A bite or two

At the end of the previous post, I wrote I wouldn’t be adding any more foodie pieces for the next little while. So, how to explain the title for this week? It’s even less interesting than you might imagine, and came to me as I sat here, itching.

Itching and scratching at the many, many mosquito bites I received on our recent trip to the backcountry. It was delightful to get far, far away from the business of summer season, but it was far, far less delightful to be the blood host for so many mosquitoes. They really liked me, and they seemed to enjoy the brand of bug repellent I used to little effect.

Delightful

After a long dry spell, particularly dry for the PNW, it rained the day and night we set off. I think I made a brief reference to the rain last week? I don’t mind the rain, but this time it created lovely extra humid conditions, and so the lovely extra hungry mosquitoes popped out to greet us. What a lovely welcome! Lovely.

As well as learning that particular brand of DEET-free repellent is ineffective, I also learned that I’m not as good at putting up a tent in the dark as I thought I was. I slipped and bent one of the two important tent poles (one of only two tent poles), when my knee and overall body weight combined to crush one of the ends. Lovely.

Slightly disturbed – the water

With the mosquitoes buzzing encouragement in both my ears, and the rain falling oh so gently in the fading light, I believe I must have looked a picture of complete happiness. Being an independent minded sort – that’s code for bloodyminded and too stubborn to ask for help at that moment – I managed to push the broken end of the pole into a soft bank of earth, sorted the tent fly (fly? FLY?! I think they mean tent mosquito sheet I might have been heard muttering, serenity personified…) and pegged everything down. A job well done, OldPlaidCheerful having fun floating on a cloud of happiness and bug spray, desperately hoping the makeshift solution would keep out the rain.

Did it keep the rain out?

It did. I stayed wonderfully dry, and stayed wonderfully entertained trying to track down the mosquito that also wanted to stay wonderfully dry. It was wonderfully well fed, taking another bite or two. Wonderful.

A return

Anyway, not a food piece this week, more a return to being an almost outdoorsman, and I do believe I’m wiser for all the stumbling about in near darkness. I certainly won’t be buying that bug friendly spray again. So yes, very much wiser.

I think I’d best stop now. I enjoyed this minor rant, but all whining (like a mosquito) aside, I did genuinely enjoy being in a tent after far too long not camping. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Fine dining

Last week, witnessing the eagles tucking into fresh – or not so fresh as the week wore on – seal, I hinted I’d follow up with a dessert course.

I want to be true to my word, and present more fine dining. The snag to putting the final seal of approval on a great gastronomic experience was the carcass disappearing not long after I published the ready meal post. I guess a bear or wolf, one of the four legged OldPlaidCamper readers, recognized a tender seal steak and snuck down there when the eagles weren’t watching. No dessert on that beach.

Dessert? I’m listening…

So, what about dessert OldPlaidCamper? I’m glad you asked, and it’s coming. A properly prepared meal can take a little time…

A group of youth, elders, and mentors went out last weekend to share wilderness and land based learning time. The weather had been fine all week, sunny, not too hot, perfect for being on the water and traveling up to the remote camp. We climbed aboard boats and it started to rain. We sailed for about an hour through the Broken Group islands and through the rain. We disembarked and pitched tents in the rain. We spent the first night enjoying the soothing sound of rain on canvas, but hoping it would ease before dawn. We woke to rain. Then, at midday, it stopped raining.

No more rain

Yup, yup, it rained, we get it, but dessert? Ah, you spotted the filler, some blogging hamburger helper… On with the story of dessert. A few hardy swimmers went out to harvest sea urchin, and to my great disappointment, weren’t able to find any. Phew, I thought secretly, I can look forward to that another time. No sea urchin, but the sea cucumbers were abundant. Yup, dessert is sea cucumber. It’s even more enjoyable if you’ve had a lesson in how to prepare it. For me, it tasted as good as the previous time I tried it, when I made (and clearly forgot to remember) a mental note never to eat it again. I chewed and chewed and wondered if perhaps week old seal might not be a better choice? I was very much in a minority of me, as all my companions, young and old, tucked in, and so what else could I do except hand over my share?

