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!

On the rocks

Scout was one determined dog last weekend. We went to the beach early – early enough to leave the first dog and person prints in the sand, and before the (are you sure your travel is essential?) out of province visitors started to fill the parking lot.

First dog, no prints, and fresh sand – let’s go!

With Scout in charge, it was a case of whatever she’s having, it’ll be on the rocks. The refuel stop for a coffee top up, water and kibble was just barely tolerated. Yup, sticks, logs, and odour laden washed up ocean mysteries were all well and good, but they weren’t on the rocks. So on we went!

From Scout’s happy place

Eventually we arrived at her happy place, and after choosing the most slippery route – for humans – to the top, Scout relented and let us rest. While we recovered from the frogmarch (or dogmarch?) down the beach, Scout took up a high position to scout for threats. We observed a few gulls and a pair of passing bald eagles, but nothing to threaten our place on the rocks.

Watchful

With the sun starting to feel pretty strong, we eventually persuaded Scout it was time to make tracks for the car. She excitedly picked up the scent and tracks of two slow humans and one smart husky/shepherd/tyrant cross, and away we went, off the rocks and back to the car.

Looking back

When we got home, Sergeant Major Scout trampled a few circles into her cushion and promptly crashed out for three hours. Make hers a double. Probably overdid it on the rocks there, Scout.

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

I’m not tired…

Spring greens…

…and blues! The colour, not the downer. It’s been a good week for feeling positive, as we’ve enjoyed above seasonal temperatures, warm sunshine, and the opportunity to get a first shot vaccination for all eligible Ucluelet residents.

A shot of green and blue

Often, we’ll be wandering through the fringes of coastal rainforest, admiring the fresh greens and wallowing in the damp environment, but any photographs taken haven’t really shown what I’m seeing. Perhaps it’s my tired old eyes?

Fresh greens

Last weekend, the sun was just right, as was our timing, and I managed to snap a few pictures that more or less show the greens as we see them. Or think we see them. And the blue of the ocean just beyond.

Greenery and, erm, bluery?

We walked and walked last weekend, mostly on paths straight from our door rather than heading to beaches requiring a car trip. With a bit of planning, we were able to avoid the (what are you doing here with non essential travel restrictions?) visitors and find quiet spots to pause and think along the way.

Another good colour here

All being well, the bright weather is set to remain with us for the next few days, through the coming weekend and maybe longer. More bright blues and greens to enjoy! Ah, spring! Boing! (That’s for any Zebedee fans…Zebedee? Huh? Feel free to ask or comment below!)

A brief, bright and bouncy piece this week, as we leave it there and head outside. Boing! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

“I can see the sea!”

Here’s a trip down my Memory Lane, and you’re very welcome to come along. It’ll be a civilized and genteel stroll…

When we were children, my three brothers and I would start craning and leaning forward in our seats, desperate to be the first to call out “I can see the sea!” as we approached a vacation destination. It was something of an annual ritual, and signalled the end of the backseat silent territorial war being waged for extra space in a crowded small sedan.

I can see the sea!

Our parents would start to relax, knowing their four boys – delightful children all – were about to be unleashed onto an unsuspecting British beach, and they could stop pretending we hadn’t been fighting and elbowing each other the past few hours. Four sweaty urchins on a leatherette bench seat? How fragrant.

The lucky destination? Usually somewhere in Devon, Cornwall, North Wales or Norfolk. The United Kingdom isn’t the largest of countries, and you’re never too far from the coast, but I bet on those road trips my parents wished they lived on a smaller island…

I can still see it!

Are we there yet? Yes, off you go! Take the cricket bat, footballs, kites, and dog, and come back next week. I mean, before 7pm. And don’t fight. Look after each other. Yeah, right. The unspoken code was to do pretty much anything stupid short of broken bones, and no telling the parents later. We’re all still alive today, and no bones were broken – hard to believe – so I guess we sort of looked after each other. It was always advantageous to be the one with the cricket bat.

“Memory Lane? Yawn…”

These days, it’s pleasant to sit on a log, watch the waves, drink that essential second cup of coffee and wind down after a work week. Goodness knows, my parents must’ve needed to wind down. They worked hard, particularly at being parents to four little angels, even if they weren’t getting along so well with each other. At the beach, my mum would reach for a book, no doubt hoping the children didn’t suffer any serious injuries, and my dad would sometimes join us to play cricket, if he hadn’t disappeared to the nearest golf course. One year, he brought along some sea fishing gear, and spent a week catching no fish. It looked so boring to us, and I think that was what he had hoped.

