Saturday, April 29, 2006


Originally uploaded by

I'm still around. But it's been busy week working and growing older.

Spent Saturday watching hockey and hanging out with Mr.P.

Sunday has more activities, and a bike ride!

Details soon...


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Originally uploaded by

... meaningless numbers, unless it's your birthday (it is!) and those numbers suddenly have meaning.

The number of years gone by, the number of years that may come. The balance of owed and saved. Height, weight, all that.

So what does it all mean?

I'm still trying to figure that out.

More to come...


Monday, April 24, 2006

from the "exercise" dept.

Originally uploaded by

I should have known that when I went looking for places I'd never been in Vancouver, I'd end up walking 5 miles unexpectedly.

That's what happened today.

The short version is that I went out by Vancouver International Airport and discovered Iona Beach.

There were lots of dunes and birds and waves.

But the interesting feature is a jetty that sticks like a finger into the Georgia Strait.

It was a heck of a walk. More pictures to come!


Sunday, April 23, 2006

from the "blue skies are here again" dept.

Originally uploaded by


There is nothing quite like a warm, clear, dry, spring day in Vancouver.

We pay the price with the rain. This year was particularly damp. But when the weather gods wave their arms and present us with days like today -- you can almost hear the angels sing. Or is that the neighbour's stereo?

Re-adjusting to the real life off the road has been fairly easy. Last week was relaxed with only a single day of work (Friday). This weekend I am back at work, which blow considering the weather -- but as it's a 2-11pm shift, I can still get out and smell the roses, tulips, magnolias, etc.

Last night was the 40th birthday party for my buddy Lorne. His wife Katrina set up a big surprise bash at Shabeen, Vancouver's only Whisk(e)y house. I didn't arrive until after 11pm, but there were many friendly faces that I hadn't seen in quite some time. I belive I must begin reconnecting to my life here, rather than living in a dreamland that lies at the end of the road.

That said, conversation was certainly travel focused. Lorne and Katrina had just returned from two weeks in Portugal. They drove a route very similar to the bike trip I did back in 1993. How I would like to do that again!

The night affirmed that life is great and filled with cool people (and tasty Whisk(e)y).

The weeks ahead are filled with more work. And, possible travel, of course.

We'll see.


(here's some more pix of spring...)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

from the "back at it" dept.

Tuesday was another day off -- but that didn't mean there was nothing to do. I have a list as long as my arm that is filled with all sorts of tasks, none of which I really want to do.

The biggest "to do" was to fix my car. The exhaust system blew months ago, leaving me with the loudest car in Vancouver. Also, it was quite likely the most dangerous, as exhaust was finding its way into the passenger compartment. Nothing like a slow, loud death for motivation.

I dropped the car off at a Canadian Tire outlet downtown and, because I was feeling guilty about my vacation inspired girth, walked to Commercial Drive. I grabbed the paper, a pound of beans, and an Americano Misto and proceeded to kill 90 minutes at Continental Coffee. Following that, I hopped the bus and headed home.

Just as I arrived, my mobile rang. It was Canadian Tire saying they couldn't fix my mobile gas chamber. I bitched to myself, and headed back downtown on the bus. The fellow at CanTi said I needed some welding done, and pointed me in the direction of an independent car shop around the corner.

I headed over there, and $45 later, the car was fixed. It's a bit of a patch job, but the car itself is worth $400. So why spend more? Plus, the toxic gases are gone, and I'm not setting off car alarms and scaring old people as I drive around the Lower Mainland.

LP 411

There was also some good news from my Lonely Planet project. I can't reveal much, but I will say that I've been asked to tweak my Tofino submission. I'll be doing that over the next few days, and then waiting to see what comes of it.


Monday, April 17, 2006

from the "post-trip blues" dept.


Easter Monday

Just spent most of the morning writing about the past weekend. Feeling the post-trip blues. Real life including bills and deadlines has intruded. Argh!

However, no work until Wednesday! More photos to come. And, you can always check out flickr.


from the "home sweet home" dept.

Another one is in the history books.

I find it hard to believe that it's almost been a month since I slept in my own bed. However, after last night, my back doesn't. It's good to be home.

Here's the recap...


I arrived in Seattle just before midnight Friday. I had convinced my buddy/business partner Randy to drive down to pick me up. The idea was simple: I'd arrive and then we'd spend two days checking out neat stuff in Washington State.

Unfortunately for Randy, it was Good Friday, meaning the entire population of Canada was heading to Seattle for the weekend. He spent hours stuck in the line-up at the border. Meanwhile, I was snacking on free pretzels at 30,000 feet.

