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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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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

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 🙂
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After the many main courses, we even had dessert: Daifuku and cake! So yummy  🙂

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

47. Salt Spring Island, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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Garry Oaks Winery with tasting room.
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Quite a few of their wines actually won prizes!!!
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Goats and chickens roaming free nearby the cheese factory.
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The cheese factory on Salt Spring Island.
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My shoppings. Truly delicious. 🙂
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Another beach, another great view, what more can you ask for?

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

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

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

Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench

46. Salt Spring Island, Part 1

Ganges (Salt Spring Island), Canada, 11.06.2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Found a few Fairy doors on my way up to Mount Erskine. Never got to see the Fairies though…
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View from Mount Erskine.
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Another view from Mount Erskine.

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

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View from Mount Maxwell. The boats are anchoring at Burgoyne Bay.
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View of the Valley with the vineyards and the beer brewery.
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Daffodil point. A nice and quiet spot to relax and enjoy the sun.

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

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

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

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

Fangclub – Bad Words