The Adventure Ends

I’m back in Vancouver after another incredible west coast experience courtesy of Dave and his newest boat. On Wednesday morning we loaded up the boat, drove out to Toquart Bay and launched before noon. Before long we found ourselves coming up on Hand Island at the northern tip of the Broken Group. Hand is one of the most scenic islands in the group and I think it has the best beaches. One of the camping areas is on the beach and I’m determined to get out there in a kayak within the next couple of years. 

We stopped at Hand for lunch, chatted with some of the kayakers who were camping there and then pushed off to do some more exploring and figure out where to anchor for the night. After taking in some more of the gorgeous scenery we found a well-sheltered bay on Effingham Island. I remember we were sitting down eating some of our chocolate (before dinner of course) and this seal kept popping up to check us out. I figured he heard the chocolate wrapper. Dave had some crazy idea that the seal was curious about the boat that had invaded his home turf. I still maintain that seals secretly love chocolate. 

The most entertainment that evening came when Dave decided to cook dinner on the top of the boat cabin. It’s the perfect height to work on so it made sense. Unfortunately the cabin roof is curved so that water will run off and when Dave put the pot lid down it slid right off into the water! The pot grip went with it as well so we had to use pieces of Dave’s Shamwow as pot mitts for the rest of the trip. 

We curled up in the cabin that night for a long, deep sleep. The cabin felt like a luxury accommodation after tenting it last December on the coast. Everything stayed dry and was so much easier to set up since all we had to do was shove our gear into the back of the boat and lay out our sleeping bags inside the cabin. It was also really easy to hang up a light so we could read for a while. I had my copy of Scar Tissue and Dave had picked up a copy of the Serpent and the Rainbow, which follows the authors quest to find out about the Haitian “zombie” drugs that were so good at immobilizing people that they were often thought to be dead. Once the drug wore off the person would come “alive” again which brought about the legend of the zombie.

In the morning we woke up to a glorious sunny day. I jumped in for a quick swim, we had breakfast, and then we motored off to see more of the Broken Group. Dave swung us south to see more of the islands where we got to see some seals splashing around, probably chasing fish for their mid-morning meal. At around noon we headed to the west edge of the islands and rode up and down the sea swells coming from the open ocean until we came around to Wouwer Island to watch dozens of sea lions  sun themselves on the rocks. They were fascinating to observe so Dave kept the boat parked for almost an hour while we enjoyed the sun and the company of the barking sea lions. 

After the sea lions it was time for some lunch and then a meandering cruise towards Bamfield where we needed to get a chart of the Bamfield area. We weren’t exactly sure where Bamfield was located since it’s tucked around an inlet and couldn’t be seen from our direction. Fortunately we saw the “blowhole” send up a geyser of water and knew exactly where we were. Last summer we had made a trip to Bamfield and discovered this finger that the sea had carved into the rocky shore. Whenever a large wave would come in the water would hit the back of the finger and erupt in a large fountain into the air! It looks just like a whale spouting would look and even more so from our ocean viewpoint.

Once we motored into Bamfield we decided to hit the small restaurant that services the people staggering off the West Coast Trail as well as everyone coming in from a day of open ocean fishing. It was nice to sit down with a flush toilet and hot food. They had a newly-baked cherry pie too so I had to try that out. Delicious! Dave wondered how long until I put the fork down and attacked it with my bare hands. I actually used the fork for most of the pie this time, only dropping the fork for the last few bites. 

It was starting to hit the last couple of daylight hours so Dave and I motored up to explore Grappler Inlet, which has a few docks and houses to check out, and then threaded our way through a slew of fishing boats to find a place to anchor in the sheltered bay behind Dixon Island. The ocean floor was full of thick seaweed so it took a few tries to set the “Super Hooker” anchor well enough that we could safely spend the night. 

Again, we decided to sit back with some chocolate and enjoy the sunset and no sooner had we opened the chocolate package when a seal popped his head up to see what we were up to. I take this as irrefutable evidence that seals are chocolate lovers. 

The next morning started with a leisurely read in bed before we got up to see what the weather held for us. It was a little more overcast than it was the past two days and the wind had picked up a little bit. Our first crossing to the Deer Group of islands was fairly easy and we discovered that the Port Alberni Yacht Club maintained a small dock in Robbers Passage between a couple of the Deer Islands. We had a brief stop for some tea and to chat with a few locals before we noticed the wind picking up and decided to get across to the Broken Group before the weather got too rough. Fortunately it didn’t get too windy and we made the crossing without incident. Dave’s new boat handles the sea very well and we did the entire crossing broadside to the waves. The boat just bobbed up over the waves like a cork and we had very little trouble getting back to the sheltered Broken Group waters. 

