Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Year in Review

2020 has been like no other year, filled with stress, fear and isolation worldwide. After an Arizona RV trip, Wayne and I chose to self-isolate in Bellingham until July. Many of my posts included "throwbacks" to better times in our float cabin home on Powell Lake. 

Click the titles to read the complete posts.

1. Dancing in Gumboots by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde -  I read more in 2020. Did you? I like books written by women who homestead or live off the grid. Dancing in Gumboots is an anthology of stories by women who came to live in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island during the 1970s.

Related post: Gumboot Girls by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde was the first anthology of stories by women who settled in Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands) and Prince Rupert in the 1960s.

2. Throwback: A Perfect Day Up the Lake -  We finally got back to our float cabin home in mid-July. We were in Bellingham when the U.S./Canada border closed due to COVID. Getting home was wonderful even with a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

Our Powell Lake float cabin home.

Related post: Goin' Home, I'm Goin' Home tells about our most unusual border crossing and the COVID quarantine we completed up the lake.

3. Throwback: Spring Gardening - We missed spring planting up the lake this year. I shared a throwback post about how my floating garden started.

My floating garden in late spring from a previous year.

Related post: What a Difference a Year Makes shows how overgrown and gone to seed my floating garden was when we returned home in July.

4. Refreshing Sourdough Starter - In the first days of the pandemic and yeast was in short supply, making sourdough bread was big thing. I left my starter in the Powell River condo fridge. It had to wait six months for a proper feeding. Amazingly, it refreshed easily and was ready for a new batch of tasty bread.

Active yeast bubbles formed while warming in the kitchen. It's ALIVE!

Related post: Improved No-Knead Sourdough Bread gives you tips I've learned to make easy and tasty sourdough bread.

5. Do you have a kicker?  We made it to Powell River in time for some summer cruising. We socially distanced at marinas and on shore. But we had a few challenges: a leaky new head (toilet), I broke my little finger, and the leg that propels our Bayliner 2452 malfunctioned. Six hours later, and after dark, we limped into Powell River using our emergency kicker motor. Due to COVID back orders, we are still waiting for a replacement.

Putting along at 4.5 knots with the kicker.

Related post: September Cruisin' takes you along on some of our successful summer cruises and a peek at my "busted wing."

2020 was hard, but we had each other for support. We hope 2021 will bring better times for all. -- Wayne and Margy

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Book Review: "Christmas in Newfoundland" by Mike Martin

Christmas is approaching, so I'm sharing a Christmas book written by my favourite Canadian author, Mike Martin. I discovered his Sgt. Windflower mystery series through Linda at Crafty Gardener. Here's a guest post Mike did for her blog.

Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries is part of the Sgt. Windflower series. It includes heartwarming stories with the series characters, and personal memories about Christmases past.

The theme of each story is the wonder, spirit and caring of the Christmas season. I enjoyed hearing how Sheila and Sgt. Winston Windflower celebrated the season in Grand Bank, but I found the chapters about Christmas remembrances from the perspectives of children and seniors who lived in Newfoundland the most interesting. I'm pretty sure some came right from Mike's own life.

I've been to Newfoundland twice. I've been to St. John's but never Grand Bank. It was heart warming to read about how families celebrated this special time of the year in times past and small towns.

I'm an only child and grew up in Compton, California. We always traveled to Modesto to spend Christmas week with my grandparents. I loved visiting their country home and learning about our family's Swedish and Norwegian heritage through foods and traditions.

Christmas Eve is very special for us. Wayne and I were married in front of the Christmas tree at my parent home in Sun City. What could be a better present to give and receive?

Mom and Dad taste testing the turkey in 1990.

Wayne made a childhood Christmas dream come true soon after we were married. As a child, I always hoped to find a pony on the front lawn. At 35 years of age, Wayne walked me to the stable near our Pomona home on Christmas morning to introduce me to my very own Christmas horse, Misty. What a huge surprise.

Thanks Mike for inspiring me to think back to Christmases past to find and relive the joys they brought in my own family.

Enjoy the season by curling up with an inspiring Christmas book. You can find Christmas in Newfoundland in print and Kindle formats at and  -- Margy

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wayne and Margy's 2020-2021 Snowbird RV Adventure

Lazydays electric RV storage.
Wayne and I have left our Powell Lake float cabin home to get some winter sun and warmth in southern Arizona.

