The 2018 Bulkley Valley Fall Fair: We Make It!

We left Thornhill, BC around 9:30am, already an half hour late. But Suz, made good time on the highway, and she never speeds–never–which is a great thing. We stopped off at the Kayak store, looked around, then headed for an early brunch at a Mexican Restaurant in Smithers, then off to the Fall Fair. We saw a lot of stuff, and did not see a lot of events that we wanted to do, only becuase we got into town so late. When we got back to Thornhill, it was well after midnight. An awesome time, and my butt feels it from all the driving.

We like trying new things. There is no sense going to a distant town, doing the same old thing you did the year before. So when we got into Smithers, BC, we changed it up a bit. Our first stop was the Kayak Shop. ( I am not going to list their name here just yet.) We are thinking, still, about getting kayaks. A friend suggested that we check this store first before we buy becuase they are more pro sports than any other store on the North Coast. Yes, they did have a lot of inventory, but their prices were a little on the high side. I guess if you want good stuff, you pay for it. They did not have cheap stuff. Anyway, we have a better idea of what we should get moving forward. It was worth the stop, looking around for ideas.

We had some yummy food over at the “The Trackside Cantina,” right in Smithers BC for our brunch. The food was awesome. An Awesome place for when you are in the mood for Mexican!

We got to the fair grounds around 1:00pm, which is unusually late for us. But we got a great parking spot, very close to the second gate, which had hardly any line-up to get in. And, as we figured out at the end of the day, was very close to where we sat for the Rodeo! That alone, made the day there awesome!

We hit the Arts and Crafts displays first. There were the usual stuff to see, but some of the entries did stick out for me. Like this exhibit, which looks to me like a close rendition of the “Stranger Things 2” monster from Netflix – in my humble opinion. Well, you judge for yourself.

Then onto the equestrian events. There is nothing more awesome than seeing Man at one with the animals, but seeing women with their horses, taking it to the next level. I forgot what this event is called, maybe Suz can refresh my mind, but these women, with their horses, we awesome as they did this  obstacle course.  And every rider had issues with different parts, making this exciting to watch. Some horses hated the water, while they blasted through the rest of the course, and others could not do the balancing box, yet had no troubles going through the water. It was fun to watch.

After we did some more exploring, we got to our seats over at the Rodeo. We made sure we got good seats this time, compared to the ones we had last year. We were too close to the fence last time, so I could not get any good shots with the camera. This time–it was awesome! I got so many awesome shots, it will take me days before I pick out the good ones. So here are a couple of random shots I picked:

Yes, way better shots this year! Not having a fence on the road, is awesome! Lots of action shots, using my 28 to 300mm Telephoto lens, in Aperture Priority Mode, with the ISO set to Auto, on my Sony A77. The clouds were thick making it overcast this year, so my light metre was all over the place, so having the ISO set to auto, between 100 to 28,000, made the difference.

Like I said, I had so many great shots to pick from, I could have spent the whole night just going through them all tonight. I think I took aver 800 shots of just the Rodeo time alone. I will have time later on this week to go through them all–yes, that time issue–not enough of it.

Needless to say, we got home super late. In all, we had a great time. I would do this again. Now, time for some rest. I will correct my grammar and spelling tomorrow.

Night Out at Redsands Lake!

With the meteor showers peaking this weekend, I thought this would be a good time to try one last time to try and photograph the night sky–again. Suzette was cool about going back to Redsands Lake for the evening, hanging out at the beach and spending the first part of the night while I shoot the night sky with my camera. She was for this–one hundred per cent! We packed some food, and our beach towels, and the BBQ of course. We were going to have an evening out at the beach. It was awesome.

You could not ask for the perfect day. It was a hot summer’s day, with the temperature hovering around 28C at the lake, and the forest fire smoke started to clear, leaving crisp blue clear skies all around. The water was a little cool, as Suzette got her toe wet, but I never went in, I guess I was a chicken. But the sand was great. The BBQ was yummy, as we ate hamburger and salads. I was full. We then sat the chairs along the water’s edge, and I set up the tripod, and mounted the camera on top. No one seemed to mind the camera set up on the beach so late at night.

Looking at the above image, you can see where the lake got its name from. The sand here is red. Though not so great for walking through barefoot with all the small twigs, but the sand is great for just laying on.

In the above image, I was using a 14mm (prime) wide lens, at f1.4, set to infinity. In this shot I had the ISO up to a ridiculous 12000, and it took me a lot to post-edit the noise out. This is over the lake, looking South at the milky-way Galaxy, almost at Sagittarius, or close to the galactic centre. The bright orange star is Mars, to the left. I had my doubts that the reflections in the water would work with the stars. This was a 20sec exposure.

