Monday, June 23, 2014

Introduction to British Columbia

Firstly, no luck getting a work visa yet.  So I cannot begin work at Western Forest Products as of now.

Vancouver Harbor near Stanley Park.
Secondly, we saw a BEAR!! Okay so it was on a highway, when we were driving.. it was running across the road.. and disappeared. But still! It was big and black. Just saying. No photographic proof was obtained.
I know that by the end of this year I will probably over the newness of seeing these creatures but for now I celebrate.  And prepare by purchasing bear spray, a noise canon, and.. always travel with someone slower than me... just kidding...

Anyways, the first entry into Canada began with the hopes that I would be able to acquire a work visa at the border. Alas we were wrong. All of the paper work must be in order.

However, this mistake gave us a bit of an unforeseen vacation in no better place than British Columbia!  My parent were gracious enough to drive me up to Canada with the hopes to drop me on the Island.  This was not the case but with all of my stuff backed up we continued on to Vancouver past the nice Canadian officers denying me a work visa at the border.

And so began the Vancouver adventure! The turn of events left us with a multitude of opportunities given the beautiful country we had just entered.  Firstly we tried to find someone at the Immigrations Office and no luck. Apparently one must apply, be qualified, and book an appointment online in order to talk to an actual person.

Instead we wandered around the city a bit; attempted to get into pretty churches and looked up at glass buildings.  It was kind of overwhelming for someone who has been living in the small town of Corvallis or the farm for so long.  After a giant table, well a small table filled with sushi, we realized a place to stay was in order.  It quickly became clear that Michael BublĂ© fans and a stem cell convention had taken almost every room in the city.  I will spare you the curse words but driving in this unfamiliar town should be left for the locals.  Except most of them walk and use the buses...  After showing up to several locations desperate for a room, finally one got hooked! And for a discount even!

Relieved to have a place to stay we relaxed long enough to get hungry.  La Brasserie served a delicious steak.  Seriously, I could eat my way through this city given enough time and money.  There is such a vibrant variety of cuisines and options that at each street corner I'd wish for a sample.

Bent Cedar Boxes. First Nations made these
from one long plank, curved to make a
sealed box.
On Friday we took on the bus system to find the Museum of Archeology.  Holy cow! It offered a fantastic chance to look at artifacts from cultures from around the world.  It was especially focused on the First Nations people of Canada.

The First Nations people encompass the people with heritage roots of those tribes originally residing in North America.  For more detailed information check this out:

UBC library
UBC College of Forestry Student Center
The museum is on the University of British Columbia campus.  We walked through the main campus to get a feel for it. What we learn is that it is huge! The Main Street seemed to go on forever.  UBC has one of the top Forestry Programs in North America.  We took the time to explore one of the main forestry buildings.  I spoke with a graduate advisor about their programs. Basically there are two tracks graduates go through.  Either reasearch focused where you have to have specific faculty member willing to assist you in research.  Or one can do a course based program to gain a Sustainable Forestry Management Masters Degree.  My thoughts are to gain professional experience before seriously considering graduate school.

UBC College of Forestry Faculty Building

Overall, our experiences in Vancouver have been very positive. The people we have met are extremely nice and warm to talk to. The city is very easy to navigate and interesting to explore.  Stanley Park is a gem in this city.  We walked part of the 8 km route adjacent to the bay.  The city has more than 1.8 million trees and promotes earth friendly practices.  

Beef Tenderloin Wellington roast garlic mash grainy mustard marsala.
Bin 941.
Our favorite night in the city was definitely a fantastic meal at  Bin 941 on Davie Street. It was a tapas restaurant where we shared each plate.  We have the very best seats in the house at the chef's bar.  We got to watch the two men create works of art made of wonderful food.  They were also particularly charming and willing to laugh at Dad's jokes.  It was the absolute highlight of the trip.  From muscles to lamb, tomato salsa with goat cheese to white chocolate cheesecake.  All I can say is that the next time I come to Vancouver I have to save up to eat that great again.

Quest University Main Campus View
Later on in the day we were motivated to get out of the big city.  Takinga drive north on Highway 99 we headed towards Squamish. A small town of 17,000 people was known for their fantastic outdoor opportunities for the adventurist.  We stopped in the Saturday Market for gluten-free Crepes! And Dad of course bought a bag of kettle corn… as if he can’t get enough at the farm.

