The journey begins wrapping up

Another very busy few days, and ending with me being so tired I don’t have the energy to do any posting. So, here’s a summary of what’s happened since the last post.

Pulling out of Tsawwassen ferry terminal headed for Nanaimo, the first of three ferry rides in as many days. I took a lot of photos and videos on the ferries, and at some point I hope to put together a montage of some of them.

When I was between the ages 2 and 4, our family lived in Nanaimo. This was the second of two houses we lived in there. Friend Debbie helped me navigate around Nanaimo to find it, and also acted as a guide during my visit. We had known each other at Concordia College a few years back, so it was a good chance to get caught up.
My brother Mark and I at the Bastion in Nanaimo, at its old location. Probably taken sometime in ’63 or ’64.
Me at the Bastion in its new location, with the “Old Jail” door now below ground for some reason. 
The entire Bastion.
Preparing to fire the noon cannon. Video coming soon!
Younger brother Mark and I desperately trying to hold up a totem pole. They’re prone to falling over…
…as you can see here. Actually, this is the traditional way west coast First Nations retire old poles: they are laid in the forest and allowed to naturally decompose and return to nature. I had hoped to find the one my brother and I were holding up, but no such luck.
Down the road a bit from Nanaimo, the theatre in Chemainus. I was in one of two shows that opened the theatre 20 years ago.

Victoria, of course. Debbie and I considered having tea here, but decided our budgets were better used elsewhere.

Besides, there are plenty of free things to do in Victoria, like look at the waterfront…

…and the BC Legislature, both by day…

…and by night. This was taken after attending a guided tour of haunted Victoria, and catching a local up-and-coming band called the Capitol City Syncopators.
After bidding a fond farewell to Vancouver Island and to Debbie, it was on to the Sunshine Coast to visit with Paul and Kathy Wagler. The first stop after getting off the ferry was at Gibsons, where I got a chance to make a quick visit to Molly’s Reach, a restaurant familiar to anyone who watched The Beachcombers.
The restaurant’s interior wasn’t used during the series, but it’s now filled with memorabilia, like this costume worn by Robert Clothier who played Relic.

After some more sightseeing around Roberts Creek and area, we arrived at Paul and Kathy’s little cottage, Blackberry Abbey. Cozy, isn’t it? The Waglers are gracious hosts to many visitors, retreat participants, and others throughout the year.

Shiraz, the official greeter at the Abbey. Didn’t bark at me once, but smiled a lot.

The Waglers grow a lot of their own produce, including figs. These are just approaching ripeness, and as long as the local wildlife doesn’t get to them first, they’ll become…

…part of the repast at the Abbey. If you’d like to see more pictures and read some of Paul’s musings on a lifetime of experience, head over to his blog.

Today was much quieter, but still filled with visits with friends in Vancouver. I  saw Erin again at lunch, this time with fellow former cast member from “Tony ‘N’ Tina’s Wedding”, Francis, at Central City Brewing Company. Dinner, depicted above (at least part of it) was with Louis. He had recently returned from living in Brazil, so I asked him to recommend a place with Brazilian food; he took me to Boteco Brasil. I’ve forgotten the names of what I had (Louis,  help?) but these are light crispy pastry pockets filled with your choice of ground meat or cheese…

…and this is the Brazilian “comfort food”. The plate on the left comes to you with farinha (fine wheat crumbs, the Brazilians are very keen on contrasting textures), a very light salsa, and rice. The pot at left is filled with cooked and partly pureed beans, with meat chunks. Ladle right and left ingredients on rice and eat until full. A very tasty introduction to Brasilia!

Tomorrow, it’s a bit of culture, and another visit. I leave late Sunday, but am still hoping to fit in some more visiting or sightseeing.

The journey continues further

Great couple of days, crowded with activity. Not much time to blog about it, but here are the highlights,  told mostly in pictures.

Saturday was spent at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and environs.

