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Wilderness Adventures - Mar., Week 3/2013

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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19/03/2013 7:30 PM

The Strange Aircraft

We had a strange aircraft fly over us yesterday, low and slow. Andy came roaring into the house after coming back from getting the mail to tell me to come out and see something. I wish I had known to grab my camera then but instead, had to run back inside to grab it, run back outside, and try to get a photo of this blue and white plane against a blue sky. Of course the telephoto was running in and out trying to focus on this little dot. As a result, I didn’t get a great photo of it, but we saw enough to be really curious about the type of plane it was.
First of all, we don’t get huge planes circling slowly over our area in the winter time. Summer, yes. Sometimes a search and rescue plane will be circling the area if someone’s ELT went off in their plane, or you will hear the low drone of a big air bomber being guided to his drop over a forest fire by a bird dog. But this was no beat up old work horse that’s seen too many years in the air, not that this was a new plane by any means. But its paint job was new and shiny looking in comparison, with bright white and bright blue, a fancy little dipsy doodle under the fuselage, and bright white insignia on the blue tail. The wings sat high on the fuselage, there was a distinctly black nose cone, four engines trailed hardly any smoke at all and like I said, it was going low and slow.
I actually spent a couple of hours last night trying to find the same plane on Google images, first going by the tail insignia, then trying to go by the general shape of the plane, but it wasn’t until Andy joined the hunt with a little more knowledge about planes and after looking at my photos, that he found it online.
It turned out to be something called a NSF/NCAR C-130 Research aircraft, with the NSF meaning National Science Foundation and the NCAR apparently meaning the National Center for Atmospheric Research. From online reading, there appears to be a fleet of four planes leased out to scientific research teams or foundations from around the world. I guess these things are loaded up with lots of scientific gadgets that can collect all kinds of atmospheric data including pollutants, ozone and numerous other atmospheric chemicals, most of which I had never heard of, as well as perform oceanographic studies, etc.
According to the specs, this thing can fly for 10 hours, go 2,900 nautical miles at up to 27,000 feet and can carry 13,000 pounds.
The aircraft carries a number of instruments and sensors in pods and pylons on both wings for the scientific community.
Now comes the $60,000 question. What in heavens name was this thing doing flying in our airspace? We checked with the Anahim Lake airport and they didn’t see or hear anything and no one was on the radio at all according to the airport manager, although the girl that works for him may have handled any communications yesterday afternoon.
Andy joked that maybe someone was looking for a cabin to buy here. I joked that maybe they were looking for radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Although it may not be a joke after all. I did see on the news last night that the radiation is thought to have spread 10,000 miles to the east of Japan now, which means it has already made its way here.
Although Andy dropped an email to the outfit that leases the planes to the scientific community asking why they were here, it seems highly unlikely that there will be an answer. Still, it was a cool event to see. The top two photos on the right are the ones that I took while the nice clear one underneath of them I got off of Google images. Unfortunately, without knowing who the photo belongs to, I can’t give credit where credit is due for ownership of the photo, and hope it’s okay to use it.
Our weather yesterday was marvelous even though it didn’t get much above freezing but today was even better, even though there was less sun. There wasn’t as much wind and the temperature went to 4.7C or 40F this afternoon, with a high haze that kept the sun from actually peering through. Still, it had some power and warmed things right up fairly quickly, considering it dropped to –17.8C or about 0F early this morning. The weather has been great for walking down to the gun range every day so far. Tomorrow looks like it could be a little wicked with a cooling trend for BC according to the weather forecasters on television, but they’ve been known to be wrong before. Although tomorrow at 4:00 a.m. is supposed to be the first day of spring so the weather could easily be evil should Mother Nature choose to be a little snotty.

