And The River Still Sings still on the move.

1 coquihallaAnd The River Still Sings is roaring up the Coquihalla.  It stays cool and rainy – note the skiff of fresh snow on the mountain.  After Merrit, the busy highway soars high into the grasslands.

2 near MerritI spoke at Kamloops the same night I left Vancouver, then had a break at Kelowna.  What a horrible place the Okanagan is!  Tons and tons of traffic; impossible to get away from the suburbs.

3 pine and suburbs

More roaring traffic to Summerland.  There I had a pleasant surprise.  The lady who offered to host me had a very interesting house.  On the surface, Summerland looks like the rest of the Okanagan – pokey foreign trees, yard-maintenance landscape, totally lacking in soul.  Vastly overcrowded.  But under the surface, Summerland is an old place.  The Ryga house is 100 years old.

4 Ryga houseIt was bought in 1960 by George Ryga, Canadian playwright.  He added a lot of funky structures and plants around it.  Upon the author’s death, his friends tried to keep the place going by turning it into an art centre.  My new friend bought it – it was in a terrible state – and has totally reformed it. 9 interiorThe tangled garden has largely been tidied up

4a yard and car

5 white pineBuried under the debris were terraced walls, and as they were cleared, treasures were revealed.  Can you see the head?

6 wall with head

7 headHere is another.

8 terracotta headThe house is a 5-min drive away from a beach on Okanagan Lake.

10 golden beachThe fall colours were splendid!

11 orane trees

12 trees and cloudThe sun was gloriously warm without being too hot.

13 waveletsBut the noise!  Highway 97 runs right along the edge of the lake and the traffic is so loud one has to shout to be heard over it.  What a price to pay for lakeside living! (Note the cars on the highway in the distance.)

14 trafficThis afternoon I plunge back onto the highway again.  Penticton tonight, Osoyoos tomorrow, Vernon Wednesday, Kelowna West Bank Thursday, Salmon Arm Friday, Revelstoke Saturday. Then 2 days off while I make my way to 100 Mile and Williams Lake.  I can’t wait to get home!

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Thanksgiving on Gabriola Island

1 driftwoodAfter my slide show in Nanaimo, I took the late ferry to Gabriola Island, only a 20-min ride away.  Followers of my blog and books will remember Dave and Rosmeary Neads who were my wilderness neighbours for many years on the Chilcotin.  They moved from there to Gabriola exactly one year ago.  I was to speak at the Gabriola library on the Saturday (where I amazingly had a very large audience considering all the other things that were going on).  How lucky I was able to time my trip to spend Thanksgiving with Dave and Rosemary.

Gabriola is famous for its Garry Oaks

2 garry oakAnd of course the arbutus tree (also known as madrona: a local cafe calls itself Mad Rona’s).

madronaArbutus have a very distinctive bark.

4 arbutus barkAnd right now are covered with red berries.

5 arbutus berriesGabriola is also famous for its sea-worn sandstone.

6 worn rocks

7 worn rock holesLarge round stones, some embedded into rock and some free, also abound.

8 round stne

High on a dead fir perched a bunch of cormorants.

9 shags

Now to the big event.  Rosemary decided to cook the turkey in a paper bag.  Yes, a paper bag!

10 take a shopping bag...First she slathered butter around 3/4 of it.

11 greasing bagShe flipped the bag over, put aluminum foil on the bottom, and placed the turkey inside.  It has to be stuffed.

12 turkey in bagThe bag is now stapled together.

13 staplingCooking time is supposed to be 3 hours but my friends, who have done this before, found an extra half hour was needed.  A progression of temperatures is employed and these can be found in many recipes on the internet.

Et Voila!

14 carving turkeyI was due to speak at New Westminster on the Tuesday after the weekend.  I caught the earliest ferry to Nanaimo and managed to connect with the 6.30 ferry back to Vancouver.  I had lunch with friends in Burnaby.

15 burnabyWhere we walked round Deer Lake

16 pond liliesAnd the following night I spoke in south Surrey.  A friend had moved to nearby White Rock, which boasts an incredibly warm microclimate by the sea, and this was my last view of Greater Vancouver!

17 bananas!

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And the River Still Sings crosses the sea

30 ferry 1And The River Still Sings is now crossing the ferry to Vancouver Island.  Fog slabs lay across the sea and gave some interesting effects.

31 ferry 2

The photograph cannot catch the movement of the swirling fog.

32 ferry 3It is 2 years since I have travelled on the ferries (when I was promoting my previous book, Ginty’s Ghost) and I was surprised to see this sign in the washroom.

