Beyond the Blacktop

Fall arriving in the Ashlu Valley, Jason Landry, 2012
Fall arriving in the Ashlu Valley, Jason Landry, 2012

It’s been awhile, I know. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t realized it had been this long. Thankfully, Rohan gave me the gentle nudge I needed. I have a long list of excuses for the neglect, each one as terrible as the next, so I won’t begin to list them. In the end, I think I just wanted some time away from the computer1.

I do have something to tell you about, though. I am now the proud owner of a used Nissan Xterra. That’s right, a gas-guzzling, road-hogging SUV. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m very excited about it. A 4×4 is something I’ve dreamed about since watching Bush Tucker Man back in high school. A decade ago, not far from Campbell River, I broke a strut on our VW Golf on a soggy Forestry Service Road and have been hesitant to venture too far ever since. So, when the Golf was written off in a fender bender earlier in the year, the search was on for a more capable vehicle. My wife wasn’t so sure, but supported me anyway.

Falls in the Ashlu, Jason Landry, 2012
Falls in the Ashlu, Jason Landry, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, as our unseasonably sunny weather was drawing to an end, I packed up the family, a bit of gear and took the truck up towards Squamish and eventually into the Ashlu Valley. Ashlu Creek is one of the four major tributaries of the Squamish River and is it carves a narrow valley through the forests North of the Tantalus Range. The Forestry Service Road wasn’t too crazy, but we definitely wouldn’t have done it in our car. We explored, picnicked near some falls and the kids even did a bit of fishing near the confluence of the two waterways. It was a glorious day and has me (and my wife!) dreaming of future adventures.

  1. I’ve been regularly posting to Instagram though (@appliedobservation).

The Cache

Our cache, 2011
Our cache, 2011

I found this photo of our supply cache on Gambier Island. It’s not much — it’s quite sad, really — but it’s a start.

A Century of Craft

Poirier Duluth Pack Sack, A1; Wary Meyers, 2011
Poirier Duluth Pack Sack, A1; Wary Meyers, 2011

Today, Duluth Packs is celebrating 100 years at 1610 W Superior St. in Duluth, Minnesota, on the western tip of Lake Superior. The traditional Duluth Pack, originally known as the Poirier Pack, has been a long-time favourite among canoeists and backpackers and has even begun to make its way into the world of fashion. The waxed canvas version would be my weapon of choice.

Audubon Bird Call

The Audubon Bird Call, Roger W. Eddy
The Audubon Bird Call, Roger W. Eddy

While in Seattle last week, I picked up an Audubon Bird Call—an ingeniously-designed American classic. It was invented by Roger W. Eddy in 1952* and consist of 4 parts: a hollow birchwood dowel, a pewter handle that is loosely held in place with an opposing screw and a little bit of rosin on the inside. To use it, you just twist the dowel lightly. Simple design, simple construction and simple to use.

* Nation’s Business, August 1984

Spears & Arrows

Homemade Spears and Arrows, Kris Kjeldsen
Homemade Spears and Arrows, Kris Kjeldsen

A friend of my wife and I spent a good part of his life living and hunting in the bush of New Zealand’s North Island and the photo above is a collection of some of the spears and arrows he has made over the years. I wish I knew more about his time in the bush, the house he built there and the life he created for himself. Someone really should write a book about him, it would make for a great story.

In Search of a Good, Old Truck

Edward Abbey and his 1973 Ford F-100
Edward Abbey and his 1973 Ford F-100

I’m looking for a large, reliable, old truck to barge over to our place on Gambier Island. Large because its primary duty will be to haul gear, reliable because the nearest garage is another barge ride away, and old because there would be a greater chance of someone with some mechanical know-how working on it on-site when things did go wrong.

I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding a large truck, but finding one that is reliable and old could be tricky. Wish me luck.