61. PR achieved and BC road trip

North Vancouver, Canada, 16.07.2018.

It is done. Two days ago, I finally received a message from IRCC saying that my Permanent Residency application was approved. πŸ™‚ And it is actually very hard for me to express how happy I am about this. At this very moment, it still feels a bit unreal and I think that this piece of news still has to “sink in” before I will be able to realize that I actually achieved the first of my two major goals for 2018. However, I do already feel somewhat relieved and happy and I will most certainly be very joyous once I get to hold the actual PR card in my hand. This whole development is actually pretty crazy considering that just 6 months ago, the chances of me staying here in Canada were very slim and I thought that I would have to stop working there and then. Yes, at that point I definitely got lucky but I also never stopped focusing on my goal to get Permanent Residency here in Canada and now it happened. πŸ™‚ That’s so awesome that I can now stay here for at least another 5 years, I can hardly put it into adequate words. Thus, I will probably write a little more about this whole PR thing in a future blog entry and now focus a little more my recent BC- road trip with Glenn in June.

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Bridal Veil Falls near Highway 1, east of Harrison Hot Springs.
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View on the Fraser Valley from Bear Mountain near Harrison Hot Springs.
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Othello Tunnels in Hope, BC. We only stopped in Hope for a few hours on our way to Coalmont.

In less than three weeks, Glenn and I saw so much of BC and it was an absolutely awesome experience. I love this province because it is so diverse and it has so many nice spots and stunning nature. And even though we were almost on the road for three weeks, I still feel that we only managed to see a fraction of the province. So there is more to discover in the future. πŸ™‚ This is what we did on our road trip:

04.06.: Fort Langley, Bridal Veil Falls, Sandy Cove Hike (Harrison Hot Springs)
05.06.: Bear Mountain, Bear Lake, Hot Springs Pool in Harrison Hot Springs
06.06.: Ruby Creek Gallery, Hope, Othello Tunnels+Hike, Hope Landslide, Princeton
07.06.: Granite Creek Ghost City, Blakeburn, Coal Seam, Coal Mine, Moskito Hike
08.06.: Grizzly Bears around Princeton, Ochre Bluff, Hoodoos, Otter Lake near Tulameen
09.06.: Hedley museum, Drive from Princeton to Penticton, Orga- day in Penticton
10.06.: Kelowna City, waterfront walk, three Wine Tastings around Kelowna
11.06.: Last Spike Craigllachie, Moses Falls near Revelstoke, Swimming Pool Revelstoke
12.06.: Mount Revelstoke trails, Glacier National Park: Bear Creek Falls, The Hermit trail
13.06.: Forestry Museum Revelstoke, Swimming Pool Revelstoke, Orga- day (shopping,…)
14.06.: Begbie Falls and Sutherland Falls close to Revelstoke
15.06.: Golden downtown, Sinclair Falls and Juniper Hike in Radium Falls
16.06.: Yoho National Park: Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake, Hamilton Falls, Hamilton Lake
17.06.: Diana Lake- hike near Radium Falls
18.06.: Kootenay National Park: Paint Pots, Marble Canyon, Stanley Glacier
19.06.: Quiet & Orga- day in Radium Falls
20.06.: Drive to Edmonton, West Edmonton Mall, Beercade Bar in the evening
21.06.: Farewell in Edmonton. Glenn stayed with his family and I drove up north for my Death Race Training Camp at Grande Cache

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Open coal seam near the Ghost Town of Blakeburn, close to Coalmont.
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Hoodoos near Princeton. Close to this place, we saw two bears playing in the meadows.
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View on Revelstoke city from the Nels Nelsen Ski Jump on Mount Revelstoke.

