Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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It’s Surprisingly Difficult to Take Pictures From a Moving Car

Along the Coquihalla highway, there are a series of signs with the names of Shakespearean characters on them. On the way up to Kelowna, I was all “I’m *totally* going to take photos of those on the way back and post them on my blog because they are awesome!” As it turns out, this was much easier said than done.

The first Shakespeare-related sign (when heading south on the Coq) is for Juliet – and I totally missed seeing it until it was too late to take a photo. “OK,” I said, “I’ll be prepared for the others.” I remembered that there were a bunch of non-Shakespeare signs between Juliet and the next Shakes-related one, so I dutifully waited with my camera at the ready and got a bunch of shots like this:

Coquihalla

and this:

Coquihalla

I think this might have been the one that said “Verona” or “Lear”1.

I did, however, manage to get a nice clear picture of this:

Thar

Thar. What the hell is Thar???

I also got a fuzzy one of a sign that says Duke:

Duke

And an even fuzzier shot of “Iago”:

Iago

Plus one with the “o” in Romeo cut off:

Romeo

And one where you can see most of “Portia”:

Portia

(Look down below the more prominent “Boston Bar Creek” sign).

All was not lost, however! I got a good shot of the sign for Shylock Road:

Shylock Road

And, as a bonus, a shot of the bridge where Shylock Road goes over the highway:

Shylock Road

The little green sign on the bridge says “Shylock Road”, I swear!

And an OK photo of the sign for Othello Road:

Othello Road

Of course, all of this made me wonder why the hell there are a bunch of signs with names of Shakespearean characters2. Apparently, it all started with the Othello Tunnels:

You can tell I didn’t take this photo because it doesn’t suck3

Apparently, the Coquihalla is built on what used to be the Kettle Valley Railway, which included five tunnels cutting through the mountains – and these tunnels were called the Othello Tunnels. The stations along the railway were all given names from Shakespearean plays – Lear, Portia, Iago, Romeo, and Juliet – because either the engineer or the railway president – or possibly the railway president’s daughter – was a fan of old Wills.

Anyway, now I know. Which I believe, as Shakespeare once said, is half the battle.

  1. I missed both of them. []
  2. And, in the case of Verona, a location. []
  3. Here’s where that photo actually came from. []

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Planning is apparently not for suckers

I’m blogging this from my phone, because we’ve spent all day traveling and are just now on the ferry to Vancouver Island, having driven back from Portland all day.

Word to the wise though: If you ever get the bright idea to take, say, the Anacortes Ferry to Vancouver Island on the way back from Portland, you might want to check when those ferries run because you might find out they only run twice a day and *not* at the time you’ll end up in Anacortes. Which means you’ll have to drive all the way back to the I-5 to get into Canada and then take BC Ferries to the Island. Don’t ask me how I know this.

More substantial blogging to resume tomorrow!

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Traffic Is For Suckers

Traffic in VancouverThe one – and I do mean *one* – good thing about living where I do is that I’m close to my office. Like 5 minutes away1. And it’s awfully nice to finish work at 4 pm and be home at 4:10 pm2. The only problem with my commute happens on days when I have meetings in Vancouver, because living in the ‘burbs means that if I have to get to Vancouver for 9 am, I’m going to be stuck with the eleventy billion suburbanites commuting into Vancouver. And I *hate* sitting in traffic, wasting gas as we inch across the Alex Fraser Bridge at a snail’s pace. So, when I do have meetings in the big city, as I do today3, I leave my house at 6 am to avoid the lion’s share of the traffic and then find myself a nice little coffee shop to sit in and do some work4 until meeting time. I mean, if I’m going to have to just be sitting there, I’d rather be sitting in a comfy chair in a coffee shop than sitting in my car getting stressed out. This does require me to get up extra early in the morning – not my favourite thing to do – but the trade off of not having to sit in traffic makes it totally worth it.

Image Credit: Posted by Mark Woodbury on Flickr.

  1. Although sometimes it can take upwards of 20 minutes when there are idiot drivers in the way. []
  2. It takes a few minutes to pack up and such. []
  3. And as I did last week []
  4. Or, in this case, write a blog posting! []

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Oregon Coast

I’d love to write a long detailed posting about all the adventures we are having in Oregon, but we *may* have just gotten home from today’s adventures which may or may not be due, at least in part, to the fact that we got lost on our way the Oregon Aquarium such that it took us 6 hours to drive there when it should have only taken 3!

