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Same old, same old? NOT!

12 Jan


Hi, it’s me again. As usual I’m a little late in my post but hey, I’ve been sick. Geez that sounds like a line from a Looney Toons cartoon doesn’t it? It is, however true. After all these years of eating damn near anything I could find down here and not once suffering from Travellers Tummy, I finally got hit, and it was my own damned fault!


My youngest daughter convinced us to try the Paleo diet along with a Cross Fit training program and since it involves lots of meat and bacon, (mmm, bacon) we decided to go for it. So breakfast became the old-fashioned bacon and eggs. No problem, since eggs are easily found here, and they’re cheap. Sometimes they come from factories but lots of times they’re obviously from some local farm, which means they haven’t been cleaned. I guess at some point, some bacteria from the shell of one of the local eggs found it’s way into my breakfast, then into my tummy and it stayed there. From about December 18th until about a week ago, I’ve felt like crap!


After discussion with a couple of the ladies on the beach, one a genetic researcher and the other a nurse, plus a lot of Internet research, I finally narrowed down what the problem was. With help from my son-in-law, Dave, who’s a pharmacist, I’m now on a regime of antibiotics, and starting to feel better. Hopefully this will do the trick, cause sitting in Grummy, with no desire to do anything while the sun shines and all our friends are outside playing has sucked big time!

Between my last post and getting sick though, Richard and I did manage to get up Tabour Canyon, the easiest and closest hike to Rattlesnake Beach. Now, over the years, I’ve told you about this canyon and I’ve posted numerous pictures. About the only things that have changed over the years have been the folks accompanying us and slight increases or decreases in the water level.

One of our friends here, on the beach, has an old book dated from the 50’s showing photo’s of Tabour Canyon and it looks no different from any of our own shots, but Hurricane Paul changed everything!


Whenever we hiked the canyon, there were certain spots we’d always stop, to admire the view, take pictures, or have a bite to eat. A couple of spots especially to take pictures of those we were guiding so they would have a touristy shot of themselves either crawling out the Rumble Pile hole leading to the upper two thirds of the canyon or sitting in an incredibly convoluted fig tree. Not anymore!


The entire place has changed, so much so that we can’t even tell were we are most times, except for a few places that are obvious. Like the Rumble Pile for instance. This was a spot that unless you knew where to look, you would assume the canyon dead-ended. If, however, you knew the secret, you crawled under the rock ledge, slid carefully over the palm tree log, came out on the top of the ledge, went over it then back under and climbed up the hole, which brought you up to the next section of the canyon. Many, many people have had their photos taken emerging from that last hole, but sadly, no longer! The holes no longer exist!



Take a look at these pictures. The first one shows how we used to access the upper portion of Tabour with a couple of friends up through the first hole, sitting on the rock ledge. The second shows how deep the gravel is now after Paul came through.

Tabour Canyon before Paul

Tabour Canyon before Paul


Tabour Canyon after Paul

Tabour Canyon after Paul

This second set is in the same area. The first shows the big rock sitting in a pool of water that was virtually impossible to get around. We had to climb up a rock wall just to the south of it, sidle across the skimpy ledge, duck under and through a hole made of 3 big rocks balanced on top of one another and came out just below the Rumble Pile. Now you can barely see the top of the rock, which is what Richard is pointing out.


Before 2012

Before 2012

How much Paul changed everything!

How much Paul changed everything!


We had to go through a lot of old photos and compare them to the most recent to figure out what we were looking at and where we were within the canyon walls. Even when we did know where we were, the canyon is virtually unrecognizable, from beginning to end. All of this was caused by the incredible power of water.


