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Wilderness Adventures - January, Week 4/2008

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like 'Lake Monsters' - just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

Rolling over an image will give you its description.
Check out the Picture of the Day.


30/01/2008 6:33 PM

More Cabin Fever

Lucky again folks! This time John Brecknock weighs in on cabin fever.
- "Read Floyd's bit on cabin fever which sparked a bit of recall back when. When working for D'Arcy CHRISTENSEN way back when out at Corckscrew Creek. My sister Judy, D'Arcy's wife, was having some difficulty with a pregnancy and had to be taken out to Bella Coola. She was prego with daughter Cary as I recall.
Anyways....Here we were. Just D'Arcy and I at the ranch for a couple of weeks in the middle of haying season. We both worked a different area of the various meadows we hayed and usually met for lunch somewhere or another. We would work to just about dark and then head home to the ranch where we would chow down on a lovely bowl of cornflakes for supper. This was typical in those days. We usually ate a huge breakfast, huge lunch, more at coffee time and then ate our cornflakes for dinner and off to bed to start all over again.
Powdered milk, brown sugar....yummy!!
Anyways...after a couple of weeks of this continuum, some cabin fever began to set in. I was too young to recognize the symptoms but D'Arcy sure knew. We were both at the table devouring our cornflakes and completely silent. At some point in time our eyes kind of met and we began to laugh and quite hysterically. No reason...just broke down into a fit of raging laughter to the point we were on the floor and literally rolling. Laughing so hard it hurt. Could not stop for a long time. Next day.... off to Anahim and Bella Coola for a day or two of visiting people.
I guess that is what it takes.
I also recall an old fella that lived way further up country and close to Pan. He lived all alone and tried to raise a few cows. I recall a story where a native family stopped in to see him and he had all his beef killed, butchered and hanging in his cabin. Middle of summer mind you. The RCMP, almost annually had to go in and check on him and frequently took him out for some treatment. Got kind of spooky and more than one neighbour had their gates belled to warn them if he was coming and under what circumstance." -

John also suggested I get hold of Floyd to relate stories about D'Arcy, who used to fly all over the back country buying fur and delivering groceries. I'm hoping he will.
It hit -30C or -22F last night and took a long time to warm up this morning because the sun was hidden behind cloud. Once the sun made an appearance it warmed right up. It even made it to to -4C or 25F for a few minutes. I suspect that's why Prince George's temperatures are still showing so cold. They probably aren't seeing any sun up there to warm things up during the day. Poor sods. That ice jam is nearly 20 miles long now and if things warm up there sure is going to be a mess.
The Lower Mainland is expecting freezing rain in the Fraser Valley tonight because of a bit of a warm front sliding in over that arctic air mass. We must be right on the edge of the front because we're only at -6C right now whereas it had already dropped another 19 degrees by this time last night. A breeze has come up too so maybe something's blowing in.
They said on the news tonight that the Asia Pacific long range forecast to April has come in now. It indicates that we can continue to expect the same kind of weather as we've been having, and Vancouver can continue to expect to have snow for a few more months. I wouldn't mind seeing a warm up for February but it's hard to say. La Nina is definitely kicking some heinie this year!

29/01/2008 7:49 PM

Floyd's Indian Stories - Cabin Fever

Boy oh boy, you guys are some lucky folks! Floyd sent me a good little story, tonight. I didn't have anything for you but this is very appropriate and the timing fits our cold weather. It's about cabin fever.
- "Cabin fever was a curse that plagued people that lived in the bush far away from outside activities.
I think it struck women more than men maybe because during the long winter months they were forced to spend more time inside. In the winter the days are short, and the kids hardly ever get out of the house. I know that almost all people that live deep in the bush were superstitious, some almost to the point of being unbelievable. Pan and Betty Philips, who lived at the Home Ranch in the Blackwater would never start anything on a Friday, and on Friday the 13th they wouldn't even leave the house. Cabin fever would strike when you least expected it. The first thing you noticed was that your wife was crying, and wouldn't tell you why. The Indians seemed to be immune from it even though they spent all winter shut up in a 12' by 20' cabin. The Indians had a different conception of time, and never seemed to worry if someone didn't show up or if they were supposed to be picked up, and if you were three days late it didn't seem to matter.
A Native trapper holds up his wolf hide while standing in front of a cabin.
I think that the real problem with cabin fever was that women couldn't put into words what the problem was for lack of knowing themselves. Once, old Norsky Morton Casperson told me, "Well dis contray wit eets dark forests, and long nights it yist makes dem wemon crazy yah? De gremlins take de holt and day speak dat yibberish."
An Indian could sit in a cabin for three months with nothing to read, no radio, and no company, and be happy as a coon in an apple orchard. The Indian was a happy person in the bush, until the Department of Indian Affairs talked them all into moving into town. They were clean honest, and good friends, and in tune with their way of life. After they were moved to town, and taken off their trap lines, they found it very hard to stay out of trouble. I had many good friends that were stick Indians." -

