Office Christmas Party

Yesterday was the office Christmas party. In the past it was a nice affair, but this was the first time that Catalina would be able to attend; usually she is out of town.
It was at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, where we take over multiple ballrooms. Most importantly, it is easily within walking distance of home. So we get to not worry about parking or traffic. (It was bad for others this year.)
Catalina was dressed magnificently, and she got many compliments for her mirror dress. It also made her very easy to find anywhere in the room.
We got two drink tickets, but that was only for the basics. The price for a tequila was discovered to be $14, which was more than we were willing to spend. And it probably wouldn’t even have been good tequila.
The food this year was very disappointing. Last year, my table was one of the last ones allowed to go to the buffet, so I was getting hangry by the time we were released. This year we were about halfway through. But they were already closing down one of the buffet lines when we got there.
The food selection was not great; the first half of the food consisted of salads of various ethnicities. The hot food, was mashed potatoes, pasta, and some exotic vegetables; most of it was picked over. And the only meat they had was turkey, which ran out by the time we got there. We were told there would be a ten minute wait for more.
This seems like very poor planning on the part of the hotel. Overall, I was disappointed with the meal.
But the dining company was nice. It was nice to introduce my wife to all of my coworkers that she had only ever heard about. She was familiar with a few already, but now she got to get to know many more.
Afterwards we had a nice walk home, with Catalina cozy in her big coat. A huge Christmas tree had been installed outside of the art gallery that was lighting up the night.

Exercise

My Garmin died. It was a slow passing. The battery just wouldn’t charge anymore. Thankfully, before it got into this state, it hd a full charge, so I was able to use it for a few days, fully aware that the end was nigh. I kept trying to plug it in, in hopes that it would charge again. That didn’t always help; one time the plugging in got it to turn on while I wasn’t around so that all that happened was that the battery drained. But I’ve had it since 2013, eight years, so I can hardly complain.
I ordered a new watch via Amazon, so I had to improvise for the few days I was between Garmins. Thankfully my Apple Watch can track me, although I prefer a dedicated appliance. But for a temporary basis, it was fine. It did mean I had to work a bit more to transfer the data to my online tracker, but that was hardly a deal breaker.
Eight years of scientific progress has changed Garmins. There are a whole bunch of new features that quantify aspects of my runs. And I am a complete junkie for statistics.
Unfortunately, I think the new watch is interfering with my Apple Watch. Not via electronic communication, but through the statistics. My Apple Watch trusts the information from the Garmin over its own data. And the Garmin track calories burned differently than Apple does; it separates active and resting. This wouldn’t really be a problem, but my Apple Watch gives me a pleasant reward animation if I can keep the calories burned above 1000 each day. And it keeps track of the running total. So on a day when I ran 25km, I only did 900 calories worth of effort. I think I’ve fixed that, but I worry about the future. You shouldn’t change your measuring system in the middle of scientific research.
One of the new measurements from the Garmin is my cadence; the number of steps per minute. I’ve been told that I SHOULD try and have a cadence of 180 steps per minute as this encourages shorter strides. I’m usually around 170. If I try to increase the cadence, it is quite visible on the charts. Initially for 500 metres in the middle of the run, I did my best to increase my step speed. However, I didn’t really seem to perfect the shorter stride and instead I just vastly increased my speed.
So the idea of fartleks has come around. I now try and do more short sprints within my run. I also have tried to change my Saturday runs to be as blisteringly fast as I can go, although for a shorter distance. My goal is to increase my speed so I can do the Sun Run in April in under 40 minutes.
Well, since I’ve tried doing that I have learned more about my body. Since I run every day, my body has no time to recover. So if I do anything too strenuous, it can add up quickly and start causing real pain. It is why, when it is colder out, I make sure to wear more than shorts, even though I can withstand the chill; but my knees degrade quickly if I do it too many cold days in a row. And now I’ve learned that these sprints are hard on my feet as my left foot is starting to hurt from the pounding.
I’ll try to build up speed again after the pain goes away.
But this recovery time is applicable to more than just running. I used to have a runner’s body which means I have huge leg muscles, but nothing above the waist. For the past few years I’ve been trying to do push-ups as well; usually in the evening before bed. It has been working out well, and I’ve gotten compliments on my upper body. The only problem is that I have not been able to increase my numbers. I’ve been plateauing at just below fifty for about a year. It’s made the exercise frustrating.
But last month, because of back issues, I took a break from the push-ups. When I got back to it, my limit had not degraded. And for whatever reason, this month I started only doing the push-ups every second day. Since then, I have been almost consistently above fifty, and even making new records.

Salmon Arm

The trip to Salmon Arm two weeks ago was great. The weather was not, but it was still a pleasant experience.
Catalina and I got to Salmon Arm first, but we drove right past it. We continued on to Sicamous because the rest of the family had stopped there on our recommendation. There is a good dairy with great ice cream. It’s worth stopping if you have the time. After getting the requisite ice cream we headed back to Salmon Arm and the hotel.
The next day I got up early and went for my run. Unfortunately, the entire town seemed to lose internet access while I was out. Which meant I could not see a map on my phone. I had a lovely run, but it went longer than intended. I never got truly lost, but I would have taken a more efficient route back if I had known better. Still, I got a good overview of the area.
When the weather isn’t good, there wasn’t a lot to do. We did check out some beaches and walked along them, but there was no way we were going swimming. Except in the hotel pool. That was nice, except there was a group of eight old white men who had come for a golf vacation who kept taking up the entire hot tub. They were nice enough though.
On the second day it cleared up a bit, so we inquired about renting a boat. However, the boat operator was not giving good odds that it would stay clear. But we still walked along the docks and enjoyed the brief sun.
Generally we just enjoyed each other’s company, having drinks and snacks in the hotel room and talking.
On the Wednesday we went our separate ways. The rest of the family left early to get back to Alberta. After they were gone, I took a somewhat long run that ended up being a half-marathon in distance. I thought I was going back to the beach we had previously walked along, but I took a wrong turn and went down a steep hill to a dead-end. On the advice of a local I ran along the railway tracks. Fortunately the next train to come by was five minutes after I was off the tracks.
We took a leisurely drive back to Vancouver. We checked out a farmer’s market/petting zoo/corn maze that was in Salmon Arm before leaving.

Day Trip

We took a day trip to the States today.
We’re going to Salmon Arm tomorrow to meet my family for a short holiday. So we thought we should get supplies. It is a lot easier for us to make shopping trips to the U.S. than my family. And we do need to get some other things there.
I am not a fan of Walmart, but my wife is, and that is the first place we hit. And there I had the most Walmart experience I could expect. And my expectations come from People of Walmart. I hit the washroom before leaving and the other man in there had decided that while using the urinal he didn’t need to pull up his pants. At all; he was mooning everyone coming in. It made the man who came in after me, who didn’t wash his hands, seem almost normal.
After that we went to Trader Joe’s. I like the snacks there. My wife likes the alcohol. We split up as we enter and go impulse shop our respective sections. It’s not pretty.
Yeah, I totally expect the border agent to pull us aside and charge us duties. I’m not going to pretend I’m not over the non-existent exemption for five hour trips.

