Friday, July 19, 2019

Ghost in the wall

Ghostly faces in the walls of Saanich's Uptown Centre...
"I always feel like
somebody's watching me..."

Poke around the nearby Uptown Centre in Saanich and you'll see these mysterious faces peering out from the stonework...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Curious curios

Unique items in a Nanaimo pawn shop...
"How much for the mutant monkey head?"
Stroll into a pawn shop sometime -- like this one in Nanaimo -- and you can find the weirdest things. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Les Vitamines

Les Vitamines perform in Victoria...
Making physical funny look easy...
My wife and I make a point to get to each summer's busker festival in Victoria whenever we can. Les Vitamines is probably our favourite act... combining acrobatics and comedy, they have appeared here frequently.

The smaller of the talented pair is Cbastien. He's the clown to his partner's straight man. The past few times we have seen them, Cbastien has appeared with a new partner than when we first saw them.

This year is the first year that I have noticed grey in his hair. It reminded me of just how long we have been coming to see these guys.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Call of the wild

Eagle in a neighbourhood tree...
An eagle cries out for company...
This gal/guy(?) was perched on a far away tree at the limits of my pocket camera. I waited patiently to try to get it mid-screech. S/he seemed to be calling to another nearby eagle wheeling overhead.

In fact, it was more of a screech than a call, so I'm gonna assume it was female.

😉

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

It is later than you think...

Brandon Lee's favourite quote...
-- Paul Bowles
"The Sheltering Sky"
Note: If you can't read the text above, click to see the full size image.

The quote above was said to be Brandon Lee's -- son of Bruce Lee -- favourite quote and is inscribed on his tombstone. Bruce Lee died at the young age of 32 so it's possible that the early death of his father left the younger Lee with a unique understanding of how short our time on earth can be and the importance of not wasting it.

Sadly, much as his father died on the cusp of achieving worldwide stardom, Brandon Lee also died at the too-young age of 28 while filming the movie The Crow. His final performance was well-received by critics who felt that he showed promise as an up-and-coming charismatic actor.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sunny blue

We count only blue cars 
Skip the cracks in the street 
And ask many questions 
Like children often do
--Dishwalla


Friday, July 5, 2019

Order from chaos

Stone totems adorn Parksville beach driftwood...
What is the meaning of these mysterious piles of beach stone?
What do these primitive stone totem poles indicate. A need to create order out of nature? A need to create art to contemplate? Signposts that simply say: "I was here."?

Who knows?

These cairns line the logs and shoreline of Parksville's main beach.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The end of the Century

All that remains of the Victoria Plaza Hotel...
Ghost signs exposed by a now missing wall after the fire...
Recently, Victoria's historic Century Inn -- later the Victoria Plaza Hotel -- burned down in a dramatic fire that was notable for its ferocity in the heart of the city.

A bit of my history went up with it. Back in my 20s, it was home to many of the night clubs where I spent numerous Friday and Saturday nights. Julie's -- as the dance club was known then -- was the first (and only) club where I was punched in the face by a female, a former room mate of mine who had a notable malicious streak.

After investigation, the fire has been deemed as suspicious. The police are looking for the on-site custodian who hasn't been seen since the fire took place.

All that remains of the buidling facade after the fire...
Remains of the day...



Monday, July 1, 2019

Kinetic

Public art in the main square of Ganges on Salt Spring Island...
Abstract art on the move...
This collection of wind-driven sculptures can be found in the town of Ganges' main square on Salt Spring Island...

Friday, June 28, 2019

How Green Is My Valley

A rural landscape on Salt Spring Island...
Green fields and sheep in the distance...
Salt Spring Island off Vancouver Island's east coast is a mix of lush farms tucked in between tracts of lush forests.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Never Surrender

Canadian rocker Corey Hart at Victoria's Save-On Centre...
Corey Hart... still looking good at 57
My wife and I recently attended a concert headlined by Corey Hart. It was one of the most entertaining concerts I've ever attended, maybe the best.

Hart was a big deal in Canada back in the 1980s when he exploded on the music scene with his hit Sunglasses at Night. His bad boy good looks, singing and songwriting talent made him a fixture in Canadian music for about a decade.

He abruptly left the industry -- and Canada -- to devote time to his wife and kids.

He never expected to return to sing music in a big way, but was encouraged by the reception that he got when he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. That led to a 'retirement' tour that proved to be so popular that he decided to return to making music again.

Hart really knocked it out of the park for the Victoria concert. He had fans come up on stage for hugs and serenades, he wandered into the audience to sing and he cracked jokes such as apologizing for the all the cheesy pouting that he did in his old music videos when he was always cast as a broody, intense James Dean-type.

