Sunday, October 4, 2015

Victoria via Air

Work flew me to Victoria last week and gave me a choice of float plane travel versus vehicle ferry. Since I really didn't need a car for the assignment I chose to fly. It turned out to be a really good choice as I was offered the seat beside the pilot. I've never sat there before. What an awesome vantage point, especially on such a clear early Autumn day.

I arrived at the terminal just before dawn.

A lot of gauges to keep track of.

Taxi-ing past Brockton Point with the Lions Gate Bridge in the distance and the Lions themselves peeking over the ridge..

I got almost a mirror image of the other side of the bridge on my last flight. 

Directly overhead the Victoria Airport, just outside Sidney.

After dinner on my way back to my hotel I noticed a photo op due to the still water in Victoria Harbour.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Moon/ Blood Moon/ Lunar Eclipse

The only reason I’m posting these shots is due to the rarity of the event, not because they're great quality photos. I didn’t even know this celestial event was happening until late this afternoon. If I’d been paying closer attention perhaps I would have spent some time practicing moon photography prior to the event.
Nonetheless, lack of practice be damned, I ventured out this evening to witness the spectacle of a Super Moon combined with a Blood Moon combined with a lunar eclipse!
It seems everyone and their dog was out tonight. Literally. I began my photo shoot at the Queen Elizabeth Park off-leash dog area. It seemed to be the highest vantage point I could think of close to home without a shield of too many trees.

It was a good practice session. I think my technique improved as the evening progressed. Mine is not the world’s greatest tripod. I think I’ll shop around for a new one and perhaps pick up a deal after Christmas.
Early in the eclipse; not even dusk yet.
I kept the tree in the frame for a sense of scale.
It's blurry but I like the composition of the moon almost sitting atop the tree.
I almost missed an integral part of the eclipse; it's return to brightness.
I snapped this shot the following morning while waiting for the bus.


In passing my old place of employment this past weekend I noticed it was surrounded by a security fence. This was not wholly unexpected as the company I worked for had moved out of the building about 3 years ago due to the major tenant in the complex (Telus) having moved out (about 4 years ago now). At that time it was starting to feel a bit like a ghost town. The general consensus was that no one else would be taking over the space. The march of condo development has been steady along the Lougheed Highway corridor, and it was thought it was only a matter of time until the commercial parcel on which our office was situated would transfer to high-density residential.

It would appear the time is now. A sign on the security fence identifies the general contractor and machinery has already been delivered prior to the start of deconstruction. I think the machinery now on site is for crushing concrete into gravel which will be used for sub-grade fill. I watched a similar process take place at the Richmond Automall recently. About half a dozen low-rise commercial buildings were razed and subsequently converted to large gravel stores in preparation for auto lot expansion.

"OK Trow, we've got you surrounded..."

The crusher.
The former Telus digs, imminently destined to be dug up.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hobbit House

With the grand opening of Nordstrom's in Vancouver this weekend I was going to post a couple of photos of the old marshmallow (formerly the Eaton's Building) contrasting with the shiny new flagship of the new American tenant...but then I thought, "Nah, they get too much press as it is."

Instead, as I expectantly happened to pass the Hobbit House on West 33rd near Cambie this afternoon, and the skies also expectantly simultaneously cleared, the ongoing transformation of this Vancouver icon became an obvious photo op. As was duly noted in the press when this house hit the market for $2.68 million a couple of years ago, this Vancouver architectural gem escaped the wrecking ball after a public outcry ensued to shield it from potential demolition by the developer that bought it.

Ever since the 2010 Olympics ended the Cambie corridor has been designated a high density corridor as it sits adjacent to the new Canada Line subway linking the airport with the downtown core. Subsequently large swaths of single family residential units have been sold as blocks to developers to take advantage of the increased density rating. Block by block on either side of Cambie have lately featured boarded up houses, shortly followed by demolition. There have been few exceptions.

Only three of these houses were built back in the 1940s (I'm almost positive it was the 40s). This one's siblings include one in North Vancouver (which I think is no longer standing) plus one more on West 4th, west of Alma Street.

An artist's rendering of the finished development.
Every time I pass by I take a few progress shots of the Hobbit House's transformation into the showpiece of this upcoming townhouse development.

When we used to live near South Granville I saw a couple of similar developments take shape. First the subject building to be preserved is lifted from its foundation before the soil around it is excavated for the future construction of a below-grade parking garage. Once the surface concrete suspended slab has been installed the house is lowered into it's final resting place and construction of the balance of the development proceeds around it.