Road Collision

I got hit by a car this morning.
I was doing my run, heading west on Hastings. I came to the corner of Commercial street with the light mostly green for me; it was counting down that it would change soon. I probably sped up to make it. A car appeared and tried to turn right in front of me. The driver was looking to the left, so she did not see me. A building blocked visibility, so we didn’t have warning of what was about to happen. When the car appeared I yelled caution; I had the right of way and assumed she would stop.
She did not.
It was 7:36 AM. She was in a white Lexus RX350.
So suddenly I had a moving car in my path and no time to stop. The side view mirror hit me and I got thrown to the ground. Fortunately, the mirror was a collapsable one, so it didn’t hit me too hard.
For a brief moment I thought the car would do a hit-and-run, so I yelled at it “You ran over me!” But it was just pulling around so the driver could get out and check on me.
I was a little shook up, but nothing felt broken. I had a bit of a scrape on my left eg, but that was the most obvious injury. We exchanged information. She was apologetic. But then I was too; I said sorry for yelling at her when I thought she was driving away. I’m Canadian; it comes naturally.
Afterwards I felt good enough to continue my run. It was about 4km home. It totally wrecked my pace, but I was still moving well.
My left foot felt like it has gotten squashed. As near as I can tell her tire ran over my foot. And the scrape on my leg was actually from the moving tire.
I still felt fine when I got home, so I went to work.
After half a day there, I noticed some new aches and pains. My left wrist hurt if pressed. My back felt achy. So I took off for a bit in the afternoon to go to the “City Centre Urgent & Primary Care Centre”. I was seen very quickly there, and the doctor was of the opinion that I had some bruises and strained muscles. I should be fine but watch for any changes. By this time I had forgotten about my foot; it had stopped hurting so I didn’t even mention. I wonder if my shoes are still good?
And yes, I did check, I can go running tomorrow.

Pride Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend.
Yesterday in the morning I did a run in Vibram FiveFingers. These forced me to use different muscles for running. Of course I had a good reason to go slower, because there was no padding on my feet. But now my legs ache and walking hurts.
In the evening we went out and had an early dinner at Legendary Noodle and then went to the beach. I found a good spot to sit and read. This was part of a plan, because at 7:45 there was an airshow; a pilot with a stunt plane did about fifteen minutes of tricks. After it was over we walked home. An hour later we went right back to the same place to see the evening fireworks. (It’s a half hour walk each way.)
In that time, things had changed significantly. We thought we would be able to get in as easily as Wednesday evening, but it was a lot busier. Security basically closed off the beach because it was full. We had to stand in a crowd of people behind the wire barriers to see the show.
I don’t think the show was as good as on Wednesday, but the finish was better.
Today I got up early and did a run that I THOUGHT wasn’t going to be too long, but it ended up being 23km. My legs hurt but I wanted to take the opportunity to sneak into the Port of Vancouver and run around some of the streets there. I had been told it is possible to get in on the Sundays when security isn’t as tight. The rumours were true and I got a bunch of new streets.
It is fascinating back there. There are beautiful, uninterrupted views of the North Shore and huge ships being loaded and unloaded.
I continued onto the Trans Canada Trail, which for some reason had a fence closed on it. It wasn’t impossible to hop it, but it was precarious when you can’t trust your aching legs.
Since I was in a new area I did a few more streets than I had expected, which caused the total run to be a bit long.
At noon we were out seeing the Pride Parade. We were there for two hours; there were a lot of people, corporations and organizations marching. The highlight was seeing the Prime Minister there. It was still going on when we left. It had all started to blend together so we decided we had had enough.
Then off to Sunset beach to see the after-parade shows. We grabbed a bunch of free stuff and went home.
We took a much needed nap.

Summer barbecue

Yesterday we had a barbecue at work. I tried to bring some food, but the stuff I brought was not actively eaten. So I got to return the chips to the store I brought them from.
As usual, there was a lot of food at the barbecue. For the past year I am always hungry, so I was able to sate my appetite for awhile. We have a good variety of foods and some of my co-workers are very good at cooking. I got to try a bit of sous-vide steak along with some salmon. There was also the requisite burgers and hotdogs. And a lot of sides.
Cherries seem to be very common here so several people brought those. (I may have installed myself near them during the party.) There was a period a few weeks ago where Catalina and I purchased 13lbs of cherries in a 24 hour period. (We were forced to buy a lot due to parking validation requirements.) They were very good.
It continued today with some of the leftovers still waiting to be eaten. In a taste test comparison, I think I like the double chocolate cookies from Costco better than their one-bite brownies. I am surprised by this discovery.
I miss being able to hold a barbecue for my friends at my place. But Vancouver does not allow me to live near friends, or have a big enough place to throw a party.

Wild Weekend

It’s been a wild weekend. There was an event in town that several people we knew were coming in for. Since we knew it was happening a year in advance, we were even able to get the guest suite for some of them. Unfortunately, these guests will not be coming back here next year; the apartment building was not happy with how they left the guest suite so they’ve been banned. This reflects badly on me and I do not like that. Fortunately we can still use the guest suite for other friends.
The event culminated in going to the beach on Monday. I had taken the day off so that I could enjoy it too. Mind you, I also spent a lot of Monday sleeping because it has been a tiring weekend.
There were a lot of cool people there, and a few of them even taught us “poi”; basically waving scarves and weighted strings around in cool patterns. I think I was able to do the double twirling for a few seconds. Catalina was a natural; she kept at it for a long time. I needed to take a break and absorb what I had learned so I went swimming while she continued learning.
The night ended with a beautiful sunset before we had to go up the stairs (479 steps) back to the car. Truthfully, I enjoyed the stairs; it’s good to challenge yourself. Even if you do it carrying a cooler.

Road Trip to Alberta

On Saturday I drove from Vancouver to Priddis, Alberta. In all it was 989km.
We (well, “I”) stopped at the Cloverdale Bakery to get some Danish pastries for the trip. I love actual Danish pastries because I grew up with them. This bakery is the only place I know where I can get them, but it is so far away I can only do so when I’m on a road trip. The weinerbrod was amazing; it was still warm from the oven. I also wanted to get my mother’s opinion on it.
The next significant stop was in Sicamous. I figured we were close to the Okanagan valley, so we should try and get fresh fruit. I had Catalina on fruit-stand spotting duty, but she totally dropped the ball in Salmon Arm. Still, we hit Fruit World and were able to pick up some cherries, strawberries and significantly overpriced peaches. Next door there was a dairy farm with a petting zoo. They even had pheasants and peacocks to look at. I think their money-maker was the ice cream they sold. They had a large flavor collection, and I would have loved to go to town on it, but I was the driver. I did get a very good chocolate raspberry milkshake. Very driver-friendly.
I noticed something fairly soon after entering Alberta from British Columbia. The memories of highway driving in the prairies came flooding back. The drivers from Alberta drive differently than B.C. drivers. Now, don’t get me wrong, B.C. drivers are terrible, especially in the lower mainland. But past Hope, there is an evolutionary pressure on them that does help.
In Alberta, there are long two lane highways. Inevitably, clumps happen as one slow driver tries to pass another slow driver. Slowly. Other cars get backed up behind the slow moving obstacle. It’s annoying.
That doesn’t happen in B.C. In the mountains, there are a lot of one lane highways. Occasionally, for a few kilometers, they become two lane highways and suddenly it is a speed race as everyone has a vested interest in trying to pass the slow drivers in the limited time they have available. This makes people very efficient at passing. In Alberta, the two lanes last forever so they feel no rush. Hence the clumps.
We stopped in Banff for gas. There were advertisements for the Banff marathon the next day. I probably could have done well in it, but I think I would need more warning than twelve hours.
We had thought about having a dinner in Banff, but it was like every other ski-resort town I’ve been to: no convenient parking, and no drive-thru. If you want to eat, you have to pay a lot to park and you will be sitting down. We subsisted on the snacks we had in the car.
2019-6-18 14:52

