Paddling the Nile
The first ever paddle down the Blue Nile from source to sea. 5,000km through wild rapids, war zones, crocodile and hippo infested waters, disease, terrorists, guns, arrests; the works...
Newly married amongst the neon glow and dumpling vendors as we bumble our way trying to figure out the world's most populous nation at this exciting time in it's history...
The Great Canadian Bike Trek
23 years old and naive, I set off in the middle of Canada's barbaric winter perched on a woolskin seat-cover peddling solo from one side of Canada to the other...
The departure of the drizzly grey days has been warmly welcomed with the arrival of daylight savings, some cracker sunny days and a sunburnt face. The blossoming trees and convertible sports cars seem to be a good indication that rainy and snowy days of winter are well gone and summer is here! Vancouver is a pretty place when it is raining, but by-Joe, when it is sunny, it is a completely different town, with many people out and about doing things, heaps of colour and a very lively atmosphere.
The past few months have been bloody busy, and I've passed the 6 and 7-month marks away from the scenic harbour capital, without even noticing.
It was awesome to see my beloved sister Clare, and buddy, Ben Wheeler, who, unfortunately, were spoilt with Vancouver's infamous winter rain. It was good to find out what was going on back home in ol' Aoteoroa. It sounds like summer was sensational as the two of them sported killer tans, of which I think the kiwi sun took some of the credit for.
Clare arrived first, and after the long bus ride home from the airport, a walk downtown, a few beers and a crappy Caesar salad, we had caught up. Clare looked a lot different to when I had last seen her two years ago, with longer hair and a browner face. She had a lot of growse photos and adventures to tell me about.
For the next five days we did some of the touristy things that Vancouver has on offer including an ice-hockey game, the tandem bike around Stanley Park (in which Clare took control of), a ferry ride to North Vancouver, a Brazilian Carnival celebration and a tuneful night of Karaoke.
After a loving farewell between my sister and I at the airport, it was only a couple of hours later, before the strapping and bronzed Mr. Wheeler came striding through the terminal. As it was night time, Wheeler and I drove around the municipally for the "city lights" tour, topped off by a feast of burger and chips, which turned out to be Ben's stable diet for the next two weeks.
Unfazed by the cold and wet conditions, Ben, fresh from Hawaii, strut his stuff around the streets of Vancouver in a short-sleeved T-shirt. I think that he was trying to impress his new found friend, Sardiff, a bubbly, 22-year old girl of Pakistani descent, with a pretty accent, who was also in town from Scotland for a few weeks, visiting her brother, and my flatmate, Tipu. The two of them saw some of the touristy parts of Vancouver why we were at work. I think Wheeler became romantically entangled with the girl, for a steamy 2-week love affair.
In the course of two weeks we watched an NBA game, visited a couple of the pubs, ranging from the most portentous pub in town to the most unclassy one - Side Door, a rugby pub, that it can be almost guaranteed that there will be a few kiwis or Aussies, played space invaders, went to Science World (a scientific museum) and had a couple of field trips away for the weekends.
Weekend number one involved a trip to the scenic Vancouver Island. A brief dip in the ocean at French beach, a bush walk, a look around the quaint and charming Victoria, a free horse and carriage ride, substandard fish and chips, a few beers and a look around the world famous Busch Gardens - which was a nice relief for some of us who were sporting seedy heads from the night earlier.
The next weekend turned out to be a trip down to Seattle, staying with a very funny Korean-Japanese-Hawaiian guy, and an unplanned addition of Portland to see Mark Schiller and family. After trying to find his workplace purely by memory turned out to be too much of a task, we were given some very helpful directions by a rough looking character working in a Chevron gas station. We arrived at Home Depot, Schiller's place of work, just as he was knocking off for the day, and the surprise on his face as the tall, long armed American walked down the concrete isle of the home-improvement store was unforgettable. That night we caught up with old times drinking ourselves silly, in which Schiller fell face first to floor while playing pool, and I was caught by the bouncer, spraying the sides of the cubicle with my dinner.
Probably the biggest news for me, has been move of house down the road. A much nicer place with carpet, sun and a fresh coat of paint, which we slapped on in a few evenings. My new flat mate, Karen, is a sporty, graphic designer of Canadian descent. A cool chick who at the age of 30, acts about 22 and still gets IDed at the pub. Karen is pretty well set up with all of the gear, even paintings and stuff, so it's a big change after living in the bare place I used to reside. Right next door is a park and tennis courts. I've invested in a classy looking $7 wooden racket and have already won a break from doing the dishes for the next week.
Karen sports a 1977 fence-paint green Toyota ute with an AM wireless, which I have grown quite fond of as it one of very few cars under 5 years old over here and reminds me of the old Barry Crump commercials.
I have already met just about all of Karen's extended family, who all still live on Vancouver Island. I became quite fond of her Grandma. She lives in a lovely little place with a big garden, just outside Victoria and loves to bake!
Easter weekend was terrific, with a 3-day excursion to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Long Beach. We went with a crew of 8, including Jan, the tall, blonde Belgium, who was staying with me for a week. The place is beautiful - a long sandy beach bordered with pine trees. I went for a swim in the waves, but retreated very quickly, after realising how cold the water was - apparently a current runs right from the icebergs in the Arctic. Ed, part of the travelling party, had bought along 4 surfboards, which most of us had a go at. Having given up on the idea of wearing just shorts, I gave into the norm and soldiered on with a 9' malibu amongst the breakers in a fully hooded wetsuit complete with booties and gloves. It was awesome playing in the swell with the backdrop of beautiful blue skies, green pines with Snowcapped Mountains, popping over the top of the tree in the horizon.
When nighttime rolled around, we did the campfire thing one night, and ate at a popular seafood restaurant in a neighbouring town, another, but always ended up in the bar at our motor inn, Orca Bay Lodge. A fine pub indeed, in which we befriended the locals and established regular positions around the bar, talking to our new found friends Christine, the beautiful barmaid, and Jimbo, a local fish farmer, who was always sitting in the same location by the bar no matter what time we went there. We took over the sound system of the pub and had the place a-rocking.
Last week nearly everyone from Net Nanny ran in the Vancouver Sun Run, which is a big local 10km event in which 42,000 people run in. Quite an amazing experience, in which I placed in the top 500, although I was exhausted after the first 3km from louting about amongst the crowds with fellow Shaggy Yak, Les Jickling. It was a warm up for the huge marathon in less than 4 days!
Training has been good; apart from soar legs and a close call with the law after trying to high-five a cop on a horse. We are fully kitted out with the official Shaggy Yaks apparel, right down to ugly shorts and stupid looking socks. The Chariots of Fire sound track has been booming in the office for the last few days. The intensity seems to be growing and the whole office seems to be getting behind the cause.