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28 augustus 2005

First week @ Work and ..... Rain!

Holiday is over, back in the regular routine of....

working!
I started on Monday at Seaspan Ship Management in Vancouver. Seaspan is specialized in providing a full service for container liners. Seaspan owns the ships, takes care of maintenance and arranges crewing. The only thing the container liner has to do is directing the ships to where the cargo is.

I commute to the office by bus and seabus, they both take about 15 minutes. The seabus is nice, a 15 minute ride over the Burrard Inlet, the strech of water between North Van and downtown Vancouver.

The seaspan office is located right beside the Seabus terminal, very convenient. The office is at the 26th floor, the view over Vancouver is amazing!

The work is pretty interesting, since I'm the only IT'er I get to do everything.. exactly what I like!

Friday was especially nice, we visited a large containership and got a full tour! It's not everyday that I'm sitting at a PC very close to an eight cilinder with three turbo chargers, cylinders several meters in height and 83 centimers in diameter....developing 50.000 horsepower :-) We got a very extensive tour covering all the interesting places on the ship.. amazing to see. It's like a small industrial plant.

Now that there is some income again we decided to head for Ikea and get some chairs.. We still only had two chairs, so during diner one of us was always sitting on the ground :-) We also ran into a nice hallstand (kapstok). The Ikea is only 20 minutes away.

Other good news is that our container is apparently getting close. On Monday (for us tomorrow) we should hear more!

When I went out this morning I was very surprised to see something that we haven't seen here since we arrived.. RAIN.. We hope that it will turn to snow quickly :-)

Posted by Brijn at 07:19 pm | Comments (0)

21 augustus 2005

BC, Yukon and Alaska Trip

One broken windscreen, one flat tire, 7614km and loads of fun.. Our BC, Yukon Alaska Road Trip.. Pictures at http://gallery.brijn.nu/bcyual Warning, lengthy read (it will receive some updates later)...

Day 1: 05-08
Km: 580
From: Vancouver
To: Williams Lake + 30km
Campsite: Whispering Willow

We left Vancouver at 9.30 on Highway 1. The road till Chilliwack we know by now (see the Climbing Mt Cheam entry). Mt Cheam showed nicely above the highway without cloud cover :-) We will have to go back there.

On the way the vegetation changes dramatically, from the rainforest around Vancouver to the very dry (almost desert like) landscape between Cache Creek and the Hwy 97 / Hwy 69 junction (Hat creek ranch). In this very dry part there were a lot of forest fires that caused considerable smoke. We had the opportunity to see this at close range. It is not so much the trees that burn, but more the undergrowth. We did see one fire fighting helicopter, but it seems that they let fires burn if there is no property in danger.

Robin enjoyed most of the drive, so not many stops were needed. He is old and tall enough now to look out of the windows and recognize many things, and then explain us what it is :-) Koe… Paard…. Trein.

In Williams Lake we did some grocery shopping and decided to drive on until the first nice campsite since it was time to stop driving (around 16:30). After about 30 more kilometers we found the (empty) Whispering Willow campsite. Nobody there, we will leave the camping fee tomorrow in an envelope :) Simple facilities, but very clean and... warm water, and a truly good shower, no coins needed.

Tomorrow we will see how far we get. It will probably take us two days (1.5) to get to Hyder.. In Hyder we plan to stay for 2 days so Robin can get his usual nap at mid-day. In the car his nap are often a bit to short.

---------------------------------------------

Date: 06-08-2005
Start: Williams Lake
End: Telkwa, Tyhee lake
Km: 586km

Hmmm, Picasa just ate the pictures of today :-((( Not to many fortunately, but still.. Back to the Microsoft wizard for downloading.

Robin went to bed late yesterday (around 22:00).. And around 4:15 he woke up due to the cold. During the night he had crawled out of his warm sleeping bag, and it was only 10 degrees Celsius in our tent. We then packed him more carefully in his sleeping bag. As a result he only woke up at 9:15 :-) So a late start, we started driving around 10:30..

The landscape today was completely different from that yesterday, far greener. It looked a lot like Sweden, hilly, and covered in mainly low pine trees. Especially the last bit was very beautiful, some snow capped mountains in view again. Along the way many pine trees that have turned brown, if I remember correctly this is the work of the xx Pine Beetle. The damage is very extensive!