Genesis

Together, Catalina and myself read the first chapter of the bible, Genesis. It does not paint the religion in a good light. The later chapters might redeem it, but I have not read them yet. As such, my initial impression is that it is a soap opera of terrible people. These are not people I want to admire. And the writing could be better; the plot is stopped every so often to let the reader know who begat whom.
In this environment, life is cheap and it is a buyer’s market. The solution to problems seem to be to kill everyone. And if you don’t feel like doing that, slavery is completely condoned.
The key to being successful is to be favoured by god. Abram somehow lucked out and his family is blessed and can do no wrong. I have no idea what they did to deserve it. They are allowed to be a jerk to each and everyone. No consequences. Take slaves. Kill people who annoy you. Is this why people keep thinking God has a plan for when bad things happen?
The pharaoh that they deal with doesn’t seem to be terrible. He’s looking for advice and seems to deal fairly. From what I’ve heard, the pharaoh is supposed to be the wickedest person, so I’ll assume there is another pharaoh in a later chapter.

Vancouver Sun Run

The Vancouver Sun Run was today. I’m in the yellow group, which isn’t the fastest group. (That’s the blue group.) I’m in the group that should be done in 44 to 48 minutes. They put you in the appropriate group so that the fastest people run first, and aren’t blocked by slower people. Considering there are sometimes 50,000 people running, this is necessary. The race starts at 9:00 in the morning. But the last racers don’t start until after ten; they are expected to take nearly two hours to complete. i.e. They walk.
Last year, I ran with the Fraser Street Run Club; they are the run group I usually join for my group runs with the Running Room. The problem with them is that they are all very fast, so I didn’t help their statistics. I ran my fastest 10km ever, but I wasn’t even in the top ten of the group. So this year I ran with my company; I figure I’ll place better in a group full of computer programmers. There may be more of them, but I think I’m more competitive.
Last year, I ran it in about 42 minutes. Technically I could have been in the blue group this year but I haven’t been feeling that my legs are in the best condition. So I was worried I would embarrass myself if I couldn’t make the time my group wanted.
I had three differing goals this year. At minimum I wanted to finish in 48 minutes. Better would be to finish in below 44 minutes so I can justify going in the fast group next year. My stretch goal was to beat 40 minutes.
I finished in forty minutes and eleven seconds. Not quite my stretch, but pretty close. It gives me something to shoot for next year. And I think I can cut off 12 seconds. Especially since I was slow at the start because I had to dodge the crowds of people going slower than me. That wouldn’t happen in the blue group; I would be the slow person they would need to dodge.
I pushed hard this year. Unfortunately, I think I ate too much for breakfast. My stomach felt queasy at points in the race, but it usually just caused burps. Embarrassing but not slowing.
The weather was good too. Not hot. Partly cloudy so there was occasional sun.
At the end, Catalina was as the finish line cheering me on. She even got a video of me running. We then went into the stadium and checked out the after run party. Basically vendors, food, and occasional free stuff. The advantage of finishing fast is that lineups haven’t had a chance to form yet.
We left the arena at about 10:45 to see the worst hailstorm I’ve ever seen in B.C. Hail that was big enough to hurt as you were hit by it. I sheltered my head with a bag, but it still hurt my fingers. And there were probably lots of runners/walkers still on the course at that time. And there is absolutely no shelter anywhere on the course, unless you leave it. I’m glad I was fast.

CityStrides

I started using CityStrides. It combines my love of maps and running. Previously I addressed this addiction with orienteering. However I have not joined the local orienteering club. All orienteering clubs usually meet on Wednesday evenings and that intersects with my usual group run day. They also meet all over the lower mainland, so I would need to start driving to them. And I’ve gotten to the point in my life in Vancouver where if I have to drive somewhere, I don’t want to do it. Which is odd, considering that I will happily run to places much further away.
Anyway, CityStrides keeps track of everywhere I’ve run and then shows me on a map. And then challenges me to cover an entire city. So right now, according to it, I’ve run 18.2% of Vancouver. I regularly run with someone who has covered 98% of the city. It is encouraging me run places I haven’t run before so I see new things. It is sometimes surprising what you can find when you go a bit away from the regular routes.
Interestingly, I have only run 3.52% of Edmonton. I lived and ran there for much longer, but my percentage is much lower. (Heck, I’ve completed 8.95% of a village in France that I hiked/ran through twice.) The reason for that, I think, is that I didn’t push myself to run different routes. Also, Edmonton is more spread out than Vancouver. And more importantly, the streets in Edmonton are numbered. CityStrides will only consider a street run if I have run 90% of it, even if they are discontinuous. In Edmonton, many streets will span the entire city.
I like a goal. The challenge invigorates me.
I’m mostly trying to cover the downtown peninsula, but I have now started expanding more and more out into the other areas. I doubt I will be able to get everything though. The streets it uses don’t always exist; there is a trail in Stanley Park that no one has run because the actual trail is different from the waypoints that exist in CityStrides. And one of the more frustrating “streets” is the boundary between Lost Lagoon and an adjacent swamp. I’m still tempted to find a way to get those streets, although I may have to get very wet for some of them.

Sickness

It has been a bad month for running.
My physiotherapist gave me the go-ahead to start running again. It was short distances with lots of walk breaks, but it was still running. My back was a little off, but it was improving while I was running.
Then, right before the long weekend, I got hit by the flu. So my holiday time was spent lying in bed. For the first time in about a year and a half I did no exercise. With previous injuries I would still exercise, mostly on a stationary bicycle. This was clearly the worst illness I’ve had since I started doing daily runs.
I also discovered that if I take a Tylenol PM before going to sleep, I will sweat enough to be in a puddle halfway through the night.
On Saturday I started running again. I’ve been improving my 10% since then. However, I have other muscles that are causing me issues now. My core muscles that extend into my legs get very painful if I cough. Did I mention that my illness has been lingering for awhile?
I would like running to stop hurting.

