Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stunning Whistler Valley and Her Gorgeous Scenery

Whistler Valley, British Columbia. I have been many places, and few are as stunningly beautiful. For days I rode my bicycle around the valley, went on hikes (some quite strenuous,) swam across mountain lakes, sat for hours by falls and babbling brooks, and tracked down bears til I finally ran into a two year old cub by Fitzsimmons Creek- I was very excited.  
Lost Lake- not as big as it looks, I swam across
When I am in nature, the silence permeates my soul and mind, so I'm just going to pipe down, and let you look through the photos and videos here.
view from the condo I stayed in

Woodpeckers going at it- surprisingly large birds
surrounding mountains + glaciers

Whistler, Canada highlights. Enjoy. 

a boulder splits the falls

arduous hike to Rainbow Lake finally yields results- about 5 miles uphill

exploring Rainbow Lake late in the evening, sole person there

Harmony Lake- elevation 6,000 feet

lush and green and beautiful

natural bridge over the creek- deep in the woods

color in the forest

High in the mountains on the way to Rainbow Lake

I sat by this stream for hours on multiple occasions

Black bear

 if you go to Whistler, you're going for the nature. Enjoy.


Friday, September 4, 2015

A Taste and Feel of Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, public transport amazing. Within the city, car unneeded. I ride my bicycle everywhere, taking in the great summer weather.
guitar circle on "cold wet sand"
There's an undeniably pleasant, hippy feel around town, from the marijuana dispensaries, the yoga studios on every corner of the Kitsilano area, to the guitar circles on the "beach"- a term I use generously, really more appropro would be: "cold wet sand."


Near downtown is Stanley Park- 1,000 acres of land devoted to recreation for Vancouverites, you can bike around the lush green area in about an hour, but do stop and partake in some activity, whether it be photographing geese, doing pull-ups on rec equipment, tossing a frisbee, or toppling a totem pole. 
Lord Stanley welcomes to you his park, trees + totem poles
Canada's entire population is 10 percent smaller than the state of California, but spread out over an area substantially larger than the entire United States, which is, how to say, ample room.
Given that non-summer temperatures approach zero Kelvin, Canadians are highly incentivized to take advantage of the precious little time it is, in fact, legal to go outside.
They walk their dogs, bike, swim, paddle board, hike, and run, all government mandated training regimens designed to keep their citizens fit and fast so they can run from wolves (and sometimes bears) during the winter.  
alternate Canadian flag
Seriously though, if your goal was to come to Vancouver and watch obese people waddle around town, you've got "slim-pickings" ... mainly because the wolves got 'em first.
This level of fitness is directly correlated to the nearly 40% lower healthcare bill Canada spends per person versus their bloated cousins south of the border, and indirectly explains why the wolf remains such a cherished national symbol.

Downtown as viewed from Stanley Park
Canada Place

Canada Place, a popular tourist attraction lies at the edge of downtown and the bay. The architecture is stupendous, and it's the heart of Canadian patriotism, as signs proudly exalt the country's contributions to the world-"Hockey."
Gastown, Vancouver
Gastown old timey-clock




Vancouver's compass- merely look towards the mountains across the bay and head in their direction.
When you reach base of the mountains you've arrived in North Vancouver, where endless hiking trails and mountain streams are surrounded by arrays of blackberry bushes, delicious summer fruit on their branches making it impossible to starve. 
Vancouver's compass- the mountains of North Vancouver

On the whole, Vancouver is a stunning city, well worth the visit during the summer. Get a bike and ride it far and wide, go on some hikes, have a beer at a local bar. You'd be hard pressed not to enjoy this beautiful and diverse town. Just make sure to venture indoors the moment you hear howling. 
the sun sets over Vancouver Bay

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Biking Adventures and Criminals in Vancouver, Canaduh

I quickly discover that you really don’t need a car to get around Vancouver. I walk to the bicycle store; price of a rental- $45 a day.
“Plus a credit card on file in case it gets stolen,” the salesman quips.
“I can rent a car for that much,” I retort, “Don’t you have anything cheaper?”
“We have an old clunker the boss took to get some coffee ... speak of the devil,” a cool looking hipster pulls in on an old red mountain bike.
“What do you think that bike is worth?”
“Not much,” replies the salesman, waving it off.
I assess the situation, then introduce myself to the boss.
“I’m going to be here for a few days, and I simply cannot afford to rent a bike from you guys every day, and I think you might want to get rid of the old bike you were just riding. Can we work a deal?”
The boss seems surprised, but not unwilling.
“How much were you thinking?”
“Well, your salesman said it wasn’t worth much, it looks a little worn. How about $50?”
The boss considers, examines the bike. “The gears all work, Reddy here is in decent shape,” he coaxes.
“Yeah, but your guy said it wasn’t worth much, however I will need a lock as well, and I’ll pay you cash.”
“Yeah, you definitely need a lock here in Vancouver,” he states nodding. “Allright, you got yourself a deal.”
We shake hands, I’m pleasantly surprised it came so cheap.
Downtown Vancouver- the flag of Canaduh
“That was some good negotiating,” remarks the employee manning the register. … A little luck mixed in honestly. I'd have paid more.

They have some steel and chrome locks, but paying as much for the lock as the bike itself, a bicycle I’ll have to give up in a week or so, doesn’t sit right with me. Mr. Negotiator gets the cheapest combination lock chain they have ($18).
Freed from walking, I seemingly fly around the city, down to the beach, over the bridges, through downtown, up the hills. I feel a sense of freedom as the wind blows my hair back, and although it’s nowhere near the best bike in the world, Reddy's 7 gears do me just fine.
One evening I’m headed home, and at the stop light before the bridge, I overhear a girl speaking with her sister about “letting people in.” Her sister bikes away, and our light turns green.
“You’re an AirBnb host?” I ask, half stating it, even though the word never came up.
“I am,” she replies, slightly surprised.
Vancouver Harbor
Hard to reach Rainbow Lake in Whistler

We speed off on our bikes, side by side, chatting, getting to know each each other, as we glide over the ocean beneath us. By the time we cross, we’ve agreed to have a beer.
We lock up our bikes, which seems at the top of the Ten Commandments for Vancouverites, and enjoy each other’s company for the next hour, before bidding each other adieu.
After 5 days in Vancouver, I take Reddy up to Whistler with me, riding her all around the stunning valley, exploring as much as possible over four days, easily eclipsing 100 miles on my trusty steed.
But my trip comes to a close. I hitch my bike on the Epic Rides trailer back to Vancouver.
I'm set to fly out several hours later. What to do with Reddy? If I just leave her out, she’ll undoubtedly be ganked by some criminal.
“Alexis, I have an idea for you. When I came to Vancouver, I wanted to rent a bike but they’re ridiculously expensive. I’m sure some of your guests would wish to rent one, why don’t I give you mine, and you rent it out to your guests for $20 a day. You’re doing them a service, and making extra money. We’ll split the earnings up to $500, after that the bike is yours.”
“Great idea!” she messages me back, “Lock it up under the staircase by my apartment and I'll be back later tonight.”

Hot damn! Not only did I get to use a bike for 9 days for $50 plus the lock, I’m going to end up making money on this deal, helping this girl out, and giving her guests a superior deal. Win-win-win, this is turning out absolutely brilliantly.
Bike to her place, lock Reddy up, and head to the airport, a smile on my face the whole way home.
I get off the plane, turn my phone on.
“Rich, I’m so embarrassed by my city, when I came home the bike was there. I came out two hours later, the chain was clipped and the bike was gone.”
Sorry Reddy! Shoulda invested in a better lock.