Something for my father along the way, the best boating area I have ever seen. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop to take a photo, but we saw a very large speedboat in a small pond about 5 time the size of the speedboat. And depth or better the lack thereof was another problem a sailer would have had in this pond. That was a very funny sight.

At around 18:00 we were in Houston (we have no problems) where we stopped at an A&W (a Mac like shop) where we ate some fries and a burger :-) This saved us the evening diner preparation. Just past Telkwa we found a nice campsite in the Tyhee Provincial Park. This campsite was used by far more people then yesterday’s (nobody).

Tomorrow we will need 3 hours to get to Hyder, were will stay for 2 nights. Hopefully we can do some bear watching!!

Date: 07-08-2005
Start: Telkwa
End: Stewart
Km: 368

An earlier start this morning… We left at around 9:30. We were not in a hurry so we made a few stops on the way. One was in Moricetown where a river passed thru a narrow canyon. Many salmons were trying to get upstream, and several local fisherman (first nations) were trying to catch them.

Close to Stewart (Hwy 37W) we saw a couple of bears. The first one was a young black bear that crossed the road. We followed it for a little bit and that way came across a nice little lake. It was one of those typical little lakes in the mountains here. Very shallow, so a number of different water plants can grow there. And mountains in different shades of green all around it. A dock went into the lake for 10 meters. We used it to take some pictures of the lake and its surroundings.

Just as we drove on we again saw some bears, and this time we were lucky. We had enough time to get them on tape. Promising for tomorrow! The other wildlife in this particular area is the butterfly. There are suddenly so many butterfly here there is no way you can escape them. Over a stretch of 50 kilometers there are thousands if not millions of butterflies. A strange sight, especially since we saw very, very few butterflies earlier or later on our trip. Here there is no avoiding them, which also means we cannot avoid killing them while we are driving. Butterflies give horrible big yellow splashes on your windscreen. Yuck!

We arrived in Stewart (BC) at around 16:30, and we decided to continue to Hyder (AK) to have a look. As soon as we crossed the border everything changed, road went from paved to gravel, many derelict houses, the rest looking shabby. Thus we decided we would not camp in Hyder but in Stewart. On our way out the Canadian border police asked how long we had been in the USA… euhhhhh… 2 minutes 

We checked with the local tourist info where we could camp and watch the bears. Camping was just around the corners, and bears were at Fish Creek. Exactly, just follow the road through Hyder  . The other attraction in this area is 35 km further on the road (still gravel still trough Hyder). It is the Salmon Glacier. The second biggest glacier in … (world/north America/?) To make things more clear there is only 1 way going to and through Hyder. There is no way you can get lost there. Furthermore there is only one campsite in Steward, two or three restaurants some shops and an information panel. There were 2 girls working at the information office, but this being everything there is in the area they had quit an easy job. Maybe even boring.

At the campsite we found that our neighbor was Dutch, Bram. He is traveling through Canada for 3 months. And sometimes the world is small. Bram is a biologist. He studied with Bart. Now last year my sister went to Siberia with this Bart to do research on geese. They say you need only 6 connections to get to anyone in the world….

We decided to plan for an early start tomorrow morning (06:00) and watch the bears, then continue to the Salmon Glacier. The information office girls did have a good tip go early to the bears to avoid being packed on a small walking board with 300 other people.

Date: 08-08-2005
Start: Stewart
End: Stewart
Km: 150km

We managed to get up at 06:00 and be ready to drive 06:45. We were at Fish Creek at around 07:00. And already a good many people were out on the walking board. Big lenses all around 
There was one bear active, but that was a lot of fun, Bear-Mac-Drive-Thru. There was so much salmon in the creek that he could just jump around a bit grab a fish, take one or two bites, and score the next fresh fish. He also could choose between big fish and bigger fish.

Besides getting it on video tape, we must have shot several hundreds of pictures, so the next job is to sort those 

We continued on the gravel road to Salmon Glacier. Not a change to get lost, there is only one way. Massive! And really beautiful, we made quite a few pictures with the Rollei as well. Let’s see what comes out of those. Unfortunately we decided to skip some of the picture taking for on the way back. Since the weather looked excellent. Weather stayed fine, but the sky became very hazy 

In the evening we went out for diner. Finally something other than pasta and red sauce. Ge-an had a very nice fish of which half was donated to Robin who preferred the fish to hid chips. I should have got the fish too, but I took a hamburger. Wrong choice, it was OK, but not very good. Desert on the other hand was excellent Frozen Chocolate Nut Cheese Cake. We need to find the recipe for that one!!

