50. Visit from Germany & Grouse shenanigans

North Vancouver, Canada, 29.07.2017.

Much has happened in the last two weeks. I have seen great new places, revisited old places, tried out new things and enjoyed the company of a good old friend. And before I lose track of what has happened when and with whom, it is now time to write another blog entry about the recent events.

About two weeks ago, Emilia and I decided to do some more hiking together. This time, we went up to Squamish and hiked up to peak one and two of the Stawamus Chief. The weather was beautiful and the hike with its roughly 600m of elevation change is absolutely worth doing. At both of the peaks we were rewarded with great views of the stunning landscape and the city below us. We hiked the Chief on a Saturday which was probably not the brightest of all ideas since it was really crowded. Anyway, we still found a parking spot and it was not as bad as hiking Quarry Rock on a sunny weekend so I guess I should not complain too much about that.

Howe Sound
View from peak one onto Howe Sound.
Peak2
View from peak one onto peak two.

A few days after the Chief hike, Martin from Germany visited me in Vancouver. Yes, he is the one who missed our army get-together when I was back in Germany briefly at the end of June. We spent a few days together in and around Vancouver and had a great time hiking Mount Seymour again and checking out stuff in the city. When we hiked Mount Seymour, there was far less snow than when I had been there for the first time. However, less snow means more water ponds and more breading grounds for flies and mosquitos next to the trail. Let’s put it this way: At some spots along the way, it was quite annoying to constantly fend off the bugs while trying to stay on trail. When we made it to peak one, we met another hiker, Paul, and rested a little together. While chatting along, a plane made a really close fly-by to greet us. Nice gesture and kudos to the brave pilot! After a while, Martin and I made our way up to peak two to see if it would be possible to actually conquer Mount Seymour that day. It already looked a lot better than last time I was there but there was still too much snow around and the slope also still looked a bit treacherous and sketchy so we decided to not take the gamble that day. But be warned, Mount Seymour, I will be coming back for you!!!! 🙂

Brockton-point
Half way up: At Brockton Point!
Plane1
Plane approaching us at peak one. In the background: Skyline Vancouver.
Plane2
A close fly-by to greet us! 🙂
Mount-Seymour
Way up to Mount Seymour: Probably doable but still a little bit too sketchy.

Of course, Martin and I also spent some time in the city and I wanted to introduce him to one of the typical Canadian drinks: the Cesars. So we decided to go for the Cesar’s Checkmate in the “Score on Davie” and have a great drink/food experience in Vancouver’s West End. However, before we got the food/drink, the apparently very young looking waitress asked us for our IDs to make sure we were 19 or older. Funny thing which hasn’t happened to me in quite a long time. 🙂 I was about to jokingly ask her for her ID first to make sure she was old enough to actually serve alcohol but then I refrained from doing so because I did not want to embarrass her. 🙂

Cesars-Checkmate
Martin checking out our “drink”. 🙂

Last Friday, Martin returned to Germany and from what he told me, he was also impressed by this great country. I have not yet met anyone who left Canada without great impressions and a good feeling. This country is just amazing!!! 🙂

You may have realized that in many of my previous running- pictures I wore that branded yellow “Lidl”- Shirt which was provided by my previous employer. Although this shirt is a great running shirt, I felt that it was time to get a new shirt which more accurately reflects my current situation here in Canada. Unfortunately, my current employer, the BC Liquor Stores, does not sponsor sport events so they don’t have any T-Shirts to give away to runners in the company. Thus, I chose to design my own Shirt and get it printed so I have something new and unique to wear during the next marathons. It’s not a real “running shirt” because it is plain cotton but there were no other shirts/fabrics I could have chosen from so I had to go with this. Here it is:

T-Shirt1
Front.
T-Shirt2
Back.

Talking about marathons. Last weekend, I was supposed to run in the Kamloops marathon but it was cancelled due to poor air quality and smoke caused by the wildfires nearby. Really sad because I am always up for a good run and I would have loved to go back to Kamloops for that race.  So instead of doing the marathon, I decided to continue working on my mountain running skills and went to the Grouse Grind to wreck myself. Last monday, I did the Grind again and finished in 45 minutes which was not considerably faster than the first two times I had done that hike/run. However, I know that I need to focus on endurance rather than speed so I decided to just do the Grind a second time and see how much slower I would be in comparison to the first time. With 48 minutes, I was only roughly 3 minutes slower than the first time. After the second Grind, I wondered if I would be able to do it a third time in a row without experiencing any cramps. Now the third time wasn’t so much fun anymore but I still managed to finish in 50 minutes without any cramps. Which is a good sign because the “hike” (it’s actually more of a constant stair-climbing) is quite straining for the legs. Now I could have probably done the Grind a forth time on that day but I began to get hungry and it just did not feel right so I decided to call it a day and drive home.

Grouse- Log
Official timing stats of my Grinds. My very first Grind (46 minutes) is missing.

In a nutshell, this is what happened on that day:

Overall time of the training session: 3 hours, 05 minutes, 05 seconds.
Time on the trail: 2 hours, 23 minutes, 39 seconds.
Breaks in between (mostly gondola- rides): 41 minutes, 26 seconds.
Elevation gain: 2559 meters
Number of stairs: 8490
Hiking distance: 8.7 kilometers

I really liked this experience and I think I will do this kind of training again in the future to prepare myself for the upcoming races. The Finlayson Arm 50K race in September has quite the interesting elevation profile with a gain of roughly 3070 meters overall. So if I keep running up the Grouse Grind and Mount Seymour some more, that should help me to actually master this Ultra race as well. But we’ll see about that in a few weeks….