Furniture Moving

Let me tell you about my weekend.
Catalina has made it clear that she does not like my sofa. I decided that when she came back to Canada we would go shopping for a replacement. Fortunately Costco had some nice comfortable reclining chairs for sale so I took her down there on Saturday to get an opinion on them. She liked them, so we went and bought them. The store would hold them for 24 hours while we got ready for them.
We walked back home and drove the car back. It is a lot harder to drive to Costco than to walk. With all the one-way streets, and traffic jams, it seems to take about the same time as walking. Catalina went in and brought one of the chairs out in a flat-bed cart. In the harsh light of day it was clear there was no way that the box would fit in any orifice of the car. This is going to be a problem.
We thought about phoning friends and seeing if they had a bigger car we could borrow. Eventually we got the idea of borrowing one of the flat-bed carts and rolling it home that way. We called and got permission for this, as long as we deposited a driver’s license. However, that would be something we would need to do on Sunday.
In the meantime we had put the sofa in Craigslist to see if anyone would take it off our hands. In the worst case scenario we could get someone to take it away for $50 to donate to a refugee family. But we did get someone and they were willing to come on Sunday afternoon with their moving truck.
On Sunday morning we walked back to Costco. We were able to get both chairs onto one cart and then started rolling. It actually went fairly quickly, although the hill on Smithe was a bit of a struggle.
When we got to the building though, it became clear that the boxes were too big for any of the doors. So we went to the loading dock in the back and struggled to get them up the short flight of stairs. After that, with the security guard’s help, and the loan of his rolling cart, we were able to get them into the elevator and into the apartment in two separate trips.
Afterwards we took the flat-bed cart back to Costco.
Now the problem was the sofa. It was a bigger problem than it should have been, because due to reasons, there was only one elevator working in the building. And it wasn’t the moving elevator. Heck, even getting the sofa out of the apartment was a struggle because of existing furniture in the way. It would only go through doors if it was on its end and rotated through. In other words, it couldn’t be done on the rolling cart.
And with only one elevator working, it was always packed with people.
Our first attempt to get it onto the small elevator didn’t work. It seemed to be a touch too big. Maybe if we took the small legs off? Well, they needed a Phillips screwdriver to do that, and the only one I had did not work well with the small holes. Eventually I was able to get two off with an eyeglass screwdriver, which was not enough. This was not my finest moment.
On the second attempt we got it on board by treating the elevator doors like a regular door and rotating it through when it briefly opened. All with an audience in the elevator, including a security guard.
After that, we got the sofa back to the loading dock and let the Craigslist guy pick it up.
The chairs were assembled. It was soon discovered that they needed more outlets to deal with all the features. So we had to go out and buy a powerbar for them. But then, everything was done. The chairs had their place. They reclined nicely. They are comfortable and I’ve even caught Catalina sleeping in them.
And all of this moving was done while my back is not in the best shape.

Lumbosacral Joint

When I flew to Houston last February, sitting in the airplane seat messed me up and eventually caused plantar fasciitis. I’m still feeling the effects of that.
I thought I had taken good enough care of myself this time to avoid any bad effects. I even made sure to stand up and move about the cabin on the flight. And things went well. I was able to run in Houston without any issues. I felt I had dodged a bullet.
When I got back to Canada, things started out okay. I had no pains when I ran. I even did a 23km run on New Year’s Day (four days after I got back) that, when mapped, looked like Santa. The next day, Wednesday, there was a quick run, and on the way home, I had a bit of pain in my back. Nothing serious though.
It was still there the next day. On the Friday I noticed it may have been connected to my left calf. So I spent that evening and the morning of the next day massaging it, and using a foam roller. I even made an appointment to see a massage therapist, although the next availability wasn’t for two weeks. My run at lunch felt great. Until I got to the halfway point. Then things got worse and worse. I was hurting a lot by the time I got back home. In fact I could barely walk.
On Sunday, I decided that my run would only be 5km. It still hurt. Things weren’t getting better.
By the next Wednesday, my run was only ten minutes, and it was painful the entire time.
I kept at that time/distance until last Friday when I saw a physiotherapist. He diagnosed me with an L5/S1 (Lumbosacral Joint) sprain with nerve root irritation. Basically my back is sprained, and my muscles were fighting to protect it. That is why my legs and butt hurt while I was running. And the impacts were going to make things worse.
In other words I have to stop running. I had gotten up to 288 days of consecutive running.
I have some exercises I can do that will help things. And I hopefully will get back to it soon enough.
I thought about trying to keep the streak going with water jogging, but that would have been too large a commitment to keep doing that every day by going to a pool some distance away. It is doable, but unpleasant enough to not make it worth it.
And, I’m okay with failure. I was hoping to get up to one year of daily running, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be an accomplishment. In my head I thought of those people who have been doing daily runs for thirty years. But they do such short runs that it isn’t really a challenge. I’ve been doing usually about 12km. That’s not easy and each day is an accomplishment.
Besides, I’ve noticed several other injuries are starting to lessen now that I’m giving my body a break. So there is that too.

Houston for Christmas

So for the last two weeks I’ve been in Houston, celebrating the holidays with Catalina.
Initially, my family came too; they stayed for half a week. Catalina’s mother used to run a restaurant and she kept cooking for us. We tried to stop her by inviting her out to dinner, and we ended up at Dim Sum where she sneakily paid too. Her food was fantastic! Every dish was really good. I think she was trying to fatten the family up. Well, it was mission accomplished for everyone else.
I was able to thwart her by continuing to run every day. This town is not friendly to runners. Or, maybe I should say that being out in the suburbs is not friendly to runners. The roads in the communities have sidewalks, but they are usually blocked by people parking in their driveways across them. However, the traffic is so light in those areas, I feel okay running on the roads. However, the big thoroughfares that have heavy traffic never have sidewalks. In those cases I try and run as much to the side as I can, and on some of the limited grass if that still isn’t safe. (I’m faster on the roads than the uneven grass.) The big storm a few days ago did make it harder to stay off the roads.
There were four cardinal directions I could go. To the west I could eventually get to a creek that I could run along. On the last day I found that on the north side of it there were better trails than the south. To the north I was blocked by a golf course, but that worked out well on Christmas Day when it was unused and I could go everywhere I wanted on it. To the east was industrial, and I did go a couple of times, but it was a bit nerve-wracking being next to a lot of traffic. There was also a gated community that was its own little fortress. It looked like it had good trails, but they were not meant for non-citizens. To the south, there was a bayou; I initially thought I could take a trail through it, but I quickly found it was too wet to make it interesting. I instead ended up getting lost in a gated community that hadn’t guarded its back entrance. On another day I stayed on major roads and was able to go far to the south.
The rest of the time, it was fairly domestic. We didn’t make much plans to do anything and just spent time together. Catalina still had to work, and I concentrated on a software project at those times. I made good progress.
At one point we did go out with the same clothes from our wedding and had a semi-professional photographer take pictures of us. We got some beautiful ones that I still need to organize and post publicly.
I’m now in the plane waiting to go back to Vancouver. We are delayed in leaving because we are waiting for some passengers on another flight that is running late. They have just arrived so we should be leaving soon.
2018-12-28 18:52

