Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Like no one is watching...

Dance like you just don't care (what people think of you)...
Graceless...without rhythm... 
Who dances so awkwardly? 
Every white guy 😏
Unabashedly, free of self-consciousness -- and timing -- this guy gamely tried to bust out some air guitar moves to the music during a fall downtown street festival in Victoria.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas ball

Tidal treasures on Parksville's main beach...
A colourful Christmas treasure...
During our first ski weekend of the season, my wife and I found ourselves beach combing in search of Tidal Treasures. It's a winter/spring tourist promotion event in nearby Parksville in which glass balls are hidden along local beaches.

We poked around the main beach in front of our condo for about forty-five minutes, not really expecting to find anything. Just as we were about to quit, I decided to look in the end of a hollowed out piece of driftwood. I gently kicked a pile of dead leaves aside. In the dark, wet mass I caught a glimpse of a smooth dark shape.

My wife was ecstatic. Her favourite colour is amethyst, the colour of the ball. Furthermore, the ball was marked with a red star which entitled us to a further prize of a gift coupon at a local restaurant.

The glass ball is the work of local artist Robert Held. It now has a place of honour in our living room.

The treasure hunt has been attracting people up and down the island to local beaches. We felt bad -- just a little -- for the nearby family who had apparently spent a couple of hours at the beach looking for one of the treasures.

Our amethyst Christmas ball...
Details of our amethyst Christmas ball...


Monday, December 19, 2016

Least effective camouflage...

Such bright blue feathers! 
Hiding among yellow leaves? 
You silly bird brain!

Friday, December 9, 2016

No need to check YOUR privilege, Kris...

Santa appears during Victoria's Christmas parade...
Santa waves to his fans at the recent Victoria Christmas parade.
Santa Claus is probably the only old white guy who ISN'T vilified by the usual spectrum of left-leaning whiners.

Santa's biggest fans...
Santa's biggest fans...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dodgy...

Sketchy overhead wiring seen in Bucerias, Mexico...
Look up! Overhead!
Gordian knot of wiring
Looks sketchy to me...
Time for a haiku... I'm pretty sure this wiring, seen in the village of Bucerias near our resort in Mexico, doesn't meet any sort of electrical code.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Nature's sketchbook

Nature's sketchbook...
Believe it or not, not a special effect...
While walking the beach at Nuevo Vallarta, I was struck by the patterns produced in the sand by the surf. If you look at it 'upside down', i.e. inland rather than toward the water, it resembled this sketch-like effect of a forest of trees.

You can see them in the wide-angle view below for a better idea of how they are created.

Sky, surf and sand...
Sky, surf and sand meet...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Red sky at night

The sun sets over the bay at Puerto Vallarta...
The awesome end-of-day view from the rooftop tapas bar...
What's a tropical vacation without iconic sunsets?

A staff spinner catches some end-of-day twirls...
Twirling at the end of the day...
The fellow to the left was a daily visitor to the beach where he would practice his staff spinning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The (s)mile high club

Flying high over the bay of Nuevo Vallarta...
Flying high over the beaches of Nuevo Vallarta...
Parasailing is ubiquitous in tropical resort locations and Nuevo Vallarta was no exception.

The older guy to the left here would walk up and down the beach flying the parachute like a kite to entice tourists into taking the plunge... erm, taking flight. I could only think that he must have some serious back muscles from pulling on this thing all day.

My wife and I are parasailing veterans so we passed on this particular adventure.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Surf City (Not)

In Nuevo Vallarta, these are considered dangerous waves...
Surfing the 'dangerous' waves of Nuevo Vallarta...
The beach near our resort wasn't ideal for surfing. The waves were large enough, but they curled and collapsed too quickly for any decent runs.

Still, anything is better than nothing, so I looked forward to getting on the water. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration. The local beach authority red flags the beaches anytime there is a hint of surf. The rental cabanas are not allowed to rent out gear when that happens. By West Coast standards the waves that rolled in would barely have earned a shrug from local surfers.

I did manage to get out for one morning for a few hours on an unbalanced paddle board with a too-long paddle. At one point I glanced down to see four stingrays swimming along beside me.

"Mental note," I thought. "DO NOT fall in the stingrays." It was a good incentive to make sure I stayed on the board.