The Art Deco fashion exhibit at MOV. Lots of cloche hats.

The Neon Vancouver exhibit. The room was abuzz. Literally.

After the MOV, I headed outside and joined the other walkers along the shoreline.

There were a number of classes underway – for rowing, for yoga, and for this strange sport that involves being towed around by a parachute while standing on a skateboard. Kids these days, I swear.

Go Fish. No cards in sight.

After an hour or so, I felt the need for some lunch, so after consulting my electronic travel guide I found  a place selling local seafood called Go Fish. As you can see, they were extremely busy that day, but after 30 minutes in line and another 30 minutes waiting for my food, I finally got my halibut and chips. Definitely worth the wait, but those poor folks really need to get some more staff, they were overworked.

Someone else who was waiting for fish.
The evening’s activity was the Vancouver Canadians baseball game, thanks to friend Steve.

 Sunday was a visit with friend Ron, but I decided to preface it with a bit of a drive to the northwest end of Richmond, where the walking trail along the dyke wall starts. It turned out to be a good place to watch planes taking off from Vancouver Airport.

And today, I had a very fine Japanese lunch at, of all places, a seniors’ complex. The National Nikkei Heritage Centre has a residential complex attached, with a cafeteria that serves hearty comfort food. Thanks to friend Erin for suggesting it, a great find.
The Nikkei Home, and location of Hi Genki, Burnaby’s best kept secret.

Waiting for delicious things.
The National Nikkei Heritage Centre.

Afterwards, on Erin’s recommendation, I decided to explore a bit. The museum in the Centre wasn’t open (not unusual for a Monday) so I contented myself with a few pictures of the grounds.

A memorial to the Japanese displaced during World War II.

At that point, my camera battery died and I realized I hadn’t packed a spare, so out came the phone. Next stop was Deer Lake Park, a place I’d never visited when I lived in Vancouver. I may have to make a point of visiting here again.

The Heritage Carousel in Deer Lake Park. Closed on Mondays, so a little quieter than usual.  The horses must have gone for a swim, hence the towels.

A brook emptying into Deer Lake, which apparently makes for a fine picnic spot.

A trail winds all the way around the lake, which turned into a great 45 minute walk. 

And now, to prepare for the trip to the island tomorrow, and a trip back in time 49 years…

The journey continues

A bit of time has gone by without much posting, so I hope to make that up with this one. (Incidentally, the first post now has pictures, in case you want to go back and have a look at that one.)

After getting off the train, there were two days of the UBC institute that made up the business part of the trip. Not much to write about there, without boring some of you, so I’ll leave that out.

Next, a visit with friend Steve at the Flying Beaver Pub near the airport. Great restaurant, right out on the water, where you can watch the float planes take off and land. Great food too – I had a Pad Thai that may not have been authentic, but was definitely tasty.

Before that, I took a little time to catch a few landings.

A little planespotting.

After lunch, off to Granville Island to fill up the data card on my camera.

Granville Island.

Granville Island. Another bridge shot. I like bridges.

Guess what? Another bridge shot.

The evening’s activity was the Cold Reading Series at the Billy Bishop Legion, as a guest of friend Deb. Great fun – I offered my services as a reader but as it turned out they had plenty that night. Afterwards it was downstairs for a pint and some conversation.

Cold Reading Series at the Billy Bishop Legion.

Which brings me to today, which was spent on the UBC campus, and mostly at the Museum of Anthropology. The MOA’s collections are superb, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Museum of Anthropology, totem figure.

MOA main hall.

MOA main hall again.

A Zen Buddhist monk, the founder of Asian Zen Buddhism. For someone who’s attained Nirvana, he doesn’t seem pleased about it.

Bill Reid’s famous sculpture under the skylight.

On the way back to the Rose Garden Parkade, I realized the name wasn’t just an attempt at beautification. There actually is a rose garden on top of the parkade.

The Rose Garden at UBC, a last-minute delight.