We did a little more touring and then headed for home. Once we got back into Tofino we met up with Dave’s girlfriend Amelia, her parents (who were in town this past week), and another of their friends who’s lived in Tofino for the past few years. We ended up in a long conversation that went well into the night and I discovered all kinds of new shenanigans that had happened in their little town. 

This morning Dave and I had a quick breakfast and I headed towards Nanaimo to catch the ferry while he started work. The ferry was pretty busy so I didn’t get on until the 3:10pm sailing, but that was alright. I got to finish Scar Tissue and dig into some of my nonfiction reading while we made the voyage. 

And now I sleep, wishing I was still on a boat that rocked as the waves rolled under it.

The Adventure Begins

I caught my ferry this morning and found myself in Nanaimo at 8:00am which gave me lots of time to explore before Dave got back from work at 7:30 this evening. I drove pretty much straight through to Tofino, stopping only to check out Qualicum Falls, which are quite nice. I got lucky and hit them before the rush of tourists showed up.

Around noon I pulled into the tourism information center and scooped a map. The tourist girl recommended a few places to see and I decided to spend some time on Wickaninnish Beach. Beautiful place! I was only there once briefly before and have been meaning to get back.  Since it was such a sunny day I figured I should go there and see it. Turns out I spent a good chunk of the afternoon exploring.

I had a little nap in my car (which I have now christened as the Mighty Grey Bird since it delivers me to all my adventures) and then wandered through Tofino to pick up a new hat (a Lonix hat — it’s awesome!) and then see what the bookstore had for me. Looks like they had a copy of Scar Tissue – the biography of Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So I bought a copy and spent the rest of the afternoon on Long Beach reading. Not a bad way to end a Tuesday. 

Dave’s back so I’m going to run. I posted a whack of this morning’s photos on my flickr account, including photos of Dave’s new boat that we’re taking out. Talk to you all next week when I get back!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrenthetiger/sets/72157622021261541/

T-Riley and Satori Ride

I’m all packed for Tofino and looking forward to some time away from the busy city. I had to run out today and get some red and green glow sticks because Dave doesn’t have any running lights on his boat! If we’re parked at night in open water we need red and green lights to indicate where we are to any other boat traffic. The glow stick idea is a good one if you don’t have power on your boat.

Normally before a big adventure one ought to get a good night’s sleep; however, I decided instead to go out to the Railway Club to listen to one of the bands who live in our building perform. I got there at 10 expecting them to be on stage soon but the first band was just getting started. I was cursing the late start but when the band began to play a mean set of ska and raggae music I considered myself lucky I got to watch them. The band’s called Satori Ride and they’re heaps of fun to watch. They don’t have a webpage or anything so I’ve no idea if or when they’ll play again.

T-Riley was the band I came to see and they were amazing! It’s fronted by Teresa Riley who I’ve heard play in our rehearsal space and she’s got a great voice. The style is diverse, which I like, and when the guitar player broke a string she A capella’d a song with only the saxaphone in the background to set the mood. After a few songs I was feeling quite tired (was up at 5am this morning) so I snuck out to go home. Now I’m going to get a few hours sleep before catching the first ferry out to Nanaimo tomorrow. I’ll bring my pillow so I can sleep on the ferry!

I’ll probably be out of touch until the weekend when I get back so I’ll talk to everyone then.

The Fun Doesn’t Stop

Yesterday, after an intense morning of running errands and clearing up the disaster my apartment had become over the past couple of weeks, I went downstairs in the building’s courtyard for the annual BBQ that the strata puts on. Most buildings don’t do cool things like have BBQs even though they should since it’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other. One thing I like about our building is how social it is. I feel like I’ve joined a community here.

Today I got up at 7:00 but I was feeling a little fuzzy from the beers I’d had last night so I decided it was time to hit the Grouse Grind again. That’s one thing that suffered over the last couple of weeks and I’ve been itching to climb up there again. My legs held out alright and my time wasn’t too seriously affected by the layoff. I took it at a comfortable pace and didn’t try to push too hard either.

Next couple of days will be organizing and packing for camping as well as digging into a few more things I’ve been wanting to do the last couple of weeks.

Gone To Vernon

My Mom was discharged from hospital yesterday after their barrage of tests on Thursday showed that she’d recovered enough to no longer need the hospital’s services anymore. We only found out Friday morning so my sister had a whirlwind day of organizing transportation and follow-up appointments. This morning the two of them packed up and started the drive to Vernon. I haven’t heard from them yet but I expect them to arrive soon.

