Archive for the ‘travel’ Tag

Oldy, Moldy Rollers on the Even Older New   Leave a comment

What should be the true “Old man river”, the New River is considered the second or third oldest continuously flowing river on the planet, perhaps 300 million years old.

Whenever involved in a project we are really good at plowing through the first 97 percent.  That last 3 percent can be a problem, however.  We remodeled our bathroom,”finished” some months ago, but still have not replaced the ceiling light and vent combo.  The old one still sits there, cover gone who knows where enjoying the apparently unlimited postponement to its removal and exile unto the great landfill in the sky.  So it is with the trip from this summer.  I still have posts to make on that.  I swear, someday they will be done.  Or I will be dead.  This may be a closer race than I would like to think it would be.  Be that as it may be, such as it is, so be it, que sera, sera or something like that, I really got sidetracked by the Olympics.  I am an addict.  I think back, how did I ever really enjoy it when I could not simultaneously record on 4 channels with my DVR and then scan 30 hours of broadcast a day to condense it down to a manageable 8 hours of viewing?  Heaven forbid I miss any of the air rifle competition!!  So I was thinking, I need to get back on track.  And we did!  Though not necessarily the right one, in terms of finishing what I had started.  Railroad track was more like it, or at least where track used to run.  Now that we had our bicycles, see previous posts for the Mickelson, Myra Canyon, Galena and the Hiawatha trails, we decided on Friday to go to the New River Trail State Park up the road in Virginia.  The park averages 80 feet across but runs for about 57 miles.  Its claim to fame is that it follows the New River or Chestnut Creek along a very well maintained rails-to-trail multiuse trail.

OK, we didn’t do every mile of this trail, only about 25 plus a couple of miles off the main trail.  We will cover the rest on later visits.  We aired up, saddled up and began our ride after paying for a shuttle from Foster Falls to Cliffview, just outside of Galax, Virginia.  This is a beautiful area with rolling hills, some deep valleys and waterways lined with forest or cliffs.  This is still the home of bluegrass music, but don’t fret ( Get it? Llike frets on a guitar?  Nevermind!), this is not a scene out of Deliverance.  The trail is moderately used so your body would still be warm when found if anything happened, but it won’t!

We started at Cliffview. Kinda wimped out, saved two miles by not starting in Galax. We had not done over 18 miles and were a little nervous, needlessly as it turns out.

Rails from near the trail that is rails-to-trails.

We start off down Chestnut Creek.  You very quickly come upon a park, Dannelly Park,  next to the park that has camping and would be a great place for a picnic, as well.  Very soon you have the feeling that you are many miles from civilization.  Some might think that anywhere in this part of Virginia would be many miles from civilization.  Wrong.  It can be very rural but there is plenty of civilization.  Along this stretch you see a few farms and homes but mostly, it is just a mixed eastern forest.  We have to come back when the leaves turn this fall.  It must be beautiful.  A few miles in you cross a bridge that has an excellent view of a small waterfall along the Creek.  The trail almost forces you to stop every now and then because of the scenery or some attraction.  It keeps you from turning this into a forced march.

Chestnut Creek Falls. Small but very pretty!

Nana sets the pace! My view for 27 miles. Not bad!

There are some remnants of the old railroad along the way, including some crossties sticking through the trail, evidence of locations where water towers had been, a few leftover pieces of equipment and even the outline of a turntable at what at one point had been the end of the line near Cliffview.  Mostly, though, forest, stream and sky.

A couple of guinea hens, I think, along the trail. Not really wild. We did see deer and many birds. Bears sometimes come down from the mountains. 

Along Chestnut Creek.

Nana scouts a tunnel downstream from Gambetta.

Emerging from the first tunnel.

Railcut through cliffs along Chestnut Creek.

You cross a small road at Gambetta.  Unfortunately, you can see where a development is in place across the creek.  I didn’t see any houses but the road and utilities were in.  This was sad to see.  A line of houses along the river here, or anywhere, rather ruins the near wilderness atmosphere that exists along most of the trail.    A bit farther along, at a little over nine miles, you arrive at a bridge that crosses the New River just nest to where Chestnut Creek merges gently into the main watercourse.  The New starts up near Boone in North Carolina.  The name give more than a clue as to the types of people that came through this area.  Farther down stream there is Austinville, the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin.  By the time the New River gets to this point it can be quite wide at times, though usually not very deep.  There are places where when the water is low, one can almost walk across.  After heavy rains it can have moderate class rapids in places.  Many canoe the New or kayak.  The trail itself is often used by those on horseback.