Now, I’ve explained about the wet summer but what everyone thinks happened here is that in August it rained about 20 inches in a couple of days, causing the ground to become saturated for the first time in 7 years. The next big fall, about 10 inches, happened at the end of September and filled every available space that water could accumulate in. When Paul hit there was nowhere for the water to go, plus even though it rained only about 101/2 inches down here it was probably in the neighbourhood of 30 inches on the top of the Gigantes. As the water fell down the steep slopes of the Gigantes, it gained speed and power and nothing stood in its tracks. There are places in Tabour where solid rock has been pounded out by the force of water and the rocks and boulders it was pushing in front of it. From what we can figure out there is at least 20 feet of gravel covering the old canyon floor.  Boulders the size of houses have been tossed around as if they were toys, tearing out chunks of the canyon walls, and destroying all vegetation in their path.


Tabour used to be my favourite hike as it was a full body workout. You used your arms and legs scrambling up and over the rocks and now except for the easy climb over the bit of rock that separates the upper canyon from the lower, it’s virtually just a stroll.


Ah well, nothing really ever stays the same does it?


Hopefully once I’m back up to fighting strength, we’ll try Wow and Ligui Canyons. We already know we can’t drive as far up the road to Wow as we used to since an arroyo has torn away part of the road. We hiked a kilometer into the canyon and it looks much the same as before but since Wow requires a lot of wading through very cold water we went no further. We haven’t even attempted to get into Ligui yet especially since it’s a very long drive up the arroyo to get to it and we know that there was considerable damaged caused by water flow all along it’s length. For all we know the canyon is no longer accessible, but I’ll let you know.


In the meantime friends, keep warm and try not to have a jammer shoveling that white crap.


Hasta Luego!



Blast from the Past

23 Sep

Here we sit on Vancouver Island, doing our final visits with family and friends and gathering up the last little bits of things for our trip back to the Baja. Van Insurance needs to be purchased so we can legally drive in the US and cross back into Canada next spring, as well as Driver Insurance so we can legally drive in Mexico since our Canadian insurance is invalid there. Yeah, I know, don’t ask me to explain!

There are foodstuffs to be purchased as well, since a lot of the things I like to cook require ingredients that I have been unable to find in Baja. I’ve also been gathering up toilet paper and stashing it anywhere I can find room for it. I can hear you now, “Toilet Paper? What, you can’t get toilet paper in Mexico?” Well, sure we can, but have you ever used Mexican toilet paper? If you have, then you’ll  understand.

We left Penticton last week, where the temperature was still hovering around 30 C, or for those still caught in the Imperial time warp, around 90 F. The day we left, the clouds started to gather and by the time we got to the island it was 15 C (60F). It’s very odd for the seasons to change due to geography but anyone who has ever spent large amounts of time here understands the influence ocean waters have on a land mass when the furthest you can get from it is less than 30 miles. Since the Island is, at it’s largest, only 62 miles wide, most of the time the beachfront is only a few miles away. As well, the waters here are cold and thanks to that influence, the daytime air temperature, even at the height of Summer rarely gets above 25 C, (80 F).  IT IS NOT THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER RIGHT NOW! That’s not to say that it’s cold or anything but a really nice day here right now is lucky if it’s pushing 20 C, (70 F) and that’s only if there’s no clouds or wind, and around here that doesn’t happen often. I won’t even go into night time temps. And now the rain has set in.

OH MY GOD! The leaves are falling off the trees!

Jeez, you know Fall used to be one of my favourite seasons, but outside all the pretty colours I could definitely do without it now days. Just can’t stand the cold anymore and as far as I’m concerned, if the temperature sinks below 21 C or 72 F, it’s bloody cold!

This makes it a bit of a quandary for me, I want to visit with everyone and enjoy my time with them, but the falling temperatures make me want to head south. This year, the urge to just leave…head south…find the sun and the warmth, has infected us more than ever, especially since there is no overriding reason to stay, but….

