Chilling

Short and chilled this week! Yes, chilling, because that’s what you do on the laid back West Coast. That, and it’s been very, very cold out here for the start of December. Not Alberta cold, but certainly chilly.C8CA636E-9E3C-4E72-A33B-38D9036F5EC9

I was on a field trip with a wrapped up and excited grade 5/6 class yesterday, out on the trail searching for mushrooms. Students had enjoyed a presentation about fungi, listening to a local scientist enthuse about the (for most mushrooms) symbiotic relationship mushrooms have with trees, and the wonderful array of mushrooms that can be found in the immediate rainforest area. Puffball, jelly, truffle – no luck, wrong season – bracket, gilled, veined, morel, bird nest, orange peel, blue chanterelle, we looked high and low (mostly low) for many amazing mushrooms. Students were so engrossed in the search, they forgot just how cold it was. Maybe because they were engrossed in the very best classroom…

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Is this the right way up? I’m really not too sure…

It’s not all mushroom mayhem for this fun guy. Earlier in the week I had to drive over to Port Alberni for a committee, and this time I messed up the timing and got caught in a long construction delay. How did I get this wrong? I realized parts of the Ucluelet Small Craft Harbour had a thin layer of ice and couldn’t help myself stopping, barely 30 seconds after setting off, to snap a shot or two on the phone. Yes, I mistimed the traffic, but when I made it through, thinking I’d be the last to arrive, I was the first person there. The morel (oh no) of this story? There isn’t one, just an excuse for a bad pun.

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A good place to chill 

The photos this week are from the early morning stop. The anchor and bench picture is of one of my favourite places to sit and drink coffee, but it’ll be a while before we’re sat back there in warmer weather, chilling.85B1282B-FC07-4D7B-8237-F2C6F5DA11E9

A short post – trying to keep it cool – thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

PS Is it fungi or funghi?

Stormy…

…Sunday, Monday, and maybe some other days.

We’ve been enjoying plenty of PNW precipitation the past week or two. So much so, camping was cancelled! Noooo. The high winds and big sea swell did prevent travel by boat last weekend, and given how strong the winds became on Sunday – the day we were due to travel back – a couple of mostly indoor gym days were safer and the students still had a pretty good time. Lots of touch football (nothing like rugby but I did my best) and plenty of kitchen activity preparing tacos for dinner and pancakes for breakfast kept everyone busy. Extended trips away have been put on hold for the next little while, but winter brings some time to learn how to carve paddles and clear local trails.

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Not too near the edge

Scout doesn’t love the rain, but still needs a couple of longish walks every day, so we tried to time walks with the forecast lighter spells of rain. The Wild Pacific trails meander through rainforest, and the trees offer quite a bit of shelter if the wind isn’t blowing the rain drops sideways. We are always cautious – life on the (ocean) edge, but not over it – taking extra care on these stormy, slippery days.

The cedar, moss and wet earth smells add a strong sensory dimension, very pleasant for us, and almost beyond exciting for Scout. She soon forgets the soaking she’s getting once she’s on the trail, tail wagging, darting left and right and stopping to sniff all the intriguing scents.

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Sunday

Logs were carried up the surge channels, crashing and thudding into the rocks, and it is a wonder to see wave upon wave pounding the little beaches where we were sitting in sunshine just a few days earlier. The next time it feels safe enough for us to clamber down to our favourite beach hideouts, it’ll look the same but different – newly washed up logs to sit (and chew) on, and different shelves of shells and sand to leave our prints in.

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Down in the same place as the photo above, one week earlier

It’s a blast to have wild and wooly weather followed by calm and sunny breaks. We hope the forecast for a bright and sunny weekend is accurate, but if it isn’t, so long as the wet weather gear holds up as well as it has so far, then we’ll keep heading out and about to enjoy a good soaking all through the coming winter! Stormy Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…

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“No, it won’t be raining here next week…”

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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Yes it will!

The storm after the calm

October was a pretty benign month, weather-wise, and I was happy about that, particularly for the recent trip spent camping in a remote location. Since the end of that weekend, temperatures have fallen slightly, and rainfall has increased a great deal.

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Oh, October sun, I’m missing you!