Winding down time

What prompted all the not so misty-eyed nostalgia above? Last weekend, we were heading down to Sunset Point to enjoy the early morning sun – aren’t we the contrarians? – and as we wandered along, I had a sudden sense of being that (adorable) little boy again, spectacles shining in the sun, excited about glimpsing the sea. I’d quite forgotten that feeling, probably because in recent years we’ve seen the ocean every day, but it hit hard last weekend. It is a thrill to see the sea! Even better when you aren’t nursing new bruises and can walk straight there, no cramped car journey to endure and no need to carry a cricket bat. Golden memories of innocent childhood days.

Sunset Point, but not sunset

I’ll leave it there – I have to take Scout out for a (beach) walk, go see the sea, and anyway, I think I have something in my eye. I bet I’ve a cricket bat hidden away somewhere. Might need it post-COVID when siblings come visiting. Oh no, don’t think that! To play cricket, of course. Genteel, remember?

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

Fringe elements

The lunatic fringe. Used to be, you could tell where that was located, politically speaking, but these days? It’s a little harder to avoid the fringe elements…

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post-Brexit, post-Tr*mp, post-truth piece. It’s a piece touching on fringes, elements, edges, and transitions. But not hair. A fringe? If I had one, it would be a high fringe. Possibly monkish. Moving on.

High green fringes

We were walking through the rainforest fringe last weekend, descending through layers of green down to the shore, and emerging onto a wind-blasted beach. We knew it was a blustery day, and had wrapped up accordingly. The first part of our walk was in the shelter of the trees, and we thought it was all pretty pleasant. So when we stepped out and into the hard gnashing teeth of the wind, goodness, it was biting.

Colder than it looks…

We trotted up and down the beach at a very brisk pace. Down to the water’s edge and back, and enduring, I mean, enjoying the bracing air. For what was probably the first time ever, Scout was not interested in examining every single washed up log. She had her ears pinned back – streamlining, sensible dog – and attempted to guide her lunatic companions back to the fringe. Yes, at least one of us was thinking clearly.

The sheltered edge

We did find a suitable log to stop and sit on for a short while, mercifully out of the clutches of the wind. The sun almost appeared, and with it a steady trickle of hopeful beach walkers. It was fun to watch them hit the wind zone and then see them scurry back. So it wasn’t just us…

Cool green

A short piece this week from the western fringe as we transition into proper spring. Or hope to. A recent long range forecast was predicting a cool start to the season. Haven’t we just enjoyed that? We’ll continue to head out, whatever the weather, ears pinned back and making the most of it.

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

Some small stuff

We’re not sweating it! It’s not warm enough at the moment…

It’s spring break for schools here, and with stay local and nonessential travel advisories in place, we’re not taking any time off. It’s a chance to catch up on less enthralling admin aspects, and aim for shorter work days and longer hikes.

Another rain shower heading this way!

The weather has been spring like from time to time, without breaking out and committing to a full on farewell to winter. We’ve had frosty mornings, rainy mornings, one or two misty mornings, and no more snow at sea level.

The rainy days have been the warmest, and Scout and I trotted out between showers one morning, expertly timing the gap in showers to get a good soaking at the farthest point of our walk. We sheltered under a tree overlooking our favourite sunny day spot, dreaming of drier days and walks to come…

Our favourite sunny day spot

Scout amused herself by chewing on a stick and then posing for a portrait, and I amused myself by taking her picture and then trying to snap a drop before it dripped. Or was it a drip before it dropped? Yup, the big stuff keeps me occupied. The photographs used here are some of the better drips – and I think Scout is happy enough with her photograph.

Me? Have my picture taken? Oh, go on then!

Small stuff to enjoy against what appears to be a slowly improving bigger picture, vaccination wise. I think we’ve forgotten what normal used to be – maybe it wasn’t always that great – and perhaps we’ll move forward to a normal where we will try to remember the small stuff is the big stuff.