Plumbing Issues

When I got back from my Alberta vacation, I noticed some bubbling in the ceiling above my bathroom sink. That doesn’t look good. It was in a perfectly straight line, so it looked like it was coming from above.
I called management, and their initial thought was that I was to blame. I can’t fault them for that; whenever I talk to people who work in the building, they are complaining about mold because people don’t air out their apartments. I try to be better, but I still didn’t think this was my fault; I was gone for a week and I hadn’t been running any water. Still, it is their building so they had to come and investigate.
And investigate they did. I came back from work to find holes in my bathroom ceiling. They were now sure it wasn’t my fault and that it was a leaky pipe above me. They made a request that I clear out the closet because the leak isn’t even in the bathroom. Fortunately I cleared out the correct closet, the one next to the bedroom. I’m glad Catalina wasn’t here, because I had to place the entire contents of the closet on her side of the bedroom. You have to live tight in Vancouver, so losing a storage room is a major problem.
On a Monday, I came home to a big hole in the closet ceiling. There was a dripping pipe with a big bucket beneath it. Every few seconds there was an audible drip. The plumber had also opened the door to the bedroom and so when he removed ceiling, drywall dust got everywhere.
They told me that they wouldn’t be able to fix the problem without shutting off the water in the entire building, which would have to take place in a week. This dripping sound was right next to where I sleep. Fortunately I had a string that I tied to the pipe and led it down to the bucket, which mitigated the dripping sound.
The next day though they got in a different plumber, who removed my string and attempted to tape the whole thing up. Poorly. So now the drip was happening in a number of spots so I wouldn’t be able to use my string method. I just lived with it.
I survived under these circumstances for the week. I wore shoes everywhere and adjusted to the fact that my apartment would remain dusty and messy.
On the following Monday, I woke up to find the water was out. Apparently throughout the entire building. I thought it was due to my problem; which seemed odd since I hadn’t seen any general announcements. And to do it before people had a chance to get up in the morning? I found out from the security guard that the pipes had gotten clogged from some tenant(s) deciding to put diapers, kitty litter, food, and feminine hygiene products down the toilet. Apparently I live with a combination of idiots and barbarians.
I still did my morning run, and did my best to clean myself off with wet wipes. I had some that I had purchased years ago for emergencies like this and they were still good. I couldn’t shower at work because I had a doctor’s appointment before.
Management phoned me. They wanted to take advantage of the shutoff to get the pipe fixed in my place. This was not unexpected. So when I came home, fairly late, the pipe was fixed and the water was on. There were still holes in my ceiling.
On Tuesday I went to the management office to complain about the mess that had been made. (I was mostly concerned about the dust that had gotten everywhere.) And to find out the future schedule for the holes in the ceiling. Interestingly, the lady in management took the opportunity to vent to me instead. She had just gotten back from vacation and it was in the evening when her neighbour in the building told her sewage was coming up the bathtub. She had to spend the evening cleaning and getting an emergency plumber. The pipes were so backed up, that a snake couldn’t break it up; it was like concrete. So they needed to rip out the drywall to get at the pipe to remove it.
She tried to say it was lucky that they could do my repair at the same time; I corrected her that it was not lucky, just convenient.
In any case, she would get the repairs done by Friday. And then afterwards, a cleaner would come and clean up the mess.
That was all finished today. So, I now have a clean apartment, and I just have to get everything back into the closet. I should probably take the opportunity to purge some of the clothing as well.

Seeing things in Yaletown

I went for an eye exam today. It has been probably four years since my last one. I was a year behind when I got laid off in Alberta, and it consistently slipped my mind when I got to BC two years ago. But I’m on the ball now.
It was a short walk to the optometrist; I like downtown living. I had to pass through the Yaletown Candytown, a street festival that took over a few blocks.
Everything was professional at the doctor. This seems like a good place to go. Prognosis: My eyesight is not that bad, considering my age. I do not need to wear glasses.
However, she did put some pupil dilation formula in my eye so she could take a good look at what is going on in there. She first noticed that there is some early signs of cataracts. My mother had them later in life, so this isn’t surprising. And it is a simple operation if they want to do something about it. It isn’t a concern yet.
A more pressing matter were some warning signs of Macular Degeneration. I haven’t got it yet, so I can take steps to mitigate it. Mostly, I have to protect my eyes from UV light. The doctor was recommending I get some good UV protective sunglasses. Even better, would be to wear a hat. (Thank you Steph for your help in getting me the one that I wore today.) I also need to have my computer use a darker background, possibly using NightShift as well. I also should eat colourful fruits and vegetables, which any doctor would tell you.
I’m glad this was caught early. Although there is no cure, so I have to be careful.
Afterwards I wandered out into the festival. It wasn’t great while my pupils were dilated; it was impossible to focus on some things. But it was still a good place to hang out.
There were creepy gingerbread men wandering around. I liked the two inflatable polar bear costumes. There was some sword fighting demonstration, and I liked that one of the actors was dressed like Princess Mononoke.
There were also ice sculptures. I frankly found them offensive. This is not a city that deserves ice. It is not cold enough to support it. Leave the ice sculptures to places where the art can last for more than a few hours.

Alberta Vacation

I had a good vacation. It was nice and relaxing.
My computers all seemed to work, so I could do my personal work. I didn’t get too far, but I did advance things. The chief part was to work with my father and figure out what we need him to do to start making progress. With that, things should start happening quickly.
I continued doing the running every day. The area my parent’s live in is not great for running though. Wait, let me rephrase that; it is good for a run, but not for multiple runs. There is only one area that feels safe to run; otherwise I’m running on a major highway. So a lot of my runs were on the same backroad. It’s a beautiful road, but I was on it for seven of the nine days.
On two of the days I went into the Kananaskis park to do something different.
I initially tried to go up the Moose Mountain service road. It seemed like a good challenge to do a long uphill. However, I saw the Pneuma trail, which parallels the road and I thought that would be a nicer way to go. Unfortunately I had done no preparation for such a change, so I was unprepared for some of the facts on the ground. Namely, that there are trails that intersect the Pneuma trail. And the Sulpher Springs Trail is a much more major trail that I mistook as the trail I should be on.
I started suspecting something was wrong as I was going down a lot more than I expected on a trail that was supposed to be going up. However, I figured that I could always turn around at some point and go back the way I came. Fortunately, it did not come to that. I encountered the road that I had used to drive into the park. I was able to parallel that to get back where I started, at nearly the distance I wanted to run.
Dallas, the family dog, was well-behaved the entire time.
The next time, I attempted the same plan, but with a better idea of where I needed to go. This time, I was able to get to the top of the road. I even got to the top of the peak, but I don’t know the name of the mountain I was on. From there, you could see the trail route to the top of Moose Mountain. Thankfully I wasn’t going that far. I was happy with what I was seeing. From certain points, it felt like you could see the entire Canadian prairies. I’m certain I saw the buildings of Calgary.
All of this running did continue to make me hungry. My mother complained that I was looking too thin. However, I was eating twice as much as everyone else.
But all good things come to an end. On Sunday I flew back to Vancouver. The flight from gate to gate would be an hour and forty minutes; enough time to watch an entire movie if I didn’t get distracted. It was going well until they decided to reset the entire system. The half hour reboot meant no more movie for me.

