K2inCanada's Blog

April 22, 2017

Visitors from the Old Country

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 3:21 PM

For the 2nd half of March we had 3 visitors from Germany stay with us. My niece Anneke, her boyfriend Max and my nephew Steffen. I warned them that March may not be the best time to visit but they insisted they don’t mind rain. Unfortunately for them, it was one of the wettest 2 weeks in March I ever remember. I think we even set a rain record one day. This whole spring was pretty wet and unseasonably cold. The below was posted on Apr 16. They only saw sun twice and it rain all but 1 day I believe! It turned out they DO MIND rain :-).

SoggySpring (Medium)

Nevertheless they endlessly explored the city while Jeff and I were at work. They shopped more in those 2.5 weeks than I do in a year :-). We played a lot of games in the evening. Early on we took them to a Vancouver Giant Hockey game. I got 4 free tickets from my work colleague and gym buddy Charlie.

And one evening in their last week we tried to kill them with pasta. Portions at Anton’s are huge and even though the boys boosted they could finish it, they lost.

28_Antons_0327 (Medium)

Weekends, Jeff and I took them with us on some of what we like to do. First weekend we went cross-country skiing in Manning Park. Snow was definitely the better choice compared to rain and I think they enjoyed the skiing. Although downhill might have been more what they would have chosen. The boys dragged me up the bunny hill at Manning. Although I think they regretted it more than I trying to get up and down – see video :-). It snow quite a bit that day but there also was a hint of sun.

The following Sunday was a sunny day but it was very cold. Jeff and I went for a paddle but it was too cold to take the gang. We sent them on a hike up to the Deep Cove Lookout instead. Afterwards we headed up to the Cypress Lookout for the best views over the city.

The 2nd weekend, we dragged them snowshoeing up at Cypress – part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail to St Marks. It was another nice day actually with a mix of sun and clouds in the morning. The view from the Bowen Lookout was quite spectacular and we had some friendly locals, a couple Whiskey Jacks and a Blue Jay, entertain us for a while. After the lookout it was a bit too much uphill for those guys and they were really quiet. Much more lively on the way down – see video. On the drive down we also got to see the first bear of the season. Those guys were lucky :-).

Since it was a somewhat sunny day we took them down to the beach afterwards. Lots of bunnies around that day but still pretty darn cold.

The 2nd day that weekend was horribly wet. Hence only Jeff and I went for a paddle while the gang was hanging out in the cafes in Deep Cove, just missing out on meeting Tom Selleck (Magnum).

P1210788 (Medium)

The highlight though must have been the go-karting on their 2nd last evening. It was a lot of fun and even I wanted to go for longer – almost caught Steffen!!! Jeff was the undisputed champion.

Overall I think/hope they enjoyed their stay. Steffen seemed to have coped okay with the too short air mattress. I sincerely hope though that they come visit in the summer next time!

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April 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Mama!

Filed under: Germany — K2 in Canada @ 8:25 PM

….und ich habe keine gute Entschuldigung warum ich heute morgen nicht angerufen habe. Das Wetter war einfach zu gut und wir sind frueh aufs Wasser zum paddeln. Und ich habs einfach vergessen bis wir schon unterwegs waren. Dafuer habe ich den ganzen Rest des  Tages an dich gedacht! Alles Liebe und ich hoffe du hattest einen ebenso schoenen Tag wie wir hier. Zu deinem Geburtstag schicke ihr dir ein paar elektronische Blumen die ich heute frisch aufgenommen habe:

IMG_0741 (Medium)

October 12, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 4: Sea to Sky

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 3:15 PM

Day 8 (Jun 26) we did a day trip to Whistler. Jeff had gotten this bad cold while on the island but hero as he was he still drove us around. We stopped in at Shannon Falls on the way up. The weather wasn’t the greatest – mostly cloudy and threatening to rain. But with all that rain, the falls were pretty full! I had almost forgotten how impressive they can be. Last time I stopped in here was 16 years ago when I first moved to Vancouver.

