Sunday, December 21, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Powell River this Winter

Today's the first "official" day of Winter. What are your travel plans? Here are ten reasons why Powell River, BC should be at the top of your winter travel list.

10. Shopping. Powell River has lots to offer. Stroll Marine Avenue in for quaint shops. A favourite is Breakwater Books with the tastiest fudge in town. The Artique is a local artist's cooperative. On Saturdays there's the Winter Market with baked goods, veggies, and more. The Town Centre Mall has everything and anything you might need.

9. Take the scenic route. Drive to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal to catch a ride on BC Ferries to Powell River. Your drive will take you along the uncrowded Sunshine Coast with its scenic vistas. At Earl's Cove, you'll catch the second ferry to Powell River, the Pearl of the Sunshine Coast. The trip itself will be a vacation highlight.

8. Locals know. Talk to locals on your ferry ride. They'll gladly share history and highlights of our unique region. Strike up a conversation at a coffee shop or cafe. Stop at the Tourism Powell River Visitor Centre on Joyce Avenue, pick up a free Powell River Living magazine, Discover Powell River, and a PEAK newspaper to see what's happening around town.

7. Cozy seaside resorts. Along the way you'll find signs directing you to great out-of-the-way places to stay. Many take full advantage of our beautiful coast. In winter, you can sit warm and cozy inside while you watch exciting weather outside. South of Powell River look for Kent's Beach, Oceanside Resort and Cabins or Beach Gardens. If you're north of town, try the Historic Lund Hotel or the Desolation Sound Resort.

6. Sumptous restaurants. Powell River is well known for its many restaurants. The atmosphere may be casual, but the settings are romantic and food is excellent. The Laughing Oyster on Okeover Inlet is well worth the drive. Try the Shinglemill Pub overlooking spectacular Powell Lake. Head to the Savoury Bight for a seaside dinner, or Magpie's in Cranberry for home-style cooking. Or just stroll along Marine Avenue and find a world of flavours to choose from.

5. Holiday events. Come spend the Christmas season in Powell River. Check out the Christmas light displays on homes and businesses, and many churches have a Christmas Eve service. The Recreation Complex has the Winter Wonderland Skate and a Kings hockey game on New Years Eve, then New Years brings the Polar Bear Swim at Willingdon Beach!

4. The Historic Townsite. Powell River was founded as a mill town for the Powell River Paper Company. The homes are now privately owned and the Townsite was designated a National Historic District by Parks and Monuments Canada in 1995. Discover Powell River's history at the Museum near Willingdon Beach and stop by the Tourism Powell River Visitor Centre for a walking tour guide of the old homes and other historic buildings.

3. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Marine effect protects Powell River from heavy snow, but just a few miles inland from late fall to spring you'll find plenty. Bring your own gear or check with Mitchell's for snowshoe rentals, guides and advice. We even have several free backcountry cabins in the Knuckleheads Recreation Area. Take care driving on back roads though, they can get boggy at times. Read Up the Winter Trail for more exciting things to do.

2. Lots of other year-round outdoor activities. Whether your favourite activity is boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, ATVing, 4X4 adventuring, horseback riding, kayaking, touring, or just relaxing, Powell River has it all. Popular Desolation Sound anchorages and forest campgrounds are almost empty for the hardy outdoor enthusiast. But be careful, you might come for a weekend, but stay for a lifetime like we have.

1. Heading up the lake. Powell Lake is my home. Wayne and I live up the lake in all seasons, and winter is one of our favourites. You can also read about off the grid living on Powell Lake in Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake and Off the Grid available at

Need more reasons to come? Visit Tourism Powell River.
Have questions? Leave a comment or send an email through my profile link. Hope to see you soon! -- Margy

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chalets de la Cote Ouest

Wayne and I were honoured to host a film team from Red Letter Films at our Hole in the Wall float cabin home last July. Evelyne and her film crew including camera technician Catherine (Cat), and assistant camera tech Creighton (Crey), spent a whole day with us up the lake getting to know what off the grid float cabin living was like.

The results called Chalets de la Cote Ouest (West Coast Cottages) are now airing on UNIS, a new Canadian television channel focusing on French-speaking audiences from British Columbia to the Atlantic provinces.

Click below to go the the video link. This is a screen shot.

Our float cabin home is featured in the second segment that is debuting this week. It's also available (in French only) on the UNIS website. Click here to go to the video page and click on the arrow next to "Voir la video."

Sharing our lifestyle has been fun. This was our second televison production. The first was for Extreme Houseboats on the Travel Channel. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Water Lily

W is for Water Lily

There are several varieties of Water Lily in British Columbia  on ponds, and in quiet corners of larger lakes.

Water Lilies are floating perennial herbs that are held in place by rhizomes on the lake bottom. Long thin stems allow the flat leaves to reach the surface. There they float in masses to gather sunlight and reproduce.

When kept in check by natural conditions, pests and predators, they are a lovely natural addition to the environment.

