Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Septober, Part Deux: Everywhere you look

In mid-October the rain set in like an inconvenient acquaintance we had forgotten about, and we thanked our lucky stars we had managed to squeeze in one last sunny beach day. Or so we thought, until October 27th brought us to San Francisco, where fall was happily delayed.

How hot was it, you ask? Look at this manly pancake breakfast and then swallow your jealousy:

Yep, San Francisco, home to crazy vertical hills and those wonderfully quaint townhouses from Full House.

'Everywhere you look, everywhere there's a heart there's a heart...'

Those hills sure gave our calves some intense exercise, but it also amounted to many beautiful views.

Our friendly neighborhood was Mission, which boasted some of the sunniest weather in San Fran and was a cool hub of funky shops, tasty-looking eateries and colorful graffiti. Lots of colorful folk too, as we were just in time to witness a football victory and subsequent riot two blocks from our place (don't worry, it was a controlled fire...), as well as happy Halloweeners. While we didn't really partake in either beyond the role of spectator, we sure did a lot of things, namely sightseeing, walking, and eating.

This city is so cool, just look at their street names
Tasty food brought to you by Farm Table and Tartine

Typically our preferred method of sightseeing isn't visiting tourist traps and loading up on souvenirs. On our second day we went to the beach, checked out the old bath ruins and discovered a creepy Thai restaurant.

We do have to admit to doing a few touristy things though, like going to the fisherman's wharf and Alcatraz. But who can say no to floppy aggressive sea lions and Al Capone (which are pretty much the same thing)?

Actually, I'm glad I went to Alcatraz, otherwise I wouldn't have realized that Shawshank Redemption is loosely based on the cool prison escape attempts that happened on this island.

Interesting prison escape #1: Prisoner Bernard Coy had starved himself prior to his escape in 1946 so he could fit through a weak section of bars on the upper gun gallery. He succeeded in overwhelming the guards and freeing other prisoners. The plan went awry when the lock to the cell house got jammed and the escapees got desperate, shooting hostages. The alarm was raised, a shootout occurred and the Marines were called in and dropped grenades from the outside. The two day seige ended when armed guards rushed the cell house and found the escapee's bodies. Two prisoners were executed.

Interesting prison escape #2: A group of prisoners in 1962 fashioned dummy heads out of soap, hair and toilet paper and placed them in their beds for nighttime inspection. They crawled through cell vents that they had dug out with a spoon for over a year and climbed up the ventilation shaft to the roof. After climbing down and scaling the fence they launched into the water on a raft made of raincoats and cement. They were never seen again, and it is speculated that they drowned.

Contemplating not going insane in solitary confinement

To top it all off, we biked over the most famous feature of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge. What we didn't know before our trip was how foggy it got by the afternoon.

I guess all the postcard shots are taken in the morning.

All in all, San Francisco is a cool city. Sun, greenery, hills, burritos, football frenzy, prison, you name it. I'd say everything went off without a hitch.

Hmmm? Oh don't mind him, he's just a tad hungover from birthday beers...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Septober, Part 1: 'Twas

'Tis my favorite season.

Blue bird sky. Crisp air that pulls you awake. Warmth when you're in the sun. Green to orange, yellow, red, brown. An excuse to wear gnome hats. Pumpkin pie. Change!


Let us examine late September, where an overnight hike to Brandywine Mountain near Squamish was in order. At the beginning of our journey, it appeared as though some trickster spirit set out to sabotage our adventure, getting us lost on unmarked rocky logging roads, making us forget a bag of delicious food, and sending mists to fog our vision.

A half an hour in we emerged out of the woods and prematurely found the Meadow, aka base camp. We realized we had mistakenly gone on a major shortcut starting from the logging road. After blinking in surprise and pitching our tents, we headed toward the base of the Mountain. The trickster made the trail extra muddy for us, but we slipped and sludged on.

After an hour of scramble and rock climbing, again with scant indication of where to go, we made it up beyond the clouds!

'Twas heaven on earth.

Then the trickster emerged once more as we realized we weren't on the right peak. The next segment involved scaling across the mountain range to find "the right one" and eventually stopping due to the fact that soon we wouldn't be able to see beyond our noses in the waning daylight and the fog. Back down for a campfire and zzzz's.

The trickster didn't have time to wait around for us to finish sleeping, so he packed his bag and booked it for a more controversial location. This amounted to the change in weather and us waking in the morning to the splendiferous landscape we weren't able to see the day before!

Half the hiking party decided to stay and scale the mountain properly again, while the other half headed home...but not without taking our time to bask in the sun and meadows along the way!

'Twas then back in Vancouver that trees began their metamorphosis in earnest and leaves floated down to the earth to gather in crunchy piles.


In the week following Brandywine, 'twere opportunities to spend time with friends coming and going. Biking and romping amongst leaves at Stanley Park occurred...


...as did a nature walk through gorgeous Hollyburn up at Cypress Mountain for some mushroom admiring.


The day of Hollyburn 'twas also for gnoming and celebrating bountiful harvests.

Flash forward to October 6, and 'twas a day filled with pastrami sandwiches and enough warmth for exposed skin at Wreck Beach! The air was a tit bit nipply and the water had gone beyond frigid, but there was enough bare bums to know that nobody cared. Let it all hang loose while you still can.

Alright, enough 'twas-ing, stay tuned for part deux of Septober, a post that features a city well-known in connection to a very cheesy 90's sitcom...

Monday, 24 September 2012

Wolves and Otters

Quickly, recap it all before summer slips away!
Here's some nostalgic tunes to accompany you:

[Filmed in Hamilton Beach, Ontario]

In Vancouver

cramming in as many sunny naps in the park as possible

a lantern festival

walks in nature and watching people do crazy things

oh yeah, food and more food (no surprise there)

In Banff

The mountain view surrounds us camping at Takkakaw Falls, as do bears

Dipping our toes in frigid Louise with a picnic lunch

Them Swiss had it all figured out in the 1930's, building teahouses along trails

Here's some homemade chocolate cake to help your tired feet

Fini of Plain of Six Glaciers trail

Twin Falls

Various shenanigans

Got a lot of sugar that day

The similarities to New Zealand (left pic) make me warm and fuzzy inside!


In the Kootenays

We're home!

This trip was for a whopping 26 member Pratt family reunion to celebrate Nan and Poppa's 60th anniversary (!), which meant a whole lot of togetherness over meals, walks, games, bonfire, dirty innuendos, you name it. Most well-adjusted family you ever did see.

Doing what we do best at Deerfeathers

Who doesn't love a wolf??? This one is Denali, 80% wolf, 20% husky. Love her.

Then, after a rousing game of volleyball one day,
we went into the water and saw...
AN OTTER! here he is, half-blind and clutching my leg. What a magical animal weekend.

One day we visited the Kokanee salmon to see how their spawning was doing. We also watched in disgusted fascination as Denali devoured a dead one from head to tail.

So much zaniness, so many good (looking) people.

It's nice to end August with one of my favouritest places. See you again real soon.


Now the sunny autumn breeze is nipping at my heels and sending delicious shivers down my back, and I get the feeling of a last hurrah and change in the air. Time to see what the fruits of fall will bring.