Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Retrospective from Powell River Books

2009 was a great year for Wayne, me, and Powell River Books. Here are a few exciting moments:

January - After the holidays at our beloved float cabin on Powell Lake, we returned to Los Angeles to finally sell our condo and pull up stakes. Driving a rented U-Haul we took our remaining possessions north.

February - February 11 was the first anniversary of our Canadian permanent residency. We may be Americans by birth, but we're Canadians by choice. An extended visit with my mom in Bellingham included some fun flying trips in 997.

March - March brought some pretty rough storms with the CCGC Cape Caution on full alert. Our float cabin was highlighted on Kent Griswold's Tiny House Blog and we shared the "Top 10 Reasons to Visit Powell River" in the spring.

April - Spring is a good time to go quad riding and for garden planting. My most popular blog post was about planting potatoes in a barrel. Wayne is in "Nirvana" playing with his new remote control sailboat.

May - Plants, animals and insects are reveling in the warming weather. Small brown bats arrive to live under our roof. We move our Bayliner from it's winter lake home to raft up in Lund for the cruising season. Wayne's first science fiction book Echo of a Distant Planet is released.

June - My floating garden starts to produce lots of tasty veggies. John and Mr. Hat come to visit us and we share the "Top 10 Reasons to Visit Powell River" in the summer. We take the Bayliner for a cruise and back in the States we go airplane camping on Orcas Island.

July - Mom joins us to enjoy the warm summer sun at our cabin. Wayne helps with Aerospace Camp, we host a Star Party and PRB has a booth at the Texada Airport Fly-in. Wayne and I embark on our first Canadian trip since discovering Powell River in 2000.

August - Our camping by airliner trip takes us by rental car from Montreal through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and by ferry to Newfoundland. Back home I try canning for the first time, we host a Star Party and move the Bayliner back up the lake for a cruise to the Head.

September - We stuff our woodshed while everything is dry. Wayne helps John with his new cabin and lets everyone know the "Top 10 Reasons to Visit Powell River" in the fall. Coastal BC Stories are ready for Kindle and science fiction Inbound to Earth is released.

October - Our tin boat gets a much needed replacement engine. It's bread baking time and I try canning spiced apples. We're both going to get fat if I'm not careful. Fall colours make Powell Lake beautiful and Wayne continues to help John with his new cabin.

November - Off to Oregon for USC football. The wood stove is going and we get ready to install our new thermoelectric generator. Heavy winds make us appreciate our chimney cap and anchor cable shock absorbers. PRB is again honoured at the Horizon Business Awards in the tourism category.

December - The "Top 10 Reasons to Visit Powell River" in winter was aimed at Olympics visitors, but I hope my favourite sign along the Sunshine Coast wasn't a victim to the "say nothing negative" campaign. Mom joined us for the holidays and we got to spend some cherished time up the lake.

The PRB blog had over 27,500 visitors this year. Thank you for being one of them. It's been great and I've had fun sharing it with you. Wayne and I wish you and your family a happy new year. May it bring you peace, love and contentment. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa's Beard?

On Christmas Day, Wayne and I went for a quad ride. Our destination was the nearby Blue Trail. Along the way, I saw something very unusual. Periodically, along the side of the trail, I saw what looked like the most amazingly white, fine moss. From the seat of my bike, it looked like pieces of Santa's beard strewn across the forest floor. It was growing on small sticks by the side of the trail and on larger fallen trunks further into the bush. I stopped to take some pictures.

Wayne came up to see what I was doing. He touched the "moss" and said, "Silly, that's just snow." I touched it, and sure enough it was cold and crumbled instantly. It didn't look or feel like snow, what could it be?

When we went to our friends Dave and Marg's house for Christmas dinner, I asked them. They said it was frost and it was found typically on alder sticks and trunks, especially ones that had fallen earlier in the year. Of course, I Googled it when I got home and here is what I found.

I wasn't too far off thinking it looked like Santa's beard. It's called a frost beard. That's a form of a frost flower. Dave told us how water gets under the bark of fallen alder trees and branches. It is then squeezed through the pores in the stick and bark into long thin strings of ice that make it look uncannily like a white beard. Dave says he's only seen in on alder in our area. Here's an interesting video by Country Scientist on YouTube of how frost flowers and beards are formed. I'm just glad it wasn't the result of reindeer gone wild! -- Margy

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boats, Floats and Mountain Goats

Last week Wayne, John and I celebrated the break in rainy weather and the lengthening days with a boat trip to the Head of Powell Lake.

