Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bordered by the Fraser River to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Coast Mountains to the north, and a neighbouring suburb tight against it's eastern flank, Vancouver is an island on it's own. With it's mild winters and medium summers, National Geographic has said it's one of the few places in the world where you can ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon, and then have dinner on an outside patio...this is Vancouver!

Click on any picture to make it full size...it's worth it!  :)

On an early spring sunny Sunday brothers Al, Ken, and Ed (Bowser98, MrTJ, and tjguy98) picked the west side of Vancouver as our destination for a day of geocaching. Being a Sunday and all, we had a sleep in and made the meet for 10.00 AM in south west Vancouver in the Marpole area.

The Marpole area is home to the Musqueam people who first seen European people in 1791 when the Spanish captain Jose Maria Narvaez explored the area, followed closely by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. By then the Musqueam people, part of the Coast Salish group, had been here for 4,000 years. When the first white man visited them the geography of the Fraser River was different. The river only had one channel, not the three channels there are now. Sea Island where the airport is located did not exist, and the main island upon which Richmond is built was only a small sand bank in the middle of the river.

The once mighty Musqueam peoples in the south of the area are now concentrated in a small reserve in south west Vancouver in an area known by their name of Musqueam. Like many reserves the neighbourhood has an air of despair and neglect; ironically right across the street is the Point Grey Golf and Country Club - one of the most exclusive clubs in the city.

The geocaches founds today where not great on the scale of 1-10, but the views and the historic areas they brought us to were worth it. Like the Marpole area for example, home to the Musqueam; it is an area where the Musqueam had their main winter village. At the south end of Granville Street archaeologists found one of the largest middens ever discovered. A midden is an area where the First Nations disposed of the shells from their ocean diet of clams, mussels, oysters, etc. The immense size of the midden led them to believe that this was a well established and culturally rich First Nations area.

Today, Marpole is still a culturally rich environment, only the culture is decidedly European, and money rich. Southlands is a surprising bit of country tucked away in the city. Large, mansion like homes abut horse stables where many people from the area board their horses. While we cached in the area it wasn't uncommon to pass horses on the local trails or see a horse and rider cantering down a side road. We even seen a couple out for a Sunday walk with their dog and their Shetland Pony!

Green belts along the Fraser River allowed us to enjoy a walk along the picture perfect river and enjoy the river traffic as the sun warmed up the cool morning air.The clear sky was multiple shades of blue, reflecting the blue into the river itself and making the muddy brown river almost pretty.

Tugs pulling rafts of logs shared the river with large and small pleasure boats pulling out of the MacDonald Beach marina across the river in Richmond. Some boat operators took care around the tugs and their log booms, others, noticeably with the large penis-boats, gave no concern to their fellow boaters and roared past at full speed creating large wakes in their path.

Southlands even has a small area called Deering Island where you can pull your BMW or Mercedes up to your exclusive front door and pull your pleasure craft around to the back yard in a small arm of the river.

  In 1890 the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company launched Vancouver's street car system with various routes throughout a young Vancouver. One of the first lines ran down Arbutus Street where many of the new and young families where beginning to live as the forest was cut back and housing was built up.

Once of the caches of the day had us at these historic tracks, now all but abandoned. Eventually CP Rail, then BCR (British Columbia Railway) owned these lines and the last freight cars ran over these lines in 2001. The area has been adopted as a transportation/greenway to reserve the land for future transportation needs, at the same time allowing present day greening of the right of way into linear parks.

As we headed north we began to touch the edges of Pacific Spirit Regional Park, 763 hectares of forest land that is part of the University of British Columbia Endowment Lands, a vast area that was preserved as part of the granting of the lands for UBC. One of the most unique geographical areas in the lands is the Camosun Bog, sadly now just a remnant of itself. At one time the bog stretched from the UBC area all the way east to the Knight and Kingsway area; there are even some side roads in the Kingsway area that are erratically sunken and misshaped as the boggy ground under the decades old neighbourhood continues to sink.

