up, did some excercises, shaved, showered, and it still wasn't time for the free continental breakfast at the hotel. I read the paper, and finally 7:00 arrived and I had my breakfast.

But it was still dark! I snoozed until 8:00, and then checked out and headed off into a gray dawn. I decided to drive back west on the No. 3 to Fort McLeod and from there to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump -- a World Heritage Site. According to my guide book, it was supposed to open at 9:00, but when I arrived, the sign said 10:00. That was OK, because it gave me an hour to explore the trail through the killing grounds below the cliff. There were several signs warning of bear and cougar activity, so as I walked my head kept swivelling like a WWII fighter pilot, and I made sure to make plenty of noise as I trundled along.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a buffalo jump was a way natives used to kill many of the huge bison by driving them off a cliff. Then they would smoke and dry the meat, render the fat, and use the bones and hides for various purposes to get them through the winter. Nothing was wasted.

Over several thousand years, the jump at Head Smashed In was reduced from over 20 meters to around 10 as bones and fallen rock and washed off dirt filled the area below the cliffs. It's still an impressive site, with magnificent views over the rolling prairie and the Oldman River marked by a line of trees off in the distance.

The interpretive center was a strking modern building set into the cliff, with excellent displays about the site and the Blackfeet who controlled the area. While the autumn colours were modestly spectacular, I'd like to see the site in the summer, too.

Then it was back to Lethbridge for lunch, followed by a couple of hours near the Oldman River, where I walked some trails, viewed the magnificent rail trestle bridge (the longest in Canada, or the longest in the world, depending on which sign or source you read), and checked out the reconstruction of Fort Whoop-Up.

As I was taking photos of the fall foliage I spotted a midsized beast curled up in a tree about 12-15 meters off the ground. I couldn't quite make out what it was, and a passing jogger said it was a porcupine. Huh? When the nature centre opened I went in and asked the staff, and sure enough, porcupines often sleep way up in trees during the daytime! That was new to me....

Two more hours on the road brought me to Medicine Hat, which I found to be a very confusing city to get around in. Dunno why, nothing seemed to go as I expected it to...

I am really on the prairie now -- it was flat flat flat for much of the leg from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat. But the wide open spaces are beautiful in their own way.

Posted by Paul at 05:13 PM

October 18, 2008

Calgary to Waterton to Lethbridge

I left my cousin's place on an acreage west of Calgary this morning and zipped into the city to drop off a package for a friend. Mission accomplished, I backtracked west on the No. 1 -- and ran into a near whiteout of a snowstorm! Groan. Just what I needed after two days of rain.

I persevered, heading south down the 22, and within half an hour the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I enjoyed a wonderful drive through the beautiful, rolling, ranch country with the mountains to the west. As I cruised south, view upon view pulled me to the side of the road to shoot photos. The silvers, yellows, browns and golds of the autumn landscape were amazing, with the blue, purple and gray backdrop of the distant mountains, and the white clouds scudding across the vast, azure, western sky!

When I hit the No. 3, I backtracked west to visit the Frank Slide, then it was east again on the No. 3 and then south on the No. 6 to Waterton National Park.

I arrived in Waterton to find the village literally boarded up for the season and just a few hardy tourists wandering around. The townsite was full of deer. The countryside was gorgeous and I took a pile of photos. I had not visited Waterton in over 30 years, and the short sojurn today sparked weak memories, at best. But I vowed to bring my wife Yumi to Waterton in the spring, or next autumn, to make fresh memories together.

I left Waterton reluctantly, as fragile fragments of camping in the park as a kid with my family began to form and tease over the intervening decades... Were we driving the Rambler? Did we have that huge, heavy, yellow and brown canvas tent?

It was time to head onward into the future again...

I took the No. 5 north and east to Lethbridge. I ran into another line of windmills, about 20 or so, not as many as the dozens along the No. 3... I wonder how much of Alberta's electricity comes from the wind?

Today made up for the last two days of non-stop rain. I loved cruising along the nearly deserted roads at 10 - 20kph below the limit and pulling over whenever I felt like it to drink in the views and frame a few shots.

Sorry, the photos will have to wait until I get home in about ten days -- I don't have the gear and software to get them onto this ancient notebook computer that I'm using....

Posted by Paul at 07:52 PM

October 17, 2008

Rain Burnaby to Canmore

Well, despite Environment Canada forecasts, it rained all the way from Burnaby BC to Canmore AB over the last two days. I stopped in Banff for a quick walkabout in the drizzle today, drove the Bow Valley Parkway -- I always like to pay my respects at the monument to Ukrainian-Canadian internees near Castle Mountain. While none of my relatives (ancestors) were interned, I still feel a bond. And on my wife' side as well, for she is Japanese... Two great travesties in Canadian history and democracy... It finally cleared up around Canmore... and I arrived at my cousin's place in Calgary for an excellent meal and a great bed.

Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

October 16, 2008

On the Road

I left Burnaby on a two-week road trip this morning, so I won't be updating this blog all that often. I've got my photo gear along and plan to amble along from BC to Manitoba before visiting relatives in Saskatchewan.

One snag is that a new notebook computer that I ordered from Dell did not arrive in time for the trip. My main laptop is being used by my wife for a class she's taking -- it's the only machine we have that has MS Access 2003, which is required for the class. I have her seven-year-old Japanese IBM laptop with me, but it's constrained by the obsolete Windows ME operating system so I couldn't even load some of my software on it before I left. It's pretty slow, too, with its Celeron processor and 192MB of RAM...

Not to mention working with the Japanese menus! By guess, and by golly, and by ancient memories of scripts and characters learned many years ago... Dang it, I really need to keep up my Japanese...

So I will be limited to taking a few notes and surfing the web, but not posting photos to this blog. I hope to catch up in November with several dozen photos winnowed from the hundreds I plan to take over the next two weeks.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 14, 2008

Road Trip Prep

I've been gearing up for a two-week road trip across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I'll be visiting friends and relatives, and taking tons of photos.