Funny, but I'm just reading another book called the Legend of Pan Phillips which is more of a biography than a story, and it says much the same in there about what good friends the Natives were, and how much many of the ranchers and others relied on them. Of course it also mentioned Friday the 13th. in there and Floyd is absolutely right. According to that book the Phillips family absolutely refused to start a cattle drive or travel anywhere on a Friday and the 13th. was the worst of all.
Make sure you check out Floyd's pictures included with his note above. I'll post them here and at least one on
Picture of the Day.
The weather like what we have now with the cold, was often as good a reason as any for cabin fever to strike. I was always lucky as a kid when we were raised out in the boonies for a few years, maybe because ours was a large family and the house seemed full of people. Even when it was cold and you were stuck inside for most of the day, you still had to get bundled up and outside to carry water to the animals and keep the ice busted off of it through the day. Animals had to be fed, the cow milked, eggs gathered and wood brought in. Invariably a sow would choose to have piglets during the coldest month of the year and you had to fight to save the piglets from freezing. And it was more than once that we had calves in the house next to the wood stove that had to be hand fed from a little suckling bucket.
Us kids were home schooled for the first few years, so there was school work to be done during the coldest months. As a result I don't remember having cabin fever then. But I'll be my Mom did with just my Dad for company and a houseful of hillbilly children.
However, once living in my own little cabin with only my company, I've had it more than once. Especially when the mill I worked at burned down and I didn't have work to go to every day, nor could I afford to go anywhere. I rented my cabin from the owner of a resort on Nimpo and she was pretty much my only company. You start going a little stir crazy after awhile since I had no television or radio reception and you can only read so many books. I finally ordered myself a course to take by correspondence to keep me busy and I picked up a second hand workout machine to stay in shape until the mill started up again about eight months later.
If you read some of the books about folks in the Chilcotin, they placed a high value on visiting and being visited, especially in winter because they were so desperate for company.
In the book I mentioned above, it tells about a joke played on Pan Phillips by Floyd Vaughan and John Blackwell one winter. Pan was sitting in his living room one day when he could hear snowmachines. He jumped up and ran outside into the cold without a hat or coat and watched as the snowmachines went right on by as though to cut through to the Pan Trail. They didn't seem to see Pan at all but he recognized the riders and waved and screamed and bounced up and down until he was hoarse hoping to get the riders' attention. It's doubtful he could have heard them over the drone of the machines but I'm sure both men were howling with glee before they finally relented and turned around to come back to Pan's place, having played a royally good joke on the now shivering master jokester himself.
It didn't warm up a lot today but neither did it drop as much last night as we expected it to. It hit around -25C or -13F but it clouded over and started snowing so it never did get colder than that. The temperature is sitting at -25C now as well so it might chill down more tonight because it's cleared off. It looks like the Lower Mainland got hit pretty badly in spots with up to 30cm of snow and it's bone chilling cold across the rest of Canada with temperatures expected to get down to -55C again in some places when the wind chill is factored in.
It doesn't matter much to me. We've lots of wood and propane, the cats are downstairs lounging before the wood stove, the dogs are in the porch with River hogging the heater from poor Mocha, Andy's been hanging off the scaffolding in the living room putting tongue and groove on the ceiling, and I've got lots of computer work to do. Darn it! We're too damned busy to get cabin fever!
28/01/2008 12:22 PM

