January 28, 2014

A Sunday Walk-About

After a bleak morning the weather improved significantly around noon, and managed to chase us off our sofas. We went where the old rocks live, the granite kind, which nature can't destroy that easily. A good place for waterfalls...
A pleasant 45 minutes drive on the Black Forest Panorama Road got us to the Geroldsau Waterfall.
While high on the rim road the scenery was covered in snow, the valley of the Grobbach (literally: Rough Creek) was clear of the white stuff.
A small weathered road sign led us into a muddy parking lot with a handful of cars in it. A promise of solitude. It was an easy, albeit slippery hike along the creek. Trees and stones were moss covered, and reminded us of the Pacific We(s)t Coast.
We listened to the mesmerizing noise of the stream while we followed the path uphill. There was Rhododendron on both sides, and we wondered what this area would look like when the plants would be in full bloom.
Half way into our round trip we arrived at the falls. There were not that spectacular. Well, we have seen higher and mightier. However, this place was all about geology. The so called Forbach granite in this area is a crystalline basement. With an estimated 300 million years it is very old rock stuff. And before giving a lecture on the Carboniferous...
Sometimes a rock is just a rock… with a pretty waterfall going through...

January 26, 2014

2008 - Alberta jumps the Shark. (Part 4 of the 'Magers in Canada' Miniseries)

Well, there was Old Man Winter again, but he got defeated in April this year, earlier than usual. After having worked so many hours in 2007 we opted for more vacation days in 2008.

In April we flew to Germany to welcome our nephew Jonah into this world. On our sojourn we became quite irritated by the fast going traffic, and even more so by the bad mood of the natives. Despite high standard of living, we Germans tend to complain. A lot. And on the highest level (such as: my garage is too small, my third car doesn't fit in…) And so we were indeed happy to return home to Alberta.

In summer Sonja and her two best girl friends went on an epic road trip covering the touristic must-do's in Alberta and BC. There was downtown Calgary and the Stampede to begin with. The prairies and the  badlands, the foothills and the mountains. The ladies came to Canada to get the ultimate scenic overload. (Photos courtesy Ulli & Big)

While Roland was still content with this job, Sonja decided that it was time to move on, which should ultimately turn out a bad idea. However, the break between then and her new employment would give us the opportunity to fulfill our dream to travel the Maritimes in late summer. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland. It was an awesome journey, although the weather didn't always work in our favour.

Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg in Nova Scotia
Confederation Bridge and red Earth on Prince Edward Island
A covered bridge near Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick 
East coast Scenery, Newfoundland
Cape Spear, western Newfoundland

Without warning recession had arrived in Alberta in October, and hit the workforce with a vengeance. Most colleagues at Sonja's new employer got laid off in a flash, and her days were counted, too. The Alberta advantage blew out overnight, and friends started leaving the province in quest for new jobs. This had put quite a damper on an otherwise splendid year. But nothing was lost yet. We kept it with the saying: If life throws you lemons, make lemonade. And that 'lemonade' should become an aspect of lifestyle. Please stay tuned for more to come in 2009.

January 25, 2014

Scooter Mania?

Well, maybe not mania (not yet anyway), but undeniably a certain attraction. Roland and I went down to Freiburg today, for him to test-ride a Piaggio X10 scooter. It was a bit nippy and had snowed the day before but he rode anyway. The ergonomics fit him well (as pre-checked on Cycle-Ergo), and the bike came with some gadgets for geeks. But in the end the test-ride disappointed him. The single cylinder was rough, and the scooter felt rather unstable on uneven road surfaces. Roland also had a look at a Kymco Myroad 700 but didn't like the feel.
Hence, after a coffee and tea break in a nearby cafe we visited another local dealer who had the Beemer scooter on display. But as likable as the C600 might be, it is just a tad bit out of our price range. The limited edition (#9 of 99) cost about 14K EUR (19K USD). I could get three Vespa GTS300 for it, or a small car. The scoot looks nice, though.

