Archive for August, 2011


Our passports do not expire until next March but Pat noticed that the Royal Carribean cruise (which we will be taking in early October)  requires that we cannot cruise if our Passport expires within 6 months.  My arguement was this was based on citizens from countries (that Jacques Parizeau referred to after losing the 1995 separation referendum as “ethinics”)  that neither the US or Canada want to jump from the ship.

But NO.  Pat says we have to follow the rules, so we went off yesterday to the local (in Courtenay) Federal office to renew our passports.  We first stopped off at the local photo shop to have our passport photos taken.  Instructions were, no glasses and look as depressed as you can.   $20  later we head the 2 blocks to the the local passport office where we are told (a) our pictures are not the right size (by 1 mm) and we cannot get our passports for minimum 6 weeks due to mailing times. 

So as we were in a panic today (because we do leave to the US for a cruise in 5 weeks) so we spent 8 hours driving down to Victoria where there is an actual primary Canadian Passport office that offers 2 week turnaround.  Actually a very nice day, but we could have done this a month ago when we went down to pick up Ariana.

Now here is the good news.  Neither Pat or I blamed each other over this issue (we blamed federal civil servants) , we had a great book on CD to listen to, and the weather was wonderful. 

I am not a big fan of Sue Grafton books, but if you have 8 hours to kill while driving, it covers the time. 

Now we just have to hope that the passports get here in time or we will have to sneak into US to get to our cruise.

Blue Ribbon

I entered one of my bird houses (the blue cottage) into the Comox Valley Exhibition and won.  Not only won in the category of bird houses but got the blue ribbon for the overall category that included wood crafts like furniture and carvings.  I think the little flowers in the flower boxes might have tilted the scale. 

Did not win best of the Hobby and Craft show because there are some SERIOUS quilting ladies in the valley and great artists.  There is no category for ship models so I have to go with one of the minor hobbies.  Still I was kind of pleased.

It is Sunday and a gorgeous day so Pat and I took Little Red for a long drive before going back to the exhibition to collect the birdhouse and see how I did.  A nice day

Final Day with Bronte and Ariana

Tuesday came out sunny so I finally took the girls for a day of Go Carting and Monster Truck.  There is a race track just 15 minutes north of here (Saratoga Speedway) where they go family in the afternoon.  Took the grand sons when they were here and apparently they bragged to their sisters so they were after me to go as well.

While not as speedy as the boys, the girls loved their race.  The Monster truck goes out into a forest and takes jumps and rough trails for 15 minutes which bounces you around more than any Disney ride.  Girls loved that even more and wanted to do it again but as I went with them (and was the one paying) I said time to get home and pack.  They gave us an acting production (apparently about a sleepy cougar and magic blue jay) before we left for the airport.

On the plane tonight.  While I am going to like having a more relaxing time, I will miss all the grand kids.  The days were busy with trips and events and games but tiring. 

Here are the girls in the starting line and the monster truck


Ariana and Bronte Birdhouses

Sunday and Monday were cooler so no beaches.  Now had time for a project I wanted to do with them.  We made Birdhouses on Sunday in the shop.  Full eye and hearing protection for both in fact they did not want to take them off.  Like the boys before them they enjoyed they were more interested in operating the machines than they were in the measuring and sanding.  Monday the girls spent hours painting them. 

They will be taking these home

Ariana and Bronte visit

We finally had 3 wonderfully warm days so took advantage with several outdoor activities with the girls.  Hiking at Strathcona Park (pic 1) swimming at Barber falls on the Puntledge (Pic 2) and a day at Rathtrevor beach in Parksville (pic 3)

Strathcona Park is beyond Mount Washington and has a variety of mountain hikes ranging from dead easy to challenging.  We took the girls on an easy 4 km loop with great views around meadows.  They had a late night the day before so did not arise in time for a full day outing.

The Barber falls is another spot on the relatively short Puntledge river (of which I have already written)  with a deep pond due to a curve.  Very difficult to access down a steep slope.  No formal access as the trail has been made by teenagers seeking the pond for swimming.  The water is as pure as anything you get out of a bottle so crystal clear.  Pat and I struggled to get down the trail but the girls had no problem (as did the teenagers sharing the spot)  Definitely a beautiful site but not one we will share with others of our vintage.

