51. Busy times

From Horseshoe Bay to Texada Island, Canada, 24.08.2017.

I have been lazy with my blog lately, I agree. There has not been much time for me to sit down and recapitulate what I experienced in the last weeks. But now there is a little time because I am on a ferry again and on my way to Texada Island. This trip will include three ferry crossings and quite a bit of driving and I hope that I will make it to the island by this evening so I don’t have to stay somewhere on the Sunshine Coast overnight. But even if I have to do that, it won’t be the end of the world. As usual, I will be fine in the end. 🙂

sunshine-c1
Another ferry crossing our way from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons.
sunshine-c2
Sunshine Coast: view from the ferry.

So why am I making this trip to Texada Island? Well, it is time to start running again and on Sunday the 27th of August, there will be the “Run the Rock” marathon and I am happy to do it. Also, it is always nice to explore new places so I decided to stay a little longer on the island and travel around a little. Right now, I feel I am in a fairly good training state but I have to admit that I haven’t done much running in the last two weeks. I was really busy with working long hours or exploring the Vancouver area together with my mum.

The next big event after my last blog entry was the Stefan/Henderson reunion near Saskatoon on the weekend of August 4th. It was an amazing weekend full of good conversations, great sport activities and exciting new experiences. I got to meet many interesting and very friendly members of the Stefan/Henderson family, I learned how to prepare the famous family- Schtroodel (Jo Anne, did I spell that correctly?) and I got a very interesting insight into the Canadian past when we watched the old family pictures on the slide projector. Overall, I had an awesome time and I feel really grateful that I was allowed to be there and meet everyone. Now since I don’t know if everyone is okay with me posting family pictures or going into details about our activities on the internet, I will not do that here but instead I will only post a few pictures of the cabin and the nearby lake.

cabin
The cabin at the lake.
lake
View on the lake from a nearby hill.
sunset
Sunset at the lake.

After returning from Saskatoon, a lot of work awaited me at my store. Due to our then upcoming transition to a new computer system, there was still a lot to prepare and to take care of. I had to work pretty long hours because one of my managers was attending the training course for the new computer system while the other manager was on vacation. So I pretty much had to do all by myself. But I won’t complain ab out that because it was still manageable, I like being busy and it is my job to do that, right? In the end, all the extra work paid off and we had a really smooth transition to the new computer system on August 15th.

R1
Chilling at the lake in the morning.
R2
Beautiful lake to swim in. Especially early in the morning when everybody else is still sleeping.

Then, my mum arrived in Vancouver to visit me. I took some days off to do some hiking with her and to show her some of the sights in Vancouver city. First, we hiked up to Mount Seymour and I finally made it to peak 3, the “real” Mount Seymour, together with my mum. The hike itself was really nice and I was so proud to see that my mum was really fit and strong so she had no trouble to hike all the way with me. However, there were two things about the hike that were pretty annoying. First of all, we encountered a lot of hungry flies and mosquitos on our way up. And secondly, we partly had to hike in clouds which also covered the entire mountain during the whole day. So we did not have the great 360- degree view that Mount Seymour usually offers. I felt really sorry for my mum because it would have been really great for her to see that nice panorama live. Not much you can do about that I guess. In the end, it would not have made a difference had we done the hike one day later because on that Friday, the sky was covered by clouds again. Instead, we spent that Friday downtown and I guided my mum through the city. She went on the Vancouver lookout, tried the Fly Over Canada simulator, visited the CatFé to meet some cats and went to a comedy show at YukYuks with me in the evening. In between this full day, we ate at 2 different restaurants where we got some very delicious food. On Sunday, I took my mum hiking again and we conquered the St. Marks summit together with a few friends of mine. Fortunately, the weather was good on that day and we could enjoy the great view on the Howe Sound and the many mountains around the area. It was a wonderful and sunny day that really compensated us for the rather bad weather on Thursday. On Saturday and Monday, my mum went out to discover other places in Vancouver on her own. After these few but really intensive days, my mum had to fly back to Germany on Tuesday. It was really great to have her here in Vancouver and show her the beauty of this country. I guess that she now understands why I love it here and why I will definitely stay here if the Canadian government allows me to do that.

