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Wilderness Adventures - July, Week One/2013

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 some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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12/07/2013 8:10 PM

Voracious Bugasaurs

Well folks, believe it or not I actually started to write this blog many days ago after deciding I was putting the time aside to do so one evening no matter how tired I was. That’s when my computer started locking up so I decided I better back up the past year’s stuff on the new hard drive my Brother-in-law (the family techie) sent up months ago but my computer refused to recognize the external drive so I called him to find out what was up. We spent some time on the phone as he guided me through the steps needed to get the external drive recognized which took some time, and the rest of the evening was spent on the back up. There’s no way I could run my programs while backing up so that meant no blog. Since that was one of my few spare moments, there hasn’t been a blog before or since and I apologize for that, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Well, I suppose there would be if I spent late evenings on the computer before going to bed but frankly, I’m usually too burned out.
I look around here and there are so many things to do that I keep wondering when we’re going to find time to do them. So I've figured that the simplest thing is to just keep plugging along and do what I can when I can one step at a time.
Right now watering is occupying any of my time not spent down at the other end of the lake. I know I was complaining about the endless rain in the last blog post. I really have to stop doing that because for the past three weeks we’ve had dry weather with quite a bit of sun and wind. Even though this week has been quite cool, we still haven’t gotten anything for moisture so for the past while we’ve had to move sprinklers constantly on the new lawn. On occasion when we get ahead a little bit the established lawn gets water but only rarely. I have veggie boxes, the greenhouse, and all the perennial and rock gardens so they get priority after the new lawn. Every day I go down to the other end of the lake to work on my Mother’s bathroom renovation and I’m sure she’s thinking everything is flooded because every day I’m having to excuse myself for being late because of watering in the morning. Fortunately she’s pretty patient about how long this whole thing is taking.
Andy is working full time over at Charlotte Lake to help put a roof on and do some wiring for a cabin renovation there, so except for weekends when he puts in his time in down at my Mom’s, I’m on my own so things are going slowly. However, the neighbour is going to pitch in and help Andy with the shower installation tomorrow so maybe things will speed up a bit. I did warn her that a complete gut and renovation on her bathroom was going to take much longer than a couple of weeks and I’m glad I did now. I think she’s still a little stunned at the disarray of her house but what can I say?
In any case, between the two of us working on all day away projects, just keeping the lawn cut and edges trimmed, things watered and barely weeded around here takes up the rest of the spare time in between looking after the cabin cleaning and the guests that come and go.
We had to go into Williams Lake on Wednesday for appointments and decided to stay over to Thursday just to give ourselves more time in town to shop, and not make a rush trip in and out on the same day as we often do. It’s pretty bad when you consider driving a 400 mile round trip, running around sourcing renovation stuff at different hardware and plumbing stores, other errands, grocery shopping, and attending appointments to be relaxing. And we’re supposed to be retired! Or at least Andy is supposed to be.
It’s just as well that we’re moving fast and all the time. If you stand still around here the bugs will carry you off! The mosquitoes arrived in force about two weeks ago and they are brutal. Every year we say they’re worse than the previous year and this year is no exception. We might have been okay this summer if we hadn’t received all that rain that raised the level of all the sloughs and potholes. It kept the bugs from arriving in June but once the hot weather hit, the water started to evaporate and the levels started dropping…..
Every flipping mosquito egg laid in the past seven years is hatching I swear and every moment spent outside in any kind of shady or calm spot is sheer misery. I don’t even step outside in the morning to start watering without slathering on the repellent cream on my face and spraying my hat and clothing. Even then you don’t want to move too slowly or just the numbers of bugs can be overwhelming, even if they can’t bite you. So frankly, working on the project at the other end of the lake is just fine with me because it’s better than being frustrated at not being able to be outside working in my garden as I normally would be. Everything’s about two weeks early this year so my flowers are in full bloom and the garden is just beautiful. I only get to enjoy it as I run by with a watering can or sprayer in hand because as I said, you don’t dare stop for long. I don’t know what we’ll do when we’re too old to sprint through the yard to outrun bugs. Geez, if we slow down much from old age we’ll be screwed. The damned bugs will eat us alive!
Oh well, with any luck things will have improved within another couple of weeks and we can all enjoy life outside again. Campfires! Yaaay!!
It’s a good thing humans are blessed with eternal optimism. Or maybe we would all be better off being like dogs where you live in the moment and neither dread the appearance of the bugs or know to look forward to the time when they’ll be gone. Oh, blessed ignorance!
Speaking of ignorance, I had the rare pleasure of putting together some items for my Mother’s new bathroom, all made in China, of course. It was sad because both the vanity and the floor to ceiling cupboard were very pricey items and not what we would normally associate with Chinese made products price wise. However, there was no doubt as to their origin as soon as I saw the materials I had to work with. All the pieces were painted with a white coating that was probably baked on but I’m pretty sure what was under the paint was particle board and not a particularly high density board. I know that furniture makers do like to use MDF for bathroom cabinets that may be exposed to higher moisture levels because it’s a more stable material than pure wood, but I don’t think I was working with good quality engineered material. The reason that I know this is because the sodding directions for the bathroom vanity were pictures only, no written directions and I put together and took apart that monstrosity several times. Where I used screws in predrilled holes, the particle board wore or busted out fairly quickly.
