Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Proud dad

Like every parent, every once in a while I just can't resist...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Heisenberg's car!

I watched Top Gear last night, Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the new Ferrari 458. He was rather impressed with it. What impressed me was the all-digital dashboard that on the right of the rev counter either displays the nav system map or the speedometer. In other words you either know where you are but not how fast you are going or vice-versa. Anyone familiar with the basics of quantum physics will get a kick out of this. If Heisenberg was alive today he'd be driving one of these!

Seriously now, this car for me is the ultimate. The most desirable. The one I'd run to the Ferrari dealer for with my lottery cheque in hand. Not that I play the lottery ever, so this scenario is unlikely. But if I ever had $250K to spend, I would spend it gladly on one of these.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Putting the 'Sport' in Sports Car?

One thing that has always amused me is the 'sport' button that can be found in various sports cars. There is one in the Boxster as well. I wonder why. I always forget to press it when I go for drives and it resets every time you turn off the ignition. Wouldn't it be better to have a 'mundane city driving' button instead?

Increase throttle response, tighten up the suspension and change exhaust note are some of the things these buttons do. I remember driving an Audi RS4 (amazing ride) and initially I was wondering what the fuss was all about until I noticed the sports button. Things changed quite dramatically after I pressed it, the car became all the more savage. With automatic transmissions, it changes the way it shifts gears, holding gears longer, allowing for higher revs and thus more power. The 'S' mode in my SLK was like that and it made for a fun ride. It isn't as noticable on the Boxster, engaging it mostly seems to affect the throttle, making it even more eager to go. I guess in city traffic you don't need that. Hence the 'sport' button. Still makes me chuckle though.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I never was much of a coffee drinker. That was, until the rise of the premium coffee scene and a drink called the Mocha. Coffee, milk and chocolate, what a combination. Done right, it is delicious. I wrote about Mochas on a separate food blog here.

I am now somewhat of a coffee drinker, mochas still being my favorite but when in need of something less calorific, I go for a cappucino. What I like most about the coffee thing is the ritual around it. Especially on lazy weekends I go out, sit in one of my favorite coffee shops and sip on a mocha while nibbling on a treat and reading the newspaper or browsing the web on my phone. Very comforting.

Today I went to Elysian Coffee, one of my favorites with two locations in my neighborhood. A very quick drive in the Boxster and I am partaking in the ritual. Yum....


Ah yes, cats. I used to dislike cats, quite a bit actually. This goes back to my mother's back yard. She is an avid gardener and I remember her toiling away at flower beds and plantings, only to have them dug up, peed on and sometimes even eaten by the neigborhood cats. Then there was the fact that she loved feeding the birds. Her little yard was a bit of a bird sanctuary, until of course one of the local cats came prowling and had to be chased off. That was done by my dad and myself. My dad's favorite thing would be to hide behind the patio door waiting for the feline stalker to creep into the yard, then when it was close enough, dad would throw open the door with a massive bang and shout at the same time. Many a cat was sent scrambling away by this, much to the amusement of my sister and I. For the longest time I felt cats were sneaky, annoying little things that deserved to get chased away with water pistols, yelling or other means.

How things have changed...

I blame our lovely friends Darrin and Alexia. They used to foster kittens from Vokra, a local organisation that rescues abandoned kittens. One day they had another litter and a 5-year old Kai came up cradling a little black kitten, a sight far too adorable for words.

This of course quickly lead to the fateful "wouldn't it be good if he had a pet" type discussion and a few days later we had adopted a kitten. We named him Loki. Kai was ecstatic and I had to admit, the little cat was pretty cute. He grew fast and about a year later we decided that two cats would be better than one, mostly to keep Loki company during the days when we were all out at work and school. So we went back to Darrin and Alexia's place, Kai picked another kitten that he called Mike. This became Mikey. After some inital angst on Loki's behalf, the two cats bonded and are now best pals.