So I’ll leave the long blogging to another day and instead leave you with a few pictures from the coast:

Driving the Oregon Coast

Driving the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast at sunset

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The Delinquent Traveler

Whenever I go on a trip, I do as little planning as possible. Generally, I travel with people who either like to plan or are resigned to it. Case in point: the trip I’m currently on. All the research about the destination, hotel, attractions, etc. were handled by my sister and her boyfriend. I basically just had to show up. Well, show up and buy beer and diapers along the way, as Nancy, Jeff and the kids are flying in from  Toronto1 and it wasn’t worth lugging that kind of stuff on the airplane.

Of course, for this trip I actually had to get myself to Portland.  I had decided to drive because flights were more expensive than they were worth. Knowing that I am too cheap to use my cell phone in the States, I had printed out at Google Map with the directions to get to the hotel – basically down the I-5 to the I-205. I also have a giant map book that has all the states and provinces in it, so I brought that along as well. I decided to leave very early in the morning to try to beat them long weekend border traffic. This was a good plan, because I left my house at about 6:15 a.m. and I only ended up waiting about 15 minutes at the border2. Though I had plotted the direct route to Portland on Google Maps, I knew I would have *tonnes* of time to kill as my family wasn’t going to be arriving until about 8 p.m.3. I toyed with the idea of driving at least part of the way down the coast instead of the I-54, but not far as doing any actual planning. You know, like mapping out an actual route. Anyway, as I was driving along the I-5, I saw a sign that said, “Ocean Beaches” and thought, “What the hell?” and went in that direction to take the more scenic route. I had my giant map book, which has the major highways on it and figured out basically where I’d end up going if I followed this spur-of-the-moment plan. Basically, I took Hwy 8/Hwy 12/Hwy 105 through Aberdeen, Grayland, the hilariously named Tokeland, down to Raymond, around South Bend and down Hwy 101 through Lewis & Clark National Park and over the most awesomest bridge ever into Astoria.

Just before I went over the awesome bridge, I stopped in at the Dismal Nitch Rest Area:

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

 

 

That “No Fish Cleaning” sign made me really wish I had a fish in need of cleaning!

But I have to say, Dismal Nitch is so not dismal!

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Hell, even the restroom had flowers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dismal Nitch Rest Area - the restroom had flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

This is the awesome bridge that links Washington State to Astoria, Oregon. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest bridge I’ve ever driven on, and is certainly the awesomest (the photo does not do it justice!):Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Strangely, I was listening to my music on shuffle at the time and just as I was about to go over the bridge, the song “Stan” by Eminem came on. For anyone not familiar with the song, it ends with an Enimem fan committing murder-suicide by driving off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend being held captive in the trunk of his car. Definitely an eerie song to listen to on a bridge5! Also, that’s how long the bridge is – by the time it got to that part of the song, I was still on the bridge!

In Astoria, I stopped for a (late) lunch and took a couple of photos – the place was as cute as button, and the photos don’t do it justice at all:

Astoria, OR

IMGP3032

IMGP3034

Upon leaving Astoria, I was a wee bit nervous because I was now going to be approaching Portland, and thus my hotel, from a totally different direction than the original Google Map that I’d printed and, as you know, I ‘m directionally challenged. I managed to get most of the way there, but then there was a giant clusterfuck of Hwy 30, Hwy 30 Bypass, Hwy 84, Hwy 205, Hwy 405 and the I-5 all having a giant orgy and I got totally and completely lost. To the point that I actually had to turn on my phone’s data to ask Google Maps to save me. It only took me like 5 seconds to do that, but I’m sure that will cost me eleventy billion dollars in data roaming fees. But it did the job because I’m now sitting in my hotel room, writing this blog posting, and waiting for my family to arrive!

I am sure I’ll chime back in with more stories of our Portland adventures (Voodoo Doughnut, I’m looking in your direction!) soon!

