Thursday, 31 December 2009

#12: Clothespins

Anyone reading this blog knows that I am in love with laundry. It was so good to be back in a land of laundry - I love to see clothes hanging on a line and NZ is simply full of it. Of course, with all the wind they get it's important to have good clothespins. A modest example are featured here. I did find them to be pretty darn effective. I brought back a goodly number of them to distribute to friends - what could be a more appropriate gift from the south when I blog as The Clothesline?

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

#11 South Island Cities

Today, I'm posting a bunch of photos from an album of visits to 3 cities on the South Island. (I'm finally starting to get some of my photos sorted). We visited Dunedin, "Little Edinburgh", the Scottish centre of NZ, Christchurch, a lovely city we saw on a dark and dreary day, and Wellington - forever in my memory as bright and breezy.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

#10 Beaches

Most of us enjoy the sand of a golden beach (and NZ has plenty of them), but I rather liked the unusual black sand found along the Tasman Sea on the North Island. Our route generally followed the coasts of both islands and if you are a beach lover, NZ is a very fine place to visit. It is windy, however (at least in the spring). We loved the coastline and didn't get to a couple of the really grand beaches - like 90 Mile Beach - which could be a bit of an exaggeration for a metric country! I don't like the fact that some of the beaches are "drivable" but our rig wasn't insured to be on beaches and I don't agree with vehicles on them anyway. Beaches are another great NZ walking opportunity too.

Monday, 28 December 2009

#9: Toilets!

I can't think of ever taking a picture of one of the many, many public toilets in NZ. You'd have thought I'd at least taken a picture of the sign! Alas, I did not do that. NZ has absolutely the best public toilets in the world, I'm sure. Every town has them and they are clearly labelled so access is readily found. It was such a change from travelling in Britain where it was difficult to find a toilet and it usually cost a few pence to get in. I saw two toilets in NZ that weren't topnotch in terms of cleanliness and there was one where I provided a couple of rolls of toilet paper. That is because I expected to need toilet paper while we travelled and it was one of the first things I put into my grocery cart on the day we rented our camper. On December 4th, 5 weeks, later I hadn't used any so left a couple of rolls at the FREE DoC campground we stayed in near the Tasman Sea on the NI. The country has figured out what is important to the tourist and it has been provided!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

#8: Wine

NZ is a BIG wine grower - it really made the Okanagan Valley look like pretty small potatoes (or grapes, in this case). We could usually buy a decent wine in the grocery store for under $10.00 kiwi. (There are no "state" liquor stores in NZ). We tried out lots of them. I liked this label design from the Marlborough area of NZ, close to Nelson, NZ. We're having a bottle of Oyster Bay wine for Christmas dinner tomorrow, which also happens to be in the Nelson area. From Nelson, NZ to Nelson, BC! Happy Christmas, everyone.

#7: It's Metric

For those of you who don't know what this instrument is, it's a metric needle gauge for knitting needles. I happen to own one. One thing I really liked about NZ is that it has gone metric, not in the half-assed way that Canada has. It's a bit of a shock to enter the grocery store and see that the price of bulk garlic is $19.95/kg, but the price works out to pretty much the same thing as Canada. Once I had made the adjustments, I was very happy to be able to purchase meat, veggies and fruit in kg, instead of pounds.

The knitting supplies were another NZ "buy" - I'd say the prices for yarn were lower, knitting needles and the like were cheaper and I guess with 40 million sheep, one really can't go wrong.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

#6: Botanical Gardens

The city planners of NZ obviously had a grand vision and a love of plants. There are botanical gardens in every city we visited and even small places with a population less than 10,000 people had impressive public gardens. This often included water features, as pictured here in Dunedin, NZ, a rock garden, herb gardens and ROSES were the big highlight. They were at the peak of their season and I saw so many varieties, most with names I'd never heard of. We were sorry to have been a bit late for the rhododendron shows but what we did see was impressive - luckily for us it was a late spring and lots of rhodos were still blooming. Absolutely hundreds of hectares are given over to the development of public gardens in the towns and cities of NZ and I applaud the fact that we didn't pay for entrance and every one that we visited was a delightful public space. Joseph Banks came with Captain Cook to collect plants in NZ - his legacy lives on!

Monday, 21 December 2009

#5: Roadside Flowers

I think that of all the Canadian provinces, British Columbia takes the prize for the best roadside wildflowers. NZ has got tons of good ones too. The picture here is really a "dandelion" - the leaves are identical to the dandelion "weed" we have here, but these flowers are much nicer. I had the opportunity to always have a bouquet of flowers in the camper - sometimes it was colourful lupines (and yes, they have yellow lupines in NZ) and sometimes it was calla lilies or osteopernum plucked right out of the ditches. Geraniums grow wild as do freesia. There are also lots of beautiful natural grasses which get to look very elegant as they blow around in the mighty winds of the 'Roaring '40's'.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

#4: Walking

I'm not sure if I can clearly identify the difference between a "track", a "trek" and a "tramp" but let's just call it walking! It's alive and well in NZ. Of course, my favorite hikes were in the mountains of Fiordland but I had quite a few gorgeous coastal walks, notably in Abel Tasman National Park. Another favorite was at Cape Foulweather, partly because the place so suited its name (named by Captain Cook, of course). We had plenty of opportunity to walk in wind and I was so played out by the wind at one point that I didn't actually walk down to the most southerly point in NZ that is not found on one its more southerly islands. Dave did so with difficulty.

Nearly every little town and every city has historic walks, nature walks, and tramps to simply be outdoors. If you love to walk, visit NZ.

Friday, 18 December 2009

#3: Te Papa Atawhai or The DoC

The Department of Conservation is the sort of "state park" or "national park" area of NZ. They offer very basic camping in a number of locations, although we found some of them difficult to access. It was the only time I really felt as if I was actually camping in NZ - they only offer an open field, a toilet and water with a suggestion that it be boiled (and in some instances it was get the water from the stream or lake).

