Thursday, April 24, 2014

Llamas, Horses, and Water - Geocaching in Abbotsford

Brother Ken AKA MrTJ and I spent the day geocaching in the north part of Abbotsford enjoying one of those sunny days that alternate with the rainy days that early Spring brings. Most of north Abbotsford is rural, split between full fledged farms and small hobby farms where people enjoy a bit of freedom to raise chickens, goats, horses and what ever else they fancy.

Click on any picture to see them full sized - then you'll get the full magic!  :)

Many of these hobby farms have a llama or two mixed in with the herds as llamas are excellent protectors against predators like raccoons, coyotes, and other creatures that fancy an easy meal.

We started the day just outside of Fort Langley, well, truth be told we started the day _in_ Fort Langley as MrTJ required some fortitude in the form of a coffee and a cookie. Having got that out the way, we headed just outside of the historic town to find our first cache on a small suburban trail. We had actually been here before finding another cache that has since been archived, so we knew the closest parking and entrance point to the trail. We only had to go a few hundred feet up the easy gravel path, but we took a few minutes to once again enjoy a hobby farm that was situated on a small hill above a pond that came fully equipped with Canada geese, Mallard Ducks, and your own canoe to slip among the water fowl.

  This was a good trail to stretch out the muscles and to get the blood flowing - easy walk to the cache, not far to go, and no coffee was spilt on the way. Best of all, a quick find was an omen of good luck on the day!

The next few caches brought us back down to the Fraser River's edge and took us along River Road as we picked up caches heading east away from Fort Langley.It also brought us down into the Glen Valley region of Langley. This is a pocket of flat land sandwiched between the uplands and the Fraser River. It's also one of the earliest farm land areas utilized by Europeans in conjunction with the operation of Fort Langley when it was a Hudson's Bay Trading Post.

The land is now diked to protect it from flooding, and a long irrigation canal operates as both a source of water for the fields and a drainage mechanism during high water levels. We found a couple of caches in the area and took time to read the nature information boards posted at this popular walking area.Always love reading these as that's how you learn about your local world; not just the present day, but the history of the land and the people that lived here.

 The next cache of significance brought us to Two Bit Bar, site of a historic farm house and now part of the long, linear Glen Valley Park. This cache is called "VTMP # 59 Two Bit Bar"
VTMP stands for Vancouver Transit Memorial Project and it highlights a now defunct type cache known as a "moving cache". The ideas was you would find the cache, pick it up and go hide it in another location within specified geographical boundaries.This one had a wide range - anywhere in the Greater Vancouver area, that's a big area to hide it in! Once you hid it, you would post the co-ordinates on the cache page for the next cacher(s) to race to find it and re-locate it again. I myself have one of these memorial caches hidden in east maple Ridge at Arnold Falls in Kanaka Creek Regional Park.

 The next cache was deja vu, as it was hidden at a location where I had hid one a few years before. My cache was called "Bob's View" as my work buddy Bob lives right across the river and this is the view he has of the river.
The boat shed in the picture above belongs to Bob - his house is on the hill to the left, partly hidden by the brown building.
My cache lasted for a couple of years before an extremely high spring runoff floated my cache downstream to disappear forever, or so I thought. A year later I received an email from a fellow geocacher, whom worked in New Westminster on the log booms as a log sorter, stating he had found my cache floating in the Fraser River among the log booms! WOW! I met him at a geocaching meet up a couple of weeks later and he returned my cache; he also said that this was the second time he had found a geocache that had run away and ended up in the log booms.
River traffic provided many a picture opportunity and I think MrTJ was getting a bit bored after a while as I was more about the pictures and less about the caching. No worries MrTJ, I can do both "cause I'm a guy"!

We picked up a few more river side caches and then retraced our steps a few miles back to head to the uplands of north Abbotsford known as Bradner.
Bradner was another historic area situated right atop the hill with a commanding view of the Fraser River, and well above the annual flooding I might add.

