Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ucluelet, Days 3-6

The weekend seemed to fly by.  The days alternated between sunny and rainy.  Friday was the wettest by far, with torrential rains driven by high winds.  The saturated ground was afloat with puddles in any flat locations but fortunately there weren’t many.  We drove to Tofino to look around, but could hardly get out of the car without being soaked.  We didn’t do much while there.

We did see the End of the Road sign, marking the end of Canadian Highway 4 in Tofino.  It starts in Halifax, or some such, and extends across Canada.  We drove around the main street(s), peed in the public toilet, and spent a few minutes walking around inside the Pharmacy across the street from a park.  This actually turned into somewhat of a highlight of the visit.  The pharmacist, George, welcomed us warmly and then wanted to talk about his recent halloween costume, where he dressed up as Elsa.  He had a large photograph to show us, and he showed off his fancy fingernails.  He was cute in his pink shirt.

Friday night was steak night, cooked on the CI grill at the CI Lounge.  The grill was in fine shape, and did a good job.  We borrowed some aluminum foil from the lounge, and watched TV wile cooking the steaks.

Saturday was nice enough.  We returned to the lighthouse for a walk around, and then drove up to the access to what is called the Ancient Grove area.  There are large diameter trees there of several species, and walking among them was nice.  The highlight of that trip was the discovery of a section of the Pacific Trail that had developed overlooks with benches and 180 degree views of the ocean crashing on rocks.  There were several of these, which we stopped and enjoyed.  The nice thing is that they are about a 5 minute walk from where you park the car, but not obvious at all.  The locals know where they are, of course.

For meals we did some more adventuring.  On Saturday night we made reservations at the Black Rock’s café, Fetch.  We arrived early to have a drink at the bar only to discover that the bar was mostly filled with people that had just attended a wedding held there.  There were kids and people dressed in rather non-fancy clothes.  We sat at a high table in the corner which had a good view of the ocean and rocks, but the seas had subsided and the smashing on the rocks was much reduced.  The light was fading and it was soon dark.  We moved to our table in the restaurant at 5:30, which was the time it opened, and were seated at the best table in the place, tucked into a corner with windows on 2 sides.  Our waitress was new, but seemed competent.  The menu was upscale, and we were told what the Chef had in mind when he created several of the dishes.  Mark had duck, I had mussels (excellent) and the surf and turf (never again!), and generally the meals were good.  Mine had a HUGE mound of french fries, which I considered to be inappropriate for a fancy dinner location like this.

Sunday started a bit drippy.  We went out for breakfast at the Blue Moon Café, which is fine.  Omelets and egg scrambles all around.  Mark’s scramble with Brie and smoked salmon seemed to be the hit.  Afterwards we decided to go golfing at the Long Beach Golf Club, but Anne decided to stay and do Yoga.  Judy tagged along.  It drizzle-rained on the way to the course, but stopped as we arrived so we pushed ahead.  While playing the skies cleared a bit, and we actually did not get rained on while playing.  This is a 9 hole course that is quite flat, but the fairways are narrow in places and the greens were in good condition but slow.  The grass was soaked, and soon Judy’s and my shoes were also soaked.  Mark’s new Goretex shoes did fine by him, and he ended the round with dry socks and shoes.  We re-played 1-2 and 8-9, so technically we did 13 holes.  It was fun.

We watched football on the TV back in the room when we returned, and for the rest of the evening.  Judy and Anne read their books.  While we were out Anne was able to find the location of the barking sea lions, and she was able to take some photos of them using her new camera and its incredible telephoto capabilities.  Sunday night we cooked pork chops on the grill, along with some zucchini.  A fine time was had by all.

A note about Canasta:  Anne brought a Canasta deck, and we all read the rules and played several games in the evening.  We generally enjoyed the experience, with the exception of the increasingly high meld values as the score creeps up.  Mark discovered the multiple meld values can be added to make the initial meld, which we did not know was possible in the beginning.  Judy and I were holding fistfuls of cards, trying to get 3 natural and 2 High Value wild cards to make the 120 point minimum!  Other than that, we had a fun time playing.

Monday dawned clear and calm.  Th day was much like Thursday when we were able to take mirror calm photos of the sailboat.  After another breakfast at the Blue Moon we visited the Aquarium in Ukee, a very nicely done exhibit.  We spent about 1.5 hours watching the neudebranchs, touching the clams and anemones and watching the rock fish swim in a large tank.  The highlight was seeing the octopus catch and eat a crab.  Very fast action and the crab never had a chance.

In the afternoon sun we walked the lighthouse circuit again, taking photos into the setting sun.  Very bright light, and the waves were small.   Still, a good walk.

