Hazy Days

When I look out my window I swear I’ve time travelled back to my youth in Southern California. The time of the hot Santa Anna winds and the orange tinged choked sky from the burning Laguna canyon that would hang over us for days. The time of fuming freeways yellowing the horizon. News channel says our Vancouver air quality this last week is worse than Beijing. My eyes are burning.

When the sun rises it rises as a red orb. When high noon a pale yellow smudge. When it sets it’s a red orb again. The sunshine coast across the Salish sea has disappeared, along with the other gulf islands out there. Even the trees down the road seem as though they stand behind a gauzy curtain.

The Province has been and still is on fire. Again. Last year it was the same scenario, except Vancouver Island was also among the stricken. This year we’ve been spared- so far. There have been a couple of tiny fires along the highways grassy  meridians that were extinguished before they got out of hand, leaving large black swaths in their wake, and you know full well that was caused by an idiots tossed cigarette.

My heart goes out to the thousands evacuated knowing they will be losing their possessions to the flames. And I can imagine the jubilant relief of those that were allowed back to their intact homes when danger passed. Like the guy from Williams Lake who was so happy to return home from an evacuation that he got drunk and shot off fireworks.

People.

Summer Time and the Living is Busy- and Fun

The crashing aftermath of an empty, quiet house since our July company departed resonates with a small shush. Bob and I reclaim our space like water spreading back into cracks and crevices. A tiny empty nest sensation pervades, but more the satisfaction of time well spent with these family members from Ontario over the last twenty days. Ten days with my brother-in-law Dan, then a three day turn around before my step daughter Crystal and her cousin Melanie arrived for ten days. We packed on the kilometres showing all of them our beautiful west coast island home.

We covered as much as we could cram in to make their trip memorable, driving out to Long Beach on the Pacific Rim, walking across the Kinsol Trestle,in Shawnigan, Sail boating on our little Auklet, backyard BBQ’s. We did Alpine walks in Paradise Meadows at Mount Washington along with a ride up that mountain on the ski lift. We swam in the Nanaimo river, took in the Sand Sculptures in Parksville, and the weekend blast of our cities Bathtub Race. We took them on the tiny Mill Bay ferry over to Buchart’s Garden in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula and a tour through the capital city Victoria.

Ah, Victoria yes, walking the historic downtown with Bob and his brother Dan, pointing out the architecture, when what I thought was a gush of water from an overhead flower box -Victoria is known for its flowers-was in fact the faecal bombing of a passing seagull. Oh yes, the splat landing square on top of my head. Feel the seeping into the hair if you will. In all my years living along the ocean with  seagulls wheeling overhead have I ever had such a magnificent soaking. This prompted an immediate return to our motel, driving with all windows down because the high piercing reek of rotten fish permeating the car, and a jump into the shower.

I handled it well. Laughed, didn’t lose my cool. I took it as an omen of good fortune. Ya. (wait it has to be a bald eagle I think…)

Then there was the exhilarating drive following the dictates of our Google Maps when searching for the quickest route back from the Saanich Peninsula to Mill Bay, rather than taking the tiny ferry back across  the inlet or driving back through Victoria and over the Malahat. Google guided us around Mount Finlayson on its thin roads with hairpin turns until at last depositing us down into Goldstream Provincial Park . Close enough.

We were good hosts and ambassadors to our guests and had a ton of fun being tourists ourselves in our own backyard.  Bob and I promising ourselves  we need to continue exploring this big island for ourselves instead of waiting for company to come.

Signage at the top of Mt. Washington, a Whiskey Jack on top of top of the world. These birds are ridiculously, fearlessly social. Put a hand out and they will land on it. Have food in your hand and they are your new best friend.

 

The view dropping over the edge of the top of Mt Washington riding the ski lift.

 

The reaction of a flat lander when the earth drops from under you on the way down from the top of Mt. Washington. It’s OK she was fine the rest of the way.

 

Day at the Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan.

 

Choosing a route at Paradise Meadows in the Sub-Alpine.

 

Open Meadows of the sub- alpine.

 

The Buchart’s Gardens, well a small section of it. It’s huge, took 31/2 hours to walk its entirety.

 

Swimming in our local river, a first ever river swim for our guests. It was splendid.

 

A must-stop at Ellis River en route to Tofino and Long Beach.

 

Long Beach at sunset. A young woman heading for the surf. One day by gum I’m gonna do that.

 

Dan at Long Beach, contemplating leaving Ontario winters and moving West perhaps.