Rathtrevor is one of the best beachs on the island and one of the most popular.  A long sand beach that is so shallow that when the tide is out it is close to a km from the shore to the water line and no matter how far the girls headed out they were never over their head.  The water is warm so the girls spent almost 5 hours in the ocean.  At 5 pm I finally had to hike out and order them to come in as we needed to head home.  Warmest day of the summer so far at 27 C


River Wading

Wading and swimming in the Puntledge river has become a favourite place to take our guests since we came across it when the Grand sons were visiting.  Quite a different experience than you would expect from the vision of wading in a river.  The Puntledge flows rapidly down from Comox lake across bedrock that is pocked with holes and rapids and mini falls. 

There is a long stretch where the water spreads across a wide space that allows you to wade in ankle-deep water (avoiding the deeper holes) to see spectacular scenery. 

We took the girls there yesterday and they loved it as did Lois last week and the boys last month.  The water level was down from previous trips so we were able to venture further down stream.  A lovely day that will likely be repeated later in the week

Grand daughters are Easy

It is so much easier to have grand daughters visit than it is for grand sons.  Bronte and Ariana are spending a couple of weeks with us and so far it is going great.

When the boys were here it was a lot of work.  Make them breakfast, find activities and lead them in the activities.  If you stopped pushing or organizing they would go into rest mode parked in front of the TV or watching videos on U Tube.

The girls are self starters, making their own breakfasts, and while they gleefully join in any planned activities when I take a break they immediately go and find their own entertainment.  Crafts like weaving bracelets or making clay bears fill all the down time.  And for some reason they think I am a great grandfather who can fix anything.  Granted I am handy.  How many grandfathers will sew up broken bra strap for their granddaughter? 

Weather remains cool (high today will only be 20 deg) so not much beach time but this leaves hikes and exploring with some shopping thrown in.

Job Opportunity for Pat

I have discovered a possible carreer for Pat that makes use of her skills.  Everyone knows that Pat has beautiful hand writing.  Apparently a lost art.

I was watching the news and people were moaning over the lost art of written letters.  Apparently there is a temporary service being provided where someone will write a letter for you for a special occassion.

So I figure we could set Pat up.  Someone emails her a letter they want written to a loved one.  Pat would edit it (as she is prone to do anyway) then write it out and mail it.  I figure $20 per page plus $2 for the envelope and stamp.  We could make a comfortable living.  ( I of course would perform the management and supervisory role while Pat would actually apply her skills) 


Bear Scat

Now for those that do not recognize the word Scat it means Poop.  I put the word scat in the title so I am not searched by Big Brother for nasty blogs.

Last Thursday Blaine and I were golfing with Harry and when we came to the 13th tee, we came across some mounds of SCAT.  Actually Harry found it first and pointed it out to us.  The 13th hole runs along underveloped forest and I am not sure how Harry came across it (I suspect he went off to have (a) a pee or (b) to find cell phone coverage.) 

Harry called us over to see a big mound of fresh scat.  Way to big for a dog or a deer or a horse or a golfer with really bad bowel problems.  As he pointed out, there was hair coming out of the lumps so we guessed a carnivore and given the size must be a bear. 

Now for the ladies, you would probably think why would you bend over so far to actually examine a mound of poop and see the hair, but this was the primeval instincts of man kicking in.  We all grabbed our drivers and confidently looked around with the thought that we would survive if needed. 

Anyway tonight Pat and I were strolling the golf course and I took her to see the scat  evidence when we met neighbours that confirmed that there are bear sightings on the course.  Now when you think we let the boys sleep out under the stars in the back yard last week,  Pat got excited, but I pointed out that Mason was in a tent so it would only have been either Bryndon or Chandler, and she said ‘well OK’

The grand girls are coming this week and I do not think they will be sleeping out under the stars, but I will take them to see the Bear Scat.


We just dropped Lois off at the airport for her return flight.  She stayed with us a little over a week and it was a good visit.  It is always a pleasure to rediscover sights and locations that you have visited through the eyes of a new visitor.  The Weather in the first part of the week was cool but by the end of the week we had beach weather so Could relax by the sea.

While she looks so much better than we have seen her over the last year, even an improvement from our visit to her in June, she still needs to gain a lot of strength to have any semblance of normal life. 

We invited her so she could have a relaxing time with enough activities to keep the boredom down and I think we achieved it.