Ah, the rain! We kept a close eye on the sky last weekend, timing a walk out with Scout to the least rainy portion of the day. A wander along the Wild Pacific Trail revealed churning water and some scenic stops under trees.E632E49C-1F86-49C9-9F39-CB13440B10B9

Back to that bright and sunny trip. When we moored the boat, students were keen to get ashore and light a campfire. Armed with knives, a fire steel, a lighter and some backup matches, they couldn’t wait to try out their skills. Great focus and teamwork when they were lighting the fire, sticking with the task when the wood didn’t immediately ignite. They shaved feather sticks and small pieces, piling them carefully and aiming to start with the tiniest and feed the flame as it grew. A couple of unintended extinguishes later, and they soon realized patience was the key to success.

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We will make fire!

Yes, they used a match, but they know it is important to have more than one way to start a fire, and they’ll try again with the fire steel another time. I’m looking forward to how they’ll get a fire going when we return later this month. It has been very wet, so fire starting out there will be a challenge. The group spent quite a bit of time collecting and splitting firewood, stacking it in a dry location, with enough stacked for the next visit. Preparation and planning!

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I can see November on the horizon!

Those not setting the fire got busy with putting up tents and squaring away supplies –  it is amazing how much gear can be packed into a small boat, and even more amazing how much food is needed to keep teenagers fed and functioning!

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One PC tent – very tidy

One section of the weekend was a hunting trip to try and supplement the goods brought out. Being vegetarian for the past three decades, I wasn’t too sure about hunting, but the trip wasn’t about my sensibilities. A part of being out on tribal lands was for the youngsters to learn how to be a provider beyond going to the store. I’ll write about the hunting in a future post…

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I see feathers, but no duck. Hmm…

Hatchets, axes, chainsaws and machetes were wielded with intent and to great effect, and not just for firewood. Old trails were cleared and improved, the goal being to make the camp easier to navigate for visiting elders.

Did I mention the bears? We didn’t see any the entire time we were there, but judging by the fresh bear scat all over, I hope the bears continued to enjoy the cleared trails after we left. Light-coloured birch branches and stones were used to mark the edges of the trails, and larger obstacles like fallen logs were removed, or had chunks cut out to minimize the climbing and scrambling. For parts of the trip, I was the oldest participant (that changed when a chainsaw carrying elder in his seventh decade arrived to assist) and the consensus was if the old Plaid-wearing guy can traverse the new trails without incident, then it’ll be fine for everyone else. I have my outdoor uses…

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Calm – ten steps from the tent

I’ll leave it there for this week, with a happy PlaidCamper warmed by the fire and exertions from trail-clearing (don’t worry, most of the heavy lifting was done by those far younger than me – they enjoy it!)

We are expecting a bit more rain for the next few days (weeks and months) but we’ll keep out on the trails, whatever the weather. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I think it is clearing – is that July on the horizon?”

Crimes and pie

Huh?! We took a very quick camping trip to Green Point a couple of weeks ago. We wanted to find out how Scout would fare in a tent – or how we would fare with her at close quarters in a tent, and if she’d be a happy camper…

Well, we needn’t have worried! Sticks and branches to chew? Check! Other dogs to grumble at? Check! Tasty tidbits that “fell” off our plates? Check! Scout didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn? Check! (Phew!)

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A happy camper

Two nights of camping, and a chance to try out a new tent. A new tent? Isn’t your old tent a recent addition? Yes, and it is/was a perfectly fine tent, but some #*@* broke into our storage locker and made off with bits and pieces of our camping gear, including the flysheet. Not sure when the crime took place, but I’m glad I was packing the day before, and not the day we set off, so had just enough time to stop and pick up a new tent. Just because somebody else made a poor choice, this wasn’t going to spoil our fun – but it did put an unwanted dent in our bank balance.

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Rain later?

Anyhow, we had a fine time, glass half full and all that. On the Saturday evening, Wayne from Tofino Photography  joined us for a gourmet meal of hotdogs, chips, and pumpkin pie. Gourmet?! Not so much, but food does taste better cooked outdoors, and I have to say, store bought pumpkin pie is one tough product. It was tossed about in the back of the Jeep for a couple of days, buried under loose gear and other edibles, yet maintained shape and flavour when we finally got round to eating it. Scout would have had several slices, but not if she wanted to share a tent with us overnight.

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Time to fill glasses

We had great weather on Saturday, and had hoped to have a dry spell all the way through to Sunday, but it wasn’t to be. We had to break camp in steady rain, but can report our new tent, bought in something of a rush and unresearched, was very much a dry on the inside tent. Mind you, our previous not so old tent was also a sterling dry on the inside tent. Alright, I’ll get over it, glass half full…

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But no rain earlier!