I figured I'd be seeing snow, and sure enough there already was a dump of several centimeters in southern Saskatchewan, so I'm glad that in the last few days I got a new set of Arctic Claw winter tires from Big O Tires, and got a major service on our '98 Outback from Don Docksteader Subaru. My automotive philosophy is never stint on maintenance, and use reputable service providers. We've put 165,000km on our Outback, or over 100,000 miles, with nary a problem.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

August 25, 2008

Whistler, Lillooet, Lytton Loop

Itchy feet and an itchy trigger finger put me on the road today to get out into the mountains and shoot some photos. I went north up the 99 to Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, carried on past Duffey Lake and over to Lillooet. Then it was back south to Lytton, Hope, and home to Burnaby. It never ceases to amaze me how varied the landscape is in BC, and how quickly you can transition from one ecological zone to another. The weather also changes by the hour as you travel, and today I encountered everything from hot sun to torrential rain.

99_north.jpg
On the 99 north.

flowers_20080825.jpg
Near the Joffre Lakes parking lot.

berries_20080825.jpg
Near the Joffre Lakes parking lot.

cayoosh_creek_20080825.jpg
Cayoosh Creek.

duffey_lake_20080825.jpg
Duffey Lake.

setton_lake_20080825.jpg
Setton Lake, just west of Lillooet.

I've stopped at this spot perhaps four or five times over the last ten years, and I have never seen this lake calm. Powerful winds funnel down between the mountains, raising whitecaps and making boats tied to the dock buck like broncos mad at being tethered.

Highway_12_20080825.jpg
Heading south on highway 12.

Highway_12_2_20080825.jpg
North of Lytton.

Highway_12_3_20080825.jpg

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

October 18, 2007

Nagasaki Sara Udon and Champon

After the morning spent retracing the horrors of atomic weapons, we headed back to the Dejima area, and had lunch by the waterfront at Dejima Wharf. Two of Nagasaki's famous dishes are Nagasaki Sara Udon, or crisp noodles covered with a seafood and vegetable sauce, and Nagasaki champon, a succulent noodle soup.

nagasaki_sara_udon_20071018.jpg
Nagasaki Sara Udon

nagasaki_champon_yumi_20071018.jpg
Yumi tackling a bowl of champon.

nagasaki_raptor_20071018.jpg
Throughout our stay in Nagasaki we saw many of these impressive raptors soaring overhead.

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

Nagasaki Nuclear Bomb Memorial

Our first morning in Nagasaki we headed out to pay our respects at the atomic bomb memorial and peace park. With the sun shining brightly on the beautiful harbor city surrounded by mountains, it was hard to believe that 60 years ago much of it had been instantly rendered a radioactive wasteland with tens of thousands of dead and dying.

The peace museum was powerfully moving, with haunting images and artifacts. It also does not overlook Japan's imperial expansion and aggression.

nagasaki_urakami_ruin_20071018.jpg
Preserved ruins of the Urakami Cathedral. The cathedral, then the largest in East Asia, stood near the epicenter of the blast. It is ironic that Nagasaki was likely the most "Western" city in Japan at the time, and had the highest proportion of Christians in Japan.

nagasaki_bomb_monument_20071018.jpg

I had never quite understood the symbolism of the Nagasaki peace monument until I read the plaque with the following words:

Words of the Sculptor

After experiencing that nightmarish war,
that blood-curdling carnage,
that unendurable horor,
Who could walk away without praying for peace?
This statue was created as a signpost in the
cause of global harmony.
Standing ten meters tall,
it conveys the profundity of knowledge and
the beauty of health and virility.
The right hand points to the atomic bomb,
the left hand points to peace,
and the face prays deeply for the victims of war.
Transcending the barriers of race
and evoking the qualities of both Buddha and God,
it is a symbol of the greatest determination
ever known in the history of Nagasaki
and of the highest hope of all mankind.

Seibo Kitamura
Spring 1955

nagasaki_nyokodo_20071018.jpg
Nyokodo. It's tiny, yet so moving...

From the plaque:

Nyokodo (As Thyself Hermitage) is the sickroom and study used by Dr. Takashi Nagai, honorary citizen of Nagasaki City. Born in Shimane Prefecture, Dr. Nagai graduated from Nagasaki Medical College and majored in radiology. He was exposed to excessive doses of radiation while treating large numbers of tuberculosis patients with poor equipment. As a result he developed chronic myeloid leukemia and was given three years to live. Two months later he was injured in the atomic bombing and lost his wife, but he continued his selfless efforts for the rescue of the atomic bomb victims, finally falling bedridden. However, spurred on by his sense of scientific mission and also his Catholic faith, Dr. Nagai wrote more than ten books from his sickbed here. He named the building after the Christian maxim "Love others as you love thyself" and live here with his two children, appealing to the world about the foolishness of war and the importance of peace until his death on May 1, 1951 at the age of 43. Nyokodo continues to this day to serve as a symbol of Dr. Nagai's spirit of peace and brotherly love.

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

October 17, 2007

Kurashiki Charms With Canals, Crafts

We left Himeji around noon and took a side trip to Kurashiki on our way to Nagasaki. Kurashiki has preserved an area of town with charming canals, old warehouses, and lots of arts and crafts.

Kurashiki_canal_bridge_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_canal_tour_boat_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_goose_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_yellow_wall_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_wood_building_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_watering_street_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_shop_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_shops_fronting_canal_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_pots_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_restaurant_20071017.jpg
The curry shop where we had lunch.

Kurashiki_sandals_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_wickerware_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_pet_shop_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_straw_clothing_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_wall_detail_20071017.jpg

Kurashiki_kura_2_20071017.jpg

Posted by Paul at 11:15 PM

Himeji Castle

OK, here we go with about a dozen views of Himeji Castle.

himeji_castle_overall_view_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_moat_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_approach_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_curved_wall_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_base_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_framed_by_trees_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_eaves_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_eaves_2_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_musket_ports_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_roof_tiles_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_interior_hall_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_city_view_20071017.jpg

himeji_castle_top_floor_20071017.jpg

Posted by Paul at 10:47 PM

137 Views of Himeji Castle?!

Yes, I took 137 pictures of Himeji Castle, and I'm having a tough time winnowing them down to, say, a dozen to post here. If we'd had more time, the shutter would likely have dropped a few more hundred times....

