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Wilderness Adventures - Sept. Week one/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' about the Lakesounds 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.


05/09/2008 8:08 PM

Socked In

It started raining last night and has been spitting off and on all day. The clouds have been heavy, low and grey all day and we definitely haven't seen the mountains since yesterday. I didn't even go for a walk today, the first in a long time. I did have to drive out for a meeting this afternoon and finally got to see the last of the damage done by a huge cutting machine that's been on our road the last few days.
Everything has been mowed down to nothing including some beautiful little pines along the road that we've always called the Christmas trees. In fact more than one family living on the road, including ourselves, have snuck away with a tree for Christmas if the snow has been too deep to go find one in the woods. It's a shame to see them gone now, especially since it would have been at least 50 years before they were tall enough to pose any danger to the power line
That cutter sure throws the stuff! It looks like a big skidder but has a huge cutter on the front hydraulics that looks just like a lawn mower except supersized and can be turned on edge so that the cutting blades are facing outward. On Wednesday the dogs and I could hear this thing booming and howling out on the road as we walked the back trail, so we cut through the woods because I wanted to see how it operated. We came in behind it and kept our distance because this thing throws chunks of wood up to a 100 yards away.
When the operator comes up to a grove of trees, he just raises this giant lawn mower up onto the side of the tree near the top and just grinds it down. The noise is unbelievable and of course the trees are snapping off and pieces of wood are flying. All that's left after the equipment passes are broken off trees and ragged stumps. Makes a heck of a mess both under the power line and on the road where these bits of wood end up being strewn all over the place. It sure shook the mosquitoes out of the brush too. First I've seen in awhile.
We kind of had a mess with the beetle kill that was knocked down along the power line as it was. It was supposed to be burned, but because a lot of the slash was green and set on fire before the snow melted, most of it didn't burn up. It just turned the logs black. Add to that the devastation caused by the latest equipment and all I can say is I hope the grass grows up quick because it sure isn't much of a sight for visitors to our area. That's progress, I guess.
We're supposed to be getting some nice weather here for the next week. Or let me put it this way, the Lower Mainland is supposed to be getting nice weather. That high pressure system moving up from the south is supposed to grow stronger and I'm hoping that it pushes up past us. That should bring clear skies for a week but I don't want to hold my breath. The jet stream just isn't coming as far north as it used to so who knows what will come. They didn't exactly predict this rain for us so that was a surprise.
It was a shame it was misting this morning. We were sitting at the table having some breakfast when I saw this bird out on the lake dive into the water and then it looked like he was having a real struggle getting airborne again. I was sure it was an osprey even at that distance but I've never seen them have a problem getting back out of water. It was small wonder he had difficulty though. I ran out with my camera and got pictures of him getting airborne, almost losing this big fish, almost lose altitude and splash back several times, and then finally he got going out over the lake. He must have barely been able to hang on to his prize because it was in an awkward position compared to the way the predator birds usually carry their fish. It was hanging way below the bird and a face-on picture I have of the osprey shows his legs stretched just about to the max. No wonder! I think his eyes were bigger than his stomach because that trout would have fed both of us for a couple of meals easily! I just really wish there hadn't been rain between me and the osprey. A clear day with contrast and color would have made for a bunch of nice pictures.
I'm not sure about writing over the weekend. I probably won't get a chance again before Monday so have a great weekend!

