Thursday, August 6, 2020

Not a ride at the fair...

Ralmax' impressive stacker-reclaimer in Victoria...
Industrial carousel...
Although this looks like some sort of high-tech fair ride, that's only an effect of the wide-angle panorama setting on my phone.

This is a stacker-reclaimer... a big-ass piece of engineering designed to move coal between freighters and rail cars at nearby North Vancouver.

The sheer size of it captures the attention of everyone who drives, cycles or walks past its construction site at Victoria's Point Hope Shipyard where it has been under construction by Ralmax Group for the the past eighteen months.

The buckets used to scoop up the coal...
No, not the seats for the ride...



Monday, August 3, 2020

Double patties

A bridge over the Englishman River...
Water beats rock...
Another view of the 'double-patties' that were mentioned in my previous post. You can imagine how much higher the river levels are in the winter to have carved out this unusual formation.

The bridge leads to a network of trails that will take you deep into the forests further upstream. Just remember to bring your bear bells with you.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The Dare

Two boys contemplate a jump into the Englishman River.
"You go first. No, YOU go first!"

Parksville locals have a semi-secret swimming spot located on the Englishman River. The river has carved strange formations into the banks such as this 'double patty'.

It's a favourite place to jump into the water, but can be intimidating because:

i. The water is dark and you can't easily see if there are any obstacles below the surface of the water (there aren't);

ii. The water is cold and there's no easing into it from a jump;

iii. It's also a bit challenging to climb back out of the water without skinning a knee or scraping a foot on the rock.

In the ancient of tradition of boys, I watched one young guy coaxing/teasing his pal into jumping into the water. No idea if he did it as I couldn't wait that long. Mom was nearby though so I figured everyone was safe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tree lined

A summer canopy of green over a Parksville street...
A cooling canopy of leaves...
A cathedral of trees over a street in Parksville glows with the afternoon sun.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Moss Lady

The Moss Lady of Beacon Hill Park...
Serenely sleeping in the shade...
You'll find the Moss Lady tucked away in the shade of Victoria's Beacon Hill Park.

Artist Dale Doebert was inspired by the Mud Maid in Cornwall’s Lost Gardens of Heligan. The 35-foot long sculpture is covered with a specially designed clay-based acidic soil so that she will eventually be cloaked in moss.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Them!

Aggressive formica ants...
Beware of mandibles!
Them! is the cinema classic that started the whole 'giant mutant bugs' trend in the 1950s. It's the tale of giant ants that threaten a small New Mexico community.

While these ants aren't gigantic, they are very nearly as scary to me because they can deliver a pretty good bite. I discovered them outside my backyard shed. In the process of sweeping them away with my feet, a few managed to climb up to my arms.

I didn't give it much thought until I felt a startling pinch.

I had never encountered such aggressive ants before in BC in all my decades here. A helpful expert with the municipality identified them as formica ants.

From the website insectidentification.org:
This group of ants do not sting, but they can bite using strong mouth parts. They also spray formic acid from the tips of their abdomens at predators or perceived threats like human fingers. The formic acid can cause mild to severe irritation depending on the proximity of the target.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Erosion

Sandstone cave on Galiano Island...
A peak through to Retreat Cove and Island...
Wave and weather action has carved a cave out of the sandstone on Galiano Island...

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mystic

The waterfalls of Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island...
Waterfalls at Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island...
People in BC are discovering the outdoor beauty of their province during these days of lock downs, closed borders, and limited vacation time. Media have reported that camping gear is selling briskly as BC residents opt to vacation in their own backyards.

Monday, July 13, 2020

To boldly grow...

Strange tree seen in my neighbourhood...
Sticking out like a sort thumb...
I really have to get out and walk around the neighbourhood more.

Following on from this post about strange local flora, I recently discovered this bizarre looking tree. Deep red-purple colour and mixed textures make it seem like something out of Star Trek to me.

No idea what it is...

Friday, July 10, 2020

The wraiths

Creepy kites...
Ominous creatures overhead...
I know that these kites flying over Parksville are supposed to be squids, but they still look creepy and alien-ish as they flutter in the breeze.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

23.5

A mysterious entrance in Fan Tan Alley...
The mysterious red door...
23-1/2 Fan Tan Alley in Victoria's Chinatown has been featured here before, but I've never caught a glimpse of what lies beyond the door until recently.

Nothing remarkable, just stairs leading up to ???