The castle is one of few in Japan to survive in original condition following the destruction at the end of the shogunate in the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, and the bombings of WWII. While there are quite a few reconstructed castles around Japan, none compare to the sheer immensity and beauty of Himeji.

When I first experienced the castle 22 years ago, I was packing a Nikon F2 and Fujichrome slide film, so as I recall, I limited myself to a 36-exposure roll or two. This time I was packing several SD cards the size of the first joint of my thumb (but much thinner) in the 1 - 4 GB range that could hold anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand shots each at the highest 8MP setting on my Canon S5 IS digital camera....

That said, I think I'll return to editing photos later, and will leave this here as a teaser :-). G'night...

Posted by Paul at 08:27 PM

October 16, 2007

Bullet Train Trip Begins

After seeing a client for lunch in Tokyo on Tuesday, Yumi and I headed off on our travels. With Japan Rail Passes in hand, Yumi organized a series of bullet train tickets that would take us all they way to Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu with stops at Kobe and Himeji on the way down, Fukuoka and Hiroshima on the way back north to Tokyo, then all the way to Aomori at the northern tip of the main island of Honshu and back to Tokyo. The JR agent at Kanda Station in Tokyo where we made our seat reservations was amazed at all the stops we were making. The JR Pass is a great deal -- we likely did over 200,000 yen worth of traveling each on passes that cost less than a quarter of that amount.

shinkansen_20071016.jpg
The shinkansen bullet trains are magnificent beasts that run like clockwork.

shinkansen_cleaners_tokyo_20071016.jpg
Cleaners line up to ensure the bullet train is spick and span before passengers board.

shinkansen_conductor_20071016.jpg

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM

October 15, 2007

Tokyo Morning, Kichijoji Ramble, Akihabara Changes

We were up by 6:00 on Monday morning, and decided to head out to our old stomping grounds in the Kichijoji area in western Tokyo. We planned to walk around Inokashira Park on the south side of Kichijoji station until the stores opened at 10:00.

ochanomizu_orthodox_cathedral_20071014.jpg
Walking on side streets on the way to Ochanomizu station we got a glimpse of the Nikolai Cathedral among office towers.

house_among_towers_ochanomizu_20071014.jpg
A holdout householder -- the land must be worth millions...

chuo_line_train_ochanomizu_tokyo_20071014.jpg
A Chuo Line train pulls into Ochanomizu station.

shrine_fountain_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
Inokashira Park with shrine, aeration fountain.

shrine_detail_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
A detail of the shrine.

The small park surrounded by the urban jungle had an amazing variety of wildlife.

yumi_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
Yumi with binoculars in hand, pointing out another species of duck.

duck_inokashira_park_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

black_head_ducks_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

diving_duck_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

herons_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

heron_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

butterfly_inokashira_kichijoji_20071014.jpg

After a couple of hours in the park, we headed back into the shopping arcades and streets of funky Kichijoji.

kichijoji_shopping_arcade_20071014.jpg
The main shopping arcade.

traditional_cracker_shop_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
A shop selling traditional crackers.

kimono_store_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
A kimono store selling the real stuff, not tourist junk.

bejeweled_cell_phones_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
Personalizing cell phones is a big business.

blowfish_restaurant_tank_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
Blowfish swim in a restaurant's aquarium.

As lunch approached I began thinking more about food, so I headed over to the Seiyu department store, knowing the basement food floor featured an amazing variety of prepared items.

seiyu_packaged_food_20071014.jpg
A lineup of packaged meals.

seiyu_onigiri_20071014.jpg
A mouth-watering variety of onigiri rice balls.

seiyu_seafood_20071014.jpg
More great stuff! I love Japanese supermarkets!

seiyu_tonkatsu_kichijoji_20071014.jpg
This display of tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets) reminded me of a tonkatsu restaurant nearby, so I headed out to find Yumi.

Yumi was shopping at Yuzawaya, a huge crafts store at the east end of the station, and I was to meet her there at 11:30. When I arrived, I found a large Halloween display -- I don't recall the event being such a big deal in Japan five or more years ago! Japanese retailers are experts at appropriating any sort of holiday from any culture to flog more goods :-).

halloween_babe_costume_kichijoji_yuzawaya_20071014.jpg
Hmmm. This costume looks like it's more suited to, ahem, tricks rather than treats!

sushi_mountain_kichijoji_lonlon_20071014.jpg
We were momentarily distracted by this sushi mountain plastic display...

tonkatsu_restaurant_kichijoji_lonlon_20071014.jpg
But ended up at our favourite tonkatsu place in the LonLon mall. Yum!

In the evening we walked over to Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics wonderland. When we arrived, I was completely disoriented -- the area has undergone huge development, and it took me 15 minutes of wandering around to gain my bearings. I was seeking a new memory card for my digital camera and the prices in the major stores were out of sight. I knew I could do better if I could find some of the teeny shops I'd frequented years ago. I finally tracked a few down, and sure enough, the prices were less than half of the major electronics retailers.

akihabara_billboard_20071015.jpg
A manga character billboard.

akihabara_yumi_canned_noodles_20071015.jpg
Yumi checking out canned noodles -- a recent phenomenon that we'd heard about but not experienced first hand.

kanda_shopping_street_20071015.jpg
We ended the long day back on the Kanda shopping street, where we closed out the evening with beer and munchies at an izakaya pub.

Posted by Paul at 07:23 PM

October 14, 2007

Arriving in Tokyo

The flight from Vancouver to Tokyo was uneventful, but the descent into Narita brought a smile to my face as I listened to the middle-aged tourist couple behind me excitedly point things out in the landscape: "Look honey, they've got Toshiba in Japan, too!" Ah, yeah :-).

Yumi met me at Narita Airport on Sunday afternoon -- she'd left for Japan a week early to spend more time with her parents.