The weather didn’t improve as we got closer to Whistler. Nevertheless, we could see the top of Blackcomb – JUST – and decided to take the Peak-to-Peak gondola. This was after all my parent last chance before they had to go back home. Jeff decided to stay below and have a nap in the car instead. So up the three of us went in the Village Gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain trying to spot a bear on the ride up. But we only saw some deer on the now bare ski runs. Once at the top it was COLD, snow on the ground everywhere and a light rain had set in. But we quickly walked over to take the Peak-to-Peak Gondola. An engineering marvel, it holds the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers—3.03 kilometres (1.88 miles) and highest point above the ground – 436 metres. It was build in 2007/2008 and cost $51M!!! So the ticket is not cheap… but affordable, especially when you get a seasons pass. But back to the trip. We waited for one of the few glass-bottom gondolas which gives you a completely new perspective of tree tops… I was originally hoping for bear sightings of course. By the time we started the ride across the clouds had completely rolled in and there was pretty much no views – except looking below. But seeing the cables disappear into nothingness and gondolas appear out of nowhere was pretty cool too….

We arrived at Blackcomb in clouds. And I should have taken my pour parents into the café at the top but instead I (in capital I) wanted to get to the highest point and see the glacier. That meant a short bus ride and another gondola ride up to Horstman Glacier. Except that this last gondola was an OPEN chair list. We weren’t really dressed for it but they gave us some plastic ponchos. So off we went for 20min through the fog and wind. Half way up the lift all sudden STOPPEN. No idea why. There we are, freezing and trying to joke about the situation; skiers skiing down the snowy slope below us… But eventually we made it and had a look at the glacier. It was miserable up there and I was surprised to see that many people ski. By now I did feel bad about dragging my parents up here … but I think they still enjoyed it because it was sooo different. Nevertheless, we had to take the same open chair lift down again (20min of more wind and cold and mist), ride the bus back to the Peak to Peak Gondola (at least they had the heat going full blast), ride the Peak to Peak back across to Whistler Mtn (another 20min) and from there another 35min down into Whistler Village.  Some adventure…

I can’t remember if we stopped for lunch or not on the drive home – I hope we did :-). We stopped at Porteau Cove – and I sure was dry by then. The weather had much improved closer we got to the coast and my parents got to see some nice vistas of Howe Sound.

October 11, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 3: Trees

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Germany, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:29 PM

Day 5 (Jun 23) started cloudy and rain was in the forecast. What better thing to do than going for a drive through the temperate rain forest. We stopped in at Port Renfrew to watch the sport fishing boats come in and unload the early morning catch. Quite a few nice size salmon were cleaned on the dock – harbour seals were hanging out around the dock waiting for scraps.

We continued on along the Pacific Marine Hwy towards Lake Cowichan. With a small detour to look at the “Avatar Grove” – an area of old growth trees just recently opened up to public access that features the gnarliest tree. Work on a boardwalk has started but for now it is a steep muddy trail – just how I like it but no good for my parents. So Jeff and I went up the hill by ourselves while dad took pictures of the trees in the lower sections. Mama was supposed to just wait along the road. When we got back to the car there was no sign of her. We split up to look for her – I walked down and Jeff and Papa drove up. They finally found her way up the road – she had thought we’d be gone for at least an hour and not only 20min. On the drive back on the Hwy we saw a deer and her fawn almost getting hit by a big truck speeding up the road. He didn’t even slow down… “What’s another dead deer, eh?” Idiot!!


The drive along the Pacific Marine Hwy was really nice. We stopped in to look at some small canyon as well as the tallest Sitka Spruce, Harris Creek Spruce, on Vancouver Island (73.5m in height and 12.5m around – apparently it takes 15 people to form a human chain around it). Impressive! But tough to take a representative picture off it, it is soo big. We stopped for a late lunch at the Cow Café in Cowichan sharing some Nachos. And then drove back to Sooke via Cowichan Valley Hwy and Hwy#1. A long day of driving but nice scenery for sure.


To get some fresh air Jeff and I took the kayaks for another spin. The ocean was once again flat calm, We went south this time playing in some more rocks. We found this incredible deep cave which was just wide enough for my boat and tall enough for me. Any wave and I would have been crushed into the cave roof….it never occurred to me that there could have been some serious boat wash coming in unexpectedly until I was already quite deep into the cave…. Nothing happened – the sea stayed flat.