Time to conclude this blog entry with yet another piece of music you will probably not know. It is a raw beat (instrumental) that was used by two battle- rappers to “front” each other some years ago. Very relaxing “song” to listen to while relaxing at the beach. Try it!

Beatjunkie Rato – Antarktika

49. Germany- Trip and Grouse Mountain

North Vancouver, Canada, 13.07.2017.

After two strenuous but exciting weeks, I finally managed to calm down a little today. So why not sit down and write another blog entry? Alright, here we go.

Roughly two weeks ago, on the 27th of June, I first flew from Vancouver to Calgary and then from Calgary to Frankfurt. Both flights were okay but I still don’t love flying so I felt a little bit stressed anyway. Back in Germany, I had much to do in the few days that I were there. First of all, I met Jana, a former colleague of mine in Herford on Wednesday afternoon. We sat outside and drank some coffee while it rained badly outside. We had a great time but unforunately, we forgot to make a selfie or picture. Next time, Jana. 🙂 After that, I drove to my mum’s place and decided to run a little. It felt good to run “my” old trails again and to see the village in which I spent so many years of my youth. On Thursday, I spent the whole day working on my english and german tax returns for 2016. Very annoying and time- consuming but necessary. In the evening, my mum and I decided to go out and have dinner at a mongol restaurant in a nearby town. The food was really great (I like fresh veggies cooked on hot plates!!!) and I guess that my mum will probably go there again. I think I will definitely go there again in January 2018 when I will make my next trip to Germany. Unbelievable, that I have already spent over 6 months in Canada and that my current visa is only valid for another 5 months and 3 weeks. It is really crazy how time flies…

German-Wine
Shopping at Lidl’s. Some really cheap wines. Would be great to have them here in my store 🙂
Running Trail
Running trail near the village I grew up in. Brought back great memories.

On Friday morning, I finished my work on the tax returns. After that, I drove to Cologne to meet my buddies from the “Captain’s Mafia”, German Army. We used to work together in the same department back in 2012 and 2013 and we all decided to keep in contact when our ways parted. Back in 2013, we were all active soldiers and we all had the rank of “Captain”, expect for Martin. But we knew that he would be promoted to Captain soon so he already counted as a Captain. Today, one of us got promoted to Major and the rest of us have left the army, so we are mostly reserve Captains today. But technically, we are all still members of the “Captain’s mafia” and that will never change. Up to now, we used to meet once or twice per year. Last time, we met in London, England last summer when I was still working for Lidl UK. Now we met in Cologne but there were only three of us since Martin had already headed to Canada to spend his holidays there. I will meet him next Monday here in Vancouver and I am already looking forward to that.

photo
Captain’s Mafia in London, August 2016. God, I look so bad and silly on some pictures. 😦
German-Army-Crew
Only 3 members of the Captain’s Mafia at the meeting on 30th of June 2017.

On Saturday, I drove to Olpe in the morning to meet another former Lidl colleague of mine, another Martin. When I was still working for Lidl Germany, our management areas were close to each other and we used to meet for lunch (Döner /Donair) or to run together. When we met on Saturday morning, we ran our usual route around the Olpe Biggesee and chatted a lot while doing that. It was good to meet him again in person and to exchange some information. Guess what: We also forgot to take a picture so I can’t post anything here. After the little workout, I drove to Wesseling near Cologne to play in one of my boardgame groups. It was really nice to meet Stephan and Ralph again and to play “Dominant Species”, a very entertaining strategic game. I managed to place second out of five and we had a lot of fun playing and chatting together. When we finished playing, I headed off to Cologne to meet a good friend of mine, Glenn. We partied all night long and then finally drove to his place early on Sunday, around 5 am. What a night! On Sunday, Glenn and I chilled all day and watched some movies. Then, on Monday, I drove back to my mom and spent the rest of the day to prepare my lawsuit against my former German Landlord. He still owes me a lot of money and since he decided not to answer to my e-mails and letters anymore, I now need to take this action. I am excited to see how that turns out but I am quite confident that the judge will make a decision in my favor. And that was pretty much the last thing I did in Germany before I flew back from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Tuesday. Busy busy days in Germany and a lot to do. But I am glad that I was able to meet so many friends of mine. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet ALL of my friends and all of my family members. Oh well, there is always a next time, in this case: January 2018.

Boardgame
Playing “Dominant Species” with Stephan, Ralph, Torben and Matthias. I played the yellow birds. 🙂
Cologne
Partying with Glenn in Cologne, Saturday evening, in the “Schaafenstrasse”.

