Archive for July, 2016

Qualicum River Hike

Yesterday our group went on our bi weekly hike.  I had requested that we do the Qualicum River hike even though we did it last March, but to show it to Pat because she was unable to make it before.  I wanted to show this hike to her because I consider it the most picturesque trails on the island.  The trail starts at a fish hatchery and proceeds up for several kilometers on one side and the opportunity to come back on the other.  What makes this such a nice hike is that you follow beside a beautiful small river with lots of rills and small waterfalls and is surrounded by mature rain forest.  It is a major salmon breeding river because it has large stretches of gravel bottom and no major falls to block them.

In one of the pictures you see one of the small bridges there for hikers.  Basically they have converted large trees that have fallen across the river into narrow bridges.  There are about 3 crossings like this on the 10 km length of the river up to its source in Horne lake.  You will note the colour of the water.  This had just started as we were hiking along and we could not figure it out until we turned a bend and found a Fisheries department excavator in the river clearing debris and reshaping the gravel beds.  Above the work the river was the usual crystal clear.

We stop for lunch at a particular giant Cedar tree right beside the river.  Has to be 20 feet around and at least 700 years old.  You can see Pat and our hiking leader Tim giving it a hug.  Just a beautiful sunny day.  Nice and cool on the shaded trails.  Pat and others who had not taken the hike agreed that it is one of the most beautiful hikes they have been on and it was even nicer in the summer than I remembered.    Cannot wait to show this to family and friends one day

Little BridgeRain Forest CanopyTree Hugging



Not Killa Da Wabbit

We have been infested by rabbits this summer.  This was not an issue a few years ago but apparently, just like happened in Victoria, people have been buying cute little rabbits for their kids and when they got too big, and the kids were no longer interested, they decided they would release them to freedom on Crown Isle golf course.

This is a well known fact since the rabbits are colours that would never appear in nature.  Pure black, Golden and white.  It only takes a few generations (in one year) to make them the motley brown of nature.  In the spring we have been protected at the top of the ridge by Eagles that perch on the trees behind us but as the season goes on, the pickings of dead salmon on the rivers draw them away.  We have a neighbourhood of people that own dogs, but never let out in the yards without leashes (and I suspect some of the owners would fear that their precious Westies might be attacked by vicious rabbits.)

So we are infested.  At any one time in the morning there can be 4 rabbits running around our back yard chewing on the flowers (the ones we pick because the deer will not eat them) and on our herbs.  Wascally Wabbits.  This last week there has been one particularly pernicious black baby bunny that just will not run away even when I yell at it.

So yesterday I set out my rabbit trap cage in the bushes alongside our yard.  A good cage with doors at both end and the tripping mechanism in the middle loaded with Veggies (veggies of course I had to buy from my retirement fixed income)

Tonight after supper Pat noticed that there was the baby black bunny in the cage.

I said OK I will take care of this and carried it to the Murano.  Pat was pleading for me not to kill it.  I said, of course I am not going to kill it I am taking it to release it elsewhere.  Pat said you mean in the middle of the river.  No matter how I claimed that I am not an evil person, Pat, still wearing her apron from loading the dishwasher, jumped into the car to make sure I did the right thing.  We drove it north beyond the highway to another housing development and I released it.  (sucks to be them)

I talk a good line about anger at the rabbits but I am incapable of twisting the neck on a baby rabbit.  Now give me a gun, might be different.

Bailey Stove

When I give tours of my model ships I try to point out the living conditions for the men.  A common question is where are the toilets and I point them out.  Far better for the officers than the crew who have to suffice with ‘seats of ease’ in the head.  What no one ever asks is how are they fed.

On a frigate with a crew of about 250 there was a tight area in the bow section where the cooks prepared 3 meals a day.  In English men of war there was an invention called a Bailey stove that proved to be very effective.  Basically a large iron stove with a fire pit in the centre surrounded by a boiler and an open hearth with spits and large pots for the gruel.

For the Diana I have completed the Bailey stove.  I present this picture because when the model is finished you will not be able to see it except in a glimpse through a gun port.


A Kabob Night

Beautiful beautiful day.  I brought out a small package of frozen chicken breasts to thaw as we decided to head out for the day.