Yeah, what can I say? Pretty cute. I do love these guys, they have amazingly complex personalities and are fascinating to observe. They can be crazy loving one moment and blur of motion and claws the next when chasing a feather toy. We've had many good moment with these guys so far and I am now firmly no longer of the opinion I mentioned above. In fact I love cats. There, I said it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I spent a few days in Seattle and Redmond and just got back. Each year Microsoft organizes an Xbox developers conference called 'GameFest'. Since it is a good opportunity to learn some things and meet a bunch of people, I usually head over there. The drive down is well familiar to me now, nothing exciting really, just a slodge down the I-5. Since I got my Nexus card, the border isn't really an issue anymore so I at least don't have to worry about that.

The conference was held in the Washington State Convention Center which is right in downtown Seattle, on Pike street six or so blocks from the famous Pike Street Market. When spending time in cities other than Vancouver I always go on the hunt for good places to eat, nice little cafes and sources of good chocolate. Seattle didn't disappoint. The first thing I do is go find a place for breakfast. The breakfasts in large hotels are usually enormous both in quantity, price and lack of imagination. I stay far away from the buffets laden with sausages, pancakes, bacon swimming in grease, chalky scrambled eggs, and so on. My main sources here are online foodie forums and Google maps. I found a little French bakery/cafe just blocks from the hotel called Belle Epicurean. This was exactly what I needed, freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche and pistolets and loose-leaf tea. I went there every morning.

Image taken from Belle Epicurean's web site
From Mistral's web site
Dinner wise I found a couple of places, Mistral Kitchen was the highlight, very well crafted food and a great wine list. After the obligatory conference party (which wasn't bad actually), a few of us wandered up Pike street, underneath I-5 into a neighborhood full of small restaurants and shops, the kind of area Connie could spend hours browsing around. There we found a place called Poquitos that offered some great Mexican food, awesome mole sauce and a very interesting drink called 'El Dude' made with tequila, Kahlua and horchata. After a couple of those I was very happy and that night slept exceptionally well.

 The last night I took some engineers out to an old favorite, Wild Ginger. This is a modern south-east Asian restaurant that serves up comforting bowls of noodles, satays and other delectables. It is a great place for a group, you order a bunch of stuff and start sharing away. It reminds me of The Slanted Door in San Francisco which is a place I never skip when visiting that city.

Visiting Redmond never gets old, the Microsoft campus is like a small town. I mostly visit Studio C where the game developers have their offices. Their central hub called Commons houses a number of restaurants, delis and shops like a bycicle store, a bank, a cell phone place, etc. I guess with tens of thousands of employees, this kind of infrastructure is necessary. Quite the difference from our little 85-man studio in Vancouver!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driving shoes

OK, I admit, I have a pair of driving shoes. Some people seem to find that amusing, others ask me why, what makes them 'driving shoes' and why would you ever spend money on something so silly?
Well...I remember coming back home from a long Duffey Lake Road run well past Cache Creek earlier this summer. This was my first joyride of the season so I pretty much drove nonstop to there and back again. This was about 9 hours and when I came home, my right heel was very sore. Then I peeled off my shoe, my heel was bright red and very tender. I guess was a result of having it sat on the floor of the car, moving back and forth between gas and brake pedals and just having pressure on for such a long stretch of time.
I decided to fix this, most things can be fixed by spending time online looking for a solution followed by buying something. I found a brand called 'Piloti' that makes driving gear including shoes. They have rounded heels with extra padding for driving and look fairly spiffy. I also asked on the Porsche club forum (yeah, I am a member of the Porsche club too...) and they came recommended. I was referred to Jerry at Driving Unlimited who was able to order me a pair.
The first major test of these shoes was my epic summer 2011 road trip, three days of 7+ hours driving days sure tested their ability of keeping my feet comfortable. I am happy to say they succeeded, no more sore heels and a great pedal feel to boot.

So yeah, I have driving shoes and I love them!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer 2011 road trip day 4

I woke up early, around 6am and got ready and packed up before being served a quick breakfast by my host. It was all a bit weird with the guy barely awake as I munched on some eggs and sausage before paying cash and bidding farewell. Next time I will stay at one of the places I know around there!

From Peachland it is a short drive to the Okanagan Connector which heads straight west towards Merrit. It was a bit cooler and cloudy that morning so I kept the top up and made short work of the Connector, it was early on a Sunday morning so there was little to no traffic. The Connector is a scenic road, two lanes each way with mostly straight on driving. At a good speed, you'll be in Merritt an hour after leaving Okanagan Lake behind you.

