We had high hopes of going south for the winter, 2015- 2016, but have long since put the idea behind us for this season. We’re still home on the southwest coast of British Columbia, and to our dismay, now learning about the new winter climate that our hometown now goes through. We did have snow, about six weeks ago, of an accumulation of 1.5 inches, or about 3.5 centimetres. This had disappeared by afternoon the next day. Ice skating on nearby lakes was always on my list of great things to do in the distant past. It seems like this does not happen anymore. I drove around to look at one lake we sometimes got to skate safely on while the coolder weather did decend on us the first week of January. Ice was forming on the near edges but nothing like the old days. It just was not cold enough. Now that we’re near the middle of February we know any cold weather is behind us. Our region has warmed up since the last winter we stayed home, 14 years ago. It has warmed up, but it rains more than ever it seems. All the more reason to take to the road come next November. We are missing the sunshine which we used to get in Mexico, and for the past few years, in Arizona and California.
Our year began in the desert of Southern California, at the Fountain Of Youth RV Resort to be precise. We stuck it out there for another month (our second) before repositioning ourselves to Yuma. There we enjoyed the Brews, Boose and Blues concert before moving a few miles to an old haunt we call Kool Korners. Three or four rigs with friends had gathered there as well, so nice to continue to enjoy company of friends. We had traveled solo for several thousand miles from July, 2014, making it to eastern Canada to see Ontario, Quebec, PEI, and Nova Scotia before going south. Stops in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Washinton DC, Tennesee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, followed. We had been ready for an extended rest and two weeks in Arizona started this, with the Fountain Of Youth completing it, after the over 9,000 miles on the road to get there.
From Kool Korners we began traveling north, with stops at Quartzsite, Az, and the Avi Casino before heading west, across the Mohave to Bakersfield, CA and then North. We had seldom taken this route since returning for several years up through Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and northwest through Washington State. The earlier time of the year had us suspecting colder weather if traveling inland, and snow was the foe we never wanted to encounter. After a few days visiting our daughter Nicole, and son-in-law, Chiko, we made it home March 5th, 2015. We had left home in Powell River July 28, 2014, every night spent in our motor home. Those nights for the trip added up to 220. Lot of memories, as we got to visit with our son, Michael, and our three Grandchildren, Skylar, Stone and Griffen, in Niagara Falls, Saint Lazare and Montreal, Quebec.
The spring of 2015 had us scrambling to clean up our yard around the house, removing a couple of trees and trimming trees and shrubs that had missed the fall pruning season due to our early departure. As the year began to wind down, it became clear I had missed a lot of painting I had wanted to do, so, I am now “waiting until next year.” As November progressed it became clear we were not going south during the coming winter. After about fourteen years we were staying home for a full winter in Canada! How patriotic can it get?! As we leave Burnaby, BC, where we spent the Christmas season, we find ourselves happy to be able to enjoy the New Year’s Eve in our own little town, and happy for the invitation to join Terry and Joanie. They are friends with whom we often camped near both in Mexico and in the American Southwest. We should all have a great time! We will safely put 2015 into our history books.
Nice to wake up to a change in weather when you can see sunlight filtering in, from somewhere. After a couple of days of rain the sun can jump start action directed at “getting things done.” But as soon as we were awake we could hear that old, familiar sound, the huge sea lions are back! They can be heard from two miles or more, away. They’ve been absent from about the end of May, until yesterday, and may hang around until May again, not too sure about that. These are the big ones, the Stellers, which can weigh as much as 800 pounds for males. These are the largest of the six species still living, One previously found near Japan has gone extinct. These are exclusively found in the North Pacific coastal regions of Russia, Alaska and down as far as the coast of California. We see them here in the area of the paper mill’s protected mill pond, once used to store logs before they were milled into lumber, or chipped for pulp, or cut into short lengths that were later fed into the grinders. This mill was once the largest single unit of newsprint production in the world, and one time many years ago, one out of every 25 papers world-wide, were printed on Powell River newsprint. For a time, it boasted that its water usage was greater than the city of New York, as the slurry of pulp that constituted paper before it became dried to about 7% moisture, was over 90% water to begin with. It also generated its own electricity and still does as much or more today, with a dam that has 32 mile Powell Lake as a reservoir behind it. Now the large millpond accepts barges laden with wood chips or other that carry hog fuel, another name for sawdust used for burning in the ultra high temperature steam plant. So hot is the burner that it uses a bed of sand to allow the high temperatures. Steam is used to dry the paper running through the two paper machines still in use. Back in the ex-log pond the sea lions bark almost constantly, day and night. One can surmise that these animals remain quiet most of their lives, as they are swimming .
