Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tent Caterpillar Devastation

The word devastation may sound harsh, but it's true. Take a look at this alder tree at the Shinglemill Marina with newly hatched tent caterpillars. Yes, a few leaves have been stripped down to the veins, but by and large the foliage is intact. The following picture is just two weeks later. All those green leaves have been devoured.

The caterpillars have eaten themselves out of house and home, letting the blue sky shine through where once there was a canopy of leaves.

The picture above shows two large caterpillar tents, branches, seed-bearing catkins, and not much else. Now the caterpillars are on the move looking for their next (last?) meal. The caterpillars feast for 5-6 weeks before making a cocoon to change into a pupa. They undergo metamorphosis for three weeks inside and emerge as a short-lived moth. In only five days, the moths mate and females lay clusters of about 150 eggs. New caterpillars remain suspended over winter, to emerge again in late spring to start the process all over again. -- Margy

Friday, June 29, 2012

Giant Salamander Roams Goat Island

Our summer sun has been interspersed with cloudy afternoons. On this one, the reflection of a giant salamander roams across the face of Goat Island. I wonder what he'll find to eat.

Have you seen any interesting cloud formations lately? -- Margy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Classic Powell Lake Tug Marline W

I've mentioned before that Powell Lake is both a recreational and working lake, and boats are an important part of each function. From our front porch at the float cabin, we see work boats, tugs, barges and log booms traveling up and down the lake. One classic tug that plies our waters is the Marline W.

The Marline W is a wooden hull classic tug. It's moored in the Powell Lake (Shinglemill) Marina, but can be seen up and down the lake doing a variety of jobs.

Here she's towing a barge that brought building materials up to a float cabin that was being rebuilt. I know a wood hull is a challenge to maintain, but isn't she a beauty?

If you are interested in a classic boat, the Marline W is currently for sale. -- Margy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gibsons Beach, Powell River BC

On Highway 101 just north of the Wildwood section of Powell River you'll find an access road heading down to Gibsons Beach. Gibsons is a day use beach that is often uncrowded. It offers trees for shade, picnic tables, a grassy bluff, and a mix of rock and sand at the shore. There's plenty of parking near the picnic area.

Or you can drive around to the south side to find a rustic boat ramp and more parking.

In addition to beach activities, Gibsons is a great place to launch a kayak to explore Sliammon's Scuttle Bay or across the strait to Harwood Island. You can read more about our kayak excursion in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories book Up the Main. Right now you can get it FREE if you are a Kindle or e-book reader. -- Margy

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Boardwalk Restaurant in Lund BC

The Boardwalk Restaurant is located in Lund, BC, where Highway 101 (the Pan-American Highway) meets its northern terminus on the Strait of Georgia. The restaurant sits gracefully on pilings over the shallow bay behind the Lund Marina. Take a walk along the scenic boardwalk and stay for a wonderful meal.

I had some business to conduct in Lund (delivering some Coastal BC Stories books to Deborah at Tug-Guhm Gallery), so I took the opportunity to have lunch at The Boardwalk Restaurant. The location over the water right next to the marina can't be beat . Even though it rained earlier in the day, they let me eat outdoors on the deck.

The menu is varied, with an emphasis on local seafood. The day I was there you could get spot prawns right off the boat, and fresh clams, mussels, sockeye salmon, ling cod, and halibut. There are other items including burgers and steaks. The Boardwalk is known locally for their excellent fish and chips.

Since it was lunch, I opted for the one piece salmon fish and chips. The salmon was battered in a very crispy crust and came with homemade fries and tartar sauce. A small portion of fresh greens with vinaigrette rounded out the tasty meal. To go along with it, I picked an on-tap beer from the new Powell River Townsite Brewery. Now that make a "working day" well worth the trip.