Travelling to Alberta

I’m flying to Alberta today to visit family.
This has to do with my vacation time. After Catalina and I got married, we wanted to go on a honeymoon. I avoided taking a vacation so that we could have a long one together. However, we are apparently not very good at planning, so it didn’t happen. Next year!
But, it has gotten late enough in the year that I HAVE to use my vacation time before I lose it. Catalina has gone back to Houston until next year. My mother hasn’t seen me in awhile, and I could use some spoiling. So I will go to visit family for a week, and use the time to rest and recover.
In December I will use the remaining vacation time to go see Catalina in Houston.
I haven’t been traveling in awhile so I feel out of practice. The trip has had an ominous start: my backpack opened up while I was walking and when I took it off to close it, my laptop and iPad went flying and hit the hard ground. The iPad seems to be okay except for a banged up corner. The laptop still seemed operational but I haven’t given it a real test.
I had plans to do a lot of my own computer work in Alberta, so it is important to me that these machines are operational. My family is out in the country, so I have to provide my own entertainment. And this will be a good chance to catch up with projects I have neglected too long.
Nothing to be done about it now. I guess I’ll just try to fly safe.

Unaffordable

The cost of things is a continual source of stress. But not in the way you may be thinking.
I am an adult with enough disposable income that there are few things that I want that I cannot go out and buy. Only big ticket items like new homes remain out of reach. (Darn Vancouver real-estate market.) Most other things I can convince myself that I don’t actually need if I stop and spend a moment thinking about it. Usually because I can say I don’t have the space for it. (Darn Vancouver real-estate market.)
But the thing I can’t afford these days is sugar.
I have gotten a (probably) unhealthy fixation with my weight lately. Since I’ve done daily running, I have dropped in weight. I think I’m 25lbs lighter than I was when I was just doing ultra marathons. That is a significant amount of weight. I would probably be better at running an ultra now than when I specifically trained for them. (This may be one of the aspects of “Mindfulness”. I’ll have to look into it.) It’s easier to go up a mountain if you don’t have 25 unneeded pounds.
Catalina keeps admiring my body to the point where I feel like a piece of meat.
So, I have a vested interest in keeping slim. What makes it hard is that I am constantly hungry now. I justify eating all the time because I am burning an insane number of calories. I actually believe this, and I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I try and eat things that aren’t too terrible for me. I’ve taken to bringing hard-boiled eggs or small oranges to work to keep me going. But I also have a stash of fishy crackers and chocolate covered nuts as well.
I would like to eat candy bars, or have a hot chocolate, but I know those are straight up sugar, so I don’t.
I’ve given myself permission the last couple of days to cheat and eat any halloween candy that is offered. But for the most part I still avoid sweets.
Work sells subsidized candy bars in vending machines all over the office. I’ve never had one. They are pretty cheap, but I tell myself that I can’t afford them, because of the sugar.

Mindfulness

There was a mindfulness seminar at work today. I think I failed it.
Basically you should be paying attention to things happening now. A different way would be to say, don’t put your brain on autopilot. Although when I say that out loud, it seems like a route to tiring yourself out. Decisions are draining, and if you are paying attention, you are also deciding; not directly but I can see it happening.
In any case, you should not be distracted by things.
I spent most of the class distracted.
At one point the presenter was talking about marathon runners. Something about how they stress themselves to be able take on more stress. The presenter was aware of my proclivities and so even mentioned me directly. His theory may have some basis, but I feel it is less stress and more pain. Long distance runners put ourselves through pain so that we don’t feel pain as much. We make terrible patients for doctors because when they ask us if something hurts, it generally doesn’t, even though we have broken bones that would cause normal people to be catatonic.
I trade pain for less stress.
That was why I was distracted in the class about not being distracted. The person two chairs to my left decided that he wanted to stretch his arm out on the backrest of the chair between us. This felt like a needless invasion of my personal space and started to stress me. However, I did have a solution; when he had removed his arm temporarily, I put mine on the backrest. It wasn’t comfortable, but the defence of my personal space made my stress go away.
After awhile, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and took my arm away. Within five minutes he had stretched out again. So at the next opportunity, I placed my arm back there and left it there for the rest of the class. It hurt, but I was no longer stressed. Although it was awkward when they asked us to start writing things down.
It was a suitable arrangement in my head. Pain for peace.
I do have a two day class in two weeks that should totally cover this subject. But I have also been reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Bleep: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Hopefully I can improve myself to actually be mindful and not just give it lip service.

Joffre Lakes

Two weeks ago, a friend visited from Alberta. He was only passing through Vancouver, but it was good to see him again. His plan was to go to Whistler and see the leaves changing colours. It sounded like a lovely idea. I was tempted to join him, but I instead fell asleep. Sunday runs are draining.
I discussed the idea with a coworker. He pointed out that it might be better to not just drive but to do a hike. He
suggested Joffre Lakes as a nice place to go. Once you park you are only five minutes from a beautiful lake. If you want more, you can hike to the upper lakes too. I was intrigued. Investigation even revealed a website describing the route. The hike was supposedly four hours, but I figured I could do it much faster if I went with a runner’s mentality; I should be able to do it in three hours, maybe less. The sun sets at 6:10 pm, so I would have to try and get there promptly.
Of course I can’t skip the morning run!
Last Sunday, the morning group run was planned to be 23km. There was talk of making it 27km. The peer pressure got to me and I stayed with the group going longer. Unfortunately, they are not the best at planning routes, and it ended up being 29km. Okay, that was a half hour longer than I initially planned.
I got on the road by 12:30. Not the best, but it is what it is. I arrived at 3:30. That wasn’t great. Fortunately, I had planned for the worst, and I had packed a headlamp and whistle and other emergency supplies. So if I got caught in the dark, I should be okay.
The benefit of the late arrival was that I was able to get a parking spot. The lot was still fairly full, but there were a few openings. Smart people were not showing up at this time. I equipped myself, but there was still a lot of stuff that I left in the car, which meant I was discouraged by a sign I saw later claiming thieves were in the area. Fortunately that sign was not Chekov’s gun.
The first lake was very close. It also had a bit of sun on it. Unfortunately that was the last I saw of direct sunlight that day; I was in the mountains, and they are not conducive to seeing the sun later in the day.
I trotted along to get to the upper lakes. It wasn’t too bad initially; uphill but doable. Then came the clearing. It had a well-maintained trail across it, but due to conditions, there was an almost invisible layer of ice over all of it; I call it the Clearing of the Ice Queen. (Ice Queen is currently not in residence.) I had good running shoes that were fairly grippy on it, but I definitely slowed down because it was treacherous.
The path was crowded with people. I was never alone for long going up. They were rightly being careful on the ice. A lot of them were foreigners, as they were all speaking languages I don’t understand. (Oddly, I seem to assume any language I don’t know is Russian.) It does seem like a good place for tourists to come. Why so many of the girls had pink hair, I don’t know.
The middle lake was nice. It was shrouded in shadows, which gave it beautiful reflections of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. I am under the impression that it is gorgeous in sunlight. Too bad.
A scenic waterfall greeted me as I climbed up to the upper lake. It was more like a staircase than the traditional waterfall you may be picturing.
The upper lake was found soon after. Once again, it was in the shadows of the mountains, so I didn’t get the advertised beauty of it in sunlight. Still, it was worth the trip.
But it was not enough for me. The trail beckoned on, and I followed it to the far side of the lake. It was getting late, and I was starting to wish I had brought gloves as I was getting cold. I hadn’t seen the sun at all and, let’s be honest, it was a glacial lake. It was important to keep moving to stay warm.
But now I was not seeing anyone. I was getting nervous, but I wanted the full Joffre; I had driven three hours to see it.
At the other end, I did find a large expedition. They announced themselves by throwing rocks into a frozen pond that I was next to. They stopped after I announced myself. We exchanged taking pictures for each other.
Then I continued on to the furthest point. I met a couple who I talked to for a bit. I asked them if there were good views that were worth going for. They told me that if you climb to the top of the mountain there were great ones. But they did point out a rise that you could get a good view from. I took their advice and continued on. I climbed up the pile of rocks that led to the glacier. I didn’t go all the way up, but went to the point where the ridge ended. There were good views.
I was now totally on my own. The couple and large expedition were behind me. I probably should head back. If anything happens, they wouldn’t find me until the next day.
Going back was quicker because it was downhill and I didn’t have to take as many pictures. I felt a lot better after I had passed people again; I was no longer alone. Oddly, I passed some people going the other direction. I was a runner and I was worried about making it back in time before sunset; these people had no chance. Still, I admire their tenacity to see all the lakes. I continued my swift progress.
On the way back, an older lady had fallen and hurt her arm on some of the ice in the Clearing of the Ice Queen. Fortunately there were a large number of people to help her. I don’t think I added much when I tried to help too, but she looked like she would be okay. I realized how treacherous it is, because I slipped and fell too.
I got to the parking lot a bit after sunset. There was still enough light that I was okay. The lot was completely different though; most of the cars were gone. I sat in my car awhile, to change into better clothes and eat some hard boiled eggs. I am encouraged that some people leaving the place all checked up on me. Did I look that pathetic?
The three hour drive back was in the dark. So no views. And come to think of it, all of the trees I had seen that day were evergreens; I never actually saw the changing colours. Or the azure colour of the lakes.