The sun has been peeping out on rare occasion lately. That usually happens in afternoons, once a long-standing fog or drizzle has burned off or moved on, but there’s no doubt we like it, just as one can take pleasure in a warm afternoon’s sunshine taken outside on a favourite chair and sipping a favourit beverage, with good company joining you in these best moments. These can be some of the finest days of our lives? Well maybe that’s stretching things out a bit. But very nice, very relaxing, no doubt. With winter not far “around the corner,” those days will now get put on hold for some months to come.
It’s now October 21st, the second day with a new Prime Minister designate, a 43 year old man named Justin Trudeau, the first son of another Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. In Canada, the Prime Minister always resides in a house at 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario. This will be the second time Trudeau has resided there, the first time as a baby, and as a young boy. His Dad, Pierre, now dead for several years, would certainly have been very proud! Most of the entire country had taken up the slogan, “heave Steve” and wanted an end to the way Steven Harper governed Canada. There were two choices, and many people guessed that Trudeau would stand the best chance to get enough votes to best the incumbent. In fact, young Justin received a very large majority of members voted into the next, the 42nd, Canadian Parliament. Most of Canada, with the exception of the province of Alberta, heaved…a sigh of relief !
We have taken an extended sojourn, fairly close to home in a town called Sechelt ( “see-shelt”) which resides in the Sunshine Coast district and is 100 kilometres from our back yard in Powell River. The occasion is a breakdown of our motor home almost a month ago, as we returned from Burnaby where we visited our daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Chiko ( Lionel Misomali ). Predating that, by only a few days, was a trip into the Fraser Valley where we took part in a reunion of school mates and friends. I still reflect on that event, with great feelings to be with old friends who, in fact, were indeed, so friendly. I think not a bad word was said by anyone, about anyone else. Everything positive. And so it might as well be, as we all were in, or were heading for, our eighth decade in this life. Not to mention that three or four present had just lost their soulmates during the past three or four or more recent, years. This was a get together, arranged by Judy B., as her own party, and maybe even as her birthday party, as her birthday was within a week or so of this two-day event. She had lots of help with getting people on board. A total success!
Today we’re in December of 2014, and this has been our fifth day here in southern California, but our first day with no sunshine. And so, a bit cold. Stan and Sharon arrived from Alberta, but only to stay until the morning. They will then embark on their usual route, to Baja California Sud, Mexico, where they spend the rest of winter. In their honour Hazel and Walter had dinner at their own place to send them off on the way. We hadn’t seen them for about three years.
Rain was in the forecast, but aside from all the cloud cover, little fell, at least to the ground here. We did get a very late afternoon rainbow and even then felt no rain. Afterwards the sky cleared rapidly so we’re hoping for a sunny day tomorrow. With all the rain we believe fell to the west of us, the usual smog should be gone and a new clarity should be our fortune.
A postscript may be in order, now and here at this time. Last year had been a very eventful time (left our small town on the west coast of Canada ) on July 28th, 2014. We visited some while traveling across our province of B.C. and finally crossed into USA at the Coutes/Sweetwater international border. We eventually followed the I 90 interstate highway, and crossed back into Canada at Port Huron, Michigan/Sarnia, Ontario border. After staying overnight along the way, we made it to Niagara Falls where we waited for our Son, Michael, and our three grandchildren to rendezvous with us at a predetermined RV park.
