Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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In the Perth Airport

I’ve been in Australia for an entire week and haven’t yet blogged anything! Usually I’d blog from the airport while I wait to leave on a trip, but when I was in the Vancouver airport waiting for my flight to Perth, by way of Hong Kong, I was frantically trying to get a reference letter done for a colleague and also had a slew of other work to do1 Preparing to go away for 2.5 weeks takes *a lot* of work – you basically have to do all the work you would have done during the 2.5 weeks before you leave. Hence, no blog posting.

Now I’m in the Perth airport – having completed the first part of the trip: a conference2, plus a few days of seeing the sites in and around Perth3, I’m now waiting for a flight to Byron Bay, by way of Sydney. It’s 11:15 pm Perth time as I write this, which means it’s only 8:15 am back home in Vancouver. It’s very strange to have lived a whole day when everyone back home is only just starting their day. We’ll fly through the night, then have a few hours layover in Sydney, followed by a flight to Ballina airport. Then I’ll get to try my hand at driving on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to. Wish me luck!

My flight is boarding, so I gotta go! See you on da flip side.

  1. E.g., lecture notes and slides for my course, putting together a CV for thing I’m applying for (Not a new job, in case you were wondering), etc. []
  2. Which was awesome! []
  3. Also awesome. I’ll blog about it all in more detail later. []

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Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.

Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2

I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.

It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.

After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!

The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d  start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.

Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon route 2016

Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.

Kelowna half marathon 2016 - finish line 2

Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.

Some thoughts on the race itself:

  • The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
Kelowna half marathon 2016 - actually smiling

This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.

  • While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
  • Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
  • It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
  • I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
  • I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
  • The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5

    Untitled

    I do love a good race medal.

I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!

The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!

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  1. As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff []
  2. Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday []
  3. By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. []
  4. I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. []
  5. Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. []

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I’m In It For The Wine

So I’m one week away from my next half marathon – the Kelowna Wine Country half. When I set my goals for 2016, I had big plans to really focus on my training to finally Posterior Hip Muscles 3.PNGbreak the 2 hour barrier that stayed just out of reach in my races last year. But a series of annoying illnesses and sprained ankle have hampered my training and forced me to recalibrate my goal. After taking three weeks off due to my sprained ankle, I did manage to do 1 long run in July (16 km) and 3 long runs in August (a 17 km, an 18 km, and a 19 km), but I didn’t manage to fit in any speedwork. And in the last week I’ve been dealing with an insanely tight gluteus medius muscle. Like so tight that I’ve been limping and have been unable to run without a lot of pain. And so I haven’t run. My massage therapist theorized that it might be from the fact that my left ankle was not 100% so I was compensating and putting extra pressure on my right gluteus medius and now I’m in this state. So I had some massage and I’ve been stretching and foam rolling and I had an Epsom salt bath yesterday and I tried running again this morning and it definitely still hurts, though not as bad as it was. I’m hoping that if I continue to stretch and roll it for the rest of this week I’ll be able to loosen it up enough to get through the half marathon next Sunday. So that’s basically my recalibrated goal: I would like to be able to finish the race. I figure that I’ll just try to enjoy the scenery and be motivated by the fact that there is a wine festival waiting for me when I cross the finish line! Wish me luck!
Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=545381

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Welcome to the World, My New Passport – I Have Big Plans for You!

PassportsMy new passport surprised me by arriving 12 days before its expected due date. It’s a 10-year passport, which means it’s got lots of pages (which I’m eager to fill up with stamps!). The pages are fancier than my previous passport1, which all contained a big maple leaf with a bunch of little maple leaves2 in the background; the new passport has a different image of Canadiana on each page – there’s Terry Fox and Nellie McClung and the last spike in the railroad and parliament buildings and symbols of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, just to name a few. This version of the Canadian passport also contains a “contactless integrated circuit” – so it’s pretty much a cyborg.