You can find the Boardwalk Restaurant in Lund, BC, or reach them at (604) 483-2201. -- Margy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Powell River Bridge

Last week I shared remnants of the old Wildwood Bridge spanning Powell River. This week I'm sharing its replacement. Thanks to Paul at A Powell River Photo Blog, I got some information about the new bridge. In his post, View of a Bridge, I learned that it was built in 1966 (well before my time in Powell River) and is of a truss arch design. Check out Paul's post. I like the angle in his picture.

We drive over the bridge to get from town to the Shinglemill marina to head up the lake. We are always in such a hurry to get home, we don't take much time to appreciate it's structure or beauty.

This view looks towards the Powell River dam and chuck (ocean) beyond. It may be small, but the large flow of water out of Powell Lake is enough to generate electricity for the paper mill with some to spare. -- Margy

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Let Sleeping Geese Stand

One morning last week, Wayne woke up early and saw an interesting sight. I'm a late sleeper, but he though it was important enough to wake me up. Two Canada Geese were sleeping on the boom log in front of our cabin. Amazingly, they were standing on one leg with heads tucked under their wings.

I woke one up, but he stayed standing on one leg. With such a huge body weight (about 3-9 kg/7-20 lbs), it must take a lot of strength and balance to sleep that way.

I told Wayne to keep an eye on them. After all, this isn't a bed and breakfast resort. Geese have been known to hop on my floating garden and have a snack. I told our friend Ed, and later I got this in my email.

He always has an interesting sense of humour. And no, the geese didn't drop in for a bite. They took off to have their morning meal somewhere else on the lake. -- Margy

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preserving: Freezing and Drying Spinach

I planted my garden this spring in late March. I included quite a bit of spinach. We like to eat it fresh in salads, and creamed. But even in a small garden, you can get a little too much produce coming in all at once. The recent warm weather made all of my spinach start to bolt. Rather than lose it, I decided to pull all the plants and preserve what was left by freezing and drying.

I picked and trimmed the spinach out in the garden. All of the roots, stems and damaged leaves went into my compost pile. One bag was saved fresh for salads.

I always say the Economy Shop thrift store has what I need, when I need it. Can you believe it, the day I was going to preserve my spinach, I found a steamer to fit over a large pot. It was perfect for blanching.

For the spinach I planned to freeze, I blanched it using steam for two minutes. For the spinach I wanted to dry, I blanched it for only one minute.

I used the smaller leaves for freezing. As you know, spinach cooks down quite a bit, even with brief blanching. Out of two big bags of leaves, I got two containers to freeze. They will be perfect later for creamed spinach. One container will easily serve both of us.

The larger leaves I used for drying. I've never dried spinach before. One recipe said to blanch it for one minute first. Another said to dry it fresh. I went with the blanching method. I put my electric oven on the lowest temperature, 150 degrees. I used a spatula to turn the leaves several times to prevent sticking. In about three hours the leaves were completely dry and crisp. They became very thin, crumbling in the pan. That should be OK. I want to use them crumbled in soups anyway. I think next time I will try it without blanching.

Have you ever dried spinach? Which method did you use? -- Margy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just Like City-Folk

A recent medical tragedy has brought renewed focus on the safety needs for people living off the grid. A recent article in the Powell River Peak (Cabin numbering improves medical response) highlighted that all float and land cabins on local lakes are getting "street" numbers, just like city-folk.

The Cabin Owners Association has worked with local authorities over the years to develop numbering plans, but the regional emergency system has no knowledge of local conventions. When Troy Marshall called 911 about his brother's heart attack, first responders didn't even know where Powell Lake was, let alone a remote float cabin. Thanks to Troy's efforts, we now now both GPS locations and "street" numbers. In our case, 10767 Powell Lake. Now if we call 911 with an emergency, first responders will know where we are located. Getting there is a whole different story.

Living off the grid, you are responsible for your own safety and first response. Wayne and I did took some extra safety measures after the emergency preparedness presentation at Cabin Owners Association AGM. We developed a emergency folder with important information, purchased a larger fire extinguisher, updated our first aid supplies, purchased a strobe light to signal passing boats, and reviewed our cell phone and marine radio procedures.