I've always been curious as to what the 1/2 means. Is 24 considered an unlucky number in Chinese? Did they somehow build an extra apartment between 23 and 24? Is it a portal to some alternate reality?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Norwegian Bliss


Norwegian Bliss takes over Victoria's breakwater...
One big boat... one colossal cruise ship...
It was two years ago that I featured the cruise ship the Norwegian Bliss. At the time it was the largest cruise ship to ever pull into Victoria.

Cruise ships are unlikely to return to Victoria this year. Local and federal governments are not allowing cruise ships into Canada until at least October.

Not that it matters since cruise ships are likely not going to see the numbers of passengers that they need to stay operating for a long, long time.

In the meantime, the Norwegian Bliss is on the East Coast hoping to re-start operations to American ports in the fall.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Happy Birthday to Us

Canada celebrates its 151st birthday...
Gloomy skies
2020 seems like a dark time right now...

Canada Day celebrations this year are non-existent with the cancellation of every event thanks to the ongoing COVID crisis. Let's hope that next year will see sunnier days.



Sunday, June 28, 2020

Those were the days my friend...

A small sample of ghost signs in Victoria, BC...
Fading but not yet forgotten...
If you wander around Victoria and look up you'll see a goodly number of ghost signs. These are faded signs typically seen painted on the sides of buildings advertising for businesses that have long since disappeared.

Amazingly, these particular signs have endured for over a century. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

On the move again

A BC ferry enters Active Pass on its way to Vancouver Island.
BC Ferries... on the long road to recovery...
BC is slowly starting to re-open after three months of the COVID shut down. Our ferry system took a big hit as both domestic and international numbers dwindled to a fraction of their normal levels.

The semi-private corporation estimates that it will take two to three years before they return to their normal pre-pandemic level of operations.

The sailing experience moving forward is going to look very different as masks will now be mandatory for passengers.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Exotic

Tropical coloured flowers in Victoria BC...
Victoria's eye-catching flowers on display...
The current COVID crisis which has closed many attractions and events across Vancouver Island has severely curtailed photo opportunities. I've taken to hiking local trails to find interesting subject material.

This flower is one I haven't seen before. I've no idea if it's native or something imported. It resembles some of the flowers that we saw in Costa Rica about a decade ago.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Isn't it ironic?

The Lucky Fortune Tattoo Studio... not so much.
Lucky Fortune?  Not so much...
As I walked around downtown Victoria recently, it was grim to see how many retail stores had shuttered as a result of the COVID shutdown.

Some had notices that they intended to re-open as soon as they could, but there were a few that announced that they were closing permanently.

I'm not sure what the eventual fate of the Lucky Fortune Tattoo Studio is. It was papered over and gated, but the neon light suggests that there is still hope for it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sally's Cafe

Qualicum Beach standing in for Chesapeake Shores...
Downtown Qualicum Beach stands in for Chesapeake Shores...
Several years ago I posted this photo of the former Chamber of Commerce building in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. It served as one of the central filming locations for Hallmark Channel's Chesapeake Shores.

Currently the series is on indefinite hiatus thanks to the ongoing COVID crisis... much like every other Hollywood movie and TV series filmed in British Columbia. The Canadian-American border remains closed to non-essential traffic.

And, even if the film crew and actors were deemed to be essential and allowed to cross the border, they would still have to go into quarantine for 14 days after entering BC and before being allowed to go to work.

So the ultimate fate of the O'Brien clan remains up in the air for now...

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Rock on

Hand painted rocks on a boardwalk...
Messages to motivate...
Walking along an Oceanside boardwalk, my wife and I discovered these ocean rocks hand painted with messages of inspiration during the recent COVID lock down.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Neither here nor there

Wooden signposts point elsewhere...
Everywhere but where you are now...

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Cancelled

No sand sculptures this year...
The sun sets on an empty beach...
What is this you ask?

This is what this year's Sand Castle competition in Oceanside will look like this year. Along with a myriad of events and celebrations across Vancouver Island, BC, Canada... the world really... it has been cancelled out of concerns over COVID-19.

Here's a look at some past events...




Thursday, June 4, 2020

49

The 49th parallel marked by a boulder...
One degree of separation...
Drive down the length of Galiano Island and you'll pass this unassuming boulder on the side of the road. It sits in the permanent shade of the trees around it, so you'd miss the plaque attached to it.

The plaque marks the 49th parallel... the latitude that separates Canada from the United States through much of its length.

Monday, June 1, 2020

The times they are a changing...

A COVID gift basket greets us at our resort...
Radioactive green disinfectant... I'd prefer wine, thanks...
It used to be that we were greeted with a gift basket of wine -- and maybe some chocolates to go with it -- when we checked into fancy hotels to celebrate a special occasion.

