Virtual camping?

Can that be a thing? Not too sure it’ll work, but here’s what I’ve been thinking. Thinking?! I’ve gotten very close to setting up my little solo tent on our tiny balcony. If I thought Mrs. PC would let me in again the next morning, I’d probably take that trip. This week is a bit of a repost, or perhaps a remake? Redo?

This time last year was the last time I went on an off grid trip. Over thirty young people plus elders and mentors set off in two boats, in high spirits, low temperatures and steady rain. The smaller boat was a zippy number, speeding ahead and stopping every now and then to drop a line, see what could be hooked. We had time. This was because the second boat was a larger slow boat, carrying most of the group and all of the supplies. A steady steamer that probably felt smoother in the roughish seas.

The slow boat

I was on the small boat for the outbound voyage, “enjoying” those roughish seas and the chance to stop and fish. The fishing wasn’t a huge success, unless you count snagging a surprised sea slug. Or was it a cucumber?

Beware, sea cucumbers!

The weather improved over the three days we were away, so that by the time we were ready, if not willing, to return, we completed the trip under blue skies. I took the slow boat back – anything to prolong the fun.

Another picture of the slow boat

Out at camp, we rebuilt trails that had taken a battering from a couple of spring storms. Everything was tidied and spruced up, ready to present to and welcome a group of elders coming out to see the area, for some, the first time in years. After the first night, I reset my tent properly in daylight. I’d really rushed the set up, doing the best I could in strong winds and rain in the dark. Besides, who wants their untidy tent letting the side down?

The small tent

What I didn’t report in my first piece about this year ago trip was that on the final afternoon – the day before we were leaving – I turned my ankle over. It was jolly painful, and my left foot turned all sorts of jolly interesting colours.

Since then, the recovery of the high ankle sprain has taken many months. It’s unlike me not to have complained about this sooner, but as I’ve time in this pandemic, and because you’re interested, let me share that I couldn’t ride my bike, and really struggled with walking up anything with much of an incline. My dreams of shimmying past the last defender and scoring a beauty of a World Cup winning goal have had to be put on hold. Again. I know, I know, it’s a loss for sport.

The small boat

All of this slight moping and retelling and reminiscing is simply a way of me wishing we could all go camping again soon. Not all at once, and not in the same place. I love you dearly, but there are physical distancing issues that we need to respect. Still, until we can be out in our favourite places and with our favourite people, there’s always the virtual camping and old stories to share. Again. Did I mention my ankle?

Off grid inlet. Soon?

Thanks for reading, enjoy the long weekend if you have one, the regular one if you don’t, and stay safe and well! Now, where’s the spare back door key, and let’s see if that solo tent will fit on the balcony…

PS I’m told those seas really weren’t that rough, or roughish – even the sea slug laughed at me. Or was it a cucumber?

Pandemic! Epidemic! Endemic! I need a medic…

What a noisy week it has been. Well, I suppose it’s been noisy for a touch longer than that. Still, Super Tuesday (or was it Thursday? Oops!) and all the primary excitement. Joementum! Feeling the Bern! Racist slurs and insults on Twitter! Don’t forget the virus! We’re all going to die. True, but not right now, and not all at once. Is there a cure for this March madness? Health warning: this post contains many questions, and few answers!

Taking the cure

Not sure it’s a cure, but the Pacific provided some respite for us recently, on our own little Super Tuesday. We decided to take coffee and a second breakfast to Florencia Bay. Sunshine and an empty parking lot greeted us, as well as a falling tide. Barely a breath of wind, and the noise came from washing waves, the cries of gulls, and a pair of singing bald eagles. Ah, blessed harmony…

The canine question mark!

Florencia is Mrs PC’s favourite beach, and on a bright late winter day, it’s easy to see why. Coffee in a quiet place, sitting on a log overlooking the ocean? Could this be the cure? Dark roast and a berry muffin – a medical miracle. Perhaps not, but in the moment it certainly felt like a soothing specific Pacific balm for the epic epidemic of modern madness. I enjoyed writing that last sentence, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it three times. Or sing Happy Birthday twice (oh if only the cure for what ails us was so simple!)

Hush now, politicians, step aside, put your money where your mouths are, and listen to and support the proper experts – nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, underfunded and overworked yet doing their level best to keep all of us ticking along.

