Look out, look out, the bridge is out

A few weeks back, we arranged to have another gourmet cookout with Wayne from Tofino Photography. Our destination was Second Bridge, and if you need to find it, go down that logging road after the junction, bounce and jolt up past First Bridge, and then…

…well, if I told you where precisely, then it might get crowded in the future. But rest assured it’s out there, and you’ll know you’re close when the road comes to an end because the bridge is out.

Look out, look out!

A quiet spot – we were told it can get busy, and certainly used to be a touch rowdy with party people on long weekends before the road was closed – it made a good place to have a fire and roast some hot dogs. The weekend had been warm and sunny the day before we went, but a change came, with grey skies, lower temperatures, and even a hint of rain. This seemed to have kept people away, and we only encountered a handful of visitors.

One couple had been camping overnight just down the beach. They chatted a bit, and Wayne shared a few stories, and some tips in the event of a cougar encounter (there had been some sightings elsewhere along the lake) and mere minutes after that, the young couple had packed up and disappeared. I don’t think it was the cougar info…

It left an empty beach for us to enjoy, and we had a fine time cooking and eating. Wayne brought high end hot dogs and slices of key lime pie from SoBo. Excellent choice, and we had to be quick about it, because Scout sure seemed to take to the pie.

“Pie?!”

We didn’t see a cougar, or a bear, and thankfully the black flies didn’t follow us down to the beach. They were lurking when we parked up, but there was enough breeze to keep bugs at bay.

A wildlife feature for the afternoon? The hundreds and hundreds of geese passing over in long skeins high above us. We honestly could not count them, but what a sight to see – and hear! Wave after wave after wave.

Wayne knows the area pretty well, and he told us about the great camping spots to be discovered along the shore, and how they can only be approached from the water. They sound rather wonderful, and a compelling reason to return, drop a canoe with camping gear into the water, and spend a little more time out by the bridge and beyond.

Further exploration required…

I don’t know when our next cookout adventure will be or where, but it’s something to look forward to, likely after the summer visitors have headed home and it’s a bit quieter. I do know Wayne has set the gourmet bar pretty high with that key lime pie!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Messing about…

…in boats! Oh, alright, we don’t have a boat, but ever since the courses last week, I’ve been keeping a beady eye on boats around here – more so than usual…

Too big?

I’m very pleased to report all the participants passed the other two courses, the Marine Emergency Duties on Friday, and the Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio, on Saturday. Now all we need is a small vessel to put theory into practice!

Too old?

We’ve been enjoying glorious weather, and Scout has insisted we stop and look at all the boats in the harbours. She’ll take me up and down the docks early in the day, then absolutely insist we go back later with Mrs. PlaidCamper, to show her our favourites. It’s quite a long list.

Lovely colour!

I give Scout a pat on the head for being a good dog on the docks, especially when we see harbour seals and river otters, and Mrs. PC gives a gentle shake of the head whenever we slow down at a particular vessel. The head shaking is a bit more emphatic each time we approach the Tromso. To be honest, I’m always surprised – and delighted – she’s still afloat. I don’t know if the price is falling in line with her water position. There’s a little less freeboard each passing season…

“Lovely colour?! Seriously? She’s no Tromso… Ooh, is that a seal I can smell down here?”

A very brief piece this week, as I scramble to catch up with myself after a week away from regular duties, and then start to get items sorted for an upcoming long weekend away off the grid. Yup, we’ll be heading to our destination in small vessels. Perhaps one of them needs a vastly inexperienced maritime OldPlaidCamper at the helm?

Any of these? Nope.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

All at sea?

Me? Maybe, maybe not. This will have to be a very brief post this week. My excuse? I’ve been back to school (Back? Don’t you work in schools most days, PlaidCamper? Well, yes, but this time I’m one of the students, and the classroom isn’t in a school, but in the community and well, perhaps I’d best just get on with the post?) Evenings have been very busy, reading up/doing homework for a course that continues into the coming weekend. It’s been quite intensive, and I’ve felt very tired at the end of each day, so much so, the fact it is May already almost passed me by. There are “learning celebrations” as our lovely instructor likes to say when talking about tests and exams. Will I pass? Maybe, maybe not…

Small vessels

The courses lead to theory qualifications for Small Vessel Operator Proficiency. I say theory because we are in a classroom, not a boat, and the learning, whilst important, is no substitute for practical experience – hours at sea!

I’m learning alongside a group of youth, and any one of this group has many more hours of practical experience in small vessels than I’ve had over a somewhat longer lifetime. They are often applying some theory to quite a body of practical knowledge. The aim this week is to give a basic safety foundation to these students, add the theory to their experience. I have to say the learning has been illuminated by many family stories being shared – sad, funny, frightening and thrilling. The West Coast roots and love of the ocean shows.

“This sort of log?”

It’s been great fun learning together, and I’m delighted to report everybody passed the first couple of exams. I’m not looking for a new career, but in a day and age where certificates and qualifications are needed along with developing experience, the young ones are positioning themselves very well for post secondary opportunities, in and out of school.

