Category Archives: Travel

Installed Winter Tires on the Car

I got the winter tires installed on our faithful ’98 Subaru Outback today. Will be doing a trip into the BC interior later this month, and while there’s no snow yet, the higher passes could get some any day now.

I’ve always been a believer in winter tires from the days I first began driving in Saskatchewan a long time ago. And as the experts recommend, I put them on all four wheels. (And that’s not because of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive. You should do this for front-drive or rear-drive vehicles, too.)

The “all-season” tires that I use most of the year are rated “M+S” and therefore are accepted as snow tires in BC, but I figure using the real thing adds a margin of safety.

What I changed in my routine several years back was getting winter wheels (yes, those drab steel items). They pay off in just a few years, because if you keep your winter tires mounted on rims, dealers and garages will often swap summer for winter, and vice versa, for free as part of regular maintenance, since they need to take the wheels off to check brakes, etc., anyway.

Or if you just get the tires swapped, if they’re already mounted on rims, it’ll run around $40 rather than over $100.

And if you have a partner with aesthetic sensibilities that are offended when the mag wheels are replaced by black-painted metal, you will find that they will be eager to ante up for fancy wheel covers : -).

But what about the cost of those extra winter tires?

The way I see it, if you keep your vehicle for many years, like we do, there is no extra cost. You’d be buying new summer or all-season tires more often if you weren’t using winter ones, eh?

Whidbey Island Camping

Whidbey Island in Washington State has become one of our favorite camping destinations. There are several state parks on the island, which, depending on time at the border, takes about two-and-half to three hours to reach from our home in Burnaby, BC.

Deception Pass State Park west beach
Yumi scanning the ocean at Deception Pass State Park west beach

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Seal pup on rocky outcropping near the west beach at Deception Pass State Park

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Sunset at Deception Pass State Park west beach

deception_pass_lock_20140914 Interesting patterns on parks pass lockbox

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Love the grainy detail on the handle on a beach BBQ box

coupeville_wharf_20140915
The wharf at Coupeville, a funky town mid-island

Deception Pass campground
Our campsite at Deception Pass State Park.

We’ve grown to love Whidbey Island ever since we “discovered it” several years ago. Lots of nature, wonderful state parks, lovely beaches, a variety of wildlife, yet all accompanied by easy access to groceries, shopping, etc.

And the state parks are quiet. We marvel at how even on busy weekends campers are near totally silent by 9:30 and definitely by the 10:00 pm quiet time.

Lovely Day on Duffy Lake Road Loop in BC

Gorgeous day today on the Duffy Lake Road loop. Burnaby > Whistler > Pemberton > Lillooet > Lytton > Hope > Burnaby.

I try to do this loop at least once every couple of years. You can do it fairly comfortably in a day, with several stops here and there along the way.

mountain_view_1_duffy_lake_road_20140912

mountain_view_2_duffy_lake_road_20140912

Duffy Lake
Duffy Lake

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Seton Lake

cayoosh_creek_bugs_2_20140912 Cool beetle near Cayoosh Creek

Spruce Sawyer, I’m told. That looks right.

cayoosh_creek_bugs_20140912Lots of big aquatic bugs in Cayoosh Creek

Google Map of Duffy Lake road loop

Google Maps has the trip at 580km and about 8 driving hours

TV Japan Reminds Me of Lovely, Hot/Cold Traditional Japanese Houses

Caught a few minutes of an NHK Japan TV drama that my wife was watching tonight. Sigh.

I really love the look of traditional Japanese houses. I can imagine the scent of the tatami and old wood. The gentle rumbling of the screen doors moving. The gorgeous little rock-moss-and-water gardens. . .

I’d love to live in one, in Japan, for the three or four months of the year that they are comfortable to live in — at least in central Honshu — with my metabolism.

My 14 years in Japan I mostly lived in concrete “mansions”, aside from 6 months in an old, traditional “student house” and about a year in an old wooden apartment building, with teeny rooms, a shared toilet, and bathing facilities a block up the street at the local sento, or public bath.

And I’ll tell you that when I earned enough to move into an apartment of about 300 square feet in a brand-spanking-new concrete “mansion” with my own bath and an air conditioner, I thought I was king of the hill .

From memory of Japanese seasonal patterns, I’d say a traditional Japanese house without modern cooling/heating appurtenances would be comfy, at least for me, for around April-May, and October-November, in the  greater Tokyo area .

Cleaning the Closet, Taking Photos for the Memories

I’ve got amazing junk hanging around. Today I am tossing several Ts and sweats into the rag basket, but I’m shooting them for the memories.

carleton_1984-85First up, my sweatshirt from the Carleton University Bachelor of Journalism program from 1984-85.

Goodtimers_T_frontA Goodtimers T-shirt dating to the late 1980s in Tokyo, Japan. The Goodtimers were an English-speaking jogging club. I met my wife, Yumi, through this group.

Goodtimers_T_logoCloseup of the logo.

Goodtimers_T_backAnd the back.

Goodtimers_sweatshirt_backGoodtimers sweatshirt

Goodtimers_Noble_T_backA special event Goodtimers T, date June 26, 1994. We were aiming for a cumulative 750km in one day around the Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo.

honolulu_marathon_1987_front1987 Honolulu Marathon T. My one and only full marathon. As I recall, I finished in around 4:50, with a muscle tear in my thigh. Shoulda stopped, but. . . didn’t see myself doing more marathons so I really wanted to get this one done. Was limping for weeks.

honolulu_marathon_1987_back

portland_1990A five-miler done in Portland in 1990.

yevshan_frontYevshan Ukrainian Dancers T circa late 1970s? I wasn’t a dancer, but I played bass guitar in their Sweden tour orchestra.

yevshan_back

cymk_1970sCanadian Ukrainian Youth Association, circa 1970s. I was president of the Saskatoon chapter, and the Saskatchewan Provincial Council way back when…

tc_1970sNo, I never attended Columbia, but my Mom did from around 1969-71. My sister and I attended elementary classes at a “free school” associated with Teacher’s College. We ended up mostly home-schooling with textbooks sent from Canada.

I really need to get rid of stuff like this. Stuff that’s been sitting untouched for decades, but I’m a sentimental softy. So now it’s preserved, somewhat, digitally, and yet my wife can be happy that I’m tossing it : -).

Birds’ Breakfast Buffet at Birch Bay State Park

Here’s a set of photos I took this morning at Birch Bay State Park in WA. It was a veritable breakfast buffet on the beach for various birds. Herons were chowing down on several kinds of fish, and what appeared to be lamprey. Gulls were rooting out clams, carrying them up and then dropping them to break them open. An eagle sat overlooking the breakfast scene while being harassed by a crow. Stimulating morning on the beach!

Flickr Album here.

heron in flight at birch bay

Cute Deer at Fort Ebey State Park, WA

There are lots of deer in state parks on Whidbey Island that are fairly accustomed to people. The ones we’ve seen have been wary, and not overly tame, but confident enough to get good photos.

I think we’ve seen the following one twice in about as many weeks at Fort Ebey State Park. Same area, same size, same behavior.

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Out in the open above, and nearly concealed between the tree at bottom right below.

deer fort ebey, wa