Always Experiencing Something New – Through the Smoke in Kelowna and Kaslo BC


Other than having my carry-on bag inspected because I’d inadvertently packed one tube of facial cleanser that was a little over the size limit, my flight to Kelowna was very pleasant. The plane was newer, but had more leg room than usual. It wasn’t full, so the friendly woman in the outside seat and I shared the empty space between us. And we arrived twenty minutes early!

20180725_070620

Somewhere over the Prairies?

It was hot, dry and smoky when my friend, Judy, picked me up at Kelowna Airport, but that didn’t stop us from chatting all the way to her home in Vernon, as long-time friends tend to do. I stayed with Judy and her husband until the next leg of my trip by bus began the next afternoon.

During a trip to the Vernon Library, we came across this lovely little park and caught the last beautiful song from a young woman performing with her friend or husband, who accompanied her on guitar. We were sorry we arrived too late to catch more and to get a better picture, maybe even a video clip.

20180725_132954 (2)

Music in the Park

20180725_132912 (2)

Next to the Vernon Court House

While Judy and I waited at the station for my bus the next morning, a police officer came in looking for someone named Ernie. He approached an elderly man who was sitting behind me and asked if he could speak to him. We heard the officer say that someone was worried about him. The man was tall and frail-looking. He carried with him only a small shaving kit and a brown manila envelope. Neither the pockets of his plaid cargo shorts, nor those on his shirt showed any sign of a wallet. They took their conversation outside and then eventually left together.

“I hope he can get a refund,” said a man sitting two seats over from me. “He bought a ticket to Swift Current (a destination hundreds of miles away). I thought that to be doubtful, but it reminded me of the man who was reluctantly about to celebrate his 100th birthday at an Old Age Home, in the book The-100-Year- Old- Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. I recommend it for a fun read.

Soon, I was riding the Greyhound Bus to Nelson, where my daughter Sarah picked me up, while observing the clouds of smoke and areas of blackened forest that had succumbed to the fires last year. We arrived in Kaslo just in time to say good night to my two grandchildren.

Like last year, large portions of the days in Kaslo were spent at the beach. The cool breeze off the lake made the temperature bearable, but the other shore of the lake was obscured by the smoke, even that far away from the nearest wildfire.

20180731_142159 (2)

Smoke across Kootenay Lake

The next morning I was introduced to a sweet dog named Leté. Sarah had gotten a call telling her that one of her friends, who had recently been acting very strangely and who Sarah suspected was having some sort of mental breakdown, had been admitted to hospital. The neighbour who was calling was looking after the woman’s dog, but because of some physical restrictions she was unable to take her for long walks. She asked if Sarah could do that. So she and I and my granddaughter, Skylet walked down the hill and took Leté out. She enjoyed running along the beach.

Long story short, Leté ended up living with us for the next two weeks until her owner returned home. We all grew very much attached to her.

On Saturday morning I went to the diverse Kaslo Outdoor Market, where Sarah did quite well selling her popular pottery.

20180728_094925 (2)

My Daughter the Potter

Other vendors

By mid-afternoon, when we returned all of Sarah’s market equipment and unsold pottery back to her studio, the temperature was very hot. We drove back down to spend the rest of the day at the beach with the rest of the family. I was hot enough to actually venture into the lake for the first time, but it was cold. I got only to my waist!

Sunday there was a celebration at the lower bridge along the River Trail. It was there that I pulled out my camera for the first time, only to discover that I’d apparently left the memory card at home in my computer! Thank goodness for my smart phone, which provided pictures for the rest of my visit, but I hadn’t taken it with me to the trail either!

That evening the males of the house went fishing and my grandson, Callum, came home very excited about the Rainbow Trout he’d caught – big enough to feed us dinner the next night. That boy loves to fish!

The rest of the week went quickly with several trips to the beach and a trip to the Riding Stables to watch Skylet taking her horseback riding lesson.

20180802_103147 (2)

Skylet on her Horse

20180802_103245 (2)

 

Annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival

During my second weekend in Kaslo the population of the small town, about the size of my home town of Hastings (pop. 1200), swelled to probably triple that as people came from all around the Kootenays and beyond for the Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival.

Sarah and I spent Friday at the Market again. There was a different crowd and some different vendors, and it was another successful day. Ten-year-old Callum took his un-tuned violin to the main street and, despite not having practised in several months, managed to earn $25 for himself to spend at the Festival. I was wishing I’d taken my ukulele!

Saturday and Sunday Sarah and I joined the others for some great concerts and a variety of food at Kaslo Bay Park.

20180804_123724 (2)

The top Headliner of the event was Buffy Sainte-Marie. She was amazing! Unfortunately the heavy bass prevented me from witnessing her from close to the stage, as it did unpleasant things to my heart rhythm.

20180804_191637_Trim_Moment (2)

The day closed with the sun reflecting off the mountain tip.

By 9:00 Sunday night we were all exhausted. For me, Monday was a bit of a lazy day, doing my laundry and helping with a few household chores while Sarah prepared her Studio for the kids Clay Camp she was putting on for the next four days. I had agreed to be her assistant for that. I had to rest up!

Tuesday and Wednesday there were both morning and afternoon classes, two different groups doing two half-days each. The kids were young and excited and needed some guidance, which, after listening carefully to Sarah’s instructions, I was able to provide. I enjoyed it.

The pre-teen/teen class was on Thursday and Friday mornings. I listened and observed and made a pinch pot on Thursday morning, but my assistance wasn’t really needed, other than to help clean up at the end of the day. I took the whole family out to the little (and unusually crowded) Front Street Pizzeria for dinner, thanks to a donation from Jim. The food was great, but because of the extra tourists in town and some restaurants chose to close early, the wait time very long.

On Friday I opted to do some laundry, both mine and family, and get organized for my departure the next morning. We drove to Duncan Lake in the afternoon. Despite there being so much smoke that we could see only half-way across the lake, and at some point we noticed ash falling onto our clothes, it was a fun family time on another beach, and the water was warm enough for me to get in and swim!

Smoke across Duncan Lake

Smoke across Duncan Lake

20180810_164515

When Sarah took me to catch my bus in Nelson the next day, we discovered that the shut-down of the Greyhound service was already in progress. The terminal was no longer open on the weekends. I had to stand outside under whatever shade I could find to wait for my bus. Next time I go, there will be no Greyhound bus at all.

I spent Sunday and Monday with Judy. Sunday we drove to Salmon Arm to visit my cousin George, after the smoke cleared a little. The sun never made it through the haze that day. Shortly after noon on Tuesday, after another bag search that didn’t pass inspection this time (more on that later) I was flying high above the smoky clouds, looking forward to home and a break from the smoke.

Advertisements

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Four – Hornby Island


On Tuesday, September 22nd my son-in-law Frank dropped me off at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal where I bought my ticket to Hornby Island at the low price of $17.00. I was there in plenty of time, but apparently my brain hadn’t quite woken up yet. I heard the ticket agent tell me to take the stairs up and then follow the red line to Waiting Area A, but the red line part didn’t register. I looked for signs and when I saw a sign that read “Waiting Area A” with an arrow that appeared to be pointing to my right, I followed it through a door and across an outside passenger bridge. That didn’t seem right. I eventually got turned back around and this time followed the red line! The room slowly filled to capacity before we were called to board. Because the vehicle passengers hadn’t yet made it to the main deck, there were no lines at the cafeterias. I took advantage and bought myself a packaged sandwich and a coffee that would be my breakfast and lunch, supplemented with the cheese sticks and granola bars that I had in my bag. Those two items cost me almost as much as the ferry ticket, at $11.25! Be forewarned, if you plan to travel on the BC Ferry System, and you’re on a budget, pack some food if at all possible.

The hour and a half trip went quite quickly. I slept for a while; I read my book, and I people watched, one of my favourite pastimes. I chatted with the woman sitting next to me who was travelling with her daughter and two granddaughters.  She’d traveled by foot before and told me where to find the Island Link shuttle bus that I needed to catch when I got off the ship. I found it without any problem and an hour later I was at Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island, where my sister Pauline and her husband Jim were waiting to drive me, via two more much smaller ferries, to Hornby Island. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could relax for a week.

On the Hornby Island Ferry

On the Hornby Island Ferry

Every time I visit Hornby I am charmed by the island’s uniqueness. This small island has lots to offer to anyone seeking a relaxed vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a place where there are no trains to catch, or crowds to push through. There are no big department stores or grand hotels and the only “traffic jam” you’ll encounter is while you’re waiting in line to catch the ferry when, reluctantly, you need to leave.

Driving up from the ferry you will come to the hub of the island where all roads seem to meet.  Here you will find a variety of little shops, including a bicycle rental shop, a couple of clothing stores displaying colourful summer wear and a few little eateries where you can experience some great and maybe unusual lunch items.  The main destination in the hub is the Co-op, where you will find all the staples you need, such as groceries (many organic), pharmacy items, dishes, clothing and rubber boots.  You will also find the post office nestled in one corner and an ATM somewhere in the middle.  The only island gas station is outside the door.

There are many residences on the island, but they are usually partially hidden from the road by the natural vegetation and are quite unobtrusive.  The pace is slow and relaxed.  The only “industries” are cottage industries – a variety of potters and weavers, and small farms.

Some of the highlights of this trip were:

Outdoor Cooking

Campfire Dinner

 

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful Sunsets

 

Walks on the Beaches

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

Rocky Sand Piper Beach

 

Good Food

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Blackberries

Freshly picked Blackberries

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Walking the Trails

A hidden treasure along one trail

A hidden treasure along one trail

Helliwell Trail

Helliwell Trail

We also enjoyed a fantastic music concert by renowned Marc Atkinson – acoustic lead guitar, Brett Martens – acoustic rhythm guitar and Scott White – stand up bass, at the Community Centre one evening, and a delicious meal at the Sea Breeze Lodge dining room another night.

Before I knew it, it was time to pack for home.

