Monday, January 30, 2006

BvT does the Bonspiel

I spent last weekend curling in Kingston in the Whig Standard Bonspiel. There were over 200 teams competing in four different Kingston area clubs. It was a blast.

As you can well imagine, having only curling once before at a divisional Christmas party, my curling skills were a little ... ahem ... lacking to say the least. Nevertheless we did win one of our 4 games and I managed to fall only once or twice coming out of the hack (and yes, I at least made the shot).

The guys I curled with were a great bunch and we had a lot of laughs between and during games. One of the unforeseen highlights was the house we stayed in for the weekend. It was my friend's wife's father's rental that had recently been vacated by the former residents. As luck would have it, it was located just around the corner from the Royal Kingston Curling Club on University Ave. The very same street where thousands of beautiful university women parade up and down displaying their and winter wear (more like spring as there was no snow on the ground). It was uncanny how these women looked so much alike. Tall, long-legged blondes with their hair pulled back in pony tails. Unfortunately this would represented an exact contrast to the short beer-bellied grey haired men that littered the curling clubs. Oh well, you can't have everything.

The big question is.. will I ever curl again? Yes. But possibly not with this team if they ever want to win.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


After an afternoon skate (nope not on the canal, it's still closed) the kids and I headed over to the Kanata area for a hike. We found a tiny parking area near an old wooden train bridge and while I strapped on my snowshoes and grabbed my backpack with my camera and GPS the kids started off down the snowblasted trail.


It was a complete white-out as everything had been blasted yesterday with nice powdery 16.6cm of snow.


Kids had a great time. Running, sliding, tackling, and dumping snow ladden branches on each other.


One of the geocaches we were looking for brought us to some old stone ruins. Hard to imagine that somebody once called this home. I would love to know when the building last had people living in it.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blizzard of '06

A snow storm! Yeah baby!!

With nearly 15cm of fresh snow on the ground, and still falling, Mike and I set out with the intention of going for another x-c ski in Gatineau Park. Well we didn't get far (Greenbank and Hunt Club) before we decided that this was not a good idea. The plan then changed from an afternoon adventure in the GAT to touring/pushing/pulling the car down the snow clogged backroads of Ottawa.


It all started when Mike got his car stuck in my driveway. (not overly surprising as his front tires are nearly bald - apparently you can't drive more than 3 years on the original dealer tires Mike). Being the good passenger I am, I pushed him out which he immediately thanked me with a face full of slush. This was a sign of things to come.

Not long after leaving the house (Greenbank and Fallowfield) we watched the guy in front of us roll down his window and rather awkwardly reach out with his full sized windshield scraper to clear off the snow and ice from this front window. I nearly got a picture before his wet frozen arm slunk back inside. Personally I think it was my laughter that caused me the photo.

Anyhow from that point on the day was doomed to be a series of mis-adventures. We spotted cars stuck on islands, another car somehow managed to plow into the snowbank of a completely empty parking lot, an OC Transpo bus stuck and smoking his tires at a stop sign, and then it was our turn (again).

PHOTO: Two girls slammed into a snow covered island. It wasn't long after this photo that there were 8 lonely guys helping the poor ladies get there car out.

PHOTO: Bruce Pit parking lot. How they managed this move, I don't know.

PHOTO: Bus stuck (I just missed the smoking tires with this pic but not the reverse lights as he navigated his way out of this predicament. I don't know why the door to the engine was open).

After travelling the sideroads looking for the "perfect" spot to park a car in a snow storm with absolutely no traction we decided to go for it. It was a cleared parking lot with only one other vehicle (a supercab truck). The only trick would be to get up the small incline to the lot. Well we didn't make it. Stuck. After some manoeurving we then managed to slide down sideways completely blocking the parking lot entrance. Well done.

PHOTO: Mike t-boned in the parking lot entrance.

Thankfully the owner of the monster truck came back from his walk and asked if we needed a hand. (like he had a choice, what was he going to do sit in the parking lot all day and watch us?)

After that we did one more loop around the Kanata trails passing two other busy parking spots before we found what we were looking for - a completely snowless surface with a slight downward grade. Perfect. Time to ski. Kind of...

Turned out that everything was so blasted with powdery snow that we could not manage to find the trail let alone stay on it.


After about an hour of bushwhacking we stopped for a beer alongside a large pond. Standing there staring out over the pond and sipping a cold Grolsch we quickly recognized where the trail should be (we'd been here once before last year). After the refreshing drink and a laugh or two at Mike's tumble in the snow (he managed to get fall down after his skis entangled and soaked his glove in some stinky swamp water) we slapped the sticks back on and crossed the pond to hook up with the trail. It was smooth sailing all the way back to the car after that.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Ricky Gervais podcasts

Ricky Gervais, creator and star of the BBC original The Office and Extras has started a weekly series of half-hour podcasts, along wth Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Freakin' hilarious! Check'em out.

The Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited

Here are the direct links to the mp3 podcasts for you...

Latest episode

The Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited Episode 7 January 16 2006
In which Ricky, Steve and Karl discuss...
The pictorial canonisation of St Karl the Bewildered; how fingers that do dishes can feel soft as your face; sound advice on maintaining good neighbourly relations; Karl's choice alter ego; the philosophical truth that is 'cogito ergo Karl'; sowing the seeds of doom; medical technology in the 21st century; monkey news.
Download the mp3 file here

Previous episodes
The Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited Episode 6 January 9 2006
In which Ricky, Steve and Karl discuss...
Karl's cranial appraisal via email; Oriental homelessness - a global phenomenon; Karl's pick of the freak; Karl's advocation of choice cuts; advice for residents in glazed accommodation; trials and tribulations of the trichologically challenged; animal psychology in food production; experimentation with decapitation; monkey news.
Download the MP3 file here

Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington and Steve Merchant Episode 5 January 2 2006
In which Ricky, Steve and Karl discuss...
Cosmetic therapies and facial prejudice; the penile habits of Papua New Guineans; medical applications of single-wheeled transport mechanisms; consumer demand for Russian iconography; some rather woolly thinking about woolly mammoth and the inevitable monkey news.
Download the MP3 file here

The Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited Episode 4 December 26 2005
In which Ricky, Steve and Karl discuss...
the suitability of ungulates as charitable donations; space, solitude and casual nudity in low Earth orbit; shrewd choices of super power; aphorisms remixed in a Mancunian stylee; atavistic elements within Western contemporary nuptials; Orientals of no fixed abode and, as improbably as ever, more monkey news.
Download the MP3 file here

And if you still haven't seen the original The Office then check that out too. What are you waitin' for?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Disappear... POOF!

Ever wish you could just make somebody disappear? Well this is a public post read by family and friends so I won't be putting anything on the record here for all to make note of. Let's just say that I sometimes wish it were only as easy as demonstrated in the following photo. Poof!

(photo taken April 2005)

On a lighter note, the canal has reopened for skating. Now I may be going out on a limb here but I don't believe -31°C is the ideal temperature to hit Dow's Lake in the hopes of some family fun - no matter how many hot chocolates you drink.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


What with all the freezing rain, ice, and slushy snow in Ottawa I thought now would be a good time to suggest the following innovative product - YAKTRAX. 

They're hilarious lookin' but I'm telling you right here and now this is what I want for my retirement gift.  No broken hips for me folks.  Until then I'll just depend on my cat-like ability to land on my feet to get me through these Ottawa winters.

BTW, I take a medium.

Where cows fear to tread

Another winter photo.  This one  was taken on my father's farm during Christmas. In the Netherlands farmers use a set up similiar to this rather than an actual gate to keep cows penned in.  The system consists of steel bars spaced just far enough apart to discourage the cow from crossing and breaking a leg.  And who said cows were stupid?

BTW, it actually works.  My father built it about 12 years ago and we have yet to see a cow cross it.  Now if my brothers could only figure out how to cross it safely we'd all sleep better at night.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ice and snow

Headed out this morning for a x-c ski with the family. Weather was overcast but warm and the freshly fallen snow made for perfect ski conditions. We ended up doing a loop that was about 3km and by the end I had to promise McDo Happy Meals all around in order to avoid a mutiny.

The conditions on some of the back trails made from some ideal photo ops... I just wish I had a little more time to snap the pics before getting yelled at by hungry family members.

Bee's nest

Family ski day


These last two pics were taken at my parent's farm over the xmas break but they seem to work themselves nicely into this winter wonderland theme I have going here.

Frozen apples

Red and white

First x-c ski of 2006

Today I headed up to Gatineau Park for a x-c ski with a buddy of mine. The fresh snowfall provided a perfect opportunity to test out my new x-c skis from Bushtukah. What with all the freezing rain we've had lately my outdoor activities have been somewhat curtailed (not that the recent holiday gorging helped any either). As such I was a little concerned about my ability to ski nearly 20km up and down the hills of the GAT in -18 °C weather. Hence my response when my buddy described the skiing adventure he had planned for us, "It's all good until I spit blood."

Route: P19 to a beautiful lookout just south of Lac Taylor... and back again

Well folks I am happy to say I surprised myself. I managed to ski the entire way with requiring artificial resuscitation, my skis worked great (once I got the wax right), and after a hot shower and warm meal I am ready to get right back out there again tomorrow... well at least back out to ski the nearby Greenbelt with my kids.

A panoramic view.

Still smiling at the end of the journey. Note the shiny new skis.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

testing the new blogger

This is just a test. All original blogs were posted under bloglines at the following URL: