Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Retrospective from Powell River Books

2014 was a great year for Wayne and me, and, of course, Powell River Books. Here are a few of the exciting moments:

January - Wayne and I present about off-the-grid living at the Vancouver Boat Show. We went to Arizona for sports and a visit to the Titan Missle Museum. Our cabin was entered in Sunset Magazine's Small Space, Big Dreams Contest. On a sad note, we lost our beloved cat Stick Tail after 23 years of good living and companionship.

February - Snow and fog blanket us in white at the cabin. We drive to Oregon to watch USC Women's Basketball vs. University of Oregon. This was the next installment in a new vacation trend, sports-cations. We sell our 30' Bayliner and take our 24' boat from Bellingham to Port Moody to get a new engine upgrade.

March - I finally get the knack of making sourdough bread using my starter. My garden gets worked up for spring, our cabin was in the Sunset Magazine photo contest, and we head to Phoenix, Arizona, for some sun and Spring Training baseball.

April - Our good friend John helps us remodel the cabin with painting and pine paneling. I love the new classic cabin look! We get a TV for easier video watching, and more lights to decorate our off-the-grid home. Our refurbished 24' Bayliner gets a new home in the North Harbour in Powell River.

May - I get my float garden planted, and battle deer mice for its survival. Wayne gives a presentation at the Whatcom Writers and Publishers meeting about travel memoirs, and our Barn Swallows return to build a nest and raise a family.

June - We discover University of British Columbia investigating Powell Lake and Wayne develops a relationship to learn more about oceanography to write a book about the Salish Sea (Straight of Georgia). We launch our new (to us) barge for quad riding on Powell Lake, and begin cruising in our 24' Bayliner.

July - I begin a blog series on Coastal BC plants, we continue cruising on the chuck (ocean) and take lots of camping barge quad rides on Powell Lake. Kurt flies in to rent John's cabin, we help with the Sea Fair Fly-in at the Powell River Airport, and Red Letter Films comes to the cabin to film for a new French-language series about West Coast Cottages.

August - Wayne and I fly to Newfoundland for a camping trip that will take us to Labrador as well. Our summer weather is the best we've had in years. We take more barge trips on the lake, and a flying camping trip in 997 before she goes into the shop for new avionics.

September - We get ready for the end of summer and the upcoming rainy months by installing a new porch enclosure. The long hot summer brings out lots of yellow jackets, Wayne goes out with the UBC team to study the Fraser River plume, and I learn more about forestry on the Western Forest Products tour.

October -  I expand with two new blogs, Margy Meanders for general topics and Powell River Quad Rides to consolidate posts about quad riding. I do some seed saving, I harvest my first quinoa and chamomile, and our USC sports-cations begin with a trip to Pullman to sit through a rainy football game and a close encounter with a deer on the highway.

November - I try saving my geraniums and dahlias before the frost arrives. For the first time, Powell Lake turns a strange milky green. Everyone thinks it's heavy run-off from glaciers and dry hillsides. It's too cold to camp, but we still take barge and quad day trips. We take a USC sports-cation to Los Angeles for football, basketball, and warm SUN!!

December - Our cabin is on TV in Chalets de la cote ouest (West Coast Cottages). We get 997 back from the avionics shop with her new ADS-B tracking, collision avoidance, and weather avionics. We spend Christmas with our good friend Jeanne in Bellingham, and New Years in Los Angeles for one more USC sports-cation.

It's been a great year and I've enjoyed sharing parts of it with you. Wayne and I wish you and your family a happy new year. May it bring you peace, love and contentment. -- Wayne and Margy

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Scotch Broom

Scotch Broom

Each May, Scotch Broom is in full bloom here in Powell River and all along the Sunshine Coast. Most of the year it's a nondescript evergreen, but each spring it stands out in all of its magnificent yellow glory. But Broom also has a darker side. A little research led us to an interesting, if not scary, story.

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 the US as an ornamental plant in the 1800s and in Victoria, BC, 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.

The Latin name for Scotch Broom is Cytisus scoparius. It was introduced from Europe where it was used in the “olden days” for thatching and brooms, hence the common name. The seeds that develop from the pea-like yellow flowers are prolific and grow vigorously. The plants are adaptable to many soil types. You will find it in road and logging cuts where the plants thrive in the direct sunlight. Current uses are minimal beyond ornamental value (the yellow flowers are beautiful).

There is a unique approach for the control of Scotch Broom. The Uprooter can be used to pull the entire plant out, roots and all. That must be some tool to pull out a plant than can reach 10 metres high! Take a look. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Powell River Books

Merry Xmas
Wayne and Margy

Powell River Books

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Hole
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mole.
[***Oh, my garden really hopes so!***]
The lights were all hung on the porch with great care,
In hopes that work boats would see them from there.

