Category Archives: Travel

Off to Los Angeles!

Headed off to Los Angeles today to visit family for a week.

I had a car reserved with Budget, and a loop north up the coast and then inland through the hills planned for the afternoon. Unfortunately, there was a huge lineup at Budget and it took over an hour to get into a car.

I was pleased with the vehicle though — while the reservation was for a midsize Chevy, they gave me a bright red metallic Mazda 6.
Mazda 6
Photo from Mazda Canada website

The Mazda was solid, peppy, and sure-footed, so roads like this one in the hills north of LA were exhilarating to drive.  The 184-horse four-banger teamed with a 6-speed auto with available manual mode was fun.

California hills

Unfortunately, halfway through the loop, my phone and its GPS ran out of juice, and for some reason it wouldn’t charge either through the car’s cigarette lighter or USB port. I even stopped and bought a new cable, and that didn’t work either.

Eventually I was, um, unsure of where exactly I was. OK, lost. There, I said it, I was lost.

The Budget folks had asked if I wanted a paper map, and I’d said sure, but there was nothing in the rental-agreement package or glove box. Sigh. I finally stopped and bought a map, and figured my way “home,” a couple hours later than planned, so I missed my nephew’s key basketball game.

I know better than to rely solely on GPS in the bush, and now I know better than to rely solely on GPS in the big city!

Trusty Subaru Keeps Chugging Along

Was fooling around with Blue Book/Black Book values for our trusty ’98 Subaru Outback with 270,000+ km on it. No answer — either too old or mileage too high for the online databases.

But based on the closest results I could get, it looks like we’d be lucky to get C$1,000-1,500 for it in trade-in value. That’s less than the annual insurance fee!

So seeing as it’s near “worthless” now, and it’ll continue to be worthless going forward, I think our ongoing strategy of keeping it well-maintained and running for as long as possible is a no-brainer.

At the rate that we put on mileage, we’ve got a good year, or even 18 months before the next major service, which will likely run $1,500+. That’s when a decision will have to be made.

Speaking Twice at SEP 2015 Stewardship Workshop in May

I’ve been asked to take part in two presentations at the SEP 2015 British Columbia stewardship community workshop in May.

One will be on event and documentary photography, with an emphasis on using photos for effective communication and engagement, be it in paper publications or online. The other is a panel on engaging youth in stewardship activities. Should be fun!

SEP 2015 will take place in Port Alberni, BC, May 15-17, 2015.

More information about the workshop will be posted to this website as details firm up.

Searching Squamish, BC, for Salmon and Eagles

This is a great time of year to see salmon and eagles up the Sea-to-Sky highway heading north from Vancouver to Squamish.

Didn’t see that many of the magnificent raptors today, but enough for some decent photos.

eagle_paradise_valley_road_squamish_20141122Eagle soaring above the Paradise Valley road north of Squamish, BC

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Lunching on what appears to be a chum salmon on the Squamish River

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Cruising along the Squamish River

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A mass of  biomass. Lots of carcasses near the Tenderfoot hatchery off the Paradise Valley road north of Squamish. It looks gross, but salmon bring nutrients back from the ocean that enrich our coastal forests and other wildlife.

Adams River Sockeye Dominant Run 2014

The return of sockeye salmon to the Adams River in the Shuswap in British Columbia peaks every four years. This was my third or fourth visit for a peak run, combined with a 3-day SEHAB (Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board) meeting.

Here are a few photos taken while volunteering on the river as an interpreter for the thousands of tourists who flock to this amazing event. The run was not yet at its peak, and I hope I can find the time to make it up there one more time this year.

Check out Salute to the Sockeye for more information.

adams river sockeye run 2014

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October 2014 Road Trip – Day 1

Today I drove from Burnaby to Kamloops, taking the 3 across to Princeton, and then the 5A up to Kamloops. This takes several hours longer than just blasting up the 5, but I prefer the slower, more intimate roads for photography.

The following shots were all taken along the 5A.

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5AThis was the second flipped semi I saw today. Yikes! Slow down!

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5A
I
t was windy and there were whitecaps on Nicola Lake

BC Highway 5A

BC Highway 5A

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?