Unlike when I got my last passport, when I had no specific plans of where I was going to go with the passport, I actually have a big international trip planned, which I just realizing that I haven’t blogged about at all! In the fall I’ll be going to Australia! I have a conference to attend in Perth3, and then my travelling companion and I will be heading to Byron Bay for some surfing, then Sydney for some citying, and then on the way home we have two days in Hong Kong. Because we have to fly home via Hong Kong, so why spend 2 hours in HK when you can spend 2 days there?

Passports

Old passport on the left, new passport on the right. Enjoy your retirement, old passport! You earned it!

In addition to getting my passport renewed, I also had to get something known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – everyone (unless they are from New Zealand, has to get one in order to be able to enter Australia. It was a simple online application and then you don’t even need to put something in your passport; apparently you end up on some list that the airline can check before you board a plane to Australia and the borders peeps Down Under can check when you get there. So I’ve done that, booked flights, registered for the conference, booked hotels and AirBnBs in the various locations we are going to be, and researched fun stuff to do. Perth, which is in Western Australia, has all kinds of cool things we can do, including (but not limited to): desert tour with sandboarding, winery tours, visiting a haunted prison, and Rottnest Island, home to the cutest animal in existence: the quokka! Seriously guys, look at this freaking thing:

World happiest animal, Quokka

Byron Bay was chosen as our surfing location as apparently it’s a good place for beginning surfers to learn.

And speaking of surfing, let us not forget that January is a certain someone’s certain special birthday and everyone has been invited to join me for a surfing trip to Hawaii! I have done zero planning on that trip so far, despite having 7.5 years of planning time! I haven’t even figured out what part of Hawaii to go to – anyone who knows Hawaii well, I’m open to suggestions!.

My other upcoming trip on which I will be taking this new passport is to go to San Diego in November to run in the USA Half Marathon Invitational! This race is one that you have to qualify to get into – and since my Vancouver BMO half & Montreal half last year were both good enough, I was able to register! I’ve also made zero plans for that trip, though I have some Air Miles that I need to use up before next year, so I’ll likely be using those.

So, it looks like my new passport is going to get quite a workout in the first 6 months of its life with me! I wonder what other places I’ll take it in the subsequent 9.5 years?

Image Credit: Quokka photo posted by Jin Xiang on Flickr.

  1. And, if fact, all three of my previous passports, which look just like my most recently retired one. []
  2. I nearly just typed that at “maple leafs”! []
  3. Which means that I get to check item #37 off my 101 list: “Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)” []

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Dear My Old Passport

Dear My Old Passport

You came into my life just over five years ago and I promised to take you to all sorts of wondrous places. And while I didn’t take you to most of the places on the list of places I said I would like to take you, I took you to a bunch of other places instead. Because I’m spontaneously like that.

We did go to London – the only city on the list – but then we went to a whole bunch of places I didn’t even think to put on the list. In addition to the stamps from Heathrow, you have stamps from Dublin, Zürich, and Geneva – the latter two of which were just stopovers in airports – and you accompanied me to France and Monaco, though we got no stamps in either of those places. And of course, there were trips to the USA – you got stamped when we went to Hollywood, California, to San Francisco, and to Kansas City, MO by plane – and you didn’t get stamped when we went to Portland or to Seattle by car. It’s not nearly as much travel as I would like to have done in the past five years – noticeably absent from this list is any glorious tropical locations – but I truly did enjoy all the places we went.

As much fun as our adventures have been, our time together is coming to an end. Your expiry dates looms and that means I have to trade you in for a newer model. I’ve had my terrible passport photos taken and I’ve filled out my Simplified Renewal Passport Application, and I’ll drop those things off, along with you, at the Service Canada office tomorrow and then will eagerly await your replacement, which will be valid for a glorious 10 years.

