Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Julie's Airport Cafe in Powell River, BC

Julie's Airport Cafe in Powell River, BC
I wrote about Julie's Airport Cafe back in 2011 when she first opened. I've known Julie since she was a server at the Marine Inn and then Kane's here in Powell River. Julie had a dream of opening a restaurant of her own, and from the beginning it's been a success.

The original name was Julie's Airport Market and Grill. There's no longer a market so Julie can focus on what she does best, make some of the best food in town.

Wayne and I went for breakfast and were blown away at Julie's remodel. Wow!

But I'm sure glad she kept the airplane theme.

Julie's is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. You never know who you'll find at the next table, a neighbour, a local bigwig, or someone who just flew in to get some good eats.

On a recent visit we discovered a unique "table." It's part art and also a place to sit and eat. It was created by O.C. "Dobie" Dobrostanski, the artist from Dogwood Studio on nearby Texada Island.

The Warbird Tables created by Dobie Dobrostanski from Texada Island.

The fuselage of the airplane is a wall mural, but the wing and tail are tables where customers can sit and enjoy breakfast or lunch. How cool is that?

Hand painted giant saw blade and helicopter rotor blade over the door.

The walls and ceiling of Julie's are covered with aviation pictures and aircraft models.

Some of the many airplane models hanging from the ceiling.

If you live in or visit Powell River, you've got try Julie's for a tasty breakfast or lunch. Then head on over to the airport and watch some real airplanes take off and land. -- Margy

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Building a Simple Mason Bee Hotel

Full house in Hotel #1
It's been so exciting to watch our Orchard Mason Bees using their nesting blocks, we decided to make them a second hotel.

Nesting runs from mid-March through late Spring, so we had enough time for a few more bees to use the facilities.

Step 1: Start with an old birdhouse.

I started with an old birdhouse and went from there.

Step 2: Remove the front wall and clean the inside thoroughly.

Don't you love to save something and then find a new use for it?

Step 3: Give the old birdhouse a facelift with new paint.

A container for the drilled nesting blocks protects them from rain.

Step 4: Preserve the new paint and exposed surfaces with Acrylic spray.

Click here to see how we drilled nesting blocks to put inside.

Step 5: Mount the Bee Hotel on a south facing surface.

Two matching birdhouses look nice together on our porch pillar.

An Orchard Mason Bee heading into one of the holes at full speed.

The bees move so fast it's hard to get closeup photographs.

Another Orchard Mason Bee heading in from the lower left.
Orchard Mason Bees lay eggs packed within pollen plugs that are sealed in a series in each hole. The eggs turn into larvae that live off the stored pollen and emerge eleven months later to start the cycle all over again.
Give it a try. You can do it for free with recycled and repurposed materials, and the result is fun and good for the environment as well. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Trip to the Head of Powell Lake

Wayne and I took our first barge and quad overnight camping trip of the season to the Head of Powell Lake. We wanted to catch the waterfalls during spring runoff. Because of our early spring they weren't running full bore, but they were still spectacular.

We left from our cabin home at Hole in the Wall just past First Narrows. Thanks to Harry Zroback, Powell Lake float cabins were just featured in Cottage Life magazine's May issue.

Calm water reflected snowy peaks of the Coast Range past Second Narrows. There's pointy Beartooth on the right. Have you ever eaten Beartooth Pie at the Shinglemill Pub? It was invented by Max Pagani, a local realtor and Powell Lake neighbour of ours.

We stopped at several waterfalls to try our luck at fishing. None here, but it's one of many beautiful spots.

We arrived late on Friday after the crews were gone. Before going, we stopped at the Western Forest Products office in Powell River to check on weekend logging activity. Knowing there would be no log trucks hauling, we offloaded our quads and set up camp on the empty barge.

The next morning we rode up Daniels Main to see the spectacular waterfalls fanning out over the granite cliffs. Active logging roads are well maintained. Older ones narrow to rougher trails.

We found colourful spring flowers like this Red Columbine.

Next we went up Powell Main. Both roads are named for the two rivers that feed into the head of Powell Lake. Here's the Powell River before it merges with the Daniels River.

From a lookout, you can see the headwaters of Powell Lake.

We saw four black bears during our ride, but they were too quick to photograph. They are out of their winter dens eating grass while they wait for the berries to ripen.

Thanks for coming along on this quad ride at the head of Powell Lake. We live in an amazing place where you can see and experience amazing backcountry.

You can read more about Powell Lake and regional adventures in my husband Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series of books. They are available locally at Coles or online in print and e-book formats through Amazon, Kobo, and other retailers. -- Margy

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Coastal BC Birds: Hummingbird Feeding Frenzy


Hummingbirds at Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake, BC
Up until this year we've been reluctant to use bird feeders at the cabin. We were afraid the birds would become dependent on them and that would make traveling away from home difficult. But this year we gave in and started using a seed feeder and a hummingbird feeder.

The hummingbird feeder was such a success we now have two to keep up with the birds' feeding frenzies. Click below to see them in action.