Our 2019-2020 Snowbird RV Adventure abruptly ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. At the end of February, we left our Sunseeker RV in electric storage at the Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort fully intending to return at the end of March to complete our trip. That never happened.
Then summer came with 100+ degree temperatures. We decided it was best to wait. We had reservations in place for this November. We debated long and hard about the safety of traveling at this time.

Our 25-foot Sunseeker Class C RV.

We decided RV travel was a form of self-isolation. We only need to shop for groceries once a week and won't interact with others in an unsafe manner. We wear our masks, social distance, use sanitizer and wash our hands just like at home. Now it's our home on wheels.

Wayne at the wheel.
Part 1 - We left Bellingham on November 15. We flew Allegiant Airlines direct to Mesa, Arizona. The Tucson direct flight was no longer available. We rented a car and drove to our first destination, the Lazydays KOA Resort to pick up our RV waiting there for us in storage. For 36 days we will explore and camp our way around southern Arizona. In mid-December, we put the RV back into storage and flew north to Bellingham for a Christmas winter break. Due to lengthy Canadian quarantine requirements we remained there until the second leg began.

Part 2 - The second leg of our trip started on January 17. We flew south again to pick up our RV from Lazydays. We spent 39 days camping in the foothills east of Phoenix and Southern Arizona. In late February we put our RV back into storage once more at Lazydays and flew to Bellingham for a second break. Canadian quarantine rules didn't change so we remained in Bellingham again.

Tucson Lazydays KOA Resort

Part 3 - The last segment of our adventure started on March 23. After a short stay at Lazydays we spent 39 days between the Phoenix and Southern Arizona. Unfortunately, we only got to watch women's softball on television. No fans were allowed in person again this year. In late April, we put our RV back in storage one last time at Lazydays and flew to Bellingham for a summer in the cooler north. Our Sunseeker will spend the summer for a second time waiting for our return in November 2021.

For now, it's safe and waiting for us in storage at the Tucson Lazydays KOA RV Resort. -- Wayne and Margy

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Do you have a kicker?

Lund fuel dock.

Not everything goes as planned. After morning fog, we headed out in our ocean boat to go to Heriot Bay. Originally we wanted to go to Campbell River, but calm slack water in Discovery Passage was too early.

We got gas at Lund and Wayne delivered Coastal BC Stories books to Tug Guhm Gallery. Despite Covid-19, Deborah had a good summer and sold out.

Almost to Heriot Bay we heard a weird ping and then a banging sound. We stopped and checked the propeller to see if we'd picked up any floating debris. Nope.

Departing Lund with historic hotel in the middle.

Wayne examined the engine compartment but didn’t see anything amiss and all of the gauges were normal. We started again and the periodic bang had changed into a constant thump, so Wayne shut us down.

Putting along at 4.5 knots with the kicker.

Heriot Bay was close but they don't have maintenance, so we started the kicker (our emergency outboard) and headed home at 2:15. At 4.5 knots it was slow. At least the sea was calm. Typically, it's an hour and fifteen to get to Heriot Bay. Wayne estimated between 5-7 hours to get back with the kicker.

All our boats have emergency kickers.

All was well until the kicker quit. Wayne found the fuel line sucked dry. He pumped it back up, only to have it stop a few minutes later. He briefly restarted the main engine to get fuel flowing again and that did the trick.

It sure was a good feeling when we were back moving again. 

Passing Lund hours later and the sun is getting low.

Sunset caught us an hour from the marina. We’ve never arrived after dark. At least we had a track on the GPS to follow. When we got to the breakwater it was 8:30. Wayne started the main engine to have more control. It was the lesser of two evils. Wayne’s window kept fogging so I went out on the back deck and yelled left, right, straight. Good thing there wasn’t a crowd to hear us arrive.

An hour away and it's getting dark.

Add caption
And so our cruising season came to an end. We contacted Jeff at Valley Marine and they sent their truck to pull us out. The diagnosis was a damaged sterndrive that would have to be replaced, but like lots of things during the Covid-19 pandemic it is on back order.

We were lucky to have an emergency kicker ready to use. It's the same in all aspects of life. Plan for the best, but be prepared. What kinds of "kickers" do you have and use to get you out of tight situations? -- Margy

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Come to Powell Lake for Fall Foliage

Leaves turning on Goat Island.
People go east on expensive fall foliage trips. It's a region well known for trees in spectacular hues of yellow, orange, red, purple and brown. Like the Atlantic Provinces, broadleaf trees around Powell Lake change colour.