I had done the roads I was about to embark on before and knew what to expect. Some of the most twisty, windy and deserted pieces of road you can find in western BC so I was eager to get there and once I did, I kept on going. I didn't stop much or take a lot of pictures...

After a gas top-up and a fresh bottle of water in Merritt, I headed further west, through Merrrit and the tiny hamlet of Lower Nicola. As soon as you pass through that, things get very, very interesting. Hwy 8 toward Spences Bridge is a twisty ribbon of asphalt through a rough and dramatic landscape of cliffs, sandstone hills and dry, deserted and empty land. Almost entirely devoid of traffic, it is the kind of road where you can open things up a bit and really let the car shine. This is where the Boxster fully comes into it's rights and boy, oh boy, is it a lot of fun. Lots of 2nd and 3rd gear turns, long sweepers, hairpins and steep slopes up and down. You never stop moving the steering wheel and things can get quite technical with the brakes, gas pedal, clutch and shifter. Exhilarating and utterly absorbing!

At Spences Bridge I joined the Trans Canada, which at that point is still the usual highway, albeit traversing some pretty amazing scenery. This only lasted for a bit, at Lytton I got off the Trans Canada and was presented with a good view of the village below:

Looking the other way, nothing but scenery:

I headed through Lytton and north along hwy 12. Once again, the road was truly delightful to drive and I can only remember the song of the flat six behind me and the next turn ahead. This lasted for 45 blissful minutes until I entered Lillooet. There I stopped again at the bridge that leads into town. I took some final pictures, including one of a plaque describing the remarkable story of a number of camels that were brought to BC in 1862:

Why do rural lots usually include dead cars?

After Lillooet it was time for a legend, the mother of all roads, highway 99 between Cache Creek and Pemberton aka the Duffey Lake Road. This is a perfect twister, a stretch of pure driving delight. Every sports car owner and motorcyclist in western BC knows the Duffey Lake and many make yearly pilgrimages to pay homage to the perfect drive...

Right then, expectations set. I take a deep breath, shift down, put my foot down and head south. And yes, it was like it always is. There are whole stretches where you link turns perfectly, staying in 3rd gear with the engine revving happily and feeling the car doing its Porsche magic. Most of the Duffey Lake was freshly paved only a couple of years ago so the surface is still nice and smooth. There were some pretty rough patches earlier on in the day with everything rattling like mad. Not here, just the rush of the tires, the blowing wind and sound of the engine.

Everything was driving Nirvana until it started raining. I was completely absorbed by the driving and only peripherally noticed the clouds getting heavier and darker. I slowed down, closed the top and carried on. At some point the rains became quite torrential and I got stuck behind some drivers who clearly weren't comfortable driving that road under those conditions. 30 km/h was a bit tortuous but there are some handy spots like single lane bridges after which you can blast past the slowpokes with a fast car. I left them far behind me and emerged from the heavy weather into clearer skies, top down again, ripping down the twisties.

All good things come to an end, the Duffey Lake ends at Pemberton. In fact, it ends after a dramatic descend to Lillooet Lake after which you end up in a small town that culminates in Mt Currie before passing through Pemberton. There was major construction happening here and the entire way from Lillooet Lake to Mt Currie was gravel, a bit sobering after the joys of the Duffey Lake Road. This marked the end of the day's driving bliss, I now had to make my way further down the 99, through Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and finally Vancouver. My original plan was to have lunch in Whistler but at that point I simply wanted to go home so I pressed on and entered Vancouver around 3pm. The Lion's Gate traffic was all the way backed up to the top of Taylor Way so I sighed deeply, turned around and took the long way around, across the Second Narrows and back into the city. I stopped off for coffee and some basic groceries before finally coming home and parking the car in the garage. I made a note of the odometer, 2,161 kilometers in three days. Not bad!