I was always the go to person when it came time to put together things. I remember being permitted to stay up late on Christmas Eve to put together toys, etc. for my siblings once my parents figured out that not only was I pretty good at it, but I usually really enjoyed it. I always read the directions through first a few times before even starting so there were no frustrations part way through, and then I was always patient, slow and careful to follow every step of the directions. After putting together everything from toys and bikes as a preteen to assembling exercise machines, furniture and computer desks for my parents in my twenties and thirties, imagine my surprise when I discovered in this past week or so that written directions for assembly of items from China no longer exist. Nope. Just pages and pages of pictures.
Well, that was okay to begin with. After all, I’m a very visual person. I am an artist and I do computer graphics so if you put directions on a tape recorder and I had to build something from an auditory file, there might be a problem because my understanding through my ears is limited. But my eyes? That’s a whole different matter! I understand things I see. Unfortunately, the Chinese and I don’t seem to see things the same way…..
My first venture into the new reality was two weeks ago when a friend of ours that is a retired carpenter came up to my Mom’s to help Andy in the bathroom on that Saturday. There wasn’t enough room for three of us to lay the new sub floor in the bathroom so being low man on the totem pole I cleared out of their way and decided to start assembling the new barbecue my Mother had purchased. The carpenter warned me when he saw it that his recent experience with a barbecue made in China had been a long drawn out and frustrating affair when he discovered that half way through their directions, the Chinese changed direction, literally. In other words, they wrote their directions looking at the unit from one side and part way through, wrote their directions looking at the unit from the other side, except that they don’t tell you that. His description didn’t make a lot of sense to me but I discovered that he was absolutely correct after I had nearly assembled the barbecue and discovered that the final piece to go in wouldn’t because the piece that it was to be installed into was backwards. Since this was one of the first pieces that I put together on the barbecue, it looked like I might have to take the whole thing apart so I went back to the picture only directions to find out why I had made such a stupid mistake. It turns out I had not made a mistake. I had followed the directions exactly but part way through, the designer of the drawings had turned everything around. I took out some bolts and some screws, turned some stuff around and with some heavy duty hammering and the help of about three people, I forced the final piece into its receptacle. I was teed off at the builders but figured that the screw up in the drawings was an anomaly. Surely it couldn’t happen again.
Oh… but apparently it could!
A metal barbecue is far more forgiving to bending and forceful manoeuvring than wood is and since I know that cheap particle board can break and bore out very easily, I was particularly conscientious about looking over the directions for the bathroom vanity thoroughly before starting. I use the term directions loosely as there weren’t any. Again, I had only drawings to go by and no photo to even show me what the finished product looked like so I was actually guessing at what I was building. Following the diagrams of boards with little holes in them and nothing else, I did the best I could to put the unit together and didn’t run into serious problems until I started attaching drawer sliders to the sides of loose boards and the cabinet walls. I don’t think I have ever seen such a cluster muck in my life because there was no indication of what side of each board should be used even though sliders were going on one side and door hinges on the other. Since I suspected that things could go south on me I decided to try testing locations of sliders BEFORE full assembly and it was a good bloody thing or there would have been more holes in those boards than in Swiss cheese. As it was, I took apart and reassembled several parts of the vanity cabinet several times with my level of frustration growing every moment.
My Mother kept trying to get me to go home because by this time I think she was living in fear that I was either going to blow my lid or have a heart attack. I had spent the whole day on this piece of garbage, called my husband and told him to fix leftovers for his supper because I didn’t know when I would be home and I was not going to quit until I was at least headed in the right direction with this thing. At least by now, I had an idea as to how this thing was supposed to look and operate fully assembled so I ignored the directions completely and started working backwards from the end to get to where I was stuck, and then figured out how to assemble everything so that it was lined up correctly.
I did go over the diagrams again afterwards and there is no question that somehow, the person that draws the pictures that you are supposed to follow does it first from one angle, and then changes mid way but forgets to tell you, the builder. Is this how Asians look at things that they are assembling? Or are the people who draw the pictures just morons? Or maybe they figure the joke is on us. Cause everyone trying to assemble their garbage to have a stroke and then take over the world.
Before I went home that night I had assembled the drawers and installed them in the sliders with the fancy Colonial fronts on them, only to see that the fronts tilted out at an odd angle. I had noticed that when I put the drawer bottoms in they seemed too large and the predrilled holes weren’t in the right place, but I was following the directions through. I decided I would address the problem the next day and after a rotten night’s sleep, I knew what I needed to do to fix the problem. I took the grinder down to my Mother’s, took the drawers apart, ground an 1/8 of an inch off of one end, re-drilled the bottom and screwed everything back together again. After the first drawer, it was readily apparent that I was on the right track and did all of the drawers that way.
