Saturday, August 25, 2007

Powell River Blackberry Street Party

We just got back from the annual Powell River Blackberry Street Party. What an event! Marine Avenue is blocked off from Alberni to Wharf Street and is lined with booths celebrating everything blackberry, and then some.

Powell River Books (that's Wayne and I) set up Mr. Float Cabin (our bookmobile) out in front of Rocky Mountain Pizza. We had lots of visitors to our booth to watch the continuous slide show and to meet and greet the famous (infamous?) author, Wayne of course.

Wayne was pretty much tied to the booth, but I got to walk the whole length of the street party to see what was happening. There was square dancing, rubber ducky races, classic cars, raffles, games, vendors of local products, information booths, a chance for kids to play street hockey with the Powell River Kings, the Clansman Pipe Band, singers, bands and food, food, and more food. Blackberry pie, blackberry shortcake, blackberry cheesecake, blackberry tarts, blackberry smoothies, blackberry slushies, blackberry malts, I think you get the idea.









What an event for the town. I think everyone was here at one time or another. When they said thousands would come to Marine Avenue for the party, they sure were right. On some sections of the street you had to squeeze through.

A huge thank you to the organizers and the Marine Aveune Business Association for sponsoring the event. A good time was had by all. And thank you to all of the patrons of Mr. Float Cabin and Powell River Books. -- Margy

Friday, August 24, 2007

Becoming a Locavore

That's a new word for me, but it sure fits. I read a post by Louise Huneault on Yahoo! Canada entitiled "Become a locavore: Top reasons for eating locally grown food." While I try to get to the Powell River Farmer's Market, it is sometimes difficult. My solution was planting a kitchen garden at my floating cabin. Some items produce year round (herbs mostly), but my main harvest starts in June and lasts through October.

August has been a time of plenty. My lettuce has bolted, but the leaves are still tasty. I eat the best and then add the remainder of the plant to my compost pile. This way I do a little clean-up each time I pick my greens. It is more fun that way than all at once at the end of the season. It also give me room to plant more things for fall harvesting. That's how I got room for some tomatoes and zucchini.

Right now the potatoes and carrots are ready. Each year I have one plant that's the best. This year it is my carrots. I usually get small ones since my garden is in shallow beds. But this year they are huge! The larger ones must be reaching all the way down to the bottom of the bed where it meets the lake water. Maybe that is why they are so large, they have a steady supply of moisture when the days are hot.

Do you have a kitchen garden? I would love to hear about your experiences. I am new at this, but am having a lot of fun becoming a locavore. -- Margy

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ride to the Top of the World

I'm not ashamed to say that I've been petrified of heights for most of my life. There was never a time when my palms didn't sweat and I froze when near stairs or a balcony. I didn't participate in lots of activities as a child, or even as an adult, because of my extreme fear. I never did figure out why, but that wasn't important in my recovery.


When I discovered Powell River I wanted to enjoy the backcountry (bush) to its fullest. That's where my 2-wheel drive Honda 250 came in. It was a great bike, and it took me almost everywhere the big guys could go, but the biggest limiting factor was my fear of heights.

Lots of trails and logging roads go up and along steep hills and cliffs. I decided enough was enough, so I sought help from a therapist. He used baby steps to get me accustomed to heights. First it was stairs outside his office, then it was visits to the mall to ride escalators. By the end of 6 months, I was ready to try some more challenging trails and I am proud to say it was a success. I still don't like precipitous ledges, but I can make it up and down almost any road or trail. Now my little Honda was the limiting factor. So . . .

...our friend John took us on a ride to Theodosia Valley on my new Yamaha Kodiak 450 4X4. I got the special edition Silvertip model. Vanity in the forest! We started on the Theodosia Forest Road and entered the valley over a trail that John built with his ATV buddies. It is rutted and muddy, but I went through without a worry. This trail was a good test for my new bike. The hills entering and leaving the trail are steep and were difficult on my old bike. In fact, John had to drive one of them for me while I walked up (He's bigger, heavier and has more guts than I do!). Today, both were challenging for me but a piece of cake.