Whether you live in a city, in the country, or off the grid, are you prepared for an emergency? Check out the Get Prepared website for more information. -- Margy

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Old Wildwood Bridge

Beginning in 1910, 1he company town (now called the Townsite) for the Powell River pulp and paper mill was built on the southeast side of the Powell River. On the other side of the river were thick woods and few people. At first, boats and rafts had to be used to traverse the river. But in 1916, a bridge was built to provide better access for shingle mill operations and residents living on the other side. An article in Powell River Magazine chronicles the development of Wildwood.

Supports for the old Wildwood Bridge are still visible in the river. This picture of the old bridge is from the Powell River Museum archives. When the BC government offered 40-60 acre homesteads for pre-emption in 1914, settlement across the river increased. Many Italian immigrants chose to live in Wildwood and developed a close knit farming community that remains today.

The bridge may be gone, but the strong supports endure.

Powell River is only 500 metres long, running from the bottom of Powell Lake to the paper mill's dam that was built in 1910. Here you can see the river widen into the bottom of Powell Lake with the Shinglemill (Powell Lake) Marina on the left.

For more bridges from all over, head on over to San Francisco Bay Daily Photo, the home of Sunday Bridges. -- Margy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Black Bear Swimming

While fishing on Powell Lake, Wayne and I had an amazing experience. We were trolling in First Narrows. Wayne was trying to get his line out. I looked up the lake and saw what looked like a bumpy log, but it was moving faster and in a different direction than the wind. So rather than finish putting out our lines, we went over to investigate. As we came near, we realized it was a black bear swimming for shore.

While we can't be sure, the trajectory he was on seemed to come from Goat Island. Following the angle back, the bear must have swum about a kilometre from shore to shore. What an amazing show of strength and determination. Now the big question, why? For that I do not have an answer. -- Margy

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sky Rockets in Flight

More like evening delight.

Last night over the Strait of Georgia near Powell River, BC, we saw this bright light in the sky. It appeared just after sunset over Texada Island. From the trails in the sky, it appears there was an earlier one to the right. My guess is it was either rockets or high intensity flares test fired from a ship in Military Exercise Area WG (Whiskey Golf to locals) on the other side of the strait.

P-0849(2012) STRAIT OF GEORGIA - WG Activated:0426 14 Jun 2012 Military Exercise Area WG (north of Nanaimo), shown on Canadian charts 3463 and 3512 will be active across the full range area on June 14, 2012 from 0700 until 2100 PDT for surface-subsurface-air operations. Area WG is extremely hazardous during operations and is closed to marine traffic.
Pretty interesting don't you think? -- Margy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Riding the Island Sky BC Ferry

She's a bit more than a boat, she's a BC Ferry. The Island Sky is one of the newest ships in the fleet. After four and a half years from concept to completion, she went into service on the Earls Cove to Saltary Bay run on February 19, 2009. That's important for people who live in Powell River, BC. She's the first link in getting from our ocean locked mainland to the big city of Vancouver.

I was lucky enough to ride her when she was almost new. She's a 102-metre, 125-car intermediate size ferry built by the Vancouver Shipyard. She holds 600 passengers and 125 vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

We just took a ride on the Island Sky to bring Mom and Stick Tail (her companion cat) up to visit us for a few weeks.