Since last Tuesday, I am finally back in Canada and very happy about it. There is still so much for me to discover in the greater Vancouver area and I was also excited to get back to work. Yes, you read that right, I love my work. Great people there, much to organize and to do in my store but still manageable and a good environment overall. But let’s not talk about work here but about a great place in North Vancouver: Grouse Mountain. After five days of work, I had a day off last Monday so I decided to finally visit Grouse Mountain. Without going into too much detail here (I feel this blog entry is already getting too long), I have to say that this is a great place and I would always recommend a visit to anyone. I did the famous Grouse Grind in 46 minutes which is not bad but also not an overly great time. That performance confirmed to me once more that I need to train more uphill- running and mountain trails if I want to succeed in the upcoming Ultra- races in September and October. That’s why I decided to buy an annual pass for Grouse Mountain so that I can come back anytime to run the Grouse Grind for training purposes. Let’s see if I will be able to improve my time a little in the future….

Grouse-Grind
The start of the Grouse Grind. Sooooo many stairs. 🙂
View-NV
View on North Vancouver and Deep Cove from Grouse Mountain.
Goat-Mountain
View from the top of Goat Mountain.
Trail-GM
The way back to Grouse Mountain: Sliding in the snow while trying to keep balance.

On top of Grouse Mountain, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole Vancouver region. After a short rest, I decided to hike to the top of another nearby mountain, Goat Mountain, and I found myself scrambling through snow again. But it was still an enjoyable trail and I also managed to not get a sunburn this time. Some parts of the trail were pretty steep and occasionally, the “trail” was more like a snowsled on which you had difficulties to get up but much fun to ride down. So the way back from Goat Mountain to Grouse Mountain was not so much of a hike but more of a sliding- and skiing adventure. Since I still had another appointment on Monday afternoon, I decided against doing any of the other activities on top of Grouse mountain, like Zip- lining and Helicopter flying. However, I still managed to see most of a bird show that had already begun when I returned from Goat Mountain. They had a trained bald eagle, a great owl, a falcon and another bird whose species I can’t remember, sorry. It was great to see these great birds and their different flying- and hunting skills. Check out the pictures below!

Grouse
A “wild” grouse I saw on Grouse Mountain. Naming story of the mountain checks out. 🙂
Owl
Such a beautiful and talkative owl. It was about to loose one of its feathers.
Bald_Eagle
The bald eagle “Hercules” wandering around while her trainer explained his hunting habits.

After the bird show, I took the 4-minute skyride back to the bottom of the mountain. Although it was a Monday (and not the weekend), I still had to wait in line for about 30 minutes because there were quite a few people who wanted to take the skyride as well. Thus, I would not necessarily recommend to visit Grouse Mountain at the weekend when it will probably be even busier than it was last Monday. Anyway, it was a great day and I am happy that I got to know another of Vancouver’s attractions. 🙂

Hmmm, I just realized that I have written more than 1500 words again. So I guess it’s time to stop writing now. But before you quit this page, check out this great rock song from Linkin Park. Such a good song for your running playlist. Or your car playlist. Or your chill playlist for the beach. Or whatever, it’s just a great song, believe me. 🙂

Linkin Park – Easier to run

48. Assault Mount Seymour & flight back to Germany

North Vancouver, Canada, 27.06.2017.

It is 4 o’clock in the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. Usually, I am never too excited to sleep but it looks like today must be an exception. In a few hours, I will board my plane back to Germany and flying is still none of my favourite activities. So I have to admit that I am at least a little bit nervous about that in the moment. In addition to this, I am also still excited about having recently completed my application for Canadian permanent residency. Yesterday I also applied for the BC nomination program which could really help me to get the permanent residency. From what I have read in the internet, my chances to be nominated for permanent residency by the BC government are pretty good. And if that happens, it is pretty likely to also get a positive decision by the Canadian government. That would be soooooo amazing. So although nothing has been decided yet and there is no reason to celebrate yet, I am nevertheless very excited about this situation. I sincerely hope that I don’t have to wait too long for a decision since the waiting is always the most annoying part of it all. Probably, I will write a little more about this subject in my next blog entry but I won’t go into detail right now because there are other things worth reporting…

Seymour1
Lower part of the trail that leads up to Mount Seymour.
Seymour3
First of the three peaks at Mount Seymour. I went on to the second peak from here.
Seymour8
Snow all the way up from Parking lot 4 to the three peaks of Mount Seymour.

Why do I love Canada anyway? Well, let me tell you about last Thursday and you may get an idea why I am so happy here right now. Last Thursday, I just had a single day off and I decided to do something crazy. In April, I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour (see my blog post here) but back then, there was still a lot of snow around and I decided to come back later. Since I don’t like unfinished issues, I thought it was time to do a little trail- and uphill training and finally conquer Mount Seymour. So I put on my running shoes, and started the assault on Mount Seymour shortly after breakfast with only a bare minimum of additional gear/equipment. My primary goal was to avoid having to carry a heavy backpack like I did last time. Running up to parking lot number 4 on Mount Seymour at 1000m of elevation (I started at roughly 50m above sea level) was quite nice and doable since the trail was now completely snow-free. Then, however, it started to get ugly. Although it was quite warm (over 20 degrees celsius) and running in shorts and T-Shirt was totally fine, the snowy ground really gave me a hard time. Not really ideal to run/hike on trails covered by several feet of snow (~ 1m of snow cover) with old sport shoes. Anyway, I was not prepared to give up this time and although I also forgot a proper hat and my sunscreen, I still made my way up to peak 2, close to the highest summit of Mount Seymour. Unfortunately, the last summit of Mount Seymour was not accessible due to unfavorable snow conditions. There was no chance to do the final piece of the trail without ropes, carabiners and spike shoes. And guess what: I had none of that at hand. So I decided to stay on top of peak 2 for a little while and talk to Peter, a very well travelled and nice guy who likes to hike around BC.