We went up Theodosia Main to a new logging slash at the head of the valley. It's perched on a ridge where you can see down to Powell Lake to the southeast and Theodosia Inlet and Desolation Sound to the northwest. You truly feel like you're on top of the world. The road through the new slash had lots of steep sided edges. I had a few twinges of the old fear, but I was able to push on through all the way to the top.

John says it was a good test of my recovery and he's right. But my final exam is still going to be riding up E-Branch to Alpha, Beta and Gamma lakes. That trail may be easier now with alders growing along the sides, but it was that picture that kept me going through my days of climbing stairs and riding escalators.

Want to read more about my recovery and quadding in this beautiful country? Go to PowellRiverBooks.com and take a look at Up the Main. It's available in print and Kindle formats from Amazon.com.  Or check with your e-book vendor for other formats.

Do you have a fear that you have or are trying to overcome? Tell us your experiences, It can help others along their own path to recovery. -- Margy

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Circumnagivating Quadra Island - Days 2 & 3

During the night, Wayne and I got up to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Even though it was the day after peak, we saw about a dozen streak across the dark sky in less than 20 minutes.

The next morning we had a leisurely start while waiting to make the first of several passages through small narrows squeezing tidal water between the numerous islands. That's common here in the Discovery Islands north of the Strait of Georgia. At 11:00 we left our anchorage in Village Bay for the northeast side of Quadra Island. Our destination was Beezley Passage (aptly named Surge Narrows) between Quadra and Maurelle Islands.

Heading through Surge Narrows.
Surge Narrows is a narrow strip of water than runs with rapids between tidal changes, but at slack water it is calm and easy to navigate. We got in a line of waiting boats and followed them through. We continued along Okisollo Channel around the north end of Quadra. Upper and Lower Rapids had swirling water, but the engine of our Bayliner was able to push through with ease. We didn't dawdle until after the last of the rapids. Then, we took some time to troll for salmon, but no luck.

Wayne dropping anchor in Small Inlet.
We continued on around the northwest corner of Quadra and stopped in a beautiful spot for the night. weather anchorage. It is strategically located to allow you to wait on the tides for safe passage through the area's narrows and channels. It is called small, but inside it opens to a large bay that can accommodate many boats.

Small Inlet at sunset.
Small Inlet Marine Park is a well protected allWhen we arrived, there were only five boats, three of which were rafted together on the far side. Eight more boats arrived, but it still had the feel of privacy because we were all spread out. Right at the peak of high tide, small fish (probably herring) boiled on the surface of the water right by our boat. Salmon can't be too far behind with a tasty meal like this.

Tied up at the April Point Marina.
We had to get up early the next morning to make slack water at Seymour Narrows north of Campbell River. This is a wide channel, but really rips. Even cruise ships time their passage to make it safely through. We didn't see any cruise ships, but a huge tug with an enormous barge led the way. The narrows were calm, but the area just south was starting to develop huge eddies, whirpools and upwellings. They weren't dangerous yet, but exciting.

April Point Lodge on Quadra Island.
As a treat, we stopped for breakfast at the April Point Resort. The marina had space for us to dock and we walked the short road down to the main lodge. Wayne and I stayed here about fifteen years ago and it hasn't changed much. It is a bit of luxury that caters to salmon fishermen and people wanting a relaxed getaway. It isn't far from the BC Ferries terminal from Campbell River.

Cape Mudge Lighthouse.
A short time after we left April Point we rounded Cape Mudge with its prominent lighthouse at the southwest end of the island. With that, we completed our circumnavigation trip. We stopped at Lund for gas and were back in Powell River by mid-day. It was a quick and fun trip for us on the chuck. Perfect weather didn't hurt!!

Now it's time to enjoy our cabin up the lake. We will be gone until early next week, so watch then for new posts.

Want to read more about the area? Wayne's Coastal BC Stories books are available for purchase online at PowellRiverBooks.com. Bye for now -- Margy

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Circumnavigating Quadra Island - Day 1

Desolation Sound.
As I mentioned, we have been out for a cruise on the chuck. The first day we left Powell River and headed north up the Strait of Georgia to Desolation Sound. Because it is August, the anchorages there are still very busy. We opted to go to Refuge Cove for fuel and to replenish their supply of Wayne's books. Sales have been exceptionally good!

