Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Retrospective from Powell River Books

2007 was a great year for Wayne and me, and, of course, Powell River Books. Here are a few of the exciting moments:

January - Our cabin survived the worst Coastal BC wind storms in years and I start experimenting with wood stovetop baking.

February - We go to California to see Mt. SAC host PCIFA and Stick (our cat) flew north on Alaska Airlines to live with Mom in Bellingham.

March - We explored our new U.S. home base in Bellingham before heading back to Powell River. We planted our floating garden and it was immediately attacked in the "Junco Wars."

April - The PRB Blog had it's 1000th visitor and I start Float Cabin Living, a series to tell readers more about off-the-grid life.

May - Our Piper Arrow 997 returns us to Powell River to enjoy spring up the lake, but so do a woodpecker under our roof and a bat in our propane storage shed.

June - Up the Strait (the fourth book in the Coastal BC Stories series) is launched at Marine Traders, Halcyon Days heads back to the chuck, and Stick takes his first trip to the cabin.

July - "Mr. Float Cabin" makes an appearance at the Sea Fair parade and we see our baby tree swallows take first flight.

August - I trade in my trusty Honda 250 for a Kodiak 4X4 and we cruise the Georgia Strait in Halcyon Days.

September -The PRB Blog is highligted on Sunset.com and TheSunshineCoast.com, and 997 wings us south on Victor 27.

October - The Powell River Books Blog has its first birthday, it wins a second "Blog of the Day" award, we set up a book booth at the Powell River Newcomer Social, and fly 997 to Eugene for USC Football.

November - Powell River Books is honored at the Horizon Business Awards, a woodrat devours our garden, and we enjoy early snow.

December - The holidays kept us away from our beloved cabin and leave us BC Dreamin'.

It's been a great year for us and I've had fun sharing parts of it with you. Wayne and I wish you and your family a happy new year. May it bring you peace, love and contentment. -- Margy

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Woodstove Drying Rack

John's not only our good friend, he's also the "father" of our cabin. He almost single-handedly built it from the float up. It isn't the first one he's built, nor will it be the last. But if you ask us, it's the BEST!

John is a wizard at making something out of nothing. Our woodstove drying rack is a case in point. We first met John after purchasing the cabin when he stopped by to meet the "fool Americans." As he walked around the deck, he pointed out several features that were unique or special. When he came to the woodstove, he pointed to the rack on top and said, "You never know when you might need to dry a pair of gloves or socks." And he was right, we just didn't know it at the time (it was the middle of summer and we were city-folk extraordinaire).

Here's what he did. He went to a junk yard (or one of his brother's houses) and got an unwanted oven rack. The rack was exactly the right size to sit on top of the wood-burning stove. The metal projections below that once secured the rack in it's baking position made perfect legs to keep it about one inch above the stove's surface. He used a hack saw to make two cuts on one side so he could bend a portion of the rack up to allow it to wrap around the stove's chimney pipe. In his wisdom, the now vertical section protects objects from touching the hot pipe.

So with a little effort, and probably no cost, he made a valuable tool that we use frequently during the winter to dry our wet gloves and socks, just as he predicted. But you still have to be careful! Constant turning prevents burning. Wayne has a melted pair of slippers to prove that! -- Margy

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Meet "Captain Bob"

If you've been reading my blog or any of Wayne's books in the Coastal BC Stories series, you know who John and Bro are. But some of the other names in my T'was the Night Before Christmas rendition may not have been as familiar. One of those was probably "Captain Bob." Bob is a good friend and fellow quad rider. Bob has a cabin "up the lake," but is probably best know for his skookum boat. Like many other Powell Riverites, he is very self-reliant and able to build anything. He started with a sturdy aluminum hull and custom made the cabin to create his own classic work boat.

You can always tell when Bob is heading up the lake because his boat is one of the biggest and definitely has the largest aft deck. In it he can haul lots of logging equipment and workers, tree planters or students heading to Rainbow Lodge for a outdoor experience. You can also tell it's Bob's boat by the prominant red Zodiak perched on top.

To those of us who ride quads, we also picture Bob's mightly boat hauling bikes to the head of Powell Lake for an excursion to remote spots few others get to see. Wayne and I were fortunate enough to meet up with Bob and some of his friends on one of those trips. Bob can fit quite a few quads and bikes in the back of his boat for such a trip. As far as a barge carrying eight quads, I used a little poetic license. But I did see another boat heading up the lake last summer doing just that.