The journey began in the early afternoon in Belize. After lounging around and doing last minute packing and re-packing, Brent and I headed for the airport, once again using the services of Bullet. Brent had paperwork to do at customs as he was exporting his video camera to Canada for repairs. The trade off was that I left my audio gear in Belize. No big deal, as I probably won't need it any time soon.

Check-in at the Belize airport went smoothly, although most of the duty free shops were closed for Good Friday. This meant that I was only able to come home with a smaller bottle of One Barrel that I had purchased and not used on Caye Caulker. I had hoped to snag a bottle of Ron Zacapa Centenario on the way home. But it was not to be.

The flight to Dallas was fully packed, and I was surrounded by an XXXL family. Luckily I have learned from my travels, and I always get an aisle seat. It not only allows you to stretch out your legs, it also allows for unrestricted access to the can.

Immigration at Dallas was easy. I cleared customs in record time and proceeded to the next waiting area. I was in Dallas for about two hours, and spent my time enjoying fattening food and Dos Xs.

The flight to Seattle was painful. Again, the plane was packed, but this time it was an L10-11 or some such, and even though I had the aisle seat, it was cramped. Plus, I was at the very back of the plane, too close to the smelly can.

There was no entertainment on the 4 hour flight, unless you count a symphony of babies with bursting ear drums. And while I had my iPod and noise-canceling headphones, the Gods were not kind to me. The headphones went on the fritz. And, to make matters worse, on this particular plane, the engines were located on the ass-end of the fuselage -- or, in this case, just outside the widow of my row. Not only was it loud as hell, you could feel them.

Needless to say for four hours I was unable to sleep for more than a few minutes, I was cramped into an extra-small seat, and the noise was deafening. I love travel, but I hate flying coach. It is worse than even the worst bus. Plus, the beer is $5 a tin. Harrumph.

It was a bumpy ride to Seattle, although we made good time, arriving just before midnight.

Randy was waiting in the world's ugliest airport, pissed at the huge delays he experienced in crossing the border earlier in the day.

But it wasn't all bad.

Upon arrival we immediately headed for my new favourite greasy spoon, The Hurricane. It's a 24-hour licenced joint in the shadow of the Space Needle. After a greasy burger and tankard of Mac and Jack's African ale, it was time to hit the sheets at the Day's Inn across the street. It was now something like 2am.

Saturday in Seattle

Welcome Home
The weather sucked

Saturday we joined the masses and went shopping. Target. Circuit City. The liquor store. You name it. But we had a plan -- Satsop.


The town of Satsop, WA is located south of Seattle -- and west of the state capital, Olympia. South of Puget Sound and close to the Pacific, it was once home to a massive nuclear reactor project. But cost overruns and fraud brought the project to a halt after about 75 per cent of the site was completed.

Today, two massive cooling towers stand, cooling nothing. The town is trying to develop the area into some sort of bizarre industrial area, but isn't having much luck.

No Nukes
Cooling Tower

Randy and I are interested in the site as it might be good subject matter for a possible TV project.


The weather was absolutely brutal, and not just because I had become accustomed to sunny days that featured daytime highs approaching 35C.

No, it was brutal because it was more like the west coast winter I had left behind. Cold, wet, and -- believe it or not -- there was actually snow mixed with the rain.

Our visit to Satsop was fairly quick. We stopped to shoot some photos out the window, made some mental notes, and then left. We discovered later that there are a number of underground bunkers here -- and that it is possible to arrange for tours. Which is certainly something we'll arrange for the next visit. Apparently you can climb the massive cooling towers as well. Fun!

Satsop marks the second nuclear facility I've visited. Back in 2003, I visited the Ignalina reactor in Lithuania.

Nukeland: Ignalina, Lithuania
Fond nuclear memories of Ignalina, Lithuania

We continued our journey west, primarily in search of lunch. We'd only booked the one night in Seattle, and we'd thought we might stay somewhere on the Olympic peninsula rather than in the big city.

The whole are was new to us, and, if we could have seen beyond the 2 feet the heavy rain and snow had reduced our visibility to, we would have seen some lovely countryside.

We decided to stop in a smallish town called Aberdeen, pop. 16,000. We were immediately attracted to it because it appeared to be falling apart.

Almost Gone
Waterfront demolition

Shut tight

Ghost town

It was still raining heavily, so we decided the best thing to do was find a place to stay. And that place was the crusty old Olympic Motel.

Actually, it wasn't too bad a joint. The rooms were massive, and there were only about 3 other people staying in the entire place.

It was a bit of a throwback to the old days... But comfy, none the less. The fridge in the room did a good job of chilling the Tecate.

