Racing green

I loved watching motor racing when I was a child – apparently I cried when my driving hero, Jackie Stewart, couldn’t get past another car due to the side-to-side manoeuvring of the driver in front. To my young mind, that wasn’t racing to see who could drive faster, it was blocking the track. I’m welling up now at the unfairness I still feel from that distant memory…

IMG_20180111_120118All that has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except that it came to mind as I started writing. We will be in the Jeep, a vehicle not noted for speed or aerodynamics, and racing across Alberta and BC, within the posted limits, so we can arrive on the coast in time for the long weekend. There, we will be seeing and soaking up the greens and blues (and cloudy/rainy greys) and signs of real spring.

fullsizeoutput_573By the time this is posted, our trusty Jeep will be shiny and black, dripping with rainwater and looking cleaner than it has for months, rather than the road salt and mud covered motley look it normally has for most of winter.

fullsizeoutput_57bWe are looking forward to brisk sea breezes, the cries of bald eagles, and the barking sea lions from down near the boat launch. If the sun appears, then the blue and gold of Long Beach will beckon, and if the sun doesn’t shine, we’ll go anyway and get wet. We’ll warm up later by the fire, with a glass of something good from Tofino Brewing.

fullsizeoutput_570A ferry, then fishing boats and kayaks. Dancing daffodils and bright tree blossom. Fresh air, full of the heady scent of wet cedar. Are we there yet? Keep it under the limit, PlaidCamper – who do you think you are, Jackie Stewart?

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“Yeah, I like the heady scent of the trees and all, but the best thing is sticks are bigger here!”

A very short post this week, as we are busy racing (safely) towards the green!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful long weekend!

 

Whiskey Landing

An old man and a young dog were out exploring on a fine sunny morning. In search of whiskey, they landed at an old wooden dock, stopping to rest for a few moments, when they were attacked from above by a mighty bald eagle…

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Early morning, looking east from Whiskey Landing
Stop, stop, stop! You can’t say that, that’s not what happened – you’ve got some of the words right, but c’mon, please be honest, and tell the truth. What is this nonsense you started with? Are you muddying the waters? Playing Chinese whispers? Creating fake news? Uh oh, don’t say that, don’t get me started – aargh, too late!

How I love to hear “leaders” cry “fake news!” I’m not listening, fingers in my ears and eyes screwed shut, la-la-la, fake news, fake news. Yeah, that seems a pretty adult leadership style, doesn’t it? (That’s adult as in grown up, not adult as in Stormy you-know-who…)

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Early morning, looking west, from Whiskey Landing. Calm, not stormy…
Why is it suddenly so hard for some to hear the truth these days? Why pretend to be so sensitive, finding it easier to take (fake) umbrage about what we hear, instead of listening? It’s spoiling my fun in being a human expecting other humans to show some decency and compassion. Let me guess? I’m a snowflake? That’s ok – this time of year, we’re knee deep in snow, so yes, I’m surrounded by snowflakes, and I love it.

And while I’m having this gentle rant, here’s something else. I feel so sorry for the trolls. There, I’ve said it. Once upon a time they lived under bridges, getting into trouble every now and then for wanting to snack on passing goats, but today being a troll is just the worst – blamed for so much of the comment on the web, and it isn’t even real trolls doing the trolling! (There’s no way – have you seen a troll’s hands? Far too big and clumsy to keyboard properly, so it can’t possibly be the real trolls. I hope this gets exposed, like an internet dark net deep state conspiracy thingy…#therealtrolls #trollrhymeswithknoll)

What a complicated world we’ve fabricated. Clearly, I’m getting old, possibly past it, when I’m wishing that trolls can just be trolls, and snowflakes simply fall prettily from the sky. All the partisan vitriol and name-calling. It’s enough to turn a person to drink. Ah, drink! Whiskey! Back to the story, and back to Whiskey Landing. Are you still here? Thank you, and apologies – the aside is longer than the story – oops, not story, I meant to say truthful and factual account. Let’s try again:

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RCMP pa-troll boat. Sorry.
A few weeks ago, I was out walking Scout, and we decided to stroll onto Whiskey Landing, trip-trapping over the bridge and onto the dock, and choosing to sit awhile. She likes to chew on any loose wooden boards, I like to pretend she isn’t doing that, and get my breath back, admiring the view and getting ready for wherever Scout wants to drag me next.