Trestle bridge at Fries Junction.

Fisherman at the confluence of the New River and Chestnut Creek.

The New is not a free flowing river as there are many dams that generate hydroelectric power.  As a result, there are sections that are actually lakes with submerged shorelines often dense with aquatic vegetation.  I don’t really know but I bet there is some pretty good fishing along here.  We was quite a few small boats and some fished from the banks.  You pass two dams along the trail in this section, Byllesby and Buck dams.  They are placed in an are where the river narrows as it passes through the ancient remains of a towering mountain range, the Iron Mountains.  There are many high cliffs in this area.

Buck Dam generates electricity.

While we had a picnic lunch near Buck dam, by sitting in one place we had a better idea of how many people use the trail.  Many came by in a short time.  Very young children on tiny bikes with their parents to fully decked out in cyclist clothing, grey haired women who were wonderfully not acting their age!  While resting and checking out the moist wooded area near us we spotted and Easter Newt.  Fortunately, I didn’t handle him before lunch as he excretes poison through his skin.  The version we saw is also known as the red eft.  This is the middle period in the life cycle of these little guys where they wander about trying to find new water sources before they become fully aquatic adults.  They stay in this terrestrial stage for about three years.  They can live up to fifteen years.

A red eft, an Eastern Newt in its terrestrial stage. Sort of like adolescence! Like human adolescents, better not to mess with them. These can excrete a poison onto their skin.

So on we went.  Our legs felt pretty good but after 17 or 18 miles the booty began to get a little sore.  A little hard on the prostate, too.  We passed near Austinville which in times past was a center for lead and zinc mining.  You can still see remnants of the mining hear, abandoned sidetracks and tunnel entrances.  The mines went as far as 1100 feet below the surface.  The lead was used before and during the civil war to produce lead shot.  Near the end of the portion of the trail we road, Interstate 77 passes overhead and just past this is what is called the Shot Tower.  Lead would be taken to the top, melted and drops allowed to fall 150 feet, hardening into a sphere on the way down, dropping into water to cool and then exited out to the river banks through a tunnel, in those early times, by slaves.

The second tunnel along the trail.

View from the bridge near Ivanhoe that crosses back to the right side of the New River.

Closed mine entrance along the trail. Lead and zinc were extracted here.

Interstate 77 passes over the trail, crosses the New River.

The Shot Tower near Foster Falls.

Our journey ended just past the Shot Tower at Foster Falls, where we began our shuttle to Cliffview.  Foster Falls has beautiful camping spots.  No driving in to the campsite.  Load your stuff up on little yellow carts and pull it in!  Most of the campsites are very near the water with beautiful view to a small island or the series of rapids over angled rock that forms the falls.  No huge drops, just a series of small drops that form a linear pattern across the river.  Cliffs rise up in the distance.  On the park property is a furnace used for smelting iron ore, also found in the area, and many old building.  One old building, that had been used as an orphanage, is being slow converted into a bed and breakfast.  Something to look forward to!  After we finished the trail portion, which actually extends many more miles to Polanski, we wandered about here looking at the old buildings, watching children wade far out into the river, canoists arriving, and a train of horses taking visitors off into the forests along the river.  I hope the people who live in this area and Virginia, generally,  appreciate what a gem they have here.  I might note also that the staff there was friendly and helpful.  A perfect day on the go for Papa and Nana.

Old smelting furnace.

Hard to see from this angle, but one of the small drops along the New River at Foster Falls.

The river is very shallow here at this time of year. Children and fishermen wade far out into the river.

