The Hills Look Bright Today

A little tongue and cheek with the photo I chose for this post–a shot of down town Terrace, BC looking North East at Terrace Mountain, all lit up by the setting Sun. In the for ground is Lakelse Ave., and Emerson Street; pretty much the down town centre at the old mall parking lot. But anyway, let me get on with the post. It is Thanksgiving day, Monday, a holiday for us here in Western Canada. Me and Suz., did get out for the afternoon. There was a drive down the Prince Rupert Highway, to Ackers Point Telegraph Point, then a romp around town before we called it a day. I did get lots done at home; more or less cleaning and organizing. Oh, then there was the awesome dinner over at Suz., place, totally yummy! You could say it was a great day overall.

Yes, it did rain. We needed it. According to the forestry website, we are still in a level-four drought classification for the North Coast. Even Suz., admitted that in all of her life, she has not seen it this dry here in the Skeena Valley. Climate Change, or what! Last year, at this time, the mountains were completely white with snow. Today, they look like are in the middle of summer: dry and bare. Even with what little rain we got over these last few days, it is not even close to what we need.

Holidays, you gotta love them! Need more of them. This working life it sometimes to tough on a guy.

The Long Weekend is here: We Made it for Another One!

I have been basically preparing for it, getting as much done ahead of time as I can, here at my work, so the short week coming up will be a smooth one. Normally, I get the “Friday Rush,” as everyone else from other businesses, that I deal with, are trying to do the some thing. My Friday was filing up with just the little items of work that normally precede a long weekend. October 8th, will be Thanksgiving Day, here in our neck of the world, so most of the country will honour it; there are few places that are hold-outs, but I am sure the people will stand and demand it too as a statutory holiday. And finally, rain, it is happening, the clouds have moved in above, and there is the odd sprinkle when I drove home. The badly needed moisture could, once again, soak us, giving the forest the rain it needs. All of this is making the next seventy-two hours looking great!

So, work, I was feeling great when I locked the doors for the weekend. As you know, I deal a lot with logistics, so getting all my shipments out to their destinations, is a big part of my day. But I received stuff too, and the normal rhythm of every long weekend is getting hit with an extra amount of incoming goods to process. Hey, I do it too, as I go through the shipping flurry, on long weekends too, no doubt causing extra grief to my counter parts in the valley. Today, was different. My receivings was just like any other normal work day–just a few items, taking only a small part of my day them processed. I will say that this is just part of the season, though my experience is still short, comparing to last year, it was a slow time too. Nonetheless, I was happy knowing that I have no loose ends to deal with when I come back on Tuesday.

Apparently not all of Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day with a stat. holiday. I was, some what shocked, to learn that there are provinces that only “observe” it: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. But we are also several weeks early from our neighbours down South too, from when they celebrate it, but my point is, it is nice to have it off from work. I do believe we will be having turkey also on Saturday, so Monday is just a day for getting rested up, and doing lots of household cleaning chores.

The rain has come. So far, just overcast skies with the odd sprinkle here and there, but we are scheduled for some significant rain showers throughout the long weekend. The Skeena River is super low, and many here in the valley are noting that too–finally. And the mountains all look like the Southern mountains becuase they have no snow on the tops of them yet, just dry and dusty looking. This is not normal to go so long into the fall season without seeing snow covered mountain tops here in the Skeena Valley.

Well, I must go and get organized for the day. I am doing laundry right now, having a few issues with the washing machine–dealing with that right now. Everyone, have an awesome, super great, long weekend, (you to on East Coast) and Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking Back Through a Different Lens

It has now been just over fourteen months since leaving the Lower Mainland, with the hustle and bustle of Vancouver lifestyle in Langley, BC, and my quality of life has improved ten fold. This morning while going to work, during my very short commute, I pondered on how much my life has changed since the move back to the North has been. So many life altering changes have taken place. Just so many.