After diner we discovered that all gravel driving of the day had resulted in a flat tire.

Date:09-08-2005
Start: Stewart
End: Boya Lake Provincial Park
Km: 550km

Due to some required phone calls we needed to make, we had a late start. We also needed a repair for the flat tire. This was quickly done, so at 10:30 we were on our way..

This day will probably be remembered by us as the Drive-Over-Deserted-Gravel-Roads. We would sometimes not see another (oncoming) car for 30 or more minutes. Note that this is on one of two major highways to the north.. Absolutely amazing! Compare that to traffic in the Netherlands.

The scenery was impressive as well, a seemingly endless number of trees and mountain ranges. With every x kilometer a nice lake. Very few villages, I think we only saw 5-10 in the 550km.

We are now at 59dgr Latitude, a new experience. It shows though. We are typing this in daylight, while it’s 21:30 


Date: 10-08-2005
Start: Boya Lake Provincial Park
End: Haines junction
Km: 673

Again we planned a traveling day. Distances here are huge. So we tried to get an early start today, but in the end woke up at 7:30. When we left at 9:30 our aim was getting to Whitehorse, Yukon. Yukon ho!!

But before we got to the Yukon, a number of things “happened”. First of all Robin had his second birthday, which meant singing “in de Gloria” for most of the time. It is one of his favorite songs. Since he is learning more words, and more song, he is also starting to sing himself (self-made songs) and found a way of letting us know which song he wants to hear. And because we have no tape or CD-player in our car, we keep singing ourselves.

The next thing was turning a corner and suddenly seeing a moose!!! I braked immediately, and Bas managed to get it on video. But the minute we went to get our photo camera it ran of into the bushes. Since there was a big truck coming we started driving again, very quickly at full speed. Then all of a sudden we saw another moose running alongside our car. It kept up with us for 10 meters. Wow…this time a really big moose too.

The road itself was hilly with many, many curves. Again a hilly landscape with nothing but pine.

Our first stop was just after crossing the border between BC and the Yukon (60 dgr. lat.) We stopped for fuel and some cookies. From there one we took highway 1 (Alaska highway) to the north-west. The second stop was Carcross where we had lunch (icecream) and got a cake for Robin’s birthday (which in the end he didn’t like. Luckily we did, so we had some more). At that point we also decided to drive al the way to Haines Junction, instead of stopping at Whitehorse. The Alaska highway is a lot better, wider, and all paved, and therefore faster than highway 37.

Whitehorse itself, mayor city!! Huge!! At least 36 kilometers through the city limits (we hardly saw a house). And they have there own radio station. We enjoyed programs like “trading” (I would like a book, and I have a fresh jug of milk from our cow to trade), and “call for your favorite song” (Can I hear John Denver one more time today please)…. Maybe we should get Edwin Evers up there ;-). By the way since we have fast internet at home now, we can enjoy “Evers gaat slapen” Best show in the world, better than “ Evers staat op” since this show never occurs together with morning traffic jams on the A4 from Rotterdam to Amsterdam .

And now it’s half past ten in the evening, and we still don’t need a light. We are at 61 drg lat. Farther up north than we have ever been. A lot of wasps that seem to be living of the dead mosquito’s, midgets and other insects on our windshield. I feel itchy, but the actual number of mosquito/midget bites is not that high. I could still count them if anyone is interested….. I suppose not.


Date: 11-08-2005
Start: Haines Junction
End: Haines Junction
Km: 140

We had a lazy day today. We slept in till 9:00 when Robin woke us up. Since we have driven a couple of days, we thought a day of would be nice. It took a while before we could convince Robin we were not going to drive today.

We talked to a couple of cyclists that had stayed here overnight as well.. They turned out to be Dutch/Belgian. They had a nice car behind their bike and Robin enjoyed playing with it for a bit while we were talking to them. And again the world is small. They lived in Breukelen and she (Eva) had worked at Bever. Well then you must know……Martine. Yes!!
When they had to leave Robin did not like it for a bit, he was very unhappy for twenty minutes, not very common for him. Quite sad 

He still wanted to drive, so we decided to drive into town to get some groceries. As in many of these towns there is one “General Store”. They often combine a gas station, small café and grocery store. In this case they also had Internet . And being the only store in town we ran into the same couple one more time. Robin didn’t notice them, he had an apple.

