Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's in a Name? Osprey

This week's boat comes from Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham. She was moored at the visitor's dock in the southern section of the marina. The first thing both Wayne and I thought when we saw the Osprey was Captain Ron.

Captain Ron is a movie about a family from Chicago that inherits a derelict sailboat and hires the very unique Captain Ron to sail the yacht for him through the Caribbean.

Here's one of my favourite clips from Captain Ron.



See what I mean? I'm sure the Osprey is a good sailboat, but the resemblance is uncanny. -- Margy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Best Barn

On our drive out to the Skagit Valley, we turned off Highway 20 onto Best Road. This is the heart of farming and flower producing country. With farms, come barns.

The yellow moss on this barn on Best Road matched the lovely daffodils out back.

Come on out to the Skagit Valley and find lots of old and new barns. -- Margy

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flowers and Seeds

This week Mom and I took a Sunday drive to the Skagit Valley. It's a bit early, but we weren't disappointed. Before the famous tulips, come the yellow daffodils. To be honest, I like the bright yellow flowers even more.

Even with a gray sky above, it looked bright and sunny below.


When we were done flower gazing, Mom and I went to the town of La Conner. I love their quaint streets, and this time of year they can get pretty crowded with tourists. We wanted to get a late lunch/early dinner. I know the parking and restaurants along the waterfront can be tricky, so I went online and found Seeds Pub and Bistro.

They had a great website, so I called about handicapped parking and access. Seeds was a perfect choice. Great atmosphere, great wait staff, and good food. We shared a burger and got a piece of pie to take home when our tummies weren't so full. So if you are thinking about doing the daffodil or tulip tour, stop on by Seeds for a great meal. -- Margy

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Planting

My goal last week up at the cabin was to get my spring planting done. I'm two weeks early (my traditional time is Easter week), but with my new schedule helping Mom, I didn't want to wait until my next trip in late April.

A month ago, I dug up the beds and added steer manure. This trip I added peat moss. Together, they will replenish the well used soil in my small plots.

For the second year in a row, I'm planting a minimal garden. I don't want to tie Wayne and John to watering all summer in my absence. I planted a strawberry border all the way around, and filled in a few holes with bare roots in my asparagus patch. Onion sets filled in the remainder of two beds. The other two got seeds for spinach, chard and radishes.

I planted Yukon Gold potatoes in two large pots on the deck. I've switched to them because they last much better during winter storage. Scarlet runner beans and snow peas went into two other large pots. Lastly, I planted garlic in three smaller pots on the transition float. Everything is clustered to make watering and tending easier.

At this time of year, my garden looks pretty bare. But there's a lot of potential. When I return in April I should see lots of sprouts, yellow daffodils, and maybe even a few onions to nibble. Have you started your garden yet? What are you planting this year? -- Margy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winter's Last Snow

Even though the calendar said it was spring this week, Mother Nature didn't want to give up on winter and brought us a last minute snow storm.

Tuesday, the last day of winter, started with a mix of graupel and rain. What is graupel, you say? I'd never heard of it either, having grown up in Southern California. It's crisp, white ice particles that are precursors to snow. In a way, they look like tiny bits of hail.

Graupel falls with more force than snow, almost like mini-hail. You could see it bounce on the deck, but unlike hail, it's not associated with thunderstorms. As rain falls through colder air near the surface it freezes to form graupel.

Two books you might like to read about weather along the Strait of Georgia region are The Wind Came All Ways and Living with Weather Along the BC Coast, both written by Owen S. Lange. They're both available at Amazon or local bookstores including Coles.



I'm not really complaining. When we lived in Los Angeles, we never got to experience distinct seasons. Now that we live in Coastal BC, we are get all kinds of weather. So bring it on, Mother Nature. -- Margy

Friday, March 23, 2012

Working in All Kinds of Weather

Even under cloudy, rainy skies, the many tugs and fishing boats that moor in the Steveston Harbour head out the mouth of the Fraser River into the Strait of Georgia.