The real mission of visiting Squamish was to see Quest University.  A small non-for-profit school that has a very unusual curriculum is where our dear friend Hannah P. will be attending in the fall.  It had supreme views and a pristine campus.  It was near this town we saw a bear. So be careful Hannah.

Whistler Olympic Rings
Instead of turning around we choose to follow the signs up to Whistler, BC.  It was home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.  And wow, the Olympic Village was incredible.  It reminded us of some European cities.  We could walk over a half-mile lined with shops, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor adventure trips.  The village had restaurants and menus familiar across the world.  It catered to the international audience obviously present year round in Whistler. 

Whistler Mountain Bikers enter the village.
The Tough Mudder was going on that day and the streets were filled with similar T-shirts and muddy people.  Mountain biking was huge at Whistler in the summer.  There were gondolas taking people and their bikes up the scenic mountains to ride the rough trails.  They would ride to the base of the mountain at the very end of the village.   Loud music greeted the riders where they could wait for friends and fix up their bikes. 
Beautiful Rock Face Near Squamish, BC.
Rock Climber's Heaven I would say.

While our stay was short north of Vancouver we finally felt that we relaxing and more familiar with British Columbia than ever before.  The drive was all jaw dropping views reminding one that there is really nowhere else like it. 
Shannon Falls, Hwy 99

While I still do not have
a visa the plan as of now is to head to Vancouver Island to meet with my bosses.  The intention is to drop my stuff off in the staff housing and drive back to the states.  I must cross the border again in order to get the work visa while still waiting for the verification letter.  Depending on when the letter comes I will bide my time in Portland.  I will travel solo up there via train unless there is someone willing to drive me to Vancouver at the drop of the Canadian Immigration’s hat. Any volunteers?
Huge Leaves at Stanley Park, Vancouver

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Premiere Blog Posting!

Hello Dear Friends!

This will be my very first blog ever! Yahoo! (Wait, no actually this is through Google..) The purpose is to document adventures that life throws at me and to show you those adventures from afar.  The blog will also serve a purpose to post required materials for school credit. This summer and fall will be very exciting because I will be living and working on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. I will be working for Western Forest Products as a forest engineering intern.  I am based in Port McNeill a small logging community on the Northeastern coast.  More details to come when I actually move up there.
Port McNeill is almost a 12 hour drive + ferry ride from Portland
My gracious parents are excited to drive me and my gear up the coast this coming week. A major setback currently is my lack of a work visa to enter Canada.  So the departure date is on hold until the Canadian immigration department grants me permission to enter their beautiful country.
Viberg Rubber Bottom Boots size 5 hand-built in Victoria, BC.
Brand new and no time to break in before heading up to Canada!
 Ordered from Sedlaks in Corvallis, Oregon.
 Here is a bit about me and what I have been doing for the last few months. I just finished my junior year at Oregon State University. I am studying Forest Engineering with an International Degree.  

What is forest engineering you may ask?  What can one do with an FE degree?
Forest engineers are often the project managers of harvest units in the forest industry.  They provide the skills to design roads and harvest system plans. It can be compared to civil engineering but with a forestry focus. FEs oversee almost any and all aspects of the forest harvesting and regeneration process to ensure sustainable and high quality forests and products. They work with contractors, landowners, and the public in order to provide a safe and efficient way to harvest trees.  In Oregon one can become a licensed forest engineer which is not the case anywhere else in the United States.
This past year has buried me into the forestry field in a great way!  It has been a year of outdoor field work in the McDonald-Dunn College Forests and indoor computer work in Peavy Hall. I really hope to use my experience in BC as an opportunity to realize what in forestry I want to do.

In addition to school I am increasingly involved with the OSU Chapter of Society of American Foresters.  It has provided me with the opportunities to meet many passionate individuals active in forestry throughout Oregon and Washington.  I use the opportunities to learn from professionals the ways they influence to forestry sector.  From a distance I am on the officer team as the communicator. As a chapter we are hoping to increase membership and participation of students with the College of Forestry.

1924 Grand Brothers Truck my Grandpa rebuilt
Until I can leave for BC I am spending time at my parents house in Portland, Oregon.  The farm is beautiful this time of year! The tons of fresh vegetables and fruits make it easy to cook, eat, and enjoy time spent with family and friends.

Please feel free to follow my blog for updates about my internship. Send me messages or comment if you have any questions or would like to get in contact with me.  I will have internet up in BC so it should not be any trouble.  

Go Beavs!