Do you use bird feeders? What has been your biggest success? -- Margy

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Simple Pots for Container Gardening

Cutting a barrel in half.
Because I live on a float cabin with limited space available, containers are a vital part of my gardening activity. But large pots can be very expensive.

An alternative that I use is 55-gallon plastic food grade barrels cut in half.

Two new garden pots ready to fill.
Where we live, plastic barrels are usually $25-30 CAD. And luckily for us on Powell Lake, winter often brings floating ones right to our doorstep. Blue barrels are used for extra flotation under float cabins. During storms, damaged ones pop out and float around the lake ready for repurposing.

Rhubarb in a plastic pot.

We cut the barrels in half and drill drain holes in the bottoms.

Growing potatoes in blue barrels.

Beans with a trellis in a barrel.
Using pots on the cabin deck I can easily grow things like beans, peas, potatoes, squash, garlic, rhubarb, blueberries, peppers, cucumbers, and much more.

I invite you to click on my Gardening topic link to see  more about container and float gardening.

Do you do container gardening? What are some of your successes? What kind of containers do you use? -- Margy

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Plant Protective Cages

A pesky woodrat.
At the cabin, I have a terrible problem with critters eating my garden produce. I'm willing to share, but woodrats (also known as packrats) just mow things down and leave them lying on the ground, presumably to dry before taking them to their nest for storage.

Typical woodrat harvesting, cut and stack.
During spring, and again in the fall, woodrats are most prevalent. This year, I decided to take defensive action rather than wait for trouble. My float garden has a protective moat when it's pulled out into the lake, but not my deck pots.

Adding driftwood sticks for extra support.
After a nasty attack last year, I purchased Quest Plastic Rigid Utility Mesh at Canadian Tire. It has 1/2 inch holes, is 3-feet high, 15-feet long, is less expensive than chicken wire, and easier to work with.

Clothes pins hold bird netting over the top.
Last year I learned: 1) I needed to make the cages larger to allow for plant growth. 2) Even though the plastic is somewhat rigid, larger cages need extra support to keep the tops from collapsing. 3) And most important, the tops need to open for easier harvesting.

The completed protective cage around my pepper pots.

For easier harvesting, this year I used clothes pins to hold a double layer of Bird d-Fence netting over the tops. All I have to do is unclip one side, push the net back, harvest, then return the protective netting.

Deck pots lined up in a row. Only the potatoes remain uncovered for now.

It doesn't work for mice, but is a perfect protective cage for larger critters like squirrels and woodrats. Do you use pots for container gardening? Do you have critter troubles? What are your solutions? -- Margy

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Making a Nesting Material Bag to Attract Birds

Each year we have Tree Swallows and Violet-Green Swallows come to use our birdhouses for nest building.

This year I decided to give them some alternatives to the grass and moss we see them carry in.

I saved hair from my brush and cut yarn into short lengths. I separated the four-ply yarn lengths to make each section thinner and easier for the Swallows to fly with.

I used a small mesh bag that I got my onion sets in. I put the jumbled up yarn and hair inside the bag and used tweezers to pull some partway out to tantalize the birds.

Using tweezers to pull yarn and hair through the mesh for easy grabbing.

I hung the bag from the railing on our bridge to shore. This spot is almost directly under the birdhouses on the shed wall. I haven't seen any action yet, but birdhouse selection and nest building is still a week or so away.

The mesh bag of nest building material hanging from the bridge railing.

The All About Birds website has lots more information about attracting birds and helping them with nest building. Some addition items you can provide include: grass, leaves, twigs, fur, plant fluff, strips of cloth, and shredded paper. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Powell Lake Cabins in "Cottage Life Magazine"

Wayne and I enjoy sharing about off-the-grid float cabin living on Powell Lake, here in Coastal BC. This month, we were included in an article about float cabins that was published in the May western edition of Cottage Life magazine.

Jim Sutherland, the article's author, came to Powell Lake to meet our favourite real estate agent, Harry Zroback. Harry was instrumental in helping us purchase our float cabin in 2001.

Our cabin on the first page of the Cottage Life article.
We were away on a barge quad trip to the head of Powell Lake when the author was scheduled to arrive. Harry still brought them by our cabin for photographs and I did a telephone interview after the fact.

The article entitled "The Good-Time Drifters" included several cabins and their owners. There were two nice shots of our cabin and a short story about us.

On the left there's a full page picture of our cabin and garden from the cliff above.

 Article excerpts (Cottage Life May 2016 page 110):
Powell Lake would almost escape the prying eyes of Google but for the blogs of one cottaging couple, Wayne and Margy Lutz. They have a place on the lake's west side ... near a spot called Hole in the Wall.

The Lutzes are the exception to the rule that everyone here is a local. In 2000, they came upon Powell Lake after flying up in their plane from California.

Maybe because they are on the lake for months at a time, maybe because they see themselves as homesteading ex-city folk than as weekending locals, their approach to float cabin dwelling is a little different.
It was fun sharing our part of the overall story that makes up life "up the lake." -- Margy