Monday 28 May 2007

A Giant Win

Alas, another blog entry which has nothing to do with scootering.

I’ve been a hockey fan ever since I was in Grade 4 or 5. Maybe part of being Canadian is a love for hockey, especially around the playoffs.

I remember when the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL in 1970. I was in Grade 5 and it seemed that we had arrived! Teams like the Montreal Canadians, the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers actually came to Vancouver to play hockey! Those were heady times!

As the years have passed, my “fan quotient” has risen and fallen with the Canucks fortunes. Twice in my lifetime, the Canucks have actually made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Twice, they have returned home empty-handed.

Still, I have hopes that one day they will win the cup. Maybe.

Which leads me to what happened this week.

Players that are around 16 to 20 years of age are eligible for junior hockey. Those players that are really good end up being drafted into the NHL.

Vancouver has its own junior hockey team, the Giants. The Giants really came to light when the NHL was on strike - hockey starved fans flocked to see these youngsters play with so much heart and not so much attitude. And with tickets selling for between $16 and $18,. there wasn’t a big hit on the pocketbook. What was really interesting is after the NHL strike was over, the interest in the Giants didn't wane.

I’ve been to a few games this year and the hockey is great. There’s the typical hockey essentials: excited fans, goals, cheerleaders, fights, and more fights. But there are a couple very nice extras - this is like a regular hockey game with draws, music, instant replays, great food, t-shirts, and other gimmicks - and the players play their hearts out.

There are certainly a lot of players in the NHL that play hard - but sometimes a person might wonder if they are playing - even with those huge salaries - as hard as they can.

I have no doubt that the young men (and occasionally, women) playing in the minors are playing their very best all of the time. And this past couple of weeks, the best of the junior league hockey players in Canada played in a tournament called the Memorial Cup in Vancouver.

And finally, for the first time in my life, Vancouver won the cup.

No, it wasn’t the Canucks - but who cares...

Go Giants, Go!

Thursday 24 May 2007

Shameless Plugs

It was a busy weekend, and a long weekend in Canada - Victoria Day - in honour of the queen - who isn’t really our queen anymore, but no one’s going to complain about a day off....

I spent a very busy weekend - one daughter had a water polo tournament and the other had a dance competition in Whistler. I also had to remove some large shrubs, do some marking, avoid writing report cards, and take my kids to see Spiderman Three.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time to scoot - just short trips around town and my wife was using the camera this week. For this week’s blog, late as it is, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favourite links and why I like them. In other words, why do I have those links on the right side of the page?! I hope the bloggers don’t mind, but I’ve put a photo from each blog before the description.

Scooter in the Sticks was the first blog that I really got into - and it’s still one of my favourites. Steve Williams has been around for almost forever in blogosphere time and is a real photographer (not just a hack like me). He takes wonderful photos and is also a very good writer to boot. I read his columns and the texture and feel of his writing makes me think that he puts a lot of thought into his blog entries. As I said in my very first entry, reading Steve’s blog gave me the motivation to start my own. And the photos of him hauling a Christmas tree on the back of his LX150 are wonderful!

Blog LX is written by a Belgian guy, He really keeps up with the goings on in the Vespa world so, as a Vespa owner, I am interested in what he finds. There are updates on new models, lots of pictures of customized Vespas, and a lot of other information. He seems to update the site on a fairly regular basis although there have been a couple of weeks where I’ve pined for new information. His blog actually has a photo of my daughter Colleen and me in the left column.!

Combat Commuter has lots of information on riding including interesting stories. There are some great articles on maintenance as well as motivating articles on how he and his family strive to be ecologically green. I certainly find his article motivating as that’s a goal for my own family.

Scootin Old Skool Orin O’Neill lives just south of me and is one of the most prolific bloggers that I have read! Unlike my blog, where I have each article listed fully, Orin has just the first few lines of each entry. Good way to get you to look at a few entries and then find more information if you’re interested. One of the regular commenters on my blog, as well, I enjoy his many trips around the Pacific Northwest.

Little Billy’s Scooter Tales, written by Boll Sommers, is close to me - and really close to Orin! Hailing from Port Angeles, Washington, Bill is another blogger who is enjoyable to read and writes about as often as I do. He recently christened me “Vancouver Dave” on his blog - cool - my first scootering nickname! Enjoyable to read - and some good photos, too!

Dave at SCTRCST (Scootercast) does a very nice podcast on scootering. He’s got an easy to listen to voice, features all sorts of good podsafe music, and has some interesting stories and updates relating to scootering. He’s also done a couple of interviews with some bloggers including Steve Williams and the blogger for 2strokebuzz and they are definitely worth listening to.

From Down Under is Gotta Scoot, written by Michael Stevens, a fellow teacher! He’s done what I wished I did - started his blog when he first started riding his scooter. I waited about 6 months before I started and would have liked to record how I felt at the time. Michael includes lots of good photos and I find that I really relate to his stories as he’s rather new at this - like me.

A Japanese blog which I think is called VECHS is a great read. What I do is copy the Japanese characters and paste them into Google language tools. The translation is not perfect by any means, but you usually get the main idea. That’s only half the fun - I love the photos that the blogger (kmshio) takes - makes me think back to the year that I taught in Tokyo many years ago. It’s also really cool to see a link to my blog on a page that is in mostly Japanese writing!

There are also other links that I have listed - and they all have good blogs, too. It’s just that the ones I’ve listed are particularly interesting to me and I’ve been reading them for a fairly long time - at least what I think is a long time in this day and age of technology.

The great thing about the blogosphere is that I know I’ll discover more scooter blogs - and other blogs - that interest me. And I know I’ll continue to have new and different people discover and read my blog. It’s a brave new world!

Sunday 13 May 2007

A Recovered Stolen Car and a Ride in Pitt Polder

Saturday morning started out with a wonderful sunny day on Bike Patrol. It was a successful one, too, as we recovered a stolen car. It was a Subaru, later model, with no obvious signs of entry - we were just blitzing side streets in the downtown area of Maple Ridge. It was a good feeling to get someone’s car back to them and a good way to start off the day. The photo above, by the way, was taken about fifteen minutes before actually finding the stolen car as a shot for the Bike Patrol website. Unfortunately, the battery died after this photo!

After returning home, I took the Vespa into Port Coquitlam, near Maple Ridge, to buy a part to fix my electric guitar. On the way home, I took a different route and ended up going into Pitt Polder, an area of dyked land in both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. It’s a very nice area with lots of farmland, framed by the mountains in the distance. The photos, unfortunately, were a bit hazy due to weather conditions. This area is in the local news lately because of the potential for floods. There is a lot of snow on the mountains - way above average - and as the weather warms, the risk increases.

As I was riding down the road and looking at the scenery - looking with a different eye, as I am trying to be a better photographer - I was struck by how the mountains and the snow on the peaks reminded me of riding my bicycle in the Rockies. Maybe I should go on a really long road trip this summer!

I went north until I reached Grant Narrows Regional Park. This is on a body of water called Pitt Lake. On a sunny day, there are many boaters who launch from the dock. There is also a bird sanctuary, picnic tables, and a concession stand that opens in the summer.

I usually take my class on a bike ride there in June. It is a fairly long ride for Grade Sixes (35 km round trip) but it’s flat and often a nice day for a ride. It’s a very busy field trip - it takes a couple hours to get there, we walk into the bird sanctuary, return to the riverbank and have lunch, and then hop back on the bikes and head back. There’s a real sense of accomplishment for the students that finish the trip. I’ve saved the map in Google Maps.

After a short rest to take in the scenery, it was back home for dinner, some marking, and a celebratory glass of wine.

Sunday 6 May 2007

Fort Langley - a ferry good time

I spent most of this week recovering from a cold, but felt good enough today to go for a short ride. Maple RIdge is north of the Fraser River which flows past Vancouver on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Directly south of the Fraser is Fort Langley, a historic town in BC., and a favourite place for a nice sunny afternoon bike ride. Unfortunately today was not particularly nice as there was a light rain most of the afternoon.

The way to cross the Fraser is a free ferry called the Albion Ferry. The ride is only about five minutes but the line-ups are often over an hour. Luckily, on a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, you get to jump to the beginning of the line so I rode my Vespa besides two guys on Harleys and we quickly crossed.

After reaching the other side, it was a fairly short ride into Fort Langley. There are two parts to the town - the historic fort, a tourist attraction, and the town itself, full of restaurants, artisan shops, and funky coffee houses.

Fort Langley is famous because it was originally a trading post run by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The company, called the The Bay now, is still in existence but is more of department store that is currently hanging on. The original fort was set up to trade with the First Nations people on the west coast of Canada. It was instrumental in the formation of British Columbia as a province.

I didn’t go into the fort as I have been there several times before but was able to take a photo of the monument outside the visitor centre. It’s a monument for the SS Beaver, a paddle wheeler that had a long and varied history during the 52 years it served on the west coast. It’s also a very Canadian name as the beaver is Canada’s national animal.

I kind of like the beaver as a symbol for Canada - industrious, skilled, very social. and a bit funny as well. It’s certainly not a very pretentious symbol and that’s not a bad thing.

After visiting the fort, I rode into the town. It’s not very big (population 2700 - I told you it was small) so the part to visit is fairly compact.

The biggest surprise was that the town is now called Placerville. A large banner on the main street proclaims, Placerville, Christmas Tree Capital of the World and the town hall has a big Christmas tree in front of it. Seeing Christmas lights hung from the lampposts of the main street in May is also a bit unnerving!

There is a Placerville in California and I found out that Fort Langley is being used as a film set for a movie (obviously for Christmas) set there circa 1977. It’s not unusual for places around the Greater Vancouver area to stand in for cities and towns in the US. There is quite the thriving film industry up here, initially thanks to our low dollar, and now is sustained because the industry people here are apparently really good. Combined with that is the fact that there are a lot of natural settings (mountains, coastline, lots of trees) that are close to a large urban centre. Incidentally, Peter O’Toole is in the movie but I didn’t happen to bump into him. Oh well.

After recovering from a very early Christmas surprise, I stopped in at one of my favourite little coffee shops, Spill the Beans, for a latté. Then I zipped back, on the ferry, over the river, and back home with a bit of a runny nose but an excellent and refreshed outlook.