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. 🙂

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Another ferry crossing our way from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons.
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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.

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

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Chilling at the lake in the morning.
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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.

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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. 🙂
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Skilift at Cypress Mountain. We hiked to St. Marks from there.
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View on Howe Sound from the St. Marks summit.

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

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

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

257ers – Mama

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34. A new plan

Vancouver, Canada, 12.02.2017.

Sunday afternoon/evening in Vancouver, Canada and today I am just relaxing and enjoying the great weather and the beautiful sea. There was the opportunity to go swimming with a friend of mine today but I didn’t feel like doing that. After a few days full of sports, it is always good to calm down a little once in a while and let the muscles relax a bit. So no sports today…. Probably again tomorrow, though…

Last week, quite of few very interesting things happened. On Sunday, I helped Verena to move her stuff from her old apartment in Burnaby to the new one in Vancouver. That was no big effort as Work&Travelers usually only have 2 suitcases of stuff and that’s it. So we were finished with that pretty quickly. Then, we decided to visit Granville Island, south of Vancouver Downtown. This island is famous for its galleries and artist and although it was Sunday, most of the galleries and shops were open. Which was great because we got to see some really nice art and get an impression of what the artists are doing on the island. In the afternoon, Verena had to go to work so I explored the island a little more on my own. They also have a quite huge Public Market there which hosts many different food shops. And some of them even have German names and offer German food. So I had to take a picture of that and share it with you, see below. Not sure that all of the food they offer there is truly German but it is hard to tell for me now since the picture I took is a bit blurred. Anyway, after a longer tour of the food court I decided to watch the first half of the Super Bowl in a pub before I drove to Richmond to play at a board game evening at Jen’s place. It was truly great to meet everyone there and play some really nice games I had not known before, including Carcassonne. Unfortunately, I forgot to make a picture of that game so I can’t share it here with you. Bummer. But I also met Teddy at Jen’s place and he is a cuddly and friendly cat that seemed to like me as well. Especially because I gave him some treats and Teddy likes treats! 🙂 Thanks again for the invitation and the lovely evening, Jen!

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Entrance to Granville Island, south of Vancouver downtown.
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The Public Market on Granville Island, sprawling with food shops and visitors.
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The “Kaisereck”- takeaway, with German flag and food. Feels like home? Well, not really…. 🙂
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Enjoying the fist half of the Super Bowl 51 at the bar of a pub in Granville Island.

On Monday, I started scanning the BC- job market again and I also took my time to analyze how to increase my chances of getting a decent job quickly. In the end, I think I need to solve the following problem in order to be more successful with my applications: As I currently only have a working permit for one year, many HR managers are probably reluctant to consider me for an open position. Why is that? Well, most of the HR managers are probably looking for a long-term replacement for their job openings and not for a temporary one. At least this is what I would do if I was an HR manager. And this is also what I did when I was in charge of hiring customer assistants for my stores in Germany and England. You don’t want anyone who will only be available for a short time and who is then going to leave again quickly. The time investment for new employees is huge in the beginning and the benefit of that must be negative if the new employee leaves again quickly and you need to start hiring again. That does not make much sense. So I figured that I will probably only have a good shot at a decent job if I can convince people that I will be staying longer in Canada than the current projected year. Thus, I checked out Canada’s immigration website to find out if I am eligible to apply for permanent residency. Luckily it turned out that I am already eligible to apply for that if I pass an English test. Possibly my chances to get the permanent resideny would be better if I already had a job but this is probably a two-sided problem that cannot be solved: Without a decent job, it will be more difficult to get a permanent residency but without a permanent residency, it will be more difficult to get a decent job. Not much I can do about that other than to try to get either of the two as quickly as possible and then try to get the other one afterwards. Thus, I then decided to sign up for an English- test for immigrants on Friday and I was there on time to take it. The test went okay but I am almost certain I made more than just a few mistakes. Now I have taken a few English- tests before in my life but in this one the questions were quite difficult and some of the topics and vocabulary used were rather special. Like urban city-planning and details of an art festival. Oh well, I will see how I did in the test in about a week when they will send me the results. And If I failed, I can always take the test again, I don’t worry about that really. But if I pass, I will definitely apply for the permanent residency and see if the Canadian government wants me here permanently or not… In the meantime, I wrote some more applications last week and I got good feedback from my application as a senior store manager. Of course, senior store manager would be a step down from my former position as an area manager but I guess I am still willing to accept that to gain a foothold in the Canadian job market. We’ll see how this whole situation develops…

