Saturday, May 23, 2009

A change of pace

I am more of what you might call a night owl. So when I travel, I usually leave at a sane time in the morning (9 or 10 am or even later). When I was planning this long weekend (I know this isn't a long weekend for Canadians but I took a couple of extra days off) to visit Aimee before she makes her big move to here, I decided to leave early in the morning.

We were up bright and early, Julia and I, and set out on the road at 6:36 am, which is truly insane. Except there are some perks:
- There aren't very many other people on the road at that time.
- The sun was quite glorious, showing off all the beautiful spring-green in the trees.
- I arrived on the lower mainland early and got to Aimee's place at 2:30 - my personal record.

I had some concern that I would be too early for the Copper Eagle Cappuccino and Bakery but they open their doors at 6 am. Still, I missed the usual queue. And found the perfect bread for my roasted vegetable and feta salad. This salad is a knock-off of one I found at the Kootenay Co-op, and it is very tasty. And nutritious.

I brought all my food along on this journey, including a green smoothie which, I discovered, is a great thing to take on the road as it provides all the alertness required.

I was able to avoid the lower mainland traffic even though it is a Saturday and this was not a rush-hour time. It was all grand because the weather was absolutely inspiring!

I didn't find my road companion until the lower mainland. A road companion is someone who is travelling at a similar pace as you - sometimes they pass you and then you pass them. Today, it was a black 4-Runner who I might add was a very gracious passer. These are the things that amuse one on the road when alone for many hours. It is a bit disturbing actually.

The trip also involved a new strategy I have been working on. I have been thinking about what to do about Julia's litter as I don't really think it is good to keep adding it to the landfills. So in the winter, I changed her litter to a type that is wood pellets. When the wood pellets get wet (you know what I mean), they turn into sawdust. Which is very much like nature. So I am thinking that since I live in the middle of lots of nature, I would put the sawdust back into the wilds. This litter by the way works like a charm.

So yesterday, I packed it up and put it in my new recycled garbage bags. The ones that decompose, not made of plastic. In it went into the trunk with all the rest of the travelling goods, as I thought I would find a place along the road today and dispose of it. Good plan...

When I stopped in the midst of a forest, I grabbed the bag out of the trunk and it immediately fell apart. Apparently, the bag already began decomposing. And sawdust interlaced with kitty doo, fell mostly inside of the trunk. It had scattered on the suitcase, and fell into the well where the spare tire lies. Picture it??

I picked up as much as I could by finding a real plastic bag and a cloth that I used to clean the windows. These were not the greatest tools. But, hey, when the homesteaders made their way across the land, they did what they had to do. It was a long and laborious undertaking, and some of the litter actually got to go into the forest.

Back on the road, I pondered my solution. Princeton. I found the car wash rather quickly, and got a great deal at the vacuum station. $1.00 until you were done... A very good deal.

And that, was my day - so far! More adventures coming...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


If you loved to do treasure hunts when you were a kid, I found a new hobby for you! Geocaching.

The idea behind geocaching is to find hidden objects (caches) that have been planted around the world, share your experiences with others online, and connect with the larger community. Once you have found a geocache, you sign the logbook and return the cache to its original location.

What you need to find the caches is a good sense of adventure and a GPS.

At this time, there are 804,108 caches around the world. To start the process, a person puts their postal or area code onto a website and then the program searches for caches in your vicinity. In our neighbourhood, there are 149 caches hidden.

If you want to see how it works, here is the getting started part of the official website.

Now, where did I put my GPS?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Earth Day Pledge

Oprah had a special on Earth Day, which included an interview with Jacques Cousteau's grandson. The discussion was about the masses of garbage in the oceans. It was the first time that I saw pictures. The focus was on the biggest of the garbage swirls in the Pacific Ocean though all of the oceans have such a gathering place, due to the oceans' movements.

The one in the Pacific Ocean is the size of Texas, and at some point is 90 feet deep. This I cannot fathom.

And it is mostly full of... plastic. Plastic bags, plastic lids, plastic packaging.

Recently, I read that in the 60s, there were no plastic bags. I wonder what we put our trash in, or our sandwiches that we took to school (waxed paper I think), or how we carried around all our things. Where did we store our lettuce when we picked it out of the rest of the bunch?

One of the still photographs on the Oprah special was of a carp that had died. Its body was opened and inside they found all sorts of plastic including a plastic lighter (Bic style).

How did it all get in the ocean? Winds swept plastic bags. Other items were dropped on the ground and were washed with the rain into rivers and lakes that found its way into the open water.

Apparently, Americans use 300 billion plastic bags a year, which is about 300 per person. Almost one a day.

This had quite the impact - especially since I only watched 22 minutes. I watched the rest of the show later.

Which brings me around to my Earth Day pledge for this year. I don't use plastic bags to carry home the groceries - I have a grand collection of cloth bags. But I do put my lettuce and vegetables inside clear plastic bags. I am going to wean myself off. Wash the ones I do have so I can reuse them.

But I need a solution once they are done. Any ideas will be appreciated.

And when I see a plastic bag blowing in the wind, I will rescue it.

Wow! How our world has changed since 1957 when plastic bags were invented.