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!

August already?

Well, this summer is flying by! We’re starting August with a sneak preview of autumn, expecting somewhere between 100-150mm of rain Thursday through Friday. By the time this piece is posted, the front will have blown through and gentle sunshine will reappear, enough to warm things up and kick start Fogust. It’s always meteorologically interesting on the west coast!August/Fogust

Last weekend saw the Ukee Days celebration, a fun acknowledgement of life at the end of the road. Saturday started with a parade – every vehicle with a siren seemed to participate, much to the delight of the children lining the route. There were some amusing sights to go with the sound. The parade went down Seaplane Base Road to the fairground and a field of tempting deep fried foods and a beer garden. As you know, I’m quite an avid gardener and did peruse the beer garden. The Tofino Blonde was thriving…

After an afternoon of logger sports – axe throwing – and a talent show, Saturday night ended with a more musical noise, four local-to-the-island bands entertaining the crowd. There were more kids and families and less marijuana than last year, and call me an old fuddyduddy, but this seemed better. Maybe it was too many visits to the beer garden, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand or hear the words being sung by Illvis Freshly – Back It Up – but they were energetic in their delivery.

We recovered from Saturday by taking a long beach hike and our dinner out to Wick Beach late afternoon/early evening, enjoying the long stretch of sand and all the quiet. Moderate Pacific waves rolling in at the turn of the tide, with sandpipers scurrying and bald eagles swooping and gliding. Best of all, an osprey dropped into the surf and came up with a fishy prize. As it turned back to shore, it had to evade a bald eagle intent on a share – or all – of the treasure. The osprey got away.

It’s not been all beach walks and loud music music the past week. We’ve also maintained our commitment to propping up the local coffee economy with fairly frequent stops at either the Gray Whale (maybe the best coffee in Ucluelet, so let’s keep that our little secret) or The Foggy Bean (possibly the best named coffee in Ucluelet or even the universe, but it’s ok to disagree!) I particularly enjoy going to The Foggy Bean because they are located in the renovated church that is also going to house the new Ucluelet Brewing Company. Opening Summer 2018! Nope, opening Summer 2019! Nope, opening October 2019. We’ll see. I like to press my nose up against the window pane to check on the progress inside. I can say they are currently a staircase short of a riser or two. No, really. October seems optimistic, but here’s hoping.Coffee stop – four coffee shops two minutes or less from here (but keep that quiet)

I’ll leave it here for this week. As I look out of the window, I can see the “atmospheric river” (thank you, Weather Network) is currently flowing over Ucluelet, and there’s a very pleasant drumming of raindrops on the roof. I can’t make out the words, but the rhythm is great.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Rain – The Cult

The back nine?

Wandering around St. Andrews last week, in the middle of visiting friends and family in varying degrees of good health, it occurred to me I’m pretty much on the back nine.

Castle

That’s a sobering thought, and enough to send you in search of the nearest microbrewery, but for once I managed to resist. St. Andrews Brewery, rest assured I’ll visit next time. Instead, I spent quite a number of happy hours walking in the rain, all around the edge of the Old Course, along the Eden Estuary, past the castle, the cathedral, the university buildings, and down to the pier.

University

I have to say, even in the rain, I found St. Andrews to be a pretty and genteel little town. I’ve no idea if it is full of golf snobs in the bars and clubhouses – I didn’t bother going in – but everyone I met and chatted to was very pleasant indeed. They had time to stop and share a few words with a damp and bedraggled tourist, which was nice.

Swilken Bridge

It’s been many years since I’ve tried to swing a golf club with real conviction, but I’ll admit to being absolutely thrilled seeing the bridge over Swilken Burn at St. Andrews. The course looks easier and smaller than it comes across on television. Many a fine golfer has been undone on this famous course, and long before reaching the 18th.

I saw excellent golf shots played as I mooched about, and I also saw many poor shots – shots I’d have been proud of. Maybe I should dust off the golf clubs and bring them with me next time? I’m on the back nine, perhaps I need to (re)take up a more sedate pastime?

From the pier

Best not – as I recall, my ability to remain calm under (golf) pressure wasn’t ever (ever, ever) a strong suit. Sport and comedy will have to remain the poorer for my early golf retirement. I’d rather be out not spoiling a good walk, and enjoy smelling the flowers. Almost every day when we’re out and about, Scout reminds me of that and I’d be wise to listen.

Smell the flowers

Being on the back nine isn’t so bad, if you can convince yourself you’re wiser for being older and that having hair on top of your head is overrated. We’re all headed for the nineteenth, might as well enjoy it, water hazards, sand traps and all, before getting there…

Close to the end!

