Vacation

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Sweet, sweet vacation. Here is a brief description of our 2 weeks off and what we did.

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For the first week, we didn’t do much of anything. We enjoyed our apartment, and not working. We also decided to spend a day taking in some local attractions, including the Victoria Bug Zoo, which is well worth a visit if those little critters don’t give you the heebie jeebies. We also visited the Royal British Columbia Museum, where we saw an exhibition of artifacts retrieved from the wreck of the Titanic. We’ve lived here a year already, but the novelty of living in Victoria still hasn’t worn off. It is frequent when we are together that one of us will exclaim, entirely out of the blue, “We live here!”, and inevetibly the other will reply, “I know – I can’t believe it”.

We went to the mainland and parted ways for a few days. I reunited with some of my old scouting buddies from long ago to embark on a hiking trip. We used to do this kind of thing all the time. Some of the guys who were on the trip still do, on a frequent basis. It becomes apparent on these trips, however, that I do not. Man, I love hanging out with those guys. I must, because they kick my butt hard on these annual trips and I keep coming back for more! We gained enough elevation to make camp in a place where there was a quarter inch of new ice on the lake we gathered water from in the morning, and it snowed the day we left. That’s right, it snowed, within a 3 hour drive of Vancouver, on August 13th. I really love hanging out with those guys, but the butt kicking and the dragging me to a frozen lake in August makes me wonder how they must feel about me!

I am hoping one of them (Trav? Stone? Marty?) will post some photos soon, so that I may see them, point my blogging public at them, and tell everyone to look at the photos to see how hardcore I must be to have gotten to such a place. Stay tuned.

Upon return to our fair aisle, we hopped in the camper van and took off down the island highway to do some REAL camping – the kind that involves a furnace, fridge, stove, and comfy bed!

First we went to Sproat Lake, which was VERY warm and swimmable, and had a relaxing couple of days in lawn chairs by the beach, books in hand. We also started to experiment with our digital camera’s manual settings, and using extended exposures and flashlights at night, came up with the following collaborative photos. Fun!

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We traced the outline of the van with the flashlight

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Another similar shot, this time I used the flashlight to paint a silhouette of my hand, then, leaving the shutter open, moved and did so again and again and so on.

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A fish, drawn in the air with the flashlight.

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Using the same technique, tea for two!

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We then moved on to another campsite. I am going to keep the location secret from the internet, although I’d likely crack like an egg and tell you where it is if you ask me directly. We heard about it from a friend, and never would have found it otherwise. It’s a great spot, and the sites are right on the beach. Beach fires every night! It was lovely, even though it rained a little while we were there. Vans definitely outrank tents in rain! The photo at the top of this entry was taken at the same park.

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There was much exploration to be done in the tidal pools on the beach. All kinds of little critters were swimming and crawling around in those little puddles.

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We found a very large jellyfish on the beach – hands are added for scale.

We left our secret spot to attend VI-EX. Sounds like a drug knock-off, but actually that’s short for the Vancouver Island Exhibition.

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There were lots of 4-H club animals being shown.

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And I was a total sucker for the vintage tractors. Note that that sign reads “Mid Island Vintage Tractor Club”. Does that mean there are competing North and South Island Vintage Tractor Clubs?

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I especially liked this one. Those two headlights make it look just a little like an old hot rod.

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We camped that night at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. It was a great spot with very cool cathedral grove-esque trees.

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And, as the name implies there are falls to visit there too.

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I couldn’t resist this photo-op. It seems very out of place, but on the side of the road, about 30 kms toward Port Alberni on the Island Highway, there is a graveyard for old london double decker busses. I am presuming this is the final resting place for the imports that are used for tours of Victoria, so I guess it makes sense, but seems strange out there nonetheless.

I am writing this from Toronto, where I will be working for the next couple weeks. The vacation is over. It was great to take some time off though – it’s the first time we’ve done that in a while. I don’t know exactly when it will happen again, but I can’t wait until the next time I wake up in the van to the sound of the surf on the beach.

Old Laptop into Digital Photo Frame

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It was day 2 of my vacation yesterday, and I embarked on a project that I have been thinking of doing for a while. I had in my possession an old Toshiba laptop, I think it was manufactured in 1999 or 2000 or so. It had a pentium 2 266 in it and a 4 gig hard drive, and was running windows 98, and the battery had long since expired. It was a hard thing to own, because, it was almost useful, but not really.

I had the thought of making it into a digital picture frame. How hard could it be to take it apart, change the screen so it faced out instead of in, and mount it into something pretty? Not that hard, actually.

I thought, I wonder if anyone has done this before, and did a search on google, and found this link that shows a long list of old laptop models, and instructions on how to do exactly what I was hoping to do.

I did however, stray from the plan I found there a little. rather than install linux, I found a $20 piece of shareware that suited my needs fine called pictureriver. I might’ve found something free, or probably could have made something on my own, but there it was and it works great, and $20 is a pretty cheap dgital photo frame.

Now it hangs on the wall and displays the “greatest hits” photos I have loaded it up with randomly. I picked out 140 so far, and at 800×600, the screen’s native resolution, they take up about 10 MB. With about 2.7 GB to fill, it will hold a pretty decent number of photos!

The only drag is that cord. I still need to think of a way to conceal it somewhat. This might justify a trip to Canadian Tire on day 3 of my vacation.