Stewardship


 

We didn’t hear a thing.  I was almost down to the water before I clued in. I found it unusually bright, as if a mythical giant has reached down and pinched off a corner of the horizon, letting in too much light.  The forest canopy had changed.  The space now felt too open and exposed.  My brain struggled to comprehend…. Awwww……the enormous black willow tree was gone from the sky.

I hurried forward as if there was an emergency; as if I could help.   But no.  Everything was silent now.  The November storm long gone.  Only its violent destruction remained.    What a wild battle it must have been with the howling lake winds battering that massive centenarian.  The end came with a final thundering crash.

The remains lay sprawled across the lawn.  The tree trunk slashed open revealing decayed wooded marrow.  Fanning out from this are several colossal limbs, heavy and lifeless.  There are hundreds of fractured branches and twigs scattering about.

The carnage is unbelievable. How will we ever clean this up?  I am over whelmed.  This is the third wonderful old tree to come down on the property this year.    It is an end of an era as each of these trees has been over a hundred years old.

trees

I’m puzzled over my reaction. For several days now I have felt bruised and ineffective. The same thoughts tumble around.  Change, loss, extinction.  Is this just a natural transition or is the spirit of my woodlot dying?  It will take several generations to replace these mighty trees.  Not within my future; probably not within my child’s life time.  If true be told, nothing that magnificent will ever grow there again.

tree with owls

The local arborist has been called.  One thousand dollars to cut up the truck and strategically arrange the huge stumps in a natural fashion.  This is on top of last month’s bill for three hundred dollars to shred up the old maple on our front yard.  We can’t afford to have the wood hauled away.  A local farmer has agreed to take the branches.  He is the same guy who took our maple last month.

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The future – I’m going to invest some time and energy into our woodlot this spring.  It is time.  On both sides of the property the woods continue.  It is a vital link down to the water and home to many wild animals and birds. 

In preparation I have already order over a hundred sprouts: white cedar, white pine, balsam and aspen to be delivered in April.  The forest floor will need some work before the planting.  Something must be done about all of the wild prickly bramble and vines.  They will choke out any new growth if not bush hogged away.  I would like to clear away some more fallen logs before planting as well.
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We are the stewardsof this property.  It is our responsibility to leave it healthy and thriving.

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Libby’s Guest Blog


And now for something a little different and hopefully not annoying 

Since Libby, our Brittany Spaniel has been such an amazing and adaptable dog on our trip, she is being rewarded with the opportunity to tell her side of the story. Here goes…..

Hi there. Libby here.  Today we are in Sudbury, Ontario. It is pouring rain outside our RV.  

I am on guard duty right now;  standing in my usual spot up on top of the dash, watching for other dogs to walk past. Then, I am required to bark until Diane and Warren are alerted and start to bark too. So busy

My impression of this trip?  Well, it has been a life changer. It is hard to imagine now but three months ago I hated to drive in the car.  I had never swam in a lake or been sailing out at sea.  I have learned to adapt. Now I just take each new day as it comes.  Every day is an adventure 

To summarize, here are the best parts and a few low points.

I hate life on a leash.  As much as I yank and pull and drag Diane down into every roadside ditch, she still insists I be tied up

I’m not too keen on boating and deep water.   I have learned to swim out of necessarily.  It is very fortunate that Diane had the foresight to put be in a ridiculous dog life preserver.  I escaped and jumped over board while we were out in the ocean picking up crab pots.  Boy, that salt water really stings my eyes! 

  
Most awkward incident on the trip: 

I had very bad diarrhea while out on our over night boat trip.  We were far from shore and it was night time.   Jeesh!   What is a dog suppose to do? Diane wanted me to release myself up on deck. Come on?   That wasn’t going to happen. So I exploded a few dozen times that night in my lower berth.  I just couldn’t help it.  We have decided to never talk about that night again. Ever! 

The good parts of this adventure:

I have met new friends. In particular there was an amazing Jack Russell on Haida Gwaii named Dawson. He was really something special. He was inspiring;  a sea dog who thrived on adventure. 

