Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Textures

The rough texture of the trunk of a giant cedar near Ucluelet...
The bark of a giant cedar on Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail...
Sometimes as we go through life we get lost in the small details... or we get swept up in the large ones...

Making a deliberate effort to change your perspective can uncover new truths.

Beach sand creates undulating patterns near Tofino, BC...
Mackenzie Beach near Tofino...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Victoria Buskers Festival 2015 Edition

Victoria's fourth annual Buskers Festival has been playing at the inner harbour for the past week. Yesterday's cool temperatures and breezes didn't stop the crowds from showing up to enthusiastically support the acts.

Les Vitamines get the crowd laughing...
The physical comedy of Les Vitamines...
Les Vitamines -- a circus comedy/acrobat duo from Quebec -- are favourites who have played the festival a few times. A big part of their comedy comes from the antics and the facial contortions of the smaller half of the duo.

A very flexible woman!
Lisa Lottie would make Gumby jealous!
Lisa Lottie is a cute Australian woman whose extreme flexibility had the crowd audibly squirming at times. She's pretty talented with hula hoops too.

The last act we saw was Swedish magician Charlie Caper. Magic is a bit of a tougher go for this sort of event, particularly the close-up magic that Caper performs. It's hard to appreciate the tricks from a distance, but he was surprisingly impressive. His sleight-of-hand was flawless and all sorts of objects were appearing and disappearing before our eyes.

It might seem that busking is a great gig. Travel the world, entertaining crowds, getting paid vast sums of money for it. I suspect the reality is much different... their careers are probably relatively short, particularly for those acts requiring physical strength and endurance. A lot of their money probably goes to paying their own travel and lodging. Even the travel is probably a hassle, dealing with passports and trying to recover from long flights before the event.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes...

Smoke from BC forest fires dims the midday sun.

Smoke from BC wildfires turns the sky umber over Ucluelet, BC.
Smoke from forest fires turns the ocean into beer...
On our last day at Tofino, we awoke to find a strange quality to the daylight. We hiked a bit of the Wild Pacific Trail in the morning... the colour of the water was a surreal brown colour under a sky of amber.

Smoke from local wildfires obscures the hills near Port Alberni, BC...
The road to Port Alberni
thick with smoke...
On the way back across Vancouver Island, thick clouds of smoke blocked the sun and settled into the valleys between the mountain peaks. The smoke was the result of a combination of local fires and fires on the mainland that was drifting west.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Ancient Ones

One of the giant cedars along the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet, BC...
That's one big-ass tree!
At one end of Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail, you'll find the Ancient Cedars Loop. There you will find this monster of a tree. My arms have an approximate spread of 5-feet, 7-inches so you can see that this tree -- possibly five centuries old or older -- has a diameter of nine or ten feet.

It's so big in fact, that the hollow interior of the tree has a chamber with a diameter of six feet or more.

A large interior chamber inside a giant cedar...
It only looks rude...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rock the Shores 2015 Edition

Ten thousand people gathered at 2015 Rock the Shores in Colwood, BC.
This is what 10000 people look like...
For the second year in a row, my wife and I took in Rock The Shores, a two-day outdoor concert located in nearby Colwood. We only attended the first day of the event along with 9998 other people!

Temperatures hit a sweltering 30 degrees C, but the organizers did an excellent job of providing cooling stations, and water stations where you could fill up your water bottle for free. Wisely, lots of people also brought umbrellas.

Staying cool in the misters...
Staying cool in the misters...
The lineup included seventeen bands. Although I was stoked to see The Black Keys and 54-40, the best band on the first day by far was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. There isn't actually an Edward Sharpe in the folk-rock band, but quirky lead singer Alex Ebert entertained by wading into the audience to sing and converse with some of his fans.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros...
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Friday, July 17, 2015

Raw beauty

Islands off of Ucluelet's rocky shoreline...
Ucluelet's rugged Wild Pacific Trail..
More scenes from Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail...

Ucluelet's shoreline...
The shoreline along the Wild Pacific Trail...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wayback Wednesday: Ucluelet's trail

The lighthouse along the Wild Pacific Trail...
The lighthouse at one end of the Wild Pacific Trail...
On a recent trip to the surf community of Tofino, my wife and I once again hiked Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail. On our previous hike, we were lucky enough to watch a grey whale swimming not far from shore.

This time our wildlife experience was limited to a black bear seen crossing the road on the drive to Ucluelet and a stellar sea lion playing in the froth near the shore.

The trail offers some spectacularly rugged vistas, and one of our travel goals is to come here during the stormy winter season to see some big-ass ocean waves crashing over the rocks.

The trail is separated into two parts. The shorter southern hike takes you past the Amphitrite Lighthouse. Behind the lighthouse, floating in the water is Ucluelet's 'Red Can'. It's a buoy outfitted with reeds that make a low, almost mournful, call when the wave action causes the buoy to bob and sea water to move in and out of the can.

Ucluelet's Red Can buoy...
The Red Can off Ucluelet..

