Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Shopping Suggestion: Off the Grid

A Christmas
Shopping Suggestion

Coastal BC Stories

From the Coastal BC Stories series by Wayne J. Lutz, Off the Grid lets you know more about what it's like to live off the grid. We were true city-folk when we bought our cabin, but have learned how to generate our own power, use propane for appliances, maintain a kitchen garden, live in harmony with nature, and exchange our hectic lives for a more simple lifestyle. If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid cabin, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid.

Check here if you need a Kindle or Kindle App.

Or go to for more ordering information. -- Margy

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chalets de la Cote Ouest

Wayne and I were honoured to host a film team from Red Letter Films at our Hole in the Wall float cabin home last July. Evelyne and her film crew including camera technician Catherine (Cat), and assistant camera tech Creighton (Crey), spent a whole day with us up the lake getting to know what off the grid float cabin living was like.

The results called Chalets de la Cote Ouest (West Coast Cottages) are now airing on UNIS, a new Canadian television channel focusing on French-speaking audiences from British Columbia to the Atlantic provinces.

Click below to go the the video link. This is a screen shot.

Our float cabin home is featured in the second segment that is debuting this week. It's also available (in French only) on the UNIS website. Click here to go to the video page and click on the arrow next to "Voir la video."

Sharing our lifestyle has been fun. This was our second televison production. The first was for Extreme Houseboats on the Travel Channel. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Water Lily

W is for Water Lily

There are several varieties of Water Lily in British Columbia  on ponds, and in quiet corners of larger lakes.

Water Lilies are floating perennial herbs that are held in place by rhizomes on the lake bottom. Long thin stems allow the flat leaves to reach the surface. There they float in masses to gather sunlight and reproduce.

When kept in check by natural conditions, pests and predators, they are a lovely natural addition to the environment.

However, Water Lilies have become a huge problem on Cranberry Lake in Powell River. As the water flow into the lake has decreased over time, the non-native ornamental lilies have proliferated. Remediation isn't easy or cheap, but homeowners in the Cranberry area are working to see their lake restored to it's original beauty. 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, December 16, 2014

Give a Christmas Gift that Features Powell River

Give a little bit of
Powell River
for Christmas

Put a little "sunshine" into your holiday shopping. Head on over to and take a look inside these exciting books in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series. They're popular with locals and visitors to the Sunshine Coast because they're all about our Powell River region. Each book focuses on a different perspective. I know there's one that will fit someone special on your shopping list.

Up the Lake with stories about hiking, boating, flying and survival off the grid in a floating cabin on Powell Lake. This was the first book in the series and has a variety of stories about the Powell River region. Up the Main focuses on getting into the Powell River backcountry by bike, quad, and hiking. Come ride along with us on a quad to places like Theodosia Inlet, the head of Powell Lake, and on logging roads and local trails near and far.

Up the Winter Trail takes the reader snowshoeing, hiking and biking during the winter months. This would be a good book if you are planning on coming to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Up the Strait cruises the Strait of Georgia to uncrowded and pristine anchorages. Follow our 24' Bayliner Halcyon Days into Desolation Sound, to unique Mittlenatch Island and the Gulf Islands.

Up the Airway wings you across Canada to show off our beautiful country from up above. Fly along with us in our Piper Arrow, land to camp at remote strips with gorgeous scenery, and meet unique animals like the muskox.

Farther Up the Lake follows in the footsteps of Wayne's most popular book, Up the Lake. Read about living off the grid in a float cabin, the beauties of Powell Lake and the many different ways you can enjoy the backcountry.

Farther Up the Main takes you beyond the original Up the Main to explore the glaciers of Mt. Alfred, the remote Theodosia wilderness, a logging road ride to our cabin, and on an impromptu overnight stay waiting for a summer swollen stream to subside.

Farther Up the Strait takes you on voyages to more remote inlets and anchorages in Desolation Sound and beyond. Did you ever want to put a new engine in your boat? Follow along as our Halcyon Days gets a new lease on life and energy boost.

Cabin Number 5 follows John as he constructs a float cabin from the water up.  Over the years, when time and money are available, the cabin grows board by board. If you've ever dreamed of living off-the-grid, you'll enjoy Cabin Number 5 (yes, it's the fifth one John's built).

Off the Grid is the newest book in Coastal BC Stories. We were city-folk when we bought our cabin, but have learned how to generate our own power, use propane for appliances, maintain a kitchen garden, live in harmony with nature, and exchange our hectic lives for a more simple lifestyle.

All books are available in Kindle and print formats through Amazon. E-book readers can also find the titles available online through Smashwords and many other e-book sellers. Print books are also available locally in Powell River at Marine Traders, Coles, or Breakwater Books. For more information, go to Happy Shopping! -- Margy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Canon Pixma iP100 Portable Printer

After we got our cellular signal booster and wireless Internet in place at the cabin, we needed one more item to complete our "home office."

Our electronics need to be close together, so we chose the bookshelf John built. Wires to external antennas go through the window frame. On the top shelf is the cellular amplifier, indoor antennae, satellite radio, and laptop with its Internet key.  Cell phones are here as well to receive the enhanced signal.

Sometimes we need to print. To complete our home office, we purchased a Canon Pixma iP100 portable printer. After lots of research, we decided this was the best model for us. It costs about $180 US, is compact, and prints in colour and black and white with good quality. In the top picture you can see it in the closed position on the lower shelf.

This picture shows the open position ready for use. We liked it so much, we purchased a second one to take with us while traveling. Wayne and I both mix business with pleasure. The small footprint and weight of 4.4 pounds make it easy to pack and take.

Our home office is complete, but don't expect us to be wireheads all the time. Cabin life is calling!

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Telus Wireless Internet with USB Key

Laptop with Telus Huawei LTE Internet USB key.
With our new cellular signal booster system, we wanted to get wireless Internet at the cabin for our laptops. Wayne's phone has a Telus plan, so we added data.  We chose the Mobile Internet FLEX. It starts at $10 a month for 100MB. With our limited email and Internet needs at the cabin, we have made it through a month.

Connection Manager gives you status reports.
But if you go over, it bumps to $30 for 500MB, $45 for 2GB. Flat rate plans start at $40 for 2GB, use it or lose it. Because our use varies, the FLEX plan is best.

Telus offers a free Huawei LTE mobile internet key with a two year contract. It's not cutting edge technology, but fits our laptop needs.  The onscreen Connection Manager lets you monitor session usage.

A nice feature of the Internet key is that it works anywhere you can make a Telus connection, even out on anchor.

Thing I can't do at the cabin are posting to my blog or visiting my online friends. For that, I have to go to town, and then it's a reading and writing binge. -- Margy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wilson Signalboost Desktop for Cellular and Internet

Signalboost Desktop wireless at cabin.
If you follow our blog, you know Wayne and I haven't had Internet at the cabin. It was a decision to keep our lives simple. Now that we are at our floating home for longer stretches, we've decided to make a change.

We don't need high speed access, but want to check email, download a newspaper, and look up important stuff. None of those when used carefully are upload or download data hogs.

Pole mount of external antenna.
We researched satellite Internet. Two in our area are Galaxy and xplornet. We didn't choose that option because of cost and our remote location. We choose our Telus wireless provider. For limited use, it turned out to be the cheapest solution.

First, we had to figure out if we could get a signal. We live on the ragged edge of cell coverage for Wayne's old digital phone, and my iPhone doesn't work. The Telus office sold us a cell booster, let us test it, and return it if it didn't work without a charge. The total cost for a compete package was about $350 CAD.

Powered signal amplifier connects to outdoor antennae.
The cell booster was the Wilson Signal boost Decktop. Wayne did a temporary installation and we could get an adequate signal for our purposes. It allows us to pick up 4G. If not, it automatically steps down to capture whatever signal is available.

We mounted the external antennae on the pole we use for our wind generator. It points the the unit for best line of site to "Telus Mountain" about 11 kilometres (7 miles) away as the raven flies.

Indoor antennae.
Coaxial cable connects to the indoor signal amplifier. It needs AC, so we use it when our solar system is working. At night, we can turn power back on if needed.

Connected to the signal booster is the indoor antenna. This component also has an AC power connector. Fortunately, the indoor units have a low draw.

One bonus of our system is that my iPhone now works for cellular service. Despite what the specifications say, we need to be within a few feet of the indoor antennae for a good connection. This may be affected by the very low signal we actually get from Telus at our location.

In the next two posts I will tell you about our Internet plan and how we can connect our laptops directly to the Internet. -- Margy