Travimals   2 comments

I love zoos and aquariums, the big one and the little ones too.  I remember how much I enjoyed going to the city of my birth, Oklahoma City, and visiting the zoo there.  Over time, at least from the last time I was there, quite a while ago, the zoo always tried to maintain an open environment for the animals and give them what they needed.  Way back “in the day” some of the enclosures were rather small for some of the larger animals but that improved.  The zoo gave me a great appreciation for animals, the diversity, the immensity of some, the concept that there are predators and prey and that this extends to humans.  We are animals and eating other animals is what we do.  Religious aspects aside, and personal choice aside, to demand that others not eat meat is, well, like asking an elephant not to mate, a crocodile not to swim or wasps not to sting.  To be sure, have respect for the sacrifice, from taking the life.  Even vegetarians are killing something.  That grain is alive inside, ready to create a new oat seedling when the moisture, soil and temperature are right.  Doesn’t it have a “right” to be what it can be?  How dare we snuff out its potential to make oatmeal!

Well, I did digress.  I apologize.  When we were in Vancouver we visited the excellent aquarium there.  I still prefer Monterrey’s , Atlanta’s, and even Chattanooga’s along with Baltimore and even New Orleans.  But is had some very good exhibits.  They were promoting their new exhibit with  African penguins.  As to be expected they were really cute.

Cute little African penguins.

As cute as they are, they are still in an aquarium.  They are still in captivity.

Daryn and Little Nora move out of the way on the left for the hoards lining up to see the little guys who seemed just as interested in the people.

But what travel allows is the opportunity to encounter animals.  That word encounter, to me at least, implies either a serendipitous experience or an active search with an uncertain outcome.  Granted, there are some animals that many or most would not want to encounter except under very controlled circumstances if at all.  Vipers, sharks, Kodiak bears, Black Widow spiders, and Ted Nugent, as examples!  Some people go pretty far in this, such as the guy in Utah that has dressed himself up as a Mountain Goat and trying to keep up with said animals in the mountains in that gorgeous state.  I just hope he isn’t still romping on the trails come mating season or has left this off before Mr. Nugent decides to show up there for hunting season.  Not sure which would be worse for the goat guy.  I don’t know if he is dressed as a male or female goat but both present potential issues that could be quite threatening or uncomfortable.

Digression!  Mea culpa!  The kids, from the Papa and Nana perspective, had the good fortune of going out in a Zodiac to whale watch and ended up about 100 yards off where we were staying on Pender Island, as was reported in an earlier post.  This would be an active search.  Far better than the zoo, as you get to see the animals in their habitat, in this case, as pod units.

Orcas off Gowland Point.

A day or so after their journey back to where they woke up that morning, we were down at Gowland Point, exploring the beach.The whole gang was there.  We worked around towards Brooks Point watching the geese, duck, sailboats and freighters that were in the strait.  Someone, I don’t know who, was creating a bit of noise out on this peaceful end of South Pender.  Others were gathering along the shore.  And so there they were, sometimes 20 or 30 yards off shore, casually working their way along their course around the southwest edge of the Penders.  It was only a small group, a family perhaps, but did not appear to be an entire pod.  This was exciting.  The serendipitous encounter.  People, including ourselves, ran along the shore, climbing over rock and trying to stay even with the Orcas who pressed slowly ahead through the midst of boats that were already there.  And not a Zodiac in sight, just the serendipity crew to observe at that time.

A small group with at least one youthful Orca.

Only yards from shore. Or meters!

 

But this was not the only encounter.  Nana, one morning, decided to be the early bird.  Well the early bird didn’t get the worm but got the bird.  An eagle sat just outside our house, looking down over the kelp beds below, scouting for breakfast.  Lightening quick, Nana snapped a couple of pictures before it moved on.

Eagle just off the deck of our rental house on North Pender Island. Looking for food or enjoying the sunrise? Way to go Nana!

Here’s one to fawn over.

Fawn on the heights over Poets’ Cove

While traveling by car we ran into, not literally, other species.  These guys are apparently considering whether or not to risk the falling rock!

Bighorn sheep considering their next move.

Sometimes you can just be too slow to the camera.  As a Where’s Waldo experiment, see if you can spot one of the two bears encountered along our path?

Got to move fast to the camera…where’s the bear??

Find him?  He actually is barely, or bearly in the picture but looks like a shadow.  So this one is just for the memory book of the brain.  As to the appropriate travimal experience, my vote is for encounters!  But I will still enjoy the searches and the zoos and aquariums, as well.  Considering the areas we drove through on the mainland, it is remarkable, but we did not bag that moose we were looking for.  I bet it was there, though, just didn’t have eyes sharp enough to see him.  Next time!