Pat and I went off in Little Red just to wander in the roads north of town.  No particular destination just exploring up roads that ended with views of the ocean and back through lanes with occasional spots where the trees met overhead.   Always, of course, picking roads and lanes that are paved.  Little Red does not like gravel.

We pulled into a little market garden store to pick up some fresh veggies.  Particularly looking for small Zucchinis that would work with our plan for Kabobs.  Part of the drive was to look for interesting farm roads that we could add to a Miata run in a couple of years.  Found lots of opportunities.

So we came home and I chopped the chicken and marinated it to thread with Zucchini and orange peppers and onions.

Now we refer to the this kind of marinade as  a James special.

Back when we lived in Calgary with both Pat and I working, it was often the role for James to prepare the dinner.  We had to cook it quickly as all the kids had to go off for Soccer or baseball.  James’ specialty was chicken wings with a sauce that he created.  A bit of this and a bit of that from the fridge and pantry.  Some versions were great and we would ask for him to replicate, and some were… well let us say an experiment.

So this afternoon I made a James marinade for the chicken and veggies.  Some ginger sauce, some leftover stir fry sauce, some Italian dressing but basically using up the odds and ends in the fridge.

BBQd the chicken and veggie kabobs on the grill until they had a bit of a char.  Just wonderful, but like those special chicken wing recipes that James uses to prepare, never to be replicated.


Life is Unfair

Throughout life, we often find examples where life is just Unfair.  This last week has been a perfect example.

We hosted our Miata club for a BBQ in the back yard.  Great luck in that the sun came out so most of the party was held outside on the patio, but at one point everyone came into the house to use the washroom or admire our great room.  Now Pat had spent hours making sure that everything was dusted and the floors were perfect, but what most people commented on was my model of the Juno sitting on a table.  No one mentioned that the house was clean and dusted.

Life is unfair.

Every day when I wake up I go into the changing room and put on fresh undies and socks before heading off to do my fitness club or mow the lawn or pull weeds or whatever.  Regardless, when I return,  I can put my sweaty things into a magic box and within a few days they appear back in my closet drawers.  And then in the evening I can crawl into freshly laundered and pressed sheets in the bed.  It is wonderful.

Life is great but maybe unfair.

Today I went for my dentist appointment to have my teeth cleaned.  Now I hate flossing but I have learned to start flossing 2 weeks before my dental appointments.  Granted I do use a waterpik twice a day, but I hate flossing.  So today my hygienist commented that I must be a great flosser as my gums are firm and taut (as I told her just like my body)  The cleaning went quickly.

Now Pat flosses every day and brushes many times,  but when she visits the dentists she has soft gums and lots of problem.  She is often told that she should spend more time on her teeth.

I told her my results.  According to her, life it just unfair.

Anyway there is a reward for Pat.  Tonight is one of those evenings that just makes this paradise.  Blue skies, mild 24 C and the view on the golf course that is perfect green with the flowers blooming all around.

I bought some fresh veal slices and prepared Scaloppini with pasta.  Not that deep fried Scaloppini that some restaurants serve, but lightly floured, sauted and returned to the pan in a reduction of butter, wine and squeezed lemon with capers.  Great meal.

With a few glasses of Rose wine, Pat acknowledged that life was good and she was content.  Granted she did prepare the salad for the meal,  and as I write she is policing the kitchen and loading the dishwasher, but she is happy and humming as I type.

Diana Pedestals

I have been working the last few weeks on the decking for the model.  Lots of detail along with a few gratings.  But today I thought I would take a break and work on the pedestals that will eventually support the model on the base.  Way before they will be needed but a good time because I can still turn the model upside down to work on the fit.

Now I have 2 different lathes.  A micro lathe that was given to me by my brother many years ago where I turn tiny pieces and a medium lathe which I use for larger objects.

Regardless of the size of the object, I really enjoy lathe work as the piece you are turning seems to evolve from the block.  Like pottery it is almost amative.  I can just imagine Demi Moore in a singlet behind me guiding my hands on the chisel.  It helps when you have gorgeous wood like Swiss Pear to turn.

IMG_2768 IMG_2776


Our Miata Run

Well, yesterday we hosted our Vancouver Island Miata club annual BBQ.  In the past years this was held at the Masonic Lodge in Nanaimo which is pretty much central for the club, but it pretty much is an indoor event, dining in a basement.  At the last Christmas party I suggested to several of the members from the north (Comox Valley) that we should agree to host the BBQ this year and build in a run.  Everyone agreed with enthusiasm to help in the organizing.

