Safe Harbour

Don’t we all need a safe harbour? It’s ok, nothing ranty after my recent incoherence last week (still, I felt better after, and it was preferable to signing up for a twitter account – just imagine…)

IMG_20170731_203441We’ve been spending a few days in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Entire mornings seem to drift by as we sit or wander around the harbour. It’s an easy habit to fall into, and the warm and sunny weather is an encouragement to sit just that little longer. So we did. A belted kingfisher has been zooming back and forth, busy as ever. We’ve seen fewer bald eagles around the harbour. They’ve headed north to feed on the salmon. I hope they get a good meal.

Loosely translated from a local First Nations word, Ucluelet means “safe harbour” – a sheltered place for canoes and fishing boats. For paddling, we tend to avoid the wilder Pacific side, opting for the safer and calmer waters on the harbour side. We’re not the only ones this time of year:

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Calm waters
We could hear the barking and traced the source round to the Ucluelet boat and kayak launch. What a splendid sight! The barking is loud and pretty constant, and perhaps an explanation for the empty campsites nearby?!

Sadly, this float has been spiked in an attempt to keep the sea lions from basking. Cruel, and it isn’t working. You can read more about this particular situation at the following link (our buddy Wayne, a photographer, took sharper pictures and spotted the problem: Welcome to Tofino Photography – Sea Lions Being Injured). Fingers crossed for a solution, and then the sea lions will be able to enjoy their safe harbour.

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Yeah, we’re barking
Back in August, I was sitting on a bench (that’s a shocker) overlooking the harbour when a gleaming black SUV stopped behind me. The driver rolled down his window and called out to an older gentleman crossing the road, where would he find the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s? The guy in the road, dressed like he was heading out fishing, stopped, a look of disbelief on his face. “Huh? You want a Starbucks? Where d’you think you are? You won’t get that here! You want that, you need the big city. This ain’t the city!” He shook his head and finished shuffling across the road. (The SUV was stopped right in front of a fishing gear store that also happens to make a very good – according to Mrs. PC – cappuccino. There is even a large sign, Cap’n Hook, Cappuccino and Fishing Gear. It ain’t Starbucks…)

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Did you say coffee?
Blue skies, green trees, shining water, sea lions, birds and fish. Oh, and decent coffee. Some of the sights and sounds of a busy working harbour on the west coast, and a welcome change of pace. Spending time in quieter places – it ain’t the big city!

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Safe harbour
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

A big little bird

A little ball of feathers that sure was a fun shore bird to watch. This week, a short post about a tiny bird (one of Mrs. PC’s favourites – we have framed prints and tea towels to prove it!)

We were wandering along Terrace Beach, Ucluelet, enjoying the day, and keeping an eye out for a pair of bald eagles we’d seen earlier that week. Spotting a bald eagle is always a thrill, and if you’re out on the west coast of Vancouver Island, you’ll often see one or more most days if you’re looking. Or even if you’re not.DSCF5855

We sat down on a log – we seem to do a lot of that – to listen to the waves wash up onto the shore, and eat a small snack. We seem to do a lot of that, too. He was well camouflaged on this particular part of the shore, but we eventually spied a little Western Sandpiper – he had probably been there quite a while before we saw him. Well, once he was in our sights, what fun he was to observe.

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Sat on this one
He scurried on busy little legs just ahead of and across each set of waves, foraging for food in the sand and seaweed. Unperturbed by our presence, he worked the shoreline mere metres from where we were sitting, back and forth with admirable intent, stocking up for a lengthy flight to come. Tiny in size, but huge in heart! (I know, an overactive imagination and anthropomorphism, but I can’t help it…)

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Irresistible!
On previous days, we had most often seen these sandpipers in small flocks. I like the flash of white as they speed along the beach, making fast turns and flying in short bursts. For the time we saw this one, he appeared to be a solitary bird. Maybe it needed some down time away from the hustle and bustle of flock life? Maybe we simply missed the other birds or they arrived later? No, he was the lone ‘piper, out on a purposeful mission. There I go again…DSCF5855

We arrived searching for big birds, but left happy (a particularly happy Mrs. PC) having seen this big-hearted and beautiful little bird!

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…

Salish grey

It hasn’t been all sunshine out here on the west coast! A brief post this week, and not a weather report, but a few images taken on less sunny afternoons on the shores of the Salish Sea.