03/09/2008 7:04 PM

Technology

Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing and sometimes it can swipe you across the ear when you least expect it. I woke up yesterday morning expecting to get lots of work done for a client but as always, took a look at my emails first. One business email led me to look at a guy's portfolio and I thought, "Jeez, that's not so great, maybe I should take a look at my own through fresh eyes." I opened up my own and it still looked pretty good so I clicked on the first website in the portfolio just as a potential client might. It comes up and I go, "Whoa!! What the heck??" A showcase image with flash embedded definitely does not look right in Firefox. So I open up Explorer and it still looks fine there.
It soon becomes obvious that last week's Firefox update of my browser not only had some new bells and whistles and a different toolbar, it also screwed up how at least one web page looked on it. I'm sure lots of people that use their different browsers appreciate the effort that goes into keeping those browser windows updated and fresh with new gadgets and what not. But it sure would be nice if they would inform website builders of changes that are going to affect how a site looks. I was lucky that I happened to check the site because I had already only the week before and normally wouldn't have checked on it again for a month. That means a client's site is not as perfect as it can be which is hardly fair to them. The client might only use the Microsoft Explorer browser and never notice that his site doesn't look right to 27% of the population on the 'Net.
Aside from the annoyance of the progress nerds, trying to figure out what was causing the problem with the image was another thing again. It isn't uncommon for something to work well on one browser and not on another. The whole point of being a good web builder is to make sure you test your sites on the major browsers and they work. And this one did. Now it doesn't, so what's up?
I beat my head against the wall most of yesterday morning before giving up to do some staining, worked on it last night, and again all of this morning before I came up with a fix. It's not that there weren't several ways of camouflaging the problem or circling around it, some quick and easy and some not. But that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to know what was causing the problem for future reference. Unfortunately, I never did find the answer and just had to do a work around, but the time lost was extremely frustrating.
You know, I often wonder what happened to the old adage of, "If it's not broke, don't fix it!" There are lots of products I have become accustomed to or liked over the years. Then suddenly it's gone to be replaced by something NEW, and IMPROVED! And I don't like the new and improved product, it doesn't work for me or doesn't do the job. It seems that every single business, both bricks and mortar and on the Internet, feel the need to be constantly updating or changing their product. Microsoft's Vista operating system is a prime example of something that doesn't work half as well as the previous operating systems, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP.
If you have a product that works well and a good following with more coming on stream all the time, as has been the case of the Firefox browser for years now, why feel you have to make extreme changes just to keep ahead of a dinosaur like Explorer? In fact, so many web builders, software gurus, nerds, and Internet icons had a deep hate on for Bill Gates and anything Microsoft, hence the move to Firefox. But the last thing you want to do if you're making improvements to Firefox is piss off the very people that Microsoft pissed off to begin with. Me among them.
We picked up some extra channels a few days ago on our satellite television because programming on what we had was so bad, it wasn't even worth turning the TV on. It only took us a day or so to discover that we were most drawn to the old TV programming from forty and fifty years ago. I laughed and looked at Andy and said, "It's pretty bad when modern television shows are so bad we're paying $10 more a month to watch shows produced forty years ago!" And it's true! Those shows are better than anything you get on TV today.
Most of the garbage on TV is just that, garbage. I'm not sure who producers are trying to appeal to as an audience, but they're definitely not succeeding with me. And I'm not alone. Perhaps our friends and neighbours are all strange as well because they all agree on pretty much the same thing. What is being aired on television is for the most part, particularly the reality shows, crap. And that includes the news! The only thing we can think of is that the main stations and their affiliates are losing so much audience to the Internet that they don't bother to put anything on worth watching anymore.
And this brings me back to the previous point about NEW and IMPROVED. Actors and producers from so many of the old television shows admit that their show would never have made it today because it would never have been given the chance. Many shows such as Star Trek took years before an audience and fan base built up to the extent that when execs tried to cancel the show, there was such an outcry, that it was extended to another season. And we all know where Star Trek mania has gone.
Numerous old shows that were the best ever put on TV can still stand the test of time. Where a new series comes on now, I might get into it at first, but it doesn't take long before I'm bored with the acting, the concept, poor writing, or repeat story lines Yet I find I can sit down and watch the old shows and marvel at the fact that after all this time, they're still funny, or still heartbreaking or still interesting.
Comedy especially fascinates me with the old shows. No swearing required, no sexual innuendoes, yet you can still bust a gut laughing. I still think that one of the funniest comedians on the face of the earth is Bill Cosby. Why? I've never heard a swear word come out of his mouth but you know what he's talking about when he describes something in one of his skits. He didn't have to swear to be hilarious.
But nowadays all the television shows are NEW and IMPROVED. And if they don't get the ratings they want in the first six weeks, it's off the air. It doesn't matter that it had a lousy time slot or most people had never even had a chance to go check out more than one episode, it's gone. We'll go on to something else new and improved. One of the best shows I had seen in some while was canceled. Why? Well, it probably didn't pick up the viewership it needed because you never knew what time it was going to be on. It changed days and time slots on a regular basis. Even people like me that had become immediate fans and were determined to find the show, couldn't half the time. I read the blog about it online and the actors and producers were horribly frustrated because they couldn't get the same time slot three weeks in a row and knew that it was a recipe for disaster. And of course, it was.
So what's with NEW and IMPROVED? I don't know. Maybe it's such a fast paced world out there that businesses feel they have to keep changing things to appear progressive. Or maybe they're just flailing around trying to find something that works. Something that sells. The next big thing! Or maybe they're trying to pick up a younger demographic and the attention span of our young people is so short now that new and improved is all that catches their eye? Apparently there is no such thing as brand loyalty anymore. Because while not all consumers may be loyal to their brand, the brands aren't being particularly loyal to us either.
Oops. Sorry folks. Got off on a tangent there and got long winded as usual. So here's the weather report. It froze last night. Today tried to be sunny but there was high overcast most of the day so it didn't quite do it. It was warm enough that I got the second coat of stain on my boards though, so I was happy. I don't think it made it much above 55 degrees today and it's cooling right down again. We got some rain yesterday so everything's pretty damp and there are more heavy clouds rolling in tonight so it's hard to say what it will do.
There's a high pressure system building off the south coast but it's kind of hard to determine whether we'll get a piece of it or not. The weatherman showed all sun icons for the Lower Mainland for the next week so I'm really hoping it comes our way. I know one thing. We've got to get out there fishing. There were more fish jumping all over Nimpo Lake today than you could shake a stick at! And I'm talking pole jumpers! Yet there was hardly anybody out there at all.

