Monday, September 28, 2020

The Banana Boat

It's very yellow!

The Banana Boat is the name that my wife and I have given to our inflatable kayak. We don't bust it out very often, but it's always a fun day when we do.

It's unique for the transparent floor which lets us peek into the water below us as we paddle along.

Heading out into Brentwood Bay...


Friday, September 25, 2020

All quiet on the western front

Victoria's Empress Hotel lit up by the setting sun...

Recently my wife and I went out for dinner where we were treated to a glorious sunset illuminating the front of the iconic Empress Hotel.

Normally our summer waterfront would be bustling with tourists from around the world. 

Not in 2020... the year of COVID. 

Instead there's an unsettling quiet downtown. No buskers, no crowds of excited pedestrians, no pedicabs, no outdoor music or festivals, no harbour traffic... This lack of energy and vibrance that hangs over everything is eerie.

Will we still be here a year from now I wonder?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Smoke gets in your eyes

Unrelenting smoke over Oregon...

Five years ago when we traveled through our favourite state of Oregon, the skies overhead were filled with the smoke of the numerous wildfires throughtout the state. At mid-day the sun was reduced to an orange orb in the dark skies.

Here we are again...

Thanks to COVID and a closed border we weren't able to travel south this summer as we planned. Which is just as well, since much of Oregon has been reduced to a fiery inferno. The news has been filled with images of landscapes and cityscapes barely visible through the omnipresent orange haze.

The smoke has drifted up to BC and Alberta. Up here in Victoria BC we are now four days into a greyish smoky haze that makes it seems like the middle of winter. The sun is barely visible. The only clue that we are still in the late days of summer is the warm temperatures.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Not up to code

Sketchy sun shelter... (say it fast five times!)

I'm not sure I would trust the integrity of this death trap DIY structure of beach logs standing on an Oak Bay beach.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

... now you don't.

Parkville's "empty" waterpark...

The fastest way to make children disappear in public is to pull out a camera and start taking pictures. Parents leap into action, grabbing their kids and dragging them away from the weird guy snapping photos.

So this is the popular water park at Parksville's Community Park. There are lots of kids just out of sight at the edges wondering why Mommy is clutching them so tightly.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Come On Eileen

Karaoke couple
Eileen and Trevor sing the hits...

Come On Eileen is one of my go-to karaoke songs. Karaoke is also what brought Eileen and Trevor to my attention walking Parksville's boardwalk one early evening with my wife.

The pair were entertaining pedestrians and beach goers with their brand of 80s vintage karaoke on the beach. Their karaoke sounds way better than mine which is why you should be grateful that I will never serenade readers with my whiny voice.

As a karaoke enthusiast though I stopped to talk with them for awhile. They've been singing together since 1962. Apparently they loved their partnership so much they decided to make it permanent with marriage in 1967. Thanks to them both for their fun stories about life and radio rock in Britain in the 1960s 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

War of the Worlds

The aliens are here...
When worlds collide...
"Across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."
-- War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells

Monday, September 7, 2020

The answer: Big, noisy and smelly.

 

Sea lions at rest...

The question is: What three words that accurately describe pinnipeds, the class of animals that includes seals, sea lions and elephant seals?

We have two local varieties of sea lions -- California sea lions (seen above) and stellar sea lions. One way to distinguish between them is through their vocals. California sea lions bark whereas stellar sea lions snort and grunt. Also, stellar sea lions grow much bigger than California sea lions... about three times as heavy.

Elephant seals (seen below) grow bigger yet, typically up to twice as heavy as a stellar sea lion. We saw this big guy/gal on a nearby island during our recent whale watching expedition.

An elephant seal takes a break...


Friday, September 4, 2020

Deep diver

Going for depth...

Recently my wife and I treated our nephew to a whale watching trip as a birthday present. It was organized through Eagle Wing Tours. They made it a great experience despite the COVID-19 measures they had to put in place in order to stay operating.

Our tour guide kept up a non-stop commentary about local marine wild life in her pleasant Irish accent. Along the way we saw three separate humpback whales.

As she explained it, typically these whales will surface for three to five big breaths before doing a deep dive to go for food. The deep dive is signified by the flip up of the tail out of the water as they go nearly vertical.

Whales on the move...


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The mountain

Mt Baker seen from the Malahat...

Snow-capped Mt Baker is located in the state of Washington, but can be seen from many locations at the south end of Vancouver Island. A scenic lookout at the top of the mountain to the north of Victoria is popular with tourists and locals driving north on Vancouver Island for its awesome views of Baker.

The community of Sidney gets a great view of it too from their waterfront walkway.

Not many locals realize that Mt Baker is an active volcano. The last time it erupted was about 6000 years ago

Birds resting on Sidney's pilings...