I felt the change in the air and humidity the moment I stepped off the plane, even though the temperature was around 20C. My nose crinkled up, my pores opened up, and sweat began to trickle down the small of my back.

I was second in the "gaijin" (foreigner) line in immigration and sailed through. In typical Japanese efficiency, from the time I passed through immigration and picked up my bags, it took us only minutes to set up my Japan Rail Pass, get reserved seats on the Narita Express to Tokyo Station, and run for the train. Whew! Love that clockwork train system.

As we traveled in to the city, night fell early, and it was pitch black by around 5:00 p.m. As the mixed farms and towns of Chiba gradually filled in with the tens of kilometers of unbroken urban concrete jungle of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, I was overwhelmed with a sense of time passed. I lived in Tokyo for 14 years in the '80s and '90s, but this trip I felt more like a tourist and a stranger than I ever had in previous visits back after moving to Canada. A four-year gap can do that to you...

From Tokyo Station we took the Chuo Line to Ochanomizu Station, and walked the five minutes to Hamilton Inn Ochanomizu, a basic yet comfortable business hotel where we've stayed several times.

I grabbed a quick shower and then we headed out to get something to eat and drink. We walked over to the Kanda shopping arcade, and I marveled at the familiarity, and the changes, in the area near where I worked for several years back in the late 90s. We ended up at a Watami chain izakaya, or pub, near Kanda Station, and I reveled in the familiar menu items and excellent Japanese beer.

The strangeness fell away and I felt great to be back in Tokyo!

Posted by Paul at 07:13 PM

October 13, 2007

Off to Japan

I'm off to Japan today, and am not bothering to take a notebook computer with me, so this blog will be in hibernation for a couple of weeks. When I get back I'll start filling it in with photos and commentary starting from the beginning of the trip.

It's been nearly four years since Yumi and I were last in Japan. Since we moved to Canada some eight years ago, we've returned to visit family, friends and clients every one to two years; however, a series of events including my two-year MA in Professional Communication program at Royal Roads University conspired to make for a long gap.

I'm really looking forward to the trip. In addition to visiting Yumi's folks in Aomori Prefecture, we've got meetings set up with several clients in Tokyo (these short meetings and lunches are important in maintaining contacts and keeping the work flowing), and lunches and dinners scheduled with several friends.

We're also taking a week to ourselves to take a swing down all the way to Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu with several stops at key tourist points along the way. Neither of us has visited Kyushu and we're looking forward to it.

I'll start posting entries and plenty of photos starting around Oct. 29. See you later!

Posted by Paul at 10:57 AM

August 01, 2007

Driving Home From Jasper

We drove home from Jasper today, and got a some nice shots of elk and Mt. Robson along the way.

muching_elk_jasper_20070801.jpg
An elk with a magnificent rack calmly browsing beside the highway.

paul_mt_robson_20070801.jpg
Me in front of Mt. Robson on an unusually clear day.

Posted by Paul at 06:23 PM

July 31, 2007

Edmonton to Jasper

Before we met a couple of fellow learners from my recently completed MA in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University for lunch in Edmonton, Yumi and I spent the morning at the Royal Alberta Museum. We enjoyed the dioramas and live animal exhibits, and wished we'd had more time to explore.

Here are some of the beautiful and educational dioramas:

coyotes_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Coyote family.

timber_wolf_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Wolves.

golden_eagle_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Golden eagle and chick.

yumi_eagle_rabbit_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Yumi is spellbound by the eagle catching a rabbit diorama.

And here are some of the live animals:

hognose_snake_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
A western hognose snake -- cute! And endangered :-(

stick_insect_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
An amazing stick insect.

yumi_giant_tropical_cockroaches_royal_alberta_20070731.jpg
Yumi staring at the unnerving giant tropical cockroaches!

brook_trout_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Brook trout.

arctic_grayling_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Arctic grayling.

northern_pike_royal_alberta_museum_20070731.jpg
Northern pike -- a ghostly predator...

paul_fire_jasper_20070731.jpg
Relaxing by the fire with a brewskie at Whistlers campground in Jasper.

Posted by Paul at 06:46 PM

July 30, 2007

Saskatoon to Edmonton

We drove from Saskatoon to Edmonton, stopping at Vegreville to show Yumi the world's largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg).

vegreville_pysanka_storm_20070730.jpg
The pysanka with a brewing storm in the background.

yumi_vegreville_pysanka_20070730.jpg
Yumi stretching up to the pysanka.

alberta_thunderstorm_20070730.jpg
Alberta summer thunderstorm.

We reached Edmonton, and in the evening we checked out the West Edmonton Mall, the largest in the world. We were not particularly impressed. A mall is a mall, eh? OK, there are the other attractions, too, but.... Just didn't do it for us.

Posted by Paul at 09:34 PM

July 29, 2007

Morning at Weyakwin Lake

We went for a drive and walk in the morning at Weyakwin Lake. We spotted some mushrooms from the vehicle, so we all piled out to search for more, but they were few and far between.

weyakwin_beach_20070729.jpg
The public beach.

mallard_weyakwin_lake_20070729.jpg
A sleek female mallard.

butterfly_weyakwin_20070729.jpg

ukrainian_fire_drill_weyakwin_20070729.jpg
"Ukrainian fire drill" -- everyone hops out of the van and checks the side of the road for mushrooms :-).

wasp_nest_weyakwin_20070729.jpg
A wasp's nest on the cabin with resident emerging.

Posted by Paul at 06:56 PM

July 28, 2007

Visiting Weyakwin Lake

We drove from the farm north of Melfort Saskatchewan to an aunt's cabin further north at Weyakwin Lake. It was great visiting relatives and catching up in the summer sun.

weyakwin_dock_20070728.jpg
Checking out the dock.

yumi_tractor_tire_tree_swing_20070728.jpg
My wife Yumi on the tractor-tire tree swing.

yumi_bug_20070728.jpg
Yumi lends an ear to a visitor.

weyakwin_lillies_20070728.jpg
Amazing lilies.

boat_ride_cousins_weyakwin_20070728.jpg
Evening boat ride with cousins.

weyakwin_cormorant_pelican_island_20070728.jpg
The breathtaking (and nose plugging :-) cormorant and pelican island. Unfortunately I was using my pocketable Canon SD400 and didn't bring my Canon S5 IS superzoom along...