A few days on the beach we witnessed a young girl being evacuated by ambulance. She had somehow been stung in the face by a stingray. There was a fair amount of blood that we could see, but otherwise she seemed okay.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Life and Death on a Mexican Beach

One baby sea turtle that didn't make it...
A dead sea turtle hatchling is a silent testament to harsh nature...
On our first day on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta, I noticed the pelicans and gulls over the beach periodically diving down to the sand to pluck at some small dark objects which they promptly swallowed before taking flight again.

I could only glimpse the objects and I initially thought they were some sort of dried fruit. It turns out they were snatching the dead and dying baby sea turtles on the beach.

Sea turtles come ashore to lay their bury their eggs in nests below the sand. The turtles emerge at night and have a few hours to scramble to the water before they succumb to the flying predators, or the sun's burning rays.

The remains of a sea turtle nest...
The remains of a sea turtle nest.
There were a few notices along the beach about not disturbing the nests or the babies, but given that Nuevo is a very crowded public beach with people, horses, dogs, and birds, I suspect that a lot of these animals don't live very long lives.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Get to da choppa!"

Predator statues on display in a Mexican gift shop...
No, not an ancient Mayan god...
Okay, I bet you're wondering about the weird title of today's post. It's one of the classic lines from that Arnold Schwarzenegger cinematic masterpiece Predator. Over on Youtube you can see the original version and Arnold's modern update.

But you're still confused? What has that go to do with Puerto Vallarta? Well, it turns out the movie was filmed in nearby jungles. In fact, the wreckage of the 'choppa' still exists and some local tours will take you to the film's shooting locations.

Local tourist vendors have taken advantage of this fact to produce and hawk Predator-related paraphernalia such as the statues above. I can't see this stuff appealing to anyone but teenage males. They wouldn't be old enough to remember the original film, but they've probably seen the numerous sequels and spin-off movies since.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Critters

Fast gecko was not fast enough for me...
Fast gecko... was not... fast enough.
We found this gecko sprinting around the walls of our bathroom. I'm guessing s/he hitched a ride into our room via a room service trolley. Not to worry. After we trapped it, we released it outside unharmed.

At the other end of the size scale we encountered this goodly-sized iguana at a local marina. Iguanas are served up as food in some Central and South American countries. Apparently they DO NOT taste like chicken, but more like cooked hen or Peking roast duck from Google sources.

A large iguana hangs out at the local marina...
Iguanas... colourful AND tasty...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Puerto Vallarta

The main beach of Neuvo Vallarta...
Blue skies and sun over the beach...
My wife and I recently returned from a week long vacation in Nuevo Vallarta. The frequent overcast skies combined with the high temperatures made for a comfortable experience.

This was our first experience on the west coast of Mexico after two previous visits to the Caribbean side.

Our very comfortable resort...
The Marival resort...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ballet... it's not for sissies...

The fortified entrance to the Victoria Academy of Ballet...
Ballet... like prison, but with tutus
instead of orange jumpsuits.
I recently came across the downtown entrance to the Victoria Academy of Ballet. See those loops across the top of the gate? Barbed wire.

The only way to sneak out of this prison is sur les pointes.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Dark Knight

The Batman fails to intimidate...
Batman... less threatening than a balloon...
The Dark Night himself, aka Batman, put in multiple appearances at last weekend's Wicked Victoria event.

Government Street was closed to traffic. Food vendors and activities for the children kept families entertained for hours.

Batman (above) apparently had little effect on the kids. Which was surprising because he was tall. Seriously tall. He towered head, shoulders (and chest) above the crowd. I asked him how tall he was. 6 feet, 10 inches!

At the other end of the scale, this pint sized Caped Crusader caught some attention in his suitably small Bat-stroller.

Mini-Caped Crusader...
That Batman has a Bat-gizmo for everything!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

There's a light over at the Frankenstein place

Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle stands in for Dr. Frank-N-Furter's abode...
Craigdarroch Castle standing in for the abode of Dr. Frank-N-Furter...
The title of today's Halloween post, is a line from the musical play/movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Back in my college days, it was a cult favourite that played at a local cinema every Friday night at midnight for about a year, maybe more, if I remember correctly.

