Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Campbell River and Elk Falls Park

Campbell River has a park going South out of Campbell River on 19A, done by the Rotary Club. It is a small park, a sweet park, full of wooden statues with a totem-like feel. It is easily walked, and even easily walked pushing a wheelchair.

The statues – an owl, an angel, a fierce looking eagle – those are just the ones I can think of easily – and the path is lovingly maintained and open to the public.It is utterly free. People can walk, take their children.

In downtown Campbell River, there are totems everywhere, reflecting the First Nation traditions, and a population of Haida.

CampbellRiverPark2

 

CampbellRiverPark

 

Near Campbell River is a huge public-private-bureaucratic project for a new hydroelectric generation complex. The old one is being replaced by one less vulnerable to seismic variations, and the government is working with private industry to set it up quickly. A Rotary club built another wheelchair accesible trail to Elk Falls, crossing over the old wooden water pipes being replaced. The trail was beautiful, and efficient. They really did a lot of work to clear the path thoroughly, no roots straggling across, no slick spots.

ElkFalls ElkFallsWheelchair

 

You really could wheel a wheelchair to the overview of Elk Falls. From that viewpoint onward, there are 11 flights of stairs and a chain link drawbridge that make further progress in a wheelchair unlikely. Actually, getting to the viewpoint would not be that hard. Getting back – pushing a wheelchair bound person weighing more than 50 lbs. or so – would require a team of four to six strong eighteen to twenty year old men trading off often. It is uphill all the way.

ElkFalls2

ElkFallsAbove

ElkFallsStairway

The falls are spectacular. The stairs are really well built, very sturdy. The chain link bridge was daunting for someone like me, not with fears of heights, but someone who finds being in high places brings on a fear of falling. I made my way across to the other viewpoint, and then back again, mostly by not looking down and not thinking about it, just walking, one step after another. The sturdiness of the stairs, that attention to detail, gave me the confidence I needed to trust that the bridge would not fail with me on it.

 

ChainBridgeEF

 

ChainBridge2

I always enjoy a hike a lot better after I’ve finished it 🙂

 

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Community, ExPat Life, Fitness / FitBit, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Technical Issue, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Quay West

“What brought you here?” our waitress, Robin, asked as we sat in one of the most glorious restaurants in Campbell River.

“My wife,” said AdventureMan.

“I don’t know why,” I started, “I just felt drawn here. I needed to see it. I like hunting and fishing, and I knew this was hunting and fishing country, and the gateway to the north of Vancouver Island.”

It’s true. I like remote places, and I like hunting cultures. I grew up among people who fished for a living and hunted for food to eat through the winter. You respect food more when you have to grow it or hunt it.

Campbell River is beautiful. You could live anywhere, and wake up every morning to water and mountains and 180 degrees – or more – of sky.

Our room is in a brand new hotel, it is clean and beautiful as only a new hotel can be. We have a balcony overlooking the BC Ferry as it shuttles cars and trucks back and forth across to the islands.

ViewBCFerryFmComvort

 

We are trying to decide where to go for dinner, and I am reading to AdventureMan from Trip Advisor. The first review at Quay West features a couple who split a Ceasar Salad and a Pork Schnitzle with a Mushroom Peppercorn Sauce. I didn’t even get to finish reading; AdventureMan said “That’s where we are going!” and five minutes later we were out the door.

 

QuayWest

Quay West has more than great food going for it. It also has location, location, location. Here are the views:

QuayWestView

 

QuayWestView2

 

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Our waitress was fantastic, and fun to talk with. She brought us a Ceasar Salad to split, then a huge plate of Pork Schnitzle (remember, we have lived almost 20 years in Germany, not continuously, but in segments) with the mushroom peppercorn sauce. It was everything the reviewer had said it was, and we relished the meal, every bite, even the beautifully cooked vegetables, surrounded by natural beauty. AdventureMan had a Steam Whistle IPA which had the crisp pilsner taste, and I had a Pinot Blanc, dry, flinty, just the way I like it.

QWOnionRings

 

PorkSchnitzlePeppercornMushroomSauce

 

HalfPorkSchnitzle

 

We passed on dessert, but Robin brought us two huge strawberries, coated in chocolate, and we did not resist.

Back at the hotel, I discover that I can pick up texts and messages as long as I am connected via the hotel Wifi. Woo HOOOOO! We are not totally out of communication!

