53. Vancouver Island & Finlayson Arm 50K Trail Race

Amsterdam, Netherlands, 29.09.2017.

Again, weeks have passed without me writing anything. Life keeps me busy with a lot of different things so I rarely find time to just sit down and take my time to write something. Right now, I have a little bit of time while I am at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, waiting for my connection flight to Porto, Portugal. I will go more into detail about this in my next blog entry. The current entry however will just be a short recap of my previous trip to Vancouver Island.

On Thursday, September 7th, I took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and this was the first time that I had to wait for a later ferry when I arrived at the port. Somewhat strange because I did not think that so many people would want to go to Vancouver Island on a random Thursday afternoon. I arrived when it was already dark so I decided to stay near Nanaimo overnight at the Westwood Lake Campground instead of driving to Victoria right away. On Friday morning, I then decided to do a little run at Westwood Lake and to explore the area around it for a while. Around noon I finally hit the road and drove to the Goldstream Provincial Park campsite west of Victoria. As you can see in the map below, this was the place where the Finlayson Arm 50K Trail Race started and finished so it absolutely made sense for me to stay there for the race weekend. Needless to say, this race was the absolute highlight of my trip and also the main reason why I went there this time.

Westwood-Lake
View on Westwood Lake near Nanaimo.
FINNY50_COURSEMAP
A very nice and enjoyable track with great views. Unfortunately, it was all rainy and foggy that day…
FinlaysonArm50k-Elevation-Profile
A total elevation gain of 10.075 feet on 50 Kilometers.

So on Saturday, I then finally ran my first trail race. Also, it was the first time that I ran a greater distance than the 42 kilometers of a marathon. I have to admit it was a completely new experience to me and I was not really well prepared for this kind of race. Indeed, a trail race is very different from a “normal” Marathon race and I never thought that I would need 8 hours and 29 minutes for that distance. Of course you are slower if you mostly walk uphill but you also lose a significant amount of time because you are generally not nearly as fast on trail than you are on road. In addition to that, you have to pay a lot of attention all the time so that you dont trip, stumble or fall. The race profile (see picture above) was a rather constant up- and downhill challenge, including an elevation gain of over 10.000 feet so this contributed to my longer race time as well. Lastly, it also rained during the whole day which was pleasant and cooling on the one hand but made running more difficult (try not to slip on rocks) and uncomfortable (all clothing wet) on the other hand.

Finlayson2
Running the last meters of the race. I finished 42nd out of 115 finishers / 140 starters.
Finished
Teri (right), Kyla (middle) and me after the race.

Overall, it was a really great experience though and I am so glad I did that race. I finished 42nd out of 115 finishers and 140 starters and I think that is pretty good for my first trail race and my suboptimal preparation for the race. It was also really nice to meet so many friendly people there, including Kyla who I had already met and ran with at the 30K Whistler race in June this year. But I also had many really great encounters with other racers on the course and after the race so I also really enjoyed the atmosphere and flair surrounding this great event. If the Canadian Government allows me to stay in Canada after my current Visa runs out in January, I will definitely return to Vancouver Island next year to either do this race again or to help organize it as a volunteer.

On Sunday, I drove to Victoria and made a little city- sightseeing tour. Interestingly, I only had a single blister after the race and this was only because I had hit a rock with my foot by accident. So overall I was okay to walk around that day although my legs were quite a bit sore and taking stairs was a real challenge. Amongst other places I also visited the Fishermans Wharf and the harbour but I did quite a bit of shopping and coffee drinking in Victoria as well. In the evening, I stayed at the Goldstream Provincial Campsite one more time before I moved to another campsite near Victoria for the final night of my trip the next day.

Victoria2
Fishermans Wharf in Victoria.
Victoria1
Victoria: View on the harbour and the Parliament building.

On Monday, I visited the breathtaking Butchart Gardens north of Victoria and I took my time admiring the beautiful flowers and the magnificent scenery. I definitely dont regret having visited them but they were quite pricey and there were also a lot of people around and I dont really like it when it is overly crowded…

Butchart Gardens2
A beautiful and sunny day at Butchart Gardens.
Butchart Gardens1
Butchart Gardens: Amazing design, colorful flowers and lots to look at.