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Lovely spot to sit for a while
On a sunny day, and it was, it’s a fine place to watch the fishing boats heading up and down Barkley Sound. There are large commercial fishing boats, trawler size, and plenty of smaller boats too. Depending on the time of day, you can see quite the flotilla, setting off or returning. Very often, large numbers of squawking gulls follow the inbound boats up the channel, hopeful for a fishy morsel or two. We’ve seen harbour seals pop up and then dive down, wonderfully smooth and sleek. When they disappear, I watch the water carefully – I like to try and guess where they’ll reappear.

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There was a seal, honest! That’s part of the processing plant back there.
There is a fish-processing plant up channel from Whiskey Landing, and that attracts the gulls, crows, ravens and others. We’ve often seen bald eagles swooping over the plant; they fly across from the far side of the sound, singly, and in pairs. There’s hardly a visit to the dock where we haven’t seen at least one eagle, either circling, or perched in a tree, or up on the roof of the building overlooking the landing. Such beautiful big birds!

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“This is a good place to sit, but can we go now? I’ve eaten that plank…”
How big? Big! On the day in question, I’d spotted several bald eagles flying low over the processing plant, out of sight behind large buildings and then up into view, zooming back across the channel, presumably after snagging something to eat. Other eagles were much further away, small specks against the distant low mountains. I was quite content, watching and hearing all the bird activity, and enjoying the warm January(!) sun on my face.

Suddenly, several gulls appeared from beneath the yellow wooden raised edge, screaming and flapping just over my head. Yikes! They were being chased by a bald eagle! He shot up from below the parapet and whooshed over our heads. Scout jumped up and into me, almost knocking me off and into the water. Yikes again! The eagle gained height and landed up on a nearby roof. Wow!

What a thrill to have been so unintentionally close to a magnificent bald eagle. Scout could see the eagle was on the roof, and poor dog, she was trembling and whimpering. I wasn’t, but only because I needed to show Scout it was all ok. My heart rate might have gone up, just a little bit. Not enough to send me to the whiskey bottle though. (After all, it was still morning!) When we had both calmed down, we set off for home, trip-trapping back off the dock, past the eagle and over the bridge, being very careful not to disturb the water trolls under our feet.

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This is the bird! Taken on my phone, with shaky hands and a dog pulling on the leash as we walked away.
There you go, a true story. What with the opening aside (should you even open with an aside?) and the fact I’m evidently easily distracted, it’s amazing the story got told at all. I suppose I could have kept it a bit shorter? We went for a walk and a bird startled us.

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Taken a week earlier, a different eagle in a different location, and beautiful!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share a story – have you ever been startled by a bird? Do trolls live under bridges? Have a wonderful weekend!

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“Psst! Are trolls real?” “Seriously? You haven’t heard about #therealtrolls?”

The dock days of winter

Every day of my recent stay in Ucluelet I went for a wander, rain or shine (mostly rain), and the wandering almost always included one or more of the docks dotted along the water.fullsizeoutput_515

I’ve written before about my complete lack of nautical skills, yet I’m drawn to the boats – I can’t help it. Is it in my genes? My Dad, or Old OldPlaidCamper, as he’s never called, did run away to sea when he was a boy. Imagine, a teenager in the merchant navy and seeing the world. He traveled to many parts of the globe before he met my Mum and settled down. He has told a story or two about that time, but I suspect there are many tales as yet untold.

