Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014.06.259 - Canada Day on The Gorge

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A beautiful sunny morning greeted us as we rolled the kayaks down the hill, and it was only going to get better. Forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, it's also Canada Day. So Happy 147th Birthday to us!

Every Canada Day, Gorge Road is closed for a mile-long block party. It starts with a parade.
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Ace Mascot, the mascot of the local Saanich police came by and surprisingly did not try to arrest me, but gave me a high-five before joining the parade.
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Paula joined Louise and I for our quick little jaunt up the Gorge.

And we're off!
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We weren't expecting to see much wildlife today, and we didn't. With all the hustle and bustle, we've come to expect that the wildlife in the area will go into hiding on Canada Day. But we did see a couple of swans enjoying the holiday.
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As we paddled down the Gorge...
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...we passed the beginning of the parade. Ace was still having a good time.
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After flying the flag...
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...it was time to join the street party.

We checked out the classic chairs...
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...and the artisan booths.
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And we checked out the road hockey tournament. After all, what's more Canadian than hockey in July?
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Trip length: 3.81 km
YTD: 29.89 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014.05.258 - The Great Experiment

Louise and I decided to head to the dark side today and try our hand at stand-up paddle boarding. It's something we've always wanted to try as The Gorge near where we live would be a great place to SUP. We could carry the boards down the hill easily and launch into its flat and calm waters.
We hooked up with Jason from Epic Surf Co. for a lesson.

We met early on this cloudy and drizzly morning at Gonzales Bay, a small but sheltered bay on the southern shore of Victoria.
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The first thing we liked about paddle boarding? These boards are light!
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But then the hard part began, getting on the board and standing up.
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It's not as easy as it looks. First you have to get on your knees, then try and move to your feet, then stand up. It sounds simple, but it takes some getting used to. And it didn't always go well.
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But finally, she's up!

Louise was really good at it, and really got the hang of it. Although she had a few falls, she was really good about getting back on the horse and trying again, and managed to stand up quite a few times and went for a couple of long paddles. I was able to get up on my knees, but really found myself having a hard time balancing on my feet. I did manage to stand up a few times, but I didn't stay up for long. :)
There's something about not being on solid ground that my feet don't like. I have the same feeling if I'm in skates or rollerblades -- my feet total rebel, they want to be on the ground, ground that preferably isn't moving. It's odd...while on the paddle board on my knees, I had no problems. (Although you can't edge really well on a paddle board. As I found out.)

Most of the time, my view was this:

But Louise was a whiz at it.
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Will we do it again? Not sure. No question we had fun, but I am not sure we were convinced enough to try it again. We'll sleep on it and see. And you will see it here, if we try it again.

Trip length: .5 km
YTD: 26.08 km
More pictures are here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

2014.04.257 - Baby Hunt


A warm sunny morning greeted Louise and I as we rolled our kayaks down the hill for a paddle. The object of today's paddle was our annual pilgrimage up The Gorge to look for baby swans. There's two local swan couples, one in The Gorge that have lived there for a couple of years, and another couple in Portage Inlet that have been there for at least six or seven years. So be warned; there's possibly lots of cute feathered goodness ahead in this post.

First, we noticed a heron preening in the morning sun near our launch point.
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We kayaked by the first swan nest. Mom was sitting on the nest, and there was no sign of baby swans. Or dad for that matter. We'd thought we might have seen mom and some babies a few days ago from a distance when we were on a walk, but we really weren't sure. And with the the high grasses, mom could be hiding almost anything in there. But if she had any baby swans in there, we saw no sign of them today.
A few minutes later we spotted dad out for his Sunday morning walk, er, swim.
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Soon, we paddled by some geese and clearly they had had some luck on the baby front.
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Another heron was fishing for breakfast.

Then we headed for our first trip under the new Craigflower Bridge after its official opening a few weeks ago.
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This fancy new bridge replaces an 80 year-old bridge that looked like this:
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Going under the bridge moves you from The Gorge to Portage Inlet and we headed for the nest of the the other swan couple. But disappointingly, there was no sign of them. The beach area where they've nest for years looked undisturbed, so we wonder if they are still around. Perhaps they've moved on.
So, no swan babies. But as we looked in vain for them, we saw a pair of youngish looking herons.
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It was high noon, but low tide and we were getting stuck in the mud and silt botton of the Inlet. Time to head back.
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Trip length: 6.83 km
YTD: 25.58 km
More pictures are here.
2014-06-08 The Gorge

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014.03.256 - Thetis Lake

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This morning, Louise and I headed down to Thetis Lake so that Louise could try a dry-suit for the first time. Up to this time, Louise has used various combinations of neoprene pieces and paddling jackets. However, her main paddling jacket is in need of replacement and we've been discussing the pros and cons of a dry-suit as a replacement. Personally, I don't see any cons to a dry-suit -- except maybe the cost -- but until now Louise has remained unconvinced. We borrowed a dry-suit from another local paddler, but when she put it on we quickly discovered that Louise suffers from "clothestropohbia" -- a fear of confined clothing.

Our plan today was to paddle around the lake, then play in the water a bit so that Louise could get an idea of what a dry-suit is like.
We were about to hit the water when we suddenly realized that in our concern over getting the dry-suit ready for Louise, we'd forgotten out PFDs! Whoops!
What to do? If we were launching into the ocean without out PFDs, well, we wouldn't. But this being a lake we decided that sticking close to the shore should be safe enough. Thetis Lake is actually a deceptively deep lake; many a poor swimmer has encountered serious, in some cases fatal, trouble by walking out into the water from shore not realizing that the bottom drops off sharply and unexpectedly.

So, carefully, off we went.
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Soon we found some trash floating near the main beach.
I'm not sure what it is -- a floating drink tray? Summer is starting early in the park! We put it ashore near a garbage can.

We continued on.
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Among the trees and bushes along the shore I thought I saw a giant turtle. All I saw was a round shiny back, so my first thought was turtle, since we know there are turtles in the park. Then I saw it again, and it was definitely not a turtle. Too fast for one thing. Moving between the trees, it waddled along. Otter, maybe? We have seen those here, too.
But then I noticed the tree it walked by.
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I'm pretty sure that otters don't eat trees.
So, a beaver then? Maybe, especially because Louise pointed out the large beaver mound behind the tree.
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We moved into an arm of the lake that we know has turtles in it...
...and sure enough, there were two.
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Soon it was time to head back. Louise has promised to report on her dry-suit experience.
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Trip length: 6.04 km
YTD: 18.75 km
More pictures are here.