“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Haida Gwaiiing

Our third adventure of the year was to Haida Gwaii, a series of islands off the northern coast of BC. At the most northen point you can see Alaska on a sunny day! A couple of good friends of ours are in Haida, completeing some field schooling and Mike and I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to see a part of BC that we might not otherwise have put in the effort to see. It was absolutely worth it!

Highlights included: Hiking the Anvil trail and seeing some ridiculously awesome nature, like, Hobbit rainforest adventure type awesome; staying at Redneck Doug's cabin near Moresby Camp and kayaking there; visiting Toll Hill and the blowholes during a storm!

Did I mention ever that I don't do well in the cold? Did I also mention that the weather in Haida Gwaii is insane? Well, it's not insane, but it is really, really variable. In an average afternoon, it's not uncommon to see sunshine, rain, hail, snow, wind, rain and then sunshine again? I definitely brought along splasher pants and gumboots.

First activity: Hiking the Anvil trail at Tllell
Cathedral-like trees over the river, a la storybook.
Evil black satan mushroom of destruction.
Next day, we drove to Moresby Camp, and investigated the beach. Kaan found a deer head

Then, Mike and I went for a Kayak. We spotted a seal and some giant starfish!

After a night in the cabin, I was stoked on this steaming hot oatmal with apple chunks.

Team hiding photo!
On our way back, we got stuck behind a stuck logging truck. Apparently a coupla logs slid out. They decided to just leave them as-is....
As a thank you to our hosts, I offered that we make them supper. Kaan taught Mike how to make real pasta from scratch!
Outside of Kaan and Tess (and students') rented Cabin at Charlotte City.
We visited a young apprentice carver (Tyler York), who was working on a very special Totem Pole called "Sacred One Standing an Moving" which will be placed in Gwaii Hanas this year. He told us an excellent story about the design of the pole. Definitely click on the link for a radio interview with the master carver.

View from outside of the Charlotte City Cabin. No Biggie.
Team Sphagnum-Ranger!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

CHEESE, Grommitt!

Are you aware of how easy it is to make cheese? Like, super duper easy. You could make cheese tonight!

As a treat while watching the Oscars this year, I thought I'd try my hand at it. Now, you're not going to come out of this with a block of aged cheddar, but it's still delicious. I supposed it's classed as Farmer's cheese, probably because all you need is
  1. fresh milk (the higher the fat content, the better. We used homo), 4L
  2. 1/2 cup of vinegar
  3. salt
  4. cheese cloth
  5. a big pot. Use the biggest one you have - it needs to hold all of the 4L, plus room in case of boiling
  6. if possible, a thermometer
You might also want to add flavours, like fruit preserves or herbs.
heating the milk. I added salt here. Don't be skimpy with the salt. Heat it up until it just starts boiling, or 190 degrees.

Then, turn OFF the heat and add your vinegar. It separated into whey (the yellow watery stuff) and curds (the good, cheese part) almost instantly. Give it about 10 minutes to completely separate.
Drain your pot into a cheese cloth. It's really, really hot. In future, this might be where I would mix in my preserves, jellies, and/or herbs and spices.
This was after we squeezed the liquid out. Mum thought we should have squeezed it less to give it a more spreadable texture, but I liked being able to slice it.
Le finished product. We coated ours with walnuts and salt & pepper. Mum provided the apridot jelly. So delish!
For more directions (and helpful tips from others), I used this recipe

Friday, 29 March 2013

U-nanimously Awesome!

I love my vacation time at home. It's given me plenty of to to catch up on good things (like house work, and blogging, and packing, and City adventuring!). And I've been given the good fortune of 4 perfect sunny days in my otherwise very rainy neighbourhood. On Monday I went on this 3 hour walk from my home to the furthest point at Stanley Park (making sure to take less trodden inner trails) and back.

I found a rather intruguing man-made rock wall near a tree. It actually looked like it was a fort, or an empty rock-pool.
Yesterday, I decided that I would cycle the sea wall "south" to see where it ended.

I found "Rainbow Roses" at Granville Island
This seemed like the end of the road. The path went behind several very expensive Kitsilano homes and ended abruptly at this stony staircase at the beach. I stopped here to sit in the sun and ate the apple I picked up at Granville Island Market
On the way back home, I spotted this a group of people playing "Unicycle Hockey." They told me they were from the Vancouver Unicycle Club, and that they meet a few times a week under the Cambie Bridge.
They also offered to teach me!
 Can I just say, so much fun. Also, my birthday's coming up soon...