Arbutus   Leave a comment

A tree that is not native to just the northwest coastal areas, but is also found in Mediterranean climates and other areas is the Arbutus tree.  In areas outside this area in Canada it is known by other names but usually as a Madrone.  Nana fell in love with the Arbutus and took this picture on Pender Island on a tiny peninsula from which you can look out at the strait separating North Pender from other islands such as Salt Spring.

The Arbutus or Madrone tree. Nana’s pictures!

The Saanich First Nation peoples had great respect for the tree and would not burn it for firewood as it had saved them during a great flood, yeah, that BIG one that everyone seems to have had, as it gave them something to grab onto on a high spot of land.  It was used for medicinal purposes and somehow or another used for contraception. Anyway, it is a beautiful tree.  Unfortunately, it peeled exposed bark area just invites engravers, such as in the second picture.  I promise, “Rob” is not me!

I have trouble reading this after “Rob”. Help anyone?!

Here are a few other images I think Nana took.

I won’t do a Rorshach on this one!

This next one does the best job of showing how the bark peals.

Posted July 20, 2012 by papaandnana in Photography, Roadtrip

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A Picture   Leave a comment

Pictures capture a moment in time.  Pictures can be altered and given how fickle memory is over time, the memory can come to match the altered picture.  Our brains do that anyway which is why witnesses to crimes are notoriously inaccurate in their descriptions.  So while the memories are fresh I will begin a series of pictures, while those memories are popping fresh, that will communicate some of the experiences that go with them.

But first, we are home.  Post trip blues are clearly evident.  There has been no wrist slashing but that sounds pretty good.  Now, to pay for the trip.  Now, to get rid of the pounds gained on the trip.  Now, to do something with the 1700 pictures amassed on the journey.  Yeah, that many.  Most will be disposed of.  Will memories be disposed of in the process?  Will anyone care in twenty years?  We tend to keep “good” pictures, but are they the ones that tell the best tales?

So, to begin we have this:

So, so picture.

So, so picture.

This is an OK picture.  pretty decent composition, I guess.  Wish I had hid where the stones lead better.  Lighting isn’t great.  Good detail, see the coins dropped in the water, like that adds to the garden!  What do people think?  Someone has to go in there regularly and drag this out of the algae.  The picture is at Butchart Garden.  It is beautiful, though expensive as I noted in an earlier post.  Sneak food in though, they clean up on that.  Anyway, this picture has a little extra meaning for me.  As I was composing the picture and waiting for there to be no one in the shot, something of a challenge to do with the 20,000,000 people roaming the garden, several people came up from behind me.  Both with issues. Please note, the stones are about four inches apart in the water.  Crossing this is not a task from the Amazing Race, or Wipeout.  The stones are relatively flat but not perfectly so, which is part of the intent in gardens of this type in Japan or China.  The water is about 7 – 8 inches deep.  I don’t think many adults would be drowning in this.  So unless you are doing handstands and grabbing coins while crossing you are going to be pretty safe, I think.  The purpose of a blog like ours should not be to make fun of anyone and in this case that is not the intent either…it is tempting though.

The first group to arrive behind me was a couple, mid-forties (like I can tell how old someone is, not!), and at least looked normal enough.  The female spousal figure, I’m pretty sure it was a spouse, reached the spot next to where I was crouched.  There was room to pass.  She would not.  “I just don’t think I can do this.”  Yes, this series of mostly flat rocks right next to each other was beyond her capabilities.  Last year I hurt my back pretty bad.  I had signed up for a mud run by one of the now ubiquitous groups making money “letting” people for a fee run something like a 5K but with the added element of including 9 or more obstacles in the path of the runner.  These involve climbing, sloshing or crawling through mud and other activities designed to make you feel either a) inadequate; b) awesome; or c) stupid, because you actually paid to humiliate yourself and ruin a set of running shoes, that is if you can find them after they have been sucked down to hell while trudging through thirty feet of stinking mud.  Well, I will let you decide which group I fall into but I think I know.  But, due to my injury I was forced to miss the event, not get the “free” beer I had paid for in the entry fees but did avoid collapsing on top of a tall wall, looking like a coyote, shot to death and thrown over a fence like you see out in Montana.  But with less hair.  So even with encouragement from the spouse, whose eyes said he wanted to go this way, they both turned around and headed for the safety of an alternate route, one relieved, the other disappointed and probably feeling like he didn’t get his money’s worth that day.

