Saturday, January 25, 2014

Queensborough Sauntering

Made a conscious effort to get together with friends this weekend to take advantage of a spectacular un-winter like day here in the Vancouver area. We wanted to get outside and enjoy the sunshine after a number of foggy and gray days. It's something we should really do more often but we all get "busy" doing day to day stuff, don't we?

Met Clive and Tanya and their grand daughter Sophie in the Queensborough area of New Westminster. Our destination point was the most eastern tip of Lulu Island which has become a booming residential area named Port Royal. Since the turn of the century the area was home to light industry; from warehousing and manufacturing, to ship building and trucking warehouses. With many of these businesses moving away or just closing altogether, the area has been re-made into a mix of houses, condos, and high rise towers.

Click on any picture to make the picture full size in the picture gallery....

Remnants of industry are still apparent, highlighted by the active spur rail line that cuts through the area wending it's way between side streets, and new community parks, under the new residential overpass, then splitting high rise towers to head off on a rail bridge over the Fraser River.      

The area also has a wonderful perimeter path that runs for 2.5 K around the tip of Lulu Island and provides a great walking/bicycling pathway for the locals. The path provides great views of New Westminster, the Fraser River, and best of all, has 9 geocaches along it's length. This was a good intro to geocaching location for young Sophie and Clive and Tanya as well. Young Sophie can enjoy the treasure hunt and Grandma and Grampa can enjoy the views.

This was a good place to spend an easy afternoon enjoying the neighbourhood and catching up on adult talk while we watched the busy river traffic traversing the liquid highway.

Sophie was enjoying herself finding the treasure hidden along the path and Tanya was enjoying it as well. We even had a kitty cat come over to see what all the fuss was about!

One of the things the developers have done well is to provide lots of green space for the residents; this includes wide open grass areas, community gardens, and a well organized playground
 Here are the train tracks cutting through the area; notice how they run right past the condos in the back ground.

I think Tanya enjoyed the treasure hunt as well, or maybe she was giving me her smile that said "you better not be taking a picture of me"! I can never figure out what women are really trying to say.....  :)

Clive, Tanya, and young Sophie took their leave later in the day....they must have been feeling off as we couldn't talk them into driving over to the nearby mall to visit the Lindt Chocolate store! See the pictures below for the smorgasbord of chocolate that awaited us!!

OK folks, you really have to click on the pictures here to see the chocolate bars full size so you can imagine all the creamy, gooey chocolate that is under that thin, easily ripped packaging.

 Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint chocolate, chocolate with hazel nuts, chocolate could OD from the sights alone!

I thought this was a really neat picture of these cute little guys all sitting perfect on the shelf just waiting to be adopted. Then when I loaded the picture on my computer and looked at it full sized, I realized they were all looking at me...... staring at me....just waiting for me to turn my back before they come alive and attack!
Well, I got the first kick in....I bought some of their cousins and I'm chewing on one of their heads right now as I write this blog! I'm torn between saying "take that you scary little teddy bear" and "mmmmmm......chocolate......"

These pictures and more from today are available on my Flickr photo web site here

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vancouver Geocaching On A Dreary Day

Bowser98, MrTJ, and myself, tjguy98 (Brother Al, Brother Ken, Brother Ed, loosely known as the Jeep Brothers) decided to shake off the winter blahs with our first day of geocaching in 2014. We picked Vancouver as our destination as the finds are closer together and you can roll through 20 or so caches in a few hours.

We met up in Central Park in Burnaby mid-morning and picked up the lone cache in Central Park that we had not done yet; well, at least 2 of us had not done yet. With 3 active cachers in the group this would be a day where one or two of us had occasionally already found a cache we would be looking for..ah well... on any picture to make it full size.....

Skytrain runs along the old railway line providing easy access for Skytrain, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Here's a fun fact about this 100 year old park that even I didn't know - originally it was part of a government reserve set aside for military use by the Royal Engineers in the 1860's!

 After Central Park we found caches in a few small urban parks in Burnaby that highlighted how wonderful it is to have small neighbourhood parks for the locals to enjoy. Whether it was a developed park complete with playground or.........
....a small greenbelt protecting a small creek that is perfect for kids to chase frogs and tadpoles, each one had their own charm.

  Heading over to the Vancouver side of Boundary Road (the boundary between Burnaby and Vancouver) we did a few more small parks sandwiched between Victoria Drive, Cambie Street and as far over as Oak St.
We were treated to mountain vistas from the ridge line of Vancouver which supplied timeless views of nature.
We also received glimpses of life being lived fast and furious down at the level of us humans.
Eventually we all become part of the history of our cities.....we just hope "not too soon"!
And who says it doesn't snow in Vancouver? !! Well, OK...ya got's really ice dumped by the Zamboni outside of Sunset Rink, a place where MrTJ and Bowser98 use to play hockey oh so many years ago...when they were just 'utes........
What really defined for me the differences between urban and suburban was the vast space and parks that are available in suburban areas vs the downsized, friendly parkettes  that are reserved by the city for local use. Above is the definitive example of this...where once was a house on the end of the block, the city purchased the land and made a small parkette for the residents, this one quaintly called "Windsor Castle".

  Windsor Castle Park is located on Windsor Street and the city has whimsically added a crown shaped retaining wall around the kid's sandbox.
 Across the alley from the parkette, they have created another parkette and even provided a patio area for the locals to come and sit and just enjoy the day. If you look in the distance, you will see that across the street is another parkette which provides a long linear green space for the immediate residents to stroll through with the little ones in hand.

 Geocaching in the city means cars, lots of traffic, little privacy compared to the suburbs, and small parks scattered around neighbourhoods; you don't get the spacious feel and the sense of relaxation that the less crowded suburbs provide. However, if you pay attention, you will find a sense of community; whether its at the local community rec centre or the small kiddie park at the end of the block, the city does do a good job of providing you a feeling of home.

All pictures from this day's trip can be found here

Monday, January 06, 2014

Playing Tourist in Vancouver BC

Annette and I took advantage of a sunny winter day to play tourist in the Vancouver area. I tend to get around town more than Annette, so going to some of these places for the first time in a few years is a bit of shock to her system - so much has changed in Vancouver in just a few years.

PS - click on any picture to make them full size!

This was the first time Annette had actually been to the Olympic Village area in False Creek so it was a wonder to see so many new high rises in the fast developing area that had formerly been populated by industrial buildings.

From the large globe of Science World to the small water taxis puttering back and forth between shores it was a good day to take in the views.
It also gave us some good views of the south and east sides of downtown Vancouver with the North Shore Mountains as a back drop. We wandered around the Village area for a while, checking out the small shops and the local grocery store all designed to cater to the tony residents of the high rises. Annette and I bantered back and forth whether we could live in a condo like these and we decided "no, at least not yet". Both Annette and I love the privacy that a suburban home offers, and as we're still young enough to maintain the yard and gardens, I think we're pretty happy staying where we are! 
After enjoying the view of the local mountains, we decided to go up least drive part way up one of them!
We headed over the Lions Gate Bridge into West Vancouver and then caught the Upper Levels Highway for the short jaunt to the Cypress Mountain turnoff. Cypress Mountain is one of the three local North Shore mountains where there is skiing available with great views of Vancouver. National Geographic did an article on Vancouver a few years back, they stated that "Vancouver is the only city where you could go sailing in the morning, skiing in the afternoon, then sit out at a beach side patio table for a splendid candlelight dinner"  
The view from Cypress Mountain as always was spectacular even if there was a bit of a winter haze lending to the grayness in the sky. Stanley Park, Lions Gate Bridge, and downtown Vancouver lay immediately at our feet.
Off to the east was the Vancouver Inner Harbour with an opaque view of Mount Baker in Washington State on the horizon 70 miles away.
 To the west was Georgia Straight covered with a thin film of ocean fog, the Island Mountains on Vancouver Island providing an end plane 25 miles distant.

We stayed for a while playing with the cameras and just enjoying the view; it's easy to get use to living in one's hometown and forgetting how beautiful our city really is.
So next sunny day, get off the couch, put your coat and gloves on and go out and re-discover your identity!
PS  If you like what you have read, leave a comment down below!

To see all the pictures from the day of fun, click here to go to my Flickr web page.