A perfect ending to a great day.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Communication, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Survival, Technical Issue | , , | Leave a comment

Bureaucracy With a Heart

Did I tell you we’ve been stationed with two embassies, and at the second, I worked as a Foreign Service Officer? I know how busy and how harried the diplomats are, and I know how beleaguered the consular offices are with requests for visas and tourists who have lost their passports. They see it every day.

I lost my passport. My bad. Totally on me. I can’t expect anyone to feel obligated to help me out, but fortunately, there are mechanisms in place to expedite. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it when you have a trip booked.

I told you about our run to New Orleans to submit paperwork and my delight to learn I would have a new passport soon.

I told you about the phone call telling me they needed a RECENT photo, not the same one that was on my last (never used, bright shiny new never used) passport.

I’ve been on edge all day. I’m away this weekend on a religious retreat, and I wasn’t feeling very religious. I was feeling nervous. I wonder if my passport reached New Orleans, or did it fall somewhere between the cracks? I wonder if Fridays are even work days at the passport center? What if it doesn’t get there and I don’t even know?

A short time ago, I got a phone call, from the same bureaucrat who called me about the photo. She was just calling to tell me that the passport is ready and will go out expedited this afternoon. She knew I would be concerned, and just wanted me not to worry.

I almost cried in gratitude. Who thinks of compassion when dealing with a bureaucracy? It was pure grace.

In the lifetime of our nation, we have elected some real doozies in high public office. Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors – some real characters. I don’t worry too much when lunatics run for high office, I thank God we have a solid bureaucracy, rarely corrupted; a bureaucracy that keeps plugging along when things get crazy. And thank God for this one particular officer who had a heart to reassure me that my passport is on the way. God bless her mightily.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Civility, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Faith, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Technical Issue | , | 2 Comments

My Passport and Donald Rumsfeld

It’s seven in the morning, I’ve fed the cat, made the coffee, fixed some cereal and taken care of first-thing-in-the-morning things so I can sit with my morning Lectionary readings, and as I start, the phone rings. It’s seven. In the morning. I figured it was an emergency grand-child babysit call, but the call is coming from New Orleans, an oh no. I know I need to answer it.

It’s the really nice lady who took care of me on Tuesday, and she says “We were putting together your new passport and we noticed you used the same photo you used on your last passport.”

“Why yes!” I said proudly, “when I had them taken, they gave me two, so I just used the second one.”

Big mistake. They needed a RECENT passport. My never-been-used-shiny-new passport was MONTHS ago and I need to get RECENT photos and send them immediately so they can compete the passport with the right photo.

I think about good old Donald Rumsfeld, with the things you know you know, the things you know you don’t know, the things you don’t know you know (love that one) and then – horrors – the things you don’t know you don’t know.

And then I head down first thing to UPS where the nice people took my photo and sent it off so that they will have it as soon as possible.

And . . . I am wondering what else is out there that I don’t know I don’t know.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Paris, Quality of Life Issues, Technical Issue, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

The Rains in Africa

There are times – it doesn’t matter where I am, but it’s usually a grocery store. Kuwait. Qatar. Pensacola – they all have this elevator music, music you barely notice, until you find yourself unconsciously belting out “I miss the rains in Africa . . . .”

I love that song. We’ve visited many African countries, and occasionally just before or after the rainy season. When the drops of rain hit the dry earth, there is a scent like no other, an earthy, clean perfume smell.

MIT scientists have worked out the source of that intoxicating scent – tiny bubbles.

 

Earthy, Post-Rain Smell Explained by MIT Scientists

By Jim Algar, Tech Times | January 18, 11:22 PM

Raindrop aerosols

Researcher create slow-motion video of “champagne bubble” effect to show the origin of the familiar after-rain smell. Raindrops can release aerosols from the ground into the air as they hit, researchers find.
(Photo : MIT)

 

Researchers say they’ve used high-speed photography to show the origin of the familiar earthy, sweet smell that lingers in the air following a rainstorm.

Scientists call that aroma petrichor, and have long ascribed it to chemicals and oils in soil released as aerosols when raindrops hit the ground.

Now researchers at MIT say they’ve created super-slow-motion footage to demonstrate how that “rain smell” moves from the ground into the air.

