Glenn Kubish: Inside Coffee Outside

I’m not sure exactly when I started drinking coffee outside with these crazy humans but I started marking it on my calendar in April/2015.  I was a summer cyclist at that time and I was just starting to heal from my second fracture out of 3 in 10 months.  I was curious about meeting other cyclists to drink coffee outside.  Being part of this little community has changed my life for the better in so many ways!  Sometimes I’m alone in the dark but sometimes, I’m almost crying with laughter!

Sometimes, we meet for a Friday beer and a lot of laughter.

Sometimes, we meet for a Friday beer and a lot of laughter.

Doc Darren got a pizza oven that he could bring by bicycle so we had breakfast pizza outside one wintry morning!

Doc Darren got a pizza oven that he could bring by bicycle so we had breakfast pizza outside one wintry morning!

Sometimes, we meet on the southside to accommodate cyclists from the other side of the North Saskatchewan.

Sometimes, we meet on the southside to accommodate cyclists from the other side of the North Saskatchewan.

This community has so much diversity and zest for life. Once two or more of us are gathered, the passionate discussions begin.  It’s astonishing how much ground you can cover in a half hour or so, early Friday morning.  Hanging out with our crazy bike gang has motivated me to become a winter cyclist on all but the very worst days. Various members have enjoyed winter and summer bike races of various kinds.  A couple of us share a canoe.  Our age and career range is pretty wide.  If you have the opportunity to join a magical little community like this, grab it with both hands!!

The video:

Source: Glenn Kubish: Inside Coffee Outside

Time away from work: August 20-28, 2016

I really prefer to choose my own time off, and with no paid vacation, I usually don’t take much time away from work.  However, my workplace decided that there would be 4 weeks/year with no classes, so I guess that I have time off, ready or not!  Most people consider late August to be summer, but in this part of the world, the summer weather ends about 6 weeks after the solstice, just after the August long weekend.  There is usually a lot of nice weather ahead, but the nights and mornings are often quite cool.  This week has been no exception.  The mornings are in the low teens or single digits, Celsius!

My original plan was to visit Prince Albert National Park, in Saskatchewan, to paddle to Grey Owl’s cabin.  However, as the week approached, I had no paddling partner, so I altered my plans to travel around Alberta, to some of the many micro-breweries that have started up over the last few years.  As Friday approached, I had a sinus infection, so I took another couple of days to recuperate.  I visited a couple of local “Irish” pubs at the end of the week: O’Byrne’s on Whyte Avenue and The Druid, on Jasper Avenue.  The Druid was closing on the weekend, and all of their staff had been laid off with only a week’s notice, which is very sad!Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south.  I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive.  It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem.

Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south.  I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive.  It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem so it was noisy in the evening. I met a running friend at Troubled Monk Brewery, in an industrial area of the city.  What delicious beer they have!  Their seasonal beer was very interesting because it was made with syrup made from a European ground cover plant.  They also had a raspberry syrup.  Their Homesteader Saison is always one of my favourites, and they filled a 1-litre growler with that for me to bring home.  Apparently, I really like Belgian yeast! The weather was pleasant, and I visited a cocktail bar in Red Deer, To The Lost for supper, and to try one of their very interesting cocktails.  They had some really interesting appetizers: devilled eggs and curried chickpeas.  It was hard to choose one cocktail, but I wasn’t disappointed with the Inner Light that I tried.  The bar is right in the historic downtown, so I spent time exploring the city gardens down the street, where all of the Pokemon players were out to play.  What beautiful flowers they have in the garden.