As an aside, I thought it was very lucky I bumped into these guys yesterday. I'd been thinking for a while that it would be fun to learn how to unicycle, and I had heard that they met up close to where I live but I never really investigated it. I did learn that the bike rental shops in town don't rent unicycles, so you really have to committ and buy one for realsies. There was a family there while I was - their children looked to be maybe 9 and 4 or 5, and both were learning to ride. I asked the 9 year old about it and he said "well, Biking's not really my thing. I like to play ice hockey a lot." I just thought it was totally rad that this whole family was learning to unicycle and it was just a family thing they do, but not that it was a passion for each of them.

The picture of me was taken around 630, I'd say. A while later, a mom commented to me "I'm really impressed. You're very determined - you've been at this an hour now, and most peoplegive up after 20 mins." I had no idea it'd been an hour! I left at dark.


Adventuring aside, February was a hard month for me. Only a few weeks earlier our family dog, Bert, was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He was an otherwise very healthy little doggert despite being nearly 12 years old, so the thought that he would leave us so prematurely was a hard pill to swallow. The sting of it all was that he might have lasted much longer, except that his very swollen lymph nodes in his neck were occluding his airway and making it very difficult for him to breathe. Lucky for him he loved to be outside anyway, and the cool air helped to constrict swollen glands and open things up for him. But, he didn't sleep outside at night, and he had a terrible time of it. After two and a half weeks, I think he was becoming terribly exhausted. I caught him sitting out on the front step, still trying to keep an eye on the comings and goings, waiting for the mailman and the meter-reader, and doing the gentle head-bob of someone who was trying their best not to fall asleep while sitting up.

Before I had to come back to Vancouver, my dad and I made the last trip to the vet with Bert. I won't go into it too much because I'm still quite sore about it myself. I'm not sure if Bert knew what was going on at all, but he must have known something was up because I was entirely blubbery. It was quite quick - something I'm both happy for, and sad about - one minute he was with us, and the next minute - because I'd given the nod to go ahead -  he was gone. I wrapped him up like a little burrito, the way I do with the babies at work to keep them warm and safe.

This was an entirely different experience with death for me. With the others I was much more accepting; they were people whose time it was to see their new adventure. It was sad, but expected. You could rationalize it easily. With Bert, it was just sad, and too quick, and I definitely wished I could talk to him about it. The best I could do was to feed him soft duck paté and snuggle him in a blanket.

Bert was a dog who wasn't ever really interested in cuddling or obeying, and he prefered to sit on the porch alone in the cold, but he was most definitely a part of our family. Actually, the fact that he was an oddball probably made him more like a mamber of our family than any other dog might be. We're very accepting of people who don't fit in to social norms, you see.

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

February is for Lovers...of snow!

Our February adventure took us to the Rocky Mountains! My father and I drove to Calgary to pick up Mike from the airport, and we spend a week skiing our way back to Kamloops. We visited the three mountains at Banff (Norquay, Sunhine and Lake Louise), then Kicking Horse, and finished with Revelstoke. Let me tell you - for all the fun we were having, my legs we like unto jello once we reached day 5!

We each had our favourite hills - mine was Sunshine. Kicking Horse was a real challengine mountain, but easily one of my favourites simply for the view. I felt as if I was climbing the mountains on my way to Mordor! There was a track from the lift to the Blue run that was maybe 25 feet across - and dropped sharply on either side! This mountain also had a second bowl that you had to hike to, which we never attempted to visit. The track was called the Lemming Line, as in skiiers and snowboarders follow each other like lemmings up this track and over a cliff. It was a little advanced for us.

Lake Louise with my dad. Good weather that day!

Post ski bewskis. Definitely necessary

Kicking Horse. Gorgeous! I wish I had more pictures, but I don't - we spent more time fiddling with the helmet cams...