This summer of Ought – Fifteen, has been a phenomenal one in this area of ours’. It’s been hot. Not record-breaking hot, but more like continuous warm weather, with very little rain. Clear skies predominate, even now at July’s end, which has emulated the months of May, and June. Oh wait, forgot that summer began June 21st, but remember that we were all saying we were getting summer weather in June (when June in South coastal British Columbia is usually rainy about every other day).
Our Apple crop was good this year. Mostly they are apples of a variety called Transparent, and are usually the first to ripen. This year they came on ripe at about the same time as they usually do, despite the change in the weather. So it’s right now that we have apples we don’t know what to do with. Of course, we never sell them, we only have two trees. But we have an ongoing list of people who appreciate a bag or two. Three years ago we skipped a year, when there were almost no apples at all on the trees. But this is a usual year, and every morning we wake up, look out the upstairs window, and check out the number that may have fallen from the tree, always hopeful for a low number. Some friends will want a bag or two, and maybe their friends will as well, we hope. They are always picked directly from the tree, with no bruises of course, and always the same day as they want them. The Transparents are not good keepers, but are excellent for pies, apple sauce, and dehydration. All big jobs for our apples.
Okay, okay we haven’t written lately, too much to do. we’re into August and we’ve been getting a lot of rainy spells. You know, showers for 20 minutes, then cloud that finally disipates enough for fifteen minutes of sunshine. This has been going on for days now, repeating itself even during the night.
Actually, it hasn’t been raining much, although it did happen again last night and into today. We’re now at the mid-point in August. The environment in most of southern B.C. Is very dry, with lots of “wild fires”. burning now. In ther past we always called them “forest fires.” But time and the English language, like the ocean’s tides, just keep moving on.
The Yankees have retaken the lead in baseball’s American League East, last night, and are extending their slim lead over Toronto’s Blue Jays. The game is in Toronto today, with sold out crowds coming to cheer the home team on, most of the nearly 50,000 not having much to cheer about.
Yes, the blue Jays won that one, with Drew Hutchinson the winning pitcher. He is now 12-2 for the year but, despite one of the best records for the year, yesterday was demoted to triple A minor baseball. It sounds bad, but he’s the fifth man in the pitching rotation for now, so as the Jays head for the top spot in the American League East, they will go with a four man rotation. But he’ll be back.
It’s now September 6th, 2015. Here at home we have been in a change in the weather, it now rains or is simply cloudy, more days than the sun shines. Even when the sun shines we don’t notice temperatures beyond just room temperatures and with the sun absent we are hard done by because we are used to warm weather. Oh yes, more importantly, the Blue Jays baseball team, from Toronto, picked up a game lead on the Yankees yesterday. Jays beat Orioles , while Yanks lost to Rays. It’s been 21 years since Jays won their two World Series, 1993 and ’94. It could be our year again. They are Canada’s team, at least while they’re winning! Seattle Mariners are closest to our region, and have a big following here. In Nova Scotia the Boston team, the Red Sox, has a big following. It’s only a 10 or twelve hour drive away, which I was surprised to learn about a year ago, while we were in the east.
Today is September 12th, 2015, a Saturday. Got up with a few groans, aches and pains… but that’s hardly news. Still alive! Up early, in fact, quite driven to get the stack of bottles out of the basement. There isn’t much room down there, so getting rid of all those miscellaneous items was a deal I couldn’t pass up. The Special Olympics people will be picking up such as I have, I just had to get it out to the curb, with their big yellow tag affixed somewhere. Folks, it was just that easy!
We’re now out of town, visiting for another day at our daughter and son in law, Nicole and Chiko’s. Chiko was on Vancouver’s Globle TV station last Friday evening, when the hosts of their 11PM news cast made a visit here to create a filler story about drumming-as that is what Chiko does best, currently for three or four bands, with the main group being “Bif Naked’s” band. She has been around the musical scene in Canada and in Europe, for several years. She has made somewhat of a comeback in her career lately, and her drummer caught the eyes at Globle and to this end, they did a great show, taped right here at “Rancho Relaxo.”