Recently we checked into our mid-island vacation condo and were bemused to be greeted with an entirely new kind of welcome basket. It contained some disinfecting spray and cleaning products so that we could sanitize hard surfaces in our suite during our stay.

😒

Friday, May 29, 2020

A horse with no mane...

Meditating horse...
Assembled horse deep in thought...
These equestrian wooden sculptures can be found on Mayne Island across from the Japanese Gardens.

Wooden horses on Mayne Island...
Driftwood horses on the gallop...



Fantastic Shapes and Where to Find Them

Strange textures in Galiano's shorelines...
Organic textures carved out by the ocean's forces...
Along the shorelines of the Gulf Islands, you'll find strange strange shapes and textures that have been carved out by the relentless forces of waves and water.

It's a characteristic of the soft sandstone and shale that makes up the islands.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A balancing act


A collection of cairns glow in the setting sun on Vancouver Island...

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Airy aerie

A pair of breeding eagles overhead on Galiano Island...
Soon to making sweet sweet eagle love...
And speaking of eagles...

On Galiano Island a few months ago we spotted this pair of eagles "skree-ing" in a tree overhead as we were walking along the harbour waterfront.

It was just good luck that we turned and I happened to glance up another nearby tree to see this nest.

An eagle's nest is its home...
Soon to be the sight of eaglets...
An eagle's nest is known as an aerie. Typically they are constructed from large sticks and lined with moss, grass, seaweed, etc.

A typical nest can be as wide as ten feet in diameter and up to nine feet high. However, first year nests are usually smaller, and the nest size will increase each year as eagles re-use the nest and add sticks to it. So that would suggest that this nest is a newer nest.

Bald eagles are territorial. Breeding pairs return to the same nest site year after year.

Very large nests can weigh as much as 1000 pounds!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Tree of Life

A tree glows brightly in the rays of the setting sun...
Brilliants shades of green...
We were walking along Parksville's boardwalk. The sun was low in the west. We passed under this tree. I glanced up and was struck by how it positively glowed on the sunlight.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A Flock of Eagles

A young eagle checks out a newly dead clam on a Parksville beach.
A cloud appears above your head 
A beam of light comes shining down on you 
Shining down on you
-- "I Ran"
We tried to tempt this young eagle with a freshly dead crab. We tossed it over to him and s/he cautiously approached it and gave it a couple of exploratory pecks.

Maybe it was all the work involved to get at the meat when there were easier pickings about that deterred the bird.

BTW, a group of eagles is known more specifically as a "convocation" of eagles.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Beach buffet

Eagles on the beach at Parksville...

While in Parksville recently we noticed dozens and dozens of bald eagles congregating on the beach. We walked over to investigate and discovered that they were digging some sort of fish out of the sand.

Unfortunately for the fish once the tide went out they were exposed to the eagle-eyed... uh... eagles unless they are buried quite deep. (The fish, not the eagles).

Bird food...
Sitting ducks for the eagles...



Monday, May 11, 2020

Mt Baker

The explanatory lookout sign at the top of Malahat Mountain...
Mt Baker seen from Vancouver Island...
It has been a long while since I stopped to admire Mt Baker from the top of our own mountain Malahat on Vancouver Island. It was a clear spring day last Friday and I decided to check out the view.

I lined the mountain up with the sign at the lookout but, if you want to see the real deal up close, check it out below.

Washington State's Mt Baker...
Washington's Mt. Baker...

Friday, May 8, 2020

Exclusive

The surf clubhouse at Jordan River
The surf clubhouse at Jordan River

The surfing at Jordan River has effectively ended for the season as the winter storms -- and their associated waves -- fade away. A rare spring surf day last week resulted in 70 people showing up. Far more than can reasonably be accommodated by the small spot so my surf pals gave up after a short time.

Jordan River has its own surf club who 'own' this clubhouse at the site. It includes storage for their boards as well as a sauna for the use of its members. You can only join the club through invitation. The few members that I know of are old timers who have been surfing out here for decades.

They aren't known for being inviting of newcomers and outsiders. And they barely tolerate SUPboarders like me. So I likely won't be offered a membership card anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The buffalo don't roam

A buffalo roadblock at Oregon's Wildlife Safari...
Buffalo block the road...
At Oregon's Wildlife Safari, the animals are free to roam while visitors are confined to their cars and must slowly drive through the compound...

... unless the animals decide to bring things to a stop. That's what these grazing bison did for about fifteen minutes as they paused in the middle of the road for some important bison business.

A llama mingles with the bison at Oregon's Wildlife Safari...
An amblin' lama...

