Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Best Gifts

To my mind, the very best gifts are those that are surprises! I received this tea cosy on Christmas night, but it had been made many weeks prior to "the season" and was acquired by a friend of mine who just thought I "had" to have it - it is "me", isn't it? This wonderful creation was made by Carol Koenig - what a marvelous talent she has for making crafty things. The friend who gave this to me is the same one who purchased the Polish clothespins so I'm very glad she was recognized the theme in my blog and in my life! Thank you, Effie and Carol - this tea cosy makes me smile every time I walk into the kitchen.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Shopping Local

This year, I decided to "shop local" for everything. It took me about 45 minutes to do my shopping. I know that a couple of the vendors (the guy who owns the rare and second hand bookstore) appreciated my business. And the biggest surprise was that Dave actually liked what I bought him and has asked for more "supplies" of a similar nature. He received a chainsaw carrying case - pretty bad on the environment (using a chainsaw and the case is made from very hard plastic) - but will be good for protecting the chainsaw which we should carry every time we drive up a FS road - there's usually a tree down somewhere along the trail. The goodies in the stocking were as good as you'd get anywhere and I sure wish I could remember where I'd hidden a couple of the bags! I'll report later on what Andrea and Demitri think of "local" gifts. Happy Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Walking In Woods On A Snowy Evening

Yesterday was the day that the Kaslo Trail Blazers "light up" the trail bridge across the Kaslo River. It gets dark early here so at about 4 - 4:30 p.m. we parade along the river trail with a lantern, happily made by a 2008 grade 3 student! At 5 p.m., the Christmas lights which have been strung along the roof of the bridge are put into operation - it is really quite lovely. This year, we'd had a good snowfall with relatively cool temperatures, to make our snow light and fluffy. It was a gorgeous walk through the forest, listening to the Kaslo River, observing the heavily-laden trees covered in snow, and watching flickering lantern lights along the trail. Happy Solstice, Readers!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

First AT

Yesterday I got out for my first day alpine touring - you can see we had a stunning blue sky day. We've waited a couple of weeks for one of these. The snow conditions were excellent, although we could use more of the white stuff. I'm still making my big stem christie turns, but I have managed to get down the slopes and feel more confident with all the lumps and bumps which we know are tree stumps and rocks underneath that snow! I got to do the "ski out" and I wasn't too far from the ski-doo when I saw big, loping animal tracks through the snow - they certainly weren't there on our way up. The tracks stopped abruptly under a tree. I looked up, fully expecting to see a cougar ready to pounce. I didn't! However, something did get killed at the base of that tree and I'm not sure where the predator went. I'm simply glad that I didn't become the prey. Thanks, Dave, for a beautiful day in the mountains.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Going Out to Play

Yesterday morning I heard a fair bit of grumbling from Dave about needing to get the driveway cleared by 9 a.m. - after all, nobody had to get to work. That's true. However, what is more important is that someone had to go out to play!! We had a big dump of very wet, heavy snow on Wednesday morning, but 5 brave women showed up for Wednesday Walkers and we had our skis. Most of us ended up skiing from just above town up to the airport because the roads weren't plowed and we didn't want to get stuck - skis are perfect for those road conditions. Things are melting today and I notice that Dave is leaving the house to go out to play (it's 8 a.m.) in the snow at Idaho Peak. Good thing the driveway is cleared and we got rain last night so lots of the snow is melting! We retired folk are up early and have the chores done - it's time to play once again.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Damage Control

About a week ago we decided that we'd turn off the electric fence - we pretty much figured that we'd "trained" the animals around here and winter is well underway. If the snow gets hard, the deer can climb over the fence and we've wired some of our shrubs in case they get in. However, last night a bear climbed up a tree and over the fence - this is what is left of the bird feeder hanging above our east deck. It looks as if he/she also had a good time going through the compost piles. I'd heard something in the night and thought to myself that Dave was making a heck of a lot of noise roaming through the house, but I realize that the bear was right up at the window. We've just strung up our lights along the deck - and plugged in the fence again!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

First Ski

We've had our first good dump of snow so yesterday I got out the new (from late last spring) cross country skis and headed off to True Blue Mountain. Most of the trails are pretty narrow and never tracked, so my friend and I simply kept going up the forest service road. We had great conditions for a first ski - the snow improved with every km of gradual elevation gain. I like the FS roads for skiing - they are usually not too steep and there's room enough to snowplow if it does get steep. I liked how the skis performed and I don't think I picked up too many scratches on the lower end of the road. It's winter - gotta go out to shovel - again!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Canada's Second Most Popular Sport?

After a hiatus of 32 years, I ventured out on a sheet of curling ice on Thursday. This is the "Seniors League" in Kaslo. The teams are made up by drawing a card (and many of you know how much I love cards!) and off we go to one of the two sheets of ice in the Kaslo Curling Club. The ice is extremely good - much better than I ever remember playing on in any rinks in SK. The game was very friendly - I was on a team of 3, playing against another team of 3 - and I got plenty of exercise doing lots of sweeping for my team and the opponents. I realized how much my yoga comes into play in delivering stones and in sweeping. Who'd have thunk it, eh - yoga and curling???? I had to reflect on this being Canada's game, as I remember Jack Farr always declaring in the old days of Saturday radio. I actually had a pretty good time and plan to go back. I have to admit that the walk home looking at the magnificent Purcells was the best part.