Standing at the end of Garry Point Park, I saw this tug riding the river's flow and outgoing tide at a good clip.



This empty barge might even be picking up a load to deliver to my home town, Powell River. The ocean highway is an efficient (but not speedy) way to transport goods. -- Margy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's in a Name? Private Dancer

This week I've been home at our float cabin. Powell Lake has about 250 water access only cabins. Some cabin owners trailer their boats to and from the lake. At the Shinglemill, there's a marina. These boats stay in the water most or all of the year. Here's Mr. Boat in his slip. For people who use their cabins more regularly, having a slip is much easier.

A neighbour of ours in Hole in the Wall also keeps his boat in the Shinglemill marina.

While Bob doesn't stay at his cabin much in the off season, he often comes up the lake to check on things and short getaways. His boat's name is Private Dancer.

Wayne wrote about Private Dancer in Up the Winter Trail. On a very windy day, we were hunkering down in our cabin. You know if it's choppy in the Hole, it's nasty in the open section that John calls the North Sea. Waves can get over three feet high and make transit unsafe for small boats.

The late-morning wind whips strong enough to spin the blades of the wind generator ("We're making electricity!"). I'm surprised to see Private Dancer, the green and white boat from the other occupied cabin, plowing out of the Hole. It proceeds slowly through the rare condition of whitecaps in this bay. Private Dancer enters the channel, and turns south towards First Narrows. I wouldn't chance a departure with winds like this, but this boater is probably more experienced. Yet, his slow pace indicates caution. If the North Sea is too rough, he can always turn back. Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, Private Dancer returns. Good decision.
Want the whole story? Up the Winter Trail is available in print and e-book formats. And for a limited time, it's available free at the Amazon Prime Kindle lending library. -- Margy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is in the Air

The first day of spring this year was on March 20 at 1:14 am (EDT). On the Vernal Equinox, daylight equals darkness. And each day until the first day of summer, the length of daylight increases. Here's a picture of sunrise on the first day of spring up at the cabin.

Because the sun has to make its way over Goat Island before it "rises," we didn't see it until 9:15 am. Look at the difference from the first day of winter when it rose at 9:45 am.

An even bigger difference happened at sunset. Here's the sun setting behind the trees across the bay at 11:43 am on December 22. That made our direct sunlight on the first day of winter last only two hours.

On March 20, the sun arced high over the treeline across the bay and set behind our cliff at 5:45 pm, giving us seven and a half hours of sunlight.

That's assuming it isn't a rainy or snowy day. Our weather is still a bit unsettled. But from now on, it can only get better. How are you celebrating the start of spring? -- Margy

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stumps and Spring Boards

Powell Lake has been logged since the beginning of the 20th Century. Massive old growth trees were cut from the slopes and the lake's water highway was used to start them on their journey to market. When the paper mill was built, a dam was constructed across the mouth of Powell River, and the lake level rose covering previously logged areas.

Now some of the old growth stumps have washed up on the new shoreline. This one has two slots cut into the trunk. They are the remnants of notches made by loggers to insert their springboards.

Springboards are narrow flat boards that create elevated platforms that allow loggers to stand higher up the trunk before cutting the tree down. They most likely used a two man cross-cut saw like the one John mounted for me (minus its handles) above our cabin's front door. -- Margy

Monday, March 19, 2012

Balancing Act

When I went walking at Garry Point Park in Steveston, BC, I found an interesting freeform outdoor sculpture. I call it "Balancing Act." Out at the end of the point, looking towards the Strait of Georgia, was a cluster of driftwood balanced artistically.

Be sure to look along the shoreline. Each vertical stick is capped with a balanced rock, shell, or another stick. After the recent rain and wind storm, I wonder if it survived. If not, I bet the local artist will find new media on shore to create even better sculptures. -- Margy

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Available Online "Cabin Number 5" by Wayne J. Lutz

If you've been to my blog before, you've read lots of posts about our float cabin on Powell Lake. It was built almost single handedly by our good friend John. He took several years off after building our cabin, but the dream of a new one for himself was strong.

