Thursday, May 14, 2009

Carnival Splendor in Vancouver at Canada Place May 14, 2009

One of the results of the swine flu hitting the Mexican tourist market is the diverting of some ships that normally sail to the Mexican Riviera to Pacific Northwest ports and Vancouver has been able to handle some of the load.

Today the Carnival Splendor which holds almost 3000 passengers is docked on the east side of Canada Place for an 9 hour visit and of course being the great cruise fan that I am I just had to head down to Canada Place and see the ship and talk to some of the passengers who were looking for directions etc. It is one of the largest ship to berth here. Don't know how full it is but one couple I talked to were actually happy to visit this great city - they have been to Mexico on many occasions and were happy to visit some new ports and didn't seem too concerned about our cool spring weather.

These images are taken with my Blackberry on a cloudy and cool day.



Election day, bike riding, volunteering, Dragon boating et al

A potpourri of a title and a brief outline of the last seven weeks in my life.

It seems strange waking up this morning and looking at my event calendar and not seeing anything of note to do.

As most of you who have been following this blog know I spend five weeks training as a bike escort volunteer for the Vancouver Marathon, spend three days last week scrutineering for the BC Liberals in the riding of Vancouver False Creek, volunteered for the Pacific Spirit run last Saturday, found 12 volunteers for a work party assignment at Yellowpoint Lodge, found time for a stiff hike on Sunday and somehow still have my body in one piece and my mind still functioning.

After working 13 hours as an BC Elections official at the Cascadia Hotel a block from my condo I headed to the party headquarters of Mary McNeil - the Liberal candidate in my riding of Vancouver - False Creek.

I had been following the results on my Blackberry so I knew that the Liberals were ahead and just after arriving at the party - getting a name tag and a cold Molson Canadian it was announced that the Liberals had a majority - this was expected but there was some concern that if our voters stayed home the NDP could lose the popular vote but win the most seats.

Prior to the election I posted my prediction as 48 Liberals, 37 NDP - as it stands right now it is 49 Liberals 36 NDP with two seats that could still change sides in a couple of weeks when all of the absentee ballots are counted.

Not long after arriving our candidate is declared elected - while we are in a new riding carved out of the old Vancouver Burrard riding - this part of the city favours the Liberals based previous voting patterns.

The beer is free and flowing and I am doing my best to put a dent in the large cooler full of the golden amber.

The office is alive with supporters as Mary addresses and thanks us for our support - she then leaves for the main celebration at the Convention center - a large group of us stay to enjoy the beer and watch the final returns come in.

As the cooler became empty Cris and Diane are slowly getting the supporters to leave - I finish up one last beer talking to a street person outside the Hq'ers - terrible stroke of luck for the guy but he appears to be on the road to recovery and re-employment in the construction industry.

I make it home feeling no pain from all the beer that I drank.

Wednesday I spent trying to sober up and heading for the gym for a steam etc - that made me feel somewhat better.

The next major volunteer event for me is in a month time with the Dragon Boat races - until then it is more of a normal set of life moments.

I do have a couple of short trips planned over the next month - a brief weekend over on the Island to coincide with a Director's meeting with the Friends of Yellowpoint and a weekend in Kelowna with Jim and some of his language student friends.

Also can now start looking more seriously about what to do at the port of call on my Alaska cruise at the end of September.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Conquering DeBecks' Hill - or how a lazy day walk turns into a hiking challenge - Alice Lake Park May 10, 2009

After bike riding on Saturday and with another sunny day forecast I was determined to get out and do some hiking - it was a choice between Teapot Dome at Cultus Lake or DeBeck's Hill at Alice Lake Park - not feeling like a longer drive I chose the latter.

The normal way up DeBeck's is from a trailhead at the far end of the parking lot at Alice Lake Park - it is a 2 KM grind up an old road to a viewpoint with micro-tower and spendid views of the surrounding area and of the Tantalus range to the west - I have done it once before and wanted it more for the views than anything else. The walk up the road was boring and after about 50 minutes I reached the top and that was where my first disappointment occurred - the thin high cloud moving in advance of today's rain was starting to obscure the clear view so the pictures aren't all that clear.