Monday, 15 November 2010

In Praise of Scabiosa

I just darted outside to pick another bouquet of flowers - looks as if we may get some serious winter weather in a couple of more days, but I love collecting flowers from May until November! The lowly scabiosa (awful name) has to be the number one bloomer in my garden this year. I got the plant from a gardener in Balfour who sells out of her yard. It didn't do too much last year, but I felt it needed better sun and improved soil. That proved to be the case! The plant has been blooming since late May and in spite of our dismal level of sunlight right now, it's still sending up new flowers - not a lot, but a few. Today I picked daylilies (two have rebloomed), Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum', scabiosa, clematis and calendula. I also have nasturtium, but they are looking a bit leggy. I figured I wouldn't bore you all with another picture of yet another bouquet, but it sure is fun to be able to garden in mid-November. Happy Winter, everyone.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Sorry, SK

It's the end of October and for so many years as a prairie gardener I was racing to make sure everything was put away and ready for winter - this had to happen by the Thanksgiving weekend. Today I picked raspberries at my friend Mary's place. They are big and there are still plenty of them. Behind the bowl of raspberries is the bouquet I picked on Thursday. I heard about the prairie blizzard on Monday - sorry, SK, but this extended gardening season is just keeping me pretty much happy. My worry seems to be if those dahlias and glads will dry out enough to keep from rotting over the winter.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Joy of Singing

It's been a couple of years since I've posted anything about our singalong group here in Kaslo. We get together about once a month and have an old-fashioned sing-song, with a little help from a book entitled Rise Up Singing and from our pianist, Gail. Usually, there's about 30 people who show up at this event and we sit in a very big circle and each pick out a song. Gail plays and we sing. It's a great time. We sing everything from "Home on the Range" to Lennon-McCartney. About the only time we "rise up" is when "El Paso" is selected (a song I don't really enjoy now) and "The Mary Ellen Carter", and it's pretty much impossible to sit down during the singing of that song. The songbook has interesting notes about the origins of song and I'm always pleased to see how many really good songs were written by Canadians. Joni Mitchell stands out as one of them - hurrah, Joni! For a couple of hours, for me, this is JOY!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Last Hike?

Today, a friend and I headed up to Fishhook Lake, pictured here. Not a great picture and not a great looking lake. It doesn't even have a mountain behind it to show itself in reflection. However, it's a good workout to get there, the approach is right off the highway, and we can get there and back in under 4 hours. These were all qualities that Bernice and I wanted for our hike today. The sun was glorious, the views of Kootenay Lake were stunning, but I didn't want to bore my readers with another shot of the Purcells above Kootenay Lake. There's some nice old growth forest enroute to Fishhook and the trail is REALLY steep for the first 30 minutes. Hope we'll get out a couple of more times but I know winter is a comin' - happy trails to all hikers out there.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mt. Loki (revisited)

I finally got around to downloading some pictures yesterday and discovered this good shot of the top end of Mt. Loki - covered in snow. I didn't actually get back to climb this mountain, but a couple of weeks ago the Wednesday Walkers did a hike near Procter and we had beautiful views of Kootenay Lake, Crawford Bay and the Purcells. Mt. Loki stood out in all its glory. Feels good to have completed it.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my favourite Canadian holiday because harvest is so very special. This year, unfortunately, it hasn't been much of a harvest. The tomatoes I brought in have largely rotted from the inside; those tomatoes outside are doing the same thing on the vine. We did manage to put a few bags of apples into the freezer (apples pilfered from roadside trees) and a friend gave me a box of plums which allowed me to do 7 quarts for the winter. I think I had 5 or 6 cucumbers that managed to mature, we've had some zuccini and last week I harvested 7 Hubbard squash. That will be part of our feast tonight. A thing to celebrate this year - Thanksgiving with my parents, one of my sister's and her family, our daughter and son-in-law. Give thanks for what we do have!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Aren't these just the most enthusiastic clothespins you've ever seen?? I simply LOVE them! A friend brought them back from Poland where she spent a week caregiving to a friend having the new "liberation" procedure for MS. I'm going to get Dave to coat these with a spray of lacquer - they are just too precious to experience weather damage. Thanks, Effie, for this happy gift to a person who adores clothes hanging.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

West Purcell Waste Management

This is the type of biffy we found at the campgrounds along the Earl Grey Trail, at least on the west side of the pass. There don't seem to be biffies on the east side, which is a bit of a shame. I didn't actually use this particular toilet; it's found about 3 km up from the west trailhead. Yeah, that is a shrub growing up through the hole. Much as I appreciated having these toilets, it was a bit damp to sit on during our trek from west to east. C'etait dommage!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A Wet Walk in the Woods

We walked the Earl Grey Trail from September 9 - 13th. It was pretty wet, although we didn't have a downpour of rain at any time. With the mornings so cool, even on the one morning when we didn't get rain, the bushes and grasses were so wet, we were all drenched within 5 minutes. This year the trail had been "brushed" and according to my friend Gerald it won't get done again for another decade. I'd hate to try it "unbrushed". The trail was challenging, but I generally had myself psyched for something worse. There were one or two fairly difficult hours of hiking, but overall, the trail was in good shape and easy to find. The avalanche slopes would be really tough to do if not brushed out, especially when wet!

We found the campsites in the West Kootenay to be really nice and had more facilities than we expected (like a toilet and a circle of stones and a few planks for sitting). On the "east" side of the trail there wasn't much at any campsite. However, that day, our rainiest, we created our own campsite in a patch of pretty dry woods not too far from a stream.

The biggest disappointment of the trip was not seeing the big peaks at Earl Grey Pass. We had glimpses of them from time to time, but not the big picture. I definitely plan to return by going to the pass via Toby Creek in the East Kootenays (17.5 km to the top of the pass). The greatest achievement, for me, was feeling pretty strong throughout the trip, and not getting depressed by the inclement weather. I even managed to cross a few wet logs, carrying my pack, by Day 5! The first 3 days are largely a "walk in the woods" and the old growth forest is magnificent. It's a worthwhile trek - at least once!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Tuesday marked the opening of school in British Columbia. Even though I know most of my former colleagues in SK have been back at it for at least a week, yesterday was the day that I celebrated To Hell With The Bell. It's my 4th one! I got together with a number of former teachers for breakfast. It is wonderful to feel such collegial spirit with so many people that I never worked with - perhaps that is why! Our late breakfast took place at the Kaslo Golf Course which has the best view of Kootenay Lake (north) and the Purcells northeast of Kaslo. I had a fine meal of French toast, carmalized bananas and pecans, and maple syrup. Yum! Happy New Year to all the teachers out there.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Three/Four on Whitewater Canyon