Seymour2
Best footwear ever to run up a snowy mountain 🙂
Seymour7
On top of peak 2, I met Peter, a very friendly guy who was a lot better prepared for his hike than I was for mine.
Seymour5
A nice view on the whole Vancouver Metro region.
Seymour6
Final peak of Mount Seymour. Visible but not accessible today.

After having paused a little on peak 2 with Peter, it was time to run back down to Deep Cove. Naturally, it was a lot easier and quicker to run downhill than it had been to crawl all the way up. Also, it was a lot of fun to surf and slide down the steeper parts of the snow trails. 🙂 Fear of triggering an avalanche? Well, yes, I had that but what can you do? I suppose that life is too short to worry about avoiding every possible disaster however unlikely it is that it will occur. All in all, I had a fabulous day and a great experience in the mountains. And now I also learned that you should definitely put on sunscreen when hiking in the mountains if you want to avoid getting sunburn in the face and on the legs. Yes, the legs. Probably because the snow reflects the sun so that the legs are really exposed to it. Not a big deal, my skin has mostly recovered from it already…

What else did I do in the last two weeks in BC? As usual, I did my share of climbing but I also managed to hike a little with my hiking partner in Lighthouse park. Although the weather could have been better on that day, it was still a great hike and we had a good time. On July 15th, we will go on our next trip and conquer the Stawamus Chief near Squamish. Yes, I am already looking forward to that!

LighthousePark1
Panorama view from the coast of Lighthouse Park. Burrard Inlay in the background.
LighthousePark2
Hiking in the Canadian Rainforest. Can’t get enough of that.
LighthousePark3
Historical information and monuments around Lighthouse Park.

Last but not least, I also registered for the Finlayson Arm 50K Trail race on Vancvouver Island in September. That race will be 13 days after the marathon in Texada Island but I guess that’s still okay. I need to push myself hard if I want to do the Canadian Death Race in 2018 and that is a goal I am willing to suffer a lot for. Always go for your dreams and never give up until the final card is played. 🙂 Also, I am really looking forward to visiting Vancouver Island again. I hope I can take a few days off as well and also see Corey & Kelly as well as a little bit more of the island (maybe Victoria, maybe the Pacific Rim National Park). But we will see about that once I start planning for that trip in detail.

Right now, it is time to get prepared for my drive to the airport so I can catch my connecting flight to Calgary at 11:20 AM. Ah, nearly forgot to post today’s music advice. Check out this Austrian Punk/Rock band with this nice song:

FAMP – Move on

47. Salt Spring Island, Part 2

Ferry between Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island) and Tsawwassen, Canada, 14.06.2017.

After five amazing days on Salt Spring Island, I am slowly making my way back to reality. It is Wednesday morning and the “Queen of Nanaimo” (again!) is already taking me back to Tsawwassen. My mood is not the best, I am still really tired (I got up at 4:15 AM) and I am looking at a long day with my late shift in the store starting at noon. Anyway, I don’t want to complain because I just had a great time on the island and I feel blessed that I have a job that allows me to do all the travelling and sightseeing that I am doing in the moment.

So, what happened on my last two days on the island? Well, first of all, I met one of my AirBnB- hosts, Roxy, on Wednesday evening. We talked quite a bit and it was really interesting to hear what is currently happening on the island and what she did so far in her life. Also, it was a great experience for me to see how an alternative way of life may look like and how different lives and ideas can develop with time. Unfortunately, I did not meet Heather since she came home when I was already asleep and she left before I got up again. Pretty tight schedule for someone who lives on an island that seems to offer such a relaxed and peaceful life. So after I got up on Monday, I drove to Reginald Hill to do some running and hiking. By accident, I missed the first turn that would have led me straight up to the hill and instead, I ended up on First Nations land with a magnificent coastline. I happily walked along the coast for several hundred meters and enjoyed the sunshine and the great view of the ocean and the small islands along the way. Finally, I decided it was time to do some exercise so I took a nearby trail that eventually led me up to Reginald Hill. The view up there was also quite nice so I enjoyed that for a little while before I descended to the parking place again. Since I felt still felt fresh after this little excursion, I decided to drive further south on the island to also do the Hope Hill trail on that day. This trail mainly led through a relatively dense forest so it did not offer any particularly great views. That’s why I took this chance to actually train some uphill running in the comforting shade of the trees.

01-Reginald
Coast line near Reginald Hill.
02-Reginald
View on several other small islands.
04-Reginald
View from Reginald Hill. The mountain on the right of the valley is Maxwell Mountain.
03-Reginald
View on the bay leading to Fulford Harbour.

After all the hiking and running, I felt like I wanted to do calm down a little for the rest of the day. That’s why I decided to do yet another wine tasting and to also visit the local cheese “factory” and buy some of their local produce. The wine tasting at the Garry Oaks winery was quite nice and their wines were absolutely okay but none of them really appealed to me strongly so I only bought one bottle of a crisp and fresh white wine. In contrast to that, the different flavored types of cheese at the cheese factory were just amazing. I only tasted different types of goat cheese there but they were all really nice so I bought two different packages there despite their relatively high price. I guess paying these kinds of prices is what you have to do if you want really good quality and organic produces, right?
The day ended with me sitting at a beach on the northern part of the island, reading a little in my book and enjoying the sunset.

