Saturday, June 18, 2016

Coastal BC Birds: Red-throated Loon

Red-throated Loon

To me, the mournful cry of a loon brings up images of traveling to remote lakes across Canada.  It's a special sound for me. Typically, the species of loon we find in our region is the Common Loon. But in 2010, Wayne and I started spotting a different kind of loon. It had the same body shape, and diving habits, but the colours and sounds were just a little off.

The Common Loon is black and white. This bird was more gray and white, and had a brick red throat. I looked it up in my guide and discovered it was Red-throated Loon. Each year since, a pair of Red-throated Loons arrives at Hole in the Wall and takes over the territory. We only occasionally hear a Common Loon call from afar.

Red-throated Loon are not common in Coastal BC during the summer months. They prefer the Arctic for breeding and return to our shores in the winter. I surmise this returning pair is nesting somewhere in the large, shallow back bay across from our cabin.

I wonder if this the result of climate change. Whatever the case, I've enjoyed hearing the calls of our Red-throated Loons and watching them ply the waters of Hole in the Wall. Has anyone else seen nesting Red-throated Loons this summer? I just wish mine would come a little bit close for a better picture.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Friday, June 17, 2016

Learning to Sail

My husband Wayne has caught the sailing bug. His first cure was a remote controlled model called Nirvana II. He successfully sailed it all the way across Hole in the Wall from our float cabin home on Powell Lake. Instead of being a cure for the sailing bug, it increased his fever.

The next attempted cure was a Laser sailboat. In Border Songs by Jim Lynch, a character uses a Laser to run contraband across Boundary Bay to Blaine, Washington. Wayne was intrigued and spent hours searching Craigslist for one of his own.

Once it was transported up the lake, it was time for Wayne to learn to sail. The Laser is fun, but the drawbacks are it's a one-person boat and because it's designed for racing, it isn't the best model for leisurely excursions. Rather than curing Wayne's sailing bug, the Laser inflamed his desire. After two summers with the Laser, it was back to Craigslist to find a sailboat we could use together.

Wayne is more adventurous than I am, so we narrowed our search to daysailers with the stability of a fixed keel. Just when we were about to give up, we found the perfect model, a 19-foot O'Day Mariner.

Now you'll find us sailing the waters around our float cabin home on Powell Lake. So far our longest sail has been to the Shinglemill Marina and back. Wayne likes those brisk breezes, but I'm happy with the gentle steady ones.

Are you flirting with the sailing bug? You can try it out for yourself here in Powell River. The Powell River Yacht Club is sponsoring sailing lessons for kids, youth and adults again this summer.

For more information you can read about the Learn to Sail program at their website.  Registration is open by age group: 8-10, 11-16 and 16-adult. Classes are in July and August, so don't wait too long. Seats are limited. We learned, the only cure for the sailing bug is a good day out on the water.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Coastal BC Plants: Western White Pine

W is for Western White Pine

Young Western White Pine
If you go up in elevation around Powell Lake, you will find Western White Pine growing among the firs, cedars, and hemlocks. On a trip to Goat Island this summer we saw lots of pines sprouting in slashes and old logging road cuts. They prefer moist valleys and dry slopes from sea level to sub-alpine levels.

Western White Pine was identified on Mt. St. Helens by David Douglas, and named it for the light colour of its wood. White Pines grows from the interior of northern California through southern British Columbia, and to the coast in Washington and BC. It’s a soft pine that grows tall and straight to 40 metres and up to 2 metres in diameter. The horizontal branches form a dense crown creating a pyramid-like shape.

The long supple blue-green needles come in bundles of 5. Pollen cones are small and yellow at the tips of new growth. The seed cones are 25 centimetres long, brown, and woody when mature.

First Nations peoples used a tea made from the bark and pitch for medicinal purposes. The bark was also used in baskets and canoe building. Western White Pine is not widespread in Coastal BC because a fungus introduced with nursery stock in 1910 in Vancouver quickly spread, killing young trees.

It was such a surprise to see so many young pines flourishing unexpectedly. Because there are few mature trees in our forests, they are not commonly sought for commercial harvesting.