Sunday evening was very pleasant, but sometime during the night, the wind began to howl, and the rain began to pour!  When I woke up, it was too wet and windy to make breakfast at my campsite, and the temperature was only 8 degrees. I picked up some groceries and saw patches of clear sky, so I paid for a second night of camping, and drove to Olds, 1 hour south, for my second brewery visit.  Olds College has been an agricultural college for more than 100 years. 3 years ago, they began to teach the fine art of brewing, which is part of the reason that there are so many fine new breweries opening around Alberta! They had 6 lovely beers on tap, including a couple of wheat beers.  The brewery is counter service only, but again, I chose a 1-litre growler and had them fill it to take along, as well as buying a couple of their beers from the cooler.  There was a lounge in the adjoining hotel where they sold their beer, and I sat and watched the rain pour down, while the wind tossed the tree branches around.  I visited a local Indian restaurant, where $10 bought me a lovely vegetarian feast and I explored the local Pokestops. After a couple of hours, I realized that I would be spending all of my time searching for dry places to spend time indoors and that just wouldn’t be a fun camping vacation.  The forecast showed that the bad weather (80K/hour winds!) would continue for at least 2 more days. Finally, I decided to return to Red Deer to pick up my soggy camping gear and continue back towards home.

It was still fairly early at that point, so I continued north towards Lacombe, with a really beautiful historic downtown.  I spent a couple of hours at an amazing restaurant and watering hole, Cilantro and Chive.  There were very few empty seats on a Monday night! I sat at the penny-decorated bar, watching the bartender make Caesar drinks that were topped with sandwiches and other crazy things.  Their beer selection was fantastic.  I found the Ribstone Creek/Norsemen Brewing collaboration of Rhubarb Saison that was so popular, but sadly, it wasn’t really my style. The burger (bison and blue cheese) was fantastic, though!

Now, it was Monday night, and I was already back at home for the week! However, it was nice having time off in the city to do things that I don’t usually have time for, even some housework! Tuesday night, my biking friends decided that they needed an early-week beer, so it was wonderful to socialize together!  My daughter and I had an amazing meal at The Local Omnivore on Thursday night.  Friday, I returned to Lacombe and met a new running friend to tour the town in style. We started out at Sweet Capone’s, a new Italian bakery that’s only open from 10-2, Tuesday-Thursday. It sounds like they sell out of their cannoli that early every day!  We tried a delicious variety, and she waited in the long lineup for me while I drove down.  After fuelling up, it was time to explore the town’s fantastic trail system.  Most of it was handmade by Bill Nielson, a local running legend (ran 100 marathons) who passed away 2 years ago.  One thing that I never realized was that Lacombe is full of many small lakes, and it was a great pleasure to ride around them on these lovely trails. After exploring the trails in town, we rode south towards Blackfalds, 10 kilometres south of us, on one of the only stretches of Trans Canada Trail that I’ve seen, connecting communities.  This trail was also amazing, and it went past the agricultural research station, farms, lakes, and acreages. A local cycling club was out enjoying the trail.  After 30 kilometres of riding, it was time to visit Blindman Brewing in Lacombe.  They have a lovely patio, and we enjoyed a plate of local cheese, sausage, and mustard while we sampled some really interesting flights of beer.  Our server helped me to remember the difference between a “Saison” (Belgian farmhouse ale, with yeast from the French region of Belgium), and “Session”, a lighter beer that would allow a group of friends to consume several rounds of beer at one session without any serious damage.  They do both extremely well, and I especially enjoy their sour beers.  I was able to try #5, which was only sold for growler fills and consumption at the brewery.  I also brought home their barrel-aged saison, which was magnificent.  I stopped by Cilantro & Chives to try their duck wings.  Although I’m crazy about duck, I thought these wings were a little salty for my liking.  Still, a dish that’s not available elsewhere

On Friday evening, many of the Edmonton cyclists met for a memorial ride to commemorate Isaak Kornelsen, a young Edmonton track star, who was killed by a cement truck driver, while riding to work. I returned to the city too late to ride but met at the small, memorial “parklet” where friends and family met to remember Isaak.  Afterwards, a group of us went for supper and beer at Situation Brewing, around the corner in Old Strathcona.  I tried a delicious pork steak accompanied by succotash, a fantastic bean dish.  It was a pleasant evening to socialize.  the weather was pleasant, and the windows were open in the bar.

