Sunday, December 15, 2013

Las Vegas and AK47's

I was asked by my good friend Bryan Pearson from the north pole if I want to go to Vegas. Well I couldn't say I didn't, so late this past November me and Bryan set out for the city that never sleeps after spending a night sleeping my car outside of Hope BC because I couldn't go quicker than 20 km an hour because the fog was so bad on my way home from work :)

I meet Bryan at the Pan Pacific Hotel in down town Vancouver (probably the nicest hotel in the whole city), where we had lunch overlooking the Vancouver Harbor. After walking around downtown and showing Bryan a bit of Vancouver we head for the airport. I'm just gonna skip ahead to Vegas now because I don't like talking about flight delays and waiting around....
Me an Bryan at the Pan Pacific

The first thing I notice when we arrive on the ground in Las Vegas, is there airport worker who was dancing to his hip hop the whole time he drove the luggage cart and unloaded the suitcases. It was seriously awesome, but I think I am the only person who noticed, but it goes to show that you gotta make the most of what you do with life, because he was definitely having the most fun of anyone on the plane, and he was the only one working, everyone else is just coming into Vegas.(My guess is he was listening to the Notorious BIG).
The aiprot terminal coming into Vegas (yes those are slot machines)

Bryan had booked us into the Wynn hotel. He said it was one of the nicest hotels in Las Vegas, that was an understatement. When we walked in, the main hall was a art gallery with all these crazies displays like a carousel with horses but the whole thing was made of flowers. All the hotels in Vegas on the strip, you have to walk across the whole Casino in order to get to your room, so I would not suggest it for anyone with a gambling problem. At are hotel the minimum bets at black jack was $25, and the maximum was $10,000, and then there was a special area for those who wanted to bet more..... chump change :p
My home for five days

An art display which you could buy at the Wynn for 5 million American dollars
What you see when you walk into the Wynn
the hotel pool, where I spent hours swimming and relaxing
It was sad how encouraged and normalized the gambling seemed there. There was a special room there with four desks and four workers where you could take out a line of credit from the casino if you ran out of money. I saw a guy try to take money out of the ATM on four different cards, and then after failing to do so, took it out on the machine.... I did gamble and lost $75 in two minutes playing black jack, losing every single hand! Bryan liked the slots, so I played a little bit, but am not a big fan of just giving my money away, although he seemed to win.... Back in Canada I actually played poker a lot, something I picked up from my brother who is trying to become a professional poker player. This past fall I banned myself from the casino for life, as I just got tired of sitting at a table with people I don't really want to associate with, and in the end losing my money slowly, because your playing against people who play non stop, and unless you are really dedicated they will eventually beat you, and it isn't something I want to do with my life. I did make an exception to gamble a bit in Vegas because I had always wanted to. I did play poker in Vegas. The first night was cool, broke about even but met some cool people and a guy about 30 named Doug who lives there and is a professional dealer took me for drinks after with some of his friends and told me about life in Vegas. He was trying to start a company where he would take high profile clients around Vegas, especially those who want to golf. 
Me at the poker table in Vegas

The average wage in Las Vegas is only about $12-13 an hour, but the cost of living is so much cheaper down there, and housing is like a third of what it costs in Canada. Doug was saying though that gambling is a major problem for a lot of local residents in Vegas because they will often gamble away the money they make, and makes it hard to get ahead. Even the local bars in Vegas have virtual slot machines on the bar counters, so its constantly in your face. Even in the airport waiting terminal there are slot machines.

Anyways enough about gambling, I truly do love playing poker, because it is fun when you are trying to out play someone and hundreds of dollars are at stake, but I just want to find a better way of living for myself s it can be very anti-social. Me and Bryan went and saw a live show every night, and wow, three out of the four shows were absolutely amazing. The first show we saw was stand up comedy at the Improv at O haras. I am trying to become a comedian myself and have done quite a few shows, but the three guys on stage that night were the funniest guys I have ever seen. The main headliner named James Steven the third is apparently staring in this upcoming movie showing Bill Cosby's life. He came out on stage trying to get the audience to “bounce” with him. Then he said, “oh wait its a white audience, let me do my white person entrance” and then came back on stage acting like Frank Sinatra. After the show I bought a CD from the first comic and from James Steven I bought his “Your mama.... joke book” that he wrote and drew himself. My favorite joke from it was: “Your mama so stupid, that when she went to KFC she saluted Colonel Sanders”.

