Today’s soup is…

Beer?! No! Not yet…

Soup, of course! More about the soup below. I know, you want to bail out now – but then you’ll never know about the soup. It’ll eat away at you…

Did you really think it was beer? It’s not like this blog posts a seemingly endless stream of beer photos.

Oh. Erm, a hop forward soup?

We walk past this chalkboard at least once a day, and if the current specials aren’t too inspiring, I find the soup of the day makes me smile.

Why not?

At PlaidCamper Towers, yesterday’s soup was a rather good homemade tomato and lentil, cooked from scratch with love and care, and the need to do anything except read another online article about how to improve oneself during the enforced sabbatical. I mean, if I read one more thing about how making your own soup from scratch with love and care will help you cope with hours indoors, and help me reach my potential, why, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll start writing about how making soup can help while away hours spent indoors. Is it too early for beer yet?

This blog is meant to be about the adventures of an almost outdoorsman, but given the current situation, I may have to rename it. Ooh, rebranding, isn’t that a thing, like conservatives suddenly loving public health, and finding the magic money tree is actually a magic money forest?! Time to start over, a new identity. Maybe, the adventures of a confirmed indoorsman? Indoorsman – is that a word? Adventures in dusting behind the books, vacuuming the baseboards twice a week, sweeping the little deck, and some updates on how the paint is drying where we’ve fixed a couple of drywall dings. I might even start some deliberate dinging of drywall just so I can fix it, and then write about it. Did I mention yesterday’s soup already?

A brief escape for the indoorsman

Anyway, I’ll leave it for this week, as I’ve got to go and find the hammer, plaster, paint and brushes Mrs. PC hid while I was writing this.

I do hope you’re keeping well. The current crisis is very serious, and frightening for so many. I admire and thank all the people who are doing all they can to keep what is necessary going. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

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!

Dead Calm

The lake equivalent of the doldrums – is that a thing?

Personally, we’re not really in the doldrums, in fact, far from it, especially when we’re out and about. Mind you, current political storms aren’t showing any signs of receding. Peering ahead, trying to find a positive glimmer in the gloom somewhere on the future horizon, it can seem genuine calm and a sense of things improving globally is all a bit far off, a bit difficult to discern. The doldrums wouldn’t be so bad compared to a storm. Although a sailor never wants to be in either…

A glimmer

A sailor? Me?! I should probably leave the nautical terms and conditions well alone! Anyway, we all know the seas are stormy at the moment.

In the meantime, as we wait for common sense to reappear, what can be better than a trip to the lake? We enjoyed Sproat Lake early one morning last week, a day that started with fog and frost. When we stopped at the Kennedy Hill construction, the flagger said our wait would be 15-20 minutes. Excellent! A chance to pop down to the edge of Kennedy and take a quick photo. The water was silvery-blue, and on the far side, trees were topped with a layer of fog, and poking out of this fog were the heads and shoulders of low mountains. Quite magical. What a splendid view, worth hanging around and snapping a shot.

Sproat Lake, not Kennedy. Dead calm.

“Hey Bud? They just cleared it ahead, and I can let you through! Good eh?!”

Well, darn! My all time scenic shot of Kennedy will have to wait for another day! By the time we reached Sproat, after a pretty and winding drive up and over Sutton Pass and down through the Snow Creek area, the fog had closed in.

Happy enough!

It was cold, and we walked at a brisk pace along the shore. Often, crows and ravens give us a squawk and a nod, and we sometimes see a heron in the reeds, but not much was stirring. The surface of the lake was still, and in places we couldn’t see where the water gave way to fog. It was very quiet, very calm. Dead calm, and no bad thing if you’re happy with that.

Pretty chilled

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

Apocalyptic!

An attention-grabbing heading, even if the reality was somewhat less exciting.

How about Ukeepocalypse? Or the UkeeVeggieFamine? We survived both, you know…

If you’ve read along for the past couple of years, you might remember that just up the road from us a road construction project is ongoing. A small project in many other places perhaps, but actually quite a big deal here, and quite an impactful one at that.