The area was a small knit community where everyone seems to know everyone and we were decidedly the outsiders. I assume that, as this area is rural and far from the normal patrol area of the police, the Neighbourhood Watch program was in place as every where we went among the rural acreages or hobby farms we got the beady eyeball.
We really liked it around here - it was quiet and peaceful, lots of space between you and your neighbours, you can make a bit of noise or run some machinery in your yard with out the neighbour complaining. We found two caches at the local baseball fields that were part of the school, and the kids whom played in the school yard had a horse as a neighbour - granted he wasn't much on conversation, but he probably found all these rug rats running around mildly amusing  :)

One of the caches had us threading our way on a short trail that ran along the top of a ridge line in a ravine area. Doesn't look like much in the picture (go ahead, click on the picture and make it bigger) but a simple trip over a tree root or your own feet would have you rolling 50 feet down the hill.

This ravine area also showcased why they say Vancouver is in a coastal rain forest area; Muddy slopes and heavy moss on the trees indicated that plenty of rain fell here to keep the flora as green and lush as it is.

 As we headed east through the upland area we transitioned from Bradner to the Mt. Lehman rural region. At the base of one of the old local roads that winds it's way down the escarpment to the Fraser River was the location of a bygone ferry that ran across the river from Abbotsford - Mt. Lehman to the north side of the river taken passengers over to East Maple Ridge - Mission territory. I can honestly say that until I had found a couple of caches down that abandoned road I had no idea that a ferry use to run across the river here. That's one of the wonders of exploring through geocaching - learning all about your historical back yard!
The Mt' Lehman library shares the building with the Mt. Lehman Fire Department - small town efficiency, serving all your needs in one location. :)  In the days of big buildings and big libraries and bug everything, this quaint building in a small part of the world made me smile.

We picked up a few more caches as we wound our way into civilization known as Abbotsford; we had picked up most of the rural caches in the northern sector and as the day was winding down I had planned on picking up a succession of rapid fire caches in the city. One of the caches we found touched on a series of caches along an old rail way path that is now a main road that lazily traverses west from Abbotsford back into the Bradner - Langley area. Ken and I had done a cache along this path way a few years ago but we see now that some one has created a whole series along here. I've marked these ones for a definite re-visit as both Ken and I enjoy caches that highlight areas of local historical significance.

With that in mind, I saved one of my favourite type caches to last........this was another in the Mile marker series that highlights cement obelisk mile markers.

When BC highways were young, there was no Highway #1 from Vancouver to Hope; what you had was a series of local roads that took you east from the city of Vancouver to Hope and the lands beyond.
To help you know how far you had traveled on your path, a series of obelisks counting off the miles were created. Starting at the Vancouver Post Office on Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver, you went along Kingsway Street through Burnaby and crossed into Surrey to follow alternately Old Yale Road and The Fraser Highway as you headed east. Most of these mile markers have disappeared as they became obsolete, but through blind luck and restoration, some of them still exist. This one is at Mile Marker 35 at the edge of Aldergrove; 35 miles from Vancouver and another 65 to go until you reached Hope. I have found a few of these, I think the lowest I have found is Mile 30 and the highest I have found is Mile 98 just outside of Hope.

This was the end of the day for MrTJ and I, we had found 31 caches and a lot more. We had started our day in the first Provincial capital city of BC in the name of Fort Langley, then wandered through the farms that fed those pioneers, traveled along side the original highway in BC in the form of the Fraser River, climbed the hills to meander through small communities content in their quaintness, and ended the day at a relic of car travel from 1931. All in all, a very fun and satisfying day was had by all, and you can't ask for much more than that!  

All pictures of this trip and other trips can be seen here at my Flickr web site. You can also click on the link in the left margin of the blog page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bordered by the Fraser River to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Coast Mountains to the north, and a neighbouring suburb tight against it's eastern flank, Vancouver is an island on it's own. With it's mild winters and medium summers, National Geographic has said it's one of the few places in the world where you can ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon, and then have dinner on an outside patio...this is Vancouver!

Click on any picture to make it full's worth it!  :)

On an early spring sunny Sunday brothers Al, Ken, and Ed (Bowser98, MrTJ, and tjguy98) picked the west side of Vancouver as our destination for a day of geocaching. Being a Sunday and all, we had a sleep in and made the meet for 10.00 AM in south west Vancouver in the Marpole area.

The Marpole area is home to the Musqueam people who first seen European people in 1791 when the Spanish captain Jose Maria Narvaez explored the area, followed closely by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. By then the Musqueam people, part of the Coast Salish group, had been here for 4,000 years. When the first white man visited them the geography of the Fraser River was different. The river only had one channel, not the three channels there are now. Sea Island where the airport is located did not exist, and the main island upon which Richmond is built was only a small sand bank in the middle of the river.

The once mighty Musqueam peoples in the south of the area are now concentrated in a small reserve in south west Vancouver in an area known by their name of Musqueam. Like many reserves the neighbourhood has an air of despair and neglect; ironically right across the street is the Point Grey Golf and Country Club - one of the most exclusive clubs in the city.

The geocaches founds today where not great on the scale of 1-10, but the views and the historic areas they brought us to were worth it. Like the Marpole area for example, home to the Musqueam; it is an area where the Musqueam had their main winter village. At the south end of Granville Street archaeologists found one of the largest middens ever discovered. A midden is an area where the First Nations traditionally through the shells from the ocean diet of clams, mussels, oysters, etc. The immense size of the midden led them to believe that this was a well established and culturally rich First Nations area.

Now, Marpole is still a culturally rich environment, only the culture is decidedly European, and money rich. Southlands is a surprising bit of country tucked away in the city. Large, mansion like homes abut horse stables where many people from the area board their horse. While we cached in the area it wasn't uncommon to pass horses on the local trails or see a horse and riding cantering down a side road. We even seen a couple out for a Sunday walk with their dog and their Shetland Pony!

Green belts along the Fraser River allowed us to enjoy a walk along the picture perfect river and enjoy the river traffic as the sun warmed up the cool morning air.The clear sky was  multiple shades of blue, reflecting the blue into the river itself and making the muddy brown river almost pretty.

Tugs pulling rafts of logs shared the river with large and small pleasure boats pulling out of the MacDonald Beach marina across the river in Richmond. Some boat operators took care around the tugs and their log booms, others, noticeably with the large penis-boats, gave no concern to their fellow boaters and roared past at full speed creating large wakes in their path.

Southlands even has a small area called Deering Island where you can pull your BMW or Mercedes up to your exclusive front door and pull your pleasure craft around to the back yard in a small arm of the river.

  In 1890 the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company launched Vancouver's street car system with various routes throughout a young Vancouver. One of the first lines ran down Arbutus Street where many of the new and young families where beginning to live as the forest was cut back and housing was built up.

Once of the caches of the day had us at these historic tracks, now all but abandoned. Eventually CP Rail, then BCR (British Columbia Railway) owned these lines and the last freight cars ran over these lines in 2001. The area has been adopted as a transportation/greenway to reserve the land for future transportation needs, at the same time allowing present day greening of the right of way into linear parks.

As we headed north we began to touch the edges of Pacific Spirit Regional Park, 763 hectares of forest land that is part of the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands, a vast area that was preserved as part of the granting of the lands for UBC. One of the most unique geographical areas in the lands is the Camosun Bog, sadly now just a remnant of itself. At one time the bog stretched from the UBC area all the way east to the Knight and Kingsway area; there are even some side roads in the Kingsway area that are erratically sunken and misshaped as the boggy ground under the decades old neighbourhood continues to sink.

I won't go into the whole rendition about the bog but I will give you tidbits of information. A bog is formed when the plants cut off the supply of inbound water, creating a stagnant and acidic environment where only certain plants can grow. Cloudberry, an Artic plant growing at it's southern range is present here, holding out as it has been since the last ice age.Blueberries and Labrador Tea, as well as the Clouberries were staples of the First Nations. When Labrador Tea is boiled as a tea it has medicinal purposes, although too much is poisonous.  As is it's close cousin Bog Laurel usually found growing in the same vicinity. Bog Laurel itself is poisonous although its was used by the peoples for its antiseptic properties on skin ailments.