I won't go into the whole rendition about the bog but I will give you tidbits of information. A bog is formed when the plants cut off the supply of inbound water, creating a stagnant and acidic environment where only certain plants can grow. Cloudberry, an Artic plant growing at it's southern range is present here, holding out as it has been since the last ice age.Blueberries and Labrador Tea, as well as the Clouberries were staples of the First Nations. When Labrador Tea is boiled as a tea it has medicinal purposes, although too much is poisonous.  As is it's close cousin Bog Laurel usually found growing in the same vicinity. Bog Laurel itself is poisonous although its was used by the peoples for its antiseptic properties on skin ailments.

More information on Camosun Bog and all pictures, including information signs, can be seen on my Flickr web site. Eddie's Flickr Page  

We moved into the UBC area finding multiple caches both in the forest areas and right on the campus itself. It's a bit of a PITA caching here as you always have to find parking and pay for it as well, plus the number of people on campus makes it difficult to be discreet. We found 5-6 on campus before we tired of it and moved on down to the north side of Vancouver with it's scenic views.

Spanish Banks are actually a series of beaches along the shores of English Bay. Spanish Banks received its name in commemoration of the meeting of the Spanish Captains Galiano and Valdez, and the English Captain George Vancouver.The most striking feature of the beaches are the low tides that allow visitors to the western beaches to walk almost a kilometer out on the sand and get so close to the freighters in the harbour that you think you could hit them if you had a good throwing arm.

We found a few caches along the beach front and on the short hillside across the street from the beach. The weather here was sunny but still a cool wind kept the beach goers to a minimum, which meant we had the beaches mostly to our selves.

How would you like to live in one of these houses with it's fantastic year round views and close access to the best beaches in Vancouver! Swimming, volley ball, strolls on the beach, kite surfing, all done from just across the street! I can't imagine what these houses are worth.....

One of the places we enjoyed was the Rear House, named after James Rear, General Manager of American Life Insurance.The property includes the large house, an automobile garage, a carriage and a stable house, The wide veranda and the ample grounds provided a great place for the family's children to play.

In 1918 Colonel Victor Spencer, son of the businessman Davis Spencer whom founds the Spencer department store chain, acquired the property for his family. In 1938 the federal government purchased the property so  the 22 room structure could be used as a mess for the RCAF officers from the nearby Jericho Seaplane base.Eventually it made its way into Vancouver City's hands and it was added as part of the next door community centre.

I loved this small. almost secret door in the back of the house, and the cut outs in the walls for fake windows was a pretty cool architectural feature. This house was built when the barons of Vancouver where at their best; when the names Connaught, Culloden, Spencer, and Shaghnessy were the kings of a young Vancouver.

This was one of our last caches and for sure one of the best placed caches. We scored a few more caches before night fell, and even then we had one more stab at a tough one in the dark with the use of flashlights but we knew better than to keep at it when we were getting tired and already had a respectable 35 caches found during the day. We parted company with Ken and myself heading east and Allan heading south, already talking about another outing next weekend.

The complete set of pictures, these and more, can be viewed on my Flicker web site here

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Spring Cleaning on The Jeep Geo-Mobile

A sunny Sunday in March is a great time to give a Spring cleaning to the Jeep AKA "The Geo-mobile". After a rainy, slushy Winter the Jeep needed a cleaning inside and out. Helping me with the cleaning was Keelong The Panda Bear Travel Bug; A Travel Bug is an object that has a set of dog tags attached that act as identifying tags so you can see what the object is and where it wants to go. Sometimes its to a certain country, sometimes its a place or places.

You can see that Keelong is a bit dirty - the result of a few muddy 4X4'ng trips with me. Maybe he should have gotten a Spring cleaning too!

The Jeep is already vacuumed, so he is allowed in now - Windex at the ready to do the windows. Did you get your eye on the yellow sticker? It says L.L.A P. - any idea what it stands for? I'll give you a hint...it comes from Vulcan, Alberta.

Supervising from the hood Keelong has a good view of the work done so far....

Doors are getting closed, hose and a pail full of soap is coming out soon - Keelong better find another place to sit! Time for me to put the camera down, roll up the sleeves and get back to work.

Just as Keelong has dog tags, so does my Jeep. I use them to keep track of my mileage traveled between geocaches - so far I have over 48,000 miles under my belt in the pursuit of lock and lock sandwich containers hidden in the forest. If you are a fellow geocacher and you see the Jeep, write down the TB numbers and log your sighting of me Out and About!