Overall, our road trip was absolutely awesome. We visited four National Parks (Mount Revelstoke, Glacier National Park, Yoho and Kootenay), drove almost 3000 Kilometers and experienced so many awesome things along our way that I can’t possibly mention everything. Writing about every single stop on our road trip would surely be too much for this blog entry so I will just write a little about the National Parks. When I hear people talk about the National Parks in western Canada, Banff and Jasper are undoubtedly the two most mentioned National Parks. And they are really beautiful so they absolutely deserve to be mentioned. Then again, Yoho, Kootenay and the Glacier National Park are absolutely stunning as well. But somehow, they are not nearly as much in peoples’ focus as Banff and Jasper are. Interestingly, many Canadians who asked me where I went during my holidays haven’t actually been to Yoho and Kootenay yet. That’s quite surprising because these National Parks are so beautiful and scenic that I don’t really understand why everyone seems to be so focused on Banff and Jasper. Anyway, the bottom line here is that I can only recommend visiting these National Parks to everyone who is interested in doing hikes, experiencing nature and wildlife and getting to know beautiful BC a little better. We saw quiet mountain lakes, stunning waterfalls, black bears and mountain goats by the road, canyons, glaciers, blooming meadows, snowy forests, wild creeks and rivers and raw mountain cliffs. And much much more…

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View from the trail of “The Hermit” hike in Glacier National Park into the valley.
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Takakkaw- falls in Yoho National Park. Pretty impressive how high it is!
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A very unstable bridge on our hike to Diana Lake. We made it without falling into the water!

Some of the most stunning pictures of our trip (black bear at the road, Stanley Glacier in Kootenay National Park,…) are already on my Facebook page so I decided not to include those in the current blog entry. Aside from all the beautiful nature experiences, Glenn and I also enjoyed exploring many of the small towns and villages along our route. We managed to try quite a few vegan restaurants (yum yum!) along our way and, of course, we also had our share of wine tastings in the Okanagan. πŸ™‚ Overall, we definitely had a lot of fun on the road trip and I am glad that we could finally make this trip happen after Glenn wasn’t able to join me on my 2016- trip to Canada. This was our third trip together after having visited Amsterdam in January 2016 and Scotland in October 2016. I hope you will be back in Canada soon, Glenn, so we can continue our sightseeing trip through BC and Alberta. πŸ™‚

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Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park.
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The lower end of Marble Canyon, also Kootenay National Park.
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Glenn and me playing “House of the Dead I” on our last evening of the road trip.

Our road trip ended with us playing a longer game of “House of the Dead I”, a real Arcade classic, at the Beercade- bar in Edmonton. It was a lot of fun and definitely a worthy last activity during our road trip. Then, on the next day, Glenn went to his family that lives close to Edmonton and I drove up to Grande Cache to take part in a training camp for the Canadian Death Race. But that is a different story and I will save it for the next blog entry that I will hopefully be able to write before I will actually be running the Death Race on August 4th…

If you are still looking for a good music track to listen to during your next road trip, try this one. It worked quite well for us and it is definitely great on sunny days with your car windows down:

Five – Everybody get up

60. A lazy writer

North Vancouver, Canada, 30.05.2018.

It is more than ten weeks ago since I last wrote something for this blog and I really should have taken the time to sit down and write a little bit a lot earlier. So when it comes to writing my blog, I admit that I have been very lazy lately. Thus, the title of this blog’s entry. πŸ™‚ Alright then, let’s catch up on what has happened in the last ten weeks, shall we?

After the Dirty Duo- race in March, I had a pretty quiet rest of the month with running and working as my main priorities. It was a little bit challenging at work since both of my managers were gone for the whole month and I had to manage my store mainly on my own. However, I did get quite a bit of support from my store regulars so that I did not have to work too many extra hours. The situation itself turned out to be pretty interesting as it forced me to focus on the really important things and delegate or let go of all other duties that were not really vital for the store’s immediate performance.

In April, I flew back to Germany for two weeks to meet friends and family and to deal with a few organizational and bureaucratic issues. The first thing I had to do was to fill out a lenghty report for the Canadian Immigration Agency about my history as a former officer of the German Army. The information they wanted included posting dates, names of superiors, promotion dates, the names of my units and a comprehensive list of my duties for every single position I held during my career. In the end, just dealing with this request and finishing my Canadian tax return kept me busy for a few days already.