On Saturday evening, friends from one of my canoe clubs organized a BBQ at their home in Beaumont, south of Edmonton.  That evening, we were back to the cold and rainy weather, so our group moved indoors to eat and visit.  Sunday was also a cool day, with rain at times.  I had a lot of time to organize my camping gear as well as reading and relaxing.  During free time, I visited the legislature a few times to play Pokemon, and it was really interesting to see how many people were roaming the lower grounds to play.  Some people dress in costumes, many people bring their babies, older kids or dogs and one man was walking his ferret.  When somebody finds an uncommon Pokemon, they yell out what it is, and there could be a hundred people or more who start to run in that direction to “Catch ’em all”.

The week wasn’t really what I had planned, but I think that I really needed some time to just relax and enjoy some different things than usual!

More Iron Horse Trail and Camping: Franchere-Mallaig, AB

Starting out at the beginning of a very hot day, Glendon-Mallaig, 15+K

Starting out at the beginning of a very hot day, Glendon-Mallaig, 15+K

Since I learned that there were 300 kilometres of completed trail in Northeastern Alberta, it’s been my mission to hike the trail bit by bit until it’s complete.  Last year, I hiked about 95K of the trail.  This year, I’ve started later, due to my broken bones in the winter, as well as my busy paddling season.  This last weekend, it was time to begin again.  I reserved a campsite at Franchere Bay, Moose Lake Provincial Park, close to Bonnyville, with the intention of hiking several stretches between Bonnyville and Abilene Junction, over the course of 3 days.

This campground was definitely not my favourite.  It was pleasant to be shaded by many pine trees, and to be close to a large lake.  However, there were many enormous trailers camped all around us, and a lot of them operated gas-powered generators for hours on end.  Others drove in and out frequently in diesel trucks, hauling their massive boats.  In other words, it wasn’t such a peaceful environment.  I enjoy the sounds of playing children as well as partying friends and families, and those sounds were also around us.  A very unpleasant surprise was finding out on day 3 that the lake was affected by Blue-Green Algae.  Unfortunately, we both swam in the lake on day 2 and had skin irritations following our swim.  Many children were swimming in the lake since the notice was only on the shower house, not on the outhouses or at the beach.  According to Alberta Health:

People who come in contact with visible blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), or who ingest water containing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea and vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within one to three hours and resolve in one to two days. Symptoms in children are often more pronounced; however, all humans are at risk of these symptoms.

After our night of camping, we got up to hike on Friday.  To our disappointment, it was already one of the hottest days of the year, early in the morning.  Given that, it didn’t make sense to take an extra-long hike.  We rearranged our plans, and decided to hike from Glendon-Mallaig, leaving cars at both ends.  When we drove back to Glendon, we enjoyed the giant perogy statue, as well as a nice Chinese restaurant, across the road.  The town was quite pretty, and the restaurant owner was Vietnamese, so I tried a little of my language with her.  While eating, we were surprised when another member of our group just happened to choose the same restaurant, at the same time of day, out of the entire region of the Iron Horse Trail.  He had stayed at Whitney Lakes Campground for 2 nights but found that the Iron Horse Trail was too muddy for biking, and the highway wasn’t safe enough.  In other regions, he found that the trail was too soft to easily bike.  However, he spent time taking some excellent photographs in the area.  We had a nice campfire in the evening, thanks to some friendly neighbours who brought a lot of dry firewood from home.

Saturday, we woke up determined to hike from Bonnyville-Franchere, and we drove to Bonnyville.  However, the skies were full of smoky haze that morning, due to the forest fires in northern Saskatchewan and northern Alberta.  The smoke caused a headache and burning eyes and throat, even with the air conditioning running in the car.  Again, it wasn’t a safe day for a long, cross-country hike.  We spent time in Bonnyville, where I recharged all my electronics at the very friendly A&Ws, and I picked up some groceries and medical supplies at the Grocery Warehouse.  I managed to get a pretty bad blister on the trail, so I was happy that blister bandages were available in the store.

