December 20, 2012

Power Outage after heavy Snowfall

If you are at home a power outage can be quite nice. You lighten up a few candles and cuddle up in a blanket. At work however, one becomes quickly redundant.

This morning my better half had asked me to confirm safe arrival at the office because he was worried about the weather and driving conditions. I sent him a picture to prove that everything went swimmingly.

Then around 2PM we experienced a power outage in the area. It was on and off again, and we had lost our internet connection, too, so the boss gave us the rest of the day off... well not really, of course he expected that we would continue to work from home. So, here i am sitting in my 'home office', which is actually the dining table... working.

Some good news: It seems the Mayan calendar wasn't interpreted correctly. Doomsday has been postponed for another century, and Apocalypse is now scheduled for 2116. All is well.

I wish everybody a very Merry Chrismukkah and a Happy New Year!

Find me on the Road again... in 2013.

December 17, 2012

Last Challenge of the Year

I have taken up the challenge posted by Scooter for Fun, looked under the seat of Bella, the Vespa GTS250, pulled out the items 'living' in the trunk, and snapped a picture before stuffing them back inside.
Balaclava (replaced by a beanie during warmer seasons),
Pair of spare gloves (always!),
Bungee net in a blue pouch (for stuff that doesn't fit in the top case),
Empty fuel bottle (note to self: needs refill),
High-viz vest (never on the road without a high-viz something),
Kidney belt (keeps me warm and supports my back),
Pair of goggles (never used).

No surprises, no weird stuff, all practical and well used items except for that pair of goggles.

December 15, 2012

King Tide

Saturday 8.18 AM, 4C, sleet. My typical route along the shoreline was cut short by the occurrence of a perigean spring tide, or in layman's terms king tide, an extreme high tide event that happen when the sun and moon is in alignment and the gravitation forces reinforce one another. 'Fascinating!' as Mr Spock would have said.
The trail is under water.
The flood is at its peak.
  The boardwalk... not above but in the water.
 The path... drowned.
And the waterfowl doesn't care.
Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures. With rain/snow at dawn it just wasn't the best light conditions for a simple point-and-shoot camera.

December 12, 2012

You know what I didn't do last Summer?

I did not buy that 2006 Triumph 1050 Speed Triple for almost seven grand. It was a very nice bike, and well maintained, too.
I visited her twice, and I almost took her home, but in the end I didn't. At the end I was terrified of the one liter machine, and what it would do to me. Besides, where is a money tree when you need it?

Meanwhile an update on my Cruiser-going-Street-Tracker-Scrambler Project... Changes to date have been low cost, and low tech: Seat, Flyscreen, and Handguards.

December 09, 2012

A Vespa Dealer's Swan Song

Recently we had learned that Urban Wasp, our favourite Vespa dealership would be closing their doors end of December 2012. This establishment was one of a kind when it came to service and parts.
We stopped by today, and briefly talked to the sales guy, and spent some time with the mechanic. Above is his kingdom. 

What had happened? Naturally customers would shop around to buy their new scooter where ever they could get the best deal, and that might not have been exclusively at Urban Wasp, although sooner or later they'd all show up for repair and maintenance due to the quality of their shop. But new vehicle sales is what's counts in the big picture, and here our dealer must have lost against competition. Very sad, but when it comes down to business it is obviously the survival of the fittest.

On the plus side, the mechanic is a bit of a celebrity in his field, and several other motorcycle dealers seem to be interested in his talent. We certainly hope that he decides to stick around, and we can continue to have Bella serviced by his capable hands.

December 03, 2012

In the Mood for Snow

My employer had invited the team for (early) Christmas celebrations at the Summit Lodge in Whistler, and we were happy to oblige. We had booked an extra night and drove up early on Friday to make the weekend getaway really worthwhile. Our trip started in torrential rainfalls, but as we were gaining elevation the rain became snow, and the world turned from depressing grey to shiny white. There is something special about the first snow in the year, which I find quite magical.
The view from our hotel room. I managed to capture some of the rare blue sky. We geared up for a hike, and took in the fresh mountain air. As most people were headed for the mountains we had the meadows all to ourselves.
The sign reads 'Keep off Greens'. Greens? What greens? They are currently covered by a foot deep of fresh white stuff, so we crossed the snow field.
We hiked around Lost Lake which was merely a three or four mile long hike, we got however quite the workout trudging through the deep snow.
This peaceful picture was taken at Green Lake. There are a handful of lakes around Whistler adding to the outdoor opportunities.
A geeky snapshot of the two of us at the lake. There were no other people around, so we had to take the picture the good ole handhold way.
Friday night we had some pretty authentic tasting Mexican food, and the chef was great with veganizing my dish. On top of it we had some awesome drinks. Mango Margarita for me and Sangria for the spouse. This restaurant is highly recommended!