Day 6 was just a long day of traveling back home to Vancouver… while I had to work on Day 7. My parents went to Granville Island that day.

October 9, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 2: Beaches

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 10:51 PM

I am taking my readers back in time quite a bit – June 22. Day 4 of my parents visit – we are on Vancouver Island just north of Sooke (see first post here). It started out real West Coast like – foggy. My parents slept in so I discovered the first beach on my own walking up and down the street we “lived” on: Flea Beach – a tiny little beach perfect for launching kayaks…but first I did a bit more walking up to Sheringham Point lighthouse. The fog was so thick I could hardly see the water straight below me. I could hear people talking out at sea but never saw even a glimpse of any boat. Jeff had been to the lighthouse just before me (he was jogging) and told me after that there were tons of small boats about 20m off shore fishing for salmon..

After breakfast all 4 of us walked the other direction to find out that it was only a 5min walk down to French Beach from our door!! Almost beachfront after all. By now the fog had mostly lifted exposing endless blue skies and sun!! The walk along the beach was very relaxing and the views just stunning. Bits of fog drifting in and out added to the “ambiente”.

While my parents took a bit of a rest over lunch Jeff and I launched our sea kayaks from Flea Beach. I haven’t been in a sea kayak for a long time and had almost forgotten what it is like to kayak and not worry about falling in. The ocean was sooo calm and we had plenty of fun navigating through narrow channels and rock gardens. We saw a river otter on our way back. I hadn’t realized how much I miss this – good thing we had a kayak trip planned for later this year (Brooks). Before we started flat water kayaking we used to do 3 or 4 trips a year… seems a lifetime ago.

After the paddle we picked up my parents and drove to Sombrio Beach. Well, you can’t quite drive all the way but the trail is easy and not too long. The beach was busy with weekend campers. But that didn’t change the fact that it is a great beach. The hike goes through nice old growth forest in sections and we were enjoying playing with the giant trees as well.

Wrapping up this great day watching another sunset back at the cabin. Even more impressive though was the big moon rising out of the ocean. And the ritual dice game before going to bed…

August 13, 2013

Visitors from Overseas – Part 1: City Tours

Filed under: Canada, Germany, Home — K2 in Canada @ 11:10 PM

I can’t believe it’s almost 2 month since my parents came visiting us in the 2nd half of June (Jun 19-27). Can’t keep up with all the blogging. Now my niece is already here and I should blog about her trip but…

My parents came all the way from Toronto by train after touring around in the East for a week. The train ride was long but the last bit from Jasper to Vancouver apparently was well worth it. I saw the pictures and must say I would agree :-). This was not their first time visiting Vancouver and they already knew most of the popular sites. So we took them over to Ambleside while the weather was still decent the first day.

The second day was wet and we decided to try out Science World to stay dry. I had never been and even though it is quite interesting it would be more fun with young kids. We also walked from Science World to Gastown and I managed to show them the ugliest site of the city.

On day 3 we left for Vancouver Island. I had rented a cabin north of Sooke near French Beach. It was another wet day and we spent a few hours in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. I love that place, the way the displays are done to teach you the natural and human history of the province. A must do when visiting Victoria in my mind – especially on a rainy day :-). And hey, by the time we finished the sun actually came out. Even more unexpectedly, my parents met their tour guide from their trip in the East right out front. So they had someone to chat with in German while Jeff and I got the car. Parking was a bit of a nightmare in Victoria – when you have kayaks on the roof that is. We drove around for quite some time and all we found were parkades that were too low for us. After dropping my parents at the museum and driving in wider and wider circles from downtown we finally found street side parking in a residential area. The sign said it was only good for 2hrs but who would check way out here. Well, the Victoria parking police did and we had a nice ticket on our windshield when we got back 5hrs later :-). Jeff is trying to fight it by complaining about too few parking for over-height vehicles. Where do all those RV’s park?! Well, you can tell that Jeff and I are much better at finding a remote spot somewhere in the backcountry than finding parking in the city, even a city as small as Victoria…

The drive out to Sooke was slow – rush hour traffic 🙂 – and we arrived a bit late to pick up the key for the cabin. Took another 15min or so to drive to the cabin. First I was a bit disappointed as the advertisement for the cabin said thing like “remote and ocean view” – we could see the neighbours to the left much better than the ocean through the trees. But the inside of the cabin was pretty nice. My parents got the “Love” nest on the ground floor while Jeff and I slept above the living room under the roof. There wasn’t really any easy access to the water from the property but you could get a good view when scrambling through the bushes and down some rocks – not so good for the older and wiser of us mind you 🙂
For dinner the cashier at the grocery store this great restaurant – Stickleback Eatery – which was right on the water overlooking a small bay in Sooke Harbour. For entertainment we got to watch the local Waterpolo team set up their field and play. To top that off the food was just awesome!!! That alone is worth a trip back to Sooke. Back at the cabin I tried to catch a bit of a sunset but it wasn’t that spectacular. Nevermind we were on the West Coast of the Island, we were actually facing more south than west :-). Well, they don’t say for nothing that if you lose sight of land along the West Coast you should always head North and not East!!

April 3, 2013

Rest in Peace

Filed under: Germany — K2 in Canada @ 10:17 PM

Today my Oma passed away. She just turned 96 in February. I saw her last in May of 2012 on a short trip back home to Germany and she was doing great that day. I am glad that is how I get to remember her. She always was a very strong woman. She lived through the 2nd World War and raised 4 children. My dad was born during the war. She lived to see 8 grand children grow to middle age and I lost count of how many great-grand children to become teenagers. It always seemed that family was the most important part of her life. As I grew up we got together every Wednesday afternoon for coffee and cake. Christmas lunches were a huge event each year. She made the most wonderful turkey and gravy! Although what I remember most of all were those wonderful cakes she made. Nothing like the stuff you can buy around here. Now I wish I would have asked her for those recipes … I wish could have told her a lot of things … Rest in peace – you sure made a difference in all our lives!

Oma

Talking about family, I am very excited that my parents are visiting us again this year. They will be doing a trip around southern Ontario to see Niagara Falls and then take the train to Vancouver. And my niece is thinking about coming to Vancouver for a few month after she finishes school this year. Jeff is looking forward to all the German cooking he may get to enjoy…

June 26, 2012

No jetlag whatsoever… May 4-9 trip to Germany

Filed under: Animals, Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:37 PM

Originally my parents were supposed to visit us this year but my mom had to go to the hospital to get her back straighten out, so no long airplane rides for her for a while. So I decided last minute to make a trip over there to see that she is doing as well as my dad said on the phone. And I only told my dad I would be coming…

My former university professor who got me through my PhD – Prof. Dr Guenther Maier

I left in the afternoon of May 4th to arrive midday on May 5th in Frankfurt after switching planes in Amsterdam. Flight was uneventful, but I did not sleep at all. Watched tons of movies. Once in Frankfurt I hopped on a train to go to Limburg – trains in Germany are a great way to travel. In Limburg my good old friend Dirk picked me up as I had arrange to stay with him, K3 (Katja), his wife,  and son Livius for the first night in a small town about an hour northwest of Frankfurt. Why stay there the first night? Well, I had two motives to travel to Germany on this particular weekend (and missing out on the very first fishing weekend of the season in BC). My old university professor was having a party – he just recently turned 80 years old and still looks like way back when :-). So Dirk, who also did his PhD with Prof. Maier, and I hopped back into the car and drove for another hour or so to Lich – about an 1hr northeast of Frankfurt. There were almost 100 of his old students at the party. Many of them I knew from my time at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. Usually I would have to travel across all of Germany to see them – so I never do see them. Therefore this was a rare opportunity to catch up with so many friends – except I had a hard time speaking German. I could understand everything and small talk was fine but as soon as I had to explain what I do in Vancouver I struggled with the right words. Mind you by that time I must have been awake for near to 24hrs already. It was a lot of fun though and I didn’t want to leave. But Dirki was complaining that Livius would wake him up at 6AM the next morning. So we left at around midnight.