33 ferry signI was to speak at the Courtenay library, and was able to stay with Corry Lunn and Darrel Nygaard at their studio, Sea Change, in Union Bay. Corry first became renowned for her raku and burnished sculptures.  She and Darrel have now branched into amazing creations of clay, glass, wood and stone.  For the month of October their studio is closed while they recuperate after preparing a fantastic show at the McMillan Gallery in Parksville. Sea Change will reopen for November 1st.

If you look at their website, you will see wonderful pictures of their gardens.  My photos cannot do them justice.

34 corry tables(How amazing to see all these flowers booming.  Regular readers will remember that my kale, which is extremely hardy, was zapped by frost over a month ago!)

34a samphyr

35 Darrel sculptureAcross the road from the studio are the Union Bay Coal Hills.  They are not really hills, just slightly rolling lumps of barren slag that was created to support a railway terminus that took coal from the nearby Cumberland Mines to a dock.  The rail lines and dock no longer exist, but the slag has very little growth on it.  The beach around it is com[psed of ground up slag and is black.  However, the river at the edge has managed to recover somewhat.

xxx 1 union bay riverI like to get there at sunrise

xxx 2 estuaryOut on the spit, the sealions were honking.

xxx 3 sealionsThe tidewrack is always interesting.

xxx 4 tidewrackThe fog thickened.  This little fishboat looks suspended in space.

xxx 5 fishboatAnd there are always herons…

xxx 6 heron on pilingI was able to stay with Corry and Darrel for 3 days, and we went mushroom hunting in the forest.

35a forest 136 forest 1We were hunting for various edibles, but the main focus was chantrelles.

37  chantrellesI was too distracted by the other denizens of the forest to find many.  We visited 3 different locations and there were lots of interesting things to see.

37a stump

38 stump mushrooms

40 slug

All good things come to an end, but I had to get back to work.  I gave a slide show in Nanaimo on Friday night and afterwards caught the little ferry to Gabriola Island where I spent Thanksgiving weekend.  But I will have to tell you about that next time!


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SquamishSquamish is an hour’s drive up the coast from Vancouver (on the way to Whistler.)  It is home to the Stuwamish Chief, a world-class destination for climbers, and is a mix of sea life and high mountains.  First I visited the estuary.

10 Squamish estuary

Where grew a lovely fly agaric mushroom obviously eaten by something.  It is highly hallucinogenic so maybe there is a slug somewhere having a great trip….

fly agaric mushroomDowntown, there was an interesting art installation.  From the ground it looked like this.

13 art installation 2From a viewing platform, it looked like this.  Here is the history.

14 wolf

My friends lived not far from the first picture on this post, and from their house it was a short drive to the start of the trail into the Garibaldi Park.  At first the trail slogged up through the coastal rain forest with its dank growth of greenery.  (Everyone was complaining about the drought, but it was all dripping!)

garibaldi park

16 coast forest

17 stump garden

19 2 mushrooms

This bracket fungus was wearing Christmas lights…

21 fungus with christmas lights

The fog thickened as I climbed, and quite suddenly I reached the subalpine level, which was glorious with fall colours.  I had not expected to see any after I left home so this was a wonderful surprise.

22 fog

23 fall coloursThe sitka mountain ash was yellow

24 mt ashThe blueberries and huckleberries were red.

25 red coloursAnd the fruit on them!  It was a real taste of Nuk Tessli.

black huckleberries

About 2 hours up was a cabin, and nearby an outhouse.  They get a lot of snow up there!

27 outhouse

28 ash

29 trailThe trail went on for miles but I had to speak at the Squamish library that night so turned back after lunch.  It was a real treat to see this country – and, because it was Monday, to be alone for a few hours in the mountains.

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The Lower Mainland

1 green VancouverIMG_0099Vancouver was so green! 

2 green V

Fortunately my friends, who live near Deep Cove in North Vancouver have a lot of trees and natural parks around them.

3 rootsNearby is a bird sanctuary called Maplewood Flats

maplewood bird sanctuaryComplete with the inevitable herons.

5 heronMost interesting of all were the tree frogs.  They were croaking constantly.  Oddly enough, the brown one sat on a green leaf and the green one sat on a brown leaf.

6 green frog

7 brown frogBeing in the city is not all wildlife, however.  Here I am earning a living giving a slide show to promote And The River Still Sings.

8 earning a living 1

9 earning a living 2Chu was one of the clients I guided at Nuk Tessli this summer.

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