The Department also manages thousands of trails on the two islands. We found all of them to be in excellent condition and they are absolutely free. Many of them had interpretive signs along the way. The only "tracks" that we did were part of the Abel Tasman Track and the Routeburn Track. The day that we hiked on Routeburn there had been a big rainfall and the trail had to be rerouted around a 176 m waterfall which was taking over the trail - but within several hours, they did have it done. I really have to applaud the Department of Conservation in NZ!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

#2: The Food!

I've always loved food. NZ is a good place to be if you're a so-called "foodie". This is a picture of the seafood hotpot that Dave ordered in a restaurant known as Fleur's Place in Moraki, SI. The Lonely Planet led us to this establishment and I think it was a real find. Since our visit, I've learned that the woman who owns the place has put out cookbooks (hope to find those through our library system) and been awarded all sorts of prizes. We didn't eat out at a lot of different places, but I enjoyed every meal we ate. We had Thai food in Rotarura and Dunedin (both excellent) and our friend Bede took us to a Chinese food restaurant in Auckland. I'd say it was the best "Chinese" I've ever had and I loved how we could bring our own bottle and pay a corkage fee. Seafood is superb and all the produce in the grocery stores was beautiful to look at. The quality was good as well. I'd say that the local food movement is alive and well in NZ. I guess it has to be! My only regret is that since Dave isn't a lamb eater I didn't get to cook lamb chops 3 times a week. Luckily, the fish helped to make up for that.


Things I Love Best About New Zealand. I'm not doing these posts in any particular order, but as a prairie girl, I have to say that NZ has fantastic skies. I often feel pretty hemmed in living here in a steep mountain valley and being in the wide open spaces of NZ felt like freedom. The forests there are really dense so that closed in feeling dominates when away from the coast, but most of the time I got to appreciate sky.

It was rather weird that we saw very few good sunsets, however. This one was probably the best one at Fox Glacier on the South Island. The Tasman Sea was probably 15 km to the west. The next morning the skies cleared completely and we had fantastic views of Mt. Tasman and Mt Cook. NZ skies are changeable and dominate the landscape.

Monday, 14 December 2009

32 000 Kilometres Later

We arrived home last night and figured that we travelled about that far during the past 7 weeks. Our trip to NZ was 11 500 km each way, we put on 7, 200 km driving around the two islands and we drove from here to the west coast, over to the Island, and back here again.

Over the next few weeks I'm planning to write a number of short blogs about the things I loved best about New Zealand so if you're one of my readers you can hunt me up and read what I have to say.

It was so very good to sleep in my own bed last night - in fact, it was so good that I'm heading that way now.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Catherine and the Chocolate Factory

Today I took the time to tour the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Dunedin, NZ – it’s gotta be the most popular tourist event in the city, and probably the country. The first 10 minutes of the tour are self-guided and I did find most of the display pretty interesting, although the space allowed for the number of people involved is rather crowded. It’s a pretty kid-friendly tour. The thing everyone loved the most in this section of the tour was the vat of liquid chocolate being mixed.

Everyone becomes readily humbled as the tour begins – wearing a hair covering (and a beard and moustache covering if you qualify) is required so everyone looks pretty ridiculous. No jewelry, photos, or even watches are allowed during the tour, as well as all of the other usual banned technologies. We toured around the factory and watched chocolate “buttons” coming out of a machine, as well as chocolate chips. Most of the ingredients are all in big vats and there really isn’t much to see. The whole world of Easter eggs is emphasized – this is what Dunedin produces between July and January for the Australasian market. I don’t remember enjoying a Cabury crème egg as a child. Some children on the tour received pretty large hollow chocolate eggs. Free chocolate bars were given away throughout. The neatest part was watching a bucket that held one tonne of liquid chocolate being dumped into a funnel – it splatters quite a bit! I did pick up several chocolate treats for my buddies back in Kaslo. I just taste tested them and I think they are pretty gross – too much of that Cabury crème egg idea! Maybe it’s just the reaction after having Thai green curry for supper.

Laundry Revolt

This may sound like an unusual post for a blog with a name like The Clothesline. Have you ever felt that your laundry was out for murder?? That’s how I felt this p.m. as I attempted to hang clothes at Kaka Point, South Island, NZ. The wind was so strong that sleeves and legs made steady assaults on my person – I really did feel that the laundry was out to “get me”. I’ve got to say something for NZ pegs, however – they work in a strong wind much better than anything I’ve ever seen in Canada. Plan to bring a few back as a souvenir from my trip. Gotta love these campgrounds with laundry facilities, which always include a clothesline, of course. Even our campervan came equipped with a clothesline and about 20 pegs – gotta love NZ laundry.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Let There Be Light ….and Wind!

Last week I was fortunate to catch this view of Mount Cook and its reflection in the lovely Matheson Lake. We got up early to do that – we’d had a cloudy day when first entering the mountains, but that night skies cleared and the views were mighty fine. I actually prefer Mount Tasman from this angle – it’s the big peak on the left in the picture.

Have had interesting light views for several days. Fiordland is AMAZING and in our one day of sun had lovely hikes and fantastic views. The mist lifted a little out at Milford Sound so we could sort of see it. The falls coming off the mountains on the way out (at least on a rainy day) doesn’t match anything we have in Canada.

This a.m. we had several lovely rainbows amongst the clouds around Lake Te Anau as we travelled south. When we got back to the south coast the wind reappeared – we’re wondering if the salt water here is called the Pacifc Ocean or the Tasman Sea. Not sure if we’re brave enough to cross the strait to Stewart Island tomorrow – it will depend on wind and fog. I’ve had fun in another kitchen with absolutely wonderful light coming in the windows. The operator of the campground tells me this has been the windiest spring he has ever known in this area – and it puts the Canadian prairies to shame.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Retro Holiday Park

Camp at Rapahoe on Tasman Sea

Smelling sweet peas as I write this and look out at this amazingly powerful sea! I’m hoping for a good sunset and perhaps a chance to see the night sky and maybe identify the Southern Cross. My host doesn’t really know where to look for its appearance in the sky.

