Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Laughing Statues at English Bay

Imagine my surprise last week when we visited English Bay down in the West End of Vancouver and noticed these statues


We didn't know anything about them but noticed the Christmas hats so we stopped to walk around the beach and savour a hot dog from one of those many carts in the area. I obtained information from the Westender (A local community paper)


part of which I have reproduced below

"Love them or hate them, the laughing cast-bronze statues in Morton Park, near English Bay, have been attracting people in droves since they were unveiled last week.

The installation, called “A-Maze-in Laughter” (an English translation), depicts a series of laughing men sculpted in the image of Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun, a leading figure in China’s ‘Cynical Realism’ movement, which began in the 1990s. The movement grew out of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, in which emphasis on individual expression broke away from the dominant collective mindset of the era. The piece is making its Canadian debut as part of the Vancouver Biennale, a citywide public art exhibit that will feature Minjun’s work and those of 30 other artists until June 2011. The “A-Maze-in Laughter” exhibit will also serve as the site of the Biennale’s official launch on October 27."


There were other people about also looking at these statues and mimicking their poses


Morton park is adjacent to the main beach area as you will notice from the background


The grounds were quite muddy and slippery so you had to be very careful of your footsteps unless you were wearing those special non-slip pink crocs


I think that the statues appear very festive in their red and white adornments



I think that this area of the city is the only place where you will find Palm Trees. It looks tropical but you will have to wear your winter clothing this time of year, or you will freeze .


I believe there are more statues scattered about the Greater Vancouver area which will give me something to do


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Here is some information taken from their website:


Lynn Canyon Park officially opened to the public in 1912 and has been a popular destination among tourists and local residents ever since. Lynn Canyon Park is a great location for a family picnic, a leisurely hike, or a refreshing swim in one of the many popular swimming holes.

Lynn Canyon Park has grown from 12 acres in its early years to 617 acres today. Lynn Canyon Park contains second growth forest with most of the trees aged approximately 80 to 100 years old.

Lynn Canyon Park features a suspension bridge that sways 50 meters above the canyon. It was built privately in 1912 when the park opened. Lynn Canyon also offers a selection of walking and hiking trails that connect to other parks in the region such as Lynn Headwaters, Rice Lake, and Inter River Park.

We had our seasonal turkey dinner on Christmas eve which left Christmas Day free for venturing out in our brisk cool air to snap a few photos of the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Imagine my surprise when I noticed this street sign as we were nearing Lynn Canyon Park

(We have our own Duval)

There was a gate blocking access to vehicle traffic and we had to scramble for the limited number of parking spots in the residential area. Many others had the same idea to come here to enjoy the solitude of nature's beauty .


After a short walk we round the corner to see the concession stand, Closed for the day.


There are no washroom facilites today and no where to purchase a hot beverage to gain relief from the cold .


Lynn Canyon is a slot canyon/gorge with hiking trails and waterfalls within the park boundaries and access to the other side is via a Cable Suspension Bridge


There are stepped walkways made of heavy timber and railway ties that make your journey easier. There are signs everywhere warning you to stay within "safe" areas of the trails as there have been many fatalities over the years from persons stepping "out of bounds" and not heeding the signs


It is a heavily forested area with great beauty and a place to gather your thoughts and just reflect on life in the absence of stress.

This is what you will notice when you cross to the other side


There are a network of trails that will take you down into the canyon to the banks of Lynn Creek


There was a mist/fog in the air and I liked the way the light streamed through the trees.