Arctic Front

It's starting to get a little chilly in these parts with that Arctic Front that's moved in. It was -34.5C or 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit this morning. There was a warning issued for -40 degrees with arctic outflow winds for the Chilcotin and although we had a breeze last night that really chilled things down, it isn't too bad today. Our wind speed indicator must be frozen though, because every once in a while the flags lift their tails in the breeze but it's not showing anything on the gauge.
We're finally up to -25C or -13F at noon now while Puntzi Mountain is reporting -28C with a wind-chill of -34C or -29F, they're actually not that much colder than we are. It's probably close to that in Anahim Lake too since they're often a little colder than we are here in Nimpo. There's a lot of warmth in that sun now compared to a month ago and as long as it stays clear, our temperatures climb pretty decently during the day, which helps a lot.
We were watching a woodpecker trying to push a Whiskey Jack off of the tallow below the bird feeder this morning. Nothing doing. The Whiskey Jack was going to get his fill and really didn't care that the woodpecker might be hungry and cold too. The Whiskey Jack was fluffed up about twice his normal size from the cold and with feathers sticking out all over he looked like someone had put him in the dryer for awhile without throwing an anti-static sheet in with him. I feel sorry for the woodpeckers when they come because they're so shy even a tiny chickadee can move them off of the fat, and they don't seem to have the feathers to fluff up in the cold like the other birds.
Surprisingly, just watching the weather on television, Prince George is still at -29C but as Andy just mentioned, it's probably under cloud. Both PG and Quesnel are down in the valley along the river so it gets cold, and then cloud traps the cold in the valley and without sun, the temperatures just don't come up. And it sure isn't looking good for the north tomorrow. They can expect temperatures ranging between 40 and 49 below zero. It looks like it's supposed to start warming up for the Lower Mainland as the week wears on but I don't know if that applies to the Interior or not.
There is supposed to be something categorized as 'an intense frontal system' from the north coast approaching the south coast tonight that's supposed to bring a lot of snow into the Lower Mainland. More accidents and higher insurance rates coming to a place near you!
Speaking of bad roads, our ice road is kind of shot for the moment. Our neighbour went out for the weekend and we missed his plow. Several inches of nice fluffy stuff accumulated over the weekend and we got a vicious little wind that kept switching direction out on the lake. As a result, the ice road drifted in from both directions with both old snow and new snow, making it like cement is some places. I had to go up to Nimpo a couple of times Saturday and broke a trail through to the boat ramp, but packing it like that may only have made it harder now for Rob to clear. I'm hoping not.
The Planer at the mill was supposed to start up this morning for the first time in months, but I'm not sure if that could happen or not. My experience working at the mill was that after -30 degree temperatures, the hydraulics just don't want to work properly and when it gets much colder than that, metal becomes brittle and can break. Add to that the fact that those parts haven't been moving for a long time, and then try to make them move at the coldest time of year.....? Good luck with that.
I told the manager at the mill that I would bring this to everyone's attention on the blog now, and perhaps a reminder closer to the date. West Chilcotin Forest Products has signed a deal with Pristine Power to install a biomass power generating facility at the mill site. It is supposed to use all mill waste and it's proposed that cut waste from logging blocks can also be hauled in as fuel. In addition to that, we've got a whole lot of red trees! The facility is expected to generate clean power for the Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake communities as well as for the mill, eliminating the diesel generators used to produce our electricity at present. Excess power generated will be sold to BC Hydro. It's also hoped that eventually a dry kiln could be built and make use of the generated power, speeding up the drying process for the wood and eliminating the big drying blocks required now. More information can be found on the wcforestproducts web site.
There will be a public information meeting to answer any questions from the public on Monday, February 11, 2008 at the Nimpo Lake Community Hall at 7:00.
I apologize for the long absence from article writing the last few days, but as I mentioned before, I'm pretty busy right now so unless someone else sends in a story or something out of the ordinary occurs, I probably won't be posting a blog very much in the near future.

24/01/2008 11:06 PM

The Rest Of Floyd's Story

I ran out of space yesterday and decided to post the rest of Floyd's story today. Hey, how did you like the moose story yesterday? Pretty cool, eh?
Floyd weighs in on Caribou, Loons, and Wild Horses:
- "There were lots of caribou in the Rainbow, Ilgatcho, and Itcha Mountains where they stayed the year around until in the 90's when they started to move down into the lower country in the winter.
When caribou run they look so awkward with legs that look like they were made out of rubber. They remind me of pictures I have seen of a camel trying to run. Most of the time caribou are real curious, and if you see them in the distance, and wave your hat at them they will work their way over to you to see what you are. I never liked the meat much unless you were real hungry.
The Lake down the Dean River they call Poison Lake has hundreds of caribou horns laying on the bottom in about 20 feet of water. I think what happened was a large herd of caribou went out on the lake to drink water from the overflow, and went through the ice in one big bunch. One time Clesspocket Ranch lost over 50 head of cattle the same way.
Loons are the signature bird of the wilderness, but I never had much use for the fish eating S.O.B.s. They always seem to show up at the lake on the day that there is enough open water for them to land. Usually there is only one pair to a lake unless it is a large lake.
The male and female look alike, and nest within a few feet of the water because they can't walk on land. They normally hatch out several chicks, but the eagles catch most of them because they can't dive until they get older. After there is only one or two left they can hide under their mother's wing or ride on her back. One time a kid had a radio controlled boat down at the dock, and was chasing the loons with it, until the mother loon attacked it and sunk the foot long boat.
When we first moved to Moose Lake I was duck hunting and shot this loon because I thought it was just another duck. We tried to cook it, and I figured out that the best way to cook a loon was to boil it in a pot with a rock for about ten hours then throw the loon out, and eat the rock.
There were quite a few wild horses around Anahim, and the Chezicut area, and there still are some that show the Lester Dorsey strain of large work horses that he turned loose. Mostly he would turn loose large black studs, either Clyde or Percheron. I think the main reason he did it was so he could go chase them in the winter. Hunting for horses, and looking for horses was two completely different things, but both were mostly just a reason to go riding. One could write a whole book on Lester Dorsey and his horses." -

I don't know about you guys but I want to hear more about Lester Dorsey's horses. Actually, Lester was a well known member of the community. Not much ever happened, especially the interesting stuff, without his name invariably coming up!
My stuff isn't nearly so interesting as Floyd's but I'll give you a quick weather update, anyway. Yesterday was a beauty and it warmed up to just below freezing in the middle of the day. It didn't chill down nearly so much last night but it didn't warm up above -8C or 18F today. The jet stream decided to take a detour away from where it was before and has now included all of British Columbia in the cold, because most of it loops way out into the Pacific. The temperature started dropping pretty fast tonight and is already down to -21.5C or -6F. The guys were planning on going out snowmobiling in the morning but unless the sun is shining, I don't know how that's going to go. It could get pretty cold tonight!

