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
Wilderness Adventures - July, Week 2/2008
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read stories like
'Lake Monsters' about the
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.
it begins. The news this past week does not bode
well for the future economic good health of North America.
It's an unhappy state of affairs and a dire premonition
of things to come when there's a run on a bank. Depositors
wary of IndyMac's precarious position as pointed out by
Senator Schumer, withdrew 1.3 billion dollars in
a period of only about two weeks. Had the Feds
not closed the doors, that would have increased exponentially.
After the collapse of that bank, questions were raised
about another in an equally precarious position, Washington
Mutual, who is projecting losses of up to 19 billion dollars.
Sub prime mortgages rears its ugly head yet again.
We were watching CBC last night and surprisingly, they
had a well researched blurb about California, apparently
the birthplace of the sub prime mortgage. The journalist
was talking about the massive numbers of container ships
that come into California's ports. When times
were good and the American public were in their credit
card fueled buying frenzy, 43,000 trucks hauled out of
the docks a day. 43,000! I thought perhaps
I had heard wrong but we watched the same story an hour
later and that was the figure. That's a lot of shopping,
The journalist said that's pretty much dead now. It started
dying last fall when Americans started feeling unease
with a looming recession, and thousands had to hand their
homes back to the bank. Willingly or not. So much for
the 'American Dream' espoused for the last decade or so.
That every American has the right to own a home. Yes....but
you have to have a job.
One man interviewed that has lived on a very short street
in a high end neighbourhood in California on which there
are now five homes standing empty, said that there was
a buying frenzy and bidding wars where the value of houses
there doubled in less than two years. He stated that the
way that a lot of his previous neighbours had purchased
those homes were based on very shady lending practices.
People wanting to borrow money lied about their income,
needed no down payment, had 40 year mortgages, and many
were interest only.
There is something very wrong with everything in
that last sentence. What happened to banks checking
on your employment record and income? That's what always
happened whenever I borrowed money, and everyone else
that I know borrowed money, and when I was in Real Estate,
I know the banks always checked on my clients. That's
what pre-approved meant. It was a long, drawn-out
process. It didn't happen overnight and lying about your
income got you zero.
No down payment. That's a new one on me.
The whole idea of a 5% minimum down payment in Canada
is so that you are invested. You have some serious money
to lose if you walk away from a house. 25% if you buy
raw land. I know. I bought raw land more than once and
it always bit me. Why in heaven's name would any
bank loan anyone money without some investment
on that individual's part?
And don't get me started on 40 year mortgages, or interest
only mortgages. For the first one, if you have to stretch
your mortgage over 40 years in order to make the payments?
You can't afford to buy that house. Maybe you need to
look at a smaller house or a trailer or raise some more
down payment money. Now there's a concept!
Interest only. That one just flabbergasts me. Doesn't
anyone do math anymore? I mean, I was great at history
but lousy at math in school and I can still figure out
the an interest only loan means you will be paying forever
and through the nose for something that you will never
be able to afford to actually own. So why do it? Why not
rent? No taxes, no upkeep, maintenance, repair or
high insurance rates. Why would you get an interest
only loan? For the life of me, I cannot figure out one
good reason. What....you're going to win the lottery?
Suddenly be promoted from auto mechanic or head hamburger
flipper at McDonald's to the CEO of Microsoft? What
would make you think that your life circumstances are
going to change to such an extent that you can
suddenly make payments against the principal on your home
if all you could afford when you bought it was an interest
only loan? You know what I think? I think that people
out there knew that what they were doing was not right
or was dangerous to their economic future, but they all
wanted to be the Smiths living next to the Jones. Or as
the interviewee said last night, if you were a standing,
breathing body, the banks would find a way to lend you
money. The lenders can definitely be blamed for the mess,
but ultimately, the borrowers have to take the blame as
well. And pleeeze....Don't give me this, "I
didn't know interest rates would go up or the market value
of my home would go down." If you don't know
the basics of economics, then you have no business buying
a home. It's going to be the biggest purchase of your
life. It will be your ball and chain. So you really need
to learn about it before signing your name on the dotted
line. American Dream or not, you may have the right to
own a home, but like anything in this life, you have to
I was going to go into the Canadian housing market that
was on the news tonight, but I just realized my little
diatribe has gone over length so maybe I'll do that tomorrow.
