Category Archives: Photos

Photos, mostly.

The North Shore’s Edible Garden Advocate

Heather Johnstone runs the Edible Garden Project on Vancouver’s North Shore.

Just wrapping up its 4th year, the the project encourages residents to share their bounty with people in need, as well as putting together a variety of urban agriculture and community garden projects.

This week, Heather and team opened the Queen Mary Community Garden, located in the City of North Vancouver. Those of you who aren’t from the North Shore may not be aware that there is both City of North Vancouver, and a District of North Vancouver. Heather’s project involves both municipalities.

I spoke to Heather about the project and where things are going with urban agriculture on the North Shore. We met up at the Lower Lonsdale Community Garden…

 

Runs: 11:01

Podcast ISBN: 978-1-926758-03-9
photos and podcast © Robert Ouimet & Bigsnit Media 2009

Bears With Me

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All summer we’ve been planning a combined camping/sailing weekend with some friends of ours who are hard-core campers. They’d heard me talk about Plumper Cove Marine Park where I spent many a weekend this summer on Madsu.

Their family of five walked on the Langdale ferry at Horseshoe Bay, then took the water taxi to Keats Landing, then hiked in to the campground at Plumper Cove. While they were doing that, we sailed to Keats from Horseshoe Bay aboard Madsu.

One of the things our friends asked about were bears.  I told them not to worry, no bears on Keats, so they left their bear proofing gear (mostly food cache ropes/bags) at home.

We had a fabulous Saturday afternoon playing in the water – the cove really warms up in the Sunshine and it’s a treat to be able to spend hours and hours swimming in the sea in September in BC.

Sunday morning as we shared a cup of coffee at our friend’s campsite, the parks people came over to inform us that, in fact, a bear swam over from the mainland and was at that moment cruising the beach behind the campsite.

Much excitement ensued, including packing up all the food and bringing it down to the boat.

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We left around noon, knowing that our friends, now without a speck of food, would be safe from even the hungriest black bear.  And we left Dane and the rest of the parks crew to deal with the interloper.

There was a decent inflow up Collingwood Channel, so we had a spirited broad reach in Howe Sound once we reached the channel, and it held up pretty much to all the way to Hood Point off Bowen Island.

Back on the dock at Horseshoe Bay, I was surprised to get quized about ‘the Keats bear’ by our friends on Sea Dragon.

Apparently there had been lots of VHF radio chatter about the bear, mostly warning boats anchored to keep a watch out if they were rowing to shore.

Through some bizarre alignment of planets, our friends arrived just as I was washing the boat down. They’d taken the water taxi from Keats back to Gibsons Landing, then taken a transit bus to the Landgale Ferry terminal, arriving at Horseshoe Bay just in time to catch up with us.

They fetched their car from the parkade and picked up their gear, and we all went to our respective homes to shower and tell tall tales about the bear we never even saw.

Once settled at home, I went out to dump some garbage in our big green bin, when I got a bit of a surprise.  Since we’re in bear country here on the north shore, we keep our garbage bin inside a shed.  While we were gone, a bear came by and did his/her best to try to rip the door right of the shed in hopes of getting at the bin.

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The bear would have been successful too, had we not started using a piece of pipe, New York apartment style, to jam the door closed.  We’ve had the odd bear claw marks on the shed door before, but never a concerted demolition attempt.
Time for me to do a little work shoring up the door.  From the Bear Aware web site:

The rule of thumb is that if it can be dismantled using a crowbar then it is not bear proof.

All this just reminds me of how large our (by that I mean HUMAN) impact is on wildlife.

There is nothing at all unusual, at least for a bear,  about a bear swimming over to Keats Island.  It’s only an event because we’re there, totally unprepared.

Back at my place, the bear should be munching on the wild berries in the ravine behind the house, or even the apples and pears growing in my front yard.  Instead, these natural foods are ignored, in favour of human garbage, a meal residents readily provide, because its too inconvenient for us NOT to.

Canning Is Sexy

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I gotta say.

Taking fresh organic vegetables out of the garden in the morning, and by early afternoon seeing them transformed into beautiful jars of food we can eat months from now, is, well…

Super.Hot.

And knowing that they’ll taste ten times better than anything I’m going to find in the supermarket, is well…

Really.Really.Super.Hot.

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All that’s involved is:

  • a little simple chemistry with water, vinegar, sugar & salt.
  • some spices and seeds (like mustard) for taste.

Way back, when I first tried making pickles and other canned goodies, I used to phone my grandma or my mom for advice.