This was some trip, each day had it's different characteristics. The first day's drive across Washington State was fairly laid back, good scenery and a nice driving road with plenty of twisties to keep the driver happy. Too bad about all the construction and sometimes inch of gravel on the road. I bet once that is all cleared up the road will be a lot better to drive. The second day was one of amazing scenery on a busy highway. Not too much driving fun but a major treat to the senses. The third day was the driver's day. Good scenery but it all becomes irrelevant once you hit the zone and lose yourself in the act of driving. I think the stretch from Merrit to Lytton, Spences Bridge, Lillooet and Pemberton treats you to some of the best driving roads I know of. And they are in my back yard. I consider myself very lucky...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer 2011 road trip day 3

I slept fitfully, I had a bit too much food the night before and suffered from dehydration. I woke up feeling rather dry and made a mental note to drink more water today. Breakfast was a bowl of yoghurt with berries and granola, a glass of grapefruit juice and a muffin. After breakfast I wasted no time collecting my stuff and heading back out onto the wide open road. It was already brightly sunny and warming up at 7:30am so I dropped the top and went back down the windy road to Cranbrook to join hwy 3 leading to the 95 headed north.

The Kootenays are a spectacular piece of this planet and the drive didn't disappoint. Where yesterday I was making my way through forests and hills, today was the river winding it's way through a dramatic valley with majestic mountains towering over both sides. The road crossed the river in a couple of places, leading to some serious photo-ops:

The road was a typical highway, straight and not too exciting to drive but I think that was a good thing given the absolutely staggering scenery. The valley turned into wetlands soon after and further drives along cliffs and across bridges allowed for some more picture taking.

My first pit stop was in Golden, a small town at the intersection of hwy 95 and the Trans Canada. I found a great coffee shop called the Beanbag Café, they served me a quality Mocha and had Thomas Haas chocolate! This was a very welcome treat.

It was now late morning on a Saturday in August and the Trans Canada was busy...very busy. I spent time earlier trying to find back roads that would take me to the same destination (Vernon or Kelowna) but I was not too familiar with the area and didn't want to head out onto unmarked roads that could end up in gravel at any time. So I carried on, the weather was fantastic and the scenery amazing so I certainly enjoyed the drive. The highlight was Glacier National Park.

This place is truly breathtaking! Driving an open top car through here treats you to a panorama of some of the most dramatic mountain views you can imagine. I took some pictures while driving, holding the camera up over the windshield to get an idea of what the road looks like from the driver's point of view:

Nice TT :-)

After passing through the park I stopped in Revelstoke for lunch. There was a farmer's market just wrapping up with people selling lots of baked goods, bread, fruit and so on. This was very fortuitous, a leisurely stroll and graze later I was well-fed, equipped with a fresh bottle of water and ready for the last leg of today's drive, heading south-west towards Vernon, Kelowna and my destination, a B&B in Peachland.

The scenery calmed down a bit, no more overwhelming mountain vistas were being thrown at me and the traffic got heavier as I went further east. Now it was a procession of small towns, Sicamous, Enderby, Armstrong, Vernon and finally Kelowna. The one thing I noticed is that Vernon and Kelowna aren't particularly pretty. In fact, they are downright ugly. Lots of strip malls, industrial lots, garish billboards along the highway and drab buildings. This is too bad since they are located in some fabulous locations, especially Kelowna at the center of Okanagan Lake. The Okanagan is my absolute favorite place to spend some quality time but I tend to stay away from Kelowna since it is simply not that great.

Anyway, I was eager to get to the B&B now, tired of the drive and the heavy traffic so I didn't stop for any more pictures until I got to Peachland and the long-awaited beach there. They have a very nice strip along the lake with a small beach area where I like to come with the family when we are out there. I know it has a little dock with diving boards and that is where I made a beeline for.

After 9 hours in the car with the top down I was hot, sweaty and dusty so the dive in the cool lake water was fantastic. I floated around for a bit, thoroughly cooling down and enjoying the view. The B&B was just up the road, a nondescript house that turned out to be partially under construction. It wasn't what I expected but I was far beyond caring at that time. There was a room with a bed and a shower, the two items I needed the most. After a shower I climbed back into the Boxster for a final drive up to Westbank and along Boucherie Road where my favorite Okanagan winery and restaurant is located. Quail's Gate's Old Vines restaurant is superb, it is located in a beautiful spot overlooking the lake and the food is top-notch. The beer I had to start with was ever so welcome!