01/09/2008 7:07 PM

Labour Day

Happy Labour Day folks! We just had a humdinger of a day. Not only did it start out clear and beautiful, but it stayed that way for most of the day for a change. We actually got up to 15C or nearly 60F today and aside from a chilly little breeze that sprang up from out of the north this afternoon, it was a really pleasant day.
So...due to it being a nice day, I didn't get work done on the computer again. You can't beat sunshine and we haven't been getting enough to waste what we do get. According to the news hour tonight, August was an exceptionally wet month with fewer than normal hours of sunshine. And they got more than we did! But you know what? We don't get hurricanes!
We watched the news channels closely last night and this morning following Gustav's progress. It looks as though it didn't turn out nearly as badly as was predicted, but it still made a mess. New Orleans got lucky this time and if they're really fortunate, they won't see another hurricane before 2011 when the Corp. of Engineers expect to have all the levees up to snuff.
You know, people in Gustav's, Hanna's and now Ike's path may not appreciate people like us complaining about a cold August and a little rain in comparison to what they face....and there's no doubt they do have it a little rougher. But if I didn't like the constant threat of hurricane or tornadoes, then I guess I just wouldn't live there.
People do have a choice of where they want to live for the most part. From a selfish perspective, those people that insist on living below sea level are costing me money. I can see everyone being surprised the first time around with Katrina. But there is no way that anyone that insisted on rebuilding in New Orleans should be able to get house insurance for hurricane or flood damage. So far as I'm concerned, they should never have been allowed to rebuild any place in New Orleans destroyed by flooding. It was discussed after Katrina whether New Orleans should be rebuilt, but somehow, that's been lost in the shuffle. Which is kind of silly when all the experts are warning that ocean levels will continue to rise.
The way I figure it, if you're living on a flood plain, a river delta, or in a city that requires dikes or levees to keep the water out, you should be unable to get insurance for flood damage. Nor should you get government aid after the first time. You want to live there? By all means, go for it! Keeps you out of my part of the country. But I don't see why I and every other man jack working person paying taxes and outrageous insurance on their homes should have to pay for your foolishness. It's about time people started taking responsibility instead of expecting everyone else to shoulder it for them. As Andy says, we're in the age of, "It can't be my fault. It must be someone else's." I've had about enough of that way of thinking and I'm waitng for the rest of the country to wake up and feel the same.
Oh, and I have to weigh in on the American media's attempt to sideswipe Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate, about her pregnant and unwed daughter. The Republicans must have been shivering in their boots when that came out. Especially the Religious Right Wing. Obama's reaction was classy. I like the man more and more every day. And I'm Republican!
31/08/2008 7:02 PM

