Moby, the Big Grey Van, travels to Powell River

Two weeks ago (how can this be two weeks ago already?!), we took Moby (the big grey van) on his maiden voyage. I had to work in Duncan (Vancouver Island) and Powell River (Sunshine Coast), so we knew it would be a perfect time to finally test out the van! Usually, September is a gorgeous month on the Pacific West Coast, and this year didn’t disappoint. We had one day of rainy weather, but otherwise we were welcomed to the Island life with sunny arms.

Day 1:

As always, I take the first ferry over to Vancouver Island on my site-visit day. It’s always a very early start and a long day, but more often than not, we’re treated to beautiful sunrises. There was a bit of low cloud this year, but the end result was still pretty fantastic.

Because the travel was for work, we decided to stay in campgrounds instead of finding a place off-grid. And at the end of the day, three nights in a campground is still significantly cheaper than three nights in a hotel! Our first night camping was at Brannen Lake Campground. It’s almost right in Nanaimo, although you wouldn’t think you were that close to a city. It was a nice little spot. The bathrooms were clean and it was quiet at night. We couldn’t really ask for more.

Day 2:

Day two was a travel day, as we needed to drive from Nanaimo to Comox, then catch the ferry from Comox to Powell River. We decided to make a leisurely day of it, stopping at the local marine hardware store in Nanaimo first (Jonty was in heaven), then googling one of our favourite phrases: “Best Bakery Near Me”.

Our search landed us at a Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery. The city is putting in a new road right in front of the bakery, so navigating into the little complex was a bit tricky with Moby, but I’m glad we persevered. We shared a cinnamon bun and a bread pudding roll (yes, it felt like vacation), and both tasted mighty fine with a cup of their locally roasted coffee. If you’re heading north out of Nanaimo, I’d recommend a visit!

An hour or so later of highway driving, you end up in Comox. We had about an hour before we needed to be at the ferry, so we planned a stop in for a quick flight at Gladstone Brewery. The brewery used to be an old mechanics shop and they still had some of the old memorabilia integrated into the space (think wrenches for beer pulls, old gears for door handles). The place was attached to a wood-fired pizza place, and it sure was a busy little spot! Good beer, nice people and the food looked pretty tasty, too.

The nice thing about small towns is that nothing seems very far from anything else 🙂 The ferry terminal is only about 10 minutes from the downtown, and we just managed to slide in before our 30-minute reservation cut-off time.

And one hour later, under a bright blue sky and on shimmering water, into Powell River we landed! Again, small town, short distances. Our campground (Willingdon Beach Campground) was just down the main drag, along the water’s edge. The site we were in didn’t have water hook-up (only electrical), but the views from our front door, more than made up for it. This was home for the next four nights!

We had one day of rain while we were in Powell River, but we still managed to get out climbing for a few hours before the rain came down. Even then, it was only bad for a few hours. Still enough time in between showers to snap some pictures of their harbour.

Day 3 to 5:

After finishing my site visit on Friday, we headed up to a local climbing crag (Higgyland) and tried to figure our way around the rock. The pdf guide wasn’t as helpful as we were hoping, and we’re pretty sure we climbed things that were much harder than was indicated online, but we had lots of fun and met some super helpful locals!

Our in-between climbing moments were spent enjoying the scenery, eating good food, and drinking good beer. Really, you can’t go wrong with that pseudo-vacation combination!

Day 6:

It takes almost a full day of travelling to get from Powell River back to Vancouver. It’s another two ferry rides plus about two hours of driving. But, they are beautiful ferry rides, and the drives don’t seem so bad when you’ve got a good co-pilot!

Before the ferry left the Saltery Bay ferry terminal (Powell River), we stopped in at Stillwater Bluffs (we saw there was climbing and bouldering there) to look around. The wind was a bit stiff but it was blowing the clouds away, and it was a great little hike before the journey home.

So, if you ever find yourself camping on Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast, here are somethings you might find useful:

Where to stay:

Where to get a good baked good:

  • In Ladysmith: Old Town Bakery (Definitely stop here if you’re heading south of Nanaimo. I look forward to it every single year! Their cinnamon buns…gah!)
  • In Nanaimo: Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery (we didn’t have any, but his homemade bread also looked fantastic!)
  • In Powell River: Powell River Farmer’s Market (runs Saturdays and Sundays) or River City Coffee

Where to get a good coffee:

Where to get a good beer:

Hopefully now that Moby, the Big Grey Van, is starting to make his way into the world, we’ll be able to start sharing more of our adventures!

Prairie Skies and Train Rides

A few weeks ago, I flew home to Saskatchewan to surprise my Mom for her 65th birthday. My Dad and brother and I had it all planned out. We made sure to NOT tell the nephews, because we didn’t think they could keep the secret 🙂

I flew in on Friday night – Dad had to make an excuse to get Mom to leave my brother’s place, so that my brother and his family could pick me up from the airport! | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

On Saturday morning, we headed out to a restaurant for breakfast, and waited for the birthday girl to arrive. The surprise was exactly as I hoped it would have been. The look of recognition, then confusion, then shock, then realization (all within a second or two)… Then the tears came (for both of us!). It was priceless 🙂 | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

For Mom’s birthday in the evening, my Dad had booked the entire family on the Southern Prairie Railway train ride through southern Saskatchewan. The train starts in Ogema (a bustling community of 400 people, about an hour southwest of Regina) and travels to Horizon or Pangman, depending on the tour. We did the evening train ride, which heads out to Horizon for a “Settler’s Dinner” in an old church (aka a classic Prairie Church dinner, complete with an epic pie table).

