Falling on cedar

The snow, not me,  and thanks to David Guterson for the partial post heading.8DB864CE-7B5E-4F5E-81FA-B5319937F88F

Yes, snow really was falling on cedars out here on the coast last weekend. As much as one centimetre (!) fell where we are, and because the temperature was barely above freezing, a millimetre or two stuck around. It was quite the delight to watch young children scramble and scrabble to gather tiny amounts of poor quality snow and make a snowman. The ones they made may have been small, but they were loved.E183BBB4-F954-4C26-9CC4-1F585DFD13A1

We went out on Sunday morning, bundled up and bravely striding into the teeth of the blizzard. Oh, alright, there was barely a flurry, and skies even cleared somewhat. We slipped down the gangway and onto the Outer Harbour docks to take in the view of almost snow cloaked hills over the water. The gusts of wind did have some bite to them as they raced up the channel, promising more snow for later in the day.02610276-ABB8-4CAB-911E-14F5BE94ACBA

As excited, if not more so, as the children making mini snowmen, we wandered out again in the afternoon, expecting more snow according to the forecast. As we approached Big Beach (not so big, but bigger than Little Beach) proper snow began to fall – large flakes driven onto shore by an increasing wind. A mini blizzard!12B91662-1B2D-4F19-878A-3747490C90BA

On the beach, Scout was beside herself with winter happiness, jumping up to snap and catch snowflakes. Her inner husky was more than content. If dogs could laugh… It was quite something to be standing on a snowy beach when only the day before, we had been just up the coast enjoying warm(ish) sunshine sitting with our backs against a sun heated log.CDB48AB2-C715-407D-98A8-E3430CA769A9

Although the temperatures all this week have been about half what they normally are, it still feels mild, especially when compared to the Alberta winters we’ve enjoyed over the years. Yesterday afternoon, I managed to steal away for a pleasant half hour when an appointment got shifted to later, and I used the valuable time to get a small shot of Foggy Bean and sit down by Whiskey Landing. The sun was out, a bald eagle flew past, a harbour seal popped up, and gulls made their presence known. Not too bad for a February work day!

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Yesterday, getting work done/get back to work!

I’ll leave it here, as I’ve got things to do – I can see a small pile of snow the sun hasn’t reached just outside our door, and I’m certain there’s enough to make one more teeny snowman. Snow person? Snow teenager? Or snow child? Snow baby?

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

 

As easy as falling off a log…

If something is as easy as falling off a log, should you do it? Isn’t it easily avoided? Maybe it just happens, no effort at all. I’ve fallen – or at least slipped – off a log, and it hurts. Easy? Yup. But I’m not so sure it’s the thing to do. Why am I asking? It’s the nonsense that fills the gaps in my head when perched on a log.d5bf7b94-1ca3-4863-85e3-9ac083a8d245

Last weekend we were blessed with a day that seemed more like spring than winter. Blue skies, warm sunshine and very little breeze. It was a day made for the beach, so that is where we went. We found ourselves scrambling over the rocks and between the logs, searching for just the right spot to stop and take it all in.6d9d7bbb-30d3-4d9c-9912-c746c57332b4

Getting there, the tide was low, and the stretch of sand was wide. We couldn’t understand (but didn’t mind) why there were so few people about? We were out for several hours and saw only a handful of hikers and dog walkers. Oh well…ef3a9dfc-0af4-461d-bec4-f79371973933

When perching, I didn’t fall off a log this outing, but I did come close to tumbling a couple of times in my attempt to keep up with Scout – she was sure-footed along the trunks, and didn’t mind showing me up as she leapt from log to log.8ed9fab3-4241-4d7d-a871-682a139fe766

We spotted a few bald eagles, but our closest bird encounter was earlier in the morning. We were enjoying a fine cup of coffee from the recently opened Foggy Bean, admiring the view from Ucluelet across to Hitacu when the little fellow pictured below took a keen interest in our drinks. I suspect he was after something to eat rather than a caffeine hit, but what good taste he had…

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“Ooh, is that coffee? ‘Cos, yeah, we’re raven mad for caffeine…”

Not so sunny for us this coming weekend – the ravens will miss us sitting at our usual spot, and we will miss being there. Still, the very early spring day last weekend was easy to enjoy – as easy as falling off a log.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Short days and sunsets

A short post to go with the short days. I know the days aren’t shorter in hours and minutes, but the decreasing daylight is a disappointment this time of year. You’d think, after all these decades, I’d have come to an accommodation with less light by now…

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Sunday

What we have enjoyed is being out and about as the sun starts to set early afternoon. Oh alright, I’m exaggerating – not early afternoon, more like late afternoon. Given the fairly sunny spells we’ve mostly had the past few weeks, there have been some very colourful sunsets and I’ve included a few shots here. We’ve been fortunate to be on beaches and tramping trails in glorious weather, huffing and puffing to keep up with an enthusiastic canine hiker. Or is that jogger?

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“Keep up!”

Since last weekend it has been rather rainy in this little corner of the PNW – as it should be – and the wind got up quite a bit yesterday, so it is looking like too much of a risk this coming weekend to take a youth group out in boats to their remote camping spot. Like the young ones, I’m disappointed not to be camping, but also like the young ones, not entirely disappointed to be avoiding camping in what looks like a weekend of prolonged rainfall. Instead, we will be crabbing in a sheltered bay, and trail building more locally – plenty of outdoor time and, thankfully, no chance of swell-induced Salish seasickness.

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Thursday

Any suitable crustaceans will be distributed to elders in the community, and if firewood needs chopping and stacking, then the youngsters will get to that as well. It’s a delight to see them connected, community-minded and caring.

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Saturday

If you celebrate US Thanksgiving, I hope it’s been a happy holiday and continues to be so into the weekend. Thanks for reading, it’s always appreciated!

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Any day

Sea legs? Maybe…

Yes, maybe. I can’t claim to be much of a sailor. In fact, any vessel over the size of a kayak or canoe is way beyond my abilities, unless I’m driving onto a ferry – you might have read before about how I like to park at the front of an open car deck and pretend to be the captain. No? Oh. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that…

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Nahmint 5

Last weekend I got to spend quite some time on the water, in the sturdy Nahmint 5, and in a police launch. These were the two vessels used to transport excited youth, elders, mentors, and a slightly nervous PlaidCamper out to remote tribal lands, a camping spot that felt far from the modern world, and all the better for that.

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Our departure point – hope it clears…

The day had dawned with quite a bit of cloud cover and a real chill in the air. Our destination is reputed to be one of the rainiest places in Canada, and it appeared as though we’d be experiencing some of that soon. Fortunately, the cloud and mist burned off by midday, and as we pulled away from Ucluelet and headed towards the Broken Islands, the day warmed up and everything was a glorious blue, punctuated by island jewels of green and grey, with the distant mountains of the main island reaching up above cloud cloaked shoulders.

What a ride, with smooth, smooth water all about. My nerves over being in a small craft on open water were soon as calm as the  almost mirror flat surface we moved across.

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Fuel

Honestly, I’d not been too sure about the boat ride, having felt rather green about the gills in a heavy swell a couple of years back, but last week was fine. Sea legs? My sea legs were behaving, and we enjoyed a magnificent hour or more, fuelled by strong coffee, bright sunshine, and excited chatter.

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Smooth

I’ll write about the days spent camping, and some of the adventures we experienced over a few posts in the coming weeks, but thought I’d start with this, the short voyage to reach our destination. And, because I’m a little boy, I couldn’t resist including the police launch used for the trip back. What fun it was, getting my non-existent locks wind-tossed and wet in the sea spray thrown up by a fast-moving boat – far better than me fast-moving to the side and throwing up…

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Can I go in this one? Can I? Can I? Please?!

I’ve never been in the back of a police car (being a law-abiding sort) but now I can say I’ve been hauled into the back of a police launch (my initial clamber in wasn’t so elegant…)

I’ll leave it there, happily pretending to be an almost salty sea dog, and continue the tale another time.

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The Nahmint in one of the rainiest places in Canada – we were so fortunate to be completely dry our entire trip

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

Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful for (and you might be thankful I’m keeping this one brief…)

I had an enjoyable evening earlier this week, foraging for chanterelles with a group of young people learning from an elder about traditional harvesting. Once one mushroom had been found, they all seemed pretty handy at knowing where to look, and there was no stopping them. Excited shouts cut through the trees, signalling each discovery. This was going to be easy…0B56EEE2-A7E6-4A94-AD0C-E715D21EC61D

On an overcast and muggy evening, the light was fading fast in the dusk, and mosquitos were beginning to find me with rather more success than I was having finding chanterelles. They are distinctive, but this OldPlaidCamper was not very adept at unearthing chanterelles, and almost every other type of mushroom I found was a poisonous variety.FE15B0D1-766E-47CE-832B-D50F59E19089

A trait being taught was persistence, so I stuck with it, hoping old eyes might fall upon elusive prey. After nearly 45 minutes of hot and humid searching, I did find two lovely chanterelles. Excellent – my status as an almost outdoorsman remained intact! As I was about to call it in, a young man I’d been guiding through the dense forest slipped on the mossy log he was climbing over and landed on his butt right next to my find. “Found some!” he cried, clambering to his feet with a wide smile.DC0D26ED-8975-4E33-9270-FB1EE452DA07

The forest was becoming very dark, and time was called on the search. Light from the channel shone through the trees and up the slope, so we (I) tripped down the hill towards the water and out onto the shore, escaping the worst of the biting insects.

The chanterelles were to be shared with the community, and you could see how happy the foragers were at making their contribution. As we made our way back along the shore, it became clear that every member of the party had found some chanterelles – well, almost everyone. I did get a couple of consolation pats on the back, and some words about maybe next time.170A9F91-8A78-4F57-AC16-9F75804E8129

So much to be thankful for, and I’m particularly thankful for the fine young people I’m working and learning with. Times are troubled in the wider world, but there are reasons to be hopeful about better times ahead, especially when you see young people expressing enthusiasm for their natural surroundings.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend. If you are celebrating Canadian thanksgiving, I hope it’s a good one!

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…”

Cedar view

A little earlier this week we found ourselves sitting under a cedar tree and enjoying the view. The day was warmer than we’d had for a while, and the morning fog had burned off, leaving blue skies and a touch of breeze. Driving out of Ucluelet, we made a last minute change of plans, and decided to skip the beach and find a different quiet place. The wild spontaneity of early middle age and having time on your hands!

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Sticks, stones, and a log for old bones

We were on the inlet side in the Tofino botanical gardens, away from the rush and roar of the Pacific, and enjoying the sheltered calm of the mud flats. The tide was high, so no mud, but shallow water ruffled into ripples by the breeze, or the wake of distant passing boats.DSCF7603

Every now and then we could hear the faint roar of floatplanes taking off and landing further down the shore and just around the bend. Our shaded spot was bug free, and the air was a mix of cedar, salt and drying sea weed, punctuated with an extra waft of whatever Scout happened to be chewing – usually the largest deadfall branch she could manage. She’s yet to concede that some logs are too much for her…

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Too much branch? Never!

A pair of herons flew past at one point, and a single bald eagle flapped over the island in front of us and disappeared from view. Behind us, the voices of other garden visitors exploring the trails could be heard from time to time, and we would sit quietly, hoping they wouldn’t discover “our” place on the shore. I know, not very friendly, or very mature, but then the spell would have been broken. Early middle-aged, not grown up.

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“Our” hiding place

The distant view was fine, the close up details were pretty, and we were in no hurry to leave, so we didn’t.

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Details

However, an energetic dog, and pins and needles from sitting on a log too long eventually had us up and moving on. We headed back to Ucluelet, and yes, we stopped at a beach to give Scout the run around she always needs. Or she gave us the runaround and we tried to keep pace.

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A longer view

Is summer almost over already? Here’s hoping for a warm and dry September! Maybe we will be sitting under the same cedar soon enough, perhaps sheltering from the autumnal rain…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful (long) weekend!