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Beautiful weather in KΓΆln (Cologne) when I went there to meet Martin, a good friend of mine who still works for Lidl.
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At the Motorjesus- concert in MΓΆnchengladbach. It has already become a tradition to do that together with my brother.
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A stretch of my favourite trail, not far away from my mum’s house. While I was in Germany, the sun shone almost every day!

Aside from this “work- part”, I also found the time to visit my family and some of my friends as well during my Germany- holidays. I stayed at my mum’s place for a few days, I went to a rock- concert with my brother and I also spent a quiet and relaxing day with my dad, chatting about a lot of things. Then, I also met my army friends from the Captain’s Mafia, a good friend from my Lidl- days and, of course, my best buddy, Glenn. He and I spent quite a bit of time together planning for our roadtrip through British Columbia, starting either on June 4th or 5th. That is in less than a week from now! We will probably drive through and see a few places in the Okanagan and then spent a lot of time in the YOHO and KOOTENAY National Park. Needless to say that I am already really excited about that! Finally and before I flew back to Canada on April 24th, Rachel flew in from Vancouver and we spent a lovely weekend together in Hamburg. It was great to show her the city that I lived in for almost six years and it was good to re-visit some of my favourite spots. These are just some of the highlights of that fabulous weekend:

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We visited the Hamburg’s magnificent town hall and found this greek- inspired statue in the backyard.
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The original “Heiße Ecke” on St. Pauli’s Reeperbahn. We ate a Currywurst here before watching the “Heisse Ecke” comedy play at Schmidt’s Tivoli theatre.
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We had a “Dinner in the Dark” at this place. It was a challenge and an absolutely stunning experience to eat a four-course surprise-dinner in complete darkness, served by blind waiters.

Soon after I came back from Germany, I had a fitness weekend coming up in early May. First, I met up with Emilia and we went for two hikes at the Golden Ears Provincial Park. Again, the weather was beautiful and we got to enjoy a sunny day at this beautiful park. When hiking to the waterfalls (see picture) and a lookout, I noticed that there is another hike in the park that goes all the way up to the 1500m summit. This could be something that Glenn and I may do next week, at the start of our road trip through BC. We’ll see about that…

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Scenery at the Golden Ears Provincial Park with view on the still snow-covered mountains.
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The lower part of the Golden Ears waterfalls.
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The upper part of the Golden Ears waterfalls with a large pothole on the right side.

The day after we hiked at Golden Ears Provincial Park, it was race day in Vancouver, May 6th. I already ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon last year and that was the very first marathon I ever ran. So at the start of this year, it sounded like a good idea to me to sign up for this race again. The weather on race day was lovely again and I felt really good when the race started. Since I knew from last year that there would be plenty of good aid stations along the way, I decided to run without my backpack and rely on what I would get from these aid stations. Well, it turned out that this time, they only had ONE!!! aid station that offered gel packs instead of at least three of them last year. So that was pretty bad as it serioiusly impacted my nutrition intake. In addition to that, I probably ran too quick during the first 20ish- kilometers so that the second half of the marathon was not at all enjoyable anymore. Also, I felt that running on tarmac for the whole distance really put an extra strain on my body and I felt a lot worse after these 42 kilometers than I did after the 50 kilometers of trail in March. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to even sign up for this race since neither the distance nor the elevation profile nor the running conditions of the race mirrored what I will be facing at the Death Race in August. So not a good training run at all, I suppose. Anyway, lessons learned. With the way my knees still feel even three weeks after the race, I don’t think that I will run a tarmac-only race anytime soon again. Better focus on trail running. In the end, I finished the marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes, so it took me 8 minutes longer than last year.

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This was a so-called “Yoga for runners”- session on the day before the race. When I was a kid, people used to call that “sleeping in the sun”. πŸ™‚
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Just seconds before the race started. Again, we were really blessed with the weather on that day.

