Tuesday, November 15, 2022

NASA Worldview

Here's another mapping tool that's pretty neat to play with. I use it for monitoring ice out/freeze up conditions, checking out forest fires, and more. 

EOSDIS Worldview (nasa.gov)

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Toporama Maps

I keep forgetting where to find this, so I might as well make a blog post so that you and I can both find it.

The Government of Canada's Toporama mapping site is a handy resource for trip planning. It lets you view the topographic maps for anywhere in Canada. https://atlas.gc.ca/toporama/en/index.html

This link should take you right to the Weaver River, for example: Weaver River Map (Forbes Lake to Weaver Lake section)

You can select and print off your map areas, which is nice. There are also measurement tools. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

We're all saying it wrong...

Friday, August 21, 2020

Restaurant Patios of Saskatoon

 After commenting on a Twitter post that featured the ice cream shops of Saskatoon I was spurred to create a similar map of the restaurant patios & decks of Saskatoon. 

Note the link was wrong in that first tweet, the real link to the ice cream map is here

I'm more interested in beer & a burger on a patio and I can never think of where to go on those rare occasions when my wife and I want to head out to eat. Summer is beautiful and should be spent outdoors as much as possible, so we definitely prefer patios. Plus with the whole COVID-19 thing going on, we'd prefer not to hang out in a crowded restaurant when we could be hanging out on the patio. So, here's my map of where to get some food and drinks outside in Saskatoon! 

Let me know if I've missed any and whenever new ones are added I'll try to keep it updated. 

Now, get out there and enjoy supper or a beer on a great restaurant patio after going for a paddle on the South Saskatchewan River. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

River Safety Day

Last year I participated in River Safety Day, spearheaded by the folks behind the Prairie Lily and Inland Marine Technologies. I attended a few of the planning meetings and got to spend some time that afternoon playing in and on the water doing some rescue demos. It was a great day on the water, even if my capsize was a bit contrived. They created the following clip to promote this year's event.

Last year I took part in the River Safety Day that was spearheaded by the folks behind the Prairie Lily and Inland Marine Technologies. It was a great day to play in and on the water, even if my capsize was rather contrived.

A post shared by Saskatoon River Safety (@riversafetyyxe) on

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February Paddling

I got out for a paddle this morning since it was quite warm and I didn't need to be at work. It ended up being a short paddle (~45 minutes) since the wind came up pretty strong, but it was good to be out on the water. It was a really nice start with no wind at all. Later when the wind came up I was enjoying the challenge and the waves, but being out on the water alone in 0°C weather with strong gusting winds removed the margin of safety that I want to keep at all times when I paddle.

PalYbro, an acquaintance on Twitter, spotted me while he was biking down the Broadway bridge and posted this short video clip: (Follow the link to see the tweet & the video since embedding here doesn't seem to be working.)

Here are a few photos and a short video from my outing.
Dead calm on the water before I set off. (Glad to see the newly applied Princess Auto reflective decal is doing such a good job of reflecting the camera flash. The decals are applied to both sides of both blades, vertical on the power face, horizontal on the backside.)

Ready to seal launch. Unfortunately, someone's been doing too good of a job of clearing the snow and sanding the boat launch. That made for a less than smooth slide down onto the water. 

Getting closer to the point where I turned around. The wind is coming up a bit, but is still fairly mild. Plus, it was a tail wind. 

On my way back to the start. Snow pelting me giving a nice snowy look to the event. 

Things were starting to get pretty fun. The wind came up quite a bit more than you can see from the photo, but I was busy paddling, not taking pictures with my phone. :)

Now I'm off to Victoria in a few days for a family vacation and I intend to do some paddling while there. I'll be packing my drysuit for sure! 

By the way, this paddle amounts to at least 16 months of paddling at least once a month, all in Saskatchewan. Assuming that I get out again in March, this will be the 2nd winter in a row where I paddled outdoors at least once a month all winter. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Here is a recipe that I've made a couple of times for trips and it's worked really well. Be careful not to overdo the quantities. Although I've seen it elsewhere (can't recall where), it has been posted by "Tripper" on the MyCCR.com forums. I'm putting it here so that I can find it again more easily the net time I'm looking for it. I'm making it today, getting ready for net week's Reindeer Lake kayak trip.


My modifications will include using a powdered tomato sauce purchased from Thrive Life (I highly recommend their freeze-dried and dehydrated products for camping foods) and using minute rice.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 - small head of coarsely cut cabbage (dehydrated)
  • 2 - large cans of tomato sauce (dehydrated and ground into powder)
  • 1 - can diced tomatoes (dehydrated)
  • 1 - pound lean cooked ground beef (dehydrated)
  • 1 - package of Uncle Ben's precooked heat and serve rice
  • 1/3 cup - dried onion flakes
  • Some - salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika

When drying the cabbage, fill the trays up! The trays should be overfilled. Cabbage dries really well and you'll end up with next to nothing after it dries. You should end up with one medium freezer bag of dried cabbage for every single head of cabbage dried.