23/01/2008 11:31 PM

Moose

You folks got lucky because I have an article for today. Floyd has weighed in with some of his cool stories about moose in the West Chilcotin.

- "Moose are the ghosts of the forest and are the most amazing animal I have ever encountered. The first time I was up close to one I couldn't believe how big it was. It was upside down in a hole with all four feet sticking up in the air and as big as a large workhorse. It took some engineering to figure out how to get it butchered, and packed back to camp.
I have seen moose move through thick underbrush with three inches of wet snow on it and not knock the snow off, even when they are as big as a horse, and I would be knocking the snow off and down my neck. Most of the time hunting them they don't seem very smart, or that hard to kill even with a small rifle. At one time the Anahim Lake area was one of the most densely populated moose habitats on the continent. With the swamps, willows, and mountains it was made to order for an animal that lived on willow tops, swamp birch, buck brush, poplar bark and small limbs. For years they provided the main source of protein for people living in the area.
The Indians didn't have a name for moose in their own language because the moose didn't move into the Chilcotin until around the 1920s. One old Indian told me the first moose he ever saw was in 1914, but by 1920 there were thousands of them. There were so many of them that people packed rifles more for protection from the moose than the bears.
In the spring the cows were the most danger, but in early September the bulls leave their feeding grounds and go to solitary hideouts in inaccessible and harsh terrain. They stop eating, and show up in about 20 days with a huge chest and bulging shoulders tapering off into a shrunken belly. He is then a red eyed monster ready to charge any object that attracts his attention.
Mostly they attack trees and brush, but one time I was at Moose Lake up at the upper meadow with Jim, and Anna. I had taken some equipment up to the meadow, and had unhooked the team to lead them back home about two miles. I had a saddle horse so I put Jim on one work horse and Anna on the other, and tailed them together. We had just started out when we saw this big bull moose over across the meadow, and Anna started hollering at it. I told her to shut up and we took off, but couldn't outrun the moose. I didn't have a gun so when the moose caught up with us he was trying to mount the horse that Anna was on, and the horses were bucking and all tangled in the ropes. I had a quirt so all I could do was whip it over the head, and hope for the best. I guess with the kids screaming, horses kicking, and me beating it over the head it finally gave up and left, but not before one horse was hooked pretty badly.
I think that he had been beaten off by a bigger bull because he was all bloody, and had some busted ribs, and big holes in his hind quarters. His eyes were blood red, and the hair on his neck was sticking up like porcupine quills.
A moose during the rut is the ugly side of nature, and if you haven't watched a bull fight it is an awe-inspiring sight. One time Wayne Escott and I decided we wanted some moose meat so we took the Beaver and flew north up by Segutlet Lake. We were flying along and saw two big bulls in a meadow within 100 yards of a little lake so landed to get one of them. We climbed up this little hill, and there they were just 30 yards away just looking at each other. Wayne was getting ready to shoot, and I said, "Wait a bit here and lets see what happens."
It was early in the morning and the mist was rising off the meadow just like you might see in a picture post card. About then they charged each other, and the fight was one of the most brutal I had ever seen for about five minutes then they backed off and looked at each other with their heads down and standing sideways to each other, and great clouds of steam coming from their nostrils. In about three minutes they went at it again for another five minutes, and this went on for about an hour. The bigger bull had a hind leg broken so after a while he gave up and left. Wayne said, "Do you want one of them?" and I said, "Not a chance!" and he said he didn't want one either so we let them both go.
I don't think the loser would have survived the winter, but I have seen moose with broken legs that were healed up, and able to travel on them.
When Debby Chakuskey was tracking the caribou with radio Collars they collared 10 cow moose to try and see how far they traveled during the year. We would check on them every 15 days for about three years, and found out that as long as nothing bothered them they wouldn't move more than a mile or two in the whole year. One old cow that the wolves were after left Corkscrew in August, and traveled down the Kleena Kleene to Schilling Lake more than 50 miles then came back to the same place after about two weeks.
Moose meat is the best meat I have ever eaten if it is killed in August or early September, and taken care of right.
If it isn't taken care of right it isn't fit to eat, and if it was killed in the middle of the rut you can't even stick a fork in the gravy!
The Queen's beef made it so the people of the West Chilcotin could make a living by providing food, jobs, and recreation for everyone. In the 60's, 70's and 80's, guiding American and European hunters brought many thousands of much needed dollars into the economy of the West Chilcotin, and all of British Columbia." -


Thanks Floyd!
Because this has taken up a good bit of space, I'll leave his opinion on caribou and loons of the West Chilcotin until tomorrow.


