Wednesday, September 30, 2009

British Columbia - Coffee!

Hey everyone,

I was sipping a coffee, and my mind wandered again!  This time to about a year ago when I took a trip to British Columbia  I got to visit there in August 2008!  There was a wedding and lots of other commotion, I remember that, but I also remember lots of other things too.

Mainly I remember the coffee and the coffee shops, yes, there were lots of those, and berries!  August is berry time.


Coffee in British Columbia is wonderful, and there is lots of it! There are coffee shops everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Better yet, not everyone there drinks Big Coffee either! There are lots of small, independent coffee places to get a good cuppa! Here are 3 of my faves:

Bojangles - local chain of 4 cafes.  People watching was pretty good at this one: 785 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 2L6.  In fact, this is where my Blog Header photo was taken, on their outdoor patio! Like any good coffee shop they also have a variety of good baked things that are great for nibbling or dunking with coffee.
Teddy Bear's Picnic...Biff Style

Grouse Grind Coffee Bar - After a long climb (or cablecar ride) up Grouse Mountain, you need coffee! This place place has coffee and an awesome-tacular view of Vancouver and region from the mountaintop. How cool is that? Not only that but you can watch everyone arrive at the top of the mountain either sweaty (hiking) or smug (cable car riders like me!) I promise next time I'll make the climb (paws crossed)
Coffee time!

Bamfield Boardwalk Cafe - Lattes in the town of Bamfield - accessible only really by boat! Who knew? Yet there I was having a latte with a bunch of other tourists and locals.  West Coast Cool! As it is at the end of the Coast Trail, anyone looking for a sign of civilization will appreciate a latte / cappuccino bar at the end of the hike!Coffee Time again!

Okay, so I was holding out, there's a fourth place, a really good place, with cool staff and well, really good coffee! Dancing Bean Cafe - Box 905 - 9752 Willow Street, Chemainus BC V0R 1K0 - they roast their own coffee too, and it's a really cool place to hang and check out the local arts scene.  Staff were really cool, and have to say one of the best lattes this bear has ever had!Vancouver Island_1239 As a special mention, they also had the coolest sign posted in their cafe which was: Vancouver Island_1237a

That's just a quick tour of BC coffee shops! There are plenty more to explore! Do you have a favourite Coffee place?



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Camping Bear Style - part 2

Camping Eating - Bear Style 
(Well, you already knew this series was about camping - didn't you?)

So I had the tent all set up and ready to go, I stuck myself nearby in a corner to make sure I wasn't spotted immediately, and then waited.... and waited... and waited.  Wow, come to think about it, there was a lot of waiting.  It felt like forever!

I kept myself distracted by watching the wacky squirrels running all over the park.  Wacky squirrels, yes sir, they were funny running all around everywhere and everything and what with the throwing of pine cones on my head!  Owie!  Okay, so I don't like squirrels much anymore.

The Buffet Arrives (Sort of)

And then I saw a blue car pull into the campsite!  YAY blue car.  SCORE!  Score one for the bear!  Yes (insert victory dance here!).  I held my breath, and the car door opened and.... AW NUTS!  It was my wrangler and some of his friends!  Stupid GPS chip in my paw.

Wait a minute, they are unloading food!  Lots and lots of yummy food!  Oh Goodie!

Where to begin....

Well after all that screaming and yelling at squirrels, I was pretty thirsty.  Now those of you that have been following along or who know me understand that this bear's favourite indulgence is coffee of the latte variety.  Now my particular bear wrangler knows that the situation would be simply unacceptable without a coffee-making thingy packed for the trip.  

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Here I am with a Mocha Pot.  Now it looks like I was cooking my bum but I wasn't!  Nope, that side of the stove was turned off!  The pot on the right was full of milk in order to go with the espresso coffee.  I don't much like espresso on its own, milk makes it yummier.  As we didn't have a milk steamy thingy, my plan was to blow bubbles into the how milk through a straw.  My wrangler told me the straw would melt, so no bubbles in the the milk 8-(

Dude, where's my Lunch?

Since my wrangler was here I thought I would be well fed.  Was I ever wrong about that!  I was told politely but firmly that we were each on our own for making lunch!  How terrible!  I complained bitterly only to be handed a stuffed-bear sized BBQ and some tongs and told to "Get on with it!" or something like that.

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So, I did the only reasonable thing: lit the stupid BBQ and started cooking. I think I burnt a paw, but at least the burgers were yummy if I do say so myself!

Dude, Where's my Dinner?

Just as soon as I was done cooking and eating my lunch I was starting to get hungry for dinner!  I knew watching the squirrels was out.  What to do, what to do?