16/03/2013 4:30 PM

....And We're Back Into Winter

It’s snowing of course. It’s March and little blizzards are to be expected this time of year. I suspect that Arctic cold front to the north around Prince George slid south and hit the warm air that used to be over top of us. Result, snow. Actually, it’s sideways snow since a bit of a wind is accompanying it from out of the north and the snow is plastered against one side of the trees.
I’m not sure I’m unhappy to see this actually. The temperature has already dropped to two degrees below freezing, much colder than this time yesterday, but the snow, ice and mud underneath the new snow should still be a bit warm, especially since we did have a little bit of sun and above freezing temperatures this morning. With any luck this snow will stick to whatever happens to be on the ground, and freeze. That will not only make for cleaner walking over the mud but less slippery conditions where it’s icy. It was actually getting to be such a muddy mess out on our main road that I was hoping to see some freeze drying for the next few days. Just as long as we don’t get a whole bunch of snow…. That would really be a bugger….
In any case, if we don’t get a whole bunch of snow, knock on wood, maybe I can also get back to walking the dogs if the road and the back trail freezes up. Especially since we just inherited a dog for the next two weeks and since it’s an inside creature, it would be really nice if everything stays frozen until she leaves. There’s nothing like a little dog for tracking mud all through the house.
It would also be nice if all the snow on the lake has absorbed the overflow and hardened up a bit now if it gets cold. I still don’t know if I would ski over the snow with all the spider holes but maybe everyone could start crossing the lake with snowmobiles again to get to the various trails. We’ll see what the next couple of days bring for weather.
Last night when I went out to get wood to bank down the stove, I made it out through the door just in time to hear a great crunching whoof! Either the lake ice cracked just off our point or a big patch of snow settled onto the ice, which may have happened if the snow was bridged. That’s when the water underneath freezes and contracts, leaving an air space under the snow. Or it just may have been a crack that opened up and split the snow. There were a few crunching noises after that but nothing like the first one I heard. If the snow on the lake compacted a bit in that warm weather and now freezes, then we’ll finally be able to start hearing the ice again.
I have finally been pulled into this century on yet another front. I have been forced to learn how to ‘text’. Not that it’s that hard, I guess. I had just hoped to never need to learn it.
We purchased a phone after Christmas that works through our truck so that the cell phone is hands free while driving. That isn’t usually a necessity because it’s not that often that we travel separately, but when it does happen, my other half tends to answer the phone when it rings. I, on the other hand, am quite satisfied to leave it off until I get to my destination. That said, it does happen that when Andy is in Williams Lake or elsewhere and I’m not and need to call him, I either have to try to time it for when I think he’ll be parked or in a store. So the hands free should be very useful in that event.
I’ve had cell phones in the past but since living out here where there is no cell service, I really haven’t had to learn how to use any of the ones we’ve had, and certainly didn’t expect to have to learn how to use the new one. But driving back from the Okanagan, our friend started to send text messages because she knew that Andy had just learned how to text two weeks before on our previous trip down. Apparently she assumed that texting is something you learn from your partner by osmosis as she knew we were driving and Andy would not be able to look at the phone or to reply to the message. At least that was the theory. To keep him from looking at it, I had to figure out how to read the messages and then with direction from my other half, replied. Fortunately, Andy had purchased a stylus so at least I didn’t have to figure out how to punch those little tiny letters with my meat hooks.
Common courtesy seems to demand a reply in a case like that, particularly when the person knows you are in a vehicle, on the road and getting the message. I guess I’m okay with that, but I can see how people attach far more importance to a message than really necessary. In a time when a smoke signal warned a tribe of marauders nearing, then sending and receiving the message was of vital importance. But that’s really not the case nowadays. Unless of course your vehicle has gone over an embankment and you are in need of medical assistance, or you have been locked in a trunk in 100 degree weather by accident, or there is some other emergency requiring the sending and receiving of a message. Most of what I see in texting definitely cannot be classified as an emergency, or even important for that matter.
I first noticed the weirdness of texting years ago when we met up with a girlfriend of mine and she spent a good part of our visit texting back and forth to her daughter, even though we hadn’t seen each other for years. I could accept her keeping track of her daughter for security reasons and to do her credit, she did apologize several times, but to my mind, the messaging back and forth seemed inconsequential, not to mention a little annoying.
On the same visit, my husband and I noticed two women out for lunch together in a restaurant that we were in. The one woman sat and gazed around the dining room while the other spent nearly the entire time texting on her phone with only sparse conversation interrupted constantly by the texting. It all looked very awkward for the woman without the phone and very rude from our point of view but we figured it to be a rare event. Not so. You see it all the time now and what I would have considered a gross discourtesy in my upbringing seems to be commonly accepted by most people now. But I saw something really pathetic the other day.