Another shot of the Milky-way just 40 degrees up from the horizon. Same lens, 14mm, but a 30 sec exposure, set to ISO 8000, on my Sony A77. Lots of noise, but awesome detail.

So we called it around 12:30am, and headed for home. The road was not too bad for driving on–actually better becuase we knew there was no traffic at this time of night. Oh, yes, we did a few really good shooting stars! Another awesome night!

Hiking Pine Lake, Just North of Terrace, BC

If you are in the Skeena/Kitsumkalum Valley, and you are looking for something to do, then I suggest taking the 15km drive out to Pine Lake, on the Old Kitsumkalum Service Road. You will not be disappointed, unless it is pouring down rain. For us, it was an awesome sun filled day, with near 30C heat, and not a rain cloud to worry about. The 6.1 to 7km trail, and the lake, are worth the trip. There are some places for setting up for camping, and there is a small boat launch, but ideally, the trail around the lake and kayaking are the two best ways to enjoy the place.

We sort of did the trail backwards, we headed North first, around the lake, but all was good. Everyone we passed, were coming towards us. The trail is easy going, but then a little steep in one spot, but this should be very manageable, even for the novelist hiker. There are foot bridges and board-walks for the marsh areas, and the trail is well marked.

Even Suzette with her sore ankle, found the hike not to terribly taxing on her foot. You just need to take it slow in some spots. We also met a few families, who brought there young children, and the kids looked like they loved the place–even the dog.

SQUIRREL! Yup, we found a family of them, scurrying through the forest, and when we walked by, they ran up a tree right along the path. Easy shooting with a 28 to 300mm telephoto lens to capture the wildlife here. We also saw a family of Loons too.

Next time, I want to paddle my way around this lake. I was admiring the Kayakers, as they glided by on the water. The lake seems to have a bunch of little islands and outlets to explore. You will not see those on the trail.

The hike took about an hour and bit, only becuase we were talking our time. This was my first time here in over thirty years, so a lot has changes since for me. I use to go here a lot when I was still in school. The trail is in great conditions, but some of the board-walks and bridges are showing their age. Just remember to really watch your step, and look out for the holes on the trail too. We found a few of them.

This was a great hike, and I highly recommend it. You are close enough from town that we were getting some cell signal, and there seemed to be lot of people around too. So you are not to far off the beaten path for a day trip in the wilderness. The road is a little rough, so take that slow, but you can get to the lake in a small car. I rate the trail as easy to intermediate, becuase it is over 6 km long, so bring some water on a hot day. Enjoy it!

To Prince Rupert, BC, and then Back To the Hot Weather In Terrace

As the title says, I took off to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to visit my baby sister, Suzy. Yes, I have several Suzs in my life, and all is good with every single one of them. The trip is about 140 km, from Terrace, so it took me about one hour, twenty minutes, or so, doing the speed limits–of course. Once there I headed for Suzy’s place, stayed for a few hours, then left for home. It was more of a meet and greet visit, something very casual.

The drive up the Rupert Highway was awesome. The valley never looked so awesome as the mountains were bare from most of the snow, and the morning sunlight made them really stand out. The highway had lots of people on too, but most were tourist, pulling trailers and boats with trucks and cars, as they were headed for the fishing spots along the ocean.

Once I got to about 80 kms outside of Terrace, the clouds hung along the valley, totally making it overcast. One moment you are enjoying the sunlight, the next, it was grey and darker, but much cooler. Actually, I liked the cool air, after living in 30C plus weather for two weeks, this was a welcomed change. When I got into Prince Rupert, they were only at 16C. It even “sprinkled” out for a short bit as I was driving into the town.

On the way back, around 2:30pm, the clouds parted again, almost at the same location, once I got way up into the Skeena Valley. When I got back into Terrace, the car’s thermometer was reading 29C. And it was muggy. When I was driving through some section of the Terrace-Price Rupert Highway, I drove through some sand storms. The wind was blowing the dry sand from off the sand-bars along the Skeena River. I never seen that before like this.

It was great trip in my car. The ride smooth and I had the stereo turned up a bit. I hope to do it again soon.

On Top Of Terrace Mountain

This morning bright and early I got my butt out of bed, remember that I am on official vacation mode now, so it was tough mustering the Will power to get up. I planned my hike for today, doing the Terrace Mountain run. Actually, my goal was to get to the face (called Boldie) and shoot some photos from there, down over Thornhill, BC. A little side note, every morning, as I drive on the Old Bridge into Terrace on Skeena River Bridge, I see the flag, and the white Kermode Bear painted on the rock face, on Terrace Mountain. I needed to get up there and see it up close and personal. So off I went on my hike. It was an awesome day too.