Mum
My mum at Mount Seymour taking a picture of me and vice versa. 🙂 Later on I noticed that she is actually quite well camouflaged in that picture. 🙂
cypress
Skilift at Cypress Mountain. We hiked to St. Marks from there.
Howe1
View on Howe Sound from the St. Marks summit.

This week, I had to work from Monday to Thursday (today) and now I have a few days off again to spend some time on Texada Island. So far, I have made it to Earls Cove and I am currently waiting for my second ferry. I guess I need to be very lucky to actually make it to Texada Island today. Maybe I will be able to catch the last ferry to Blubber Bay but that depends on the length of the second ferry trip and the amount of time that I need to drive to the third harbor. Well, we will see about that I guess…

Last update: It is 9:20 PM and I just made it onto the last ferry to Texada Island in time after 6 hours of travel. Yay!!! 🙂

Today’s music advice is as straightforward as possible but it also contains a good amount of irony. Please find out for yourself, see link below. Thanks for being here in Canada, Mum, it was great to have you here. See you again in Germany next January!

257ers – Mama

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41. Preparing for the marathon

Vancouver, Canada, 26.04.2017.

Just nine more days and I will be running my first full marathon. I have to admit that I am already pretty excited about that. At the same time, I still have a few doubts about my current training condition because I have not done more than 20 kilometers per session lately. One the one hand, any distance up to 20 kilometers is absolutely doable for me in the moment, not a problem. On the other hand, however, I don’t know how my body will react if I keep pushing past these 20 kilometers. In any case, I will find out about that soon and I am not really scared to do so. One way or the other, it will be fine I guess. One of my strengths is to just take the pain and keep running. I have done it before and I will be able to do it again so I don’t really worry about it.

In the past weeks, I managed to intensify my marathon training. On average, I ran roughly 50 kilometers per week in three session. Also, I went hiking on Easter Sunday which possibly also trained my leg muscles. I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour but I wasn’t properly prepared for that because there was still a lot of snow above the 900m- line and it was really cold and uncomfortable up there. So I decided to turn around and come back another day with warmer clothing. To me, these weather issues here in Canada are still really amazing. At the start of the hike, it was about 15 degrees warm and sunny whereas three hours later, I had to hike in knee-deep snow with temperatures below zero. Just amazing! Anyway, I will return and conquer Mount Seymour another day, probably some time in the summer when the snow is gone. In the meantime, I will focus on hiking less mountainous routes starting next Sunday. Already looking forward to that because I got to know someone who also likes hiking so we decided to go hiking together regularly in the future. Will be lots of fun I think!

Snow-Trail
Snowy trail on the way up to Mount Seymour.
Cove-Lookout
Deep Cove Lookout next to Mount Seymour Road.
Lookout-1
View from Deep Cove Lookout. Sadly, my camera could not capture the nice panorama adequately.

When it comes to sports, I am also still climbing really actively. After having done the belay course, I started doing belay routes with Gordon, another climber at the gym. He is a lot more experienced than me so I can learn many things from him. In any case, I still manage to make a lot of progress each time I go climbing which is really encouraging. However, I think I still need to work a lot on my technique before I can go climbing outdoors. But since the outdoor season has not begun yet, I guess I still have enough time on my hands to prepare myself for this next step.

Aside from all of these sport activities, I also spend a lot of time at work, getting to know my staff members and the organization of my store. As of now, I think I already gained a good overview of the current situation and the most pressing problems in the store. There are quite a few things that need my attention now and in the next months but I am confident that my team and I can make some significant improvements in the future. Work itself is really enjoyable so I am still very happy that I got this position.

Wild-Waterfall
Huge waterfall and large uprooted tree on the trail up to Mount Seymour.
Waterfall-1
Close-up of one part of the huge waterfall.

