Fabulous Fun Fund Raiser

You never quite know who'll show up at your table - Gina Bastone's marvelous masks

The North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce held its annual Governors’ Gala and fund- raiser last night at the Pinnacle Hotel.

It was a sold-out event, and raised over 70-thousand dollars for North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre.

Despite the odd people at my table (see photo above) it was a great time, and so nice to see such support for Presentation House and its new artistic director Kim Selody.

MC  Vicki Gabereau  made a point of reminding everyone that along with giving generously, the most important way to support live theatre is to attend a performance.

 

 

These Boots are Made for Riding

After our annual pilgrimage to Second Wave on Lonsdale, we’re geared up for another year of snowboarding. Truth be told, we’ve been by the store quite a few times in the last month…

As always, we got some great advice & great prices from the guys there – nothing beats having real boarders help you get geared up.  I’m pretty excited about my new Cartel bindings and youngest son is sporting a new pair of Custom bindings to go with his new Clash board.  The new board and bindings are a treat – he usually ends up with his older brother’s hand-me-downs. This year both he and I got some new-to-us hand-me-down boots courtesy oldest son’s (still) growing feet.

Now – about the snow.

After a great start things seem to have gone into stasis – not that I’ve got any big complaints about the blue sky.  But a couple of days of heavy snow on the local mountains would make us all smile – and get those boots off laundry room shelf and strapped to a board where they belong.

Yacht Spotting

My little sailboat Madsu remains tucked away under a tarp next to my house for the winter.

I still can’t resist cruising the docks, looking at boats – a prairie boy who’s turned sea crazed.

This 198 foot beauty is called Méduse, and she was (and may still be) owned by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft and a fairly regular visitor to these parts.  She was hanging out at Lonsdale Quay when I was there on Monday (Feb 1).

I wonder if she’s here is here for the Olympics ?

That’s a lot of hull to keep sparkly clean.

UPDATE: A friend on Twitter tells me she’s now owned by the Washington family – they’re the people who own Cates tugs of North Vancouver – and the owners of these docks…so that makes some sense.

Olympic Fever

Olympic spirit is most definitely showing itself all over the city of Vancouver.

Even here in sleepy North Vancouver.

It’s true, we’re essentially just a pass-through community as people head either to Whistler or Cypress Mountain or Vancouver or Richmond for events, but still, we’re  jazzed.

I first noticed it on my first stop of the day for coffee.

And right up there on display with the commuter mugs, those red Olympic mittens – perfect for handling those hot beverages.

In my local ‘hood -  Edgemont Village -  all the merchants are sporting these  Go Canada Go posters.

And really, there’s no better way to welcome the torch than with a quick haircut…

Or even better, a bottle of wine…


Lots of people are making a fuss about the crass commercialization of the games.

But darn it, why didn’t I think of this.

Chocolate covered sea foam Inuksuit (that’s plural for Inuksuk by the way).

Truth be told, I prefer my Inukshuk with dark chocolate, but that’s just me…

Here’s a basket full of mascots.  And I mean full of mascots. There are 4 official mascots, not just one.

This one’s  Quatchi.

The other three are Sumi, Migi and Muk Muk.

Given the lack of snow at Cypress Mountain and the financial mess the ski resort at Whistler is in, they really get a fifth mascot.

One who can jury rig a fix up just in time for the games – might I suggest  MacGyver

By far the sleeper of all this Olympic merch (and there is plenty of it).

‘Cause nothing is more indicative of  winter sports in the lower mainland.

The Official Umbrella of the 2010 Games.

Finally, my favourite.

While organizers have been focusing on getting volunteers and community support for the games, they missed the obvious.

These guys at Contact Printing nailed it.

And just to bring the point home.

Let’s pull back a bit  so we can see those fantastic snow covered North Shore mountains.

A Simple Little Photo Gallery

For ages now I’ve been meaning to set up a simple web site to display photographs.

Last year I used a WordPress template to create this mostly photo site for my sailboat Madsu.

This time, I wanted something super simple.

I’ve been using Slide Show Pro for a while now. It’s real strength comes when you combine it with Slide Show Pro Director, which is a content management system. I use it on the main page of this blog, but also for client sites where I need a rotating banner that’s going to get changed often.  Adding new images to the slide show is simply a matter of uploading them to the CMS, and nothing needs to be changed on the website itself.

For this little gallery called I Love North Shore, I’m also using the Thumbgrid for navigation.

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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.

Heritage In Your Backyard

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We had a great time tonight at the Handsworth School Heritage Fair in North Vancouver.

Students showed off the displays they created to illustrate dozens of important events and people, all part of Canada’s heritage.

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As you might expect, there were displays on historical events like Canada’s role in World War II & the underground railroad. Also, important Canadian personalities like Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas – and – Geddy Lee.

I was thrilled to see a few bits of local history get their due.

One student showcased North Shore boy Bryan Adams, and included a model stage complete with guitars and PA stacks.

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Just around the corner was a display that would make Dangerous Dan proud, celebrating world-renowned North Shore trail riding (complete with the student’s own Banshee parked in front of the display).

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It’s great to see teachers encouraging this kind of thing, recognizing that history makers don’t have to be ancient, and could just as well be walking up the street in Edgemont Village.

Snow Bunnies

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Vancouverites are turning into Snow Bunnies.

Who knew.

While most Canadians take winter snow flurries in stride, the white stuff makes BC South Coast dwellers a little crazy.

Usually it only lasts a few days, so we cope – using tennis rackets and kayak paddles to shovel our cars out of the fluffy stuff.

With another dump of snow today, we’re just going to have to get the hang of this.

Yesterday, I stopped to help a guy in a fancy BMW with super cool low aspect tires. I couldn’t leave him there – he was chipping away at the ice under his tires using a window scraper.

When I told him I had a shovel in the snow eating Yaris he lit up like a kid at Christmas. In fact, all he needed was a little push since. When I asked him if he got any traction with his tires, he didn’t even hestitate, ‘None’ he said. All the more reason to be out driving around I guess.

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Here in my snowbound ‘hood things are looking surprisingly like Winnipeg. EB and I walked around the neighbourhood, the familiar crunching sound under our boots, as big fat flakes continued to fall gracefully on the crescent.

The boys and I will head up to Cypress for some early morning riding in the powder, while EB takes the bus to Richmond to teach at the Gateway.

Since she’s going that way, we’ll send some munchies along to feed the ‘real’ snow bunnies near the Minoru Chapel.

We’ll get the hang of this winter thing yet…

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ps: you can see more Minoru bunnies at Flickr.

Riding in the New Year

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While the rest of the household was sleeping, I packed my gear and headed up to Cypress for the first run of 09.   It was snowing when I left North Vancouver, Starbucks wasn’t even open, but the promise of fresh powder fueled me just fine on the trip up Cypress Bowl road.

Starting the year in knee deep powder riding a freshly waxed snowboard is as good as it gets.

If the rest of the year unfolds as well – it should be a good 009

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Local Snowboarding Cranking

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Garnet and I got up early so we could head up to Cypress this morning for the opening of the riding season.

Guest Services and lift ticketing is now at the new lodge, and it’s a fantastic facility. For one thing it’s more centrally located to the lifts, and the ticketing area is under-cover & huge compared to the old guest services building.

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The wind was blowing and the snow falling this morning, it was surprisingly cold – but first day on the mountain it really doesn’t matter.

Not many of the runs are open yet – check the Cypress Mountain web site for info – they were selling lift tickets at a reduced rate today.

20081214_tireThis was the perfect day to find out how the new Michelin X-Ice snow tires are going to perform. The road was slippery and with fresh snow falling it was a great test for the Yaris.

Verdict = way better than I had expected.

Tire technology just gets better and better and the Yaris is now a snow-hugging-machine – makes heading up on a cold snowy morning way less stressful.

Happy Riding!  Oh, and check out Garnet’s answer to the cold

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Get a Grip

My first stop of the morning pretty much set the tone for the day. I’m telling you – if you have to buy tires for your car or truck or whatever, you should do yourself a favour and get them at Tireland in North Vancouver.

I don’t work for them, don’t even know them personally. I have had outstanding service there before, and these days, that counts for everything.

With the write-off of our Jeep, we’re counting on our fabulous red Yaris to do double duty – the mighty little Toyota is going to be spending many a weekend driving up (and hopefully down) the Cypress Bowl road and we expect nothing but the best performance. I’m going to miss the comfort of 4 wheel drive, but in the absence of the four-by, I want some decent tires underfoot.

So off I went to pick up some brand new Michelin X-ICE XI2 tires – and lucky to get ‘em too.

There’s a real shortage of winter tires this year, due to a bunch of different circumstances, including a new law requiring ground grips in the province of Quebec.

As I’ve done before, I called Paul at Tireland on the North Shore yesterday, and he managed to find a set of Michelins for me – the only reason they had any is that we’ve got 14 inch tires on the Yaris instead of the more popular 15′s. But the great thing is Paul searched his stock and what he could get brought in, and had a couple of other recommendations for me, with a lot of information about the pros and cons of each tire and how they could be expected to perform.

The little red car is now equipped with some great winter tires – I had a wonderful start to me day even though I dropped a fair bit of money (hey, interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years). They thing is, I got amazing service, they took my car in on time and had it out on time, and still gave me a bit of a discount.

Now if we could only get some snow…’cause the local mountains are looking pretty bare.

The Urban Clearcut

This happens. A lot.

Vancouver’s housing market may be softening, but the urban clearcut is alive and well.

Even here in super green North Vancouver.

It goes like this.

They’re typically 30 or 40 year old houses – a 3 bedroom bungalow or rancher that served its family perfectly well. Here in North Vancouver they’re usually sitting on a pretty big lot – often with mature trees on either side and in the back.

The house gets sold and the new owners want to build something  big – usually the maximum size allowed  – so the house goes and so do the trees.

I took this photo this afternoon. A few days ago there was a house on this lot, and a lot of trees. Its easy to see how many from the pile of timber stacked out front.  In the background you can see the trees on the neighbour’s property.

No doubt the new owners will do their best to pave the remaining natural surfaces

Sad.

Must See – The Goat

If you’re in the Vancouver area, you have to go see The Goat or Who Is Sylvia at Presentation House in North Vancouver.

It opened last night and only has a 2 week run.

This is Edward Albee’s Tony award winning play, featuring top Vancouver actors. It’s theatre as it should be – sharp, challenging, surprising, tender, and shocking.

This Tony Award winning play by a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright has never been done in Vancouver before – GO!