“It’s a very common phenomenon, and it was intriguing to us that no one had observed this mechanism before,” says professor of mechanical engineering Cullen R. Buie.

“Rain happens every day — it’s raining now, somewhere in the world,” he says.

When a raindrop impacts a porous surface, the researchers found, it traps tiny bubbles of air that then shoot upwards like the bubbles in a glass of champagne, ultimately bursting out of the raindrop in a fizz of aerosols.

Those aerosols contain aromatic elements that can be released by light rainfall and spread by winds, they say.

More aerosols are produced by light or moderate rainfall than during heavy rainfall, which is why the familiar petrichor odor is more commonly apparent after a light shower, they add.

“Heavy rain [has a high] impact speed, which means there’s not enough time to make bubbles inside the droplet,” says postdoctoral researcher Youngsoo Joung.

The scientists filmed raindrops falling on a variety of surfaces, including 16 kinds of soil and 12 engineered materials.

Identifying a mechanism for raindrop-induced generation of aerosols may help to explain how some kinds of soil-based diseases are spread, Joung says.

“Until now, people didn’t know that aerosols could be generated from raindrops on soil,” he says. “This finding should be a good reference for future work, illuminating microbes and chemicals existing inside soil and other natural materials, and how they can be delivered in the environment, and possibly to humans.”

The MIT scientists are conducting further experiments with surfaces containing soil bacteria and pathogens, including E. coli, to see if rainfall and its aerosol-generating mechanism can spread them.

“Aerosols in the air certainly could be resulting from this phenomenon,” Buie says. “Maybe it’s not rain, but just a sprinkler system that could lead to dispersal of contaminants in the soil, for perhaps a wider area than you’d normally expect.”

The results of the MIT study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

 

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Africa, ExPat Life, Experiment, Quality of Life Issues, Technical Issue, Travel, Weather | , | 2 Comments

All Time Stats Keep Me Humble

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 8.04.23 AM

Wouldn’t I love to think that the most profound posts I write would garner the most attention and the most comments? But the truth is so humbling; the posts I write for fun, or in a hurry have long legs, or so WordPress tells me, and gather up statistics year after year.

I never know, when I write an article, what its future will be. It’s not unlike giving birth – you can input, but you have no control over who that child will be or where he/she will go.

God has the most wonderful sense of humor.

December 11, 2014 Posted by | Blogging, Humor, Statistics, Technical Issue, WordPress | Leave a comment

Baton Rouge Strangeness

Baton Rouge was a city we really wanted to like, and there are so many things about Baton Rouge we DO like. While we were there, however, every single day, we experienced a little bit of bad JuJu, a little bit of strangeness. By the grace of God, it was ameliorated by the goodness and kindness of others, but it was just strange.

First, I have to tell you I am not a huge fan of shopping, but every now and then when I find the right thing, I know it and I buy it. When I found Trader Joe’s, I knew just what to buy, quality products we love. Then, I headed out to Macy’s, a store we do not have in Pensacola.

The Mall is huge, but it was early in the morning, I got a great parking spot, and although I had ended up far from Macy’s, I enjoyed the stroll. This is the first thing I saw, and it delighted my heart.

MallAnimals

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What is not to love about this menagerie of zoo animals for little children to ride through the mall? Children HATE mall shopping, but this is a game changer 🙂

I actually didn’t find anything I loved at Macy’s, but I did find two very classic T-shirts I knew I could use, nicely made, so I went to buy them and the cashier asked if I wanted to use my Macy’s card. I said “sure” but it turns out because I hadn’t used it in a while, I had to re-instate it, and when you do that, you get 20% off all day and the next day, plus a WOW card that gives you more discounts, plus another 20% off when they bill you. Holy mole, sign me up! But even though I looked, I really didn’t see anything else I wanted.

Back at the hotel, I told AdventureMan about this hot deal and talked him into going back to Macy’s with me. He looked, but he also didn’t find anything he liked, and then I found the children’s section, ummmm, errrrr . . . .. grandchildren’s section, and there were all kinds of things I liked a lot, and Christmas is coming, so lets get a little dollar-cost-averaging going. (AdvntureMan is rolling his eyes.)