On Sunday, a friend and I hiked up Whitewater Canyon, a relatively easy hike to get to from Kaslo. This is the place where we get to see grizzly bears on the far side of the valley! Alas, the bears seem to have left that area; they are probably spending their time catching kokanee down in the valley bottom. This is my 4th time hiking up Whitewater Canyon and the only time I haven't seen griz. The good thing was they we found tons of huckleberries - that's today's picture in case you thought it might be animal droppings. We had a wonderful hike with NO SNOW and lots of berry picking to keep us amused. Thank you to Shelley for another delightful romp in the Koots.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

'Doing' Dennis Basin

Bet you readers figured this was a picture of Dennis Basin - wrong! It's actually Alps Alturas on a very beautiful blue sky day. The trail to AA starts on the left hand side of the picture from the cutblock and heads up to slightly below the snowline in the picture. On Thursday, because it looked as if it was going to be the only gorgeous day in the week, we headed up to Dennis Basin, across from AA. I had seen these ridges on Monday and wanted to explore. Thursday gave us the opportunity. We hiked a good trail to a pass, then the trail ended and it was pretty much figure out where to go. You can see that we got great views across to AA. We walked along one ridge, had to climb a very steep hill to get onto another ridge and a high point, and then came back to the 'basin' and to our truck. There had been heavy frost that night and no huckleberries grew on the plants. It was an outstanding hike and another perfect mountain day. The weather remained beautiful for the next two days!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Heading to AA

Monday, I went to AA - Alps Alturas, over in the north Slocan Valley area. It reminded me what a beautiful hike this is - a short walk through the forest where the trail opens into a lovely meadow. It was too late for much in the way of flowers and this picture shows the smattering of snow that fell in the high alpine at the end of August. This is one Kootenay walk with a really GOOD trail all the way, not too much elevation gain, and fantastic views. I'd highly recommend it as one of the best hikes in the Kootenays - you don't really have to be fit to do this one. The fact that abundant huckleberries were available to pick near the trailhead didn't hurt either. Another perfect day exploring the Kootenays - knowing that my former colleagues were back to work in Saskatoon made it all the better:)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Loki At Last!

Yesterday, we successfully climbed Mt. Loki, the tallest peak in our part of the valley. I'm not actually sure what the elevation is, but it did seem like a pretty long hike after we finally got down. Loki is named for the Norse God of Mischief and I'd have to say this god was pretty quiet yesterday. We had perfect conditions - sunny, but cool, with clouds hitting all the peaks around us on the way up. At the summit, everything was clear - not sure what direction this picture is but it's pretty much just peaks everywhere!! I didn't find the climb too difficult, although I did carry along a rope and harness because I'd heard there were a couple of "scary" bits. I felt good all the way up - the coolish temperatures helped a lot. The descent was tiresome; my knees were really feeling it ALL the way down, and the end did seem elusive. However, I feel great today so I guess I must be in some sort of condition. We're getting off and on spotty rain today, so we peaked at the right time!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


This morning I took a walk with the pack, along with a bag for some garbage that I'd spotted on my last bike trip into town. I walked through the woods, which were litter free, thankfully. I walked u back along the highway to "my" road, approximately 1 km and I picked up 13 beer cans, 3 pop cans, and 3 recyclable plastic bottles. I didn't pick up other garbage, mostly paper coffee cups. I've asked some of my friends out here if they remember the 1961 film, "Litterbug", starring Donald Duck. Most of them don't. I remember it quite distinctly from my childhood (I was 10 when it came out). It seems to me that I learned that littering was something that was WRONG. Why is it that 2.5 generations later, I walk along a piece of highway with this much garbage?? And I know that this piece of highway is relatively clean compared to what's really out there. Where are we going with this, humans?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Too Many Rivers to Cross??

We're considering hiking the Earl Grey Pass Trail this September. A few folks are planning to start in the East Kootenays (near Kimberley), while some of us will start in the West Kootenays, near Argenta. I wrote about the first 4 km of this trail in May because it starts off as the Hamill Creek Trail. I've started doing a bit of hiking with my pack, but my biggest issue is the river crossings. This is one of them. I believe there are four cable car crossings on the route and the next one is very high above the river. The major concerns are the crossings with NO cable car - usually the logs to cross the river are pretty skinny and with a bit of water of them could be impossible for my unwieldy balance. Have to give this trek lots of thought.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

On my recent hike to Eva Lake I had to reflect on how far I've come when it comes to experiencing the mountains. On my very first "overnight" in the mtns. I stayed at this hut near Eva Lake in Mt. Revelstoke National Park. We borrowed hiking gear from my parents and I remember the chafing on my shoulders on a very hot day, as I walked in a cotton sleeveless summer top, running shoes, and carried an external frame pack. I think I woke with every noise that was made outside of this hut that night!

Today, I was able to hike with another couple and pretty much figure out our own route to Mt. Jardine (yes, once again) via Emerald Lake. We scouted out a route down and successfully manouvered our way around lots of rockfall to get back to the Jardine Cabin. There were bugs and heat and a very welcoming bunch of snow at one point along the trail. Another great day in the alpine.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wild Women of the Columbias!

I just returned from a couple of days of women's camping/hiking in the Columbia Valley. We left Wednesday on a perfect summer day, set up camp at Blanket Creek Provincial Park and then hiked to Sutherland Falls and Begbie Falls. Begbie is a pretty impressive waterfall. Thursday, a group of us went to the top of Mt. Revelstoke and hiked into Eva Lake. The alpine flowers were wonderful - combinations of paintbrush, valerian, lupine, aster, arnica and mimulus. We did get a little wet on our return hike, but skies cleared for our second night at the campground and we had good chatty times around the campfire. Our return trip on Friday was a bit of a "women's day" - we stopped at Halcyon Hot Springs for a dip and then shopped at the thrift stores in Nakusp and New Denver. It wasn't really wild, but I still like to think of us as being somewhat adventurous in going off on a hiking/camping trip that we planned and enjoyed. Hurrah for the Columbia Valley and all it has to offer. Hurrah for the women of Kaslo!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Fourth Time Lucky

I've headed up towards Texas Peak 4 times, 3 in the summer and once in the winter. This is me at the summit with some impressive peaks of the Goat Range in the background. This isn't a tough hike, especially when we were able to drive a good bit of the road. There's a lovely ridge walk involved - the flowers are glorious today. The only complaint I have is the ridge is too short! I climbed up here with 3 of Dave's hiking buddies, plus Dave, and since Gerald is nursing a game leg I was almost able to keep up with him (on the uphill)! The "boys" all headed over to Paddy Peak for their second summit, which was pretty much a scramble. I went back to the lower peak (which I'd achieved last summer) and spent an hour reading a book. I headed downhill when I figured the guys were getting close and of course most of them beat me down the hill. A great day - thanks to Dave, Gerald, Stu and Dan for slowing down enough for me to get to TX Peak!