The last two weeks have gone by in an eyeblink. It started with my Mom heading into hospital for some tests to assess whether or not they would perform the surgery and suddenly it was scheduled for a week later! Now that it’s all over and my Mom’s safely on her way to Vernon I feel relieved to know everything’s been taken care of. Today I made a huge list of all the things I’ve pushed off the past couple of weeks and spent an intense morning running around getting all my errands done.

I’ve also booked this entire week off of work so I can go to Tofino on Tuesday to roar around the Broken Group islands with Dave in his new boat. It’s going to be so much fun and I expect it’ll be just as good a time as we had last December.

Steady as she goes

Everything’s going steadily with my Mom as she makes her recovery in the neurology department’s intensive care unit. I spent the afternoon with her and she’s much more awake than she was on Friday. My sister and I are going to have brunch at the Alibi Room this morning and then I’m going to head back to the hospital to visit again. My sister’s come down with a cold so she doesn’t want to infect anyone at the hospital (especially my Mom!) so she’s staying back at the house for now. She’ll have plenty of time to visit over the coming weeks anyway.

Last night Shan (the singer in our band) and I hit the Kings of Leon show at GM Place. The band called The Whigs opened and they were very, very good. They have a “rock” sound so I could see them getting radio play but they aren’t big (yet). They said they’re playing the Media Club in November and, if it’s not a night when I’m in Seattle for the Pixies, I’ll go down to see them again.

Kings of Leon are a band I haven’t listened to much. For whatever reason they never really interested me aside from a couple of the singles off the new album. When we saw them at Sasquatch earlier this year it was a pretty good show but I was kinda tired from standing in the sun all day to see the day’s bands and didn’t get into the KoL show that much. Last night they were fantastic! I didn’t realize how many hits they had until they ran down the list and by the end of the show I was saying, “how did I not totally get into this band sooner?” So next week it’ll be time to go through their albums again to see what I like.

Almost as fun as the band’s performance was the frat boy crowd that was partying in the row in front of us. There was a neverending scene of beer drinking, pot smoking, and hi-fives to everyone nearby. I was surprised to see these people being able to stand on their feet for the whole show. Next to us was another pack of equally rowdy girls who’d made the Kings of Leon concert their pre-Roxy stop. They even left before the last song so they could beat the rush to the Granville clubs for a “Girls Gone Wild” night of drunken photos and jagerbombs. I was surprised the frat boy crowd didn’t follow them out like a pack of hungry dogs.

Friday night I took my sister out to the Black Frog for a beer to celebrate my Mom’s successful operation. After the Frog we wandered up Robson to Konbiniya where my sister, missing all the cool foods she experienced while in Japan, loaded up on seaweed paper (for sushi) and mochi. Mochi are rice balls that you coat in different toppings and then eat. I haven’t tried one yet, but I’m sure I will soon.

Finally, after Konbiniya, we went to DQ to satisfy my sister’s blizzard fix. When she lived in Yellowknife she got an addiction to DQ along with all her co-workers but then the DQ closed and they could only get blizzards when they went out of town! So anytime she’s in Vancouver our first stop is to DQ.

Now we’re going to get some cough and cold medicine for my sister and then head to the Alibi Room for brunch. I need to find out what that delicious peppercorn-flavored wheat ale I had last night was called too!

Japandroids, the Rickshaw, and The Pixies are coming to Seattle! (second attempt)

My sister arrived with cookies she’s scored during her stop in Amsterdam. They’re jam-filled cookies! So tasty.

Anyhow, like I was saying previously, Richards had closed and the Japandroids show had moved to a new venue called The Rickshaw. It’s on Hastings, just east of Main so it’s only a few blocks from my place (score!). They’ve taken an old theatre and turned it into a performance space with the intention of putting bands on regularly. The theatre layout is perfect for live shows since the floor is sloped and the stage is fairly high. The place was also selling cans of Granville Island Lager for $4.25 out of tubs full of ice. The whole thing felt very punk rock and more like a show should be. Richards was a dance club that ran shows on the side and didn’t have the same sort of feeling.

It was packed for Japandroids, who have recently been catapaulted into the spotlight with the release of their new album, Post Nothing. It’s a great album so it’s no surprise that they’ve begun to get a lot of buzz. Their show rocked and it’s really turned me on to their music. For a two piece they’ve got a lot of energy and make heaps of noise.

A few days later I discovered that the Pixies have booked their “Doolittle” tour which will see them play a dozen dates in the US to perform their landmark album, Doolittle, in it’s entirety. They’re also going to work in some b-sides from the Doolittle era and I figured I can’t miss this show since I’ll probably never get the chance to see some of those songs performed live again. They’re playing 2 dates in Seattle at the Paramount Theater and I’ve secured tickets for both shows! The Darren who used to live in Calgary in the 90’s and would pine about seeing more cool bands (since it was rare to get an international act in Calgary) is very excited for these shows!