We pulled into this place this afternoon and met a somewhat older woman who is our host – I’d say she’s in her 70’s. She and her husband have this land by the Tasman Sea and they obviously are collectors of some sort. There is stuff everywhere. We have a lovely site although we do gaze at other camper vans in our same lot. It’s been such fun to explore the kitchen, commonly used by patrons here. It’s got huge banks of windows and has been so bright during our day of off and on sun. This is true in spite of the fact that I don’t think the windows have been washed for at least a decade. In the “common room”, one end is where the washing machines are located, and the other has an area of couches and several book shelves. Alas, nothing really up my line in book selections to be found. The room is quite littered with plants of the cacti, spider plant and succulent variety and they climb past the windows. The spiders love them it’s quite obvious and webs appear on nearly every pane of glass. One hanging plant has been dead for several months. There are bits of Christmas garland hanging from pipes in one corner – these are old decorations, not something getting put up early for this year! Chess players would adore the old-fashioned chess set on the dining table and there’s a darling little wooden rocking horse sitting under a table. By the way, the dining tables are covered with rather heavy, somewhat stained (but laundered) table cloths. Very British! It’s bright in spite of it all. I’ve had a hankering for an oven cooked meal for a few days now. We do have an “oven” but it’s really only a grill and will work with some dishes in a pinch but I haven’t tried it yet. This kitchen has not one but two ovens found within creaky old stoves. However, they worked and I made a wonderful mac and cheese to fill our stomachs tonight. Smelling it cook was a sensation I needed very much. While it cooked I took the time to cut some sweet peas (asking first, of course) and have the most delightful bouquet at my elbowside as I type this. There is one bicolour of pink and white that I have never seen before. I also had a chance to browse through the NZ Gardener magazine and copied two apple recipes to try back in Canada. Dave has just returned from the showers in the kitchen building to say that he thinks the building was probably an old school – it does have that appearance in a way. I hope to accompany this with some pictures.

There’s a sign in the kitchen that our host has spring onions and rhubarb and available for FREE so hope to check that out before we leave tomorrow.

Update: We left at 8 a.m. this morning as I was anxious to start my next coastal walk to the next town and no one was about so I missed the onions and rhubarb. We did manage to see the Southern Cross – our host told us to look for a kite in the western sky – that worked.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

More Observations of New Zealand....

Observations, November 7, 2009

After nearly a week here I’ve made some observations such as the following:

There is still home mail delivery here. The postal box needs to be out on the road or sidewalk, and there are some colorful post boxes. Glad to see that this hasn’t become a thing of the past in this part of the “empire”!

The birds are amazing. I’m still adjusting to waking up in the night and hearing lots of birds chattering in the night. We bought an inexpensive book in Devonport (2nd hand) to give us an introduction and it isn’t nearly good enough, but we’ve observed quite a few new species and so many are amazingly colourful. We love the NZ goldfinches and even though the myna birds are a nuisance (we hear), they are lovely and behave exactly like NA robins. Even sound the same.

The house plants that we grow in Canada appear to grow on the roadsides here. I’m most amazed at osteopernum showing up in the ditches. Impatiens, datura, pelagoriums and monbretia simply grow anywhere. The grasses are lovely, too, and since this is a place with lots of wind it looks very attractive. Enjoying the NZ flax, too! I think my favorite plant has to be the Norfolk Pine, however – always loved the one growing at the Mendel Art Gallery in S’toon. They are so symmetrical and majestic. Today (nov. 7) we saw a 2000 year old kauri tree – most impressive.

Getting reacquainted with lefthand driving – hmmm. Dave seemed to adjust within about 6 hours of driving, I’m continuing to have my issues. The roads are very windy and narrow and the camper van is a bit unwieldy in my opinion. My down shifting needs work. I usually drive on the roads where we can’t go much more than 50/60 kmph so I don’t have to go too fast. I laugh at all the road works. It’s pretty much continuous. There are constant warnings about the shoulder being closed – but there really isn’t a shoulder on any of the roads anyway. Unlike BC, there are very few warnings about a flag person up ahead -–just be prepared. The “works end” sign is very frequent – 500m further down the road is another project that’s underway. Guess it’s a sign of spring – even in a place that doesn’t really get winter.

Updates - Nov 10th, 2009 - New Zealand

Some highlights this week – written on Nov. 10 evening

Trip highlights after 10 days in NZ are for me the following:

Cape Reigna where the Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet – had a lovely walk there and a swim in a beach on the Pacific side in that region – a stunningly gorgeous place.

Going out at Whangaruru Bay looking for kiwi. The DoC campground attendant told us to go out at dusk on the trail to the top of the rise and sit quietly and listen. We didn’t see any kiwi and we may have heard some, but we did hear SO MANY interesting sounds – another amazing thing to do here. So far, we’ve seen two dead kiwi in the middle of the road. Dead possum count is too high to bother with – dead possum are also known as NZ speed bumps.