A Super Tuesday

Keeping it brief this week. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Looking ahead…

…to a new year, and a new decade – goodness, the century is racing by, isn’t it? Doesn’t seem like 20 years have passed – a quick glance back, and remember when reading and writing about Y2K fears and predictions of gloom was all the rage? Well, the internet didn’t crash, stoplights kept working, and wasn’t the internet called the World Wide Web? A time before Twitter. How old fashioned and lovely…

Incoming…

I thought this post was looking ahead, not back, OldPlaidCamper?

You’re quite right. Looking ahead, I think people will remember to be kind and compassionate, seek to embrace and value difference, and wear plaid at least once a week because it never goes out of fashion.

Also, 2020 will be the year the Ucluelet Brewing Company brewers throw open their doors, if only to stop me pressing my nose up against the window almost daily. Nearly twenty months later than first promised, the next opening day is slated for January 31st – here’s hoping it happens, and the beer is good!

Something good

I hope your coming year is full of outdoor time and adventures in nature – be it hiking, skiing, paddling, fishing, photography or camping, either alone or with friends and family. And of course, your outdoor day should finish with a glass of something good when you get back indoors or back to the campfire.

Looks pretty bright

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend and a wonderful start to the new year and decade. Looking forward to 2020!

Fading…

The year, the decade – but not us!

A brief post to wish you all a very happy winter festive season, if you choose to celebrate.

The season? I dig it!

I was put in mind of the fading of the year a week or so back when we were on the beach mid-afternoon on a relatively sunny day, only to find the light went pretty quickly as the afternoon marched on and some clouds marched in. Shirtsleeves to toque and jacket in little more than an hour.

I’ll save looking ahead to the next decade for when it gets under way, save to say here’s hoping it isn’t as rabidly populist, negative and xenophobic as the end of this decade. As a couple of comments left here recently suggested, it’s worth holding on to the notion the pendulum will swing back, bad political times do pass, and common sense and decency, kindness and caring might even become the norm.

With that, all the best to all who’ve chosen to stop by, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

The coming storm

Oh no, is he going on a rant here?! Nope, keep reading, it’s a short post about our stroll up, and then dash back down Wick beach last week.

I’d managed to get off work early, and because the forecast for the weekend looked a tad damp, we thought we’d make the most of an unexpectedly sunny afternoon. Probably wouldn’t need rain gear, so didn’t bother taking it. Yup, you’ve already figured out how good that decision was…

It might not rain, right?

When we turned off the main road and drove down to the parking lot, the blue skies were less blue, with wisps of fog blowing out of the forest, and some grey clouds out on the horizon. By the time we’d untangled Scout’s long leash and found a trail not being cleared by chainsaw wielding Parks Canada folks, quite some time had passed. When we stumbled out onto the beach, thoughts of a warm and sunny stay started to fade as quickly as the clouds growing closer to shore.

It could brighten up…

Luckily, I’m pretty good at reading the weather, and my expert calculations indicated we’d have enough time to wander along the shore for a good half hour, maybe throw a stick around with Scout for a few minutes, then saunter back.

Probably got time to saunter up and back?

I will say that a hurried walk that looks like you’re almost running could be interpreted as sauntering if you’re feeling generous. Mrs PC and Scout weren’t feeling generous, they were feeling the enormous drops of rain from the leading edge of the storm front that overtook us as we sauntered back to the car. I think the word was invigorating, but I’ll keep that to myself.

“You’re right about the light, PC, but can we go now?”

The light was dramatic, the waves were gathering themselves for an onshore onslaught, and goodness me, didn’t the front move in quickly. Still, at least we had rain gear with us. Oh, I forgot – someone who shall remain nameless said we wouldn’t need it.

It’ll stay dry

The forecast this coming Saturday is for rain, and I for one will be paying attention and dressing appropriately. I mean, what kind of fool ignores the obvious…

Um, maybe we should head back now? Or thirty minutes ago?

I think I’ll leave it for this week, and wish you a wonderful weekend – rain, snow, or shine!

PS Wayne let us know that Ucluelet received 210mm of rain, and Tofino had 167mm. Not bad for less than two days!