Mixed sun and cloud today, with more cloud than sun. Cool
temperatures and a wind that kept switching. But hey!
Andy went out to catch another fish for dinner to supplement
yesterday's and caught a beauty in less than ten minutes
right out in front of the house. It's great fishing, that's
Two days in a row! I know I'm pressing my luck but dare
I say SUMMER? I know I'm going to regret
this. It will probably snow tomorrow but it really has
felt like summer the past couple of days. Hot weather,
just enough breeze to keep from getting sunstroke, and
the mozzies are hiding. You will find them
if you go looking in cool shady spots, but otherwise it's
a real pleasure to be able to work outside now.
This will be a pretty short article tonight because now
I have to try to fit computer work around working outside,
and I'm afraid computer work is going to have to take
second fiddle for right now. You never know how long the
weather is going to last and I for one plan to take advantage
of every moment of it!
My plants are loving that great warm ball in the sky which
they've seen very little of this spring and summer.
I moved those poor, sorry, pathetic zucchini from
one side of the berm to the other and put them next to
the only one that's producing anything. I did it in the
height of the day when it was as hot as hot can be. It
was my revenge for their poor performance. This is their
last chance to shape up and produce some zucchini, or
I'll put something else in their place.
All the rest of the veggies are perking right up and I
actually have one tomato tentatively turning color. It
won't be edible of course, but at least I have one. Tomorrow
I'll cut some leaf lettuce and Swiss Chard and see how
bitter it is. I even went overboard and planted more seed
today, just on the off chance that it doesn't
I've had to keep a close eye on the temperature at night
before going to bed. Yesterday morning was a close
call with only one degree above frost. Since they
had frost at the north end of the lake, I think that the
only thing that saved us was the fact that we are surrounded
on three sides by water. Still, it's been heating up quickly
in the last two days and last night it stayed several
degrees above freezing.
It's been wonderful having mostly clear skies during the
day but for the last two nights, it's been breathtaking!
There's been a fat moon building with a hint of yellow
that's been sparkling on the water for a good part of
the night and it's just beautiful. Man, I like nice weather!
Heidy over at Charlotte Lake sent me the link to
an article about mosquitoes in Canada this year.
Apparently the experts verify that there actually are
larger than normal numbers this year all across Canada.
Part of it is attributed to the cool, late spring and
lots of rain across several provinces, delaying the first
generation hatch. Once it warmed up, everything came at
once and people all across the nation are complaining
about the mosquitoes. I know that it was pretty tough
to find and purchase spray, coils, or zappers in a lot
of the stores in Williams Lake and Prince George a week
I'm happy to say that our Mosquito Magnet is working
like a hot darn! Andy had to empty the little
basket after only half a week of use and it was packed
full. It's already filling up again. I realize that there
is no way such a thing could possibly keep up to our mosquito
population, but if it even cuts down on the critters around
the deck and entrance to the house, that's a huge help.
Besides, there's something very satisfying about at least
feeling proactive about combating the little
buggers aside from smelling like every kind of DEET product
on the market. Even the dogs are tired of smelling
like bug spray.
I've run out of time and probably won't change out the
pic of the day, although if I could get my hands on a
neighbour's pic..... Apparently it was taken when he just
arrived at his summer residence at the other end of the
lake....three full rack Mule bucks walking all in
a row across his yard. Now that's cool. But then
again, we had fresh buck tracks in our new lawn the other
day. I guess keeping the dogs in away from the bugs for
the past few weeks has made the local wildlife much bolder.