Today, I just have to lean over the counter to the keyboard and Bing!, within seconds I’ve got dozens of detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to make the very best [name your preserve] EVER!

It’s like having an entire old folks home full of grandmas at your disposal – even better since almost all come with reviews by people who’ve tried them.

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The other thing is, this canning stuff doesn’t have to take over your life. You can easily put up just a few jars without turning your life (and your kitchen) into a cannery. Crank up the tunes, turn the burner up high, and go for it.

Today, for instance, I did 4 jars pickled beets, and 1 of picked jalapeno peppers.

Now that’s sexy.

Ok, maybe my excitement has a tiny bit to do with the fact that I’m still recovering from septicemia.

But still. I haven’t been this excited since EB showed me her…

Well, never mind.

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(cross posted to VanGoGreen)

How the Olympic Athletes Will See Vancouver

During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the athletes village will be down at southeast False Creek.

If you haven’t been by there in a while, its worth a stroll along the water (start at Science World) where you’ll see the development from that aspect.

Yesterday I toured the area and got a bird’s eye view from the top of one of the buildings.   (click this image for a larger version, or see this and another on Flickr)

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This panorama is a series of six images shot handheld with a Nikon D70 and stitched using PTGui Pro.

More information on this whole area on the City of Vancouver’s website, Southeast False Creek.

Growlers in English Bay

The two cars couldn’t be further apart in aesthetic.

But there they were, parked on the same block, on a quiet day in the usually tourist laden English Bay in Vancouver.

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My snow-eating-Yaris looked positively anemic next to the grey Maserati.  Even sitting at the curb, the car looked fast.  A lean high tech machine.

Down the block, perfectly at home next to the Sylvia Hotel, a 1951 Mercury with suicide doors.

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The chrome alone probably outweighs the Maserati up the street.   In the early 50’s, this Canadian made Mercury commanded respect.

Today, it still does, looking every bit as menacing as it ever did.

Made a bland day in the bay a little more interesting.

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Shocker : District Discovers Snow

Someone at the District of North Vancouver just discovered the snow.

A week after we really needed it, they sent a crew over this morning to clear the corner.

Ironically the street’s become significantly less hazardous in the last week  as the snow’s melted a lot.

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It’s great that they’re clearing the roadway – people will actually be able to pull over now instead of stopping in the middle of the road.

Too bad they didn’t send the crew out when people were trying to make their way to the high-school up the street when it opened after the holidays.  Or when even more snow fell after that, and people were getting stuck just trying to turn.

Oh, I guess they’ll be back soon.  In their fervour to clear the street (that no longer really needed clearing) they managed to dig up part of the traffic lane separator on the corner.

A World Above the Fog

Vancouver woke up to another fog-bound day. At our elevation in North Vancouver, the fog wasn’t too thick, but as I drove down the 200 metres or so to the freeway, it thickened considerably.

After turning up the Cypress Bowl road it became apparent very quickly that it was blue skies all the way. Just as Snowboard Expert had noted earlier in the week, things up top were the exact opposite of down in the city.

For one, the sun was shining brilliantly. For two – it was a lot warmer up there. In fact, as I rode the lift this morning, I could feel the temperature rising. A classic weather inversion (not really a pineapple express – there’s little or no wind).

By 10 this morning it was plus 6 celsius – and heading to 10 or 11 for the day. Back at my house in North Vancouver, the temperature stayed steady at around freezing most of the morning.

At the top of Black Mountain, I had to unzip my jacket – 3 guys went by me in t-shirts.

I grabbed a shot with my point-n-shoot (I don’t bring my Nikon to the hill) of downtown Vancouver poking its head above the blanket of fog. Interesting aspect of Vancouver you don’t see very often. (click for a full frame version)

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Over in the other direction, Howe Sound is draped in a huge blanket of fog

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So, if you’re feeling hemmed in by the fog, head UP UP UP to where the sun’s shining.

Chair to Nowhere

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There’s something eerie about riding a chairlift into heavy morning fog.

This was around 9 this morning at Cypress, and riding up the deserted Midway chair (above) the light drizzle added to the mood. Near the top left of the frame you can see some boarders shrouded in the fog

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Adding to quirkiness of the morning – the distinct smell of garlic about a third of the way down the Horizon run. Not sure if it was successfully warding off whatever was lurking in the fog, but it sure made me hungry.

Cypress Riding Jan 4

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Looking over my right shoulder on the way up the lift this morning I could see Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in the background. The trees in Stanley Park are the only indication the city is down there – somewhere underneath the cloud cover.

