A lake coffee break (LCB)

Taken early, on the way to a meeting yesterday morning.

I found myself on the road between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, heading to a committee meeting scheduled for a 10:00 start. The round trip is three hours on a good day, but those days are rare due to a large construction project on Kennedy Lake Hill.6CD30665-7293-49FF-8F20-A103D2AE1C39 The road is being made safer, widening it to prevent larger and taller vehicles on the cliff side moving across the dividing line and scaring oncoming traffic into a choice between a lakeside plunge or a head on collision. Currently, the road is often closed for a number of hours each day, and when it is open, it is single lane and flag controlled, potentially adding quite a delay to your journey.

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Coverage

All this is a long winded way of saying I’d left plenty of time to make my meeting, and the traffic gods were beaming down on me as I experienced the briefest of stoppages. This left me time to make a stop before Alberni at Sproat Lake, take a short wander under the trees and along the shore, sip my travel coffee (prepared in anticipation of a long flag stop!) and gather my thoughts, such as they were.

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Productive

I could tell you about the dozens of new education acronyms I’ve encountered but as yet have failed to decipher, or about some of the policy initiatives to be discussed, but I won’t. Was there cell coverage to check work messages? Nope! Instead, I’ll share that the parking lot was empty, as were the trails and shore. Rain was trying and failing to fall, with barely a patter to be heard on the turning leaves. The chattering squirrels and angry-sounding crows had the place to themselves, or they did once I finished my coffee and remembered I should be working, or at least on the way.

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Work stoppage

I made it to the meeting fashionably early, left with a head full of new and exciting information, and some more acronyms. I’m happy to report there were no chattering squirrels or angry crows on this committee, so that went well.

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The woods and the trees – an LCB stop

Best of all, I was back in time to join a homework zone and hear from a confident young man sharing his experience about becoming an outdoor leader to his peers. He was eloquent in his expression of how he wanted to further his outdoor leadership skills and continue to mentor younger students in wilderness and traditional activities.

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Stumped

The success he was sharing reminded me that a lengthy round trip, coffee stops (LCB) and all, is a worthwhile use of time. It is heartening to witness new policies being shaped by representatives from the communities searching for better ways to educate and engage their youth. As I wrote last week, and hope to write again and again, young people can and want to be engaged in their communities and in their natural surroundings. That’s pretty good news (and it’s real!)

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Fall frolics…

…on Florencia beach. We hit the bay as the tide was falling, figuring that most surfers head in as the waves diminish, and this seemed to be the case last Saturday afternoon.

There is a small parking lot at the end of the road, and we squeezed into the last remaining space. Had we arrived even a few minutes later, we’d have parked up more easily judging by the steady stream of smiling surfers and paddle boarders returning to their vehicles.fullsizeoutput_6df

They’re a squelchy and happy bunch in shining wetsuits, an even mix of family and friends, young and old, girls and boys, and men and women. (I met a charming surf instructor at a community event last week, where we were supposed to be discussing education issues for Indigenous youth, but ended up with him almost – almost – convincing me he could teach me to surf. Maybe more to come later…)

We negotiated the rickety wooden staircase down to the beach – no easy task when an enthusiastic Scout has the sea scent in her nostrils – and tottered onto the wide expanse of sand. Fifteen minutes earlier, after a rainy morning, the skies were grey, and there was still a hint of moisture in the air. Now, looking out over the ocean, there was a distinct line of blue, and it seemed to be getting closer.fullsizeoutput_6de

By the time we had wandered down the beach a little, to get away from the “crowds” – maybe a half dozen other people – and found a log to perch on with an enormous array of chewable sticks nearby, the afternoon was turning warm. Yes! An autumnal day that still held a touch of summer. Jackets off, and sleeves rolled up, we set to the task of watching the remaining surfers try to catch waves, and a couple of paddle boarders beyond the surf racing in on the swell.DSCF7680

Soon enough, the promising patch of blue sky pushed back the clouds, and we were sitting in the sunnier half looking across to the cloudy and mistier half of the bay. Scout dug holes like her life depended on it, and we moved back and brushed ourselves off like we didn’t enjoy being showered with sand.fullsizeoutput_6d8

The receding waters defeated the final frolicking surfers, and uncovered a rock strewn area to our right. We strolled down to take a closer look, breathing in the fresh seaweed and wet sand smell. Scout chose to be a little braver than in previous beach visits, venturing into water nearly two centimetres deep. Not spectacular, but just enough to make certain we’d be enjoying extra wet dog aroma on the journey home.fullsizeoutput_6dc

We were there for almost three hours, stumbling and splashing about, fun on a fall afternoon. As we dragged ourselves away, the bay was empty of people, and briefly, we had the wild crescent all to ourselves. A single bald eagle flew over our heads and towards the rocky section. I like to think, as we heaved ourselves back up the steps, bears and wolves were nosing out onto the beach, ready to feed and frolic now they had the place back to themselves.fullsizeoutput_6d5

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I’ll dip a toe, and then back to the car…”

Morning haze and daze

I can hardly believe another week has rushed by, and all in a bit of a blur. I’m realising I need to find opportunities to slow things down during the working week. Timewise, I was rather spoiled when pretending to be retired this past year…

As I write this, the rain is bouncing off the roof, almost as hard as it was bouncing off the car windshield earlier today on my drive home. Depending on weather and destination, my current commute could be a short walk, a short drive, or, hopefully not too often, a long drive. You’ll be astonished to learn that, out of these, I prefer the short walk.