05-Garry-Oak
Garry Oaks Winery with tasting room.
06-Garry-Oak1
Quite a few of their wines actually won prizes!!!
07-Cheese-Farm1
Goats and chickens roaming free nearby the cheese factory.
08-Cheese-Farm2
The cheese factory on Salt Spring Island.
09-Cheese
My shoppings. Truly delicious. 🙂
10-Beach-North-SSI
Another beach, another great view, what more can you ask for?

On Tuesday morning, I decided to finalize and post my last blog entry before heading off to new adventures. So I did that before I drove to a parking place near Baynes Park and the Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve. That morning, I felt like running again so I put on my proper shoes and headed on to the trail that led to the park and the reserve. In the end, I only made a few pictures on this trip but I had a good time and still got to see many interesting things along the route. When I was done with that exercise, it seemed like a good idea to me to drive back to Ganges and finish reading my book while sitting in the small but beautiful Centennial Park. About 70 pages later, I was done with the book (good piece of literature, see below!) and it was time to get another great lunch at the Oystercatcher restaurant. This time I ordered grilled fish and raspberry ale (wow!) and it was really good again. Also, I met a few very nice and friendly islanders, including Shawn, who had been to Germany in the 80s. We talked a lot about Cologne, the people in Bavaria, the purpose of life and a lot of other different things. Surprisingly, Shawn was still able to speak a good amount of German although he had not been able to practice this language for years. In the end, he offered me to stay at his place for the night but I had to decline because I had to get up early today to catch the ferry that I am currently on. Also, it seemed like they would continue drinking and talking for a lot longer time than I intended to stay at that restaurant. Anyway, it was a great and joyful encounter and I will make sure to contact Shawn should I ever return to this beautiful island.

11-Andreas-Vogt
Wild flowers (I guess it is foxglove???) in the Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve.
12-Andreas-Vogt-2
I admire how the Canadians maintain their heritage and sights.
13-Vape-Shop
The Vape- Shop at Ganges. Symbol of a lifestyle.
15-Centennial-Park
WW1 and WW2 memorial at Centennial Park, Ganges.
14-Book
A great book to read! Also, I generally like this author’s style of writing.

I guess this was everything that was worth reporting from this trip so I will conclude this blog entry, as usual, with a nice piece of music. Today’s piece is already relatively old but “rock-solid” (pun intended!) and it just came up on the playlist that I am listening to while writing this blog entry. Enjoy!

Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench

46. Salt Spring Island, Part 1

Ganges (Salt Spring Island), Canada, 11.06.2017.

So far, I have already spent three of my five days on Salt Spring Island and I really enjoyed every single one of them. This island is quite unique in its atmosphere and although it is pretty small, there are really many beautiful spots to see and to discover. Now since I wrote quite a lot in the last two blog entries, I will try not to write as much in this one. (Spoiler: I just checked how many words the final draft of this blog entry has: Over 1400. A lot more than I wanted to write!) Instead, I will rather let this blog entry’s pictures speak for themselves to give you an impression of what it’s like on this amazing island.

On Thursday evening, I arrived at Long Harbour at about half past ten in the evening. Not the best time to find a place to park the car for the night but I nevertheless finally managed to do so. Early on Friday morning, I got up and drove to Ruckle Provincial Park to do a little running and hiking over there. There was a beautiful coastline- trail and I also got to see a heritage farm and parts of an old orchard. Also, I noticed that there is a well-maintained camping ground nearby and this may be a good place to stay if someone is looking to just do some camping. However, since I wanted to see all parts of the island, I decided not to stay in this rather remote area but to drive in the direction of the center of the island. On my way there, I made a stop at the Salt Spring Vineyard and tasted some of their wines. Their white- and red wines were really okay but the two sweet dessert wines (blackberry and apple) were really great so I got two bottles of each of those. After that, I looked for a place to stay overnight and found one at Bader’s Beach on the west coast of the island. A rather small beach but it was quiet and it offered a beautiful view on the sea so I was really happy to stay there for the night.

01-Ruckle
One of the coastal bays in Ruckle Provincial Park.
02-Ruckle
Heritage Farm with grazing sheeps at Ruckle Provincial Park.
03-Vineyard
Salt Spring Vineyards, view from the tasting house on to the estate.
04-Wine
Really nice desert wines. A bit pricy but absolutely worth it.
06-Baders Beach
Bader’s Beach in the evening.

On Saturday, I went to the famous market in Ganges, the main village on the island. Many different things were offered on that market and almost all of them were made on the island. Also, it was clearly visible that there are many “alternative” people on the island as many shops advertised their products to be “nature-only”. I had a great time on the market and I also bought a nice piece of jewelry from Tony, one of the many craftsmen on the market. It is a silver bracelet with one cougar and six lynxes, all linked together. Did I already mention that I like crafted silverware with illustrated animals? Anyway, after the visit to the market, I got really hungry so I bought some of the local goat cheese (very good!!!) and a very good-smelling local bread. But instead of eating that right away, I decided to go for a proper lunch at one of the popular seafood restaurants, the Oystercatcher. It turned out to be a good choice because the food was really good and it was great to sit outside and eat in the sun.