Robin reaction at our rest-and-stay-at camp-day was funny. Apparently he has become so used to traveling by car, the only thing he wants is drive in the car. But back at the campsite Robin was a bit happier and understood it was playtime, he decided to try out a couple of professions. The first was playing the sax or fagot, we don’t know yet. His grandfather may tell us from seeing the pictures/video. The second profession he tried was being a lumberjack. The third one was photographer. We made some great pictures.

In the end we did drive for a bit. You can hardly escape it here, distances are so large. We drove up to Sheep mountain visitor centre, to see if we could do a nice hike there. In the end we decided that we are probably spoiled. The thing is, we can’t do a trail that takes more than one day, and we do want the superb views there are here. Only into Kluane NP the superb views take at least a 2-3 day hike. So in the end instead of going hiking we decided to go down to Haines tomorrow. It is said to be a beautiful drive, crossing one of the highest passes in the area.

Date: 12-08-2005
Start: Haines Junction
End: Haines Junction
Km: 606

We decided to drive down to Haines, AK. The road to Haines (250km) is supposed to be very beautiful. It was a long way for a daytrip, but ala, getting used to long distances is part of integration, eh 
We had a nice breakfast at the excellent bakery in Haines Jct. At arounf 10:30 we left HJ. The drive was beautiful indeed. We decided to stop for \making pictures a few times.. Part of them on the Rollei, so we have to wait a bit to see what the result will be.

At the border learned that it’s veruy important to remove these green visa papers. If they are left in your passport might be tagged and the automatic VISA [ingetrokken].. we didn’t know, and the Candian border people hadn’t removed the old VISA from last years holiday.. This very friendly US Customs officer explained this to us, we then had to fill out a new green VISA form and pay US$ 6… Oops, we only had Canadfian $ :-) But the friendly officer decided to wqaive the fee this time!

Haines itself was not so interesting, we decided to have an early diner and started on the way backh.

Date: 13-08-2005
Start: haines JCT
End; Tok, AK
Km: 485

Yesterday we had been counting the remaining days and the options that had for that time.. We combined this by reading an Alaska/Yukon Wildlife viewing book that we had picked up a the visitor center in Haines Jct.. There are two roads not to far from Haines Jct that would lead us over some very wildlife dense roads.

To get to these roads we need to drive a bit more up north into alaksa to a place called Tok, from there a gravel road to Chicken (yes.. really). From Chicked to Dawson City (YK) over the Top iof the World highway thru some tundra landscape.

Then alter on we pick up another 4x4 only road, we have to see if we will make that timewise, but we’ll see..

After a very lengthy and slow drive we arrivedin Tok. Unfortunately we didn’t see anything from the surrounding environment due to smoke from wildfires. The wildfires return every year and play an important t role in nature here.. The fire destroyed areas can often be seen from the road..

Tok is small and uninteresting, but after a visit to the local Rourist info we decided to stop here. North of chicken is also an active wildfire so dense smoke is to be expected.. Nothing to be to drive thru, but camping might not be a good idea..

We had past a msall campsite just before Tok and we diced to stop there.. Simple but nice , but we are now sitting in the tent. Long before our bedtime due to the amazing amount of mosquitos ((

Date: 14-08_2005
Start: Tok, AK
End: Dawson City, YK
Km: 350?

Lots of smoke on the way, so not much to see.. Lot’s of gravel so a long and slow day. Highlight, a old miner Dredge along the way.. A mammoth steam powered machine that was used during the goldrush to mine for gold on a larger scale. We have to check, but we probably found a very small bit of gold in the creek where the dredge was located.

The good thing was crossing the border again. We are now back in Yukon Canada! Our “homeland”. And from that point on the mist grew thinner (we were also a lot higher up and the winds were east so the smoke blew from the Yukon into Alaska) and this gorgeous landscape opened up. We were at 1100 meter, 100 meter above the tree line. It really looked like Scotland to me (Ge-an). And then there is the name of this road. High over the tops of the mountains, with great views over the entire area, this roads is rightfully named Top Of The World Highway.