Running Record

Today I did a 27km run in total. In and of itself it isn’t that impressive. I’ve clearly run much further than that. Heck, I did it longer and faster last week. But it made my total distance run this month 488.1km. That is the most I’ve ever run in a single month. Now, to be fair, a month is an arbitrary construct of humans, but it is the arbitrary construct that I am using.
My previous record was about 466km, which I did last month. This month was a day shorter, but it had the benefit of having five Sundays, and that is the day I do my longest run.
There is no way I will be able to make a new record next month. This month felt a little rough for me. Although part of me was tempted to add an extra 12km today just to get to 500km. That will be a challenge for another time.
I’m worried my body is falling apart with all this running. My joints feel fine, and the plantar fasciitis is becoming better slowly. But I am noticing my performance in other areas beginning to falter. Or that just might be part of getting old.

Richmond Night Market

Last week we went the Richmond Night Market. We had been hearing good things about it, and we wanted to try it. It’s basically a bunch of stalls setup in an area of Richmond. You pay to get in. Now you can buy trinkets, but most people don’t go there for that; they go for the food.
There are a large number of food stalls there, and it is packed with people. There was a huge line to get in, but we were lucky to find a way around that: if you buy the six-person pass, you go to a much shorter line; we allied with a family of four and bought one to get in.
The food was pretty expansive. I started with some pastries and dim sum so I wasn’t too hungry. Catalina went for all the food I couldn’t eat: shellfish. She started with scallop balls, then an oyster. She was eyeing the snow crab, but that would have cost a small fortune. She instead got some squids.
The food was mostly good, but it was overpriced. All things considered, we spent nearly $100 there. Most dishes were around $10. And you would need to eat a lot to feel full. The lamb skewers were good. The rotato (a potato tornado) was a spice delivery mechanism. We had been recommended the “Stinky tofu” but we did not care for it. My friend said it was a delicacy in China, but I suppose it is an acquired taste.

Running Anniversary

It has now been one year since I started doing my daily run. It has been quite the experience.
Since I keep track of all my runs electronically, I know that I’ve done 354 hours of running. A year has 8760 hours; if I do the math, I see that I have run for 4% of the last year.
I wish I could say I ran every day, but back in March I got subjected to plantar fasciitis. That took me off for about two weeks where I was forced to endure the torment of bicycling, mostly on a stationary bicycle. During that time, I did try an actual bicycle for the first time in Vancouver. I discovered that bicycling is not as strenuous a workout as with being on a stationary bicycle; on my tour of Stanley Park I could coast. However, when I was going through downtown a van nearly cut me off, so it has soured my opinion of bicycling in this town.
Right now I am at 147 days of running in a row, when I previously has a maximum of 216. So my current goal is to at least beat that. (Two thirds of the way there!) But really, I’m trying to run for as long as possible.
I started with doing 5km and then increasing by 10% each week. After I got to 13km, I started just increasing the distance on my Sunday runs, and dropping back to 8-10km on the other ones. This culminated when I had enough distance to do a marathon. I did that the fastest I have ever done. But it doesn’t feel like it really counts as a marathon when I haven’t been doing it with hundreds of other people and aid stations. I would have tried to do the Vancouver one, but that was at the height of my injury; not advisable. (But I stilI had to check with my physical therapist. He told me the obvious answer of “No”.)
After the injury a similar pattern happened again. But this time I had a different goal. Instead of trying to do a speedy distance, I made a goal of going up the mountains of North Vancouver. So four weeks ago, I was finally able to run from downtown Vancouver and up to the top of the Grouse Mountain, also known as the “Grouse Grind”. It’s motto is “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”.
It is a beautiful route. I go through the Capilano River Valley, which is a rainforest filled with rolling hills. At the top of it is the Cleveland dam where I get a good look at the height of the entire Grind. Then up the road called Nancy Greene Way to the base of the Grind. Then it is up that trail which is more of a staircase than anything else. You can feel your ears pop as you do the climb.
It was surprisingly crowded. I was passing people the entire way. Fortunately for my ego, no one passed me. I got to the top in 48 minutes.
I hung out there for a bit of time, getting more water and taking in the view. Then it was time to move along. The Grouse Grind only allows you to go up. To get back down, most people take the gondola. I took the other option: The BCMI trail. It is less staircasey, but still a steep drop. It was slow to go down though, but downhill is always slower; you have to control your speed and it is harder on your knees. I could see getting injured very easily there. It took me about an hour and ten minutes to get to the bottom. Three people, all walking, passed me on the way. One of them admitted he does the trail down a couple of times a week for the last thirty years. So I don’t feel that bad.
Once I got back to Nancy Greene way, I ran like I was flying. The BCMI trail had given me a break, but still kept my legs active. There was no way I was making up the time though. My final pace was 8:18 per km. On flat trails it is usually around 4:55 per km. 34km in 4:42:18: A slow speed, but I got from about sea level to 1090 meters above. I feel it was an accomplishment.
Since then I’ve rejoined the Running Room for their Sunday morning runs. It’s nice to join a group again, and the distances are comparable.
Recently the air has been against me. The forest fires are causing smoky air to descend on Vancouver. For three days, I decided to take care of my health and not run outside when the air quality is really bad. That left my only option to use a treadmill (hereafter known as the “Dreadmill”. They are incredibly boring. Listening to music helps, but it is still a task. That may be partly my fault; if I get bored, I tend to raise the speed. So by the end, it is painfully fast.
If I keep on track with my normal schedule, August will be the month that I’ve run the furthest. Ever. I’ll be over 460km.