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But I’ve specifically checked the box requesting you be returned to me:

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The next time I see you after that you’ll be mutilated – a big red “Cancelled” will be stamped in you and your corner will be cut off so that no one will mistake you for a valid document. But you’ll still have your stamps of the places we went together – and as you were the passport that was with my on the first time I left the continent, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Yours most sincerely,

Your Loving Owner

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10 of 13

I have officially been to all of the Canadian provinces! And before you ask, no, I haven’t been to all three territories… yet – I’ve only been to one of them – but that’s why I said all of the provinces1. Some of the provinces I’ve spent a lot of time in, others I’ve just driven through. But I have set foot in every single province and none of them were only in airport stopovers, which, I understand, is the only way many people have experienced a given place2. For the record, here are my experiences of the 10 provinces (and one territory… so far) in the order that I’ve been to them:

  • Ontario: I was born in this province, so I have spent of time there, both in the 23 years that I lived there and on many, many trips to visit family and friends (and occasionally for work meetings in Ottawa) since I left.
  • Quebec: Both of my parents grew up in Montreal, so there was many a family vacation to La Belle Province in my childhood. I’ve also been there on work trips and, mostly recently, the run the Montreal demi-marathon last year.
  • Prince Edward Island: My childhood best friend moved to PEI, so I went on a trip there in the summer after grade 8. I remember liking Cows Ice Cream and the Anne of Green Gables house. I also met my first boyfriend there – he lived in my hometown and his family was visiting my best friend’s family at the same time as I was visiting.
  • British Columbia: My first trip to BC was with the man who would later become my ex-husband (MWWLBMEH), to visit his Mom, little brother, and little sister who were living in Chilliwack, when he and I were living in Ontario. I ended up moving there to do my PhD (mostly because the MWWLBMEH grew up there and wanted to move back) and liked living here so much that I stayed.
  • Manitoba: I drove through the province of Manitoba when I was moving from Ontario to BC. We only stopped in Winnipeg to grab something to eat, as we decided to drive from Thunder Bay, ON to Regina, SK in one day; thus, the only thing I know about Winnipeg is that it has a Pizza Hut (or, it did in Aug 2000 anyway).
  • Saskatchewan: Also have only been here on my moving trip across the country, when we spent a day in Regina, as the MWWLBMEH had friends there that we wanted to visit.
  • Alberta: My first time in Alberta was on the cross country move and we had a less than fantastic time in Calgary (the car we were towing behind our moving truck came off its trailer and we had to get help from a grumpy tow truck driver whose driveway we were inadvertently blocking. This would be a harbinger of future trips to Calgary – suffice it to say that Calgary is not favourite city. I’ve also been to Edmonton for work and Kananaskis for someone else’s work – Kananaskis was amazing! As was driving through the Rockies on my initial trip through Alberta, now that I think of it.
  • New Brunswick: I went here for a conference – the conference was good but I was underwhelmed by New Brunswick, though admittedly I was in Fredericton and have been told that St. John is much nicer.
  • Nova Scotia: I went to Halifax (which is, coincidentally, my mother’s birthplace) for a conference last year – I was expecting Nova Scotia to be more quaint, though I’ve since been told that you need to leave the city of Halifax to find the quaintness.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: My 10th and final province, that I went to for a conference. My great grandmother (my dad’s, dad’s mom) landed in Harbour Grace, NL when he immigrated from England to Canada, so it was kind of special to be able to go there.

Bonus: 1 Territory

  • Northwest Territories: I went to Yellowknife for work in 2008. I was teaching a course at UBC at the time, so I could only go for the two days of meetings that I had to be at and then had to come right back to teach. Wished I’d had a chance to see more than just the meeting rooms at the hotel and a tiny bit of the city when I walked to the store (though I was very cold!)

So now I just need to get to the Yukon and Nunavut. Living in Vancouver, I feel like tit should be relatively easy to get to the former, but the latter will probably prove to be a bigger challenge!

  1. I can’t count how many times I said before my trip “Once I get to St. John’s all have been of the provinces!” only to be greeted with “And all the territories??” as if having traversed the second largest country on the planet isn’t cause enough for celebration! []
  2. For example, lots of Vancouverites have told me they’ve only been to Toronto airport (which isn’t even in Toronto). I’ve been to Switzerland twice – once in the Zurich airport and another time in the Geneva airport, so though I’ve technically been there, I don’t think it *really* counts []

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Trip to Newfoundland and Labrador

Except I didn’t actually go to Labrador, but the province is officially called “Newfoundland and Labrador”, so it’s technically correct to say I went to Newfoundland and Labrador without setting foot in the Labrador part. It’s kind of confusing, but there you have it.

