Tag: camping

The Light in August: My Time on Salt Spring Island

Light in August is a 1932 novel by William Faulkner, which took place in Mississippi and examined issues that arose in conflict between those alienated in society and the Puritanical white society. According to Hugh Ruppersburg’s Reading Faulkner: Light in August, Faulkner said of the 

It Finally Feels Like Summer

This morning I am sporting a sunburn from Rib Fest yesterday. We went again with our friends Ross and Dara, and had a good time hanging out in the beer garden, eating some truly authentic BBQ, and listening to live bands for a few hours. 

Things

I apologize for the lack of blogging lately. I’ve had a wee bit of time off work again and have had time to relax, write, think, and, of course watch and read various stories. Another bullet list of things:

  • As my close friends know, I’m a nerd, so enjoy the occasional video game. Nearly 15 years ago I started playing World of Warcraft with my husband and some friends, and by far the most enjoyable times were those early years–the first game (which is now called “Classic” or “Vanilla”) and the first expansion, “The Burning Crusade”. I haven’t been been subscribed much since 2008 or so. But somehow I was fortunate to get into the beta of the redo of Classic, so have been trying it out and have been having a really good time. My preferred class is the druid, and it’s no surprise, as it’s kind of the nature-lore-based class. I have luckily made friends with people I hope to be able to play with when the game comes out.
  • We made an attempt at Golden Ears Provincial Park on our 13th anniversary, but both of us had the worst colds imaginable and so couldn’t stay past one evening (the fire smoke really bothered me especially); still, I got to spend about four hours in a nice chat with my husband, around a fire. It’s really been a great time since we met over 15 years ago. And on the way there, we found a great deli in Maple Ridge. The good news is our electrical car made there and back. The bad news is that I give up on provincial park camping, really. As much as I love the hikes and the tent-camping, every single park we’ve been to is not really a get-away as it is a place for people to hook up generators so they can party late and blend margaritas and play music loudly. No thanks. Might as well pitch a tent in our back yard. It’s quieter and more peaceful and probably has more wildlife. We are headed to Salt Spring Island in August, for another tent-camp, this time with a couple friends, my mother-in-law, and a couple of her friends. But it’s not a provincial park–just a privately owned area. I’m really looking forward to that.
  • I’ve been working on a new interview for my world eco-fiction series at Dragonfly. It will go up next week; this one involved getting a translator to help with some of the answers, so thanks to my coworker Mavis for helping with that!
  • On the reading front, I pre-ordered Rory Powers’ Wilder Girls, which comes out in July. I am prepared to have my mind blown. On the watching front, it seems my new gamer friends are also Game of Thrones fanatics, so it has been fun having these conversations–one in particular about Jenny of Oldstones, some lore that didn’t make it much into the television series; though the song sung by Podrick Payne in Season 8, Episode 2 (a great scene) was beautiful. I’m still reeling from that show and want to reread the books again, but my reading list is so full at the moment. I haven’t found anything else to watch and may just give the screen a break. I do hope to see the Elton John movie this weekend.
  • That’s about it, for now. Bulleted lists make it easy to blog sometimes, but it’s just laziness as well. I am kind of overwhelmed with other things lately, not to mention trying to finish my next novel by next year and keep up with the regular work I am committed to!

The featured image is of the last time I was in Tennessee when my Aunt Helen was alive. I have lately been missing the south again. I guess a trip is due sometime in the future. I’ve been wanting to go visit Mom and my siblings and then go down to the Appalachian area to see my cousins again too.

I Sit by the Fire and Think

I haven’t blogged for a while, because life is hectic and full. I was just reading this poem by JRR Tokien, credit to LOTR Fandom. Reading it has always made me feel good inside. What was written so long ago still rings true. Also, enjoy 

Camping

With a bum foot and lack of running this year, along with a lot of writing, editing, and reading, I am really looking forward to getting outside and staying there for a while. Last Friday night I spent hours mesmerized by my own back yard 

The Sunshine Coast

Our camping two weekends ago near Saltery Bay was full of sun and rain, waves and wind, endless coasting birds, hiking into wilderness, rushing waterfalls, isolation, running, and admiring the country north of Gibsons, mostly First Nations territories peppered with local foods and artisan goods. After two ferry rides, we arrived at a campsite just north of Saltery Bay Provincial Park on a Friday. We had previously planned to tent-camp but ended up in a cabin, which was good because the tenting area was sort of cramped around a view of an old barn and some kind of equipment. Our cabin, however, had a front door to the sea and a wide window to view it all, so if we weren’t out somewhere we were watching the sea.

Us sitting out front of the cabin, enjoying the calm waves of the bay

On the way up, we missed one ferry and had to wait around three hours for another, so didn’t get to the cabin until after dinner time on Friday night. I had made some enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo, which we were able to have for three meals. Every night it rained, but during the day we enjoyed a lot of sunshine, and if the wind wasn’t blowing, the warmth poured over us.

