P is for Photography Passions

One of my favourite hobbies that I don’t get to do enough of is photography. I love taking photos of my favourite dogs, actors, landscapes, food, toys, books and random moments during travelling times. Here’s a few I took at a recent convention held for Supernatural in Australia.

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Jensen Ackles aka Dean Winchester

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Tim Omundson aka Cain

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Mark Sheppard aka Crowley

But I also love it when people take great pictures of my dogs in action…

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Colt aka Winpara Weapon Ov Choice – so named after the Colt gun used in my favourite Television show.

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Savvy aka Winpara Stay Frosty (named for the hope that I’d have a clever little girl on my hands and her fancy name came about after watching the fantastic HBO series Generation Kill).

It’s tricky to take photos of your own dogs in action, but it’s great when other people can do the job quite well!
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So after participating in my very first agility trial back in 1995 I decided perhaps it was time to help support our dwindling pool of available ANKC Agility judges and threw my hat into the ring for trainee agility judges course towards the last half of 2014. Seven of us started and five of us finished the course in February/March and today was my first official judging experience. It was quite brief, apparently all the Novice dogs have recently just qualified out and up to Excellent! At least in the jumping so I only had 4 dogs in. However I did get a qualifier with a lovely clean run on my Novice Jumping course. I’m going to post my course maps here. As part of my requirements to attain elevation to be able to judge at all levels I have to design and scribe at least three times at the Excellent, Masters and Open level – so today I got my Masters requirement done by designing and scribing for ANKC judge Anne in the JDM ring.

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My Novice Jumping measured out to 107m and I gave dogs a run rate of between 2.1 and 2.2mps. This worked out to a SCT of 49 seconds. I had 2 dogs in 400 and 2 Dobes in 600 compete and my one winner and clear round was the Finnish Lapphund in 400.

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My Masters Jumping course which I designed, set and scribed for had about 60 dogs of all heights (200/300/400/500/600) competing on it. SCT was set for 500/600 dogs at 49 seconds (run rate 3.4mps as it was quite wet) and 55 seconds for 200/300/400. Ended up with 8 qualifiers across all heights except 600. I did have to tweak it a little from the above map to satisfy my own intentions. The number 14 was moved to the number 3 tunnel entry which made it more challenging and then jump 20 was moved further down to sit on the 12 grid line. I was pleased with the way it ran and so was the judge, a number of NQ runs simply had some bad luck management of 20 to 21 or at 12 to 13 (some dogs swung wide to the broad causing off course DQs) and some handlers didn’t quite execute a front cross from 10 to 11 nicely causing a push to the back of 11 instead. Some dogs did indeed take the wrong end of 14 as well. Happy to see my own Savvy run the course with very competent handler Karen to get a clear too. First place I think did it in 32 point something seconds.

I think I’m going to enjoy designing the puzzles of creating flowing yet challenging and unique agility courses. I’m looking forward to my next appointment in September but hopefully I’ll be designing some courses before then!

On the home front there’s quite a lot of progress afoot! We will, fingers crossed, so long as everything goes well, be moving in around August or September so not long to go now. It’s getting quite exciting thinking about moving into a brand new house but also a bit daunting with the amount of stuff we need to do between now and then. I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much stuff, material things we actually have but don’t ever actually use or need. When you whittle it down to the bare essentials leaving room of course for the sentimental memories and truly meaningful mementos we really shouldn’t be quite as surrounded as we are. I feel a trip to the Swap meet is soon in the cards.

My next biggest excitement though will be San Diego Comic Con 2015. Two weeks in July school holidays! I’m hoping to have much to report on then!

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A Canadian Interlude

Wherein we sit back and chillax for a while, partake in some very excellent food, socialise with incessantly polite and nice company, become slightly more educated on Van City planning, have a fandom experience, meet some wolves and make new friends and meet up with old friends.

Just read what I wrote and realise it sounds awfully busy for sitting back and chillaxing but really we have done a lot of that. We’ve been in BC, Canada since the 13th of August and I honestly didn’t feel the urge at all to blog until now. It’s not that there wasn’t anything to blog about it was just that we seemed to be moving as such a leisurely pace I kept thinking I’ll get back on my blog soon and now here we are TWO months in to our constantly surprisingly long, 6 month holiday and I haven’t blogged in about 18 days.