Now we know Scout is a happy camper, we will plan trips further afield to quieter and more remote spots. And when Wayne joins us next time, we’ll go a few steps better than “gourmet” hotdogs – the weekend above was Canadian Thanksgiving, and I think the sausages contained turkey, but apart from the unbreakable pie, we might have committed a culinary crime…

I’m heading out to an off the grid location for a few days, and will catch up with your blogs when I get back next week. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!B7C06A23-D7C7-487C-9015-5EBDC61A0225

A lake coffee break (LCB)

Taken early, on the way to a meeting yesterday morning.

I found myself on the road between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, heading to a committee meeting scheduled for a 10:00 start. The round trip is three hours on a good day, but those days are rare due to a large construction project on Kennedy Lake Hill.6CD30665-7293-49FF-8F20-A103D2AE1C39 The road is being made safer, widening it to prevent larger and taller vehicles on the cliff side moving across the dividing line and scaring oncoming traffic into a choice between a lakeside plunge or a head on collision. Currently, the road is often closed for a number of hours each day, and when it is open, it is single lane and flag controlled, potentially adding quite a delay to your journey.

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Coverage

All this is a long winded way of saying I’d left plenty of time to make my meeting, and the traffic gods were beaming down on me as I experienced the briefest of stoppages. This left me time to make a stop before Alberni at Sproat Lake, take a short wander under the trees and along the shore, sip my travel coffee (prepared in anticipation of a long flag stop!) and gather my thoughts, such as they were.

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Productive

I could tell you about the dozens of new education acronyms I’ve encountered but as yet have failed to decipher, or about some of the policy initiatives to be discussed, but I won’t. Was there cell coverage to check work messages? Nope! Instead, I’ll share that the parking lot was empty, as were the trails and shore. Rain was trying and failing to fall, with barely a patter to be heard on the turning leaves. The chattering squirrels and angry-sounding crows had the place to themselves, or they did once I finished my coffee and remembered I should be working, or at least on the way.

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Work stoppage

I made it to the meeting fashionably early, left with a head full of new and exciting information, and some more acronyms. I’m happy to report there were no chattering squirrels or angry crows on this committee, so that went well.

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The woods and the trees – an LCB stop

Best of all, I was back in time to join a homework zone and hear from a confident young man sharing his experience about becoming an outdoor leader to his peers. He was eloquent in his expression of how he wanted to further his outdoor leadership skills and continue to mentor younger students in wilderness and traditional activities.

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Stumped

The success he was sharing reminded me that a lengthy round trip, coffee stops (LCB) and all, is a worthwhile use of time. It is heartening to witness new policies being shaped by representatives from the communities searching for better ways to educate and engage their youth. As I wrote last week, and hope to write again and again, young people can and want to be engaged in their communities and in their natural surroundings. That’s pretty good news (and it’s real!)

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Morning haze and daze

I can hardly believe another week has rushed by, and all in a bit of a blur. I’m realising I need to find opportunities to slow things down during the working week. Timewise, I was rather spoiled when pretending to be retired this past year…

As I write this, the rain is bouncing off the roof, almost as hard as it was bouncing off the car windshield earlier today on my drive home. Depending on weather and destination, my current commute could be a short walk, a short drive, or, hopefully not too often, a long drive. You’ll be astonished to learn that, out of these, I prefer the short walk.

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Monday morning. No stopping, PlaidCamper, places to be…
One morning earlier this week, a pretty mix of mist and low angle sunshine, I was sorely tempted to take a longer walking route, but resisted. With my getting back to being an almost grownup, there are certain expectations to be met, like getting to work. On time. Still, rays of sun filtered by mist and trees early in the morning is not a bad start to any day.

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Must focus brain
I like a little time between the end of the working day and arriving home, space to let any thoughts and considerations bounce around and then settle, to be taken up again the next working day, rather than over the threshold and into the evening. And to start, a brief walk to work is perfect for getting the brain at least a little focused on the day ahead.

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Is that the weekend just through there?
Now the rainy days are here, it is time to take out the most weatherproof jacket I have, and keep up with the walk to work, ignoring the siren call and unhealthy ease of a dry Jeep. (Anyway, I’ve noticed there is a distinct – and growing – smell of wet dog wafting up from the back seats. If I ever offer you a lift, get in the front seat…)

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Storm Dodger? Navigating the rainy and big weather days to come…
I’ve been enjoying my early morning daze and haze, a little quiet, and time to think before the day rushes in. Anyway, enough of that, thanks for reading, let’s keep it a very brief post this week – you’re all busy people! – and I’ll sign off by wishing you a happy and well-paced weekend, with just the right amount of time outdoors!

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!