Posted by Paul at 07:12 PM

July 22, 2007

Banff Morning

We woke up early in the morning in the Tunnel Mountain campground in Banff, and quickly ate breakfast and broke camp. We had a few hours to kill before driving to Calgary, so we poked around the hoodoo trail, drove up the Mt. Norquay road, and explored the Cave and Basin historic site.

banff_morning_20070722.jpg
Morning view from the campground.

hoodoos_near_banff_20070722.jpg
Hoodoo in front of mountains.

hoodoos_trail_near_banff_20070722.jpg
Hoodoos trail.

views_from_banff_20070722.jpg
Another hoodoo trail view.

banff_from_norquay_20070722.jpg
Banff from the Mt. Norquay road.

cave_and_basin_20070722.jpg
The Cave and Basin historic site -- the hot springs here provided the impetus for declaring the area a national park.

cave_and_basin_pool_20070722.jpg
The famous pool, now closed to use.

yumi_endangered_snails_20070722.jpg
Yumi carefully viewing endangered Banff Springs snails.

yumi_bird_blind_banff_20070722.jpg
A trail from the Cave and Basin leads to a bird blind on the lake.

ukrainian_internment_sign_banff_20070722.jpg
Trilingual English, French and Ukrainian signs commemorate the harsh internment of Canadians of Ukrainian descent during WWI -- the Cave and Basin was their winter camp. Such forced labourers built much of early Parks Canada facilities. They were considered to be enemy aliens because at that time Western Ukraine was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were treated much like Canadians of Japanese descent were in WWII.

While none of my ancestors were interned, I am angry that such events happened in a supposed democracy. I feel it for both wars and ethnic groups for my wife Yumi is Japanese. Again, none of her family was affected for she was born and raised in Japan, but there's a connection...

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM

July 21, 2007

Summer Trip - Burnaby to Banff

We're off to the prairies. I was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and we try to get out to visit relatives at least every second year. I love the drive from our home in Burnaby, BC, through the mountains, and down into the expansive plains. We drove as far as Banff the first day and camped overnight. We had reserved a spot through Parks Canada, a wise move during the busy summer season, but were disappointed by the bare, open campsite that we were assigned which was closely surrounded by several other sites. With the usual luck, some of our neighbours arrived back from town near midnight, and proceeded to loudly chatter and giggle with boyfriends on their cell phones as they bedded down. The wonders of modern technology, eh?

Yumi forbade me from roaring at them, as I've been known to do to campers who carry on with loud music and laughter well past "quiet time."

Grrrr...

banff_evening_bow_river_20070721.jpg
Sunset on the Bow River in Banff.

banff_magpie_20070721.jpg
Magpie casing out handouts in downtown Banff -- why have I seen these corvids only east of the Rockies?

Posted by Paul at 07:34 PM

June 26, 2007

Vernon Sightseeing

After a hearty breakfast at our friends' place, we headed out to see some of the sights. Yumi and I have never spent any time in Vernon, though we've passed through on several trips, so it was nice to take a look around. There is a lot of development going on!

The first place we stopped was Planet Bee, which was very interesting. We enjoyed viewing the transparent hive and locating the queen bee who had been marked with a dab of white paint.

yumi_planet_bee_20070626.jpg
Yumi checking out the hive.

queen_bee_planet_bee_20070626.jpg
The queen amid a mass of bees.

Next was a visit to Davison Orchards. I enjoyed checking out all the old farm equipment while the others explored the fruit, gifts, pies and other products for sale.

davison_orchards_vernon_20070626.jpg
Davison Orchards.

1949_john_deere_m_davison_orchards_20070626.jpg
A 1949 John Deere M.

1946_mercury_3_ton_davison_orchards_20070626.jpg
A 1946 Mercury 3-ton truck.

Next stop was the Allan Brooks Nature Centre that provides an awesome view of the Vernon area. We enjoyed the vistas, and the wildlife.

allan_brooks_nature_centre_vernon_20070626.jpg
A view from the centre.

yumi_marmot_allan_brooks_nature_centre_20070626.jpg
Yumi stalking a marmot.

marmot_allan_brooks_nature_centre_20070626.jpg
Taking a closer look at the marmot.

swallow_allan_brooks_nature_centre_20070626.jpg
A swallow brings food for its young.

Our last stop before we had to drive back to Burnaby was the Gray Monk winery. It's a beautiful setting overlooking Okanagan Lake, and we had lunch at the outdoor restaurant. The food was excellent.

gray_monk_winery_20070626.jpg
The winery overlooking Okanagan Lake.

hanging_basket_gray_monk_20070626.jpg
A huge hanging basket of brilliant flowers.

gray_monk_restaurant_20070626.jpg
The sunny restaurant.

Posted by Paul at 04:34 PM

May 02, 2006

Walking Marathon in Beautiful Washington DC

We woke up on our first day in Washington at 7:30 am local time and got out and about around 9:00. The Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference that I'm here for starts tomorrow, so I had the full day with Yumi to get ourselves situated before I turned her loose on her own.

I'm going to put a bunch of photos at the end of this post, so if you're a visually oriented type and want to avoid all the blather, just scroll down :-).

We walked north across the Mall to the Old Post Office to try and find some breakfast in its food court. Along the way we noticed all the concrete planters placed for security since 9/11 and the armed guards everywhere. We encountered our first of many security checks when we entered the Old PO. I had stuff spread all over several pockets and had to pass through the scanner three or four times. The last item found was my Swiss Army knife, which the security woman perused, shrugged and handed back to me.

The food court in the magnificent hall was deserted, giving the place an eerie feel. We decided to go up the tower first and then get something to eat. I didn?t like the glass elevator, but felt fine at the top. There were magnificent views all around on the sunny, clear morning. We could see the Capitol, a chunk of the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian buildings. Great place to start our visit!