For dinner we visited the Tattooed Beaver, a local take-out place featuring beef ribs and BBQ in general.  Three of us has their rib special, MOO Bones, and Judy had the gumbo.  All of it was excellent.  I liked the fried pickles.  Juruf had the onion rings.  Pricing was good, and Simon the proprietor was a very jovial sort of fellow.  Note:  Don’t pick up too many sauces because the food comes well sauced already.

We ate the food while watching MNF.  Afterwards were a couple of TV shows, and then off to bed.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ucluelet Vacation, Days 1 and 2

Hello Blog Readers!

I am taking a bit of time to share our trip to the Pacific Coastal town of Ucluelet, BC, right on the southern tip of a long peninsula just north of the Imperial Eagle Inlet.  Our vacation timeshare company has developed some rooms in a very nice resort here, and Judy and I have been wanting to come up here and "hang out" for a couple of ye3ars now.  This November it turned out to be the time.  Our friends Mark and Anne Miller are with us, sharing the 2 bedroom apartment we reserved for this trip.

We arrived in the dark on Wednesday evening, having spent the day traveling from Snohomish.  The trip was fine, with a zero wait border crossing (yes, zero!), a smooth ferry ride, and a nice drive.  I can note just a couple of things about this trip.  We stopped in Nanaimo for lunch and we ate at a restaurant called Ricky's on the outside, but RIcky's on the bill.  Yes, R Icky's.  I think this was typo, but you never know.  The food was excellent but very slow.  I mean really slow.  We then shopped at Costco next door and headed out.  Costco was swamped with people.  What is that all about?  The drive is smooth and straight until you get to the top of the pass at about 75% of the way from Port Alberni to Ukee, then it turns into a twisting and undulating ride.  Judy's tummy didn't like it.  She didn't barf, but I think she was close when we finally arrived.  We dined in the room on Costco chicken, and celebrated getting here in fine shape.  Judy was OK as soon as she could get out of the car.

Thursday dawned clear and calm and beautiful.  Just outside our place is the bay, and anchored 50 yards from the shore is a green and white sailboat, which reflected perfectly in the still water.  I took a slew of pictures (pun intended) and will post them here when I can get enough bandwidth on the internet.  It is painfully slow here, I think intentionally.  They want the visitors to "unplug and unwind" according to the literature.

After breakfasting in the room on eggs and sausage from Costco, we decided to wander around and see the sights.  We traveled south, towards the end of the road, and encountered several beaches and trails.  We decided to walk from Terrace Beach to the Lighthouse on the Wild Pacific Trail, and it was a wonderful walk of about 1.5 hours.  On a sign near the start of the trip was a notice that this is the home of the Dromedary Jumping Slug, and keep an eye out for it.  We didn't see even one, but I am very curious about any slug that can jump.  We did see several excellent specimens of lichens with sporophytes, and I took photos of those.  I know what you are thinking - this guy is a Botany Nerd - and you are right!  We also saw lots of mushrooms, including the mandatory Amanita.  These damn things are everywhere this year.

On the trail are view points every 100-300 feet, overlooking the water.  And trees that have been battered by wind and rain so that their branches bend and often the stems themselves are twisted and curved.  Judy took scads of pictures and posted them on FB, and generated some very interesting comments fro the those that viewed them.

We lunched at the Cedar Cafe in Ukee, which was also excellent (but slow to arrive). The waiter was a mostly local guy who was anxious to share his personal favorite trails and walks, which included a Bog Walk.  After lunch we hot-footed it there and enjoyed a late afternoon boardwalk in the Pacific Rim Provincial Park nearby. This late in the season the sundrops were gone, but we did find some pitcher plants nestled among the sphagnum mats.  The trees that live there were tortured looking and stunted, poor things.  Note:  Mark had the Chicken Pesto sandwich, which he declared to be the Best He Has Ever Eaten.   The Cream of Mushroom Soup was also excellent, and featured local mushrooms.

Dinner was back in the room again, this time Costco steaks cooked on the Club Intrawest grill.  Tasty and excellent.  We washed it down with 2 large bottles of BC Merlot while watching the football game on the TV.

Friday morning dawned wet and blowy.  The rain has been pouring down in torrents all day.  We breakfasted out this morning, venturing to the Blue Moon Cafe.  Another excellent meal, and this time it came rather quickly.

We drove to Tofino, about 45 minutes away.  To get there we transited the length of Long Beach, again in this Pacific Rim Park.  The road there was smooth and mostly straight, but as we neared Tofino it got bumpy and wiggly.  Judy's tummy flopped again, and we had to slow down and take some time wandering around in a local pharmacy to let her settle down again.  While in the pharmacy I met George, the Gay Pharmacist of Tofino.  He and Judy compared finger nail polishes, among other topics.  On the way back we stopped and watched a couple of local nuts surf the waves in the pouring and driving rain.  We didn't get out of the car, but we could see them across the beach.

Now we are in the room, reading or blogging, depending on your preferences.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Idaho Conference Comments

An anonymous commenter recently stated that they liked my accounts of travel, and asked me to continue my efforts.  For that one, lone commenter, I hereby delve once again into a rambling account of my travels.

This week I have been in Couer d'Alene, Idaho attending a conference on forest products utilization in the PNW.  I attend this meeting twice a year, and it involves a collection of great people that buy forest product residuals to run their various operations.  They always seem to know what is happening, and what is going to be happening soon.  A good group to keep track of.

We started the conference with Activity Day, and I chose the golf outing.  We are staying at the Couer d'Alene Resort and Golf Club, and the course is one of those uber-managed and perfect courses.  There were 4 flights of 4 of us, each with a caddie.  I was matched with 3 guys I didn't know well, but we got along very well and had a fine time.  The day was perfect - sunny and warm.  I wore my light jacket to the course, but I had it in the basket at the back of the cart before we tee'd off.  After that it was all sunshine and rainbows.  Mountain views and lake anonymous

Speaking of the lake, getting from the hotel to the course occurs on a boat.  A fancy wood boat with twin 350 HP inboard engines that can hit 50 MPH easily.  They take your clubs separately so all you have to do is show up at the dock.  The boat captain has a list of golfers and he checks your name off the list.  They keep track of you every step of the way, and provide a great experience.  Included in the fees is a massage for your back when you arrive, lunch, soft drinks and water, the cart, and range balls to get your swing into shape before you start.  The range is into the lake, however, and they use floating balls so they can just be scooped up.  It is very cool.

I started slowly but finished fine.  I've learned that I need to take an Alieve before I start to keep my hip pain under control.  We did drink something like beer as we played (Coors Light) which may have helped my swing.  We played a best ball scramble format, where we all hit and then used the best ball to hit the next shot.  We played my chips and puts quite a lot, and my drives towards the end.  I was pleased.

The conference has been really fun.  Pretty low key, but a good chance to catch up with everyone.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Vancouver in April

Judy and I are spending the weekend in Vancouver, taking a bit of time off and just enjoying the city. We came up on Thursday morning ahead of a meeting I had here at 1:00.  We had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant in North Van, then I met from 1 to about 2:40.  Judy read her book in the car.  Then we checked in and walkded down to the water taxi station and visited the Grandville Island Farmer's Market.  We "provisioned" a few items we were to need, and then retired to the room.

Friday I needed to stick around in the room and get some emailing done, and then a conference call until just after noon.  Judy took a walk and re-acquainted herself with Robson Street and environs.  In the afternoon we walked the area together, eventually dining in a Japanese restaurant on Burrard, just off Robson.  It was very nice.

Today, Saturday, we set off walking towards the Burrard Inlet and Canada Place.  From our room on the 29th floor of the Sheraton Wall Center we look north, and could see a pair of container cranes working at the port, and we wanted to see it a bit closer up.  When we got there we saw that actually 4 canes were working, and a ship was being "worked" for both off loading and loading.  It was a but fun to see.  My customer's bulk material export termnial was across the water on the north shore, and I pointed it out to Judy.

Then we noticed crouds of people going towards one of the large expo venues in the area.  Many of them were in costume.  It turns out that today is part of something called Fan Expo Vancouver, where people dress up as their favorite movie characters and hang out together.  We saw people dressed as Star Wars characters, Hunger Games, Disney, Spider Man, Thor, Pricesses, Anime characters, Marvel comics characters, and all sorts of fun.  Many had homemade costumes, and some look purchased, but they all looked like they were there for the experience.  Special appearances by the likes of Brent Spiner (Commander Data, Star Trek), William Shatner, and many others.  The website says that as many as 125,000 people attend this craziness.

The weather was a bit cool, so Judy and I found a Starbucks across the street and just sat and watched the waves of people file in, commenting on the costumes and identifying those we could see.  Interestingly we didn't see many that we would say were from Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter.

There were lots of people weating what I would call Pikachu outfits, with white hats with little ear things on top and bluish t-shirts.  One of the key special guests was the creator of this mainstay of the Japanese anime genre, so I guess it makes sense.

We then wandered around some more, eventually lunching at a Pho restaurant, and making our way back to the room.  I can't get the NCAA basketball game on the TV here, and my iPad app won't play it either.  Damn.  The first game is over with Duke winning, and now Wisconsin plays Kentucky.  I can follow it fairly closely with the app, but I can't watch it.  Shit.