Heading out to East Cape (most easterly point in NZ) and the place where the sun rises first in the world for anyone who cares to watch it, a friendly NZ woman informed me today. At Tolaga Bay, walked out to Cook’s Cove, a two hour hike from the campground. So lovely to be back with fence stiles, hundreds of sheep and a superbly blue coastline to admire.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

My Bags Are Packed .... And I've Left

We left on our big adventure to the great world of the southern hemisphere. A lovely drive over here and I got to visit libraries in Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway. We had a visit with friends in Castlegar and a family supper with my sister and her son and his family here in Summerland. We even found time to walk half way up the Sleeping Giant that overlooks Okanogan Lake. About 48 hours until real departure time!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Our Girl: #376

To triathelete fans, our girl, Andrea competed in the World Xterra Triathalon in Maui yesterday. She did really well and said it was way harder than Iron Man Canada. She finished 8th in her age group and 62nd overall for the women. She loved her swim, the bike ride was gruelling and the run was hot and humid. The swim is 1.5 km, the bike is a mountain bike course of 30 km and the run is a trail run of 11 km - some of it was in deep sand on a Maui beach. She did her parents and Canada proud once again! Way to go Andrea!

Demitri, Andrea's husband, ran a 10km run on Saturday in Maui and he placed 4th in his age group and 23rd overall. It's great to see Rossland, Canada in the list of top finishers! Congratulations to both Andrea and Demitri, impressing the world field from small town Canada.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Eagle Eyes on the Lardeau

Monday I took the time to head off with the Kaslo and Area Birders. We travelled up good old highway 31 (mostly gravel) along the Lardeau River. It was a much nicer day than this picture illustrates and we had a great day for birding. Mature bald eagles 44; immatures 14. We also saw a great blue heron, a Clark's Nutcracker, several dippers, tons of common mergansers - many of them males, changing into adult plumage - and two cattle egrets in a field full of gulls at Meadow Creek.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Stuffed Jars

As I write this post, the canner is heating a load of tomatoes. I have actually stuffed every large jar that I own. It's been a bountiful year here in the Koots. Most of my tomatoes are going to be frozen this year - I hope the last couple of boxes will ripen during this next week before we head to NZ. Dave got really enthusiastic about making plum jam and applesauce and he's done his share in making us use our jars. Pictured here are apricots (purchased from a fruit stand, alas), Damson plums from my bridge partner in Beasley, and bread and butter pickles made with our own cukes and onions while Andrea and Demitri provided the peppers. I'm giving thanks for another wonderful, bountiful harvest.

Rob, The Giant Killer

We've had a very tall tree behind our house which has worried me ever since we moved here. It didn't look truly healthy right from our move in 2006, but it was partly green and seemed to not sway too much in some of our heavy winds. Last summer it died. It's a little unfair to local faller, Rob, to say that he killed the tree. He did bring it down on Friday. It took him about 30 minutes from start to finish - this picture shows him after he shimmied up the tree, tied on a rope, took himself down and started to pull the tree to the empty spot we wanted. A bad fall would have this tree hit the house. He didn't spend more than a couple of minutes with the chainsaw but he brought it down exactly where we wanted and our view to the nw looks a whole lot better. Thank you, Rob!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

September Hiking

So many hikes and such a perfect September! Monday, Dave and I hiked to Woodbury Glacier - it's featured in this post's photo. We'd felt a little discouraged about doing this hike by our hiking book, Don't Waste Your Time in the Kootenays. However, that was completely misleading. The great thing about having had a fire run through the area a few years ago (2003, I think) is that now the views have opened up so much - it's gorgeous looking ahead - you can actually see where you're heading and it makes it good for spotting bears. We didn't see any. Also managed to pick a couple of cups of huckleberries which means I picked huckleberries this year from June 30 - Sept. 28th. All that is required to find the berries is a change in elevation. This hike was super - not very steep, a welcome relief after my 60 km bike ride the day before! September really has been the very best hiking month this year. Today, I see, there's been snowfall on the peaks all around here.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Walk 'em Cowgirl!

This is the Kootenay version of Saddle Mountain, located near Nakusp. The picture is the back end of the saddle. We hiked here two weeks ago - the hiking weather this September was been absolutely perfect. The approach to this hike is rather long for us to do on a day trip so we headed over to Nakusp on Sunday night, had a very long wait for supper service at the local hotel, and then crossed the Arrow Lake on the Arrow Lake Ferry. Sleeping in the back of the truck was remarkably comfortable. The hike up to Saddle Mtn. didn't take too long - about 2 hours to the top - the descent would have been faster but we found about the best bunch of huckleberries we'd seen all summer so filled up our lunch containers with more berries. For some reason the Arrow Lake Ferry doesn't run for two hours in the middle of the day (siesta time, I guess) but on this particular Monday whoever was supposed to operate it simply didn't come back to work. About an hour after things were supposed to get going, a replacement worker showed up. Ah, Kootenay Time! Ice cream at The Hut in Nakusp is still a very good deal.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Yes, You Can Go "Home" Again

I want to include a picture of a SK sunset here but for some reason the blogger isn't accepting photos today. Can't figure that out when I'm FINALLY getting ready to post after all this time.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I discovered that you CAN go home again - I had a great trip back to SK. Thank you to Margaret for organizing the Wild Women of Waskesiu and thank you to my Saskatoon hosts, Ron and Carol, for letting me stay for so many days in the lovely area of Montgomery. I saw so many more people by staying in the neighbourhood - it was perfect. Margaret was my motivation for getting out there and I enjoyed 3 lovely days at Waskesiu in one of Saskatchewan's perfect weeks of weather (and I know it was a long wait to get summer!). I visited my friend, Bev, in Humboldt, saw lots of Saskatoon folks, had a chance to play bridge at the Saskatoon Club and enjoy another lovely garden party in Montgomery. I saw my Regina friend, Marilyn - thanks for meeting me in the "north", Marilyn - and had a wonderful trip. My back problems all cleared up after 300mg of Arthrotec.

It was also good to connect with some of "Andrea's friends" and see the next generation doing so well.

Thanks, SK women, for making my trip so perfect! You really are the friendliest folks in Canada!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

What Happened to My Posting?