On the way out to Ogema, we had to wait for road construction, so had a few minutes to snap some pictures of the local scenery. | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

Once in Ogema, we had a bit of time to kill before the train ride started. So, we checked out the main street of Ogema, played on the wooden train structure, and had a peak at the restored train engine that would be whisking us away through the prairie fields. | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Saskatchewan prairie views | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

The Southern Prairie Railway is completely run by volunteers – the two train conductors (one driving the train, one punching tickets) were both retired CP Rail conductors, and another woman (a local from Ogema) was our tour guide. She pointed out bits of info about the area as we were passing through the countryside.

The train ride took about an hour to get out to Horizon. We could either walk over to the church for dinner, or take a school bus. With three young nephews who had energy to burn, we chose the walk 🙂 | Saskatchewan prairie views | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

The train ride back to Ogema showcased a perfect prairie evening – big, open skies and a setting sun. | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK | Prairie skies and train rides - Regina SK

It was a great weekend to spend with the family!

Saturday Snippets: 29.April.2017

Goodness gracious – the last weekend of April! I feel like I’m in denial. Maybe because it’s only started to kind of feel like spring in the last week. One more weather fact for you, because we’re Canadian, and apparently it’s all we talk about 😉 On Monday, Jonty sent me the rainfall update for April: as of Monday, Vancouver has had 170 mm of rain in April (the average for the month is 67 mm), and we still had a week to go! However, the sunshine gods must have been feeling sorry for us, because we’ve had more sun than rain this last week of April. Hopefully this is a sign of weather to come?

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 29.April.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

This was another week of planning and prototyping, but we’ve officially entered cabinet-making season 🙂

The Cabinets:

  • The first half of this week was all about the hinges. What type of hinges are there, what kind do we want to use, do we want to fully cover the 80-20 or not, how can we attach the hinges to the 80-20, what hinges will work with 1/4-inch thick cabinets, etc, it’s all non-standard…
  • The second half of this week was all about the latches. Once we figured out the kind of latch to use on the cabinet doors, we then spent a bunch of time trying to figure out who sold them in the lower mainland, to see them in person.
  • Good news is that we think we have answers to both questions! Jonty used some cheap-o $3 hinges from Home Depot, to prototype attaching them to the 80-20. It involves drilling holes in the hardware, but we think it’s going to work! We also found the latches we want to use, at the local Marine store (which is closing their Vancouver store shortly), so picked up one to try (at a 25% discount!). | Sprinter van conversion - upper cabinet hinges

  • We picked up a few sheets of 1/4-inch Baltic Birch and started making the cabinets! The bottoms of all the upper cabinets will slide into the grooves of the 80-20. The cabinet fronts and sides will fully cover the 80-20 frame. Jonty was able to blitz out 4 cabinet bottoms and 4 cabinet fronts on the CNC machine yesterday. Now we just have to stain / seal them, and attach the hardware and we’ll have usable storage space! | Sprinter van conversion - cabinet bases

Cabinet bottoms, made out of 1/4-inch Baltic birch, will slide into the grooves of the 8020 extrusion. | Sprinter van conversion - cabinet bases

Cabinet bottoms, made out of 1/4-inch Baltic birch, will slide into the grooves of the 8020 extrusion.

Pictures from the week of 29.April.2017:

Last Saturday we were climbing in the competition, but Sunday morning we spent an hour wandering around downtown Victoria, to snap a few pictures before it got too busy. Victoria has a very walkable downtown area, and I absolutely love the old brick buildings! | Downtown Victoria BC | Downtown Victoria BC | Downtown Victoria BC | Downtown Victoria BC | Downtown Victoria BC | Downtown Victoria BC

Happy weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 22.April.2017

We’re in Victoria for the weekend, and hopefully the weather is going to hold! We’ve got our bikes walking shoes and our climbing gear and our growlers 😉

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 22.April.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

  • For the most part, I’m not good at stretching. It’s not in my daily routine, so I forget. Perhaps it should be my goal to incorporate at least one of these stretches into my day.
  • Whether you climb or not, this sweet potato and avocado burrito should satisfy all taste buds.
  • The science of weird food pairings. This was definitely not one of my physics courses offered at university.
  • At first, I was drawn to the gorgeous colour of this green sauce. Adding miso? Colour me intrigued!
  • Sometimes, you just need a good piece of really-dark-chocolate cake. Simple and unpretentious. This looks to be that cake.
  • It’s everyone’s favourite season in Vancouver – Attack-of-the-Crow Season! Yup, we’re entering those magical few months when you feel like you’re being followed, tormented and dive-bombed by those avian creatures. I wish I could find something nice to say about them (because I know they’re just protecting their young) but I can’t. They follow me and freak me out. Jonty thinks my fear is irrational, but I beg to differ!