In the weeks after the marathon, I continued my training for my next big racing event: The Death Race training camp in Grand Cache from June 22nd to June 24th. Judging from the prelimiary training plan I saw, this camp will be quite a challenge on its own already. I believe the goal of the training camp is to run the whole course of the Death Race (=125 Km) in those three days. That will surely give us a good idea of what awaits us in August when we will have to do the same course in just 24 hours. Fun times! πŸ™‚

With regard to my Permanent Residence application, I have not heard anything back from IRCC since I submitted the last documents at their request. Judging from their usual processing times for new PR applications, I should hear from them soon though. Hopefully there will be something positive to report in my next blog entry, which will probably go online in July sometime.

In the meantime, I hope that all of my readers enjoy life as much as I do and that you will have an equally glorious summer with lots of great activities and events coming up. Let’s get the summer started with this nice summer song by Bam Bam:

Bam Bam – Bags packedΒ 

59. Dirty Duo 50Km Trail Race

North Vancouver, Canada, 12.03.2018.

In my last blog entry, I wrote a lot about pursuing my 2018 goals. Since then, roughly two weeks have gone by and a lot has happened. First of all, I finally managed to obtain all necessary documents for my Permanent Residency application so that I could re-submit it yesterday. Yay. πŸ™‚ Judging from the processing times displayed on the IRCC website, it will probably take them roughly two months to give me feedback on my application. So I guess it is time to show some patience now…

In the meantime, I will now be able to spend more time on one of my other main goals: Running and finishing the Death Race in August. As one of my first major steps towards that goal, I ran the Dirty Duo 50K Trail Race in North Vancouver last Saturday. To me, this race was mainly a way to determine my current state of training and to gather more experience running longer distances. Also, I was really excited to actually run a race in my very own neighbourhood and being on trails that I usually train on. During the race, that really made me feel comfortable and lifted my spirits more than once.

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Early in the morning, at about 06:30 AM. The 50K- runners checking in, temperatures close to zero.
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After the race: Sitting down and enjoying the sun on a very beautiful day.

The race itself was really great and I enjoyed running it a lot. It was dry throughout the whole race and at about 8am, the sun came out and shone for the rest of the day. Just beautiful. πŸ™‚ On the other hand, some parts of the trails were really challenging as they were still covered by soft and packed snow as well as ice. This certainly slowed us down during the race but it was also a good way to train running and keeping one’s balance on treacherous ground. Overall, the race offered a good mixture of easy and difficult stretches as well as an intersting mixture of up- and downhill running. In the end, I managed to finish 10th out of 43 starters and 10th out of 34 finishers in 6 hours and 17 minutes. Considering my goal to stay under 8 hours, I am really happy about this time. After having finished the race, I even felt like I could still continue running and do some more kilometers without significantly slowing down. So that is a very good sign considering that I will have to run a lot more than those 50 Kilometers in August. Knowing this, I am a bit concerned that I don’t have a longer race (80K or 100K) scheduled anymore before the Death Race in August. However, I may just do some longer training runs on my own in between April and July to account for this. We’ll see….

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Riley and me after the race. We spent a lot of time chasing each other on the course.
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A vegetarinan stew with lentils after the race: Great to get some good and warm food! πŸ™‚

During and after the race, I tried to analyze my running and I came up with these top 5 findings for the race:

