Friday, October 30, 2015

Dawn of the Dead

A zombie from Victoria's Zombie Walk lying down on the job.
"When there is no more room in hell, 
the dead will walk the earth..." 
--- Dawn of the Dead

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Season of the Witch

A seasonal witch flies past Victoria city hall.
witching time is near
demons and devils emerge
bring on the candy!
Out here on Canada's left coast, we're known for being a little bit on the eccentric side. Victoria apparently has a healthy population of practicing Wiccans, more popularly referred to as witches.

Contrary to Hollywood and the Church, witches are not associated with Satanism. Nor is Wicca some sort of ancient religion as some people believe. It was largely 'invented' in 20th Century England and many variations of it exist today.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Riding the Rails...

Smoke from wild fires obscures the afternoon sun...
Day into night... smoke from forest fires
obscure the afternoon sky in central Oregon...
From the Alvord Desert and the Steens range of southeastern Oregon we pushed hard to get to the northeast corner of the state.

The numerous forest fires throughout the state closed two of the three routes available to us, forcing us to make a detour.

Just before our eventual destination of Joseph we stopped at the almost-nothing station of Minam to Ride the Rails. It's a leisurely four hours or so pedal through the Oregon countryside on a bike specially designed to ride the local de-commissioned railway.

Riding the Rails on the way to Joseph, Oregon...
Riding the Rails near Joseph, Oregon...



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dark side of the Steens

Parts of the Steens range look other-worldly.
Parts of the Steens range look extraterrestrial.
In some places, the view from the top of the range looked positively extraterrestrial, while other view points were green with vegetation.

Green views from the top of the Steens range...
Views of the valleys from the top of the Steens range...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Zombies a Go-Go!

This girl takes her fun seriously...
Committed to the role...
 Zombies took over Victoria's Centennial Square this past Saturday afternoon for the 2015 Victoria Zombie Walk before shuffling their way down to the front lawn of the provincial legislature.

This particular girl had the best costume in my opinion. She posted a tutorial on her Facebook page describing her process and the effort and time that went into this was impressive.

Strange creature at the Zombie Walk...
Isn't she lovely?

Zombie BFFs...
BFFs forever and ever... and everafter...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Meet the Steens

The view from the top of the Steens' range...
Awesome views from the top of the Steens...
The Alvord desert lies in the rain shadow of the Steens mountain range to the west. The range rises to about ten thousand feet above the desert floor.

Despite the smoke from the numerous forest fires throughout the state, we were still able to appreciate the grandeur of these mountains. At one point, we discovered a hidden memorial among the rocks of a viewpoint.

A hidden memorial among the rocks...
A hidden memorial among the peaks...



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cheeky

Sun-worshiping in the Alvord Desert...
Sun-worshiper...
I periodically take photos of the annual Victoria's Naked Bike Ride. I'm always amused and impressed by the riders' complete lack of propriety when it comes to baring all for their cause.

I confine my outdoor nudity to situations such as the Alvord desert where I'm unlikely to be seen by anyone else. I confess that it's a pleasant experience to feel the warm sun and a caressing breeze flowing over inch of your body. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Make time for the big rocks first...

The key to balance is to start with the big rocks first.

Motivational speaker Stephen Covey is often credited with the parable of The Big Rocks... the idea that the key to productivity and success is dealing with your 'big rocks' first.

I came across the cairn above while hiking a Vancouver Island west coast beach. It's a perfect metaphor for the same concept. To find balance in your life, you need to start with the big rocks first. 

The small rocks should come after that. Take care not to pile on so many small rocks though that the whole thing comes tumbling down.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Not hot enough for ya'?

The Alvord Hot Springs next to the desert...
The Alvord Hot Springs... keeping things even hotter...
As if camping on the desert wasn't enough heat for us, my wife and I took a soak in the nearby Alvord Hot Springs.

The springs are on private land and at one time the owners graciously allowed visitors to freely soak in the water. However, as word of mouth spread and the number of visitors started to climb, they were forced to nominally upgrade the facility to something more than a token couple of holes in the ground.

There is now a small charge of $5 for visitors to use the springs. The owners built a tin shack with a small change facility and a manual shower contraption to rinse off afterward.

From the water, you can view the desert in one way or the Steens mountain range in the opposite direction.

Leona after her soak...
Leona, after her soak in the springs...



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Alvord Part II

The cracked mud surface of the Alvord desert...
The floor of the Alvord desert...
Unlike the salt flats of Utah the floor of the Alvord desert is cracked dry mud. High winds whip up the fine white dust... during our two day stay there the dust got into everything.

Camped out the desert...
All alone on the desert...
Except for two other groups  a few miles away we were alone on the flats. With no lights around us, the night sky was brilliant with thousands -- maybe tens of thousands -- of stars. I couldn't remember the last time I saw the Milky Way so clearly.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Modern Pirate

Nanaimo's modern-day pirate-Mayor...
Frank Ney, Nanaimo's former Mayor...
If you stroll Nanaimo's waterfront you'll come across this intriguing statue. It's a man wearing period costume complete with a bizarre hat with feathers sticking out of it. He wields a sword that he is waving toward the heavens.

The statue honours former Nanaimo mayor, Frank Ney, who died in 1992. He was a 'CHARACTER' in every sense of the word. As mayor, he was fond of attending civic events while dressed as a pirate. He was also instrumental in promoting the early Nanaimo bathtub races which are a regular event during the summer in Nanaimo to this day.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Alvord Desert

First glimpse of the Alvord Desert...
"A big-ass flat thing..."
After Crater Lake, our Oregon trip took us to the south-east quadrant of the state in search of the Alvord desert.

It would surprise a lot of people to know how truly deserted this part of the state really is. It's an extension of the Nevada desert to the south. The landscape is flat, featureless... the low lying scrub vegetation is de-saturated of colour... the only things that move are the hawks that glide overhead in search of hapless hare caught out in the open. (Although we did once see a wolf crossing the highway...)

It's very off-the-grid... no cell reception here. Towns are few and far between and consist of single-pump gas stations or a weary-looking restaurant with a smattering of weather-beaten homes or trailers in the background.

Our first glimpse of the Alvord desert was dramatic. As one local described it, it was a 'big ass flat thing', a featureless white expanse stretching off to the horizon.

It was possible to drive out on to the desert floor itself by turning right off the main road onto a rough dirt road called Frog Springs. I think the road name was meant to be ironic.

Directions to the desert...
This way to the desert...