I figured it was time to let my few readers know that I haven't forgotten about my blog. I just have too much stuff in my computer to sort out right now and I'm simply not getting time to work at the blog. I had a great summer. I spent 10 days in the US and then another 11 days in SK and AB. Had a great time there, too. I've been back home for a week now and there's so much to do to get ready for winter that my priorities are wood splitting, moving plants and processing food. We leave for NZ in just 6 more weeks. I still take time to read books. We've had the TV back since the first of September and I've watched it for a total of 45 minutes. Yesterday, Dave and I went hiking near Nakusp and I hope to report on that trip very soon. Be patient, please.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Notch at Rossiter Ridge

If you look for the V shaped rock in the centre of the picture you are looking at the "notch" of Rossiter Ridge, a fairly distinctive landmark in the West Koots. Today we hiked to the Ridge - I didn't attempt getting up into the Notch - it's pretty much a hike for an accomplished scrambler. What I loved about today was leaving the house at 11:30 a.m. (after we each completed our community service work - me for the library and Dave for Pine Ridge Water Users) we headed out hiking. We were at the high point by 2:30 p.m. We had lots of time to pick huckleberries on the way down (and they are fantastic up there) and still got to sit down for a wine-soaked supper at 7:00 p.m. Proximity is everything.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Macbeth Icefields: Take Two

After a very gruelling walk into MacBeth Icefield last year (see August, 2008 post called 115 Deadfalls) we made a second journey this year. That's because Dave and a small crew went up to the trail in July and cleared out a ton of deadfalls. We only had to climb over two of them on the entire trail (falls that occured during the past 3 weeks). This time, we hiked with the Sunday Hikers and made it all the way to the icefield - a really nice hike. It was a a fine day for a trip like this - quite cool, although next time I'd like the woods to be a little drier. We figure it's about 1200m of vertical gain and I have to say I had difficulty doing stairs on Monday.

Newport Camels

Couldn't resist taking this photo at one of the Newport mansions in Newport, RI. It was our first day in a very hot and humid New England and we enjoyed a lovely coastal walk along the Atlantic Ocean with views of the seacoast to one side, and stately mansions to the other. It's the kind of hiking that I always love. Now if only those mansion owners would build gardens right down to their fence lines!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

On Walden Pond and Beyond

Spending a day in MA in August is probably not the calmest thing that a person can do. However, getting to Walden Pond relatively early in the morning (about 9:30 a.m.) allowed us to walk to the homesite of Thoreau and enjoy the calm of the lake - I was surprised to see how many people actually swim across it at that hour - probably all triathletes! It's really very picturesque before the crowds arrive AND if you can ignore the commuter train passing to the west of the "pond".
From Walden we walked to Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. The tour here was one of the highlights from my trip. I had always loved "her book" as a child, and learning more about the author and her wonderful home on the outskirts of Concord, MA was a fine way to spend a couple of hours. I'm currently reading March by Geraldine Brooks, a novel about what is happening to Mr. March while he is away from "his girls". It won a Pulitzer a couple of years ago. Doing the "author's tour" at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was another favorite bit of time. It is true; there can be peace and quiet in some parts of New England.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sunday Hiking

We're getting some real summer weather now and we've had a couple of very good hikes this week. Friday we went into Lyle Basin and enjoyed a sunny, hot day. Dave managed to make it to the top of Mt. Brennan in the time that it took Lucille and I to go to the Upper Basin and back - that's about double the elevation gain! Lucille took this picture of me at a creek just above Lyle Lakes.

Sunday hiking found us at Upper Fletcher Lake and then doing a scramble to a ridge above it where we were given great views of Woodbury and Kokanne Glaciers, all of Kootenay Lake down to Creston, and we could some of the spires of the Bugaboos way off to the west. One thing I love about Sunday hiking is that if we can get back by 4 p.m. I can still get a bunch of garden work done - picked peas, strawberries and raspberries after getting back, plus did a load of laundry and wrote a blog. Hurrah for me and hiking!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Woodshed

We're both really pleased with the appearance of the new woodshed. It's large enough to accommodate many of the dead pines in our area (we think). We expect the name of Pine Ridge will soon change to Rocky Ridge. I now have a covered area for wood splitting, there's lots of room to store split wood and we get to look at a beautiful roof!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

In The Path of the Avalanche

July 5th's hike was made a bit longer by the avalanche path which crossed the road just past the bridge on Stenson Creek. It made for about another 2 -3 km of hiking (one way) and right now my feet are feeling that extra walk! We crossed through three other avalanche debris pathways along our approach to Texas Peak. Can't see how an avalanche beacon can help much in situations like the ones pictured here.

'Little' TX Peak

Another gorgeous day to go hiking so we made our second attempt at Texas Peak, up from Jackson Basin near Retallack. This is me on the summit of what I named 'Little TX Peak' because I didn't feel too comfortable with parts of the approach to the actual TX Peak. Dave got there in about 20 minutes from where I am standing. In the background you can see bits of Kokanee Glacier. Lots of snow on our approach but where it had melted there were abundant glacier lilies, buttercup and anenome. The approach to the hike was a bit longer than expected - too many avalanches last winter closed the road at km 7 rather than getting to about km 9. Saw some pretty recent griz tracks in the snow as we hiked to the ridge.

Friday, 3 July 2009

At Last - Hiking Season!

It's been a really slow start to hiking season this year and now that the heat is here, we're able to get at it! On June 30th we took advantage of some time in Rossland to hike up Mount Roberts, the mountain that's clearly visible from the main drag of Rossland. It took us nearly 2 hours to do the 3.5 km, but it is pretty steep - 860m of elevation gain. I enjoyed many wildflowers over the route and those pictured here are some of my favourites. Great views at the summit - Rossland, Trail, Genelle and nearly Castlegar. The Columbia River is visible in several places and I'm not sure if we could actually see a bit of Lake Roosevelt which is part of the Columbia system way off in the USA.