Oh yeah. I just heard friends went out fishing and got
a bunch of beautiful big rainbow trout out of the lake
at the north end of Nimpo today. Come fishing folks!
would like to congratulate the Lower Mainland people on
their sunny weekend. The same didn't go for us.
Although it got up to 22.5C or about 70F degrees today,
it was another day of mixed sun and cloud. I took the
dogs for a walk through the back woods for the first time
in weeks and while the sun was shining it was wonderful,
but once clouds came up, the mosquitoes came out. We made
it home intact though. Probably because it was in the
middle of the day and a bit too hot for bugs.
The guys went out on four wheelers today cutting trail
so that the Charlotte Lake folks don't have to
wait for the lake to freeze up in January before
being able to join us snowmobiling up on Trumpeter. The
group has been working on the trail for weeks now but
this is the first time Andy has been able to join them.
He's been way too busy doing stuff for other people or
the community and not taking the time out for himself.
Although I don't know if he did that today or not. He
came back pretty grubby, bug eaten and worn out. Still,
hanging around with that bunch is usually a lot of fun,
even if you are working your tail off!
I was outside today when I noticed that little white hawk
I spoke about this winter zig zagging through our trees.
Actually, I might not have noticed him at all because
he was so fast and so silent, if a bunch of little tiny
birds in the trees hadn't started doing a whole lot of
chirping. Usually the hawk appears and disappears
just as quickly but this time he kept working
back and forth through the trees along our shoreline.
I ran in to get the camera in the hopes he would stick
around, but of course he had disappeared by the time I
got back outside.
Last night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and fire over
at the neighbours and got our first look at their
baby loon. Our neighbour said that yesterday was
the first day the baby had started diving and last night
he was quite content to fish alone while his parents fished
farther out. At least if he can dive now hopefully the
eagles won't get him. It explains why I've heard so many
warning calls from the loon pair from over that way lately
whenever an eagle has been in the vicinity.
It looks like there is another high pressure system building
in off the coast and I'm hoping it stretches up and gets
us this coming week. The Lower Mainland has been enjoying
the highs but the jet stream keeps going right over the
top of us, bringing unsettled weather. I keep hoping that
at some point this summer we'll get a strong
enough high over us that will hold for a week or two and
finish off these mosquitoes.
The woods are pretty darn dry right now but I still wouldn't
mind seeing one good hot week. So far, there have
been a lot of little fires around the Cariboo Chilcotin,
but the fire center hasn't had anything run away from
them yet and I'm assuming that the forest fire up in the
Itcha Illgatchuz has been mopped up. Every day like clockwork
the helicopter has come back around supper time with its
Initial Attack crew. I don't know if the IA crew is working
a fire, or if they're bird dogging and just keeping an
eye out for one. Probably both but we do have a lookout
station up on Little Kappan and I'm assuming that it's
manned this year.
Okay...gotta go. I played hooky from the computer today
and have to do some catching up now. I hope everyone had
a wonderful weekend!
Rimarko's Misty Past
was extremely fortunate to get an email with some more
information about Rimarko Ranch a few days ago, and the
fellow that sent it has given me permission to reprint
lived at Rimarko Ranch for about 3 months in the summer
of 1977. I was 16 years old. I got a job there with my
friend Blair Gough. His neighbor in West Vancouver got
him the job and then left. It obviously wasn't too safe
for one person to be there alone so they brought me in.
We were hired by Cham Morse, Charley's son. It was one
of the most, if not the most, memorable periods in my
life. We were hired as caretakers and tasked with keeping
the animals alive and well. We spent about 2 months alone
on the ranch. We'd drive the Caterpillar tractor and Crawler
around for fun and go to the dump for target practice
with our 30-06 and 308 Winchester. We also fished and
went horseback riding frequently. We lived off fresh eggs,
trout, evaporated milk and bulk stored items in the Rimarko
Once a week (or thereabouts) we'd make the horse ride
to Fred Engebretsen's farm where our truck was parked.