There was quite a bit of rain on Saturday evening, which meant that I needed to set up a tarp, to protect my tent from getting too wet.  It also made for great sleeping conditions, and we woke up to find no more smoke in the air.  Unfortunately, there was a Red Alert for Aurora Borealis that night, but it would be impossible to see Northern Lights on such a cloudy night.  In the morning, conditions wee good for hiking, cool and cloudy.  We walked from Glendon-Franchere, about 10K, meeting a very friendly pet sheep on our travels. On our way back home, we stopped for a coffee at a “biker bar” in Ashmont, and I bought some very fresh veggies at a market garden in Smoky Lake.  I also stopped at Sunbake Pita in north Edmonton, for some spinach pies.

We only hiked 25K over the 3 days, rather than the 70 that we had hoped for.  Nevertheless, it’s nice to be able to look at a map and see that we’ve hiked over more of the province.  The terrain on this stretch is very soft gravel, with quite a few large, loose rocks between Glendon and Mallaig.  Most of the trail has shrubs or trees nearby, with a few open areas.  There are plans to visit the area near Wasketenau and east, as well as the area around Cold Lake, over the next few weeks.  After looking at the Backroads mapbook, I realized that there is a further network of trails that connects the Iron Horse Trail in Waskatenau with the city of Fort Saskatchewan.  Maybe someday, I will have walked from the far west border of the province to the city of Edmonton!

 

Edmonton Bike Swap & Edmonton Bikeworks

Edmonton

Edmonton.

The fourth annual Edmonton Bike Swap is on May 9th, 2015 at Northlands Hall A at 7515 118 Ave NW.

Bike intake 8:00-2:00PM

Sale from 2:30-4:00PM

Please consider donating bicycles at this event. We are collecting children’s bicycles at this event for some fantastic local groups.

Riding a bicycle serves so many purposes!  You can get fit, save money, have transportation and make friends!  Here in Edmonton, we are so lucky to have the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters with 2 locations in the city.  Volunteers take used bicycles and prepare them to sell to you for a very reasonable price.  After my expensive bike was stolen, I bought a bike there for the price of 1 bus pass.  3 years later, I’m still riding it almost every day!  There will be a huge selection of bicycles at this one-day event, and it’s probably the best place to go, if you want a good-quality used bicycle at an affordable price.  If you miss the sale, go to Bikeworks, look for bikes on Kijiji, or you can even buy a new bicycle.  Whatever you decide, I don’t think you’ll regret your choice!

http://edmontonbikes.ca/services/bikeworks/

 

The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things

The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not ThingsThis is an interesting article about research on what makes us happiest.  From my own experience, spending time and money on experiences makes me very happy for a long time.  Since I returned to Canada from Việt Nam, most of my purchases have been for equipment that will allow me to enjoy many outdoor experiences: second-hand bicycle, skates, skis, and roof rack for my canoe, as well as new running shoes, climbing and camping equipment, ski passes, and gym memberships.  I really enjoy getting to know other people while we are doing an activity, like a hike or canoe trip.  I hope to use the equipment that I’ve purchased for a very long time.

The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things.

 

Fun fall weekend in and around Edmonton

The summer has been a fantastic time of adventure for me, and I’ve spent every single weekend enjoying something new, usually outside the city.  Although I have the most fun in the summer, in many ways, fall is my favourite season.  I always feel like it’s the “New Year”, after many, many years of focussing on the academic calendar, new learning and new activity generally starts at the beginning of September.  I love the fall colours, and it’s nice to have cool evenings.  It’s also a time when our family has often spent time together, with many birthdays and anniversaries, as well as long weekends in September (Labour Day) and October (Thanksgiving).  It feels good to get “back to business” after a summer of recreation and to start to focus on new goals and learning.