Today is significant becuase I just checked my savings, and I hit my milestone a whole year ahead of schedule! Yes, I have a means to save at a rate that was mere impossible while living in the Lower Mainland. The primary reason is simple, the cost of living seams more on the surface, but a deeper look reveals that rent, fuel and cheaper utilities break the scale, and to a large part, recreational activities and entertainment is on a whole different playing field. Just these factor alone are huge savings. However, there is one main reason why the cost of living is better.

My employment tips the scale between where I came from, and where I am today. Here, even though the wages are roughly the same, living with factors like a seven minute commute time, bringing fuel cost way down, and the ability to go home for lunch, or time to bring a lunch from home, saves huge. Back in Langley, I was facing a forty-five minute commute, and the uncertainty of being late if a train or accident would block my route. Now that is stress! But nonetheless, I gladly gave that up to live more like a human again, or better quality of life–period.

So, looking at my overall health, wealth and well-being, it is in stark contrast from what my life was over fort-teen months ago, a doubling of its value. But I do give a word of caution if you are reading this, and thinking of migrating to the North: it is not for everyone. It is a totally different way of life. You may not get the dream job you are seeking, and finding accommodations is getting very familiar to what Vancouver was just a few year ago–harder. Rents are getting close to Lower Mainland prices are, and home are starting to go through the sames patterns.

Homes are slowly creeping up in prices. I should point out that here in the Skeena Valley, the main home that are in inventory on the market are huge luxury homes, built by contractors. I am seeing these houses well into the $600k range now. Although more reasonable priced homes come up onto the market from time to time, they are quickly scooped up, and so to does the cycle of speculation leading housing prices to climb. So, if looking for a home, wait, and be patient.

Although I have not purchased a home yet, I feel I am closer to the goal. I am still renting, and paying a very reasonable price for that service, and I bought a newer car, so saving is a reality even with the payment. (I should point out that went through my Bank for the car loan, not a finance company.) I guess I would say I am very lucky in that respect. But anyway, time to enjoy time with my best friend! It is dinner over at her place. Yummy!

As We Enter Into the Fall Season

As a famous playwright once wrote, “Parting is bitter Sweet,” and I quote these words as we leave the summer season as a memory behind, as the sky darkens so early now. The campers out on Kalum Lake were living it right to the bitter end, as the weekend came hurling to a sudden close. Not only are the schools open for the children, but the “Regular” season starts to ramp up to a deafening pitch for those campers. Back to the grind. The smell of illegal recreational drugs fills the air, along with the smoke from a dozen campfires, and as the night creeps in with the coldness of the changing season, we decide to take leave from the chaos and confusion, and head back to this thing called civilization. Bye summer time, bye.

Paying homage to the day of equal light and darkness, I aim my camera into the horizon above the lake and press the shutter for a 30 second exposure. “Why not,” I ask myself. The camera can see far better than I can in this light, almost twilight to my eyes, and the viewfinder lights up with the captured image, so bright, I need to squint to see it. I pack up my photography equipment, as I did a shoot with me and Suz, using a speed-light, and we trudge through the sand along the beach, back to the car. It was tough going, all that weight, sinking in the sand, walking in the dark, but we made it back to the car, only to face the thirty minute drive back to town in the pitch back of the early night.

Now in my bed, resting from the day’s activities, I am thinking of tomorrow–it is now the fall season. The hope is that Mother Nature will throw us a couple more weeks of awesome Sun filled days, to cheat the impending winter wrath yet to come. Thinking positive here. Thinking positive!


Wetter Weather and Thoughts On the Great Melt-Down 10 Years Ago.

We are getting hit with rain, as the rainy season kicks in, though seemingly earlier than last year, it is welcomed. And I just realized that this week marks the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Great Melt-Down, that crashed the markets and change the world, unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In all, the week is going good. Work is chugging along, and I am almost finished unpacking all of my boxes from the time I moved here to Thornhill, BC.

I was surprised that the Forest Fire Rating was set back to Low so quickly. We are only less than two weeks into the rainy season, and the rains seems lighter this year, so I was looking at the Forest Rating sign a little puzzled, as the arrow was placed in the green section. I thought that this might be to soon. Well, even the website says it “Low,” so who am I to argue. The good news, the campfire ban is lifted, so get out, in the rain, and have a camp fire. Oddly, camping season is also over too.