Lots of parking at the motel

Hula Girl: Aberdeen, Washington
Classic scene

After dumping off all my sandfilled clothes, we hit the streets to make notes of places to photograph, should Sunday not be a washout.

We found a fab place for dinner called Bridges... we bucked up and ordered the prime rib. It was excellent... and a nice change from rice and beans. I don't do prime rib that often, so when I do, it is always a mouthwatering treat.

After a decent sleep, I was disappointed when I woke up and it was STILL raining outside. That didn't bode well for a photo safari.

Undeterred, we ventured out and the first stop on Easter Sunday was Safeway -- which not only was open, also had a Starbucks. I needed a vat of coffee, and Starbucks was really the only option.

We went back to several spots we'd seen on Saturday and shot a bunch of images (see above). The most interesting place was an old boarded up theatre called "D & G".

Old theatre

Elsewhere, we discovered a city block that had recently been struck by fire. While snapping away I was approached by Dean. Dean owned the land on which the burned out building sat.

At first I thought he was going to chew me out -- but he simply wanted to know what I was up to. This lead to a long conversation about Aberdeen and its history. Although the downtown area didn't look like it, things are actually on the upswing and a lot of renovations are underway.

Dean explained that the economy suffered a number of hits, the most recent being the collapse of the lumber industry. But in a Tofino-like turn of events, tourism is taking over as thousands flock to storm watch at Ocean Shores -- just up the highway. The plan is to turn Aberdeen into a place to stop and visit, rather than just a place to drive through. And, they might be on to something,

Dean also told us about an old Navy base with lots of secret underground facilities -- and that part of it was open to the public. However, time was short as we had a long drive back to Canadaland. So, we filed the information away and I gave Dean my card in the hopes that he'll keep in touch. I really want to explore this part of the state some more. Especially on a warm and sunny day.

We headed north to Canada, stopping in Seattle to try and do some last minute shopping. Unfortunately most of the stores were closed. Rather than dilly-dally around, we thought the best course of action was to hit the border before the rest of Canada.

We hit the border around 6pm and the line-up was about 15 cars deep. We were up to the little booth in about 5 minutes. And we were ready.

Since I had been out of the country for almost a month, I was allowed to bring back something like $700 worth of stuff. And I would have, if the stores had been open. As it was I only had a few hundred bucks worth of stuff at best. It pisses me off, though, that the booze limits are based on volume rather than dollar value. I'd much rather bring back $700 worth of rum than $700 worth of shoes and cheese.

Randy, having been down south for 48 hours was allowed $300 or so. He had much less as well.

The interaction with Canada Customs was as follows:

Inspector (looking at Randy): Where do you live?
Randy: North Vancouver.
Inspector: Value of goods you're bringing back?
Randy: About $100.
Inspector: Bye.

That was it. He didn't even look at me. But, I guess, that's the way Customs should be. Free and easy unless there is a good reason for the third degree. Still, I wished I had brought more cheese back.

About an hour later, I was unloading the car and looking at this strange place called home. Another trip was over, and real life was staring me in the face.

However, the past 30 days had certainly been memorable. And I look forward to doing it again...


Sunday, April 16, 2006

from the "brrr" dept.

Brief post:

Back in the USA. Spent Friday night in Seattle. Saturday night in Aberdeen, Washington.

The plan is to return to Canada tonight.

Pictures and words to follow shortly. But let me say this: it is wet and damn cold!


Friday, April 14, 2006

Heading Home

Heading Home
Originally uploaded by

After a morning filled with packing, I have begun the long journey back to Canadaland. And to find $13k U.S. to buy my future.

More on that later.

Ivan and Katia stopped by for a bit. Katia was picking Ivan up from the airport -- he was in NYC -- and returned home this morning. It was good to see them before leaving the country.

Brent joined me on the trip to the airport -- he had some business at customs. I managed to save a bit on the cab fare. And it was a good chance to chat before we went our seperate ways. As usual, Bullet was our cab driver and he chatted our ears off on the drive to the airport.

The lineup at the check-in counter wasn't too bad, and security was a breeze. I am now sitting in the departure lounge poaching wifi. Nice.

Dallas awaits. And I think I made a mistake by not eating first. Peantuts won't cut it on the flight, however the options are limited.

Ah well, I can always snicker at all the fat white women with braids. What possesses some people?!

And so it goes...


Thursday, April 13, 2006

from the "back in B.C." dept.

Not British Columbia, but Belize City.

It was a sad walk to the water taxi this morning.

After paying -- and getting a discount-- from Heather at the Costa Maya office, I began my slow death march to the main dock. One of the things I dislike the most (in the world!) is the walk to the Caye Caulker water taxi with my bags. It announces to the world that I am leaving, that I suck.

