Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hot Springs

With nothing to do on a Friday night, Mike, Jon and I decided to go and try to find the natural hotsprings which were located near the northern end of Harrison Lake. I had done some preliminary research on the BC 4x4 forums and hotsprings websites and figured it would probably take 3 hours to get there. We threw some gear in my 4runner and left Coquitlam at 9pm.

It took a little longer to get to the 21 Mile Bay campground than I anticipated, probably due to my headlights being inadequate and the fact that every little bump or pothole is magnified at night. We ended up at the 21 Mile Bay (I camped here in the summer) turn off somewhere around 11:30, but decided to push on and try to make it to the hotsprings. I really need to get some off road driving lights, or at least focus the headlights so that they show more than 50 meters in front of me.

We got to the 4x4 part of the road which reduced the speed of our progress a lot as there were a few creeks to drive through and the road required low 4 to get through much of it. That part eventually ended and we soon came across what appeared to be the turn off for the hotsprings. The road started going up and then 100m in there was a large freshly dug cross ditch. After getting out and looking it over, it was no problem to drive through. Then 100m later, there was another cross ditch, this one worse than the first, yet still no problem to go through. Around a bend and continually climbing we encountered another cross ditch, this one worse than the last, and with a stream flowing through it. Still no problem to go through. My confidence in the 4runner is increasing with each ditch, yet my confidence in us on the right road is decreasing. The road starts to narrow and there begins to be bushes growing in the center. Guys this can't be the right road. We look at the map, and everything looks as it should be where we turn off. But the road is too rough - there is supposed to be a forestry campground at the end, and I think it should be more accessible than this. So we decide to turn around and drive to what will be an obvious point on the map (an intersection of logging roads) to determine if we are where we think we are. Turning around proves interesting, as on one side of the road the mountain goes up, and on the other side, the mountain goes down - and quite steeply at that. But no worries, with Mike and Jon outside I made a 25 or so point turn and turned around.

Back on the main road we figure the intersection should be about 10 minutes away. 45 minutes later we're still driving, contemplating on just setting up the tent somewhere on the side of the road. As we're discussing this, the road widens and we drive through a logging camp at 2:30am. Now we know where we are. We turned off way too soon. Shortly after the logging camp the road widens into a virtual highway and we're travelling at 60km/h. We make it to the intersection, realize we passed the turn off, but fortunately saw it on the way, turned around, drove back 5 minutes and then started up the road to the hotsprings. Set up camp at 3am and went for a short soak before going to sleep.

The next morning after breakfast we soaked for a few hours. Surrounded by a rocky fern covered cliff on one side, a rushing river on the other, in the middle of nowhere soaking in a hot pool of probably 35°C in the middle of rainy November, what could be more relaxing? We had the pools to ourselves, as there were only two other vehicles at the campground.

Around noon we figured we should be going so that we could make it back by 5 to Coquitlam. We decided to drive north through Pemberton and Whistler and take the Sea-to-Sky highway since the road was supposed to be better (= less concentration required which is good after a short not so great sleep) although take a half hour longer. The road was a highway compared to what we drove in on. We stopped for a short look at Skookumchuck hotsprings (St. Agnes Well), decided that where we had soaked was much better and continued on. Coming into Whistler around 4 it started to snow and we were hungry since we had no lunch so we stopped at the Old Spaghetti Factory for lupper. The snow was covering the road by this time and it was dark and my headlights are horrible, so it made for slow progress out of Whistler. Eventually the snow stopped and the road was clear so we made it back to Coquitlam by 7pm. Overall an excellent trip.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Surfing in Oregon

After a two year hiatus and a trip to the middle of nowhere, I went back to Oregon for the May long weekend for another surfing extravaganza. This year's trip was going to be a record breaking 7 people, but they soon dropped like flies for reasons such as opportunities to surf in Hawai'i or being too sick to keep food down. So it ended up being just four of us.

No problems and a minimal wait at the border looked like a good start as we started the sunny drive down. We left early to get to Oregon to get a campsite since they were first come first serve. I figured it should be okay since it was Friday, and it wasn't the American long weekend. A brief stop at McD's for breakfast and some frisbee in the parking lot and we continued on. Things were not looking good at Oswald West State Park as all the campsites were full already at 1:30pm. Fortunately I noticed my friend Luke who I hadn't seen in a couple years, and they had a few campsites, one of which they graciously offered us to share with two of his friends who were coming later.