We knew right away it was going to be a busy day on the hill – arriving at 9am the upper lot was already full, which is quite unusual, even with an 8 am opening.

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It was snowing and significantly cooler – with a crisp wind blowing down the face of Mt. Strachan as we rode the left. Wind in the face up means wind on our back coming down, so that’s not so bad.

Seemed to us to be the busiest day on the hill so far this season – probably the allure of 50 plus cm’s of new snow and decent driving conditions in Vancouver for the first time in days. Usually when it gets busy we’ll hit Midway chair to avoid the lineups, but it and Skychair were closed today – probably because of the wind.

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I can’t say I like Cypress’s new system of checking passes and tickets in the lift lines instead of at an entry gate. It means digging my pass out from inside my jacket which usually means taking off my gloves and fumbling with my zipper, then having to get things back together again. Not a big deal but a bit of a nuisance, especially since the zipper toggle on my jacket it broken. Hmmm, wonder if that’s a good enough reason to get a new one …

The conditions were spectacular – so much snow it just brings a big smile to your face.

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Usually when we head home, we leave the snow behind, driving down into the dull greens of a Vancouver winter. This week however, we’re heading home to a snow filled driveway. Very odd indeed.

The only disappointment of the day is the new Cypress Creek Grill Dining Room in the new lodge. The building in beautiful and huge, but the food is only just so-so, way overpriced, and the lineups to get food and then pay are  long and slow.

We’ll be packing a lunch from now on.

Meanwhile Down Under

It’s white with snow all over the lower mainland, and that makes for a lovely break from the grey.

After a morning of snowboarding I started going through some photos I took in Sydney a few years ago.

Maybe because my sailboat Madsu is tucked away out of the water and undercover for the winter, two photos jumped out at me.

A couple of examples of the ultimate in waterfront living…

  • Steps to the ocean
  • Pool
  • Dry dock

Click the pics for larger versions, if you can stand it…

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It’s one thing to haul up that nice little runabout.

But get a load of this ketch.

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Gotta love those Sydneysiders.

Both of these were taken in November 2002.

How Long Is Summer ?

The answer is simple.

Cruising with Madsu on a typical BC summer day.

It’s possible it gets better than this, but I doubt it

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

A little reminder of what to expect (again) in just a few months.  And really just an excuse for me to futz with Final Cut Studio 2 which arrived this week.

CBC Radio One – Not for Otters

What a difference a couple of days make.

This is the last weekend of summer, and to make sure we get the picture, the sky turned heavy overcast with, yes, some rain today.

Walking to the marina ramp, I was stopped by a tourist who was looking out at Horseshoe Bay. “I guess it looks better in the sunshine ? “, he asked, optimistically.

At the boat I managed to drop my boat keys into the salt chuck as I was loading stuff into the cockpit. The keys were on a lanyard around my neck, but as I pulled my shoulder pack off, it managed to catch the keys and slide the lanyard right over my head and into the water. After 20 years of sailing, I’ve managed to do this twice – both times this year. The last time was at the beginning of the season, and even though I had a key float attached to the key ring, it too sank like a stone.

Since I’d already lost a set of keys, I knew I had no duplicates for the padlocks on Madsu’s hatch and cockpit lockers. So, off I went to the hardware store to buy more locks, and home to pick up my bolt cutters.

When I stopped by the Marina office to buy a new gate key, the staff and I exchanged ‘lost keys in the drink’ stories – I think they were doing their best to make me feel less foolish.

Somehow it all seemed to fit with the grey day and light drizzle, and somehow it didn’t really matter.

The Marina was quiet, so after cutting the old padlock off the hatch, I listened to Radiohead while I wrapped self-amalgamating tape around the new lock bodies so they won’t rust all over the cockpit.

Two slips over is a powerboat with a full canvas cover. The owner keeps a radio on inside 24/7. It’s not terribly loud so it’s not so much annoying as it is curious. When I asked one of my other boat neighbours what the deal is, they told me he uses the radio to keep the otters way.

The river otters use the boats as a sort of dining room. The guy next to me has tried everything and still the otters find a way into his powerboat and leave behind a huge smelly mess. I’ve been gifted the occasional bit of leave-behind, usually on my docking lines, but there’s some serious chowing-down that goes on in the boat next to me – and remnants smell to high heaven.

Radio guy seems to have found the answer though. He’s not troubled by otters any more.

His secret ?

He keeps his radio tuned to CBC Radio One, and that keeps the otters away.

Wonder if that’ll make it into an ad campaign anytime soon.