Friday, July 24, 2015

Hot, or not?

Since we moved to Vernon, temperature has been high on the list of discussion topics. There is a good reason for this... the temperature does a lot of things here that it doesn't do on the coast. For a start it goes up to numbers that start with a three, and sometimes end with a number like eight. That's pretty toasty. However, at night you can take two off that first number and maybe a few off the second one too... so the mornings work out very well indeed for exploring our new backyard as my morning commute.

Lina likes to join me on my morning commute, and I can understand why. Having this around the corner from our house is a good thing.

In other backyard news, I have been exploring our actual backyard and have drawn this triangle with flagging tape. Just imagine what that could mean...

Pink triangle in my yard, (let me know the truth).
Inspired by Tom's visit and his interest in wind speed and direction, plus the fact we have things like a day/night temperature differential and crazy, crazy thunderstorms here, I spent rather more time than I expected clambering up and down ladders and swearing at grey plastic things getting the weather station that came with the house working again. Eventually I triumphed over technology and now can tell you things about the wind and weather with numbers. I celebrated this with some fine local cider.

How'd you like them data?
While I'm on a triumphant theme, other recent triumphs I can claim are unpacking some of the stuff in our new house. This has led to the following developments:

The laundry room, or "everything room" as it's better know. Yes, that is a shower.

When you enter the workshop or "Gun Room", time and space are distorted and freak you right out.
Whilst the basement is clearly the most excellent part of the house, there is an upstairs too apparently. In the living room, I have finally been able to bring back to life the "vintage" (maybe just "old") NAD amplifier I bought from Big Deal used electronics in Sheffield in I think 2000. Subsequently it was repaired in Instant Electronics in Leeds, and now it needs to be repaired again... though it limps along and sounds great. It's attached to a pair of Mourdaunt-Short bookshelf speakers that my Mum used to have in her dining room. The thing that makes the noises come out of this old contraption is sadly, not an equally old relic though. However, it does talk to my iPod and plays CDs... so that's good. I do notice that my iPod has just been superseded, so maybe that will last long enough to become an old relic too. Oh, and Lina found a chair she liked in a junk shop. I think you will be able to tell the one I am referring to.

Superterranean living, with velour.
All in all, it feels like we live here now. That's a relief as we actually do live here. Our house interior is all a bit beige and we have some grand plans for an addition on the back of the house. The beige will be an easier target since I bought a paint-sprayer from a man in Kelowna. I am hoping this contraption might actually make parts of painting fun, or at least spectacularly messy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Come fly with me

Tom came for a visit last weekend with his paraglider. This led to some exploring of our new neighbourhood.

Standing atop Big Ed, looking back at Kal Lake

The first spot we looked at is really near bike trails I know, which didn't stop me from getting lost driving from the launch to the bike trail... but I'm new around here. The weather was a bit fishy on Saturday so we went for the "standing around and talking about it" approach to paragliding followed by riding trails all the way home on bikes. So that was fun.

Sunday morning - time to play with string.
The wind cooperated with us on Sunday, so first order of the day was back up to Big Ed, where Tom defied gravity for our amusement (and his).

What happens next?


Keen to embrace all the elements of Vernon, we next got out for a ride on the earthy trails at the end of our street, and then fired up (can you see what I did there?) the barbecue for lunch. The water-feature was a paddle on Kal Lake to Rattlesnake Point. Just when we thought it might be all over and all four elements satisfied, it turned out there was more air to be harnessed.

The view from Vernon Mountain. We live down there.

The bonus element.
I have a feeling I'm going to need to learn how to do that some day...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I blame bicycles

The last two weeks have been eventful. I'm not sure anything's really sunk in yet, so it seems wise to write some of it down so I can re-live my own life when I have the time to think about it.

On Thursday 25th June, I left 2001 Wall Street for the last time and road my bike to work. Not the usual bike, but otherwise it was a pretty ordinary start to the day. The weird part was that I had just moved out of my home for the past six years. The new owner of #211 would move in at 10am and leave Lina lurking around Vancouver with the Blue Elephant crammed full of our remaining stuff.

That evening we drove to Vernon and camped out in Alan's basement - our usual arrangement for Vernon visits. The difference was to come on Friday afternoon, when instead of leaving for Vancouver, we got the keys to our new home in Coldstream. A few hours later we'd be welcoming our first guests - about 15 of them I think. Our moving date coincided with the Vernon round of the BC Enduro Series that weekend and once word got around that there was a place to stay, we became the destination for the weekend. 

I failed to take any pictures of anything interesting, but here's a pile of bikes in our basement
Here are Kala and Chris assembling our housewarming present - a barbecue!
The Enduro was two days of hot and dusty fun - one in Kal Park, conveniently behind our house and the second day at Silverstar, just up the road. Megan's approach to course design in Kal Park was to pick all the steepest trails and have us bounce down them. There were some alarming loose and dusty conditions, but I was keen to embrace my new climate and made a reasonable attempt at the day, which ended with a very welcome swim at Cosens' Bay and then a less welcome ride home in the afternoon heat. We finished up the day with a barbecue-christening though, so that all worked out.