 

 

  1. Dragon Dictate just wrote “Tron” instead of Toronto []
  2. The sign said the wait was going to be 40 minutes, so that was a pleasant surprise. []
  3. and the direct route only takes about 5 hours. []
  4. Sarah had suggested that, since I had so much time to kill, I take a detour to check out Mount St. Helens. I thought about it, but I realized that a trip to Mount St. Helens would be way more fun with someone else as opposed to by myself, so I decided to save it for another time []
  5. Clearly, Bellatrix has a twisted sense of humour! []

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A PSA From My Goalie

At my hockey game today, my goalie was showing off her shiny new blue tooth headset.  Which she bought because she got a warning for driving while talking on her cell phone, something that was made illegal in BC as of Jan 1, 2010. You are allowed to talk on your cell while driving so long as it’s hands-free (either headset or speaker phone), takes only one touch to answer and is secured to your car.  And no texting or emailing is allowed.

So, folks, take it from my goalie:  don’t drive and talk!

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Bad Driving 101

Bad Driver's Handbook by billypalooza.On the way to work the other day, I saw the wreckages of THREE car crashes.  Fortunately for me, they were all on the opposite side of the road to me, so I wasn’t slowed down1.  And it doesn’t surprise me, given the horrible, horrible, horrible drivers I’ve seen lately.  Seriously, how do these people get their driver’s licenses?

Examples of atrocious driving behaviours I’ve seen lately include:

  • countless people who drive 80 km/hr in the fast lane on roads where the speed limit is 90 km/hr (and most of the traffic is going 100-120 km/hr and so have to slam on their brakes when they get to the asshat who doesn’t know the meaning of the words “fast lane”)
  • conversely, the asshats who driver 140+ km/hr when there’s thick traffic that’s all going 95 km/hr. They zoom up behind you and then change lanes aburptly, despite the fact that there are two cars driving side-by-side in front of you on the two lane road.  Do they really think they are somehow going to get ahead? Where exactly do they think they are going??
  • And then there’s the jerkwads who drive really, really slowly in the fast lane, forcing you to change to the right lane to pass them… and then they speed up the moment they see you trying to pass them in order to block you from passing them. I hate that.
  • Also, people who are averse to getting into the turning lane. In Vancouver, there are a fair number of right hand lanes that aren’t for driving – they are parking lanes, or they are bus only lanes during certain hours.  And when people want to turn right, instead of getting into those lanes once they are passed any parked cars (or buses), just turn right from the left lane. And, of course, they have to slow down pretty much to a stop before they turn, meaning I have to slow right down and it’s all for no reason seeing as they could just get in the goddamn right lane to turn right!
  • one car who decided he was going to come into my lane while I’m driving right next to him. I’m not in his blind spot, mind you (and even if I were, he should be checking that), but directly beside him.  He doesn’t look in his mirror or over his shoulder or even signal – just abruptly turns his steering wheel to the left. Only my quick wits in the swerving and honking departments saved me and Zaphod from this man’s idiocy.
  • a car driving right up to the end of an on ramp lane – and then onto the shoulder – because the driver was incapable of figuring out how to merge. And – surprise surprise – when I drove past the car, the driver was on her cell phone.
  • Two cars, parked in adjacent parking stalls, who both started backing up out of their spots at the exact same time. When I was already in the lane. And neither noticed that they were backing up directly at me until I honked at them.
  • a woman – and I’m not making this up – who was plucking hair from her chin at a stop light. Seriously.  She pulled up to the stop light, pulled her visor down to look in the mirror, grabbed a pair of tweezers and started plucking away.  Now, this might not be the most dangerous driving behaviour I’ve seen – she was stopped at a light – but… gross. 2

Incidentally, if you search “bad driver” on Flickr, you will find plenty of photos of license plates attached to cars driven by drivers who have done something to piss off someone with a camera.

Image Credit: Posted by billypalooza on Flickr.

  1. but those poor schmucks heading *into* Vancouver were pretty hooped []
  2. If I hadn’t been in extreme pain at the time and just trying to get to Tod’s so I could take my T3s and curl up on the couch, I would have rolled down my window and yelled “DO YOU KNOW WE CAN ALL SEE YOU???” []

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Random Stuff About Driving

  • I have callouses on my hands from driving.  Seriously.  I guess my tender little hands aren’t used to all the friction I’m now getting from holding onto my steering wheel for ~1.5 hr every day.  Oh, those heady days of being a bus girl.  So, does anyone know where I can buy some driving gloves? 😉
  • There are a *lot* of yellow Smart cars in town – I seem them *everywhere*.  Either that or there is just one guy who owns a yellow Smart car and he’s following me.  Either way, it looks like a bumblebee.
  • Apparently today was national don’t-use-your-signal day.  At least I’m assuming it was because no one was using their friggin’ signals while changing lanes or turning today. No one.
  • Hey, guy in the left lane who drives at 10 km below the speed limit.  I hate you.