Back down at the food court a few places were beginning to come awake at 9:30. We got bacon and egg breakfasts for $3.49 ? a lot better than $12 for the same thing at the hotel.

Morning hunger pangs sated, we headed over to the White House. There was a crew digging up an area on the lawn, and I snapped a photo of a John Deere Gator with the White House in the background -- nice juxtaposition for a Saskatchewan boy!

It was gradually getting warmer as we ambled along toward the Vietnam War Memorial. As it came in view I began feeling somber. There were quite a few small Canadian flags left along the wall so it looked like a Canadian tour group had passed through recently. It was touching to see the photos and mementos left by people, and watch aged couples painstakingly page through the memorial books. Hard to believe there are over 50,000 names of the dead carved in that black granite.

Next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. It?s an impressive structure. The feeling of awe and respect was destroyed by herds of rowdy schoolchildren who were running around and shouting despite the signs asking for quiet. The view up the Mall was impressive and we thought of Forest Gump.

We trundled off to the Korean War Memorial and it was a somber and impressive monument. I found the statues of a unit on patrol powerfully evocative of the rigors of that often cold campaign. Both the Korean and Vietnam memorials didn?t yet exist the last time I was in Washington nearly 35 years ago.

Down around the Tidal Basin we began to flag a bit as lunch approached and the sun strengthened. The Roosevelt Memorial was impressive. I found the quotations thought-provoking. They seemed to call upon ideals that are not actually reflected much in contemporary American society. Wonderful words, but are they heeded? I found this to be a recurring thread throughout our long march today. Many monuments to many highly intelligent men who wrote compelling thoughts, yet the swarms of fat retirees and screaming schoolchildren kept intruding with their apparent lack of awareness and respect.

Oh well, it?s still a magnificent place and the Washington Monument commands the eye from every turn.

Next up, the Jefferson Memorial. Somehow it was not quite as impressive as the Lincoln, or even the modern Roosevelt. I wondered out loud what presidents since Roosevelt would ever be honored in such a manner. Likely none, or at least none that I would deem worthy.

By this time we were tired, so we headed back across the Mall to the food court in the Ronald Reagan Building. Security again. It was a relief to get out of the sun, eat and relax. We checked out the Washington Visitor Center in the same building and were not impressed. The woman there ignored us until we were leaving, and there appeared to be little free information available.

Somewhat refreshed and fully refueled, we trekked on to Ford's Theater and caught a presentation on the assassination of Lincoln. I could remember visiting the theater as a kid of 11 or 12. I think we saw a production of ?You?re a Good Man Charlie Brown? there, but I could be mixing that up. There is a museum in the basement of the theater. There is something macabre about the clothing worn by Lincoln the night he was shot and the pillow he died on, yet it is all strangely touching. Across the street is the house he was carried to and the bedroom he died in. The house is flanked by gaudy souvenir shops, fronted by raucous street vendors, and fumigated by the exhaust of idling tour buses. The parks staff seem dispirited and resigned to an endless stream of repetitive questions. Poor Abe.

That did it for us. Over seven hours of walking was enough. We dropped into a convenience store and picked up some drinks for the walk back to the hotel, and stumbled in, exhausted, at 4:30 pm.

I?ll do some blogging and some homework and Yumi will bone up on sights she?ll see tomorrow while I?m in sessions.

washington_monument_lincoln_from_oldPO_20060502.jpg
Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial from the Old Post Office tower.

white_house_john_deere_20060502.jpg
John Deere on the White House lawn.

washington_birds_nest_traffic_light_20060502.jpg
Bird's nest in a traffic light near the Mall.

washington_vietnam_memorial_canadian_flags_20060502.jpg
Kids make rubbings of names on the Vietnam wall.

washington_lincoln_memorial_20060502.jpg
Lincoln Memorial framed by trees.

washington_lincoln_paul_20060502.jpg
Yumi got me with Abe. There must be millions of photos like this one!

washington_korean_war_memorial_20060502.jpg
The Korean War memorial patrol. Canada is among the UN nations honored.

washington_monument_paul_yumi_tidal_basin_20060502.jpg
The two of us at the Tidal Basin with the ever-visible Washington Monument.

washington_roosevelt_bread_line_20060502.jpg
Roosevelt Memorial bread line figures.

The quotation on the wall to the left deserves sharing: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

washington_gargoyle_carter_20060502.jpg
Fishy humanoid gargoyle on Ohio Dr. bridge looks Jimmy Carter-ish :-)

Posted by Paul at 07:06 PM

May 01, 2006

Off to Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 in Washington, DC

We headed out to Washington, DC, where I'll take in the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference, along with some sightseeing. Yumi is tagging along.

We had a bit of excitement along the way in Toronto, where we changed planes. There was extra security on for flights into Washington's Reagan National Airport because of its close proximity to the center of government. We had to clear security again before entering the departure lounge, with all carry on baggage checked by hand.

We boarded the Embraer 175 and after awhile the captain came on the PA system and said there was a glitch with a computer and they would have to power down the entire plane and reboot it. It took about 90 seconds in darkness before they fired it back up. Then a few minutes later he came back on the PA with a command to deplane immediately and leave all personal belongings behind because a fuel truck near the plane was smoking. The plane was only about a third full so we scrambled off quickly.

After about 15 minutes back in the departure lounge, the captain said there had been an electrical problem on the fuel truck, and that the fire marshal had cleared us back onto the plane. An adventure to start the trip! We departed about 45 minutes late.

The ride in to Washington was spectacular in the dark with the major monuments and government buildings lit up. The approach to Reagan National provides an excellent view of the Mall, and you can see why they have the extra security for Reagan flights. It?s only seconds from the flight path to major sites. Yumi tried to snap a photo or two, but the turbulence resulted in smeared streaks of light.