Today the surface of the Suspension Bridge was very slippery due to frost. Come with me as I walk over to the other side and back

(Make sure to click the HD button)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

On the way home from work tonight I thought that I would take a few snaps of the Christmas lights. Some residents spend a lot of time preparing their display like this one which I notice every year. I think to myself that I must stop to take a photo, but I don't. Tonight a stop was planned


Farther up the block I notice a simple display of un-coloured lights (plain). While I have never seen a Conch house in person, this particular house had a veranda with overhang along with a white picket fence. I didn't notice it at first until I went screaming past and had to turn around


Here is a display with few lights but instead has lit props


You probably have better eyes than I, and I spotted the roof top Santa as I was putting my tripod away


In previous years, this home had a very elaborate display with thousands of lights. I can only imagine that because of the economic uncertainty it has been reduced to this. Simple but effective


The house next door also had a modest display of lights


Which is dwarfed by the house across the street


Try as I might but I could not find a tree as large as Jimbo's (Cpa3485)
(<-- click link)


I truly hope that you enjoy your time off, visit family and friends and eat like you've never tasted food before and don't spare any turkey, they do taste good especially with stuffing. Remember that all desserts are low cal and it is your duty to have seconds

I leave you with this song of the season, performed by Wendy Cutler and Ralph Shaw from the Vancouver Ukelele Circle, Vancouver, BC. This video was taken with my new hybrid camera as my first test video. See if you can spot Mrs Skoot playing in the audience. Make sure to click on the HD button

(Panasonic DMC-ZS3: 720p30 HD)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Troubador & Trobairitz meet Chuck & bobskoot

I don't need an excuse to meet people. A couple of weeks ago the plan was to go to Seattle for the 2009 Cycle World International Motorcycle Show at Qwest Field. We had previously arranged to meet up with Troubador (<-- click link) & Trobairitz (<-- click link) from Corvalis, Oregon who had posted on their Blog their arrangements of taking the Amtrak to Seattle and staying at the Doubletree, Arctic Club downtown.

They were bike & car challenged and travelled by leg power. As we drove to Seattle because of the inclement weather (read ICE) we had our vehicle there to transport their luggage to the Amtrak station before we headed out for something to eat


As you will notice, Qwest Field is in the background, but when they arrived they decided to walk their bags to the hotel to check in, then walk all the way back to the motorcycle show. Our plan was to meet up with them at around 3pm , as well as Chuck, a professional photographer (<-- click link) who resides in Seattle, who also has a fleet of 2 wheeled vehicles at his disposal.

While gathering at our hotel waiting for Rick to wake up , (I found out that he is always late and makes everyone wait for him) the staff at the Arctic Club noticed that we were food deprived and brought over some Starbuck's branded coffee as well as a handful of homemade chocolate chip cookies to tide us over. Where is Rick ? Finally he made his grand entrance a while later and headed out to find a suitable place to have brunch. Brad, being from a very small town in Oregon had never had dim-sum so the plan was to find a restaurant in the Internationl District. We were getting desparate and we found the frontage of a karaoke bar that looked deserted but Brad instisted that he saw some people eating inside, I tried to stop him but . . .


Brad was really pulling at that door handle, but it was not meant to be. The door was jammed shut. He finally gave up and we all walked down the street and found another restaurant at the corner. I think we got their last table and started ordering food right away. The staff push carts around with food displayed on little plates and you just grab what you want, or make some grunting and groaning sounds. In a while our table was full of food


Now, as I am writing this and looking at this photo, I am getting hungry again.


As I was taking a photo of the food, Brad was taking a photo of me which he posted on his Blog. The staff thought we were nuts flashing our cameras at each other. The food kept coming. Little did we know at the time but we had scored big time. It seems that the Jade Garden was nominated "Best of Seattle" . It's no wonder that this was a very busy place.

Here's Trobairitz in action


Even with my super fast shutter speed, I could not capture the supersonic speed of her fast actions. It must have been the last piece on the plate as you can tell by the blur of her arm

Eventually we were all full and requested the "tab"


We had a lot of food for not a lot of money. It would have been much, much more in Vancouver.

As we were walking back to our car, which we parked under the I-5 freeway, I stopped for a photo op.