Yes, that must be it – I’ve inherited the genetic possibility (huh?) of a life on the ocean waves. This makes sense – after all, I have almost completed Patrick O’Brian’s wonderful cycle of Aubrey-Maturin novels set in the British Navy of the early nineteenth century. Is that nautical preparation? I think so! Although, all those beautifully detailed and descriptive stories, and I still can’t tell a topsail from a topgallant, and I’m not too sure about a futtock shroud…(but I love that there are futtock shrouds – thank you, Patrick O’Brian!)IMG_20180104_100240

Back to the docks! Rain or shine! Port and starboard! Futtock shrouds to the rain, I say! The photographs this week are from a greyer day or two, when it was about to rain or had just stopped. As you can see, as well as the boats, I like the paraphernalia dotted about the vessels and docks, some of it appearing cast down at random, but it likely all has a purpose that my landlubberly eyes can’t figure.fullsizeoutput_51b

I strode up and down every walkway, eager to see it all, slowing to take in each boat, stepping over a coil of rope, or the cables plugged into the big fishing boats. Every now and then an explosive splashing and flurry of wings would startle me from my daydreams, and I’d stop to admire the low flight of a duck I’d unwittingly disturbed, watching it scoot away across the water.IMG_20180112_112557

One morning, a Blue Heron was perched atop a piling, and remained unbothered by my presence on the dock. It looked very dignified up there, magisterial and generous enough to share the space. Herons, kingfishers, mergansers, bald eagles, gulls, and other birds I can’t name, were often present – it gets busy all about the water.fullsizeoutput_516

Big boats, little boats, new boats, old boats, grey boats, white boats, tidy boats, messy boats, boats for work, and boats for play – they all looked rather wonderful, moored up in the rain. Am I day-dreaming escapist notions from the global news storms that seem to sweep in every day? Perhaps, but being on the coast is retreat enough, and I wouldn’t want to disengage completely (even allowing for how our present day swirling and choppy political currents make becoming entirely unmoored a rather tempting prospect…)fullsizeoutput_518

Let’s be honest here – I’m happy enough to paddle a kayak or splash about in a canoe, but it is highly unlikely I’ll ever learn to sail and head out into bigger waters. I’d need a promise of endless calm water, and I think sailing doesn’t work too well on flat seas. Oh, futtock shrouds! No, this is absolutely fine, and I’ll stick to the fun that is the dreamy wondering and wandering around the harbour in these dock days of winter.fullsizeoutput_517

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

A murderously early spring? (Is it really winter?)

A strange blog post title – what’s going on? Best answer these questions, PlaidCamper.

I thought I’d write this a few months early, as winter appears to have come and gone, and Calgary is gripped by an early spring. Temperatures hitting 12C (!) the next couple of days, and last time I checked the 14 day forecast, the seasonal daytime high of 0C won’t be happening until late December. If this keeps up, expect a photograph of a daffodil next week…

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Taken this time last year

Calgary has spring, and I’ve had man flu – very disappointing to have a winter affliction when it isn’t even winter outside. Doesn’t seem fair. Luckily, I’d never complain about the weather, and likewise, I’d never complain about feeling under the weather. Nope, I may be gripped by man flu, or worse, but you won’t hear a peep. Perhaps a sniff, sneeze, cough, and a small whimper, but that’s about all.

Having been confined to my sick bed (or sofa), I thought I’d recommend a couple of movies where winter does make an appearance. It’s the only snow we’ve seen for a while.

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Snow!

Let’s start with Wind River (dir. Taylor Sheridan, VVS 2017), one of the few decent movies  for grown ups (they let me in) released since the summer, worth your time if you enjoy a slow burn story, arresting scenery, and great performances. Sheridan wrote this, and he wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water, also good movies. If you’ve seen the others, you’ll know Sheridan enjoys a stand off. The characters he creates aren’t always the most immediately accessible or likeable, but you’ll care about them when the stand off occurs.

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More snow!

In Wind River, we start with death on a reservation, followed by death in the past, then more death on a reservation, and finishing up with a bit more death high above a Wyoming reservation. It isn’t the most cheerful of movies, although there are glimmers of hope in the troubled lives of key characters. The story touches on family grief, notions of justice, wasted lives, greed over resource extraction, racial tension, friendship and duplicity. Fortunately, there is also a sprinkling of deadpan humour. And lots and lots of snow. All this in less than two hours, and it is a taut little mystery.

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Snow in the city! A happy memory…

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner are convincing in their roles, Renner as a hunter, Olsen as a rookie FBI agent. We can thank Sheridan as writer for avoiding what could have been a horribly cliched relationship between these two. The smaller roles are well cast and well acted, and the snowy mountain landscapes are beautiful. When the mystery of what happened to the original victim is revealed in a long flashback, it adds to the drama of what happens next. Great storytelling.