Getting on the Island Sky at Earls Cove always means I'm almost home. That's a feeling I love. -- Margy

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Following the Curve of Time" by Cathy Converse

One of the first books Wayne and I read about boating along the BC coast was the classic The Curve of Time by 2008, Cathy Converse published the biography Following the Curve of Time: The Legendary M. Wylie Blancet. Not only did Converse retrace the life of this very private woman, but she also followed her cruising path up and down the British Columbia coast. Things have really changed over the years. Where rugged individuals once lived in the wilderness, now homesteads sit abandoned. But the immense ocean and landscape endures. Where few boaters once ventured, now summer visitors flock to take in the supernatural expanses. M. Wylie (Capi to her friends) lead an interesting, if reclusive, life both on the water and Vancouver Island. Through Cathy's research, the woman behind the story comes to life once again.
Following the Curve of Time is available at local bookstores, on BC Ferries, as well as online in both print and Kindle/ebook versions.


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Attack of the Tent Worms

Sounds like a good title for a B-horror movie doesn't it? A more common name for tent worms, is tent caterpillars. Each year, the Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma californicum) lays eggs on the stem of a deciduous tree. Favourite ones include aspens, cottonwoods, fruit trees, and in our area, alders. The eggs mature, but remain dormant until the following spring when tree leaves are at their prime.

After hatching, the tiny caterpillars build a tent they can use for protection and warmth in colder weather. When conditions are right, they wander off and begin eating their host tree. One tent worth of caterpillars can strip a full grown tree of about 20% of its leaves during the six weeks that the little furry critters feast. Then they form a cocoon to transform into a moth, starting the process all over.

Every 5-10 years for some unknown reason there is a population explosion. Tent caterpillars multiply in horrific numbers, denuding trees, getting under foot, and leaving a trail of poop pellets everywhere. And this is the year for Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

In the next few weeks we'll be inundated and our trees turned into a bare shadow of their former selves. Fortunately, a healthy tree can survive the onslaught and regrow the leaves needed for photosynthesis by mid-summer.

How are the caterpillars doing in your area? -- Margy

Friday, June 08, 2012

Moonlight View

A full moon is always a treat at our cabin up the lake.

I love it when I can go out at night and the light of the moon makes everything stand out in relief.

If the water is calm, I can see the sky's reflection. It just doesn't get much better than that! -- Margy

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Raggedy Anne's a Working Boat on Powell Lake

This year, a "new" boat showed up at the Shinglemill Marina on Powell Lake. Her name is Raggedy Anne. I've been wanting to get a picture of her for some time, and last weekend she was moored at the end of the transient dock right next to our Halcyon Days.

Raggedy Anne has the words "Water Taxi" on the front of her command bridge. That's because she worked as one of the Lund Water Taxis taking passengers and supplies from Lund to Savary Island.

I don't know why she's now on Powell Lake. Maybe retirement in time to enjoy a summer up the lake. Or maybe to provide transportation for summer lake visitors. Right now, unless you have a boat of your own, it's hard to enjoy all that Powell Lake has to offer.

When I first saw her, I thought the name was perfect. It's obvious she's done a lot of work, leaving her a bit raggedy. The red and white colour made me think of a Raggedy Ann doll. And then when I learned she was a Lund Water Taxi, I thought maybe Raggedy came from the nearby Ragged (Copeland) Islands. Is Anne an owner or relative? Maybe someone from Lund Water Taxi will see this and fill in the details. -- Margy

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Coastal BC Plants: Scotch Broom

 Scotch Broom

Usually May is the month when all the Scotch Broom in Powell River blooms in glorious yellow. Again this year it's late, but finally in full bloom.

Visually it's beautiful, but Scotch Broom is a non-native invasive perennial shrub that has taken hold in many places in the US and Western Canada as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands. It was first introduced in Victoria, BC, as an ornamental plant in 1850. It has spread an amazing distance in a relative short period of time. It is categorized in many places as a noxious weed and efforts at eradication are taken to protect native plants, re-foresting efforts and animal habitats.

This forested hillside next to the Shinglemill Marina on Powell Lake was logged in about 2002. For several years, it was covered with typical logging slash debris. In 2010, there was a scattering of Scotch Broom, but look at it now. There's hardly a square inch left for native plants. When it comes time to develop this land, it will need some serious clearing. -- Margy