Being on the Island is the only way I get to spend  time with my youngest daughter, her husband and their  2 small children. This is a busy household,  Liz works as an independent journalist, Food Blogger, recipe developer and Web Site designer from home, her husband is the Vice President of a small computer firm who works both at the office as well as at home and the kids are 3 1/2 years and 15 months old, respectively.  In other words this place is semi-controlled chaos. It’s fun but it sure can be draining and I wouldn’t  miss it for the world, but….it’s getting colder and wetter. Yeah, Fall has arrived on the Island and with it always comes rain, so we are moving quickly now to get our respective shits together, as it were, and hit the road by the end of the month. In the meantime, in our copious free time, when we’re not out visiting with friends or relatives, or babysitting for the kids, or looking for those last minute items, we have to find ways to occupy ourselves.

A week ago my sister asked if I’d like to go see Trooper. Now this was fortuitous as I’ve been communicating recently, with a fairly large group of folks I grew up with and went to school with, 40 years ago in Vancouver. There has been lots of comments about music and bands we listened to when we were kids and the concerts we all attended. The name Trooper, came up more than a few times, so of course I said sure, after all, how many times does one get to relive their youth? (For those who don’t know, Trooper, is a Vancouver band, a BC ikon and a Canadian Musical legend. Their bio says they got started in 1975, though there was an earlier incarnation known as Applejack, and an even earlier one, called Winter’s Green, I’ve known them since way back then. The lead singer and founding member, Ramon McGuire, went to school with my middle sister and the other co-founder Brian Smith, is the cousin of a close friend, who died a couple of years ago. The boys started off life as a school dance band, but they were very good and it didn’t take long for someone to notice. Randy Bachman, of  The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, signed them to his record label, “Legend”, and the rest, as they say in the business, is history.)

Ra, wearing words to live by.

One of their big hits is called, We’re here for a good time, (not a long time).” I have strived all my life to live up to that ideal. As far as I’m concerned, you only get one go-round in this life, so you’d bloody well better make it a good one!

Off we went, and we had a great time!  The last time I saw them in concert, they played the Coliseum in Vancouver, where I and a few thousand other stoned Vancouverites, watched them as the smell of marijuana wafted thick through the air. It was just a tiny bit different last night, as the Charlie White Theatre holds only 310 people, all in assigned seating. So the show was much more intimate, the performers had a chance to interact closely with the audience, and drinks and dancing were actually allowed. The only thing missing was the smell of pot, until about half way through the 2 hour performance, when for just a few moments, a few tendrils of aroma could be sensed in the air.

Ah, the remembrance of youth!

We even ended in the appropriate manner. The boys played their biggest North American hit, “Raise a little hell!” with the audience out of their seats and dancing anywhere there was room;  we’re talking a room full of 50 and 60 somethings, with a few 20 and 30 somethings thrown in for a little spice!

Brian, raising a little hell of his own!

This is also one of my guiding principles in life, as I believe everyone should raise a little hell now and then, as it’s good for the soul!!

So, okay folks, all together now, let’s get out there and….RAISE A LITTLE HELL!

The circle of life

20 Oct

Have you ever watched a very young child in Autumn? The look of sheer wonder in their eyes as they watch the leaves, that to them have always been green, suddenly start to turn red, and yellow and actually fall off of the trees. Or to see a brightly coloured fish where none were seen before. I know I don’t remember what I thought the first time I saw those things. Cohen is only 33 months old so really can’t tell us what he thinks, but it sure is obvious that he’s fascinated. Isla being only 4 months old can’t tell us anything, but even she was looking all around her with curiosity.
As you’ve probably guessed, Richard and I accompanied our daughter and her two children to Goldstream Park the other day to watch the salmon run, one of my all time favourite pastimes, besides fishing for them!

The river in all it's fall finery!