Setting up camp was a little bit of a challenge as the tent we had rivalved the Unitent in size and there was not a flat spot large enough to set it up. So we eventually managed to fit the sextagonal tent on a small square tent pad. As the tent was not pulled taut on all sides, its water repellentness left something to be desired. With camp set up by 3:30, although it felt like 6 or 7, we headed into Cannon Beach and Seaside for a late lunch and to pick up groceries. Forgetting that in the states you have to specify how well you want your burger, Jordan and I enjoyed our medium cooked burgers when the ground beef is a little pink inside still - e.coli anyone?

It absolutely poured rain during the night and the sky looked like more was coming, which was disappointing, but we went out surfing anyways. The forecast said 8 foot swells increasing to 11 feet the next day, so we were pretty stoked about that - until we got to the beach. So they were storm swells. Messy, irregular, coming in from all directions, closing out - I think the only thing we were missing was onshore gusts. Not the greatest day for Steph to learn to surf, but this didn't faze her. She was out there trying to catch waves more hardcore than the rest of us. The three of us on long boards all had some good rides on the white water, despite the conditions - it is totally what you make of it, and we had fun.

After a few hours we decided to go warm up back at camp. Its interesting how its warmer without clothes on than in a wetsuit when you're out of the water. Jordan and Brett worked at getting a fire going in the rain and with wet materials, while I made grilled cheese for lunch. Brett decided to literally grill his second sandwich on the BBQ which provided some entertainment for Jordan and I, especially when the butter flared up and he had a fire grilled sandwich. The rain let up so we took a few walks on the beach - it was good times.

Evening consisted of playing games, sitting around the campfire and listening to Brett announce when he felt a couple of raindrops ("It's raining.") and make ridiculous statements. If only I could remember the top three - the best was made after several trip to the washroom, "My bladder is the size of this bottle...or my arm."

The rain came down even harder and longer the second night, which really showed that we needed another tarp over Brett's side of the tent. Morning found him with the BBQ on drying his jeans - he got a few odd looks from other campers as they walked by our site. The surf today looked the same as yesterday, and the weather even worse, so after some deliberation we decided to pack it up and head home a day early.

Photos to follow at a later date.

Friday, April 06, 2007

All For You

His time with them had stopped,
It's time for Him to carry out His father's will,
Is that He drink this cup
He's told them all along that He would go,
They could not follow Him
But He'll be back for them my friend

And now He sweats these drops of blood
And He prays take this cup from me
But He knows there's no other way
His father's will is that He take your sin, your shame,
Your place upon that cross of pain and die for you

There's no way to repay
All the pain He went through for you
His reason: simply His love
It's time to see the truth
And understand there's nothing you can do
His reason was simply you

It was all for, it was all for you
He bled and He died for you

We live by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ
Who died to set us free
From chains our flesh can give
You know that even if you were the only one He died for
That means only your sins drove the nails

No time to hesitate my friend
No time to second guess His love
There's nothing else that you can do
He already gave it all for you
All for you, all for you, all for you
Simply you

All For You - Jonah33

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Too many places to go

I've been trying to figure out where and when to take my vacation(s) this year. The problem is that there are so many places that I want to go, yet I only get two weeks off work. Which when I think about it, really frustrates me. I value my time off so much that I always try to make the most of it, when sometimes what I really need is to just do nothing and take it easy. Not going away this Easter (first time in 5 years) is looking like a good idea and might force me to just relax. That was a tangent, now back to the original intent of this post - where should I go? Right now I'm trying to decide to take a week and go surf in Costa Rica next month, or wait until July and take a week off to drive down to California. Then there's the other option of just postponing the vacation until after August when I'll have another week to take off and combine them into two weeks, thereby allowing me to travel more, yet spend less time on the plane. To complicate matters, or maybe perhaps simplify things, I just found out I'm going to Oslo for a week in June for work. That will be kind of a vacation, getting out of the office and living in another country for a week. We'll see what I decide...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A new way to fly