21/01/2008 4:14 PM

Market Bloodbath? Has The Recession Begun?

(This was actually written Monday, January 21) Today is a holiday in the States, which in view of the cold weather, is probably quite a relief for a lot of people that don't have to commute to work today. I suspect it's also quite a relief for the stock markets as well since as one newscaster put it, they're expecting a bit of a bloodbath when trading starts tomorrow. That isn't necessarily something that makes me happy since we've a lot of investments, but they're pretty conservative because we expected this. Actually, I've been predicting it for two years now.
When you have a massive war debt, a lot of your manufacturing has gone to China, Mexico and India, and China owns you, eventually something has to give. Add into that the collapse of the housing market and higher fuel prices, and you have what is now being termed as the perfect storm. According to my newsletters that I read to keep up on new search engine algorithms, the terms 'economic recession' and 'recession' have spiked sharply in searches done on the Internet in the past week. Yep, the word that everyone's been avoiding is now out there.
While my partner and I have been discussing this for two years and quietly shifting investments for the past one year, everyone has blithely been ignoring all the economic signs, especially the dumbass Canadian news commentators and so called economists. "We have such a strong economy compared to the States, our housing market is booming, our dollar is up....yada, yada, yada." That is not worth a plugged nickel when our largest trading partner is the US and 80% of our goods are marketed across the border. If they're in trouble, we're in trouble. That's the short and sweet of it. And you could tell they were going to be in trouble between two and three years ago.
In that period of time I have been telling every single person I know to, "Pull in your horns, shift your investments and get ready to ride because the shit is going to hit the fan." About the only person I know of that listened was my brother who was going to buy a house in Reno this time last year. I think I mentioned in a blog before that I was only down there for a day when I smelled a rat. Then spending time with the Realtor and loans officer made it worse. Actually, it had nothing to do with them other than they were giving me stats and since I've been a Realtor, it didn't take long for me to catch on that the housing market was in the process of slowing down if not taking a dive.
But the really, really scary part was the mortgage papers my brother asked me to read. He had been shopping around for the best rates and wasn't sure how to interpret the paperwork he was getting back and the finance companies weren't giving him any clarification. I tried to read them and was just getting shivers up my back. This looked so wrong....however, American Real Estate and mortgages are quite different from Canadian, so perhaps that's why I wasn't understanding any of what I was reading. In fact, it looked illegal to me, or would be in Canada. So, I emailed the information to Andy who has been a Real Estate Agent, which requires a whole lot more smarts than Realtor does. As he said, he was thinking maybe he was ready for the loony bin because those numbers were just not making sense to him. We advised my brother against buying a house, especially if borrowing from the companies he had been talking to.
The exception was the loans officer that went around with us and the Realtor to look at houses one Saturday. She was with a really big finance company in the US and seemed pretty transparent in her willingness to disclose how the mortgage she was offering worked but although she explained it several times, it still didn't make sense as to why you would do it that way. But at least it seemed far more above board than the other companies who's offerings would definitely be illegal in Canada. Now, of course, it's obvious what was going on in the housing market in the US, hence the collapse. Which in the end, means this won't be just a burp on the world market, but that the US will take the rest of the world with it into recession.
My father used to have a saying. "History repeats itself. Always." Go back to the Roman Empire and follow history all the way up. People and civilizations can learn from past mistakes. They just don't bother to. I've mentioned in the blog before about the recession of 1980. I pick that year arbitrarily because in fact it started sooner than that and had long lasting effects for years. And the dates for Canada are going to be different than for the States. Canada usually lags at least a year behind whatever is happening in the States, whether flagging economy, booming economy or fashion, for that matter.
For the past four years we have been slowly building up to exactly the same scenario as we were in the late 70's with one exception. Rather than interest rates climbing through the roof as they did then because inflation was so much higher, they've stayed low, encouraging everybody and their dog to enter the housing market and max out their credit cards and lines of credit.
Otherwise, it's been pretty much the same. Massive debt, booming economy, gas guzzling vehicles with rising fuel costs, a rocking stock market, no shortage of jobs, low unemployment rates, a housing market on fire, etc., etc. Then the crunch came. Federal banks forced interest rates up to try and slow inflation. Mortgages became too expensive, things spiraled out of control, jobs were lost, and then people started handing their house keys over to their banker.
Fast forward 2007-2008. This time the banks chose a different route to try to keep the economy rocking, keeping interest rates down. Which is really too bad because our investments would really look much better with the 1980 scenario than now, but so be it. So the housing market didn't collapse under the weight of high interest rates. Rather greed. On both sides. Illegal mortgages or mortgages too complicated that house buyers didn't understand. What the hey...you trust your banker, right? Sign on the dotted line....
The construction guys were making money, the Realtors, the bankers, the lawyers, and people who had no business buying a big, expensive house because there is no way their income would support it, went for the gold ring rather than a more affordable house or sticking to renting. Why? Well, I was kind of thinking stupidity, but that's actually not fair. If your financial institutions aren't protecting your interests, how would you know?
I got an email the other day that was one of those happy, yappy things about 'did you know?' and one of the things it mentioned was that all teenagers were born after 1988. I know it sounds obvious but frankly, it just wasn't something I really thought about before. So that means that the young people buying houses before the age of 35, either weren't even born in the last recession, or were so young, would not have understood what it was about anyway. And if their parents didn't happen to mention to them how they lost their ass or assets in the last recession, then what would they know about it? Nothing. Because we don't teach that stuff in our schools. When I went to school they taught a lot of crap that I have never, even to this day, found any use for whatsoever, but they didn't teach a thing about finance then either. It would have been nice to be taught the basics like handling a check book and balancing your budget, right up to economics and how it works. I actually did have a bit of a jump on other people because I took an economics class in high school at my father's urging, but probably knew more than the teacher, since my father had been pounding Adam Smith's theory of economics into my head since shortly after I was born. Three years later I promptly lost a lot of money on the purchase of a home, (a cheap little old trailer that I paid cash for but of course it halved in value in less than a year.) because I bought high and then the bottom dropped out of the housing market. So that goes to show you that education will not necessarily save you, but on the other hand, we hadn't had a recession that I know of since the Great Depression. However, I did learn enough from my parents who went through the Depression that borrowing money was a bad thing if you couldn't really afford it. So although I lost value on my initial investment, I didn't lose my home to the bank. Since then, through hard work, I managed to leverage my little bit into something a little bigger over the years, but you can still get bit on the butt if you're not paying attention.