  1. I need to find my own pace and run it without considering other runners. During the race, I observed myself chasing other runners more than once, unnecessarily increasing my running speed and loosing my own rhythm as a result of that. I should stop worrying about other runners but start focusing exclusively on myself.
  2. On the one hand, it was really good and relaxing to consequently walk uphill instead of running those stretches. On the other hand, this cost me a lot of time. I am really good at running downhill and on even ground but rather weak when it comes to running/ walking uphill. Once the Grouse Grind opens again, I should go there and focus on training uphill walking.
  3. It was good to have my own supply of water and energy bars on the course although I came across aid stations roughly every 40 minutes. I think it is important to eat and drink when you feel like doing so, regardless if there is an aid station around or not. Also, since my camel bag was warmed by my back during the race (I wore my running backpack), my water was a lot warmer than the water at the aid stations. And drinking really cold water while running is not a good thing at all.
  4. When walking longer uphill stretches, I made it my habit to use these “breaks” to eat something. I even did that when I did not really feel hungry because I knew that my body needed the energy then. So far, this strategy has worked fine for me and I think that I will keep doing that in the future. I feel that I really need to conserve my available energy during longer runs, so I think it is quite reasonable not to run uphill anymore but instead to use those stretches to refill my body energy reserves.
  5. I need to pay more attention to the rocks and roots on the trail. During the race, I stumbled over rocks and roots several times, causing bruises on my toes in the process. Fortunately, I did not severely injure my toes but there was a chance that that could have happened and it would have had a very negative effect on my ability to continue running at an acceptable pace. Interestingly, I did not stumble nor fall in the snow and ice, presumably because I knew it was dangerous so I paid a lot of attention when walking and running those stretches.

 

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At the 2018 Wine Festival inside the Vancouver Convention Center. I stood at the window while making this picture.
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And this is the view from where I stood in the Convention Center when I turned around 180 degrees. Amazing panorama, isn’t it?
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I had a chance to taste this 1968 Port Wine and a 1966 Port Wine as well. 50 year old wines are great but a little too expensive for my taste.

Aside from my PR application and the running, I had two more highlights in the past weeks. A really good colleague of mine offered me a ticket to come to the Vancouver Wine Festival which featured a lot of Spanish and Portuguese Wines this year. I went there with him on March 1st and we spent some three hours trying all kinds of wines and enjoying the flair of the event. It was amazing to taste all these different kinds of Port Wine and finding out about their particular flavours and consistencies. In the end, I even bought a bottle of quite expensive Port Wine (not the 50 year old bottle portrayed above) because its taste was/is amazing and absolutely convinced me. I will keep that bottle for a special occasion.

On March 3rd (Japanese Girl’s Day), Rachel invited me to join a Japanese cooking session with close friends of hers. We had a great time preparing all the wonderful dishes (Sushi, Udon Noodles, Gomae, Teriyaki,…) and filling our stomachs with these delicious treats. I learned a lot about preparing these dishes and I am looking forward to preparing some of those together with Rachel at some point. Overall, we had an amazing afternoon and evening with great conversations and a lot of laughter. πŸ™‚ It was great to be there, to meet everyone and to be part of this very special event. Also, I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to make this experience.

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The traditional dolls for the Japanese Girl’s day, dressed in Kimonos.
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A whole table full of amazing food. What a delicious feast that was! πŸ™‚
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After the many main courses, we even had dessert: Daifuku and cake! So yummyΒ  πŸ™‚

After so much writing, it is finally time to conclude this blog entry with my usual music advice of the day. I stumbled upon this piece when I listened to a random Youtube playlist. Without paying a lot of attention to the lyrics, I just think this is an enjoyable piece overall:

3 Doors Down – Kryptonite

56. Current status PR & 2017 in a nutshell

North Vancouver, Canada, 30.12.2017.

When I wrote my last blog entry three weeks ago, I was in a great mood because it seemed to me that I had a good chance of getting my Canadian Permanent Residency at some point in the future. Then, I received an E-Mail from IRCC that struck a serious blow to my dreams of staying longer in Canada. See for yourself:

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Rejection of my application by IRCC.

Now there is a lot I could say about this but I will reduce it to just these few comments:

  1. When I applied for my current visa last year, I did not submit a translation of my German Police certificate and it was accepted by IRCC.
  2. My German police certificate symply said “Keine Eintragung” which means “No trace”. Even without a translation, I think that this expression should be known at IRCC because there are thousands of Germans who send in their Police Certificates each year when applying for a work & travel visa, PR or a young professional visa.
  3. Simply cancelling the whole application now and not even giving me the opportunity to obtain and submit that translation seems really harsh and also inefficient. By doing this, they actually produce more work than they save. In a previous blog entry, I was full of praise for the Canadian bureaucracy. Seems like I was a little too rash with that judgment…
  4. In the end, it is my own fault that this happened because I did not provide this specific translation which I was supposed to according to their regulations. So I did not read all of their regulations in detail and that was probably a mistake. Or I should have maybe invested a few hundred dollars and have an Immigration Consultant have a look at my application. That would have been another option…

