Split Mountain On the Terrace-Rupert Highway

Nestled between the Shames Mountain turn-off and the Exstew River, on Highway 16 going to Prince Rupert, just outside of Terrace, BC, is what we call Split Mountain. I am not sure if that is the official name, but it looks like the mountain is being split into two pieces. It is an awesome sight, but you need to find a spot where the trees do not block your view. Sadly, at the highway pull-off, the trees are very thick in the park, and you have to look across the river to the South, to see it through the trees. Plus, there is a swamp too, that blocks foot access, so getting that “tree-less” shot with a camera is almost impossible.

If you can find a spot away from the trees, then the view is awesome!

I was thinking maybe a hike along the opposite side of the Skeena Valley, to see it, but then you have to hike through some really think wooded areas to get a clear view. The other option would be a river boat on the Skeena River, but I do not have a river boat. Cutting the trees would work too, but I am sure some would find that wrong. Maybe a few trees?

A viewing platform would be the way to go. Build it in the park, and it only needs to be high enough to see over the trees. I am sure this would attract way more people who would want to see the split mountain, without the trees.

So, when I first saw this, as a kid, I thought that this was the result of a fault-line going through the middle of the mountain, causing it to split like this. When I would fish along the shores of the Skeena River, I remember I could hear the odd rock fall from the cliffs. This would happen at least once a day. These cliffs are very steep, and high. The mountain seems to be about 5-7 kms from the road, so a huge rock could easily be heard. But after looking at maps, and seeing photographs taken from the air, I later realized that it must be a combination of the way the mountain had cracked, and water erosion that caused the shape of the valley. I should point out that I am not a Geologist.

If someone knows, I would be interested in knowing what caused it. But, for now, it is a unique looking mountain, with this giant split through the middle of it. The next time you are out on the highway going from Terrace to Prince Rupert, BC, you should check it out.

Added Two New House Plants to the Team!

In my ever growing plant world, I acquired two new additions, a Barrel Cactus and a Spider Plant! I know I can look after the Barrel Cactus, which is a no brainer, but I was a little apprehensive on the Spider Plant becuase this guy need lots of regular watering, and the soil must be kept moist. However, I have the LED grow light, and my Air Plant and pointy cactus are doing awesome with it, so why not go for more…

First came the Spider Plant, I bought it over a week ago. To my amazement, the plant loves the grow light, and since I transplanted it into a larger pot, it has taken off. It has grown several new shoots in the last few days, and the foliage, 0ver all, seems to be growing by about 2cm since I got it. I think it is happy. In a few weeks, my macrame pot holder should arrive in the Post, and I will hang it in the living room window, with a LED Grow Light over top of it. We will see if it takes to that environment with lots of growth.

Yesterday, I bought the Barrel Cactus, which it looks more like a Ball, and it seems to be very healthy. I will do a pot transplant sometime soon becuase it has roots coming out the bottom the pot into the foil wrapper. And a warning, its thorns are very sharp. This guy must have very few predators out in the wild.

So, four plants, with three totally different needs. The Air Plant I have had now for over year, and is super easy to care for. The tall Cactus, I have had it for just under a year now, and it is still growing strong, and seems healthy. I have not killed them off, so I must be doing something right. Here is hoping the two new plants have long lives as well. Yay to the green thumb!

Mother Nature Would Not Let Us See it!

As Mother Nature’s shroud blanketed the sky above us, the Moon and her glory sank into the Earth’s shadow, and all we could do was to imagine what it is she looked like as her reflective light faded, then reappeared again. The night seemed to become thicker with clouds, and yet the air warmed, an odd combination for the North Coast of British Columbia this time of the year. The winter snow was melting in the Skeena Valley, and there was no rain falling from the sky. Yet, we were unable to whiteness the Lunar Eclipse, but for one 3 minute period, when the clouds parted for one brief moment during the first phase of the eclipse cycle.

So, the short story, we saw nothing of significance, but the pretty lights of Terrace, BC, from up on the Bench of Kalum View Drive. Sadly, as much as I wanted to photograph the Lunar Eclipse, all I got were clouds shots. But the day was not a total loss…

The trip to Lakelse Lake, in the early afternoon, was a nice departure from the usual Sunday drive into town. It had been at least three weeks since we were at the park last, and the first thing we noticed was amount of snow that had fallen there since. Only half the parking lot was cleared of snow, though. The lake did have a layer of ice on it, but nothing close to being safe to walk on it, though some had tied, when it was colder the week before. But it was the setting Sun that made the day. Oh, was the Southern sky awesome to watch over the lake, as the clouds moved in from over the horizon. It was warm out at the lake too, a mere 3C, though Suzette was not dawning her two-piece bikini just yet.

The second stop was Onion Lake. Because this lake is a little higher in altitude, it was a little more frozen over, but not enough that I would try to walk on it. There sure was a lot more snow at the summit than there was in the low lands. Many vehicles get stuck on this stretch of the highway during the winter months.