When I went to pay, the patient salesgirl rang everything up, and then had to call some number because my total was high, and then asked me to show my driver’s license. I knew I had it, because I had it earlier when I re-instated my card. So I dug. It wasn’t there. I dug some more, I looked and looked, but no card. I was so embarrassed. The patient clerk held all the grandchildren clothes while I went downstairs where I had shown my card earlier, and sure enough, there it was. Thank God! What if we hadn’t gone back to the Mall? Months go by where I never show that card, and months from now I wouldn’t have known where to find it. I felt like my guardian angel was sitting on my shoulder. And it still felt like strangeness.

When I went back upstairs to the cashier, I showed the drivers license, and she called the security number again, and he asked me all kinds of questions, places I lived years ago, what cars are associated with my accounts, it was totally strange, and AdventureMan is looking bullish, steam coming out of his nostrils, stamping and huffing and puffing (he is hungry). Finally, he tells the cashier I am OK, and she rings me up, very apologetic. I told her it is just the times we live in, and honestly, I want security to be tough on people who might pretend to be me, so it was just a minor inconvenience. But just another little piece of Baton Rouge strangeness, little things that could eat away at happiness and well being if you let them . . . .

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Customer Service, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Scams, Shopping, Technical Issue, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Big Ooops, Pardon Me

So I discovered that no, I cannot blog well with just an iPad on vacation; I can use safari to access WordPress or the “special” (i.e. limited) WordPress for iPad but I cannot seem to get it to allow me to modify the size of photos when I insert them, so I had these gigantuan data-eating photos dominating the entire blog entries. So sorry. I have fixed the earlier entries, and now will finish up the trip.

October 27, 2014 Posted by | Blogging, Technical Issue | Leave a comment

698-722 Text

Today I received a text from my bank telling me that a document from them had been returned as undeliverable and telling me to click on the blue hypertext with my banks name dot com.

It didn’t smell right, so I called my bank, and no, they had not sent that text.

Did you know when you get a phone call or text that seems odd to you that not only do you not have to answer, but you can go online and check that number? Just google the exact number and you will find records that show if it is a scam or telemarketer. It is a wonderful resource.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Communication, Crime, Financial Issues, iPhone, Scams, Technical Issue | , | 3 Comments

1984, A Question of Irony, and a Brief Discussion of Privacy

From yesterday’s USA Today, a very brief article in the USA Round Up:

 

Alaska: Fairbanks

The number of security cameras in Alaska schools is going up. The Fairbanks Daily News-Mirror reported video cameras are being installed in Fairbanks middle and elementary schools and it’s part of a statewide trend aimed at making schools safer.

 

As I raised our son, I was – well, most of the time – an attentive parent. I would listen, and when necessary, I would correct. It’s a mother’s job to help her children navigate the pitfalls of life, and to have a tool-box full of resources with which to cope.

 

Perhaps I did my job too well. Our son became a lawyer, and he is very particular about the things I say, especially when I use a term incorrectly, such as irony.

Here is what Wikipedia says irony is:

event characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between what the expectations of a situation are and what is really the case, with a third element, that defines that what is really the case is ironic because of the situation that led to it.

 

I am about to use the term “irony” correctly. 🙂

 

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When I read the above article, I remembered the horror of Orwell’s 1984, the book, and then the movie. The movie was terrifying, the presence of cameras everywhere, hidden, not hidden, just knowing they were everywhere and everything you did could be monitored.

The irony comes in that here we are, with cameras everywhere, and we are glad for it. The irony is that our society has slipped so far from its ideal that we cannot trust our neighbor to behave him or herself, and we protect ourself by placing cameras so as to encourage people to behave.

 

I am not so sure that our moral codes have ever worked well; I think it seems to be the nature of humanity to claim a moral code, but not to adhere strictly to it. I think of people who talk about the safety of the ’50’s, but I don’t believe that safety was truly that safe. I think children disappeared. I think wives were beaten, women raped. I think robberies and assaults happened, and I think the law was more lax than it is today.

 

But it is an irony, IMHO, that we welcome cameras today as a low-cost policing of ourselves, our neighbors, and those we fear will hurt us or take our property. We trust ourselves and one another so little that we are increasingly installing cameras. We’ve been considering installing them through our home security company; we have motion detectors, cameras are just the next upgrade. Have we exchanged a high value on privacy for a heightened perceived need for protection of life and property?

September 25, 2014 Posted by | Books, Character, Civility, Community, Crime, Cultural, Family Issues, GoogleEarth, Interconnected, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Technical Issue | 4 Comments