Immediately after finishing Sunday's fun at Silverstar, Ger, Felix, Lina and I set off for a long drive south to Hood River Oregon. Not content with moving house, bike racing, and having all our friends come to stay within a week, we added a vacation riding our bikes around Mount Hood to the mixture.

The Hood River trip was hastily booked when Lina found out that former BC-dwelling friends Marg and Andy were doing the trip. Then more folks accumulated until we had a full hutload of eight. Various emails were exchanged about food, tools, food, packing, bicycles, and food. But mostly food. We also discussed gear-carrying, which there was a pleasing variety of solutions to. Notable techniques were Marg's seatpost-mounted rack and drybag sausage, Andy's "handlebar sausage", and my "taking it too seriously" frame bag.

For the record, this Jandd frame bag worked really well.
Day 1 featured a lot of road and a lot of hot and a lot of uphill. Some of the road was a nice paved bike path along the Columbia, and then it wasn't. Other entertainment included Meg's cleat falling off her shoe and some creative fixing of that with a bottle-cage bolt.

Arriving at the first hut was simultaneously a relief and a disappointment as we found not much water, weird food, and a bit of an odd location. However... Marg made a call with one of those modern wireless telephones and left instructions that we were going to need more water and food we could carry for lunches at the next huts. We kept our hopes up that our call would be answered.

We then found that through the bushes there was this...

...which was nice.
A concoction of Dinty Moore, pork and beans, and some canned vegetables made a pretty adequate dinner... but we had to get creative to make lunch for the next day. What do you do when you have peanut butter, but nothing to put it on? Well, you could just eat it with a spoon... but being a resourceful bunch we came up with the idea of making pancakes and using them as bread. But there was no oil to lubricate the pan. Then someone (possibly Chris or Meg) came up with the genius idea of rendering oil from the can of coconut milk we found. Coconut-oil fried pancakes with peanut butter for lunch:

But I am getting ahead of myself. Before lunch on Day 2, there was more of Day 1 featuring an evening (which included a close encounter with a deer whilst I was in the outhouse), a night (during which I was asleep so I can't tell you much), and then Day 2 happened. The morning involved oatmeal, and some fun singletrack along Surveyor's Ridge. Then it got really hot.

We did this, more times than I remember.

Things like this happened too.

But who cares when you have a volcano and Spam.
In the elevation plot we noted a very large descent at the end of Day 2 including the Gunsight Ridge Trail. This was tantalizing, plus there was cake from Ireland which Marg had portered the whole way.

Exotic cake
But sadly it was over in a flash and we were at the end of the trail, only to lose all the remaining precious elevation on the road. By the time we got to the bottom it was ridiculously hot again, and the "White River" at the bottom turned out to be a bit brown. This was definitely the low-point of spirits, but things were set to improve.

The whitest of whites
We ended the day at the Barlow hut which happily was well stocked with water, plus far more foody delights than the first night. These included chips and spray-cheese. There was surprising enthusiasm for the spray-cheese.

Day 3 - Canada Day! Fuelled-up on Dinty Moore and Spam we set off for a day of fun on the Pioneer Bridle Trail with a quick stop at Trillium Lake along the way:

The Pioneer Bridle Trail was a great way to travel, mixing XC ski trails, some old road, and some forest singletrack. Even better, it delivered us to the throbbing metropolis of Rhododendron, where there was a shop that sold beer and a bridge to shade under and sing Oh Canada. The festivities couldn't last though and we had to haul ourselves up to the final stop of the trip at Lolo Pass.

That last climb was a horror. Really, really hot and not much shade. However, when you end up looking at this, and there are potatoes (not in a tin)... life's not so bad:

There was this, and also spray cheese. I'm not sure which was better.
And so, Day 4. Basically we rolled all the way back to Hood River on the road and celebrated like this:

Despite the heat, the lengthy sections of road, and the Spam... an excellent four days were had riding bikes with excellent people. The whole story, in pictorial form, can be seen here:


So this all started with us moving to Vernon. Moving house is a lot of work, but we've been really lucky to have help from great friends. There are some things however, that you have to do for yourself - like buying stuff.  It's a long time since I lived in a house, so there's been a lot of things we needed to buy. Thankfully years of honing my thrifty-shopping skills and enthusiasm for yard sales, we're doing pretty well. In the past week I've had to buy a car (christened Mr Fish Face), a lawnmower (which is orange), and three ladders, among other things. Generally I hate shopping, but when you actually need things and can buy them second-hand it doesn't seem so bad.

We're both back at work too. Me from my new desk (ex-department of fisheries. Thanks Marc and Nikki!), and Lina from the beach. Lina's commute to work starts like this, followed by taking her board to work across the lake to Kal Beach:

The daily grind
As if this wasn't long enough already, we've been making some things. First... parking in the basement:

Two of these gives nearly enough parking for all our bikes.
How we ever got all these in the apartment is a mystery,

Second, parking in the garage:

A nice rack.

And there's also this thing we made a while back, but isn't ready yet...

Can you tell what it is yet?