The road to the ranch was too difficult to traverse without
4-wheel drive and winches. We'd drive into Nimpo Lake
to pick up supplies and try to find a party. Usually we'd
sleep in Fred's barn before heading back to the ranch.
In our final month there, Cham Morse came to the ranch.
He immediately put us to work (something we had grown
accustomed to not doing much of) building a fence around
a swampy field. Chad was a California playboy who loved
to tell us stories of his exploits with Playboy bunnies
and the high life he lived in his youth.
As far as I know the resort never did operate again after
Charley quit running it. For a California city boy Cham
was a fairly handy guy. When he came to the ranch he repaired
the generator so that we had electricity and we butchered
one of the steers.
I could go on and on about the great adventures that summer
but I'll save it for another day. Cheers to all the folks
living in that wondrous part of the world!! I hope to
return someday soon.
said in his email this morning that he and Blair were
talking and have decided that in August they would like
to return to Rimarko for the first time since 1977. I
hope to meet them then and very much look forward to more
stories and seeing some photos that John has, sometime
in the future. The mystery in which Rimarko Ranch
has long been shrouded is fascinating to me. So
if anyone out there knows anything or has any experiences
with the place besides the folks we've been fortunate
enough to hear from so far, please write!
Today was another good day. I was stuck inside on the
computer until early afternoon, which was unfortunate
because it was beautiful outside. And it froze this
morning, bonus when it comes to bugs. A lot of
mosquitoes can hide down in the grass but lots still get
frozen out. Or it slows them down anyway.
I kept watching the thermometer last night and it was
falling pretty good. Somewhere between midnight and one
in the morning it hit 3C and was still sliding downward,
so I went out and fought with the plastic in the dark
that I use to cover my poor, pathetic veggies. I honestly
do not know why I keep trying to protect
them. The tomatoes hanging on those vines have been there
for about two months, are still green, and if they ever
do turn red, it'll be like eating little
rocks. And the zucchini still can't get their breeding
program right. I swear, I must have all males
on one side of the berm and only a single female on the
other or something. Even by pollinating with a Q-tip I
can't seem to make the zucchini grow past four inches
in length. C'mon! Have you ever heard of
anyone having a problem growing zucchini?
Usually, if you're not in the Arctic, and it's after the
end of July, you can't go anywhere without someone
trying to press a zucchini the size of a small car on
you. And here I can't grow one big enough to put
on the kitchen table. Just one zucchini. That's all I
Oh well, at least the cherry tomatoes out on the deck
are producing, mainly because I've been able to bring
the plant indoors whenever it's gotten too chilly or windy.
The skins on some of the tomatoes are a little tough but
still great for eating! Unlike the way those things out
in the garden are going to taste!
I spent a part of the afternoon spraying down around the
hangar where next weekend's BC Floatplane Association
AGM is going to be held, trying to knock back
the mosquitoes for the meeting. Even in tall grass I saw
maybe two mosquitoes in total all afternoon, probably
because it was so hot and dry. Everyone we've spoken to
in the past couple of days are all smiles, thinking that
maybe we're slipping past bug season, finally! But tonight
when Andy took the dogs for a walk, he and two of
them came back at a dead run, the bugs were so bad.
They left River behind because he's so pokey and they
were being eaten alive. River finally ambled up the driveway
a few moments later and made it into the porch. It looks
like the stuff from the vet is starting to work because
the dogs didn't come in with nearly the mosquitoes on
them that they normally would. Andy, on the other hand,
was pretty disheveled looking when he came flying in,
because he didn't spray down before going out.
After dark with a warm wind blowing....I wouldn't go out
without an iron suit on! But the bugs are
getting better. Honest!