Today we took a couple of hours to hike into Fletcher Lake which is about a one hour drive from our place and a one hour hike from the end of the road. It's a pretty mountain lake with some lovely rocky peaks and ridges to view. Bugs were bad and I forgot to bring the camera!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Three Years Later - Some Thoughts on Relocating

I think it's our third anniversary of arrival in British Columbia. I wish I could figure out some "before" and "after" pictures for this post, but I haven't spent any time learning how to do that. I love looking at my vegetable garden and this picture does represent huge changes from our arrival 3 years ago. We had no paving stones in the driveway and the current garden plot was a mess of weeds. Today, I've got the best looking broccoli in the Kootenays!

I'd have to say that the past 3 years have been a huge learning curve. I didn't think I'd be spending time splitting wood, stacking wood, hauling wood, and making kindling. However, I actually really enjoy all of those activities. The first few times we had a big wind while I was here I'd be really nervous. I'm getting much more relaxed about it, but one can never really relax about that. I find B.C. has a huge number of natural hazards. Prairie people would always be on to me about the extreme weather. After 3 years here, I've learned that prairie people don't really have a clue about that. We've got falling trees, avalanches, rock slides, forest fires, floods, and power lines coming down. In this province, people are really expected to be able to manage themselves "off grid" for up to 72 hours. Our longest time without facilities so far has been 24 hours.

One thing that has been really good for me is that it's pretty nigh impossible to plan anything around weather. The forecast is usually wrong and you can't tell what is coming from behind the last range of mountains. This means that one has to be much more "open" to going somewhere regardless of the weather. I've been a bit surprised at how much faith some people put into the forecasts around here. Having lived a very regimented life as a school teacher for 30 years, it's been good for me to learn to "go with the flow" much more. Even the bit of school work that I've done has forced that situation upon me and I actually really like it. Retirement allows each day to be so different, but so does subbing and waking up and deciding it could be a good day for a hike or a ski!

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Pathfinders???

Dave and I went out today to walk the Wragge Creek Trail over in the Slocan Valley. As usual, you have to try about 3 or 4 times to find a trailhead to really get there. We had our B.C. Backroads book and a vague idea of where the trail was found. After walking to deadends on 3 different roads we managed to do about 9 or 10 km of walking and get absolutely nowhere! Nice to stop at Rosebery Provincial Park on our way home to soak the feet and enjoy the rushing waters of Wilson Creek. I had to reflect on the fact that I have absolutely amazing places to picnic within one hour's drive of home - it sure beats Beaver Creek!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday present arrived today - a load of fill. There are so many pathways around here that are just a little too steep and awkward for the wheelbarrows that I decided I wanted to level things up a bit. I hope it works. One thing about living in the Koots - you never have to go to a gym. Between wheeling dirt piles around and an hour of wood splitting and wood stacking every day it helps to keep a person in shape! Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Spring Has Sprung

The garden is growing well finally, although the veggies are very slow in my B.C. soil. The perennials are looking good. Yesterday evening we went for a walk around Mirror Lake and saw some wee Canada Geese goslings and some ducklings from a very plain looking female duck. A cinammon teal was visible on the lake - and this is about as far north as that duck will travel. Picture for this post is Leopard's Bane, an early spring perennial with the exact same yellow as the ubiquitous dandelion. I love this plant and mine is doing so nicely this year. The pottery vase was done by Andrea - a late Mother's Day gift from beloved daughter. For a beginner pottery attempt I think it's quite lovely and the Leopard's Bane looks very happy in it. Hurrah for spring!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

First To The Post

This morning I had my first opportunity to vote AGAINST Mr. Campbell. It was a major ambition of mine, I realize, as I was the first recorded voter at our poll in the riding of Nelson-Creston. Equally important to the outcome of the election, is the outcome of the referendum on the question of the STV (single transferable vote) which could begin the process of electoral reform so very much needed in Canada. This referendum needs 60% of voter support; in 2003 it received 58%. Everyone I know in Kaslo is in favour of the change but when I go to the bridge club in Balfour it's the opposite story. Keep your ears tuned to the results - a possible change in voting procedures could actually happen!

Monday, 11 May 2009

No Longer A Cutblock

When we first moved here I prided myself on being able to only see one cutblock from one area of our house. After nearly 3 years of occupancy, I've come to really see the advantages of the cutblocks. It means there's a road to get up into the high country. That saves a lot of time in both summer and winter. The cutblock shown here is the one we can see from our front and west windows. Now, it's becoming quite a bit more visible because we keep cutting down trees in an attempt to get more sunlight on the garden. However, it's really our favourite ski hill now so there's a whole new attitude toward these unsightly B.C. landmarks. This picture was taken across the lake, looking west. It takes about 40 minutes to reach it from our place via truck or snowmobile. Interesting how much our feelings have changed in a very short time.

Mother's Day Feast

Had a lovely day yesterday, partly celebrating Mother's Day. I had calls from the kids, as well as talking to my own mother in Saanichton. I spent the morning in my garden enjoying the birdsong and relatively easy digging (this is a rockbound land)! In the p.m . we decided to canoe over to Powder Falls across the lake, taking a couple of beer and a dozen weiners and buns. The picture is me cooking dinner over an open fire. Mt. Carlisle doesn't show up well in this picture, but the light and shadow on its snowfield were miraculous. Two dinner companions were a pair of common mergansers showing off to each other. A paddle, a snooze on the lakeshore, and an open fire - what better way to celebrate being a mum?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mountains to Sea

Couldn't resist taking this picture of the source of the Columbia River in Canal Flats, B.C. I just spent a couple of days over in Fairmont and walked with my friend Margaret up to the Hoodoos adjacent to Highway 95. From there, we had a beautiful view down the valley right to the source of the mighty Colubmia River. My task as a Canadian is to learn more about David Thompson, who found the souce of the river and was the first human (as far as I know) to travel its entire length, right to where it ends at Cape Disappointment and the Pacific Ocean (see post below).

