Monday, 20 June 2011

Meeting Bobskoot and Sonja, part 1

When I travelled around much of the USA last year, one area I didn’t go to was the Pacific Northwest, specifically the states of Washington or Oregon. I could have easily gone to Seattle, as this is where Jackie’s family live, but as I have previously been there many times, I felt I didn’t need to see it on my tour of the USA.

This decision had one drawback though. I wanted to meet some fellow bloggers on my tour of the USA, but not going to Washington meant I also wouldn’t get to see one particular blogger that I had really wanted to meet, Bobskoot. I did know however, that I would be able to rectify this one day and last weekend I had my chance. I was in the Seattle area to visit Jackie’s family, so I rented a Harley and rode north into Canada to meet Bob.

I left early and rode an Electra Glide Ultra Limited as quietly as possible for the first few minutes, trying not to wake the neighbours in the leafy residential district. Maybe I shouldn’t have worried, as the big Harley was still fitted with its stock factory pipes and barely made a sound. Heading north on I-5, the traffic was light and I made good time, arriving at the border in time to meet Bob, who had kindly ridden down to meet me and was, I assumed, waiting as planned just out of sight on the Canadian side of the border crossing. It was here that I made the mistake of saying something stupid to the border control guard that I had written about in my last post.

Having crossed the border, I rode the very short distance to the place I had arranged to meet Bob, and there he was, wearing his famous pink crocs….




















It was like meeting an old friend! We had never actually met in person before, but through reading his blog for so long, I felt that I knew Bob well. I had regretted not meeting Bob on my tour of the USA last year, but it was good to now be able to put that right and spend a couple of days with the person who I had admired from afar, the person whose blog had entertained and interested me for a couple of years, the person who had given me lots of help about both blogging, video editing and choosing a new camera, the person I had become friends with.

Bob had previously asked where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see in the Vancouver area. Having never been to this part of Canada before, I knew I wanted to ride with him, but I had left the choice of where to go firmly up to Bob. I knew I could rely on Bob to show me some terrific places and he certainly did that!

We first went to an area called “White Rock”, along the edge of Boundary Bay, close to the US / Canadian border. The city of White Rock runs alongside a 5 mile / 8 km stretch of sandy beach and is well known for its 1,500 ft. long pier, its beach promenade and a large white rock which weighs in at nearly 500 tons, a glacial deposit.





















Running along the back of the beach is a railway track, a great place to put your camera down and set the shutter timer!....




















We had parked the bikes, the rented H-D and of course, Bob’s famous V-Strom, in a car park and only noticed what we had parked next to when we took a photo….





















As we rode along, it was a strange feeling to recognize some of the places I was seeing. It occurred to me that I had seen some of these places before from Bobs blog and Sonja’s blog also. One of those places was Ladner where we wanted to get breakfast, but sadly the restaurant next to the river hadn’t yet opened for the day. Instead we took some pictures of the river, a view that looked familiar to me….



















Whilst writing this post, I looked back at Bobs blog and from July 2010 found a picture of the same place, so I “borrowed” the picture below from his blog for comparison….





















Bob then took me to see another familiar looking place. Finn Slough is a small fishing community located on one of the surge channels of the Fraser River. There are about 30 residents living in wooden houses that sit on stilts along the marshy river bank. Most of the houses are decaying badly and have survived in this harsh environment since being built between the late 19th century up to the 1950’s. The channel makes for a confused sight, with both wooden boats and wooden houses set in a green scene that makes your eyes jump around while you try to take in what you are looking at....





















One of the things I have learnt about Bob from his blog is his love of food. Hardly a post goes by without Bob mentioning or photographing food. We were hungry, so food finding food jumped to the top of our agenda and we sought out something to eat at the Wharf at Steveston. Exploring this fishing port would have to wait, as we first went in search of a restaurant that would serve brunch. Sockeye City fitted the bill perfectly....






















We both ate crab cakes....





















After eating and being suitably sustained, we wandered around the fishing port. Unusually, the fish caught that morning were sold directly from the fishing boats moored at the port.

The ramp down, over the surprisingly murky water....





















There was a huge choice of different types of fish for sale, from prawns to salmon....









































Some of the fishing boats are huge...





































Many of people buying fish were of Asian descent and Bob told me most of the fishermen were Vietnamese. Steveston is a part of Richmond, a city that forms part of the Metro Vancouver area. I looked on Wikipedia and read “Richmond has an immigrant population of 60%, the highest in Canada. More than half of its population is of Asian descent, many of whom immigrated in the early 1990s, most of them from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China.” Bob had told me many people moved to Richmond when Hong Kong was given back to China by the British in 1997. I can remember that at that time, many that lived in Hong Kong feared what the reaction of the Chinese Government to those that had moved out of mainland China and enjoyed the different, western and more modern lifestyle of Hong Kong. Many either held or were given British Passports and presumably, this meant they could travel and live many places in the world, including Canada....





