I Take It Back About Trading Places
ended up with a pretty nice day after all, albeit a little
chilly. There was a fresh skiff of snow on the mountains
this morning and while it didn't get down to freezing
here, it was certainly cool. We finally gave up and started
a fire in the woodstove last night because the house was
so cold and kept it going through the day. We probably
didn't have to because once it cleared up and the sun
started shining early this afternoon, it warmed up pretty
good indoors. Outside was another matter. Unless you were
really working in the sun, a short sleeved shirt wasn't
the thing to wear, and when we went for a short walk this
evening, I was sorry I hadn't donned a jacket.
I'm not sure what the weather was supposed to do according
to the weather forecasters. I didn't watch them today
and missed them on the news tonight because we had company.
Sometimes I think you're better off not having
any clue what they say the weather is going to do.
That way, you're not disappointed when they are wrong,
as they so often are. Besides, by missing the weather
tonight, I didn't have to put up with the weatherman's
smugness about what nice weather they had in Vancouver
today. All I caught at one point was that most of us would
be lucky to see 16C as a high today (didn't even get near
that) and someone saw snow flurries somewhere west of
The best part about it being cold?
I think it was just too cool for them. It hasn't been
nearly as humid in the last two days as it was previously.
That and it's starting to really dry up quickly in the
woods and meadows. There isn't nearly the standing
water around that there was two weeks ago. I was
able to mow lawns in two areas today and didn't scare
up much in the way of mosquitoes at all. It's about time.
It's going on the middle of July and the bugs should be
slacking off by now. So get your gear and come on up folks!
The Mosquito Magnet is an interesting thing. It's
obviously working because there are quite a few mosquitoes
buzzing around inside of it. But frankly, as bad
as they have been around here, you can catch bugs just
by default. Leave an empty canning jar out on the deck
and you'll catch bugs. Looking into the basket that the
mosquitoes are held in is downright creepy. I don't like
being swarmed at the best of times out in the open, but
seeing that many buzzing around in a small space is not
cool. They're supposed to dehydrate in there and die but
I haven't seen any sign of that yet. I'm not sure how
you empty the thing without letting a whole bunch of live
skeeters go. I guess we'll figure it out.
We finally got some stuff for the dogs that we were
told about and applied it tonight. You put it
on their back and besides fleas (which we don't have here)
and ticks (which we rarely have) the solution is supposed
to repel and kill mosquitoes and black flies. It's only
available through a vet and is supposed to last for a
month. If the expense of it is any guide, it should work
great, but some of that stuff can be a rip-off too. After
all, vets need expensive vacations too, you know.
However, it was recommended to us by someone that has
a dog and has been living with the same mosquito convention
over at Anahim Lake as we have, so perhaps it will work.
I hope so. It would sure would be nice to start walking
again. I can always bundle up and protect myself enough
from bugs, but I just can't handle how the dogs just get
eaten alive when we go. We'll give it a day or two and
see how it works!
think we need to seriously consider trading weather with
the Lower Mainland. They seem to have stolen ours.
Watching the news tonight was enough to make you cry because
the weather forecasters are announcing yet another hot,
sunny, summer day with glee while we watch giant hail
drum outside our window. I'm not sure when the weather
Gods decided we should get Vancouver's dreary weather
and they should get our sun, but it sure seems to have
been that way for a long time.
Our new grass that was coming up nicely a while back seems
to have stalled. Perfectly understandable given today's
chilly temperature and I guess it means we don't have
to water quite as much. The weather hasn't discouraged
the mosquitoes one iota but we did get my Birthday present
hooked up today. Oh yeah!....Mosquito Magnet!!
The Mosquito Magnet is a contraption hooked up to a propane
tank with a little heat, an attractant, and a fan that
helps to suck mosquitoes in when they come investigating
from a 1/2 acre radius. A couple of people over on Charlotte
Lake told us about them and said they were really pleased
with theirs. The only thing is, for best results I really
think you have to start them up in about mid-May and let
them run right through the summer in order to slow all
of the stages down. So for this summer, it might not do
us a lot of good, but like Andy says, if it only captures
12 mosquitoes, that's 12 out of two million not able to
I have another property coming up for listing but
this one is on gorgeous Charlotte Lake. Fran and
Alice have been on Charlotte Lake for years, but Fran's
frailty is taking a toll so these folks must move. It's
a beautiful location and we've all enjoyed many a hot
chocolate and coffee stop there after coming down off
of Trumpeter Mountain on our snowmobiles in the winter.
I realize that two new properties for sale so close together
is unusual, and honestly, it doesn't mean everyone's leaving
the country at once. But we have reached
an age plateau where quite a few residents that bought
twenty, thirty or forty years ago have now reached an
age where they are forced to say good-bye to the country.
There's no getting around the fact that our pristine
wilderness also means no hospital facilities,
long term care or home care, or doctors. Our remoteness
works against us on occasion for those folks getting older
that have diabetes, Parkinson's, suffer from Alzheimer's
or from other diseases. Age alone can be a big factor
if you can no longer drive, walk on icy or uneven surfaces,
or bring in firewood if that's how you heat your home.
Nimpo Lake is remote enough at three hours and up for
an ambulance ride, but Charlotte Lake is a little remoter
still. In the case of all of our little communities, all
it takes is one good snowstorm to block roads, and you
have no access to medical care. That probably starts to
worry folks that are getting a bit older and more dependent
on medical services.
It's funny, but when you're in your thirties or
forties, it's hard to think about growing old
and how difficult some of the simplest things will be.
Andy was really thinking about it when he built his house
and did a good job of preplanning for the most part. While
the master bedroom is presently in the loft with a bath,
the second bedroom on the main floor is big enough to
be a master and is near the main floor bath and laundry
is also on the main floor. The loft could then be converted
to a guest bedroom. We heat mainly with wood in a large
wood stove in the basement, which would be a bad idea
with all of the steps if we also didn't have a high efficiency
propane furnace that can easily take over the whole heating
job when the time came. The basement is easily accessed
from the ground outside, while the main floor is easily
accessed from the ground at the back door with only a
couple of small steps to negotiate. However, if that ever
got to be too much, then the deck can easily be ramped
for a wheelchair and without steps for access. It's an
excellent layout with a lot of thought put into it, but
is it enough? I used to think so. Now I'm not so sure.
Our neighbour and a long time friend of mine has been
slowly deteriorating with a debilitating disease. He's
also 30 years older than me and that doesn't help much.
Just in the last six weeks we have watched him get weaker
and weaker, and less able to do for himself. Since he
has no spouse or family closer than Vancouver, his
friends and neighbours have all rallied to him, and we've
all done whatever we could to help out. While
it's easy enough for me to cook him meals easy to eat,
and everyone else has supplied sweets, snacks, juices,
good company and loads of help, it's a real hardship to
watch someone who has always been strong, vibrant, and
very much an outdoors person, flatly unable to negotiate
even one stair. Unfortunately, all access to his home
involves negotiating stairs of one sort or another. That's
just one of the problems but it was a real shocker.
Just as he used to do in his own basement, we roar up
and down our basement stairs numerous times a day, especially
in winter when putting wood on the stove, and don't think
a thing about it. Well, except for those times huffing
and puffing up the stairs for the umpteenth time reminds
you that you need to get back into shape. These
last six weeks have been a real eye opener for us as our
friend becomes more and more helpless, and reliant on
others for the simplest things. And it's made us take
a long, hard look at our surroundings, planning ahead
any improvements that might help us in twenty years, or
in case of the onset of disease.
Well, look at that! The sun is finally out. Of course
it is every evening after you've given up on the day and
are in for the night. Maybe tomorrow will be better. I'll
try to get that new property up on the Property
for Sale page tonight or tomorrow.
In the meanwhile, last week's articles can be found at
Week One .
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!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!