 

One of several Sand Sculptures at Parksville.

 

Our famous, and this year most treacherous in sixty years due to extreme conditions, Nanaimo Bathtub Race!

 

Warrants two photo spots in my blog. Bone crushing for both tubber and their escort boat. 33 tubs entered and only 4 finished. Last one taking 5 hours to come in. Thanks to a local -unknown to me- photographer for these shots I pulled from our little island community fb page.

 

Another day closed, but we head into town for some music from my sons new band playing at a local pocket cocktail bar called The Nanaimo Bar with Crystal and Melanie ~

 

Prince George to Vancouver

Ok, it’s catch up time. I want to share the journey from Prince George to Vancouver, which happened over a week ago-

Ok, Prince George, Fort George, named after King George, was a fur trading settlement, now it has three pulp mills. Air quality is an issue, although the two times I’ve been there the air was clear. Its one magnificence may be that it is situated where the Nechako River meets the mighty Fraser River and there are some excellent sites of the rivers in easy access from town. We were only there for two days and I got out for a drive up the hill to the University to get some good sites of the lay out of the city, and managed to get a few good photographs. You can see one of the mills in the distance. But look how clear the air is! Then I spent the afternoon down at Cottonwood Park and the Nechako where gorgeous walking trails follow the banks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving P.G we (husband Bob) decided to take the Duffey Lake Road to Squamish, a far superior scenic drive that follows a small river and past Seton Lake with great camping all along the way. The photographs that follow are taken along the Duffey and into Squamish, then ending in Vancouver. We stopped and stayed a night in Vancouver to see our son and his band play at the yacht club to promote their new EP, then caught the B.C. Ferry home the next morning. Even the ferry home is like a mini cruise, and seeing my little island rise up as we close in on Departure Bay is always a warm welcome. I love where I live!

Foothills near Lilloet B.C.

 

Lilloet B.C. on the Fraser River

 

Seton Lake

 

Last years land slide on the Duffey Road.

 

The old Chief Mountain in Squamish B.C.

 

Kite surfing in Squamish B.C.
Vancouver False Creek, Granville Island (which isn’t really an island) from the Granville Street bridge

 

 

Granville Island Vancouver, from the Granville Street bridge

 

English Bay from the Granville Street Bridge, Vancouver, B.C.

 

Ferry Home

Then there’s Hope

I left with Bob on the 12:30 Ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, and driving through the lower mainland of Vancouver on Hwy 1 we headed for Hope. One of the little but not so insignificant considerations of driving the Hwy 1 or Trans- Canada from Horseshoe Bay through the city and beyond is the absence of any- nil, zero -traffic lights all the way for 170 km. It’s a smooth long flow right on through to Chilliwack, Abbotsford and on to Hope. Actually, to the opposite end of the country if you kept on going, the Trans-Can is one of the longest uninterrupted highways in the world.

Bob has a few days of work in Prince George and I’m taking the opportunity to go along for the mini tour. Again, fun for me, poor Bob has made this trek countless times over thirty-five years of working Pulp Mill Shut-Downs, saying he knows every stump and stone all along the way. I contemplated testing him. Naw, I’ll take his word.

Ok, so back to Hope. This is the first and only stop over on the little leg of our journey on our way  to Prince George, the second largest city in B.C. in the centre of British Columbia and a good 7 1/2 hour drive from Hope. In his robust younger days Bob would do the drive from Vancouver Island to P. G. in one go, but really that’s just madness, which makes me question exactly how many stumps and stones could one actually see driving like a dirt devil for twelve hours? (Total of 15 hours when you include waiting for the ferry and riding the ferry before even starting the drive!)

Ferry travel- another post.

Hope, the location where Rambo: First Blood was filmed. Hope with its massive fir-tree covered mountains RIGHT THERE looming over you, which caused me to wonder if the town came by the name of Hope from pioneer gold miners murmuring a prayer, I HOPE THIS MOUNTAIN DOESN’T FALL ON MY HEAD. Probably not, but that’s what I would (no, I do) say.

Suffice it to say, I don’t enjoy dwelling too long in the crevices and tight canyons of towering rock. Foothills, distant rocky mountain ranges, oceans, meadows, wide valleys, deserts and prairie are more my element. Yes, the looming mountain presence of Hope is pervasive, but in the town its threat feels slightly benign, ok, maybe even spectacular. Impressive also is the Fraser River running through the town, one of the longest rivers in Canada, with humble beginnings in Northern B.C.’s Fraser Pass building and running down into Vancouver’s Delta and New Westminster region and into the Strait of Georgia on the Pacific.

