Tag Archives: vehicle

Powering Your Vehicle in Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver is home to 100,000 people and some of the most expensive real estate in Canada. And yet pretty soon there will only be a single gas station serving the entire area (the Chevron on Georgia is being sold to developers).

As Anne McMullin points out in the article linked above, “land in the city is too valuable to be saved for a single use”. Because gasoline is volatile, you can’t just slap a condo on top of a gas station.

gas_stations_vancouver
Map of gas stations (via GasBuddy)

However, you can put an electric vehicle charging station just about anywhere. Which is why there are over 50 charging stations in downtown Vancouver.

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Map of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (via ChargeHub)

Montreal, je t’aime

That's CarbageThe NDP kick butt and wins a federal seat in Quebec (of all places!), and media decides to focus on the Liberals, instead of Thomas Mulcair – the giant killer who pulled off the stunning feat. I think he’ll be the next leader of the NDP. Although the media is playing this as a stunning defeat for the Liberals, if you analyze the numbers, you’ll notice the Liberal votes didn’t drop by that much. It was the Bloc Quebecois that lost most of their supporters to the NDP, which allowed them to defeat the Liberals. This is a good thing for Canada (although maybe not for the Liberals). A stronger NDP presence in Quebec and a weakened Bloc is a good sign for the future of our country. As the dollar shows.

In other good news, the BC NDP has finally decided to oppose Gateway. Or at least the party membership has. The inept leader, Carole James, is again waffling on the issue. Why can’t she just take a stand?

Happy Car Free Day for everyone in Toronto, Waterloo, and Montreal!

Time to ban cars in London. A recent report suggested banning cars would reduce C02 emissions by a whopping 72% by 2030. And the health benefits of replacing car trips with walking and bike rides would trim 4.5 kg of fat per year, reduce breast cancer risks by 25%, increase life expectancy by between 1 and 2 years, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%.

Time to ban salmon farming in BC. It’s dirty, full of lice, and killing off wild salmon.

Co-ops are awesome. MEC, Credit Unions, the ubiquitous Co-op gas stations. And coming to Vancouver in November – a co-op brothel.

Sun, Sand, Wine, and Dry-Wretching

The weather here in BC has finally turned. The rain has been replaced with hot, hot, heat. To celebrate, I took Friday off and headed off to the Okanagan Valley with Emily. The plan was to camp, enjoy the beaches, tour some wineries, and visit my sister in Vernon, but we hit a few snags along the way.

The trip started out good. We were out of Vancouver by 10 am and the highways were clear once we past Abbotsford. The drive into the Interior is really nice – great views of mountains and lakes. Although I wouldn’t want to drive it in anything but perfect conditions – too many steep hills and windy curves.
Highway to Heaven  Road Trip  Okanagan Lake

Friday: Nowhere To Pitch a Tent

The first snag was when we hit the campground on Okanagan Lake. They were full already. We didn’t have reservations, but were hoping we would arrive early enough to secure an unreserved spot. No such luck. The campsite operator informed us the nearest campsite open would be out near Vernon, an hour drive away. I found some phone numbers in a camp guide, and started calling camp grounds, but everyone was already full. Plan B: a hotel room in Penticton. Even that was hard to come by, but we found one.

We settled into our hotel room and walked down to the beach for some relaxation. The beaches in Penticton are fabulous (especially the south one on Skaha Lake). Great sand, shade trees on the beach, clear shallow water for 100 meters, and these fun water slides.

Saturday morning, we hit the local farmer’s market, loaded up on fresh cherries and other food, and then went out to tour some of the wineries. I couldn’t believe how many wineries how sprouted in the Okanagan Valley. We had a list of 10 recommended ones, but there must have been at least 70 within an hours drive of Penticton.

Saturday: One More For the Road

The first winery we hit was Dirty Laundry – an odd name for a winery I thought. I’ve never been to a winery before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Dirty Laundry was a smaller winery, although they were rapidly expanding. They had the nicest outdoor patio of any of the wineries we saw and they invited us to have a picnic on it if we wanted, although we weren’t hungry at the time. They didn’t have any tours, but they said we could wander around on our own. So we hiked through the vineyards a bit. I wandered down a steep hill to take a picture of a railroad track, and managed to trample through a cactus bush, which decided to lodge itself on my shoe and in my leg. Ouch! We went back to the bar area and sampled their wine selection, and bought a dry white Gewürztraminer that we liked.
Dirty Laundry Winery  Rail Line  Railway Line  Cactus Attack  Pinot Noir  Gew?  Winery
Next winery, Sumac Ridge. They had actually had an organized tour here, but our tour guide was useless, a fact she kept pointing out to us. But we did get to see the inner workings of the wine making process, even if she couldn’t explain any of it. We bought a bottle of sparking wine and a port-like wine called Pipe, which tasted like chocolate.