And what else happened during the week? I went to the board game evening in the local game store on Wednesday and I did some serious running training in the last days, despite the snow here in the lower Mainlands. Also, Whippcream and I got a visit from a rather unfriendly neighbor cat and the cute fuzzy white girl was pretty upset about that. I guess I’ll have to pay good attention in the future if I let her out on the deck. Last thing I need are two fighting cats and a necessary visit to the animal hospital. Then, on Friday Verena and I did some climbing and that was a lot of fun and really interesting. The only problem was that you need some well trained arms in order to do proper climbing. Now that is a problem in my case because the only muscles that are really well trained in my body are my leg muscles. Thus, after roughly an hour of bouldering and climbing, I could already feel the ache in my forearms and I started losing power in my hands. Verena was actually doing a lot better than me and she managed to finish one of the easier climbing routes successfully whereas I twice had to let go two steps below the “finish line”. Sometimes it just sucks to be as old as I am. Especially when your body needs a lot longer to recover from the muscular strain than it used to just a few years ago. Oh well. In any case, it was a lot of fun to go climbing and I can see myself doing that regularly in the future if my place of work/ future apartment will be somewhere near a climbing center. After the climbing, we went to the Brett Martin Show in the YukYuk’s comedy club and it was as great as always. If I don’t get to stay in Vancouver in the futurer, I will definitely miss this location. It offers really great entertainment on a regular basis and I just love it.

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Snowy beach and a flock of ducks straight ahead.
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No way these two cats will ever be friends. Good thing the glass door is pretty solid.
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The “easy” yellow route we climbed. Every route has its own colors and if you want to climb properly, you are only allowed to use steps of one color = “stay in a route”.
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Brett Martin (on the very left od the picture) and his crew on 11/02/17 at YukYuk’s Vancouver.

Today’s music advise is a bit different from the previous ones. When listening to some rock music during my running sessions last week, I realized that two of my favorite bands, Saxon and Motörhead, each made a song called “Dogs of war”. So I thought it would be a great idea to make a double- header advice here:

Motörhead – Dogs of war

Saxon – Dogs of war

They’re both great songs but the one from Saxon is clearly my favorite. Sorry, Lemmy! 😉

32. Encouraging developments

Vancouver, Canada, 30.01.2017.

Time is running when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy. 2 weeks have passed by and I haven’t written anything for the blog. Sorry for that! Well, I will try to make up for this by wrinting a longer entry now. Yes, it will be a bit longer because a lot of things have happened in the last 2 weeks. Let’s recapitulate:

In the days after the last blog entry, I continued writing applications and I did quite a bit of running. Then, on Saturday, 21st I did my first half marathon of the year in Langley, next to Vancouver. The Yeti-Set-Go Half Marathon was a very “exclusive” event with only a hand full of people doing the half marathon. Actually, we were around 15 people overall so the event was even smaller than the Coigach Half Marathon in Scotland last October. But there were really nice people and the weather was also quite good for a run. However, I was really unprepared for this run. In December, I could not train because I was sick for quite a while. Also, I was busy clearing out my apartment. And now, in January, I only ran a couple of times and none of the training sessions was anywhere near half marathon distance. So I decided not to push the matter but to go steady and without a hurry. Means that I finished in 1:51 hours, definitely not the best time ever. But hey, it was okay for my current state of training. Also, just in case I will start going even longer distances in the future, I need to start managing my power a bit better. That means I should probably rather run a 2:00- pace so that I don’t start dying after the first half of a full marathon. Anyway, these are thoughts for the future I guess. We also got really nice gloves for the run and I proudly wore them. Check them out!

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The start/ finish line. You don’t know it’s there….
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Place of the run: The Tynehead Regional Park in Langley, next to Vancouver.
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Soooooooo fluffy!
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Done after 1:51. First finish in 2017. Felt like a real Yeti in this run…. 🙂

Next weekend, there will be another half marathon right here in Vancouver. I don’t know yet if I want to take part in that one as well since my current training status hasn’t changed much in the previous days. Thus, a similar result to the Langley- run can be expected. That is why, on the one hand this run would not make much sense. But on the other hand, I could try to run a 2:00 pace and see how that feels after 20 kilometers. I don’t know yet what to do. Possibly, I will make a spontaneous decision here. When running in the “city” in the last days, I finally found the official US-Canada border crossing and also a very very interesting junction. So let me also share these pictures with you before I change the subject to my new car. Yes, my new car. 🙂

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Official US – Canadian border crossing at Point Roberts.
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England meets Germany in Canada. Good times.