Friday, 23 July 2010

#3: Mt. Jardine

Here's our group on the summit of Mt. Jardine - it doesn't look like much of a summit and I'm not in the picture but I did take the photo. We started off from the trailhead at 9 a.m. with a warning that this might not even be a trail. We'd been told that it could be a bushwhack up to one of the old original mines that opened up the area. Well, we found a trail right off the forest service road and it was a darn good trail. I never dreamed I'd get a chance to do another summit but we were at the top within four hours. I'd seen this summit from Mt. Schroeder two weeks prior to this hike and this mountain is supposed to be 100m higher. There was enough deadfall on this trail that I did count the trees across the trail - there were 88 of them but they weren't nearly as onerous as the ones on MacBeth Icefield Trail in 2008 (see August, 2008 115 Deadfalls on the Trail). Thanks to Steve, Tom and Jane for their encouragement.

My next trick is to hopefully get up Mt. Loki, the highest peak in this area, and named for the Norse god of Mischief. It's still got a fair bit of snow on the ridge so we're watching it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Accomplishment #2: Mt. Brennan

Mt. Brennan is one of the "big peaks" around here, (1550 m of elevation gain) but it's a pretty easy climb, at least if you get to walk over a snowfield. We got an early start and were at the trailhead by 6:15 a.m. - that was great because the entire slope up to Lyle Lakes (600m of elevation gain) was entirely in shade. We reached the lakes which were still mostly frozen and in spite of having breakfast in the snow, I still managed to find a tick on my pants! We then hiked up the gully via snow - in fact, the rest of the way we simply walked over a huge snowfield. It was a pretty hot day and even Dave got a bit tired but he was the one kicking steps most of the way. All I had to do was follow the leader! The picture here is the view toward Mt. Whitewater and the peaks beyond. It's a 360 view and I think on a spectacularly clear day you could see The Rockies. The descent was a quick heels in run down the slopes. Luckily, we postholed very little on the entire trip. Thanks to Dave and Stu for helping me get up this mountain.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Accomplishment #1

The hiking season started in earnest for me on June 30th. That was the day that I climbed Mt. Schroeder - yeah, that's me on the peak with a friend in the background. I look a little stooped and told my kids I was looking as if I was pushing 70. By the time I got down, I felt it! We had a gorgeous day for a big hike - it turned out to be not all that warm. We had a two hour bushwhack through some pretty nasty stuff that included devil's club (ask a tree planter to tell you about it!) at the lower elevation and rhodos and huckleberries to walk through. We got to the snowfield in a couple of hours. That was the easy part. The descent over the snow was great but we had a long (to me) downclimb on the edge of one snowfield. I had two falls - learned how to use my iceaxe! - and got some good scrapes on my forearm on the second one. We hiked out to a forest service road which made it all downhill from there with no big logs to walk over. I felt that I had accomplished something that day.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Beyond Bjirkness

We headed up to the clearcut where we ski in winter to explore beyond the cutblock. There's a nice looking peak up there on those days that we get to see it. The road up to the "ski hill" was in pretty good shape; logging in the winter prevented us from making much use of this area this past winter. We walked through the cutblock (so much easier on skis!) and then did a bit of a bushwhack up to the top of the hill. It was pretty easy bushwhacking and there were no bugs which was really different from the hot day I was there two years ago. We had to descend and climb another short hill and from there we had a great view of Lower Fletcher Lake. However, the way ahead was VERY vertical through the trees and beyond that were pretty steep cliffs so we're not going to get to the top by that route. A cloudy day, and alas, I forgot my camera so no photo. Nice to be in the woods and up high and we did discover a nice meadowy bit that had a few avalanche lilies.

Friday, 9 July 2010

CBC North

This was another building that served as an icon for me in my trip north. This is CBC North. It's a pretty ugly building in a 1960-70's sort of way, but I remember the old days when Gzowski would comment on working out of that studio. A big calling card for me to go to the north was reading Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights On Air which I reread while visiting Yellowknife. That book is totally linked to this building. Reading it for the second time, I was reminded once again about what a great book it is and how it touches on so many issues of the Canadian North. I really hope someone decides to nominate it for Canada Reads in 2011. It truly is a book that all Canadians "should" read.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Yellowknife Legislature

The legislature in Yellowknife is well worth a visit. Almost everything about the building has some sort of symbol, including the shape of it. I love the way it snuggles into the landscape along Frame Lake, pictured here. Another benefit of a tour is that visitors are allowed into the room where more informal discussions take place. In this room about a dozen A.Y. Jackson paintings are arranged around the room created during his visits to the north in the 1950's, I believe. The round room and the round building and the round area where laws are made are symbolic of northern dwellings, the igloo and the tipi, and they allow for round table discussion. Political parties don't exist and decisions are made by consensus. The building itself has plenty of zinc on it, easily obtainable in the North, polar bear rugs grace the legislature and the mace has diamonds on it to illustrate the new wealth of the north. I know that there's plenty of disagreement about political decisions made throughout the North and a legislature is only going to be as good as the people in it, but I think we Southerners could learn a lot from the model of the North.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Prince of Wales Museum, Yellowknife

This was one of my favorite visitor locations in Yellowknife. It fits in so nicely with its surroundings and is a perfect size for a museum, in my opinion. It's a bit odd to find a museum named after the Prince of Wales, and to observe a huge portrait of the current Prince posing just like all of his 17th and 18th century ancestors. It'll be worth a visit when William becomes Prince of Wales!