Small stuff, up close

It’s still very tough times for many, and no doubt there are still challenging days ahead. We appreciate we are fortunate to be living where we are through these locked down and restricted days, and, for the most part, haven’t felt too restricted given our remote(ish) location. The novelty of Zoom and such like wore off after the first ten minutes, and introverted as I might be, I’m looking forward to seeing friends and families in person at some point later this year. Must be the hints of spring encouraging this sense of optimism. That and my sunny, outgoing extrovert side finding a voice. Hush, now, strange inner voice.

Drips and/or drops – big stuff

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

Driftwood. Vikings. Matches.

A monkey at a typewriter will eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare? Maybe, but really, would a monkey live long enough? I’m in my mid fifties, and all I could come up with this week was the title “Driftwood. Vikings. Matches.” Hmm. I’m assuming the monkey isn’t blogging after work.

Incoming matches

Between bouts of wind and rain last week, we ventured out to catch some air and enjoy the coastal trail. Seeing the huge logs being swept against the rocks, I thought to myself that’s a lot of matches, or just a few small ones for the gods. Then I thought the sea gods wouldn’t have much use for matches. I mean, have you ever tried to light a wet match?

I’ve been watching “The Vikings” the past week or two, and I don’t know how historically accurate the show is, but it’s been hugely entertaining. I like watching the scowling Norse folk paddling hard to shore to cause (mostly) mayhem. Brave sailors with a belief in gods who could change your fate on a whim. I get a bit confused telling one Viking from another, with all the hair, tattoos, furs and whatnot. Also, the ones I was watching all seemed to have the same name or two. Ragnar. Lothgar. Ragloth. Lothrag. Nargar, and so on, with a -sson thrown in for good measure. (Apologies here to any Vikings reading this and feeling offended. No need to pay me a visit…)

Anyway, the Vikings weren’t far from my thoughts on our visit to the shore last time out. We’ve had some big weather, with wind warnings and large waves. Possible power outages haven’t happened thus far, but the blustery stuff is with us for another day or two. I wouldn’t want to be on the water, with the rough seas and logs lurking just beneath the surface. Paddle out on a raid? Nope, not even if armed with a lucky tattoo and impressive facial hair. I have neither.

Lovely beer – even in a glass

It seems appropriate that our beer choice last weekend was from the Driftwood brewery. Pretty good beer, and I wonder if it is even better from a horn? Do Vikings ever put down their drinks? For all their craft skills – those longships are a marvel – you think they’d have managed flat bottomed beer containers…

Thud and thump

Thud and thump – the driftwood we saw last week wasn’t drifting. It was slamming. Against the rocks, and against other logs. The low boom was deep and you could almost feel the vibrations.

Large matchsticks? No. Sea gods? Possibly. An overactive imagination or tired mind? Most likely.

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

PS Back to that monkey with the typewriter. How will we know if and when it has typed the complete works of Shakespeare? Is there another, very well read monkey sitting alongside, checking the work? Or is that role taken by an ape? I think I’m switching from “The Vikings” to “Planet of the Apes” next week.

Did it snow?

At the end of last week, I promised to post a few extra photographs of the snow – with boats, without boats, but definitely with snow. After all the excitement we experienced given the relatively large snowfall, it already seems so long ago. Now, the talk of the town is all about spring. Spring?! Is it here yet? No!

So, hold your horses for spring, and here are a few extra photographs of the two day winter we enjoyed.

Green on white

The next photograph was taken on Rainforest Drive:

Snow Forest Drive last week
White on green

It didn’t take too long for the quite mild temperatures to cause the snow to drop off tree limbs in great sliding thumps of snow. It was fun to walk down Rainforest Drive and dodge the wet snow bomb clumps. This wasn’t champagne powder snow, it was more like porridge.

Didn’t lounge about here for too long

The beach was interestingly different, but actually quite difficult to navigate, with all the rocks and large pebbles hidden under the snow. Next time (next year?!) I’ll come down to the beach when it is snowing, see the flakes driving in off the water.

Boats in the snow. So last week.

I think that is probably enough snow – we enjoyed it while it was here, but spring, it’s your turn now! What snow?