Layer the cabbage on each tray very thickly. One head will fit in a four tray dehydrator and look very overfilled as the trays will not nest properly if at all. Trust me, it will not look that way the next day after it dries. Cabbage dries down really small.

Dry the tomato sauce as leathers and grind them into powder using a blender or other similar device. Turning it into powder speeds up the re-hydration process. Store the powder in it's own bag.

How to Cook

Rehydrate the cabbage, diced tomatoes, ground beef and onion flakes in a single pot with warm water.

After about four hours or soaking bring the mixture to a boil to cook the cabbage. Cook until the cabbage is heated well but not cooked to the point of being soggy. El Dante is best.

Drain the water off into a separate pot leaving enough water equal to half the height of the mixture in the pot.

Stir in the tomato sauce powder a bit at a time. As the sauce thickens, slowly add in small amounts of the drained water as needed while adding the tomato powder until you get the desired consistency. Always add water sparingly. It's easier to add a bit of water than it is to boil it off.

Then add in the the package of rice, some salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to taste.

Gently heat for another 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The List: International Version

The following is something that's been languishing in my drafts folder for years. I's not doing any good there, so I might as well publish it as is, even if I haven't quite finished it or polished it.

Some time ago I published a list of places I want to paddle. I am definitely Canadian-centric and all but one of the destinations picked for that list are located here in Canada. However, my dreaming of paddling goes beyond our borders and I was reminded of this when a Norwegian paddler (and moose hair researcher) visited our lab a while ago. So, in honour of Knut, here is my international wish list of paddling, again in no particular order.

  1. The Fjords of Norway. The west coast of Norway looks simply stunning and I would love the opportunity to paddle there. Perhaps we can travel to Norway under the guise of visiting my wife's Norwegian relatives. 
  2. St. Kilda. These remote Scottish islands are the featured location of the stunning video Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown, An Instructional Journey Around the Spectacular Islands of St Kilda. What can I say? The subtitle doesn't lie. 
  3. New Zealand. Rugged fjords, mountains, wildlife. 
  4. Australia. Home of kayaking greats like Fat Paddler & Gnarlydog, the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania and so much more. I should really break this out into 5 or more individual items on this list.  
  5. Cape Horn, Chile. Way beyond my skillset, but man the southern tip of South America looks awesome with a coastal environment that's just about as rough as it gets. Those fjords and islands looks so inviting, in a harsh way. 
  6. San Francisco, California. Golden Gate Bridge, my buddy Cam (nearby in Sacramento), and a hotbed for California sea kayak activity. 
  7. Homer, Kenai Fjords, Kodiak, etc., Alaska. Lots of potential destinations, all of them pretty awesome. To be inspired, have a look at the video I shared a some time ago here
  8. Iceland. Hmmm, maybe remote fjords are a theme here?
  9. Isle of Man. Another branch of my wife's family is Manx and it looks like this "self-governing British Crown Dependency" would be pretty cool to circumnavigate.
  10. Belize. Since this made the first version of the list, I better keep it on the international version. Jimmy's pictures still look pretty cool. 
  11. Baja. A winter feeding ground for grey whales and abundant sea life. Sounds good to me.

Freya Hoffmeister - North American Circumnavigation

Freya is doing it again - she has set out on yet another circumnavigation and this time she has her eyes set on North America. She set out from Seattle on March 23rd, 2017 heading northward. She plans to do the circumnavigation in a a couple of legs, the first of which has her heading toward the arctic in a clockwise direction around North America.

I've been reading along as she posts to her blog and it's created some very enjoyable reading - I love living vicariously through adventurers like Freya. You can read her blog here: http://freyahoffmeister.com/posts/

As I write this, she is approaching the northern tip of Vancouver Island (Day 23). I decided to create a map showing her progress because, well, I like maps. :)

~ UPDATE: Freya has uploaded her track so far, and it seems to be updating with the camping locations as she goes, rendering my map above both inferior and redundant. :) Check out her version here: https://fusiontables.googleusercontent.com/embedviz?q=select+col2+from+1h2vMAo6H1yO7eRDeXfdFP1uUnTDOL06MUeAtDUws&viz=MAP&h=false&lat=63.6722663543392&lng=-114.11640625000001&t=3&z=4&l=col2&y=3&tmplt=4&hml=KM

Early in her trip she crossed over from Port Townsend, WA, to Victoria, BC. I was surprised with how easily she tosses off a crossing like that.

Open this map full screen.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Go Vote!

Here is a post I made earlier this morning on facebook expressing my opinion regarding the current political party leading and shaping the Canadian government.