Light and dark

Day and night, morning and evening, good and bad, lager and stout.

I could almost leave it there (I know, but I won’t!) as this about describes our trip to Victoria last weekend.

Distant (somewhat hidden) mountains

If you’re going to spend some time in a city, then Victoria is a pretty good one. Much is made of the relatively warm and dry climate, and we were lucky enough to have a mostly dry weekend. Not sunny, but dry. Other Victoria plus points? Waterside location, distant mountains, not too big, a mostly walkable downtown, many coffee shops and microbreweries, and the rather lovely Royal BC Museum.

BC Parliament building, Victoria

We stayed at Spinnakers over in Esquimault because it is only a short waterside walk from the downtown. At night, the lights reflecting on the water was a sparkly sight, and by day there’s always a floatplane taking off or landing, as well as various marine craft large and small. Spinnakers claims to be the oldest craft brewery in Canada, producing decent beer since 1984. I believe Mrs PC suggested we stay there, and after much protest, I agreed.

Oh alright, if I have to…(but not the cider or sours)

The beer menu is quite substantial, although once I’d ruled out sours and ciders, it all became manageable. Mrs PC enjoyed their Pilsner, I preferred the Original Pale Ale. And the Scottish ale. And the PNW ale. And the imperial stout. And the nut brown. Anyway, enough about breakfast.

Really?! Looks chilly.

Should you find yourself in Victoria, can I recommend the First Peoples gallery at the museum? Excellent displays depicting life pre and post European contact, with thoughtful and thought-provoking exhibits. Many items included original language as well as English explanations, and it was a joy to hear the language out loud. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but the connection to – and respect for – land and sea came over as common sense time and again. We’ve lost so much, yet could still look back to find a model to help us move forward, environmentally speaking. Oh, and while we’re using common sense, let’s include total respect for ancestors and elders. Who’d have thought?

Taxi!

Enough of the preaching, because you’re probably desperate to know which beer was my favourite? Being a decisive sort, and after much consideration, I think it was the Original Pale Ale. No, the PNW ale. No, the stout, or was it the nut brown? The Scottish? My memory is failing me here, so I’ll have to go back for another visit, put in some proper research time. I think Mrs PC will insist on staying there again. Oh well…

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

Royal BC Museum

Spinnakers

Salmon and sunshine

We’ve been lucky enough to have had a lengthy spell of autumn sunshine, and not only in the week but through last weekend too!

Dusk

Sunny ways and sunny days to enjoy, from dawn to dusk, so we had to go to the beach. Shirtsleeve order in late October, and let’s not tell Mrs. PC – she’s currently working and loving the early winter in Alberta, snow and all. Scout and I send her photographs from the coast, and I think that helps…

Helping

Last Monday evening I went with a small group of youth to a local salmon hatchery. What a trip! We witnessed nature red in tooth and claw (the claws were on the hind paws of a hopeful bear we saw disappearing into the undergrowth) as the young people assisted in removing eggs and fertilizing them. These were sights I’ve never seen before, and in part it is a bloody spectacle, but one conducted with great care and respect by the hatchery staff. As ever, students were rapt, and getting a hands on education about salmon as a keystone species. It must be said, we all washed hands thoroughly after, and after that as well.

I’ll leave it there for this week, a brief post celebrating some local positives. Salmon and sunshine!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Very helpful

Falling…

…levels of optimism, mostly brought on by paying too much attention to the ever alarming news cycles. Not helped by feeling somewhat under the weather, and being holed up indoors reading, you’ve guessed it, too much news. Toddler tantrum fuelled drama, enabled by spineless, dollar-chasing, power-grabbing, conscience-free “leaders” apparently willing to play along and play with lives. Anyway, let’s not get into that.

Driven to (a welcome) fall distraction

In an attempt to be positive, I thought I’d post a few pictures of pleasant days we’ve enjoyed in the past few fall weeks. Then, it’s more like falling for fall than falling into a grey gloom and grump. Let’s leap into a free fall of positive thoughts.

A misty start and barely a ripple. Calm…

We’ve had misty starts, sunny afternoons, and heavy rain, sometimes all in one day. The past few days have seen some of our heaviest rains since early spring, and that’s a good thing.

