Cat Lake Camping

Cat Lake in the Morning
My wife and I’s first camping trip together was to a little forestry campsite just north of Squamish. I have fond memories of that trip. I remember a tranquil lake, quiet isolated sites, and cooking great food over a campfire. One of the best car camping experiences (well almost, you have a short hike to the sites), I’ve had in BC and no reservation needed. We’ve been hoping to go back for years and finally made the trip last weekend.

Either memories can be deceiving, I’m getting old and grumpy, or Cat Lake has changed. Judging from what I wrote about Cat Lake on August 30, 2006, it was a party destination then, but it seemed more extreme this time:

The best features, though, were the lake and privacy of each site. The lake had some small beach areas, and people would float these giant trees into the centre of the lake and use them as docks, diving boards, and log rolling venues. The camp sites were nestled between hills and trees and very spaced out. On one side we had a group playing loud music and on the other a bunch of drunk girls. But at our site we could barely hear them.

Maybe they’ve crammed in more sites, but I didn’t find quiet campsites. When a group decided to go skinny dipping at 2 am on Friday night, they woke me up on the other side of the lake (noises seemed to carry more over the water than between camp sites). I was ready to take an axe to the guy screaming “stop looking at my dick, the water is cold”. There was also a fire ban prevented any campfire cooking.

Cat Lake

The lake is still great for swimming – a perfect temperature and crystal clear. The floating logs are still there and great to play on, but inflatable rafts now outnumbered them.

Typical Cat Lake Campsite
This was a typical campsite – a giant tent, trash and empty beer cans littered around, and food left out to attract wildlife. It bothered me. I must be getting old and grumpy. I love camping and we still had a good time, but I wish more people could enjoy the experience without getting high, stupidly drunk, and making asses of themselves.

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Cycling the Sea to Sky Highway

Sea 2 Sky Cycling
I can’t believe how many people cycle along the narrow shoulders of the Sea-to-Sky highway. A foam helmet and a narrow rumble strip seem inadequate for protection from the cars passing at 100 km/h. Plus the shoulders are littered with rocks and tire-puncturing debris (you see a lot of cyclists patching flats). There’s obviously a demand for long distance cycling in BC, the thousands who ride the Gran Fondo from Vancouver to Whistler every year are evidence enough of that. Too bad the infrastructure sucks.

I’ve never gotten into long-distance cycling (something about the tight shorts and expensive bikes). The longest ride I’ve logged on Strava is 8.7 km, although I’m sure I’ve gone farther than that. If there were separated bike routes, like they have in Europe, I would be tempted to give it a go. Until then, I’ll stick with biking for commuting and running for recreation.
Cruising the countryside
Photo taken in the Netherlands by Jeroen de Jongh

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J’adore Montréal – Top 10 Reasons

There are so many things to love about Montreal

  1. Awesome vegan restaurants
    Lola Rosa Nachos
  2. Separated bike lanes and BIXI
    Bike Lanes at Dusk
  3. Pedestrian streets
    Pedestrian Street
  4. Festivals
    Just for Laughs
  5. Patios
    My favourite parts of Montreal
  6. Complete bilingualism – including Shakespeare in the Park
    Shakespeare in the Park
  7. Parklets and street reclaiming
    Montreal Parket
  8. Public markets like Jean Talon
    Jean Talon Market
  9. Old buildings and Old Montreal
    Old Montreal's Pedestrian Zone
  10. Apartments with staircases
    Montreal Staircases
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Cycling in Montreal

Biking is a Breeze
After spending 3 days cycling through Montreal, I have to admit they are years ahead of Vancouver.

Montreal BIXIFor only $15, I picked up a 3-day BIXI pass and used it to zoom around the city. I was impressed with how quickly the bikes turned over. Bikes were constantly being taken out and returned by users – a lot of them locals judging by how quickly they unlocked the bikes and pedalled away. The bikes are heavy and slow, but still way faster than walking and more interesting than taking the metro.

Montreal Separated Bike Lane Bike Lanes at Dusk
The separated bike lanes downtown are good (especially around the universities), but the real highlight was the network of separated lanes along commercial streets in the neighbourhoods around downtown, like the Plateau (think Commercial Drive in Vancouver).

There is also a good network of bike routes on quiet streets, salmon lanes against the traffic on 1-way streets, and trails along parks and train tracks. They even have cleaners ensuring the bike routes are free of glass and debris.
Bike Salmon Lane Route Vert Bike Trail Bike Lane Cleaner

Vancouver has some catching up to do.