I lingered over dinner, savouring the lovely food and cosy atmosphere of the restaurant. By the time I was done it was dusk and in good Okanagan fashion there were some great skies to behold. I had the point-and-shoot and no tripod so the pictures didn't turn out so well. One shot was OK and certainly gives and idea:

After this I headed back to the B&B and passed out instantly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer 2011 road trip day 2

Given the splendid weather the day before I expected to wake up to a sunny day again. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window and saw a foggy, grey landscape.

It was early in the morning though, barely past 6am. I was itching to go, so had a quick breakfast of toast and yoghurt and was on the road by 7am. I headed east into Sedro-Woolley where I joined highway 20, the road that would take me across most of Washington state that day.
Very quickly, things became rural and I entered North Cascades National Park not much later. The road became scenic very quickly and started winding its way through forests. The fog was gone by now and the temperature was going up so I dropped the top and the adventure truly began! I did notice some signs announcing road works "for the next 30 miles" so that had me a bit worried. There were some spots with flaggers and construction areas and soon traffic ground to a halt. Sigh, not what I was hoping for but hey, it was a good opportunity to take a quick break and stretch my legs.

Once past this area I plunged deeper into forests along a lovely, windy and scenic road so the delays were soon forgotten. The first real town I hit was Winthrop, I get there around 10am. This little town has an old-style Western type feel to it with lots of wooden storefronts and historic looking buildings. I parked the car and took a look around.

I found a very good little coffee shop called Noca where I fueled up with a cappucino and a scone. Little did I know this was going to be my last food until dinner!

After Winthrop I continued on to Okanogan where I headed north on the 97 until Tonasket where I headed east again on the 20 towards Republic. The road continued through a mixture of forest and sweeping grasslands, meadows, farms and tiny little towns. It was way past lunchtime by now but I failed to find anything appealing. I had high hopes every time I entered a small town, to find another place like Noca but I was invariably greeted by a strip of fast food restaurants and very little else. I'd have to be on the brink of starvation death before I eat fast food so I carried on, hungry and fervently hoping the restaurant in the resort in Cranbrook would be good.

Past Republic lies Kettle Falls, then Colville. The road was great but the construction bug was present here too. There was also a lot of gravel in places, at some point the car went into a bit of a skid when I hit the brakes before a turn. This prompted me to rein her in a bit and take it easy. I sure was glad I wasn’t on a motorcycle, it would have been scary indeed! I did find a little area with a short trail through the forest there I took a break for a little hike, returning I got a nice peek-a-boo view of the car:

After the Colville National Forest I finally headed North past Metaline and back into Canada.

It was almost 4pm when I finally crossed the border. The border guard wanted to go through my stuff and was momentarily baffled when he asked I pop the trunk and I asked him which one. The Boxster has two trunks, one at the front and one at the back. He ended searching both. His colleague wondered where the engine was, I had to explain what a mid-engine car means. In the end they were quite impressed and let me go. I headed north-east towards Creston and my destination, the St. Eugene Golf resort and Casino just past Cranbrook. This is a very stately property that looks quite impressive and is located in a very nice spot.

I got there at 6pm so it was an 11-hour day. I was completely fried by the time I staggered into my room and spent some time puttering about before having a long shower and going in search of food. After seeing the prices at the main restaurant which were a bit high for what I knew I was going to get, I decided on the lounge instead.

The beer I had went down exceptionally well, after that I had a plate of smoked meats and sausages followed by a pasta dish and crème brulee for dessert. I was famished and wolved it all down.

I wandered around the place for a bit, a bit dazed from the marathon drive and the feeding frenzy I just had. I returned to my room and was fast asleep shortly after 10pm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer 2011 road trip day 1

This morning I dropped Connie and Kai off at YVR for a trip to Toronto. Since I am down to two vacation days I couldn't come along. I did however waste no time to head out on the road for a 3 day drive through Northern Washington state and the BC interior. I decided to head out in the evening and cover a couple of hours including the border crossing to get a head start tomorrow morning. I am currently in the Fairview Inn in Burlington. I picked this place because it is close to highway 20 which is the road I will be taking East across Washington. I have heard and read good things about this road so I am excited to get going tomorrow morning. I'll leave early, 7am or so, to avoid traffic and get a nice drive in. It will be a long day, I will be going all the way to the Idaho border before turning North back into Canada at Nelway, taking to Crowsnest to Cranbrook where I found a golf resort to stay. I don't play golf but it seems the nicest place around there...

This first leg wasn't too exciting, down the I-5 and into a cookie cutter business hotel but that doesn't matter really. Tomorrow should bring a lot more interesting scenery!

The Boxster

I guess it is time to talk a little bit about my current car. It is a 2005 Porsche Boxster S. I bought it used in March of 2010 from Porsche, certified pre-owned. To me this car is a fantastic tool to get from A to B, enjoying every moment of it. It falls squarely in my optimal category of great cars. Small, two seater, mid-engine, rear wheel drive, convertible. It has one of the best engines on the market, Porsche's flat six making 280hp in the S version. It sounds great, revs hungrily and simply just wants to go, go, go. This is definitely the tightest handling car I have ever owned and feels like a scalpel when dissecting a small twisty mountain road. So yes, I like this car. Some people say it is a poor man's 911, underpowered and so on. They clearly have never driven one. Sure, it is cheaper than a 911 but I think this car is in a class of its own. Kam used to own a 997 and was very impressed with the Boxster, he may very well end up buying one in the not too distant future. Here is a picture:

This was taken during an earlier road trip this summer. A bit backlit, I will take some better pictures later and post them up.

There are drawbacks to this car, it isn't actually that comfortable for longer highway drives. I have to drive down from Vancouver to Redmond on a semi-regular basis for work (visiting the Microsoft head office) and the 3 hour drive is loud and bumpy. But once off the highway and onto a windy road the car transcends all this and becomes a pure joy to pilot around the next bend, up the next mountain pass. This is an experience that cannot be beat and for me, the essence of any road trip.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Memories: a TT road trip

This goes back a first performance car. Not sure where to begin, I guess it was when the day came that I realized I was able to afford myself a nice car. My first car in Canada was a Toyota RAV4. It was a decent car but not exactly something exciting to drive. I was very new to the whole fancy car thing so I went with what struck me as a fascinating car, the Audi TT. This was back in 2001 when the TT was just on the market and was still a novelty with its unique styling and fairly decent performance in the 225hp coupe version. Now a lot has been said about the TT, most of it not necessarily good. The chassis was flawed, the steering numb, the handling so-so. A hairdresser`s car, not a real sports car, and so on and so forth. To me at the time all that was insignificant. I had an Audi TT. A sports car. I couldn`t have been more proud of it and I loved every minute of driving it. And man do I have some seriously good memories of that car. When I first test drove it, I was blown away and didn`t hesitate to get it. I did my first real road trips in this car, my first pure pleasure drives, my first track day. I discovered the Duffy Lake Road (a road deserving of it`s own post) in the TT. I made a lifelong friend because of the TT, my fellow car-nut Kam. I remember chasing him in his yellow Boxster, tearing up the BC back country. But the best memory is the road trip I did with Connie when she was pregnant with Kai. It was to be our last trip together before Kai`s birth in September. This was June 2003.

We started out heading across the Coquihalla to Merritt, then to Kamloops, turning South-East, stopping in Westwold, a tiny little town halfway towards Vernon. Our friends Dan and Sam have a house there so that was our first stop. The next day we headed back to Kamloops, then North up the I-5 to Valemount. We took a break in Vavenby, that is where I took this shot:

Vavenby surely was a rural little town:

We stayed overnight in Valemount, then headed East to Jasper, crossing into Alberta.

We stayed in Jasper in a beautiful log cabin by a river. It had a fireplace and chairs to sit by the water. Super-romantic, I remember it well.

Then it was time to do the absurdly scenic drive from Jasper down to Banff. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The road is mostly straight and there is a lot of traffic so it isn`t necessarily a driver`s road but it has stupendous scenery.

