Friday, September 20, 2019

The art of Springfield

Regal faces painted by artist Bayne Gardner...
Some of the art of Bayne Gardner...
Springfield has a lot of colourful murals amid the streets of its downtown core. Some of them are in back alleys off the main roads so you have to hunt for them.

They even have tours organized around them. One of the most impressive murals celebrates local author Ken Kesey who was the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Large mural celebrates local author Ken Kesey...
Ken Kesey immortalized in a mural...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Springfield

Springfield OR's commemorative Simpson's mural...
The gang's all here in Springfield...
Anyone who has any sort of passing knowledge of the long-running The Simpsons animated series knows that it is set in the town of Springfield.

But is there a real Springfield? Well, it turns out that there are about 33 of them in the United States, but the one that is the inspiration for the series is Springfield OR. The creator of the series, Matt Groenig, grew up in nearby Portland.

The real-life Springfield commemorates this fact with a large bright mural on the side of their oddly named Emerald Arts Center downtown.

The very tan coloured Emerald Arts Center in Springfield OR...
"Emerald... you keep using this word.
I do not think it means what you think it means."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Spruce Goose

The Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum...
Too big to get it all in one frame...
In McMinnville OR you'll find the excellent Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Two large hangars hold all sorts of interesting aircraft and you can even try your hand at a flight simulator.

One hangar is dominated by the Spruce Goose, built by Howard Hughes in the mid-1940s as part of the war effort. This thing is huge... like really really BIG.

The wingspan is longer than a football field. The tail is eight stories high. Even by today's standards this is a massive aircraft, all the more remarkable when you consider that it is constructed almost entirely of wood.

The Spruce Goose dominates the hangar.
The Spruce Goose dwarfs everything else around it...

Friday, September 13, 2019

Twedes again

Sombre clouds strike the appropriate Twin Peaks vibe in North Bend WA.
A gloomy cloudy day over North Bend in Washington...
Whenever we go through Washington state, we try to make it a point to stop in at Twedes Cafe in North Bend. It's a popular gathering place for visitors, particularly those who are fans of the quirky and spooky cult series Twin Peaks.

Although it's famous for its coffee and cherry pie as a result its appearance in the show, on this particular trip I decided to try their banana creme pie instead. I can reliably report that it too is very good... and VERY filling.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

La Conner cute

Main street La Conner WA...
The residents of La Conner even park artfully...
On our recent trip to Oregon, we stopped in at La Conner WA. We discovered this picturesque community two years ago.

If you are an art lover, La Conner is your town. The main street features numerous shops selling art in quality from pricey fine to mass produced 'lifestyle' and everything in between. We have some of it sitting in our home as I write this.

A wrap around veranda catches the eye...
All stair rails, veranda and posts...





Monday, September 9, 2019

LOST

A curtain of green...
What mysteries does the ISLAND hold?
During a recent trip to the surf town of Tofino here on Vancouver Island, as I emerged from the water, I was struck by how much the beach and lush canopy looked similar to something you might experience on a tropical island.

Take away the telltale tall evergreen trees and you could be looking at the jungle of some mysterious island off South America. It was an effect enhanced by the call of the many birds hidden in the trees.

White sand and thick vegetation of Vancouver Island's outer beaches...
The beach at Florencia Bay...

Friday, September 6, 2019

She sees seaweed by the seashore

Fields of seawood waiting to be buried on a Mexican beach...
 Burying seaweed in the hot sun... not fun.
We'll be heading back to Mexico's east coast this year, after three vacations on the west coast.

I can't complain since the trip is free for us, but I'm less enthusiastic about the east coast. They have a growing seaweed problem there. Each day, vast mats of seaweed wash ashore on the resort beaches. In the heat of the day, it rots quickly, producing a pungent smell similar to sewage.

Who wants to spend time on beach like that? It turns out -- unsurprisingly -- no one.

During our last stay in Playa del Carmen, we witnessed teams of labourers sent out each morning from the hotels to clean up the beach areas in front of the resorts. Their job was to dig deep holes in the beach sand and bury the seaweed.

In some places the problem has become so acute that they've had to resort to earth-moving equipment to dig the trenches.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

They zig... you zag

One of the cars of VI's Rat Rods...
More Mad Max than Rolls Royce...
When you can't afford to buy and maintain a vintage car what do you do? You go the other way and go for the grunge look.

That's the philosophy behind the Rat Rods, a group of car enthusiasts who gleefully adorn their car with lo-fi accessories, rust and DIY parts.

Skulls and bombs adorn this car...
The Chevy from Hell...

Monday, September 2, 2019

No school like old school

An eye-catching red Boler and matching pull vehicle...
Despite the Boler, I doubt this car has ever been near an RV park...
My wife and I often go to vintage car shows -- known more commonly as 'show and shines' -- because we are old enough that they bring back fond memories of our childhoods and teen years.

The car owners are frequently grizzled and grey, but their enthusiasm for restoring cars never wanes. They are always happy to talk about their automobiles. If not with the public then with each other.