Anyway, there is nothing I can do about this anymore now. As of now, I can still continue working and staying in Canada after January 2nd since I also applied for a work permit extension so that I will be in “implied status” from January 3rd onwards. However, since my PR application has been cancelled, there is a high probability that my work permit extension will also be cancelled once they start looking into it. Now I would still have a chance to get approval for the work permit extension if my current employer AND the government of BC (they already noinated me to become one of their citizens) supported me. Both of them have to provide me with a specific letter/offer that I already requested more than 2 weeks ago. And guess what? I did not receive anything from either one yet. So time is ticking for me now and there is nothing I can really do about it. Not the greatest of all feelings, that’s for sure…

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A heron sitting in a colourful autumn- tree in Stanley Park.

Now people keep asking me if I can’t simply reapply for Permanent Residency. Yes, I can and I already have but the whole process takes a lot of time and I fear that I don’t have that time. First of all, my BC provincial nomination has to be tied to my new PR application again. That will take a few weeks probably. After that, I will score enough points again to be invited by IRCC. However, I will first have to wait for the next round of invitations. That can take up to another three weeks. After that, I will be allowed to submit all of my documents again and wait for the application to be processed. Now it is very likely that my application for the work permit extension will be rejected a lot earlier than me being able to finalize my new PR application. And in that case, I would have to notify IRCC and BC PNP that I am not working anymore. This again will probably lead to BC PNP withdrawing my provincial nomination and thus IRCC voiding my new PR application on the basis of me not having enough points anymore. Sounds like a vicious circle to you? Not quite but close I would say.

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A family of racoons visiting “my” backyard in late October. And they were pretty curious.
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Vancouver in fog. View from West Vancouver. Note how the Lions Gate Bridge and parts of Stanley Park are above the clouds.

 

Anyway, this is my current situation now and so I can’t even start planning anything for 2018 yet because it is totally unclear what will happen when and how. Just a few years ago, so much uncertainty would have driven me crazy and left me fearful und helpless. Today, I am a lot stronger and experienced so that I know that every change also offers opportunities and that life goes on, no matter what. Still, I am incredibly sad that I potentially have to leave Canada again soon and that this is mainly my own fault because I was not diligent enough with that first PR application. Probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in life. And definitely one of those mistakes that have a huge huge impact on one’s future.

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My personal drink discovery of 2017: An amazing red wine from the Bonterra winemaker, California. Resonably prized!

Alright, enough of the whining about the PR. Let’s do a little review of this beautiful year 2017 instead. And let’s talk about the pictures in this blog first. I intentionally chose not to show any pictures that I already used in previous blog entrys. Why? Because there are way too many meaningful and great things that I would want to show again here. So instead I went with a much smaller set of pictures that I haven’t shown in my blog yet. Some are already a few months old, others only a few days, but all are worth showing. Finally, I chose the title picture because it mirrors exactly how I feel right now about my future. Arrows pointing in all kinds of direction and I have no idea yet which way to take. I took that picture on the Camino in Spain (October) and despite this irritating situation, Rachel and I found the right way then and did not get lost. I have faith in myself to do the same for my future once I have clarity about my application- situation.

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Left, right or straight ahead? Which way is the right one? Who knows?