In 2001 I finally received funds from selling a farm and since I wanted to put some money away I had a friend who was also a financial advisor invest it in mutual funds. They had been doing pretty good and over the long term should grow nicely for when I wanted to retire. I didn't put much thought into it until I got my first statement. I had invested the money three months before the sharp drop in the markets in early 2001. So not only had I not had any time to make some money from interest, I had just lost a sizable chunk of my original investment to the dot com collapse and continued to over the course of that year. In fact I had still not recovered my initial investment when I pulled it out a few years later and invested in property instead.
That little kick in the shin reminded me of two things that I had forgotten about. When it comes to money, pay attention. And another one of my Old Man's sayings when it comes to economics, "What goes up, must come down."
After that, I started paying a little more attention to what was happening with the American economy when the Iraqi war looked like it was going to stretch out forever, probably because newscasters in passing would mention how much this or that military equipment was costing. My brother was on a gun ship protecting Haliburton convoys over in Iraq, so I had something of an idea as to what the war was actually entailing. When your country is hemorrhaging that kind of money, it's time to take stock of your economic state.
Well....Doc, it's not good.
A lot of the manufacturing has left for other countries so you no longer have diddly for a manufacturing base. All those wages and taxes are going to other countries too. You have a huge illegal immigrant population that's not paying taxes but they are using your resources such as roads, medical facility and schools without paying for them.
Throw in a few natural disasters like Katrina where a large drilling and refining industry gets the crap kicked out of it, as well as the cost of repairing the mess hurricanes and tornadoes leave behind, and you have to start wondering where the money is coming from? Did I mention China before?
In the meanwhile, everything is booming but the word boom always goes hand in hand with the word bust. Except that no one is paying attention to that little fact. Actually, no one seems to be paying attention to anything. Just because things are going all out in the economy does not mean that it will forever. There have been enough market adjustments over the years for that to be a solid fact. But no one seems to listen, or even think about it.
Actually, I like watching those shows, 'Til Debt Do Us Part' and 'Maxed Out'. It's probably similar to most people watching Bugs Bunny, Saturday Night Live, or The Simpsons. It's my comedy relief. I watch these people on television and I have to shake my head. And then on top of that, many of them have kids! All I can ever think of is, "No, No!!! When you're that dumb about money, you should NOT be having kids! Get out of the pool! Everyone! Out of the gene pool!"
Actually, most of these people seem nice enough. Just not very smart about money. They're deep in debt but it's okay to go out to restaurants or order in their meals 30 to 50% of the time. Or use their ATM machine numerous times in a day, or week, or the month, racking up monster bank service charges. Or I like this one. The check cashing place. Paying a huge portion of your pay check to one of these places for a cash advance is kind of like taking a good portion of your money, slowly ripping up the bills, and flushing them down the toilet. I've actually seen those places popping up in Williams Lake now. They should be made illegal. Or, you have big debts, you can't pay your utility bill, but you're in the department store shopping several times a month. No, no, no. That's a bad thing. No, you do not deserve to treat yourself because you're a good person. You can't afford to treat yourself. Afford being the key word here.
Many of these people actually do seem to do better after going through all the exercises with the host of the show, and some honestly do not seem to have known what they were doing wrong. (Of course, who knows, maybe the shows are actually staged, those aren't real people, and I actually think they are. It's my little Reality. Leave me to it please.) If that's the case, why not? How come people don't know how to handle their finances? I'm not saying I'm any great genius because I'm not. But there's some basic economic principles that parents are not teaching their kids and teachers are not teaching in school. Pay your bills before you do anything else. Do not buy anything you honestly can't afford. In other words, don't buy a $40,000 car if you can't afford it and a $19,000 car will do you just as well. Don't buy a big fancy home if all you can actually afford payments on is a trailer if your job goes south. If your mortgage exceeds 37% percent of your income, your house is too expensive. Downsize.
It's truly sad to see a woman with three kids and a low paying job paying a mortgage on a house that she has been sucked into by an unscrupulous Realtor and banker. On the other hand, there's no excuse for not doing your homework when you're talking about locking yourself into a life long debt.
Sometime in our recent past, everyone in America decided the new definition of the American Dream was that everyone had the right and ability to own a home. It's a free country. Everyone has the right to own a home but if you don't have the ability to pay, you don't have any business signing papers.
Welcome to the new American reality.
It's just too bad it's going to be Canada's as well.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008:
Well, what do you know. The markets rebounded today after the emergency drop in interest rates by both American Federal Reserves and the Bank of Canada. Not that Canada's drop was much at only 1/4% but it was enough to give the markets a boost. The American drop definitely helped markets all around the world I think. Unfortunately, I realize this sounds cynical, but it seems much like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in a hole in the dike. I don't think propping up the economy on the long term is going to help because the fundamentals haven't changed, but maybe it's just me.
The other thing that always helps of course is when the markets drop like that, you start getting investors stepping up to the plate and buying back in at basement bargain prices. And many of them got really rich overnight if they sold off last week when markets started to slide, and bought back in at a low. If investors don't panic and there isn't a massive sell off, and if investors decide to buy in, then that will help the markets as much as anything. For awhile. But we already saw last week that investors can and do panic. If you're watching your future, or your pension slide into the ocean, you're probably going to move to save it.
I think we'll just have to wait for the long term to see how things play out.
In the meanwhile, it was another clear, cold night last night with temps. to -23C or -9.4F which is a little warmer than it's been. It was another gorgeous, sunny day with temperatures coming up to freezing in the sun but only -6C in the shade. One more day like this and then our weather is supposed to change. Snow maybe.
One other thing. I'm working on developing something new in a website that I'm having to learn about, so hopefully the massively long article above will occupy you folks for awhile or perhaps someone will send in a story, because I'm not going to have time to write for the next little while.
21/01/2008 2:14 PM