It’s all in the preparation

Dinner has been served! No more foodie pieces for the foreseeable future, not until I’ve forgotten once more how much I enjoy fruits from the sea. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Ready meal

A dead seal has provided plenty of nutrition to any number of birds this week.

“When is it my turn?”

We heard a commotion when a gathering of eagles started to make some noise just outside our learning space last Friday. Looking out over the tidal zone, we could see they were doing a dance around the dead seal. Well, not so much a dance, more they were setting the ground rules – or the table? – about who was going to eat first. It seemed the answer to that was whichever eagle could get away with it.

“Nope. I can’t watch you eating that…”

Oddly, the carcass was still there the following Monday. A bit more chewed up, but it hadn’t been dragged off, floated off or disappeared. It seemed anchored, and when the tide was low, eagles flew in, landed nearby, and waddled over to grab a tasty morsel or two. All the while, other eagles were in the vicinity, as well as gulls and a pair of kingfishers. On Tuesday, I saw a kingfisher dive down, snag a chunk and fly away, chased by another kingfisher determined to steal the goods. They flew in and out of the dock pilings, and back and forth over the water, a fine spectacle of chase and evade until they flew out of sight. I don’t know who came out the winner in that game…

Hanging in, and not handing anything over

It was quite some sight watching an eagle balancing on the body as the tide came up. It kept on eating as long as possible, until the seal was virtually submerged. A latecomer observing the scene would have been forgiven for thinking the eagle could walk on water. The eagle didn’t stick around, flying off before it got wet feathers.

“Quick! It’s our turn!”

The children and youth have been fascinated by the whole show, enjoying the comings and goings down by the shore. I missed when a bear came through, but was surprised to hear it didn’t take any interest in the dead seal. I’d assumed it would? Better pickings elsewhere, a well fed bear, or maybe it didn’t fancy taking on the feathered competition…

“Move along, young ones – it’s my turn!”

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for this week. If there are enough leftovers in the next few days, and I manage to get a shot or two, I’ll serve up a small dessert next time. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Growth

This summer, it’s all about growth! It could be the children and youth engaged in summer learning programs, or it might be me engaged in my little herb garden. Culinary herbs, just so we’re clear about that, given the fairly recent relaxation in laws related to herbs some folks like to smoke.

Thyme to grow

One program this summer will have teens learning to use a 3D printer, coding to program a remote vehicle, building and managing a website, constructing go-karts for a soap box derby, and converting a regular longboard to an e-longboard. All being well, I’m looking forward to seeing great growth connected to science and technology. I’m also looking forward to trying the longboard – provided there’s someone nearby with first aid training… Anyway, we’ve sneakily hidden lots of education stuff inside the general youth and recreation programs this summer, and we don’t mention the “s” word. School…shhh!

New growth oregano

At home, Scout likes to keep up with the growth in our little herb garden. She’ll eat pretty much anything – the temptation of the seaweed and fish bone impregnated soil was almost too much for her, but she did resist – and she’s been smelling the herbs, but doesn’t want to nibble any.

Me? Eat anything? As if…

Our recent ridiculous hot spell did do a bit of damage, but most of the young plants survived, and in addition to many happy herbs, it looks like we might double our tomato crop over last summer. Yup, I can see two green tomatoes already. Two! That’s some progress and real growth around here.

A growing yield

There has certainly been quite some growth in the numbers of visitors to town, and it was fun the other morning to see a small flotilla of recreational fishing boats heading out of the harbour. The people aboard seemed very happy to be bobbing along, and why not after months and months of restrictions?

An early start

I don’t want this post to grow any longer, so we’ll leave it here for now. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Smoking…

…hot! That was the west coast earlier this week. It was bad, but other places had it worse.