Vancouver is indeed a very nice city. I’d totally live here in a heartbeat. In fact it is under consideration thanks to some new information that has come to light since our sojourn here. More on that later. My Nikon has hardly been touched except for today, the most recent weekend including Friday and Thursday last week. So the pics in this post will be a combination of phone photos and little canon digital pics and the most recent Nikon pics. One camera is never enough you see.
We flew in from Alaska and took a cab to our apartment in East Van as they call it. We were staying on East 13th Ave and we found this place quite by accident but very happy accident indeed. I googled apartment rentals short term or something like that and this website turned up: http://www.airnb.com. Turns out this website does holiday rentals, private rooms and sublets for the private person who wants to rent out a room or apartment or sublet for short term people on holidays. This site is available all over the world. Anyway we knew we were staying in Vancouver for at least 15 days – 5 of which would be in a hotel downtown where the Supernatural convention was being held and the rest where ever we could find cheap and decent location as we would be using public transport. This apartment turned up on this website – very handy and local to downtown Van City and lots of cool places and we managed to score it for under 55$ per night. It included the entire top floor of an apartment – kitchen, lounge room with sofa and decent size flatscreen, plus master bedroom. A key to come and go as we pleased. It was no 5 star hotel but better than a Super8 and centrally located. Not an easy feat to find cheap but decent accommodation in near downtown ‘Couve City.

First couple of days we did a lot of walking to explore the area. We needed to find the usual mundane things, Canadian sim cards (Canada your mobile networks are about as good as Australia’s – which is to say – shite, Rogers really should not have the audacity to call their customer service actual you know service because there isn’t any), laundromat, supermarket, bank etc etc. So we did all that and also managed to get a couple movie viewings in (The Campaign and the latest Bourne Movie – both entertaining but sadly Jeremy Renner is no Matt Damon, I like my Bournes taller and with less stubby fingers) and eat in some very good food making places.

Lily the cat came free with the apartment and made herself very comfortable on our suitcase once she realised she didn’t have the queen bed to herself anymore. She was a very sociable tortoiseshell domestic who certainly made her presence known. Tim quite liked her and was pleased to note he didn’t have any outbreak of the usual cat fur causing allergies. Maybe he’s built an immunity now (Simone starts plotting a cat shelter visit for when we’re home).

We visited Gastown district, Yaletown and Stanley Park and Granville Island markets, we also checked out the centre of Downtown and wandered through a number of other waterfront locations whilst in East Van.

The view from Granville Bridge. This was part of a three hour I-need-exercise walking tour I did one morning and then also did it again with Tim when we walked the Seawall trail after doing the Rainforest trail in Stanley Park.

Taken from the Seawall path.

Granville Markets were nice, we had lunch there and a good look around, they reminded me of the Fremantle Markets quite a bit but much bigger and clearly more important since they had their own island.

The view of the Granville Markets from the bridge.

One of my favourite shops on the Island and no they didn’t have tee shirts! So would have grabbed one.


On a Saturday afternoon outside City Hall downtown there was a huge gathering of all kinds of Zombies. They did a Zombie march at 4pm. Pretty entertaining watching adults dress up and play make believe, all the while wondering one day if historians will look back and wonder why we decided to treat such a threat so lightly. Oh I bet zombies will happen one day. It’s just a matter of time, place and disease.


It was all rather fitting considering the following weekend the place would be over run with Supernatural fans who take the demon, monster, zombie hunting thing all very seriously. Bunch of wannabe Winchesters out there I’m sure.

Some people were very method about the whole thing. Glad to see those acting class dollars didn’t go to waste.

Japadog food trucks were everywhere and from all reports this was definitely a treat not to be missed. I managed to resist until the day before we left Van City.

I enjoyed one of these…it’s called a Terimayo and it had seaweed on top and it tasted VERY GOOD. Too good. I burnt some of my tastebuds cos I was in too much of a hurry. I never learn.

We got out to Lynn Valley before the Supernatural Convention started and we walked the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge. It is indeed one of the prettiest places in North Vancouver and again – I’d live there quite happily. Everywhere we went up there I was all – I would LOVE to take the dogs free walking up here. So green and pleasant and not raining;)

We caught a lot of buses around the place and definitely saw all the different areas of Van City because of that. There is quite a lot of begging that goes on, more noticeable than other cities we’ve been too, also within the first few days we noticed that there is a very visible drug addiction problem too. I know all major cities have drug problems but I was a little shocked and saddened to see so many unwell, strung out people on the streets and public transport. I chipped in and gave change when I had it to those who were homeless, who looked healthy and who also were looking after a dog.