Dirk, Livius & K3 – my wonderful hosts for the first night.

I was up the next morning at 6AM – so were Livius and Katja but no Dirk. Not for a while. I had till about 1PM until my train would be leaving for Oldenburg, my hometown. And even though it was pouring rain, we decided to go to an animal park close by (once Dirk woke up). We were the only visitors but the animal sure didn’t mind the rain. We got close to the bears, bisons, auer oxen, wolf and moose. But not boar, darn it. We were pretty wet after 2hrs but it was fun.

Another 5+hrs by train to get to home. The weather got better the further north we got and I arrived in Oldenburg around 6PM. My dad picked me up. My mom still didn’t know I was coming.

Family dinner

We arrived at home and I walked into the living room. My mom was speechless for 30 sec – which is a lot for my mom. I had tears in my eyes. But she did look just as healthy as my dad was saying and soon enough we were chatting way. She immediately called all my siblings and told them to come over for dinner. They knew I was coming and were able to come over. My sister Sandra and the older two of her three kids, Anneke and Steffen. Fiete stayed at home with his dad Markus. My brother Cord and his girlfriend Teresa. We all went to the Chinese Buffet and ate way too much. What a great evening!!

Neighbours

I slept like a baby again till the next morning 6AM. I used the couple hours before my parents got up to check up on facebook and email. After a nice long breakfast, we, Mama, Papa and I, went shopping so that I can by my chocolate :-). After lunch I went for a run around the fields – I hardly ever run and I did regret it the day after. But I needed to do some exercise. I finished the 45min run off with a couple push ups in the grass and dips on a bench. While resting on the bench in between sets, this woman and her dog walked by and pied where I just did my push-ups – the dog, not the women. That squashed my enthusiasm to do another set and I went home :-). In the afternoon my Mom and I visited my sister in Husbaeke, about 45min west of Oldenburg while my dad did his coaching – gymnastics. He has been active in gymnastics all his life. Almost made it to the Olympics in his youth and has been coaching young athletes as far back as I can remember. He tried with his kids too – unfortunately neither of us three inherited any of his gymnastics skills. I played handball instead. At my sisters I finally met up with Fiete and Markus. Last time I saw Fiete he was really sick and unresponsive. The time before that he was just born. So this was really the first time – after 7 years – that he actually saw his aunt. He was coming in from the playground and literally left a pile of sand behind wherever he sat down. It was funny to see my sister handle this – she has such a way with her kids it’s phenomenal. I would have yelled, she made fun of it…. My sister and I – quite the opposite from each other :-). While at my sister’s, I tried to help Steffen with his English homework – never found out if we got things right. Most of the sentences just didn’t make sense. Nobody would talk like that. Gotta love School English :-). Mind you, my written English isn’t that great. That evening back home I went for a walk in my parents neighbourhood to watch the sunset. They only live 15min by car away from the city centre but that also marks the edge of town in the north. Farms and agriculture all around. The green grass looked beautiful in the setting sun and as expected there were a few milk cows around. What I didn’t expect where the 10-15 deer or the 4-5 pheasants. Pretty cool.

Fussgaenger Zone – Oldenburg City Centre

On Tuesday Mama, Papa and I went downtown. First to visit with my grandma. She is doing great for her 95 years!! I have some very old genes in my family. Afterwards we strolled through the city which is completely blocked off from cars. It’s a great way to go from store to store and be outside. Coffee shops and restaurants have chairs outside to sit and watch the shopping crowd… And it is easy to travel into the city by bus so you don’t have to worry about parking. Not like the big malls in North America – everything is enclosed, parking is a mess… Although the newest attraction in Oldenburg is just that – a mall with food court. Funny! For lunch we met up with my dad’s siblings and their spouses. They were also quite surprised to see me. Usually even if they know I am in town we hardly manage to meet up. So this was a pretty special treat. Only missed my dad’s oldest brother. And of course we were sitting outside – the weather was sunny and just on the edge of being warm. So back home we spent the afternoon in my parents small backyard. It was my mom’s siblings turn to come by – for afternoon coffee. Unfortunately only one of the two made it over, even though he just had his teeth done the same morning. That’s my family – tough as nails!

