Tuesday, 19 October 2010


A good flight from Vancouver to the UK, only marred by the fact that my car battery was flat when I retrieved my car from LHR Long Term car park. The guys there soon sorted that out with jumper leads.
I could see no obvious reason for the flat battery. Nothing was left on?

I was far too tired to get on for the UKAC this evening.

I'm not sure when I will blog again, but I have been contemplating making this a regular place for thoughts on my radio activities.

Thanks again to everyone who read the blog over the last 12 days. I hope you enjoyed the 'trip' as much as we did.

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Monday, 18 October 2010


About to go QRT from Vancouver.
I will update the blog when I get home. Thanks to everyone who read my words. From the comments received, it appears we had at least a few people along with us on the trip.

Those whales......wow! They made the whole trip worthwhile.

Sam and Shirley on Granville Island and about to check out and lose WiF...........

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Granville Island

I swear I didn't know!
Leaving our room last evening, I happened to look over the glass balcony outside the room. Not 8 foot from our room door.......a Micro Brewery.
Yes, just 8 foot from the top of one of about 15 fermenting tanks.
It appears that this hotel is also the location of the island's Dockside Brewery!


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To show there is some radio content...

Mast on Mount Seymour

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Location:Granville Island

Missing picture again

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Location:Granville Island, Vancouver

View from Mt Seymour

May the Swartz Bay with you!

With apologies to Spaceballs......

This must be one of the most spectacular ferry routes in the world. Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island to Tsawassen, Vancouver.
The BC Ferry passes through a narrow inlet between some of the islands on it's way out into the Strait or Georgia on its way to Vancouver.

Altogether a surreal experience after the cross channel ferries back

Once we got back to Vancouver we decided to visit Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Although the mountain is only around 6000 feet high the view back towards Vancouver and towards the Olympic mountains are breathtaking. You can drive to around the 6000 foot level, but need to walk the remaining trail to the top ( no, we didn't!) at this time of the year as the chair lifts have all stopped.
We are spending our last night back on Granville Island in False Creek, next to central Vancouver.

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Location:Vancouver Granville Island

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Missing photo

View from the jetty

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Location:Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew again

Looking back towards the hotel from the jetty at Port Renfrew

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Location:Port Renfrew


Harbour seal called AJ. She is quite wild, but swims around the Undersea Garden each afternoon, looking to be fed a fish or two!

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Location:Victoria harbour

Lift off

After being told this morning that the floatplane tours have now stopped for the season we were later told that the tour operator had managed to fill a plane and that we were still on the waiting list.
It was well worth the wait.
The float planes are Otters with a single engine. Operating out of the Victoria inner harbour, the flight lasted about 30 minutes and took us out over the Strait and then back over Butchard Gardens, where the pilot circled to give us all a great view.
The flight returned over Victoria downtown before landing back in the harbour approach.

View of the inner harbour and the rear of the famous Empress hotel ( centre bottom).

Later in the afternoon we visited the Undersea Garden, where we watched a scuba diver, in the big, floating, tank pointing out the various marine animals such as a very large octopus. Outside, a wild harbour seal, called 'AJ' gave us an impromptu display of rising up to snatch a fish from one of the Undersea Garden staff.
A nice afternoon was finished off with a visit to China Town. Victoria has the oldest China Town in Canada. It is also the most authentic, with many buildings dating back to the mid 1800s and the original Chinese migrations during the gold rush years.

Victoria, BC

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Location:Over Victoria

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Try again. The last photo exceeded 8MB

Another view from the jetty at Port Renfrew

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Port Renfrew

A photo from Port Renfrew

View from the jetty.

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Location:Vancouver Island

pacific coast travel

A beautiful day on Vancouver Island. The sun shone and so we decided to take a drive along the island SW coastal highway 14 to Port Renfrew, known as the Jewel of the west coast (!) passing through the logging hamlet of Jordan River on the way. The route is along the shore of the Strait of Juan Fuca with Washington state on the other side of the strait and clearly visible from the island. This is a major migration route for whales travelling up the Pacific coast. On this occasion we were not fortunate enough to see any migrating whales, but the views were outstanding.

Port Renfrew is a very small village at the end of highway 14. At the end of the highway is a jetty and a hotel. The Renfrew Hotel closed two days ago, at the end of their season, but the nearby cafe was still open for business. For a small cafe the portions were enormous!

Port Renfrew is at the trailhead of the Juan de Fuca and Western trails. It is also the location of the famous Botanical Beach. The beach is actually a University marine research beach that was set up in 1900. Wild black bears are common in this area. In the surrounding rain forests there are several record breaking trees.