Powell Lake is a glacial carved fjord that filled with fresh water after the end of the ice age, trapping salt water from the ancient ocean at the bottom. It's a big lake that's 51 kilometres (32 miles) long with 480 kilometres (300 miles) of shoreline.

Like all fjords, the rocky walls are steep. While most are covered with trees, there are some bare outcroppings. These areas are home to Mountain Goats. From a distance they stand out as small white dots on the moss covered rocks. This time of year they are easier to see. The snow level has pushed them lower on the cliffs, just about 120 metres (400 feet) above the water level.

This trip we saw a group of four followed by a single goat in a separate location.

The days are short, so we had to leave the Head after lunch and a quick hike along the logging road. Then we skirted around the empty logging booms on our way down the lake.

We would have liked more time to explore, but the short winter day made us hurry on our way. -- Margy

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Blue Trail

Wayne and I treated ourselves to a short Christmas quad ride. That's easy here in Powell River with trails right at our back door. We parked near Edgehill School at the head of Abbotsford Street. From there, the Edgehill Trail system winds through large stands of trees with an understory as beautiful as any in the area. This handy launching point can be used to reach any area east and south of town. We rode it to the Washout Trail, our starting point for today's ride.

The forecast was for a sunny day, but the actual weather was foggy. That made the views along the trail a bit eerie. If you've seen the movie New Moon, you get the idea. The Washout Trail was dotted with big puddles along the way. In places, the trail building group had created bypasses on drier soil to prevent damage to the area.

At the well marked junction we turned up the Blue Trail. This trail has been the location of extensive work by the local ATV trail building group. With a combination of volunteer workers, donated supplies and a $3000 grant from ATV/BC, two replacement bridges were built this month. The Blue Trail is a multi-use trail for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and, of course, ATV riders. It's also an interpretive trail used to teach the youth of Powell River about their forest environment.

Follow this link to an article in the Powell River Peak for more information about the project. Through the efforts of Dave, our Club president, and all the trail builders, everyone has better access to our back country with its unparalleled exploring.

Do you want to explore the great outdoors in Powell River? Would you like a book full of maps like this one? There's a great map book written by Dave, the president of the Powell River ATV Club. It’s called the ATV Trail Guide and costs $25. If want a copy, you can contact Dave through the ATV/BC website. All profits support trail maintenance and building activities just like the Blue Trail. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grand Opening of Magpie's Diner

Last week my friend Margaret and her husband Art opened a new restaurant here in Powell River. It's called Magpie's Diner and is located at C 7053 Glacier Street, north of Joyce Avenue on the left. Parking is right in front or up the street. It opens at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and closes at 2:00 p.m. after lunch. Head on over except on Mondays when they get a much needed rest.

Today Mom and I made our first visit to Magpie's. They serve homemade breakfasts and lunches made with healthy local ingredients. Breakfasts include large eggs cooked the way you like them and lots of meat choices. Of course there are pancakes, home baked muffins and breads, and mugs of hot coffee or tea from Art's coffee bar.

Lunch platters include hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. There are salads and soups and sweets for dessert. Mom and I had Margaret's signature carrot cake. It got our vote as the perfect way to end a meal or as a snack with coffee like we had.

Margaret is the chef (and sometimes chief bottle washer). She's an amazing woman. I've enjoyed following her blog Thistle Garden where she shares recipes and natural ways of living. Now I'll be able to sample her goodies as well.

The turn out for Magpie's Diner's grand opening has been excellent. I wish Margaret and Art all the success in the world. -- Margy

P.S. Please note that you will now find Magpie's Diner in Cranberry. Head on over to enjoy breakfast or lunch.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Power to the People

Along the ferry route between Saltery Bay and Earl's Cove you will see power lines spanning high over Jervis Inlet. On Google maps you can follow the path of the lines carrying much needed power from the Powell Lake dam south to the Vancouver area.

High on a ridge just east of the Saltery Bay ferry terminal you'll see the northern starting point for the wire span and then the ferry passes under the three heavy cables crossing the watery expanse. Each of the cables has large orange marker balls attached to them. These balls help low-flying aircraft see the nearly invisible cables in enough time to avoid a collision. They are clearly marked on aviation charts, but the extra visual precaution can prevent accidents.

