Sunday, July 29, 2018

Camping in a Forest by the Sea

Summer is all too short in Canada, and most Canadians try to make the most of it. This past weekend, we, along with our three children and their children packed up tents (one tent trailer), coolers filled with delicious food, folding chairs, and all the paraphernalia that goes along with camping and drove out to French Beach Provincial Campground, about an hour away. 

The eleven of us (8 adults and 3 children) had two sites and we set up our homes away from home, in the forest, before trekking down to the beach. The waves break upon the shore in constant rhythm, rushing forward to tumble stones upon the sand before falling back to build again. Mesmerizing. 

I snapped mostly beach treasures, with a few forest finds from our hike through trails overgrown with salal trails where it seems few others ventured.

We walked or sat on the beach, with piles of smooth stones that begged to be held and caressed, or built up into stone towers. A few made their way into pockets and carried home where they will be tossed into a pretty dish as a memento of a lovely time together. 

The beach is endlessly entertaining for the children. They climbed huge, uprooted logs that had been weathered by the sea before being tossed up onto shore. They imagined shelters, ships, and animals. 

It was much cooler there than in town and we could have done with a few more jackets. Fortunately, we all had enough blankets and bedding so we were warm at night. There were no mosquitoes or bugs to bother us, either. 

We spent two nights camping and enjoyed lots of laughter, good food, and some serious chats together. 

One very unexpected thing happened - I woke up very early on Saturday morning in agony. I'm fairly stoic, but this pain on my right side and back was worse than anything I can remember. After walking around the campsite for about 45 minutes (sitting or lying down was impossible), I finally woke Tim and asked him to drive me to the hospital, an hour away. It was a dreadful drive. Fortunately, the emergency department wasn't busy and I had a CT scan almost immediately - a kidney stone. It passed about 3 hours after the pain began, and I felt absolutely fine, so we went back to the campsite. 

Interestingly, the physician who attended me said that there were 3 other women in the ER at the same time, all of us with kidney stones on the right side. Weird! Have you ever had a kidney stone? 

Last night Tim and I went down to the beach to watch the sun set. Such loveliness. 

We came back into town around noon. The temperature difference is remarkable and a cool shower and loose clothing were most welcome. 

Do you like camping? What was your last camping trip like? 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sermons in Stones

Got your life jacket (aka personal flotation device, or PFD)? One of the best parts of a boating vacation is time to read. Long hours bobbing gently on the water, lost in another world, with periodic times of looking up to admire the scenery. 

I don't like to take library books on the boat for fear of loss, so I collect possible reading material for quite some time, from used book stores, friends, or the occasional new book. Here are some of the books I took along on this trip:

Britt Marie was Here (Fredrik Backman)
The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)
A Royal Pain (Rhys Bowen)
Totem Poles and Tea (Hugina Harold)
Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Susan Elia MacNeal)
The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Ruth Ware)
If You Want to Write (Brenda Ueland)
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (Phaedra Patrick)
I'll See You in Paris (Michelle Gable)

and a few more. Lighthearted, easy reading, for the most part. On vacation, I read about a book per day. Oh, how I anticipated the reading I would do on this vacation. I read 4 novels in the first 5 days. It was delightful. 

And then this happened....

I had been working in my sketch book, without my glasses, and decided I needed them. So I went to get them, and then tucked them into the front of my shirt to take a good look over the side of the boat (all sorts of interesting things float by), and quick as a wink, and almost as silently, my glasses slipped from my shirt into the water. We watched them disappear in about 2 seconds. 

Reader, I was sickened. A huge pit formed in my stomach. My expensive progressive lenses were now being worn by a fish. Or a crab. Or something else that simply would not appreciate them.

"It's not the end of the world," I told myself. At least I can still appreciate the scenery, sketch a little, and take photos. Tim felt almost as bad as I did and he expressed it well when he said, "For you, reading is like breathing." 

There was still another week of boating planned. What on earth would I do? 

I did a lot of thinking. And a lot of looking at the scenery. 

The Duke's words in Shakespeare's As You Like It came to me as I pondered life 

"And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything." 

