gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for the ‘Travelling’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2011 @ 22:34 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Travelling

So, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

To celebrate the occasion, I headed out to the driving range with my parents and then to Caffé Milano in Palm Beachfor an amazing dinner. I had an entré of baked calamari followed by lamb ravioli with artichoke and thyme. Dessert consisted of a chocolate with fine layers of pastry that was exquisite. Topped off with a nice grappa on the house.We had a bottle of 2000 Le Macchiolle Paleo Rosso from their special wine list with the meal. (Now, they only have 2 bottles of it left.) A very nice cabernet franc  that went well with the meal. IMG00011-20110317-1847IMG00018-20110317-1913IMG00016-20110317-1911

Early morning flights

March 16, 2011 @ 07:46 By: gordon Category: Travelling

I like traveling and flying doesn’t bother me. However, there is one aspect of flying that I don’t like: early morning flights.

Apart from the fact that no one I know would describe me as a morning person (and many would probably laugh out loud at the suggestion), early morning flights always mean that I sleep poorly the night before because I’m always afraid I’ll sleep in and miss my flight.

This morning saw me have to catch a flight at 5:50am – a time that normally does not exist in my world. Since I ended up finishing my packing late yesterday evening I decided to stay up rather than go to bed for a couple of hours. A flight that early means that I had to head out the door by 4:30am, which realistically meant I would have had to get up at about 3:45am.

I’m in Montreal waiting for the second of three flights today (the’s nothing like traveling on points to cause creative routings) and it’s grey and wet. At least it’s not snowing and they don’t appear to be deicing the planes.

Next stop: Newark, an airport of which I do not have fond memories.

Tips and tricks for travelling with your BlackBerry

February 21, 2011 @ 08:30 By: gordon Category: BlackBerry, Travelling

I went to the UK last summer and meant to write about a couple of tips and tricks I learned for travelling with your BlackBerry. Well, better late than never as they say…

If you’re a Canadian with a BlackBerry or some other smartphone, like me, then you are probably painfully aware of how expensive wireless data is in Canada compared to most of the rest of the civilized world. We’ve started to see the cost of wireless data come down in the last year or two, particularly with the arrival of iPhones and Android devices, but it’s still more expensive, generally speaking, that other countries like the US or the UK. Most of the major carriers in Canada offer some sort of international data plans to allow you to use your smartphone outside of Canada without taking out a second mortgage, but they’re still quite expensive and if you should use your phone to call someone, even what would otherwise be a local call where you are travelling, you could be looking at several dollars per minute.

But there are some something you can do to make using your smartphone while travelling a little more affordable. I have a BlackBerry 9700, but some of these tips are probably equally applicable to other devices like iPhones and Android.


2010: The year in review

January 04, 2011 @ 16:49 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General, Geocaching, Meta, Travelling

So, 2010 was another busy year.


Apparently, I posted 103 blog entries in 2010.

2010 opened with the brief reappearance of the illegal radio station Jayhaed Saadé was operating out of his family’s hotel. After ignoring several cease-and-desist orders from Industry Canada, the RCMP and Industry Canada finally showed up and forcibly removed an estimated $80 000 worth of broadcast equipment. He hasn’t been heard on the air since.

I wrote about reality television shows that were on the air at the time. Of the shows that I liked at the time, I still watch most of them from time to time.

February saw a couple of posts related to the Olympic games and one about excessive amounts of salt being used outside a building in my neighbourhood. As it turns out, this building spent the summer having massive amounts of work to deal with leaks done on it. I bet that the damage from the salt didn’t help the situation.

March saw a number of posts about the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan that was announced by the National Capital Commission. In a nutshell, the plan describes how the NCC intends on managing Gatineau Park. Unfortunately, because of its approach of conversation conservation before recreation, many users have been adversely impacted by it including the climbing and geocaching communities. The climbing community, in particular, mounted a comprehensive campaign over the next few months that included a climbing management plan based on best practices used at other managed sites around the world. Unfortunately, the NCC chose not to accept this proposal and went ahead with closures based on the poor science in the GPECP. The Climbers’ Access Coalition was able to negotiate a few additional routes beyond those initially offered by the NCC, but in general the climbing community is incredibly frustrated and disappointed in the National Capital Commission.

I also looked at the enforcement statistics for Ottawa’s Idling Control By-law. It turns out that the number of warnings dropped by almost half between the first and second years it was in effect.

While most of my posts in April had to do with the GPECP, I did write about correcting colours of photographs taken at night and also a walk I took along the Rideau Canal.

May saw just three posts, including one about a very closed minded individual and another related to the overreaction by a geocaching reviewer to the GPECP.

June saw several posts including some about the earthquake that hit Ottawa and what not to do in an earthquake, and a short photowalk (actually photoride) I took.

In July I posted pictures from the B-52s concert at Bluesfest, talked about graffiti, and posted the first entry about my trip to the UK.

All of my posts in August were about my trip to Scotland and England, including seeing Hadrian’s Wall. I tried to blog the whole trip, but the blogging got in the way of enjoying the trip, so I only ended up blogging the first part.

September saw me write about, among other things,  camping in my new tent, and the problems with different CAPTCHAs.

Ottawa’s municipal election in October led to a couple of posts about voting. It also saw a post about World Statistics Day, in addition to a few other topics.

November saw an entry about poppies, another about lamp post caches and a suggestion for a new home for the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

I wrote a number of entries about the weather in December, fur coats and giving away a car.


Being an even-numbered year, I didn’t make that many trips (in odd-numbered years I tend to make a number of trips for work), but I did get down to Toronto several times, including twice in the fall and I made a trip to Scotland and England where I did some geocaching, camping and visiting with friends. I also popped across the border into New York state to do some camping and geocaching.


It was another busy year at work. I spent most of the last part of the year analysing the results of survey I manage and working on the report that’s going to be released in a couple of months. (That’s probably one reason I didn’t do as much blogging in the fall.)


Fortunately, 2010 wasn’t just about working. Once again, I steered for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings at the Ottawa Dragonboat Festival and the Fall 400 in Carleton Place.

I logged 86 geocaches in 2010, with about a third of them while I was in the UK, including cache number 500 (Barts Road (GC2AF63)) and the Mega Scotland 2010 event cache (GC1XDQ0) in Perth, Scotland. I met a lot of really nice people at the event and I’m thinking about returning to the UK for the Mega Wales 2011 (GC2921G) event in July.

As I mentioned earlier, I went to the B-52s concert at Bluesfest. I have been a big fan of theirs for years, so it was a real treat to see them on-stage again.

I also got out golfing a number of times, though not as many times as I’d have liked. Because the weather in early-April was so mild, I was able to take my dad golfing for his birthday on the second of April.

I did some camping this year, both in Scotland and England and in northern New York state. It had been several years since I last went camping and I think I’ve been bitten by the camping bug again. Having purchased a new tent while I was in the UK and a new sleeping bag and other gear from MEC, I’m looking forward to doing more camping next summer.

Looking ahead to 2011

So, what’s in store for 2011? Good question!

I’ve already committed to steering for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings and we’re thinking about going to some other races besides the ones in Ottawa and Carleton Place, so I’m looking forward to that.

It looks like I’m going to be going to be escaping to Florida for a week or so in March – a healthy dose of sunshine will be nice!

There’s another geocaching megaevent in Wales (GC2921G) at the end of July that I’m thinking about attending. I haven’t been to Wales, yet, and it would be nice to see some of the people I met last summer at the event in Scotland. Time will tell whether that’s going to happen!

The severe restrictions imposed by the NCC on climbing in Gatineau Park has made it more necessary to know how to lead climb, so I’m hoping to find a course/instructor to learn this style of climbing.

So, what are you looking forward to in 2011?

Cottenham, Cambridge and Southend-on-Sea

August 24, 2010 @ 12:58 By: gordon Category: UK Trip 2010

imageI spent four days with Rob, Yuki, Lisa and Emma after Rob and I arrived back from Scotland and Hadrian’s Wall country. Rob had to work the first couple of days so I hung out with Yuki and the girls.

On the first day, we headed into Cambridge to take the girls to a fun fair that was in town. After the fun fair we wandered around Cambridge for a bit, including going to an old-fashioned candy store where the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” was demonstrated by more than one of us.


The start of a busy four days: Hadrian’s Wall

August 14, 2010 @ 23:35 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Photography, Travelling, UK Trip 2010

Rob and I bid farewell to Scotland on the Tuesday after the Mega Scotland 2010 event and set out for Hexham in Northumberland. We followed the A68 most of the way. At one point, we headed off to try and find the Waterloo monument, which we saw from afar but never found the road to the parking lot for it. We did, however, see it in the distance from the end of a long farm road.


We paused at the Scotland-England border to take the obligatory border photos and find a geocache.

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I hate nanocaches

August 10, 2010 @ 04:29 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, UK Trip 2010

image After returning to the campground, we bumped into Fishteers, the geocacher that we had met at GC1WVG1 earlier in the afternoon. He asked us if we had tried to find The Good Green Doctor (GC1AX6W), which we hadn’t. He’d tried to find it earlier in the day, yet despite some fairly intensive searching, wasn’t able to find it, even though a number of other people had.

That sounded like a challenge to me, so I said “Well, let’s go find it now” and with that we hopped into Fishteer’s car and off we went.

The cache container was one of the tiny magnetic containers about the size of two or three hearing aid batteries and it was supposedly stuck to the metal fence behind a bust of a local doctor. As we were driving up, we watched as a couple of teenage girls adorned the bust with silly string.

Parking the car, we approached the cache’s supposed location and started a methodical search of the area. At one point a local dog walker asked us if we’d found it and said that most people seemed to be finding it to the left, where we had already looked. We thanked him and continued our search, spending extra time looking where he pointed.

After an hour’s searching, we admitted defeat and headed back to the camp.

Some other cachers who had found it said that the magnet wasn’t working, so they had tucked it into a crevice in the wall near the end of the fence. Even when Rob and I took a second stab at it the next day, we couldn’t find it.

I figure that it fell into the leaf litter behind the wall and being both black and the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil it’s gone for good.

There seem to be a number of these magnetic nanocaches in the UK. I’ve logged more of them than I have in the last couple of years of caching in Canada. The frustrating thing is that many of them could just as easily have been 35mm film canisters without causing any problems.