With all the time I am currently spending at work and doing sports, I had to cut down on playing board games and card games recently. Unfortunately, I was unable play at the MAGIC- Amonkhet prerelease last weekend because I had to work. In addition to that, I havn’t had the time yet to join the local board game group because I simply did not have the time. But I will do that after the marathon when it makes sense to cut down a bit on the running training. 🙂 It is always nice to meet new people and in my experience, local gamers are always very nice and fun people to be with.

Wrecked-Bridge
Wrecked bridge on a hiking trail.
Young-plant
New life grows in a puddle of mud. The bright green of the plant is NOT photoshoped.
BMO
6th of May, going the full distance. My aim is to stay under 5 hours.

Rather short update this time but there is not much more interesting stuff to talk about in the moment. So, as usual, I will conclude this blog entry with a music advice. Today’s song is a good piece of German rock and it always pushes me when I listen to it while running. Also, think this the artist’s best song overall. Check it out:

Stefan Weidner – Stille Tage im Klischee

40. Exploring the neighborhood

Vancouver, Canada, 14.04.2017

Nearly another two weeks have gone by since I’ve written my last blog entry. So I guess it’s time to write a little about the newest developments here in Vancouver.

Aside from the bad weather (rain, rain and even more rain), I really enjoyed the first weeks here in North Vancouver. It turned out that I moved to a quiet and friendly neighborhood which is quite close to the start of several hiking routes in the Canadian rainforest. And of course, I already tried two of these routes on my days off. They are really nice to run, well maintained and offer some spectacular views. It is also quite nice that one of the hiking routes goes up to the nearby Mount Seymour because I really like mountain hiking. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do that hike but on Easter Sunday, I will probably try it. If the weather forecast is right, there will be at least some sun on that day and since I won’t have to work, it sounds like a good plan to do that hike then. Now let’s have a look at a few of the pictures I took on my previous runs/ hikes:

Bridge
A small, makeshift bridge that did not seem too trustworthy. Thankfully, it did not collapse when I walked over it.
Stream2
Narrow stream of rushing mountain water, crossing the hike’s path.
Stream
A bigger stream, carrying crystal- clear water.

Aside from the running and hiking, I also spent some time in the climbing gym in the last weeks. And due to some classes that I took and a lot of training, I can already feel how I am slowly getting better and better each time I am there. However, there are a lot of techniques that I still need to train and master before I can possibly start climbing outdoors. But I am confident that I will be able to do that and that I can do some outdoor climbing this summer. There are quite a few popular routes around Vancouver and Squamish and I am already exited to see the difference between climbing indoor and outdoor. Although I have only started climbing a little more than 2 months ago, I already feel that this sport has become an important part of my life and I don’t want to miss that again. To me, climbing is a lot of fun and I also really enjoy meeting people at the gym and talking about the routes, techniques and general issues. If you haven’t tried climbing yet, maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself if you like it or not…

Stream3
View from a bridge that crosses a mountain stream.
Stairs-Hike
The beginning of the “Quarry Rock” hike, starting at Deep Cove.

This Monday, I started working at my own store in North Vancouver. It was really exciting to meet all of the members of my store team and to get a first impression of the current situation in the store. We already started reorganizing a few things and I think that a few months down the road, we will have a great looking store with an efficient, “german”, organization. 🙂 In any case, I really enjoyed my first days at the store and I am truly happy to be there at the moment. It is also quite nice that it only takes me roughly 15 minutes of walking to get to work in the morning. No traffic jams, no long drives to work, no trouble finding a parking place. What more can you possibly ask for?

Quarry-Rock2
View from Quarry Rock. Notice Downtown Vancouver (high- rises) in the distance, right side of the picture, above the tree line.
Quarry-Rock1
Quarry Rock: Another angle. Must be nice when the sun is shining…
Panorama Park
Panorama Park in Deep Cove.

This week’s featured song is one of the more popular songs of a great German Heavy Metal band called Gravedigger. I have only seen them live once but although the members of the band have already aged a little, they were full of power and the concert was a blast. Check out this nice song from their great album “Heavy Metal Breackdown”:

Gravedigger – We wanna rock you

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

38. Starting to work

Vancouver, Canada, 24.03.2017.