It was while I was up at the top that I found this notice attached to a tree near a shed on the landing and being the adventurer that I am I decided to follow the trail and see where it came out - I was hoping that it might end somewhere along the trail that circles Alice Lake but that was not where it led.

The route was in fairly good shape, was marked with oranges markers and appears to be used somewhat as the path was fairly well defined.

It does provide better views as it hugs the north side of the DeBecks' hill - here you get a good view of the jewel of the area - the massive called Mt Garibaldi.

The route continues to wander through the forest - the trail in places was steep and the ground cover was moss and rock and my footing wasn't that great as I was only wearing my light day hikers - sure glad it wasn't raining as they may be looking for me today because if I had lost my footing I could have injured myself - but I took it easy and where necessary sat on my rear to get down some of the steeper pitches.

You aren't actually that far from civilization as you can hear the traffic buzzing by on the Sea to Sky Highway - after about an hour of delicate hiking I come to a junction and this sign on a tree - it explained a lot about what I just accomplished BUT this junction provided another challenge - the trail went in three directions and by now I was pretty sure where two of them would lead and that was to a new trail that is visible just after you turn off the highway and head for the Alice Lake Park campsite.

But where did the third trail go - it appeared to head uphill but the most important clue for me was the creek that I had just crossed would be the outflow creek from the Lake and I would need to get to the Lake to get back to my truck.

Sure enough after about 5 minutes of hiking up this trail I see the road and follow it back to the campsite and then onto to trailhead parking lot and my truck.

I am still stiff and sore from this hike but it was good exercise - don't know if I would rush back any time soon and it is also unlikely that I would try and hike up the trail.


In others news:

Tomorrow I spend the day working for Elections BC - I expect it to be a long evening what with the vote count and the referundum ballots to count. Assuming that the results are as I think they will be I will head to the Convention Center for the victory party.


Then there is the hockey game tonight - it's win for the Canucks or the season is over - these are two fairly well matched teams so any thing is possible.

Over and out


Pacific Spirit Run Saturday May 9, 2009

After spending three days working as a scrutineer for the election campaign I was once again back on the bike and working a race - this time as part of the course crew for the 10KM Pacific Spirit Park run - while a serious race as it serves as a fund raiser for the Tapestry Foundation - AKA St Paul's Hospital Foundation and raised over $90, 000 for dementia research - it is fun riding on the trails in an area that I grew up living next door to.

We met at around 7AM - picked up our t-shirts, vests, flags and radio and then headed out for a ride on the route - some in our group of 10 have never ridden the trails in the park - they are multi-purpose and heavily used by walkers, cyclists and dog lovers - after that ride we return to the starting point seen here at Thunderbird Stadium on the campus of UBC and await the start of the race - the 10KM run will go first and start in waves. I will be riding up front with the lead runners and then pick up a front runner and see him to the finish line - it took the winner about 38 minutes to finish. After seeing the leaders cross the finish line we take a breather and then head out to sweep the 5KM route for stragglers and reach the split point where we can relaxed and wait for the 10 KMers to finish.

Picking up our race gear and preparing our bikes.

Start and finish line on West Mall - that's captain Brian on the bike in the photo and a couple of images from the area around where the 5 and 10 KM split - it was here that our only real excitement of the day took place - one of the runners slipped and fell into a boggy area and cut her upper lip - we were near by and responded so while Greg and I looked after her one of the others phoned the medic who arrived shortly thereafter - no serious injury - just a bruised ego and lip - they were going to have her go to emergency just to be on the safe side.

The last two walkers approaching the finish line in just under 2 hours - there were a lovely couple of gals who had a great time walking the trails.

And finally it wouldn't be proper to not have a photo of the bikers crossing the finish line.

Having parked outside the Park I ended up doing 37 KM of riding.