The trail I chose, rather than just climbing straight up, was called the Back Eddy trail, used for both hiking and mountain biking. Even the nice cleared out trail, the grade was steep in a lot of places. This trail is good for those that do not mind a good workout, but this is not a Sunday walk in the park. I went along the Back Eddy trail for about three kilometres before I turned around. On my way back, when I knew I was in the right proximity of where I wanted to be, I turned right, and went up. So the actual time to go from the bottom where the highway is, to rock face I wanted, (Boldie) took about twenty mins. I believe I was about 300 Metres above the Skeena River.

The marker is about ten metres off the road at the bottom. The image below, is about one kilometre in. If you wonder off the trail, you hit steep cuts, and lots of loose rocks and trees. I would say it would be hard to get lost here, but easy to injure yourself if you are not careful while off the trail. Stay on the beaten path.

The terrain is steep in several places, and you are walking over loose boulders, trees and moss. However, once I got my bearings, I found a really easy network of switch-backs that got me down really fast, and with less effort than from my first route I took. If you are staying on the main trail, then you should be a happy hiker. Oh, and on a super hot day, like this day, bring water. By the time I got to the summit, it was already 28C out. I was also packing a camera back weighing roughly 2 kilogrammes.

Here is what the flag looks like from just below it. Someone, a couple of years ago, attached it to this tree. It looks cool–the city should mount a permanent, more appealing, flag pole here.

Oh the view. Yes, I snapped just over 250 photos during my time on the mountain. The stuff you can see is mind-blowing. With a good telephoto lens, you can get shots few have taken from here like this. I have never seen any shots done with a 300mm from here, on line?

Yes, I will return! This is an awesome hike; well worth the time. Though, I might do it on a cooler day, looking forward.

To Usk, or Bust.

It was Sunday, we decided to a drive to end the weekend off, as it was a hot day. Why not drive out to Usk! The sky was clear, and the air melting with the mid summer’s heat, a drive through the narrow part of the Skeena valley was a good way to cool off. We stopped off at the Usk Ferry, though we never went across, as it seems the sailing waits were long between sailings, we stayed on the highway side of town.

Down town Usk is not a very big place. I would gather its population is somewhere around less than one hundred, maybe two hundred, though that would be stretching it. Anyway, they have their own Ferry, to cross the Skeena River with, and during the winter when the river is frozen over, they have the cable-car. Either way, unless you are going by rail, it is a hard town to get in and out of. It is a twenty minute drive from Terrace, so it is close by in terms of a Sunday drive. I know a couple who live here (on the other side of the river in Usk), and work in Terrace, and they say the commute is not bad–though I would not want to do it. It is a quiet little village, with its own unique charm. One day we will cross on the Ferry, and cruse its streets.

The Weekend Rapped Up, Including a Stop at the Aiyansh Hot Springs.

Since the accident, things have been going all right, with some slight headaches and disorientation that Suzette has, for the most part, we are good. Her vehicle is back on the road, and the ICBC insurance seems to be going good, and the parts are on order. So, we did some more driving around, even going up to the Nass Valley on our Sunday trip. So, we kept busy.

As you enter the Nass, you have to go through Rosswood, just passed Kitsumkalum Lake, and then onto Lava Lake, along the highway. We stopped off at Lava Lake, at the park when you first meet the Lava Beds, on the North end of the lake. It is about an hour’s drive from Terrace, BC. I found this rose flower, the only one in bloom along the rose bushes in the park.

I wanted to check out the hot spring in the Nass Valley, so off we went.

OK, these are local names, which I believe are spelled “Higu Isgwit,” but I could be wrong. I have always called them the “Aiyansh Hot Springs.” Anyway, you cannot miss it, the signs are obvious, and the park lot is awesome, you could fit eight to twelve cars there. There is a half kilometre hike to the hot springs. There is a small creek that you follow, and the path is somewhat maintained with board walks and little bridges. Once you get there you can smell the sulphur, no doubt volcanic.

The water is hot. I touched one of the pipes that run from the hill side, and it is enough to make me cautious touching it. You mixed the water with the creek water to get that right temperature. There is a main pool, the old one that sits in the ground, and two newer hot tub style pools that seem very new and are on raised platforms. There were people in the bigger of the two, so I never took photos of it. The above photo is the smallest of them.

We did not go in for a dip. Between not bringing a bathing suite and the swarms of mosquitoes, we stayed dry. However, the people in the pools did not seem to be getting bitten by them. We were only there for a few minutes, but in that time another family arrived, so we left them be. This is a popular place.

Another great day trip!

 

Happy Canada Day 2018!

“Let the good times roll,” as they say, whisking off first thing this morning to Kitimat, BC to see the parade and other events there. We left around 9:30ish but did not get there until well after 10:00am, as we took our time on the roads–safety first you know. We found a very good parking spot and chose our spot to see the parade, mingled around a bit, everything we great, except for the threat of rain. We brought rain gear and jackets, so we were prepared!

Oddly enough, once the parade started, the Sun poked through the clouds and only sprinkled a couple of times, until the parade was finished, then it let go with a good shower that soaked everything. Oh Mother Nature! So we went from jackets, to shirts, then to rain jackets, in twenty minutes. This is North Coast living in June and July. The great things was the wind (or breeze as we call it here) seem to drive the mosquitoes away–not one bite.

The above image is a City West person in a “Bucket” on a truck, about ten metres in the air, waving the flag along the parade. City West, is the local Cable and Phone company for the North Coast area. They usually hit every event in the North Coast, and as always, they are usually the ones with the most flags on their floats. But there were lots of flags around!

This was my very first time in Kitimat, BC at the Canada Day parade, so all of this was awesome to see. For a small town, they put on a nice event. The Mall had lots of vendors and displays to visit, and tonight we are going back, to see the fireworks, which are huge here. Kitimat is only a fifty-eight kilometre drive away, so we can do it in about forty minutes.

So HAPPY CANADA Day!!!!

The Final Goodbye to Our Father

It was an awesome day in in the North Coast, by any standard, with few clouds, letting the Sun in; you could not ask for a better spring day. Today was about six months in the planning with organizing, and preparation, and as all that hard work came together as we arrived in Prince Rupert, BC just after high noon today, the moment finally came. For the first time in nearly fifteen years, my mother and (almost all of) my sisters, met under one roof. Like planets in rare alignment, it truly was a unique and special day. Though there was a purpose to all of this, to see the family again was awesome. Today it was a time to let go, and realise the ashes of our father back to Nature, and with it, one last goodbye.

Although he never decreed what is wishes were for his ashes, we as a family took the initiative and choose to place them where his favourite places on the Earth were. Half went to his home town in Ontario, and the other half stayed in British Columbia, his final home for three quarters of his life. My second youngest sister held on to his ashes for nearly fifteen years since his passing, waiting for the opportunity for us all to gather as a family, before taking them to their final resting place.

We choose the harbour becuase that is where he spent his past time, on the water in his sail boat, and among his friends there who also loved the water. The ocean was special to him, and his sailing was his lifeblood, and together this was his freedom. We even found out that his very own sail boat was still in the harbour, moored just five minutes away from where he kept it during his ownership. Truly amazing considering that was nearly thirty years ago when he owned it.

We each took a turn to pour his ashes into the ocean water, until the there were none left. It was Mother who did the last goodbye. Then, when all was done, we feasted as a family in celebration with food and drink, then told the stories with laughter, and when all was said and done, we left for our homes in the sunset’s light saying goodbye to the day, getting ready for next.

My compliments to Suzette for taking this photo.

Catching Up From Last Week – Pelicans In Northern British Columbia

Since this is the last day of April 2018, I though I would get this out of the way before too much time passes. During the first leg of our vacation last week, we drove through a town called Vanderhoof, as we made our way along Highway 16 heading to Prince George, BC. We stopped off at a park, of what I am assuming was a small wet land area, not to far off from the down town core. There were lots of people, and beside the park was a small lake, (or river) with a bird lookout near the shore. We went up it, and I took some shots of the birds, and you are not going to believe what I found on the other side of the lake!

In this shot (above) you can see water, snow and winter brush, but also, you can see some big white birds with really long beaks. And if you really look closer (I know, small image) you can see a knob at the end of their bills. Yes indeed, these appear to be American White Pelicans sunning themselves on that patch of mud bank in the spring sun. Yes, you heard me correctly, “pelicans.” I could not believe my eyes, or in this case, my camera’s 300mm telephoto lens.

Once we got back, we consulted Suz’s parents, who have birds books, and are somewhat “birders” in their own right. We saw that it is very possible that these could be, in fact, pelicans, this far North. I also checked on line, searching on Wikipedia, and found that these birds in the shot, look very similar to what the photos of American White Pelicans look like. And their habitat range does make Vanderhoof a viable place for these birds to live. I guess I am used to seeing these birds in the far South of the United States, not up here in snow covered Canada, let alone Northern British Columbia.

I snapped about thirty shots, and this was one of the good ones that showed the knob on their beaks. Hey, a photo is worth a thousand words, and is proof of what I saw, right?