07-Saturday-market
Saturday market (mostly art and food) at the Ganges village.
08-Bracelet
My new silver bracelet: One cougar and 6 lynxes.
10-Oystercatcher
A great meal at the Oystercatcher restaurant.

After having eaten so well, I decided to go to the local BC Liquor store to have a chat with its store manager. I met Robert, a very nice guy and we talked a little bit about the daily business, our upcoming transition to a new computer system and about the local beers, ciders and wine. It was a pleasure to meet him and have this really good conversation. Following up on his advice to try the ciders from the local company, I drove to their brewery and tasted all of their current ciders. And it turned out Robert was right because some of their ciders are incredibly good and tasty. Needless to say, I also bought some bottles of their most delicious ciders (elderflower, hopped apricot and pear) for later consumption in North Vancouver.

09-BCLS
The local BC Liquor Store on Salt Spring Island.
11-Cider-Tasting
A lot of good ciders to taste. I liked all of the three non- apple ones better than the ones containing apples (dry, semi-dry and ginger-apple). Strange, eh?

In the afternoon, I decided to do a little hike so I drove to Mount Erskine (448m high) to climb it. The trail to the summit was pretty steep but the magnificent view at the top of the mountain more than overcompensated me for my effort. Also, the sun was out and I just sat down at one edge of the mountain and relaxed for quite a while before hiking back to my car. Later on, I drove to Burgoyne Bay to stay there over night because I wanted to hike up to Mount Maxwell early the next day.

12-Fairy doors
Found a few Fairy doors on my way up to Mount Erskine. Never got to see the Fairies though…
13-Mt Erskine1
View from Mount Erskine.
14-Mt Erskine2
Another view from Mount Erskine.

On Sunday, I started hiking up to Mount Maxwell (602 meters) early in the morning and it did not take me too long to reach the top. On my way up, I saw several eagles circling over me and I also encountered some deer that went running as soon as they became aware of me. At the top of the mountain, once again, the panorama view was just gorgeous. It was quite fitting when I overheard a piece of conversation between an older lady and her husband that went like this: “…it is so beautiful up here, such an amazing view. We are blessed to live in a country like this, don’t you think? All the wonderful nature we have here…”. Well, I could not argue with her because that’s exactly what I think. After having climbed down from the mountain, I hiked up to Daffodil Point near Burgoyne Bay to just sit there at the beach and enjoy the sun for a little while. So relaxing if you don’t have any dates or appointments and you can just take your time to do whatever you feel like in the moment.

15-Mt Maxwell1
View from Mount Maxwell. The boats are anchoring at Burgoyne Bay.
17-Mt Maxwell3
View of the Valley with the vineyards and the beer brewery.
18-Dafodil point
Daffodil point. A nice and quiet spot to relax and enjoy the sun.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to the Salt Spring Island Ale Brewery to do yet another tasting over there. Yes, my job keeps me busy, even on my long weekend. 🙂 Now I am not the biggest beer fan but some of their brews were really enjoyable so I did some shopping at the brewery as well. Of course, I also bought some bottles for my staff because I want them to enjoy some of this “exotic” stuff as well. Before driving to my AirBnB- place for the night, I made a quick stop at Beddis Beach and I decided to just lie on the beach, read a little and sunbath as long as the sun was still there.

19-Beer-tasting
So many beers, so different flavours. They are all organic and exclusively made with ingredients from the island.
20-Beddis
Beddis Beach. Canada has it all: Mountains, Beaches, Wine and Beer, you name it 🙂

Now I am currently sitting in my room at Heather’s and Roxy’s place (AirBnB), I just had a hot shower and I feel like eating a little bit. My two hosts told me they would be working late and none of them has showed up yet but that does not worry me. I will probably meet them later in the evening.

Probably, this blog entry will not go live today as I still need to upload and edit the pictures and I don’t want to do that right now. Anyway, let’s finish the writing part of the blog with the usual music advice. Today’s song has absolutely nothing to do with the content of this blog entry but it is just a nice song that I stumbled upon when playing random playlists on YouTube. Check it out:

Fangclub – Bad Words

39. New apartment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.04.2017.

After two weeks of living in an AirBnB- apartment and training at the BC Liquor Store at the Capilano Mall, I finally moved into my new apartment in North Vancouver yesterday. My landlords made me feel welcome instantly and I even got a nice welcome beer (see picture below) that is brewed in a local brewery not far away from here. I also met their little son and their friendly dog who wanted to be cuddled all the time. Aside from this dog, there also seem to be some cats in the neighborhood. This morning, a completely black cat visited me and enjoyed being cuddled for a few minutes. As far as I can judge, it looks like he/she is a a mix-breed with some kind of exotic background.

WElcome-Drink
My welcome drink at the new apartment.
Cat
A friendly cat that lives in the neighborhood.

Overall, I am glad to have my own place now that I can call my “home”. Whereas “home” is a difficult term and I find it increasingly hard to determine what my real “home” is. But this is a seperate discussion that I do not wish to start here and now. Maybe in a later blog post, we’ll see about that.