Before the heat

Temperatures in parts of BC were hotter than Vegas – ever! – and hotter than Miami and Houston – ever! Beyond the usual assumptions about ice and snow, Western Canada does get very warm in the summer, but the west coast of Vancouver Island isn’t one of those places. The heat was ridiculous, and very uncomfortably so. Even the breeze, when it got up, was too hot – a blast of heated air flowing into our home, through each room and out the front door and windows, to no good effect. Nothing worked to cool us down, and for over three days, it grew hotter and hotter. Finally, on Monday evening, at the same time the sun dropped below the tree line and the tide turned down on the inlet, a cool breeze started. Within a few minutes, word had gotten out, and people were gathering on balconies to enjoy the cool air and decreasing temperatures. What a blessed relief!

Too hot, no breeze, can’t stop to enjoy the view

On Tuesday, I stopped by a friend’s house to compare heat stories, and he told me about a bear that had been nosing about his smokehouse just up from the shore. It hasn’t been used in a while, but he thought perhaps the bear fancied the shade, even if there was nothing to eat? A bear in a smokehouse? I asked. Bears smoke? I left soon after, promising to come back when I was more sensible and less senseless due to heatstroke…

Sensible measures

As I drove home, a minute along the way, a bear wandered onto the road from my friend’s house, ambling from one side to the other, smiling and taking its own sweet time to stroll into the shade of the trees. Was this the smoking bear? It looked pretty contented. Maybe it was the nicotine? C’mon, bear, you know better than that.

The first cool morning after the heat

Anyway, a smoking hot few days has given way to more reasonable warm days, with temperatures we’d have considered pretty high until the events of last week. We’ll be back out and about on longer hikes with Scout, who is very happy that normal(ish) weather has resumed. She’s definitely a non-smoker. Sensible dog!

Yesterday morning – cool air and fog – just right!

My brain is too cooked to be able to get into it about climate change. Even after this week, with stories of wildfires ripping through communities, and an increase in unexpected deaths due to the heat, there are still some in denial. It was unpleasant where we are, but we were lucky, most likely due to our coastal location and lower temperature starting point. Long past time to acknowledge and act collectively to reduce the warming. Hey ho, let’s leave it there…

Thanks for reading, I hope you stay cool wherever you are, and have a wonderful weekend!

Abandoned

Abandoned was the word that came to mind when I saw this little boat sitting all alone on the mudflats. Is this the prompt for a “feeling sorry for himself” PlaidCamper rant? A quiet one, of course, being an introvert and all that…

All alone, but not actually abandoned

No! Keep reading if you’re still here, there’s no rant or feeling sorry for oneself. Or do stop reading if you were hoping for a rambling rant. We’ve enjoyed another calm week, not too fast, not too slow, and certainly not too many people, even though travel restrictions are starting to lift. Our lifeboat isn’t crowded.

Last Sunday we wandered down to our favourite little shell beach, and although the tide was high, it was calm and there was dry space enough to make it worth the clamber down to sit for an hour, enjoy the quiet.

A touch woody? I’d rather share your pastry…

We heard bald eagles in the trees above and behind us, and peered and craned to catch a glimpse, but they were out of sight. Well alright, it was enough to know they were there, so we settled back against a log and poured the all important second cup of caffeine. Maybe there was a pastry to go with it, or most of a pastry after Scout tried to snag her share.

Any of those pastries left?

Later in the day we went down to the outer harbour, to look at the boats and do some more sitting. We’re getting quite accomplished at it, and the lapping of small waves against the dock, and waving to the small craft sailors made for a pleasant late afternoon. We couldn’t sit there into the evening, although that would have been good. No, we had an important appointment to keep.

Keeping busy…

Sunday evening appointments? Sounds unnecessarily busy PlaidCamper – what was it? Good question, and I’m glad you asked! We had to meet up with the new cans of Ucluelet Brewing Company Kolsch. Yes, on a Sunday, but not a school night due to a few days off. I wouldn’t abandon my no drinking on a school night principle. Actually, I would, but didn’t this time.

…but not too busy. An abandoned principle? No!