Afternoon coffee in the backyard

That evening we went to my brother’s and Teresa’s new place. They just moved in not too long ago. A really nice place. They prepared a lot of great snacks for us and I was eating for the fourth time of the day. Does it sound like I was eating lots? Well, that’s a trip to German for you – love the food though :-). And I loved the company – another fun evening.The next morning we had to get up early since my plane left from Bremen at 10AM. Bremen is only a 45min drive but you never know with rush hour. I felt sad to leave but I was very glad that I had made the trip. It worked out great – maybe I should do it more often. No trouble with jet lag and I got to see more people in those 4 days than in all my trips to Germany combined.

For lots more pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/krade1709/GermanyMay492012

The flight was again uneventful with lots of movies to watch. When I got back to Vancouver in the afternoon of the same day I left Germany I pretty much headed straight to the lake – first war canoe practise of the season. I didn’t want to miss that :-).

March 31, 2012

Ski Jumping

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Germany, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 7:25 PM

No, no, I did not pick up another winter sport but they had the Canadian National Ski Jumping Championships on in Callaghan today. So after my ski – 2.5hrs on skates all the way to Madeley Lake and back along Around the World and Brandywine – I stopped at the bottom of the jumps to watch. I have never seen this live and it was really cool – and scary! The first few jumpers got down to the 70+m mark. Looked pretty good to me but there was more to come. This was the third jump on the tall jump and they had seeded the competitors from shortest to furthest jump. So the good guys were at the end. And I was surprised when I heard that 3 jumpers from Germany were also in the mix – forth to second last jumper. Those guys jumped into the 130+m mark. I thought that was tough to beat but then came the last jumper from Canada. And that guy, Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes – 20 yrs of age, flew down all the way into the flat safety zone -142m. Whoa!!

Before leaving I got a picture with the German jumpers – asking them in broken German but they were willing enough. Martin Schmitt was part of the German team that won the Silver Medal here in Callaghan on the HS140 during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. This picture is for my friend K3 in Germany!! She is a big fan of anything to do with ski racing – on TV that is. Nevermind she would blow me away in running, biking or swim 🙂

Last but not least exciting, we saw a Lynx or Bobcat crossing the road into the Olympic park today. He trotted across as if there were no road – with 3 cars barreling down on him. unfortunately we were car 3 in the line but got a good view of him when he vanished in the trees. Sooo cool – my first Lynx/Bobcat.

Just before we left it started snowing again – thick heavy flakes. They may have snow till June 🙂

November 30, 2011

Ever heard of Duesseldorf?

Filed under: Canada, Germany — K2 in Canada @ 11:09 PM

Vancouver used to be the #1 city to live in when I moved here – or tied with Sydney, Australia, can’t remember for sure. Having been to both cities I could not agree more. This morning I heard on the radio that “we” dropped to fifth place – which is still not bad out of 220 cities. BUT we are tied with Duesseldorf, Germany. I couldn’t believe my ears. I can’t think of anything special about Duesseldorf, except that it is the middle of the most industrial area of Germany (old coal mining town). And even more surprising – Frankfurt comes right after. I have been there multiple times and would never want to live there. It does have a much better infrastructure though than Vancouver. For an outdoors person like me though that counts less than having an ocean and mountains right on my door steps – I don’t think though that aspect was part of the study:-). By the way, the first US city listed was Honolulu in 29th place.

The top 10 cities (overall quality of life):

 1) Vienna, Austria
 2) Zurich, Switzerland
 3) Auckland, New Zealand
 4) Munich, Germany
 5) Duesseldorf, Germany
 5) Vancouver, Canada
 7) Frankfurt, Germany
 8) Geneva, Switzerland
 9) Bern, Switzerland
 10) Copenhagen, Denmark
 
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/315297#ixzz1fGH0wVWE
 
Some other notables of today:
  • I got home BEFORE Jeff which hasn’t happened in months.
  • I managed to even get an erg workout in before dinner.
  • Between dinner and bed Jeff and I spent most of the evening waxing skis or packing clothes for the weekend:-)
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