Still waiting for the tidal wave of people to depart the other side, another couple arrived.  Probably in their mid-thirties.  Healthy looking enough.  No one overweight, no canes or walkers, wheelchairs, both legs firmly attached.  This time it was the woman that wanted to proceed.  He balked.  “They’re too far apart”, he proclaimed. “I don’t think I can.”  At first I wondered what he was talking about.  But, of course, it was the stones.  The gaps, in his mind were enormous.  I understand being a coward sometimes.  I have never been good with heights.  No roller coasters for me.  A couple of years ago I decided to try and overcome this.  So while in Aspen I paraglided off a mountain.  The fear that comes just as you run off the edge was difficult to overcome.  But as with most such things it settles into another emotion, sometimes sublime or joyful.

Nearing landing a few years ago in Aspen. Overcoming my fears.

But I still have my limits.  While driving along Lake Superior on this va-ca we came across climbers working up the cliffs above the lake.  Well over a hundred feet of straight up or angled outward precipice.  I could not bring myself to crawl to the edge and look over at the climbers below.  But these guys just sat at the edge and helped guide up those below.

Climber assisting climber along Lake Superior. I didn’t even know it had cliffs like this.

Keeping an eye on the edge.

I couldn’t do this, well, maybe, for that million on the Amazing Race.  Maybe. So I will not judge too harshly, but I can’t help but wonder how a person gets to a place where crossing the small gaps in life is too difficult.  At least try.  I hope I remember my own lesson.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  It appears I have reached that here.  I don’t think anyone wants a picture of mine to be worth two thousand!  Done.

Galena Trail   1 comment

We have now left our furry friends to the north and have driven along the north shore of Lake Superior, a very apt name.  I will talk about that in another post but things have moved faster than my ability to post lately so I will have to work backwards sometimes.  Like this time.

A couple of months ago, Nana mentioned that she wish she could bike ride sometimes.  I had been waiting 25 or 26 years to hear that but could never on my own justify spending the money.  What a waist of time.  Yes, I know I said waist.  I’m not stupid and meant exactly that.  We could have been burning pounds around the middle all of that time.  And by the way, it was also a waste of time.  So within two weeks we had two spiffy more-than-I-meant-to-spend-on Treks.  So before our journey we had made a number of outings and built up our feeble miles a bit and learning to control our balance on mostly paved or very smooth greenways and such. As I have previously mentioned, for both of you following this thing, we brought the bikes on the trip and have had several really good rides.  But as so often is the case, I may have over reached on our last ride.  Just a bit.  No injuries but frayed nerves.

We had left the Okanagan region for Kaslo in British Columbia.  We had seen many creatures such as rabbits and squirrels.  Oh, I know that doesn’t seem like much but deer were far less rare.  We’ve seen a couple of bears on the trip as well.  These weren’ t the Jellystone type that are mostly tame and come to your car hoping for Hostess Cupcakes, which I would never give up even if the bear had its teeth wrapped around my skull.  I might share some if he asked nice.  But not the filling.  We never did, to our disappointment, see a moose, Nana’s favorite, I think.  We did see beaver, eagles and lots of other creatures.  Had we come upon a grizzly, which frequented the areas around Kaslo, I reassured Nana that after I out ran her I would be sure to get help back as soon as possible.  She said that wouldn’t be a problem after she threw some ground meat on me, maybe a little bacon, and just sat there until the bear moved on.  Neither thought these were very good ideas.  As scary as this would have been, nothing was scarier than our ride on the Galena.  (insert Kettle Drum rumblings here).  The Galena Trail is a trail just outside of New Denver, British Columbia, along one of the many linear lakes that can be 100 miles long but only a few miles across or less.  Absolutely stunning country.

Now for younger or more experienced riders this might not have been a big deal but we were Nana’s and Papa’s.  I think it was on Monday, Monday, or was I just California Dreaming?  Whoops! Wrong Papas!  Anyway, this is not a very long trail as some go but it was no greenway.   Basically, we were doing single track much of the time.

Start of the Galena. Happy in our ignorance.