Rainfall? Here?

The twisting highway really narrows at Kennedy Lake, and in poor weather with low visibility, it is a dangerous spot for drivers. Sadly, there have been fatalities in the past. The Kennedy Hill project will eventually result in a wider and safer road. For almost two years, construction has caused many planned and unplanned highway closures. Rock blasting has sometimes taken out the power lines to the coast, rainfall has caused mudslides, and just over a week ago, blasting caused a fall that took too much rock and ended with a part of the road collapsing and falling into the lake below. Oops.

Questions started to fly. Will the road reopen today? Tomorrow? Before the weekend? After the weekend? Ever? What about emergency services if needed? Deliveries of food and gas to the stores? That essential gadget from Amazon? Will we be abandoned? Cut off from civilization? (One can hope…) Wasn’t the snow last week enough? Was that an earthquake? Yes it was. What next? Locusts?

Snowmageddon?! Hardly

Locusts? Some did get a little overexcited, and shopped like it really was the apocalypse. Although, if it really is the apocalypse, isn’t the deal one goes looting, rather than lining up to pay for dwindling goods and services? So not completely out of control then.

Living out here, there is an expectation households can manage for themselves for 72 hours should there be a tsunami evacuation or power outage. This allows emergency services to focus on priorities. The local store really was emptied out of fresh produce rather too quickly. Why panic buy? Do you love broccoli that much? Really? Maybe events will have prompted some to be a bit better prepared for the future…

There were some amusing posts on the community pages

In the end, a temporary bridge was put in place over the yawning chasm, and I’m looking forward to driving over it once some heavier vehicles have made it through safely. The road reopened – as much as it has ever been open in recent times – before the end of the weekend, and what passes for normal service has been resumed. Broccoli is once more in store, and the local deer population looks much relieved. Yawning chasm?! Dramatic, just like the apocalypse should be.

Yawning chasm? Well, I wouldn’t get too close to the edge – and there is not much underneath

I survived the Ukeepocalypse…phew! I hope there’s a t shirt coming.

Calmer days ahead?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

“I want it to snow and snow…”

“It’s snowing! It’s snowing!”

Really? I waited for a few seconds, and looked very, very carefully. There! On my sleeve, was that a snowflake? Yes! And then another and another. Snowing? Maybe.

“See? It’s snowing! It’s snowing!”

“Well, there are some flakes falling from the sky, so, yes, it’s snowing!”

“Yes! Can we build a snowman?”

“Erm, let’s wait, see how much snow falls…”

“I want it to snow and snow and snow!”

Several hours later.

“When will it actually begin to, you know, pile up?”

“Maybe overnight. We’ll check it out tomorrow, ok?”

“And build a snowman?”

“And build a snowman!”

It snowed and snowed! A bit.

The following day.

We built snow caves for our toy wolves. We re-enacted the plane crash from “Hatchet” (yes, the story takes place in high summer, but if you’re pretending to be a small bush plane crashing in the northern wilderness, snow is ideal for a soft landing – I mean, crash) and we built a snowman.

We also created a scene showing Brian being bitten by a swarm of mosquitoes, and this seemed a very strange thing to be doing in swirling snow. The results looked like something from a Nordic noir crime scene:

A boy covered in mosquitoes? If you squint…

The next day.

“Can we go inside now? I’m cold. We could stay indoors, read some more of the book. I don’t like snow that much. Is it going to rain tomorrow? I like the rain!”

“Would you like it to rain and rain and rain?”

“I like the snow!”

It has rained. Rain. Rainy-sleet. Sleety-rain. Snow. Snow-rain. Rain-snow. Back to rain. Then more rain. Brian washed away.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sunshine and snow

Space and balance and comfort

Balance? Teetering? Toppling? No, just an occasional wobble. Who? Me? Um, maybe. Any more questions? Um, maybe…

Teetering? Not me!