More information on Camosun Bog and all pictures, including information signs, can be seen on my Flickr web site. Eddie's Flickr Page  

We moved into the UBC area finding multiple caches both in the forest areas and right on the campus itself. It's a bit of a PITA caching here as you always have to find parking and pay for it as well, plus the number of people on campus makes it difficult to be discreet. We found 5-6 on campus before we tired of it and moved on down to the north side of Vancouver with it's scenic views.

Spanish Banks are actually a series of beaches along the shores of English Bay. Spanish Banks received its name in commemoration of the meeting of the Spanish Captains Galiano and Valdez, and the English Captain George Vancouver.The most striking feature of the beaches are the low tides that allow visitors to the western beaches to walk almost a kilometer out on the sand and get so close to the freighters in the harbour that you think you could hit them if you had a good throwing arm.

We found a few caches along the beach front and on the short hillside across the street from the beach. The weather here was sunny but still a cool wind kept the beach goers to a minimum, which meant we had the beaches mostly to our selves.

How would you like to live in one of these houses with it's fantastic year round views and close access to the best beaches in Vancouver! Swimming, volley ball, strolls on the beach, kite surfing, all done from just across the street! I can't imagine what these houses are worth.....

One of the places we enjoyed was the Rear House, named after James Rear, General Manager of American Life Insurance.The property includes the large house, an automobile garage, a carriage and a stable house, The wide veranda and the ample grounds provided a great place for the family's children to play.

In 1918 Colonel Victor Spencer, son of the businessman Davis Spencer whom founds the Spencer department store chain, acquired the property for his family. In 1938 the federal government purchased the property so  the 22 room structure could be used as a mess for the RCAF officers from the nearby Jericho Seaplane base.Eventually it made its way into Vancouver City's hands and it was added as part of the next door community centre.

I loved this small. almost secret door in the back of the house, and the cut outs in the walls for fake windows was a pretty cool architectural feature. This house was built when the barons of Vancouver where at their best; when the names Connaught, Culloden, Spencer, and Shaghnessy were the kings of a young Vancouver.

This was one of our last caches and for sure one of the best placed caches. We scored a few more caches before night fell, and even then we had one more stab at a tough one in the dark with the use of flashlights but we knew better than to keep at it when we were getting tired and already had a respectable 35 caches found during the day. We parted company with Ken and myself heading east and Allan heading south, already talking about another outing next weekend.

The complete set of pictures, these and more, can be viewed on my Flicker web site here

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Spring Cleaning on The Jeep Geo-Mobile

A sunny Sunday in March is a great time to give a Spring cleaning to the Jeep AKA "The Geo-mobile". After a rainy, slushy Winter the Jeep needed a cleaning inside and out. Helping me with the cleaning was Keelong The Panda Bear Travel Bug; A Travel Bug is an object that has a set of dog tags attached that act as identifying tags so you can see what the object is and where it wants to go. Sometimes its to a certain country, sometimes its a place or places.

You can see that Keelong is a bit dirty - the result of a few muddy 4X4'ng trips with me. Maybe he should have gotten a Spring cleaning too!

The Jeep is already vacuumed, so he is allowed in now - Windex at the ready to do the windows. Did you get your eye on the yellow sticker? It says L.L.A P. - any idea what it stands for? I'll give you a comes from Vulcan, Alberta.

Supervising from the hood Keelong has a good view of the work done so far....

Doors are getting closed, hose and a pail full of soap is coming out soon - Keelong better find another place to sit! Time for me to put the camera down, roll up the sleeves and get back to work.

Just as Keelong has dog tags, so does my Jeep. I use them to keep track of my mileage traveled between geocaches - so far I have over 48,000 miles under my belt in the pursuit of lock and lock sandwich containers hidden in the forest. If you are a fellow geocacher and you see the Jeep, write down the TB numbers and log your sighting of me Out and About!    

