Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bridge Over North Fork of the Nooksack River

Just an hour or so away from Bellingham, WA, is another world, one of trees, big mountains, and rushing rivers. On a warm fall day, a drive up Mt. Baker Highway SR 542 will take you to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. An unnamed bridge crosses the fast running glacial melt waters of the North Fork of the Nooksack River near the Douglas-Fir Campground.

This bridge is in the Pacific Northwest rainforest. The annual rainfall is about 67 inches per year, with snowfall of about 43 inches. That makes for lots water in almost all seasons.

With all that moisture, even a concrete structure like this bridge becomes home to mosses and other hardy plants.

For more bridges from all over, head on over to San Francisco Bay Daily Photo, the home of Sunday Bridges. -- Margy

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hunting Humour

Fall is here and it's deer hunting season in British Columbia and many other locations.

I saw this bit of hunting humour recently on a truck in BC. -- Margy

Friday, September 28, 2012

Coal Train

There has been a lot of controversy in Bellingham about the building of a coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point. Even is this never comes to pass, there are still coal trains traveling the rails heading for British Columbia's Westshore Terminal at Robert's Bank.

The primary destination for all that coal is China.

Here's the train passing Chuckanut Bay on a sunny September day. It's actually heading south empty. The triple engine in the front is pulling. I assume the single at the end is either pushing or going along for the ride. -- Margy

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's in a Name? Milbanke Sound

This week I'm sharing a picture I took last April in the Steveston Harbour. This commercial fishing boat caught my eye. The Milbanke Sound is (or at least was) owned by the W.E.R. Fishing Company. She's named after an open sea portion of the Inside Passage north of Bella Bella.

The Milbanke Sound participates in the BC-Canadian Albacore Fishery and also has a license for Canadian Sablefish, a small sleek high fat content fish that is mostly exported to Japan and Hong Kong, but is acquiring a larger Canadian and US market.

According to the Transport Canada website, the Milbanke Sound was built in 1963 by the Benson Bros. Shipbuilding Company. She's 25.76 metres long with 181 gross tonnage. The heavy steel hull is pushed up to 10 knots by a single 500 hp diesel engine and propeller. The primary owner is Jim Pattison Enterprises (yes Paul, he seems to own a bit of everything in BC), and Mast Fishing Company Ltd. out of Port Coquitlam. So many have been converted to recreational fishing tour boats, it's good to see one still fulfilling it's original purpose. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

38 Miles, 6 Hours, 1 National Forest

Because my daily schedule requires lots of indoor time, it's important to get out into nature as much as possible. Sometimes I don't have enough time off to do an overnight trip or return to our float cabin home, so a quick day trip has to do. Bellingham, WA, has some great places that can be reached in a short amount of time.

Last week, I headed up to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for a hike. From Bellingham, I took Mt. Baker Highway without a destination in mind. My first stop was the Douglas-Fir Campground. I saw several cars parked on the other side of the highway, so I decided to check it out. Here I found the easy to moderate "Horseshoe Bend" trail along the North Fork of the Nooksack River

The well maintained trail was built by the United States Forest Service and the Whatcom County Trail Work Crew. It has several stairs, bridges and causeways to make it easy to moderate hiking. I saw a few others, but most of the time I had the forest and river all to myself. What a relaxing afternoon.

I filled my backpack with a towel and lunch makings. The trail intersects with the Nooksack River at several points. Because the water is low right now, a few spots have large boulders exposed. I pulled up a rock, used my knee as a table, and ate my open-faced crackers sandwiches to the soothing sound of the rushing water.



The trail is listed as year-round. I'll have to go back in after the leaves turn. -- Margy

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Deer Lake Reflections

The day I went to Sasquatch Provincial Park, the weather was sunny, warm and calm. That made for some excellent reflections on the surface of Deer Lake.

This was the view I had for my picnic lunch.