I arrived early and turned red in the sun as I waited for the boat. There was a bit of a monkey f*** when the boat that was going from San Pedro (on Ambergris Caye) to Belize City arrived packed.

But I got on.

And I met a couple of Canadians -- another Ivan from San Ignacio (a female teacher) and her friend from Toronto. We proceeded to talk about Belizean politics for the entire journey back.

Also, as this is the kick off to Easter, the Kruffy were arriving on Caulker in droves. Good time not to be there.

Meanwhile, at the water taxi terminal in Belize City: madness! It was all I could to do escape the terminal and snag a cab. Although Brent and Roh's home is but blocks away, my old back and laziness precluded walking. And hell, the flat rate is US$3.50. Not much of an argument there.

I am now at Brent and Roh's and into my third rum. It is hot, but quiet. The last night in Belize will once again be traditional (for me) a big feed at the local (only?) Indian restaurant.

And, as mentioned below, I fly to Dallas and then Seattle tomorrow. Am I looking forward to that? Hell no.

But I am looking forward to selling my vital organs so I can purchase .6 acres of Belizean land for US$13,000. I failed to win the lottery again, and I have no children to sell, so vital organs it is.


Heading home, slowly

Drinking is Fun - 6th time
Originally uploaded by

Well, my 7 nights on Caye Caulker are now history. And, in just over 24 hours I'll be flying from Belize City to Seattle via Dallas.

Another trip has come to an end.

It certainly feels like I've been away for a long time. No doubt that is due to the distinct adventures this trip has offered up. From Paul Nabor's temple in Punta Gorda to Ivan and Katia's balcony in San Ignacio, to the Grandmaster's fowl (foul?) coop in Belize City. Not to mention Brent and Roh's and Costa Maya Cabana's on Caye Caulker.

Brent left for Belize City on Wednesday, and I ended up hanging out for a while with Roh's brother. We gazed at the passing people as we enjoyed fruity drinks. I wish I could bottle up the feeling of Caulker. It's truly an original and amazing spot. More on that later.

There was a full moon Wed. night, so I attempted some shots. They were so-so, but I will post from Brent's place when I get there.

I stayed up late gazing at the ocean in the boney glow of the moon, trying to take it all in -- and wondering when I would be back. My hope is later this year.

Thursday morning I was up at 5:30am for sunrise. It was a nice, though short lived one. There were showers throughout the morning, and that meant I just hung on the deck and read.

When I went to pay, Heather gave me the room for US$400. A hell of a deal.

And now, there are 13 minutes remaining before I have to check out. Rather than prolonging the inevitable, I will grab the noon boat, and be back in Belize City early in the afternoon.

Until then...

Cheers! (sniff, sniff)


Originally uploaded by

Lobster traps on CC.

Hula Girl: Caye Caulker, Belize

Hula Girl: Caye Caulker, Belize
Originally uploaded by

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Crack of Dawn (!)

Originally uploaded by

In Tuesday's posting I mentioned something about going for a swim at the crack of dawn. Well, at 6:20am that still hasn't happened. But I did manage to drag my ass onto the balcony and snap a quick shot with my point and shoot.

Beautiful though it is, it means that today is going to be hot. Probably in the 33C range.

My cabana faces east, and that means until midday, the sun hammers the balcony and, when there is little cloud, it gets almost too hot (Canadians are banned from ever referring to outdoor air temperatures too hot).

I've gone and lost my sunglasses somewhere, meaning that reading from a white page in the bright light is more like staring into the sun at, oh say, 50m. On Tuesday I found that draping a sarong over my head did helped, but did little to improve my chances at captivating cute Norwegian women.

This is my last full day on Caye Caulker, and I greet it with mixed emotion. I'll be happy to be heading home to stop spending money, but at the same time, I'm going to miss doing nothing more than sitting in the sun and reading under a sarong.

Brent heads back this afternoon, to remind his wife that she actually does have a husband. While I will remain for one last night to remind myself that I have discovered a truly special place on the planet. And to drink more rum as the sunsets in about 12 hours.

Thursday I will likely check out early, and then hang out until midday before grabbing a water taxi back to Shithole, otherwise known as Belize City.

Friday I'll fly back to Seattle via Dallas. I'm happy to avoid Houston, as I worry that someone is going to report me for sticking out my tongue at a certain statue.

I reckon it's time for a swim. More to come...


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rasta Set

Originally uploaded by

Yep. Another sunset - the Tuesday edition.

Few words can once again sum up the day:

0600 - Up for sunrise, make pot of coffee.

0605 - Lounge/read/daydream.