Stick was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of mousies danced in his head.
Wayne in his USC T-shirt, and I in my Canada cap,
Went up to the loft for a cozy little nap.
[***Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.***]

When up on the cliff there was such a big crash,
We leapt from the bed in a really fast flash.
Then down to the porch we flew with a gasp,
Ran up to the slider and got a good grasp.

The stars and the moon in the sky way up high
Reflected in the lake, ready for our sleepy eyes to spy.
When what to our wandering gaze should appear,
But an aurora glittering and sparkling so near.

Then a woodrat sprang up with a buzz and a squeal,
And an owl swooped past is a large arcing wheel.
But I heard them exclaim, before they hurried out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to you, and everyone alike.”

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Wayne and Margy

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

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! -- 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

Vancouver Groundcone

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. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Driftwood Santa Wall Hanging

A bit of the cabin for Christmas in town.
Does wood ever speak to you? Sounds silly, but every time I pick a piece of driftwood out of the lake I listen to what it has to say. Most often it's, "I just came by to help you keep warm this winter."

But other times, driftwood has a different message. Stumps beg to become floating planters. Medium sized gnarly pieces ask to come aboard to decorate our deck. Smaller piece often have a unique message of their own.

This piece of driftwood told me it wanted to become a Christmas decoration we could bring out each year to celebrate the holiday.

I must be honest, I'd just seen an article in the Peak advertising a local crafter's wares at Artique, the local artist cooperative shop. When I saw this piece of wood float by, I knew what it would become.

All it took was some acrylic paint, yarn to make a ball for the top of Santa's hat, and two nails and a piece of yarn on the back for a hanger. The driftwood shape was perfect just the way it was for the task.

I enjoy using handmade decorations for the season, and my driftwood Santa wall hanging fits right in.

Are you making anything special for Christmas this year? -- Margy

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Waiting for the Cut

Logging boom pen waiting for the next cut.

A crisp fall day at the Goat Island Dunn dock on Powell Lake, BC. -- Margy

Friday, December 05, 2014

Cabin Cooking: Egg Substitutes

Christmas baking is coming. One of the things I will need, but sometimes run out of at the cabin, is eggs. When that happens, it's a long trip down the lake by boat, or I need to find an alternative. So here are some egg substitutes I've used.

I did some Internet research and here are two substitutes if you get caught eggless.

1 teaspoon yeast
¼ cup warm water


1 ½ tablespoon water
1 ½ tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon baking powder

I've used both with mixed degrees of success in cake and quick bread recipes. Eggs provide leavening, so substitutes try to replace this feature. What they cannot do is replace the richness, colour, and flavor real eggs bring to baked products.

If you want to read more about our float cabin living on Powell Lake in British Columbia, go to  There you will find a list of Wayne's books in the Coastal BC Stories series. Many include chapters about our cabin life, and right now the Kindle version of Up the Lake is FREE. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Return to Goat Island by ATV

Click to enlarge for details.
Fall is a good time to go quad riding in the Powell River back country. We used a recent cool, sunny day to head out in our barge. With short days we couldn't go far and still have enough sunlight to ride, so we chose nearby Goat Island.

Clover Barge Ramp
There was no logging activity, so we could use the Western Forest Products barge ramp and dock. There's a lot of activity on the lake with hunting season open. We've seen people taking their quads and motorcycles up on landing crafts, barges, decks of houseboats, home-built barges and rafts, and squeezed into regular boats.

Clover Lake
You can be sure we kept both eyes and ears out for hunters during our ride. The first leg of our journey took us north on Clover Main. We've traveled this section of road before, but not to the end. Along the way we stopped at the quad trail heading down to the mouth of Clover Lake. It's a good road, but we decided to hike down.

Bad move with all the runoff and muddy puddles. We'll know better for next time.

We did discover why they call it Clover Lake, lots of clover growing in the area.

As we progressed north, the road went from active to not used in many, many years. We retraced our steps at the ends of spurs, and continued as far as the alders, cedars and firs in the roadbed would allow us to travel. I think the old roads are really pretty to ride.

We turned around and headed back down Clover Main. At the main junction we continued south to find the opening to Elvis Main. This section of road is named after the King of Pop who stands proudly on the point, also named in his honour.

Riding a section of Elvis Main on Goat Island.
This logging road hasn't been used for quite some time, and is being quickly overgrown. But we were able to wind our way around trees and bushes to make it to the end of the road. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it all the way to the Elvis statue without a slog through the bush, and there wasn't enough sunlight left for that.  I'll tell you more about Elvis and his new Graceland home in a future post. -- Margy