This marshy area fed more water into the lake and looked like a great habitat for lots of aquatic plants and creatures. -- Margy

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bigfoot, Bearfoot or Barefoot?

On my mini-vacation to Sasquatch Provincial Park last week, I took a walk along the shore of Harrison Lake. As the name implies, this is supposed Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, territory. And Harrison Hot Springs capitalizes on the fact in business names and advertising.

Walking along the shore of the lake I saw these prints in the moist soil. What do you think? -- Margy

Friday, September 21, 2012

Deer Lake, BC

Here's another shot of the wonderful, blue sky over Deer Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park in British Columbia.

A little later in the evening, the golden sunset started to bring out the fast changing leaves.

Each season has its own beauty. -- Margy

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What's in a Name? Seasquatch

While I don't know much about this boat, I thought it was appropriate for this week.

She's a 25' recreational powerboat built by Northcoast Sportfishing in 1988, and is docked near us in Squalicum Harbor. I like the play on words. -- Margy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Lunch

Well, almost. When I selected my campsite at Deer Lake, I didn't realize it came with a plethora (I rarely have a need to use that wonderful word) of Steller's Jays. I discovered their presence when one descended from the trees and started pecking at my chip bag. Once I figured out where the pecking sound came from, I shooed him away. That's when I discovered that the trees were filled with "blue fruit."

I delayed my picnic hike to watch them. Jays are opportunistic birds. I'm sure they travel from site to site looking for leftovers and unguarded food. When no human food was produced, one Jay reverted to more natural behaviour.

He flew to the ground and started pecking around. At first I thought he was looking for crumbs, but then he came up with a short stick in his beak. He flew back up into the overhanging pine and began pecking at a large branch with the stick. It sounded like a woodpecker, but with less volume.

I assumed he was tapping to either dislodge or encourage insects to come out of their protective holes to be consumed. I tried to research this behaviour on the web, but didn't find any references except for crows. Since Steller's Jays are a member of the Corvid family including ravens, crows, and magpies, it isn't a far stretch to imagine them actively using tools.

Have you ever seen such a behaviour in a bird? -- Margy

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

24 Hours, 2 Countries, 1 Provincial Park

Last week I used the good weather to squeeze in a solo camping trip. It's a two hour drive from Bellingham, WA, to Sasquatch Provincial Park at Harrison Lake, BC, (depending on the border wait). I went north on the Guide to Badger Road, east to the Sumas border crossing (they now have Nexus!), and north to Canada Highway 1 eastbound. At Exit 135, I took Highway 9 north through Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs, along the east shore of Harrison Lake, and finally a well-packed dirt road to Sasquatch Provincial Park.

I first checked out the Hicks Lake Campground, but none of the vacant sites excited me. I went on to the Deer Lake Campground and found sites with foliage for privacy. I picked #16, just a short walk from the lake shore.

The afternoon was warm, sunny and calm. I left the car to claim the site and filled my backpack for a lunch hike. The trail along the south shore had the most water access.








The trail passes through some moist, swampy places. Bridges and causeways protect the environment and make this trail easier to hike. Today I had it all to myself.








There were some of the largest Skunk Cabbage plants I've ever seen. Spring must be beautiful (if a bit stinky) here. Looking back towards the campground in the waning light was beautiful.

When I got back it was time to set up camp. I brought a small tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, camp chair, flashlights, everything I would need for a comfortable night. Fortunately, the campground wasn't full and the campers were quiet. It made for a relaxing evening.


The campgrounds are open from March 30 to October 8 at a cost of $21 a night. Winter camping with no fee or services is available only at the Deer Lake Campground. I splurged for a bundle of wood and enjoyed a nice fire before I turned in to read myself to sleep. -- Margy

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crockpot Braciole

Crockpot Brasciole

This popular recipe has been updated and moved to the Margy Meanders blog. Please click here. -- Margy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mission BC Railway Bridge

Over the Labour Day long weekend, I went to help Wayne retrieve his kayak after a three day solo paddle down the Fraser River. The boat ramp we used is right next to the Mission BC Railway Bridge. While we were unloading his camping gear, a freight train with a Canadian Northern engine crossed the Fraser River on it's way eastbound.

The original bridge was built in 1891, and was the only railway crossing over the Fraser in the lower mainland until 1904. In the beginning, it shared it's span with car traffic traveling between Abbotsford and Mission. A parallel car bridge was subsequently built to reduce the lengthy waits that could occur for automobile passangers.

A bridge tender mans a central swing span 24/7 to allow tall boats, tugs, barges and ships to pass the bridge on their way up and down the Fraser River. Fortunately, Wayne didn't need that service. -- Margy

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fraser River Sturgeon

At the bottom of the mighty Fraser River in British Columbia, lives a mighty and massive fish. The Fraser River White Sturgeon is a remnant of prehistoric times. The skin is covered with large bony plates rather than scales, and the skeleton is mostly cartilage. Barbels on the underside of the head help it find food on the river bottom, making up for poor eyesight.

In Mission BC, along the banks of the river, there's a sculptural tribute to this interesting and illusive fish. Here's an amazing article about a 1,100 pound sturgeon caught this summer. And it's still there, because fortunately sturgeon fishing on the Fraser is only catch and release. For more information on protecting sturgeon, check out the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society. -- Margy

Friday, September 14, 2012

Airplane Camping on Orcas Island, WA

The summer crowds are gone, so Wayne and I decided to take a quick flying trip in 997. There are lots of interesting flying destinations nearby in the Pacific Northwest. For example, the San Juan Islands are just a twenty minute hop away. This week we returned to Orcas Island Airport (KORS) with our tent and sleeping bags in tow. We landed on Runway 34 with a slight headwind.

The runway is 2900 feet in length, plenty of room even for our cityfolk Piper Arrow. There's a small terminal, but it's only open when a commercial flight is scheduled. If you go around to the front of the building there's a pilot's conference room that may be open. Inside you will find pilot information and space for flight planning. Transient parking is available on the tarmac or in a large grass area.

If you're just coming for a day trip, park at the southeast corner. This is the closest location to the exit gate and trail towards town. If you want to camp, go the large grass tiedown area midfield on the east side. It is well maintained with clearly marked parking spots, some with hooks to attach your own ropes. There's a portable toilet next to the self-serve fuel building. And for those needing to file an international flight plan, there's free WiFi . Overnight parking is just $6 including camping.

Last time we flew to Orcas we walked the well marked trail to the village of Eastsound. That time we ate a The Sunflower Cafe. This time we decided to try the Madrona Bar & Grill. It's right on the water with a quaint atmosphere and a fabulous view down the u-shaped sound to the south. Since we were spending the night, I could enjoy a Mac & Jacks with our leisurely meal on the deck.

We walked back to the airport for a quiet night of reading in the tent. All went well until the wind picked up in the early hours of morning, rattling the tent. We took off the rain fly, allowing us to sneak in a few more winks before we packed up. Rather than walking back to town for breakfast, we flew south to Port Townsend to eat at the Spruce Goose Cafe. It was a great outing for 997 in the skies over Puget Sound, and her owners alike. -- Margy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's in a Name? Western Warrior

In the working boat section of Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, WA, the Western Warrior is ready for a well deserved rest at the dock.

I found a picture of a boat with the same name and contours by Alan H. Brown. His description said she was a seiner with BC registry through April 2011. If it's the same ship (and I believe it is), she was built in 1944 at Vancouver’s Coal Harbour by W.R. Menchions with rare sawn yellow cedar frames. At the time of Brown's picture, she was owned by Jim Pattison, the famous and wealthy Canadian entrepreneur.

From her former Canadian registry, here's more information. She's 22.52 metres in length with a gross tonnage of 110. The powerful diesel engine pushes her up to 10 knots on the open sea.