This, would you believe it, is a window display for a store. You’ll never guess which store. Luis Vuitton. Yes indeed. Tentacles, bright red and all wriggly looking. I have NO IDEA how this relates to LV stuff but I bet it does and I bet it’s a ridiculous amount of money too.

This is a diner – Lucy’s Diner that was round the corner from our apartment in VanCon. The man behind the counter there? His name is Joshua. He’s from Frankstone, NSW. Been in Canada for several years now. Has had a ball but now wants to live in Costa Rica. Says he spent two days there and has decided it is the best country in the world after that two day experience. He was a nice Aussie bloke who gave me extra smoked salmon in my scrambled eggs that morning so I liked him immediately. Plus he seemed to be doing a good job improving the positive image of Aussie males overseas.

These are Albacore Tuna Poke Nachos with a side of Maple Glaze Syrup. They were yummy to the point we went back to this place three times. The place is called Earls and it’s a Vancouver foodie stalwart. I only knew of it because I follow a guy called Russ Hamilton on Twitter (location manager for the show Supernatural) and he doesn’t shut up about the place (pretty sure he has shares in it too he’s in there that often tweeting about it). Luckily Russ wasn’t talking out of his arse and Earls is good food, good service and good people. Tim definitely approved and given Tim’s impeccably high standards when it comes to food – well it’s met all our criteria 🙂


On the 21st my friend Morgan from New York came to stay with us, crashing on the couch in our apartment for two nights. I met Morgan at the Toronto Supernatural convention last year and we seemed to hit it off quite well and we met again on that same holiday when we went back to NYC and she got us in to see the exhibitions at the American Natural History Museum where she works in the anthropological research department there dealing with bones. We had talked about meeting up again in Vancouver for this convention and luckily I was able to convince her this would be a great idea and so she signed up for it. On our first day together we had to go check out the studios in Burnaby where our show is filmed. We dropped off some postcards to the crew wishing them all the best for a fantastic season 8 and then checked out the area to see if we could spot any filming going on. No such luck there. But still we got to see the place where it all happens. Quite surreal really – you see this 42 minute episode of television once a week when the season begins and get fully invested in the stories and the characters, suspend all disbelief whilst you escape reality for a while and then BAM! Here we are in the city, at the studios where they make all the magic happen.

After this trip out to Burnaby where we also spotted the Backlot – a set purely built for The Watchmen movie but now used by multiple shows in Vancouver, we took in a meal at Earls before heading home, we had to get up early the next day as we were part of a Supernatural Location Tour, which left on a bus in the morning from the Sheraton Wall Centre where the convention was being held.

This is a pretty swish hotel I must say. The view from the rooms was great, the beds super comfy, pillows oh so soft with enough of them for me to build a pillow fort. I love building pillow forts and feeling like royalty. I’m sure that’s what the Queen does you know. If I had her kind of money I would totally just sleep in a pillow fort all the time.

THE BUS! We called it the Russ Bus since Russ was the dude you see in the purple shirt at the front who was managing the tour.

We’re on a bus! We’re on a bus! We’re on a M@#$%^*G Bus! From left to right – Nicole from Calgary (who we’re gonna meet up with again in a few days because that right there is the magic of Supernatural Conventions), Morgan from NYC, some blonde chick being cliched and Jules! Jules is from Melbourne and she is the guru of the Superwiki. The Supernatural TV Show has a Wiki and this lady is like the mothership of such Wiki. It is indeed one of the most comprehensive fan run and owned websites ever made about a TV show.

Group photo of tour attendees (minus me taking the photo). This tree is SIGNIFICANT Y’ALL. Look it was used here:

Well not in this shot – but in this episode, directed by Kim Manners (RIP). It was in Season 1 around Episode 5 I think. Called Scarecrow and about these villagers who liked to sacrifice unsuspecting victims to appease the pagan gods so they could have their orchards thrive and their apple pie be freaking worth it.