The second show we watched was called La Rev. This show was something that you could barely think of creating, let alone actually having. The audience sat in a circle of rows around the stage. The stage was a pool, with these crazy structures that would come out of the water. It was a love story about a guy and a girl, and the girl wasn't sure if she should fall for the guy. There were about 30 gymnasts, and they did some crazy flips, one guy diving from as high as about 17 meters. If you want to marry a girl, take her to this play, and then ask propose at the end, she will be much more likely to say yes ;)
La Rev

The third show we watched was from Jan Rouven, the German illusionist. Me and Bryan sat close to the front, and I would say there were about 200 people there. About 10 minutes into the show, Jan walks into the audience and introduces himself to me, and asks me to test his knife to see if it is real. It was, and he said “great, come with me Ciaran” and pulls me on stage. He then calls another woman on stage. He gives these five stands with bags over them, and puts the knife under one of them. Me and Jan then turn around to face the audience while the lady behind us mixes up the five stands so we do not know which one of the stands has the knife under it. Jan then starts hitting the bags, and if he hit the one with the knife he would badly cut his hand. After there are only three bags left, one with the knife, he asks me which one he should hit next. I point to one, he hits it and the knife isn't there. He then asks me if I am nervous, I say a little, and he says “You are nervous?” I say “not really actually, more excited because you are the one hitting the bags”, he says “wrong answer", and then put me in front of the two remaining bags. He told me to really listen to my intuition and I would be able to determine which bag didn't have the knife. After about 10 seconds of intense thought I tell him the right one is safe to hit. He then slams my hand down over the bag on the left, and there is no knife, and then he shows me the bag I thought was empty. and had the knife. He reminded me to always follow my intuition, as it is very strong :p Anyways overall a great show with some crazy awesome stunts, I would highly recommend going to watch him in Vegas.
Me with illusionist Jan after the show, he said he would take me on as his student, I am still considering it :)

The other great thing about Vegas is the FOOD! Bryan took me to some of the greatest restaurants in the world, where we had prime rib, Japanese Tempura, and the best buffet I had ever seen or tasted where I had 8 plates and bottomless champagne and mimosas (Champagne and orange juice) (Look at the pictures below:

Chicken and waffles

The best calamari

Turkey sliders

Breakfast pizza and pasta

Chicken deep fried in waffle batter

Me and Bryan

Chocolate dessert mask

My favorite part of the trip was renting the Mustang Convertible and driving out into the desert to go see the Grand Canyon. It was so freaking cool driving the convertible, and just looking at and walking around in the desert, it is so different then anything I had seen before, and yes the cactus needles hurt like a B$@%#.
a top of the hover dam
We stopped of at a place called bullets and burgers. I have always wanted to shoot a machine gun, and I finally got the chance as they had an AK47 automatic for hire. They gave me 50 rounds. What I found surprising is they didn't brief me at all on safety, and the guy who gave it to me just stood beside me and did not seem worried at all that I had a fully automatic machine gun loaded with no safety, but then again, with a guy as intelligent and trusting as me, who would worry ;) I did some single burst firing at a paper target, and some fully automatic burst. It was surprisingly accurate and easy to use, and yes it does feel really good, although it probably would be better if they didn't exist because of all the problems they cause around the world.
Say hello to my little friend
ricochet from the AK47 on my shoulder
The burgers were good to, and the waiter was seriously one of the friendliest guys and most helpful that I had ever met. Americans for there bad rep around the world sure are some of the most friendliest.  The funniest part of the trip was at the end of the day. We got to the Grand Canyon at like 3pm, but they wouldn't let us in saying it was closed because the sun was going down soon, so I only saw it from a distance... I was a bit disappointed, but it was such a fun day it didn't bother me to much, and I could see it from a distance. On the drive back to Vegas, we had to drive around a bit to get into the hotel. At one point we were at a complete stop on the highway in are lane, so I gunned it from 0mph to about 70mph in about 5 seconds to get into the other lane. Bryan said “ I think I will take a taxi home because you have no idea where you are going, your pulling dangerous stunts, and it is F#$%@#$ Freezing with the top down!!!!” I laughed a lot that day :s
The desert in Arizona

After five nights in Las Vegas we returned back to reality, Bryan returning to the north pole, and myself returning to camp for my final shift! I am still contemplaitng what exactly I will be doing after camp, but I do have a one way plane ticket booked to SanDiego for the new year. I would highly recomend doing Vegas once in your life, it is very expensive though, and you only need about three nights. It would be best for a bacholer or brides maids party, or going with you significant other, I had a great time with Bryan and got some good advice on life.

The Ferrari Museum at the Wynn hotel
It is obviously a different lifestyle then I am currently used to living, going from being homeless to staying in a high class hotel. It was a great experience and got a taste of a bit of the good life. It makes me want it in one way, but I feel finding a balance that suits you is best, as it was great, but I feel for me being close to the land, and having genuine relationships with people, and being able to really and truly able to help others as  the most important thing in my life right now. Also you need to make a lot of money to maintain that lifestyle, and you have to think at what cost?

A little history on Bryan:

Bryan moved from England to Australia when he was 15 by working on a ship. At the age of 21 he arrived in Canada, and agreed to move to Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) to work on the Dew Line (The Radar strip built by the Americans to detect Russian aircraft. He has since lived in Nunavut until now ( he is in his 80's). In his time in Nunavut he has owned different business, been the Mayor, met the Queen and Prime Minister of Canada who stayed over at his house, and is the longest lasting southerner to stay in Nunavut. He has some great stories, and is a very funny guy. If you ever end up in Nunavut make sure to stay at his bed in breakfast at his house over looking Frobisher Bay!
Bryan Pearson
A view of the sunrise from his house

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sqaumish Chief- Multipitch Rock climbing one of the most famous climbs in the world!