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Monday morning. No stopping, PlaidCamper, places to be…
One morning earlier this week, a pretty mix of mist and low angle sunshine, I was sorely tempted to take a longer walking route, but resisted. With my getting back to being an almost grownup, there are certain expectations to be met, like getting to work. On time. Still, rays of sun filtered by mist and trees early in the morning is not a bad start to any day.

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Must focus brain
I like a little time between the end of the working day and arriving home, space to let any thoughts and considerations bounce around and then settle, to be taken up again the next working day, rather than over the threshold and into the evening. And to start, a brief walk to work is perfect for getting the brain at least a little focused on the day ahead.

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Is that the weekend just through there?
Now the rainy days are here, it is time to take out the most weatherproof jacket I have, and keep up with the walk to work, ignoring the siren call and unhealthy ease of a dry Jeep. (Anyway, I’ve noticed there is a distinct – and growing – smell of wet dog wafting up from the back seats. If I ever offer you a lift, get in the front seat…)

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Storm Dodger? Navigating the rainy and big weather days to come…
I’ve been enjoying my early morning daze and haze, a little quiet, and time to think before the day rushes in. Anyway, enough of that, thanks for reading, let’s keep it a very brief post this week – you’re all busy people! – and I’ll sign off by wishing you a happy and well-paced weekend, with just the right amount of time outdoors!

Back to school!

A very short post this week, mostly because for the first time in a year I’m doing a proper job, and consequently feeling rather more tired than usual. I can take a nap at almost any given moment, work or not, but this week I’ve been dropping off (after work, not in work!) very easily. I close my eyes at the end of a chapter, and then wake with a start much later. A normal readjustment to employment, not old age…

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The fog is lifting…

The last day of my shortlived attempt at early retirement was spent on Long Beach, a Labour Day Monday where the early morning grey of low cloud and fog – might as well get a job, summer is over – lifted, and the sun shone and skies were blue – should have tried harder at being retired.

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…let’s go to the beach!

I’ll miss the lazy days, like the ones spent waiting for a plumber to come and fix my renovations, but I’m looking forward to being a bit more purposeful, and Mrs. PC is looking forward to seeing me head out the door, leaving her in peace to get on with her research. Apparently, we can always get someone in to complete any unfinished works. Are there any?

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A lazy Labour Day

Why is the back to school week always warm and sunny? No matter where I’ve lived, or what age I am, it is always sunny in early September. The universe can sometimes be tough on those involved in education. Parents always seem happier than usual this time of year…

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The early retirement ship has sailed

Anyway, I hope you have had a pleasant week, whether you’re back to school or not, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Logging on and logging off

A very quick post this week, dashed out in between visits from family and friends, about a little place we like to sit and stare from when we need a short break.IMG_20180802_155702

Life is going along just fine out on the coast, a blend of warm and sunny days mixed with warm and foggy days, and, so far, just a hint of rain every now and then. We never need an excuse to head outside, but it is great to log off (I must spend less time reading online newspapers – isn’t it all fake anyway?), put down our books, avoid any household chores, and choose instead to get up and get going to a beach or trail.

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It’s not here

The pictures included this week were taken from a spot just off the Wild Pacific Trail. You know the place, where you have to push through a tangle of salal and other bushy undergrowth, and then scramble down some rocks to get onto a tiny pebble and shell beach. Yup, that place, but don’t tell anyone. Anyway, it doesn’t exist…

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Our last couple of visits there, the grey skies and grey seas were very soothing. In truth, I think on a sunny day we would find it almost too hot to sit out there on a log. Scout prefers it not too hot, and we are doing all we can for her by brushing out her shedding coat – so far, she has shed ten times her own body weight in fur this summer. (That probably isn’t true, but let’s embrace the current fashion for saying anything and insisting it is true because I said it and you didn’t – isn’t that how it works?) It is fun to watch her leap from log to log, her own version of logging on and off. Sensible dog.

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Logging on

Yikes, and I think I’ll leave it here, saying thank goodness for favourite quiet places just off the trail. Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and it’s one where you’ll find yourself in your own soothing spaces.

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Surf Ghosts

Sounds spooky, and Hallowe’en is weeks away. What’s going on?

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The tiny blob is a bear (sure looked bigger when we first saw it!)