Heriot Bay fuel dock and Inn.
This trip we saw more boats going south. Back-to-school isn't far away. Once around Cortes Island, we head west to Quadra Island for a stop at Heriot Bay for more fuel (you can never have too much) and to check on their book supply. Just north of Heriot Bay we started looking for an anchorage for the night. We first looked at Moulds Bay. Wayne stayed here on a previous solo trip. There's one boat anchored, so we decide to head farther north.

Head of Village Bay.
At Village Bay, we found a wonderful anchorage with no one else around. Village Bay was the historic site of a First Nations village. You can see why they picked it. The bay is large with sloping beaches just right for landing large cedar canoes. There's a creek coming in at the head of the bay that leads to a lake not far away. There are also high bluffs to use for lookouts.

Village Bay anchorage on a calm day.
The bounty of the sea was right at their doorstep. I can just imagine what it was like. We anchored just to the right of a small island near the shore. We had plenty of swinging room, so we didn't need a stern line. The weather was forecast for light northwest winds, so the opening to the south was not a problem. This would not be a good place during a storm with southeasterlies. But no worries about that tonight. We settle down for a simple dinner and a relaxing night of reading and sleeping.

Cruising around Quadra Island.
If you aren't able to cruise in Coastal BC you can still experience the relaxed pace of life on Quadra Island. BC Ferries links Quadra to Vancouver Island via Campbell River. You can bring your own car or rent one in Campbell River. Some resorts provide transportation from the ferry dock, give them a call to check. If you want to walk on the ferry, check with Quadra Taxi and Tours about availability to get you to your destination. Come discover Quadra Island for yourself. -- Margy

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Best Breakfast in Town - Village Inn Pub & Eatery

Each year there's an opportunity to vote for the "best" in Bellingham. Since we are breakfast hounds, we look for places that have been honored for having the "Best Breakfast in Town." In a recent issue of the Bellingham Herald we saw an add for the Village Inn Pub & Eatery (gotta love that name!). The locals didn't steer us wrong.

The Village Inn is tucked in the corner of a small shopping center at 3020 Northwest Avenue. Their name is prominent on a rotating sign if you catch it just right. But just in case you miss it, the restaurant is directly across the street from Yeager's Sporting Goods (take some time to visit this amazing store after your meal). The Village Inn looks small from the outside, but it's not. There is an area for pool tables, a good sized bar and lounge, and then there's the restaurant section. On weekends, they have live bands. I mentioned pool. It's a big thing. Each time I have been there, pool players arrived with cues of their own. But don't get me wrong, it's definitely a family place.

Wayne and I went there for breakfast the other day. They do have the best (and very reasonable) breakfast in town. There were several daily specials, but we opted for the pancake combo. Two huge buttermilk pancakes, lots of bacon (really crisp) and two eggs. No way I could eat it all, but I gave it my best try. I went back for lunch on another day. Their special crab cake burger was crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and loaded with lucious crab.

So if you're looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, pool or entertainment, put the Village Inn Pub & Eatery on your list of places to go. Oh, did I mention a good selection of microbrew beer on tap and local wines? I'm there! -- Margy

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sharpening the Saw

When I worked for the school district, we talked about "sharpening the saw" in a metaphysical sense. It came from reading and putting into practice the seven habits of highly effective people advocated by Stephen Covey. It was about renewing the four dimensions of our lives, the physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional states. Moving to our float cabin on Powell Lake took care of all of those for Wayne and me in one fell swoop.

Now, sharpening the saw has taken on a whole new meaning. One of our tests in becoming self sufficient was gathering and preparing all of our own wood for winter. The first step was learning about chainsaws. John helped Wayne pick one that would fit our needs, a Stihl, and taught him how to use it. And use it he does. We gather lots of floating wood in the summer and fall. All of that wood has to be cut to size to fit into our Kozi woodburning stove. We prefer pieces that don't require splitting, but sometimes larger logs float up to our cabin and beg to be taken.

