Archive for December, 2010

December 25, 2010

Word of the week

Soporific: 1. a) causing or tending to cause sleep b) tending to dull awareness or alertness 2. Of, relating to, or marked by sleepiness or lethargy.

Work cited

Websters New Collegiate Dictionary. G&C Merriam Co. Springfield, Mass. 1977.

December 23, 2010

Meanderings in Canada’s North

Published in The Swedish Press on May 14th 2009.
A bit cheesy maybe, but okay.

In June of 2008 I got a drive to Bellingham from my home in Vancouver BC and boarded the Columbia, of the Alaska Marine Highway. The ferry follows the inside passage to Skagway AK, the first pit-stop of the gold-sick men and women who, a century ago, established this tiny inlet town on the gameboard of history. I’m on my way to hike the Chilkoot Trail, a scar left from turbulent days in the coast mountains of Alaska/Canada.
All winter I’ve been taken in by stories of the Yukon gold-rush. I would sit behind the counter of the little second-hand sports shop where work had found me, and devour Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Burton. I knew it was that time again, to leave the city and leap at the designs fate had in store for me.
It turns out that I’m not the first Swede to waver for an a-typical desire to go North. On the ferry I sit watching the gray waves and mountains plunging from the sea and think of a man in my readings named Eric A. Hegg. Out of many Swedes who played significant roles among the Klondikers, his was a high calling. Born in Sweden, Mr. Hegg immigrated to the U.S.A. and settled in the region of Puget Sound in 1888. A photographer by vocation, and owner of two studios, Hegg knew exactly what to do in 1897 when news of a gold strike reached Washington. He hoisted his camera and joined the thousands of hopefuls on this same route, his heart not set on riches, but the unfolding of history.
Hegg would become known as an important contributor in the documentation of the gold-rush, the most photographed event in 19th century North America. From the town of Dyea near Skagway, to the Golden Stairs where 30,000 people would cross the mountains into British Columbia, down the Yukon on rafts to Dawson City, the place of the find that had set the human tide in motion. Through this, Hegg lugged his equipment and came away with a different kind of gold.
The hike to Lake Bennett from the townsite of Dyea is 53 km [or 33 miles] and I make a leisurely gait for three nights. Artifacts are everywhere – there are the sundered remains of the cargo tram built in vain at the Golden Stairs – when it was finished everyone had gone over. Wagon wheels, and old food tins, wood stoves and saw blades. The skeleton of a boat… some stoic had dragged it over the pass before leaving it .
At Bennett, the trail’s end, I am swept away by the desolation. A boat builders shanty-town sprang up here and promptly died, a hiccup in time. Nothing is here now except the train station and I sit down with some hikers I’ve aquainted, groups of three and four, and two families, to wait for the great behemoth of the White Pass & Yukon Route that will take me back to the world.
Back in Skagway, I get a ride to Whitehorse with a family of adventurers, whose friendship was found on the trail. Jill, Bruce and their son Caelon, take me in like family and after three days to discover Whitehorse, in the stead of continuing on to Dawson by way of thumb I throw sense to the wind and do something I haven’t planned on. A canoe is rented and I, blissfully inexperienced, set off alone down the mighty Yukon to pursue again the specters of the Rush. Everywhere I stop, and many places where I can’t, I see remnants of last century. Abandoned settlements and RCMP outposts. The hulk of Steamship Evelyn abandoned in her dry-dock at Shipyard Island. Half-way finished I run the gauntlet of standing waves at Five Finger Rapids. After twelve days that would fill a book, I slip around the last bend before Dawson City with 750 km of new-found canoe skills behind my weaving paddle. I had read from Robert Service about the Spell of the Yukon, and now it’s got me. At the end of summer I return to Vancouver with many glances back. Because my spirit remains in the Klondike. As soon as I can, I will go home again.

December 5, 2010

PEI Popcorn Sister

<In September 2006 [when I was eighteen] I was sent to Kentville NS to do an intensive course in additional machine gun, pistol and mortar skills. We spent time at ranges in Granville [South NS] and Gagetown, NB and after the course I took two weeks off, went to Halifax for a $300 Infinity bike, and continued from there on my first solo bike tour. In one day I got to Amherst and stayed for thanksgiving with some friends, and from there continued to PEI. The following is an excerpt from writing completed in the spring of 2009, regarding that trip.>

I turned right on the 16 out of Sackville and got to the Confederation Bridge that afternoon. A shuttle bus over the 13K bridge and I was on PEI, Anne of Green gables country. I biked past the McCain factory and past old churches set along the quite two lane highway, stopped at a convenience store at the lip of some small town and got apples and candy. Long after dark I got into Charlottetown, locked the bike and climbed a Wal-Mart roof to sleep the night. Someone came up early in the morning, didn’t see me, and I ran between the vents and intakes down to a lower level of roof and jumped down to a loading area at the back of the store. That was a quiet day. It was nice to be alone for a while, to think. I walked up and down some streets, shops labelled Anne’s this and Anne’s that, and stopped in book stores.