The "sermons in stones" phrase was particularly meaningful as we chugged alongside immense stone cliffs rising like walls from the ocean floor. Such powerful forces created and continue to alter these formations, forces created by the Creator God. 

That pointy bit above looks as though it were ready to fall off and plunge downward. Sights of earlier landslides, 50, 100, 1000 years ago were everywhere.  The landscape is continually changing. I'm relieved it didn't fall while we were there. 

 Life clings to these rocks, finding hold in the smallest crevice. The continuous lap of waves, and the endless rising and falling tides shape the landscape, carving out deep fissures and smooth pools. 

The above photo is of Lacy Falls, now mostly dry. Fresh water in the Broughtons is tannic, or deeply stained by decaying vegetation in the forests. In turn, the water stains the stone. 

Some of these rocky islets resembled huge sleeping beasts, prone on the sea floor, their backs curving above the water level, with a heavy growth of barnacles below the high tide line. Doesn't the above photo remind you of vertebrae?

I didn't arrive at any exciting breakthrough in my thinking, and I actually got so desperate to read by the end that I did manage, in small bits, to read another novel. I chose the largest and clearest font and had very strained eyes by the end of it, but it was worth it. I can't imagine not being able to read, and I'm so, so thankful for my eyesight. 

As soon as we arrived where there was cell coverage, I called my eye clinic and made an appointment. The new glasses should be here next week. So it's been a week of not much reading at home, too. I do have a pair of very old lenses that help somewhat, but reading and computer work isn't very comfortable. 

Lesson learned - get a strap for my glasses on the boat.  

If you're still here I thought you might like to see my little galley. The shelf next to the water faucet folds down to create more space in the cabin. There's a sink, a two-burner propane stove, and a small oven. A few cupboards. On the other side of the doorway (the frame is just visible) is a chest freezer/fridge. For long trips we use it as a freezer, for meat, bread and making ice, and have a well-insulated cooler for a fridge. We change the ice daily and were able to keep milk fresh the entire time we were out.

We eat well. One day Tim caught a small halibut and cleaned it on shore while a mink watched him from behind a rock. The scraps were left for the mink and we enjoyed a delicious dinner of fresh halibut in Alfredo sauce (from a jar), sauteed zucchini, and cauliflower mash. We also have a small barbecue and cook much of our meat there. 

In the late afternoon, when the sun streams down, we might go for a little exploration in the dinghy and come back to a cold drink. I brought along a pot of fresh herbs - mint, basil, and parsley. A little mint, muddled with lime, with a bit of simple syrup, topped off with chilled club soda made a refreshing drink. 

I brought along a bag of frozen, raw, chocolate chip cookies and baked them one morning when we were waiting for the tide to change to enter a lagoon. What a treat to have with hot chocolate. 

Here's one last photo of rocks - with a bear! He was heading off into the trees after foraging on the rocky shore. 

Reading - is it like breathing for you, too?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Reversing Falls Tide Rapids - The Broughton Archipelago Part 2

We've been back from our boating adventure for 3 days now. I'm slowly going through the many photos I took - deleting the crooked ones, of which there are many. It's hard to take a straight photo from a boat that's going up and down and sometimes sideways. 

We enjoyed sensational weather. Morning clouds gave way to curved blue skies in the afternoon. Early in the day, the water was soft as silk and mirror clear. Winds came up in the afternoons, but by then we were usually tucked into a quiet anchorage and very comfortable.

The world is full of amazing things. Roaring Hole Rapids is the gateway to Nepah Lagoon. At slack tide, the rushing water seen above is flat as a mill pond and it's only then that small boats can enter the lagoon. The window for entering is about 10 minutes. Of course, once you enter, you have to stay until the next slack tide, about six hours. We didn't venture into this lagoon.

A short boat ride from Roaring Hole is another lagoon with reversing tide rapids - Overflow Basin. We anchored Solitude alongside the opening, and stern tied her to shore to avoid being pushed around too much with the current. The first photo in the collage was taken at slack tide and as the day wore on and the tide dropped, the falls became quite dramatic. The last photo was taken at lowest tide, the next morning after another rise and fall of the tide. You might notice that the big log seen in the first photos is gone in the last. It was dislodged by the tidal flow some time in the night.