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The death of conspicuous consumption?

An ironic message... buying more does NOT enrich your life...
An apropos message in today's times...
In my Facebook feed recently was this quote:
The great irony coming out of all this is that the world's economy is in danger simply because people are only buying what they need. Think about that.
The COVID crisis has revealed just how flawed our First World consumerist lifestyle is with its emphasis on 'growth' where 'growth' is really just a euphemism for 'buy more useless s**t'.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ferries and flowers

A BC Ferry approaches Active Pass on its way to Vancouver Island.
A colourful ferry under colourless skies...
BC Ferries connects Vancouver Island to the rest of Canada. In these days of COVID-19 though, they are suffering from a severe drop-off in travelers as a result of lock downs and a closed border between the U.S. and Canada.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Mt Arrowsmith

Mt Arrowsmith seen from Nanoose on Vancouver Island.
The snow capped peaks of Mt Arrowsmith...
Mt Arrowsmith dominates Vancouver Island's central region. It can be seen from Parksville on the island's east coast all the way to Port Alberni on the island's west coast.

Here it's lit up by an early morning sun on a winter day...

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Missing children

Parksville main family park is closed for business thanks to COVID-19.
Parksville's main park... a victim of the current COVID crisis.
The main playground of the excellent children's park at Parksville sits empty and unused. This is our world right now.

I hope it doesn't last long.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Blue sundial

A sundial with a (de-)motivational inscription...
Why so blue, Sue?
Wandering the grounds of the Galiano Inn, I came across this weathered looking sundial in one corner of the yard. The inscription around the outer edges reads:
"As tyme and houres passeth awaye
So doth this life of man decaye
As tyme can be redeemed at no cost
Bestow it well & let no houre be lost"
I guess it could be distilled down to "Use it or lose it".

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mostly moist moss

A pillar of moss on Galiano Island...
Moss and tree converge into one...
Okay, say the title of this post fast five times... I'll wait here.😏

One fact of life about living on the We(s)t Coast, is that you see a lot of moss. It's everywhere... on your roof, spreading across your driveway, growing up the side of your garden shed, hanging down from tree branches...

It will literally take over trees as demonstrated by this specimen on Galiano Island.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Parksville Bay x 2

Two views of Parksville's main bay...
High noon versus sunset on Parksville's beach...
My wife and I decided to retreat to our condo in Oceanside during the Easter weekend. People across the world are being urged to stay indoors during the COVID crisis. Rather than sitting in our house we figured we could at least enjoy some seaside scenery and fresh air.

This is the view of Parksville Bay from our room. One was taken during the low tide of day, the other during the high tide of sunset...

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Don't call me Shirley

The Shirley Delicious Cafe sits empty...
Another one bites the dust...
On the way to surf at Jordan River, you will pass through the blink-and-you'll-miss-it community of Shirley. Most surfers and west coast campers know it for the coffee and deserts served at the Shirley Delicious Cafe.

On a recent surf expedition, I saw that the cafe was closed. Like every other cafe, bakery and restaurant in the province, the COVID crisis had forced it to shutter its doors.

Shirley pleads for isolation...
Shirley loves you and wants to keep you safe...
On the other side of the highway, was this sign urging visitors from the urban core to #stayhome. A recent sunny weekend saw the highway and western beaches jammed with city folk looking to escape the urban lockdown.

Following the example of Tofino and the Gulf Islands, these communities promptly shut down the campgrounds and beaches in an effort to control the crowds. Too much road traffic and too many people threatened to strain the response time of any emergency services, and overwhelm local emergency facilities.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Retreat indeed

Retreat Island off Galiano Island...
West coast beautiful...
Retreat Island is a pretty-as-a-postcard 7-acre island off of Galiano's west coast. It's hard to believe that this photo was taken during a very spring-like day in February.

There is a home on the island... Google tells me it was for sale as late as 2017 and sold sometime in early 2018. You can see more details of this island and the superb home on it on this Youtube video and here.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

How small is it?

Billboards on Galiano Island...
Life in the slow lane of Galiano...
It's hard to believe that it was only a five weeks ago that my wife and I spend an idyllic weekend on the southern Gulf Island of Galiano. The COVID crisis was still a week or two away from hitting Canada. Since then everything about our way of life has changed.

Now Galiano is closed to outside visitors over fears that its limited health care facilities would be swiftly overrun by sick tourists.

Galiano is pretty small. Cue: "HOW SMALL IS IT?"

It's so small that these sandwich boards in Sturdies Bay are the local versions of billboards advertising the handful of tourists shops and eateries in the community.