Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ciel skis

Yes she does. Even on the days when the snow is heavy wet stuff (apparently called "guanch" down here). I prefer the groomed stuff when it's like this - the crud traps my skis too much when I want to turn!
- mark.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rain Delay

 The river in front of mom's house

It's called rain on snow event

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not so invisible border anymore

Is this contraband?  I don't think so, but I wasn't saying we had any...  there is little toys in here that can kill small children.  I think handguns should be banned as well if Kinder Eggs are a safety risk to children.
Thank goodness for freedom.  In more ways than one.

We did have a little adventure entering the United States.  It's not like we had to give a bribe or got strip searched, but we ended up getting Eddie and Dakota's dog food taken away (cause it had lamb in it).  We also spent time in the office asking questions over and over again about firearms, alcohol and tobacco and why we didn't have a residence.  "Please step away from the door" when we told her the door to the office was locked.  Thank goodness they were nice and didn't make us put Eddie and Dakota in a kennel.  She had to be cautious and make sure we insisted that neither of them would attack.  And then their customs dog searched the truck.  It was fun to watch because of course it was packed with all our winter stuff including skis, sleeping bags, backpacks, helmets, and warm clothes.  It probably does look suspicious driving a 1989 toyota with Alberta license plates when we tell them one of our residences is Salmon Arm and mine is North Bend...  We have to do that cause we are only allowed in each other countries for 6 months per calendar year.  I'm grateful we speak English cause if we were really foreigners and our grasp of English wasn't too good, I think the entire experience might be a little intimidating.  Good experience for travelling elsewhere in the world where the border experience truly can be scary.  It became even more suspicious that we were "going skiing" and we were warned to make sure "we were telling them everything" before the dog searched the truck.  i.c. no illegal drugs.

I personally think the woman who interviewed us was doing some training, but I guess we never will know.  It's the first time there has been an issue going through the border since we've traveled together. (By the way, in Canada people spell it "travelled").

It does feel good to be back in the Pacific Northwest where someone like me can ski and garden on the same day.  Also the freezing levels have been quite low, so the snow base has really piled up and there is no more rock skiing and my shoulder is healing up.

The US and Canada border services are making sure there is a border for us.  Next time only cheap dog food.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Up up and away

We're lucky to have a friend take us flying today. He got his pilot's license recently, so we decided to go for a spin. It was a bit bumpy up there, but still not enough to give me motion sickness. The hardest part was clearing all the snow and ice off the plane before we could take it out!

Grand flying

John has his flight permit and he is taking us up high today. We are thrilled, first we need to clean snow and ice by putting us to work. I'm getting willing to earn my private license back to current with each second. I want to gain willingness to get my confidence back and face my fear of flying as pilot in command! John flew great and he is very cautious and capable. I loved it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Driving Day

Headed to Grand Forks today... maybe a ski day at Phoenix???
I heard a rumor there is a night ski there tonight that's FREE!
Bring your headlamp.
More to come...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More ski porn - for Sarah B

Just got the sad news that Sarah Burke, a fabulous skier from Canada has died. Ski in Peace. article

So it seems appropriate to share ski related topics on this cold snowless day. Also, I have heard that in Oregon there is deadly flooding with loss of human life (a car with occupants got overtaken by a small urban creek in a supermarket parking lot) and probable property damage. In the North Bend/Seattle area, freezing rain that is making the entire Pacific Northwest suffer with Sea-Tac Airport closed up tight. Hope a lot of people can just stay at home and the rain will stop.

Mark is fixing the heater in our truck and I'm not going anywhere until that happens! We'll be heading south when the weather gets a bit better! Meanwhile, we are having a great visit with his folks and I'm remaining sequestered in the wetlands of the Shuswap.

These guys probably couldn't handle a bunch of turns with their skis, but they look good going straight downhill (if you call that a hill).

Time to brush up on the finer aspects...

And now - modern digital heros of the sliding industry...
Rest in Powder is an independent snow film about a group of friends from the Kootenays. In the film we are skiing and snowboarding in our favorite zones, in the mountains, in powder. The film is a visual narrative of our snow experiences. It draws influence from our favorite aspects of rockstar and soulful sports films while emphasizing atmospheric and aesthetic detail.The film is entirely independent in that it is intentionally advertiser and distributor free. It is not powered by energy drinks or corporations, and it is not trying to sell you anything, but if you like what you see, you can show your support by sharing the website with your friends, attending (or hosting) a premiere, ordering a DVD (in minimalistic recycled packaging, quantities limited), or donating towards a DRM-free download (using open-source software, not itunes). CHECK IT OUT

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's going on in my digital world at -25C outside

Two interesting things happening in the United States and Canada at this time.