Last Day of August

We got our first hard frost of the year last night, on our peninsula anyway. I realize other folks have been getting frost up away from the lake for some time now. It dropped to -2C and stayed cold this morning and never got too much above 10 to 12C (50F) today. It was super when the sun was shining but darned cold when the clouds moved in.
It's really hard to dedicate the day to computer work when you get up and the sun is shining outside. I generally sneak outside thinking that I can do some work. Shortly after, the clouds move in, it gets cold and it's not particularly pleasant to be outside anymore, especially without a specific project to work on, so you move inside. Except that now it's too hard to get motivated to work on the computer. So then I think...well.....maybe it's time to go for a walk and we'll make it a long one so at least I don't feel like I've shot the whole day down. Besides, it'll make the dogs happy. And that's it. Just about the biggest thing I've accomplished all day is taking the dogs for a walk. That's just sad.
Actually, I had to be a yes man today. Andy was trying to figure out all the angles on the greenhouse, which trust me, because of the way it's being built, is not going to be easy! Since I want to stain all the studs going into the framework prior to them being nailed together, there's really no second chance to resaw everything. So he's measuring many times before cutting. Actually, he decided to do a mockup which we studied as it lay on the ground. I've decided I can throw my two cents in if there looks to be a problem, but otherwise, I'm just going to agree with everything. Hell, I'm getting a greenhouse! If you think I'm going to foul that up or slow it down by opening my big mouth, you have another thought coming.
In any case, the project is moving forward and we'll see how it all comes together. One stalling point is the dirt. Andy figures that I'll need in excess of four yards of soil in the greenhouse planting beds. That's about 16 Bobcat bucket loads. Easy enough if you're using the Bobcat to put it inside the greenhouse, but once the framework is up, it will have to be hand shoveled over the footing from the bucket up to 12' to the bed. There was a time when I would have nonchalantly said, "No problem! I'll just wheelbarrow it down to the greenhouse and hand bomb it inside!"
Not anymore,
I'll tell you. I'm one who has broken my back doing things the hard way all of my life, but I have now discovered the power of the Bobcat! I have finally been married to Andy long enough that I have seen the light!
My father raised a bunch of kids that could always boast a larger foot size than hat size. Or to put it more succinctly, more brawn than brains, by far. I have, since a I was a kid, been on the wrong end of a shovel, mattock, or wheelbarrow, and have continued to punish myself throughout my adulthood on one project or another, most notably gardening in the last few years. I have literally spent hours trying to get a single large rock up into the back of a very tall 4X4 pickup because it was flat, the right color and just the rock to go in a certain spot around a pond. Never mind that there were two ponds and the rocks were all flat and all big. In fact in term of wages, I often wonder how many man hours I wasted dragging those rocks in. So after seeing how quickly and efficiently Andy can dispatch stumps, rock, dirt, manure and whatever else, I no longer volunteer to do things the hard way. It's nice to not wobble to bed with your back so bent out of shape you can't stand up straight, or creak out of bed in the morning and attempt to get down stairs without doing it on all fours.
There's nothing like taking evolution backwards....!
To get back to the point, we're trying to figure out how to keep from doing things the hard way when it comes to moving soil into the greenhouse. We can still get it down there on the Bobcat, but getting if from there to the inside is still undecided. It's tough enough that we don't have the amount of manure we need, but we can get some sand and I'll probably throw a few bales of peat moss in there as well, and that's easy to transport.