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Cape Disappointment

Every time that I visit the U.S. I generally find myself following the Lewis and Clark Trail. This is where it ended. I could not find out WHY it was called Cape Disappointment, but I don't think it was named by L & C. While travelling on this latest journey, I decided to read the book Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. It's one of those epic tales, mostly fiction, about the Indian woman who guided L & C to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River. I'd have to say that the book was a "disappointment" in that it really tried to romanticize the relationship between Sacajawea and Clark. I did like the short introductions to the chapters and I would say that I learned a few things about life in the west in 1805, but any readers would be better off with something shorter and more realistic. I was inspired enough from my travels to purchase the edited journals of L & C.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Look Alikes

If travelling south and Death Valley seems to be just too far to go for unusual clay colours, I'd suggest the John Day Fossil Beds in north-central Oregon. In our usual escape from nasty weather, we'd headed east from Portland and south at Deschutes River State Park in Oregon. Our route took us over the OR 97, 218, and 19 highways to the towns of John Day and Canyon City. There are three "pockets" of John Day Fossil Beds and if you ever want to see Death Valley in minaiture, visit one. It's got the colours, the contrasts and none of the tourists (at least not in April)! This photo demonstrates some of the "green rivers" in the area. There's a couple of tourist type walks around the formations. And if you get all the way to the townsite of John Day and make use of the internet at the library be sure to follow the rules and only do email on the computers intended for email - tsk, tsk.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Goal One

One primary goal of our trip was to observe the desert flowers of Death Valley. We knew before going that there had been "spotty" rainfall so it wasn't going to be a stupendous showing in the flower department. However, the promise or warmth dragged us forward. This little gem, called the Desert Five Spot, was one of my favourites. Does it count if you see the flower by the Visitor Centre? I think so because the site does not have an organized garden, something I would encourage park officials to develop to spread the knowledge of desert plants. We love to walk so got out to observe lots of flowers. Our guide was a small brochure, Wildflowers of Death Valley National Park which was quite useful. The other guide was called 100 Desert Wildflowers of the Southwest which I did not find useful at all. There were no descriptions of the leaves and we were constantly stymied by all the yellow, white, blue and pink flowers. One hundred flowers doesn't even begin to approach the variety of plants that we saw. My general knowledge of plants doesn't seem to give me any hints once I hit the desert - I've got lots of learning to do.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Points South

We're back from 3 weeks in sun and warmer climes. It was pretty sunny for most of our trip, although the temperatures weren't particularly hot. One exception was Death Valley where this picture was taken. We arrived there on April 4th and immediately changed into shorts. Had a couple of nice walks in the desert and enjoyed a huge variety of desert flowers, although this year was not a spectacular flower show. We did spend a couple of nights here close to the full moon and I rather like this picture, taken near Texas Springs in Death Valley. Clear skies allow lots of night sky viewing and we were fairly impressed with the number of people who climbed up steep hills to say goodbye to the day or to greet it as the sun was about to rise.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

In With the New

We've been slowly accumulating some new dishes and now that my birthday is past I have a set of four dinner plates, bread and butter plates and bowls. I really like them. It's a particular joy to bring them out of the dishwasher, of course! We've been using the same dishes for the past 25 years and they are still in really good shape. I will continue to use them. However, it's spring and it's refreshingly wonderful to have something new and different to admire every day. Thanks, Scott, for the plates!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The High Alpine

We spent this past weekend going to the alpine cabin at Lost Ledge. Getting there requires a half-hour road trip to the ski-doo unloading area. The ski-doo trip takes about 45 minutes, and from there it's a 75 minute uphill and flat ski into the Hut. Dave and I skied in during fairly heavy snow - there'd been a least 8 cm of new snow the night before. I had my first chance to ski in really deep powder - knee deep and higher. It raises the confidence level because you can't ski fast in the deep, deep snow.
Today, I had a lovely x-country ski out with the Wednesday Walkers on the old Kaslo Wagon Road. The brilliant sunshine has lasted two full days (a first for this year!!) and we skied from Retallack to Bear Lake. Hopefully, this is our last blast of winter, but it's good to be out in the high alpine in its winter beauty.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Toys: An Update

Yup, that's me driving a ski-doo, something I've said I would never do. This picture was taken last week, driving "home" from Empire Basin. Yesterday, we went up there again and there was lots of fresh snow. Dave drove and I must say driving a ski-doo is an extremely athletic endeavour in those conditions - the ski-doo always feels as if it will tip over and it requires constant leaning and hopping to the outside of the machine. The bruises on my knees are a testament to my position in the backseat as Dave jumps over the seat wearing his ski boots. I tried driving a few metres in the fresh snow - no, thanks! As we descended, the new snow was minimal and I drove 6 km - making 10 km my new total. I still have really mixed feelings about the machine - it remains noisy, smelly and cumbersome, but I love going to the blue skies.
We both LOVE the dishwasher. It seems to clean things pretty well (if we load it properly), it's quiet and it truly does seem to be a labour-saving device.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Skiing - Kootenay Style

We've had some sunshine in February and last week we took advantage of it. I actually spent two days on snowshoes and two days on skis - in the high country. In going to the high country it means that we have to drag our snowmobile to some spot or other, unload it and usually drive for about 30 - 40 minutes to the day's destination. Then it's necessary to apply the skins to the skis, hike up a cutblock (yes, let's hear it for the forest industry once again!) and ski down. The runs are fairly short - and then we repeat the process. It's good aerobic exercise on the uphill and for me, it's terrifying exercise on the downhill. Last Friday I began to feel that I was getting the hang of skiing in powdery snow with a backpack. The slopes were treeless and gentle. Well worth it to be out in the sunshine!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Walkin' A Mile In My Shoes

Today I finally had a chance to give my new "shoes" a real test - we headed up to Jackson Basin and climbed up some steep slopes to a viewpoint. This was the first time I'd used the "heel raisers" - see photo - and they actually work pretty well. I still have to learn to lift them up without taking off my mitts, however. We spent about 2 hours climbing up towards Texas Peak (see July, 2008) but ended up in pretty much a white-out. Occasionally, the sun peeked out and we'd get good views in one direction. Heading down some pretty steep slopes, I remained pleased with the performance of my "shoes" - so I guess spending the big bucks at REI in Missoula is having some benefits.