I was checking my journals from a decade ago, and came upon an entry from September, 27 2008. At the time I was living in Fort Langley, BC, working for Bell Canada. I wrote about all the news of the Melt-Down, and how it seemed, “over exaggerated.” Boy was I wrong; the news was correct, as my work saw over 150 employees in October 2008 get laid-off. All around me, nothing seemed secure and talks of lower Interest Rates and Buy-Out for Banks, blanketed the news. The cause and effects, they said would last for years.

Reading an on-line article on the BBC’s website, today, about the effects of the Melt-Down, the developed nations around the world have been experiencing lower than predicted birth rates. Yes, I only need to look at the schools around the Skeena Valley, to see this. The schools are half the size they were when I went to them. Home ownership is another one, as more younger people are renting because they cannot afford the market value for homes. And then there are the lack of good paying jobs. Yes, lots of low-paying jobs to go around, but few sustainable jobs to build a family with. So it looks like Generation Screwed is going to morph into the following generation with these market effects. The BBC article did say it could take another twenty years before we see the glory days of the pre ’08 era back, but the Market landscape has forever changed.

This week, I should have all my boxes sorted and unpacked. A few weeks ago I bought four sets of shelves, and that so far, has made unpacking nicer. I have a very small “compartment,” and brought an entire house with me. So, a sizable amount will live in boxes, until need, but the good news is, have more living space. I hope I find better living arrangements soon.

Rain–It’s On Its Way

The wet season is on its way, as is part of our normal weather ways, and already I am hearing the locals moan and groan. The wet season is part of the landscape, and a fact, but it is changing. No one could have predicted the two months of reaching a “Level – 4 Drought” conditions, over the summer months of July and August. So the question everyone is asking, what kind of winter will we have this year?

Winters, when I a young child, growing up in the Skeena Valley, I remember winters fell into one of three categories. One, a super cold and snowy winter. Two, a dry and cold with little snow. Three, The brown, supper mild, with nothing but rain. This year, all bets are off, it seems.

I drove by the fire rating sign on Keith Avenue (or Highway 16 west bound) today, and it was showing “High,” so I gather the forest is still far from wet enough to lower it. Even with the cool and overcast days, the forest could still, potentially go up in flames. Thankfully, we have had no forest fires near us. Very happy about that!

The Unofficial End to Summer is Here.

It is over: August, summer and those warm and cosy long days. The last blast of our extremely hot and dry seems to be coming to an end. It has been quite the season, to say the least. This year will go down in the record books for one of the driest summer here on the North West Coast. With the golden lawns and water restrictions still in place, we did very good as a community. In all, I am glad to see the rains return, and along with it, the clouds and cooler weather. My tan, well that does not look like it is fading any time soon. Oh yes, the State Run baby sitter starts up next week–beware that traffic at school zones.

As of today, the forest fire rating is still in the “Extreme,” with camp fire bands still in effect. Even though we are getting overcast skies, and some precipitation, it is not enough to quench the forests thirst. For example, at the for-way stop, there was a large backhoe clearing the trees to make way for the yet to be constructed Round-a-about at the junction of Highway 16, and 36 in Thornhill, BC, and seeing the soil, it was dry and dusty–as the rain fell. So, even thought I am not an expert on forest management, as a lay person, I can tell you that the forest is still extremely dry.

Camp fire bans are still in effect, with the exception of Ferry Island within the municipality of Terrace, BC. For me this make sense, as it is an island surrounded by the Skeena River. If the place did catch fire from a run-away camp fire, the likelihood of the fire spreading into the neighbouring forest is very low. Though with the extreme weather conditions I see, this might be risk, but that is why we insure our homes and property–right.

The young ones start their time at the institutions next week. As their little mind get moulded into socially fit individuals, parents breath sighs of relief, as they can continue with their careers, and paying for the respite. Yes, I am talking about schools opening up next week, and the dangers of roads lined with kids. Beware, and be vigilant, keeping an eye out for wondering young ones must be top of mind when starting your commute on Tuesday morning. At least I am lucky in this sense as my commute does not take me through any School Zones on my way to work.

