Anthony on , , , 14 Mar 2010 04:39 pm

I’ll do an Olympics recap post over the next week or so. Suffice it to say it kept us supremely busy.

The Paralympics are in full swing and today Aidan and I went to a sledge hockey game: Canada vs Sweden.

Getting into the venue was a completely opposite experience to what we had during the Olympics. There was no line up. There was no bag search. There were no metal detectors.

There was, however, Sumi posing with his adoring public.

Aidan and Sumi

The game took place in the new UBC Thunderbird Arena, a 7,000 seat arena built just for the Olympics and Paralympics. It replaced an aging facility that needed replacement anyway. It’s a rather nice building. Being a small arena, there are no bad seats and here’s the pre-game view from ours:

In our seats before the game

In sledge hockey, all the players sit in sleds supported in the middle by a single skate-like blade and there’s a small support at the front to provide a bit more support. The players use two sticks to propel themselves along the ice, and the sticks double as hockey sticks for shooting and passing.


The game is VERY physical, with many collisions knocking players to the ice or sending them caroming across the ice into the boards. The game was rather lopsided, and the Swedes started showing signs of being a bit dejected. Here’s a shot a post-goal celebration/mourning starting:

GOAL Canada!

In what was one of the best sights of the afternoon, all the (able-bodied) refs knelt down and gave both teams high-fives and fist-bumps. This was, of course, after the two teams had shaken hands at the end of the game. Can you imagine the NHL doing such a thing?

Fist bump!

Also very cool — Team Canada spent quite a bit of time at centre ice after the game acknowledging the crowd. Home ice sure is nice, huh guys?

Thanking the crowd

On a side note, we got a new camera after the Olympics and before the Paralympics (barely) so all these pics have been taken with our new Canon T2i. Sure does a nice job!

Anthony on , 26 Jan 2010 10:02 pm

geomate.jrOn the weekend, Gwen and I put on a “Geocaching 101” event for some people we’ve met through Twitter. You can read an awesome summary of the day on the Outdoor Vancouver blog.

As part of that event, the fine folks (Helen and Chris) at Landsharkz loaned us a Geomate.jr GPSr.

The Geomate.jr is a “family-friendly” GPSr. It’s intended to be simple to use so that kids can just pick it up and start geocaching. You don’t have to worry about downloading caches from it … it comes with 250,000 caches already installed. It promises to be quick, easy, and uncomplicated.

The device itself is small, rubberized, and only has a two buttons (plus a power button). The display is a black and white LCD that presents a small amount of information at any given time. When searching for caches, it shows distance in metres and an arrow pointing the way. On the periphery of the display are LCDs for cache size, difficulty, and terrain.

And, it’s quite inexpensive: $70 CAD!

We had the GPS for a bit over a week, and brought it to the Geocaching 101 event where quite a number of kids were able to look at it and use it. We used it to find a few caches and even after a short time with it I think we got a pretty good idea of what it’s like.

The best things about it are the things it’s designed for: it’s a nice small, rugged device that’s quite suitable for small hands racing around the forest. The display is easy to understand on the cache hunt, with big numbers counting down the distance to the cache, and an arrow pointing the direction.

On the other hand, I found using it a bit less intuitive than I liked. The only information you have about the cache you’re seeking — other than the size, terrain, and difficulty — is the GC number. No cache name, no description, no hints, no logs, nothing else. As such, you still need this information somehow, so you need another device or print-outs.

The distance display is good, but the arrow is only helpful when you’re moving. For kids, this is a bit of a challenge: they (and me!) like to stop to get bearings.

Additionally, I found it confusing navigating between the units different screens, and getting it to go back to the cache I was interested in. One of the buttons on the unit goes from the closest cache to the next closest and so on, but to get back to the beginning of the list you have to hold the button down and wait. Sounds easy but I was never sure it was working.

Also, those 250,000 caches? They’re all US caches. To get international caches (including Canada), you need to buy the Upgrade Kit (a special cable) and download caches to it. And they’re just traditional caches. No multi’s, no letterboxes, nothing else. That’s probably ok for kids (we mostly do trads anyway) but it’s a bit confusing when you’re trying to figure out what the next cache is (or should be).


  • Small, and rugged
  • Simple display
  • Easy operation
  • High-sensitivity GPS
  • Inexpensive


  • Direction arrow only accurate when moving
  • Confusing interface
  • To put Canadian caches on it, and to update any geocaches on it, you need the $25 “update” kit
  • No extra cache information: name, hints, found status, etc
  • Only traditional caches, no multis, letterboxes, mysteries, etc
  • No backlight

In the end, while I’m grateful for the loaner, and while I applaud the goals, I don’t think I’d get it for my kids. For a few more dollars, a Garmin eTrex gives you a GPS that does all the same things, except has maps and can show you (marginally) more information.

Anthony on , , , , , , , 26 Dec 2009 08:21 pm

It’s been a busy few weeks. We did the Van Dusen Gardens Festival of Lights, the Stanley Park Bright Lights Santa Train, the Stanley Park Carol Ride, Christmas at Maplewood Farm, and the Christmas crib service at St John’s Shaughnessy. Whew.

Today, on Boxing Day, we decided we’d go snow-shoeing. After all, Vancouver was socked in with fog and due to an amazing weather effect called a temperature inversion, it was actually warmer (and sunny!) on the mountains than down in the city.


So, we headed to Mt Seymour for snow-shoeing. We took along a newly-acquired sled in order to pull Quinlan along, but both boys ended up using it (off and on).


None of us had ever been snow-shoeing before, but that didn’t matter. It was pretty easy to pick up.


Mt Seymour had snow-shoes that fit Aidan, and as you can see, he did walk a good portion of the 2.5 km loop we did. Quinlan had a great time in (and rolling out of) the sled!





The weather was absolutely perfect and although the snow was hard-packed and a bit slushy, we had a blast. I expected the terrain to be a bit … flatter … but it was just like a typical hike in the Coastal Mountains, up and down moderately steep trails only in the snow. It sure was a workout, and we’re definitely going to do it again soon!


Anthony on , , , 22 Nov 2009 08:04 pm

We took some “Christmas”-y pictures this afternoon in front of our fireplace. Given that this year is (like you don’t know) the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, we thought we’d all get our Olympic kit on.

However, between the mindful 4 yr old and the wriggly 1 yr old and the poor lighting (I gotta get some Alien Bees!) we didn’t get a lot of good pics. Some of the cuter ones, though are below:






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