Also Lake Louise. So rad

Dad was stoked on snowboarding! This was the gondola at Sunshine

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Later, In January

I have excellent friends. Let's start with that. I have friends who try crazy things, big and small! Things ranging from "Yeah, ok, I've only even been snowboarding twice but I'll give Whistler a go!" to "I'm a huge fan of naked skydiving" and "Surfing in January, of course," and "let's open this gnarly wound dressing and see what's underneath....ummm...you're gonna want to call the surgeon." I love these awesome friends!

in January, I was invited along for a girls' weekend to Whistler. I didn't know anybody except for my one friend, but it turned out to be a very, very, extremely memorable trip! Our first day was a little shakey, plus we didn't get to hit the slope until after noon, but the snow was fair and the weather was unbelieveable! I thought to myself "if the weather's like this tomorrow, I'm just going to go boarding anyway, even if there's nobody to come with me!" The next morning, BOOM! Skies clear blue. I was definitely going up that mountain to see the Blackcomb Glacier.

This is how stoked I was to be at the top of the mountain, without any clouds whatsoever

Ridic sunny skies at the glacier

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Once, in January...

Despite my best efforts, I haven't taken the time to update my blog in a fairly long time. Often I'll take a picture or do something cool and then say to myself "this'll be an swesome thing to add to the blog," and then it'll be three months later and I won't have done anything with it. I suppose the silver lining to it all is that I've spent my time out doing interesting things rather than sitting at my computer. Yeah, life!

So way back in January, Mike and I decided that we'd rather spend his week(s) off from work going places rather than have him just come back to Vancouver and have not much to do. Our first adventure was to New York City!

Spent our first day in Central Park. Look! I found Alice!

....Mike found a dry place to nap...

This was our view from the top of the Empire State building. That tall building is the new World Trade Centre, which apparently has another 1/3 of the height of the tower left to build. Frankly, I thought it was a big 'old "F-U" to decide to build a tower that's so much taller thant he original

We took a boat ride towards Lady Liberty - the closest we could get since the island wasn't yet prepared for visitors following hurricane Sandy

NYC was really, really cold. Also windy. Mike was acclimatized, what with his living in Sudbury. Not me, though! On this chilly day, we took refuge in the Public Library for a while. It's massive!

Mike wanted to make sure we went for a walk on the Hi-Line, a reinvented old elevated railway line that runs through the city. This was the day I'm positive I got frostbitten, but the experience was neat!

No trip to NYC is complete without a visit to a broadway show! Although there were some very traditional musicals playing, I opted for Once, a musical based on the film of the same name. Last year it won a bazillion Tony Awards, and I thought Mike would like it. A highlight: The set (a bar) was open pre-show and at intermission ro buy beer! I didn't care that it cost me an arm. It was awesome. The next evening, we saw Avenue Q off Broadway, too!

Another really cold day in NYC, but because I was headed towards the Plaza for tea I just had to dress up. We stopped at Tiffany's on the way...

We also stopped at the Big Piano!
I'd originally bookde tea at the Ritz, but after seeing that the tea room wasn'y much more than the lobby lounge, we decided to relocate to the Plaza. It was at this time that Mike noted that we were going to all of the places Kevin visited in Home Alone: Lost in New York. Mike thought he would try eating the garnish. Trés classy.

We visited the Bull of Wall Street
I was trampled!

We skated at theWoolman rink in Central Park

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we found yet another example of a baby choking a goose. We saw this theme several times over when we were in Europe. It's just so....weird!

We visited the WTC memorial, and the location of the new tower. Note to travellers; there's a helluva lot of lines and security if you're going to visit this place....

At the Met, this was easily one of my favourite pieces. It's a mosaic fountain created by Tiffany!
While I was not prepared for the cold weather, I absolutely reccomend visiting the city outside of high tourist times. We hardly ever had to wait for things! I coudn't imagine the wait times for some of the attractions (like the Empire State Building, which had so much velvet rope I imagined waiting for hours and hours! Also, we had out pick of whichever last minute Broadway show we wanted) Plus, there was the bonus of getting to do off-season activities, like skating!

A few little nuggets of this adventure: I had my wallet pick-pocketed while we were on the subway a few days into the trip. A minor hitch, since Mike still had plenty of cabbage and I still had my passport safely stowed in the hotel room. Mostly, I was sad that I had my shoppers card stolen with 91000 of 95000 points on it! (FYI, I just got those points back!). We also had fun trying out plenty of new foods! Of course we had a slice of greasy pizza, but we also ate mexican and Afghani food, too. mmmm. So much food in that city!