Saturday morning, I went on a solo-run just to explore the park we camped at. I am nearing the end of the redo of the 5K training–although I’m finding that I run more than it asks for. So, after a loop around the cabin area and still needing to run further, I went north on the beach. I had to cross a tiny creek running across the beach and into the sea, and also navigated around several rocks and along a short, very narrow sea wall. I had noticed on recent runs, probably every since we did that 11K walk-run a few weeks ago at Crystal Falls, that my left ankle felt quite sore, but I kept at the run.

Running along the beach

One area of the morning run was lined with the typical tall cedars and other trees that indicate the rainforest. As I ran along–perfect timing–came Great Big Sea’s “When I’m Up,” one of my favorite bands and songs. Then the following view:

Times like these I feel most alive, most appreciative of life in the sense that I am not cooped up with cultural wrappings. Running among trees makes you feel tall and part of things around you, unjudged and free. When I got back from my run, my husband was whittling–his first try at it. He is a woodworker, making things like tables, dressers, desks, and smaller gift-like things like wall-mounted bottle openers, picture frames, and wooden spoons. It didn’t take him too long to whittle a knife. This took me back to days of watching my pappaw whittle on his front porch.

A wooden knife that my husband whittled on the beach

After lunch, we went down to the ferry landing at Earl’s Cove, where we had seen an entrance to the Sunshine Coast Trail. So we parked there and hiked in. As we did, the sunshine went behind clouds, and we began to feel a soft rain falling over us. We did not go too far on this trail, only about 3km. We crossed a bridge, saw a waterfall, and climbed “escalator hill,” which had a hard trail to follow and just switchbacked up the mountain. You really would not know the trail except for the orange markers on trees. It is here where my ankle began to give out a little. And since we were climbing over slippery rocks at this point, we decided our anniversary gifts (11th coming up next weekend) would be real hiking books. I was wearing my trail runners, but they do not support my ankles.

Sunshine Coast Trail entrance near Earl’s Cove ferry landing

 

Water falling above the old bridge

 

Picturesque bridge near trail entrance

 

Moving on up escalator hill

 

Part of the Sunshine Coast Trail

 

Fiddlehead fern

We found good hiking boots in Powell River and had a quick lunch. On the way back to Saltery Bay, we saw another trail entrance and hiked for another few miles up an old canoe route. This path bordered Powell Lake on the south, but we did not find an entrance to it, rather marveled at the bald eagles and ravens above us, berries at the trail side, and the isolation (not one other soul) in this ancient forest area. The only downside was that being an old logging road, we did see some clearcut areas. It felt alone, peaceful, always a great background for our conversations. What is the difference between crows and ravens? Are these the blackberry bushes native to British Columbia? Look at that bald eagle! Listen to the ravens and bald eagles squawk at each other.

After some time, and a further aching ankle, we decided to go back to the cabin after one more dinner in Powell River.

Sunday we went to Lund, which is the end of the road (0 mile marker and start of highway 101 if you head South; you can take it all the way to Chile)  and entrance to Desolation Sound. Across the harbor we could see islands and the deep water sound that trails north to the Great Bear Rainforest, an area that I studied and wrote about a few years ago. Pocked by snow-capped mountains, rainforest, clear blue waters, and fjords, this peaceful area of the world is also sought by those wanting to continue making British Columbia a resourced-based economy rather than a resourceful one, but we also have plenty of environmental groups, most significantly First Nations, stopping pipelines, logging, and fracking in the area.

The morning was silent and meaningful up there. I had found a copy of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Borne, which came out in late April, and read it between sightseeing and a small 1K hike around Lund.

It’s that way!

 

Me walking around Lund area

 

0 mile marker for 101

 

Reading Borne

I’m almost done with Borne now. It was a busy week between camping and this past weekend when we had mother’s day things to do in Kamloops. I’ve long been a fan of Jeff VanderMeer. His work really got me into weird fiction, or modern day weird fiction, as I can appreciate the horror genre–not just horror but literary horror, if that makes sense. There’s some ecological weird fiction, such as VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which I read quickly, falling in love with the story. Yet, I think Borne tops that as my new favorite. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a story about a biotech bear named Mord, on which is found a small but growing creature then named Borne by its founder Rachel. I want to just say, “Holy shit, get this novel, it will blow your mind in ways you could never imagine…it’s profound and beautiful. I feel like the childlike Borne character in trying to figure out how to describe it. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. It’s expanding.” I think why it works is that it really busts out of genres and busts out of the seams of literary expectations and predictions and formats. It is just so damn good. You will fall in love with Borne.