By any other name.

And, after a leisurely trip back through rush hour traffic, past familiar landmarks (my old apartment on 4th Avenue, The Naam, Videomatica’s sad empty shell), I found my way back to my Richmond digs. Tomorrow, it’s the Museum of Vancouver, and then a little baseball.

The journey begins by rail

It seems like the only thing I ever use this blog for is to document travel. At some point I hope to return to posting other things, but this will have to do for now.

I’m writing this as I sit in my lower berth accommodations aboard VIA Rail’s The Canadian, bound for Vancouver. It’s the end of a very long day which began about 18 hours ago. A cab ride at 6 am to the VIA station, an uneventful boarding, and an introduction to our car’s porter, Kevin (not his real name). This part of the car is very quiet, only a couple of other passengers and me. I’m booked for the upper berth, but Kevin tells me if no one takes the seat across from mine at Jasper, then the lower berth is mine. His words prove prophetic.

My home for the next 24 hours.

The new renter.

The train trundles along at varying speeds throughout the trip, sometimes slowing or stopping for a freight, sometimes a fully scheduled stop for passengers at a station. In Spruce Grove we’re delayed for a full hour to allow runners in a marathon to cross the track. Considering the number of times I’ve waited for trains at railway crossings, I wonder whether this was a CN sponsored event.

The dining hall.

The meals are exceptional. For brunch, I opted for something unusual: a duck confit Benedict. The poached egg and Hollandaise, both far better than most Benedicts I’ve had, were joined by duck meat and a cake made of shredded potato and bacon.

First breakfast – duck confit benedict.

There wasn’t a lunch to speak of, but considering the quality of the brunch I didn’t miss it. The stop in Jasper, originally planned to be 90 minutes, was cut in half to make up for the time lost in Spruce Grove. I managed to get a snack and a few photos of the train before we had to board again.

Most of the Jasper break was taken up by an unplanned trip to a camera store in Jasper. I had packed everything I needed for my camera – except the spare battery and charger. While they had a large variety of batteries and chargers, none were made for my camera. I would have to ration the battery usage, and lean more heavily on the iPhone’s camera. I managed to get one last photo before the camera’s battery died – a shot of Pyramid Falls, visible only from the train (highway travellers never see it).

Speaking of charging, thereby hangs another tale. The train was greatly lacking in AC outlets, so as devices required charging, it turned out to be a bit of a struggle to find places to plug in. I have a portable battery that I use to charge my devices, so fortunately I don’t need an outlet that often, but when that too ran down, I resorted to plugging it into the electric razor plugin in the bathroom.
As it turned out, the devices saw pretty limited use anyway. There’s no WiFi on the train, which I thought was a universal service across VIA, but turns out is only available in high traffic areas like Ontario and Quebec, or when in a station. Plus, in the Rockies, cellular signals are spotty at best along the railway line.

It turned out to be for the best. Any time I would have spent checking email or Facebook was now taken up with wandering up and down the train or long stints of staring at the passing scenery.

Pyramid Falls. Sadly, this was the last picture my camera took before the battery died.

Which, when it comes right down to it, is what train travel should be all about. The mind drops into a lower gear, one cares less and less about the outside world, and all that matters is pleasant travel, good scenery and good food.
Rail travel is a far more social mode of transportation than air or road. This is mainly felt at meals, where to in order to use limited table space efficiently, you are seated at a table of four with three other people from other parties. At brunch I met Frank from Winnipeg, Dieter and Greta from Kiel in northern Germany; dinner was with a pharmacist from California and a couple originally from Iowa who now sell real estate in Florida. While I’m not a naturally gregarious person, I can muster what’s needed to get me by, and this time I found that I enjoyed and learned from my table-mates.

The twilight is deepening outside my window. The steady low rumble of wheels on rails is lulling me to sleep. I think it’s time to succumb to the lull.

Shortly before bed.