After the movie let out, on late Friday nights, the fans -- all dressed in drag -- would stroll over to the night club in the Empress Hotel across the street. The dance floor would suddenly fill up with guys in high heels, fishnet stockings and garters, and sporting mascara, lipstick and big wigs. The DJ would often indulge them by playing "Let's Do the Time Warp Again", the movie's signature song-and-dance bit.

A recent made-for-TV remake gamely tried to re-create the original, to a mostly critical reception.

A big problem was that the gender-bending of the original play/movie isn't shocking anymore in an age where an alphabet of sexual identities (LGBQT) is largely acknowledged, if not entirely accepted, by all.

That's your cultural history lesson for today... Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 28, 2016

Day of the Living Dead

Pennywise... or Poundfoolish?
Pennywise... or Poundfoolish?
Victoria's Zombie Walk took place a couple of weeks ago. This year's event was the smallest I've seen. Victoria was getting hammered by the wind and rain on the edges of a Pacific typhoon. It proved too much for many of the zombie horde who opted to stay warm and dry instead.

The zombies below are Stephanie Rahl (left) and Leyla Molala. They are fan favourites for their elaborate makeup and commitment to their roles!

Stephanie and Leyla... best zombies ever...
Mean girls...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rusty

The rusty truck that sits on the jetty at Telegraph Cove...
Rust-covered truck on the jetty at Telegraph Cove...
This well-photographed truck has sat at this spot on the jetty at Telegraph Cove for at least a dozen years. It looks a lot more weathered and patchy than the first time I saw it... but, then, don't we all?  ;)


Monday, October 24, 2016

Telegraph Cove

Stilts keep the waterfront homes of Telegraph Cove above the tidal zone.
Former homes have been converted to commercial accommodations...
Today Telegraph Cove is the centre of an eco-tourism industry centred around whale and bear watching tours. The former homes along the main jetty have been converted to rental units. My wife, who grew up on this part of Vancouver Island, remembers going to sleepovers with some of her high school friends who lived in these homes.

Telegraph Cove's waterfront museum...
Telegraph Cove's waterfront museum...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sea stack: 3

Sea stacks at San Josef beach on Vancouver Island...

San Josef beach features a collection of sea stacks at one end. though they aren't as dramatic as the ones we've seen in Oregon.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dragon Eye

A full moon near Parksville framed by a piece of driftwood.


The title of today's post sounds like the title of a James Bond movie. It's an Oceanside full moon framed by an arch of some driftwood on the beach.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

San Josef Bay

San Josef Bay on Vancouver Island...
The cleanest beach you will ever see...

San Josef bay is adjacent to Cape Scott Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. It has the nicest beach I have ever seen on the island, possibly anywhere.

I've never seen a beach so free of the debris -- logs, stumps, rocks, shells, seaweed -- that normally populates an ocean side beach. When the tide comes in it would be a skimboarder's paradise.

The surf rolls into the beach at San Josef Bay.
A line of surf rolls into San Josef Bay.



Monday, October 10, 2016

Shoe shrine

Holberg's well known Shoe Tree...
That is a lot of shoe leather!

Cape Scott Provincial Park marks the extreme northern tip of Vancouver Island. To get there you have to get off the beaten path the paved highway and drive some pretty rough logging roads.

How rough are these roads? Real rough. So rough, in fact, that our camper refrigerator didn't survive the experience. All the bouncing around by the trailer cracked the cooling unit... a very expensive replacement bill is in our future.

One small consolation of the experience was to see the sort of famous Holberg shoe tree. Which is exactly what it sounds like.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Spelunking

Poking around in Vancouver Island's Huson caves...

I had never heard of Vancouver Island's Huson caves until a month ago. They are located along a very rough logging road -- is there any other kind? -- between the main highway of Vancouver Island and the remote community of Zeballos.

Driving to them, we came over a rise to suddenly encounter a mama black bear and her three cubs. It was a very close encounter. They were right beside the road and it's hard to say who was more startled, us or the bears. The cubs turned and bolted down the road while mama charged into the brush. We turned off the van and waited patiently until mama cautiously emerged on the road ahead of us. She glanced at us warily to make sure we weren't about to follow her and turned to trot off after her cubs.

We carried on to the caves.

One of the caves was closed due to the trail stairs being out of commission, but we made our way down the steep and overgrown path anyway to explore the arch carved out of the limestone by the river.

The other cave -- again more of an overhead arch -- was easy to get to and very dramatic with the river flowing briskly between the rocks to create rapids and eddies.

Current and eddies in the Huson caves...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Modern raptor

Modern pterodactyl...

Modern birds are the descendants of ancient dinosaurs and grey herons are the living proof of that I figure. In flight, with their long necks and wingspans, they look like pterodactyls. Have you ever heard their chilling raucous cry? They even SOUND like pterodactyls.

Want further proof? Take a look at that face and beak above. That is the face of a predator, my friend. Compare it to the image of a velociraptor head below and tell me you don't see a resemblance. I think we can all be thankful these things don't grow more than four or five feet tall.




-- Photo: agapemodels.com


Friday, September 23, 2016

Mountain top memorial

Memorial to Jennifer ? at the top of Vancouver Island's Mt Washington...
Recently I was at the top of Vancouver Island's Mt Washington for a sombre occasion -- we were there to scatter the ashes of a family member.

The only time I've ever been to the top of the mountain is in winter for ski season. I had never seen the peak without snow. As our group was exploring the area looking for the best place to conduct the ceremony, I noticed a pair of skis and a helmet pinned to a tree. Getting closer I discovered that it was a memorial to someone named Jennifer who apparently died at the young age of 31 in 2004.

Google hasn't shed any light on who Jennifer was except for a blog post from someone else who was equally intrigued and mystified.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Beach life

Montague Harbour's unique beach of crushed white shells..

Montague Harbour on Galiano Island features an awesome beach of finely broken white shells.

From the park's website:

"The white shell beach on the north side of the park marks one of several shell middens (refuse heaps) that indicate native occupation that dates back more than 3,000 years. Castaway shells left by centuries of harvesting form berms on the foreshore in many areas of the park. Wave action erodes the middens, crushes the shells and redeposits them to create Montague’s white shell beaches."

A uniquely coloured jellyfish waiting for the tide to return...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Props


Last month my wife and I strolled through an Oceanside auto show. It was much more relaxed and WAY less crowded than the tens of thousands of people who came out for the Northwest Deuce Days show in Victoria.

Rather than more pics of curves and colours though I thought I would focus on the props that some collectors use to dress up their cars.

For some reason, demons and the supernatural seem to be a favourite theme with them. A lot of these guys are typically old white guys well into their senior years. Maybe it's about to trying to re-capture the 'bad boy' attitude of their long gone youth, who knows?


Sometimes the props are meant to evoke the era and the times of the car as I mentioned in a previous post.

The owner of this Ghia had an 60s era drive-in window tray hanging off his car. It looked real, but everything was plastic and strictly for show.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Enjoying a moment


Two silver-haired ladies get playful in the water of Parksville's main beach...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Durrance Lake

Floaties bob gently on Durrance Lake...

Tucked away in the upper hills on the western side of the Saanich peninsula you'll find Durrance Lake.

Jumping into the warm water from the lakeside dock...

It's a small pretty lake somewhat off the beaten path and known for its very warm water. It doesn't feature much in the way of shore access... the one small beach area can get very crowded on a hot summer weekend.

The thing to do, it seems, is to bring an inflatable and while away the afternoon bobbin' gently on the water -- discretely sipping a beer from your cleverly disguised can or bottle -- while enjoying the warm sun overhead.

Friday, September 2, 2016

You are NOT the centre of everyone's universe...

-- Quote: Olin Miller
Photo: M. Laplante -- Bastion Square, Victoria, BC
I belong to Toastmasters, the public speaking and leadership organization. Beginners usually join to overcome their fear of public speaking. (Fear of public speaking is one of the biggest fears if not THE biggest according to numerous studies.)

Sometimes their fear takes the form of "I'm afraid I'll look or sound boring or stupid..." However, I point out to them that they -- the beginning speaker -- just aren't that important to the audience.

The members of your audience lead their own lives and have their own concerns.  A lot of their 'thoughts are about their own situations. That bored looking girl over there? She's replaying the crappy night out on the town with the girlfriends last night. That businessman who is glancing down and not paying attention? He's mentally composing notes for a business mixer that he has later that day.

And on it goes...

Fear of what other people think of YOU is actually a form of narcissism where you assume that you are the centre of attention being judged by others. Relax. You're not THAT important... and that's a good thing.

Enjoy your life and don't worry about how others think of you...