Monday, July 25, 2011


 A driftwood stump along the ocean

 A quiet swamp in the forest

 I went for a walk in what I call the Bonsai Bog.  It appears much the same as when Aileen and I lived here over forty years ago.

The time is flying by and we don’t seem to have enough hours in the day.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of strolling around, mostly with my camera.  I spent one morning backing up or moving files to my external hard drive.  Brother in law, John and I went out on the ATVs Friday, Saturday and Sunday to the same general area.  We drove about 37 kms up a logging road near Cluxewe then wandered up various roads.  Many of the roads John originally laid out when he was a logging engineer in this area.  Now some of them are so over grown they’re impassable even with an ATV.  Several others have been badly washed out or covered by landslides.
This area has been a multiple use natural resource extraction location for many years.  Forty years ago, when Aileen and I lived up here, we used to fish Maynard Lake which was a man made lake for the Benson Mine that produced iron ore and copper in two separate locations.  The mine has long since been abandoned but the area has now been extensively logged.
The whole area has a lot of limestone and is riddled with caves and other underground passages.  The Vanishing and Reappearing River is just one of the many interesting landforms to be found.  Some of the cave systems are very long and complex.
One of the roads we travelled Saturday had two mudslides blocking them to traffic.  After some study, we were able to find a route through both which gave us some challenging riding.  This is slow and cautious rather than fast.   Yesterday it was washouts.   John stopped at a cave he remembered from back in the late 70s or early 80s. Back then he’d rappelled down into the cave with Pamela Martin and the CBC News crew.  It is called Minigill Cave and was found by a loader operator who lost a boomstick (choice logs about 60 feet long which are tied end to end with chain to encircle bundles of logs in the water) into a hole in the ground. Minigill is a vertical cave which goes down to a river flowing crossways well below ground. 
We have had a nice campfire every evening where we spend several hours sitting and visiting.
Please note, there are three more photo posts below that go with this post.

 Limestone and iron bearing rock blended together.  This is in the bottom of a quarry

A black bear surveying his domain

 A mother grouse.  All three grouse we saw only had one chick each.  The wet weather is deadly on the  chicks.

 This hopper was used to load the ore into cable cars to be transported down the mountain

 The ore was dropped into this tunnel through the bottom of the quarry and hauled out to the hopper

 The exit of the tunnel

 The dark green trees in the reforested valley bottom are spruce.  The other lighter shades are Douglas Fir.  You can see the old roads and creeks outlined with alder trees.

 The roads grow in quickly when not in use

 A valley stream

 There are still a few big old spruce trees left in the valley.  My Port McNeill brother in law John gives scale to the giant tree. 
Alders growing along the road side
 A female grouse

 The Vanishing River

 Click to enlarge, use back arrow to return

 The river reappears in the dark spot in the center

 Navigating the mudslide

Washing off the mud at a stream crossing the road
 This is the top of Minigill Cave which is about 30 feet from an old logging road.  I describe it in the text for this date.

 Navigating a washed out logging road

 A postcard scene away out in the bush

 This used to be a main logging haul road a few years ago.  Nature is quick to reclaim that which is abandoned.

 Another shot of the once main road

 The creek decided to run down the road for a ways making for bumpy riding!

Maidenhair Ferns in a shady spot

Thursday, July 21, 2011


 Some seaweed shrink wrapped around the rock

 Here's the nice picture I took last summer at Cluxewe

 Here's the view that greeted me this year.  They made a parking lot and wiped out the foxgloves!

Some views of the rain forest near camp

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


 Foxgloves seen on a forest walk a few days ago

 An old house near Coombs, BC

 Meat ready for cooking at a food booth at the Campbell River street market

Part of the Campbell River marina complex

We have booked in to Cluxewe Campsite on northern Vancouver  Island for the next four weeks.   Over the next while we plan to visit some our family who live in this area.  I am hoping to get out on my ATV numerous times but we shall see.  It is going to be a frustrating month communication wise as the aircard doesn’t seem to want to work here at the campsite.   Overall, the aircard situation is our biggest issue living this lifestyle.  Aileen’s sister Anne and John came out for supper last night so we had a good visit.  They are both working still but John is counting down the days as August 31st is retirement.   We are parked right across from their trailer in Cluxewe and I imagine they will be here for the weekends.
Since the wedding things have been busy.  I had to replace the coach water pump.  It was leaking internally but the main issue turned out to be a bad connection which I found after removing the old one.   One of the little clip plugs had been overheated and melted the plastic around it, probably not crimped tight enough allowing it to arc across.
I took the Honda CRV in for a service and was informed both rear tires were separating and all the tires were already down to 5/32” which is not very good for about 31,000 total kms.  Cheap Bridgestone crap was used for the original tires.  After shopping around a fair bit, I put on a set of Michelin Cross Terrains.   I also picked up a spare tire and wheel for the little ATV trailer.  I gathered pieces to make the ATV and trailer more secure to try to prevent it from being stolen.  ATV theft is rampant in BC made more so because of the lack of regulation and registration of ATV’s.  That was supposed to have been introduced this year but I haven’t heard anything lately about the implementation.  When I bought the ATV trailer, I noticed one tail light was not very bright.  The dealer ordered me a new light assembly so I installed that and a jack on the reach which greatly eases the hooking and unhooking process.   
I spent another day taking the ATV for its 100 hour service in Courtenay.  We went to Campbell River and had lunch with Cousin Bill.  Since the shop was running late when we got back, we visited my Aunt Isabelle in Comox for awhile.   She is doing well except for the onset of forgetfulness which she is concerned about.  We found a great restaurant in Courtenay for supper called Union Street Grill.  They really cater to gluten intolerant people so Aileen was able to have a tasty meal.
I had a few days of some type of allergy situation where one eye and one nostril ran constantly.  Aileen is still having bouts of severe back spasms.  We had arranged to get together with Heather, the lady we bought the motor home from while in Campbell River but she was in the hospital and transferred to Victoria yesterday for heart surgery.   We did get to visit with her sister Sharon and Earl to get updated on what was going on.  She has a lot of medical problems for a lady barely into her 60s. 
We spent four nights driveway camped south of Campbell River in Bill’s driveway.  His wife was Aileen’s cousin and they had been married over 50 years when she passed away two years ago.  Bill had his annual barbeque on the Saturday evening but we had to have it inside since the weather did not cooperate.  I was in charge of the barbeque and a great selection of food was brought and shared.   
When we were driving from Parksville to Campbell River the other day Aileen was driving the car and ATV following  me in the motor home.  At one point about 40 kms along the freeway, while she was about 20 car lengths behind, the motor home kicked up a rock which made a nice crack on the Honda windshield.  Aileen said she saw the rock go way up in the air before landing on the windshield.  She said if she had been following closer, it would have gone over top and missed her.
Yesterday was gorgeous for the drive up and in Port McNeill but today we are having low cloud and drizzle with some rain.  I managed to get online for awhile this morning but the signal wasn’t strong enough for posting my blog.  I’m sitting in Port McNeill to do my post.