I loved the huge wall map of the Mackenzie River with photos highlighting various places along its route. I had hoped to see the beginning of the river, but there's a couple of lakes that need to be traversed out of Great Slave Lake before the Mackenzie really begins. I'm not sure where "mile 0" is located. The museum is a place you can visit in a couple of comfortable hours and the restaurant looks out to a portion of rocky shelves and another lake.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Morning Skies

I loved the skies of the NWT. This picture was taken at 3:30 a.m. on June 20 - almost time for the solstice. As it turned out, those "red skies at morning", did bring us a few hours of rain beginning about 7:30 a.m. On the night of the 21st, I made it up to Pilot's Monument with a group of about a dozen others, all watching the sun disappear. The mosquitoes were fierce. The sun set at 11:40 p.m. and would rise at 3:30 a.m. It really never gets dark at this time of year. I preferred this picture of the fog on River Lake in the NWT and the sunrise on a date close to solstice.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Oh Canada!

Happy Canada Day, Readers! I plan to write more about the Yellowknife trip (forgot to publish it the other day!) but today belongs to Canada. This flag picture was taken at the cabin I stayed at in the NWT, and was probably the most "Canadian" scene I'd seen in a long time - the view from the cabin included the flag, a serene northern leg in muskeg style country, with a loon swimming just a few meters away from the landing spot.

Yesterday, I had a pre-Canada Day walk up Mt. Schroeder and I need to devote a separate post to that experience. It was another very Canadian landscape and very dramatic!

Today I'm off to do a 10 km walk which is a fundraiser for people who need help deferring transportation and accommodation costs when staying in the distant hospitals around here. Pretty Canadian, eh?

Monday, 28 June 2010

North of 60

I recently returned from my first land visit north of 60 degrees N. I spent a week in Yellowknife. This is truly Canadian Shield country. Pictured here is the Cameron River, part of a big-time canoe route in the north. It is gorgeous country and seems to me to be the most typically "Canadian" of all possible landscapes. Flying into Yellowknife, I could see a land of lakes and rivers and the sight lines go on forever. I wouldn't call it a paradise for gardeners, but those who love the life on the land, this area is perfect. The bugs are pretty fierce and insistent but I was lucky in that we had reasonably windy weather to keep everyone from going insane. I loved the midnight sun!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Roadside B.C.

I've always felt that British Columbia roadsides are the nicest in Canada - the exception could be NS and PEI when the lupines are in bloom. On our recent trip to Lilloet and Pemberton, the case was proved once again in the example here. I collected these flowers in the Thompson Canyon just north of Lytton. Pretty smart of me to bring along a vase. While in NZ I used one of our very few cups as a container for the roadside bouquets. This is one thing I really like about having a camper van - flowers are always a part of home.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

These Boots Are Made for Hiking

Wanted to get a blog going for June and didn't mention yesterday that I hiked in my new boots purchased at REI in Spokane. I wore them around the house quite a bit, but decided a week or two ago that I'd keep them. They are a women's Asolo hiking boot and I did like how they performed on Sunday. I am keeping the "high" tops for ankle support and spent the bucks on another pair of Superfeet - my feet felt great throughout the hike. The waterproofing stuff seemed to have worked well, too, and it got tested on Sunday. Happy Hiking, everyone!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Hiking Season Has Commenced: 2010

Yesterday we set off on our first "real" hike of the 2010 season. It was raining fairly heavily when we got to Argenta and I was surprised to realize that this was the first time I've ever really been to the community of Argenta, north of Kootenay Lake. It's a small Quaker community with some very interesting people.

We hiked about 5 km (one way) of the Hamill Creek Trail and the creek is pictured here. We had one cable car crossing of the creek and could have done another if we'd wanted to travel further. The showers ended shortly after our departure and we enjoyed a few bits of sunshine, beautiful greenery in the forest, canyon walls, rushing creeks, rockslide debris, old mining operations, and a lovely log cabin, partially collapsed. It was good to have the boots on once again.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Roads Taken: Getting to and From Work

I'm pretty sure that yesterday was my last day of work in schools and as I drove up the lake to Meadow Creek, I couldn't help but reflect on all the beautiful roads I've taken to work over the years, particularly over the last decade when I began being "green" getting to work. It began with a nearly hour long bike ride over to the north end of Saskatoon from Montgomery Place - about 18 km each way, mostly along the beautiful trail along the South SK River. While working on the west side of Saskatoon I was close enough to walk to and from work even on those bitter winter days and I remember snowshoeing a couple of times. The year in the Isle of Man was magical - I had a 15 minute walk to my rideshare and could see the sun rise over the Irish Sea. If I disembarked at the right bus stop on the way home, I could walk past thatched cottages and views out to Ireland. Yesterday, I was able to drive north on Kootenay Lake, observing Mt. Willett most of the way
(pictured here; photo credit to Dave). I really can't say which have been the "best" of all those routes - every one of them has been special in its own way. The whole business of teaching has been a road taken, too!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Baby, 30

We travelled to Rossland last Thursday to celebrate the 30ieth birthday of our baby, Andrea. Where did that time go? I know my Dad told me that he felt old when his eldest child turned 40. I took this turning 30 in stride; the unease I felt that day was placing my will in a safety deposit box in Trail and thinking that Andrea might be the next person to open this - hopefully not before she is 60!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

No GPS, Lots of Common Sense

I had a chance to walk to the headwaters of the Columbia River last Saturday after a long sit at meetings during the day. We parked the vehicle just south of Fairmont Hot Springs and an hour's walk brought me to this view of Columbia Lake and the beginning of the great river. One thing I really like about travelling through the Pacific Northwest (aka Cascadia) is to see where the great mapmaker David Thompson spent a good many days. Just outside Invermere we found Kootenae House, where Thompson spent the winter of 1807, travelling there via Howse Pass with his wife and children. It's a pretty uninspiring place for pictures today, but it's easy to imagine what might have been. He's the most underrated of Canada's explorers, in my opinion. We don't do much to enlighten our population about his travels; I often find we get more information about David Thompson while travelling through the US. He accomplished so much during his lifetime, pretty much mapping most of western North America. He had incredible common sense when it came to the fur trade, too, but he was largely ignored by his "superiors". And to think he did most of this journeying with a compass, canoe, and a few writing instruments.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Camping: AB style!