It turned into a little bit of The Little Red hen story plus an issue with the venue.  I had thought we would end the run and hold the BBQ at the Air Force Beach which has a pavilion you can rent with a BBQ.  Problem is you need to have an Air Force person to book it.  The general public can book it but only 2 weeks before and only if some Air Force person does not want it.

Fortunately we have several retired air force people in the club including our friend John who retired as a major.  So I used him to book it 2 months ago.  Then came the bureaucracy of dealing with a government organization.  They asked if there would be any alcohol served.  Now, this is an early afternoon BBQ so that people can drive back to Nanaimo if they want, but I know my guys and there would be a few BYOB beers in coolers.  When I explained this, the air force said, if there is any liquor at the facility the MPs will shut you down unless you have a liquor license.

So I go to the BC liquor board and they say you cannot get a license for BYOB.  So I changed my tune and said, yes we will be serving liquor.  Then I had to fill out a form that asked for details on how many people would be coming (which I did not know), how many would drink beer, how many wine and how many cocktails.  I made a guess.

Next, the air force said if you have a liquor license you needed someone to be responsible and have a Serve It Right certificate.  Basically a license to serve liquor.  So I took the course, took the test and I now have a certificate.

So, John took all these certificates and applications to the base and we wait for confirmation that we could book the facility.  Apparently everyone short of the Minister of Defense must sign the approval.  When Pat and I returned from our trip to visit the family we still did not approval and at that time we only had 12 people confirming they would attend.  So we made an executive decision and cancelled the pavilion and moved  the BBQ to our back yard.  Meanwhile, over the last few months, Pat and I have been driving around the country north of Courtenay to find an interesting drive where we could take a group of cars for an interesting run.

Last week we started to get lots of people signing up.  Saturday morning we now had 14 cars and 28 people.  On Friday, Pat and I tested the drive that started at the Visitor Center just off the inland highway and ended at our house.  A great drive in brilliant sunshine on country roads that took us past small farms on tree covered lanes with horses, sheep, donkeys and Bison to be seen.  Good test of the run and we spent the rest of the day shopping and cooking.  Plus setting up the tables and setting out games in the yard.

We were serving hamburgers, hot dogs and pulled pork (which we cooked and prepared on Friday) along with potato salad and a variety of other salads.

Saturday morning we woke up to an overcast sky and a threat of rain.  We drove to the start of the run with black clouds overhead for our 11:30 start.  I had visions of a run with the tops up but where do we put all these people if it is raining at our house?  The rain never came and the run was great, about an hour and half.  The clouds slowly disappeared and we ended with clear skies.  Only 12 cars but no one got lost and we ended together (which is always good).  For Pat and I, this was the first time we led a major run.

Everyone stayed longer that we had planned, and the last guests left at 9:30.  Everyone loved the day and hope we will do it again next year.  I suggested this might be a semi-annual event.

Now Pat and I face several nights of eating the leftovers.  Pat and I are happy campers tonight.

Our Upcoming Run

This weekend we are hosting a Miata Run for the members of the Vancouver Island club.  Now this started as an idea at our Christmas party last December.

The Vancouver Miata club has a problem due to the shape of our Island.  We are one club but the members at the very north (Campbell River) are 4 hours from the majority of the club in Victoria.  As a result we have many of our club events in Nanaimo, where we impose on 2 great members, Bruce and Wendy, to organize and host.  Last December I stepped up and said we (the northern group) would host the summer BBQ and furthermore would include a Run.   Lots of enthusiasm by my fellow northern members, but like the Little Red Hen, just see what is going to happen.

Pat and I spent many hours testing out a run that includes the narrow roads (all paved) through farms and past a Bison ranch that would end up at the Air Force Beach pavilion.

Two weeks ago we only had 5 cars (10 people) signed up so we cancelled the pavilion at the beach and  decided to save money and have the BBQ in our back yard.

However over the last 10 days (long after the cutoff) we have been contacted by members asking to join the run.  We now have as many as 30 people but I suspect about 24 showing up.  Really depends on the sunshine.