We have wine and cheese to have in the room tonight, along with some selected goodies.  Tomorrow we will check out and head back home.  It has been a relaxing weekend, and won't even count against my vacation time since I had to do so much work while I was here.

Joe and Nancy, there is another of these Fan Fest events the weekend that we will be travelling to Whistler in September.  Who will you dress up as???

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cross Country Travel

In the past week I made a quick trip to Newport, VT,  Do you have any idea where that is?  I didn't.  I flew through Detroit to Burlington VT, stayed overnight, and then drove 1:40 to the Canadian border, or nearly, to Newport.  I saw a flock of wild turkeys on the way, and lots of melting snow banks.  Dirty snow, late in March.  I remember this from my years in NH.  March is one of the worst months, with all the beauty of winter past and the joy of spring still weeks away.

My trip was made worse by the travel.  The flight from Detroit was delayed until after midnight.  I didn't get to Burlington (airport abbreviation BTV) until about 2:00.   I arrived at the hotel at 2:40.  Crashed, then up at 7:00 and off to the plant for a visit.  Driving back in the rain.  I did get to watch the March Madness games at an Irish bar until about 10:00 then I crashed again, to catch the 5:45 am flight back to Detroit.  Surprisingly, I totally crashed again on Saturday.  I slept for about 5 hours on the couch, just catching up.  I'm getting poorer at surviving the perils of sleep deprivation.

This week Judy and I drive to Vancouver BC for a weekend away.  That should be more survivable.  I hope.

Monday, January 19, 2015

AFC Championship Day

The travelling part didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped.  I arrived in ATL on time, got my bag, but on Sunday MARTA doesn't seem to run quite as well as it does on weekdays.  It took longer to get to North Springs than I had hoped, and the Uber taxi ride to the hotel took longer.  I finally arrived just before 4:00 Eastern Time, which meant that the game was in the 2nd quarter and the Seahawks were losing 13-0 at the time.  Not good.  The hotel TV didn't carry Fox in the room, so I watched the end of the half in the hotel lobby, then took a hotel shuttle to a nearby sports bar where the game was on every TV in HD, and the place was packed.  I was still wearing my Seahawks jersey, so my affiliation was plain.  I found a space at the bar, and ordered a beer.

During the second half the patrons were pretty vocally supportive of the Packers.  Seahawk setbacks were greeted with jeers, and Packer advances were applauded.  My cheers for Hawk good moves were joined by a few, but I was definitely in the minority.  Still, it was a good game but Seattle was clearly losing, through about the first half of the 4th Quarter.  Then things started changing.  In 44 seconds Seattle scored 2 touchdowns, and converted a miracle 2 point conversion on the second, to score 15 points.  The score was now 22-19 in Seattle's favor.  The Packers were able to kick a field goal for 3 points in the final seconds, tying the score and forcing an overtime.

In the overtime period Seattle took the ball on the kickoff, and marched down the field in just a few plays, culminating in a 35 yard touchdown pass to win the game.  The Packers never touched the ball on offence.  According to the rules of the NFL, only if the Seahawks failed to score a touchdown on this first possession would the Packers get the ball.  A Seahawk field goal would not be enough to win outright.  They did score a touchdown, so Game Over, and Seahawk Win!  I high-5'd  everyone in my vicinity, and we sat and talked about what had just happened.  My iPhone Messages exploded with people checking in and offering congrats.  It was fun.

I called for the shuttle and made it back to the hotel.  I could get the Patriots vs. Colts game on TV and I put it on.  Honestly, I fell asleep after a bit, and woke up in the 4th Quarter to see the Pats on top 45-7.  Apparently getting up at 3:30 makes you sleepy later...

Anyway, it was a good day.  Seattle and New England in the Super Bowl.  It will take place on Feb. 1 in Glendale AZ, so maybe I should plan to go to the game?  Naaaa

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Getting Back Into The Habit

You can tell that I lost some interest in blogging, right?  Only 1 post in 2014?  I wonder how I even managed that many!

But honestly, I need to get back into the habit.  I need to take the time for personal writing and expression, even if I only ever hear from Rose about it.  Rose, I think you are the only one that reads my blog.  Thank you.

Today is Saturday, and I have the unusual schedule where I will be flying to Atlanta tomorrow on my usual 6:20 am flight.  I have a group arriving later on Sunday from Vancouver BC for a week's tour of sites in teh south, so I need to be there and be ready to go.  The good news is that I should be able to find a nice loud bar where I can sit and drink beer and cheer on my Seahawks.  I get to the airport at 2:00, and the game starts at 3:05 Atlanta time - 12:05 at the CLink Stadium in Seattle.

So here's to a week of blogging while I travel.  I hope I can find the time.  I should.