The drive home was fun too. Yes, I am being sarcastic. Drivers on the Kitimat Highway love to speed, or have that “me first,” attitude while driving on it. And part of the speeding fun, is to pass other motorist going up hills, while you are doing the speed limit. My poor car did get sprayed with small rocks as the SUVs sped by me; but all was good, there was no damage.

Dinner at my home: Pork-Chops with veggies and salad. All of this smothered with Cream of Mushroom Soup. I got a passing grade! Then we watched a movie on Netflix, “IO,” 2019. and then left to seek out a view of the Lunar Eclipse. None of us saw the Lunar Eclipse, except for that very brief moment on the hill over looking Terrace.

The Yearning of the Sun

Actually, when I saw the sunrise last week, it felt as if I saw an old friend again, the Sun, but really, the yearning was for the return of summer. Yes, I had that feeling of needing the good old days of summer back, as I saw the Sun rise. Here in the Skeena Valley, you have the winter position of the Sun, which is just 25 degrees above the horizon, coupled with the mountains that circle around us. This leaves us with a very short day period during the fall and winter months. Seeing the Sun sink below the horizon, as the Earth spins, (this happens around 4:30pm in the afternoon), puts the damper on daily life, when you get home from your work day.

The above image is Miss Egghead enjoying the Sun rise in the mythical Cube Land. The image is a render done in Blender 2.8 Beta.

It is normal to have weeks with overcast sky, and days with rain in the valley. During the colder months, snow is the daily routine, sprinkled with ice, as the sky is cloud filled, with moments of clearing, allowing the Sun sneak through. But it is the darkness that creeps in, making the night life some eighteen hours long, leaving some people with the “Winter Blues.” However, with seeking moments like this day, where the Sun shines, getting out and absorbing its rays, is a natural rite.

Also, one more point: This has been an unusually warm winter, so far. We have missed the full onslaught of the Arctic Vortex, but nonetheless, it is winter. The Earth spins it usual way, and nothing can be done about that. However, there is, with out any doubt, less snow, than normal. The Skeena River is still way below its usual level, and the Coastal Mountains do not look that snow packed, as compared to last year. These are just my opinions, not scientific facts. Though, I have read some articles in the media agreeing with me.

May we see more Sun, and less clouds in the coming weeks, without causing drought conditions like last year.

The Local Flu Bug Is Still Attacking

It looks like there are more sick people at my work than there were when I was sick a month ago. It sounds like at least five technicians have it now. That is roughly half the co-workers I interact with that are coughing, and complaining about flu like symptoms. I personally thought we were over the hump for this year’s flu season, but looking at these guys, it appears we just might be getting started with the flu season up here on the North Coast.

Their symptoms appear to be a little different from what mine were four weeks ago. I had full on lung goo that caused me to cough every ten seconds, shooting up flem and goo. These guys, they seem to have the sinus infection with fever, without the goo infected lungs. So, for now, I call this a different type of the flu from what I had, but nonetheless, just as nasty.

The flu bugs still roams wild here on the North Coast. Beware, and trust no one!

New Video Card–A Blending We Will Go!

So, on today’s program, it is Blender Time. So let me back up a we bit, say a month ago. Back then, I installed my newer video card because my older video card was not to speed with the latest release of Blender, loving called software “Blender 2.8 Beta.” As work and time sped on, my time to play with the program and fully test it out on my video card, passed by. It was not until today that I dedicated time for myself to play on the PC, taking the graphic software to it limits on my poor old computer. In general, I am really happy with it. I just love the GUI layout.

I was really surprised with all the changes, as I felt my way around, I quickly picked up on new GUI. At first, Shock and Awe, hit me as I looked at the new layout, thinking, “I have to relearn everything….” This was not case. In fact, I can say, these changes are really quite natural, and mesh with my regular user experience and feel of my Operating System. I am very happy that Blender went to the Left Mouse Click. But yes, I did get a little frustrated having to look for stuff, all over again.

The new look, I feel, speeds up my work flow. Everything can be accessed from the main window–I like that. The new widgets, with names and Icons, also are a huge improvement. And to think, this is the Beta for 2.8. So, every week I download the latest build, and I see the improvements. It is awesome to see the progress.

The new rendering Engine: EEVEE is awesome! However, it has some more work needed before I can say it is perfect. I had to get a new video card becuase Eevee would not work, and even with this card, Eevee clunks and sputters when memory is nearing full. But the real time viewing is nothing short of awesome. You need a fairly good video card that can handle the extra horse power, say at least 2GB of video RAM. And the Grease Pencil would not work as well, as it needed the new video card too. Once the card was installed, the magic happened.

The above render I used Cycles, as Eevee still lacked some of issues of not capturing some mesh areas, and left blacked out areas in the background. Even using the Cycles Engine, the improvements are impressive. Less time rendering was the first thing I noticed. The number of crashes has been greatly reduced too. But the way Cycles is catching light reflections with the surrounding materials, is hugely improving. The above render took only a few seconds to render out, at 150 samples, and the result looks great.