From here, tomorrow we’ll travel to the Bridal Falls area in the Fraser Valley, to camp with friends already there, and on the weekend, with a reunion group of Friends of Judy. These are folks that grew up in Harrison Hot Springs, went to school in Agassiz, B.C., or have become close to Judy since. Most of these people I won’t likely recognize right away, due to everyon’s advancing age status, but Judy promised name tags will be made available. That’s good thinking, Judy!
Okay, it’s wet outside, not much chance of sunshine, but we understand. But it’s Friday, and today is half the reason we’re here.
This is our third day at this park, it’s now September 18th, summer has definitely wound itself down, wound itself down with a very tight, fast, spring! We’re camped at the base of a 5,500 foot mountain, with a visibility of about 75 feet. After years of observation – admittedly casual – I regard this general location as the wettest in the Fraser Valley. But we’re not here for a sun tan. We’ve met up with some old friends and look forward, later today, to see many more faces from the past!
Our summer has now evapourated, both by the calendar, and also by the weather. We now are more than seven months beyond our last long trip. Maybe getting close to going south again. Or maybe not. We stll have mild weather, cooler for sure, but getting near 60 F. afternoons. Beats the snow our son is getting in Montreal, Quebec, today-October 19th. Incidentally, today we vote for the 42nd Parliament elected, to rule in Canada. Lots of folks hoping for a change, and a new Prime Minister.
Cast away from home, but by only about 40 Km/ 25 miles, we stumbled into a unique situation. We could enjoy camping at a waterfront site which was really the home to our friends, Terry and Joan. Yes, we had our well-used motor home, driven down from town, but were offered their house and the beautiful setting of the cabin placed on a calm stretch of the Pacific. Our benefactors had embarked with their own motor home on a trip to Alaska, leaving us, possibly, in charge. As we intended to stay in our own coach, we set about to hook up our satellite TV service. The tall trees about us imparted a wonderful ambiance but did nothing for the TV signals from space, so we gave up on that, so for times spent in our rig, we simply listened to FM radio. From these broadcasts we learned of an upcoming activity to be held on our local beach back in our town, about 20 miles away but not far from our own residence.
As this special concert grew near the weather began to turn, away from the fine weather we’d been enjoying at the beach, and we decided to move back home and attend the event. We were not dispointed! We ventured down with our lawn chairs and first heard the orchestra as they played O Canada. Marguerite had gone into the gathering crowd, for food, but everyone up, of course, then the most melodious strains came to my ears and turned into what I’m sure the composer had exactly envisioned, a very stirring rendition. I thought to myself, this was just the best playing of our national anthem that I had ever heard.
The food was simple but tasty, and the dignitaries spoke and were welcomed to town. The local chief of the First Nations, the Member of Parliament’s stand-in, the Queen’s representative, now a lady herself, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, a diplomat from the Dutch Consulate in Vancouver, the local Member of the B.C Legislative Assembly, and even our Mayor. With all these dignitaries on hand, what was going on?
Besides being a great musical event for the town, and with our esteemed visiting Maestro, whose regular “job” being conductor of the Moscow Symphony, he was a Dutch national, and a proud one, and this blended into the event before us, which was a 70th commemoration of the freeing of the Netherlands from German occupation. With Canadian soldiers at the forefront of this battle, with a loss of 7,600 of them, the Dutch have never forgotten Canada after the bitter occupation. Special seating nearest the front of the crowd was held for residents with Dutch heritage, and in among them was a Canadian soldier who had served in the Liberation. Pointed out by our MLA, Nicolas Simon, he was helped to the front during a rousing, standing ovation by Conductor Arnold himself and the Mayor. Once seated near the microphones, the applause continued, the audience still standing.