The official company dinner was on Saturday night and took place at the Wildwood Bistro.  They had exactly one vegetarian dish, which I asked to veganize, but it was nothing to write home about. There was no complaints but no excitement either around the table. I would say the food was merely average. Nevertheless we had a good time, and enjoyed a midnight stroll along the Whistler pedestrian zone after.
This is us in front of the Olympic rings.
Snow and fairy lights. 
 The perfect ingredients to get into the season's spirit.
Life is good, eh!

November 25, 2012

The Beauty and the Beast

We looked out of the window this morning, and guess what, it didn't rain for a change. So, after the fog and the frost was gone we pulled out the scooter and the Sportster.
The Harley still carries insurance for another two weeks, while the Vespa is insured all year round anyway.
What an odd couple.
We had 'balmy' 7C (44F). The roads were still wet, so we took it easy, especially with all the muck on the ground.
I feel like the Michelin man in all my gear but the layers, as well as the minimalistic protection through fly screen and hand guards kept me warm enough for the two hours we spent in fresh air.
We ended the ride at one of our favorite coffee shops with a (soy) London Fog for me and a Cafe Latte and chocolate cake for my better half.
Life is good.

November 20, 2012

You will be loved!

Miss Love (I kid you not!) came into Paolo's life not long after I had put up the Vespa for sale.

I knew the looks she was giving him. 
It was love at first sight. 
It was meant to be. 
She didn't hesitate, and took him home. 
With a big happy smile on her face. 
A last embrace, a last round in the parkade for me. 
Then he was gone.
Bon voyage my little scoot. 
I'm sad.

Paolo's new Owner (Pics courtesy of Ms. L.)
The new V(espa)-Team.
 All geared up.
 And ready to conquer the world (or maybe Vancouver for starters).

November 14, 2012

Hard Decisions

Probably everyone basically knows what a packrat or the more extreme case of a hoarder is. But what is the opposite? I am! I am a minimalist, and will very likely throw out whatever comes in my way of Ordnung. So, besides charity and garbage cans, Ebay and Craigslist are my best friends when it comes to getting rid of (to me) surplus items.

Until recently I wasn’t aware that there is actually a clinical term for this disorder, too. It’s called Obsessive Compulsive Spartanism (OCS) or Ataxophobia. It manifests itself in the need to limit one's possessions in order to keep life simple, organized and under control. I get pleasure out of the fact that my worldly possessions fit in a few boxes, and pride myself in being able to react flexible to any kind of change in life.

The above goes to explain the following. Recently it started bugging me that the husband’s red Vespa hadn’t been on the road as much since he upgraded to Whitey, his Suzuki Burgman 400. Naturally for me it raised the question, what to do with two small scooters, if only one is needed, really. I pondered a lot about the pros and cons of whether to keep Paolo, my 2006 Vespa GT200 or stick with Bella, the 2008 Vespa GTS250.

Both two-wheelers have been equally upgraded; both are mechanically sound and well maintained. Bella however has a bit more power, is fuel injected; it sports a front rack, a higher windshield, and a hard box, plus it has two years and 8,000 km less under its belt. Decision was tough but settled in favour of Bella. Now I need to find a new home for Paolo. There, I said it. I will sell the rugged trusty old battle scooter and continue my commute on the beautiful dragon red Italian diva.

November 05, 2012

Riding Wet Coast Style

It didn't stop raining for weeks, at least that's what it feels like. I go for a hike, I get wet, I go for a ride, I get wet. I go shopping... you get the picture.
Daylight Saving Time gives me the benefit of an extra hour, which I gladly spend on taking out Paolo for a spin around the block.
Leaves and water make for a slippery surface. It is just one more road hazard to be aware of come this time of the year.
There is moss everywhere, as a constant reminder of the humid air. The naked branches of the moss covered trees seem to want to grab my little scoot. And more of the nasty green stuff on the ground wants to see me slip and fall.
Despite the dreadful grey of the day there is beauty. Empty roads are one of the many advantages of season's ending. And sometimes the clouds part to give way to a nice view on a mountain or a lake. So, it's not all bad.