The beginning of the trail is flat but only about 5 inches wide, just have to work on balance, which neither one of us have in spades by any means.  So on we go.  Soon we can hear the roar of the river to our right.  Well, not exactly, you also have to look down about 700 feet and to the right.  The trail is on the edge of the drop.  Again, no big deal if you are confident.  I wasn’t too bad but Nana was really confidant.  Confidant that she would soon be dead.

Nana contemplates the afterlife. Not the narrowest point on the trail with cliffs.

 

Not all of the trail was this way.  Some was worse.  There were some very narrow up and down hills with curves and no run-outs if your brakes were wet and it was slow to stop.  This whole region had been flooded so there was much aqua on the trail.  This equals wet brakes.  So there were times it was prudent to walk it.

Sections of trail not Nana and Papa proofed.

 

With long drops, sometimes better to walk if not confident as newbies.

Not all was terror, however.  It was a beautiful trail.  A fine place to die if there ever was one.  Unfortunately, no one might actually ever find our bodies.  But there were some fantastic scenes along the way.

The river far below.

Waterfall along the way to the moment of terror.

 

Little did we know that these moments of beauty and joy, coming like a roller coaster, alternating with mild to extreme discomfort and wondering if the insurance was paid up, were mere distractions as were the most peaceful times along the trail.

Nana, go!

 

And then we arrived.  Finally, we approached the river itself, having risen up through countless cataracts and waterfalls to our level.  But were was the trail?  No, not to the left.  Only forest and briars.  Not to the right!  Rocks and more trees screened the view to the river crushing around the bend, swollen and roiling like water boiling on the stove.  And what was this contraption ahead?  Well, it was the way across.  The only way.  One needed to load the bike, unhook and pull yourself and the bike across the river, dangling just feet above the maelstrom.  And it was so.

Now for me, it was like being 10 again.  For Nana it was like all of her kidney stones and childbirths rolled together with every scary movie she had ever seen.  But she was brave.  And she did the deed.  Our version of Amazing Race.

Mounted and ready to unhook.

 

Papa having a blast!

 

Victory!

 

That is not joy on Nana’s face. But she is brave!

 

Nana’s fear overcome. This because she is thinking how many pieces she needs to chop Papa into so that no one will find the evidence of the deed she contemplates.

 

And so we completed our journey with no significant injuries.  Though many were considered both accidental and purposeful.  Nana is braver and Papa is wiser.

 

Posted July 12, 2012 by papaandnana in Attempted humor, Roadtrip

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  2 comments

Sad having to leave Vancouver with less done than we had wished due to the weather we moved eastward.  We don’t really like to think of it as beginning to move towards home but so it is.  There is still much to see and do and the weather has suddenly become our friend.  We were able to see a beautiful Bridal Veil Falls along our way.  Seems like every place that has waterfalls has a Bridal Veil Falls.  This was a nice one.  We moved through Manning Provincial Park which had soaring mountains and seemingly endless forests.  It was soon clear that we were in bear county and sure enough, nearing the Okanagan region we spotted a young cub.

Another Bridal Veil Falls.

 

Giant moss covered trees.

 

Manning Provincial Park looking into the US.

 

Don’t blow away Nana!

Big Horn Sheep.

 

We finally arrived in Kelowna.  You probably haven’t heard of it.  For those of us who had not heard of it, well, we are idiots.  This place is fantastic.  Low accessible mountains all around, wineries by the dozens in the area, beautiful lake, trails, food, cherries and other fruits, cheeses, vegetables of all types, crafts and most of the food you eat will be locally produced.  We stayed at Myra Canyon Ranch which is a B&B.  It is up the ridge and the last ranch before entering a large park area.  The views to the valley below, Kelowna, the lake and the mountains, are stunning.  Easily enjoyable from the large hot tub, a great place to survey the vistas and sunsets.  The owners are gracious, helpful and make a really good breakfast with homemade bread and local produce.  No TV’s here.  Peace.  Well except for the dogs that get a little concerned about the welfare of the estate or are trying to keep the horses in line.

