Friday, August 22, 2014

Iceberg Alley

Our trip to Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't have been complete without searching for an iceberg. The huge chunks (mountains sometimes) of ice break off arctic ice flows and work their way south on the current past along the Labrador coast and northeast Newfoundland. Iceberg sightings peak in late May and June, but do extend into July and August in the northern areas. There's a handy sighting map available at the Newfoundland and Labrador website.

Likely viewing spots include Red Bay in Labrador, St. Anthony and Twillingate in Newfoundland. Twillingate has build a huge tourist industry around iceberg and whale sightings and tours. We found our on the road to L'Anse aux Meadows near St. Anthony. We continued on to Twillingate the following day, but there weren't any passing by during our August visit. Guess we were really lucky to even see one.

Today is Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world! -- Margy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Up the Inlet" on September 5-6

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about boating in Coastal British Columbia.

Click Here on September 5-6

for a FREE copy of
Up the Inlet

Description: Come boating up the inlets of coastal British Columbia, where the mountains drop into the sea, and lifestyles focus on self-assurance and a different sense of purpose. Follow along as we cruise northward from the Strait of Georgia, to Cortes and Quadra Islands, and beyond. More coastal cruising adventures beyond 'Up the Strait' and 'Farther Up the Strait.'  

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Additional FREE Kindle Day
October 4

Are you a science fiction fan?
Check out the FREE Kindle offer the same days for Wayne's

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at
Happy reading! - Wayne

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Fireweed

 F is for Fireweed

Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) is a member of the Evening Primrose family. It blooms in late June and July in our area, and blankets disturbed areas such as logging slashes and roadsides. It's one of my favourite flowers. 

Fireweed is a perennial plant that send up a flowering stalk each year up to three metres tall. The slender, pointed leaves are widely spaced in an alternate fashion and it is capped by beautiful dark pink to magenta flowers.

As summer comes to a close, seed capsules with their white silky hairs make the plants look like a layer of smoke across the fields. But their common name probably comes from the fact that they are one of the first plants to regrow in a burned out area.

Fireweed is also a common plant in Newfoundland. Fields of colourful blooms along the highways brighten the way on cloudy days.

I don't know where the seeds came from, but I even had some sprout on one of my floating stumps in front of the cabin. It's a natural garden that never needs watering because the roots have grown right down into the lake. ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the fifteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland

L'Anse aux Meadows with recreated Norse site.
The Vikings from Norway were the first Europeans to reach North America. A seafaring people, they crossed the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland, and finally Labrador and Newfoundland, expanding their range of occupation.

Thick walls of peat blocks insulated the living quarters.
They came in large, seaworthy boats called knarrs propelled by sail and rowing. Can you imagine crossing the open ocean in such a craft? Because Greenland's resources were being depleted, and a cooler climate made farming difficult, the Vikings set out for North America in about 1000 AD.

Living quarters with fire ring and benches for sleeping.
The first was probably a merchant named Bjarni who was blown off course on the way to Greenland. A decade passed before Leif Erikson explored the areas called Helluland (Baffin Island), Markland (probably southern Labrador), and finally Vinland (Newfoundland). They built sod houses and overwintered in the rich meadow lands.

Work area attached to living quarters with loom on left.
Subsequent exploration led to temporary settlements lasting two or three years, but never permanent.  Records show that L'Anse aux Meadows became a temporary home to about seventy-five sailors, carpenters, blacksmiths, labourers, women, and possibly slaves.

Backsmith shop where iron was smelted from local ore.
The sod structures included living quarters, work areas, storage rooms, a forge area to smelt iron from ore found in the peat bog, some farming, and raising of sheep and goats. Summer was used to explore farther south and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Occupancy lasted only a few years and the Vikings most likely returned to Greenland from whence they came.

Storage room with sod walls and roof.
The Viking Trail tourist route begins at Deer Lake and follows Highway 430 north to St. Anthony. It also crosses the Strait of Belle Isle to Labrador and follows Highway 510 north to Battle Harbour.

Visiting the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows was a moving experience for me. My grandmother was born in Moss, Norway, and immigrated to the United States as a young child. As I stood in the recreated village, I could feel the bravery and daring of my long ago ancestors.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Monday, August 18, 2014

Southern Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador comprise one of Canada's provinces.

By referendum, they joined the Canada Confederation in 1949. Two other choices were rejected, to remain under British control or set up an independent government. There was even discussion of a union with the United States.

The Newfoundland Labrador ferry actually docks in Blanc-Sablon, Quebec. To get to Southern Labrador, you drive several kilometres north along the coast.

Traveling long distances each day became tiring, so we camped for two nights at the Pinware River provincial campground. From here we explored the Quebec and Labrador sections. There are about 150 kilometres of paved road from Vieux-Fort, Quebec, to Red Bay, Labrador. Beyond that it's gravel. 

The land is a mix of tuckamore (wind and ocean stunted spruce and pines), moss covered exposed granite, rugged shoreline, and sandy beaches. Ponds large and small are everywhere, making this excellent mosquito and black fly territory. We saw three woodchucks, but they were too quick to capture on film.

Coastal villages ranging from 6 to 600 have a strong link to fishing and their whaling past. Visiting in summer you don't get a feel for how harsh winters must be. But there are hints, huge stacks of firewood. Cutting occurs far inland during winter with snowmobiles dragging logs to the roadside. There it's cut and stacked to dry, ready to transport to homes and businesses. People honour each others woodpiles even though they may be far from home.

Wayne and I relaxed in camp with pina coladas. Actually rum, a strong local version called Screech, has a long history in Newfoundland. A trading partnership with Jamaica resulted in the exchange of salted cod for the fiery drink.