Friday, February 21, 2014

Danish Roots Found - Visit To Denmark

As Annette and I had gotten a taste of Europe by travelling to London and Paris on two different occasions, we were ready for some place a little farther on the European mainland. Annette had her sights on Belgium, and I thought as long as we were in the neighbourhood, I wanted to visit Denmark - land of Vikings and populated with people with names like "Pedersen".

Rick Steeves the travel guy had visited Copenhagen in Denmark  on one of his shows and ever since I had wanted to go there and touch bases with my Father's roots. So, off to Europe we go to explore the "old countries". In Denmark we visited to the Island of Aero where many of my family members are from; in particular we visited the town of Aeroskobing, one of the main towns on this small island.

 Turns out I have many distant cousins living in Denmark; and, through joining a Descendants of Aero FaceBook group, and a FaceBook group of Aero residents, I have recently found many family relations. Some are close by, in the form of a cousin who lives less than a day's drive away, and another, whom runs the Aero FaceBook page on Aero and is apparently a distant cousin 9 or 10 generations back....I can't even think what that makes him to me. First cousin 9 times removed, 9th cousin on my Father's side? Who knows...all I know is that is pretty interesting to go from knowing very little about your heritage to having an explosion of  familial knowledge at your fingertips!

Click here to be taken to my Flickr page where you can view all the pictures of our visit to Aero.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fordson Tractor

Annette and I ran out to Mission, the neighbouring community to Maple Ridge, to buy gas (it's a'ways about 15 cents a litre cheaper) and pick up a few groceries while we were there. Coming back we took the scenic rural routes as we were in no hurry to get home. Along the way I spotted this old tractor rusting away at the edge of a patch of black berries. Notice the name, it says "Fordson"

Click on any picture to make them full size.................

Henry Ford and Son company made the Fordson tractor in the U.S. from 1917-1928 when they shifted production overseas.

The Fordson Model F revolutionized farm work the way the Model T revolutionized human transportation. This downsized tractor was affordable to the masses and on many farms one tractor replaced a team of horses and handlers.

The Model F was not the most well built of tractors and in  just a few short years under went several modifications. You can read more about the Fordson tractor here.
A short drive today reinforced my rule of thumb - "always have a camera with you"! 
Hope you enjoyed this quick peak at our past.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vancouver Geocaching In The Fog

A week or three ago The Pedersen Brothers got together again to do some geocaching in the Vancouver area. Usually Vancouver is a mild place during the winter but the weekend we picked was cool, hovering around 3 degrees Celsius. Doesn't sound that bad to the rest of the world, but coupled with the thick fog that had been hanging around for a week, it was the kind of day where the dampness in the air just gets right into your bones. With the same temperature, had the sun been shining, we would have been wearing light jackets - today we were layered up to keep the chill at bay.

Click on any picture to make it full size - you'll see much more when you do!

We started the day on the north side of the Vancouver-Burnaby border doing a few caches around Boundary Rd, hopping back and forth across the road dividing the cities while we picked up a few easy caches to warm up to the day. A small park on one edge of one town, then a few blocks over to another city park, back and forth we went until we came to a small plaza in the historic area of Burnaby known as "The Heights"

I always find it rewarding when I see a city taken pride in it's past and making an effort to remind its citizens of the rich history of their neighbourhood. Here Burnaby and The Heights Neighbourhood Association, with help from local merchants have sponsored a full length wall mural on a prominent business

Those were the days when shopping was a major event and kids of all ages marveled at the new fangled gadgets on the shelf or the latest advertising gimmick in the large display window.

Shopping days were also a chance to meet friends whom you hadn't seen for a while - no FaceBook or Twitter back in the olden days. For many it was a party line phone with an exchange name like "Fairfax" or "Alpine" or the like....ours was Hemlock as we  were in East Vancouver sharing the exchange with Burnaby.
That's right, we're East Van boys through and through....if you wanted one of the Pedersen kids, six in all, you dialed our Hemlock number.