We stopped at a Dairy Queen on our way home from the Okanagan to grab a bite to eat and on my way out the door I saw a young kid, maybe six or seven or possibly a little younger because he wasn’t in school, sitting at a table across from someone that could only be his father. He was drinking a brightly hued slushy drink and looking around. He looked shy and uncomfortable which is what I think caught my eye. Then I realized that his father was looking down at a tablet doing stuff on it and not just for the moment, but was intensely engrossed in what was on the screen the entire time I stood there behind him. And I thought, that's really sad. It was the equivalent of your father sitting across from you holding up a newspaper blocking you from his sight over his morning coffee, but this was much worse than that. Because this was the Dairy Queen! That means that this was probably a special treat for that kid that his Dad promised to him. Maybe the kid had expectations that his Dad would talk to him, pay some attention to his conversation, or answer his questions, and that’s why he looked so little and so alone, and so awkward. But the worse part about it is, his Dad missed an awesome opportunity to spend some one on one time with his son. Instead, he chose to ignore him because he was too busy interacting with his technological hardware rather than with his own flesh and blood. So you ask, what’s your point? Well, I guess I don’t have one, other than as Andy pointed out when I told him about it, “And that kid just learned that it’s okay to be rude and ignore the person sitting across from him at the table.”
I don’t even have kids and I thought the whole thing just looked really, really sad.
I have no difficulty ignoring a ringing telephone, particularly during a meal and I know that I can say with confidence that if the future ever brings texting out here, I'll ignore it as well. Remember when you had sit down family suppers and the television was not allowed to be on? Or was that just in my family? In any case, at a time where a large family was going in every different direction, the family meal was considered sacred in our house when I was growing up. You were expected to be at the table, present with clean face and hands and hopefully reasonably tidy clothes, and besides being present in body you were expected to be there in mind, to share your day, your opinions, your thoughts, and interact with the rest of the family members. I can’t imagine what family dinners are like nowadays but I know that my old man not only would have been horrified at the thought of someone playing on a device at the table, he would have carried through by expelling the offending family member with the words, “And don’t let the door hit you on the butt on your way out.”
I know all that sounds old fashioned and no, I’m not mourning the loss of the good old days. But I think that there is a certain amount of courtesy needed in the world to keep us in the ‘civilized’ category but most importantly, I think that face to face interaction is vital to the continuation of our different cultures and civilization.
So what happens to humanity as a whole if you no longer have face to face interaction? It’s a question that Andy and I discuss between us every time we go out into the ‘world’ of cell phones and we see how people communicate now. We don’t have cell service where we are and so have little to do with the new devices, and yet we find that even we are being drawn in somewhat when we do go out by learning how to text, for example. I don’t expect us to change much so long as we live where there is no cell service but I wonder what the world of people will look like in 20 or 30 years? Will people even have sex to have babies anymore? Because face it, we learn a lot of life skills by interacting with people, and we learn who people are, who we can trust and who we can’t by interacting directly with others from a very young age. How do you find a life mate? Or do you need face to face interaction to have a relationship if neither of you learn to be engaged in that way? Can an entire relationship, an entire future civilization be based on communication just through devices rather than through face to face interaction? Maybe. I like learning about people by watching them so the next decade or two will be interesting. It’s a new world. It just too bad that courtesy seems to be going the way of the cotillion. 'Cause I kind of like courtesy.
For some strange reason I couldn't get either of my cameras to download their photos onto this crazy computer last night. Sometimes it seems to be like the cat. Go away for a little while and it gets teed off and does crazy things when you get back. Anyway, as a result of finally getting the camera to download, I got pictures off of it that included this morning’s, which shows a bright sunny vista out there. So I decided to put the same scene up on the right, all taken within the same 24 hours, starting at the bottom with a pretty fog yesterday morning lifting from over the lake to show a blue sky above. Then our snowstorm that moved in and lasted all day and many times completely blanketed the island, and then this morning with bright sunny skies reflecting off of about two inches of fresh snow. Thank heavens it was really, really fine snow all day yesterday and didn’t amount to much. Still, there are great clumps thumping off of the roof of the house because even though it’s still –10C or 14 out there, that sun has a lot of power right now.
Last night it dropped to –17C or 1.4F after the sky cleared. Surprising considering how warm it had been yesterday while it snowed. But I think we definitely got a piece of that cold front. At least we didn’t get the hail that came down in the Okanagan with this storm yesterday. We looked at some photos online that showed huge wraparound thunderheads that looked remarkably close to producing a tornado, and this morning we looked at a video that showed hail pounding down in a way I have rarely ever seen. I would be surprised if there aren’t some reports of hail damage on vehicles or homes that come in from the south.
In any case, yesterday's storm here will set spring back a bit again. As usual, when you have bright snow reflecting back sunshine instead of dark dirt, mud and gravel, it slows the melting quite a bit. But at least I got my wish on the cold temperatures although I will not be popular if anyone from around here finds out! Like they say, be careful what you wish for.
You’ll find the last week's of blog at March 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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Large blue and white plane.
Huge blue and white research plane.
Large C-130 aircraft photo.
Lake and mountain view with sunshine.
Lake view shows little except snow.
Lake view showing fog lifting off the lake and blue above.
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