He was clearly have a great time and got emotional whenever he talked about his wife and kids, and the fans that have been inspired by him.

Monday, June 24, 2019

F(l)ail

Paddleboards ready to go on a downstream run...
Idyllic start to our paddle run...

A few weeks ago, my paddle partner and I did a river run on our inflatable SUPs. It was probably the last run of our second season.

It started off gently. The river levels were way down, the flow was slow... in fact, we grounded a few times causing us to 'Superman', i.e. get tossed forward off the front of the board.

Things took a different turn at the end though when we went through a Class-3 chute. The churning froth tossed me off my platform and into the drink. The powerful water tore my waist leash off. I carried on downstream, flailing in the water while my board wound up caught up on rock.

Aside the adrenaline rush, I was otherwise fine and unscathed. It took some fancy manoeuvres and good luck to get my board unstuck.

A hung up paddleboard in the middle of the river...
My grounded paddleboard...

Friday, June 21, 2019

Raging Grannies

The Raging Grannies get their game on at the Salt Spring Island Saturday market...
The Raging Grannies entertain and amuse on Salt Spring Island...
Although Raging Grannies are now a global phenomenon, they got their start in our very own Victoria, BC back in the mid-80s. At the time I was in the Navy, and we were frequently the target of their political protests when we hosted foreign warships.

The Grannies protested the presence of nuclear warships in BC waters, assuming that they were ARMED with nuclear weapons. Sometimes they were, but other times they were simply powered by a nuclear power plant, a distinction that the Grannies didn't seem to understand.

Over the years and decades, the target of their songs and protests has expanded to include other concerns such as the growing climate emergency.

For the most part, they are endured with good humour. Who wants to be the person who arrests or hassles a grandmother?

This particular chapter on Salt Spring Island were entertaining market goers with a cheeky tune protesting oil tankers off the BC coast...

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Hustle

A budding artist learns the value of persistence and hustle...
Tough gig for a new artist...
Salt Spring Island has a population of about 10000 people spread out across a large rural landscape. A lot of people eke out a living as artists and/or farmers, and every Saturday the main community of Ganges hosts a market.

Children start to learn the art of hawking their wares at an early age. Most market shoppers were oblivious to this young budding entrepreneur in their midst. He was gamely trying to sell his art at a small table in the main thoroughfare. Despite not having much luck competing against the more professional sellers among the larger tent displays, he showed no sign of giving up and quitting early.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lavender fields forever

Fielfs of purple at a Salt Spring Island lavender farm...
A field of rich purple and green...
During a recent camping trip to nearby Salt Spring Island, we paid a visit to a lavender farm. Did you know that there are three broad kinds of lavender?

French lavender is used in the creation of beauty products. It's the one that you probably think of when you think of the flower.

English lavender is used in cooking.

Spanish lavender is used mostly as a cross pollinator. It's a pale white/yellow colour, not the traditional purple that you normally associate with lavender.

Stalks of lavender on Salt Spring Island...
Prince would approve...

Friday, June 14, 2019

Storm is coming...

Mother nature dwarfs a BC Ferry on its way to the mainland...
A dramatic and huge cloud hangs over a BC ferry...
If you look carefully you can see a British Columbia ferry capable of carrying 370 cars and 2100 people on the left hand side of this image. It's dwarfed by the dramatic towering cumulus cloud overhead.

Sometimes we overlook the scale of nature at our peril. For example, some people still think climate change isn't happening. They look around their world, and are convinced that mankind cannot be affecting the environment.

But all the life on this planet -- from the deepest ocean to the highest mountain -- is just a thin film covering a ball of rock. Take a basketball and cover it with two coats of blue paint. That thin film of paint would accurately represent the scale of our biosphere on this planet.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wayback Wednesday: Grand Canyon

Sitting on the edge of the canyon...
The Grand Canyon... words can't describe the impact of its view...
It was six years ago that my wife and I were perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon basking in its rich colours and vast scale.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Brentwood Bay

Brentwood Bay's colourful docks and jetties...
Off in the distance the Malahat Mountain overlooks Brentwood Bay...

Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula to the north of Saanich on Vancouver Island seems to be resisting the tendency to high-density development that is afflicting the other south island communities. So far it has maintained its quaint seaside charm. For that reason, it's a popular place for my wife and I to go out for breakfast on a sunny weekend morning.

As sea breezes waft in through the window, you can enjoy the comings and going of ferries, sailing boats and paddle craft.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Third time the charm?