It’s pretty obvious that in the manufacturing process, the drilling was off because all of the holes were in the wrong place by the same amount. They probably would not have been had the drawer bottoms been the correct size to begin with but since something was wrong in the manufacturing with these particular blanks right off the bat, the problem was compounded all the way down the line. It’s easy enough for such a thing to happen. I worked in a mill so I know how much can go wrong but that’s why you have quality control. It’s why my shift made a million dollars more a year than the two other shifts that worked opposite of me and that’s why my bosses put up with me because I was picky about quality control. Apparently that is not the case with some Chinese manufactured products which we have all known for decades is generally garbage and that you get what you pay for. What is shocking to me is that you can buy some darned fine all hardwood furniture for the pretty penny my Mother paid for that vanity, but she got garbage….. That's really, really sad.....
I can tell you one thing. I would like to meet the person that assembled the floor model that my Mother saw at Home Hardware. I want to know if he has any hair left!
Needless to say by early this week when it was time to assemble the tall cupboard with doors and wood trim, I was very much not looking forward to it. All my past satisfaction and enjoyment in assembling anything was long gone. If this was the new age, I wanted no part of it! But I needed the cupboard in place so that I knew exactly where the new vanity needed to be before it was permanently attached to the plumbing. I procrastinated through the morning doing acrobatics drilling and nailing new wall board and trim around the toilet, which thankfully was also new since I was often upside down with my head very near to the porcelain. I haven’t had my head that near a toilet since my drinking days!
Finally, after lunch, it was time to tackle the new piece of furniture. I had already seen the ever present white painted particle board pieces and a huge bag of hardware, so imagine my surprise when I started going over the directions and there were actually written instructions accompanying the diagrams. And there were letters on each board! Imagine that! Someone actually stamped letters on the ends of the particle board while other pieces of the unit had stickers with letters on them, and instructions that actually referred to the letters. While the piece took me a couple of hours to assemble, some of that time was actually spent trying to get the doors to line up. The cupboard was not nearly so expensive to purchase as the vanity but someone sure put a lot more thought into the directions for putting it together. Just a little more such effort on the vanity sure would have made a difference to my day and I’m sure to many other people’s that has purchased and assembled that piece of garbage.
At least now all furniture assembly is done and it’s back to carpentry work. Or whatever you call it when you’re trying to build around a place that isn’t plumb or square. In this part of the country everyone knows what Chilcotin carpentry is and only people like me who’s foot size is bigger than their hat size will have anything to do with it. A true carpenter would take one look at what we have to work with on these old places and walk away. Although part of this bathroom is an addition put on only a few short years ago but the work that was done inside that I’m having to deal with right now is so far out, it takes a lot of imagination and weird saw cuts to try to square things up again. Not mentioning any names…..
Our mother loon finally quit her nest about a week ago and she and her mate have gone on their way, usually fishing the back bay now with no baby in sight. We were worried that her nest had been flooded these past weeks from a combination of high water from runoff that came after she built her nest, and the prop wash from some pretty big boats that have gone by. That cold, wet, weather that we had for most of the month of June can’t have helped either. For the loon pair, it will be an easy summer of eating fish and not having to worry about a youngster, and for us it will be nice to not have to worry about the ever present bald eagles trying to drown a loon baby. Nor do we have to worry about a baby growing big and strong enough to leave before ice up this fall as has happened in the past, unless Momma is foolish enough to try laying another batch of eggs this late in the season, but hopefully not.
Down at the other end of the lake the loon pair in the bay there has successfully raised up one baby that’s still small enough for an eagle to get but in another couple of weeks it should be able to dive long enough to save itself. I’ve seen it a few times from up at my Mom’s scuttling behind its momma, sometimes too far away for its own safety to my mind but my mother pointed out that they don’t actually seem to have a lot of eagles down their way right now so hopefully the little guy will make it.
We’ve had a severe cool down in the past few days with cloudy unstable weather throughout most of BC. Our temperatures have been dropping down to just a couple of degrees above freezing at night and not that warm during the day. Sadly, the bugasaurs seem quite able to find hidey holes for the night because the cold temperatures aren’t knocking them back at all. A harsh killer frost would be ideal right now but it would also do in my veggies so I’m torn.
I understand that the Anahim Lake Stampede was another great success this year. I didn’t get an opportunity to go to it but Angela Stewart has kindly given me permission to post some of her awesome photos here. Thanks, Angela!

You’ll find June's blog at June Week Two.

Anahim Lake Highway cam looking West.

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!

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Cowboy riding a bull at the Anahim Lake Stampede.
Cowboys on horses roping.
Cowboy in black vest being thrown by a bull.
Cowboy in red being thrown by a white bull.
Cowboy going over the head of the bull.
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