Wayne does all of the chainsaw cutting, but I help with the splitting. We have a stump on our wood storage float. I position the cut logs and hold the axe in place. Wayne uses the sledge hammer to put the force into the split. It works really well unless we get a piece of wood with lots of knots. Then the force vibrates right up the axe handle and hurts my hands, not to mention the energy it takes Wayne to make extra strokes. We have been known to abandon some really knotty pieces. With so much wood to choose from, we can afford to be a little picky.

Finally comes the task I like best, shapening the saw. John taught me how to do it. Each tooth on the chain has to get uniform attention. I know it is right when I can feel the edge just catch the skin of my finger after several strokes with the file. A felt pen mark ensures that I go around the chain one time before reversing the saw and filing the teeth that face in the opposite direction. If I do my job well, the saw cuts through the wood like butter. That's one good thing about Wayne and me. We each like different parts of the same task. When we work together as a team, the result is better than if either of us did it alone.

It may not be what Covey had in mind, but our saw is both physically and metaphysically sharp. How about yours? -- Margy

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Grizzlies in Their Backyard" by Beth Day

Every time I take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast on my way home to Powell River, I go into the gift shop. It has an excellent collection of Canadian books. On one of my many trips I purchased Grizzlies in Their Backyard by Beth Day.

Grizzlies is the saga of Jim and Laurette Stanton who homesteaded at the head of Knight Inlet in the early 20th Century. They arrived at their remote Coastal BC destination from Seattle in 1919. 

Jim and Laurette lived in several cabins -- the last of which they built for themselves. Jim trapped, logged and fished to earn enough to pay for their annual winter supplies. Laurette canned berries, fish and meat from the forest to augment their supply order that arrived by steamship from Vancouver in late fall.

Surrounding their isolated wilderness home were grizzly bears and other forest friends. Laurette was always "saving" one creature or another. Their home and table were shared by birds, racoons, squirrels and even three orphaned grizzly cubs. Deer came to their yard during winter for handouts to get them through lean times. Jim and Laurette lived in harmony with the harsh land for over 40 years. What they lacked in money they made up for in the richness of their life in "paradise."

Coastal BC was filled with hardy settlers like Jim and Laurette. They lived through some of the hardest, but most exciting times in coastal history. The book will take you back in time to see what it was like to live by your wits and hard work. If you won't be riding the ferry any time soon, Grizzlies in Their Backyard can be purchased from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com. -- Margy

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Powell Lake Fishing Adventure

Living on (literally on) a lake makes fishing a common activity. Each evening during fishing season, you can find us casting off our cabin deck at twilight. This is the time the fish in Hole in the Wall like to tease us with their leaping antics. They don’t mind being seen, but they are wily devils. It takes quite a few casts to entice one to take a lure. We are catch and release fisherpersons, so the sport is most often more fun than the capture.

Fishing season on Powell Lake, BC, runs from April 1 to October 31. You will need a freshwater fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older. Annual, one-day, and eight-day licences come in resident and non-resident formats. For BC residents, the annual license for $36 is the best bet, but if you are a visitor, the one day for $20 or the eight-day for $50 might work better. We go for the annual non-resident alien (we park our UFO on the cliff) license for $80. Licenses are easy to obtain at most sporting goods stores or guides. We always get ours at Marine Traders near the Powell River Wharf.

Powell Lake, and nearby Goat Lake, is known for its Cutthroat and Rainbow trout. We have had success both trolling and casting. We like to go to stream inlets (numerous in the late spring and early summer) where trout are more likely to congregate and feed on the churned up nutrients. At these locations, usually the first person to cast will catch the one and only fish. Word seems to get out that the humans are back – lay low. We use lures with crimped barbs to make our catch and release method easier.

When you arrive, get some fishing advice from local experts. Visit or call Marine Traders (Jim or George) or PROutdoors (Sam) for all of the local scoop. They can help you find guided trips and fishing hotspots. Also, stop in at the Visitor Centre to get maps and information about the many streams and lakes that are accessible by car or foot.

There’s still plenty of fishing season left, so head to Powell River and get your line wet. We have a big one waiting for you! -- Margy