Friday, September 19, 2008

Charlie Foxtrot Whisky Alpha Pappa

This is your captain speaking. Today I had my first flying lesson in Canada. I had one in Lelystad earlier, in a Cessna. This time, I flew a Diamond DA20-A1. My instructor Aaron did the landing and take off, but I did the aerobatics (oh, ok, turning left and right, going up and down) and some taxying.

I signed up for ground school, which starts tomorrow. I had to choose between a private pilot license, and a ULV license. With the former you can fly to the USA, and take more than 1 passenger. However, I think that ULV will suffice. Also, the ULV craft that the school owns is much more modern: a brand new state of the art aircraft. So I think I will go with the Evektor Sportstar instead. Getting a license seems to be much easier here than it is in the Netherlands, and pretty affordable. The airport I will be using is half an hour drive from my home. However, CZSB is one of the busiest airports in Canada.

After 25 hours of flight, I hope to get certified, so I can rent a plane, and fly to the Yukon Territories with Amy. It will probably take some persuasion, as she is scared of small aeroplanes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Northern Sights

My friend Goran has took the time to put a selection of images up on his photo album. It gives a good impression of what we encountered at our epic road trip to Northwest Territories. I do not have a camera myself, so I think that I either have to buy one or build one. So far, I have been depending on Amy and Goran to document my trips. When I was 7 years old, I built my own pin hole camera, and had my own darkroom for developing B&W pictures. In my late twenties, I enjoyed shooting with a film based SLR. Everything was manual, and you had to keep logs of shutterspeed/diaphragm/lens of each photo you took, and only weeks later you could see what you did wrong or right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Territories in the North West of Canada

Yes indeed! That little figure perched on the edge of the waterfall is none other than yours truly. Although I was nicknamed "Abel" after Abel Tasman the explorer, by my travel companion Goran.

Last week, Goran and I did a major road trip. We explored the North West Territories and some parts of Alberta. To do this, we drove more than 6000 km in 7 days. From Vancouver we headed east towards Banff, then Jasper followed by the northern part of Alberta. The trick is to top off your fuel tank every chance you get, as fuel opportunities are few and far between.

The weirdest thing happened in northern Alberta. As we did not buy an Alberta map, we went by a very coarse scale (1:1000000) overview map of BC which showed part of Alberta as well. Only major cities like Vancouver, Victoria and such were printed on this map. And also a place called "Steen River". If a place shows up on a 1:1000000 map, surely, it must be a sizable large community. Well, I just checked in google maps, it is not even listed there. I think it is abandoned, or maybe only inhabited a small part of the year. We had to backtrack to High Level to get more fuel, and a motel.

Canada is composed of Provinces (like BC) and Territories (like Yukon). One of the territories must have been so insignificant, they did not even bother to properly name it. It's name is simply "North West Territories". It's as big as the half of Europe, but with only 50000 inhabitants, many of which live in Yellowknife which was our destination. After merely one night in Yellowknife, our trip home started.

There are not many roads in North West Territories. The few they have are often littered with potholes, or just gravel roads. Some of them are winter-only roads, because they use frozen rivers as roads there. Transport of choice is the bush plane, or boat plane.

We took a side trip, over the Alaska Highway to Liard Springs. It was recommended by us by Brent, the owner of the Bannockland B&B we stayed in while we were in Fort Simpson. Fort Simpson was very remote, only reachable by air of ferry. The people have it hard here. There is a grocery store, but it did not have any fresh produce, other than some spoiled strawberries, and two carrots, imagine that.

Our trip was in the spirit of: "It's about the Journey not the Destination". And during our journey we saw some impressive sights and wild life. We encountered Bison, Moose, Cariboo, Wolves, Black Bears, Foxes and Squirels. Especially the Alaska Highway to Liard is of stunning beauty. Some call it "the arguably most scenic ride in North America". We tend to agree. And the locals told us: "Oh, you will be back, all of them do."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cell Mafia

Why is it that those stories about astronomical phone bills are always related to Canada? There is this 85000 dollar case, and now this 20000 dollar case. Man, this country needs a consumer uprising. It's because of stories like this, that I stay with my 25 dollar prepaid vouchers. The most an evil corporation can steal from me is 25 dollar.