Archive for January, 2014

Hello Muddah, Hello Foddah

My previous blog reminded me of the song by Allan Sherman about the kid complaining to his parents because it was raining in Camp Grenadah.

Well yesterday the sun came out and we spent the afternoon at Big Rock beach snorkelling, lying in the sun watching whales and James diving off a cliff into the ocean. (some kids never grow up)

Today was even better sunshine.  James and I went to Molokini to dive on the reefs and the girls walked the beach resorts.

So kindly disregard my earlier ‘lettah’

January in Hawaii

Guess we should have checked this before coming.  This is the rainy season.  So far we have had 2 days of sunshine and 3 days of overcast and rain.  Could have stayed home for that.

However the temperature is 26 C which it would not be at home.  Kind of curtailing beach time but still in shorts and teeshirt so not that bad

Great Hike

Over Christmas we took our kids and grandchildren on a few of the local hikes.

On Vancouver Island there are hundreds of hiking trails.  Only a small percentage were developed and maintained by the government as park trails.  The kind of trails they have in Ontario with almost carpeted ground and no tripping hazards.   The vast majority follow old logging roads and trails cut and maintained by volunteers.  No one to sue if you trip and fall.   I have often wondered about what kind of person spends the time to maintain trails where they are not paid to do so.

Pat and I belong to a hiking club part of Probus a club for retired and active people.  I have gone on a number of hikes with the club which allowed me over Christmas to take the kids and grandchildren on a few that are not listed in the tourist maps.  They were actually the hikes rated easy by our club.

Today I joined a group (8 in all) on a hike up the Trent River just 20 km south of us.  This time we were joined by a founding member of the club Earl.  Now I have heard about Earl in the club but this is the first time I have hiked with him.  Earl is a retired army guy (older than I am) who loves hiking and travels all over the world to do it.  He lives in Comox Valley and his hobby is to maintain trails and create new ones.  This is a 3 – 4 day a week hobby that he does year round.

If you kids remember the short hike to Brown River Falls with the rickety plank over the stream, that is one of his creations.  Before that it was straight bush and no one hiked there.

Today we did a 12 km hike up the Trent River.  We started near the ocean and had arranged for cars to pick us up at the inland highway.

It was overcast but 7°C and misty after a couple of days of rain so the route was wet.  Purposely picked because the Trent River is not fed from a lake but depends on rainfall to make the waterfalls stand out.

The first 8 km is easy on normal trails along the ridge that looks down on the river (at some points 80 m above the river)  Old logging trails and trails maintained for hikers and bikers and ATVs.   Then we came to a pink ribbon on a treer.  That is where we turned onto an Earl trail.  I thought they were joking because it looked like pure wet jungle.  The trail wandered over logs and and through deep typical West Coast rain forest trees.  I only call it a trail because apparently Earl had hiked it earlier in the week with his machete to clear it.

For some reason I was the lead.  (I think possibly because of my initial comment about the trail)

Wet ferns and logs and bushes haphazardly wandering through trees that spread above you.  I was reminded of the scene from the movie Romancing the Stone when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are fighting through the jungle only to find a plane.  I was making reference to this when we very suddenly came to the edge of a cliff and looked down on a gorgeous waterfall on the river.  Over the next half hour as we continued up the river we came across 3 more waterfalls ranging from 10 feet to 30 feet high.  Beautiful

These are waterfalls that NO ONE sees unless they take the Earl trail and that would be very rare.  The bitching about the trail difficulty stopped as we viewed each set of falls.  Eventually we turned back south and joined the normal trail on a loggers road.  Earl told us that he knew the falls were there from looking at geo landscape profiles and cut this trail for those that wanted to see them.   Obviously very few follow it.  Earl and a friend purposely cut and laid out the trail using tools they carried on their backs for the single purpose of viewing the falls.  Apparently took them a month a few years ago.  I was exhausted walking yet and cannot imagine the energy to cut the trail.  Never-the-less it is a very basic trail little more than a deer track.