The first is that in Canada people are using the internet to fight a completely outlandish proposal to put a glass walkway up in the Sunwapta Valley in Jasper National Park. The background of the proposal is here. And just to be fair, here is an editorial from the president of Brewster Canada who wants to build the project.

This is an article about the on-line petition to try to convince the Harper Government to stop the project. It's from the Edmonton Newspaper. Click here

The second is next week the US Senate is going to be voting on an internet bill that would cause problems for social networking, websites such as this blog, and arts and culture i.e. free expression.

For the entire lowdown check this link out.

I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit:

I'm not ████ ████ we are █████ to be █████ ████ ████ ████, but I ████ I ████ to ███████ ██████ to the ██████ ████ I've met all ████ all ████ the █████. To █████ ███████████ I ████ not met, we are ███████ ███████ to ████. It may be ████ █████ in ███████ ██████, but █████ are ██████ all ████ the █████ who ████ it far █████, █████████ ████ are far ████ █████████ and ██████████ ████ ██████ are ██████ in ████ no one ██████ ████ to. I ████ to ████████ to ████ for ██████ and █████████████ ███████. The ████████ for █████ is "Why did the ██████ ██████ █████ so ████ █████ ████████ a war ████ █████ not be won in the ████, ███████████ and ██████ ██████ ████ ████ we █████ be █████████ ██████████, █████████, ███████, ████ to US ████████ in ████████ to ███████ the ██████ ███████ ██████ ████ █████████ ██████ ███████? ██████'t it ████ ████ ████ ██████████ to ██████ out how to ████ a ███████ to ████ ████ ██████████ on █████? ████ ████████ █████ is BIG ███████ - ████ █████████ ████████ ███████ ████ ████ ██████ and ██████████. We ████ to ████ the ███████████ as a ██████ of ████ ████████ ████. I ████ I'm ██████ for █████ in ████ and I ████ you ████ too if you are ██████████ to ████ in the ██████ ██████.

Uncensor ThisLets keep the National Parks from being overdeveloped and keep the internet uncensored.

Vote Obama 2012 He's not a miracle worker people. Give him a second term.

The Pavlova party(s)

We did up Pavlova two nights in a row.
This was a nice effort but not as tasty as your recipe
It's your recipe Shona and it was the best.
Two nights in a row - here one of Mark's nephews is going to eat Pavlova for the very first time.The recipe isn't a secret I don't think. You'll have to pay big bucks from Shona to get it tho!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For those enjoying summertime!

It's called a warm sleeping bag...

The barn across the street

The Canadian horses gathering snow on their backs

Eddie and Dakota are quite happy in front of the gas fireplace
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Mark and I drove to Salmon Arm last night. We beat the snowstorm that was predicted for the Pacific Northwest and today it's barely flaking on the ground, don't know how much is expected here, maybe a few centimeters.

In the mtns, lots of snow is anticipated as la nina is still expected to come on quite strong here at least through the end of February. If it's anything like last year it'll keep going through April/May. Alaska has been receiving it's heaviest snow fall on record and so some of that weather pattern needs to slide south if the NW is going to get it strong.

I'm trying to stay off the skiis for a little bit longer just so I don't reinjure the clavicle but it's going to be next to impossible when the snow starts flying. It's like asking a bird who loves to fly to stay grounded. I'm sure the bird would have a difficult time not sneaking off. We've got the doxies with us again and they are happily snuggling with us and it feels good to settle in with a good book and cosy up under a blanket. Hope to get some exercise as well, but I'll have to find my shoes as opposed to wearing the tevas I've been in since September.

Some things are different I've noticed since only being gone for a short period of time. You can now deposit checks over your cell phone by taking a picture of the check and it looks like the Mormons are advertising heavy in the Seattle area for the republican votes come next fall. I saw a billboard of mormons advertised. This is the only reason I can think for this, as it seems like the church has plenty of followers all over the world. I'm voting for Obama in 2012. He deserves a second term because he's been doing a great job dealing with the mess he's had to clean up in addition to having a Republican Senate that stymies all the good things that should be moved forward. The last thing I heard is that the Republican lawmakers have tacked on the keystone pipeline nonsense to the bill extending unemployment benefits. Nasty US politics.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Harmony in North Bend

Robert, my twin brother and his dog Annabelle.,

The two males, Eddie and Dakota enjoying some lap time, with no fighting!

