Monday, September 29, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

Wayne and I have been in the States for three weeks taking care of some business. It is the longest time we have been away from our cabin in the last six months and we are anxious to get home. Today is the long awaited travel day from Bellingham to Powell river via two BC Ferries up the Sunshine Coast.

The easiest route north from Bellingham is the Guide-Meridian to the Lynden/Aldergrove border crossing. The Guide (as it is lovingly called) is a two lane road that is currently under construction, but it is still a good route except during rush hour. Because the border crossing is away from the I-5 corridor, it is usually less crowded and cars move through quickly in both directions. At the border The Guide changes into 264th Street and continues straight north to Canada Highway 1. Highway 1 will take you northwest around downtown Vancouver and directly to the Horseshoe Bay BC Ferry Terminal. As you near the terminal, you will experience more road construction in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics.


View Larger Map

The ferry from Horseshoe Bay takes you to Langdale near Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. From here it is about a two hour drive north to the Earl's Cove Ferry to Saltery Bay. From there it is about thirty more minutes driving time to Powell River. It is only about 240 kilometres (150 miles) in total, but with all of the ferry connections it takes about seven hours. But don't let that keep you away. The trip and a vacation in Powell River are well worth it. -- Margy

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Majestic Views

There are some really great views in and around where I live in Powell River, BC. Some of the most spectacular can be reached by hiking or riding a quad to lofty peaks and bluffs.

Head up to Blue Ridge for a panoramic view of lakes, forests and mountains.

Summer or winter, the bluffs on Mount Mahony provide views of Powell Lake, the Strait of Georgia and across to Vancouver Island. On this November day it looked like you could step off and walk on the tops of the clouds.

A quad ride then a hike to the top of Tin Hat Mountain rewards you with an outstanding view of Powell Lake far below.

I invite you to come to Powell River and enjoy some of our views for yourself. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Canadian Forces Snowbirds

My favourite precision flight team is the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. The Snowbirds fly Canadian-made DT-114 Tutor jets, which also served as the Canadian Forces basic pilot training aircraft until 2000. The Snowbirds Tutor jets are painted in a distinctive red and white Canadian flag motif. They are fast, capable of flying at 412 knots (470 mph or 750 km/h), and very maneuverable.

The Snowbirds Show Team includes nine jets, two of which perform solos. When all nine aircraft join up, they can form some pretty amazing formations.

Home base for the Snowbirds is Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, but they come to nearby Comox to get more experience in mountainous and marine environments.

The Snowbirds fly at events from May through October each year throughout the US and Canada. Click here to see their complete schedule.

video

Can't make it? Here's a clip from the Comox show. -- Margy

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rambling Roads

Throughout the bush in Coastal BC you will find old logging roads. Many are overgrown, but some have been reactivated by hiking and ATV clubs, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Here are a few "roads" we like to travel on our ATVs.



Do you ride a motorcycle or quad? Are your roads and trails limited? Come to Powell River and discover our spectacular back country. We have hundreds of miles of forest service and logging roads that are open to the public on weekends and holidays. Bring you bike and stay in one of our lakeside campgrounds and use it as a home base. Because the roads almost all interconnect, you can ride for days without seeing the same territory twice. Fall is the best riding season, so come see for yourself.

For more information you can contact the Powell River ATV Club or read Up the Main which showcases some of our great "roads" to ride. -- Margy

Friday, September 19, 2008

Runway to the Night Sky

There's something special about camping under the open sky at a small airport. As the heavens begin to darken, the white runway and blue taxiway lights twinkle on. They look like strings of jewels. Even the windsock gets its own illumination once the sun goes down.

Last week we camped at Chehalis/Centralia Airport in Washington State.

A twilight stroll around the tarmac gave us dynamite views of airplanes washed in the glow of the rising moon. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cabin Cooking: Homemade Ice Cream

What better way to cool off on a hot day than with homemade ice cream. When we are at our float cabin, ice can be hard to come by. We have a propane refrigerator, but the small freezer is usually full. Towards the end of the week there's finally enough space to make a bag of ice. I researched to find a small manual ice cream maker. What I purchased was the Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker by Industrial Revolution (www.icecreamrevolution.com). I got mine at REI. You can get it online or at a store near you. I have the pint size. There's also a quart version.


Ice cube trays filled half way work best. After I have a one quart plastic bag filled I'm ready to go. Directions for making ice cream are simple. Fill the ball with as much ice as it will hold. Add 1/2 cup rock salt to the ice to increase its freezing power.

Here is the recipe I use.

1 pint of half and half
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Cream makes a smoother ice cream. When I am at the cabin, I use a can of Carnation Thick Cream (but it's getting hard to find) mixed with enough canned milk to make the one pint of liquid. Mix your ice cream ingredients and place them in the other end of the ball.

Now shake or roll the ball to make ice cream. I've found it takes longer than advertised. I open the container at 10 minutes and scrape the sides with a plastic spoon. Otherwise, it freezes hard on the outside and remains liquid in the middle. I check it every 5 minutes and repeat as necessary. I also add more ice if room permits.

I pre-chill an aluminum bowl. When the ice cream is of soft serve consistency, I transfer it to the aluminim bowl and put it in the freezer to harden. At this point I might add chocolate chips, coconut or frozen berries to make a custom flavor. The possibilities are endless. I've even put it in a graham cracker crust to make an ice cream pie. The possibilities are limitless.

Want to create an ice cream maker of your own? Click here for directions using baggies or coffee cans. No matter how you make it, ice cream makes a yummy treat. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mexican Food Southern California Style

Wayne and I love living in Powell River, BC, but there aren't many places to get really good Mexican food there. When we return to Southern California, we head straight for El Merendero No. 1 at 1910 Fairplex Drive in La Verne. They have the best Mexican food around. The portions are large, but it's the flavour that's huge!

You can eat inside or under their covered front patio. Inside you can order beer and wine, but outside you can get a cool breeze and people watch. The choice is yours. We love to go to El Merendero for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but our favourite is breakfast. Wayne's loves the huevos rancheros and for me it's the chorizo and eggs. That way I can make my own little breakfast tacos with the warm tortillas that come with the meal. The breakfast burritos are also a great choice.

Walk up to the window, check out their extensive menu board, and order. Of course, you can take your food home, but stay awhile and enjoy the fun people, good service and great food at El Merendero No. 1. -- Margy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cabin Cooking: Chopped Garden Salad

During September, my garden is still producing. I hate to lose the veggies that are just coming in, namely my peppers and tomatoes, so we've been eating them in lots of ways. Here's a simple salad recipe that brings out the flavours of fresh veggies.

CHOPPED GARDEN SALAD


Cut cherry tomatoes in halfCut bell peppers in strips
Slice red onions and separate
Chop fresh basil
Sprinkle with rice wine vinegar
Season with lemon pepper salt

Toss and refrigerate to let the flavours to marry. Serve and watch everyone enjoy a fresh, healthy, tasty treat.

Do you have any favourite recipes for your fresh garden produce? I'd love to hear them. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Harwood Island

Last week you read about the Strait of Georgia. It is an integral part of our life in Powell River and creates the spectacular view from my condo window. In the strait you find many islands. Probably the most famous are the Gulf Islands near the tip of Vancouver Island, but directly in front of Powell River is Harwood Island.

Like many other locations in the Strait of Georgia, Harwood Island was named by George Vancouver during his exploration of the Puget Sound and Coastal BC in 1792. In this case, Harwood Island was named for Dr. Edward Harwood, a scholar and naval surgeon. Geologically, Harwood is pretty distinct. It's flat top is the result of glacial action in the region over 10,000 years ago. This is the same action that gouged out Powell Lake and the many inlets along the coast.

At the turn of the 20th Century, it was logged. The second growth trees have grown to substantial size, but you can still find evidence of the past. This old winch on the shore of the sandy spit pays tribute to the island's history. Today, it is uninhabited and is a traditional and sacred place for the Sliammon First Nation.

Harwood Island is a popular destination for sea kayakers. Leaving from Powell River or nearby Gibsons Beach, you can reach Harwood fairly easily on a calm day. For those with more skill and energy, you can circumnavigate the island and view the sea lion rookeries on the back side. It is also prime salmon fishing territory. For more information about sea kayaking, I recommend Powell River Sea Kayak, Alpha Adventures and Alpha Dive Services. To learn more about kayaking in our area, I recommend reading Sea Kayak Desolation Sound and the Sunshine Coast by Heather Harbord. And of course, there's Wayne's Up the Strait available online at www.PowellRiverBooks.com.

Come visit Powell River. You will find outdoor sports and activities all year long. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Growing Potatoes in a Barrel

Potatoes are an important crop in my vegetable garden. I plant Norland red potatoes because they are great for boiling, baking and frying. This year I wanted to save space, so I grew them in a barrel. Here's the video that got me started.

I used a 55-gallon plastic barrel cut in half with slits in the bottom for drainage. I started with six inches of soil, placed my seed potatoes on top and covered them with an additional inch of soil.

Once they sprouted, I covered the leaves completely with more potting soil. I wasn't sure it would work, but they sprouted again, even more vigourously. I had enough room to cover them one more time. Then I left them alone until flowering was complete and the leaves died.

Wayne dug some potatoes this week for his famous sliced potatoes and onions cooked in foil on the BBQ. This picture shows the ones that came out of about one fifth of the barrel. I'm going to leave the rest in the soil and dig them as needed. They will rest there without sprouting for several months, insulated from the cold by the well drained soil. They'll be nice to have this winter for soups, stews and baked in foil in our wood burning stove. Growing potatoes in a barrel was a huge success. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed. -- Margy

Saturday, September 06, 2008

When is One Carrot a Whole Bunch?

Each year I've planted carrots in my floating garden. They grow well and last into late fall for harvesting. They've even survived under a light snow. I plant my garden in late March or early April, after the threat of frost has passed. I start by augmenting my soil with mulch, peat moss and steer manure. I like to wait a few weeks between the soil work and seed planting, but this year the weather didn't cooperate. I only had one week of resting before the seeds went in the ground.

Much to my surprise, when my carrots came up they were "fanged." I later learned that fresh manure is one of the main causes for fanged carrots. Another cause is rocky soil, but I don't have that problem. Fanged carrots have the root split into two or more segments. As you can see from my picture, my carrots trended towards the "more" side of the equation. Fortunately, it didn't affect the taste or texture of the carrot(s). They are fine for eating once they are trimmed up. However, they would not be good for storing. Lesson learned (the hard way). Next year I will know not to put fresh manure in my carrot bed! -- Margy

Thursday, September 04, 2008

West Vancouver Ramblers

Tonight Wayne and I got to meet some great people from a hiking club called the West Vancouver Ramblers. They are a group of 32 hikers who came to Powell River to experience the natural beauty of our region on foot. The Ramblers are associated with the West Vancouver Seniors' Activity Centre. They have scheduled hikes in their local area every Monday. This four day trip lets them see new territory and enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of good friends at the same time. They were a great audience and made us feel comfortable and welcome immediately. It's so much fun to share our books and experiences with like-minded people.

After the slide show, there were lots of questions about Powell River and our float cabin lifestyle. It was amazing. One of the women brought with her a copy of the Our Canada article from last month. We've received more attention from this article than anything else.

Thank you Ramblers for a great evening. We hope you enjoy Up the Winter Trail as our thank you. Come back soon to see more of our town and wonderful back country. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Strait of Georgia

The Strait of Georgia runs north from the Canadian border between the southern tip of Vancouver Island and the mainland. It flows past the beautiful Gulf Islands all the way north to the Discovery Islands near Campbell River. This section of water is a busy marine highway. Tugs pull heavy loads of containers, sawdust and logs. They travel day and night in all kinds (and I mean ALL kinds) of weather. From my condo in Powell River, I can watch all of the pleasure boats, tugs, cruise ships and fishing boats passing north and south. It's like a parade, day and night.


Logging has a long history in British Columbia. I found an interesting blog called Tim-Ber with an informative post on the history of log booming. Do you like historical pictures? Here is a link to the Library and Archives Canada with lots of old logging pictures.

You can also take a boating adventure on the Strait of Georgia in Wayne's book Up the Strait available online at www.PowellRiverBooks.com -- Margy