Canadian Provinces and Territories

Map of Canada highlighting the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The island is Newfoundland and the part on the mainland is Labrador. Image source: By TUBS

The reason for the trip was to attend the Canadian Evaluation Society’s 2016 conference being held in St. John’s, NL from June 3-6. I won’t bore you with all the conference stuff1, but I will tell you that my sister and I did a pre-conference workshop on a project we’ve been working on together, along with her partner, Jeff, and it got a fantastic reception2. As well, I did a presentation on my big project at work that also drew a good sized and much engaged audience, which made me happy.

The most exciting non-work part of the conference was the screech in ceremony at the closing reception. Screeching In, for the uninitiated, is a Newfoundland and Labradorian tradition whereby people “from away” (i.e., not from NL) take a shot of screech3, say some NL phrases, and kiss a cod and are then declared an honorary Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Everyone was quite excited by this event and I have to say I quite enjoyed it, though the screech was probably the worst rum I’ve ever had and kissing a cod is disgusting!

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

My sister and I with our shots of screech

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Me, just after kissing the cod (Didn’t manage to capture the kiss on camera). It was truly disgusting.

Screeching in ceremony at CES 2016 conferene

Official certificate to provide that I have, in fact, been screeched in. I will frame it and hang it next to my Official Irish Whiskey taster certificate.

Since we’d flown such a long way to get there and neither Inor my sister had been to Newfoundland before, we decided to tag on a couple of vacation days to check a bit of it out. NL is actually quite huge, so we only got to explore a tiny fraction of it, but we did get to:

  • Dildo: Seriously, there is a town in NL called Dildo and I made my sister drive there just so I could take this picture:

    Dildo, NL

    There is nothing in the town of Dildo. You pretty much just go there to take a photo with the town sign.

  • South Dildo: Somehow, I think South Dildo is even funnier than Dildo. Sadly, we did not see a town sign when we drove through South Dildo, but I took this screen shot of Google Maps as we drove through it to prove we were there:South Dildo, NL
  • Harbour Grace:My Great Granny Snow (my dad’s dad’s mom) lived in Harbour Grace when she immigrated to Canada from England, so my sister and I decided to go check it out. We had no idea where exactly she lived beyond the fact that it was a house on the water near some trees, which describes pretty much every house in Harbour Grace4. It’s not a very big town and we drove along the aptly named Water St, so we think we probably drove by where her house would have been. The day we went to Harbour Grace was my dad’s birthday. While we were looking around we saw a big church that we wanted to check out, but it turned out to be under renovation and had a gate with a “no trespassing” sign on it. Anyone who knew my father will tell you that he viewed a “no trespassing” or “do not enter” sign as not so much a notice that you should not go to that place, but as an indication that you probably should. “They wouldn’t put a sign up saying to “stay out” unless there was something good in there that you would want to see!” he used to say. So I decided to take this photo in his memory5.
    Trespassing in Harbour Grace, NL

    Me, trespassing in Harbour Grace, on my Dad’s birthday. He would be proud!

    My sister said she was spending her vacation driving around taking photos of me for my blog. She was not wrong in this statement.))

  • The Easternmost Point of North America: which is in a place called Cape Spear, which is quite close to St. John’s. Though, as my friend Linda (who was the first person to mention this place to me as a place to go) pointed out, you aren’t *actually* at the most eastern point since this viewing spot that says “You are at the Easternmost point of North America” is not actually at the shoreline, but I think this can be considered the easternmost point of North America that you can safely go to, as that ocean looks scary! So I say it still counts. I took a selfie of me there because of course I did.Me at the eastern most point in North America, at Cape Spear, NLCape Spear also has a cool old lighthouse that you can visit and learn about how the light keepers lived in the old timey days (as well as a new, functioning light house that still provides signals to ships that they are getting close to St. John’s Harbour and also don’t come over this way because it’s super rocky) because GPS can fail you sometimes.