Is Bob a Gift or a Souvenir?....





















Soon, we were riding again and I was taken to something I had never seen before. We went to the Yaohan Centre Mall, which is a large Asian shopping centre. Most of the products for sale were from different parts of Asia and written in their native language. Bob was of course, interested in the food....





















A huge sushi counter....





















Cans with contents I could only guess....





















Delicious looking cakes....
















I remembered to take my GoPro camera with me, so we stopped to attach it to the Harley, so I could make a short video of Bob. So, for your viewing delectation, I am pleased to present Bobskoot in glorious techicolour....



Much of the video was shot in Stanley Park, a 1,001 acre urban park located on a peninsular on the northern side of Vancouver. With an estimated 8 million visitors each year, the park is very popular and I could see why. Many city parks are mainly grass, but the majority of Stanley Park is kept natural with a forest making up a large proportion of its natural environment. However, the park also has a 5 mile / 8 kilometre seawall path and the views across the water are both interesting and spectacular.

Looking across the water to downtown Vancouver....
















































We did spot a group of women out for a bicycle ride as part of a hen party in advance of a wedding. What happened to good old fashioned drinking and other nocturnal activities?.....



























Brockton Point lighthouse, in Stanley Park....





















Bob, with Lions Gate bridge in the background....



























Looking over the water at huge container cranes....





















We saw a seaplane taking off. This picture shows the importance of sometimes getting a clear background, as it is difficult to see the plane clearly....





















However, I swung around to try to capture the plane as it flew near us. I think I did a pretty good job!....

















The bikes waited patiently for us to return....



























Still within the park, we crossed the approach to the Lions Gate bridge and stopped to look at the view....



























A zoomed in shot of one of the lions on the bridge....



























Sometimes, a photo can be deceiving. This is a shot of one of the lion plinths at the side of the road. It looks huge, clearly built to match the sheer size and grandeur of the bridge it signifies....
























... or maybe not. Not so much a lion, more of a pussy cat....



























We needed something to drink, so Bob took me to the Granville Island Market where we parked under the Granville Bridge....



























The market area is very cool, selling both food, produce, and the usual market arts and crafts. Street entertainers did their best to earn a few dollars while we sat and enjoyed the view of False Creek and its boats....





















The market is indoor and was very busy with weekend shoppers...





















We liked the tip jar where we purchased our drinks....


It had been a long day so far, but we had the evening festivities to come yet!
To be continued.....

17 comments:

Charlie6 said...

Nice photos and video Gary...am curious though, did you swap angles on the GoPro as you rode or were the side shots of Bobskoot made in a different shoot sequence?

Where's SonjaM? part 2?

dom

ps: after viewing the video, the next one in sequence is a video of some "gay pride parade", see what happens when you flaunt the pink crocs in front of the motorcycling gods? : )
Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Brady said...

I like to go into the asian markets - they have great things to eat. While I'm there I grab one of the drinks and try it. Sometimes they're good, sometimes completely undrinkable (to me) but it's always fun.

Brady
Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life
http://www.behindbarsmotorcycle.com/

SonjaM said...

Lovely capture of your Vancouver trip. Bob took you to the best places this area has to offer. I hope you enjoyed it (well, actually the pictures show). Nice riding video, too. Have done the Stanley Park loop many times on bike, scooter, bicycle and on foot.

RichardM said...

I enjoyed the tour of Vancouver including the shots of the Asian market and must admit that I went there usually to find weird food.

So first pink Crocs now pink busses, what's next.

Looking forward to part II.

Richard

Trobairitz said...

It is nice that you were able to come over and meet up with fellow bloggers. I remember meeting Bobskoot, Mrs. Skoot and Sonja for the first time.

They are always a pleasure.

It appears by your photos you had a wonderful time and got to see the sights.

Is Bob a gift or souvenir? I'd have to say Gift (to the blogosphere - one to treasure) but don't tell him, it'll go straight to his head :-)

FLHX_Dave said...

Awesome! Hoping that I will hook up with Bob here shortly. I hear he is in town or around.

Spectacular picts as usual. Just awesome account and visual. (need to get my camera fixed...pffftt.)

cpa3485 said...