Alright, let’s talk about my new car. About 10 days ago, my German bank finally told me that they wired the money to my Canadian bank. Finally! It was about time. Then, it took 2 more days until the money arrived here in Canada. Once that happened, I started looking for a car. Since I have no clue about cars or mechnical things in general, I tried to get as much information and advice as I could. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I had two different cars inspected by professional mechanics to find out if they were any good. Turned out they were crap and I should not buy them. Which I did not do. One was a Dodge Durango, one was a Toyota 4Runner. The latter, however, was a rebuild car that must have been in a severe accident. It’s owner must have forgotten about that as he continued to claim that the car was all good. Well, I knew better and told him I wasn’t interested anymore. At that point, I had already met several different people who kept telling me that a Toyota 4Runner was a good buy. I am especially thankful for the initial advice in this direction which came from Corey&Kelly. Thanks again! So I continued looking for a Toyota 4Runner. I found a decent 4Runner in Surrey and although it was already 20 years old, it had only 94.000 kilometers on it. Japanese import, steering wheel on the right side of the car (I don’t care about that. Done it before in England!) and its japanese owner claimed it was in perfect condition. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I wanted to see its papers and have it inspected as well. It turned out that the guy was trying to sell the car for nearly 5 months now. A 4Runner! These usually sell very very quickly. He was asking 7200 Dollars for it which is an o.k. price if the car is as good as he claimed. Then he tried to start the engine and the car only came to live after a lot of effort. Great. Then it turned out that the radio was broken. Oh well. Then I made an appointment at a local repair shop with him standing beside me. After I phoned the shop, he told me he would need 40 Dollars as a compensation to go there. Because it would be his working time that he needed to invest for that. Great service, isn’t it? I then asked him who would pay the mechanic if it turned out that the car has more issues than he claims. He replied that this would be my problem. Now, I am a rather patient person. But when he then went on to say that he has no more time to “play games” and that he was done with the conversation, I was very close to tell him to f**k off. Anyway, I didn’t do that but I told him I would consider his offer. Then I drove off to my next appointment (see below). He later texted me that he didn’t want the 40 dollars anymore to go to the repair shop with me. In any case, the whole thing didn’t quite feel right to me. It was a gut feeling that there may be more problems waiting for me, especially when trying to get insurance for a “newly” imported vehicle with right hand drive. In any case, I then went to New Westminster to take a look at another car. Also 4Runner, built in 1998 but with 360.000 kilometers. Yep, that is a lot. But as of now, I only need that car for one year. And its price was quite low at 2600 Dollars. I had a very long chat with its owner, a very kind and helpful dealer named Ken. He told me about the car’s issues and even adviced me not to buy the car, anticipating that it would need a lot of repairs. He also said that this car was rather suited for someone who already owns a 4Runner and/or who was prepared to spend a lot of time and love trying to fix this one. We had a very good and long conversation and agreed to keep in contact about the car. Now I had a decision to make: A hopefully good car sold by a strange guy or a confirmed “problem-child” sold by a refreshingly honest and friendly dealer. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I felt like the presumably healthier car would be the better choice for me. So I texted the japanese guy, telling him that I would still like to have a mechanic to take a look at his car and that we should meet at the repair shop as previously planned. After a while, he answered that he had already made other plans for the afternoon since he thought I didn’t want the car anymore. For real? This was the moment when one of Bricktop’s famous quotes from the movie “Snatch” came to my mind. Anyone who knows that movie has an idea of what I thought in that moment. I won’t quote it here though. In any case, I had never told him I wasn’t interested anymore but after this event, I was sure I would not buy his car anymore. So I then organized a mechanic to take a closer look at the much more problematic 4Runner the next day. I then met with Ken and the mechanic and anxiously awaited the result of the inspection. As anticipated, the car had a lot of issues, including a lot of rust, also visible. But the rust underneath the car was only surface rust and I don’t care about the appearance of a car as long as it is safe and reliable. So the rust and the bad paint on one of the car’s sides do not bother me. The mechanic told me not to buy the car due to its obvious issues but hey, that decision is on me, right? Of course, Ken also got the result of the inspection. We talked a bit about it and made a plan how to fix the most important things right away. Ken was very helpful and very resourceful and organized a lot for me already on the same day. So on Saturday, when I showed up to buy the car, it already had a new wind shield and a new alternator. I then managed to get insurance for the car and we concluded the deal afterwards. Ken then also got me a new belt for the alternator and I had it installed at a nearby repair shop. He also called another repair shop that would then fix the damaged muffler and the brakes. This is where I went today and got these two things done for a mere 460 dollars. Call that a good deal! Overall, Ken’s performance was outstanding. An honest dealer with a great heart, a top-notch understanding of customer service and just a really really nice person overall. That is why I love Canada. Although people don’t know you, they help you and treat you like you are family. I am really really grateful for that, this is so great about this country….