We got a room at the Windsor right downtown for $100, on another previous overnight stay in Hope we stayed at the Skagit Motel down the street from the Windsor, which we liked better. But the Windsor is just fine. We went for a walk through the neighbourhood before having dinner at Wallace, good restaurant by the way.

10,000 years ago this region was the home of the Sto:lo first nations until 1782 when, like so many(maybe all) European contact tragedies, small pox wiped out over two-thirds of their populations within six weeks. Below is the Dream Totem. Life had to have been quite glorious and richly abundant here for the Sto:lo along this big waterway before European contact. Way to go white guy.

Hope also holds the oldest church on its original foundation in British Columbia, the Christ Church, consecrated in 1861. The cedar trees that surround the church are magnificently huge, in fact the downtown has kept many of the old growth occupants intact, flanking the pathways to houses or lining a bit of the street and through the small park in the town centre; acknowledging them as part of the residential population, a rightly place in the neighbourhood.

On a bit of ground to the side of the little church is a Labyrinth, which of course I had to walk.

Next morning we grabbed breakfast at the Blue Moose across the street from the Windsor and began the long drive to Prince George.

 

 

David and Goliath

We got out on our first little sail of the summer the other day, the winds were light but steady and the sun had finally burned away most of the clouds. We didn’t venture far, just around Snake Island four miles out due to the light air. We were kept company by a couple of these big fellas waiting at anchor to get into Vancouver’s port across the Strait.

They are a bane to some of the residents here, hearing the rumbling as they let out their chain rode to drop heavy anchors, complaining of their noisy generators running during the night, and their sometimes bright lights, especially if they anchor particularly close to our island, but I’m fascinated by their  scale, the engineering of their structure, and the historical connection they carry.

Moving cargo by sea is ancient, the world’s economy has hinged on floating vessels up and down great river and ocean systems for millennia. I don’t want to comment necessarily on the cargo they now transport other than to say besides the many loads of sneakers, import cars, stuff for the Wal-Mart’s, or raw log exports – lets face it we buy all this stuff, no right to judge what is necessary goods; there is perhaps much more that is down right dangerous like the diluted  toxic Bitumen that will be coming through the pipeline from the Alberta tar sand’s channeled through B.C.’s mountain range and pristine wilderness for freighter export out of Vancouver’s busy harbour.  Odds are certain this big red ship from Majuro will have such cargo.

It’s the paradox of human ingenuity, we can create incredible feats of engineering that by the same token can harm or destroy. The double edge sword that’s hidden in our many revered works. The Pyramids or the great wall of China can inspire and we marvel and congratulate our innovations, but the lives of thousands of slaves that severely toiled and perished seem to escape us.

And while these ships are striking to see up close, their tenuous journey out to the open pacific before first threading through our narrow passages and skirting our active gulf islands causes some amount of disdain.   But what can we do? We are hypocrites all.

 

 

 

Back home

I’ve been home for two weeks now after spending the month of May in Kimberley visiting my daughter while Bob was working in the area, and I’ve been so busy I haven’t put time aside to post. Upon our return we were greeted with a lawn of very tall grass, and because it was already the end of May we had to get busy buying seeds and vegetable starts and flowers, getting the vegetable gardens planted, putting flower baskets together, mowing and weeding.

We did have a little parcel we discovered in our hedge while weeding, a nest of twelve quail eggs. The mother must’ve been out feeding when we saw the pale and brown speckled eggs nestled in the tall grass. When I checked them the next day I thought they were gone, that a raccoon had gotten to them, but then I looked again I could then notice the excellent camouflage of the male parent spread out over the nest.

I also needed to get up to see my Mom for some serious breakout time; I take her out about three times a week, taking her for lunch, drives, and walks down at the beach front. Although my sister got her out on the weekends while I was away, mom was getting a bit of cabin fever being cloistered during the weeks.

Yesterday Bob and I worked hard in pulling up a massive bamboo type ground cover that had gotten away on us and was encroaching on the veg garden area, and today- I’m beat! Coupled with staying up too late last night to try to watch Saturday Night Live and then waking at 6 this morning, I can never sleep in no matter how late I go to bed! I feel like a wet rag today~

So after doing a bit of raking I’ve surrendered to the remainder of the day to give it a rest. Find a comfy spot in the sun maybe and read. I do need a trip to the library, having finished Paradise by Toni Morrison while in Kimberley, I’ll see what I can re-read from my own library ~