In other music news I’m going to go secure tickets to An Horse and the Butthole Surfers today. I’ve always wanted to see the BHS even though they’re probably past their prime. An Horse is always a fun band too and Reilly and Miranda will be joining me for that show.

Now I’m off to the gym and then I’m going to go visit with my Mom who should be awake this morning. She’ll probably be morphine’d up since I’m sure her head will hurt after being sliced open yesterday. I’ll be curious to see how she’s doing now that she’s had a good night’s sleep. The doctor said the operation was successful since he was able to remove the entire tumor. This was the best-case scenario he’d outlined before the operation so we’re all excited to see how my Mom does over the coming weeks.

Japandroids, the Rickshaw, and The Pixies are coming to Seattle!

Last Friday I was lamenting the closing of Richards on Richards, one of the coolest music venues in the city. I’ve seen some truly epic shows at Richards, most notably Queens of the Stone Age with Dave Grohl on drums, the Hives opening for the (International) Noise Conspiracy, Mudhoney, Boss Hog, the last ever Smalls show in Vancouver, and Fantomas…

oh, gotta run, sister’s arrived!

Waiting at YVR

I’m sitting in the arrivals lounge in the international terminal at YVR (the Vancouver airport). My sister’s plane was delayed until 6:20 and I expect she’ll be through customs by about 7 or 7:30. This gives me a chance to catch up on some blogging that’s been pushed off for the past week. 

My Mom had her pre-operation consultation this afternoon where she met the anesthesiologist and the other members of the team that would be assisting in the procedure tomorrow. She’s going to get a good nights sleep tonight and then arrive at the hospital bright and early at 5:45am. I’m thinking of going over to go in with her and my Aunt Barb, who graciously has come in from Mission to help out with everything. I’ll have to see how my sister feels though. She’s going to be dealing with a 12-hour time change and I expect she’ll be wiped out tomorrow morning. But we’ll see. 

This week has mostly been spent hanging out with my Mom. We’ve been living like movie stars since we’ve been eating out nearly every night. Bridges on Granville Island was particularly good so we went back again last night. 

Clint, my old friend from high school, came in from Calgary for a weekend of buffoonery two weeks ago. We spent plenty of time at the Alibi Room, a fantastic little hipster bar across the street from my place, and sampled many of the quality beers they had on tap. Saturday we helped Ben and Michael move in to their new place in the West End after they made the jump from Victoria so Ben can attend grad school. It’s going to be tonnes of fun with them in town and I’ve promised that I would show them the “infamous Black Frog” in Gastown. Seems they’ve been curious about all the goofy adventures that bar has been home to.

Sunday we chilled out and took a drive up the sea to sky highway so Clint could get some footage on his new hi def camera. He’s posted a short video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NcG2Q7Pl6g. Some cool footage, esp. since it was the peak of our heat wave. That evening we hit the Eatery (partly because of the girls who were rocking out in a van on Georgia Street that afternoon) for tasty sushi and Clint suggested I try saki since I’ve never had it before. Saki, especially warmed up, is delicious! It’s not the taste so much as the feeling of slipping into a hot tub as you drink it. Mellowed by the saki, we made our way to Third Beach to chill out and watch the sunset. I love having beaches like the ones we have in Vancouver! It’s a perfect way to wind down the weekend and prepare for the week ahead.

They don’t really use ice cream scoops for brain surgery do they?

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t taken the time to jot down the goings on. I’ll mention the music news in a separate entry. For now I’ll detail the adventures my Mom’s been having in town.

A few months back my Mom had an MRI done at Vancouver General Hospital where they discovered a slow-growing tumor on her brain. Turns out this was a big part of the cause for the epilepsy she’s had ever since she was young and now the doctors realize they can remove part of the tumor to help cure the epilepsy. There’s no guarantee of the effectiveness of the surgery but there’s no doubt that it will help.

Last week my Mom flew into town to have some tests done so they could determine how safe it would be to perform the operation. That was on Friday. Today she met with the surgeon and found out that they could schedule her surgery this Friday! Naturally she jumped on the chance and will be heading in to VGH at 6am Friday morning.

My sister’s even going to come into town, likely Thursday evening, for a bit of a family reunion. So the next few days are going to be busy with family in town and visiting my Mom when she’s in hospital. They’re going to keep her there for a few days after surgery to make sure her recovery goes smoothly and then they’ll discharge her.

Now I need some sleep!