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Rand Paul and the Scariest Email I’ve Ever Read

Rand Paul recently penned an excellent op-ed in Time Magazine arguing against the militarization of police forces. It reminded me of the email I got from Rand Paul last month. It was sent to me in error and it had a very different tone. It urged me to sign up defend America’s gun rights. For only $10/month I could be “automatically entered into the FRONTLINE DEFENDERS monthly gun giveaway to win a Remington Versa Max 12-gauge shotgun with Realtree camo. Each month we give away a new gun. It could be an AR-15. It could be special high-end handguns, shotguns or hunting rifles.

Frightening stuff.

I agree with Rand Paul that turning local police forces into small armies is a bad idea. But I’m not sure how giving ordinary citizens (especially the paranoid ones) camoflauge, shotguns, automatic riffles, and ammo is any better. In fact, it sounds a lot worse.

Rand Paul Email 1
Rand Paul Email 2
Rand Paul Email 3
Rand Paul Email 4

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Eating Vegan in Montreal

On our recent trip to Montreal we were delighted to discover that the city is a hotbed for vegan cuisine. Who knew? We had a chance to eat at six vegetarian restaurants (five of them strictly vegan), with a long wishlist of places we didn’t have time to visit. Normally I would rank the restaurants we visited, but all of them excellent with little separating our favourites (Aux Vivres and Lola Rosa) from the rest.

  • Aux Vivres
    Aux Vivres is a vegan restaurant with mass appeal and wide acclaim, but when I see menu items like veggie butter, vegelox, and coconut bacon I’m always a bit leery. Happily these weren’t overly processed soy knockoffs. The veggie butter was mostly nutritional yeast and the lox was made from carrot pulp and herbs, with a bit of liquid smoke (recipe). For dinner, we had the Aux Vivres burger and an Indian platter. Both were excellent. I highly recommend trying to get a seat on the awesome patio behind the restaurant, as the main seating area is loud.
    Aux Vivres Appetizer Aux Vivres on Urbanspoon
  • Lola Rosa
    I really loved the atmosphere at Lola Rosa. The tables are old, wooden desks with drawers that customers have stuffed full of love letters and poems. We found a paper fortune teller that said: “choose the menu item you least considered, everything is amazing” and then “actually, just get the nachos“. So we did, and they lived up to the anonymous hype. Everything is vegetarian with lots of vegan options, often substituting Daiya for cheese.
    Lola Rosa Nachos Lola Rosa Cafe on Urbanspoon
  • Propulsion
    A great little vegan restaurant in the gay village with a fabulous patio in the summer. We sat outside and ate our lunch while a nearby quartet played classical music. The menu was a bit confusing (language barrier?). We tried ordering a salad, but although they’re on the menu, salads apparently aren’t available. We got a quinoa bowl and tempeh sandwich, which were both hearty and delicious.
    Propulsion Lunch Propulsion Cantine Végétalienne on Urbanspoon
  • Invitation V
    Excellent food but ridiculously slow service. Our meal took 3 hours, including an hour wait between the appetizers and entrees. Everything is vegan. The appetizers and mains were good (especially the crabless cakes and hot pot) but the desserts were disappointing. I’ve had much better vegan crème brûlée and as much as I like kale, it was overpowering in the kale-chocolate cake.
    Invitation V Dinner Invitation V on Urbanspoon
  • Green Panther
    Simple but tasty vegan food. We tried the veggie burgers, Poppin’ Carrots cake, and a Peanut Munch Break cookie. They have more than one location, but this one is in a cluster of vegan restaurants, along with Crudessence and Cafe Verdure, between Mcgill and Concordia University.
    green panther The Green Panther on Urbanspoon
  • Crudessence
    Crudessence’s Golden Square Mile location is located next door to the Green Panther. Everything is raw and vegan. We sampled the desserts, all of which were superb. We didn’t get a chance to try any of the entrees, but they looked good.
    Crudessence Dessert Crudessence Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Where I Run – a Strava Heatmap

running-heatmap-strava
I’m lucky to live in close proximity to so many great running routes. I’m minutes away from Vancouver’s Seawall, where I can run for hours without having to stop for a single traffic light. Vancouver’s greenways and bike routes are also great, traffic-calmed running routes.

My favourite places to run
Seawall, around False Creek, Kitsilano Beach, and Stanley Park
Central Valley Greenway, occasionally as far as New Westminster
Point Grey Road, a joy with the new traffic calming
Ontario and Heather bikeways up to Queen Elizabeth Park

Interactive heatmap available on Strava.
Follow me on Strava

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