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Two – Kaslo


My first morning in Kaslo began on a sour note, honestly! After petting the family cat, who had been out all night, I noticed a really foul smell in the room and soon discovered it was coming from her. We all came to the conclusion that she must have been lightly sprayed by a skunk. Kendrick (son-in-law) and Sarah took turns washing her with a mixture that Sarah had found recommended on the internet. Poor Tensen was very frightened by it all. It helped some and gave her coat a beautiful shine, but for me she was not so lovable the rest of the week because the odour returned whenever she was rubbed on the back of her head. She’s a lovely cat and I felt badly.

The smoke from the forest fires had lifted from this valley town, but the normally awesome view of the mountains was still obscured.

View from Beach 2008

View from Beach 2008

View from same beach, summer 2017

View from same beach, summer 2017

After a hardy breakfast of porridge and fruit, Sarah and the children, Callum and Skylet, and I headed for the River Trail, always a beautiful hike that begins in upper Kaslo and ends close to downtown in lower Kaslo.

One bridge across the river

River walk, Kaslo

River walk, Kaslo

Callum found a snake

Callum found a snake

Newest Bridge

By the time we got to the end, the temperature had risen and we were shedding our sweaters and heading to the beach where we ate a picnic lunch that Sarah had packed. Kendrick joined us later and they all went for a swim. The stony beach doesn’t appeal to me and my sensitive feet, but I was quite content to sit on a grassy ledge under a tree and observe.

Kaslo Beach

The next day was more laid-back. The smoke seemed a little heavier and the air hotter, making up-hill walking difficult. I met Kendrick’s mom for lunch and then she showed me her new home. We relaxed in the breeze on her porch until Sarah drove down to get me and we all went to the beach again. Air conditioning isn’t something that most people or businesses have in Kaslo, so the beach is very popular.

Sarah made a delicious dinner of pizzas on rice tacos before we crowded around the iMac monitor (they don’t have a TV) and ate popcorn while watching the animated movie, Despicable Me.

There was constant news of more forest fires not too far away, which kept everyone on alert. Kendrick is a volunteer fire fighter and was on call to help with a possible evacuation all day Sunday. But it rained most of the day and into the night, beating back some of the infernos. We all did a little dance of thanks.

Sarah and I spent Saturday and Sunday managing her pottery stall at St. Andrew’s Church hall during the Arts and Culture Tour.

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Kaslo Arts and Culture Show

Sarah's latest pottery

Sarah’s latest pottery

Potter at Work

Potter at Work

On Monday Sarah and I struck out with the kids to go fishing at two small lakes a half hour drive up Hwy 31from Kaslo. Callum is an avid fisher. Our first stop was – Fish Lake! However, there was no fishing there that day. Instead we participated in the “Three-year Study of Western Toads to Find Ways to Mitigate Highway Mortality” by scooping up many of the tiny toads and putting them into buckets to carry them across the highway safely. The previous day rains had brought them out in droves.

Unlike most amphibians Western Toads are mostly terrestrial, spending 95% of their life in terrestrial habitats, using aquatic environments only to breed.

A number of nature societies are working together to find a more permanent solution to prevent the thousands of toads from being crushed on the highway, such as installing barrier fencing to guide them through toad-friendly culverts.

Long rescue trough leading to culvert under highway

Tiny Toads on plastic barrier

Toad Rescue

Toad trough going under the Highway

Rescuing escaped toads to walk across Highway in a bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did eventually get further up the road to Bear Lake, but no fish were to be found. A cold wind chased us back to the car and home.

Most of Tuesday was spent in Nelson where Callum had a dentist appointment and Skylet had to pick up her new glasses in the morning. We had a great lunch and then Kendrick took the kids to the Community Centre indoor pool for a few hours. Sarah and I got to hang out, picking up some groceries and exploring some of the shops. Because the weather had turned much cooler, I bought a couple pairs of leggings at a second hand store, something that would pack easily into my already bulging carry-on. Of course the next day the heat was back and I never wore them once!

On Wednesday I helped Sarah do some cleaning up in her garden in the morning. In the afternoon we all went to the beach at Fletcher Falls to escape the heat. The breeze was cool and refreshing. Kendrick and Callum did some fishing; Skylet did some swimming; Sarah and I explored the beach for interesting stones.

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Fishing on the beach at Fletcher Falls

Thursday, my last day, Sarah took me and the kids across the ferry at Belfour to visit some of the many Artisan Shops in Crawford Bay.

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Riding the Ferry from Balfour

Broom Maker Shop

Broom Maker Shop

Finished Brooms

Finished Brooms

Broom Maker at Work

Broom Maker at Work

Trimming

A Harry Potter Broom

A Harry Potter Broom

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

Sculptures outside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

A couple more bear sculptures inside the Weaving Shop

The Kootenay Forge

The Kootenay Forge

Inside the Forge

Inside the Forge

Early Friday morning Sarah and Skylet saw me off in Nelson where I caught my bus for the five hour trip back to Kelowna, where Judy would meet me once again.

It was a fun week with lots of interesting things to see and do, but the best part was just having so much quality time to spend with Sarah, something we haven’t had in a long time.