We spent all day on the bus being driven around to different locations where they film many of the show’s scenes. Definitely a fan-made tour for sure. It was neat though to see the actual places where we recognised scenes from the show as having been set in. The Art Department does amazing things to dress these locations to make sure we all believe that the stories we watch totally take place in America. The Vancouver area is amazingly versatile in terms of providing production companies with lots of choice.

So that was Thursday. Friday the actual con started up with the actors on stage doing Q&A sessions and then signing autographs and doing photo ops. I decided at the last minute, after watching and listening to her panel that I would definitely get a photo with Kim who has been back on for about four episodes now as Sheriff Jody Mills. She’s unique in that she’s a female character who is still living and is not an evil demon. This is a rare creature in the show.


I was just going to go for the whole let’s be cool stand side by side and smile at the camera but Kim had other ideas 😉 Apparently I’m some long lost friend she’s thrilled to see and she just threw her arms round me and gave me a huge hug. Totally cracked me up. She is one classy lady who has actually added this humble blog here that I write to her own blog roll here at: rhodesideattractions.vuxe.com If you get a chance read her blog – very little is to do with her job and it is VERY entertaining for the most part.

Later that day we saw another panel – Mr Julian Richings who plays Death came along and answered lots of questions.
He apparently got right into the Karaoke night and jumped around on stage singing Rebel Rebel. He certainly had Moves Like Jagger. Mick eat your heart out.


He was a very jovial sort of Death.
As opposed to Death on Show – who was rather menacing.
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Following this panel from Death we thought it only fitting to go to Hell’s Pizza for dinner. Great pizza place on Davie street in the heart of the LGBT district.


We are all sitting round waiting for our order of pizzas when this young bloke comes in. Gives the room a cursory glance but then does a closer look. We’re all chatting loudly and he’s like – are you guys all here for the Supernatural Con? YES came the chorus. Oh cool I worked on that show for three seasons. Instantly he was the most popular guy in the place, offers to buy him pizza and drinks all worked and he sat and chatted to us a long while.
He is now followed on Twitter by us all and we hope to get some inside info out of him soon! If you look closely at the photo below you’ll see Morgan in the glasses at the back giving the thumbs up. Underneath that is about one third of my face! I was there honest!

The next day was more panels and autographs and photo ops. No photos for me today but as I was in front row for the panels I got to take some photos. Jim Beaver on the left and Misha Collins on the right – Bobby Singer and Castiel in the show.

Later that evening was the cocktail party. Apparently there was a table centrepiece competition. Jules had spent four minutes at an airport so she bought an inflatable kangaroo, We tried to make it Supernaturally related by having demon Koala minions surrounding the bottom of the pagan flesh eating yowie/bunyip thing.


It drew a lot of comments and attention especially when the souvenir kangaroo scrotum bottom opener was placed in the anatomically correct position but alas it did not win.


Jules did manage to score a CREATION tee shirt (organisers of the Con) which we promptly defaced. Then Misha came over to the table and started dismembering the kangaroo – sadly he deflated it. But he signed the shirt as “Kangaroo Killer” We all got into bed by around 2am by the time the drinking and shenanigans were over.

Then it was time for J day as they say, the two main stars of the show – Jared Padalecki (aka Sam Winchester) and Jensen Ackles (aka Dean Winchester) were here for breakfast, photos, panels and autographs. This is where my Nikon got a full work out and my left shoulder blade muscle turned numb from holding a big ass lens all day.

The day was GREAT, I had a ball not just because of the guests who attended but also because of the friends I made, friends I renewed acquaintances with and the general non stop Supernatural talk all day. My face was hurting by the end because that was just how much I was smiling all day. People will knock these sorts of things without having attended them, saying they are a waste of money or whatever but you know, you can’t make that call until you actually have attended a con and had that common passion for a story and shared that experience with lots of others who enjoy that same story. Because it was in Vancouver much of the crew from the set came and made an appearance and it was great to chat to the producers, the assistant directors, the wardrobe department, the locations crew, the art department, all the people that work together throughout the year to bring us the show. It’s a very rare relationship in television where these people can interact directly with the people who are fans of their work and talk about it like that. All in all it was definitely a highlight of this holiday for me.

The next day there was no rest for the wicked. Which brings us to the Monday just gone. We said a good bye to Morgan, we’ll be seeing her at Christmas when we get to NY (plus a number of other fellow friends fans scattered around the US) and checked out of the Sheraton. We then picked up our RV after a taxi and ferry ride. I took a phone pic of the ferry before it left. It’s all very dark now I realise. But I assure you all that is the front of the boat.