Last Friday night Dave and I stayed at the Enid Lake Forest Service Recreation Site. We arrived in early afternoon and had a wonderful time watching pairs of red-throated grebes court each other. A pair of loons was nesting on a small island in the center of the lake. I walked around the lake a couple of times and spring was alive! The bad thing about these recreation sites is that they are so sadly neglected and have been for about the past 5 years. The are called "user maintained". The overuse of ATV's and dirt bikes was evident in all areas around the lake. We enjoyed our evening at the campsite and just as dark hit (which is 10 p.m. on MST) a couple of big trailers arrived with kids, dogs, ATV's, and chainsaws! The fire was lit with gas from a container and every time additional fuel was needed the chainsaws started up. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to start up an ATV in the dark. Sadly, the lifestyle is too likely to be copied by the next generation. The fire was going again early the next day and I noted that both vehicles had Alberta plates (this camping unit was the classic stereotype)! I saw that Mr. Campbell's government has posted signs that damage to the environment can result in fines up to $100,000. Unfortunately, no one is hired to ever enforce any of it and the forest around this quite lovely lake will continue to be decimated.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Camping: B.C. Style

I moved to B.C. partly because of B.C. Parks. We'd spent so many of our holidays travelling to B.C. to visit my parents, or to tour around this beautiful province. We loved almost every B.C. Park that we stayed in. I was able to get a little of that experience back on Thursday night when Dave and I stayed at Alces Lake in Whiteswan Provincial Park. The campsites are big, fairly far apart and we didn't seem to find yahoos in the campground. They probably arrived on Friday when I understand the place does get busy. It was interesting to note that we were the only B.C. plated vehicle in the place; everyone else had AB plates. Most of the legacy of the Campbell government is a complete tragedy and B.C. Parks has certainly fallen into that category. The parks are closing and those that remain are very poorly serviced. It was good to enjoy a bit of the "old" experience the other night.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Rails to Trails: Cranbrook

I had a chance to enjoy really pampered cycling on Sunday while over in the East Kootenays. Here's the new rails to trails cycle bridge over the St. Mary's River between Cranbrook and Kimberley. It's a great trail, even if it does end (or begin) a little abruptly. It ends (or starts) in the forest at the termination point of an old rail line and travels north to Marysville, the charming town of the Kimberley area. The grade was beautiful and the conditions of the trail excellent. There are many great views of the river and its valley, as well as views out to the Purcells. While travelling south, the Steeples, near Cranbrook dominate the view. I'd highly recommend it to cyclists in the area - kudos to the trail builders.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

'Tis the Season

One thing which I really enjoyed while travelling through the Columbia Valley and the Columbia Gorge were the masses of balsalmroot (shown at left) and blue lupines. I have always loved yellow and blue as a plant combination and it covered many of the hillsides of WA and OR. It was so good to come home to the beauty of our own garden, too. We have tulips, daffs, heathers, fritilleria and pulmonaria in bloom. Welcome, spring!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

One thing I do miss living in the mountains is that we rarely get spectacular sunrises and sunsets - the sun (when it does show up!) just pops up from behind the mountain and it does the same thing at night only it descends behind the mountain - boring. The mid-continent big skies provide the best sunsets that I've ever seen. Our recent trip to Oregon didn't really provide much of a change as it turned out, but our first night out, at Grand Coulee, we had a pretty good sky that you can see pictured here. The horizon was covered with tons of power lines given this is one of the major power generating areas in the west, but this picture seems to ignore all that technology. Prairie readers, enjoy your skies!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Palouse Falls

We found this little gem in southern WA in the most unexpected of places. After driving through what I'd call high desert/prairie for a couple of hours and following the heavily dammed Snake River for a bit, we came to this state park northwest of Walla Walla. (That city was at the height of its spring beauty on April 23rd - every flowering tree was in bloom.) The road descends into the park and after arriving at the parking lot there is this amazing waterfall. Visitors are well above a deeply cut gorge - I couldn't really figure out what river this is on from our road atlas, but it's an impressive waterfall when one considers the location. A really surprising and refreshing change in the area was where visitors could walk - sheer drop offs everywhere and not a warning sign in sight (except about the rattlers)!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

O Pioneers!

This early school is located in Pendleton, OR and I had a chance to peek through the window to remind myself of the "good old days". I loved seeing all the assignments written up on the board - self-directed learning had a different meaning in those days, but I guess there still remain many similarities. Those who can self-direct do tend to be more successful! This school was located on land donated to the school district by one of the early settlers who travelled over the Oregon Trail - a woman, of course! As I read the journals of some of those early travelling women, I continue to feel a debt of gratitude for all they gave to us - both men and women.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Oregon Trail

We spent last week visiting central WA, eastern OR and western ID. Most of our time we travelled along the famous Oregon Trail or the Lewis and Clark trail. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center was a little gem located about 10 miles (16 km) from Baker City, OR. I was really pleased that our National Parks Pass got us into the exhibits. It's very nicely done, and very similar to those Canadian prairie stories of people moving west. The big difference is the MASSES of people who took the Oregon Trail, compared to the travel to the Canadian prairies. All of the rest stops along the I-84 have information and quotes from diaries about travelling the trail 150 years ago. The hardships were incredible. I can't help but wonder what those early travellers would think of the spoiled folks here now, about 7 generations later, who complain if we can't use a drive-thru to purchase fast food. We owe so very much to the hardy pioneers!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Silent Spring

I've been pretty quiet during the past few weeks and I guess it's because there's always lots of work to do at this time of year - it's mostly wood splitting and de-rocking the garden. We've managed to get a bit more space cleared in our sunniest area. The new soil will produce a better garden, we hope. The "cool crops" are planted and a big mess of wood has been split. The woodsheds are now nearly full. We look forward to a summer of leisure.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

It's Here!