Bob is just one of the great people who live in Powell River. Want to get to know our town and its people a little better? You can read the PEAK online to see what's happening. Maybe you'll read a story by Jeremy who just joined the PEAK staff. Go to YouTube and see some pretty interesing (if not unusual) videos. Or get one of the Coastal BC Stories books. I recommend Up the Lake. It is the first book in the series and has the most stories about my favourite place in the whole world, Powell Lake. -- Margy

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Up the Lake

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the float,
Not a creature was stirring, except a pesky little woodrat.
The stockings were hung by the woodstove with care,
In hopes that our friend John soon would be there.


Stick was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of mousies danced in his head.
Wayne in his USC T-shirt, and I in my Canada cap,
Went up to the loft for a cozy little nap (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

When out on the lake there arose such a roar,
We sprang from our bed to see it blowing full bore.
Down to the great room we flew like a flash,
To see our sawhorse skid off the deck in a mad dash.

The sun over Goat gave a boost to our panel,
And the clouds they went skittering through the nearby channel.
When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a boat and a barge with eight quads in the rear.

With Captain Bob at the helm, his eyes straight ahead,
We knew in a moment it must be a trip to the Head.
More rapid than a tug, up the lake they came,
All shouting and waving, so we called them by name!

"Hi Poki! Hi Rick! Hi Doug and Bob!
Hi Janie! Hi Dave! Hi Elden and Rob!"
To the top of the lake! Past the Hole in the Wall!
Now off we go! Off we go! A good ride for all!

And then, in a moment, we heard under the roof
The screeching of brown bats, and then a resounding woof.
As I moved my head, and was turning around,
There came Bro up the dock with a bound.

He was wearing a raincoat, from his head to his paw,
A hoodie over his ears, so his eyes were all I saw.
A raven was flapping and cawing behind his back,
And stealing his sardines right out of John's pack.

And there was John, stepping out of his boat.
His jacket all buttoned, slipping on the mossy float.
His tools were many, all packed in a bag,
For his purpose in coming wasn't just to lollygag.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his task,
And fixed the wind generator, never needing to ask.
When his work it was done, the steaks went on the grill,
One for each and Bro if you will.

He sprang to his feet, to Bro gave a whistle,
And away they went right out through First Narrows.
We stood on our deck and called in their wake.
"Merry Christmas to you and everyone else down the lake."

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our Powell River Books friends wherever you may be. -- Wayne and Margy

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Best Airport Layover Story

We flew back to Bellingham this week and had a delay in Seattle, fortunately a short one. But it brought to mind other trips that didn't turn out so simple. I'm used to the difficulties of airline travel, but traveling with my mother can make it a little more challenging. Mind you, she is a young 91, but getting through airports can be difficult.

On one of her first trips to our float cabin on Powell Lake we flew out of LAX, just the two of us. We took Alaska Airlines non-stop to Vancouver where we had to transfer to a smaller Pacific Coastal Airlines plane. It was just before Christmas, so we encountered some weather delays getting out of LAX. When we arrived in Vancouver, the baggage was delayed. By the time we got over to the South Terminal, we missed the last flight to Powell River. What a mess!

The Pacific Coastal gate agent saved the day. She called Alaska Airlines and made arrangements for us to get back to the main terminal where the Alaska agent gave us vouchers for an overnight hotel with free dinner and breakfast. You've got to know my mom. She grew up during the depression and anything free is very special. She thoroughly enjoyed her flying mishap and layover in Vancouver because of our "free" night on the town. In fact, I think she had more fun that night than our week's stay at the cabin (a whole other story).

This was about five years ago. I'm not sure if the airlines are so "free" with their vouchers, but thanks to that Pacific Coastal agent a traveling disaster with my mom was turned into an adventure she still talks about. Do you have any airline tales to tell? Let's hear them. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Storage Shelf Design

When we reorganized a downstairs bedroom at our float cabin we lost a lot of storage space. We talked it over with our friend John, and he built us a shelf to help maximize our remaining floor space.

He used hand-milled, rough sanded lumber. We liked the look so much that we decided not to paint it. There's plenty of room underneath for six double stacked plastic bins and the top holds two more even larger bins. We store our long handled tools upright at the end. Living in a 20x21 foot cabin you learn to squeeze a lot into a little space.

