Archive for July, 2014

CYCLING – now and then. I cycle whenever the weather permits. I also love my bicycles. Now in Canada distances are extreme. Thinking back to my youth when we made one week cycling tours with a school class, we may have only covered up to 30 km in one week. Today, 30 km is a trip of 2 hours, taking my time.  Just the other week I got myself a new bicycle, with larger wheels and smaller tires and lighter than my mountain bike. Here in Canada – even in the city – roads go up and down, sometimes quite steep. Lots of leg strength needed. Since I do not got off-road anymore, I preferred a lighter, faster and still comfortable bike. Testing the other day on  the trail, I love it. Around Vancouver Island we have many good and long bike trails outside the city, some going through stretches of wilderness. Lately a couple of cougars had been roaming around the outlying areas where cycle trails are, one of the big cats unfortunately got shot (to protect cyclists).  That is why I now mostly go up north of the city towards the end of this peninsula. Not so lonely. Of course you always must watch out. Inside the city, also unfortunately some nasty people who dislike cyclists had strung wires across some city streets, that tripped cyclists.  With cycling, it is always WATCH THE ROAD and around you (s.a. my previous post [ ] ).  Here is a nice little tidbit from the past: During WW2 bicycles were at a premium, because the military machine had confiscated all cars from their owners. Thus, the bicycle was often the only means for civilians to get to a bunker during the heavy bombings by the allies. Bicycle theft was also severely punished, often with the death penalty. Good stuff !  [A couple of cycling photos included.] image0096 image0101tofino_2011 007


Vacation Rentals

Trying to find vacation rentals anywhere for one person ? impossible if going over the Internet. My son who lives in Europe cannot find me anything, although he should know people living there actually. I must always try myself, from Canada, over the Internet. Ever attempted to find one single little studio situation for one person to rent for let’s say (extended stay) three months ? Tough luck, I say. Going thru Google, the normal list of links includes millions of vacation rentals for people sharing: Four, six, one dozen or more. Nutcase situation: that people who like to return to their home countries in Europe actually are being forced to share some rentals with total strangers. Just so, that the owners (or in most cases the large Internet companies representing some owners) can ask exorbitant rental fees. There are likewise lots of companies specializing in the rental business, and nothing else. So, you can go thru lists and or pages of Internet data trying to find: Studio for one person (or if nothing else, for max. two). One single room, small kitchen. What’s so difficult about that ! Of course, if I were in Europe, I would call around, get on the phone, look at classifieds in local newspapers. Impossible for some people to think about that. Must always be the NET. “Forget about it”! Web-based businesses ask more money. For the past few years I found some good stuff over the Internet, though: Rental w/small kitchen for $500 a month. Or for Euro500 a month. Sounds OK to me. But this is rare. However, lots of hours spent getting frustrating about “sleeps 12” or some derogatory remark about “single” people. Yet, incredible how many people travel solo nowadays. Trying against all odds to fight against a stereotype system of travelling (double occupancy) or vacation rentals.

[NOTE. Today found an excellent website, secured, on “vacation rentals Barcelona, Spain”. Prices in Can.$; homes – either by room, apartment, shared, or entire house – rented by mostly private owners. Price ranges are doable.]

During the many years living in Alberta’s wilderness outside of the big cities of Calgary and Edmonton, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains NW of Calgary, I have encountered situations which to most city dwellers may seem frightening. [This post continued from my last posts – on Alberta Wilderness.]

The best way to start a story is at the beginning. When we first came across the US/Canada border into Canada. Somewhere North of New York State and Ontario late April of 1976. It was still cold. Our home so far had been our old Volkswagen (Square Back – I call it my ‘Hobomobile’), an antique you might say, in which we (myself and my nine year old son) had spent weeks travelling up North from New York State (Syracuse University). Then traversing Canada going West towards Edmonton, Alberta, where I was meeting a friend – we had done some projects in Geneva, Switzerland together in 1974. To make this short: I needed a job as a single mother (my husband had passed away end 1974). In Edmonton things fell into place somehow. One of the commitments was to travel up north to Slave Lake, Alberta, to meet someone who promised to help.

[ ]  A long trip with an old vehicle on Highway 2 north from Edmonton [ ], a highway which later in all those years in Alberta I got to know as “the killer highway”, especially in winter. And winter up there starts early and ends late. Tough going. Car trouble, oil leaking, and more. On the way up it struck me as my first impression of real wilderness. Not many homes along that highway, once in a while a stop at one forlorn house in the middle of nowhere, driving into the yard, to ask for motor oil. There were mostly Natives – a glimpse at the Native First Nations [ ], busy processing hunted beaver in their yard. For us – a different world from what I had known in Europe, or for that matter the almost two years at Syracuse University, New York State. We made it to Slave Lake with that old Volkswagen, running on two cylinders. Meeting my contact at this great lake, in the midst of constructing a house there. Slave Lake is huge and was still at this time of year covered with big ice floes . My slides showing select images starting from Ontario, across to Alberta and up North to Slave Lake, Alberta.  . And the way back to Edmonton ? My Hobomobile finally gave up its life on the road.