  
Haida Gwaii was the absolute best part of this amazing holiday. I loved running incrediably fast across miles and miles of empty sandy beach.   I had never felt so free or fit. It was magnificent 

  
The hunting and sniffing on this trip have been out of this world.  The variety!  It changes every day. Sometimes I detect deer and bear. The next day it can be sea life or  moose.  While in an RV park there are countless scents of other dogs and burnt marshmallows.  I’m talking quality sniffing everywhere I go.

Another part of life on the road that I love is the physical closeness of living in an RV with  Diane and Warren.  We eat, drive and sleep all together. With the exception of the three ferry rides we have never been apart for over three months.  It has been a dream come true. 

 Life on the road is the best. 

  

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Photos from Haida Gwaii


  

Our campsite is right on the waters edge. This is obviously Inside the RV looking out on the beach. You can see their orange skiff through our window. IThe tide is out.  

 
This is a photo of their large sail boat which Keith built and they use for adventure kayak mothership tours

 How stunning, right? 

Taken right from their property 

Stay tuned.  I will keep you posted,  (literally.  Ha ha)

Musings from the road

Diane

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OMG Crazy Adventure Time Has Begun


She wants to take me out in the skiff with the dogs to tie out the crab pots.  Say what?  That sounds just crazy dangerous. Doesn’t it? 

We have arrived in Haida Gwaii and life is quite different here. 

First impressions:  It is stunningly beautiful. Our RV is parked right beside the water’s edge.  The tide comes in. The tide goes out. It is equally beautiful either way.  Strong gold grasses contrast with the bright green sea weed and rusty red rock. 

We are visiting an old friend of Warren’s, whom he has shared a passion for building hot rods since they were both thirteen years old. The boys (Warren and Keith) are at it again, spending long days planning, dreaming and welding together a new project.  I only see them at dinner when they come in with their  greasy black hands, still talking cars. 

Fortunately I am spending my days with a delightful and fascinating women – Barb, Keith’s wife. 

Barb is a textile artist.  Last fall when she was visiting us we drove out to a farm on Morrison Point and purchased two large bags of ‘raw’ sheep’s wool.  Barb has since transformed these into gorgeous mounds of fluffy blues and greens.  Last night my job was to continue to pick out stubborn pieces of straw and seeds and pull the strands apart. Barb sat at her loom and spun.  Two strands will be combined and the wool will soon be ready for use.  I’m going to get some of it and try to knit myself a hat.  Oh I hope I don’t embarrass myself.  My knitting skills are terrible, but isn’t this whole process so cool?  I can’t wait to get started.

Backing my story up abit, I should explain that our friends live full time in Queen Charlotte City, Haida Gwaii.  Their stunning home is right on the edge of a quite cove, surrounding by ocean and mountains. 

 Keith and Barb are both certified Captains and for many years have run kayak mothership adventure tours of Haida Gwaii. 

 The ferry boat trip over here on Sunday night was short and uneventful. We boarded the boat at 8 pm; said good night to Libby in the RV and we went off to our berth. The boat sailed from Prince Rupert at 10 pm. Our room was very comfortable with bath and we both had a sound night’s sleep. We were awoken at 7 am by the change in the ship’s motor. It was docking and we had arrived at the port of Skidegate by 7 am. Our friends live just 10 minutes down the road in Queen Charlotte City. 
 It is day three on the islands but we have already done a lot. There are many artists on the island so I have visited a few galleries. Barb is super active/fit so she has had me hiking up mountain trails through moss / fern covered towering forests and chased our crazy dogs over miles of empty beaches. Every which way you look is a breathtaking vista and because the weather here is so mild and moderate the flowers are lovely and lush. 
 There are no bugs on Haida Gwaii. No need for screens on the windows. Doors are left open for the dogs 
 I think a real boat trip 4 or 5 days up the coast is scheduled for next week and of course some salmon fishing, smoking and canning. 
  
 It is all heaven 

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Visual Memories of the Alaska Inner Passage 


  

A land locked native village along the coast with countless bald eagles perched in the fir trees and soaring overhead    

 Warren watching the beautiful scenery float by 
  

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Floating down the Inner Passage, Alaska 


I’m writing from Wrangell, Alaska a fairly small, but busy land locked port in Alaska’s inner passage.  I think everyone here flies a sea plane.  They are taking off and landing all around us like dragon flies.