Looking for more storage at your place? Here's the design. The cost is minimal, you might even have enough lumber scraps lying around.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Notes from the Century Before" by Edward Hoagland

I've always had an affinity for British Columbia. Maybe it is my family's history of coming to the New World via Canada. Maybe it's because I spent many summers camping here with my parents, or more recently with my husband. Whatever the case, now that we've discovered Powell River, it is a place I want to call home.

When I travel to someplace new, I always read several books about the area and its people first. Even though it isn't new any longer, I've been reading about British Columbia for several years now. Here's a book I discovered that you might like if you are planning a trip to northwest BC. It's called Notes from the Century Before by Edward Hoagland. I found my copy during one of my used bookstore adventures. If that doesn't work for you, it is available from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

In 1966 Edward Hoagland visited Telegraph Creek in northern BC. It's a small town (population 400) on the Stikine River, accessible then only by river through the panhandle of Alaska, by dogsled in winter or via bush plane. A combination of gold rushes, trapping and fishing helped the wilderness town survive even when the telegraph didn't. Hoagland lived in nearby Hazelton and heard stories about the Telegraph Trail leading to Telegraph Creek. He dreamed of taking that grueling trek for himself, but opted to arrive at Telegraph Creek via the more traditional river route.

The land was still "very silent and wild," but not for long. Even though Telegraph Creek is isolated by it's remote geography, nearby logging and mining would soon take their toll. As a novelist, Hoagland wanted to tell the story of this rugged land and its people. He chose to write in a journal format since he would be using interviews and journals from original settlers as his primary source of information. The result is a book that chronicles his 1966 trip up the Stikine River from Wrangell, Alaska, conversations with the "Old Men of Telegraph Creek," backcountry truck trips to remote cabins to hear the stories of their hardy occupants, and flights into the yet unspoiled bush.

With today's transportation and technology advances, it's easier to experience the beauty and self-reliance of a town like Telegraph Creek. You can now get there by road from Dease Lake for hiking, backpacking, kayaking and river boating adventures. But before you go, step back forty years with Hoagland and see it through the eyes of Tahltan First Nations people and early pioneer settlers in Notes from the Century Before. -- Margy

Friday, December 07, 2007

Winter on the Sunshine Coast Trail

The Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) runs from Sarah Point near Lund all the way to Saltary Bay, spanning the entire length of the northern Sunshine Coast. You can enter and exit at several points along the way. On a recent trip, we started our hike at the northern Wilde Road entrance to the Appleton Creek Trail. This section isn't actually part of the SCT, but links with it in about a kilometre.

I forgot my cap, so I wore my quad helmet to keep my head dry, but it looked pretty stupid. After leaving the road, we hiked down to a small stream and one of the bridges built by the BOMB Squad (Bloody Old Men's Brigade). We all owe them a huge debt of gratitute. THANK YOU!! Then we climbed up through the hills along the quiet forest trail until the trail finally dropped down to Appleton Creek.

We stopped for a rest at the picnic area before reversing course to return to our quads. It was a good decision. From the picnic area, it is a 2.2 km hike along the Appleton Canyon Trail to its junction farther down Wilde Road. From there it would have been another 2 km (all uphill) to the waiting bikes. On our next hike, we plan to pre-position one quad at the lower trailhead. Then we enjoy the full hike, but have a ride uphill to our starting point.

There are several websites where you can get hiking information:
Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society
Sunshine Coast Trail by PRPAWS
Sunshine Coast Trail by Victoria Club Tread
Sunshine Coast Trail by The Sunshine Coast BC
Sunshine Coast Trail by Roughlife.com
Current Trail Conditions Blog

The best information can be found in a book written by Eagle Walz (the trail's founder) called The Sunshine Coast Trail. He also has written a new book called Along the Edge of the Salish Sea about other Powell River trails. You can get both books at Powell River Tourism in the Crossroads Shopping Centre or online.

To get to many of the SCT trailheads you need to use forest or logging roads. Extreme care needs to be taken because of active logging. The Western Forest Products 24/7 Hotline is a good resource at 604-485-3132.