Next stop on the wino march, La Frenz, which was pretty disappointing. We hammered back the sample wines, bought a bottle of Merlot, and jumped back in the car.

Our final stop before we were wined out was Hillside Estate. They had a really neat setup for tasting, and the server’s were really informative. We were told that their Muscat Ottonel wine was one of a kind in Canada because the owner had smuggled the vine from the Czech Republic illegally. Of course we bought a bottle along with a Cabernet Franc.

We were planning to hit Mission Hill on the way up to Vernon on Sunday, it has a a really amazing complex. But Sunday was a bit of a disaster.

Sunday: What The $@&*! Did I Eat?

I woke up at 2:30 in the morning dreaming that I was sick. Turned out it was more than a dream, and I had to empty my stomach in the toilet. I drank some water, ate some bread, and went to bed. Rinse and repeat at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30. At 7:30, I woke up queasy but managed to keep my stomach from doing backflips. I had also stopped eating at 5:30 since it was obvious none of it was staying down. I called a medical hotline, and a friendly nurse told me to keep hydrated and visit a walk-in clinic. Emily picked up some gravel for me and at 11 we went to see a doctor. He thought it was food poisoning, but since we couldn’t pin point a cause (no eggs or meat Saturday night) he thought it could have been another stomach infection. Either way, nothing to do but stay hydrated and wait for a few hours to eat simple food.

I still don’t know what caused the food poisoning. The only thing I can think of is I might of picked up some uncooked meat juices from spatula I used when we barbequed veggie burgers on Saturday night. It’s weird because Emily didn’t get sick, although she wasn’t feeling great on Sunday.

The other pleasant surprise Sunday morning was the dent in the bumper of our rental car that someone left for us. It looks like the insurance from my TD Gold Visa will cover everything with zero deductible, but it’s still a hassle dealing with insurance companies.

We still managed to drive up to Vernon to see Kelsey, and hang out with her and Matt on the beach for a few hours. I wasn’t in much shape to socialize though, and spent most of the time curled up in a ball in the shade. I do think seeing Kelsey put me in better spirits though, because on the way to Vernon I had my head in a plastic bag, but afterwards I was feeling much better.

The drive back sucked. Luckily, Emily was a trooper and did most of the driving without any complaints. We saw 4 accidents, 3 between Vernon and Kelowna that made a 30 minute drive almost 2 hours. 2 were really nasty looking headon collisions, and we also saw the charred remains of a burnt out semi closer to Merritt – it looked post-appocolyptic.

Aftermath

I’m feeling much better now. I even played Ultimate on Monday, even tough I was barely eating solid food. I did manage to roll my ankle though, so I probably should have just watched. But we tied one game and won the other, our best night of the season, so it was worth the personal sacrifice.

Car Ownership

Big Muscles, Little CarI’m really happy that I live in a city where it’s possible to get around without a car. Public transit is decent (at least in downtown – trying to get to Ikea in Richmond last weekend was a nightmare. Richmond is such a hole, but I digress), biking is possible year round and there are lots of bike lanes and trails around the city, and the downtown is dense enough that I can walk to almost everything I need on a regular basis.

That being said, there are times when having a car comes in handy. I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist lately, looking for a good used kitchen table and maybe a futon. But what would I do if I found one? I might try, but I don’t think I could use my bike to move it.

So, I bought a car. Well, not exactly. In reality, I bought part ownership in 140+ cars, trucks, and vans. I am now one of 2500 members in Vancouver’s car co-op. I have access to 7 hybrids, 3 mini-coopers, 5 VW Beatles, 27 minivans, and 10 trucks scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. That includes 12 cars within a few blocks walk of my house and one in my building’s parking lot. I couldn’t find any Smart cars in the fleet. Maybe they’ll add some soon.

I’m really excited about this. They have a slick web interface for booking cars. I already reserved the car in my parking lot of next Saturday to chauffeur my parents around when they’re here, and a Toyota Prius for Sunday to drive them back to the airport. I still plan on biking everywhere, but now I have the flexibility of having access to a vehicle when I need it.

SunsetPink Sky at NightI strongly recommend everyone look into this. Although car sharing is bigger in Europe, there are car sharing programs across North America – in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, Seattle, and New York.