Friday, 17 September 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"ame" 雨 which means rain.  Even the pictograph kanji looks sort of like water falling from clouds.  That's the interesting thing about kanji...  they seem to bear more resemblance to what they're representing the simpler the kanji.  Although, on second thought, maybe that's not overly surprising...  Anyway haha...

What I meant to talk about was my recent trip up to Lund on the Sunshine Coast.  It's not particularly far but you are at the mercy of the ferries, which means early starts and, if you want to make sure you get home, earlier returns.  But we actually stayed the night in Lund so that made it much more relaxing.

As you can see, quite a lot of twisties which makes the drive rather fun.  The roads on the last leg up to Lund get a bit more broken but for the most part, it's nice and smooth which is always comforting.

After arriving, we had a bit of time to relax and around 6pm, we (me, my parents, and 7 others) all boarded a boat that one of them chartered.  It's basically a privately owned charter company and the owner/operator will plan out a tour based on what you want to see.  You can do multi-day trips, you can do a short half-day or full-day trip to anywhere to see or do anything.  If you want to go fishing, he'll take you to some great fishing spots.  If you want to see waterfalls, he can take you there as well.  For us, we went on a tour around Desolation Sound which included a dinner prepared by his wife (they run the business together).

One of the surprises of the boat trip were the prawn traps that our guide laid out the day before.  The haul wasn't particularly large (though more than enough for the 10 of us) but the more adventurous of us ate a few fresh from the traps.  I must say, they're particularly delicious like that haha.....  very tender with just a tiny bit of the sea salt flavour.

Of course, no trip through a provincial park would be complete without a lot of wildlife being spotted.  Highlights include seals and dolphins (the latter which I wasn't fast enough to grab a shot of) and bald eagles.

And this rock which resembles a seal...

With all that done, we headed back to the quaint shore-side hotel which had one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in.  Although that could also be due to the long day that we had...  who knows heh....  oh, also, if you manage to be in Lund on a clear day, the sunset is amazing I'm told since the pier faces west and looks out towards Vancouver Island.  Unfortunately for us, we were hampered by clouds...

The next day we headed back with a stop at the Ruby Lake resort.  And, despite the occasional downpour, what started as a brief rest turned into an all afternoon photography session by everybody because of the sheer amount of flowers and interesting bird-related items hidden around the acreage.  In fact, the resort's a bird sanctuary so going on a clearer day would probably net you quite a few bird sightings if that's your thing.  Here are a few of the flower pics I took.

Capping it all off was lunch at the Italian restaurant at the resort where the chef served us an absolutely delicious meal of pasta with a seafood platter of mussels, scallops, prawns, and clams in a tomato sauce.  As always, there's something to be said for simple, hearty, skillfully prepared meals.

And that was it- a pleasant two day trip right in our own backyard.  It's actually easy enough to get to that I'm considering going again.  It's even possible to head out to the restaurant for lunch and easy make the ferries back for home...  and it's worth it too!

Anyway, now that September's hit, it's back to the normal life which includes yet another season of Pacific Spirit Karate.  We've got some changes coming along and one of them includes a blog which will be online in a few weeks.  So check back for that!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"fuukei" 風景 which means "scenery" or "landscape" which, of course, is a major focal point of the 1-week road trip I took to Yellowstone with my parents.

The 8-day trip took us from Vancouver through to Coeur d'Alene, West Yellowstone, inside Yellowstone, Livingston, Hungry Horse, Pincher Creek, Grand Forks, and then back home for a grand total of 3500km.  The driving, overall, wasn't too bad.  Past Seattle the traffic really thins out and you spend a lot of the four-lane highway by yourself with a fair bit of space around you.  There are some really fun windy roads on the way back through the Rockies but overall, just a nice, calm, quiet cruise through the north western US.

Nice, calm, and quiet thanks in no small part to the car.  Here it is at the north entrance of Yellowstone.

Travelling was Days 1 and 2.  For Days 3 and 4 we were actually inside the parking and that's where the real landscape viewing begins.  The park is almost unfathomably large and different areas actually look different.  As in, you could be driving through a forest and come out onto a huge plains area...  it really is that big.  And that pretty too...

One of the first stops if you enter from the west entrance are these basins of hot water, this one being the "Sapphire Pool".  There are actually quite a few basins in the area and they all look somewhat similar with different colours for each.

A bit further down, of course, is Old Faithful.  We actually skipped a few sights just to be sure we could see Old Faithful blow and then went back to see the ones we missed.  If I'm honest, all that "hurry up and wait" hyped it up to the point that when the water did flow, I was a bit cynical about it all.  That's not to say Old Faithful isn't great to watch because it is.  It's just that we skipped over some equally nice stops to see it.  And we were lucky we had time to go back but some people might not...

Sights like these thermal pools.  Looks of bacteria that thrive on the high temperatures live here and they give the pools and runoffs these colours.  Again, very pretty and entirely possible that, because of how close they are to Old Faithful, some people would skip it.  If you go, make sure to stop by these basins because they're worth your while.

And no trip to Yellowstone is complete without buffalo.  These are easy to spot- just watch for the crowds of people pulled over on the side of the road.  This one was a particularly huge traffic jam and so we jumped out and caught a herd swimming across the stream.  And for what people say about them being scary up close, they actually are.  I'm not sure if it's the cold, beady eyes or the fear of them charging, but as soon as they climbed up the banks, people started running haha...

There's also the Mammoth Terraces where years of calcium carbonate deposits have left the landscape mostly devoid of colour.  Even these dead trees stand in stark contrast to the paleness around them.

On leaving Yellowstone, we drove north towards Alberta and crossed Glacier National Park along the way.  Compared to Yellowstone it's not nearly as large or spectacular, but certain places (like the pine forest) are amazing at the right time.  And for all that Yellowstone is large and rather obvious about its sights, Glacier is a bit more subtle and takes a moment to be appreciate.  Such as this view of a lake just after a rainstorm.

And Glacier's not short on wildlife either...

Near Cranbrook is an old heritage town called Fort Steele.  If you like that kind of stuff, it's worth stopping by.  All the people are dress up and there are horse carriage rides and performances throughout the day.

We also stopped in Osoyoos on the way back, although this picture is still from Fort Steele.

Anyways, the trip was a nice way to cap of the one year I spent at UBC.  I'm all finished now so the next challenge is to find some work and put these new skills to use.

And Pacific Spirit Wado Kai, which starts again on Sept 14th.  We've got loads planned including new classes, new events, and a new Pacific Spirit blog.  Stay tuned for that!