Good things on a sunny morning. Peace…

The positive power of time spent outdoors rarely fails to raise spirits, even if I’m struggling somewhat, puffing and panting to keep up with Scout. I like to think she’s a sympathetic soul, but slowing down to accommodate the ageing is not yet part of her make up.

“Yeah, yeah, stop grumbling and let’s go, you old grump!”
Positive

A very brief post this week, and I promise that as soon as this one is written, I’ll be avoiding the siren call of the news, and heading out – slowly – in search of happy thoughts, and to see if the recent rounds of wind and rain have whipped up some waves down by the lighthouse. If they have, I’ll come back and add a picture (or two) if I can get a good one (or two…)

From last night, a few early season storm waves

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

Big sky, genuine drama, tantrum free. Happy thoughts…

Canadian Thanksgiving

A brief post this week as we head into a very welcome long weekend.

Lighthouse after sunset

So much to be thankful for! Living in western Canada is something we appreciate every single day. A remarkable location, an exciting diversity of people, and it rarely rains or snows out this way. Two out of three isn’t bad, and actually, the rain and snow make the landscapes what they are.

Whiskey Landing fire water

We always enjoy celebrating this holiday. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but that won’t stop me writing it again – we first arrived in Canada just before the Thanksgiving weekend, and were completely unfamiliar with this holiday. We ventured out from our Calgary hotel into the downtown, and couldn’t understand why it was so quiet everywhere. A city of one million, but it didn’t seem anything like it. Where was everybody? At home with friends and family, giving thanks for being in Canada? Perhaps.

“Didn’t you say that last Thanksgiving?!”

Back at the hotel, our room was upgraded, because the person who showed us to the room had thought we couldn’t possibly spend any amount of time in such a small space. Small? It was bigger than some apartments we’ve lived in! A wonderful introduction to Canadian hospitality, we were made to feel welcome over and over.

Ucluelet – derived from Nuu-Chah-Nulth for “safe harbour”

Canada has a poor history when it comes to indigenous peoples, but it is working to acknowledge past wrongs and create a better future for all – old and new Canadians alike. There’s a long, long road to travel, but we’re very happy to share at least a part of that journey. So much to be thankful for!

Pretty bright ahead

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Digging it

Really digging it. And no stone left unturned. A little more detail this week to follow up on last week. This one is a bit preachy – that’s a heads up, not an apology…

Digging it

The students I was with were really digging being scientists. From a plankton tow, to measuring sea salinity and water temperatures, to searching for intertidal wildlife, the young ones showed they really, really care about the place they live, even if some of the creatures they were looking for can’t easily be seen with the naked eye.

Sooo cute?! I think so…

Plankton! Phytoplankton! Zooplankton! These little plants and critters are sooo cute (not my words, but I understand the sentiment) and utterly astonishing when viewed under a microscope. We all – quite rightly – get alarmed by the rate at which forests are clear cut, slashed and burned, and generally mistreated in the name of resource extraction, worried that these acts of destruction are steadily ruining the “lungs” of the planet. Last week, students learned from their instructors that forests contribute approximately one third of the Earth’s oxygen. The other two thirds? Yup, you guessed it, from marine plants, and particularly or significantly from phytoplankton. The larger lung of the planet, absorbing carbon and producing oxygen, the all important base of the aquatic food chain, these tiny plants perform a mighty task. Good thing we’re being so kind to the oceans…

On the ocean, in the ocean

Students enjoyed seeing aquatic life through microscopes, in laboratory touch tanks, and even better, out on and in the ocean waters. By exploring, seeing, touching, drawing, identifying and naming a variety of marine life, the students came to care (more) about their local environment, and see how what is local and necessary for them is also local and necessary for everywhere else and everything else.

Think green, go on, dive right in

These young ones, they see the connections, can follow a line from the smallest creatures to the largest, from the bottom of the ocean floor to the high edge of our atmospheric envelope. Lofty stuff, and here’s hoping their caring example is enough to maintain, restore and protect our precious planet. Forget about the childish adults denying a climate crisis and belittling those (young and old) who care to hear the truth of science and dare to suggest solutions. Instead, aim to support the next generation of scientists and activists, the young people inheriting our woeful environmental legacy, and hope for them that they have enough time to act to secure a sustainable future.

Passing through, like we all are…

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