Next, the Vikings come to the new world. -- Margy

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Newfoundland and Labrador Camping Trip

Last week, Wayne and I went camping in Newfoundland and Labrador. We packed our gear and personal items in two large rolling duffel bags, a suitcase on wheels (a must), and a smaller carry-on. We flew Air Canada from Vancouver with a transfer in Toronto to St. John's, Newfoundland. It was a long flight, but the transfer made it easier.

We rented an SUV and after one night in St. John's, started north to the Malady Head campground in Terra Nova National Park. Wayne made reservations in advance, but all the parks had a few empty sites.

We set up our tent (impending rain made this the highest priority each night), then went for a hike. Everywhere you stepped there were bright red Bunchberries carpeting the forest floor.

We saw a lot of Newfoundland and Labrador in one week. Our next stop was Berry Hill campground in Gros Morne National Park. Two lane Highway 1 (TCH) is an excellent road with lots of passing lanes.

We purchased camp chairs, pillows, and an ice chest upon arrival. Because of extra baggage charges, we donated them to Value Village back in St. John's. For simplicity, our dinners were deli items and BBQ meats, no camp stove.

Each morning we packed (letting the tent dry in back) and drove to a roadside spot for breakfast. Before leaving home I put together a compact "meal kit" using thrift store utensils, plates, bowls, and cups. Including the zipper case it cost about $5.00.

Our third day brought us to the Labrador Ferry. We are used to riding ferries in BC, but they cost a whole lot more. Our passage for the car plus two senior passengers was under $30.00. The Apollo is an older ship of a style suited to rough waters.

The front opened like a huge mouth ready to swallow it's prey.

Next will be our Labrador portion of the trip. -- Margy

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Red Elderberry

 Red Elderberry

Around Powell River you can see Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) plants both in town as garden ornamentals, and out in the bush in their natural environment. They make a tree-like large shrub with beautiful white flower clusters in spring, and bright red berries in summer.

They grow in moist areas along streams, in disturbed or open areas, and in lowland forests. The flowers provide food for hummingbirds and butterflies. The red berries are an important early season source of food for birds such as robins, thrushes, finches, and grosbeaks. Of course, this also helps with seed distribution.

Caution needs to be taken in the use of the red berries. Some sources say this variety is toxic, others differ. I err on the side of caution unless I know for sure (and I don't). Do you use red elderberry plants for any purpose, either in your garden or otherwise? -- Margy

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Narrows Quad Ride

For our first overnight barge trip to go quad riding, we chose the Narrows dock and barge ramp.

We checked in with Western Forest Products before leaving. Even through we were pretty sure it was inactive, things can change pretty fast in the forest industry.

It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to get there after a brief stop to visit with friends along the way. Doug and Malcolm were working on the land cabin Doug recently purchased. We offered the services of our barge if they needed to haul anything larger than their boat could handle.

The Narrows ramp and dock are in a protected area just before the Goat River feeds into Powell Lake. Logging finished here just a few weeks before, so everything was in great condition.

Just as we were arriving, it started to rain.

We quickly set up our tent for the first time on the barge. We tied the rain fly to the side rails and crawled inside to wait it out.

After the skies cleared, we followed Narrows Main north then west to the log dump beyond the peninsula.

The sun was getting low, so we decided to save the rest of the ride for the following morning.

The first part of Narrows Main went through second growth forest and logging blocks in various stages of regrowth.

The end of the road was where the most recent logging occurred.

From the upper spurs, you get a great view of this end of Powell Lake and the float cabins on the opposite shore.

We moved the barge back to the ramp and Wayne loaded the quads while I held the boat steady. I think we are getting the hang of this way to explore our wonderful back country. -- Margy

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Garden Fresh Frittata for Two

Summer is my garden harvest time, and I like to use the produce to make our float cabin meals. It the day isn't going to be too hot, I like to bake a

Garden Fresh Frittata for Two

3 eggs
1/8 cup milk
1/2 small onion diced
1/4 green pepper diced
3 large chard (spinach or kale) leaves
2 mushrooms sliced
3 asparagus spears
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable spray
1/2 cup shredded cheese

You can adjust the amount or type of vegetables based on what you have on hand in the fridge or garden.

Saute onion, pepper, and mushrooms in butter on low heat until tender. Add asparagus and chard and heat until the chard wilts. Remove from heat and place in the bottom of an oven baking dish that has been lightly coated with vegetable spray.

Beat eggs and milk vigorously in a bowl. Briskly encorporate thyme, salt and pepper. Gently pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle cheese over the top and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Breakfast on the front porch.
Serve warm. The first time I served it with fruit cups. The second time I baked flour tortilla triangles until crisp with melted cheese on top. Can you guess which one I preferred? -- Margy

Friday, August 08, 2014

Watering with Sunshine

Once the spring rains stop, it's time to start watering.

Even though my floating vegetable garden is surrounded by water, none of it gets into the beds without human assistance.

Our good friend John has saved me from lots of bending, scooping, and pouring by installing a solar-powered water pump and hose.

A dedicated 15-watt solar panel charges a 12-volt deep cycle battery in a storage box below.

A boat style bilge pump submerged in the lake is powered by the battery to draw water up and send it through a regular garden hose with a spray nozzle.

A handy switch on the panel's support post allows me to easily turn the pump on and off as needed.

During the summer when there's lots of sunshine, the battery last long enough for me to give everything a good watering.

In very hot weather, I water my garden every other day. Giving it a good soaking encourages the roots to grow deep, so surface drying doesn't cause wilting.

Thanks John. Because of you, I can water with sunshine. - Margy