    Cape Spear, NL

    This is the new lighthouse. I didn’t get a good photo of the old timey lighthouse, though we did go into it.

  • The Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway*: While we were meandering around NL, I got a Facebook reminder that three years ago today, I was at the Pacific Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway.
    Beth at the Pacific Terminus of the Transcanada Highway

    Three years ago

    So I thought it would be super cool to go to the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway on the same date! Unfortunately, there isn’t a marker anywhere to show you where the Trans Canada Highway ends in St. John’s – it just sort of ends out of nowhere:

    TCH eastern terminus

    So I took a bunch of selfies as my sister drove through that section and so one of these photos has to be correct. They basically all look like this:

    Driving through the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway

    At the Eastern Terminus of the Trans Canada Highway. Probably.

  • Snow’s Lane: While we were looking for the eastern terminus of the Trans Canada Highway, we noticed on the map that there was a street called “Snow’s Lane”. So naturally we had to go there. The road itself was nothing much, but at least we can say we’ve been there!Snow's Lane in St. John's, NL
  • Signal Hill: This was the hill upon which Marconi received the first ever trans-Atlantic radio signal6Signal Hill

Other random things about our trip:

  • Every restaurant we went to in St. John’s was fantastic! My favourites were Yellowbelly – a brew pub that makes the best french fries I’ve ever eaten and a pretty solid wheat ale – and Oliver’s – a fancier place where we had amazing sea scallops, I had a bourbon chicken and risotto to die for, while my sister had Atlantic salmon7, and we shared a delicious creme brûlée. Other great restaurants included the Celtic Hearth (my sister got a turkey soup that was like homemade, I got an excellent club sandwich on the freshest of breads, and I tried Quidi Vidi Iceberg beer, which is made from water harvested from icebergs! At first sip, Iceberg seems like a meh lager, but then a fraction of a second later it hits you with an outstanding flavour8. I highly recommend it!
  • It was bloody cold in St. John’s, to the point that on Wednesday it felt like biting winter cold. We were told it was unseasonably cold and it wasn’t helped by the knowledge that I was missing out on 30 degree9 weather back home in Vancouver!
  • I took this photo for my Uncle Harry. Don’t know what Harold Snow of Newfoundland was advertising, as this sign literally just said his name:IMG_2720

When I set foot in St. John’s, I officially completed my quest to visit every Canadian province. Now I just need to visit the two territories that I haven’t been to yet (Yukon and Nunavut) and I’ll have been to every part of the country!

  1. If you are interested in reading about that, you can check out my professional blog where I will be writing about that in the coming days – I’ll update the link to the specific blog posting once I post it. []
  2. I’ll probably blog about it more once it’s ready for prime time – right now it’s in a beta phase. []
  3. i.e., crappy Newfoundland rum/ []
  4. Not to mention that it’s entirely possible that the house isn’t there anymore []
  5. And, of course, to add to my collection of me doing things that signs say not to do. []
  6. For some reason, I always thought he sent the first trans-Atlantic radio signal, but he did not – he received it. []
  7. I’m a bit of a salmon snob, in that I much prefer Pacific salmon. I tried some of my sister Atlantic salmon, just in case the Atlantic stuff is better when it is fresh (which I don’t get in Vancouver), but it just isn’t as good as the Pacific stuff, imho []
  8. I’m sure the water harvested from an iceberg thing is gimmick rather than being what makes the beer awesome, but it really is an awesome beer. []
  9. Celsius. []

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One Week Today….

… I’ll be co-presenting a workshop in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with my sister! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons, including (but not limited to) and in no particular order:

  • the content we are presenting on is very cool and I’m excited to share it with colleagues
  • the conference that we are presenting at is a good one – I always learn a lot, meet great people, and have a lot of fun
  • I get to hang out with my sister
  • Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province I’ve never been to, so when I go there I will have collected the entire set of provinces in my travel history

The one thing I’m not excited about is the weather forecast. St. John’s is going to be cold while we are there:

St. John's forecast

And in the meantime, I’ll be missing out on summer weather in Vancouver:

Vancouver forecast

I’ll have to make sure to pack some warm sweaters and my coat!