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Driving Dr. Bethy

Dr. Beth in front of Dr. Car by Kalev.So, despite the fact that I’ve lived here for almost nine years, I know surprisingly little about the geography of the Lower Mainland.  This is in part due to my terrible sense of direction1 and in part due to the fact that I rarely left the City of Vancouver (save for occasional jaunts to North Van for hiking and skiing) until I got my new non-Vancouver job.  I could count the number of times that I’d been to Surrey on one hand before I started working there!  And now I’m not only working in Surrey, but my job involves driving to meetings all over the Lower Mainland!  Since I started work three weeks ago, I’ve been to meetings in Surrey, New Westminster, and Abbotsford (twice) and have been to three different hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Peace Arch & Royal Columbian) that I’d never been to before for workshops and such. A few of my coworkers have suggested I invest in a GPS, but I’ve decided that I’m holding out until my cell phone contract with Telus ends (next March) so that I can get an iPhone with its built-in GPS and compass.  Oh iPhone, how I long for you!  In the interim, I’m now BFF with printing directions from Google Maps.

My observations about driving thus far:

  • I never noticed how often they give traffic updates on the radio.  I’m an avid radio listener during the day, but I guess that when I was a bus girl, I just always blocked out the traffic updates.
  • And the traffic updates on the regular stations aren’t sufficient – number 1 on my AM dial is AM730 – All Traffic, All the Time!
  • People slow down when approaching bridges, even when there is no reason to do so.  I mean, sure if there’s a bunch of lanes all trying to squeeze onto a little bridge, you are going to need to slow down, but even when a two lane road goes over a two lane bridge with very little traffic volume, everyone seems to hit their brakes.
  • And speaking of bridges, there are a freaking lot of bridges in the Lower Mainland. I guess it’s the price you have to pay if you want to live near all this water!  Thus far in my work-related journeys I’ve crossed the Oak St. bridge and the Alex Fraser bridge (daily!), the Knight St. bridge, the Pattullo bridge, the Port Mann Bridge2 and the Massey tunnel.
  • Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles.  All. The. Time.  Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles.  All. The. Time.  Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!
  • I’m totally getting a left arm tan, completely with killer watch tan lines3, from driving with my arm resting on my window as I drive.

1And by “terrible” I mean “complete lack of.” Kalev and Tod both tell me that most people can actually sense direction. Like, they can intuitively feel north-south-east-west. This concept is completely foreign to me. And, I’m willing to bet, to Dave, who shares my directional sensing deficiency and relies on his wife, the human GPS, to get where he needs to go.
2Shortly after I crossed the Port Mann, a semi jackknifed on it which tied up traffic for SIX HOURS!  Needelss to say, I took a different route home!
3For the record, that’s killer tan lines from my watch. Not tan lines from my killer watch.

Image credit: Copyright Kalev. All rights reserved. He granted me license to use it for anything I want, in perpetuity, in all forms, real and imagined, forever and ever amen.

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My First Tank o’ Gas

So, I fill up my tank with gas for the first time yesterday! And, because I’m a nerd, I’m going to be keeping a spreadsheet to track my fuel economy.  Here’s what the numbers look like:

  • Distance driven:   414 km1
  • Volume of gas at fill-up: 26.1 L
  • Cost of fill-up: $30.13
  • Cost per km: 7 cents
  • Fuel economy: 6.3 L/100 km

So, this first tank of gas didn’t quite get the fuel economy listed on the smart website (which lists 5.4 L/100 km for combined city & highway driving).  But I’ll keep a running spreadsheet and let you know how things progress when I can average out a few tanks of gas.

Also, I just noticed this evening that my rear window is leaking window washer fluid (!), so it looks like I will need to call the dealer to have that looked at. Thank the FSM for warranty!

1I spoke to my dad yesterday and he proudly informed me that he’d put more than 2000 km on his new truck, which he got the same day I got my car. And I thought I’d driven a lot!