Now this is a get-together with a great drive culminating in a BBQ where for $5 per person you get all you can eat — hamburgers, all beef foot long sausages, pulled pork, with salads and desserts.

Anyway Pat and I have been spending the day in setting up the tables in the back yard and preparing the salads.  The pork shoulder has been roasting in the oven for hours prior to me shredding it later tonight.

Now, up to now, my main concern was to make sure I had enough beer in the fridge to put into the cooler and buying lots of burgers and sausages and buns.  This is supposed to be a BYOB event but you never know.  Other than that it should be just like a party we would have held way back when we were young.

And then I noticed this list on the table.  For Pat there is no such thing as an off-the-cuff BBQ.  I love this woman.  Who wooda thunk we needed to buy table covers?





Everyone is Videotaping

Pat and I were checking out at the London Drugs at our local mall today.  The checkout we had taken happened to face out through the entrance into the mall main foyer.

As we were at the counter, there was an apparent furour in the foyer which we could watch while we waited.  Everyone in line and the clerk stopped to watch.

A young man, about 17 or 18 with a backpack, was being questioned by two mall security men.  After revealing the articles that he had stolen,  the kid attempted to run away and the security guys held on to him as two more mall security men came to assist.  The more the kid struggled the more they had to wrestle him until he was on the ground as he was screaming brutality.  The kid fought a lot more than he should have.

Now to me, the mall cops were perfectly reasonable, no hitting or kicking just trying their best to restrain him.  We eventually finished our purchase and went out to watch the kid quietly being escorted to the office.  I looked around and there were at least 5 people videotaping the episode on their smart phones including two that followed along the hall to the mall office like paparazzi.

Granted I will give you that public videos of police action have been identifying possible abuses are great for justice,  but this was a relatively minor shop lifting.  While I do not offer any excuse for the kid, I wonder how his punishment is going to be made far worse by the U Tube videos of his capture and struggle.  I just thought, wait a minute the issue is over, leave the kid alone.

The pure voyeurism of the people filming bothered me, but I correctly chose not to confront the people filming the videos lest I be brought into the limelight.   I guess that is just the norm in our modern age of everything we do in public being recorded.

I do not know why, but it bothered me all day long.

Abandoned Boat

In the past I have often recounted the glorious hikes we have through the forests and mountain slopes that surround Paradise.

I belong to a hiking group with a couple of leaders that challenge us with hikes that might lead us along narrow steep trails to see three waterfalls, or on a cliff where we can have a vision over Comox lake with the Glacier to the left and views of the mainland mountains on the right.  Great hikes.

Admittedly this year has not been the greatest hiking season in the early summer in Paradise.  A lot of cool and wet days after May.  Very unusual.  Granted the rain is what keeps our forests, lawns and fields green and lush, but there is no question that we would like Sunshine occasionally.

Last week I signed up with Tim, our hike leader ( and a good friend) for an excursion this Wednesday.  The weather forecast was for drizzle so only a few signed on.

As it turns out, this morning was gorgeous.  Brilliant sunshine, blue skies and a comfortable 20°C.  Apparently Summer had finally arrived.

So our small group set off on an easy hike through the regional Wildwood Forest park.

Unlike many of our hikes that Tim takes us on that might challenge a goat, this is an easy 10 km on well maintained trails through a mature rain forest of Douglas Fir and Cedars.

Now, Tim likes to keep up a good pace, but we had to keep calling him back stop and look around at openings in the trees at the beauty of the sun shining down through a dense rain forest environment.  We also had to stop to taste the many berries (Salmon berries, black berries, alder berries etc)  that could be plucked along the trail.    Fortunately Tim’s wife Jill, who was on the hike, knows so many of the plants and could point out all the dozens of plants we saw.

Now many of you, who do not live here, would think that this hike would be infested with swarms of mosquitos, but for some reason, I expect the cool evenings, there are no biting bugs and lots of birds to take care of those that do exist.

Anyway… I am getting to the point of this particular blog.   It is not uncommon when we are hiking through our forest and mountain trails to come across abandoned cars,  forestry machines and old mining equipment overgrown by the forest.  Today Tim took us to the edge of the park to show us this abandoned fishing boat that is miles from the ocean.  It is beside a narrow road and not hidden in the forest.  How it got there no one knows.

Despite the cool and wet summer we have been experiencing, this is still Paradise.