Over the last three decades (three decades??!) I’ve mostly taught upper elementary and Junior High school students. My work the past month has been with students a little younger than that, and I’ve found myself crawling around on hands and knees in the mud, building shelters and making fire pits. In truth, this isn’t so different to when I’m working with older youth. Hands and knees? Check. Getting muddy? Check. Building stuff? Check. To house a small toy wolf? Erm…

Room to wander – and wonder

I’ve wandered quite a long way out of my comfort zone, learning to learn through imaginative play. I’ve constructed tiny shelters from leaves and twigs so “my” wolf feels safe and secure out in the wild. The young ones understand real wolves don’t live in actual constructed shelters (they know pigs build those) but they’ve really taken to looking after their wolves.

Space to play

Since the mini shelters, we’ve moved on to making real shelters for keeping dry, exploring different ways to keep the rain off using a tarp and some rope, or a lean to made from branches. Yeah, that’s more like it for me, comfort zone rediscovered! When we finished, it was back indoors to warm up and make a miniature campsite using popsicle sticks, paper and plasticine. Comfort zone lost once more. All I can say is I’m doing my best, and who knew I would be so consumed by creating a fire pit from plasticine? Consumed, I tell you. Well, if you’re going to do something…

I’m finding out the attention span of eight year olds is fairly short (yet remarkably similar to teens) and when you throw in a few emotional/behavioural challenges, things get interesting. A popsicle stick topped with plasticine can be a weapon? Yikes!

A long and empty stretch

All great fun, and a major reason why weekends full of space and free from too many people have become so prized. I have to find some space and balance! Wandering long stretches of beach, and wondering exactly how many strains of bacteria can live in or on plasticine? Did I forget to bring my wolf inside? How long will it take to use several thousand popsicle sticks?

Space and balance!

I’m not going to post pictures of my – I mean our – plasticine triumphs, but an older student, the one with the creaky, muddy knees, seemed very pleased with this creation:

Aren’t those foxes, not wolves, PC? Shhh! Use your imagination!

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!

Wizard Island

This isn’t a post about elves or unicorns (or hobbits) – phew – but how about some magic? I will, due to being rather tired, be very brief this week, and I promise to write something a bit more detailed next week.

Leaving Bamfield, and we’re off to Wizard Island

I was on Wizard Island – yes, really – earlier this week, learning alongside a small group of students, splashing about in the intertidal zone, slipping on seaweed and scraping hands and knees on barnacles. We were being scientists, uncovering then sharing our discoveries, beaming our explorations live to students at UVic, and generally having a fine old time in the middle of Barkley Sound.

As far as these students were concerned, we were in (on?) the best possible classroom, transported there in a small aluminum boat, past bald eagles, basking seals, foraging bears, and with the prospect of a humpback whale sighting. We were lucky enough to spot three humpbacks spouting on our trip back, and I wish you could have seen the students when this happened! Such excitement, because we were relatively close, and this excitement from young ones quite used to spotting whales from the shore.

Barkley brilliance

All this and their first ever media appearance before 10 o’clock in the morning. Not that I couldn’t keep up – I did, just about – but I am mighty tired in the best possible way after three full days of marine activity. I will sign off this week with a few more photographs from Wizard Island. I don’t know about magic, but I do believe there are magical places…

More to follow. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

“We’re media stars!”

The Fog (based on real events)

The following tale of terror should only be read with all the lights on. Unless it is daytime, then you should turn the lights off and stop wasting electricity. But it is scary. The story, not electricity – unless you’re being careless. Here we go:

Yes, we’re into the fog and dog days of August out on the west coast!

You can never be quite sure what the day might bring weather wise. We’ve started in thick fog first thing in the morning, only for it to burn off by midday and enjoyed warm and sunny afternoons. We’ve also woken up to thick fog, gone out for a mid morning coffee in thick fog, thought it might be lifting, and it does, to just above the tree line. Sometimes, you can see a line of blue sky over the bay and behind Mt. Ozzard, where you know the sun is shining down on Salmon Beach. It never feels chilly in the fog, it’s a warm and humid blanket, and on the beach it makes for an eerie atmosphere. No, not chilly at all, unless…

Last weekend we stopped at Long Beach for a walk before heading on to Tofino, and it promised to be a pleasant stroll in the mist. Before setting out, we could see the tip of Lone Cone just above the fog, and on the drive along the coast, tendrils of pale mist curled out of the trees and over the road. We’d drive from a clear patch into a misty patch and then out again. We wondered if the fog would keep visitors off the beach and the answer was yes. The parking lot was quiet. Maybe too quiet.