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

The Electrical:

  • For whatever reason, it felt like a slow week on the van conversion. Well, only in that I was working most of the week and Jonty was updating some of our electrical schematics, and doing a bit more prototyping. So it was a bit of a computer week. | Sprinter van conversion - electrical diagrams

The Fridge:

  • We did get the fridge fully installed and secured to the L-track and 80-20, so that is good. That sucker is solid!!
  • Jonty cnc’d one more mount for under the middle of the fridge, finishing that part of the set-up. | Sprinter van conversion - fridge mounts for L-track

The black fridge mounts are bolted to the L-track (through the van floor) and then connected to the 80-20 extrusion on the top. The fridge is then connected to the 80-20. | Sprinter van conversion - fridge mounts for L-track

Having a bit of a laugh while installing the fridge mounts. These three mounts will connect the 80-20 to the L-track. The fridge is then connected to the 80-20, and thus to the van floor. Solid!

The Galley:

  • Yesterday we found out that our sink (which was supposed to be delivered last week … then Tuesday… then Thursday….) has officially gone missing. Big bummer. Some employee must really love RV-sized double sinks! At least Amazon recognized the unfortunate disappearing package was not our doing, we’ve been refunded the price already. But we still need to order another one, which will probably take another 3 or 4 weeks (because they weren’t in stock). Again, bummer.

Pictures during the week of 22.April.2017:

We’re in Victoria this weekend for a bit of a getaway. The weather was absolutely glorious on the ferry ride over, and you better believe we tried to soak up as much Vitamin D as possible! We’ll need it, as the weather is supposed to turn rainy again today (hence, no bikes). But we’re used to this; it will just be nice to enjoy the new scenery.

So, next week there should hopefully be a few pictures from our weekend away. For today, you get ferry pictures 🙂 | BC Ferry ride to Victoria BC | BC Ferry ride to Victoria BC | BC Ferry ride to Victoria BC | BC Ferry ride to Victoria BC | BC Ferry ride to Victoria BC

Happy Weekend!

Saturday Snippets: 04.February.2017

Do you believe the old saying that, “Bad things happen in threes”? As I type this I am in yet another airport, waiting for yet another delayed and/or cancelled Air Canada flight. This makes it 3 flight woes in 2 weeks (I have one more flight next week, but according to the Law of Threes, I should be okay 🙂 ). While the Ottawa airport is fairly easy to hang out in, I don’t want this flight to be cancelled and I’m ready to get home. (Update: the flight was only delayed by 2 hours!)

This week I was at a mammography conference in Quebec. It was fantastic! I learned a lot and was able to reconnect with fellow medical physicists across Canada, and enjoyed spending a few days in the world’s largest man-made log cabin in the world (I’ve got a few pictures at the end of the post).

Have fun checking out what caught our eye in the online world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Our Saturday Snippets for 04.February.2017.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter Conversion updates):

  • Because I was going to be gone for the majority of the week, Jonty wanted help installing the upper wall panels. It’s definitely a job that is much easier with two people. The big difficulty we had was trying to accurately map the position of the screw holes onto the wood panels. Jonty had a brain wave at 3 am one night – use a laser level to mark the centre of the first screw hole, then place the board back into place and mark the hole on the wood. It worked really well! After that the remaining holes can be found by indenting with studs in the bolt holes. It took us about 5 hours to CNC, measure and drill, and install 4 panels, which we thought was actually pretty quick! | Sprinter van conversion - installing wall panels | Sprinter van conversion - installing wall panels | Sprinter van conversion - installing wall panels

  • After two months of trouble-shooting, then sending off parts and waiting for them to come back, we finally got the replacement sense-board back from the manufacturer. Jonty hooked it all back up and, guess what – it works! Like a dream! Here he is, running the laptop off of our batteries, doing some diagnostic work. | Sprinter van conversion - installing wall panels

  •  Now that the batteries are charged and working, we’ll start to run the wiring throughout the van. Having ceiling lights wired will be pretty exciting! Hopefully we’ll also be able to start wrapping the panels in foam-backed vinyl. Moby is really starting to take shape, and each job we finish feels like one big step in the right direction.

Pictures from 04.February.2017:

I attended a mammography conference this past week. It was held in Montebello, Quebec, in the world’s largest log cabin. The place was huge! The fireplace, alone, was spectacular. The resort was built back in the early 1900’s, with logs shipped over from BC. According to someone’s cab driver, the entire building took only 3 months to build, because they employed non-union workers 🙂 It’s quite impressive.

The conference was jam-packed and we were kept busy with talks and sessions from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm so, unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time to check out the area. We did have a few hours of free time before the conference began, and used that time to walk into the nearby village of Montebello. | 20170202-Montebello-Quebec-5174 | Travel to Montebello Quebec | Travel to Montebello Quebec | Travel to Montebello Quebec | Travel to Montebello Quebec | Travel to Montebello Quebec

Happy Weekend!