DSCN7488Not always sunny, yet always pleasantly warm, with an occasional bout of very light rainfall. (I thought this wasn’t going to be a weather report?) The rain didn’t stop our hikes down to the shore, and the grey skies weren’t uniformly grey. Far from monotonous, the skies were reflected in calm waters creating watery seascapes that sometimes seemed to glow. Can grey glow? You decide…

DSCF5370 - Version 2Faint mists, shining skies, twisted trees, rocky bluffs overlooking crescents of sand and scattered logs – it was wonderful to walk through.  Across the water, away towards Washington, there were glimpses of distant mountains behind far clouds.

DSCF5356 - Version 2Memorable muted afternoons to enjoy – muted yet colourful, and the joy of the Pacific North West even when the sun is hidden.

DSCN7478Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!DSCF5363 - Version 2

Island Life

It’s an easy life when you’re on vacation and island hopping! A quick post, and it’s a sedate food and drink piece. We need to get a bit more active. Maybe when we’ve eaten the strawberries…

We’re not really island hopping, but we did hop on a ferry from Victoria to Salt Spring Island earlier this week. A quick 35 minute trip and you’ve gone from the “big island” to a smaller island. Life is pretty laid back on Vancouver Island, even in the capital, Victoria. But if the pace of the big/small city is too much, then no worries, just head to one of the smaller Gulf islands, like Salt Spring.IMG_20170719_143434Known for a temperate climate and excellent growing conditions, Salt Spring is a delight. Coffee, beer, fresh produce, chocolate, wine, cheese, baked goods, artwork, and many outdoor activities – you won’t be bored!IMG_20170719_183717A few minutes after leaving the ferry, we were at Salt Spring Island Ales tasting a flight of excellent beers (honestly, it really was a total surprise to me that the microbrewery was the first place of interest straight off the ferry – Mrs. PC didn’t believe that either…)IMG_20170719_125703Salt Spring Island is lovely and laid back, and highly recommended if you’re planning a Canadian west coast jaunt. We’d better get back to some outdoor activities soon, or BC Ferries will need to send a bigger boat.

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Island hoppy

There’ll be more to follow about Salt Spring, but for now we need to walk off the food basket that our hosts left us at the cabin – oh, and that bottle of golden ale will need finishing…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!IMG_20170719_134411

Hello, July!

And hello summer! (It’s been July for a week now, and I’m only just noticing? The joy of vacation brain…)

Now we are on the road for a bit, posts might be somewhat brief, and I might have to get over my fixation of posting at the same time every Friday. I’m at the mercy of available wi-fi in coffee shops. (Now isn’t that the very definition of an invisible Western problem?!) I know it doesn’t really matter when I post, but I’m strangely happy knowing each piece goes out at the same time each week. I suppose I can write a few pieces and line them up to be scheduled in advance, but that’s not too spontaneous. Erm, unlike my spontaneous Friday schedule? Hmm.

So I’ll be keeping it brief, apart from the previous paragraph of waffle, and uploading only a photo or two in case the wifi is sketchy…

The photograph above was taken last Saturday July 1st – Canada Day, the official start of PlaidCamper summer, and the first day on our travels. It was snapped at Lac Le Jeune, a few minutes off the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia. We’d been warming up in the near desert heat of the Kamloops section along the Thompson River valley, so the cooler temperatures as the road headed into the mountains was a welcome relief. We were looking for somewhere to eat our lunch, and hoped the side trip would lead to someplace interesting.

Well, what a result! Lac Le Jeune was about perfect for a short stop. In fact, it looked pretty good for a longer stop, and maybe we will another time. A scenic little lake with a campground on the shore, and pleasantly cool relative to the lowland heat. 

We sat under a tree by the lake and enjoyed our picnic lunch. Why do Goldfish crackers taste so good on the road? Any other time, I’m not that fussed about them. We munched on goldfish, dragon flies munched on mosquitos – thank you – as families munched on barbecue lunches cooked at the picnic benches and tables. People were out in numbers, many dressed in red and white and celebrating the day. Paddleboards, kayaks and canoes were plying the deeper water, while small children and dogs played near the shore in the shallows. It was a lovely summer scene, and the sort of hoped for pleasant stop when you’re on the road.

Until next time, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’m reading and enjoying all your blogs, but do forgive me if comments I make are brief. Solar powered Internet on the foggy west coast – oh my vacation brain…