Grocery Run

We decided to do a road trip on Saturday. Nominally it was to tour BC, but a big part of it was to go visit a fruit stand south of Cache Creek. This would be the most expensive fruit purchase of my life, but it was still a fun day.
I got up early to get a run in before we left. It still didn’t get us off at the time I would have liked. We only got to driving a bit before nine. We then headed east towards Hope, stopping off at Abbotsford for gas. From there we did NOT go on the Coquihalla highway. Instead we stayed on the Trans Canada Highway to see the Fraser River valley. It’s a nice valley, and the clouds helped give it perspective.
I did drive like a crazy person at one point to try and get the photograph I’ve wanted for a long time; I wanted a picture of a train engine, pulling cars, in front of beautiful scenery. Soon after we overtook a long train, I saw a roadside turnout that I swerved into and then ran out with my camera to catch it. I haven’t looked at it closely yet, so I hope it is good.
At Lytton we headed east, past Spences Bridge to get to Hilltop Garden Farms. There we pillaged the place. I think we got ten pounds of cherries, and a large amount of apricots and peaches. Most importantly, we got a pair of hot pepper plants. Two years ago, we passed through and bought some, and had some really hot peppers. But those plants died due to my inability to keep a plant alive. So it was an opportunity to get some replacements. I’m sure they will die a heroic death.
We then went back to Spences Bridge to try and get a lunch. However, as near as we can tell, there was only one restaurant in town and it was small, and thirteen people were ahead of us. So, we went back to Lytton to try there.
We ate at a sandwich place, and had an acceptable meal. The town did have a vibe that it wasn’t doing well. It seemed like the only functional business was that sandwich shop. We wandered around town for awhile. There was a derelict building that used to be a cafe called “The View”. It definitely had that. Although, it was probably dangerous to poke around it, what with the broken boards supporting its rotting balcony. Still, it was worth it to get good pictures. If I had been a bit more on the ball, I would have noticed a train approaching that would have been a second opportunity to get that picture I wanted.
Then, we continued on our way, north to Lillooet. That was a very scenic part of the trip. We had to stop several times to take pictures. I love to see mountains with a small break in them that let you see beyond them. A hidden valley lies there. It is far away, and unreachable, which is romantic (in the mythic usage of the word, not the love version.)
After Lillooet, we stopped to look at the view of Seton Lake. The thing that surprised me about this lake was how big it was compared to how big it looked. If you just looked at it, it looked like a beautiful lake nestled in the mountains. But when we saw a boat speeding across it, you got the perspective of how big it actually was.
We continued on to Whistler. I had thought we could have dinner here. I was actually surprised at how busy the place was. I know it as a winter town for skiing. It is high summer now, so I was expecting it to be fairly empty. But there were long waits at all the restaurants. The place actually felt like Chamonix in France. It had a similar vibe. But the food was better in France.
It was getting dark when we left, so there were no spectacular views for the rest of the trip. We got home at about 11:30, exhausted.

Tired for good reason

It was an exhausting weekend.
It started on Saturday with my company’s summer party. We were given tickets to a nearby amusement park and given free reign to have fun. I also got to bring Catalina. I went alone last year, but it was better with someone else. I did force her to go on one adult ride; you should try to do things that scare you. And she did a lot of screaming on the wooden rollercoaster, but there was a big smile on her face afterwards as the adrenaline kicked in. Having got her to do that, I didn’t make any other demands for rides.
Her favourite rides though were the little kid ones. We went on the merry-go-round way too often. I don’t even want to talk about the train ride.
There was a barbecue too, but unfortunately our company has gotten too big. There was a long line to get your food. I think we were waiting in it for an hour. If you are waiting that long, you don’t want to wait again, so you pile up your plates with as much food as you can carry. Needless to say, I did not need a dinner that night.
I will complain about the miniature golf course. It is built on a slope, so the first few holes are at such a bad angle, that it is very easy for your ball to roll right back to the tee.
The next day, Catalina and I drove out to Pitt Lake. Friends from Edmonton were in town and we decided to go on a canoe journey with them to Widgeon falls. It was different from when we did the trip last year. There were no forest fires going on so we actually had clear weather and could see the surrounding mountains. And since we were using multiple canoes, I could be in some of the distance-shot pictures.
The hike to the falls seemed to go faster too. Probably because I wasn’t as obsessed with taking as many pictures. I think we got to the falls before the crowds, but more and more people started showing up after we arrived. We ate a pleasant lunch and then swam around in the water. It was very cold though.
There is a place on the trail that we call the D&D grove; it’s where, last year, we encounter someone reading a D&D manual while hanging out in a hammock. It is also a nice place to swim without crowds. Unfortunately, it is still early in the season, so the water was very cold. And the day wasn’t hot enough to make it worth staying in for too long.
On Monday, I had taken the day off so we could give our friends a walking tour of Vancouver. This journey took us from the library, to Thierry, along Coal Harbour, into Stanley Park forest trails, to Cacoa 70 on Denman, walking along the seawall. We then took a ferry to Granville island where we investigated the Public Market and then bought some hats. The ferry took us back to Yaletown where we walked home and then had a movie night.
And on every day, I got up early to do my morning run.

The Grand Experiment

Today, 7-11 had a Slurpee Bring-Your-Own-Cup day. (Restrictions apply.) I was curious enough that I decided I would take part in this event. I chose as my “cup” a large plastic container that formerly held profiteroles from Costco. I had no intention of being able to drink it all, but it was more to experience the attempt.
I did my run this morning and went to work. At about 11:30 I decided that I had waited long enough and walked over to a nearby 7-11. I’m downtown so there are lots of locations to choose from. It would feel wrong to just have one flavour with the amount of slush I was going to get, so I varied it.
I should preface my experience by noting that I have not had much pop for several years now.
I brought the Slurpee back to work and proceeded to drink it slowly. It initially tasted good. I mostly just tasted the Coke layer, but occasionally the Mountain Dew layer intruded. The Orange Crush just tasted of sweet. It was all very nice.
About three hours later though, I was not as happy. My brain felt off. Slow? Lethargic? I could still think at a regular rate (I believe.) My digestive system was also cranky; I burped a lot and felt a bit queasy.
It eventually went away, but it was an interesting experience. I am no longer a teenager; I can’t imbibe massive amounts of sugar without consequences. I have no intention to do this again, even though the event is for two days.
I will definitely have to do a good run tomorrow to burn off this excess sugar.

Cruising

Yesterday was a lovely evening.
I had gone out to pick up something from a store about twenty minutes away. It was close to one of my favourite restaurants, so I decided to go there too. I finally tried their onion rings; best ones I’ve ever had.
Then, on the walk home I heard a distant sound. It took me a few seconds to realize what it was; a ship horn. A ship wan maneuvering around the harbour. And didn’t I find out last year that a cruise ship leaves at around this time?
I changed direction and got to Canada Place. As predicted, there was a large cruise ship leaving port. I had missed the initial cast off, but I got to see it attempt a two point turn. It was a beautiful time, with the sun low in the sky giving a good view of the mountains, the ship, and the sea.
After I had seen enough, I took a different route home than usual and saw a few things I hadn’t before: A status from Salvador Dali; a chocolate cafe; fountains. It was a nice way to end the day.