1100 - Breakfast at Herbal Tribe. The ham and cheese omlette was ok. Watermelon juice was fantastic!

1200 - Lounge/read/daydream/sweat

1205 - first rum

1745 - Watch sunset at Lazy Lizard. Chat with locals.

1900 - Make chili again. Feast.

2100 - Bed time

That's pretty much the day. The main points anyway. I figure there isn't much point detailing bathroom visits or the checking of email.

Regarding reality: I'm definitely headed back to Seattle on Friday. Will stay the weekend. Then home for another week off (unless something comes up).

I think I have a birthday in the near future too...

Well, must sleep. My last full day on Caye Caulker is tomorrow, and I want to be swimming in the Caribbean Sea as the sun comes up at 0600.



Originally uploaded by


Originally uploaded by


Originally uploaded by

Monday, April 10, 2006


Originally uploaded by

More explanation of Monday's fun follows below. Needless to day, it was another great day on Caye Caulker.

Explained below as well is the reason for this series of sunset photos.

I love this shot, and the one that follows below -- not sure which is the better of the two -- methinks this one.

The cool thing is that these are only low-res versions of very high-res images. And because I shot them in RAW, I have a lot of latitude when it comes to tweaking the image -- without Photoshop trickery.

Most, if not all, the images you see are as they were captured. Although if a bit of tweaking makes them better, I don't have an issue with that.

Only a few days left, and I've resigned myself that I'll be heading home soon. It's been a good stop on my little life journey. And, of course, I will be back.

But no sense getting maudlin now. I'll save that for Thursday.

Oh! And the idea for Radio Belize? Brent came up with a better name: Radio del Mar. Perfect. And when I win the lottery, that'll be my new career.

Cheers from dreamland!


Originally uploaded by


Originally uploaded by

You can take the boy out of Belize City, but you can't take Belize City out of the boy.

Another &%*&%# Sunset

Originally uploaded by

Damn them! They're all the same, yet they almost demand you shoot them over and over and over. Still, you can't beat the scene.

Brent and I walked out to the end of the Tsunami dock so I could snap some pictures. Neno and his brothers were just about to head to the west side of the island to free Rene's boat which ran aground Sunday night. We jumped at the chance.

Now, usually, Caye Caulker offers up amazing sunsets. But, also usually, there are clouds on the distant horizon that usually bung up the last few minutes. Not today. It was perfect.

What you see hear is the Lazy Lizard bar, at the Split (where the island was cut in two by a hurricane long ago). This is where crowds gather to stare open mouthed at the setting sun.

The view from Neno's boat was much, much better.


Originally uploaded by

Rene's boat got hung up, so we helped free it. The water around CC is super shallow.


Originally uploaded by

If not mentioned earlier (writing text and pictures is difficult as I have to write in reverse order and that's hard when you've got a few rums in ya) Neno owns Costa Maya Cabana's and a water taxi service. He's married to Heather, who hails from my part of the world.


Originally uploaded by


Originally uploaded by

Sunday was another hot day. Many places, including the "Juice Lady" were closed. But, there was something interesting behind her shop that made the long walk under the hot sun worth while.

Brent came over on the last boat and we hung out on the deck spinning tales.

Such is life on CC.


Originally uploaded by

Just like home.

Caulker's Power Plant

Originally uploaded by

Just like the retro sign. Lots of retro in Belize.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by

Saturday Sunset

Originally uploaded by

This is how the day usually closes on Caye Caulker. Not too many of them left.

from the "planning" dept.

Originally uploaded by

The pictures from today are still to come. In the interim, some more from last night.

Pictured are the crowds at the Lazy Lizsrd gathered to watch the sun set. There was also a wedding or some such.

As mentioned previously, the Lazy Lizard and surrounding land is for sale. Now, this is Caye Caulker, not Cayo. No deals here. I'm sure this chunk of paradise is going for a sum few could afford.

But I have a plan:

1. Win millions in the lotto.
2. Buy the land.
3. Install satellite link to outside world.
4. Launch Radio Belize -- a fun and funky rip-off/tribute to Radio Paradise.

Everyone's got a dream, right?


Saturday recap

Originally uploaded by

Read. Shot photos. Watched sunset. Shot photos. Enjoyed the occasional beer. Slept.

Yep, that's life on Caye Caulker.

Sunday I was up before 6 and have managed to keep myself occupied until now (10:30am).

Instead of shooting photos early, while it's cool, I've once again waited for the sun to heat things up. No matter...

I'm off to take some more images... and hopefully some interesting stuff. The first stop will be the commercial docks and the power plant.

The picture you see here is from Saturday night... just before the sun dropped.