A view from the top of the Chief
A few weeks ago, I went down to the Coast of BC as I had a chance to rock climb the chief, something I had wanted to do for a long time, and one of the most famous climbs in the world. A friend who has experience climbing it before invited me to join her and a friend, so I took them up on it, although I have never climbed more then single pitch rock.
The highest point in the southern Cariboo near 100mile on the way down from Prince George
Big horn sheep, the first one I have seen on this road (near Cache Creek)
A herd of mountain goats, the most I have ever seen from this close (there were 15)

The climb started out pretty cool, and I think we did about 10 pitches in total (means we tied and untied the rope at 10 different spots).
The most sketchy part of the climb was the vertical rock that I had to cross Horizontally for about 10 meters. All I had to hold myself was a small crack for my feet to shuffle through, that only fit my toes, and if I fell, I would have swung like a pendulum the whole way. I hugged my cheek to the rock and got it done without falling!
Chilling on a ledge half way up the chief. Mark in the back has been doing mountaineering and big climbs for years and is trying to work as an out trip leader for NOLS (Maybe this publicity will get him the job, he was a great trip leader!)

Rock climbing is not my favorite outdoor activity because it requires so much traveling to get to rocks, a lot of time setting up and watching others, and doing the same old over and over again to get better at it. But the chief was a cool adventure because it was all new to me, and quite difficult to do, and I got to see spots I would not be able to see unless I climbed up. That being said a lot of people love rock climbing, and I can see why.
On the way down the Chief after a day of climbing
At one section an American and a British guy passed us. There were also two separate people who passed us on the climb who did not have ropes and were free climbing! About two weeks ago someone died doing the same climb without ropes on the Chief! Good for them though, I support adventure, but I personally wouldn't climb it freely, as I am okay with accepting death as a consequence for the right cost, but I would rather learn how to do a gainer off the 10 meter, or die in an avalanche snowmobiling, or get attacked by pirates while sailing if I am going to risk my life :p
Overall it was a good day, we climb for about 10 hours. What I learned from the trip was that you need to be prepared and know your gear to do this kind of activity. There are a lot of awesome adventures out there to do, but they take planning, time, and you need to find away to get everything you need. It is definitely possible though, and I hope it motivates you as it does me, to get out there and explore the world and if your lucky your back yard!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An epic walk above Hazelton in the remote North Western BC

Walking through BC's Northwest rainforest up the mountain

The Skeena River (one of the most famous Salmon runs taking place). People come from all over the to fish here.
Mount Rochee
August 31st weekend, me and my friend Devin decided to tackle something we promised each other we would do 3 years ago. Devin is from a small town in Northwestern BC called Hazleton (population 7000 including outlying areas). Hazelton is about 500km west of Prince George on highway 16 on the way to Prince Rupert. The town used to be big into forestry until the economy had a downturn, and since then the town has been struggling economically (like a lot of small towns in BC). Devin grew up in Hazelton, and has since moved away for school. The last time we past through Hazelton (3 years ago) there is this huge mountain shooting out of the ground staring over the city, and after seeing it for the first time I have wanted to climb it. Devin did it a long time ago and knows the way up. So for the labor day weekend we decided we would go to Hazelton and climb Mount Rochee 6,500 ft. Devin is also a stand up comedian buddy, and were gonna be doing a competition together at a Casino in PG on October 3rd so bring your tomatoes for me and whips and handcuffs for Devin.

We started out at 7am, and it took a long, long time. The beginning of the hike went through rainforest, crossing rivers, climbing over boulders, and trail walking. The second half of the hike was above the alpine, and got pretty scary at points because rocks would move and fall a long ways down sometimes, and we had to pass beside very high cliffs. We made it up by about 2pm, chilled at the top for about 40 minutes, and then got back by about 7pm (didn't see anyone else). I'll let the pictures do the talking:
The bridge we had to cross, mission impossible style!
A view of Hazelton in the afternoon
Devin in his favorite position
At the top of the world
This is why I hang out with kids, flying paper airplanes off a cliff

On the way up with Devin in the lead
Devin's dad is a famous hunter and had some crazy grizzly bear stories, and was featured as hunter of the year in a famous magazine. The salmon run was on going through the Skeena River while I was there (one of the largest salmon runs in the world). Devin's family had caught a lot of big salmon. They gave me two salmon to take back home with me, which was awesome.
Some of the animals he got!
a VIEW of Hazelton and the area

Hazelton is a town I really like. I found the people to be really friendly, a ton of mountains and rivers around with big trees makes it remind me of Vancouver but without people and much infrastructure. It would definitely be a great place to have a family as property is cheap, there is a ton of outdoors stuff to do, and it seems like the community that is pretty close in a lot of ways. One thing I have come to realize is that when you have few options you become a lot more content with what you are doing, and I have noticed in small towns like Hazelton people have a lot more time to talk with you and hang out, something that is often lost in cities.
This was my scariest moment of the year, to my right was a very high drop, and I had to get to wear the camera was, Devin was fine with it, because I think he stuck to many crayons up his nose as a kid.