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Whistler

So I went skiing up at Whistler on Saturday. It’s pretty freaking awesome to live somewhere where you can get up in the morning and in less than 2 hours be on the slopes of some of the best skiing in the world. You can spend the entire day skiing and still get home in time for dinner! This is something that I really should take advantage of more often!

The conditions were decidedly spring skiing conditions – the temperature in the village got up to a high of 19 degrees C and even up at the peak it was above 0. It made for a variety of conditions, depending on if the snow was in the sun or the shade, including rather icy for the first couple of runs (as the peak did hit 0 degrees overnight), somewhat soft in some places/at different times, and downright sticky in yet other places.

We spent the morning on Blackcomb and the afternoon on Whistler, during which time we made our way over to the Flute Bowl and I went down my first ever black diamond at Whistler! I say “went down” as opposed to “skied” because, while I skied most of it, there were parts that I fell down and after my second fall, where I was having trouble even getting back up on the steep part of the slope that I was on, I sort of slid down sideways. I’d fallen twice because my legs were pretty fatigued by this point in the day, what with me being a super sloth these past several months1, and the snow was rather heavy, making it difficult for me to get my back leg to follow my front leg when I was turning, which I needed to do a lot to slow myself down because it was really steep! I could manage it on my strong side, but my weak leg just couldn’t do it, and it tripped me up. After the second fall, once I had retrieved my one ski and two poles that I’d lost in the fall (though thankfully all within reaching distance), I was having difficulty even standing up on the steep slope and as I tried, I started sliding down. After a couple of attempts, I thought “Fuck it” and just let myself slide down until I wasn’t on such a steep slope anymore and could then get up and ski the rest of the way. Not the most graceful move and somewhat embarrassing, but it worked.

Also, during the whole time we were in that bowl2, there was not a single other skier or snowboarder there. I mean, the mountains weren’t super busy because it’s spring and the weather in Vancouver was fabulous, so most people have moved on to spring activities rather than hitting the slopes3, but there were lots of other people on all the other slopes we went on, so it was a bit surprising that no one else was there – anyone who is a halfway decent skier/boarder and who is in better shape than me would have had an awesome time there. But it was actually pretty cool to feel like we had an entire mountain to ourselves!

After that, I was pretty much too tired to handle anymore particularly strenuous runs, so we made our way back to the Peak-to-Peak gondola via a relatively easy route and then down Blackcomb, which took us to the end of the day.

On the way home I realized I forgot to take any pictures other than this one, of our après-ski beers4. I had an Uncommon Lager from Whistler Brewing – it seemed appropriate.

Apres ski

Goals for next year:

  • ski more than once – maybe even like 3 or 5 times
  • take more photos
  1. And not having skied in over a year. But mostly due to the slothiness. []
  2. Which was a long time, given my falling and attempting to get back up was not a quick thing. []
  3. In fact, when we got back to Vancouver there were still tonnes of people on the beaches! []
  4. And which I only thought to take because I was checking in on my beer app. []

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Long weekend report

The long weekend festivities started on Thursday with the world’s easiest Easter egg hunt at my office:

World's Easiest Easter Egg Hunt At My Office

World's easiest Easter egg hunt

The office Easter bunnies left lots of treats for everyone and they certainly didn’t make them hard to find!

Then on Friday I headed over to Salt Spring Island. It was my first time going to any of the Gulf Islands and it did not disappoint. Here are just a few of the lovely views I saw:

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

There was also time for a tasting at the Salt Spring Island Brewery:

Salt Spring Island Brewery

And then on the ferry ride home there was a double rainbow!

Double rainbow as seen from the Victoria to Vancouver ferry

I wasn’t the only one taking photos of it:
People taking photos of the double rainbox