That night I was in a coffee shop. Strange towns are great in the day, but at night when it becomes dark they can be very sad if you’re alone and sleeping on roof-tops. I talked to the girl working, glad that her name wasn’t Anne. They were closing up soon.

Have you heard of couch surfing?” She asked. She was late twenties maybe, dark hair tied back.

No.

It’s cool, its a club of people that take in backpackers on their way through a place. You post note on the net saying when you’re coming through, someone sees it and maybe tells you to come stay with them for the night. It’ s a good way to meet people, go party for the night. You should try it.”

It’s a little late tonight.”

Yeah… Sometime you should try it though, if you’re into this stuff.”

There was no one in the store. She had turned the closed sign. I looked down into the empty mug.

What about you? Could I just crash on your couch tonight?”. Please, I though to myself

She was cashing out, the change was slamming and clinking in the register trays as she counted. She was quiet.

I still have to do some stuff here. There’s a bar up the street-” She said the name “-I can meet you if you if you want. Half hour or so.”

Her name was Nisha, and she lived on the whole second-floor of an ancient square-built wooden thing that could have had a typical old corner store, or an art studio on its ground level. There was a long staircase where I put my bike, and mustard-yellow interior walls . We stayed up watching vintage sci-fi, eating popcorn, and after midnight I fell asleep on the couch and she actually threw a blanket on me before going to her room.

In the morning when I woke up she had gone to work already. There was a man in the kitchen. He had a white beard and could have been her dad.

I’m Glen, I’m Kate’s room-mate. Your were pretty tired last night.” He looked like a professor, and thin beard, glasses. A granola eater, the kind of guy who took LSD in the sixties and now has a PhD and bikes to his research job in a yellow MEC jacket and spandex all year round.

Help yourself to something. I got to go. She left you a note.”

I chewed milk and Cherios and read the yellow post-it note.

What a cool chick, I thought.

And that day i left Charlottetown, and it has kept a  warm spot in my memory.

December 4, 2010

Bike This

Works cited have links provided at the bottom of this page.

New bike-only lanes in Vancouver’s already congested city-scape has had citizens up in arms for nearly a year. While budget commuters are riding safer and greener than ever, the city’s motorists are insisting these barrier-separated portions of major streets are causing traffic-movement problems and a higher chance of car accidents due to changes in the infrastructure. And not only motorists may suffer, but small business owners as well, due to loss of parking spaces. Laura Jones, VP of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses in Western Canada stated in a press release “mayor and council think losing customers is no big deal. It is a big deal when your customers keep your business viable and your business supports your family and your employees.” [See link]. While this is an argument worth considering, Yvonne Bambrick a Toronto activist and avid bicycle commuter in a city that already benefits from existing bike lanes, points out as a guest poster on the Canadian blog Enviro Boys; “more people on bicycles means fewer people taking up precious road space in cars… Bike lanes add a greater level of predictability to our roads by showing more clearly where we can expect each transportation mode to be travelling.” [See link]. Regardless of the controversy, the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson is still moving ahead with plans to develop the greenest city in the world by 2020. “This plan is not just about having a healthy environment that keeps us all alive, it’s about the economy and the community. It’s about keeping things in balance,” he said during a presentation at the Gaining Ground-Resilient Cities conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. [See link]. So while small-business owners and motor-commuters may suffer temporarily, a quick enquiry on the internet, or on the street, will go to show that the majority of people support the bike-lanes – and because of these lanes, more people are already cycling. With so many positives and a few temporary negatives, it is clear that bike lanes are the avenue to a greener future and a healthier lifestyle.

Works Cited:

By: ctvbc.ca [author name N/A]. September 8, 2010. Retrieved December 3, 2010. http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100908/bc_hornby_bike_lane_100908?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

By: Yvonne Bambrick. May 21, 2010. Retrieved December 3, 2010. http://www.enviroboys.com/2010/05/guest-entry-bike-lanes-serve-all.html

By:Gerry Bellett. October 20th 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2010. http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mayor+releases+plan+make+Vancouver+world+greenest+city+2020/2124455/story.html