If all the gloomy death and despair of Wind River isn’t for you, then let me recommend a different movie. Be warned, it also features death, but there is far more fun to be had in Murder on the Orient Express (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 20th Century Fox 2017), if you are ok with watching a retelling of a story told countless times before.

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Train glamour (and snow)

I wasn’t too sure about seeing this one. I’d seen a trailer, and it was a touch off-putting. That moustache! The hammy-sounding Brit accents (I have one of those) and ‘eavy Belgian prrro-nun-cee-ation. Hmm – cliche and scenery-chewing alert!

Well, it was a blast! It’s hard to complain about a wonderfully familiar cast of good actors clearly enjoying themselves. Branagh is confident marshalling his players, giving each just enough space to shine.

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I like the snow in this one

The train is rolling through striking mountain scenery when a disaster strikes! It is stuck on a huge trestle bridge suspended over a deep, deep gorge after an avalanche blocks the track, derailing the steam engine. There is lots and lots of snow. There is a murder! Poirot has to solve the case before the avalanche is cleared, the engine restored, and the train is able to continue.

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Mist, not steam (and sn- ok, I’ll stop now)

In what is essentially a one set movie after the murder occurs, the delights are in the encounters Branagh’s Poirot has with character after character. The movie isn’t derailed and the story doesn’t run out of steam, even if you know what happens. Branagh himself gives a distinctive performance as Poirot, humanizing him behind the huge whiskers and sharp detective intellect.

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The Prairie Express

This movie is good to look at! As well as the colourful period costumes, the train’s interiors are glorious, all cut glass, wooden sheen, crisp tablecloths and gleaming silverware. This is a throwback movie, old-fashioned yet revelling in subverting an age that wasn’t as golden or glamorous as it appears. A fun film, if a story about murder is allowed to be fun.

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I hope it is winter where you are!

There you have it, a couple of deeply different movies to enjoy on a dark winter (fake spring?) evening if you are feeling sorry for yourself with a bit of a cold. Thank goodness I was able to get a winter fix, even if it took a murder or two and some CGI…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Tipping points and falling out…

A brief post this week, and not as dramatic as it sounds – oh no, not the tipping point! Falling out? The drama! Nothing exciting like that. Simply a short piece about not falling out (so far)…

An uphill struggle?

We picked up a couple of kayaks a little while back. Hours and hours of research, window shopping, daydreaming, comparing different boats and their capabilities (bearing in mind our limited capabilities), materials, and price points. What fun I had, and how happy Mrs. PC was that there was a little project to keep me quiet. Once I’d made a final choice – and there were many final choices, me being a decisive sort – Mrs. PC pointed out that the real limitation wasn’t what would fit on the car, wasn’t even price, but the fact that we have limited storage space. I’m not the practical sort – I like boats because they’re old and/or blue, remember?

So we picked up two short kayaks a little while back, and they fit into our storage space. You have to be practical…

Green – from a blue boat

I love bobbing about in my little (blue) kayak! I always find kayaks feel a lot more tippy than a canoe, but so far – at the time of writing – I’ve yet to tip either, more through luck than skill or judgement. We’ve stuck to very calm bays and inlets along the shore, and made every attempt to choose the least windy parts of the day. This seems to be mornings, and late afternoons and evenings. No doubt, as I become overconfident, I’ll discover the tipping point, and rest assured, I’ll write about it on here. No misadventures will be hidden by this almost outdoorsman. Of course, if there are no pictures, that’ll be because I should have put my camera in a better dry bag…

Not too blurry?

I like playing in the boat, and I like taking pictures. A new challenge is combining the two! Canoes on lakes are wonderfully stable, and mountains and trees keep wonderfully still. Kayaks on tidal waters, with wash and wake from other vessels – you should see how many photographs I’ve deleted. I like that they can be straightened after the fact, but how off the mark I’ve been is something. I was tempted to post a few of the really poor ones with this piece, but I’ve tried your patience long enough.

