Friday, October 30, 2009

Photos From the Archives (and the scanner)

I was putting away some photos and stumbled upon some other old photos that are personal favourites.

Below is a couch on fire.
I took this photo on Christmas Eve in 2001. My family had decided to swap our couch in the den with a better one that was in the basement. So my dad, my uncle, and I moved the couches around, and then we hauled the old one out in the backyard. The three of us so hated that couch - its cushions had the habit of sliding out from underneath you, leaving you slumped in a trench in the back, and the seat was too wide so that most people's feet couldn't reach the floor - so we decided to dispose of it in fire. My brother and aunt were somewhat fond of the couch, but we wanted to make sure that it could never surface again, so it was burned before they got back home.

It took a bit to get it burning (I think we may have used some oil to accelerate it), but once it caught fire, up she went. It was rather fun to stand round and watch it burn; I suggested at the time that we should make it a Christmas Eve tradition to burn an old piece of furniture, but it never caught on.

Now, what do you think this photo shows?That is the antenna on the hood of the old Corsica that I was driving back in 2001, covered in ice crystals. I came out of the house one morning in February to walk the dog before going to school, and the entire world was covered in little crystals like that.

Finally, I think this is one of the funniest photos that I have taken. Just read the sign, it says it all (a clothing shop on Princes Street in Edinburgh, in June of 2002).
(If you're having trouble, it reads: "Mr. Toskana has had an expensive divorce and now needs the money, so sale now on!")

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gros Morne Mountain Hike, Or the day I really thought I wouldn't make it

Back in August, in the aforementioned trip across Newfoundland, Patrick and I spent some time in Gros Morne National Park.

Now, if you've read about my previous travels, you'll know that I'm not opposed to a long walk. I've walked 10 miles in the pouring rain just to get to a ferry on a bus-less day. According to my Dad, I move faster than most armies when I'm out doing long-distance hikes.

However, I do have some weaknesses in hiking. One is hills. I grew up on PEI, where there may be hills all over the place, but they don't keep going up for that long (all less than 500 feet). So hills do slow me down and tire me out, but I can generally plug away and manage them eventually.

But I have a greater weakness than hills - heat. Heat wipes me out from any activity other than laying in the shade and eating frozen things. And by heat, I mean anything above 25 degrees Celsius. We can probably blame my inability to suffer heat on my ancestry; my genes expect me to be in the British Isles, not in a Canadian summer.

So what this is leading me to is the day that Patrick and I climbed Gros Morne Mountain, or as I called it, the Overgrown Gravel Heap. It was hot and humid that day - in the vicinity of 30 degrees Celsius. To do the hike, you start with a half hour walk through the woods and then a bog, going slightly uphill all the while, to get to the base of the mountain. Then you have to climb it (the rocky path up the middle of the picture below).
Midway through the first "easy" section of the hike, I felt like I was the unfittest person imaginable. My energy was gone, I was stumbling along unable to lift my feet, hunched over and I felt like I was on some sort of death march. I told Patrick so, but he insisted on me coming along, saying that it would be cooler on the mountain because there would be a breeze. Let's just say it wasn't cooler enough.

Here's Patrick starting up the mountain, amongst some of the smaller rocks we would climb through.

The photo below is looking back down the mountain from where we'd climbed so far. By this point, I was climbing from large rock to large rock - moving for about a minute or two, and then sitting down on a large rock for a minute or two. It took us over two hours to climb the mountain itself, about 400 metres (the mountaintop itself is 800 metres above sea level). It was breezier, but it was still too hot for me.
The rocky, flat top.

Looking down at one of the ponds and towards the coast on the other side of the mountain.

Anyway, the hike was finished (after coming down the other side of the mountain you go around the base and it takes even hours more) with me exhausted. I would do that hike again, but only if it were a cool day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Camping in August

I'm going to do a few posts about my holidays back in August, since I didn't get around to it at the time. Patrick and I travelled across Newfoundland to go to PEI. We spent a week camping in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, which is the most number of days I've camped consecutively. I've wanted to do a long-distance camping road trip for quite some time (like going cross country) so this gave me a taste of what such a trip could be like. Anyway, here's a few photos of the camping specifically; I'll put up photos of the sights later on.

This is Patrick's tent that we used; it's just large enough for two people to fit in. While sitting in the tent in one campground that was dominated by RV's, I heard some kids walking pass exclaim "Wow! That's a small tent!" The owner of the campground was incredulous when he saw the size of the tent.

The back of the loaded-down truck with tailgate being used as a cooking storage space. The big bag of stuff wasn't ours, but stuff I was transporting to PEI for some friends who were moving.
Patrick, having mastered his family's old French gas stove, served as the chef, whereas I acted as the prep cook and dishwasher. Here he's cooking up some sausages and frying some potatoes I believe.
Being the East Coast, the weather was not always spectacular and sunny. On one night when it started pouring just around supper time, we fortunately had a spare tarp to set up a crude shelter so we could cook and eat in relative dryness.
Another meal, cooked on that rainy night, of chicken, potatoes and vegetables and gravy. Not thwarted by being outdoors, we ate pretty good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"The St. John's Left Turn"

At a lot intersections in St. John's, left turns are not permitted. Since I'm still getting to know many parts of the city, I will often have a plan in my mind of how to get somewhere that will be foiled by one of these "No Left Turn" intersections. In many cities, one would just make a left turn at the next intersection and then go down that side street and turn left again to get back to the street you originally wanted. In St. John's, this doesn't seem to work most times, as it might be quite far until the next street, or because the city lacks a grid-like pattern.

So I've occasionally found myself performing a manoeuvre I have decided to call "The St. John's Left Turn" (illustrated below in a sketch I made - the path of the vehicle is the green dashes). Since turning left isn't allowed at the intersection, I go straight through it and then make a left turn off the road into the next avaiable parking lot (conveniently, there always seems to be a business with a parking lot of some size not too far from these no-left-turn intersections). I whirl around in the parking lot and then go back on the street in the opposite direction, so as to make a right turn at the intersection on to my desired street. VoilĂ , a left turn.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Berry pickin'

I've been going out berry picking about once a week, when the weather's good, in the last while. September was blueberry picking, and Patrick and I went out to Blackhead (just outside of St. John's) several times, walking up the hill along the East Coast Trail and then going off-trail berry hunting. (All the photos herein were taken with my phone, so they aren't the best). The blueberries were good and thick, and I now have a freezer largely filled with bags of blueberries.

This is the view of St. John's (between the hills in the distance) from up the hill in Blackhead.

The sea was quite foamy and it was reflecting off of the rocky shore, resulting in interesting, irregular shapes.

Yesterday I went out to Logy Bay with Patrick and his dad to go cranberry picking, again along a section of the East Coast Trail. Cranberries are sneaky little berries, hiding under other vegetation, and I had to be pretty much down on my knees before I could spot any of them. They were sparser than the blueberries, although I did find them in bunches when they were growing near a stream or on boggy ground.

Some unhidden cranberries:

Looking down the hill toward the coast (Patrick is kneeling down picking just near the coast).
Just before leaving to go home, we stopped in at MUN's Ocean Science Centre, where we had parked as it's at the base of the trail. They have two tanks with harp seals in them that we watched swimming around for a bit. They have a web cam that you can connect to here.