Apparently the jetty is used by fishermen who catch halibut and salmon in the surrounding waters of the Strait.

Altogether a place to spend much more than a just few hours!

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Friday, 15 October 2010

Some nice colours

Another photo.
Downtown Whistler

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Location:Whistler village

Quiet day

We decided to have a quiet day today. We went up to Butchard gardens, some 15 miles north of Victoria, to see the trees and flowers. It is a lovely place, with a sunken garden, Japanese garden and other areas. Best of all, it sits on the coast of Vancouver Island, next to a small cove.
It was laid out by Jennie Butchard and is the site of the old Vancouver Portland cement works. Only the factory chimney remains.

We drove back along the coast in the hope of seeing one of the grey whales. However, it was very rough at sea today and spotting anything out there would have been a problem. We did see one bald eagle.
It seems that yesterday was a good choice of day for whale watching!

in Victoria

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

A bit crowded around her....

A Minke whale surfaces under a bait ball!

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Location:Off San Juan Islanf

Keep clear. Killers about!

A couple of 'L' Orca pod.

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Location:Off San Juan Island

Thar she blows!

Unbelievable! The weather just couldn't have been more perfect and even better still, the crew were claiming this was the most successful sighting trip they've had! I don't know if that is true, but one or two whales sighted in one trip is regarded as good. We saw two Minkes, two Humpbacks ( that's one in the photo), two pods of Orcas ( members from K and L pods) and a lone Grey whale. In addition we saw a pod of Dahl's porpoise and a couple of Harbour porpoise. Add to that a Bald eagle and a Harbour seal!
All in a three hour trip on the Ocean Magic II Zodiac boat from Prince of Whales company.

I'll post more photos later.
Sam in Vancouver, BC.

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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Vancouver Island

I now know the definition of the end of the world. It is Whistler on the day after Thanksgiving!
It was like the Marie Celeste in the village this morning. All of the visitors, except Shirley and I, just melted away overnight. Only the staff of the various restaurants and shops remained!

It was a very lucky chance that rain made us decide to change our plans and come to Whistler last weekend and not leave it until next weekend. Had we have not done so there would have been no Gondola rides and no night life to speak of.

Today we left Whistler and decided to take the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island from Horseshoe Bay rather than take the longer trip back through Vancouver to across to Swartz Bay.

It was a smooth 1.5 hour crossing on the clean and very busy BC Ferries Oak Bay.

From Nanaimo the 120km road trip down to Victoria took about 2 hours.

From what I've seen of Victoria so far, I like it!

Shirley's unnerving ability to search out a bargain brought us direct to a Quality Inn in the centre of Victoria, where the rate we got is really excellent. And we have free WiFi......

I hope to solve the problem of a lack of photos soon.

More tomorrow

From Victoria, BC


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Whistler and Blackcomb

We arrived in Whistler on Sunday evening. It seems this was a wise choice since the Thanksgiving weekend marks the end of the summer season. Had we have come next weekend, as planned, it would have required that we brought skis. Not as daft as it seems as it was snowing here earlier today!
Whistler, scene of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is 2000 feet up in the mountains and about 2 hours drive from Vancouver. It is billed as the best winter sports resort in the world. I don't know about that but it is certainly impressive by any standard.
At this time of year they are getting ready for the winter sports, but for now the main sport is mountain biking. The ski lifts are filled with mountain bikers taking their bikes to the top of Whistler or to the half way station, ready to bike down one of the many tracks dedicated to mountain biking.
The Whistler gondola takes you to the 6000 foot level where you can either take the chair to the top or take the Peak to Peak Gondola ride to Blackcomb mountain. This gondola ride is the longest unsupported gondola ride in the world with a 4.4km span across the Fitzsimmons creek valley without intermediate support towers.
Whilst up there this morning the views were outstanding. However, as we started back, the clouds moved in and the wind got up followed by sleet turning to snow at times. The rain extended down into the valley and Whistler village by late afternoon.

Sorry about the lack of photos but the link from here is so slow that larger photos seem to take for ever to send. Text only is almost instantaneous.

Sam in Whistler.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Beyond Vancouver

Sunday evening and we are in Whistler.
As we'd hoped, the weather was much better today and it was even warm and sunny this afternoon.
We visited Capilano suspension bridge and the rain forest gorge. Very impressive!

