Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I'm going to say something that you don't hear in Vancouver very often: I can't remember the last time it rained.

This has got to be one of the warmest, driest summers in the history of the universe. Or at least in the history of British Columbia. Or maybe just in the past few years.

Whatever. The point is it's sunny and beautiful in a city famous for record rainfalls and leaky condos.

Now, I know writing about the weather doesn't make for scintillating reading. But I like to write about things I'm passionate about and I'm passionate about good weather. And good meteorologists (well, mostly just Claire Martin).

So, thank you, Claire for forecasting nothing but sunny skies for weeks on end. It's amazing to think I've spent the entire month of July swimming in the ocean, hiking in the mountains and cycling on the roads without a single drop of rain.

The French may dismiss this constant sunshine as banal. But, to me, it's cyclelicious!

The weather made for a perfect bike ride up Mount Baker on the weekend. It's no secret that the ribbon of road that winds its way up to the base of Mount Baker in Washington State is one of my favourite places in the world.

The road is quiet and the scenery is spectacular. The ride is filled with steep mountain climbs, hairpin turns and fast descents.

It was like our own private Tour de France. But with stops for ice cream and beer.

[You can see the rest of the photos here.]

The cycleliciousness continues this weekend when I make my way to Summerland (what a great name for a town) where my friends Cam and Delacey are getting married. Not surprisingly, the weather forecast is calling for blue skies and sunshine.

Monday, July 21, 2008

@#%&*! mosquitoes

Here it is. Proof of the eight days of mosquito hell we endured on the Bowron Lakes canoe circuit.

My friend Brendon took this photo from inside his tent. The bloodthirsty bastards refused to leave us alone. When we were outside the tent, they feasted on every inch of exposed skin. When we were inside the tent, they swarmed the nylon walls looking for a way in.

Exiting and entering the tent was an exercise in stealth, timing and teamwork.

Exiting the tent was pretty straightforward. One person would unzip a tiny hole in the tent door. The other person would immediately dive head first through the hole before zipping up the tent as quickly as possible.

Entering the tent was more difficult because at least 10 mosquitoes would hitch a ride on the way back in. We'd then spend a good 20 minutes hunting down and killing the mosquitoes in the tent in order to avoid being eaten alive while we slept (our tent looked like a crime scene by the end of the trip with all of the bloodstains on the walls).

Leaving the tent in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom was torture. I'd lay in my sleeping bag, holding it in as long as possible, knowing that as soon as I left the tent the mosquitoes would be dining on a buffet of ass.

Were all the bites worth it? Absolutely! The scenery and the bug-free days on the lakes made up for the constant itching. My friend Brendon finally sent around some amazing photos (that's me in the canoe enjoying a sunset paddle!) and they were too good not to share. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Free chocolate (and other sweet stories)

When I first started this blog, I never imagined that it would inspire complete strangers to send me free stuff.

Who knew that writing about my favourite food (chocolate, wine and Grape-Nuts) would lead to freebies being delivered to my door? You guys are awesome!

Over the years, all sorts of unsolicited packages have arrived in the mail -- from Tim Hortons' gift certificates to juice-box size wine to Grape-Nuts.

Well, I finally hit the motherload last week when a giant cardboard box filled with Dove chocolate was sent to my office. Some clever marketer correctly identified me as a chocolate lover, sent me a whole bunch of the stuff and asked me to spread the word online. How did they know I would totally sell out for chocolate?

I'm a bit of a chocolate snob (I prefer dark chocolate with a high cocoa content as opposed to the sugary stuff) so I gave almost all of it away to my co-workers.

The free chocolate was a huge hit at the office. It disappeared in about five minutes but the fun lasted all day. I unintentionally stirred up a bit of water-cooler gossip when I sent out an email to staff encouraging them to help themselves to the several pounds of chocolate I had dumped on the lunchroom table. Just for fun, I also wrote that it was sent to me by a secret admirer.

The funny thing is that people actually took me seriously. Everyone wanted to know who my mystery suitor was. One guy even stopped by my desk to give me a high-five.

"Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!"

Is this what married people think single life is all about? That we are constantly being wooed and pursued? I didn't have the heart to tell them the chocolate wasn't from a boyfriend-to-be but from a marketing company. Sigh.

Anyway, all of this free stuff has got me thinking. Maybe I should set my sights higher. Chocolate is good but (attention Canon marketers!) a new camera would be better!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On hiatus

Vancouver only gets six weeks of good weather each year and I fully intend to enjoy this sunny streak while it lasts. Less blogging. More swimming.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Stillness, solitude and swarms of mosquitoes

I'm back from my trip to Bowron Lake Provincial Park. It was remote, rugged and spectacularly scenic.

Five friends and I spent eight days paddling 10 lakes around the world-famous Bowron canoe circuit. The circuit includes lakes, rivers and portages totaling 116 km. We paddled an average of 15 km per day and set up camp at a different lake each night.

It was a blissfully simple existence. No cell phones, no laptops, no electricity, no running water, no contact with the outside world. It was completely silent, except for the call of the loons, the crackling of the fire and the howling of the wolves.

Of course, it's easy to romanticize the experience as I sit here writing about it in my warm, dry, mosquito-free apartment.

It wasn't all rainbows and snowcapped mountains. My tent leaked and I spent a few rainy mornings waking up to find my mattress and sleeping bag floating in a puddle of water. The trip started off cold and ended blisteringly hot. We spent the first half of the trip fighting off hypothermia and the second half worrying about sunstroke.

The mosquitoes were the worst part. They were so bad that we spent almost all of our time at the campsites hiding inside our tents. It wasn't exactly the kind of vacation where you could lounge on the beach reading a book. Unless you covered every inch of your body in deet first.

As for the fishing, it's a good thing we packed enough food for eight days because if we had relied on fish for dinner, we would have starved.

We ended up buying fishing rods and licenses on the drive up to Bowron Lake. After we bought our licenses, we asked the woman working at the shop if she also sold guidebooks on how to fish. She seemed amused by the stupidity of our question and gave us a look that said, "You city slickers should have figured that out before you bought a license."

Unfortunately, since none of us had much experience with fishing, we couldn't figure out how to put the line on the spool. And because the area was so remote, we didn't see any other people until the fourth day of the trip. Luckily, the first person we spotted was a serious angler from California who helped us put the rods together and gave us some tips on how to fish.

Thanks to his tips, we caught three weeds and one log. We didn't catch one single fish. Unless you count the dead fish that got tangled up in our line.

Overall, it was an amazing wilderness experience. We saw more moose than people.

We paddled through rapids and portaged around waterfalls.

I swam in every single lake we camped at, no matter how cold. Plus, swimming in the lake was one of the only ways to escape the mosquitoes. Everyone else thought the lakes were too cold so I mostly swam alone.

These are just a small sample of my photos. The rest are on my flickr page, which you can view here.