One positive change has been my return to regular attendance at November Project Canada.  I love meeting this group of active, positive people for outdoor activity 3 mornings/week, at 6 am!  Friday was hills at Emily Murphy Park, Monday we exercised with the women’s hockey team at MacEwan University, and this morning we did stairs at Commonwealth Stadium, where the Edmonton Eskimos play CFL Football.  It was hard for me to attend regularly in the summer, when I was doing so much travelling, but now it’s easy to go to bed earlier, when it’s dark early, and it feels good to be back to regular business.  I’ve also spent time washing, drying, and reorganizing all of my camping and canoeing supplies, since I don’t expect to be using them again for a few months.

http://november-project.com/they-are-really-cheering-for-you-yeg/

Saturday was exciting for me, since I’ve wanted to paddle from Devon to Edmonton ever since I moved to Edmonton, many years ago.  This was the first time I was able to do it.  Members of the Ceyana Canoe Club made a plan to do this day trip, and we met in Devon at 10 to take cars to Laurier Park in Edmonton.  After returning to Edmonton in 2 vehicles, we all set out down the river.  There were 2 kayaks and 7 canoes, and we spent close to 6 hours travelling the 34 kilometres back towards Edmonton.  One of the members baked a carrot cake to share with us all, and everyone brought lunch.  We were all pretty tired at the end, especially since it was easier for the kayaks to go quickly, and we tried to keep up with them!

http://ceyana.ca/

I didn’t really have any plans for Sunday, except for continuing to cook and clean.  However, one of the November Project members sent out a tweet about going for a “leisure” bike ride in the afternoon, and the weather was just gorgeous!  I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to ride with other people, and the 4 of us got out for a couple of hours, riding 20 kilometres up and down the river valley.

Finally, one of my Meetup group members suggested spending the evening on a patio of a nearby pub and restaurant, to enjoy a beautiful evening.  It was lovely to enjoy the evening with a group of happy people, cold beer, and good food!

http://www.meetup.com/

Enjoy the fall, it’s a magical time of year!

Focus on your goal, not on obstacles! HCMC crazy traffic video

When we work towards a goal, it can be very easy to focus on all of the obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of achieving your goal.  I often hear people start by saying “I should…”, and soon after that, they will say “Yeah, but…”.  No matter what we want to achieve, there will always be things that make it difficult.  Keep in mind that whatever you focus on will become bigger, and that will be what you put your energy towards.  Therefore, it’s necessary to have a very clear view of where we want to go, and to keep focussing on that goal, not on the obstacles.  Here’s a great blog post that explains this idea in more detail.

http://successify.net/2013/08/28/avoiding-the-obstacles/

After reading the blog, watch the video of the crazy Ho Chi Minh City traffic.  I love this video, because it really demonstrates the energy and enthusiasm of Viet Nam.  To a North American, the traffic just looks like insanity, and it seems impossible that there aren’t fatal accidents all over the city.  There are fatal accidents, however, within the city, the traffic flow is usually amazingly smooth, amid the chaos.  I know this firsthand, because I biked everywhere around the city on my bicycle during my 3 years in Viet Nam.  I only broke one little pinky finger in all of that time!  Everyone focusses on where they are headed, and they (almost always) flow around obstacles like water flowing around a rock.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/32958521″>Traffic in Frenetic HCMC, Vietnam</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/kwhi02″>Rob Whitworth</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What can you do to increase your focus on your goals, and to avoid obstacles that interfere?

Tour of Alberta pro cycling : maps of The Race

 

Tour of Alberta pro cycling tour

The Race |.

Have you ever wanted to watch professional cyclists racing?  Next week, in Alberta, there will be a pro cycling tour, with stages in various parts of the province.  On Tuesday, it’s going to make a problem with the back to work and school downtown traffic in Edmonton, since the streets will be closed to cars from 2 pm until 9:30 pm.  It will be quite exciting, if you can go downtown for the evening to watch individual cyclists competing to ride the fastest through the downtown streets!  In other parts of the province, the races will be similar to Tour de France or Giro d’Italia, with cyclists competing side by side.  This is something new in Alberta.  I hope that it’s a big success!