At the end of the day we took the ferry to Dawson City, the only way to cross the river. Dawson City itself was very nice, they clearly put some effort in making it look OK. It was helped by the fact that there were some festivities for Discovery day..

We decided to to a hotel in the center of the city, we went out for diner..

Unfortunately we were awake for part of the night due to a lot of drunk people that I think came back from the Casino.

Date: 15-08_2005
Start: Dawson City, YK
End: Lapie Canyon
Km: 610km

We slept until 10.00 since we missed quite a bit of sleep during the night. There was too much noise from drunken people. Packing was obviously quicker. So we filled up the gasoline and were on our way on 11:00. Along the whole route today we either viewed or were in the Tintina Trench. This is a fault that crosses the Yukon from South-East to North West and into Alaska. It’s so big it shows clearly on a satellite image.

We missed a couple of photo opportunities because Robin was just asleep  including the award winning photo of the year. An eerie photo of some dead trees in a pond surrounded by the most beautiful mountains.
We are at the campsite now. It’s half past ten and there still enough light to type. We are the only persons at this campsite. Some motor came by to check it out but they went on. Ten km. furter there is a motel. Maybe they are` heading that way. Before we pitched our tent we first went to Ross River a small town 10 km. to the north. Unfortunately everything (General Store and gas station) was closed due to Discovery Day (a provincial holiday in the Yukon). Hopefully at least the gas station will be open tomorrow. The next gas station is 363 km further. We should just have enough gas for that, but it would be better not to have to gamble on it.

Robin found out he could pretend to ride a horse using a stick. This particular stick being 2,5 meters in length was not what we thought the best for it. But Robin decided that that stick was indeed his horse/boat. In the end he couldn’t decide on what it was a horse (Robin is learning how to jump) or a boat.

16-08-2005
Start: Lapie Canyon
End: Liard Hotspirngs
Km: 606km

Nice htspirings, should go there in winter

17-8-2005
Start: Liart Hotsprings
End: Chegwynd
Km: 825km

Nice, continued until 21:30. Partly we made some moon pictures (just rising over the mountains!) We found out that we can put up the tent (in the dark) in 13 minutes (with Robin-watching). Last tentnight, one long day to North Van


Start: Chegwynd
End Vancouver
Km: 1085km

Posted by Brijn at 10:48 pm | Comments (0)

04 augustus 2005

A job, and on our way to Alaska

The job that had been in the pipeline now came out as a contract... woeheee!!

At the 22nd of August I start in my new job. First for two months as a external contracter, but after that on a normal contract... A very fun job with many interesting components (ranging from strategic planning to end-user support).. Really looking forward to it.

We waited with our trip to Alaska until the contract was finalized, we are now looking at our packed bags and will leave tomorrow morning..

We will have two weeks, to the 9000 kilometer that the original plan contained is not smart in two weeks :-) So we will see how far we get.

For the next two weeks we will probably don't do any updates :)

We will be back!

Posted by Brijn at 11:10 pm | Comments (2)

01 augustus 2005

4x4'ing and hiking Mount Cheam

That was fun! We selected a hike with a 4x4 access road.. Driving up there was big fun.......

We bought the 4x4 so that we could reach Trailheads that are not easily reached with a normal car. Many of these trailheads only have a special type of access road, the Forest Service Road (FSR). These roads are build by the logging companies to extract the trees from the forest. So not your typical Dutch 4 lane highway.. No Sir... Think big holes, cross ditches, waterbars.. If we would have started with a carton of milk we would have ended with whipped cream, that's for sure... Was it fun? YES, very much.. Did the car do well? Yes, only once we needed to shift into 4 weel drive, the rest was just clearance that was needed.

Mount Cheam is in the Fraser River valley, near Chilliwack. About 120km East of vancouver. To the exit of the highway we needed an hour and a half. The FSR took another hour :)

The hike itself was beautiful! Alpine meadow leading to a real summit. Unfortunately we didn't have a nice view, there were a lot of clouds that obstructed the view. Some short breaks gave us an idea of the valley view that we could have had :)

Pictures of this trip can be found at:
http://gallery.brijn.nu/mtcheam

We don't know what we will do tomorrow.. We might go camping at Alice Lake.. Or maybe we stay here.. We will see.. The coming days will gradually get warmer (up to 30gr+).

Bye,
RGB

Posted by Brijn at 10:48 pm | Comments (1)