Coastal BC is home to 5 of the 6 Pacific salmon and Goldstream River is the natal river of 3 of them, the Coho, Chinook and Chum, with the chum numbers vastly overshadowing the other 2 by a factor of 20. On an average year over 30,000 chum return to this river to spawn and die.
I know you’re thinking 6 Pacific salmon? There’s only 5! Well, you’re almost right. There really are 6, but one is not found on this side of the Pacific Ocean. It is born and returns to die in the waters off of Russia and Japan and is called the Cherry Salmon( Oncorhynchus masou). See, there, you learned something new today!
Now, before I go any further in this story, I have to shake up a few widely held beliefs. Chum are known by many names, Chum,  Dog salmon, or Keta as they’re called  in commercial sales and most anglers will tell you they’re just ugly boots that aren’t worth catching. I’m here to tell you different.
Chum salmon or Oncorhynchus Keta are fabulous fighting salmon when caught in salt water. They actually combine the fighting abilities of both Coho and Chinook, they average around 15 pounds, though they can reach up to 25 and will give even an experienced angler a run for their money. Returning to our coastal waters in mid-September  through till mid-December, they taste great fresh and make fabulous smoked salmon! When caught in the salt, Chum have a silver bright body, with a metallic  blue green back. They can be damned hard to distinguish from Coho without examining their gills or caudal fin scale patterns.

The bad rap comes from their appearance when they start to head for their natal rivers. As the males reach sexual maturity they develop large canine fangs, hence the name Dog salmon. They also grow purple and orange stripes which makes them not the prettiest fish in the river, that honour is held by the Sockeye. Those teeth are not just for show either, in the river they use them to fight with one another for access to the females and to hold territory. If you don’t believe me ask someone who works in any hatchery, they’ll probably just pull up their pants to show you the scars put there by an aggressive male Chum. See I told you I was a retired Salmon fishing guide!

Chum males ready to spawn.

Now back to our original programming!
I’m afraid it was just a little too early to see the chum since they are the last salmon to return to the rivers and the others have long since returned, spawned and died, but the weather was warm and sunny and the park trees put on a fabulous show for us.
The weekend before, the Park had been jam-packed so our daughter thought there might be a few fish to show her son who was too young last year to have cared. No such luck, but that didn’t mean our trip was in vain.

The Big Leaf Maple Tree leaves were turning multiple shades of red and orange, and covered the footpath. They are as big or bigger than your head and have sturdy stalks so of course they must have been put there for small hands to carry. There were also rocks to throw into the stream (and no fish to bother) and a Nature house with a great Owl display. Now Cohen has been here before, but what child do you know who doesn’t revel in playing with something interesting over and over again, plus he had his Grandpa with him. That meant that he had someone new to show all the buttons to and how they worked to make owl calls, of course never realizing that his Grandfather has seen them before.

I wonder what they're talking about?

The two of them walked hand in hand, looking at giant fallen Cedars with holes big enough to stand up in, and discovered that the old side stream tunnel under the highway makes for great echos. We looked at slugs travelling on the path, and large spider webs shining in the dappled sunlight while our daughter carried the baby in a sling and took photographs.(Liz has a well known food blog, and is an excellent photographer, plus she had a new camera to play with!)

I think all of us enjoyed the outing and all for different reasons. For me, I revel in the outdoors in all is mutability though I have to admit that as I age, the cold and wet winters here are becoming unbearable. Besides that though, I look forward to showing all my grandkids the exceptional beauty that surrounds all of us, if only we’d look. I want to be able to let them see what wonders abound in nature and help them to enjoy it. To teach them not to be afraid of, but to embrace the experience. I did this with my own daughters, who are as capable of surviving in the wilds as Richard and I. They also have a great respect for and enjoyment of the outdoors.

All of those thoughts came to me as I watched Cohen pick up a yellowing maple leaf, throw a pebble in to the stream and try to pick up a slug, all the while chattering continuously to Richard, in words barely understandable about everything he saw.
I turned and looked at my daughter and I saw myself 30 years ago, starting to take my own children out into the world. I also saw gratitude that we taught her something she loves and the ability to pass that love on to her own children.
Life really is a circle isn’t it?