References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and A Guide to Field Identification: Trees of North America (Golden Press, 1986) by C. Frank Brockman.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the sixteenth round of the meme established by Denise Nesbitt and now maintained by a team including Denise, Roger, Leslie, and other hard working volunteers. -- Margy

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Coastal BC Birds: Hummingbirds in Slow Motion

I've been intrigued by all the hummingbirds at the cabin now that we have two feeders.  In the past, one or two would buzz the front of our cabin looking for something to eat to no avail.

The first feeder was such a success, I bought another one to try to keep up with their hungry tummies. The smaller feeder empties before the end of the day. The larger no drip model lasts about two or three depending on how many birds partake.

After we experienced a feeding frenzy a few weeks back, things have settled down to about a dozen active feeders. I decided to take some more video and see what they looked like in slow motion. Take a look.

It's amazing, even at 12.5% speed they zip extremely vast. Hope you enjoyed the slow motion video.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Pollen Art

In Spring, there's lots of pollen produced in the nearby forest. Some of the heavy producers are alder, fir, pine, and hemlock.

Powell Lake is soon covered in a bright yellow scum. At first glance it looks like a mess, but on second thought ....

the wind and currents create some really artful forms.

The the rocky shoreline gets a bright yellow ring along the high water mark.

It'll take a lot of scrubbing to get rid of that ring around the tub. Mother Nature better get out her biggest scrub brush.

It’s time for “Outdoor Wednesday.” Click HERE for more outdoor pictures. -- Margy

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Cabin Baking: Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Pie

Rhubarb growing in a plastic pot.
My rhubarb grows in a pot, so I don’t get too much to work with at a time. As you can tell from the title, I had to stretch my first picking to make a pie.

I went to my trusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook to refresh my memory about how to make pie crust.

Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Pie

8-inch Two-crust Pie:

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
1/3 cup cold water

Directions: I like the flaky crust that Crisco makes, and it’s easy to store one of the small packages in the refrigerator. It will also store on the shelf if you don’t have refrigeration available, a plus for off-the-grid living.

Mix the flour and salt, then cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle water over the mixture a tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork. Use only enough water to make the dough hold together into a ball.

Divide the dough into two portions. Roll out the first ball until it is 2-inches larger than the pie pan. Put the dough in the bottom of the pie pan and pat it into place.

Roll out the second ball also 2-inches larger than the pan. To make a lattice top, slice the dough into long 1-inch strips.

Pie Filling:

3 cups of mixed fruit (rhubarb, strawberries, apples)
¾ to 1 cup sugar (depending on how much rhubarb)
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Directions: In a bowl, combine rhubarb cut into ½-inch pieces, sliced strawberries, and peeled and sliced apples. Sprinkle with flour, salt and sugar, and mix well. Fill the prepared pie crust and dot with butter.

Using the sliced second crust, weave a lattice top over the fruit mixture and crimp the crust’s edges. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the lattice crust if you like a sweet flavour. Bake at 425° for ten minutes then reduce the heat to 350° for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the top crust is light brown and the filling is bubbly.

I used a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper under the pie pan to catch any drips, and I’m very glad I did. It saved me a lot of scrubbing to get backed on sugar off the bottom of my oven.

Wayne and I enjoyed our pie with some whipped cream on the top. And knowing that it included my home grown rhubarb made it taste even better. on over to The (mis)Adventures of a "Born Again" Farm Girl for more simple ideas for your home or homestead. more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy

Friday, June 03, 2016

Update: Float Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

Wayne and I love living in our float cabin home on Powell Lake in all seasons, but summer is the best. The skies are blue, the sun is warm, and the lake is perfect for swimming and other water sports. It's also a time when my floating garden starts producing all those wonderful veggies for our meals.  Several properties have recently sold, so don't wait too long. Summer will be here before you know it. Purchasing our float cabin home was the best thing we ever did. Why don't you come up and see what Powell Lake has to offer.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties

Are you interested in getting a cabin of your own? Here's an updated list of cabins and properties up the lake that are for sale. Some are through real estate agents, so you can get more information via their websites. Also, there's a unique opportunity to lease a float cabin, you pick the start date.