The sea stacks along Cannon Beach OR...
The sea stacks of Cannon Beach at sunset...

I'm in the middle of planning our summer 2019 trip to Oregon. It will be our third trip in five years.

Once again we are hoping to see the city of Bend and the nearby Painted Hills. On both of our previous trips we had to give up on them due to the thick smoke from wild fires.

It is the grim reality of climate change. It has had a big impact on summer tourism in the Pacific Northwest.

And not just tourism... it's affecting our health. Our son who currently lives in Edmonton Alberta was recently describing the apocalyptic smoke hanging over the city which has resulted in health warnings from local authorities.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Balls of glass

Glowy glass globes at Robert Held's studio..
Spheres of colour and light...
Visitors to glass artist Robert Held's studio in Parksville are treated to a wall full of his magical and colourful glass globes that glow with inner lights.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Faces

An installation for Vancouver Island's Otherworld event...
Zardoz the great and powerful...
A couple of art installations from an Otherworld event on Vancouver Island several years ago.

A painting on the wall of a structure at Otherworld...
When gods blow kisses...
Otherworld is Vancouver Island's Official Regional Burning Man Event. It supports and draws its inspiration from the official Burning Man Festival that happens every year in the Nevada desert.

This year the Burning Man festival is facing difficulties. Originally a small, low-key event when it started in 1990, it has grown to the point of 80000 people gathering in the desert for a week of partying and celebration of creativity.

As a result, it is now on the radar of the Bureau of Land Management down in the States who are looking at the impact it has on the local environment with a mind to making changes. There was even talk that Burning Man might not happen at all but that fear seems to have subsided.

Meanwhile the local event is doing very well for itself, growing year and year. This year is will be held at a very upscale venue near Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Movies under the stars

The drive-in theatre at Enderby BC...
The old school advertisements for the concession stand...
During our road trip last summer, we made a special detour to visit the Starlight Drive-In in Enderby, BC.

I've spoken before of my fond memories of going to our local drive-in as a kid. Today, drive-ins have all but disappeared across North America so I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass.

We arrived early. It was raining so to keep the rain off our windshield and ruining the experience I improvised with a tarp and a couple of paddles.

My improvised windshield cover...
You do what you gotta do...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Take me home...

The sun over a bucolic country lane in rural Saanich BC...
Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads

-- John Denver

Monday, May 27, 2019

Missing Robin Williams

Fancy a game of Jumanji?
"In the jungle you must wait / Until the dice read five or eight."
Recently, while trolling for sports gear in a local thrift shop, I stumbled across this game.

It brought back some fond memories of watching this movie with my sons when they were just young children. Robin Williams' films were our go-to movies for family viewing... Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire (my younger son's favourite), Hook, and, of course, his unique voice talents in Aladdin.

When he died by his own hand five years ago, the world was definitely a sadder place for his absence.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pipe Mountain Coaster

Waiting to ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster...
Thunderbirds are go!
The Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke, BC is described on their website as an "exhilarating ride...4 km of twists and turns across ski runs, between glades and through a tunnel while traveling up to 42km/hour."

We camped in the area during our summer 2018 road trip for the express purpose of trying it out.

We ended up doing it three times. The first time we went down, the goof in front of us kept his brakes on for the entire ride. He was completely oblivious to the backed up riders behind him who wanted to do it the way it should be done... fast!

The staff at the bottom acknowledged our frustration and disappointment and gave us a another free ride.






Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wind runner



During our recent surfin' safari at Tofino on Vancouver Island we saw this fun little landsurfer cruising up and down the beach at Cox Bay.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Everybody's gone surfing...


Tofino is ground zero for the surf culture on Vancouver Island.

Surfing is as much an attitude as it is a sport it seems. Harcore surfers tend to live a minimalist lifestyle. Owning stuff would tie them down to one spot and all the hardcore surfers I have talked to were transients, following the big waves around the globe. Also, owning stuff requires a job to buy stuff and these people work as little as they need to. Not because they are lazy -- far from it -- but because time spent working is less time spent on a beach.

In Tofino, it's common to see young adults cycling to the local beaches first thing in the morning with their boards strapped to the side of the bike. A lot of them have this almost Buddha-like expression of contentment and satisfaction of their faces. To steal a phrase: "The worst day surfing is better than the best day working."


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Authentic vintage

Abandoned gas station in Oregon...
The remains of an old gas station in Oregon...
Unlike the previous post, this gas station on an Oregon roadside is less vintage and more derelict.

I wonder: Did the driver of the last car to fill up here realize  that the pumps would forever fall silent behind them?