Up the Winter Trail has lots of stories about winter hiking, quadding and snowshoeing. Are you looking for a Christmas present for someone who likes the outdoors? Head over to Coles, Breakwater Books or Marine Traders and get them a copy. Then ask them to take you on a hike along the Sunshine Coast Trail. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Winter Holiday in Powell River

Are you looking for a winter vacation destination for this holiday season? What about Powell River, BC. Powell River is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Vancouver on the Sunshine Coast. We go there in all seasons and love it. The winters are mild, but you can easily get to the snow for snowshoeing, cross country skiing or sledding. There are places in town where you can rent equipment if needed. Try Alpha Adventures on Alberni Street and Skeeter Jacks south of town on Highway 101. The employees at both of these shops and the Powell River Tourism Info Center can give you maps and details about places to hike and explores.

Because the coastal areas are usually free of snow, you can hike year round. The Sunshine Coast Trail has several entry and exit points that make it a good choice for family hiking. On weekends you can take your car or truck on forest and logging roads to see the pristine backcountry with old growth trees and uncrowded parks. There's also the ocean and Powell Lake for exploration.

You can stay in town or at several resorts and bed and breakfasts along the coast. The Lund Hotel at the end (or beginning) of Highway 101 is quaint. It always amazes me how many great restaurants are in town. Some of my favorites are the Shinglemill with dynamite view of Powell Lake, Snickers on Marine Avenue with spectacular ocean and sunset views and the Town Centre Hotel restaurant and TC's pub. If you are north of town, don't miss lunch or dinner at the Laughing Oyster overlooking Okeover Inlet.

To get to Powell River you get the chance to ride a BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay. You'll travel through some really beautiful inlets on the BC coast along the way. You can bring your car or take the Malaspina Coach Lines bus from several locations in Vancouver. You can also fly to Powell River using Pacific Coastal Airlines from the Vancouver Airport's South Terminal. There are lots of taxi cabs and bus transportation if needed for the traveler without a car.

Wayne's book Coastal BC Stories: Up the Winter Trail tells more about winter activities in the region. You can order it online at www.PowellRiverBooks.com or in town at Coles Books in the mall, Breakwater Books on Alberni, or Marine Traders at the ferry terminal. Come visit us soon in Powell River. -- Margy

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Woodstove Cooking: Baking Powder Biscuits

When I am making soup or chili for dinner on my wood stove, I like to make a quick bread to go with it. This recipe for baking powder biscuits comes from my trusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The following is a half-size recipe so I can fit it all on one pan in my my small stovetop oven.

Baking Powder Biscuits
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tablespoon sugar
¼ cup margarine softened
½ cup milk

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut the margarine into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, knives or fork until it is like a coarse meal. Add the milk and stir until blended. For an extra taste treat, you can add ¼ cup of grated cheese to the batter before baking. Drop the biscuits on a greased pan and bake 15-20 minutes in a conventional oven at 425 degrees or until brown. In my stovetop oven, it takes a little longer for the biscuits to bake. To get them crispy and golden on both sides, I flip the biscuits half way through the baking process.

Do you do stovetop baking? I would love to share recipes with you. -- Margy

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Snows of Mount Mahony

"When the sky clears in Powell River, you can see the snowpack all around, but you can't get to it. Mount Mahony is the exception. The dirt road, only a few miles outside town, climbs steeply..."

Wayne featured "Mount Mahony" in the first chapter of Up the Lake. I've been there once, but Wayne and I only took our quads a little ways up the mountain. Today we did the whole thing, with our friend John and his dog Bro in the lead. We are always more confident that way.

It was still overcast in Powell River. As we climbed higher and higher, we finally broke through the freezing mist to the sunshine promised for today. The snow on the trail got deeper and deeper and the overarching alders did their best to dump their load on our heads as we passed underneath. John takes the worst of it in the lead, but Bro in his aft quad box gets quite a dose.

Each time we thought we could go no further, John pushed through and made a trail for us to follow. We made it all the way to the bluffs and their panoramic lookout, but today's low lying clouds hid Inland and Powell Lakes from view. Texada and Vancouver Islands poked their heads through, but the rest of the coast remained shrouded in gloom. Sandwiches and pop taste as good as lobster and champagne when you are in such a beautiful place.

On the way down we hiked a few hundred meters up a side trail to a tranquil lake in the process of freezing. Sometimes it is hard to believe that Powell River has such wonderful places to explore so close to town. Even though we saw several cars and trucks along the way, we had the trails and snows of Mount Mahony all to ourselves.