The geocaches I had picked out for the day had us skimming the north edge of Vancouver hugging Burrard Inlet, a major port on the West Coast. As such, we would be at water's edge, prime territory to hold in the foggy weather. Besides being surprised at how frigging cold we were, we were surprised to find brief spots of beauty in little city parks that gave views of the marine traffic in the harbour. Small green spaces among houses provided contrast to the bright colours of shipping containers, tugs, and marine docks.

It was a bit surreal - the close by views of marine barges and tugs in Panasonic vision was back grounded with a grey wall of shifting fog. A freighter would silently appear, cross our vision, then fade away to grey. The only clue to life beyond the fog was the continual sounding of fog horns from marine traffic feeling their way through the shipping channels.

Like a true tease, occasionally the fog would pull back allowing us to see for a half mile or so, letting us spy on the cranes loading containers bound for lands unknown. Or maybe the ships came from lands unknown...hard to tell.

We got treated to a brief respite from the fog when we moved into the heart of Vancouver and gained a few hundred feet in elevation in the Kensington area. Here was a true sample of community spirit - the local neighbourhood association has sponsored a series of small book libraries at curbside. Looking more like a large birdhouse than a library, neighbours can come to these street boxes to trade books. Finished reading a book? Drop it off at the corner, pick up a new one, toddle back up the street to the house, put the kettle on for a cup of tea and tuck your feet up under you on the couch for a lazy Sunday afternoon.These we really liked - what a great idea!

Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, second only behind Hong Kong. Vancouver city hall is helping with that as they recently approved of the building of "laneway" houses. These are typically small houses set at the back of the property with lane way access. They are the best of several worlds - the tenant gets an affordable house to rent instead of just a basement suite, they also get the privacy a house brings, the property owner gets a legal tenant to help with the mortgage and, best of all, lane way houses have a tendency of helping to reduce crime in the area as there are always "eyes" on the rear alleys.

Throughout many cities in the Greater Vancouver region you will come across community gardens - usually a piece of city property that is going unused. Sign up a few willing citizens and voila, instant gardens appear. People have their own little plot they take care of, and they can grow what ever they like. This time of year the gardens are dormant and bleak looking; in a few short weeks spring time will be showing its face and the gardens will be ripe with green shoots.

Refusing to give in to winter, green brussel sprouts stand proud on long stalks. I can honestly say I didn't know what these were at first until one of my brothers told me.

Here's something you don't see everyday in Vancouver - a rocket ship! Shades of Rocket Norton!

This rocket design brings to mind a 1950s vision of inter-planetary space travel in the far fetched future in the years past 2000

What's that I see? A few strands of sunshine lighting up downtown Vancouver? And a pretty sight it is, we feel warmer already!  :)

At the turn of the century, as a reward for making Vancouver city the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, CPR was given approx 447 hectares in the heart of  Vancouver. Just bush back then, CPR set about selling the vision of estates and mansions to the cities rich. Shaughnessy was designed to draw people away from the up and coming elite West End of Vancouver. In the true fashion of their British aristocracy, the wealthy named their mansions. The one pictured here is Rosemary, built by whiskey baron Edward Tulk and named after his only daughter.

Kudos to the city's heritage foundation for taking the time to highlight these historic locations and publishing information to the public so we could all share in our city's heritage.

One could only imagine the history that unfolded under these portico - horse drawn carriages bringing gentlemen callers, the first motor cars, the advent of Vancouver changing from left hand drive to right hand drive, faster cars and a faster life would all sail through these arches.
What's that, you didn't know that Vancouver originally had left hand drive roads? That's right - up until January 1 1922 Vancouverites followed their British cousins and drove on the left side of the road. At 2.00 AM on January 1 drivers made the switch. Ironically, the first motor car incident in Vancouver was reported that night as the maintenance worker changing the street signs had his work vehicle hit by another car!
If you enjoyed spending the day with me exploring Vancouver's history, drop me a line and let me know.

All pictures, and more, can be viewed at my Flickr photo web site here