I know I wrote above about how tired I’ve felt, but in truth it hasn’t hurt to experience and be reminded that this is often how many learners in our schools feel day after day. Yes I’m tired, but I’m enjoying this learning – sometimes (often?) what we are asking our children to learn may not be all that relevant or engaging in terms of curriculum – how tiring must that be?

Small vessel

I’ll leave it there, as I’m off to refresh my memory about the finer points of coastal navigation, or I will if I stay awake long enough. Perhaps I should give myself some latitude, or even a little leeway, and have a beer, take the night off? Oh, that was bad.

Navigational aide memoire?

The photographs this week were taken last weekend, when April mistook itself for May, and we weren’t complaining. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Almost May

Scavenging

Last Friday turned into a pretty good Good Friday. Sunshine was promised and eventually made an appearance in the early afternoon. It seemed like a beach day, so that is where we went.

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This is where we went

We hadn’t been to Wick Beach in quite a while, and it was a very pleasant stroll we were having when we saw quite a crowd of ravens hopping about a clump of something in the distance. As we approached, the ravens flapped off, and we could see the sizeable remains of – I think – a sea lion. We skirted past swiftly, not wanting to enjoy the aroma any longer than necessary, and to give space back to the ravens.

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“Ooh, just a quick peck…”

A little way beyond the body we saw a juvenile eagle sitting on a stump, no doubt waiting for us to move on, and perhaps hoping the ravens would leave a little something.DSCF8062

As we wandered by, two adult bald eagles flew past us towards the remains. We thought it was starting to get rather crowded. If it hadn’t been dead, the sea lion could have become quite irritated with all the attention…DSCF8073

We kept going up the beach, and eventually hunkered down in front of the dunes, slightly elevated on a log and amongst the long grasses. From there, the cadaver commotion was almost out of sight, and we switched our attention to the ocean, looking out for and spotting many spouting whales.DSCF8064

Once we’d finished our coffee, after Scout had demolished a fair chunk of washed up log, and given up digging a deep hole in the sand for me to fall into as I stood, we set off back down the beach. As we drew closer to the corpse, we could see quite a crowd. Three adult bald eagles, two juveniles, and a smattering of ravens were figuring out how the goodies were going to be shared.

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“Save some for me – I’m still growing…”

We stuck to the dune side of the beach, not wanting to get involved, and anyway, after coffee and chocolate, we weren’t feeling the need to scavenge. I couldn’t believe Scout wasn’t more interested in the proceedings, but she wasn’t.

The photographs I took were at the outer limits of what my camera and shaky hands could handle, and really none too sharp, but I’ve used them here anyway, in case you’re a fan of partially consumed corpses…

When we got home, I got caught up on the blogs I enjoy, and one of them was a perfect piece to read after our earlier adventure. It made me stop and think about how vulnerable many species are. Living out here, one could (but I’m not) become a bit complacent about the numerous bald eagle sightings we are blessed with. If you have the time, I heartily recommend you head over to read Jet Eliot – you won’t be sorry!DSCF8083

If the weather holds – and it has turned warm and sunny this week – then perhaps we’ll head up Wick once again over the coming weekend, check out the state of the scavenged. I doubt there’ll be much left, maybe not much more than a few picked over and pecked clean bones. That’s life, and death.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Sand and stone

Wind and rain, bark and bone. Sounds like the start of a spell, but it’s a small list of the gritty and grainy outdoor life we’ve been experiencing the past little while.

I was lucky enough to find an extra hour on the beach last week. A meeting finished earlier than expected, and there wasn’t enough time left in the day to get back and start something new – if I drove really slowly, and I never rush in the Jeep…

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Scoured

The wind was blasting down the beach, from north to south, and provided a real push in the back as I headed out. In a positive frame of mind, I likened it to a helping hand. Sand snakes were racing past me, long writhing ribbons that I couldn’t keep pace with.

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Sand snakes

A few hardy kite surfers were performing tricks in the surf, traveling scarily fast and leaping up into the air. Holding onto my hat, I stopped to watch them, admiring the skill and choreography as they appeared to narrowly avoid colliding with each other. A tip of the hat there, not that they could see. It was too cold to stop for long, and I’d targeted a particular set of rocks as my goal for a there and back trip.

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I clambered up on the rocks, and goodness me it was windy up there! I decided not to linger too long, knowing the walk back up the beach was going to be a tad more trying without that helping hand. It really was a bit of an effort, and every now and then an extra strong gust would blow the sand somewhat higher than knee height. My apple snack was a trifle gritty…

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Same rocks, several days later

I’ve written before about the joys of a few “stolen” moments in a work day, time when you can get outside and enjoy the elements. This was very much the case last week. I wouldn’t choose a big blow as my favourite weather, but I didn’t mind blowing away a few post-committee cobwebs!

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The photograph above of Scout on the rocks was taken a few days later, at the rocks I’d headed to earlier in the week, and the day was a good deal calmer. Still windy, but manageable.

Bark and bone? A different weekend day, one where we heard logs crashing into the rocks guarding a small cove. The deep booms were something to hear, as these tree bones were thrown against stone. The tide was dropping, as were the winds, but so close to the end of a fierce blow, we weren’t going to venture down onto the upper sands of the cove. Every now and then a heavier wave would still have enough energy to surge up the beach. Gritty outdoor types we might be, but we weren’t going to risk a sudden foot soaking or worse down on the beach. We’ve got sand, but also plenty of prudence.1278AA79-3601-405F-BC3C-4C575B95C89E

The forecast for the coming long weekend looks rather damp. We will aim to get out, no matter the weather, but if trips are shorter, then we’ll have to head indoors, empty the sand from our shoes, and eat a small chocolate egg (or two!)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Rain and mist – normal service

It’s good to be back on the coast, and after a lengthy spell of warm and sunny days, rain and mist has returned, most welcome after an unusually dry early spring.0E2FDEC0-44CC-47E9-B77E-4377442F26D3

We’ve been doing our usual rain dance, that is, aiming to get out and about in between the showers, and for the most part we’ve been pretty lucky. We haven’t escaped all the rain – for a while, the Jeep was strangely dog odour free, but it only took a couple of damp days out for the reassuring smell of wet dog to permeate the back seat once again. We drive with the windows down, enough to get a flow of cool fresh air, and low enough that the tip of Scout’s nose sticks out. I’m told it looks very amusing.705B2718-DAFB-47A4-AACE-994D62785F87

The cool days have been rather soothing, and lend a sense of normality and calm after our mad dash about Britain, and after all the pleasantly warm sunshine we’ve been having since returning home. The sun was lovely, but all a bit too soon or too much compared with what is expected. Give it a lengthy rainy period, and we’ll be wishing for warm sun soon enough.1E3840F4-E97B-4C83-9043-DAD4F919C72F

Scout has had fun, reacquainting herself with her familiar haunts, nose down and tail wagging along the trails. Her quick walks usually include a visit to the inner and outer harbours, and these wooden docks are amongst her favourite places. I like the sights, and can stomach the fish and crab aromas, but Scout cannot get enough of the smell-soaked boards. It’s good that there’s something for everyone.

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We’re devoted to the harbour

Earlier today we startled a harbour seal and it splashed in alarm just beneath our feet, and away from the dock, heading backwards almost doing a backstroke, and looking a touch aggrieved before it slipped under the surface. Sorry, seal, we honestly didn’t know you were there.

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Seal playground

So normal service has been resumed, equilibrium re-established, and there’s a lot to be said for that! The photographs for this post were taken over the last two weeks, and were chosen to reflect normal service, or what passes for that out here.

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Smells good

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Pony up…

…I was going to write some more about Brexit, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were, based on our recent trip. However, I simply don’t have the energy or enthusiasm for it, mostly because I’ve been silly enough to keep following events (non-events?) since returning home. I cannot believe, at this late hour, politicians – remain or leave – are unable to pony up on this – and we’re already past one “not to be missed” deadline! So instead, I’ll write a bit about our Cornish adventures, and include a picture of a pony…

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“Brexit? Neigh…”

Whenever we visit Ma PlaidCamper down in Cornwall, we find some time to tramp the trails on the Cornish coastal path, and it is always a treat! Rain or shine – and we were lucky to have almost shine – this path is one to savour. We enjoyed a day that more than hinted at spring. Wildflowers were mere minutes from appearing (I’m betting some bloomed the next day!), rabbits were bounding and bouncing, birds were singing, one or two bumblebees buzzed and hummed in and out of the hedgerows, and Shetland ponies were happily grazing along the cliff tops. All this in the first few minutes! Spring! Boing!

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“There’s a cafe just past the beach behind the next headland, hidden in a cove. You can’t miss it!” It’s the tiny white blob. A good place to stop.

Often, the cliff tops are wind blasted, and that, combined with copious mud underfoot can make things challenging. This time out, a relatively lengthy dry spell just before our visit, and an almost windless day meant we had benign conditions. With the sun making an occasional appearance through the mist and haze, we found the walking very pleasant, long stretches along the tops punctuated by steep and short up and downs between coves. Fully loaded with snacks and a light lunch, and a brief-that-turned-long stop at a cafe for coffee, our day on the path was about as good as it can be.0B6961C7-576D-4E40-82D7-5425C33C094E

This isn’t a path to be rushed, and why would you with varied views to take in as you round headland after headland? The springy turf invites you to stop and sit, so we did, time after time. Our light lunch became a long lunch, and the timing was just right as the sun shone for a lengthy spell, burning off misty remnants and turning the grey waters blue.

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Lunch stop

We couldn’t spend the entire day on the path, as we had plans to meet up with friends and family at a local pub, and a pint or two of Tribute pale ale to test – it passed, with flying colours.

Parents with small dogs was a bit of a theme this trip. Blue lives with my dad, and Bertie lives with mum. Bertie is the most energetic dog in the world, and luckily for him, he is hilarious with it. He reminded me of an extra from a Wallace and Gromit movie…

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Bertie!

The noise and nonsense of Brexit aside, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Family, friends, lovely scenery, silly (not really) dogs, beer, and the hugely necessary British sense of humour (how else can a nation survive the Brexit debacle?) all added up to a great time.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!