Want to read more Powell River winter adventures? Try Up the Winter Trail. It will take you hiking, snowshoeing and quadding along the roads and trails of our glorious backcountry. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quad Ride to Windsor Lake, BC

Crisp fall days bring crystal blue skies and magnificent reflections.

On a recent quad ride we followed Goat Lake Main along the chain of lakes that make up the Powell River Forest Canoe Route. One thing we like to do while quadding is to stop and hike farther into the bush. You don't have to go far to find some spectacular places.

We stopped between Dodd and Windsor Lakes and followed the portage trail to the head Windsor.

It's a little hike, but the vistas are huge. Be sure to look both up and down. Some of the most beautiful things are right there at your feet. This particular location can be accessed on weekends by truck, or even a car if care is taken while driving on the logging roads.

You don't have to wait until summer to enjoy this ride. A sunny winter day, even a foggy one, brings beautiful things to see. 

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. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Woodstove Cooking: Dutch Oven Rustic Apple Pie

We use our woodstove 24/7, so why waste all that heat. The best time for baking is when we first get back from town. A roaring fire gets the cabin warm and toasty, and bakes a yummy pie at the same time. For this simple pie I used my cast iron dutch oven on top of the stove. I also used some heated rocks on top for better browning.

Stovetop Dutch Oven Rustic Apple Pie

Make dough for an 8" pie crust:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture looks like course meal. Sprinkle water over the mixture a tablespoon at a time and mix. Use only enough water for the pastry to hold together when pressed into a ball. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board. Rough edges are not a probelm. They add to the rustic look. Press the dough into a pie pan.

Apple Filling

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 peeled and sliced apples
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar for glaze

Mix sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and nutmeg and toss with apples. Spoon into the unbaked crust. Fold extra crust over the edge of the apples to seal in the juices. Brush the crust with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a preheated dutch oven. I used my new thermometer and it registered about 300 degrees inside. The first 40 minutes are on a rack 1/2" above the bottom of the dutch oven. Then raise it on a 3" rack for 40 minutes more. Crack the lid to let steam escape for the last 60 minutes. Your time may vary. If you are using a conventional oven, bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until the apples are bubbling and the crust is brown.

Stovetop baking is a challenge, but the results are always a welcome addition to our cabin fare. Do you have any stovetop recipes? I would love to hear your experiences. -- Margy

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Beautiful Day in the Bush

Today was a foggy day in town, but up in the bush on our quads it was gloriously sunny. We didn't have to go too far to get into the snow again. This time we went with our good friend John, his dog Bro and two of his friends. We love riding with John because he really knows the logging roads and trails. There are very few places in the area John hasn't already explored, more often than not, many times.


Today he took us up towards Granite Lake, but before we reached the lake we headed into the high country to get some outstanding views of the backcountry. Our first stop was at an overlook where we could see the chain of lakes that make up the Powell River Forest Canoe Route. In the background was snowcapped Mount Freda.

On the way back we found a viewpoint on the other side that gave panoramic views of the Strait of Georgia with Texada in the foreground and Vancouver Island beyond. Because of the fog and low clouds over the water, it made for an interesting sight from our vantage point in the sunshine above.

Tonight we capped the day off at a dinner with the Powell River ATV Club at Snicker's Restaurant. Our president Dave organized the evening and it was fun to meet old friends and new ones for a night of good food and conversation. It's groups like the ATV Club that have made us feel so welcome in our new town. It's not always easy to be the new kid on the block, but in Powell River it has been easier because the people are so great. Come visit our town and see for yourself. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Weathering the November Storms

November is notorious for strong storms blowing through coastal BC. They come in wave after wave across Vancouver Island and blast through Powell River and up the arms of Powell Lake. They start as an Aleutian Low that winds up in the Gulf of Alaska then drops down the coast. If you watch the forecast on The Weather Network you see them spinning south and east with their isobars packed so close you know it's going to be a nasty one.

Last Monday was the first major storm of the season. Rain and wind began in the evening, but on Monday morning the worst winds hit. At the Powell River Airport they were clocked at 124 kilometres per hour (116 is hurricane force). You know it's a bad blow when the Texada Ferry doesn't make one of its scheduled runs. We were at the cabin. Sunday night the winds were pretty strong, gusting down our chimney pipe. But at 11:00 a.m. I was looking out the sliding glass door and saw water spouts swirling up through First Narrows. In between the spouts, sheets of water were driven 500 feet into the air. It was scary to watch, but then one of the spouts turned and headed straight for our cabin. When it hit, it dragged a heavy sawhorse off the deck and ripped the mooring ring for our boats right out of the deck. While we braved the elements to save our boats, we had to sadly watch our precious sawhorse float away in the storm tossed water. A few hours later the front passed and the skies cleared bringing a respite with blue skies and much needed sun.