In front of our cabin, Goat Island has a glorious display of maples, dogwoods and alders. The swaths of colour paint the hillsides along stream carved gullies and slopes.

Have you wondered how this colourful display occurs? Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green colour, gets energy from sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars and starch). Leaves also have yellow to orange pigments called carotene and xanthophyll, but they are overpowered by chlorophyll most of the year. When fall arrives, things change.

Days are shorter and deciduous trees, ones that lose their leaves, get ready for winter. Chlorophyll, and its green colour, begins to diminish. This allows the yellow and orange colours to become more dominant.

Reds and purples are created when glucose (sugars) are trapped in leaves after photosynthesis stops. Bright sunny days and cool nights in autumn cause leaves to turn the glucose into red to purple colours. A brown colour is from wastes left behind in the leaves.

As winter approaches, leaves begin to fall. Where the stem of a leaf is attached to the tree there is a special layer of cells. This layer gradually breaks down until it can no longer support the weight of the leaf. When storm winds blow, leaves drop. Trees become dormant and live off the food they have stored over the summer. Their stems, twigs and buds are equipped to survive extreme cold until the following spring.

Fallen leaves are not wasted. They become part of the thick humus layer of the forest floor and decay to replenish the soil with nutrients. There also absorb rainfall, hold moisture and become food for organisms that are important to the forest ecosystem.

Here are some resources if you would like more details:

Next year when travel is safer, come to Powell River in Coastal BC to experience fall foliage. People here are friendly, the resorts are uncrowded and the restaurants are great. The opportunities are limitless. You won’t be sorry you chose to head north rather than east. -- Margy

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Coastal BC Birds: Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay
Swinging on the feeder.
This week I heard a familiar cry from the granite cliff next to our float cabin home. It was a Steller's Jay. I discovered their presence in our area in 2017 when one arrived to enjoy some seed at my homemade twirling bird feeder. If one wasn't annoying enough, in 2018 five arrived at once.

Last year I didn't see any before we left for a fall RV trip to Arizona. This year were are staying longer up the lake due to the COVID situation. Yesterday, a single Jay arrived and loudly announced his presence. This morning he played the part of a rooster to wake us up.

Steller's Jays are member of the Corvid family including ravens, crows, and magpies. They can be annoying at times, but they are still a welcome visitor to our off-the-grid home. -- Margy 
P.S. This is the first post I've written with the new version of Blogger. It has been a horrible experience trying to write and edit. If you use Blogger, what has been your experience? Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

September Cruisin'

Crossing the Strait of Georgia.
It's been an unusual year in so many ways. We were self isolating from March through July 15 in our Bellingham condo.

Then we decided it was better to head home to our float cabin on Powell Lake and completed our 14-day quarantine the end of July.

We finally got our Bayliner 2452 in the ocean at Powell River's Westview Harbour in August.

After almost a year stored on land there were a few issues that needed to be resolved.

Moored at the Discovery Harbour Marina dock in Campbell River.

We finally got out for a fair weather cruise on September 3. We decided to visit a few favourite marinas close to home.

A walk to the traditional burial grounds of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

Our first stop was Discovery Harbour Marina across the Strait of Georgia in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. To get there, it's easiest to go through Discovery Passage at slack water, either high or low tide. Tidal currents are strong south of nearby Seymour Narrows. Over two days we enjoyed local walks and outdoor dining at the Rip Tide Pub.

Tying up in a prime spot on the Heriot Bay Marina dock.

Next we headed to the Heriot Bay Marina on the east side of Quadra Island. Even though it was Labour Day weekend, there were spots at the dock and outdoor dining space at the Inn's Heron Restaurant. We enjoy eating out and it makes traveling by boat much easier for us.

The Gorge Harbour Marina and Resort is upscale and fun to visit.

Working our way east across the northern end of the Straight of Georgia we stopped in at the Gorge Harbour Marina. We originally planned to be here one night, but wind on the forecast extended our stay and the opportunity for two dinners at the Floathouse Restaurant. Don't have a boat? They offer camping, RV sites and cabins on Cortes Island.

The Squirrel Cover public dock with the store on the far shore.

Our next stop at the Squirrel Cove public dock was brief. Walking to the store I tripped in a pothole. I thought I was okay, but my little finger looked funny. Not ha ha funny, but weird broken funny. We cleaned up my scrapes and motored back to Powell River to get it set. We took a two night break up the lake before resuming our cruise.

My "broken wing" giving a thumbs up to the Refuge Cove Store.