Finally, on Tuesday, I visited two National Heritage sites near Vancouver: Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. And these two sites are definitely worth seeing. I really admire how the Canadians value their heritage and maintain it so that future generations can see and learn what has happened in the past. It was very interesting and entertaining for me to see all the little exhibitions and pieces they prepared for the tourists here. So this was a great last stop on my trip to Vancouver Island before I had to go back to the North Shore on Tuesday afternoon.

Fort-Rodd-Hill
The lower Battery of Fort Rodd Hill with an AA-gun in front of it.
Fisgard-Lighthouse
The Fisgard – Lighthouse, overlooking Esquimalt harbour.

When I left the Island, I felt that there is still so much more to discover there so that I will probably return to it again sometime next year. It is just amazing how many great places there are around Vancouver. I feel blessed to live and work there and to have all these opportunities to travel while I hold a decent job at the same time…

After having presented more exotic music pieces in my last blog entries, I feel like it is time to listen to a more mainstream and punk/rock piece again so here it goes:

Green Day – Revolution Radio

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

30. Downtown Vancouver & First Aid Course

Vancouver, Canada, 10.01.2017.

A lot of different things have happened since my last blog entry on Saturday so I guess it’s time to give you an update of what’s going on in the moment.

After having finished writing the last blog entry, I drove to Vancouver downtown to enjoy the rest of the day in the city. As I had booked a place in the CatFé for 1 PM, this was the first place I went to. It was a very interesting experience and aside from the cats, I also met other friendly people who shared my love for these great animals. Most of the cats seemed to be enjoying the humans who tried to get their attention and play with them. However, there were also two cats that were really shy and they seemed to be stressed by all the action around them. I left them alone because I did not want to add to their stress. So I focused on playing with two young boys who could not get enough from chasing all kinds of different things. With their open and friendly character, I think they will soon find a new family that wishes to adopt them.

20170107_122738
CatFé in Vancouver.
20170107_131147
One of the two young boys who liked to play a lot.
20170107_135021
The other one of the two.
20170107_131449
Sleepy cat. She seemed to be a bit stressed by all the people in the café.

Generally, I think the idea of having a Cat Café is really good. It gives people the chance to get into contact with homeless cats looking for a new place to live. That makes it easier for people to decide for or against a certain cat as they can already try to judge from a cat’s behaviour if it will be a good fit for their personal situation at home (kids, other cats,…). However, I think that not every cat should be exposed to this very special environment in the Cat Café. Cats that are really shy and afraid or that simply don’t like other cats too much should not be put into this or a similar place. Judging from what I have seen, I think that most of the cats were fine with beeing in the café when I was there. But as I said earlier, I also think that two of the cats seemed to be stressed and thus I think that they should not be there. Now here comes the paradox: On the one hand, cats that have not had traumatic experiences yet and that are open-minded will easily find a new home, with or without the Cat Café. Granted, they will find a new home quicker with the help of the Cat Café. But they would most probably also find a new home without the Cat Café. Anyway, they don’t mind beeing in the Cat Café so it is a good deal for them AND the human visitors to be there. On the other hand, however, the shy or traumatized cats have problems finding new homes as they often have trouble connecting with other cats or humans. So beeing in the Cat Café may stress them and it may be another unpleasant experience adding to their trauma. Does not have to be like that but it may be the case. I would not doubt that the Cat Café also increases the chances of those cats to find a new home but it may come at the cost of the cat’s mental wellbeeing. However, I think it is still worth doing as the long-term happiness of these cats will be a lot lower if they do not find a new home at all. May sound harsh but I guess enduring a short, shocking period of time is favorable to enduring a long period of time lacking quality treatment of loving owners. Before leaving the Cat Café, I asked one of the girls working there how many cats have not found a new home while beeing in the Café. She said there was only one cat which had no luck but which then got adopted one week after it was returned to the SPCA. So overall, I think that the idea of the Cat Café is generally good and worth of supporting although going to the Café may not be the most pleasant experience for every cat in the short run.