I’ll leave you now, keeping with the non-existent abandoned theme, and wish you a wonderful weekend ahead!

Tidal

Once a month, on a Wednesday at midday, the local tsunami warning system is tested. Loudspeakers wail, a disembodied voice booms over the water, up and down the inlet, and we get a voicemail and text from the district, letting us know it is a test, and to get to higher ground in the event of the real thing. The system works, but I do worry what would happen if there was a tsunami on a Wednesday lunchtime. Suppose we all shrug and carry on, thinking it is a test…

On the Hitacu side, looking down inlet

With the end of the current school year almost upon us, afternoon learning support has become even better attended than usual, with a tidal wave of teens flooding our little learning hub, keen to study then take final tests before summer washes over them.

Our up and down temperatures up and down the tidal inlet are leaning more to up. Yes, sometimes the skies may be grey, but the warmth of the sun radiates through, making for slightly muggy days, and slightly more mosquitoes. Got my first bite of the season, and I wasn’t fishing for it.

Warmer than it appears

I’ve taken to dragging a chair out of the office at lunchtime, to sit and eat overlooking the bay, bugs and all. Food tastes better outdoors, and if there is a slight tinge and taste of bug spray, I pretend it’s a lemony dressing, and the mosquitoes pretend to be bothered.

Entirely bug free

My bear sightings are trending up, although I suspect I am seeing the same bear each time, given it is in the same location as last week, and not looking any larger or smaller. The bear has moved, so I know I’m not imagining it or mistaking an old stump for a bruin…

Shortly after writing, I spotted a different bear! The black blob lower centre right above? That’s a bear avoiding a photo shoot. National Geographic, I do understand, but really, please don’t call, the bear is very busy…

Not so much to report this week, but the ebb and flow of early summer life is pleasant enough, and we’re looking forward to more of the same as we head to the solstice.

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

Bearly June

Did he get that wrong on purpose?

Well, it hasn’t felt too much like June this week, with chilly winds, rather short sunny spells and unseasonably low temperatures. Pretty dry, although the weekend forecast predicts that will change!

We usually see bears out and about when we’re out and about, certainly as May heads into June, but I hadn’t seen a single one until last Monday.

A different bear, a different site, but they all excite!

A favourite bear spotting site, or bear sighting spot, is from a little one way bridge heading into Hitacu. The bridge and road pass over a shingle, grass and mud patch, a smaller inlet off the bigger inlet, with a tidal zone that entices bears out of the forest fringe. For the past few weeks I’ve glanced over in hopes of seeing a bear or two, and was disappointed each way every day. Until Monday afternoon!

This side or that, should spot a few bruins in the coming weeks!

It was one of the rare sunny spells and feeling quite warm just after midday – not necessarily prime bear spotting conditions, but there s/he was, on all fours, head down and munching contentedly on whatever was good to eat. Result! A happy PlaidCamper, since I’d been getting a little concerned. Fewer bears or deteriorating vision?

On the way home a little while later, the same bear, or a twin, was still there, moved up some but foraging away in the afternoon sun.

Warming up

I’ll be spending more time in and around Hitacu as June warms up and the summer rolls in. Early mornings are a good time for spotting bears, so I’m hopeful I’ll catch a few more glimpses of a furry favourite along the shores.

I’ll keep this brief – bearly a post – thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Seen a bear? High 5!

Tactician

We’re getting ready for summer, putting the finishing touches to learning programs that might – or might not! – engage young minds through the long hot days ahead. See photo below for long hot summer days preview:

Oh. Or chilly misty mornings, but we’re getting ready for summer take off!

It will warm up, then even more mist will appear, as it does during the summer months here. Our time in the school garden has been going well, with bursts of colour inside the greenhouse making up for the occasional damp and chilly mornings. It’s humid in there, and the nasturtiums seem to like it!

We like the sultry heat! And we’re good to eat!