Friday, 13 February 2009

The Week the Woman Worked

I haven't been taking time to visit The Clothesline much lately and for the past 7.5 days I've been working (other than the weekend, of course). Generally, I found it pretty interesting and I finally got the opportunity to teach Senior English - something I'd always wanted to do in SK but was never given the chance. My "week" began on the afternoon of Feb. 4th where I encountered a lively bunch of rotten eighth graders for a half-day. The next day I began a 6-consecutive-days job for the Senior English, Social Studies and Drama teacher. For those of you who know about unions it means that I was "on grid"! Although the job had its challenges, I liked most of it and the Senior Acting class was a real hoot. There are a couple of very good improv type guys in that class who do very well considering their age is seventeen. My "teacher" went back to work today and I had a job "up the lake" doing some skipping with 'little 'uns' - always nice to get paid to do skipping. The variety provided in subbing is one thing I really like about it. Next week I look forward to remaining in bed until past 7 a.m.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Tile Floors: A Tribute

After receiving another 10 - 15 cm of snow this week, I need to write about our tile floors. I love them! Snow tends to be sticky in this part of the world and I'm quite happy to simply walk across the floor in my wet boots. I've even tried out (gently, mind) my get a grips (see Jan. 15 tribute) and it doesn't seem to affect the floor. Both Dave and I are getting pretty tired of pulling on and off all this clothing just to go outdoors - I have to say I'm abandoning my gaiters and simply letting deep snow get into my boots - and the tile floors diminishes the number of times we need to remove the footwear. Let's hear it for tile floors!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

You Are The Sunshine!

Today I had another day "up top", going through dense fog to get to the blue skies. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera but the skies were endlessly blue! The picture at left was taken last week in a similar place and we were in "bright" skies and you can see the valley fog below us. It was inspiring to help a woman do her "maiden voyage" as a ski-doo driver today, while I rode up with Dave. I'm still a terribly tentative skier in all this powder, but I kept my balance much better today and even though my turns are stem christies, I don't side slip down the entire hillside.
Now, about the snowmobile. It's great to be able to get up to the sun. Being the driver looks as if it's a terrifically athletic endeavour (at least if there are mountains of powder snow to drive through), although everyone says it's best to be the driver. The machines are noisy, (wear earmuffs), smelly (especially for the back seat person) and tempermental. But here, it's the only ski lift available and it does serve the purpose. I'm not a big fan of Bombardier, even tho' I did sell the stock at its 11 year high this July. But bringing me to the sunshine is worth quite a bit and I've got to say that so far, Bombardier is serving that purpose.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Get A Grip

This post is dedicated to my friend, Marilyn, who sent me a pair of "get a grip" boot crampons. After our big snowfall and subsequent rainfall, we've had a sheet of ice on our driveway and everywhere in town. Saturday, I tried out the "get a grip" crampons and they worked really well. I can now walk pretty confidently up and down the Pine Ridge Road, and more importantly, our driveway. We've had a couple of days of above zero temps (remaining that way at night, too) and the ice is slowly going. Thank you, Marilyn, I love 'em!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Up On the Rooftop

After receiving 30 cm of snow on Tuesday night and early Wednesday, this is how Dave spent part of his day. I shovelled off the deck which was at this point covered with very heavy, sticky snow. Most of the winter we've had cold temperatures - at least cold enough to keep the snow light - but when we got the biggest snowfall I've ever experienced, the temperatures rose and so did the density of that snow! As the youngsters would say, "it's puking snow out there." There wasn't much else to do that day - the power was out for about 18 hours. The wood stove heated up our lunch and supper and it was lovely to eat by candlelight. I was able to listen to my ipod and knit and even spent an hour playing the piano. The next day we got rain and now everything is an icy mess. Time to try my boot crampons today.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Ohh - that Jazz!!

My parents just made it home from their Christmas vacation....... one week later than our scheduled plan! They made it in to good old Castlegar (aka Cancelgar) on December 18th - Mum sans une valise. The suitcase did turn up the next day at the airport and I had pretty good service from them - if you call the airport when an airplane is due to arrive a real person will actually answer the phone. Earlier in the day I was trying to track down the bag and had to speak to a person in India with the details.
Scheduled departure date was Dec. 26th at 3:50. We learned at about 10:30 a.m. that all flights out of Vancouver were cancelled. Mum and Dad insisted on going to Castlegar in order to be in town for their new scheduled flight at 10 a.m. Saturday. The next snowstorm moved in on Friday night. Saturday, I got them rescheduled to Sunday at 3:50 p.m. Sunday a.m. it was still snowing and Dave and I felt we had to get them out of Castlegar that day (the 28th) or take them to a different airport. By noon, the sun was brilliant in Castlegar. We left for the airport at 2 p.m. and an unscheduled arrival of Jazz came in at 2:15. At 2:30 we learned that their scheduled flight was cancelled! By 2:45 we were gassed up and on the highway to Summerland and had them rescheduled to New Year's Day, departing from Penticton.
January 1st another snowstorm arrived. All flights were cancelled. They were rescheduled to 9:35 a.m. on Jan. 2nd. The 6 a.m. flight to Penticton was cancelled. Their 9:35 flight left only 10 minutes late. They arrived home!!! I know weather was a big factor in all of this but the other factor is that Air Canada doesn't really want to deliver service of any kind. That's our Solstice Story, 2008.