Saturday, June 30, 2018

Coastal BC Animals: Chipmunks

Chipmunks

Joining the birds for a snack.
Up the lake at the cabin we have a pair of chipmunks that visit our float cabin almost daily.

If there is food in the bird feeder they stop by for a try to get their share. Consequently, the Juncos have to go without for a few days between fillings.

If the feeder is empty, they boldly come on the deck to see why we aren't attending to their needs. Many forest critters like to eat my crops growing in pots and containers on the decks. At least the chipmunks are polite about not digging into our growing food supply.

Visitors from Powell River report that there are few chipmunks left in town. They surmise that the growing gray and black squirrel population may be pushing the cute little guys farther into the bush.


Chipmunks can be distinguished by the stripes on their face and back. Their colouring is yellowish to brownish gray with black and white stripes. Often there is a reddish cast to their sides.


Chipmunks are very energetic and agile. We see them climb the nearly vertical granite cliffs next to the cabin.

There are four varieties listed for BC. I'm not sure which kind come to visit us. It might be a Red-Tailed. Can you help?


Here's a link to a good (and free) manual for identifications: An Identification Manual to the Small Mammals of British Columbia. -- Margy

References: BC Adventure (online) and Nature Canada (online).

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cabin Cooking: Chocolate Chip Muffins

Making my own tulip muffin cups with parchment paper.
Wayne and I will be going on quad camping trips and boat cruises this summer. I like to prepare foods in advance to make meal preparation easy. Here's a recipe for yummy muffins from Kraft Canada that pack well and eat even better.

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:

Mix dry ingredients first.
• 2 cups flour
• 1 Tbsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 3/4 cup chocolate chips
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup oil
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Mix wet ingredients and sugar.
Heat oven to 400ºF.

Combine first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Whisk the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl until blended. I will increase the sugar to 3/4 cup next time because I like a sweeter muffin.

Adding the wet to the dry mixture.
Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until moistened. Don't over mix or the muffins will turn out tough. The batter should be lumpy not smooth.

Spoon into muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray. I also used squares of parchment paper in each cup.

Filling the muffin cups.
Fill each cup until it's three quarters full.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire wire rack and cool completely.


Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

The recipe is for a dozen muffins, but with my smaller pan I got fifteen. Store in a sealed plastic bag or container for best results.

Muffins ready for our quad camping trip to Goat Lake.

Do you have any favourite foods to take on vacation trips to make meal preparation easier? -- Margy

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Always FREE Kindle "Up the Lake" by Wayne J. Lutz

The book that started it all!

Up the Lake
Coastal BC Stories

from


Head up Powell Lake to experience life in an off the grid float cabin, take a boat to world famous Desolation Sound, ride a quad into the back country and fly overhead for a unique view of this incredible place. Read Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz and see how much fun it can be.

Print for $9.95
Kindle for Free
E-Book for Free
(prices may vary in Canada)

Visit PowellRiverBooks.com 
for more information and 
additional titles in the Coastal BC Stories series.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Float Cabin Living: The Series

Wayne and I purchased our float cabin home in 2001 while on a flying camping trip that landed us in Powell River, British Columbia.  That camping trip brought us to a new Canadian home on Powell Lake. It also brought us to life in a new country when we became Canadian Permanent Residents in 2008 and citizenship applicants in 2017.

Wayne and I were both raised in the city and lived in the Los Angeles area. Moving to the small town of Powell River was a big step, living in an off-the-grid float cabin was a huge leap. But it was the best thing we could have ever done.

We get lots of questions about what it's like to live in a float cabin. This series will answer some of the most frequent ones we get. 

  1. Does the cabin move around the lake?
  2. What is the weather like?
  3. What happens during storms?
  4. How do you stay warm?
  5. How do you get power? Propane, Solar, Alternatives
  6. Do you have a telephone, television and the Internet?
  7. How was your cabin built? Float, Cabin
  8. Why did you choose to live in a float cabin?
  9. Can you have a garden?
  10. How can you live in such a small space?
  11. What do you DO with all your time?

People don't always ask about the bathroom, but I'm sure they're thinking about it. And how we handle all of our waste. Most people do. I'll answer all these questions, but I won't try to do it all at once. Each week on Tuesday I'll post a new installment. Stay tuned.

If you can't wait, you can read more of my posts under the topic of Float Cabin Living in the sidebar. You can also visit the PowellRiverBooks.com website to get information about my husband Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series of books. Many include chapters about cabin life and Powell Lake.

If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments section. I always enjoy writing about our life up the lake. -- Margy

Saturday, June 09, 2018

"Off the Grid: Getting Started" by Wayne J. Lutz

This is the newest and thirteenth title in the Coastal BC Stories series. Unlike previous books about adventures and life in a float cabin home, this book is a how-to guide for people interested in moving out of the city and off the grid.


Wayne J. Lutz

From the author of the Coastal BC Stories series, Off the Grid: Getting Started provides more detail about what it's like to live off the grid. What are the essentials you’ll need and how do you get started? This practical how-to guide considers all aspects of remote living and moving off the grid, including site selection and the creation of your own utilities. Investment and ongoing costs of backwoods living are evaluated based on a  building-block approach. This book is designed for those who seek an evaluation of basic remote lifestyles and how to make it happen. If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.


Smashwords ebooks for $2.99

Click here if you need a Kindle or Kindle App.
Also available from additional online vendors.

Or go to PowellRiverBooks.com for more ordering information. -- Margy

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Float Cabin Living: Does it move?

Our float cabin soon after we purchased it.
One of the questions we often get is, “Does your float cabin move around the lake?” People think it's like a houseboat, which is understandable. Float cabins aren’t something you see every day.

Before we discovered float cabins on Powell Lake, we knew about the fancy floating homes in marinas such as Sausalito, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. You may have seen a float home in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks and his son lived in one.

Cedar log float with cabin floor installed.

Floating homes typically use steel and concrete float structures (yes, they float) rather than lashed cedar logs like the ones on Powell Lake.

Floating logging camp from BC Archives.
Float cabins were originally used for housing and buildings in remote logging and fishing camps. Coastal British Columbia is known for its fjords with steep cliffs plunging right to the sea. Building land structures would have been difficult, if not impossible. Also, floating camps allowed the operations to move easily from one area to the next.

Old timer still in use.
On Powell Lake, float cabins were originally built by paper mill workers from the Powell River Company. Powell Riverites were heading “up the lake” to fish, hunt and just get away. Powell Lake is fjord-like (see "Ancient Sea Water in Powell Lake"). The huge cedar logs for the float structures were plentiful. Wood to build the cabins and shakes for the roofs were right at hand. Floating cabins were a natural.

Stiff leg and cables to shore at low water.
Float cabins on Powell Lake are much the same today. They are typically no frills cabins used by locals as weekend getaways. A few are available for rent. The cabins are attached to shore by steel cables (preferred) or heavy rope. Cement anchors often serve as extra stabilization. As the lake rises and falls during the seasons, the cables or ropes may need to be adjusted.

Towing a float cabin down the lake.
While a boat can tow a cabin fairly easily, they usually remain in the same place throughout their life in a leased water lot. On occasion, you will see a cabin moving up or down the lake for repairs. Since the cabins are almost exclusively boat access only, it can be easier to do major upgrades at the marina or along the lake shore near town.

In "Weathering the Wind," you can read about how our friend John created an ingenious system to dampen the strain on the cables during wind and waves. After major storms it is important to check to make sure your cabin is still attached properly.



If you want to travel around the lake and take your house with you, a houseboat is what you need. But if you love your location and want a permanent home, a float cabin would be for you. It sure is for us. -- Margy

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What is the weather like?

Wayne and I love watching the changing seasons at our float cabin. That's probably because we came from Southern California.

Here in southwest Coastal British Columbia we have moderate weather.


Summers are sunny and warm with only a few hot spells of 30°C. Fall and spring alternate between sun, clouds and rain with temperatures to the low double digits. Winter has more cloudy and rainy days with temperatures occasionally below zero and moderate snow on 10-15 days. As Canada goes, we're balmy.

An anemometer next to our wind generator.
Since weather is an integral part of our daily lives, it was natural for us to want to know more.

First we purchased an inexpensive portable weather radio. We listen to broadcasts from the Pacific Weather Centre of Environment Canada. Our weather 25 kilometres  inland varies somewhat, but it gives us a good idea about frontal passage and expected winds. When we hear the reports for Grief Point (in Powell River) and Sentry Shoal (a buoy south of Savary Island), we know what's coming.

Our manual and digital rain gauges.
Next came a digital thermometer. Then a wireless weather station by Acu-Rite that you can purchase at Walmart or other places that sell thermometers. In addition to temperature, it has a digital barometer and humidity gauge (hygrometer). A handheld anemometer gave us wind information, but you had to stand out in the gale to get a reading. (Oops, there goes Wayne off the deck. Just kidding!).

Solar-powered temperature gauge.
Finally we upgraded to an Oregon Scientific Complete Wireless Weather Station. (Eleven years later it's still going strong). It has a rain gauge, thermometer, hygrometer and an anemometer. Our probes are solar powered, the new ones require batteries unless you opt for the expensive professional model. There are also gauges for barometric pressure, indoor temperature and humidity.

The display panel inside the cabin.
The indoor display light is easy to turn on with a touch of the screen, saving batteries when electrical power is off.

The LED screen is easy to read and a memory feature lets us know what we missed while away.


US rain gauge into its new Coastal BC home.
One summer a good friend came to visit by motorcycle. And he had a big (literally) surprise for us. He used to be a fire captain. Part of his duties were to report precipitation to the U.S. National Weather Service. When the devices were retired, he got to keep two. One is now installed at our cabin.

Whether you start small like we did, or graduate to a professional station, watching the weather is fun. -- Margy

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What happens during storms?

We love to be at our float cabin home in all seasons, so we're there for all types of weather. We are relatively safe in Hole in the Wall. The bay, promontory and nearby Goat Island protect us from the worst winds. On the open lake, especially in the area dubbed the “North Sea” just beyond First Narrows, storm winds out of the southeast can whip the water into three foot plus waves.



After storms pass, clearing northwest winds blast down First Narrows creating dangerous waves. I’ve even seen hefty workboats duck into Hole in the Wall for a brief respite. Traveling on the lake in our Hewescraft would be more dangerous than staying put.


The worst damage we've experienced is a dislodged chimney, broken anchor cables (Up the Lake Chapter 4), and a rust weakened BBQ that flew the coop leaving its legs sticking up like a dead bug. That’s not bad. Several cabins have been severely damaged.


The weight of snow on the float could be a problem. Fortunately Powell Lake’s weather is moderated by the nearby ocean. Snow typically sticks only a few days. The biggest problem we have is uncovering solar panels so we can continue to gather the limited winter sun.

Rain is the most common type of storm. If you live in a floating cabin, a little more water isn’t a problem. Thin cracks between the boards on the deck let the water run right through.



The cabin rides easily up and down on its anchor cables as the lake rises and falls from wet to dry seasons.

Additional weather videos you might enjoy include:

A Snowy Day at Hole in the Wall
Windstorm Waterspouts
Mother Nature Blowing Bubbles

So, let it storm and let it rain. We’re prepared. Are you? -- Margy

Friday, June 01, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How do you stay warm?

Our Kozi brand woodstove.
If you are following this series, you've already read about our weather and storms.

Wayne and I couldn't live up the lake in all seasons without a way to keep our home warm.

Nights are longer and temperatures cool by late September.  What most people call winter weather begins in earnest by late October. From then until May (sometimes early June) we need heat.


A rare snowy day.
Our solution is old fashioned wood combustion in our Kozi wood-burning stove. It came with our cabin and has served us well.

To burn wood, you have to gather and process wood.



Gathering floating wood.
Floating wood comes right to our doorstep when the lake level rises. We also use our barge to gather wood to cut and stack.

Our friend John built a floating woodshed for us. Wood is very heavy and you don't want it to weight down the cabin's main deck.

Processing wood for the woodshed.
Wayne learned to use a chainsaw to cut log chunks into stove lengths, then we used an ax and sledge hammer to split the larger pieces.

That is until I got an electric log splitter for my birthday.





Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but off the grid labour saving devices are more appreciated. Below are some links for more information about heating our cabin home.

Woodstove cooking.
Stocking the woodpile.
Chainsaw maintenance.
Rotating chimney cap.
Chimney maintenance. 
Indoor storage shelf.
Woodstove refinishing.
Woodstove cooking.
Woodstove baking.

Come on in, sit by the fire and get Kozi warm.



How do you keep yourself warm and toasty on long winter nights? -- Margy