Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Mukluk

9:24 sunrise
17:03 sunset

Look what I brought home yesterday :)


Well, technically I didn't actually bring the bike home. I left it with its co-owner.

When Jill first mentioned riding the Mukluk at Interbike I was intrigued. She even said she had a little crush on the Mukluk! But what kept rolling around in my head was this: "I love my Pugsley, but I have to admit that Salsa made several big improvements with the Mukluk. For starters, I can actually maneuver this bike without feeling like I'm trying to steer a tractor." In a strange coincidence of timing I then started surfing to learn more about this bike and whether or not I could buy one in Canada. To my surprise, one of our local bike shops had made an order! It was September and our Yukon weather had already taken a turn towards winter. I wondered if maybe this was my year for a snow bike.

Long story short, I kept popping back in to this LBS and I expressed my interest in taking a look at the Mukluk. The bike shop very kindly said it would hold on to one for me and I could test ride both the small and the xs frame to see if one would work for me. The delivery schedule ended up taking a little longer than anticipated but they finally arrived in the Yukon in early January. By this point I had decided that I really, really wanted one. However, I also had become aware that I really, really couldn't afford one.

Enter the Fat Tire Ballerinas and more specifically, Niki. Fat Tire Ballerinas is the name that our friend Kate came up with to describe her hoped for Yukon group of women who would ride snow bikes. Sierra liked the name so much that's what we called our TransRockies team this summer. Anyhow, this year a few more women have purchased snow bikes and a few more of us have been borrowing them to go on group rides. The Yukon community of cyclists (male and female) has been super generous with their snow bikes. Everyone who owns one seems to be willing to share so that others can experience the joy of riding a fat tire bike on snow. I started to think of the FTBs as a sort of bike collective. I even sort of dug the political idea behind group bike ownership. I wondered if perhaps I could own just half of a snow bike. It sure would make buying one more financially possible. This is where Niki comes in. She too liked this idea of sharing a bike this winter. We figured that we could make it work and, next winter, if we both love it and want to spend more time on a snow bike, we can do the same thing again and the person who gets the newer bike pays just a little bit extra. And, if we don't love it, we can continue to share and offer up another bike to the FTB "stable." We'll just always have first dibs.

So, on Saturday we went down to the LBS, rode the small and the extra-small frames and - ta-dah! - came home with one xs Salsa Mukluk, serial #19.

If you can't tell, I'm excited. We're thinking of calling him "El Frio" but that's still up for debate.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Japanese Signs

One last post about Japan before I move on.

I took a ton of photographs of the various English language signs around Tokyo. Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that there was any sinage that I could read and I am sure that the average joe does a better job of translating from Japanese to English than I do vice versa. Regardless, the results were often humorous. I won't post all of these over on flickr so here's a run down for the blog:

This one was in a shop window in Kamakura. Apparently the store is now selling things to people who are enjoying their life. Good to know.

I didn't know this about the Narita airport. Now I know.

Truth be told, this one's my favourite. It was on the door to the women's bathroom of a restaurant in Kamakura. What is going on with the license place holder?

I would LOVE to teleport to Tokyo, wouldn't you?

If only the aurora made coffee in a can taste this good.

I'm pretty sure I must be missing something with this one. If you can't read it, click to make it larger. It says:

"Are you god?"
"No Way! I'm a Manager!!"

At first I thought this one involved reporting theft. Ooops. On the Tokyo subway.

They aren't kidding. There wasn't any running to get on a train.

Just like Bill Murray said. Suntory Time it's Relaxing Time!

Seriously? Coito?!

In Tokyo the Archives sells overalls.

Again, really? Cafe de Fresh off the Boat?!

Anyhow, Tokyo was a great city and we had a lot of fun. Next time we'll have to go back to explore the country a little bit more widely.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Anniversary

Tofino - January 26, 2003. Photo by Marilyn McEwan.

That's eight years ago today. Huh. How did that go by so quickly? And to think that we went on our first date 18 years ago today is even more ridiculous. The passage of time is a crazy thing. Ben had hair and I had less of it then than I do now. But things are good.


Originally uploaded by Jennoit

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Star Bar

So we sought out the Star Bar in the Ginza neighbourhood of Tokyo because Hugh did some research before we left. Hugh Garvey, writing for Bon Appetit magazine, said that he had heard "from professional foodies, itinerant bartenders and other bibulous travelers that Tokyo was besting New York and London at the cocktail game." In fact, he said that he "had seven of the best drinks of his trip" at Star Bar. We had to go.

It took us *quite* awhile to find the place. We had spent the afternoon at a sumo match drinking beer and sake and cheering on sports heros to whom we had just been introduced. I'm guessing that the light buzz we were all sporting gave us the patience to wander Ginza, map in hand, looking for the Star Bar for more than half an hour before we finally broke down and started asking passers by for directions. A very kind man, named Tsuyoshi, finally took pity on us and offered to take us there. His kindness, unfortunately, did not match his sense of direction and we wandered around with him for another 30 minutes before he started asking doormen for assistance.