Yesterday was another weather first, the first snow on Goat Island. The storm during the night brought heavy rain on our metal roof, but thankfully no wind. When I got up, the first thing I saw was a light dusting of snow on Goat. By the end of the day it was mostly melted, but a memorable event nonetheless.

We love living at our float cabin on Powell Lake. The weather is an ever-changing event that makes each and every day a new and exciting experience. -- Margy

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hockey Night in Powell River

All throughout Canada everyone knows about Hockey Night in Canada and its distinctive theme song that is dubbed "Canada's second national anthem." Well, last night was Hockey Night in Powell River. The Powell River Kings stuck the Burnaby Express 6-3, the decisive three points being make in the third period.

The Kings are Powell River's Junior "A" Hockey Club. Home games are held at the Recreation Complex and great seats are always available. You will see young, old and everyone in between cheering on their team. You might even be lucky enough to see Crazy Cliff in his personal Kings uniform and green painted face loudly beating his drum to rouse the team to victory. Well, all his efforts sure paid off last night. Thanks Crazy Cliff.

Come join us for Hockey Night in Powell River. The games are exciting, the food tasty (love those chips 'n gravy) and see all your friends in the stands. You might even win the 50-50 draw. Can't make the game? You can listen live from their website or on the New Magic 1280, Powell River's own am radio station. -- Margy

Saturday, November 17, 2007

First Snow

As John says, "When it's snowing up above, it's raining down below." Well, today we figured the reverse must be true. It's a Saturday and the logging roads are open for the public to use. We've been listening to the weather forecast for days and came down from the cabin because it was supposed to be partly sunny. Well, we woke to gray skies. Still hopeful, we went to the airport to get our quad trailer out of the hanger. By the time we were all hooked up and ready to go, the drizzle started. What to do?

Well, we remembered John's saying so we decided to pick a destination where we could ride in the snow. Our choice was to go north of town to Wilde Road and head up to the Bunster Hills. We have been there several times before in both summer and winter. I remember well one winter trip in my truck. It was so memorable that Wayne wrote a story about it, "The Truck Got Stuck" in Up the Winter Trail.

We parked our truck and quad trailer in a wide turnout just past a tree that fell almost across the road during the last wind storm. It seems like this area really gets hit hard by the winds. The first part of our ride was in a light rain, but in about 10klicks it changed into snow. Even though we were in our rain gear, that made the ride more pleasant. It took another 2 klicks before we could see the snow starting to stick on the ground, but then it rapidly started to build. The last 3 klicks were in several inches of snow, but our tires handled it well. Then all of a sudden, there was too much and we had to turn around.

On our way back down we stopped at Appleton Creek where the Sunshine Coast Trail crosses the road. Then we continued on to Sliammon Lake to have our picnic lunch and had the whole campsite all to ourselves. Even with gray skies and a light mist it was a beautiful and relaxing place to enjoy our sandwiches and pop. It was a good day after all. John was right, but then he always is. -- Margy

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pesky Bushy Tailed Woodrats

Something started invading my floating garden and was "harvesting" what was left of my crops. It was a strange sight. There were small piles, all categorized by crop. Parsley was piled with parsley, spinach with spinach, carrot tops were with carrot tops, and strawberries with strawberries. Such a neat farmer. But what could it be? Yes, I did leave the garden tethered to our transition float one night, but after that it was in its floating position along the breakwater. No animals were evident in the garden and I wasn't sure one could live under the float since it rides pretty low in the water. Yet, several nights a week more piles would appear.

I went to Rainbow Valley Pet & Farm Supplies on the corner of Manson and Duncan Streets. The proprietor listened to my description and thought it might be a weasel. I've neven seen one around the cabin, but it was possible. My vote was on a Woodrat (Packrat) or squirrel, both of which I've seen around our place. He recommended a weasel trap, but it was pretty big. I decided on the Havahart 0745 live trap for squirrels, rats and chipmunks.