With flying on commercial airliners becoming somewhat mundane, I was excited to learn that there was the possibility of me flying over to Victoria on one of the Harbour Air seaplanes. The opportunity was looking kind of uncertain due to the fog each morning which was delaying and cancelling flights. On Thursday afternoon I talked with my boss, and he said to check the flights for first thing Friday and let him know if Harbour Air was likely to fly in the morning. I called Harbour Air, and their flights were all booked until 2pm, and as a result I was forced to take the other option, Heli-Jet. Now this trip seemed even more exciting since I had never been on a helicopter before. The flight took off at 7:30pm Thursday night from downtown Vancouver. The take off was definitely the best part of the trip. The pilot started the engines and the rotor began spinning, the whine steadily increased, and then we slowly lifted up off the ground. We progressed vertically for a short while as I watched the water and landing pad grow smaller below. The helicopter banked forward and we were off across the harbour, past Stanley park, over the Lion's Gate Bridge, then took a turn towards the south as we followed the coast past UBC, Richmond and Tsawassen before heading across the Georgia Strait towards Victoria. It was neat flying at such a low altitude that you could see the cars below, the dark and bright patterns on the road due to the spacing of the street lights, and the gas stations were the most interesting structures because of the red or blue square with white light spilling out around the edges. Thirty-five (35) minutes later we arrived at Victoria harbour, and the landing was not nearly as cool as the take off since we took a more gradual descent.

I took a cab from the landing pad to the Victoria inner harbour where I met my boss on the boat. After a relaxing meeting, I barbecued a couple steaks for us for second dinner before heading to my cabin to sleep. The morning brought a nice sunrise over the harbour as we ate a filling breakfast of eggs, english bangers and toast my boss had prepared. I did some pre-trip checks, namely checking the oil and coolant levels of the two diesel engines, and calculating whether we had enough fuel to make it back to Vancouver. We didn't have enough fuel so we stopped on the way out of the harbour to fill up. The cost of filling up two 1500L tanks is a large deterrent of me ever owning a yacht. The drive back to Coal harbour was uneventful as we did some tests of our camera navigation system and took some video footage through Active Pass. The entire trip, including fueling up before and after the voyage, and a reduction in speed to enjoy some lobster bisque for lunch, took approximately 5.5 hours.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Big Island

The Big Island was quite unlike anywhere that I have ever been. You could go from a barren wasteland to tropical rainforest in only a few minutes of driving. Here's a few of the many different landscapes we saw.

Contrasts of water, black lava, green grass and white palm trees.

Resting Turtles.

Cactus in the North Kohala.

An extinct cone near Waimea.

The lush Pololu Valley.

Cliffs and a black sand beach.

The Pu'u O'o lava flow as it enters the ocean.

The Pu'u O'o lava flow from 2003 where it crossed the Chain of Craters Road.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, near the Kilauea Iki Crater.

Akaka Falls.

Sunset from Kona.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Amazing Race

Dec. 23, 2006
Thanks to Air Canada changing our flight to 1h45m later, we only had 1hr to make our connecting flight in Honolulu. The fact that we left the gate late, then had to taxi to the furthest runway from the terminal, and then took off towards the east didn't help either. Add the strong turbulence that prevented the stewards from serving beverages for at least the first hour of the flight and we had a situation that was doubtful if we would make our connecting flight to Kona. Six hours and 45 minutes later we arrived at the gate in Honolulu - with under 30 minutes until our next flight departed. As soon as the plane stopped moving, Kevin and I grabbed our carryon bags and rushed as far forward in the plane as we could. We had to wait a few minutes before they opened the door and the business/first class had exited before we could exit and begin the dash to the other terminal. We had to find the way to the other terminal 1km away and were running in hiking boots, long pants and coats in the 28°C Hawai'i evening. We made it to the check in with just under 10 minutes to spare. We checked in and then had to go through security. Fortunately this terminal was small and the security line up was short. Kevin passed his bags and shoes through the X-Ray machine and walked through the metal detector. The security guy checked his boarding pass, then radioed someone stating something about a "secondary male." Kevin was then directed to go back to the other side of the metal detector and sit in the chair. I walked through for my turn and then same thing happened. We had to wait a minute or two which seemed a lot longer before Kevin was allowed through, he picked up his bags and went to the boarding gate as they were paging us for a last boarding call on the plane. Meanwhile, I was waved through the metal detector, but then had to wait while another security person swabbed my shoes and bag. Finally we were out on the tarmac running towards our plane. They had just started to put the stairs away from the plane, but they saw us coming so they put it back and we made it on the plane. We were all sweaty, but we made it. We arrived in Kona on the Big Island a half hour later at 10:15pm where our parents picked us up and took us to the condo.