Once the speeches were over, Conductor Anthony Arnold again put his charges into beautiful musical action, with a piece called “Land of Hope and Glory.” As the music came through, and soon blending with the faraway sounds of airplane engines, the crowd turned away from the musicians, outward to the water-and above, to the sky. The airobatic team of four Navion airplanes, with the look of those that flew during WW ll, put on a great show. The coordinator of the show was a long time pilot who did the same for the first Canadian Snowbirds shows. These planes were slower, but it was actually very nice to see the planes make their movements at a slower pace. I recalled the fly-by of a single F-18 over Vancouver during an Molson Indy Vancouver auto race. That plane was visible for all of five or ten seconds. This slow-paced show lasted several minutes, each airplane trailing smoke as they flew in intricate formations then finally tipping a wing and disappearing. All the while, Marguerite was singing low the words to “Land of Hope and Glory,” a piece of music I was unfamiliar with.
The piece de resistance came next. With the Canadian warship HMCS Whitehorse laying two or three hundred yards offshore, the orchestra began the “1812 Overature”. In his introduction to it, Maestro had underscored the composer’s original writings had included the words “canon shots.” These would be done by the Navy using signals given by a knowledgable musician from shore, actually on board.
With appropriately timed blasts, and clouds of gun smoke around the ship, It all worked out splendidly to cheering from over a thousand who had come down to the beach. A fabulous end to a wonderful, and very moving evening.
I need to thank Darlene Williams for use of her very lovely photos!
Island Timberlands. Some years ago, likely 2002, logging took out almost every tree in one area above the Townsite (which is one of only six Canadian Heritage towns) apparently the conclusion to the incident when a vehicle was nearly hit by a falling tree, while being driven towards Cranberry. The tree had succumbed to neglect causing rot and disease by being throttled by vines. Many of these trees were likewise neglected and were wrapped by vines, but most were not. But all but 5 or 6 trees were felled anyway, despite protests near that property, by residents and concerned folk, and a subsequent meeting at that company’s offices. A substantial albeit small block was then agreed to be saved, but that never happened. For a dozen more years we have been left looking at the scars left up the hill, a testament to the greed of the owners of what covered the forest floor, even though they did not own the land (which meant they had nothing further to do with the land, did not need to reseed, nothing). Beyond the law which might prevent the logging because, we have learned, “Provincial Laws supercedes City Laws” was the only answer as to why logging companies could be allowed to wander around our town to log where many local roads made easy work of taking the trees out that we looked at every day. The trails and paths of which there are many in the areas that IT has earmarked to log, will suffer, and cause a void in an area we have grown to love. Who then, will wish to hike through a clearcut?
Very soon this land, situated in inhabited areas, may now be logged off, in a similar fashion. When this is done, the treeless, denuded area will sit empty. At this point it may be looked upon as becoming suitable for building upon and green space, which is one hallmark of our community, will be lost forever. On the other hand, if such logging denuded the area in bad enough fashion, our area may suffer under a new and derogatory name; people we have who have been coming into our town in recent years may very well decide to relocate elsewhere. That empty land will then grow up but trees here grow slowly. In the next four months of logging, some trees that are obviously huge, and old, will be gone. Some may be 300-500 years old, giant Douglas firs. People who once stood near them in wonder, will miss that. People who came later and see the stump garden we have allowed, in the middle of our town, will shake their heads and likely move on. How could people be so short-sighted as to leave such a mess behind? That is what most of our population is saying right now, as the logging is already started.
It will all play out over this summer’s months. By winter the logs from trees we looked at will be out of the country, a total loss for Canada save a few dollars to the loggers. What to do with the giant stumps in our midst? The continuing protests have gotten little attention from the company that says they own the trees, and although media attention has played this story over the breadth of British Columbia, laws are on the side of a greedy logging company. And un-changeable, apparently. Thnakfully, there are no trees near City Hall.