Old gas pumps long stopped running...
Forlorn and forgotten...


Monday, May 13, 2019

Vintage

A Texaco gas station circa 1965...
A gas station out of time...
All shiny and new looking this classic Texaco gas station looks like it slipped through a time warp to arrive in 2019 from the year 1965.

In reality, it's a 'set' outside Coombs in BC. It's actually the storefront for an auto restoration business that specializes in classic cars.

Friday, May 10, 2019

A flurry of flamingos

A stand of flamingos at the Calgary Zoo...
Flamingos on display at the zoo in Calgary AB...
Although a group of birds is known as a flock, many gatherings of birds have more specific names. For example, a flock of crows is known as a murder while a flock of owls is known as a parliament.

Which is weird since owls are solitary birds not known for flocking.

I think a group of flamingos should be known as a 'flurry'. It has a nice alliteration. However, to find out what a group of flamingos is really called just hover your mouse icon over the image above.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Human racing...

Life is a stroll not a sprint...
Don't be too quick to race through life...
In the First World, we are obsessed with setting goals and then chasing them with single-minded determination. That finish line beckons us to run faster, to beat everyone else in the race to reach it... and as soon as we sprint past the line what do we see? Another finish line in the distance. And so we race onward with grim determination.

When you are chasing a never-ending succession of finish lines, you can lose sight of the beautiful things -- big and small -- that are passing by you. Sometimes it's okay to slow down, leave the track, take your shoes off and enjoy the feeling of cool grass tickling your toes and warm sun on your face.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Knotty Owls

Brian of Ladysmith with his knotty owl...
A magic owl works its stuff...
This is Brian of Ladysmith with one of his carved wood creations. We ran into each other on a somewhat remote stretch of a local river. I was going to try a paddleboard experiment which had the potential for major failure.

Brian offered me one of his handmade good luck charms which I gratefully took. He carves them from assorted beach wood that he gathers and hands them out to strangers that he encounters during his travels.

My experiment was a complete disaster. It ended with me nearly getting swept downstream and losing all my gear.

Brian's carving must have worked its voodoo since things didn't turn out as bad as they could have.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Grass naps

Best of friends share a patch of grass to catch some ZZZs.
Dogs have so much to teach us...
Grass and sun... made for snoozin'...

Snoozin' in Tofino, BC...
Splendor in the grass...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bonneville

A classic Pontiac Bonneville...
That's a L-O-N-G car!
On a recent trip to Oceanside on Vancouver Island, I came across this classic Pontiac Bonneville, probably from the mid-1960s.

Just look at the size of that trunk! You could put a swimming pool in there. Or a half dozen dead bodies. Just sayin'...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Elkhorn Johnny

The unofficial mayor of Elkhorn Montana...
The mayor is in session...
While meandering the dusty streets of the ghost town of Elkhorn Montana we had the pleasure to meet Elkhorn Johnny as he referred to himself, the unofficial 'mayor'.

Originally living the surfer lifestyle in southern California, he moved back to a long-held family property in Elkhorn following the 911 attacks. He has lived there ever since eking out a living selling curios,crafts, rocks and collected herbs.

The mayor's residence...
Living life off the grid in Montana...



Friday, April 26, 2019

She's sees sea stacks by the seashore

A sea stack near Botanical Beach on Vancouver Island...
A small forest grows out of a sea stack near Botanical Beach...
She would see this particular sea stack near Port Renfrew, BC...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Elkhorn

Elkhorn's original saloon and dance hall...
The original saloon of Elkhorn...
Elkhorn Montana is a ghost town located about forty minutes off the nearest major roadway. At one time it was home to 2500 people when it was the centre of the local silver mines.

It's unusual for the fact that alongside the decrepit and decaying 150-year-old buildings is a smattering of modern ranch homes and trailers that are home to a handful of inhabitants.

It must be an odd experience to walk down the dusty streets among the ruins of the past from two centuries ago...

Living with the ghosts of the past...

Monday, April 22, 2019

Wasting Away

A wreck bakes in the Montana sun...
A relic from decades ago slowly succumbs to the Montana elements...
A weathered rusted car on a Montana backroad...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Make time for the big rocks first...

A cairn of beach rocks on a Vancouver Island beach...
Have u got the stones to fully live your life?
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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Jellyfish

Jellyfish exude serenity at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea...
Ethereal...
Aside from being relaxing to watch, jellyfish are plain weird.

They don't have a brain.

They don't have a heart.

No brains and no heart... somewhere in there is a political joke, but far be it from me to take the easy out.

Drifting with the currents...
A jellyfish drifts wherever the tide takes it...