The L?Enfant Plaza Hotel was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it was a "4-star luxury" hotel 20 years ago? The TV in our bathroom is a tiny old thing, the toilet paper roll doesn?t stay seated, the furniture is somewhat "distressed" and there is generally a tired air about the rooms and hallways. The mini bar was not stocked, though I suspect that if it had been we would have avoided it anyway -- prices for room service and hotel restaurants are not encouraging for us hillbillies :-).

I was also disappointed to find that the hotel's wireless Internet access was not included but cost an extra $9.95/day or $24.95 for three days. I guess now that so many people are free from usurious hotel telephone charges, hotels are trying to make up the lost revenue in high-speed Internet access. Seeing as I have to do homework for my Royal Roads MA in Professional Communication course while I'm here and interact daily on online discussion boards, I had no choice but to cough up. Dial-up was an option, but it would have been irritatingly slow.

Posted by Paul at 11:52 PM

July 05, 2005

Camping at Long Beach

Yumi and I went to Pacific Rim National Park a few weeks ago and stayed at the Green Point campground for two nights. It's the third time we've gone in as many years, and we always enjoy walking aptly named Long Beach and exploring tidal pools for interesting critters.

We always throw in a tramp along the gorgous Wild Pacific Trail near the lighthouse in Ucluelet, and visit funky Tofino as well. Here are few shots I took.

paul_edge_of_pacific.jpg

Me standing on the Pacific rim :-).

wild_pacific_trail.jpg

One of the hundreds of beautiful views from the Wild Pacific Trail that greet you every meter or two...

Posted by Paul at 07:01 PM

May 15, 2005

Kettle River Camping

Yumi and I went on an overnight camping trip to Kettle River Provincial Park over the weekend.

The forecast was for rain, but we took our chances and arrived as the sky was clouding over. We saw a grouse strut through the campsite we chose, followed by greetings from assorted chipmunks, squirrels and jays, and then we got the tent and tarps set up.

Our dining and eating shelters in place, we walked the river from the campground south to the old Kettle Valley railway bridge and then back to the north end of the park before dinner.

We were looking for beavers, for we had seen one near the island at the north end of the park last year, and on our way back to the campground we rounded a bend and found ourselves face to face with a sturdy specimen eyeing us from the water only a couple of meters away. We stared at each other, and then as I reached for a camera, it disappeared. Sigh.

After dinner we walked back south to the bridge, and then all the way to the south boundary of the park and back. There were dozens of swallows flitting through the sky over the muddy, fast flowing river like a melee of dogfighting Spitfires.

It rained that evening, but we were snug under our tarp by a fire.

The next day dawned soggy and foggy after heavy rain. We had breakfast, packed up the wet gear in garbage bags, and went for a walk on the other side of the river where there are several visible entrances to old mines. They are all "closed" because of the danger of collapse, however it's obvious that people explore them. Not us, though, a photo in front of a dark, gloomy, mostly filled-in adit is close enough for me!

Kettle_River_Old_Mine_20050515.jpg

The morning walk was also rewarded with seeing a marmot, spotting several unidentified raptors, and hearing an owl. As we slowly drove out of the park, a couple of young deer near the road graciously said goodbye with ears flared, and noses twitching.

Posted by Paul at 06:53 PM

February 12, 2005

BC Legislature at Night

Continuing our Victoria weekend trip, Yumi and I wandered the inner harbour one evening. It's a popular tourist spot, with the BC Legislature and the Empress Hotel anchoring two sides of the harbour.

BC_Legislature_Night_200502.jpg

Posted by Paul at 09:26 PM

February 11, 2005

Ft. Rodd Hill

Yumi and I took advantage of a holiday in Japan to take the ferry over to Victoria on Friday morning. We arrived on the island at 10:30 a.m. and slowly drove down the west side of the Saanich penninsula, aiming to be at Ft. Rodd Hill national park for lunch.

It's a beautiful site on the ocean, with former coast artillery fortifications and a picturesque lighthouse.

Paul_Ft_Rodd_Hill_200502.jpg

That's me beneath the fire-directing tower, leaning on a cannon.

Fisgard_Lighthouse_Victoria_200502.jpg

Fisgard lighthouse, built in 1860.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

September 13, 2004

To Mt. Edith Cavell

Up with the sun again, we broke camp and headed south on the Icefields Parkway. Our first stop was at Mt. Edith Cavell, accessed just a few dozen kilometers south of Jasper.

The road up to the mountain and glacier was paved but in bad condition, so the 14.5km passed slowly, but the views more than made up for the bouncy, twisty ride.

Named after nurse Edith Cavell who was executed by German forces in WWI for helping Allied soldiers escape Belgium, the site is suitably majestic and uplifting.

glacier_cavell_20040913.jpg

The lower end of the upper glacier is known as the "Angel," while ice calved from the lower part floats in the little lake.

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

Hiking Near Gorgeous Maligne Lake

Up at the crack of dawn, we built a smokey fire from damp wood, ate breakfast, and headed off to Maligne Lake.

The sky cleared and the sun came out, literally brightening the prospects for some good hiking. The drive to Maligne Lake took us past Medicine Lake, an interesting body of water that appears and disappears with the seasons.

In the spring, Medicine Lake magically appears as the snow melts, and then gradually shrinks over the summer until it disappears in the autumn. The mystery was solved when underground channels were discovered that empty the lake at a pace that doesn't keep up with the spring rush, but eventually drain it as the inflow decreases.

We arrived at Maligne Lake around 9:30 a.m., ahead of the tour bus rush. It was beautiful. We walked the shore, and hiked a loop through the woods.

maligne_lake_20040912.jpg

After having lunch sitting on some rocks near the shoreline, we headed back toward Jasper. We stopped at Maligne Canyon for another hike.

The hike down the canyon is spectacular, with amazing rock formations and thundering water. Some of the underground channels from Medicine Lake can be seen emptying into the canyon. We took the trail as far down as 5th bridge, and then considered returning to the parking lot on a different trail through the forest.

yumi_maligne_canyon_20040912.jpg

There was a cougar warning out for the area, so we were a bit uncertain about the narrow, darker, less-used forest path, however with tighter grips on our walking poles, we ventured forth.