I have a strong negative opinion about the current governing political party. Here are a few of my top reasons:
  • Gutting of the sciences (AAFC, NRC, EC, etc.) and muzzling scientists is high on my list.
  • Lack of environmental stewardship and leadership.
  • Cronyism and corruption.
  • Turning our prisons and treatment centres into warehouses of criminals and diminishing treatment.
  • Removal of the Navigable Waters Protection Act (in a budget bill, no less).
  • Cuts to Parks Canada.
  • The treatment of anyone who expresses environmental concern as a terrorist.
  • Abuse of our parliamentary system, from proroguing Parliament to giant omnibus bills.
  • A general refusal to speak with or answer to the media, a media that is a venue for communication with the people who Harper is supposed to answer to, us.
  • The general degradation of what I love about being Canadian, I feel this country has become more mean spirited and taken a general turn for the worse over the last decade.

I have a strong negative opinion about the current governing political party. Here are a few of my top reasons:...
Posted by Bryan Sarauer on Thursday, 8 October 2015

Regardless of whether you agree with me or disagree, please 
vote on October 19th. Your vote matters!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vinessa Currie, One Helluva Woman

A good friend of mine died on Friday night. She was driving to Saskatoon with her family to take part in the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium the next day. Vinessa was a founding member of the Common Currents Paddling Association and part of our small organizing committee. The following is an extended version of what I wrote for the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium website.  

Vinessa speaking at the 2014 Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium that she instigated. Here she displays her ever-present smile in one of it's more subdued forms.  

Passion. Vitality. Energy. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Laughter. Rather busy at times. But above all, passion. These are some of the words and phrases that come to mind as we remember Vinessa Currie-Foster.

On Friday, April 24th, 2015, the night before the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium, Vinessa was en route to Saskatoon for the symposium with her young family. Tragically, she never made it to her destination and the paddling world, her family, friends, and all who knew her, are left to mourn her passing. Vinessa’s death hung heavy over our hearts throughout the symposium, yet she would have loved to see so many people together, celebrating paddling, and being brought closer as a paddling community, reaching out to embrace new members in that community.

Without Vinessa, there likely would not be a Common Currents Paddling Association or a Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium. It was her bright vision which lit the spark that brought the 2014 Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium into being, and it was the success of that initial event that brought Vinessa and the rest of us together in its wake to create the Common Currents Paddling Association as a vessel to continue to bring the paddling community together. This was just one of her pursuits. She was also involved in Nature Saskatchewan (Education Director), Canoe Kayak Saskatchewan (Vice President), Leave No Trace Canada (Master Educator course provider), Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association, Tourism Saskatchewan, Canada Nature Escapes and more, not to mention running Clearwater Canoeing full time.

Just 35 years old, Vinessa was a force to be reckoned with. She was passionate about paddling, the north, wilderness, Saskatchewan, history, and passionate about her family. Not only was Vinessa a rising pillar in the paddling and tourism community, she was also a mother, wife, friend and sister. She will have a legacy in the people she has inspired to do great things, and her legacy will be reflected through her children and family. Those of us who have met her twin boys know that they, too, have a fair share of their mother’s energy.

Over $3800 plus the donation of a canoe was raised during the paddling symposium, money that will go to helping Vinessa’s family in the aftermath of her death. If you wish to contribute to helping her family, there is a GoFundMe campaign started http://www.gofundme.com/syv7tc and there is a trust account in memory of Vinessa set up at the CIBC in Maidstone, donations to that account can be made at any CIBC branch with the transit/account #00378/72-70933.

We also hope to be able to create something in Vinessa’s memory that will endure for the long term, but what shape that takes has yet to be determined. If this is something you wish to contribute towards through ideas, work or a donation, please contact us at info@saskpaddlingsymposium.com.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium, April 25th

Hi folks, the Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium is less than three weeks away! April 25th is going to come very, very fast. But, everything IS coming together very nicely, albeit a tad hectically. I am super excited.

Check it out at www.saskpaddlingsymposium.com and see you on April 25th!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Pogies vs. Gloves for Coldwater Paddling

I've had some discussion (argument) recently with a knowledgeable fellow about wearing pogies versus gloves while cold-water paddling. The other fellow dismissed pogies as not adequate and argued that gloves are better because they keep your hands warm if you end up in the water, a valid point. Pogies are attached to the paddle shaft and if I swim, I'll have to take my hands out to perform the rescue and now have bare hands. The argument goes that you should always have something on your hands. 

Here's the thing, for me at least, gloves don't work. I have thick neoprene gloves and I'd much rather wear the pogies (mine are NRS Mambas). In the gloves, my hands get wet and cold. Once cold they will stay cold. Further, have you ever tried to do anything wearing thick neoprene gloves? It's hard. Grabbing deck lines is hard. Performing any sort of task is difficult, even when the hands are warm. Once you have cold hands in cold neoprene, they become practically useless for hanging onto anything smaller than a paddle shaft. 