After my visit in the Cat Café, I took a really long walk through Vancouver Downtown. I felt very relaxed and enjoyed having the time to listen to music and look at the core of the city in detail. Here are just some of the impressions of that long walk:

20170107_141106
Statue of Gassy Jack, the founder of Gastown. Gastown later became the city of Vancouver.
20170107_141811
The famous Gastown Steam Clock. Really impressive, especially the interior. The steam sound is not as loud as the one of a steam train. 🙂
20170107_144655
View on Stanley Park from behind the Convention Center.
20170107_160744
Old Sherman tank in front of the British Columbia Regiment. This was the Commander’s tank in WW II, hence the name “BOSS”.

It felt really good to be back in Vancouver although it was not the very favourite place of my roadtrip in 2016. After having strolled through the city for a bit, I felt hungry and got something to eat. While sitting there and chewing on my Veggies, I wondered what I could do for the rest of the day. I finally decided to watch a movie at the cinema and I was lucky that the movie “A Monster Calls” was about to begin shortly when I arrived at the cinema. This movie is absolutely worth watching and it tells the very touching story of a young boy who is trying to cope with his mum’s terminal sickness (cancer). Although I am definitely not the most emotional or sensitive human being, I had to shed some tears at the end of the movie. Interestingly, the movie had the same effect on everyone around me so it wasn’t only me feeling for the poor little boy.

When I left the cinema, it was already dark and I wondered what to do next. I wasn’t hungry so I did not want to go to a restaurant. Unfortunately, I had taken the car to go downtown so drinking alcohol was also out of the question. Thus, I debated with myself to go to a sports bar, watch some sports and get a coke or something. In the end I decided against that and took another walk through the city. Finally, I got a hot mocha at Tim Horton’s (my first visit to Tim Horton’s upon my return to Canada) and just relaxed a bit. At that point I did not feel like staying any longer in downtown so I drove back home. But that was totally okay for me as I still had to do some shopping for Sunday.

On Sunday, I did not do a lot of overly exciting things. I continued to set up and manage my new Facebook- account, I thoroughly looked for new job opportunities in BC (and found 2 interesting positions I will apply for in the next days) and I finally got to run a bit on the beach in front of the apartment. Also, I spent some time cooking so that I could enjoy a good meal in the evening. I really like fresh and healthy food prepared in a Wok…

On Monday and today, I went to a Standard First Aid Course in Surrey, south of Vancouver. I had already scheduled this course when I was still back in Germany and I realized that I would need a First Aid certificate to be able to do the job as a Park Ranger. And now I have this certificate and will be fine if they invite me to an interview. The course itself was very interesting, we had good instructors and the other people taking the course were also very nice and chatty. So we had a good time refreshing our knowledge of First Aid. Good thing I went there…

20170110_144806
One more qualification for the job as a Park Ranger acquired. *Ticks that box and moves on…*

Now, what are the plans for the next days? Tomorrow I will definitely check out the Board Games night in the Comic store I already visited last Friday. Also, I plan on writing at least one more application for a job that I discovered on the Parks Canada website on Sunday. Maybe I will also start looking for a car somewhere in the Vancouver region. This will be a bit difficult though since my German bank has not yet contacted me about transferring my money to the Canadian account. This definitely takes longer than I expected. And without money, there is no way I can buy a car. Not sure what I am going to to on Thursday but I guess that I will attend one or more Aether Revolt Prereleases on Friday and Saturday. That will be a lot of fun again I think. Anyway, I hope that you are all currently enjoying your life as much as I enjoy mine. Make the best of it, you only have one life to live!

Today’s music advice is a bit strange. Even for my taste. When emptying my German apartment, I found a really old CD of an English pop band. Ever heard of East 17? No? Well, I had also already forgotten about them entirely when I found the CD. But when listening to the CD again, I remembered most of the songs and now I want to share my favourite song of their album “Walthamstow” with you. It was released in 1992!!!!

East 17 – Gold

P.S.: That music video is so retro and so boy-band. Those were the days. 🙂