We’ve really been enjoying the American Southwest this year! The aftermath of four months’ of travel, much of it in a Canada we’d never seen, but obviously had heard a lot about, that included a month in the province of Nova Scotia, was met with a giant, big, sigh of relief when we finally arrived here. The 9,000 miles that brought us here, through cities with names like Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, and New Orleans, had showed us a lot, had actually given ourselves a strange sense of accomplishment, but had also cautioned us to slow down…and what better place to do this than here where we’ve been staying, now into our 47th day here. Called the Fountain Of Youth RV Resort, it is situated far above California’s Salton Sea, which is really a lake that has no outlets because it’s situated in a deep depression that has gone very salty. So much so that only a single type of fish has been found exist in its briny water (the Talapia, we’ve been told) and that fact alone has seen its former heyday evapourate within the past sixty, seventy, or more years. One important fact about the sea: although it’s the largest lake within the state of California, you will probably never see a boat plying its waters. It’s just that bad. And Americans love their boats.
A playground for the rich and famous during those early years, Bombay Beach is ten miles away from us, but the ten miles could be a thousand nowadays, and how it still exists would be an extraordinary study, on many fronts. We have a small store here at the resort, but it doesn’t sell cigarettes, and Bombay Beach has a small store that does. It also has a vibrant American Legion where we had great hamburgers last week. But beyond a few commercial ventures, one can really tell, it’s on a downhill side of its life. The salt just keeps accumulating.
But above the Salton Sea’s surface, reported to be located at minus 250 feet elevation, and the second lowest spot on the continent, we are camped at an altitude of about plus ten feet and enjoy the view afforded from here, the Sea included in that. It often gives us a great reflection when the sun sets behind it over some pretty high mountains. At site number 864 (of more than 900) we’ve been enjoying ourselves, and that relaxation has been on the table for nearly two months now. We’re feeling good. And actually wanting to get back home soon. After all, our times are almost up, both for being in USA and for being out of our beloved province of British Columbia.
We’re among the many Canadians here and said to be about 70 per cent of those who are here, here to enjoy the many facets offered once you’re checked in. For us, especially, the pools and hot tubs heated by the water that springs from the earth at 131 degrees F. at a rate once measured at 600 gallons a minute, are the Thing. The water is generally not used directly but is used to heat the fresh water that is used for hot water, in the pools and everywhere.
During the Christmas season there were a group of us who had enjoyed the Bahia Tenacatita, Jalisco, Mexico beaches, especially the coral beach, who used to celebrate Christmas right there. We did that for four of the seven years we visited. Anyway, this year there were 19 of us who were on the beaches of Tenacatita, for a Christmas dinner and other special activities (we were proficient Happy Hour Attendees!).
It was nice to see so many old faces again.
The cold weather was just beginning to abate. The sky had cleared, and the wind, so biting and ferocious two days ago- and even yesterday-had diminished. We were ready for a warming trend, our eight pound bottle of propane, an important piece of our heating plan, had just become exhausted, and we wanted no more of what had transpired during the past three days. We were fed up with the unseasonal weather in the Big Easy. On the media we were being taught how it worked and what it was, this, the Polar Vortex. The reason we get cold.
A phone call in the late evening last night had us delighted, though garbled as it was, we determined finally who it was, our friends from the winter deserts of Arizona, Gerri and Eric! They would be stopping by the park for a very short visit before heading west.
They have slightly different destinations than we’re planning, but we should be meeting up in all the usual places in the weeks to come. We’re hoping they will join us for Christmas.
While they were temporarily parked near us for the late morning, we visited them in their coach noticing, for the first time since they acquired it, that they were towing a small pickup. It had come in handy as they spent some weeks with family, in Ontario. They are searching for a good cruise, one limited to the Gulf and Carribean , so leaving from here (New Orleans)or perhaps Galviston was in their plans. But high on the list is good, economical storage for their new coach and towed. Here at this park, they do offer storage at $20 per day, or $110 for the year. Not actually what Eric wanted to hear. We talked at length about life and travel before it became time to let them be off, on their way. They made our day!