Posted by: daveB | July 30, 2015

 It’s that time of our summer!

This summer of Ought – Fifeteen, 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 disapates 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.

 The Yankees have retaken the lead in basebal’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 sound 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!

Posted by: daveB | June 18, 2015

A Lvely Musical Offering down on the Beach!

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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!

Posted by: daveB | May 28, 2015

Island Timberlands rouses town spirit

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.

Posted by: daveB | January 24, 2015

We’re warming up, and so is the Desert!

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.

Posted by: daveB | November 15, 2014

Friends Pop In

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!

New Orleans. Heard about it, forever…now here for the first time. Our first night was in the RV park’s overflow, and next day we could get a spot with full hook ups. But next morning we checked out the place we were destined for, but found it was ( and weren’t they all) plunked down on a gravel pile, the odd shrubby tree planted nearby…yes, nearby all the other closely spaced campers. We’ve become addicted to the wide open spaces of Walmart parking lots (when going long distances between places of our choice) and the wide open spaces of desert BLM lands, preferably the ones that are unregulated, or at least have no camp host. In fact. we’re cheap, just like most of our friends we see Down South (sorry to say that, guys!) so, we’re still in overflow, the only ones now. We have half an acre of smooth concrete under and around us. And directly behind our bedroom window is an arm of Lake Pontchartrain, only 20 feet away.
We’re happy enough here, alone since our neighbours from Ohio packed up and went north yesterday. We have some young folk staying about 50 yards away, but they have been no trouble for us. The downside to our short term in Utopia is there is no sewer connection here, and the rate is the same, either here or in the gravel pit. We’ll take it. For us it’s all about the Solitude. Even in the centre of a big city, near the end of the 23 mile long bridge over what has so recently been, troubled waters. Our Ohio friend, John, worked here weeks after Katrina blew havoc here. While he worked he carried a machine gun with him, he said. It was every man/woman for him/herself, the way he told it, as a contractor.

Clouds moved silently over us during the night. Not to worry, we have found out we can deal with the cooler day time temperature and maybe some rain later in the day, should it come to that. We’re happy to be in the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We have found lots of friendly people here , to go along with the very long string of these, all strung out behind us, although lost in time and distance, but not at all forgotten in our minds. We understand we won’t likely be meeting Dolly Parton, who grew up in this area., But some folks who we have spoken to, say that when she is in this area she will always go out into her domaine and mix with the people.

Travels so far have encompassed the breadth of the North American continent, from home on the Pacific Coast of Canada to the Atlantic shores of Nova Scotia and beyond. The “beyond” is happening now and has been, for the past three weeks, after crossing the border into these United States of America. We had earlier seen some of Her this trip, from the headwaters of the Missouri River, and finally leaving the mountains behind us, driving into the big sky areas of South Dakota, into Minnesota and Wisconsin, then doing a brisk ride down through Michigan.

Back into Canada, Niagara was a delight, and so good to see our Son, Michael, and his own three sons, our Grandchildren..They made the trip west from Montreal to join us there, and later while we camped in Saint Lazare in SW Quebec, they came for a visit. After all, this too long in coming though it was, was the initial kernel which brought us on this long journey. Today, it amounts to more than 11,000 kilometres, or over 7,000 miles with four or more thousands of miles, and more than three months left to enjoys it.

Posted by: daveB | November 3, 2014

Our Smokey Mountain Hideaway, in Tennessee!

We’re nestled by the Walden River in the town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where we’ve been for six days. It’s a very pleasant area, not far from the south reaches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the hometown of a very famous singer/songwriter, Dolly Parton. We came here off Interstate 40 and just before that, Interstate 89. That change marked our swing to the west.

In the past very few years this area has grown immensely in popularity as a destination for people seeking something out of the ordinary to do. Dollywood caters to that, and in a big way. But along with it, have come many secondary draws, although the season for some of it has run out of time for the year-at least until the next influx of travellers who will make the most of the Christmas season.