More about our kayak adventures and explorations in the future. Much like our initial excursions, I’ll keep it brief – as promised. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Washed up and washed out blues

Oh the blues…

Not the “life is so sad, lost my job, s/he left me, the roof is leaking and my dog, cat and hamster died on me” blues, although there’s a time and a place. Rather, the “I love the colour of those boats in the harbour” blues. Not sure if there is a song in that, but maybe there should be. If you write it, I promise not to sing it.IMG_20170731_202257

We were wandering about Ucluelet Small Craft Harbour, admiring the variety of boats, watching the comings and goings of craft large and small, and admiring the catches of the day. A mixture of busy and quiet, it is a lovely place to find a seat and enjoy a warm summer evening, so we did.

My eye is always drawn to blue and green, and here it was no different. There was a smattering of beautiful blue vessels tucked in between the more prevalent greys and creams. I’m hugely ignorant of matters maritime, and it is a good thing I’m not in the market for a boat because I’d choose a blue one before choosing the right one.

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The right one?

A fool and his dollars are easily parted – that is why I rarely shop, and when I do, Mrs PC is there to rein me in. So when I saw the lovely Tromso was for sale, and for a mere $8000, she shook her head, took me by the arm and led me away. No, we don’t need to live on a boat, there’s nothing “mere” about $8000, and we don’t have $8000.

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Character?

I thought Tromso had character, and I could relate to her age. She’s rusting, I’m greying. Weather beaten and a bit worn around the edges? Yup. Some bulging and sagging where you’d rather it wasn’t? Okay. Looks good in blue and green? Enough already…

So the nautical life remains undiscovered by this old PlaidCamper, and the harbour side blues play in my head every time I look out and see the Tromso tethered and rusting down by the dock. She looks a little washed up and washed out, but I think there’s some life left in her. I hope the right person comes along and sees the potential. I’ve been searching down the back of the sofa, but to no avail.

Sing along if you want to – “I love the Tromso and I don’t have a cat…” – oh my unnecessary nautical blues!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I might be whistling Dixie…

This river is wild…

Or if not wild, certainly rising. Keeping a close watch, given the heavy flooding Calgary and other places on the Bow experienced a few years ago.

I like this truck!

As spring turns to summer, or as we skip spring for summer – tornado warnings/sightings, and gajillions of mosquitos being my prime evidence – I’m putting together the dreaded OldPlaidCamper road trip mix tape. Just to be clear, and for the record, Mrs. PlaidCamper has excellent musical taste, and a remarkable ability to fall asleep in the car when my mix tape is up next. That might be one of the rock solid foundations of a successful road trip…

You might be asking Why the bit about the river, and then the bit about mix tapes? Good question! This River is Wild is a track on the Sam’s Town album by The Killers. I like the album, and I like the track, and it has popped up in my head each time I’ve crossed the Bow this past week and seen the surging waters. Yup, I’ve got a fairly empty head most mornings, and this is what fills it – plans for a road trip mix tape.

That Killers track! I do enjoy their wailing histrionics, in small doses. You can’t fault them for effort, and the albums Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town include killer, haha, tracks. If you’re interested, follow the link for a live version – I prefer the studio version, but couldn’t find a link – The Killers – This River is Wild 

I like this truck as well!

On my little walks around Sunnyside, in between downpours and battling the bloodsucking bugs, I’ve stumbled across some more old trucks and snapped a few pictures. Old trucks always get me thinking about road trips and wide open spaces. The sad truth is, if I owned a cool old truck and was responsible for the maintenance, our road trips would be short. We’d see lots of verges, and be on first name terms with tow truck owners. Sadly, I can only look and dream when it comes to older trucks (or I could learn to be a mechanic – don’t let Mrs PC read that last part, she’s seen me fix and build…)

I really, really like this one!

Oh summer, I can almost see you there, just a little way ahead, and around the next turn! Here’s hoping the river isn’t too wild, the road is long and open, and an as yet unknown distant (wealthy) relative decides to lend me an old truck on permanent loan…

Thanks for reading. Keeping it short this week – mix tape planning can take a lot of time, you know – I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and please feel free to share a road trip song suggestion!

And I like this one!