For what it's worth, it seems that Roland still prefers the Suzuki Burgman (400 or 650) over the scooters we've seen today. Although, a recent test ride with a certain Honda Silverwing (400 or 600) had turned out to be an interesting option for him as well, which is odd...

Because when Roland got into riding back in 2009, I had procured this beautiful Swing for him. (I was mistaken on the thought that a big guy would need a big bike). What I hadn't taken into account was his lack of experience in the two-wheeled category. The bike had scared him that much that he had hung up his helmet for another two years before he fell in love with Bella, his Vespa GTS250. Now, with two years of riding experience under his belt he can picture himself on that very scary Silverwing… We'll see what he will end up with. We haven't got planned any big motorcycle tours in 2014, so it might well be that scootering on the Vespas will suffice.

On our way back home we took the opportunity to capture some of the Black Forest winter wonderland.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the sofa with a special London Fog (Earl Grey Tea Soy Latte) and a conventional Latte Macchiato digging through scooter and motorcycle journals.


Roller Wahnsinn!
Heute waren wir beim Piaggio Händler in Freiburg, damit Roland mal eine X10 Probe fahren konnte. Die Sitzposition für den Einmeterneunzigmann war ok, und so war er trotz des kalten Wetters für die Testfahrt bereit. Doch bereits nach zehn Minuten war er wieder da… Er fand den Einzylinder unruhig und auch die Spurstabilität war unbefriedigend. Roland schaute sich noch den Kymco Myroad an, aber der war gar nichts für ihn. Bei einem anderen Händler checkte er den BMW Roller. Ein schönes Teil, aber bei den Preisen (das Sondermodell kostet mal eben 14000 Euro), nichts für uns. Dafür kann man sich ja drei Vespas oder einen Kleinwagen kaufen…
So wird Roland wohl doch bei der Suzuki Burgman bleiben oder vielleicht wird es auch die kürzlich getestete Honda Silverwing. Letzteres kommt ein wenig überraschend, denn als er diesen Großroller zu Beginn seiner Zweiradkarriere in 2009 von mir geschenkt bekam, hatte ihn "das Monster" überfordert und er hängte bis 2011 den Helm an den Nagel… bis er sich in Bella, die 250er Vespa GTS verliebte… Wir haben für 2014 keine größeren Touren geplant, also reichen uns vielleicht auch die kleinen Roller für dieses Jahr. Mal sehen, was geht...

January 23, 2014

2007 - Work hard. Play harder! (Part 3 of the 'Magers in Canada' Miniseries)

Here is the next therapeutic installment from a couple of homesick Canadian Germans. (And there's almost no snow in this posting!). 2007 was a busy year...
Downtown Calgary
We worked a lot, but we also got to reap the benefits of our efforts. Winter had been dreadfully long. It kept on snowing well into May and we didn't get out as much as we liked to.
Hiking in the Kananaskis

We lived the everyday life but it did never feel everyday. However, for once we didn't move or change employers. We were part of a solid circle of new friends, and felt homey and comfortable in our new condo. Yes, we were indeed proud of what we had accomplished in the past two years, and that we had also found our place, professionally, in the yet unbroken economic boom.

To reset our stress levels we rewarded ourselves with an epic road trip (4,500km) through the northwest of US of A in June, touching ground in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
 Visiting the Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
 On our way to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
 Traveling along the west coast of Oregon and Washington
 And through Washington and Idaho hinterland.

In September, we had our mothers stop by for a visit before they continued their (bus) travel down to Vancouver and went up on an Alaska cruise.
 An undeniable resemblance.

We revisited Waterton National Park, which had meanwhile become Sonja's favorite. We had been there in winter, spring and summer already. This time we visited in autumn. The four seasons collection of this locale was herewith completed.

In November we were craving for light and warmth, and jumped on a plane to San Francisco. And then, on a whim we found that Christmas shopping in New York was in order, too.
November in San Francisco
December in New York
Unfortunately, we also witnessed some setbacks in our circle. Our british friend's winter adventure in the wild had cost him dearly, but at least he lived to tell. And we were sad to learn of another friend's terminal illness. In 2007 'The RockiesMan' had succumbed to cancer.