Cabin Number 5
Coastal BC Stories

The newest book in the Coastal BC Stories series by Wayne J. Lutz follows along as John constructs his new float cabin from the water up. He purchases massive cedar logs and cables them into the floating foundation. Over the months and years, when time and money are available, the cabin grows board by board. If you've ever dreamed of living in an off-the-grid cabin, or wanted to build one for yourself, you'll enjoy reading Cabin Number 5 (yes, it's the fifth one John's built or remodeled).

Go to www.PowellRiverBooks.com for ordering information.
Print for $12.95
Kindle for $2.99Kobo for $2.99Smashwords for $3.99
Now available in Powell River bookstores.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What's a Stick Good For?

You can throw a stick for a dog to retrieve.
You can whittle a stick to make a carving.
You can use sticks for kindling.
You can eat Japanese food with chop sticks.
You can use a walking stick.
You can get whooped with a hickory stick.

Or, you can love a Stick. That's right. Mom's cat's name is Stick, short for Stick Tail. He's her constant companion. When she's in her chair, he likes to sit between her legs. When she's in bed, he likes to sleep next to her. How could you not love a Stick?

But on those cold winter days, you can often find Stick warming his old bones (we guess he's about 17) in front of the toasty warm fireplace. - Margy

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's in a Name? Pescador

This week I took a mini-vacation to Steveston, BC. It's a place I really enjoy visiting, and I can get there and back from Bellingham in 24 hours. I stay overnight at the Historic Steveston Hotel and eat at one of the many seafood restaurants along the wharf.

Next to Garry Point Park is Scotch Pond. This reclaimed marsh land holds a pocket marina for mostly smaller fishing boats.

The name on this one says it all, in Spanish. Pescador means fisherman. Looks like she has been out on quite a few trips.

The Pescador is a trawler. The high poles are called outriggers. When lowered, they each hold several lines with multiple hooks. I wonder if my salmon dinner came from the Pescador? Maybe. - Margy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Barns of Highway 195

Continuing on our trip from Spokane to Pullman, Washington, on Highway 195, this barn was all by itself in a wheat field. It may have served its purpose, or maybe it's still used to store or protect the large equipment needed to plant and harvest hay and grain. The peaked metal roof looks newer than the peeling wood sides.


The open doors and windows made me think of the old saying, "It's too late to lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen." -- Margy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Solar Solutions

Our solar power generating solution includes separate systems for specific functions. That way our power needs don't have to rely on one source. Our main cabin system has two solar panels. Our oldest one is 125 watts and the newer one is 200 watts. They both feed into our electrical panel at the back of the cabin to charge six 6-volt batteries. The 6-volt batteries are wired in serial pairs to produce the necessary 12 volts to run our cabin systems.

Rather than adding to our cabin array, we chose to start a separate system on Wayne's floating writer's retreat (boat) called Gemini. On her cabin roof is a 300 watt panel that charges another six 6-volt batteries. This system provides power to the Gemini for computer charging, radio, and lights when needed . It is also connected to our cabin via a battery switch in the electrical panel.

Through our electrical panel at the back of the cabin we can choose to use either our boat or cabin power source. For example, during the day we use Gemini's power and leave the cabin's system charging throughout the daylight hours. Our daytime electric needs are minimal, so the Gemini can charge and supply our simple daily needs at the same time. Then after dark, we change over to the cabin source. That way we never deplete the batteries at either source.

We have two other solar solutions in place. Each one has a specific purpose, neither of which are to power our cabin proper. The first is on my garden float. A small 15 watt panel gathers enough power to keep a 12 volt battery charged. It is connected to a boat bilge pump that I control with a switch. The result is a garden hose with enough water power to keep my garden moist throughout the warm summer months.