Eddie and Dakota enjoying some lap time.
The dogs are pleased that the humans take care of them.
And we are pleased to do it. Symbiotic relationship.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big strife

After four years together and four months together, Ciel and I have found our biggest incompatibility...Gorgonzola! This is the name of the monster in a Don Martin story, but more menacingly, it's also a vile cheese that smells (and tastes) like mouldy socks after a week-long hike through fetid swampland. Ciel put extra on the salad because she likes it so much, and thought I would too. What are we going to do? How will we get through this?
Back to the problems of North America...

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to commemorate a deadly quake

Walking around Christchurch the other day, the tenacity of the people living here is evident. Red bows hanging off of strengthening and Santa Claus hanging off of cranes.
People were milling around the downtown sector with upbeat and modern "container" culture housing retail and food businesses inviting them to linger.

There is still a fight about saving the heritage buildings. Should they demolish the old and construct new?So many people are in debt from lack of insurance payments, having their paid work be in upheaval, losing their home and having to pay rent to find a place to live. It's all taking a lot of time and patience on the people who remain. So many have just left to other parts of New Zealand or elsewhere...

Last night Wendy and I were talking about making the anniversary of the quake "a day off from work" to give a decent opportunity for the citizens of Christchurch to really honor the people who lost their lives, but go figure the council see's it as "counterproductive". I think it's a good idea to honor all those who are living and making Christchurch a thriving city that it is. When earthquakes happen people have had to sign a paper saying that they wouldn't get paid... shaky times in Christchurch. No wonder that people want to leave. With 95,000 aftershocks and still counting it seems that sometimes not a lot of work is going to get done. Might as well celebrate the quakes instead of mourning them all the time.And no, Mark and I are headed out without having been initiated... our flight leaves in less than a hour.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Above and Beyond

It's the last 12 hours or so in New Zealand, and I think both Mark and I are going to miss being here. For one thing it's summer. We've got the wash hanging outside in the sun and wind.

It's one of the Kiwiana's of New Zealand that has got my attention ever since I arrived in this county. Everyone hangs their wash out to dry. It seems like a very smart thing to do, here it's just normal for people I think. I'll miss it returning to North America

As for our last full day here - we ended up doing what we didn't think we would do.

Swim with Hector's dolphins. I don't think it was that magical, but it was certainly fun and it was neat to see all the different people from all over the world visiting that were so thrilled about it.

What I liked the best was seeing the smile on Mark's face, feeling the bouncy bits of the waves and the salt water in my mouth, and watching the cormorants take off from their roost just onshore. The dolphins are very rare, it's amazing that the wildlife and fisheries people allow the commercial tourism, but apparently it does help fund the marine sanctuary and funding of scientific and conservation projects in the area. The dolphin must like swimming around all the black buoyant humans making funny sounds and bubbles under the surface.

Because there were a lot of them. I didn't get very good pictures, cause I was in the water most of the time, but I got cold and needed to warm up so I pulled out the camera. From the boat I could see the dolphins heading for the group at warp speed, swimming sometimes two and three abreast and when they were almost to someone (like Mark) they went under their feet.

Cheeky is what the guide and skipper said. They got great jobs too, helping people appreciate nature everyday and watch dolphins.

If you want to see Mark swimming in the cold water, hit the link Dolphins and enjoy that you are warm and dry.

We also were treated to a very nice "tea" and pavlova desert from Wendy for our last evening with them. They have gone above and beyond for us making us feel welcome in their country. I just hope Garry's horse wins on Weds, so he'll be happy happy and happy. Garry and Wendy have helped our last five weeks be very happy and his horse better win cause I want to see Doreen in a fancy dress for the track. He says that we've seen more of the south island than he has. I offered to tourguide him around, so who knows, maybe he'll take us up on it someday. Hopefully in North America.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Across the country in a day

First it's important for me to show off my $5 gumboots that I bought at the op shop in Wanaka. Happy that I haven't spent all our money on extravagant things up until now.