Next week I will have another week of training at a Liquor Store not far away from my apartment. However, this will be my last week of training before I will take over my designated store. I have to admit that I am already a bit excited about that and that I am looking forward to it as well. As of now, I am sure that I haven’t yet got all the knowledge that a Store Manager needs but I am not really afraid about that. I am confident that my basic knowledge is already quite solid and that I have a good grasp of the most important things I need to pay attention to. The most challenging thing will be to find out what the most pressing problems in my new store are and how to address them effectively. But I have done these kind of things before and I am fairly confident that I can do it again. So I guess there is no reason to worry at all….

And what happened in the last week? At the weekend, Verena and I went to the indoor carnival at BC Place and enjoyed the attractions there. This was the first time I visited an indoor carnival but I have to say that the idea is quite good. With the rainy weather here in Vancouver, it is definitely a good idea to make it more attractive to visitors to visit the carnival by hosting it inside a stadium. While Verena happily tried every single ride, I was a bit more selective because I didn’t quite feel so well that day. Also, I tend to become sick relatively quickly when I get shaken thoroughly…

Indoor-Carnival
“Fireball” (right) and “1001 Nachts” (sic!), (left).
Indoor-Carnival1
The “Zipper”. According to Verena, the wildest ride in the stadium.

Of course, I also explored the area around my new apartment and my new place of work a little bit. I went for a walk in “Cates Park” where I found a nicely sculpted war memorial that I had to photograph of course. Also, I already found a new place where I can play my favorite games from time to time. It is called “Big Pete’s” and they have an interesting event schedule and nice offers so I guess that I will start going there frequently in the future. Apart from this, I realized that there are a lot of nice hiking trails around here so I will happily start hiking if the weather allows for it at the next weekends. Of course, I will take some pictures then and share them with you. Originally, I already wanted to go hiking today but I felt it was more important to take my time to settle in properly and write this blog entry. Next weekend then….

Memorial
War memorial in Cates Park.

 

Big-Petes
Comic- and Games- Store in North Vancouver.

Again, this was a rather short blog entry but I guess that is okay. As of yet there are no news about my diploma certification so I’m not able to start my application for permanent residency yet. I will keep you updated once things change in this matter.

As usual, let’s finish this blog entry with a music advise. Today’s title is a rather old one and the band is a bit controversial. But I still like their music because it’s not only raw Hip Hop but they use other interesting music elements as well.

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko

37. Long-term decisions

Vancouver, Canada, 11.03.2017.

When I came to Canada in January, I had basically drawn up two viable plans what to do:

1. The Gap-Year plan: Originally, it was my plan to to just travel through Canada during my Work&Travel year, to get a break from work life and to just enjoy my life. I thought about spending a few weeks on Vancouver Island, to drive to the Rocky Mountains again, to go up north to Yukon and then to drive all the way across Canada by car to finally end up in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the year. Of course, it was also part of this plan to visit all the sights and parks that were on the route from western Canada to the east.

2. The residency plan: This plan focused on trying to get a decent job somewhere as quickly as possible, to move there and get my own apartment, to then apply for permanent residency and thus to gain a foothold here in Canada. Of course, this plan is the more “responsible” and “mature” plan as it satisfies the common view that you are supposed to work somewhere and be a “good member of society”.  On the other hand, this plan is also less fun and not so much different from what I have been doing so far in my life. So not a great change, really.

To be very honest, I was totally unsure what to do initially when I arrived in Canada in January. I had no real preference for a plan although I clearly saw their individual benefits and drawbacks. However, it was not at all easy for me to weigh them properly and make up my mind what I really wanted. On the one hand, the Gap-Year plan promised to be more fun and it would reward me with a million priceless impressions and great experiences. On the other hand, this Gap-Year would then clearly be a one-shot thing and I would have to go back to Europe at the end of the year and it would become increasingly more difficult after this year to try to gain a permanent foothold here in Canada. So what do you do if you don’t know what’s right? I solved this problem by prioritizing the plans while not discarding either of them. Upon arrival in Canada, I decided to follow the residency plan first and to try to get a job quickly. Then, in case of an unfruitful job search, I was prepared to discard the residency plan in favor of the Gap-Year plan by the end of April. Why not earlier than the end of April? Well, Canada is mainly a cold and snowy country. So leaving the lower mainlands around Vancouver earlier than May does not really make much sense if you want to go up north and see a bit more of the landscape than just the white layer. Also, most of the parks do not open that early in the year and hiking is not too much fun if you have to do it in the snow. So basically the residency plan was my primary plan and the the Gap-Year plan was my “Plan B” or backup- plan. Now why am I writing about all this now? Well, my current situation has significantly changed in the last days and it looks like my primary plan has worked out well. But before I go into details here, let’s take a look at a few pictures first.

Buch
The third book in the triology. Overall, three very good books with a great story line but “The Chess Men” can’t quite keep up with the quality of the first two books. Peter May is a great author, you’ll like him.
Shells
A few shells I found when jogging on the beach.