Who knows what lurks nearby?

Perhaps prospective beach hikers were concerned about wild encounters in the wooly conditions? I wouldn’t want to run into a bear or a wolf in the fog, but then we’ve likely passed many a wolf and bear without catching sight of them, and that’s in clear conditions. However, after last weekend, a wolf or a bear encounter would seem mild…

We strode down the beach at a good pace, assuming we were alone, although it was hard to tell, visibility in all directions being reduced to a few metres. Scout was happy, bouncing and loping ahead of us, restricted only by her long leash. She’d disappear into the fog bank, but no worries as I could could feel her straining and pulling to keep us moving. Suddenly, the leash went slack. Oh no! Had she slipped off? We followed the line of her leash into the murk and there was Scout, standing, hackles up and teeth bared. What was wrong? Peering past her and into the gloom we could see someone. Or something. We moved forward slowly. A strange figure emerged from the grey. It was tall, too tall, impossibly tall, spectral, and with a hint of menace about it. It appeared locked onto us – an unblinking stare and arm raised and pointing. My mind raced. Was this it? A shiver ran down my spine and my heart rate rose as we got closer and closer to the looming creature. We were caught in its spell, unable to break free. My life flashed before my eyes, mostly images from middle childhood, hours spent watching black and white B movies about alien bodysnatchers, swamp creatures and killer robots. Scout lunged toward the mighty beast… and peed over the base of the washed up log. (It was tall, too tall – honest!)

Anyway, we had an enjoyable walk in the fog on the beach last weekend.

Scary monster, or too many B movies in childhood?

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

Brave Scout!

The fish were jumping…

…well, three or four made a splash near our kayaks as we paddled in the bay earlier this week. The fish, eagles, bears and other birds have been a welcome distraction from the unicorns frolicking in the sunny uplands of Brexit Britain – all will be well there if the new PM is to be believed. Politically, it all seems so depressing on both sides of the Atlantic. Racism and xenophobia aiming to be the new normal, and if you disagree you’re unpatriotic or a pessimist… No wonder we decided to stay away from the news and head out onto the water. Better use of time and all that.

Sparkling

We spent a couple of very enjoyable warm and sunny mornings on the water, the first chance we’ve had this summer to bob about a bit, and very calming it was too. You know, if we needed calming.

Winds were light, almost nonexistent – they tend to pick up into the afternoon out here, so a morning paddle is often best. Away from the relative hustle and bustle of the kayak launch – there is a small campsite nearby, and sometimes there are as many as four or five people – we found ourselves paddling along the shore at the foot of Mt. Ozzard, with splashing fish and singing birds for company, and no need for unicorns.

Paddling

I love the way a bald eagle floats across a line of trees. From the water, it looks like the eagle will disappear into the forest or over and out of sight, but often it’s the angle playing a trick on my eyes. Or it’s my eyes. The eagle flaps once or twice and then glides along just below the tree tops. Always a wonderful sight.

Splashing

The fish were splashing, birds were singing, eagles were gliding and a floatplane was buzzing. Eventually caught sight of it lining up for a smooth landing further down the bay. They are noisy, but I have to admit to liking the buzz of a floatplane, and I think of the passengers inside, a lucky group who have just seen the coastal islands from high above on a sunny day.

Buzzing

I expect we’ll be paddling a few more times in the next little while. We plan to bring a lunch and haul ourselves out onto the shore somewhere, rest up on a log and eat before a bear chases us off. Or a unicorn. We’ve scanned the far shore and picked out a couple of likely looking spots. More to follow…

Unicorn friendly

Thanks for reading, here’s hoping for some light news days, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!