It's March 24th and this is our first bloom for the 2010 season! That's pretty exciting when you've been a SK gardener for 20 years. It's been fun watching things start to grow because the snow left so early this year. I totally missed the crocus last year because we were away from late March until late April. Still no sign of those swamp lanterns in the ditches along the highway. But the rhubarb is up and a couple of primulas and it's just so very joyful to be able to get out there. Wood splitting is also in full swing! Dave is rebuilding a woodshed and I'm splitting with the splitter and then we will have one heck of a lot of wood to move. Happy spring, everyone!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Our Golden Moments

I've had a chance to think about the success of our Olympics over the past week. It does seem to make a difference to throw money at an issue - this is the first time that Canada has ever really supported its athletes and it did make a huge difference. I hope it will continue. It sort of bothers me that everyone will now only think about the men's hockey game, which had its storybook ending, as the biggest event of the Olympics. Those guys always get all the glory and winning the Olympics was simply another 'notch in the belt' to them. I was impressed with our improvements in men's cross-country skiing and with the fact that a few long distance male skaters finally got on the podium. The results in snowboarding and ski-cross were also impressive.

I'd have to say that our media continues to put expectations on athletes without predicted results. This was particularly true of the alpine ski teams. It was interesting to hear that Erik Guay won in Norway on the weekend, but the news media reported he didn't get on the podium at the Olympics. He did come 5th - what's wrong with that???! I think it was a good result in comparison to other years. Kevin Martin was expected to deliver and he did. Most of our gold medallists were people we'd never heard of unless we are sports enthusiasts who follow all the details of events. When will Canada learn to take the pressure off its "expected" medalists?

I disliked the title, "own the podium" - it seemed really rude to invite the world to a competition in your our country and then let them know we plan to "own the podium". I liked that we supported the people financially.

I've also heard many people say that medals should perhaps be considered on a per capita basis. If that's the case, Norway would certainly surpass us - they have a population of only 4.5 million.

I was pleased that everything went so well at the Olympics, especially after a very shaky beginning. I also worried about a major "incident" related to security and I'm relieved it went off okay. The few people I know who attended thought it was great. We all know that the ParaOlympics won't get the same attention. I congratulate the organizers on putting on a good show. I criticize them for their poor budgeting. I get to be one of the many British Columbians who gets to pay for this party.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Maybe Spending Another $100??

I couldn't help but think that perhaps VANOC could have spent just a little more money on giving John Furlong some French lessons before presenting his speech at the closing ceremonies on Feb. 28th. I don't think I've heard French spoken like that since my last year teaching grade 7!! The organizers did a good job, they put on a great show, and it was a bit embarrassing to have someone speaking French that poorly. The organizers overspent by millions of dollars - another $100 wouldn't have been noticeable and a couple of hours of coaching French might have been worth it, I think. More about the Olympics in future posts.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Olympic Sunshine!

Vancouver has been showing itself off with the terrific sunshine and snow clad mountains. We're getting the same thing over here. Friday, we skied at my favorite x-country place in the entire area - near Blueberry/Paulson summit. This picture is the very attractive Mud Lake! Readers can see that the Kootenays is getting the same weather as the west coast - who'd think that would happen in mid-February? Had a great several km ski on Friday and Saturday I got to hang out clothes for the first time in 2010 - let's hear it for Olympic sunshine!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

February 17th: Gardening!

Today we had a sunny day in the Koots and this afternoon I actually got out to work in a sunny area of my garden. We decided to create a little extension on an already existing rock wall and have a place to put a few more tomato plants, for a year at least. It was so lovely to work in that sun in shirtsleeves - my first time gardening in February - well, I might have done a bit in the Isle of Man in 2004 but that wasn't MY garden. So exciting to think of things starting to sprout. We've decided to dig up the rhubarb and replant it in the same spot - it's never really thrived and we know that the ground has to be too rocky. Sigh - that means another year without collecting tons of rhubarb and people around here don't grow it like the prairie gardeners!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Another Blue Sky Day in the Koots

We don't get a heck of a lot of sunshine in the Kootenays during winter but yesterday was one of those perfect days. I used to call it an "Alberta blue sky day" but now I tend to use "Arizona blue". A friend and I headed up the Wagon Road at Rossiter Creek (pictured here) and then climbed up the Rossiter Creek Forest Service Road. It was very encouraging to be up there in the early afternoon and the sun had not sunk behind the mountains ..... spring must be nearly here!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Living at Lost Ledge

This past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we spent some time at the cabin at Lost Ledge. It was lovely to get above the valley cloud for a couple of days and Monday was a relatively bright day. Part of our group headed up Mt. Schroeder for a big 8-hour ski while the other group stayed on the gentle slopes below the cabin. My powder skiing leaves much to be desired and I still snowplow all my turns, but I do feel more confident with the trees around. The snow was good, but we do need a lot more. The cabin is a really pleasant place to stay if the group size is small - we had six people and that was perfect. Thanks to Mary and Gerald for inviting us to be guests!

Monday, 25 January 2010

2010: Finally A New Look

I'd made a resolution in '09 that I was going to improve the look of my blog and this a.m. I finally got around to doing it - well, with a little help from Dave it got done! I took lots of pictures of clotheslines in NZ so I hope to change the picture periodically. The title line shows our laundry in Upper Hutt, NZ, just north of Wellington. It seemed important to start with a picture of personal laundry! I don't like the white space beside the picture and we think we know how to change it. But after fiddling with this thing for about an hour, I was ready to quit and type something. Thank you, Dave, for your help with photoshop. There are some advantages to having you lie around with a hamstring injury. I'd love some comments about the new look and you can do that here or send me an email. It feels a bit like getting a good haircut - or perhaps a new clothesline and pins!