Rather than returning to Squirrel Cove (no I don't hold a grudge), we went to our next planned stop, Refuge Cove. We needed gas, so it made sense to stay for the night. The restaurant didn't open this summer due to COVID-19, but the store had snacks to tide us over.

After Labour Day this popular marina had lots of first come, first serve dock space.

We didn't anticipate the severity of smoke arriving from the fires raging in the United States. It was a good thing we decided to head back to Powell River the next morning. We could see for about a mile, but the next day it was much worse.

Limited visibility traveling through Thulin Passage by the Copeland Islands.

Despite our two interruptions, it was a great September cruisin' excursion. And it will be one we'll remember for years to come.

Have you done any safe and responsible September excursions? -- Margy

Sunday, August 30, 2020

"Wild Fierce Life" by Joanna Streetly

I find great books by local British Columbia authors in the retail shop on BC Ferries. It takes two ferries to travel between our home in Powell River to Bellingham.

Recently I purchased Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments in the Outer Coast (Caitlin Press, 2018) by Joanna Streetly. If you've read my previous reviews, you know I enjoy books by and about women who live in remote locations, especially Coastal BC where I live.

Joanna Streetly grew up in Trinidad. At 18 she came to Vancouver to attend Capilano University to study Outdoor Recreation and Leadership. As a part of that program, she obtained a practicum position at the Wickaninnish (Kwisitis) Interpretive Centre in Pacific Rim National Park on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.

Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park.

Following her practicum she moved 40 klicks north to Tofino, a fishing, logging, tourist and surfing hub. She put her outdoor skills to work as a kayak guide and on whale watching tours. She's lived in town, land cabins and what I like best, float cabins. Almost thirty years later she still lives in a Tofino floathome with her partner and daughter.

Tofino's float home community at Strawberry Island.

Wild Fierce Life is a memoir of memorable, exciting and sometimes life threatening experiences. Each chapter gives the reader a peak into what it's like growing and maturing in a rugged land and ocean environment. You can read more about Joanna at her website.

Vancouver Island's rugged west coast.

 I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wild Fierce Life while floating in the natural "swimming pool" at my float cabin on Powell Lake.  It's not as remote or rugged as her float cabin location in Maltby Sough, but the concept is similar. Joanna is an artist. Each chapter is illustrated with a map (which I wish more authors would do) and wildlife images. 

The Tofino coast, a surfers haven.

Read Wild Fierce Life for a glimpse of what love, life and wilderness exploration is like in a unique coastal environment. It's available in print and ebook formats online at the following booksellers. -- Margy

Caitlin Press - Her Publisher (print and Kindle apps and readers) (print and Kindle apps and readers)
Barnes and Noble (print and Nook readers)
Apple Books (through the Books app)
Kobo (for Kobo apps and readers)

Other books by Joanna Streetly include:

Silent Inlet is a fictional story about a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Paddling Through Time is the account of a kayak adventure through Clayoquot Sound.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Cabin Baking: Refreshing Sourdough Starter

Sourdough bread baked in a Dutch oven at the cabin.
After being away from my float cabin home for nearly six months due to the pandemic, I was worried my sourdough starter might be dead.

When we left in January for our Snowbird RV Adventure, I took my starter to town because we turned off the propane fridge.

Active yeast bubbles formed while warming in the kitchen. It's ALIVE!

After the two week mandatory quarantine at the cabin after re-entering Canada, we went to the condo and I immediately checked my starter. 

I have two separate containers. One is my cabin batch that's been working since 2005. The other is my cloned city backup batch. Over time they've diverged in flavour, so I treat them separately. I've heard that's because natural environmental yeasts differ.

Float cabin batch on the left and city batch on the right.

I put each batch into a separate bowl and let them warm on the stovetop. I was socked to see how active they became.

To feed them, I stirred in 1/2 cup lukewarm skim milk, 1/2 cup white flour and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.

I feed each batch separately to preserve their unique flavorss.

I left the bowls uncovered to capture natural yeast from the air. I covered them overnight. In the morning, both batches were active and bubbling. There was no need to add commercial yeast to revive them. I gave them a second feeding and another rest overnight before returning them to their plastic containers for refrigeration.

I was careful to use non-reactive bowls and utensils (plastic, ceramic, glass or wood). Why do I have a town backup you ask? One year my cabin propane fridge went on the fritz and I lost my starter. Having a backup in town saved the day.

Do you have sourdough starter? How do you take care of yours? -- Margy