What you can't see on the Google map is the new power line coming in from Toba Inlet. It's from the new run-of-river green energy project being installed by Plutonic Power. A new swath of bare ground and with tall power lines heads south from the remote fjord to join the grid here near Saltery Bay. There's quite a bit of controversy on both sides about this project. No matter which side you take, you have to give them credit for a huge undertaking. Click here to see video of how the new power cable is put in place by helicopter. - Margy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Baaaack!

The last several trips along the Sunshine Coast from Powell River to Vancouver, my favourite sign has been missing.

I first saw it in January 2008 just after they released the cost for 2010 Winter Olympic tickets. I thought it was a classic. Yesterday, when we were driving home, I saw it again. I let out a shout for joy. I was afraid it was "silenced" by new rules limiting Olympic signs and protests. In it's new mobile format, maybe it can stay a step ahead of the sign police.

New rules around comments about the Olympics in Vancouver include restrictions against blogging. Maybe even this post will become disappeared at some point. I hope not. I hate to think we live in a country that could let that happen. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Easy Decisions Are Hard to Make

We were supposed to be heading home to Powell River today, but a little bit of weather got in the way. It's late, but this is the first snow of the season for the Sunshine Coast.


Things seem to easing from the south, but the morning forecast is calling for freezing rain in Vancouver, never an easy drive anyway, and snow along Highway 101 on the Lower Sunshine Coast. If it was just Wayne and me, we'd probably go, but this trip Mom and Stick Tail are riding along with us. Feeling more protective of my 93-year young mom, we are opting to wait another day for warmer weather and light rain.

Wayne and I can't wait to get back home to our cabin up the lake. Here's a picture from last year after the first snow. I think you can see why we want to get there. We'll start a fire in the wood stove, snuggle up on the sofa, drink hot chocolate and munch on popcorn.


It just doesn't get any better than that! - Margy

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cold Weather Flight

Sunday, Wayne and I just missed a weather window to take 997 out for a test flight after her required annual inspection. There were two problems that kept us out of the air. First was less than perfect starting technique. When 997 sits in her cold hanger for several weeks, her battery doesn't always maintain enough cranking amps to rotate the propeller and start the engine. There's a fine line between cranking too long and stopping too soon. Long story short, I stopped too soon. Secondly, snow started falling, reducing visibility with all that white stuff in the air.

Today I had city chores, it's always that way when we come to Bellingham, but Wayne got to give 997 her exercise. He pushed her out of the hanger, but the icy tarmac was a challenge. Fortunately, the gas attendant gave him a hand. Everything checked out fine, so Wayne went over to tell John at Whatcom Territory Aero Services. Next trip it'll be my turn to fly. Hopefully it won't be quite so cold, slippery and stormy. -- Margy

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The American Air Campers Association

Do you fly a private airplane? If so, you probably either subscribe to the Flight Guide by Airguide Publications, better known as the Brown Book, or have used one in planning your flights. Today, subscribers got an e-mail from Don Abbott about a new venture he's starting, The American Air Campers Association. It focuses on on a topic that is close to Wayne's and my heart, airplane camping.

If you're familiar with my blog, you know I have a section about flying. Wayne and I love airplane camping. In fact, that's how we originally found our home in Powell River. But that's a whole different story.

He also has an excellent video describing what he's trying to accomplish.



Go visit his website at www.AmericanAirCampers.com for more information. It's a service that is really needed. -- Margy

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fabulous Ferry Firmament

This week when we took the ferry from Powell River to Vancouver BC. We had some fabulous early morning skies to watch along the way.

The Island Sky travels from Saltery Bay south of Powell River to Earl's Cove on the Sunshine Coast. Along the way you wind through an ancient glacial carved fjord, past rocky granite islands and green forested hills, with snow capped peaks in the distance. It's as pretty as a picture!

The low coastal clouds were beginning to break, heralding the beautiful sunny fall day to come.

Are you coming to the 2010 Winter Olympics? Yes, Vancouver and Whistler are going to be exciting destinations. But don't stop there. Hop on a ferry at Horseshoe Bay and explore the Sunshine Coast all the way to Powell River. It just may be the highlight of your entire vacation. -- Margy