Thanks for reading, and wherever you are on the course, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

“Smell the flowers!”
Scout and friend doing the right thing

Summer snaps

Oh no, please don’t let this be a slideshow of an OldPlaidCamper summer vacation, akin to those endured by some in the 1970s. You remember, where your neighbours invite you round to see their holiday snaps projected onto a wall, and there’s a bowl of peanuts and a glass of warm flat lemonade for refreshments. Yikes/shudder. Slightly sweaty after writing that, a disconcerting flashback to a happy childhood. Stranger things in an earlier decade…

Mrs. PC took this excellent summer snap. I’m certainly looking my best here…

No, nothing like that. A brief post because I should be packing and finding my passport for the lightning trip to northern Britain starting Friday. Instead of getting that organized, we’ve been enjoying the start of our summer, spending time on the beach, on the trails and in the hammock. The hammock is thanks to US Brother PlaidCamper, sent to us after he stayed last summer and endured the disappointment of our little balcony sans hammock. It’s lovely to have, but sure does take up some space. A bit like having your brother visit. I’ll be paying it forward by visiting UK Brother PlaidCamper. I hope he has a hammock.

I’m assuming mama bear was close by – I didn’t hang around to find out

Bears and bald eagles have been our major wildlife sightings, as well as a wolf – yes, at last, a wolf! The wolf was spotted by Mrs. PC a couple of weeks ago, lurking outside a restaurant just up the road, a place called Howlers. It’s like the wolf knew. Then I saw it a few days later, again just outside Howlers. In the end, we’d convinced ourselves perhaps it was a large wolf-dog hybrid, as there are a fair few locally, and the animal we saw didn’t seem too bothered by the people about. On Wednesday, there was a public message posted, warning residents of a wolf in the vicinity of Howlers, so a wolf it probably is. I wish I’d been able to take a photo. Maybe I’ll head over to Howlers after writing this. They do a good veggie burger, decent fries, and they have Tofino blonde on tap – a good evening even if the wolf stays (wisely) away! Displacement activity from packing? Yup.

Warmer than it appears

The weather has generally been gusty, grey and dry, with occasional bursts of sunshine in between low cloud, some murk and almost fog. Never too cold, and never too hot, always comfortable enough when we’re out and about. And comfortable enough for some hammock time.

“Forget the hammock – we have the beach!”

The snaps included with this piece were all taken in the past week, and if you’re desperate for something to do this weekend, please feel free to use them in a wall-projected slideshow presentation – viewing enjoyment is enhanced with flat lemonade and a bowl of peanuts…

Cold, no peanuts required

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Messing about…

…in boats! Oh, alright, we don’t have a boat, but ever since the courses last week, I’ve been keeping a beady eye on boats around here – more so than usual…

Too big?

I’m very pleased to report all the participants passed the other two courses, the Marine Emergency Duties on Friday, and the Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) for VHF radio, on Saturday. Now all we need is a small vessel to put theory into practice!

Too old?

We’ve been enjoying glorious weather, and Scout has insisted we stop and look at all the boats in the harbours. She’ll take me up and down the docks early in the day, then absolutely insist we go back later with Mrs. PlaidCamper, to show her our favourites. It’s quite a long list.

Lovely colour!

I give Scout a pat on the head for being a good dog on the docks, especially when we see harbour seals and river otters, and Mrs. PC gives a gentle shake of the head whenever we slow down at a particular vessel. The head shaking is a bit more emphatic each time we approach the Tromso. To be honest, I’m always surprised – and delighted – she’s still afloat. I don’t know if the price is falling in line with her water position. There’s a little less freeboard each passing season…

“Lovely colour?! Seriously? She’s no Tromso… Ooh, is that a seal I can smell down here?”

A very brief piece this week, as I scramble to catch up with myself after a week away from regular duties, and then start to get items sorted for an upcoming long weekend away off the grid. Yup, we’ll be heading to our destination in small vessels. Perhaps one of them needs a vastly inexperienced maritime OldPlaidCamper at the helm?

Any of these? Nope.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Scavenging

Last Friday turned into a pretty good Good Friday. Sunshine was promised and eventually made an appearance in the early afternoon. It seemed like a beach day, so that is where we went.

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This is where we went

We hadn’t been to Wick Beach in quite a while, and it was a very pleasant stroll we were having when we saw quite a crowd of ravens hopping about a clump of something in the distance. As we approached, the ravens flapped off, and we could see the sizeable remains of – I think – a sea lion. We skirted past swiftly, not wanting to enjoy the aroma any longer than necessary, and to give space back to the ravens.

