Nomad By Fate

Channeled Scablands, Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, 1948
Channeled Scablands, Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, 1948

Chuck Ragan is currently on the road with The Revival Tour, but it looks like the closest they’ll get to Vancouver is a short hop across the border in Seattle. Time for a road trip, I guess.

Nomad By Fate, Chuck Ragan

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Looking towards Lanai, Jason Landry, 2005
Looking towards Lanai, Jason Landry, 2005

Through the hard work of my wife—and the generous recognition of her company—we’ve managed to score a quick trip to Maui next week. It will be our first trip back since getting married there in 2005, and yes, I know how cliché a wedding in Hawai’i sounds, but I’m a Canadian and she’s a Kiwi, so it was an obvious middle ground.

We’ve lined up some surfing and some paddleboarding, the rest of the time will be devoted to relaxation and plate lunches. Goodbye rain.

The Wild Heart

The Wild Heart, Henry Jun Wah Lee, 2012

Like everyone else, I fell in love with the notion of the southwest through the works of Edward Abbey. Must visit again.

Bigleaf Maple Syrup

Bigleaf maple sap flow during the 1970-71 season ranged from none to 16.9 gallons per taphole and sugar content of the sap from 1.0 to 2.6 percent. Sugar content also varied seasonally, with the sweetest sap flowing in late January. The sirup was very flavorful, although not as strong in typical maple flavor as that made from eastern sugar maple. Sirup production appears quite feasible as a hobby. The possibility of commercial production should not be ruled out as additional local experience is gained.—USDA Forest Service Research Note, 1972

This past fall, my wife was wondering why people don’t tap the Bigleaf Maple trees that you find out here on the west coast. I was born and raised in Alberta and didn’t have a lot of experience with Maple trees, so I just always assumed that you needed Maple varieties that are found in eastern and central North America, you know, like Quebec and Vermont. Thankfully, my wife doesn’t make assumptions and after a bit of research she discovered that some folks actually do tap Bigleaf Maple trees and that there has been a bit of a resurgence in recent years.

We’ve got some Bigleaf Maple trees on our property on Gambier Island, and we’re both dreamers, so this got us thinking about producing our own maple syrup —commercial production is out of the question based on the number of trees we have available.

To learn more, we went to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island last weekend so that we could attend the 5th Annual Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre. It was a great event with presentations on tapping trees and producing syrup.

So it begins, Jason Landry, 2012Big, but not a Bigleaf Maple, Jason Landry, 2012Using tubes to keep the bugs out, Jason Landry, 2012
Taps & trees, Jason Landry, 2012

We picked up supplies and hope to tap our first trees next season. Having to get to and from the island means it won’t be economically advantageous to start with, but once we have a cabin built and can spend a bit more time over winter, the costs should come down considerably. Regardless, it’s going to be interesting and fun.

Speaking of fun, we also took the opportunity to explore the area and had a wonderful time. It was a nice little holiday in the middle of winter.

Cowichan Shipyard, Jason Landry, 2012Maple Bay, Jason Landry, 2012Looking West, Jason Landry, 2012
Exploring the Cowichan Valley, Jason Landry, 2012

Place Names

Map detail, Banff National Park Brochure, 1939
Map detail, Banff National Park Brochure, 1939

Having spent most of my life in Alberta and much of it in Calgary, I am very familiar with the place names and natural features shown in this map detail. In my mind’s eye I can see the frozen waterfall on the east face of Cascade Mountain. I can see the near vertical line etched into the mountain opposite the turn off to what was Sunshine Lodge. I can see the Elk grazing in the fields south of the airport. I wish I could return more often.

Burns Night

Every Burns Night, I find myself thinking back to 1998 and my trip to Scotland. Shortly after arriving in Glasgow, I embarked on a 4-day hike along the last half of the West Highland Way, from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William. Almost every other hiker we saw was having their gear trucked from hotel to hotel, but we carried our packs and tent across the moors up and down the passes of the highlands. It was a tiring, amazing experience through a beautiful landscape.

Cock-a-leekie soup & bannock, Jason Landry, 2012Cock-a-leekie soup & bannock, Jason Landry, 2012
Cock-a-leekie soup & bannock, Jason Landry, 2012

Tonight I made a very simple version of Cock-a-leekie soup and bannock. The kids and I ate a comforting meal, listened to The Tannahill Weavers and talked about visiting Scotland to do a little camping, hiking and exploring. My son had two bowls of soup, my daughter said she loved the music and I have no doubt they would both enjoy Scotland. I love dreaming with my kids.

Manning Provincial Park

Every year, friends of ours organize a group trip to Manning Provincial Park, a mountain park of over 70,000 hectares just a few hours east of Vancouver. It’s a winter wonderland with downhill skiing, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, skating, tobogganing… add a cabin, good friends, food, drink and you can start to see why we go every year.

A good sign, Jayne Landry, 2012Across the valley, Jason Landry, 2012Raven watching, Jason Landry, 2012The kids & I, Jayne Landry, 2012On the trail, Jason Landry, 2012
Fun in the snow, Jason & Jayne Landry, 2012

The White Stuff

Yes, it snows in Vancouver, Jason Landry, 2012
Yes, it snows in Vancouver, Jason Landry, 2012

It doesn’t snow very often in Vancouver, but I love it every time it does.

A walk in the forest

The forest, Jason Landry, 2012The forest, Jason Landry, 2012The forest, Jason Landry, 2012
The forest, Jason Landry, 2012

One big advantage of living is Vancouver is the ability to go from house to forest in about 20 minutes. Yesterday we went for a short walk in Lynn Valley, next to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. It was a cool, drizzly, grey day—a picture-perfect example of winter in the Pacific Northwest.