We spent the night in Banff, eating well and checking out the town. It was then time to head back West for another night in Westwold before returning to Vancouver. It was a perfect trip, I certainly had fun in the TT:

This car was my daily driver. In the winter, I put snow tires on it, turning it into a little snowcat. I remember driving the Okanagan connector in a snowstorm with SUVs in the ditch, the TT rock-solid. At the ski resort I found an empty parking lot with a foot of snow in it where I did standing starts and doughnuts, the Quattro system working overtime but always finding sure footing in the end. Very impressive. This founded a deep respect and love for Audi cars, something that is with me today. I will be talking a bit about our family car, the A4 Avant in a future post.

So that was the TT. After four years I ended up selling it to a co-worker, a kid from QA who had saved up long and hard to be able to afford this car. I have never seen someone look as proud and excited as this guy when he took possession of the car. Not unlike me when I signed the lease back in 2001.

A boys' dinner

Whenever Connie goes out in the evening, Kai and I will do something interesting for dinner. Usually this means going out to one of the many great restaurants in Vancouver but sometimes we stay home and I cook. Tonight it was steak on the barbecue. Kai is a bit of carnivore like me, he loves his steak, sausages and porkbelly. Tonight was classic New York strips, corn on the cob and Caesar salad. Can`t get more basic than that.

Cooking steaks is very simple, I have a pretty fool-proof process that is hard to mess up. First off, take the steaks out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Then season them very generously with Kosher salt and black pepper then set them aside. Turn the grill up to full blast, 500F or thereabouts. When the grill is nova-hot, sear the steaks for about two minutes on each side, then turn off the burner under the steaks and finish them off with indirect heat. I like mine medium-rare, for a 1-inch thick NY strip, this takes about another 5 minutes. Let them sit under some foil while you prep the rest of the food and you're good to go.

Kai devoured most of his steak, quite impressive. Makes his dad proud.

For me, dessert is essential. This time I indulged a little, I had some Port style wine and superb 83% dark chocolate on hand.

Thomas Haas makes some of the finest chocolate I know. His 83% dark is just perfectly flavored.

The wine I had it with is called 'Pipe', made by a winery in the Okanagan (my favorite place in BC, more about it in future posts!) called Sumac Ridge. This one I aged for a while and opened previously when we had company. I am still enjoying the remainder. Such a lovely wine with deep, dark fruit, intensely sweet without being cloying. I have a few more bottles in my 'cellar' (the closet in Kai's room, being the most temperature neutral place in the house) and look forward to those in the years to come!


I think an introduction is due. I will be mentioning Kai in posts, he is my soon to be 8 year old son. Having a child is one thing I never really thought I would do in this life until Kai came around and now I am a besotted dad. His ability to learn and put his own unique twist on things continues to amaze me. Yeah, I know, I am a dad talking about his young son so I guess this is unabashed gushing. He loves cars like me, has a sweet tooth like me (unlike his mother!), is whip-smart and has a great sense of humor with a bit of a surreal touch. Being curled up together on the sofa watching Top Gear is my favorite thing to do with him right now.
OK, enough about the kid. You get my drift. A picture is all that is needed now. Easier said than done, my prolific photographing wife has literally thousands of pictures of the boy. I simply picked the most recent good portrait shot of him:

by Connie using a Canon EOS 40D with a 15-85 EFS lens

Saturday, August 06, 2011

What is Road Trip?

I like driving cars. I take great pleasure in the act of driving as opposed to getting from A to B. To me, A and B don't matter very much, it is what is in between that matters. You can see this as a philosophy for life, not to get too pretentious or nihilistic here but life is a ride from birth to death. You have to make the most of what is in between.
OK, so we have cars covered. There will be a lot more about those in the future. In fact, most of this blog will be about the drives I undertake (and undertook) in my life and the cars that I own, have owned and would like to own (Sadly, there are many more of the latter than the former). But there are other things that make the ride more interesting. Great food is another one. You need to eat to survive, may as well do it right. I go to restaurants. A lot.
Since I have a nerdy background (I taught myself how to program video games at the age of 14, the rest is history) I like technology. Gadgets, audio equipment, computers, cell phones and so on. I read a lot of books about particle physics, obsess over cooking and can spend hours researching things on the internet before buying them. So there will be mention of these things as well.
Last but certainly not least I have an incredible family. My wife Connie (she has her own blog, soon to go live) and my son Kai. I adore them. So there will be stuff about them on here as well.