On the boat was a tiny arcade which had this EPIC CHILDHOOD NOSTALGIA game. I LOVE Galaga. Was so chuffed when it was used in the Avengers to make a great line for Tony Stark.

We picked up our RV at the jetty from Happy Holidays and then got back on the ferry. First time I have ever driven an RV onto a ferry. Was in the van towing a caravan on the euro chunnel train this year. And now I’ve driven an RV onto a boat. Cross that off the list then!

The RV park we stayed in on Monday night was called the Holiday Motel in a place called Hope. FANTASTICALLY fast Wifi connection but weird signs in the toilet.

I confess. I put toilet paper in the toilet. Now I’m not one to be a rebel normally but in the interests of some semblance of sanitary hygienic practices I revolted against this sign. Which I figure in the end is better than just being revolted. Which is where this sign leads.

We moved on the next day and made it to Salmon Arm and last night’s RV Park was called ViewPoint. Great shower facilities, lousy power. Well I mean it cut out after a bit of rain so not even lousy. Just non existent for a few hours, it was pitch black outside. Tim and I played Rummy with cards. Desperate measures and all that. I practically ran my laptop battery to death. We were even contemplating going to bed EARLY. Luckily it came back on and everything got charged. I’m such a child of technology. I can’t even recall Before Google (BG) times anymore.

So today we have landed in Golden. Prior to that though we stopped in and saw the Wolves at the Northern Lights Wolf Wildlife Centre. Did you know that Alberta actually pays people $300 if they bring in a dead wolf? There is NO ban on hunting them. They can be hunted all year round in some territories. A hunter can just wipe out a whole pack and be reimbursed for it. I actually knew that wolves could be hunted but I really thought there were some sort of restrictions in place, like only a limited number and only for certain times of the year. They are now apparently STERILISING wolves and sticking them back in the wild after 24 hours. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Wolf weakened from anaesthetic and surgery, now stinking of humans being thrown back in with their pack. Okay maybe not thrown, that was a little sensational license there but still it’s bad enough. I was honestly shocked and then depressed to hear how retrogressive Canada is when it comes to wildlife management. I would have thought the Yellowstone debacle would have shown how the entire ecosystem is shot to all hell once you remove one of the keystone species. There are definitely some massive misconceptions out there in the world to do with Canada and Wildlife. So I signed a petition up there, I’m putting it here on my blog. But awareness needs to be raised. Humans can still have their money, their oil, their gas and keep the environment and the animals that live in it in a sustainable balance. It’s just got to be worked on. Here have some wolf pictures I took today:

If you want to know more or even Adopt A Wolf you can check out the website here:
Northern Lights Wildlife Centre.

And this is where we are tonight, Happy Campers RV in Golden. Why are we happy? Well for one thing it’s so serenely quiet out here, we feel like we’re in nature…and yet here I am blogging away using the RV Park’s Wifi Connection. Seriously this is like a little man made mother nature combined miracle right here. They can go together after all. We are using technology to raise awareness of the need to look after Mother Nature and all her creatures. This relationship could practically be symbiotic in importance one day.

Tomorrow we head to JASPER! Where we’ll need the long johns out since it’s in the minus degrees in the evenings apparently. Ooooh we might experience cold in Canada. I’m always one for the authentic experience. Then onto Banff and visiting friends in Calgary. Which friends? Oh just a new one I made the Con. 😉 Her name is Nicole so I trusted her right off the bat – little sisters have ensured this.

PS I forgot to mention. One of the ladies at the Con I met is a teacher from Australia. Doing a year long teacher exchange in Alberta. She’s from over East and teaches primary school. She told me that you get paid your AUSTRALIAN salary even when you teach in Canada AND they actually teach 9 less days than the Aussie teachers do. This is news to me. I’d always thought about it and then knocked it back thinking I’d have to take a pay cut. But it seems I don’t. But then I thought about my job – and realised they would definitely have to match school and clientele types. I don’t see the private school 8th grade teacher in a very well to do suburb being able to cope in my 8th grade classroom back home. But still I bet schools like mine exist in Canada. Maybe even Vancouver. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Now I just have to find a job for Tim and make sure the dogs can come with!