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

Damp daze

I received a WP notification the other day stating I’ve been blogging here for six years. Six years?! Who knew I’d be able to write a weekly post about going for a walk and keep that up for so long? Admittedly padded with the appearance of a beer photo or two along the way…

Damp

Well, here’s another one about going for a walk. We went to Florencia Bay earlier this week, a planned day off from work when the forecast noted it would be a sunny day. The forecast was wrong, and instead, we had a rainy walk, negotiating muddy puddles from the parking lot to the rickety wooden stairs leading down to the bay. Scout helpfully ignored my pleas to slow down as we descended the slippery rickety wooden stairs. When we got to the bottom, I looked back up, thinking how much I was looking forward to ascending the wobbly, slippery, rickety wooden stairs. No padding this week.

“You can’t get up here, can you, OldPlaidCamper?” Nope.

The rain didn’t ease. If anything, it fell more heavily and at just the right wind blown angle to get under a jacket hood and top up our coffee. From a hot espresso to a lukewarm Americano.

There was a (fool?) hardy surfer pretty far out, enjoying the pretty big waves. They had a companion spotter on the shore, but still. Braver than me. These were the only people present, and the wind and rain seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of the eagles we often see there. No sightings. A few buffeted gulls were skimming the surf, performing admirable manoeuvres.

Still damp

A day off being a day off, wet or not, we weren’t going to let a morning go to waste. We trundled up the beach for a bit, keeping a close eye on the turning tide, and happy that the rain couldn’t water down a decent bar of chocolate. So it was a touch chilly, and a little damp, but overall a good wander along a beach in any weather is bracing, and we felt better for it. Until we got back to the stairs leading off the beach. Did I mention those already?

A testing day…(thanks, Lynn!)

Thanks for reading, this week, and for some, any, or all of the previous six years. Let’s see if we can manage another six… I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

End of miles

I was staring out to sea the other day, with a partial lyric running through my head. I kept reaching for the song, and the performer, but it stayed just beyond my grasp. It wasn’t a particularly poetical piece, in fact, it was literal to my circumstances:

“You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back…”

Yup, that was what I was doing, and that was the fragment. Although, the first day, I wasn’t standing with mountains at my back, they were in front of me:

The other day, and it was sunny!

By Saturday lunchtime I got it the right way round, with ocean in front, but I still couldn’t remember the song. A Teenage Fanclub tune? Nope. Sad to say, I know their songs inside out, and it wasn’t them. Being a person capable of holding on to deep thoughts, and always prepared to grapple with a problem, I completely forgot the lyric for a couple of days and got on with whatever it is I’m supposed to do.

Ocean in front

On Wednesday, I received an email from an old friend. We’ve been plotting and postponing an old guy road trip, with stops at baseball places (for him), musical references in songs (for both of us), and craft breweries yet to be tried by either of us (for him!) The latest plan involved parts of California, a favourite for a road trip, and it had me humming “California Bound” by Black Francis/Frank Black or however he refers to himself. As well as being buddies in beer, my friend and I share the same dubious musical tastes, so Frank Black, the Pixies etc. would make it onto a road trip mix tape. Can you call a digital playlist a mix tape?

“You planning on getting to a point here?”

Much like a canceled road trip, you might be finding this post isn’t really going anywhere. Anyway, prompted by the postponed plans, I played “California Bound” and then let the album (Black Letter Days) run, because I’d forgotten how hugely enjoyable this rambling country tinged guitar and reedy/basso and sometimes falsetto voiced album is. He writes and performs as if, well, why not? So listen I did. And there it was! The song with the partial lyric that had wormed its way into my musical mind. “End of Miles” by Frank Black. Phew! Mystery solved, and a fine song if you like that kind of thing. The more complete lyric is:

“At the end of miles
You stare out at the ocean
Mountains at your back you think you’ve tamed”

Well, I haven’t tamed any mountains – at best, I think it is safe to say I’m always happy to head up and then make it back. Hiking, or on a snowboard, and especially on skis, getting home is the thing. I don’t tame mountains, but I do love them.

Yes, happy to be here

I haven’t reached my end of miles just yet. Very happy to be residing on the coast, between the mountains and the sea, but also looking forward to the “grumpy old git road trip“ and being California bound, likely now scheduled for 2022 or beyond…

I’ll leave it for this week, with a post almost as meandering as a Frank Black album, full of detours, and incomplete stories, but written because, well, why not?

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

Bonus track: “1826” by Frank Black Oh yes! Turn it up to 11 – if Mrs. PC is out. Probably not for everyone, but this should go on a road trip mix tape.