I am really glad that you folks have been able to get together. I hope to meet up with some northwest USA bloggers myself some day. Looks like Bobskoot is a marvelous tour guide. Take care,
Jim

mq01 said...

fabulous! LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! i love that so many of us are able to connect eventually and share roads! excellent!

Gary France said...

Charlie6 – Oh, very good spot Dom. I shot it all front facing first, then moved the camera just once. Then I mixed the shooting sequence up in order to make the video more interesting. I didn’t want the end result with all of the front-shot video first followed by all of the side-shot. Sonja is lurking in part 2. There was definitely something going on with the colour pink on that trip to Vancouver!

Brady – I like your idea of grabbing an unknown drink and trying it.

Sonja – Bob was a great guide. It was great to meet you and Roland and the two of you are in part 2 of the post! Stanley Park was an unexpected gem and the people of Vancouver are fortunate that valuable waterside location was not sold off before the park was created.

RichardM – I think after the crocs and the bus, I might have a while away from pink....

Gary France said...

Trobairitz – I would have to agree with you and place him in the Gift / Treasure category. He did a great job showing me around and I am already working on the list of places I will take him when he comes to London. He doesn’t yet know he is coming here, I am just planting the idea....

Dave – I hope the two of you get to meet while he is in CA. It was easy to take picts of the great places Bob took me too. It was more a case out what to leave out of the post!

Jimbo – I think you should get yourself over to Vancouver whenever you can. I hope you are on the mend and getting out on that bike (the one with pedals) often. Take care.

mq01 – Wow, you got to meet Bob and Yvonne as well. That’s fabulous. Blogging really does bring us together!

bluekat said...

Very cool that you guys had a meet up. And of course your border crossing will become a classic.
Fun to see all the places where Bob and Sonja hang out through another blogger's eyes. I love Finn's Slough. I'd forgotten about it until now.

Love the video of the urban riding. I'm scared to ride or drive in cities, but I'm terribly attracted to them at the same time. Stanley park was also wonderful. what a great ride!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

sorry to take so long to reply. You've got me blushing. I'm in Saratoga, CA and I am on the go from dawn to dusk trying my best to take all the photos I can. I managed to meet FLHX_"viking"_Dave, WillyD and BB tonight and I felt right at home. I even sat on Tramp, with permission of course. The roads down here are "GREAT" .

I am also so honoured to have been able to meet you too. I am humbled . . .

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

Again, I regret getting on the back end of these posts but circumstances have kept me away from my keyboard of late. Vancouver is one of the mot beautiful and diverse cities in North America. It is also one of my favorite. I have visited there at least 6 times, spending a total of 25 days in the city.

I'm sure you got to see the best of it wit Bob Skoot. Regsrding the exhaust on the Harley: I am baffled that so many riders switch out the pipes for something louder. The OEM mufflers make for a very pleasant and manly sound, rich in baritone emphasis. It neds no excuse.

I like the outdoor seafood stalls of Vancouver. I would eat fish five nights a week. I am partial to crab cake, and get disappointed by it all the time. I have found two places down here, one being an upscale chain restuarant at that, And Finn Slough remains one of my favorite of Bob Skoot's photo essays.

Floatplanes are common in the Pacific Northwest, and you did a nice job of capturing that one.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep
Twisted Roads

Eve said...

I'm Sooooo far behind on blogging Gary. This is so great meeting Bobskoot and Sonja! I remembered the Croc photo from a time ago! Looking forward to reading part two and trying to catch up. Been in Florida for two weeks with not much internet time and NO motorcycle!!!

Gary France said...

bluekat – It was cool and I had a great time. Riding in cities is ok if you have been doing it for a long time. I started riding in London about 40 years ago and have been riding or driving here ever since.

Bob – I have been reading about your California adventures. I was very pleased that you got to meet up with Dave, BB and WillyD. It sounds like you had a great time with them.

Jack – It is now my turn to be distracted away from my keyboard. I really liked Vancouver and can understand why you have returned quite a few times. I’m not sure that you and I agree about the original H-D exhausts. The Harley ones make a very quiet sound and are a long way removed from what many think a Harley should sound like. I like some extra noise, but appreciate why others don’t, especially when it is really loud. I think I was lucky with that float plane as I just swung around and clicked as it went overhead!

Eve - I too am a long way behind. Florida isn’t a great place to ride a motorcycle anyway!

BeemerGirl said...

Hi Gary! I'm trying to catch up, please forgive the delay. That first day was thoroughly jam packed! But everything seemed wonderfully meshed with the food, weather, sights and company. :)

-Lori

Gary France said...

Lori – I know what you mean about trying to catch up. I am way behind! I was a very full day – I am still recovering.