Swapping stories at the auto show...
That's a lot of grey facial hair!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Haiku: The bridge

mist greets the sunrise
where will this old bridge take you?
do not think...forward!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The eyes have it

Entry in the Parksville BC sand sculpture competition...
Thoughtful expression...
This was one of the entries from this year's sand sculpture competition in Parksville, BC. What makes this face noteworthy are the eyes. They were created by the artist using depressions to suggest irises complete with accent highlights.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Sunset over the bay

The sun sets over Parksville BC.
Friends enjoy the spectacle of the setting sun...
Paddlers and spectators enjoy the warmth and glow of the fading sun over the main bay of Parksville BC.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Art

Still traveling folks... In the meantime, check out some of the art -- local and abroad -- that we have encountered during our travels.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Birds of a feather...

Turkey vultures on the prowl in Saanich...
Turkey vultures patrol over Christmas Hill in Saanich...
... must necessarily fly in pairs at a minimum.

Towhees in Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary...
Chummy towhees checking me out near Swan Lake in Saanich...


Monday, August 19, 2019

Perfect is...

One long toe short of perfection...
One toe short of perfection...
Perfection is boring. By definition it implies that a thing is done. It is finished. It cannot be improved on. Hence, there is no room for growth, for improvement.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept based on the concept 'nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect'. It's a spiritual concept in which imperfection, decay and disorder are embraced to the extent that they underscore the beauty of an object.

"It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind" to quote from an unknown source.

Perhaps it is because in contemplating the imperfection we must contemplate the whole of the object in which it is embedded which in turn leads us to find all that is right with the object.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Taking Willie's advice...

We are on the road for the next few weeks so this blog will be sporadic for a bit...

In the meantime, re-visit some of our travel adventures to the Grand Canyon. Next year we are planning for an extended trip to the deep American south-west where we hope to re-visit some of these sights.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Waiting for the Piano Man

Public piano on the beach at Oak Bay waits to passersby to play...
Waiting for company...
"Sing us a song / You're the Piano Man" sang Billy Joel. The musician seems to have left the building, so to speak. Anyone else on this sunny day at Willows Beach in Oak Bay though is free to tickle away.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Enigmatic

Sculpture on Oak Bay's main street...
Wouldn't you like to know what she's thinking about?
And speaking of enigmatic smiles, this sculpture on the main street of Oak Bay seems to be reacting to some secret thoughts...

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mother of Peace

Mother of Peace...
If a statue could radiate good wishes, this would be it...
This piece of public art stands outside the main recreation centre of Oak Bay. Titled ‘M’akhotso, Mother of Peace' it's a piece by Linda Lindsay.

To me it stands out for the benevolent smile on its expressive face.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Squirrel-ly

An enraged squirrel takes a stand for rodents everywhere...
"YOU! With the camera! Come at me, bro..."

Recently I was walking a nearby mall when I came across this peculiar sight... a squirrel was firmly planted in one of the exit lanes. And he wasn't just standing firm... s/he was loudly rage-chattering at the roadway as if daring any car to enter the mall. No four wheel chariot driven by a monkey was getting past HIM except over his dead body.

Unfortunately, crazy-squirrel didn't understand that it was actually facing the wrong way to obstruct traffic.

Curious, I got closer and pulled out my camera. Suddenly, crazy-squirrel turned and glared at ME.

I didn't get any closer 'cuz frankly this squirrel was more badass than I could ever hope to be.

Monday, August 5, 2019

On the road to Tofino

A Vancouver Island river carves a leisurely path..
Driving to Tofino on Vancouver Island is a long twisty adventure but along the way you get to see some of the prettiest scenery on Vancouver Island.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Elon Musk... get on this!

The Cassidy horse is ready for his moon mission...
A different sort of astronaut...
Whenever we drive to our condo in Parksville, we like to check out the Cassidy horse. S/he can be found outside the Trading Post Feed and Tack Shop.

Usually, it is colourfully dressed to mark special events or annual holidays. On a recent occasion -- to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing -- the staff went all out to fully outfit it in a lunar spacesuit.

How weird/cool would it be to see a horse S-L-O-W-L-Y galloping (floating?) across the lunar landscape, kicking up moon dust in its wake?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Through the looking glass

Public art installation in Oak Bay on Vancouver Island...
Art frames children playing at Willows Beach in Oak Bay...

Monday, July 29, 2019

Haiku: Mailboxes

Battered mailboxes on a rural road in Saanich...
battered and worn
they stand silently waiting
some paint would be nice

Friday, July 26, 2019

Suds

Taking the froth face first on the paddle out to catch waves...
A faceful of froth...
I recently spent a few days in the Long Beach area of Vancouver Island to do some paddle surfing.

One of the facts of surfing is that you encounter suds on the way out and on the way in.

Surfing waves at Long Beach on Vancouver Island...
Riding down the wave line...

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mystery of the new shoe

A mysterious shoe found by a Vancouver Island river...
Straight off the assembly line...
On a recent trip to Tofino up island, I stopped to take some photos of a scenic river. I discovered this shoe lodged under a rock.

It looked brand out-of-the-box new. The sole, the fabric, the laces, the interior... all of it look sweatshop factory fresh.

I couldn't find a mate. I also couldn't imagine the circumstances under which a brand new shoe would be abandoned by the side of a river.

I have to admit when I first came upon it, I was a little reluctant to pick it up in case there was a foot still in it.

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...