October 15, 2017

Travelling to Portland by Rail

 Getting from Vancouver to Portland by train is surprisingly easy provided you are willing to get started VERY early in the morning. The train leaves town at 6:30am and since it is an international trip, you are encouraged to arrive at least an hour early for ticketing and customs while some websites suggest an earlier arrival to ensure a good seat. Since we did not expect to be the only people going down for the eclipse, we were at the station by 5:15am and even that left us fairly late in the line. Protip: if you leave early for this trip, make sure you remember the delicious lunch you packed or it becomes the delicious dinner you return to.
 Once we were seated and the train was underway it was a very soothing chance to sit back and enjoy the scenery as it goes by. The trip is about 8.5 hours all in, but since you can get up for coffee and to stretch your legs anytime (except briefly at the border) you never end up cramped or uncomfortable. We had heard that the best view is from the right side (going south) and would certainly agree that its worth trying to get a seat on the seaward side for the journey.
 The train station in Portland is right downtown and we were easily able to start exploring the city as soon as we got off. In comparison, the airport is further out to the east and would have required a little more time tinkering with transit and collecting baggage before starting the adventure. All in all this is a very enjoyable and highly recommended means of getting from BC to Oregon.

October 1, 2017

Wandering Washington Park

 Somewhat confusingly, Washington park is neither in the city of state of Washington, but rather on the west side of the city of Portland in Oregon. Regardless of the unexpected given the location, it is a large and beautiful bit of land close the the heart of a sizeable city, much like our own Stanley Park. Near the train station, is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which does a great job of commemorating the people who served while also being a pleasant place AND including some lighthearted moments of Oregon history during those years to remind us all that real life continues during times of war.
 Next up, the International Test Rose Garden is apparently the oldest rose test garden in the USA, boasting over 7,000 plants from more than 500 variations. However you count them, the flowers in the garden were stunning and a delight to walk through, covering a large space to help diffuse the large number of people visiting at any given day.
 Also close to the main entrance was this neat old locomotive which I was unable to pass up the chance to have my picture taken in the cab of. Despite being decommissioned years ago and severely burned in an accident not that long ago, it has been very nicely restored and creates a great photo op.

September 24, 2017

An Introduction to Falconry

Earlier this summer, Kathryn found a voucher for a 2-for-1 raptor encounter, and we recently made the trip out to Maple Ridge to make good of our plan. For about 2 hours, we were able to spend time with a pair of Harris's Hawks, which are a neat bird native to Arizona and parts of South America. They are particularly good introductory falcons as they have a more gregarious social structure than most raptors, making them easier for beginners.
 The lesson began with an introduction on handling the bird via a traditional large leather glove. Their feed have a thong on the legs which stop them from running too much (Harris's Hawks have surprisingly long legs and are sometimes ground hunters in the wild) and help keep them tethered to your glove. Once we were comfortable with each other, we took a short walk through the forest to get used to the weight of the bird and for them to adjust to our voices.
 Then we had pieces of food placed on the top of the glove which the hawks collected in a series of short flights from nearby perches. It was very enjoyable to see them fly and to watch them land and eat on your hand (though you are certainly grateful for the thick glove). All in all a very fun (albeit short) experience which may have fully whet Kathryn's appetite to take a more extensive falconry course in the future.

September 5, 2017

Whirlwind House Guest en route to Oz

 My dad was passing through town on his way to Australia and stayed with us for a little over 24 hours. Luckily I had booked the day off once Kathryn suggested we have a bit more time together, so I was able to capitalize on the entire time for a visit.
 I wanted to have a hike somewhere that would be new for him, so we trekked up to North Vancouver and hiked a series of trails from the reservoir at Capilano Lake downstream through the canyon and ultimately to the salmon hatchery shown below. There were lots of Coho running and they looked to be in very good shape, so it was nice to see healthy fish returning to where they began to start the next generations. The grounds are quite informative as well and you can see into the huge tanks where they rear thousands of fry to the size where they are more likely to survive in the wild.
 We were also fortunate to have a nice close look at this little squirrel munching on some food quite fearlessly at the side of the trail. I would have taken a picture and assumed it was a red squirrel without a second thought, but dad mentioned that it might be a Douglas squirrel which is a more rare species on the west coast, and with a little internet searching low and behold it was. So a new mammal species for me to round out our walk and brief visit! :)

August 25, 2017

FINAL final

 In preparation of the last test I would write at BCIT, I took a wander around the campus and wished a fond farewell to many places that have been at the center of my day-to-day for a very long time indeed. I was delighted to find that the theatre in SW5 was opened into the same single room that I had mentioned in my valedictorian speech and I had to grab a quick victory selfie in the same spot where the whole process began so long (yet not very long) ago.
 I spent a lot of time chatting with and learning from my various instructors over the years, so it was very pleasing to go up to their floor and find every door closed and everyone away. With a new term starting in a few days, they'll need all the rest they can before starting another year over and it felt very proper that there was nobody left to tell me anything else before finishing my last test. To all the fine faculty and instructors on campus, thank you so very much for your time and attention while I frantically turned my career around :)
 I kept this pencil on my desk for my last few finals as well. It's writing days are done, but I felt it was very important to remind myself what this whole process had REALLY been about now that I was hours away from completing my degree.
Now I just have to wait for the final marks to be posted before getting ready for another 2 years in my designation.

August 18, 2017

BCIT: Home Stretch

 It's been a couple of years since I shared any photographs of the BCIT Campus, despite having been there either 2 evenings or 5 days a week for the last four years. Now that I'm in the home stretch of final exams in my last term, I thought I'd share a few pictures of some of the places I've spent so very much time. Starting off with the entry plaza of the main admin building. I've had a number of classes and study nooks in this building and it has a more interesting architecture than most so it worth a look.
 The library was my haven for many hours just before exams. With 2 sets of silent study rooms, there's always been a good place to hunker down and refresh your brain of the course fundamentals. And when that part of your brain is full, the magazine racks were fantastic for getting informed and entertained on a wide range of topics.
 When the weather would permit, this was my favorite spot of all. Tucked away behind the gym and off the radar of 99% of people, this little covered study area was a great way to absorb some concepts AND relax outside. Guichon creek runs right behind it and in the spring and summer it was the perfect place to watch baby ducks, herons, or (at least this term) a muskrat in its comings and goings.

August 12, 2017

Overseas Visitor

 My cousin Simone and I have always gotten along and go way back. Unfortunately, being grownups in different continents, its hard to find time to visit as often as we'd like. In the early days of working in film I would have a lot of banked holiday time and go to Europe every year or two, but trying to fit all your family visits into 2 weeks a year gets a little trickier.
 Luckily, she was in town visiting our mutual friend Riley and we were able to find an evening that lined up in everyone's schedule to have a meal, a few drinks, and a chat. My how we've all grown :P
 Kathryn and I haven't been over to England since we got engaged, but we're hoping to make a visit next spring. With any luck we can have a bit more time to check in and chat in the near future.