The beds of kale are a big hit with the young gardeners I accompany. Young ones don’t like greens? Not true, especially if they’ve a hand (or foot or two) in the original planting. Kale grows quickly, and it has to the way it is being grazed by hungry gardeners. Do you like kale? Kale, yeah!

Kale yeah, we like it!

I’m not much of a gardener, or haven’t been in the past, beyond a vegetable patch when we’ve lived in sunnier spots. It’s been fun to learn alongside the budding farmers and growers, figuring out what grows where, or when to plant for best results in a less sunny climate and shortish growing season. Not everything works, but we’ve plotted carefully, and our tactics mostly pay off. You can’t eat laughter, but it’s a different kind of nourishment, and this makes my day every time.

Summer is hiding around here somewhere…

Looking forward to summer? Kale, yeah! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

One more burst of colour!

It had to happen…

…I’ve found a beer style that is, in my opinion, impossible to enjoy.

I don’t mention it very often, and this will be news to many readers, but I’m partial to trying a new beer or two over the course of a weekend. I’m not too fond of sours, or beers that have been flavoured with oddball ingredients or too much fruit. I find too much alcohol leaves a burn that is hard to enjoy. An ABV somewhere between 4 and 7.5% is just fine by me. Hops? Yum! Ridiculously hopped? Sometimes yum! At the other end of the spectrum, malty or dark beers are jolly good, particularly in the winter months. Or summer months. Oh ok, spring and fall also.

Springtime? Beer season.

So yes to beer overall, but no to my most recent exploration. I tried the beer in the following photograph, and after the first optimistic sip – new beer = high expectations – thought my beer enjoyment taste buds (the medical term is BETBs, as reported in reputable medical journals) had broken. Cue medical panic. Is there a doctor in the house? A nurse? A nurse with a doctorate? Yes. Dr. Mrs. PC, RN to the rescue. While I tried to communicate through mime (having lost the power of speech due to this “beer” removing the layer of BETBs) Dr. PC took a sip and made a face. The one that said so who didn’t read the tasting notes before purchase?

No, no, no, no, no. And no. I didn’t like this one. No. Not at all. It isn’t beer. It’s a salt shaker. But with more salt. Nope, can’t think of anything positive. Not yum. A BETB killer. Not recommended. Just say no.

Obviously, being incapacitated due to the medical reasons explained above, I was unable to say it was me failing to read the tasting notes. I didn’t know salt water is the primary ingredient in a gose beer. Actually, salt water isn’t the primary ingredient. Salt is. Other ingredients such as water, or hops are mostly an afterthought.

Pleasant distraction

In the interests of public health, and as a safety information service to fellow beer lovers yet to “enjoy” a gose, I’ll say don’t. Don’t bother. Don’t do it. Just say no! That last one always works in public health messaging from governments not prepared to invest in proper health promotion. Best stop that, let’s not go on a rant about public healthcare under certain governments. Anyway, that’s Dr. Mrs. PC’s area of expertise, not mine. I’m better left with making (sometimes bad) beer choices and reacting in a suitably responsible manner when it goes wrong.

Ripple pattern on a beach? Or a photo from a learned medical journal of a tongue with severe BETB damage? I’m not a doctor, but it seems clear to me…

You don’t believe my public health messaging? You think that the gose style is something you could gose for? Ok, on your head and damaged BETBs be it. If you really, really have to try a gose, yet can’t find one anywhere, go to your store cupboard, take out the salt, pour yourself a generous spoonful and start eating. It’ll actually be more pleasant than a gose, a close enough approximation, and you’ll have saved yourself a few pennies and some major disappointment.

Before I go, you’ll be wanting a medical update, because I think I’m right in saying there’s nothing more interesting than an early middle aged person talking about their medical ailments? Fair enough, and thanks for asking – my BETBs have made a full recovery just in time for this weekend. I’ve learned my lesson, and will totally not be trying anything odd sounding or too experimental on the beer front. Oh look, now what’s this?

Oh no, not another generic plum and rosemary saison…(actually, it was yum!)

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