From here can be explored the wines, foods and trails of the region, all in close proximity.  More on that in the next post.  You have to wonder, do the people who live and grew up here appreciate fully what they have?  Isn’t that often the case?  Isn’t that one reason we have traveled nearly 4,000 miles, looking for more when sometimes we don’t allow what we have to affect us as fully as it should?  So when this journey is done, maybe it will be time to do just that.  Appreciate more fully what we have.  We do love North Carolina.  So many we have spoken to want very much to visit there.  Do we just crave something different when we should crave beauty wherever we are?  Yes, that is harder to do in some places more than others, maybe almost impossible.  For those in those circumstances, especially those that are young, do all you can to get out, move on and find a place that later in your life you will have no regrets for the choice you have made.

Myra Canyon Ranch Bed and Breakfast

 

View of Kelowna, lake, mountains in trees in the heart of the Okanagan.

 

First sunset.

 

Day is done. But up here the light lingers on the horizon until nearly eleven o’clock.

 

Posted July 6, 2012 by papaandnana in Opinion, Roadtrip

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Its Not All About the Scenery   Leave a comment

The Pender Islands are magical places of exquisite beauty.  Walk low to the water’s edge.  From there, and there means from anywhere on these islands, watch the morning mists and fog creep gently across the small bays, almost as if they are trying to avoid waking those sleeping stresslessly along the shores in their homes.  As the day progresses, other islands appear, ships pass with a gentle rumble, and rays of sun break cross the wakes left by sailboats gliding like skaters on ice.  Was that an eagle flying by?  Stay in one place long enough and you will hear the subtle breathy exhalation of an orca surfacing and diving with at least a small host of podites.

Climb.  rise above the red and orange bark of the the Arbutus trees, fir and spruce.  Climb to a high point and see the waters and world laid out before you.  Islands, mountains, sky and water.  You don’t view it as your kingdom, something to possess.  It all, in its splendor, seems to own you.  Not sure if it really cares about any one of us.  But somehow there is a connection that cannot be broken.  Many do not know it is there, this connection, because they do not have the experiences that allow them the opportunity to bond with this world physically.  Knowing this, some seek out mystic rituals or practices that purport to “center” them and allow them to become one with the universe.  I guess they get credit for trying.  To me, they are trying too hard. To me, these are symptoms of ERAD.  We make up new disorders all the time, this is my contribution.  Earth Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Milada Huk chose a different path.  She escaped communist Czechoslovakia, from the portion that is now the Czech Republic, in 1983.  This was five years before the fall of communism and the end of the rein of the Soviet empire in central Europe.  During this time she had almost no contact with most of her family left behind, communication was forbidden.  She made the most of her freedom and became significant in Canada as a designer and art restorer.  She and her husband were also collectors of art.  I don’t know their wealth, financially, but I think they are pretty well off.  They came to the Penders to try and convince friends to co-own a  property in the Barbados.  Didn’t happen.  Instead she fell in love with these islands.  Having designed for Coca-Cola and other well known names, and having also learned special glass design techniques, she created relatively inexpensive jewelry that has appeared on the covers of magazines such as Vogue.  If she chose she could be living the urban life in Toronto or elsewhere.  Instead she runs a small shop, Renaissance Gallery, on North Pender Island where she sells her jewelry and also lithographs and prints by Dali and Picasso.  Yeah, they are right there on the wall.

Milada, I can only guess, along with her husband, made a choice.  I think the choice came from the process of allowing that bond between earth and human to happen in a natural way,  just by experience.  It didn’t need a seminar, meditation, an Earth Day parade or any other ritual or artifact of human behavior.  Place your self in nature, be open to your sensory experiences and it will just happen.  I think that this will prevent and for many even cure ERAD.  This doesn’t have to be a Gaia, mother earth thing.  I don’t think the earth itself could care less about us.  I think the earth can be used by humans as much as any other organism on the planet.  But I think it is all about respect.  Avoid the arrogance of being super-“green” and the ruthlessness and lack of respect of those that exploit without regard to the consequences.  Milada, who after many years of trying, was gifted a child while on this island.  We met him.  I have rarely found a youth, and a mother too, who were as kind and open to strangers, with no pretentions when pretensions might be likely.  That is what a special place can do.  I pray that I can carry a little of this home.

Malida Huk. A refugee from communism, living in a world of her choosing, leaving urban for the positively deurban on North Pender Island.

Malida’s son and friend play with Little Nora outside the Renaissance Gallery on North Pender Island.