The Old Days on Snow Machines

Floyd sent me some pictures, mostly from the 1970's, of people snowmobiling in the area. Check out the line up of machines on the right! Those were the newest, fanciest machines for the time, and what's scary, is I remember that those were even too new and too fancy for our family when I was a kid. All we had was an old Olympia and an old Johnson or Johnsared. Don't remember which but neither would have been nearly as fast as those little hummers on the right.
The girl is sitting on an Arctic Cat Puma considered pretty hot stuff at the time. Black and pink, they had a faux leopard skin seat and I remember thinking they were the cat's meow the first time I ever saw one. I think Panther was another big name at the time because they were really fast, (for the day) but they kept blowing belts.
You'll all recognize the view from Trumpeter Mountain on the right because I've posted more than one picture here with varying sleds in the image. And then there's the racing photos. Boy, we all thought those machines were pretty hot stuff and they were light enough that you could lift the skis off the ground relatively easily.
Perceptions are funny. Over the years when I've taken pictures of the latest, greatest machines sitting on the mountain or on the ice, all shiny and new with glossy paint jobs and fancy stickers I've thought, "Wow, those machines look really hot!" I wonder who will be laughing at our machines in 30 years going, "Man, look at those old antiques!"
The other super picture Floyd sent is of a family with their sleigh hitched up behind their work horses. It's a great picture but I'm probably going to have to do an enlargement on picture of the day. There's a lot of people in this country that relied heavily on their team to get around in winter for years. They hauled hay to their animals, and supplies in. And I still remember at Stampede time in Williams Lake for days and sometimes weeks ahead you could see the families coming in from Anahim, Nimpo, Tatla Lakes, Alexis and Riske creeks, Nemiah, Taseko, and Chilko area driving their horses and wagons, many with the white canvas on top like the old wagon trains of the west. Some attended by outriders made up of young family members or cowboys. They would make their way down the hill on Highway 20 into the Stampede Grounds and camp there throughout the Stampede. Boy, that was something to see!
Our neighbour called yesterday to let me know that the ice road is all the way through to the other end of Nimpo Lake now, but it's tricky. It was -27C or -17F yesterday morning so Rob figured it would be a perfect time to try pushing the road through the slush that had been there previously. Surely it would be frozen! He started from Mary's end (Nimpo Lake Resort) on the North Arm, picking a route over the ice that he thought might be the least wet. At the really bad spot where all the guys had tried to compress the snow and slush with their machines in the hopes it would freeze, it's pretty rough because Mary had also been out the day before doing the same. So Mary drove ahead of Rob and over that spot but there was no way he could plow it. So he says that spot is pretty rough and rutted up but you can drive over it. However, at that end, stay on the ice road or he says you'll be in the water. None of us can figure out why the lake is so strange down at that end this year but it's definitely different from the norm. Anyway, ice road is in! Thanks Rob!
Like everyone else in the country, we're in the deep freeze. As I said, it was lower than -27 yesterday morning and while it warmed up in brilliant sunshine yesterday, we watched the thermometer do a downhill plummet as soon as the sun went down. It finally bottomed out at -26.7C or 17 below zero Fahrenheit after midnight last night and didn't move much off that until after the sun came up this morning. Like the rest of the nation, it looks like we're going to see the cold for the rest of the week, but at least we don't have the wind chill they're seeing in the Midwest or the lake effect snow and ice that wiped out so many vehicles on the 400 in Ontario yesterday. Actually, aside from being chilly, it's absolutely glorious out. For the last two days the sky has been as clear blue as can be with very little haze and the mountains are just gleaming with their white mantles. It's a pretty clear, cold, moon at night though!
I was a little late posting the article below and these two are going up pretty close together, so if you would like to read about snow machine permits, etc., check it out.