Powell Lake Cabin for Rent or Lease

CLASSIC FLOAT CABIN FOR RENT OR LEASE ON POWELL LAKE: An off-the-grid float cabin is available for rent by the day, week, month, or year. It comes fully furnished and ready for immediate use. Accommodations include two bedrooms plus a spacious loft, a large living room with woodstove, a kitchen with propane range and refrigerator, sink with a hand pump for easy access to lake water, and lots of outdoor deck space. It's located in a protected bay twenty-five minutes from the Shinglemill. Call now and be ready to experience all that Powell Lake has to offer. For more information, contact John at (604) 485-2471 (evenings only).

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties For Sale

CRAIGSLIST LISTING: Small, rustic, cedar shake cabin on Goat Lake. It is one of only five float cabins on this remote lake that boasts good trout fishing. This cabin can be reached by floatplane, or road and boat. From Powell Lake, there is boat access through Goat River except at the lowest water levels. It has a strong breakwater and a 20-year water lease. The package includes an older 17' Double Eagle boat with a 225 Evinrude and 9.9 Evinrude kicker, low hours, boathouse kept, and loaded. All of this for $44,000. Click here for details.

MLS LISTING:  Max Pagani at Royal LePage has listed a float cabin just 15 minutes up the lake in tranquil Hendersen Bay. This 560 sq ft cabin has an open layout on one level with two bedrooms, kitchen/dining area, a living room, and a wood burning stove for heat. A composting toilet is in a separate but easily accessible building. The expansive 1600 sqft deck has been rebuilt and has new stained boards. A protective log breakwater is heavily anchored.  All of this for only $129,000. For more information, contact Max at 604-485-4231 or click here.

MLS LISTING:  Max Pagani offers another float cabin at the mouth of Goat River. This rustic 480 sqft cabin has room to sleep eight and one bathroom. Included are beds, bedding, dishes, generator, solar power, woodstove, and a 10 ft boat with an outboard motor.  The cabin is built on sturdy logs with cedar decking. A strong boom of logs provides protection.  The complete package is only $114,900. For more information, contact Max at 604-485-4231 or click here.

MLS LISTING: Call Harry at RE/MAX about this float cabin in a beautiful protected location on north end of Goat Island.  With a cozy woodstove, this one level float home makes a perfect getaway in all seasons. The 24x30, 720 square foot cabin has two sets of queen bunks (sleeps 8), a sliding front door leading to a spacious deck, and a great walkway to the island where you will find a beach and outhouse. This very tranquil setting is perfect for adults, and a fun place for kids. Annual costs include a $500 yearly water lot lease and low annual regional district property taxes. Get all of this for the very reasonable price of $99,000. For more information click here, or contact Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or

MLS LISTING: Call Harry at RE/MAX about this rustic float cabin listed in the May 2016 Powell River Real Estate Guide. The float home is located in a beautiful protected location in the Rainbow area north of Goat Island on Powell Lake.  It's being offered for the very reasonable price of $69,900. For more information contact Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or

MLS LISTING: Harry is also offering a float cabin located across from Cassiar Falls to offer. The cabin needs some TLC, so bring your tool belt and enjoy the peacefulness of Powell Lake for the very reasonable price of $63,500. Click here for more information and pictures. For more information, call Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or

MLS LISTING: Updated 40X12 houseboat on Powell Lake. "New 140 hp Volvo engine, full 150 gallon fuel tank, 150 gallon sewage tank, 32" flat screen with built-in DVD player, sound system, portable gas fire pit, solar panels, 600 watt Yamaha generator, 1750 watt inverter, and much more." Priced to sell at $40,000.  If interested, call 604-223-9510.

