Archive for May, 2016

Driving Across Canada

Most people fly when they visit other cities in Canada because of the distance and the time you need to commit while driving. But you miss so much that way.

It is not just the vastness of the country. I know you kind of realize it when you are flying at 850 km per hour and it still takes hours to get anywhere, but you have to drive to see how huge it is.

What you miss in a flight, is the beauty and grandeur that you see at ground level.  Mount Robson on a sunny clear day driving east, is breathtaking.  The elk and mountain goats at the side of the road (or in our case in the middle halting traffic) you do not see from space.  Granted you have to be a retired person with no particular schedule to appreciate wild animals blocking the highway.

Then you come out of the spectacular mountains to the big sky of the Prairies.

In our case a bit a bit restricted due to the smoke from Ft McMurray, but still, a different perspective from the mountains.  We did get to experience clear blue skies with those little puff balls of cumulus clouds to the horizon ( that we never get to see on the coast) on our drive to Saskatoon.

Granted we did not drive across Canada.  We stopped at Saskatoon about a third of the way and then turned back.

Now everyone should know not to visit Calgary for the Victoria day weekend. Historically a bad time.

We left Saskatoon at 28 °C and arrived in Calgary at 7°C.  A couple of days later we had a snow blizzard.  The only guarantee for Calgary is that it will snow on Victoria Day weekend and (despite drought conditions) will rain during the Stampede. But then, that is part of the Potpourri of living in Canada.

We escaped back to BC for sunshine and arrived home in Paradise.  Great trip

5 minutes to Get Out

The fires at Fort McMurray brings to mind our emergency planning.

Here on the Island we await the big earthquake event.  In fact we had to spend mucho extra money in building our house to make it more earthquake proof with hold down straps on the columns and joists and a large support beam across the back.  We even prepared the home by using special earthquake hooks for all the paintings and wall hangs so they cannot shake off and fall.

After one of the earthquakes in Asia we went to the extra step of storing 20 L of fresh water and lots of canned food and a propane heater plus batteries just in case.

Then we watch the issues in Fort McMurray where people had as little as 5 minutes to vacate their homes with a threat of fire.

We like to think that this could not happen her, but we do live in a forested area.  Granted with the golf course, there is a lot of space around us, but we do have dense forest within a few blocks.  Our development planning many years ago required that all the homes have cement tile roofs.  Part of that justification was that flying embers first set fire to the asphalt shingles which proved true in Fort McMurray, Kelowna and Slave Lake and our siding is considered fire resistant.   But still!!

We had our discussion on what we would do if we were notified that we had 5 minutes to vacate.  Last year was very dry and it is conceivable a fire could sweep down from the north towards us.

First priority for me would be to pack at least one of my ship models.  Maybe some of the photo albums , our meds the laptop etc etc.  But looking at the issue of the drivers leaving Fort Mac I think we should grab the 20 L of fresh water.  Pat wants her makeup.   Meagan did ask that we save the artwork she made for us in High School.

Of course it means taking the Murano and leaving little red (or take both) if possible.  The issue here is we live on a peninsula with only 2 narrow bridges to get to the mainland to the west.

Interesting intellectual exercise, and done at a time when we can reflect and plan, but what would happen in the panic position many of the Fort Mac people had?

Granted at the end of it, as long as we both made it out, we could live with that.

Another Day of Busting Broom

A few years ago I started volunteering to help with the local Broombusting group.  This is a group of volunteers that try and cut the horrible invasive Scottish Broom that is spreading rampant on the west coast particularly on the Island.  It is a hopeless cause because each plant after it blooms sends out thousands of new seeds.  Parks and roadsides are covered with them.

The only chance to kill them is to cut them off at the ground level when the are blooming in May.  Any other time if you cut them at the base they just sprout out with even more shoots.  For some reason when they are blooming they can be killed.

Problem is that there are millions of bushes, some growing 10 feet high and only about 100 volunteers in the Valley with at most 20 showing up on any one day.  So we focus on trying to clear public parks and trails.  Big issue is that it is one thing to cut these bushes down and pile them but then what? So a lot of the broom busting finances (which come from public donations) go to hiring companies with chippers.

Anyway I volunteer maybe 3 days a week.  Absolutely no need for me to go to a fitness club in May as the effort is far beyond a workout program.  Cutting, dragging and piling can be exhausting.  Normally only work from 9:00 am until noon with a break at 10:30.  I come home each day whipped, but eager to go out a couple of days later.

The picture is not indicative of the effort I put in although shows the size of the bushes.  It was taken at the break when I was opening a bottle of water and fell back into a pile of cuttings.   Imagine 13 acres of this stuff.  Bev, our leader, thought this was amusing so included it on the website for the team.