We had plans to hike up a good stretch of Long Beach last week, starting from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, and continuing until legs or snacks gave out. Unfortunately, a large black bear was wandering back and forth across a narrow section of beach, and Parks Canada were there to ensure the bear was left alone, and our walk was cut short. Instead, we opted to mooch about on Lismer and South Beach, and Scout attempted to dig her way to the southern hemisphere. Time well spent.

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The large blob is Scout, checking a bear won’t fall into the hole she is digging

Yes, yes, all quite lovely, but what about the surf ghosts? I can’t hear you cry.

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Warm, but not so sunny…

We returned to the same beach a couple of days later, and the weather was warm, but very foggy along the shore. Bear warning signs were in place, and we were a little reluctant to head out, because we wouldn’t be able to see the bear in the mist. When we stopped to think about it, mist, fog, rain or shine, we rarely spot bears because they’ve already seen/heard us and moved along. That said, we prefer a longer view and a bit of distance where possible.

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A hanging about place

Great. The ghost surfers?!

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Ghost surfers!

We decided to wait out the fog, believing it would lift as the morning wore on, and start our walk with a clearer view. We settled down on a log, broke into our snack supply, and saw a couple of surfers emerge onto the beach and head to the waves. They made an interesting sight through the veil of mist. Before coming to this part of the coast, if you’d said anything to me about surfing, I’d think of Hawaii and board shorts, and a beach bar serving drinks with an umbrella in. That, or my sad and exhausting attempts at surfing off the coast of the Isle of Wight (southern UK, frigid English Channel waters) many, many years ago. If there was a bar serving drinks with an umbrella in, I didn’t see it…fullsizeoutput_66d

Our ghost surfers were kitted out in wetsuits, sensibly enough, and took to the waters without hesitation, appearing to have a fine time in the surf. They played for nearly an hour, and when they finally came back out of the water, I hope they had something warming to drink, no umbrellas.DSCF7403

Eventually, the fog cleared enough for us to head up the beach, and we had a pleasant walk, spotting shore birds and no bear. After an hour, the next fog bank rolled in, and we retraced our steps back to the parking lot. As we approached the visitor centre, we saw  more ghost surfers emerging in the mist. I admire the surfers out here. They are a committed bunch, and clearly appear to enjoy their passion. So much so, they even come back as ghosts…

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Were they really there?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Small town daze

Not quite right, should be small town days.

We’ve been enjoying our time in Ucluelet, and were excited to be here for Ukee Days, a celebration of community in this little corner of the west coast. The weekend kicked off properly with a parade, and excitement was in the air. Especially from the young children who had experienced a parade here before. They knew each parade participant would be handing out candy to the young ones lining the route.

It was a noisy and colourful affair, and likely the only time we’ll see a muscle car behind a police vehicle get away with burning rubber on main street…IMG_20180728_105335

Parks Canada, Inland Search and Rescue, local mum and toddler groups, the Wild Pacific Trail Society, Ucluelet Aquarium, various local stores, some fire trucks, police ATVs, an ambulance and other participants made a fine spectacle.IMG_20180728_104431

We’d planned to meet friends from Canmore arriving to camp nearby for the week at the evening show. Unfortunately, they missed a ferry and ended up getting to their campsite just as it was dark. They were rather tired from waiting three hours for the next boat, a two hour crossing with a seasick dog, and then a longish drive across island with a puking dog on the latter winding stages, and two teenage boys getting greener each time Fido threw up. They missed the evening music and beer.

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Tuff session

It was a good line up, particularly the headline set by Band of Rascals – guitars, drums, a bass, and a lead singer giving it all, with the volume turned up to 11. As it should be. When the light faded, and the fog rolled in, the proceedings were perfumed – heavily – by a sizeable chunk of the audience figuring they’d get away with breaking the no smoking policy under cover of darkness. Weed was in the air. Certainly added something to the atmosphere, a little extra haze and daze. We were happy enough with the Tofino Session ale from the beer garden. Quite enjoyed being carded too – I think I look as though I might still be in high school…

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Turned up to 11

We did catch up with our friends in the following days, and they slowly began to unwind and relax into Ukee time. They surfed a bit, hiked a bit, ate good food and drank good beer a bit, and loved having a beach bonfire each night right in front of their campsite.IMG_20180801_185630

They weren’t quite as excited about the bear that had gotten into a nearby tent early one morning (to scavenge for candy a child had left in a sleeping bag) coming back when they were out and tearing a hole in the side of their tent. Sadly, the bear may have to be put down. Doesn’t seem remotely fair to the bear when it is only trying to be a bear…

It takes time to find the time to wind down and follow island or small town pace of life. Once you do, the trick is to maintain it, try to hang on to it even if you have to move on. Small isn’t dull, and slowing down doesn’t hurt – put yourself in a small town daze!

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Ukee evening summer haze

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!