MLS LISTING: LandQuest Realty is offering 98 acres with 4,300 feet of lakefront on Powell Lake. In this location there is no zoning or building permits required. It is one of very few deeded properties on the lake, and by far the largest. The property is located in an area called “Rainbow” by the locals. This area is the calmest and warmest part of the lake. The price is $699,000.  For more information click here, or contact LandQuest at (604) 694-7626 or

MLS LISTING: Jamie and Jason Zroback of BC Land Professionals has the "Ultimate Fly-in" Cabin listed. It's a float cabin on Frogpond Lake on Goat Island in the center of Powell Lake. This all-inclusive float cabin is accessible by plane or boat and vehicle via a logging road on the island. Just a few of the amenities include: main cabin, guest cabin, shop, propane and generator for power, 3 boats, and all the furnishings. This secluded cabin is one of only three float cabins on the lake. The cabin and its lease for occupation are priced at $239,000.  Click here for more information and pictures. For more information, call Jamie at (604) 483-1605 or Jason at (604) 414-5577.

MLS Listing: A rare freehold land cabin nestled among tall evergreens and only 10 minutes up the lake. It features a breakwater, dock, ramp, and walkway to the 880 sqft cabin with 2 bedrooms and loft, flush toilet, hot water tank, solar, generator, and 12 volt electrical system. Sit outdoors on the deck for beautiful sunsets. Enjoy swimming, fishing, water sports, or explore secluded hiking trails to Inland Lake. All this for the very reasonable price of $179,000. Click here for more information and pictures. For more information, call Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or

MLS LISTINGS: Five Powell Lake lots located on Atlin Road in Wildwood are now available. Each one has a total of five acres, 88 ft of road frontage, and stunning views of Powell Lake and the mountains beyond.  With A2 zoning, each one is ready for you to build the home of your dreams with the option to include a home-based business, agriculture, or a secondary income suite. Each one is on city water. Each lot is priced at $225,000. For more information, contact Max Pagani at 604-485-4231 or click here.

Powell Lake Cabins for Rent

Powell Lake Land Cabins for Rent: This 8.35 acre lakefront property is 16 miles from the marina. Five one and two bedroom cabins all have: pressurized drinking water; septic for toilets, sinks and showers; and propane stoves, lights and hot water. Lounge on your cabin porch, enjoy the meadow, or go down to the lake to fish, swim or just relax. Access is by boat or floatplane only. Water taxi service is available if you don't have transportation of your own. Rates are based on the length of your stay. Go to for more information or email at

Powell Lake Cottage Rental: Located in protected Henderson Bay. There are two bedrooms and a one bedroom suite. All amenities are included. There's a 5-night minimum at $180 per night and a $200 damage deposit. Transportation to and from the water access only cabin can be arranged.  Click here for more information, or email

Sunnyside Cabin Rental: Fifteen minutes up the lake past First Narrows you will find an all inclusive float cabin waiting.  Amenities include: hot/cold running water, solar power, propane fridge/stove/BBQ, Keurig coffee maker, sleeps 9 (1 double, 2 queens, fold-out couch, 1 futon), composting toilet, TV/DVD player (no cable), two kayaks, and occasional cell phone coverage. Rates vary by the season from May to September with a 4-night minimum. Transportation is $60 and only with weekly rentals. Click here for more information and to get their email address.

Powell Lake Cabin Services

Powell Lake Cabin Services: Already have a cabin up the lake? We are always looking for help with projects around ours. Our good friend (and float cabin neighbour) Justin Behan offers services such as cargo delivery, lumber packages, cubes, propane tanks, wood stoves, and anchor and rope supply. In addition, Justin is now a distributor for Sun-Mar composting toilets just like the one we installed in our new bathroom addition. For more information, call Justin at (604) 483-6527.

Powell Lake Real Estate: Want a real estate agent that really knows float cabins? That's Harry Zroback (our man Harry who helped us get our cabin) from RE/MAX. Harry owns a cabin himself, so he's an excellent person to contact for all your "up the lake" real estate needs at 604-483-8333 or

Powell Lake Stories

Want to know more about life up the lake. Check out these books from Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series:

Up the Lake (Free for Kindle and e-books)
Farther Up the Lake
Cabin Number 5
Off the Grid
If you have any questions about Powell River, Powell Lake or cabin living, I'd be glad to help out. Just leave a comment or use the e-mail link in my profile to send me a message. -- Margy