Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heritage Post Office

Last week’s whirlwind trip to Saskatchewan provided my most interesting business trip yet. We got the go-ahead to conduct a condition assessment of a heritage Canadian Post Office building. Well, the top two floors at least. I’m not sure if there are any privacy considerations involved (probably not; after all it is a building owned by a national corporation), but just to be on the safe side I’m not going to reveal the town it’s in. Suffice it to say that my descriptor of “whirlwind” encompassed an 18 hour day from arrival to YVR in the morning to my return to YVR tarmac at 11:30 pm that evening.
The building itself was constructed in 1911. It’s a brick walled structure with a flat roof and a metal-clad mansard skirt with dormers. Oh, and a clock tower! Pretty cool, although presently non-functional. 

The top two floors have been dis-continued from service quite some years ago for reasons unknown. Now the Post Office wants to rehabilitate them for rental revenue (I assume). The biggest issue has been water damage over time. The top floor is a mess from water damage. But from an artistic standpoint it makes for some really cool images.
Second storey
Third storey
The central staircase is in really good condition.

Another cool but unusual feature for a post office (again I assume: would a post office normally have a vault?) is the inclusion of vaults. There are three; one in the basement, one on the main floor and one on the second. So obviously the building was designed to feature some sort of banking capability. 
This is the vault door on the second floor. The brick wall is visible through the cut-away beside the light switch panel.
Here's the clock face viewed from within the clock tower.
The bell within the clock tower is secured to a large timber as a storage measure.
Aged metal panels adorn the clock tower. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fort St. John

Probably the most interesting aspect of my job is the travel. Last week they sent me to Fort St. John (FSJ). That's the farthest north I've ever been. Last Fall they sent me to Grande Prairie which is close, but it's still south of FSJ.

FSJ reminded me a lot 100 Mile House where I spent a few summers as a kid; it is larger however. It was a good time to go at this season of the year, for the warm weather, and also to experience 2 extra hours of daylight than we experience in Vancouver at this time of year.

If the weather is clear and I have a window seat I try to always get a few aerial shots. I know you can get the same thing from Google Maps these days, but I still like to add my own perspective.

This is the tidal flat just west of the Vancouver airport.
I managed to trace our hike route from last summer to one of the lakes on Bowen Island.
It was mostly clear on the flight to FSJ; not much cloud cover except over some mountain ranges.
I like this shot showing the small clouds. It gives a bit of height perspective. The topography has already transitioned from mountains to plateau.
The populated area near the bridge is called Taylor. FSJ is farther up and to the right in this photo.
An ode to the traditional barn dance (that's my take on it anyway) is documented in this art piece close to where the 100s cross in FSJ.
A different class of art as viewed on a residential garage roof.
Coming home the mountains were very impressive, complimented by the deepening evening shadows.
The Ironworkers' Memorial 2nd Narrows Bridge was outlined sharply by the setting sun.
The new Port Mann Bridge almost completely hides the remaining portion of the old orange steel of Generation One.
During our round-about approach to YVR we crossed the farm fields of east Richmond, just bordering the east end industrial area.
Judging from the steady rain on Friday in FSJ and the rapid accumulation of very large puddles in the city streets, although this sign at the rental car desk was good for a laugh, I don't doubt that some of the returned vehicles are indeed a mess if they've been driven on gravel roads for long.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hoarder House Update

I've got an update on a hoarder house in my neighbourhood. Back on Oct. 17, 2012 I wrote about a For Sale sign on a rather derelict lot. The original realtor didn't last long however as the house owner had very lofty ideas regarding the property's worth. He subsequently posted his own home-made For Sale sign, nailed to a tree, complete with his "Firm" asking price.

A couple of days ago I happened to walk my dog past the house and was startled to see another realtor sign planted in the front yard. The market has heated up again. The home owner is apparently testing the market once more.


A bit of a "fixer-upper".
The back yard.
It's certainly safe to say that the present owner has hoarder tendencies. I think the real reason he's wanting to sell is to move to a property with more space to store his cars. He's now maxxed out in the back yard. Two of his vehicles are already half on the back lane. I'm actually surprised the City hasn't had them towed away. There's one more pick-up on the street at the front that's full to the roof with stuff. However there's no room left in the back yard to store it unless the house owner has plans to start a second layer.

For more info on this house see my Sept. 2, 2011 post.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tannah's Treehouse

Tannah was completely unfazed by Dog Mountain. She's up for any new challenge.

C'mon, let's lose the leash, OK? Do you see any cars up here?
Tannah's treehouse.
The obstacle course trail took a bit more out of Tannah than she was willing to admit. We took a break at First Lake on our return for re-hydration, and Tannah was already snoozing.

Dog Mountain

Shauna found out about a new trail recently called Dog Mountain. It's actually been around for quite a few years but I'd been unaware of it. The trail starts from the northwest corner of the Mount Seymour parking lot. It begins innocently enough with gravel surfacing, but deteriorates rapidly from there into a morass of rocks and roots. Orange surveyor's tags nailed to the odd tree actually were of assistance at some points along the trail.

However it's quite popular, and while the viewpoint at the end is indeed spectacular, the 2.5 km journey in between is definitely challenging.

I think the term "trail" is used rather loosely here.
Here's First Lake. We weren't too concerned that we'd neglected to bring swim suits.
About midway along the trail, past First Lake, a persistent repetitive noise registered with me. At first I thought it was from a child ahead of us on the trail hitting a bongo drum of some kind. But the more often I heard it, the more it seemed to be too uniform. Five or six muffled thumps in a row. Then silence. Then five or six more thumps. The sound continued for the mid portion of the trail until after awhile I noticed I hadn't heard it for awhile. On the way back the same pattern emerged. I'm wondering if it wasn't an owl. I don't really know what would make me think that. The sound most certainly wasn't a traditional "Hoo hoo" that we're taught owls make.

The summit is worth the scramble. All of Vancouver and Burnaby are visible. We could even see Point Roberts in Washington State.
The summit is a popular foodie hang-out for the Ravens. They're as bad as Crows for scavenging errant crumbs. Not shy at all, those birds

The view to the west is equally as impressive as the south. It just seems like the edge of the world.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

BMO 8K

My 8 km contribution to the Vancouver BMO marathon was as success last weekend. My goal had been 48 minutes, based on my sub-hour time for the recent Vancouver Sun Run. I came very close: 49 minutes. But what's really cool is that a 49 year old man was the first to cross the 8K finish line. That's not too far from my age, so I'm impressed. Us old guys still got it in us.



I guess I'm doing OK with this running gig. I looked up some stats for this year's 8K and it turns out I placed 17th out of 52 for my age category (M45-49); top third, and more surprisingly, 372nd place out of 1642 finishers. In other words I placed within the top 22.6% of the field. I'm quite stunned actually.

As you can tell, I'm too cheap to pay 60 bucks for an official photo. (And I thought the Vancouver Sun Run photos were expensive!)

I should have taken a selfie closer to the finish line (that bright blue spec in the distance) but the race officials kept guiding everyone further along to clear the lane for incoming foot traffic.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hummingbird Update

Last week I saw a hummingbird twice in our front yard. Those were the first two sighting I've had since the youngster took his first flight from the nest, probably more than a month ago now.

This morning I sensed motion outside the bedroom window and saw the green-backed hummingbird (I don't know if it's the male or female) buzzing the nest. I grabbed my camera and managed to record a short video as it was sitting in the nest. I wonder if we'll be lucky enough that they raise another chick here.