I am planning on an easy, no frills, weekend. With the long weekend, I plan on completing my unpacking that started a year ago. As it looks like I will be staying here longer than I expected, I might as well make it more of a home. Right now, today, I am hanging photos, most from last month–just to brighten up the place. This weekend will be a low impact one, with my itinerary wide open with nothingness–but filled with goodness. Place large smile here.

An Actioned Packed Weekend, So Lets Go!

Me and Suz, have a lot going on for this weekend. Tomorrow, we are heading over to Smithers, BC for the Bulkley Valley Fall Fair, which should take up the whole day, and among the stops we have planed, we want to check out the Kayak Store along the highway just before Smithers. I know we will not get back to Thornhill until very late. Right now, at work, the day had been crazy busy–not to mention–another hot day.

I guess I should mention some stuff about work while I am here. I had my Inventory Day, last Monday. It went, with no troubles, but there were a couple of snags. The network for the scanners went down, and I thought I was going to have to do some overtime, but thankfully that never happened. The network went back up an hour later, and I breathed a sigh if relief. I was prepared for the event, even though it was supposed to be a spot-type inspection. When you can see the patterns and stock purchases, you can sort of guess what is about to happened. They like to load you up with new/fresh product before you get a request to do the Inventory, so I saw it coming. I planned for it. It paid off: only taking me less than three hours to complete.

You know when you got the job down to a “science,” when you can anticipate when management will need something. On Wednesday, I decided to do a mini audit of outstanding product that our supply-chian has been slow on bringing in, so sure enough, that day I got a call to prepare a list for the top-boss. I waited a bit, to appear that I was slaving away, then submitted it to them. At the end of the day, I got the standard congratulatory “pat on the back” for doing a stellar job. Sure, I will take it. Just wish I could cash it in for some extra money. (place smile here).

Well, better get ready for tomorrow. We are going to hear out tonight for a little while, then head to bed early for a early start on the road. Well, that is the plane.

Some Like it Hot, and Some Maybe Not.

Having lived in Ontario, and the last twenty-five years in the Lower Mainland, hot up here on the North Coast, is a walk in the park. I have been to Spain, France and Brazil, during their summer periods, and have experienced heat beyond belief, so you might have to excuse me if I am not too overly excited about our warm weather. The air is hot, but nothing close to the extremes that I have experienced. Yes, I have been in weather that would make lawn furniture melt–I am not kidding.

There are tricks to keeping cool that I find really work, like drink lots of water, and keep to the shade, but sometimes an air conditioned room is the best place to be. For me, it is sleeping at night, during heat-waves, that is the problem. If it is hot and muggy, sleeping is rough, and I never get that quality of sleep that I need. I am also lucky that my work is in doors. I used to work outside, or in closed in warehouses, and found that learning to sweat was a big part of it, and dealing with heat rashes too. In general I slow down and take it easy, and sometimes telling the boss “I quit,” as part of that process, when they want you to double their production of shipping air conditioners out. Either way, dealing with the heat means doing everything you can to keep cool and hydrated.

Back on Monday, I heard of some kids, at one of the summer day camps here in Terrace, trying to fry an egg outside. It did not work for them as well as they thought it would. I guess it was still not hot enough for that. Perhaps next Friday, as rumour has it, we could get our hottest day yet, a whopping 34C, but I fear that might even be hot enough to fry an egg on the side-walk.

I for one will be enjoying this very nice weather. I have some time booked off from my work, so I might stick around town for it. We have our week long River Boat Days festivities then, so this might be an awesome time! Oh yeah, summer time!

Fireworks at Kitimat BC for Canada Day 2018

We drove back to Kitimat, BC to see the Canada Day fireworks that started at 11:00pm. They lasted about twenty minutes, and were pretty impressive. Other than the mosquitoes, it was an awesome night. The sky cleared up, with very little clouds to threaten us with rain, and it fairly warm too. We parked away from the main parking lot and park to get better shots, and I think it paid off as far as the photos go.

Perhaps we will come back next year!