Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mute Swans

The mute swans busy preening in the historic fishing village

Our little village is home to a pair of mute swans that we occasionally see when we take a stroll on the boardwalk. The first two springs that we were here, the swans had a nest near a building in the historic fishing village but unfortunately the eggs never hatched. Both years the nest was quite close to the water, and it's likely that at high tide in the spring the nest and eggs got wet. This year, though, the swans built their nest on a higher nearby bank (according to this news article, a local fisherman actually towed the nest from its usual spot to the new location). We couldn't see the nest from the boardwalk, but we were told that it was there and safe, and eventually the chicks hatched. There is a great picture here by a local photographer of the family in the nest. Two of the babies survived, and we saw them several times over the summer in the village. Evidently the cygnets, as they are called, fledge at 60 days old, but can stay with the parents until the next breeding season.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cannon Beach

Deborah and I recently went on a holiday to Cannon Beach in Oregon. We took two days to get there, taking the scenic route along the coast. On day 1 we drove down Whidbey Island and took the ferry across to Port Townsend, and stayed the first night in Sequim, Washington. On day 2 we followed the 101 through Aberdeen, Astoria and through to Cannon Beach. We spent three days in Cannon Beach and then returned home on the less scenic round, Interstate 5.
Most of the buildings in Port Townsend date from the late 1800s, and have large signs painted on the side. We stopped in the downtown area for an hour or so before driving through to Sequim to stay the night. We will go back again sometime and stay longer for sure.

A tall ship was sailing through the harbour when we were in Port Townsend, I am not sure what the occasion was. The cannon shot it made sure gave us a jolt though!

The salt air near the beach is not so good for anything made of steel...

Deborah on Cannon Beach. The huge rock in the background is haystack rock, the centerpiece of the town - although the town itself is named Cannon Beach because of a cannon that washed ashore long ago.

Haystack Rock is 235 feet high, when the tide is low you can get out right to the rock and look around in the tide pools.

This is the view of Cannon Beach (and Haystack Rock) from a lookout in nearby Ecola State Park.

The lighthouse on Tillamook Rock, as seen from the same lookout in Ecola State Park.

One of the highlights for me was actually getting out on the beach, the first time I have done that in my chair.


My friend Andy Cherney, who I used to work with in Los Angeles, now lives in Portland and came to visit us at the beach. Even though the weather was not quite as nice, we went out on the beach again at low tide and wheeled out to the rock for a look around.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

More Exploring

On one of the trails in Redwood Park in Surrey

Deborah and I have been busy exploring around Vancouver, it seems like we have been going to a different park every weekend. In the last couple of months we have been to Tynehead Regional Park, Pitt Polder Ecological Reserve, and Redwood Park. Tynehead Park and Redwood Park have nice gravel trails that are fairly easy to get around on, although both are a bit hilly. The highlight of Pitt Lake was seeing ospreys for the first time in BC. Considering how mountainous British Columbia is and how hilly it can be in and around Vancouver, almost every place we've been to has been very accessible with trails that are nicely looked after and relatively smooth and flat. We will continue to check out new places, there are still plenty of parks that we haven't been to and it will keep us busy for quite a few weekends.

Ospreys at Pitt Lake

Tynehead Regional Park

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Books!

Troy Bayliss: A Faster Way

It has been a long time in the making but the riding book I have been working on is finally done. I did this with Troy Bayliss, who is a three-time World Superbike Champion from Australia, and through David Bull Publishing, the same publisher as my suspension book. Troy and I did everything over Skype, it was a bit of a challenge with the time change but it all worked out great. I got tons of great information from Troy, he is super nice and it was a pleasure to work with him. You can get more information about the book from the link in the right sidebar here, and you can order it directly from the publisher there or through Amazon.

Just below the riding book picture you'll see another cover image, this is an e-book that Deborah and I have put together. It's a cocktail book with 12 recipes, all our own creations, and Deborah did a fun illustration of our parakeet George for each recipe. This is available through iBooks, and viewable on an iPad or Mac.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

RTI Update

Energy expended for 500 sessions on the bicycle

Shortly after I got home from rehab, I got my own FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike so I could do my own therapy at home. The FES bike, made by Restorative Therapies, is essentially a stationary bicycle that uses electricity to stimulate the muscles in my legs directly to work the pedals on the bike. The benefits from using active therapy, rather than something that only moves my legs passively, is that the muscles are actually doing the work. This is better exercise, increases circulation, and reduces atrophy and spasms.

I have been trying to use the bicycle three times a week, and definitely notice a difference when I miss a few days; when that happens my legs can get quite stiff, with more spasms. Recently I passed 500 sessions total since I got the bike. RTI stores data from each session on its server so I can track progress, the graph here shows total energy expended during each session from the very beginning. You can see that a while ago there was an increase when I upped the time of each session a bit, from 40 to 45 minutes. And, more recently, the bigger jump shows where I increased the resistance that the bike provides, making the muscles work harder. This change has had an interesting effect: When I do have a spasm now, it seems that my legs are a bit stronger and I have to be careful not to accidentally kick something.

I have never really noticed the exercise aspect of riding the RTI bike, and my pulse doesn't increase much when I'm on it, but over time I will continue to ramp up the resistance to see what happens.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nitobe Memorial Garden

There was one cherry tree blooming in the garden, but we were too early for most of them

Last week Deborah and I went out looking for cherry blossoms, and one of the stops we made was at the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese stroll garden at the University of British Columbia. I have been to UBC a couple of times for research studies, but I had no idea the garden was there. According to the information on the flyer, the garden "is considered to be one of the best traditional Japanese gardens in North America and among the top five outside Japan." Unfortunately we were a bit early for the cherry blossoms at this particular spot, but it was an interesting visit nonetheless and well worth checking out. You can see more pictures on my Flickr page.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stanley Park

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Beaver Lake in Stanley Park

Yesterday Deborah and I went to Stanley Park, the huge park near downtown Vancouver. We have been quite a few times before, but mostly just driven or wheeled around the perimeter - there is a nice paved path all the way around, right on the water's edge. This time, though, we went to Beaver Lake right in the middle of the park and checked out some of the trails in that area. On the park's guide map, there is a trail around the lake that is even marked for wheelchair use. We did that loop, about one kilometer, and it was very flat and smooth for wheeling. It looked like some of the trails going off from that loop would be nice also, we will definitely be going back another time to explore more.