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“Ooh, just a quick peck…”

A little way beyond the body we saw a juvenile eagle sitting on a stump, no doubt waiting for us to move on, and perhaps hoping the ravens would leave a little something.DSCF8062

As we wandered by, two adult bald eagles flew past us towards the remains. We thought it was starting to get rather crowded. If it hadn’t been dead, the sea lion could have become quite irritated with all the attention…DSCF8073

We kept going up the beach, and eventually hunkered down in front of the dunes, slightly elevated on a log and amongst the long grasses. From there, the cadaver commotion was almost out of sight, and we switched our attention to the ocean, looking out for and spotting many spouting whales.DSCF8064

Once we’d finished our coffee, after Scout had demolished a fair chunk of washed up log, and given up digging a deep hole in the sand for me to fall into as I stood, we set off back down the beach. As we drew closer to the corpse, we could see quite a crowd. Three adult bald eagles, two juveniles, and a smattering of ravens were figuring out how the goodies were going to be shared.

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“Save some for me – I’m still growing…”

We stuck to the dune side of the beach, not wanting to get involved, and anyway, after coffee and chocolate, we weren’t feeling the need to scavenge. I couldn’t believe Scout wasn’t more interested in the proceedings, but she wasn’t.

The photographs I took were at the outer limits of what my camera and shaky hands could handle, and really none too sharp, but I’ve used them here anyway, in case you’re a fan of partially consumed corpses…

When we got home, I got caught up on the blogs I enjoy, and one of them was a perfect piece to read after our earlier adventure. It made me stop and think about how vulnerable many species are. Living out here, one could (but I’m not) become a bit complacent about the numerous bald eagle sightings we are blessed with. If you have the time, I heartily recommend you head over to read Jet Eliot – you won’t be sorry!DSCF8083

If the weather holds – and it has turned warm and sunny this week – then perhaps we’ll head up Wick once again over the coming weekend, check out the state of the scavenged. I doubt there’ll be much left, maybe not much more than a few picked over and pecked clean bones. That’s life, and death.

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

Sand and stone

Wind and rain, bark and bone. Sounds like the start of a spell, but it’s a small list of the gritty and grainy outdoor life we’ve been experiencing the past little while.

I was lucky enough to find an extra hour on the beach last week. A meeting finished earlier than expected, and there wasn’t enough time left in the day to get back and start something new – if I drove really slowly, and I never rush in the Jeep…

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Scoured

The wind was blasting down the beach, from north to south, and provided a real push in the back as I headed out. In a positive frame of mind, I likened it to a helping hand. Sand snakes were racing past me, long writhing ribbons that I couldn’t keep pace with.

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Sand snakes

A few hardy kite surfers were performing tricks in the surf, traveling scarily fast and leaping up into the air. Holding onto my hat, I stopped to watch them, admiring the skill and choreography as they appeared to narrowly avoid colliding with each other. A tip of the hat there, not that they could see. It was too cold to stop for long, and I’d targeted a particular set of rocks as my goal for a there and back trip.

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I clambered up on the rocks, and goodness me it was windy up there! I decided not to linger too long, knowing the walk back up the beach was going to be a tad more trying without that helping hand. It really was a bit of an effort, and every now and then an extra strong gust would blow the sand somewhat higher than knee height. My apple snack was a trifle gritty…

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Same rocks, several days later

I’ve written before about the joys of a few “stolen” moments in a work day, time when you can get outside and enjoy the elements. This was very much the case last week. I wouldn’t choose a big blow as my favourite weather, but I didn’t mind blowing away a few post-committee cobwebs!

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The photograph above of Scout on the rocks was taken a few days later, at the rocks I’d headed to earlier in the week, and the day was a good deal calmer. Still windy, but manageable.

Bark and bone? A different weekend day, one where we heard logs crashing into the rocks guarding a small cove. The deep booms were something to hear, as these tree bones were thrown against stone. The tide was dropping, as were the winds, but so close to the end of a fierce blow, we weren’t going to venture down onto the upper sands of the cove. Every now and then a heavier wave would still have enough energy to surge up the beach. Gritty outdoor types we might be, but we weren’t going to risk a sudden foot soaking or worse down on the beach. We’ve got sand, but also plenty of prudence.1278AA79-3601-405F-BC3C-4C575B95C89E

The forecast for the coming long weekend looks rather damp. We will aim to get out, no matter the weather, but if trips are shorter, then we’ll have to head indoors, empty the sand from our shoes, and eat a small chocolate egg (or two!)

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