One night we took the dinghy out for a short tour around another bay and saw a siege of Great Blue Herons. Isn't that a great collective noun? I think the herons felt a little besieged as we got closer, and took off in a flurry of blue. 

I hope to do a few more posts about our trip - there are the bears to show you, and some First Nations villages we visited. I might intersperse them with other posts, depending on how things go. 

This next week I get to do child care for two grands and am looking forward to that. It's supposed to be a very hot week. I've made fudgesicles, and Tim and I tested them this evening. I think they'll do. We'll be doing lots of water play, I think. 

Tim's back to work tomorrow, and it's also our 41st wedding anniversary. Where do those years go? 

Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

To the Wilderness and Home Again

Ready for an adventure? Tim and I arrived home last night after two weeks in the Broughton Archipelago. You've probably never heard of it, a cluster of islands situated between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It's remote, sparsely populated by humans, and it's wild and beautiful. 

We towed our 25 foot boat to Port McNeill and launched it one evening. Our first night was spent in the marina, and in the morning we set off to explore. Low clouds hung from the mountains, and even rose from the sea, as seen above. Anticipation mixed with mystery. 

As we chugged past Cormorant Island into Blackfish Sound, I noticed lots of small, almost tailless birds flying low and swift over the surface of the water. Hauling out my trusty bird identification book, we determined they were Rhinoceros Auklets. Although they live in the waters further south near our home, I've never noticed them before. Here, they were everywhere. 

They are chunky looking birds, related to puffins. They breed in the temperate North Pacific and spend a lot of daylight hours on the water, fishing for food which they take back to their nests in the evening. The auklets frequently stood up in the water and flapped their wings. They get the rhinoceros name for that little white horn above the beak. 

Just as we were leaving Blackfish Sound for Village Channel, Tim saw a whale blow. We slowed the boat down to idle and watched over the next few moments as the Humpback Whale surfaced and blew 4 or 5 times, then, with a show of his tail, dove deep and disappeared. 

We spent the first night anchored off of Crease Island in a quiet little bay. When Tim took sailing lessons, his instructor referred to the many rocks and islets that dot our waters as "chunky bits". There were lots of chunky bits in the Broughtons. 

We wound our way through kelp beds and around chunky bits before dropping anchor for the night. Then, it started raining. A good time to haul out books and make tea. Just perfect. 

The skies cleared early evening and as we sat eating our dinner, enjoying the utter peace, two bald eagles came screaming overhead, fighting over a fish which one carried and then dropped in the water. 

One eagle flew up to perch in a tree, looking very unconcerned and nonchalant about the whole affair, while the other skimmed across the water and made a few grabs with his talons. 

In the end, I think he got the fish, or another one, and flew off to enjoy it on his own. The other eagle sat for a long time in the tree, perhaps looking for another fish to grab.

We slept like babies that night, lulled by the gentle movement of the boat, the fresh air, and the knowledge that there was nothing we needed to do in the foreseeable future. 

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Canada Day 2018

Canada is 151 years old! That might be young for a country, but this afternoon we, along with many others, visited Fort Rodd Hill, a National Historic Site. Constructed in the 19th century, it has never fired a weapon against an enemy. One can tour bunkers, see gun emplacements, and read about the history there.

Adjacent to the military site is Fisgard Lighthouse, a fun place to visit and learn. 

Tim thought he should take a photo of me with my new red backpack, matching the colours of our flag. There was a tremendous wind blowing, and a cruise ship was sitting offshore, probably unable to dock because of the wind.

I've visited the lighthouse a number of times and always enjoy the views from the windows, and the windows themselves, especially the hardware.

We enjoyed a piece of birthday cake, and had our photo taken against a green screen. Our background choice is a classic lighthouse view. We're dressed as World War II participants, in uniforms that fit us surprisingly well. Tim said the wool jacket itched like crazy.

War is a terrible thing and I'm so glad that we haven't seen its horrors, unlike many others who have fought, or who are enduring terrible hardships because of war. In the end, everyone loses. I'm so thankful to be a Canadian.

 Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie of Normandy Life. 

A Bit of This and That

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