I doubt if more than a few hundred people have taken the challenge of the trail (and it must be done after a heavy rain to see the falls)  Only two of the falls are actually named.

My legs hurt, my ankles hurt and I was soaked.  Felt like a real explorer, but admit was very happy to see Pat with Jill and the two vehicles at the trail end by the Inland highway waiting for us.

This is a special area where we live.

Trent R. Falls, 16 Jan.14

What a Day

January 13 and a gorgeous day here in Paradise.  While we do have to live with countless days of overcast and some rain at this time of year, we do get breaks.  Today was one.

Sunshine and 9°C.  So nice I took little Red for a drive.  Top down which meant Pat did not go with me.  Vedran would understand that even at 9°C, in sunshine you flaunt it.  But our wives are woosies.

I was listening to the CBC radio the other morning where they were interviewing one of those guys that says global warming is going to kill us all and we must give up cars and become vegans (well a slight exaggeration but you know what I mean).

He was asked why there is record cold throughout Canada and the US and much of Northern Europe and yet warm dry weather on the west coast.  You could almost hear the guy tap dancing trying to explain why everyone from Calgary to New York were freezing in the dark but said it is all due to the disruption in the Jet Stream due to GLOBAL WARMING.  Even the host, while trying to be polite, did not seem to buy in.

Still if Global Warming brings winters like this to Vancouver Island where on January 13 I can go for a drive topless, bring it on.

Uchuck III

Last summer, Pat and I accompanied Blaine and Lisa on a daysail out of Gold River on the MV Uchuck III.  A wonderful voyage down the Muchalot inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island from Gold River to Friendly Cove on the Pacific.  This was a sort of commemorative sailing with Dave Young the son of the first owner / skipper of the line of Uchuck motor vessels on board with his family.  Dave himself later became the owner/skipper of the Uchuck boats until his retirement in 1994.   A beautiful day although Blaine missed most of it because he had taken a pill to avoid sea sickness that just made him sleepy the whole day.  Irony was it was dead calm for the entire voyage.

The Uchuck III was originally a WWII minesweeper made of wood.  A sister ship of the famous Cousteau Calypso.

Anyway, for Christmas Blaine gave me an copy of the book The Uchuck Years signed by the author Dave Young.  I just finished reading it and thoroughly loved it.  Not my usual action novel just a history and set of recollections about a small shipping firm that formed in 1945 and served the mining, forestry and fishing camps up and down the inlets on the west coast of Vancouver Island (and still operates today).  In the early days there were no roads to Ucluelet or any of the communities on the west coast of the island.  All the supplies and people were serviced by small coastal vessels.

When we were on the trip, Pat and I briefly talked to Dave.  I had asked him if he noticed much difference in the way the vessel was handled that day compared to when he was the skipper.  I remember his response as quiet, clear and descriptive.  Reading the book was just like listening to a long narrative by him.  Maybe not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. He writes very well, clear and descriptive but not flowery.

A hard scrabble life with long days and constant maintenance  (Uchuck, Uchuck I and Uchuck II were long gone by the sixties).  As a wooden vessel the Uchuck III needed constant rebuilding.  It is estimated that only 5% of the vessel we sailed on is actually original.  Most of the work was done by Dave Young, his father and their partners between sailings.

As you know I admire people that are handy so loved the way Dave described every year undertaking a major overhaul of part of the vessel by themselves because there was not much money.  Like most small companies it was year to year living with scavenging for parts and depending on the hard work and loyalty of their crew.  I kind of wish I had read the book before sailing so I could have appreciated the extent of the commitment the family had done to keep this historical working vessel alive.  Might even have to take the trip again with my kids.

Uchuck III

Sometimes I Impress Myself

I have spent the last 3 days working on the skylight that goes over the Captain’s cabin on the Victory.  This is feature on the Poop deck with 46 windows to let light into the dining cabin for the Captain.  On the model it is about 1/4 inch high and a little over an inch long.  The picture picks out the little flaws in the glass panels but in real life it is gorgeous.