About 50 meters into the forest Yumi suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, and pointed at a muddy area on the path. Superimposed on horse tracks was a perfect cat print, only the size indicated this was no house cat! A careful look around found more cougar tracks, and we about-faced and with tingling spines headed back to the path along the canyon where there were plenty of other hikers.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

Sleeping With Elk in Jasper

We left Prince George early in the morning and cruised east on the Yellowhead (Highway 16) toward Jasper. It was overcast with occasional rain.

Being avid streamkeepers, we stopped several times along the way to check out rivers and creeks including the Willow River, Bowron River, Slim Creek and the Milk River.

As we approached the intersection of highways 16 and 5, I recalled that there was a salmon viewing area in Valemount, about 20km south of our course. We decided to check it out, and discovered that we'd missed a chinook salmon run by a week or so. They had arrived a couple of weeks early and we saw only one carcass.

Swift Creek is billed as the home of the world's longest chinook salmon run -- the fish travel 1,280km from the Pacific Ocean up the Fraser River and to the creek to spawn. Apparently they average about 18km a day. Amazing.

Retracing our course back to the 16, we continued east to Mt. Robson Provincial Park where we stopped for a tailgate lunch and a visit to the information center.

It's hard to believe that the icy blue torrent one sees in the north is the same Fraser River that is a brown, silt-filled working channel back home in Burnaby.

We arrived in Jasper around dinner time, and headed for the Whistlers campground, the only one that was open due to the "strategic services withdrawal" underway by national park staff negotiating for better wages. Park staff were uniformly friendly and helpful throughout our trip.

As we registered at the campground, we were warned to be on the lookout for elk, as it was the mating season and the males could be aggressive.

elk_jasper_20040911.jpg

We set up camp, got a fire going and were cooking dinner when a group of female elk appeared, three mature and three yearlings, slowly moving along while munching on grass and shrubs. Not long after a male with an impressive rack appeared, obviously the leader of the harem.

Bull_elk_jasper_20040911.jpg

We were a bit nervous while the male was around, but eventually he trotted off, and the females bedded down less than 10 meters from our tent! We thought that eventually they would move on, but on our last bathroom run for the night, we discovered they were still sleeping there.

Posted by Paul at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Cheerful Laughter Amidst Tragedy of New Denver

Continuing our trip homeward, we left Nakusp around noon on June 8 and headed for New Denver. We wanted to visit the Nikkei Memorial Internment Centre there.

The few buildings are the only existing remnants of all the internment camps that held some 22,000 Japanese-Canadians during WWII -- a shameful stain on Canada's history, as over 70% of the internees were Canadian citizens. They were uprooted from B.C., and then after the war ended they were not allowed to return home, but had to move east of the Rocky Mountains.

As we walked into the site, we could hear a happy male voice laughing and chattering away. We entered the reception area, and the man behind the voice looked familiar. My wife Yumi exclaimed, "I've seen you on TV!"

It was "Nobby" Hayashi, former bat boy for the famed pre-war Japanese-Canadian Asahi baseball team, and we'd seen him in a documentary video that was produced when the team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame recently. Better late than never....

We toured the centre, and as we moved from building to building, my anger and sadness grew at what had transpired in a so-called democracy, and at the blatant racism. It was shocking to hear cheerful women's voices calling to each other in Japanese as we walked around the site, and to turn a corner to see beaming, beautiful, elderly faces in a place that to me seemed to hold such sadness.

I had many questions for Mr. Hayashi. He said there were only about 20 Japanese left in New Denver, all that remained of a handful of tubercular and family-less internees who were allowed to stay on in the town when the other 2,000 or so internees were forced to move east when the camp closed.

They must all be in their 70s to 90s.

I didn't ask what will happen when they're all gone.

I sat in the beautiful gardens created for the centre among the ghost-filled buildings, and pondered people's inhumanity toward other human beings.

NewDenver_Nikkei_Internment_Centre.jpg

Yumi entering the building in which we found Nobby Hayashi manning the counter.

Posted by Paul at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Friendly, Beautiful Nakusp

I'm still catching up on our trip home from Calgary to Burnaby last week.

After crossing Arrow Lake on June 8, we continued south to the charming town of Nakusp and its friendly residents. Everywhere we went, people chatted with us, and we met several former Burnabarians who had moved to this interior town to enjoy a slower pace of life.

We walked the lovely lakefront and saw hawks and osprey soaring overhead, and enjoyed the jam-packed local museum.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the hot springs, but I suspect we'll be back sooner than later.

Nakusp_Lakeside.jpg

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

Crossing Arrow Lake, Shelter Bay to Galena Bay

We woke up to a cacophonous chorus of irritatingly cheerful birds, squirrels and chipmunks around 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 8, at Blanket Creek Provincial Park. The auditory assault on our peaceful campground prompted us to hit the road early.

We were on our second day of driving home to Burnaby from an Editors' Association of Canada conference in Calgary.

We planned to catch the 9:00 a.m. ferry across Arrow Lake from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay, and arrived at the landing only to find it was half an hour late.

As the sun's intensity increased, we slathered on the sunscreen. At last we drove onto the small ferry, and were on our way.

I love ferries, large and small. It's great being on the water, binoculars and camera at hand. The 20-minute crossing was all too short.

ArrowLakeFerry.jpg

Looking north up Arrow Lake from the ferry.

Posted by Paul at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

Blanket Creek

We stayed at Blanket Creek Provincial Park on Monday, June 7. It's about 25km south of Revelstoke on Highway 23. We'd never been down that road, and were impressed by the beautiful scenery.

Of the 64 sites, only half a dozen or so were occupied, so we looked forward to a quiet evening.

It's a beautiful little park on the shores of the Arrow Lake reservoir. We walked down to the water, and did the 2km nature trail. There were piles of deer scat all along the trail, however we didn't encounter any deer.

We'd certainly camp there again if the occasion arises.

ArrowLake_from_BlanketCreekPark.jpg

It's hard to believe that paddlewheelers used to ply these waters in days gone by.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)