Last week, my future employer, the BC Liquor Stores, finally received the last reference they needed to take me on board. So now I will start to work as a Senior Store Manager for them in North Vancouver on the 20th of March. However, before I get my own store there, I will be trained in several other stores nearby. So it looks like my primary plan worked just fine and I can now try to apply for permanent residency here. And this is exactly what my next step will be once I have settled down in North Vancouver. Next Monday, I will take a look at a few apartments there and hopefully find a good place to stay there. But I think that will not be a huge issue as I am not too picky about my living places.
Despite the current development, I have not at all given up on my Gap-Year plan yet. And if all goes according to my grand master plan, I don’t have to give up on it anyway. In case I get my permanent residency, I can always do my all-around-Canada-trip at some point in the future. So nothing is really “lost” and by pursuing my current plan I keep most of my future options open. I feel I can always take a Sabbatical later in my life and still do the trip once I managed to acquire my permanent residency and worked for a few years here in Canada.
Interesting side- note: Last week, I also received an E-Mail from Parks Canada telling me that I was chosen for an interview for the site-manager position at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. How unexpected. Last time I heard anything from this application, I was just buying my car. Must have been late January I guess. But there was no chance I would go to that interview as I had already signed the job offer of the BC Liquor Stores. Still interesting to see how long a recruitment process can take. Six weeks in between the end of the application process and the decision who will be invited to an interrview. That is long! Also, I am quite thrilled to see the success of my applications. In total, I wrote just 7 applications, I got invited to interviews 2 times, attended one interview and got the job. Can’t say I am not a bit proud about that. 🙂

Now that should be enought talk about work and me drawing up strange plans. Let’s write a bit about the fun things I did in the last days. I managed to read a bit and I also continued to go jogging regularly (see both pictures above). Now that I know that I’ll be staying in Vancouver a bit longer, I decided to sign up for the Vancouver Marathon on May 7th and do the first full marathon in my life. Seems really fitting that I will do it here in Vancouver on a stunning course that will also lead through Stanley Park. You can check out the course map here. Just a really really nice course I think.
Also, I will get a year membership in one of the climbing gyms in Vancouver and start climbing regularly. Climbing is not only great fun but I realized that it trains my upper body and arms a lot and I feel that this really benefits me. Up to now, I only trained my legs by running and completely neglected my upper body. Possibly not the greatest choice.

When it comes to regular fun activities, I managed to attend some board game evenings in the store in Ladner and I also visited the CatFe again twice. They have three very cute Main Coone mix breeds there, all siblings. They are really friendly and curious and two of them ended up on my lap, enjoying my cuddles. I expressed my wish to maybe adopt them but after having checked the currently available apartments in North Vancouver, it looks like this is not going to happen. Most of the landlords do not want any animals in their apartment and those who tolerate cats will only tolerate one or two. That’s pretty unfortunate because I think this band deserves a second chance. However, I guess that many potential new owners will be deterred by their current age as they are already 10 years old. Now that does not deter me but I know that most of the people look for cats that are still young. That situation makes me a bit sad but there’s not much I can really do about it…

Cat2
Harvey (female) and me in the CatFe in Vancouver.
Cat1
Budddy (male), who sat on my lap for over an hour, enjoying my cuddles.
BoardGame2
Mare Nostrum Empires. I played the green Greece, trying to fend off the Romans and the Babylonians at the same time.
BoardGame1
Castles of Burgundy. Second time I played it. Thanks to Stephan Valkyser, I already had a good insight into this game.

Last week I also managed to make a few trips to downtown Vancouver and I visited the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Museum and the Space Centre. The library resides in a very interesting Colosseum- like building and it has a truly large collection, including some German literature. Unfortunately, they apparently also bought crappy books in the past as I found a copy of a rather infamous German author whose views are much questioned.
The Space Center is a nice place to go and their shows are really entertaining and offer some stunning views. So I can only advise to go there if you’re a bit interested in astronomy or Space exploration. Not the biggest or most thrilling exhibition but it is still worth to go there and take a look at it. Now I wish I could say the same for the Museum of Vancouver but I really can’t. Verena and I went there and we both agreed that this museum is rather boring and that it did not really entertain us. I have seen many better Canadian museums and I would not recommend seeing the Museum of Vancouver if you’re only staying at Vancouver for a few days…

Library
The Colosseum- like building of Vancouver’s Public Library.
Library2
Very surprised to find a copy of THIS book here in Vancouver. Not the best choice to invest the library’s money.

Space1

Space2
A very nice saying, displayed at the Space Center.
Car
Magnificent Oldtimer in the Museum of Vancouver.

Now that I’ve chosen to settle down in Vancouver, I suppose that I won’t be writing that many blog entries in the future anymore. Of course, I will still write about the exceptional events in my life but I also guess that it will start getting a bit more quiet in my life in the future. But that is okay, life can’t always be a rollercoaster ride. Thus, you should not expect so lengthy and frequent blog entries anymore. But we’ll see about that…
Ah, one last thing before I conclude the blog entry with my music advice: I just received my Parks Canada Discovery pass (see cover picture at the top of the entry) so I can visit every one of Canada’s National Parks for free this year. Anyone can apply for this pass and it costs exactly zero Canadian dollars as Parks Canada gives it away for free this year due to Canada’s 150th birthday. What a great gift! I wish I could do both: work in Vancouver and travel to see Canada’s National Parks at the same time. Not possible though. And again, it is always about setting priorities and making (long-term) decisions….

By chance, I stumbled over this interesting piece of music last week. And I simply put it on repeat and listened to it again and again and again. Until I got fed up with it at some point. But it is still a very good song so I happily share it with you here:

Aesop Rock – None shall pass