By contrast the pogies act like a good set of warm mitts. My hands are toasty warm even when wet. I can pull the pogies off, perform some task with bare hands, and get them back in the pogies fairly quickly to re-warm or perhaps before they get cold. And my hands do re-warm in the pogies. In a rescue situation I now start out with warm dexterous hands, can get myself back in the kayak with a minimum of trouble, and get my hands back on the paddle shaft and back into the pogies. Gloves slow my rescues and keep me in the water longer. 

For me & my large hands, pogies + thin gloves does not work well since my pogies fit snug enough to make getting them on with gloves tough - and they do need to fit properly. However this may be a good option for some people. 

I should note that I do bring gloves with me when I cold-water paddle, and I keep them accessible. 

Whatever you do there is one major point that I would like to make - MAKE SURE IT WORKS FOR YOU. Try different combinations. Practice your rescues in the conditions you paddle. It's one thing to conclude that something works, but you have to ensure it still works when the sh!t hits the fan. Go for a swim then make sure you can still use your hands.

Going for an icy swim close to shore is a good way to verify that your clothing system actually works, without getting in over your head. If it passes this test with a few minutes in the water, move on to rescues to ensure that you can still help yourself. 

I enjoy paddling in conditions that many call "crazy", but I won't do it with the deck stacked against me. I paddle what might be considered dangerous conditions, in a very safe manner. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Paddle - And a Visit From The Water Rescue Team

I finally managed to take advantage of the warm weather and get out for a paddle on the South Saskatchewan River yesterday afternoon. The air temperature was a high of 11°C (cooler on the water I expect) and there was a fair south breeze as a headwind for the first half of the distance I paddled. The water was ice cold, literally since I was paddling among chunks of ice. Most of the river was ice-free (excepting many small bits and occasional larger chunks) in the section that I paddled since the weir breaks up the ice.

View upriver shortly after launching.

As I set out, I was passed on the river by a fellow in a kayak (Dagger Alchemy 14) wearing only a tank top & combat pants - no PFD, no wet suit, no protection from the water of any sort. He had launched a few hundred metres farther downriver from me. I launched at the north end of the city and paddled upriver towards the weir.

Fellow paddler visible along the on-shore ice across the river. 

View upriver while underway.

It is still March, after all.

As I approached the area downriver of the railroad bridge and the weir, there were suddenly a huge number of sirens all around. I was across the river and noticed firetrucks at the weir on the west side, then driving slowly along the road on that side of the river (Spadina). I paddled across to see what the fuss was and was hailed by fire-folk in drysuits. They told me they had a report of a kayaker in the water in distress and asked if I'd seen a blue-green kayak or paddler - someone spotted something as they were driving over a bridge and called 911.

The only person I'd seen was the fellow who went past me in the blue kayak - but he was still in his kayak since I could see him just upriver a couple hundred meters from me. They launched their water-rescue boat just upriver from where I was and roared off downriver to look for the person in distress. Meanwhile I hailed the other paddler and asked if he'd seen anyone else in or on the water (he hadn't). We then paddled together back toward the place I had launched, and I also gently advised him on more appropriate paddling attire. I told him that if nothing else please wear a PFD to make the body recovery much easier for the rescue folks. As we paddled back the rescue team pulled up on their return upriver to again ask us if we'd "seen any bodies". We hadn't.

My theory is that someone saw a floating chunk of ice in the river which could have had a blue-green look and could have been kayak shaped. Maybe they linked that with the fellow in the blue kayak and thought that he ended up in the water. It's not a very good theory, but I'm not sure what else might have happened.

At the end of my paddle I did a roll and even went for a swim. I can confirm that the water is very cold, and the drysuit works very well. Drysuits cost a fair bit, but they are a great investment in comfort and safety. A used or clearance drysuit can be a great way to greatly enhance your safety on the water and to extend your safe paddling season.

Nice day for a swim, as long as you are wearing a drysuit and plenty of insulating layers. 
By the way, here is what I wore for my paddle. I was warm above the water (not hot) and comfortable in the water for several minutes.

Here is a Google Earth estimation of my paddle. 6.5 km paddled. The weir is marked at the south end (bottom) of the image. You can see where I looped back to chat with the firefighters hailing me from shore, and where I paddled back to join up with the fellow in the blue kayak.

Fairly approximate representation of my paddle path. The blue dots represent the very approximate path of the fellow in the blue kayak. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium

I am on the organizing committee for the second annual Saskatchewan Paddling Symposium happening on April 25th in Saskatoon at Prairieland Park. . It's shaping up to be a great event with some great presentations, demos and speakers lined up. I happen to be in charge of booking the exhibitors so if you want to show support for the Saskatchewan paddling community and show of your wares, let me know!

p.s. That's my daughter on the poster for this year's event. :)