There are lots of things that will take a year or two to figure out for that greenhouse, especially since I've never had one. I helped to run some commercial ones when a teen, but that's not the same as having a little home one. Although 12'X12' probably isn't that little. I figure the biggest challenge is going to be figuring out how to get bugs in there, most specifically pollinators. There's only one door and that's on the cool, north side. I don't think all that many bugs will come in from there and while there'll be vents up high on the gables, I think that's too high for bees. I'll plant a few flowers dearly beloved by pollinating insects in with the veggies next spring, but I still think we're going to have to take one pane of glass out to get a direct airflow that will draw bees and the like inside and put it back when it cools in the fall.
I'm also not sure what will work for a soil mix inside a greenhouse.
I love using manure for just about everything, except veggies like potatoes that will go scabby in soil that's too rich, but I don't know how well it will work inside a greenhouse. I figure to mix in stuff that will help to promote drainage as well as hold moisture but I don't know which I'll need more with an automatic irrigation system. For that matter, I still have to study on what plants to put in there. Vine tomatoes and cucumbers will take up less room, but I've never grown a vine tomato in my life. Is the season long enough here and is there enough sun?
You can have a greenhouse with all the heat you want in this country, but without sunshine such as the kind of summer we've had this year, you're not going to get much fruit from a plant that takes a long time to mature. And yes, I know, it's kind of jumping the gun planning this far ahead with only concrete footings on the ground but I'm pretty excited about the whole process anyway!
The back woods are still pretty moist since that last rain and the heavy dews we've been getting. Even though the trail is really wet in places, I'm not seeing any tracks, yet there's loads of coyote scat around. Like the grouse, they've been eating red soapberries from the look of it. (I think the local natives used to make Indian ice-cream from them and they were in such high demand that they were traded to tribes in Bella Coola.) We are definitely getting our squirrels back. It seemed their numbers dropped drastically after the pine beetle outbreak, or they were awfully quiet for a couple of years, anyway. Maybe the squirrels were just buttoning up and keeping their chattering down because of those hawks that have been hanging around the area? Whatever the reason, they're back in force! Maybe not to previous numbers but what they lack in numbers they make up in sound very easily. We've had several on the point this fall driving the dogs nuts, way more than in the past few years. Nothing like a squirrel giving you heck for being in your own garden.
The chipmunks are what we've really seen increase in number. We have one that raids the bird feeder every day which may or many not be the same one that lives outside the basement door in among the lumber and firewood there. A month or so ago I had to open the basement door and shoo out a chipmunk that I thought one of the cats had drug in. It's just that he seemed to be remarkably lively and unruffled to have been a cat toy. Actually, he seemed pretty calm for a creature that was trapped in a basement with a human and three cats nearby. I'm guessing now that after moving into his new digs, he came through the cat door by accident or while doing some investigation. He's really tame so I'm assuming he belongs to our neighbour that is ill and no longer here. The free peanut butter and sunflower seeds dried up there so he's come mooching to our place. But he's not the only one. They're all over our property in every beetle killed log pile we have, lumber and what not. I watched one the other day that wanted to cross our driveway. He kept starting out but Mocha was laying there and would perk up her ears. As soon as I stepped out on the deck and Mocha turned my way, he was gone like a shot across the driveway right behind her. The chipmunks have definitely got the dogs flummoxed around here. What's scary is that they seem a lot brighter than our dogs too....
I've started a new week so you'll find last week's articles at August Week Four
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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!
Osprey carries a fish through the air.
 
Several people in slickers standing around a campfire.
 
Chipmunk sits in a bird feeder.
 
Two men sit on a porch near Rimarko on Charlotte Lake.
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