After Capilano we moved on to Grouse Mountain, which is only a few km further on up the same road. Wow! What a place. The sun shone and the cable car ride up to the first station was fantastic. From there we took the chairlift to the top. Although there was a storm last night, there was hardly a breathe of wind at the top. Even the new wind generator wasn't turning! At 3000m? Amazing. It did start moving a little later in the afternoon, though.

The views down over Vancouver and out to Vancouver Island are stunning.
Obligingly, the two resident grizzly bears ( in an enclosure at the top) came out to forage and we got some amazing photos of them.
After Grouse mountain we moved on the Whistler. The Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler was newly opened for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The views from the highway rival those from California Highway 1, in my opinion.

We have found a few days accommodation here in Whistler village and with that we have internet access over WiFi.

Hopefully, more tomorrow.

Sam in Whistler, BC

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At last the rain has stopped! Vancouver is experiencing a succession of Pacific storms that have dropped around 6 inches of rain on the city in the last 48 hours.
We had to modify our plans slightly to take account of the weather, which incidently, is abnormally warm over the Canadian Priaries, unlike here.

Today we are going to visit the Capilano suspension bridge and if the weather continues to clear we will visit Grouse Mountain this afternoon. Our change of plan is to avoid the Thanksgiving weekend ( yes, this is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada) ferry crowds on Monday by going on to Whistler first. Hopefully, from the TV weather forecast, it will be drier than here. Although the rain is currently holding off and we can even see blue skies, it is due to return tomorrow and the ferry crossing to Vancouver Island is likely to be rough until Tuesday.

Radio wise, there is a tri-band HF beam on the roof of this building. The top six or seven stories are condominiums. I guess one of the residents is a ham. No sign who it might be, though!
Many of the hotels have TVRO dishes on their roof. Some of them look to be up to around 16 or maybe even 20 foot diameter. I would like to get one of those home!

Sam in downtown Vancouver, BC.

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Vancouver day 1 and day 2 so far!

We have reached Vancouver after an overnight near Heathrow.
The Air Canada flight was on time and lasted just 9 hours. We left Heathrow at 11:30am and arrived here at 12:30pm. I have uprated my appraisement of Air Canada to a 6 out of 10! The food was quite edible and service acceptable. I am still of the opinion that there are far too many announcements on their flights. I think this is aggravated by everything being in English and then French. I really got fed up with the number of times the movies were interrupted. Please note, Air Canada, if anyone from the airline ever reads this.

It was raining when we arrived at Vancouver. Fortunately the rain from earlier in the day had cleared and all that was left was light showers that cleared later in the evening.

We both thought that Vancouver airport was excellent. The Rockies theme works really well. The inevitable immigration queues were exacerbated by far too few staff on duty. All those booths that were unoccupied, but probably installed for the Winter Olympics. What happened to all the staff that were on duty over winter 2009/2010?

We got a Hyundai rental car and drove into Vancouver. Fortunately the USA and Canada Tom Tom maps I had bought three years ago were still accurate and we got to the hotel without any problems.

The hotel is OK, but the room is far too small for an executive room and although there is Internet access, there is no WiFi. That really screws many of those, like me, who want to use the LAN but don't have an Ethernet port on their PC or iPAD! I'm typing this off-line in the hope that I will find WiFi access later today. Since you are reading it, obviously I did!

So, what about Vancouver?

We are in Central Vancouver, in a hotel off Howe Street. Yesterday evening we walked along Granville Street down to the Harbor Centre and up the Lookout tower. At 518 feet it is not the tallest tower we've been up, but the few is spectacular From the Burrard Inlet round through the city and False Creek, the city lights were quite stunning. Unfortunately, the top of Grouse Mountain was shrouded in low cloud, so we didn't get to see the view up there from the Lookout.

This morning has dawned wet. According to the local weather forecast on TV heavy rain is forecast for today with up to 8 inches of rain in places! Such is often the case on the pacific coast at this time of year. I suspect we will have to change our plans for today. Right now we are getting ready to go and get breakfast, whilst the rain beats on the hotel window......

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Sunday, 3 October 2010

That thin slot

I had a question about that strange piece of wave-guide in the previous post.
I am told by the owner that the item is the original 13cm parametric amplifier used for the first amateur radio EME contact. The pump oscillator is not shown.
The reason for the very narrow slit is that it provides the required low impedance match to the parametric mixer diode in the waveguide.
73 de Sam

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Second test with photo, I hope

Test 2

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Location:Back Ln,,United Kingdom

Test of iPad blog

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