Just now, the car is in another repair shop which takes care of all the other issues that need to be done. Fluids, steering, minor electric issues and other stuff. All in all, these repairs will cost another 1000 Dollars and then I should be good. The overall cost of this car will then be around 4200 Dollars which is totally fine with me. And it will have so many new parts that I won’t have to worry about much about future issues. Of course, it is always a risk to buy a used car, I am aware of that. So there is a chance that this car breaks down soon and I will have lost most of these 4200 Dollars. Then the decision was wrong to buy the car. But I am willing to take this risk. Even if the car fails me in the middle of nowhere, I am not too worried about that. When you’re trained to survive, what can possibly happen? Life’s a challenge and I am willing to take it. Besides, it just felt right to buy this car, I can’t even explain why. While I was very head- driven in the past, I started to listen to my heart a bit more in the past and up to now, I think that has benefited me quite well. In the end, my decision to come to Canada was definitely a heart- decision. Anyway, back to the subject. 🙂  I will probably be able to pick up my 4Runner after having brought back my rental car to the airport on Wednesday. Really looking forward to that! Here is my new boy:

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1998 Toyota 4Runner. My new companion for at least a year. 🙂

So that is all about the car. What else happened in my life? I found out that Whippcream looks like an egg if she sleeps and you put half of a lemon on her. She didn’t even flinch when I did that. Did not wake up or complain about it. Can’t stop mentioning that she is a really great and friendly companion. 🙂 At some point in the future I definitely also want to have a cat again. Just now, it is not the right time for that.

Job- wise, I got a phone call from the HR manager in Banff, asking me about my working permit. I explained it to him and he said that I have a “strong application” overall. So I am happy that there is a positive reaction and people seem to consider me as a candidate. All I need now is a job interview. Let’s hope for the future. But now that I have dealt with the car- issue, I will continue to focus on the job- problem. Probably, I will write some more applications during this week. That is as much as I can do job-wise in the moment.

In the meantime, I also enjoyed my life in Vancouver. I spent 2 more nights at the YukYuk’s comedy club in Vancouver. Definitely one of my favorite places here. Great show with Tom Buehler (see picture) and Steve Gaskin roughly two weeks ago. And last Friday, I went there with Verena, a work-and-travel girl from Germany that I met online in one of Facebook’s Canadian work&travel groups. We had a great evening and also visited one of Vancouver’s clubs, the Roxy, afterwards. As Verena works in an associated restaurant, we didn’t have to pay for entry and for the (soft) drinks. Never had that before in club!!! Thanks again, Verena, we should do that again sometime!

Also, I have spent quite some time in the local Comic Store, playing all kinds of games with the lovely folks there. Feels good to be able to enjoy my hobbies here in Canada as well. No matter where I went in the world so far, I always found nice people to play with, be it Magic, board games or poker. Just amazing, I feel I am really privileged. 🙂

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Vancouver Sky train. Favorite means of transportation if you want to go quickly from A to B in Vancouver.
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The “cat- egg”. No harm was done to any cat for this picture.
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Energy Empire, Manhattan Project. Great board game that allows for many different strategies.
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Tom Buehler on stage. Great show at the YukYuk’s Comedy club. Love that location!

Alright, this is about as much as I can and want to write about in the moment. Also, I just realized that I already wrote some 2400+ words. Guess I have to write more but shorter blog entries in the future. Well, whatever. 🙂 Lastly, let me conclude with the obligatory music advice. This song is rather aggressive and I don’t like it for its lyrics. However, it has a certain touch to it that stimulates my adrenalin- production. Great when you’re running uphill…

Drowning Pool – Bodies