I know!  I'll sneak another coffee! 

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In this case the stove lid provided perfect cover.  They never knew who kept drinking all their coffee!

FINALLY it was dinner time!  and what a dinner it was.  There was Steak,  yummy, yummy steak.  Oh sooo good and tender and cooked on the BBQ just the way I like it, and (droooooooool) was it ever good!  Such good steak.  Oh, and broccoli, but I'd rather not talk about that.  

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You Promised me Dessert!

Being the end of Summer, it got dark pretty early. To keep warm and let other bears know this spot was spoken for I had my wrangler and his friends set up a campfire. This was immensely clever of me because it allowed them to make me s'mores! I demanded that they put two marshmallows in my s'more instead of one. Made it gooey on the paws!

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The "Morning After Breakfast"

After eating all that chocolate and marshmallow the night before, I was feeling "queasy". Good thing there was coffee!

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Well, shortly after that I "perked up" and breakfast was well underway.

Nothing tastes quite like oatmeal, partly because oatmeal doesn't really taste like anything!  My wrangler suggested that I try just plain boring oatmeal without anything on it to try to settle my tummy. I went off to find some, 'cause I wasn't gonna cook it myself!

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I found some!  Score again!  Just as I was digging in, who should slow up by Goldilocks.  Party Pooper.  She threw a hissy fit and demanded that I stop eating her oatmeal. *sigh*

Back at the camp, I found some scrambled eggs to eat instead. I like mine with lots of pepper. Again done myself as good waiters are difficult to come by while camping.

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Well, that was pretty much how the weekend went.

It was pretty good eats!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Camping Bear Style - part 1

Camping - Bear Style

Ah Late Summer, when a young bear's thoughts turn to eating as much food as possible.  I mean really really stuffing your face to pack on the pounds before Winter gets here and I'm stuck in a cave somewhere trying to sleep.... but I digress.

I have discovered that although the stuffing your face part is great! Hibernation is not for me.  I go out of my way to stay awake by remaining super-saturated with coffee.  I also love to ski.  Other than polar bears, that's rare!

Like any bear, I like to eat.  I have found that the best way to eat is to follow my bear wrangler around.  If he's not around, than I resort to Plan "B" which is setting up a tent.  I like to use a fairly roomy tent in the hopes that humans will say "Hey Look at this big tent out here in the campground.  Let's use it and dump all our food here next to this lovely tent and go to the lake thereby leaving all this yummy food unattended."

Here I am posing with the tent gear before I head up to the park to set up the tent, and hopefully attract some campers:

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When I got to the campground, another bear had beat me to the punch of setting up an all-you-can-eat buffet.  I would have to make the tent especially convincing if I was to get any camper food!

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Well, it was still worth a try.

Setting Up the Tent

When setting up a tent I usually go for a pretty level campground with lots of trees and things that campers like.  For this trip I was pretty hungry so I chose the 4 person tent to set up.  It was hard work but it was worth it!  Setting up the tent poles is too complicated to explain here but let's just say that it's my least favourite part.

Once you have the poles set up you attach the tent to the poles using plastic clippy things.

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Because this is a big tent, some of the clippy things were really high off the ground like this:

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Holy Crap that's high up!

Once the clippy things are all in place, you have to attach the water-proof thingy that goes over the tent.  I do this because I learned that humans do not like sleeping in wet tents.  Once you have secured the big blue thingy to the top of the tent (again tricky, but no bears were harmed in the making of this post!), it's pretty much ready.

Here I am upside down checking that the blue thingy is attached before the next step.

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With the blue thingy attached, I can use the cords on it to get back down to the ground.  Abseiling or rapelling I think is the term although I am neither repellent nor do I have abs.

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Now the Final Step!

Securing the Tent 

Now for the real work (well other than the tent poles) and that is securing the tent to the ground.  Many people do this in case it gets windy or to keep the tent from moving around, but in my case it's so that people don't walk away with my tent!

I use cheapy aluminum pegs, and if the ground is good, they can usually just go in by pushing really hard with your paw or hand like so:

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Once that is all taken care of, I just wait for people to move into this lovely tent, complete with stuffed bear occupant, and wait for the food to start arriving:

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Taking down the tent

I saved the best for last!  Once you are done using the tent it has to come down (that and the stupid park wardens were on to me!).  I have found that after removing the blue thingy and undoing all of the clippy things that hold it up to the tent poles, the funnest way to take down a tent is to just JUMP into the middle of it! 

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Of course if you are an especially big bear this isn't recommended because it's like the exploding chip bag all over again but in my case I am small enough to get away with it and it was fun!