I just wonder why people keep staring at me and my Vespa? Is it so unusual to go for a ride in the rain and have fun jumping through some puddles? This is how I clean my bike.
Paolo playing hide-and-seek. Doesn't he seem to fit right in with the colours of the fall foliage?
And while I am continuing my journey through the rain with dark clouds hovering I am dreaming... not of a white Christmas, but of dry roads, and blue skies.

October 28, 2012

Earthquake in Western BC

Today shortly after 8PM my husband noticed a slight movement of the blinds, and suspected the heat of the radiators causing it. Seconds later my iPhone app signaled an earthquake warning, but it does this all the time as it reports major geological events from around the world. However, something made him look at my phone, to which he usually never pays attention, and he discovered this:
Then, we got a news flash from a German broadcasting app, and the first emails coming in to ask if we were ok. It was surreal to find that no Canadian broadcaster seemed to find this worth reporting instantly. We turned on the TV but couldn't find a channel where the current events were reported, so we focused on surfing the net for information.
While US Geological Service reported a magnitude of 7.7, Earthquake Canada stated 7.1. Not sure which one is right, I trust it's the USGS. It's a major quake and it will likely cause a Tsunami.

Google meanwhile issued a tsunami warning for the North Western part of British Columbia. Another warning could be found on the website of the Canadian Weather Office. The region that is going to be affected is a relatively sparsely populated area but yet there are people out there, and I hope that the warnings will reach them and that they will be able to find higher grounds in time.

It doesn't look like the Vancouver area will be affected by any flooding, but maybe we will experience some higher tides.

In the meantime news keep trickling in from all over Canada (and finally at 10:39 - 2 1/2 hours after the main event the Vancouver Sun seemed to have woken up, too!). No injuries or damages have been reported so far, and I hope it will stay that way.

I am going to watch this for a while as I won't be able to sleep anyway:
Emergency Info for BC with warnings and advisories in effect. Here is the tweet.

Tsunami Travel Map - Source

October 27, 2012

Fall Food Challenge!

The dark and wet season has begun. I am still doing my three miles walk along the inlet every day, now back to wearing hi-viz rain gear to be seen, and a headlamp to be able to illuminate the otherwise unlit path. Please note the sign in the background... bears are around this time of the year to feed on the returning salmon.

It is also comfort food season. Time to go through my piles of cook books (those who know my streaks of OCD will rightly assume that I don't keep books in a pile but neatly categorized on a shelf), and pick my favourite soup and cabbage recipes. This year I have to conduct my own special challenge by converting those hearty meals into the vegan variety.

Pam over at Helmet or Heels threw out the Fall Food Challenge right in time for my first experiment: Veganizing Szegeniner Gulasch, a spicy Hungarian meat stew. So how to do it without the main ingredients: meat, meat and meat? As a matter of fact the recipe can be easily transformed by replacing meat with tempeh, and adding soy based sour cream at the end, done. And bonus, it doesn't take hours to cook.
Voilà! Half an hour later the meal is ready to be served.
Bon Appétit!

October 21, 2012

Nothing new under the Sun

Sun? Which sun? I haven't seen this thing since my return from the lands of Trolls and Huldre (not that we met either of those). Meanwhile I have been served a typical week of work, eat, sleep, repeat, while fighting off the jet lag and the spousal unit's man flu.
A dry spell on a coldish Saturday afternoon gives us the opportunity for a little out and about. We only ride for about sixty kilometers, but use back roads to make it last longer.
It is wrap-up season. The outfitters haul in their equipment and shut down the facilities. We are also painfully aware that there will not be much mileage happening on two wheels between now and maybe March/April next year.
Nature repeats itself. While passing by a stream we notice that the salmon is back. I had visited the place before but it was the first time for Roland to see the deadly attempt of reproduction in full force.
The fish were fighting over the best spawning position. Due to the recent rain falls the water levels were higher than usual, and the silver bodies moved swiftly through the current.
Some were resting for the next attempt to reach a higher vantage point.
Here is one propelling himself over the pebbles into the next little pool of deeper waters.
Although salmon season is in full force we haven't seen one bear on our little ride-out, only deer. We must visit again as this show will go on for another ten to fifteen days.