At any rate, we did finally find it, a tiny bar in the basement with no more than a door mat and a small sign announcing its presence to the street.
We were met at the door by a bartender who explained to us that "the master" was not working that night. Perhaps we didn't want to come in? After spending so long looking for this place, we didn't care, to be honest. We were coming in for a drink come hell or high water. We invited Tsuyoshi in with us.

And oh my gawd. I don't care if the master wasn't there, the drinks were beyond incredible. To give you an idea of how meticulous and precise the bartenders are, get this: they make their own bar snacks and they make and cut their own ice. Yeah.

Our server suggested that we could order a drink made with pear, pomegrante or strawberry. Hugh and Wendy went for pear, Ben, Tsuyoshi and I had pomegranate. And they actually all came as different drinks. As far as we could tell, Hugh got a pear gimlet and mine was sort of daiquiri-like but to be honest, I have no real clue what we were drinking. But oh gosh they were amazing. I had no idea that a cocktail could be that much better than average, but these exceeded my expectations.

While we were sighing over how tasty these were, one of the bartenders came out to us and explained to us that they make their own ice. There may have been a misunderstanding about why we were there (we explained that we had read about them in a magazine but we suspect that the staff thought we were writing for a magazine...). Regardless, it was super cool to have the ice cube carving demonstration. They make their own ice so that it freezes in perfectly clear blocks:
Then, the bartender carves cubes to perfectly suit the drink and the glass. He shaved, while we were watching, an ice diamond with 14 facets!

The bar was beyond insane and we couldn't resist having a second round. Ben and Hugh went for a classic: the manhattan. I had a sidecar and I have forgotten what Wendy ordered. This round was equally delicious to the first and we all agreed that these were by far the most scrumptious cocktails we had ever had.
After this, we figured that we should probably get the bill since we had no idea how much all of this was costing (although we knew it had to be steep). Ben was presented with a beautiful, handwritten tab for $270.00. That's right, $30 per drink. Ouch. But worth it. So worth it. If I am ever in Tokyo again, you can bet I'll saddle up to a bar stool at the Star Bar. Kampai!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tokyo Times

Oh man, it's been a busy few days.

I want to write about lots of things but I'm not near a computer that often and when I am, I don't feel I have time to put all of my ideas down in text. I will - at some point - write about the most amazing, delicious cocktails I have ever had. They came with a bill to match too.

Until then, here's a photo taken yesterday just before we went to watch 3 hours of sumo wrestling. This was taken at the restaurant across the street from the ryogoku.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

En Route


The Tokyo flight was almost full. Both Ben and I ended up in middle seats one row behind each other. No matter. We're on the plane. Can't sleep (have the dreaded head bob) so I am instead drinking multiple-glasses of wine and am reading my book. I'm finally finishing Good to a Fault (Marina Endicott) which is pretty great.

We left YVR late (some sort of engine problem) but we're making up some of the time due to winds. It's almost 9pm EST now but we just crossed the International Date line so time confusion and jet lag are just a few hours away. Oh, and it's -79.6F outside the airplane right now. Chilly.

Anyhow, just a few thoughts from above the Pacific Ocean. Will try and update as I can in Tokyo.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Opera and Preparing for Travel

10:04 sunrise
16:10 sunset

Look! The sun is now setting after 4pm instead of before! The light is indeed returning (although it's not super noticeable yet).

So, yesterday Ben turned 40. I don't think either of us can really believe it. I know it's just a number and nothing has really changed, but it's a number that we have both taken note of I guess.

I gave Ben a few presents, two of which I get to enjoy as well. The first of these was today's trip to see the opera La Fanciulla del West at the MET. Well, not exactly at the MET. This year the Yukon Arts Centre is showing the performances live in HD. Ben has always loved opera and several of our dates when we first met were to operas in Toronto and we saw The Marriage of Figaro in Paris on our honeymoon (which I have to say, was a super awesome experience). But the genre is more his thing than mine so imagine my surprise when I thoroughly enjoyed today's performance! I'm not sure that I adored the score, but I really, really enjoyed watching Deborah Voigt. And the set with all of its details (labels on whiskey bottles, the handwritten letters) was very impressive.

(Photo from timesunion.com)

Anyhow, it definitely renewed my enthusiasm for opera, which is kinda cool.

Aside from that it's been a quiet Saturday. I took the dog for a walk since it was gorgeous and sunny out and then we lazed for a good hour or so by the fire.
This week Ben and I need to get organized for Japan! We leave for Vancouver on Friday and Tokyo Saturday!! It's going to be a bit of a ridiculous (in a good way we hope) trip. If any of you have been to Japan and have any suggestions - bring them on! If I can, I hope to blog while overseas but I'm not sure I'll have the ability or the time. Regardless, I'll for sure update once I am home.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day at Lake Laberge

10:10 sunrise
15:58 sunset

Ben, Mingus and I spent some of today (which was indeed weirdly warm at -2C) out at Lake Laberge in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful spot - happy new year to all!