Friday, 22 January 2010

#19: Summing It Up

I feel that it's time to bring some closure to the NZ holiday. I've sorted through my pictures and will post a link in the future, possibly on this post. It's always good to take some time afterwards to "process" the holiday. Even though I felt slightly disappointed in my travel during the first couple of weeks, overall, this was a wildly successful trip. The South Island was spectacular. The friendliness of the people and the way everything is set up for tourism makes NZ a really good place to visit. It's wonderful to be able to get on a plane and be there in less than 14 hours. With all the airport hassles these days it makes an ideal journey because it's single stop. This photo of our last sunset at Raglan, NI, shows the sun setting over the Tasman Sea. The quality of sun, sky and sea in the South are unbeatable! Thank you NZ!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

#18: Tourist Equipment

We did this trip "on the cheap" and our camper van was at the low end of the scale of things that one could rent. We found it to be pretty small and not all that comfortable for the passenger in terms of seating arrangements. If only one person had to be inside, it was okay. Lying in bed for two people was fine. However, I do have to say that it was well-equipped for the tourist. I was thrilled to learn that a piece of clothesline wire and 20 clothespins were included!! And what negative could one say about a hot water bottle?? We found that some of the equipment was useless when we didn't have electricity but most of the time we did have it and it was rather nice having toast on a camping trip, especially when it is of 6 weeks duration. The bed was comfortable. All bedding and towels were supplied. There was enough room for us to store everything adequately. I felt that we were well served by the company we rented from (Tui Campers) in that we got transportation from and to the airport in Auckland. Any minor complaints we had where we spent a bit of money were fully reimbursed. NZ knows how to look after its company.

Monday, 11 January 2010

#17: How Green Are the Islands?

When I first arrived in NZ I was pretty impressed with all of the low flush toilets, the amount of local food available and the tiny, but functional hotel room we stayed in in Auckland. NZ is also really great about recycling - well, it's available, but like here in Canada, at no time did I talk to someone who actually know how much stuff is really being recycled or how much ends up in a landfill. However, it's available in many forms throughout the islands.

I have to say that I was a bit surprised at how much logging goes on in NZ. I don't know why I didn't expect that. This picture shows logging along the Marlborough Sounds area of NZ and it's supposed to be one of the world's scenic ferry rides. It looks pretty similar to all the stuff we get here in B.C. Clearcuts are visible a lot of the time.

What did concern me is the lack of wildlife on the islands. Pretty much everything is an imported species. And the scary thing is those species have been very successful. Now that has posed a huge problem and poison to kill weasels, stoats and possum is pretty common. There was a fair bit of trapping going on as well, but poison seemed to be abundantly used. The use of herbicide to keep down roadside growth is also pretty widely used. I'd say that is less "green" than cutting it down, but I don't know the costs. NZ is doing a lot of things in the right way to make itself ecologically friendly. I hope someone can find a way to get rid of some of the invasive species without having to resort to poisons. It's too beautiful a place to become more contaminated on a very polluted Earth.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

#16: Scenery

I had an anonymous comment on the blog a short time ago about not mentioning scenery. NZ scenery is gorgeous. However, I'd have to say that it took nearly 3 weeks for me to actually find things that I felt were drop dead gorgeous. I needed to get to the west coast of the South Island before I really felt that I was seeing something that was equal to parts of North America. Fiordland is stunning. The drive over Haast Pass on a blue sky day is like driving the Banff-Jasper on a blue sky day - unbeatable. In my defense in not mentioning scenery right away I'd just have to remind readers that I now live in the Kootenays of British Columbia. I used to think Canada's west coast was the best there could be. Then I went to the American Southwest. It ranks right up there at the top. But the Kootenays on a blue sky day is truly amazing and has to be considered my number one place. NZ is gorgeous, don't get me wrong. But when one travels away from one of the most beautiful places in the world, everything is a bit distorted, I guess.

Monday, 4 January 2010

#15 Friendly!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this sign on the men's washroom at a Maori campground we stayed in on the North Island. It was another one of these places with an unusual laundry room and kitchen. NZ is a very friendly place. Most of the time we found we were meeting tourists and it seemed less congenial than I'd been led to believe by people who visited here in the '70's. However, it's still a very friendly place and is totally non-threatening. After all, the fear factor doesn't even exist while hiking - there are no snakes, crocodiles, grizzly bears or cougars. The people control their dogs very well and the D0C is basically a "no dog" zone because they don't want the bird, kiwi or penguin eggs disturbed.

I met a couple of hikers a few years older than me where I was able to get tons of information about how the country governs itself and how the average person feels about taxation, the policies of the gov't, etc. My seatmates on the way home from NZ were a couple of Kiwis from Christchurch and they had different opinions about some of this stuff, but I've got to say the people are relaxed, straightforward and very friendly. Although I didn't get invited out to dinner with any of the locals, this couple did suggest that if I wanted to experience Christmas in the tropics I now had a place to stay. What could be friendlier than that?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

#14: Money

Let's face it - we all think about money as a New Year begins! I loved NZ money. It's very attractive and sensible. There are no 1 cent or 5 cent coins and they make use of the $1 and $2 coins. (They don't have "fun" names for these coins - I mistakenly asked someone for a 'twonnie' and got a pretty weird look.) They use something called 'Swedish rounding' to avoid all those extra coins. It means that if something is $0.6 above the decimal, it goes to the next 10. Otherwise, it is rounded down. The 'change' coins in use are a 50 cent, 20 cent, and 10 cent (which looks just like a Canadian penny).

Dave and I constantly have this argument about whether it's good to have the tax added on to items. In NZ a 12.5% GST exists. It's on everything, apparently, and is included in the cost. I really like knowing what something is going to cost in total BEFORE I go to the cashier. I like the cost being the cost. I can probably attribute that to my Alberta upbringing.

Tipping is not encouraged in NZ and that is another practice I really liked.

Getting our Visa bills these days is actually kinda fun - everything costs LESS than we expected. For us, the cost of doing things in NZ, with our 20% gain on the dollar, ended up being very similar to Canadian costs. We love kiwi dollars!