We decided to head over to the Pike Place Market to wake up Chuck, who is often found napping in his stall. On the way over someone in the back seat shouted over my shoulder, "There's a photo for Jack Riepe !" I turned to my left and spotted it too


It seems that Jack has friends all over the country who are aware of his desires. I feel attached to my new friends and I know that our paths will cross again soon.

(be sure to click the HD button)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Granville Street and a ride

Today I had to do a favour for a friend which involved getting a ride downtown to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Ticket Centre in Robson Square. As it is difficult to obtain parking downtown and Vancouver is NOT motorcycle friendly, and this is the last weekend for shopping before Christmas I decided to ask a friend to drop me off and I would walk back to Kitsilano, where I parked my car.

While technically, this photo is out of order I needed something to grab your attention. (Jack . . . are you listening?)


Lower Granville Street used to be our Duval Avenue (of Key West). It was a seedy part of town where you would not venture after dark. Now it is in a state of reconstruction with new and old side by side


This was an area of $1. pizza joints, run down greasy spoons and pawn shops. I used to do the pawn shop circuit and have spent many weekends poking around the insides of these shops in the past. Now they are vacant due to police crackdown with stolen goods and there is little evidence of the questionable folk that used to hang around these streets.

I started out in fashionable Robson Square/Art Gallery area


Eatons Centre used to be the foremost department store in Vancouver, until they went bankrupt a few years ago and replaced by Sears. There are two levels of underground shopping below, not that we get a lot of ice nor snow, but because we need to be protected from the heat of the sun and need air conditioned comfort. Just as they do in southern Key West, we are able to wear shorts, sandals and other flimsy attire while doing our shopping.


Granville is a street of contrasts, of old and new as evidenced by this old Commodore dancehall with the new construction behind.


Even the walls of this old theatre undergoing reconstruction has figures pressed into their walls


Back in the 60's Granville was a street bustling with excitment. All the theatres had line-ups and we used to drive our cars up and down the strip to show off our loud mufflers with our reverb radios blasting out music in HI FI mono AM . It was a place to see and be seen, until the city thought it wise to turn the street into a pedestrian mall and prohibit cars. The drug trade and undesirables/street people moved in and took over. The area went into decay until now . . .


The Orpheum Theatre was the best in town. While they did play some movies, this was were you came to hear the Vancouver Symphony orchestra or other live performances. Do to a lot of lobbying, the Orpheum has undergone major renovation and is back to its original glory.


As a local I do notice the transformation and it is getting better with new tenants moving in


There are not many adult shops operating so you had better hurry up and come down here if that is your desire


This looks a little displaced. With the name Two Parrots it would seem better located in a more southern environment somewhere near Ramrod Key.


The Yale is renoun for its excellent Jazz musicians


This is the view you see as you enter the main downtown area from the Granville Street Bridge, an area that will be vigrant and exciting again, given time

Vancouver is not quite an island but it is surrounded by water on 3 sides and most often you have to cross a bridge to access the main business district. The Granville Bridge is one of three bridges which span False creek.


You are not allowed to stop on any of our bridges and the sidewalk is elevated from the roadway making it impossible to lift a 550 lb bike over a height of over 12" .


It is a long bridge by Vancouver standards and elevated with several exit ramps


From the bridge, you have an excellent vantage point overlooking Granville Island below


and some of our marinas


That's the Burrard Bridge in the background


Where have all the tourists gone ? That is the main Granville island area below, usually bustling with crowds on a weekend Saturday. I suppose they have all gone Christmas shopping on the last shopping weekend before Christmas


I went home to get my bike and visited my friendly insurance agent who also rides a Kawasaki Concours

(Wee & Connie, making eyes at each other)

It felt nice to be able to enjoy the freedom of a ride without ice and snow. I don't know what I would do if I lived in Calgary, or West Chester, PA, or Witchita, KS, or Chicago or anywhere else that had severe winters that dragged on for months. And thankfully we don't have to put up with Hurricanes nor live in stilted houses


I hope many of you also had a chance to get out for a ride.


Enjoy the video . . .