The first night Wayne loaded it up with peanut butter as bait. It was sprung the next morning, but nothing was inside. The second night we had success. A Bushy Tailed Woodrat (Packrat) was nervously resting inside our trap. The Woodrat is the only rat native to Canada. It eats leaves and seeds (and garden veggies). They live on cliffs (we've got a big one of those) and in abandoned buildings (our shed isn't abandoned but it's pretty quiet). A Woodrat is a large, gentle, squirrel-like rodent with soft grey and light brown fur. Its large eyes and ears, and bushy tail make it easy to identify. Yep, that's a Woodrat in my cage. The descriptions don't mention anything about swimming, but this one must have been crossing between our transition float and the garden to return with tasty morsels to store in its midden for the winter. At least there was evidence of this on our walkway to shore one morning. In addition to storing food, Woodrats are notorious for taking and hiding bright shiny objects.

Wayne took him (or her) for a ride in our tin boat to a distant cliff to start a new life. The next night we put the cage on our front deck. There was evidence (droppings and nibbled flowers) that someone was hanging out there as well. Just as the sky began to lighten, we heard the cage rattling. Wayne went downstairs to find another Woodrat waiting for relocation. He took the second Woodrat to the same spot, hopefully facilitating a reunion since they were possibly a mother/daughter pair sharing the same territory. Now, if I can avoid the Juncos next spring, maybe my garden will have a chance. -- Margy

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hot Tub Bliss

When Wayne asked if I thought it was crazy to put in a bathtub at our cabin, I said of course not. In summer, a dip in our "swimming pool" in Powell Lake does the trick, but in the fall, winter and spring (most of the year for that matter) the lake is too cold. In fact, by November the water is bone chilling.

We started looking for a used bathtub. After a month it was evident that in our small community a used tub isn't something that comes on the market very often. Then we got creative. What if we could use an old canoe, cut it in half and make a tub out of that? It was an appealing idea. It would really go with the atmosphere of a rustic cabin. Yes, there were canoes for sale, but they weren't old beaters and the prices were out of the question.

One day we were walking through Powell River Building Supply (Rona) and there was an enameled steel tub on sale. Because we wouldn't be installing it in a normal manner, we needed a rigid tub that would support our weight. We picked it out, but left the installation to our friend John. Now, instead of a twin bed that we never used, we have a bathtub that we will. There aren't any faucets, but the drain is pretty simple. Pull the plug and scoot back. The water whooshes down the pipe and under the float.

To get hot water we fill four big pots and heat them on top of our wood-burning stove. We are always trying to find ways to use the excess energy that it generates. Four pots of hot and two of cold give a nice water level in the tub for a warm and relaxing soak. So thanks Wayne, for a great idea and a little bit of luxury in our simple home.

p.s. Our tub has a new home. In 2011 our good friend John built a bathroom addition for it and a composting toilet.  Come take a look. Here's a post and a video. But we still heat our water and fill the tub the old fashioned way.  It works for us. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rocky Mountain Pizza and Bakery

Rocky Mountain Pizza and Bakery is one of the great restaurants available on Marine Avenue in Powell River, BC. It's location makes it a good destination for people waiting in the lineup at the Westview Terminal waiting for a ferry to either Texada Island or Comox on Vancouver Island. Just walk up Wharf Street to Marine and hang a left. It's also a favorite breakfast or coffee break stop for locals, and a good place for lunch or a pizza dinner.

What's good to eat? For breakfast my favorites are a scone (they're huge) or a cinnamon roll. The coffee is fresh, hot and rich. Sometimes, for a change, I get a latte instead. They bake their own bread. You can buy it by the loaf, or get it in a sandwich with a bowl of soup, or take it to go. When we go quadding that's what we do. A roast beef with all the trimmings on multigrain sure tastes good while taking a break from riding on the top of a mountain. When I don't feel like cooking (almost every night), it's a great place to get a pizza.

Need to use a computer or the Internet, they've got that too. There are several PCs available for a small fee. That's handy for people passing through who just need to grab a terminal to get their e-mail. They also have a free wireless hotspot if you want to bring your own laptop. Head for the back room if you want a room with a view, and a computer too.

So, stop by for a cup of coffee or a great snack. Maybe I'll see you there. No, that's not me. Wayne is the Mac guy. I'll be the one with the Dell laptop typing out my latest blog entry. -- Margy