Monday, July 13, 2015

49 Redux

The strange truth of the 49th parallel...
The mysterious 49th parallel...
The 49th parallel is the latitude that separates Canada and the United States for a good part of their lengths.

There used to be a prominent highway sign at the Vancouver Island community of Ladysmith that promoted the town's location on the 49th parallel. The sign seems to have been removed or re-located in the last few years, but this distinction stills shows up in the names of some of their local shops (see 1. above).

When Victorians think of communities such Tofino - a popular surf and camping destination on the west coast of Vancouver Island - they often think of it as being north of here and even north of Ladysmith. They will refer to driving "up to Tofino".

I think a lot of them would be surprised to know that it would more accurate to say that they were driving "across" to Tofino. Not a lot of them realize that Vancouver Island actually lies along a north-west to south-east line rather than true north-south. When driving to Tofino one actually drives a sort of saw-tooth pattern, driving slightly north-west, then south-west when crossing Vancouver Island.

The proof can be found at the top of local Mt. Tolmie. There you'll find a compass plaque (2 above). The direction to Pacific Rim National Park just south of Tofino is indicated as almost due west of Victoria. Note: If you can't read the fine print, you may have to enlarge the image by viewing it separately -- left-click on it once or twice.

The third photo (3 above) is an information sign on the highway approach to Tofino. Tofino is no further north of Victoria than Ladysmith. 

A lot of Victorians might be further surprised to learn that the north end of Galiano Island is just as far north as Ladysmith and nearly parallel to Tofino. Galiano is one of the southern Gulf Islands and there is a tendency to think of them as lying just off Victoria.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Coming and going (again)

Ferries and aircraft pass each other in Victoria's busy inner harbour...
Passing travelers in Victoria's inner harbour   
Here we see the Coho ferry arriving from Port Angeles in Washington state. In the meantime we see a harbour-to-harbour aircraft on the way out as it leaves for Vancouver.

Add small harbour ferries, personal watercraft such as kayaks, sailboats, power boats, whale watching tour boats, etc. into the mix and it can seem that Victoria's inner harbour is a crowded place. However, everything seems to work together just fine.

It's going to get even more crowded with a marina for super-yachts due to be built within the next couple of years right in behind the where the Coho is here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Vote for Jesus

Cast a ballot for the Lord!
Jesus Christ, is that goalie good!
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then somewhere Out There, the Good Lord must be looking down kindly on Lawrence (a.k.a. "Israel" according to his business card).

I encountered the affable Lawrence a few weeks ago working as a swamper for a moving company. He is also a cabinet maker and reminded me that Jesus too was a simple cabinet maker. I seem to recall from my rusty old Roman Catholic days that Jesus was a carpenter. Carpenter... cabinet maker...close enough.

Lawrence's website urges visitors to elect Jesus by Sep 23, 2015. I'm not sure who else is on the ballot, where you can find the voting station, or even what political office Jesus is running for, but dig deep into Lawrence's website and you'll find the answers I'm sure.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Arrowsmith: Part 2

More photos from the top of Mt. Arrowsmith... (Click to view larger versions of the photos in your browser.)

Looking toward the west, one can see the community of Port Alberni.

Port Alberni seen from the top of Mt. Arrowsmith...
Port Alberni, visible in the distance
Looking east, you see rugged island mountain scenery. One thing noticeably missing from many peaks this year is snow. Higher than normal temperatures combined with lower than normal rainfall over the winter has left many of the lakes and streams at lower elevations high and dry.

Lots of bare rock and little water...
Lots of bare rock but little water...
Looking northward, one can see Denman and Hornby Island. Hornby Island is the outer island and the thin white strip visible at the right hand edge of the photo is Tribune Bay.

Denman and Hornby Island viewed from the top of Mt. Arrowsmith...
Hornby and Denman islands from the peak...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Arrowsmith: Part 1

Climbing Mt. Arrowsmith...
Our group poses with Port Alberni in the background...
Mount Arrowsmith is the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island. Slightly more than a mile high, it's popular with hikers and climbers who have the thighs and endurance to tackle it.

Changing weather conditions or accidents have sometimes stranded people on the mountain for a day or two, so it's best to at least carry some food and a mix of clothing.

There are a number of routes to the top. One allows hikers to get to the top without any special equipment. Some friends and I took the climber's route a few weeks ago... lots of initial hiking, but the final leg usually requires block-and-tackle, or whatever it is that climbers use.  :D

Alpine flowers...
Colourful flowers overlook the valleys below...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nanaimo

Nanaimo's energetic waterfront...

Nanaimo is a small city about two hours north of Victoria. It's known as the "Harbour City" and I'm only just coming to appreciate it for it's nice blend of amenities and small community appeal.

It had a bad reputation in the past for drugs and general seediness, but seems to be quietly re-inventing itself. A highlight is the walk along the sea wall that runs along the waterfront that appeals with its mix of restaurants, gift shops and ice cream parlours. You can see a bit of it in the lower left-hand corner of the photo. Curiously, I didn't see any buskers which would be a natural fit for this attraction.