20/01/2008 2:36 PM

The Conversation

I'll return to the subject I brought up on Friday regarding a long telephone conversation with the acting commander of the Anahim Lake RCMP Detachment.
He had actually called after reading Floyd's story about the original snow machine races that after many years, was discontinued, mostly because of liability.
Constable James Spoor had been doing some research on the Internet and found a site that had a lot of information about liability, including regarding snow machine races, recreational use of wilderness or backcountry and the usefulness of a carefully written waiver. It would appear that the general consensus that a waiver isn't worth the paper it's written on is quite incorrect in Canada. It's a very valuable contract, and Canadian courts will usually find in favor of a waiver, except in the case of a minor. Minors are not bound by waivers, or as you probably know, by any contract.
I spent a few hours wading through all of the information and I think I have a pretty decent understanding of what we can, and cannot safely do when it comes to putting on a snow machine race or poker run in the future. It certainly looks like it's a go.
Constable Spoor also passed on the recommendation that anyone who wishes to cross a highway or main road or use their off road vehicle or snowmobile on any byway that can be used by a vehicle should come into the Detachment and get a permit. The permit is free. All you need is the yellow registration tag and some ID. If I have this right, you can then go purchase liability insurance from ICBC for your snow machine that runs about $48. There may also be an initial one time license plate and registration fee. This will allow you to cross a highway. The only thing to determine is if that price is based on belonging to a snowmobile organization or if it applies to any individual.
Cst. Spoor would very much like to see more activities in the area that community members can participate in and would be all for seeing the snowmobile races started up again.
We had a long conversation over the phone and I actually really enjoyed the dialogue. I learned a lot about the reasoning behind the present policing in the area. Unfortunately, it does look like roadblocks are the new reality for us, so we may as well get used to it. Apparently, they are proving affective so they're not going away.
Cst. Spoor did point out that one of our biggest bones of contention that the police were not attending functions in civvies but in uniform was a case of being on call, and unable to attend an event unless it's in uniform. Also, in some cases, they have been made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable enough with the present community mindset that in some cases, they and their families prefer not to attend events. However, he did say that one of his Members expressed a keen interest in attending a Poker Run or snow machine race if we have one again this year.
Cst. Spoor indicated that there is a community policing action group that meets about four times a year and he would like to see more participation from all of the surrounding communities. If you have ideas on where policing might be more effective or helpful to the communities, you are welcome to call the Detachment office and list the subject and how much time you would need for your presentation. He will be letting the paper and community know when the next meeting will be.
I have started a new week a little early because Floyd just sent me a bunch of great snow machine photos, mostly from the 70's, that I want to post. Last week's stories, including Floyd's account of the first snow machine races can be found at January Week 3.


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The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
A Native family with fur pelts, team of horses and sleigh in winter.
 
A snowmachine is right off of the ground going past a checkered flag.
 
A rider takes the skis off of the ground on a very old snowmobile.
 
Girl sits on an old style Arctic Cat.
 
Several old snowmachines parked at a cabin with moose horns.
 
Three people group near old snowmachines.
 
The Rainbow Range can be seen from a very old snowmachine. Picture taken in 1970's.
 
Family on a home built sleigh pulled by two big work horses. Picture taken in 1970's.
 
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