8.31.2007

Cycling in Kamloops

We have learned a few things about living without a car here in Canada.

1. Public transportation here is really cheap. We can ride the bus for as long as we want anywhere in the city, we can transfer to a different bus and go for as long as we want on that bus too. And it will only cost us $2. The kids are $1.50. I suppose my taxes are paying for something good. In Japan, 200Y would get us one or two stops on the bus or train. No transfers.

2. It is good to be close to shopping and other amenities when you do not have a car. Living downtown certainly helps with that.

3. If you want to live downtown, you will pay through the nose for accommodations. We are paying way too much. And we live in the seedier side of downtown, I can't imagine what people on the west end are paying.

4. Cycling downtown with kids is a bad idea. My new policy is that if we are north of Seymour Street, we walk the bikes on the sidewalk. Having been a bike courier in downtown Calgary (for all of two days...story for 'nother day) I have the confidence needed to ride with traffic in downtown. The kids, well, not so much.

5. Off-Street bike paths are necessary to promote cycling for families in cities. I know that there are arguments against them, but there is no better way to get families commuting to and from school and work than to remove much of the risk from vehicles. After all, the thing that makes cycling dangerous in the city is not cycling, it is drivers of cars.

6. Kamloops drivers seem to be pretty decent folks. More often than not they will stop to let us cross a crosswalk when they don't have to...that is cool.

7. The current trend towards urban planning that includes multi-use zoning allowing for retail space directly adjacent to or mixed in with residential space is a good thing. Allowing people to live much more locally would be good. Walking or cycling to get your groceries, take your kids to school, go to work is good for many things. My Dad's commute has changed a little, I think he would agree that it has improved. Gone are the days of car-pooling in to Surrey everyday. Now he just walks out his front door and he is at 'work'. Although, as a newly retired teacher, I am not convinced he considers building his house to be terribly tedious. School starts next week...congratulations on your retirement, Dad.

8.25.2007

Kamloops

We have been here for a week and a half. We have gotten ourselves re-connected to the digital world and are ready to roll.

Once we get ourselves a little more situated in our little house, we will get some pics up and posted. It is an older house that has recently been renovated, although we are starting to realize that the renovations didn't go terribly 'deep'. It kinda looks like things were just painted over. It certainly looks nice, the colours are great, but it is still very much an old house...and we are paying a ridiculous amount of money every month to live here. It is also pretty close to some less than savoury elements that tend to congregate near the downtown cores of many cities. There is evidence that there are more professional offices and the like moving in, but there is still a significant population of people that we don't want our kids hanging around with.

Given the above info, we will start looking for a new place that we can actually buy in the very near future. Hopefully we will not be here long.

Kamloops itself seems to be a pretty decent little city. We have been to Riverside Park a few times for swimming, water parking and listen to musicking. Every evening during the summer, the city hosts Music in the Park with local and some not-so-local bands for free concerts. It is a great atmosphere.

The weather has been great. We have had a few pretty warm days but the temperature drops off very nicely in the evening. We have heard from a few people back in Japan (I keep wanting to say 'back home') that it has been ridiculously hot, in the 40C range...and presumably humid to boot. Glad we missed that.

Lots more to talk about...school, cycling, adjusting, living without any kitchen chairs...

8.21.2007

We are here...

...but we are still waiting on access to the 'net.

8.07.2007

Cow Town

We have arrived in Calgary after a very uneventful flight from Toronto. WestJet has apparently been updating their aircraft as the one we were on for this trip had very nice leather seats, even back in the cheap seats where we were. We had free satellite TV, PPV movies etc. Like United, we had to buy our food onboard which was not cheap. Fortunately we knew that coming in so we bought some veggie wraps just before we boarded the plane.

Toronto was good. The first things I noticed upon arriving was that vehicles here are really big, second thing was that everyone seems to be in a hurry. I had the dubious opportunity to drive highway 401. Never want to do that again. I think one thing that I will miss about our time in Japan is just that...time. We were forced to slow down. Not only are the roads really narrow, but people are extremely patient drivers. Driving 5 or 6 km into Ogaki could sometimes take 30 minutes, but it never seemed to be a problem.

So far, our time here has been very much a vacation. We have been tourists in our own backyard. We went to Niagara Falls for a day, a first for me and the kids. It was very nice even if a little crowded and commercialized. I did find it interesting that the Niagara Park area has been entirely supported by proceeds from the aforementioned commercialization for the better part of a really long time.

We also spent a day visiting Kelly's relatives on Georgian Bay. Twas a beautiful day, smokin hot but there was a very nice breeze blowing off the lake which cooled things down nicely. We went out to the family farm for homemade apple pie...and lemon pie...hisashiburi! It has been a long time since I have had pie that good.

Other firsts for me and the kids were spending a day on Toronto Island (kinda like Stanley Park) and checking out the CN Tower.

Our brains are thoroughly confused regarding the time of day. We fall asleep at really odd times and are awake as soon as it gets light out. Hopefully that will actually benefit us once we get to Kamloops...I have my doubts.

Speaking of Kamloops...some of you know that I accepted a job teaching elementary school PE at St. Ann's Academy...not sure if that made it into the blog or not. I had originally interviewed for a high school PE job and was quite clear that it would not be a great idea to put me in charge of an elementary classroom. I was a little confused and admittedly disappointed when I was offered the elementary position, but I accepted because it seemed foolish to turn down a full time job in my field with declining enrolments country-wide.

Surprisingly, when I got to Toronto, I had received an email from St Ann's offering me the high school position, with a sports-specific PE course thrown in to sweeten the pot. I accepted quickly. It will be interesting to learn the ins and outs of that process...

I have lots of pics but they will have to wait as they are on my computer, which is currently offline.