Powder Snow and Windy Cold Out

It seems we are in the midst of a cold spell here in the Skeena Valley, were it is below freezing. Old Jack Frost has been a little nippy, especially when it comes to scrapping off my car every morning before work. For three days now, it has been below freezing, with some snow, and it looks like we have one more day of it before we bounce right back into the freakishly warm weather again. Rumour has it, by Friday we could be above 6 to 10C, again in Thornhill, BC.

A shot looking at my bedroom window, my Southern view to the world, from inside.

Sure, this pales in comparison to last year’s wintry season, and even to the hardcore Skeena Valley citizen would say this is weird year, but cold is cold, no matter which way you hold it. Instead of 100cm of snow, last year, we are getting 5cm of nice powdery snow this year, and I can say, the wind has not been that bad either. But waking up to minus 5C, still adds that little bitty shock to the old nervous system when your feet touch the hardwood floor for the first time. You sort of let out a little, “yelp.”

So far, it appears that today will be the coldest day for this season. I think it went down to minus 7C last night, and were currently at minus 3C this afternoon. This might be a super short winter season.

The Ever Growing Rock and Crystal Garden

I added some more quarts crystals to my collection last week, along with some other mineral rocks. The quarts, I only paid about ten dollars for a couple of large pointed crystals, and the big chunk of Iron Pirate, I bought for twenty, so I have about just over a hundred bucks sitting in this bowl. The small blue round rocks are just polished glass that I got at the Dollar Store, to add as filler. There are pieces of Bornite (aka Peacock Ore) and one large piece of Galena, or Lead Sulphide in the centre of the bowl too.

I always wanted a good size crystal collection, with other various minerals added, and now I am well on my way. Sadly, none of these pieces I have collected myself out in the wild. Hopefully, as I get more settled into the Northern lifestyle, I will travel further to remote places, where I can get to go exploring for interesting rocks. The near by places have been picked over, so you do have to hike in those hard to get to locations to find the good stuff. But I am happy buying the odd crystal that looks awesome, for now from the rock shops in town.

Suz., tells me that each type of crystal and mineral has metaphysical value as well. Perhaps with all of these rocks so close to me, maybe they are helping me, or I am getting lead poisoning from the Galena, (I leave them in the bowl). Their shiny crystal sate is enough for me. I like shiny crystal rocks, they make my happy–enough said.

Pretty Lights In the Snow: A New Years Day Walk

It was like magic; the pretty lights in the snow along the Terrace Grand Trunk Pathway that stretches beside The Yellow Head Highway 16. I waited for the right time to walk this, to take photos of the LED coloured lights along the path. Of course, it had to be dark out, and not foggy, and above all else, it needed to be a non-work day the next morning. So, New Years day, was the perfect choice. So me and Suz headed down the path, snapping photos as we went.

What was neat about some of the lights, was that they were half buried in the snow–adding for that extra light effect. The above shot was one of my favourites. The other weird thing about shooting LED lights with a digital camera was that you can see the lights fade in and then out again. The light oscillates from bright to dim, and back again.

As for the path, it was icy, so you had to watch your step. At one point, I found it was better to walk off the path, than on it. Of course, I have water proof runners on, which did not help the grip on ice problems I was having.

The weather was even weird too. It was 7C at my place overnight, and tonight, it was hovering around 3C. It was actually raining out when walked the path, and snow was melting at a good rate. The roads were perfect to drive on throughout the Skeena Valley, both in Terrace and in Thornhill, BC.

I sort of screwed up when I took these shots. Normally, I set the ISO to 100, and adjust my shutter speeds accordingly. But this time, I had the ISO to “Auto,” and the camera left the shutter speed a 1/125 per sec., and adjusted the ISO for me. In most cases I hate images with lots of noise from the high ISO values, but I did some good shots from tonight, so I will keep them.

I hope you enjoy the light show. Have a great New Year!

When Snow Melts, You Get a Mess

Sitting at 3C, cloudy, but no rain, or snow for that matter, the day is looking pretty good. However, the snow is melting at a fast rate, and the puddles in the parking lot are growing just as a fast. Funny how that works. Rumour has it, our parking lot will get snow removal is the next hour or so, hopefully taking care the newly developed lakes outside my front door. This will be nice, and I cannot wait becuase I have a million things to do up town today. 

We only had about 6 to 8cm of snow fall back on Friday, but the lower valley was sitting at above freezing, making the snow heavy and slushy. As soon the snow fell from the sky, it was melting. Below that thick layer of snow was water. If you shoveled it, it was heavy to move. When you drove through it, it splatters everywhere. This is the type of snow I would not want to walk in out on the roads.

The good news is, the roads are clear, and getting around was never an issue. Now, where to put all this water?