There were so many highlights in 2017 that it is hard for me to remember them all. Looking at my travel highlights, there was my hiking trip to Portugal and Spain in October, my trip to Vancouver Island in September, my trips to Saskatchewan and Texada Island in August, my trip to Germany in June/ July, my trip to Salt Spring Island in June and my trip to Olds/ Red Deer in May. All of them amazing trips and I am truly priviledged that I was able to do every single one of them.
My running highlights include the halfmarathon in Langley in January, the marathons in Vancouver and Red Deer in May, the 30K race in Whisler in June, the marathon in Texada in August, the 50K Trail race on Vancouver Island in September and finally the awesome 80K race in Whistler in October. A lot of running for the year and hopefully also a good preparation for future endeavours in 2018.
Aside from the running, I also did quite a bit of rock climbing in 2017. Actually, I just started climbing in 2017, that’s probably why it is worth mentioning here. πŸ™‚ So far I have only climbed indoors but if the opportunity arises, I am definitely open to climbing outdoors as well in 2018.

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Great view on Mount Seymouor. Snow begins at roughly 900 meters elevation.
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Gentian Lake at the Brothers-Creek-Loop, West Vancouver.

In 2017, I also managed to do a lot of hiking. I hiked the Camino with Rachel, I hiked quite a few routes together with Emilia, with my Mum, with Martin or simply alone. During those hikes, I got to see Spain, Portugal, Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, Cypress Mountain, the Chief, Lynn Canyon, Bunzten Lake, Lighthouse Park, the Brothers- Creek- Loop, Quarry Rock and the interiors of Texada Island, Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island. And probably, I even forgot some of my hikes in this enumeration….

Above everything else, I feel that I was very fortunate to spend so much quality time with so many wonderful people in 2017. My Mum and Martin from the Captain’s Mafia came to see me in Canada in July (Martin) and August (Mum) and we spent some really nice days together. An unbelievable feeling to receive visitors here, several thousand kilometers away from my former home. In the first months of the year, Verena was still in Vancouver and I remember doing a lot of different things together with her and having a lot of fun. During our trip in Portugal and Spain, I spent two great weeks together with Rachel on the longest hike I have done so far in my life. Even after that hike we kept in touch and I really enjoy the time we spend together. In August, I was invited to a family reunion in Saskatchewan and that weekend was a real blast. It was great to meet so many wonderful people (again), to be at that beautiful lake and to be introduced to a family’s tradition, the strudel- making. Big hugs for Dawn, Jo Anne and Doug for also inviting me to their places from January to March (Dawn) and May (Jo Anne and Doug). I really enjoyed spending time together with you! In July, I flew back to Germany and I met Glenn, Martin from Lidl and two of my buddies from the Captain’s Mafia. It was great to see you all again and I am looking forward to meeting you all again in April. We will have a great time together, I know it! During that week in Germany, I also met my Mum, of course, because I mainly stayed at her place. πŸ™‚ Hugs and kisses for you, Mum, for being my Mum and for continuously supporting me while I am away in Canada!
Now I will stop mentioning people right here because otherwise this blog entry will become way too long. Sorry for not mentioning everyone explicitly who helped to make my year 2017 as great as it was. I haven’t forgotten you!

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Majestic waterfall on the Brothers- Creek- Loop, West Vancouver.
Cypress-Mountain
My Mum and I at Cypress Mountain, after a hike. Looks like I have quite the belly on the picture. πŸ™‚

Overall, 2017 was probably the best year of my life so far. No close friends or family members got really sick or died and I myself also stayed pretty healthy. In addition to that, I had an awesome year in Canada with lots of highlights and only very few things that did not go my way. Even though the above outlined PR issue is a looming dark shadow in the otherwise really light and shiny appearance of 2017, I do not let this single and tragic mistake make me feel bad about the whole year. I am grateful for every experience in this year and I am still full of hope that the new year 2018 can be as amazing and exciting as the current fading year. πŸ™‚

Time to close this blog entry with a crazy song (Russian/ German- lyrics) that will supply us with all the energy we possibly need for a good start to 2018. Cheers!

Russkaja – Energia

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!!!! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚
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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

Cesars-Checkmate
Martin checking out our “drink”. πŸ™‚

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!!! πŸ™‚

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.Β  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. πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚
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 (DΓΆner /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. πŸ™‚
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 GrindΒ 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. πŸ™‚
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. πŸ™‚
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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Linkin Park – Easier to run