The house slowly gains in height.
The rear elevation prior to lifting.
Some of the structure in the rear has been removed. I wonder if the viewing tower will be replaced.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


My latest work road trip took me to Prince George. It was a bit of whirlwind trip as it included the review of a mall with eight buildings plus a warehouse building for a different client. The last time I reviewed a big box mall it took me two days. But this one had a bit of a short deadline and it was approved without enough notice to allow for a three day trip. Hence, I did 2-1/2 days of work in two days. Oh well, I banked some OT at least but it didn't allow for any exploration of the town besides the requisite searching for restaurants.

The mall was pretty straight forward as the original tenant, the Bay was the oldest building dating from the mid sixties with the balance of the buildings being added in the mid nineties.

It was the second assignment that provided the excitement. As a bit of fore-shadowing, the evening before the second assignment commenced, five motorcycles with Washington plates pulled into the motel where I was staying. One of them happened to be a KTM, and wouldn't ya know it, the subject building for the next day's review was a KTM/Canam dealership! Far be it from me to balk at hanging out with motorcycles for a a few hours.

The 2015 line-up.
The advantage of this line of work is getting to see stuff the public doesn't get access to. In one of the back areas of the warehouse I came across a vintage Canam dirt bike, in pretty good shape for its age. I'd certainly take it for a blast if the offer came up! Back when I was a teenager we used to explore the logging roads in and around Deka Lake near 100 Mile House on dirt bikes. Lack of close proximity to the back country is one disadvantage of my current city dwelling, i.e. Vancouver.

A well-preserved Canam; probably a 250 from about the late 70's, maybe early 80's.
It was plain to see what season they'd stocked up for. Behind the building was a stack of packing crates containing snow mobiles. Not a common site in the lower mainland where I live.

Looks almost like wrapped stacked lumber, except much more fun!
Now this is the box I want to find under the Christmas tree this year!
Apparently I didn't read the fine print in the documentation I was given for this assignment. It was a pleasant surprise to find motorcycles on site.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Last Kombi Standing

While Volks-surfing recently I came across an ad for a cool project. I’ve always been partial to VW buses and I must admit I like the patina style of bodywork of late. For those unfamiliar with the term “patina”, at least in how it relates to cars, it’s when the paint wears away in areas of the car exposing the undercoat, and sometimes even beyond that to bare metal. I think it mostly happens in hot, dry climates because the effect usually doesn’t cause any rust deformation of the sheet metal.
The bus I saw is for sale in Alberta and has a decent patina to it. It’d look great with a modified lowered suspension, disc brakes and old school BRMs on it. I’d clean the paint but wouldn’t repaint it. Explained as such it doesn’t sound like an insanely expensive project to undertake. But alas, it has become so.
It wasn’t too long ago (OK, it was 20-25 years ago) that a slammed VW van was affordable. Now you have to hope a dear long lost uncle might leave you one in his will. Even backyard buses perched on tree stumps converted to chicken coops will set you back 5 figures. Low 5 figures, mind you.
Take this most recent example I discovered on The Samba. It’s a cool patina’d Kombi minus interior and engine that’s been sitting outdoors for years in a dry region of the country (central Alberta). It’s gotten snowed upon but that doesn’t appear to have done any real long-lasting damage.
Might not pass a safety inspection in its current state.
Not suitable for wearing shorts.
I remember 25 years ago I bought a similar bus in similar condition originally from a similar region of the country. It was actually more complete than this one just posted. Mine was actually sitting on 4 wheels. It would have even been a roller had it not been for its seized transmission.  It was minus an engine, but it was only 500 bucks!
Guess what this new Kombi is offered for? Well, I already gave you a hint. Its’s just shy of $10,000! And just to add insult to injury, the ad says it’s in US funds no less! Nice. Add another 25% cash grab for us poor northern schmucks due to the present unfavourable Canadian/US exchange rate.
And oh yeah… BYOE…
(bring your own engine).
But ya know the stupidest thing about this scenario? I still want to buy it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Barndoor Triple Cab

At this past summer's Great Canadian VW Show I saw a totally custom "phantom" Volkswagen; a combination of a double cab pickup with a slab-sided panel, with a few barndoor parts thrown in for good measure. I knew I'd seen it before, but in my memory it had been for sale on The Samba website.

As it turns out I was right, and I was wrong. I did see it, but it wasn't for sale. I looked through my photo library this evening and discovered it on a DVD labeled "2007-08". It was much longer ago than I thought.

The photos I copied were likely from The Samba. Back in 2007-08 it appears this bus was registered in Nevada. Now it has a BC owner. Definitely the same vehicle. The only changes I can readily notice are the chromed bumpers.
It was parked near Science World in Vancouver in 2015.
Notice the Nevada license plate from 2007.
I'd kinda forgotten it'd had steelies on it at one point (circa 2007).
I'm glad I finally found it in my archives, but I'm a bit disappointed it wasn't for sale last time as I had remembered it. I wanted to know what it was listed for.

Alas, it you have to ask the price, you likely can't afford it. :-(