Our newest solution involves a Blue Planet 60 watt set of panels from Canadian Tire that we use for two specific purposes. It came as a package complete with three 20 watt panels, frame, connectors, charge controller, and inverter. We waited to get ours on sale of course. All year long it provides power for the fan in our compost toilet. In winter, it powers a water pump for our thermoelectric generator. I'll tell you more about this sub-system next week.

Our separate systems work well for us, especially in the winter when power generation is limited. What are some of your solar uses and solutions? We'd love to hear about them. -- Margy

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Three Against the Wilderness" by Eric Collier

Our good friends Dave and Marg head for the Chilcotin each spring with camper and quad. Like us, they like reading about the regions they visit. Three Against the Wilderness was a book they recommended. It's a compelling tale of pioneer life far from civilization in the early 20th Century.

Eric Collier immigrated to Canada from England in the early 1920's. He was educated, and came from a family of means. But he was more interested in the outdoors than studying.

Eric made his way west to British Columbia and ended up in Riske Creek, a small trading post in the Chilcotin interior. Here he worked as a clerk and met his wife to be Lillian. Before she died, Lillian's grandmother LaLa, a 97 year old First Nations woman, passed on her dream of repopulating her homeland on Meldrum Creek with beavers.

Eric registered a trap line that included the Meldrum Creek area, and moved his wife Lillian and newborn son Veasy 25 miles into the wilderness. With all their worldly possessions and provisions in a horse drawn wagon, they undertook building a self-sustaining home and life in the bush.

Over the years, Eric, Lillian and Veasy worked hard to make a living in the beautiful, but often unforgiving, land. The book, written by Eric Collier, covers over thirty years of their exciting, harrowing, and heart-warming adventures.

I found a series of interviews with Veasy Collier conducted by James Stewart on YouTube, and a blog he wrote. Take a look for a first hand account.



Three Against the Wilderness is available in both print and Kindle formats at Amazon.com, on BC Ferries, and in many book stores. -- Margy

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Undulating Hills of Highway 195

As Wayne and I drove Highway 195 from Spokane to Pullman under cloudy skies, we were very interested in the geology of the area. There were a few hints, volcanic rock visible under the surface in the road cuts, and the smooth surface of the undulating hills rolling from horizon to horizon. I went online and here is a great article at the US Geological Survey website.

Eruptions 30 to 10 million years ago covered a vast area including parts of Idaho, Washington and Oregon with molten lava. Subsequent tilting and folding, and the deposit of wind blown silt (loess) and ash over the surface gave this wheat growing region the beginning of its fertile soil.

Glacial ice fields with melt lakes at their bases encroached on the area about 100,000 years ago. Lake Spokane covered what is now the city and much more. Massive Lake Missoula to the east filled beyond the capacity its ice dam. The resulting flood of catastrophic proportions flooded west towards the Pacific, scouring the surface down to the volcanic basalt, creating the water eroded channeled Scablands to the west. - Margy

Thursday, March 08, 2012

What's in a Name? Road Cruise

Boat names that have caught my eye and shutter.

This week's boat name comes from near my home. Powell Lake is a working lake in addition to a recreational lake. The waters are used by logging companies to get to and from remote sites, and to transport their logs and shake blocks to Mowat Bay for extraction.

Before logging can begin, roads have to be cut into the dense bush. That's where Road Cruise comes in. She carries the road "crews" to their work destination and home again. Here she is with Mr. Boat up the lake. Her crew was working, our "crew" was goofing off as usual.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Barns of Highway 195

On our trip to eastern Washington, we drove Highway 195 from Spokane to Pullman. The tree lined highlands dropped down to undulating hills covered with fields just ready to sprout their annual crops of wheat. Along the way we saw lots of farms, each with a barn. Here's the first for me to share.

Traditional red, this newer barn sports a classic design and red coat. Lots of room for stock, equipment, and possibly hay for those cold, snowy months in the highlands. -- Margy