Saturday, April 4, 2009

The new Robert Lee YMCA is taking shape - April 4, 2009

The new Robert Lee YMCA is really starting to take shape at the old familiar corner of Barclay and Burrard in downtown Vancouver - while the building won't open to the public for another year - several reasons for this - 0ne - there needs to be much more work done on the adjacent tower - two - who would want to open during the Olympics - also the construction crane on the Y part came down this past week. The building has basically reached it max height.

I have been watching the progress of this project for the past 2+ years as I spend my entire working career with the Y and look forward to using the facilities of the new building when it opens in May 2009.

The building is named after Robert Lee - a successful businessman here in the city who contributed $2 million to the project - I got to know Robert over my years working at the Y and he is a great person to sit in the Health Club lounge and have a chat with on a variety of subjects.

Today on my way back from the open house for the new Convention center I stopped to get these images of the project. Here in words and pictures is the story of the building taking shape.

Burrard St view - here we see the old front of the building - most of the higher fencing around it has been removed - the crane is part of the tower - two new floors will be added to the top of the existing building - that will house the Child Development center.

Burrard St view and new construction along the lane side of the project.

A view from the First Baptist Church parking lot - this appears to be the new gym judging by the high ceiling.

Another view from the parking lot

Looking down the lane - construction closest to left of picture is for the Patina tower.

Looking down Barclay Street towards Burrard.

View from beside the IGA - much of the glass is already in place.

This will be the atrium between the old structure and the new complex.

Lane view of the construction.



Friday, April 3, 2009

As I have mentioned in earlier posts - the signs of spring in Vancouver have been few and far between as the cool weather has delayed the start of the annual flower show.

Yesterday while out for a walk along the False Creek seawall in the vicinity of David Lam Park I came across some signs that nature is starting to wake up as the first six images were taken at that location with my Blackberry.

The bottom three were taken today in front of St Paul's hospital - these are usually a couple of the earliest Japanese Cherry trees to bloom so there is hope yet.


Had our second bike escorts ride last night and it went well - there were 14 of us and we got our first use of the radios this year - I felt I had a good ride as I did the minor climb on Pipeline road much faster than usual - in fact I pretty well led the pack.

One of our new riders has a pretty impressive blog - here's a link to it -


The other thing that I noticed today while walking along Burrard St was that the crane on the new YMCA building was being dismantled so that means that work is progressing along quite well - the building is taking shape and will re-opened in May of 2010 - part of the reason for the delay in opening is to avoid trying to re-launch the product during the Olympics next February .

More later



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Renewing old friendships and starting some new ones

Met last night at 5:45PM at the Plaza of Nations across from BC Place Stadium for our first ride of the bike escorts for the Vancouver Marathon - there were 18 of us with is a large number for so early in the season - perhaps the fact that the sun was shining albeit the wind was gusting to 60 KPH - help bring out so many people - there were about 12 returnees and 6 new riders + a couple of the race organizers who occasionally ride with us.

We didn't get our radios as the person supplying us got hung up in traffic so we will have to wait til Thursday to get them.

Usually we try to get underway by 6PM so that we can be finished the 20+ KM in time for pizza at 7:30PM but as we didn't get going til 6:30PM we only rode to the entrance of the Park and then through at Lost Lagoon and returned in time for the pizza.

There are a couple of the regular who don't look to be joining us this year - one is a new mother so the baby is her focus right now and one of the over 60+ crowd is retiring - wants to spend more time at his retirement place on Pender Island.

All of the newbies seemed to be committed to doing the full training - you don't have to make a decision until after the second ride.

Of course as this ride was taking place the Canucks were playing - tried to follow the results on my Blackberry when we got a break in the riding but didn't get the final score until I reached the Pizza place.

There are some minor changes to the route this year because of either road construction or the fact that the start and finish line have been moved slightly - we will get to do the changes once we get our radio.

The one other thing that I need to get for the bike is a bell - we use them to alert people ahead of us that we are stopped at a traffic light etc and on race day to let people know that we following them on the course.


Later I joined Jim for a late night snack - he had played bridge earlier so was wanting to have a bite to eat.


Today I woke up to SNOW which provided a good excuse to rediscover my apartment - got laundry and some cleaning done then headed out for lunch and onto the gym and then some grocery shopping - it is still raining lightly this afternoon and it is cool.

We are supposed to be celebrating the Cherry Blossom festival over the next two weeks but so far they are few and far between in blooming.

More later



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A stop at Cates Park on the way to coffee with the "boys" March 31, 2009

One of the things that I have tried to do since retirement at the end of 2006 is to get together with some of the former staff and members - one such group meets three times a week at a coffee shop near Mt Seymour in North Vancouver. I try to meet with them about once a month and since I won't be doing a lot of biking for the next month because of the training for the Vancouver Marathon as a bike escort but I still wanted to take advantage of a brisk spring day - after heavy overnight rain it started to clear off this morning and the brisk NW winds cleared the skies so I took this opportunity to leave a little early and stop at Cates Park on the Dollarton highway in North Vancouver.

A beach scene looking west towards the Second Narrows Bridge.

These two fine feathered friends were also out for a stroll.

A historic anchor in the Park - one of the things that I like about this Park is that you get views to the west back towards Vancouver - to the south across Burrard Inlet to Burnaby and Port Moody and to the North and North East up Indian Arm and towards Belcarra, Buntzen and Eagle Ridge in the Tri-Cities area.

Cates Park sits on Squamish First Nations land and has several displays of some of their heritage - here we see one of their canoes.

Another view of the canoe.

The Park also has several short trails - this one honors Malcolm Lowry - a Canadian author who lived in a squatter shack in the Park for many years not far from this sign - this trail leads to the eastern end of the Park where you can continue along side streets all the way to Deep Cove - this route along the Dollarton is a favorite for biking as none of the hills are two steep unless you want to climb up to Mt Seymour Parkway.

The trail surface is crushed gravel and this bridge spans a small seasonal creek.

View back across towards Port Moody and the Gas storage tanks that are prominent on the slopes of Burnaby Mt.

Looking across towards Buntzen and Eagle Ridge - there was a new dusting of snow on the top of the Ridge.
On last look at the trail as I return to my truck and head for the coffee with the Boys.

There were five of us there today - Bill, Roger, Bert and George - the session usually lasts about an hour and lots of stories get told + we inquire about the health of the some of the others who we each come in contact with.

Now it time to rest up before the first of the bike training rides after dinner tonight.



Monday, March 30, 2009

A bike ride to the Cleveland Dam and back March 29, 2009

There was a dusting of new snow on the North Shore Mountains thereby making a spectacular view all the more so as I headed out on this ride.

A quick stop on the Bridge for another view of the snow capped North Shore Mountains.

Capilano Pacific trail just north of Park Royal - what a great view.

Finally at the watershed fence at the end of Deep Dene Rd - it is a short ride down to the Dam and downhill all the ways back to Seabus.

A view of Capilano Lake and the majestic Lions.

More of the Lake and the Lions.

This is was one of the few times that I have been at the Dam where there has been a strong flow of water down the spillway.

One of the entrances to the Mosquito Creek Park - a multi-use trail that follows the creek down to its end at Burrard Inlet.

The trail is all purpose and has many info signs along the way.

While exploring the new Spirit Trail at Lonsdale Quay I heard the train whistle and got to the crossing in time to catch this photo of a CN locomotive.


I awoke on Sunday to brilliant sunny skies and had previously said to myself that if the weather was good I was going to do a longer and more challenging bike ride and one that came to mind is the ride up to the Cleveland Dam - one of three dams and reservoirs that provide Metro Vancouver with its pure and tasty drinking water.

The trip would be a loop - taking the Lions Gate Bridge across to West Vancouver and then following the Capilano Pacific trail and Stevens Drive to Deep Dene Rd and its connection to the Dam - from the Dam it would be all downhill passing the Fish Hatchery and then into Edgemont Village where I was going to follow the Trans-Canada trail down to Lonsdale Quay and then Seabus home - for the most part the trip went as planned - I took one wrong turn heading up to the Dam - it is not marked as not being the trail and had to do a km retrace and then couldn't find the TCTrail coming out of Edgemont Village so I stayed on the road until I came to Mosquito Creek Park which is what I wanted.

It was a 30 KM trip with climbing so all in all a good workout.


Later last night I received an email indicating that our training bike rides for the bike escorts for teh Vancouver Marathon starts Tuesday night so my longer rides will now be limited to the weekends as each of the training rides is around 20 - 25 KM - we will meet at the Plaza of Nations and generally ride the downtown portion of the route through the Downtown East Side - through Gastown and downtown and then around the Seawall to Pipeline Rd and down it to the entrance and then onto the False Creek Seawall and back to the Plaza and a pizza restaurant where a couple of pizza will be waiting for us - we generally get two pieces each and pop to go with it - we train in all kinds of weather - as a returnee I don't have to do all of the sessions but must attend an all day ride a week before the actual event - we are supplied with two way radios as this becomes an important part of the event as we are the eyes and ears of the runners and have to make sure that we can help in any situation that arises.


Another item on the plate this week is renewing my car insurance - I split mine - the mandatory items with ICBC and the optional with Canada Direct - the latter I can renew on line and the former I can renew at an insurance broker located in this complex.

More later


Y Connections Iranian New Year's Party March 28, 2009

On Saturday night I attend my first Iranian New Year's Party or Narooz as it is correctly called. it is part of the monthly social events that my Y volunteer program called Connections hosts each month.

The actual date of the New Year is always on the day that the vernal or spring equinox occurs - in this case Friday March 20, 2009 - it is a celebration of a start of a new life and is a very colorful event - a number of events are held in conjunction with the actual day - on the Wednesday before the equinox bonfires are lit, then families meet and clean their houses and on the actual day - gift are exchanged.

There are 7 symbols to the New Year celebration called Hayt Seen

They are - at least I think this is correct from my notes and photos of the event:

1. Age and Patience
2. Rebirth
3. Medicine
4. Love
5. Color of sunrise
6. Persian cooking
7. Health and beauty

If you click on the images you will see more detail of this part of the celebration.

It was a pot luck supper and about 100 people showed up over the course of the evening.

We were entertained by some of the many children in attendance both formally and informally.

It was a great learning experience.



Sunday, March 29, 2009

More Juno Party action - March 28, 2009

After attending an earlier event which will be posted after I get back from a bike ride later today I headed back down to the Granville Entertainment district to take in more of the action of the Juno 09 street Party - the street was rocking and there were lots and lots of people out enjoying the action - even the weather cooperated - while coolish it stayed dry - I headed for the free Westjet tent - which was pretty well full to catch the last act of the evening - a group called RUN GMC was playing a blend of country rock that had even staid old me moving to the upbeat of the music - the above is a photo once again from the camera phone of the band playing.

This has been a well received party and addition to the Vancouver festival season - there is some talk of having similiar events on Granville in the future - lets hope so - despite the large crowds I didn't see any trouble - albeit I left the GED a little after 11PM and things didn't close down until 4AM but there wasn't much on the news this morning.

Tonight the televised Juno Awards take place from GM Place - they have the Abbott and EXPO Blvd entrance all decorated - red carpet etc ready for the the guests tonight.

Will watch some of it on TV but the Canucks are also on tonight in their big big game against Chicago so I guess there will be some channel surfin happening.

More later