That night as I drank some red wine, reading Borne some more on the beach, it seemed like a slow evening. The way we were situated was that the sea bay was really facing south, and so sunset was beyond trees to our right, and it is getting dark up here much later than it was–so the sunset took a long time and wasn’t direct, loons chattered in the background, while I would read and read, and then stare at the horizon, hoping to see a whale or more birds spreading their long wings out to the momentous sky.

A nice sun-through-trees vignette

 

Second Sunshine Coast Trail entrance

 

Lone seagull silhouette

 

Scotch broom?

 

Low, medium, and high tide markers along Kents Beach

Well, after our trip, I was able to run last week some more before realizing, hey, my left ankle is completely swollen. So now I have to take care before heading back to my running and hiking routine. Meanwhile, back on the lower mainland, we have only seen a few wholly summer-like days. Most days are a combo of rain and sunshine, with coolness and heat playing a match with each other. We’ve seen hailstorms and downpours come out of nowhere. So much rain! I did plant some kale, arugula lettuce, beans, and peas, but that’s it. I will plant strawberries soon and maybe some herbs. The beans are already unfurling from the soil! The backyard has not yet been mowed and looks like a jungle.

Trail Running in 2017

Our rainy and snowy weather has gotten me down lately. It’s not so much the precipitation, which we actually need, but the constant gray skies. However, next week has a much brighter forecast, up to 13 degrees and mostly sunny. Also, say what you will 

Birkenhead

I returned from a weekend camping trip very sore from a trail fall, but my cold is better. I learned later that, though there was no sign posted, the Goat Lookout Trail, where I fell, was supposed to be closed due to high water in 

Into the Wild

This weekend was sort of a bust with running, thanks to a nasty summer cold, but I had already run my normal number of times that week before this thing hit me. Regardless, the bbq yesterday was wonderful–sitting beneath sunny to starry skies with a couple mint juleps (made from lemon-mint from the garden and Maker’s Mark–nothing will work but good Kentucky bourbon). I have a fondness for bourbon, given that Kentucky is my birth state and my ancestors migrated there from Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Norway. A good bourbon is the only whisky I will even drink these days, even though I hardly drink much hard liquor. I reserve it for once in a blue moon.

The couple (Ross & Dara) we had over are ones that I’ve personally known for about a decade or more. My husband has known Ross since junior high, so they go even further back. They are very pleasant people who share my dreams of getting the heck out of the city and into the wild. They give no shits about fashion, upward mobility, or pretenses. They simply are, which is very nice for a change. They are also the friends we are camping with next weekend, so it was nice to plan and dream about the trip, including the idea of getting up at dawn and watching the sunrise from a canoe in the middle of a pink-tinged glassy lake.

Speaking of going into the wild, Jon Krakauer, who wrote the book that the film (Into the Wild) was based on, is one of my favorite nonfiction authors. I had previously read Into Thin Air, about Mt. Everest mountaineers and climbers. I should point out that going into the wild often includes an assortment of cluttering accessories, which, in my opinion, may overcome you if you truly just want to get out there. I strongly feel that where we go into the wild, we should leave nothing but our footprints. When I think of oxygen tanks strewn over big mountains or man-made debris left in space, I want to sink. According to Wiki: As of July 2013, more than 170 million debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 670,000 debris 1–10 cm, and around 29,000 larger debris are in orbit. Also, according to Outdoor Conservation (EU), there are up to 8 tonnes of oxygen tanks on Mt. Everest.

I remember the last time we went camping, we basically filled up our car with sleeping bags, a tent, big cooler, big jug of water, propane stove (we weren’t sure about a fire ban but ended up being able to start fires), dried foods, running clothes and shoes, regular clothes, and a foamie. When we left, there was not any evidence we had been to the campground at all. We even gave our leftover firewood to neighbor campers. But we also learned that we didn’t need quite as much food or clothing as we thought–so this time we will be more diligent.

I guess as days go by my dreams become more solid, though they may not take place until I retire: a cottage in the woods, a place for undisturbed writing–and I mean undisturbed by technology, news, and so on. My time on this Earth is probably in its autumn or late summer, if we go by Frank Sinatra lyrics, and I look forward to shrugging off society (as it were) by getting into a wilder world. Yet, I still want to read, write, and study our relationships to nature, both in literature and in real life.

The film and book Into the Wild show that dream of a much younger man, who was disillusioned with society. I get it. How is it possible to be happy with the concept of power, greed, fashion, growth, consumerism, environmental destruction, which is all big nations’ model for being. I don’t walk around cynical about it, but I often question it and work with what makes sense to me–forests, rivers, wildlife, fresh air–to truly feel alive and look around me to be able to say “Life is great!”

Feature image: This is not Mt. Everest. My husband took the photo overlooking Mt. Baker.

On Music, Camping, and Divergence

First, happy birthday to Bob Dylan! Second, I was very sad to hear today that Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip, has announced his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. I met him a few years ago when the non-profit I worked for had