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


Dianne said...

I was looking at this in the morning. You take fabulous pictures and you catch the moment. It always looks like you are having a interesting outing……..l

Dion said...

That was pretty cool Ed. But it really makes me miss Vancouver. A lot :)