In the warm evening light, isn't she a lovely ship? -- Margy

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Powell River Fall Fair

Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23, the place to be is the Fall Fair in Powell River. It highlights and celebrates the end of the local harvest season. Admission for adults is $3 and children 12 and under are free. The Fall Fair runs from noon to 5 pm both days.

There will be agricultural exhibits, competitions, demonstrations, activities for the kids, music and other entertainment on the market stage. Community groups will have tables with a wealth of information about our wonderful town. Purchase farm fresh items for your kitchen or have a cup of tea and a "nummie" (that's what my friend Helen calls all of the great homemade baked goods) while you browse the vendor's booths. Come to the fair - hope to see you there.

Follow the signs up Duncan Street. Turn right on Padgett Road and then left on McLeod. There will be no parking inside the fairgrounds. Handicapped parking will be on McLeod Road and Myrtle Avenue. You might find a spot on Padgett Road, but better yet, take the shuttle bus service from the Town Centre Mall if you want to avoid the parking congestion. Park your car in the Town Centre north lot and get a ride right to the front gate.

The Powell River and District Agricultural Association is recruiting entertainers, service organizations, vendors and volunteers for the Fall Fair. Booth and tent space must be booked before Saturday, September 15, at 604.414.0701, which is also the number to call for more information.

Fall Fairs are held in towns large and small across Canada and America. Do you have a fair in your community to celebrate the harvest and the end of a great summer? What is your favourite thing at the fair? Tell us all about it. -- Margy

Monday, September 10, 2012

International Rock Flipping Day

For a second year in International Rock Flipping Day, I returned to Bellingham Bay. This time I chose a different beach. I went to Boulevard Park between downtown Bellingham and the community of Fairhaven. It's a strip of grass and paths along an artificial rock embankment that protects the railway bed and cliffs above.

I should have known better, but I thought maybe this side of the bay might have more intertidal activity. I picked a pocket beach at the end of the park and found a large rock at the high tide line to flip. The pebbly shore was interspersed with broken mussel shells, so I had hopes of finding something alive beneath.

Maybe if the tide was low, a different zone with living critters would have been exposed. But here at the high tide mark I only found more pebbles (beautiful and wave pounded smooth) and broken shells. Incoming waves rushed to fill the space I had just exposed.

One important thing I did find was Eelgrass blades captured under the rock's edge. That must mean there is a sandy or muddy section nearby. Eelgrass provides an important intertidal habitat for lots of fish, crabs, birds, animals, not to mention a plethora of invertebrates.

A sign on the nearby trail said there would be an eelgrass replanting project in this area in the near future (pending funding of course). That will go a long way to return this man altered shore to a more natural, ecologically sound state. Even though I found no visible life, I replaced the rock just in case there was someone down deep waiting for their roof to return.

Would you like to participate? There's still a bit of time left. I learned about Rock Flipping Day from the current organizer, Susannah over at Wanderin' Weeta, but it was started by Dave Bonta and Bev Wigney in 2007. Here's how it goes.

  • Sometime on Sunday, find a good rock or rocks and flip it/them over. If Sunday's impossible for your people, Saturday or Monday is fine.
  • Record what you find. Take a photo or video, if possible.
  • Replace the rock as you found it.
  • Write a post on your blog, in any format you are happy with (someone suggested haikus this year), and add your photos. Or load your photos to the Flickr group. (So even if you don't have a blog, you can join in. You can write a note describing your experience with any photo you add to the Flickr group, too.) If you're on Twitter, Tweet it, too; the hashtag is #rockflip.
  • Send me a link to the blog post or Flickr photo.
  • I will collect the links, write up a blog post including them all, e-mail participants the list, and post it for any and all to copy to your own blogs.
  • There is a handy badge available for your blog, here. (Or copy it from this post.)
It's flipping fun! - Margy