We've been blessed with sunny skies and starry nights for so long, the moon is now our friend, for lighting the path now at night. We went into a cavern up on the northern west coast and I discovered it's not as scary to go caving at night compared to the day time.Third, it's so great to see signs on the roads warning us to watch out for penguins. I'm hoping the penguin conservation movement must be doing at least a little better with the movies that have come out such as "Happy Feet" or "March of the Penguins". There was a lot of literature about how to help the penguins out. Apparently they find roosts underneath people's beach baches. As an owner you aren't supposed to chase them out. Just like if a New Zealand Falcon attacks you because you are too close to their nest or young, you're not supposed to hit it with a stick (they are endangered).

This morning the fishery patrol was out at Gore Bay. Lots of people looking for Paua I guess and some harvesting being done smaller than 125cm. So he made them throw them back into the ocean. Commercial harvesters were out there too really working hard, but they have different limits than the public. These guys have a tough job walking the beach on a sunny warm day like today.Here is evidence I have mobility in my left arm now that the first 4-5 week time frame has passed. And with the help of all the lovely physiotherapists I've met (met the fourth one yesterday who happened to be Martin's wife) I have exercises and things to do to bring the range of motion, flexibility, and strength back. At least until the point it hurts. We met a fellow in the bike store where we found a bike box for bringing our bikes home that had broken his clavicle THREE times. Guess he was quite the road racer in his day. He's always wanted to make a t-shirt with a broken clavicle image with the words "Broken Clavicle Club". I told him if he did, that I would support him by buying one.

And lastly, what's the deal with "Australian owned" Canadian Maple Syrup? Do Canadians know this is happening to their country? "Doesn't make anymore sense than Canadian owned Kangaroos," Mark says.We drove across the country yesterday from the west to east, I suppose cause we are mentally getting ready to head back to North America. Laying on the beach or hiking up a hill didn't really appeal to either of us when we've got errands to do and packing up in the back of our minds. We've been able to see so much more of the South Island while driving with four wheels, our minds need to catch up with where our bodies have been. We are in Christchurch now and hope to see some of the sights tomorrow as well. Downtown has big vacant lots now and a shopping mall built out of shipping containers. They get to reinvent their architecture now and try to shore up better what is left standing, as the quakes keep coming it seems.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last days of summer

Ice  cream cones and swimming holes on tap today.  We decided to head to the east coast with the idea of visiting Kaikoura.  We will find dolphins for Mark so he can jump in the ocean to see if he can swim with some.

Watch out for freedom campers!

We met up with some Deutche friends from Wellington yesterday in Punakaiki, and we are both clean today and using toilets. Honesty. Martin plays with an orchestra and is on vacation with his wife and three kids. We met him and his son at Mt. Tongariro a couple months ago.

For a 29 billion dollar tourist industry, you would think that communities here would make it a bit cheaper for tourists to visit their localities and complain less about the "freedom campers", but I guess some of them are really BAD campers. I think too that it's forgotten that a lot of the citizens of New Zealand "freedom camp" and have been doing so for ALL their lives and to have camping restrictions imposed on them must be very difficult. It's not like most people living here are rolling around in the dough, from what I can tell the economic situation is challenging for a lot of people and their families. Everyone works so hard, and some people work several jobs. They can't afford the pricey campgrounds either.

Most districts have free toilets but I've seen some that cost money... And for those tourists who camp, without a DOC site, it's quite expensive - usually $20 a person to camp in holiday parks. No wonder people want to "freedom camp", especially if they are renting a van as well for 60$-100$ per day. Seems most want to spend their money on bungy jumping, diving out of airplanes, taking tours of wildlife or spending the next year on the road travelling.

It is true that one of the things that we are grateful in New Zealand is that there is not much to report on except for the problems with freedom camping... no mass murders, no wars, no more recent environmental catastrophes and other serious news stories. But Mark and I do kinda wish that we came to New Zealand earlier in time when there wasn't as many tourists mucking it up for everyone else...

This is what the headline was in yesterdays paper published in Greymouth!
Big news headline in the Greymouth newspaper yesterday...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mark's mark

We've been having a lovely time driving north on the West  Coast, it's nicer this time around having range of motion in my left shoulder and no codeine on board...  We found a collection of quartz rocks on Bruce's Bay where tourists leave their mark and pay homage to their visit and the beautiful land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa.