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 - March, Week 3/2010
you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes,
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go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.
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of the Day.
starting to see the migratory birds come in now. The other
evening a big flock of Trumpeter Swans flew over while
we were at the dinner table but they were moving fast.
By the time I got out the back door with a camera they
were already far out over the back bay. On the way into
Anahim Lake today I saw a sand piper go scooting across
We've had a few redwinged blackbirds for a while, but
now there's a whole bunch of them and they've mobbed
the feeder the last couple of days. I've gone
through a gallon of seed just since yesterday and it's
getting tough for the grosbeaks, redpolls and chickadees
to get their share. So I guess it's time to either cut
off the seed or just put a small amount in each morning
and keep chasing blackbirds away until the other guys
have had their fill. I wouldn't mind the blackbirds but
as I've mentioned before, once you get 40 or 50 in
the trees surrounding the deck, you can't even hear yourself
think for all the trilling. I would cut off the see
completely but it's just a little tough on all the birds
right now. We've still got a lot of snow and finding wild
seeds is a little hard for any of them. And it's still
getting pretty cold at night ranging anywhere from -10C
or 14F and -14C or 7F. That's pretty chilly for birds
that need the fuel to keep warm.
A robin arrived on the deck yesterday. I have no idea
what that poor sucker is eating! There are definitely
no worms or bugs out nor much in the way of bare ground
for him to even search for such a thing. He must be wondering
what the heck he's doing in this neck of the woods right
Andy drilled the ice road over to the boat ramp yesterday
and we've still got two feet of ice so we
shouldn't lose that avenue for a while yet. It's just
as well. The frost is coming out of the gravel road and
it's pretty messy in places and there's not just a few
frost heaves. Mind you, the highway is even worse right
now because of the variance in frozen and thawed base
under the pavement. Going anywhere is like riding a roller
coaster and probably won't stabilize for a couple of months
yet. At least the restrictions on trucks is on now so
the pavement won't get beat up any worse than it already
The lake ice was groaning and thumping last night,
probably because we're still seeing some pretty warm days.
I think it got up to 10C or 50F yesterday and while I
wasn't around to see what the temperature got up to today,
it's still 5C or nearly 40F right now, and that's warm
for evening. Our days are a mix of sun and high haze filtering
the sun or the snow would be melting way faster than it
is. It looks like it's going to cool off and we'll either
see cloud and possibly some moisture over the next few
days, but who knows. As long as it's not snowing when
we go down the Hill Monday, I'll be happy. I have no idea
what the Hill or Heckman Pass will be like. Supposedly
there's a couple of feet of fresh snow up in the Rainbows
that Richard and Leah were going to go do their best to
mark up with sleds today, so I'll find out from them tomorrow
what it's like up there.
The American Medical System
have to comment on the American Medical System simply
because of my exposure to it recently.
If you recall, back in January when I went to Arizona
I ended up in emergency on a Sunday because I got a cactus
spine in my eye. I had insurance through TIC Claims &
Travel Insurance and for anyone considering going to the
States, I would highly recommend this outfit.
They were wonderful all the way through. Once I got home
and sent in the claim forms, I received a cheque for the
eye gel and antibiotics that I paid for at the pharmacy.
I also got an invoice in the mail showing that they had
paid for my treatment at the hospital to the tune of $812.
Now being used to the Canadian health care system, I consider
that a pretty large amount, but I thought, well, they
did do some stuff.
When I arrived at the emergency room in Blythe, California
I was given a clipboard and forms to fill out. The form
didn't require that much info so lets say it took the
receptionist 15 minutes to enter the information on the
form on a computer. At most. That's how long it would
take for someone that didn't know how to type.
After cooling my heels for quite a while, I was
called in through the door into the receptionist's office.
There a nurse, (I presume) took my blood pressure, pulse,
made notes after asking me some questions and gave me
a Tetanus shot. That was about another 10 to 15 minutes.
At most. And back to the waiting room I went where eventually
a lady with a very obviously, very badly, broken ankle
arrived after slipping down an embankment at Quartzsite.
A young lady, also from Quartzsite, had arrived before
me that morning with what she suspected was a broken arm.
A few others were there as well but those were the two
that I spoke to while I waited.
Eventually the nurse called me and took me into the emergency
room where she had me do a vision test. You know, read
the eye chart first with one eye, then the other and then
sat me down on Bed 5. Or maybe it was Bed 6. I don't know
but it was the last one so there weren't a lot of beds.
Eventually a Doctor came along, asked me some questions,
and looked at my eye with a light. Then he flushed
it with some kind of florescent stuff and looked at it
again, then he flushed the florescent stuff out and away
he went after saying I needed a vision acuity test. 15
minutes max. Seriously.
So I'm still sitting on the bed and he's tending other
patients and then I see him go by and out the side door.
He's gone for about 15 minutes and then cruises back through
the emergency room with what's very obviously his lunch.
He looks at me as he goes by and the nurse tries to catch
him and say that he needs to finish with me and Patient
on Bed 1. He tells her I need a vision acuity test and
she tells him I've already had one! Didn't
matter. He's going to have his lunch and that's just all
there is to it. He disappears for about 45 minutes and
then finally reappears. In the meanwhile, I'm getting
really pissed. So at one point when he's standing still
talking to another Doctor in front of me, I get up and
ask him if I can leave now. He says no and looks at me
like I'm crazy. He says I can leave if I want but then
I am not considered discharged. Since I didn't know what
the stipulations were for my insurance plan, it pretty
much meant I couldn't leave. That exchange took about
30 seconds so I'm not even going to count that on the
I felt really badly for at least two ladies that
I know are out in that waiting room in much worse condition
than I. I say as much to one of the nurses that
goes by and she says everyone has to take their turn waiting
even though I know that they're in pain and I am not.
In the meanwhile a vehicle accident victim comes in with
an ambulance and the nurses excitedly report that a gunshot
victim will be coming in soon. Great, I think to myself.
I glared at the Doctor every time he goes by me after
that and finally he comes over and tells me that because
the cactus spine was too small to see that I should go
to Phoenix to an ophthalmologist because of the risk of
infection. Apparently with infection comes the risk of
the loss of the eye. I told him I did not want to ask
my Mother to drive me over two hours back to Phoenix for
us to sit several hours in an emergency room there and
probably have to stay overnight. Could I not monitor it?
He said he would call Phoenix and then proceeds to tell
a nurse to call Phoenix. Whole exchange took about five
minutes, or less. He talks to Phoenix hospital mutters
in the phone for a minute and then hangs up. I wait.
Then an ophthalmologist from Phoenix hospital (presumably)
calls him and he talks to that person for a couple of
minutes explaining my case. He's at a desk only
a few feet away from me and I can hear most of the conversation.
He gets off the phone, comes over and tells me to come
back the next morning and calls over a nurse to look at
my eye so she can compare it to how it looks then to how
it looks the next day. Total time, including his conversation
on the phone and with me, 10 minutes or less. So I ask
him if I can leave now. No, I have to wait to be discharged.
So I cool my heels sitting on an emergency room bed that
I don't need for another 45 minutes or so. I'm relieved
to see that the girl with the broken arm has finally,
after many hours, been brought into the emergency room
for assessment, but the Doctor has to bend over and look
at her while she is seated in a chair. Not enough beds.
Gee.... I wonder why?
A nurse goes by me, looks puzzled, and says, "You're
still here?" I nod and away she goes. A little while
later I overhear her giving the Doctor grief about not
putting people's discharge cards in the right slot so
that the nurses know to discharge them. I took that to
mean me because shortly after she arrived with forms for
me to sign off on and away I went. Gladly.
The next day I arrived at the emergency early to make
sure I didn't have to wait the entire day just for someone
to assess my eye for comparison to the day before. I walked
up to the glass window and waved to the nurse that the
Doctor had had look at my eye the day before. She pulled
me in through the door, looked for a moment and said,
"Well, it doesn't seem much worse than yesterday."
I agreed. Even though a little more blood had pooled around
the iris, there wasn't enough white left for them to do
a comparison anyway and I was counting on them not remembering
over a 24 hour period. She hauls the Doctor out to look
at my eye. Same Doctor! Apparently they work 24 hours
shifts and he was still there. Oh goody.
He looks at it then pulls me back into emergency to stand
next to his desk. He agrees I don't have to go to Phoenix
but to monitor it and if it gets any worse I'm to come
back to emergency there or go to Phoenix. I ask him what
I'm looking for. Well, any more blood in the eye. Since
the eye was pretty much as red as it could possibly get,
no worries there. Look for increased pain or vision loss.
Okay, fine. I'll do that.
I asked him how long I needed to put the gel in my eye
that he had given me a little tube of the previous day
and he said he was writing out a prescription for a big
tube of antibiotic gel and for oral antibiotics. I'm all
in favor of the latter. He writes the prescription while
I stand over his shoulder and I'm out of there. Total
time in his august presence, about seven minutes or less.
Standing over his shoulder obviously helped. Total
time with the nurse prior to that, about 30 seconds.
So with the free bottle of eye wash they gave me as well
as the little tiny tube of gel, the cotton pads they used
to swab my eye, testing for the vital signs, vision acuity
and the tetanus shot, and data entry for my information,
I could see that being worth a little money and the hospital
charging for it. The total time spent by the Doctor on
me, about 37 minutes give or take..... No, lets give him
40 minutes because he probably made notes somewhere. I
don't know where. I never saw him with a clipboard or
anything, but just in case, we'll give him 3 minutes for
So I see that $812 invoice in US funds and I'm thinking,
"Wow, expensive down there, that's for sure!"
And I'm just thankful that I had insurance and a great
Then, this week, I get a bill for $479!
It's from some Physicia place in Philadelphia which to
me has no relation to Blythe, California but it had the
Doctor's name on it and the name of the hospital. I'm
thinking, What the (???). It's too late to call back east
so I have to wait until the next business day to call
the insurance company. I read the bill information off
to the adjuster at TIC and he says, "Yeah, that's
the Doctor's billing service." I'm like, what!!!???
You mean $800 wasn't enough? "Nope," he says,
"That's just the hospital's bill. The Doctors bill
separately. Just send us the bill and we'll pay it.."
Since I sounded so shocked he explained that the US medical
system was a multi billion dollar business. I guess that's
why we lost all our Doctors and nurses to the States a
few years back. They'll be making a killing down there.
I still can't believe their billing system. You're
kidding me, right? $800 wasn't enough to cover both the
hospital and Doctor?
If all that Doctor spent on me for time was 40 minutes
then that means he's charging about $12 bucks a minute,
or $700 an hour. Sorry, but I don't know anyone worth
that kind of money and certainly not his sorry ass. I
can only assume that the SOB saw an insured Canadian and
decided to get all the money he could out of my visit.
Never mind that I spent several hours sitting on an emergency
room bed without reason, including during his lunch time
when he did not treat me. That or else he wrote down the
total time I was there and that's what he charged for.
So if the American Medical System is that much of a rip
off, maybe it does need to be changed. I
realize that our health care system is damned expensive
for the Canadian Taxpayer. We pay about a $100 a month
for our medical premiums but that doesn't do much for
the system. I'm personally all in favor of a user
fee for seeing Doctor visits and emergency room visits.
And there's no question that our medical system is in
dire need of some fixing. I would even be in favor of
a two tiered system if it meant improving wait times.
But at least I know for sure that there's a hell of a
lot more oversight and a lot less greed in our system.
There is no way our Doctors are pulling
off that kind of money, and in fact I consider most of
their salaries to be quite reasonable. So in view of what
I see as outright greed, I'm surprised that so many
Americans seem to be so dead set against having their
health care system changed. Perhaps they don't
realize that their GP's aren't worth $12 a minute?? I
guess if you're accustomed to being charged ridiculous
amounts of money for your Doctor's care and don't know
any better it's excusable, but really, do you know
anyone worth $700 an hour??? Because I sure don't!
And please don't give me the excuse that insuring themselves
against suits is why they have to charge so much. Insurance
companies are as greedy as they come, but even they aren't
charging that much! And if they are? Then maybe the present
US president needs to take a long look at the medical
insurers and the tendencies of the American
people to sue at the drop of a hat with obnoxiously huge
pay outs guaranteed to set them for them up for life.
In the meanwhile, the American people need to know that
they're being ripped off. Or maybe it's just us Canadians
that come to visit? Either way, even if I have to spend
several hours cooling my heels in an emergency room and
the waiting room, I shouldn't have to pay for taking up
space because I'm not being treated and sent on my way
due to what.... Greed? Incompetence?
Yesterday was another nice day, although a bit blustery.
We had a cold night last night and much cooler day, today.
There was little to no wind but it only got a couple of
degrees above freezing at most. It was sunny for a good
part of the day but by this afternoon high haze moved
in and pretty much obscured the sun. I think we're supposed
to have a nice day tomorrow but I guess we'll see when
Spring's Back.... So Far!
really up and down with our weather right now. It's hilarious.
No one knows whether it's coming or going.
It's been warming up steadily since that -22C we had the
other night and been quite pleasant during the day. We
got up to 8C yesterday and nearly 10C or 50F today.
Yesterday was a marvelous day and I did everything
I could to stay outside, even though there wasn't
much to do. Most of the yard is still under at least a
foot of snow, and more in my garden, but the sun was shining,
it was really warm, and gale force winds that we had in
the morning had settled right down by afternoon just in
time for a walk in the back woods.
Andy is building the big plane dock down on the ice in
the back bay so the dogs and I watched for awhile. Then
we ran back and forth on the driveway in front of the
house with the fourwheeler in an attempt to break up some
of the ice there. Andy pulled out the Bobcat to see what
he could do with an icy smooth patch on the driveway but
didn't make much headway. You pretty much have to let
Mother Nature take its course. The ice build up from all
this warm weather will melt when it melts. Of course
then you're dealing with mud but that's all a part of
Yesterday evening it started snowing like crazy and everything
was white this morning. It didn't amount to much but was
still enough to add to the mud and water laying around
when it melted today. This morning started out gorgeous
once it cleared off but by this afternoon a blustery wind
had started up and from one moment to the next you have
no idea what it's going to do. First it's sunny, then
big, black clouds roll in and it starts spitting rain,
then back to sun, with a howling wind all the while. At
least that will help to pick up and carry some of the
moisture away from the melting snow. It's definitely
a mixed bag with no idea what the weather will do next!
So it's that time of year again when I try to showcase
some of the resort and other operators in the area to
those of you that may be interested in visiting the region
this summer. And I guess the best way to do that is to
start out following the alphabet!
Atnarko Retreat is located on Charlotte Lake
and is classed as a B&B although most of their accommodations
are now in a brand spanking new cabin. Actually, not new.
It was the first cabin on Charlotte Lake besides those
at Rimarko Ranch built in the early 1950's. But Daniel
and Heidy did a remarkable job of renovating it last summer
and it is stunning. The huge cabin is divided into three
very comfortable suites, one of which has a fully equipped
kitchen. All three units face out over Charlotte Lake
with a spectacular view of the Coast Mountain Range.
Heidy and Daniel also built a beautiful lodge with small,
private rooms. In all cases, Heidy will provide meals
from breakfast to dinner if you like and I can tell you
from personal experience, her specialty breads and desserts
are absolutely delicious. She often brings by a loaf of
her bread or dessert cake and it's a real battle to not
eat it all in just a couple of sittings.
Heidy and Daniel offer a number of activities at
the lodge or can arrange for activities such as
flightseeing, trail riding, or alpine hiking. Some of
their site pages are still under construction as I haven't
finished building it but it's certainly complete enough
to get a really good idea of what they have to offer.
So go have a boo at atnarko.ca
if you think this is a place you would like to stay on
a visit out in this country.
In the meanwhile, this is the start of a new week so you'll
find last week's couple of articles at March
Week Two .
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!