We are on this ferry boat for 40 hours and the rules state that we can’t stay inside the RV and Libby can’t come upstairs with the passengers. At every stop after the boat is tied up we are permitted to go down to the hold, feed Libby and take her ashore for a short walk. Usually this happens every 6 or 7 hours but on the ferry line’s schedule; not Libby’s.   Last night I had to take the poor dog out for her bedtime pee at 2:30 am. Our port at that time Was this tiny, ugly village called “Kate”.  My impression is not favorable.  I don’t think they could offer us a single blade of grass in Kate, or none I could find at 2:30 am with my desperate dog.  Poor Libby. 

Another complaint is that it was dark.  Much darker than in Whitehorse, for instance. I am sad to leave the land of the midnight sun.  It was thrilling to walk at night and see the sun still out.  

The temperature is also warming up as we head south but I haven’t stopped wearing my winter coat yet.  It is still only 8 – 12 degrees outside.

Warren and I and a tiny berth on this ferry which comes with a bathroom and shower, (which is a bonus since we recently converted our RV shower into more storage space) twin single bunk beds, and one straight back chair.  Warren agreed to climb the ladder up to the top bunk but he also got to sit in the one chair.  I had to hunch over and bow my head while sitting in the lower bunk drinking my wine.  Alcohol is only permitted in the privacy of our room. It was one crumby cocktail hour.  We have mostly been spending our time on an observation deck.  We have met a lot of interesting people such as the 91 year old man from LA sightseeing all by himself.
At 2 am Saturday morning we will dock and this ferry ride from Skagway will end. Twenty four hours later we will catch a different ferry and head out to Haida Gwaii for three weeks 

Everything continues to unfold beautifully and I have been wowed countless times with unbelievable sights such as scores of bald eagles all sitting in the same fir tree and sea planes zipping over our boat’s bow. 

For the most part we have had an internet connection at least once every day for a few short minutes  while we pass through a town.   I am still only using my pointer finger and my iphone so please forgive me any technical errors. 

Well they just made an announcement and we are setting sail again 

I will try to update again when I reach Haida Gwaii 

Diane

  

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Like nothing I’ve seen before


We are now in Skagway Alaska. This is the end of our northern Alaska/Yukon road trip. The next phase involves a two and imagea half day boat trip through the Alaskan Inner Passage to Prince Rupert BC and then across to Haida Gwaii. Our ferry sails early Thursday morning.

Our camp site is right down town beside the ferry docks, within walking distance to the many shops, bars and restaurants but also beside a park and surrounded by mountains. The best of all worlds .

I was sorry to leave Whitehorse. It is quite a special place.  It was current and fresh.  I liked being served by young 20 something waiters and waitresses all wearing funky clothes, tights and leather boots. l loved Whitehorse’s spring flowers blooming roadside and stunning snow streaked glaciers.  It had a wonderful Yukon River boardwalk and great museums.  Never the less, Skagway looks even better.

Today driving down the Klondike Highway I saw landscape like nothing I had ever seen before. It is very stark, rugged and barren. As far as the eye can see are huge boulders and rocks. We drove past countless gorges and waterfalls, panoramas of glaciers, trestle bridges and emerald lakes. I think the four bears we drove past were Kodiak grizzly. Up in the mountains the temperature dropped, the winds were howling and the sky over casted.  Just when you couldn’t imagine worst conditions we would drive pass a crazy lone cyclist peddling up  an impossibly steep mountain.

All day long I was thinking of the early prospectors.  I could not imagine the desolation and desperation they faced as they headed up the steep muddy and highly dangerous incline of White Pass and faced the 33 mile Chilkoot Trail.  There is a famous photograph taken of those many men and pack horses struggle in a single file with deep snow all around.  There is nothing by today’s standards to compare that determination and courage.

Tomorrow we are going shopping in downtown Skagway. It looks fantastic. The store fronts have all been reproduced into a  Disney land pretty world of what it might have looked in the 1890’s but now filled with Pandora charms, Thai restaurants, Oakley sunglasses and North Face apparel.

Stay tuned. This is my adventure

PS – this post has been entirely composed using my iphone.

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