We had snow fall here this Saturday morning, followed by two nights when temperatures fell below freezing overnight. But glorious sunshine has followed, and it is thought that we will get up into the sixties this week; looks like that is happening right now.

The weather notwithstanding, we have our heart set on more warmth, found yet farther down the pike, in places like New Orleans, west through Texas, and into Arizona and Southern California. The last two have been our winter hideouts for the past five winters. And, we’re hoping, for this winter as well. Perhaps we can do that trip down the Pacific coast even longer to continue to beat the northern winter doldrums so easy to find oneself in, during the months following October.

Posted by: daveB | October 18, 2014

September is Flying Right Along…

But we’ve been driving! With feet firmly planted on the floorboard!
We’ve been in Nova Scotia since September 16th, coming up to a month of being here. First stop was Cape Breton Island. It is now connected to the rest of the province by the Canso Cuaseway, an unassuming jut of landfill that nevertheless spans Canso Strait, doing away with the need to board a ferry to attain the other side. We went north there after leaving Prince Edward Island via the Northumberland Ferry, from Woods Island, to the New Glasgow area of Nova Scotia, to stop at Baddeck on Cape Breton.
From our camp there we traveled about the region, first to the gigantic Fort at Louisberg, built by the French in the 17th century as a base to guard the St. Lawrence River and utilize the incredible fishery in the nearby waters.
The fishing was so good, it was said, that some years the catch amounted to 30 million pounds of cod. The fish themselves were up to 250 pounds individually and the take led credence to a claim that this area was the most productive fishing location in any of earth’s waters.
Another day was spent right in the Baddeck area, now dubbed the “Cradle of Canadian Aviation.” Near this place, his house still visible from town, Sir Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, built the airplane first to fly Canada’s skies. This was one winter’s day over the frozen waters of the bay nearby. Always concerned with safety, he thought the flight over ice would be better, maybe safer. He also invented a boat equipped with hydrofoils which, for awhile, held the world speed record for a boat, 71.1 mph. In the town of Baddeck there is a very good museum devoted to the life and inventions of Bell. A native of the British Isles, he came to Canada, but soon was offered a job in his field, in Boston. Most of his descendants today, live in that city.
While the Cabot Trail is known far and wide, it really encompasses several other, named scenic highways. One we took on a drive was to Cheticamp…the site of French settlement in the northwest of Cape Breton. These folks were descendants of Acadians who had escaped the vicious roundup and expulsions of 1755 and later. The wind was howling as we drove, and the watery vistas were impressive, as the sea waves crashed along the coast, for mile upon mile.
Not wanting to do the entire circuit of the Cabot Trail at once, we turned around and headed south, for Inverness, and a little beyond. For here there had been constructed a distillery unlike any other, except for those in Scotland: one that made a whiskey that tasted like Scotch!
The Glenora Distillery was just off the road south of the small town of Inverness. Advertised as having music in the afternoon, we were happy it had the Maritime flare we expected, from a piano and a violen, played in a room full of luncheon patrons. Seated by the fireplace, we enjoyed lunch ourselves, and tasted a ten year old sample of their whiskey. Yes, it did taste like a single malt scotch. I would have bought a bottle but was a little startled by the price. The ten year old, was 100 dollars. At the gift store one could buy the oldest available from the distillery, but for 300 dollars for this 19 year old product. The distillery brings barley from Scotland, and uses local water from a selected stream nearby. From what I hear, it’s the only non- Scotch made. Kudos to a group that have made this a Nova Scotia first.

Posted by: daveB | September 6, 2014

Bathhurst to New Anan.

Hard day on the road, the wind always threatening to blow us off, into oblivion. Finally made it onto the Confederation Bridge…and got the gift of a tailwind! 16 kilometres later we were onto another province, Price Edward Island. Someone said it is a 4 hour trip from one end to the other. But this is a full province in the Confederation of Canada…all signed right here 147 years ago.

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