As announced in the last blog entry, it will not make a lot of sense for me to continue writing this blog as frequently as I used to. The main reason for this? Well, I won’t be doing that many extraordinary things in the future anymore. Starting this Tuesday, I actually started working for the BC Liquor Stores and it looks like some kind of everyday life routine has returned to my life. Which is a good thing because I wanted it that way and it may be a good foundation for the next chapter in my life.

So how were my first days at work? Well, honestly? It was great and I enjoyed every day so far. I met a lot of interesting and nice people and I already learned a lot about the BC liquor market and the company’s procedures and policies. Quite a few things are very similar or even identical to the working environment I got to know in Germany and England so not everything is completely new for me. Today, my line manager, who was also one of the managers in my job interview, visited the store I’m currently training in and we had a good chat about a few things. I think I will get along with him quite well in the future so I am happy that he is my line manager. He told me that I will start working in my own store on April 10th and that surprised me a little. On average, a store manager at Lidl Germany will receive roughly 6 months of training until they get their own store. At Lidl UK, the training of a new store manager takes less than these 6 months but is very rare that someone gets a store with less than 4 months of training. Now as a former Area Manager who has trained store managers in the past, I feel that I don’t need that amount of time to be able to do the job properly but only having 3 weeks to learn everything is a challenge. However, I’m not afraid of this and I think I’m be okay with this time frame. Of course I will not be as knowledgeable and experienced as my fellow colleagues after 3 weeks of training but if I have any questions or problems I can always pick up the phone and ask my current trainers for advice. Still, it feels a little bit strange to be be given this amount of responsibility so quickly right away….

Beer
Even at work, I find a lot of traces of my German heritage…. “Home sweet Home”…. 🙂

Before I started working last Tuesday, I moved out of Dawn’s apartement and into my temporary AirBnB suite here in North Vancouver. The transition was smooth and it didn’t take me long to pack and move my stuff. However, I also noted that I have already accumulated quite a few new things since I started living in Canada in January. On April 1st, I will finally move into my own apartment in the very east of North Vancouver and then I hope that I don’t have to move again anytime soon. Dawn’s cat Whippcream seemed to be a bit sad about me leaving the apartment when she sat right next to the last load of my stuff. Also, Dawn phoned me and told me that Whippcream seems to be looking for me in the apartment. I really miss her too because she is a lovely and low maintenance cat and she was a great companion to me during my stay at Dawn’s apartment. That is one of the harder things in life: To say goodbye…

Whippcream1
Whippcream sitting next to my stuff when I was moving out of the apartment.
Whippcream2
The fuzzy little girl sleeping on my lap.

Aside from me moving out of Dawn’s apartment and starting to work, nothing overly exciting happened since my last blog entry. With regard to my application for permanent residency, I got my university degrees translated and I also already sent copies of it to a Canadian certification agency. Once I have their assessment of my degrees, I will be able to apply for permanent residency but I think that will probably take another 2 or 3 weeks. But that is okay since I have enough time left here in Canada and there is no need to hurry. And what else did I do in the past days? Well, just the usual stuff that I love doing here in Canada: Playing Board Games, climbing, jogging, you name it. I’m really looking forward to go hiking again but I think I will not start with that until I moved into my new apartment. This weekend, Verena and I will be at the YukYuk’s one more time and we’ll also go and visit the carnival at BC Place (the big stadium in Vancouver). That’s gonna be a whole lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to doing that!

The Networks
Nice little game: The Networks.
Rainforest
Preparing for the Vancouver Marathon in the nearby rainforest.
BG
Is this the place the Trump administration referred to??? It’s right in my Neighborhood…

As there is not much else to report in the moment, this blog entry is a lot shorter than usual but that is okay. Let’s finish with another music advice. The following song is a truly great metal balad, performed by one of Germany’s best Rock bands. Absolutely worth listening to again and again:

Scorpions – Send Me an Angel