However, Water Lilies have become a huge problem on Cranberry Lake in Powell River. As the water flow into the lake has decreased over time, the non-native ornamental lilies have proliferated. Remediation isn't easy or cheap, but homeowners in the Cranberry area are working to see their lake restored to it's original beauty. ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the fifteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Canon Pixma iP100 Portable Printer

After we got our cellular signal booster and wireless Internet in place at the cabin, we needed one more item to complete our "home office."

Our electronics need to be close together, so we chose the bookshelf John built. Wires to external antennas go through the window frame. On the top shelf is the cellular amplifier, indoor antennae, satellite radio, and laptop with its Internet key.  Cell phones are here as well to receive the enhanced signal.

Sometimes we need to print. To complete our home office, we purchased a Canon Pixma iP100 portable printer. After lots of research, we decided this was the best model for us. It costs about $180 US, is compact, and prints in colour and black and white with good quality. In the top picture you can see it in the closed position on the lower shelf.

This picture shows the open position ready for use. We liked it so much, we purchased a second one to take with us while traveling. Wayne and I both mix business with pleasure. The small footprint and weight of 4.4 pounds make it easy to pack and take.

Our home office is complete, but don't expect us to be wireheads all the time. Cabin life is calling!

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Telus Wireless Internet with USB Key

Laptop with Telus Huawei LTE Internet USB key.
With our new cellular signal booster system, we wanted to get wireless Internet at the cabin for our laptops. Wayne's phone has a Telus plan, so we added data.  We chose the Mobile Internet FLEX. It starts at $10 a month for 100MB. With our limited email and Internet needs at the cabin, we have made it through a month.

Connection Manager gives you status reports.
But if you go over, it bumps to $30 for 500MB, $45 for 2GB. Flat rate plans start at $40 for 2GB, use it or lose it. Because our use varies, the FLEX plan is best.

Telus offers a free Huawei LTE mobile internet key with a two year contract. It's not cutting edge technology, but fits our laptop needs.  The onscreen Connection Manager lets you monitor session usage.

A nice feature of the Internet key is that it works anywhere you can make a Telus connection, even out on anchor.

Thing I can't do at the cabin are posting to my blog or visiting my online friends. For that, I have to go to town, and then it's a reading and writing binge. -- Margy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wilson Signalboost Desktop for Cellular and Internet

Signalboost Desktop wireless at cabin.
If you follow our blog, you know Wayne and I haven't had Internet at the cabin. It was a decision to keep our lives simple. Now that we are at our floating home for longer stretches, we've decided to make a change.

We don't need high speed access, but want to check email, download a newspaper, and look up important stuff. None of those when used carefully are upload or download data hogs.

Pole mount of external antenna.
We researched satellite Internet. Two in our area are Galaxy and xplornet. We didn't choose that option because of cost and our remote location. We choose our Telus wireless provider. For limited use, it turned out to be the cheapest solution.

First, we had to figure out if we could get a signal. We live on the ragged edge of cell coverage for Wayne's old digital phone, and my iPhone doesn't work. The Telus office sold us a cell booster, let us test it, and return it if it didn't work without a charge. The total cost for a compete package was about $350 CAD.

Powered signal amplifier connects to outdoor antennae.
The cell booster was the Wilson Signal boost Decktop. Wayne did a temporary installation and we could get an adequate signal for our purposes. It allows us to pick up 4G. If not, it automatically steps down to capture whatever signal is available.

We mounted the external antennae on the pole we use for our wind generator. It points the the unit for best line of site to "Telus Mountain" about 11 kilometres (7 miles) away as the raven flies.

Indoor antennae.
Coaxial cable connects to the indoor signal amplifier. It needs AC, so we use it when our solar system is working. At night, we can turn power back on if needed.

Connected to the signal booster is the indoor antenna. This component also has an AC power connector. Fortunately, the indoor units have a low draw.

One bonus of our system is that my iPhone now works for cellular service. Despite what the specifications say, we need to be within a few feet of the indoor antennae for a good connection. This may be affected by the very low signal we actually get from Telus at our location.

In the next two posts I will tell you about our Internet plan and how we can connect our laptops directly to the Internet. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Vancouver Groundcone

V is for Vancouver Ground Cone

Last spring, up on the cliff near my garden plot, I noticed an unusual plant pushing out of the ground at the base of a fir tree.

Using my guidebook, I identified it as a Vancouver Groundcone. It's a parasitic herb that grows with salal and obtains nutrients from its roots. While this specimen was pushing its way through the duff at the base of a tree, it was right next to a big patch of salal.

Vancouver Groundcone grows to about 12 cm (4.7 in) in height from a thick underground tuber that was sometimes eaten raw by First Nations people. They come in red, yellow and purple. Mine were a rich golden (almost pinkish) yellow. These are the first I've noticed, but the book says each one produces 300,000 plus seeds. I may be seeing more soon.

Are you interested in plant identification? I use Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon. I like it because it includes trees, shrubs, wildflowers, aquatics, grasses, ferns, mosses, lichens and, of course, some oddball (and very interesting) plants. In addition to the color pictures, line drawings, and identification information, the narratives include how the plants were used by First Nations people and early settlers. I highly recommend it for the casual observer as well as experienced botanists. ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the fifteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy