On June 15th, two friends and three of our dogs joined me for a hike to the ruins of the Campman Bridge, built over the Slims River by the US Army Corps of Engineers during construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942.
The hike began at 1:45 on the access road to the Ä’äy Chù (Slim’s River) East Route. A fairly large parking lot is located at Km 1645.6 of the Alaska Highway, about 2 km from the modern Slims River Bridge. Because of the strong possibility of encountering a grizzly bear, we kept the dogs on leash.
Within about 10 minutes, the views across the Slims River valley opened up dramatically.
There are some ups and downs, but much of the 3-km-long access road (which is the original Alaska Highway) is level.
At about the 3 km point, there’s a widening of the road so vehicles can turn around, and the Slims River East trail leads off to the left, up Vulcan Creek. We continued walking straight ahead. We could have driven to this point but the point was to go for a walk.
Although not very distinct in the fine silt, we came upon very fresh grizzly tracks. Not a large bear, but a grizzly nonetheless. We followed them for quite distance.
I was very surprised (and very pleased) to find many butterflies along one stretch of the road. I didn’t see what was attracting them to this particular area of a few hundred meters. Among the 4 or 5 species was this little brown one. Environment Yukon’s Yukon Butterflies brochure hasn’t led me to a positive identification, but I think it may be a Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius).
When we reached the main channel of small and much-braided Vulcan Creek, the kids were happy to get a drink. Rosie is the only dog I recall seeing who lays in a creek to get a drink 🙂
Fifty minutes from the start of the road, we were well into the Slims River valley and the views were wide open. The next photo is a 2-photo panorama with the Alaska Highway and the dust storm at Slims River flats to the right.
Now that we had good sight lines, Tucker, Granite, and Rosie were let off their leashes, and took full advantage of it. They’re all very good at recall.
At 2:50 we reached the ruins of the Campman Bridge, which I expect was named after the commander of one of the Corp of Engineers units that built it. This was the first of at least 4 Slims River bridges – it was built here because the natural river channel is much narrower than at the current location a mile or so downriver.
Looking across the Slims River to the bridge ruins on the west side. They can be accessed from the Slims River West trail near Sheep Creek. The bridge was a single lane, with 3 or 4 pullouts to allow vehicles to pass.
If I remember correctly, the bridge burned in a forest fire in the late 1950s or early ’60s.
The view to the east, looking up Vulcan Creek. A lengthy gravel ramp led to the bridge on both sides.
To keep the spectacular views and allow the dogs to stay free, we decided to hike down the Slims River back to the Alaska Highway. By staying to the east we should be able ro stay out of the dust storm.
We didn’t know what to make of this orange stain in a minor channel of Vulcan Creek. Is it natural, or something flowing from the US Army site from 70 years ago? We’d didn’t see it anywhere else so I unfortunately think it’s the latter.
I sometimes go for fairly long periods without shooting many detail photos, but the Slims River hike provided lots of subjects. Dried silt in many forms, and plants – it’s fascinating terrain…
The kids were having a ball exploring! 🙂
As we got closer to the highway and Kluane Lake, the gradient of the river lessened, and there was more variety along the banks.
This spring came out of nowhere, and had a good flow of clear water.
A steep bank forced up into the brush for a few hundred meters but the walking was still easy.
Whoops! Adam found that piece of ground wasn’t nearly as solid as it looked.
Sam and I found routes where we didn’t sink into the muck nearly as much 🙂
After that, Tucker and I stayed on the high, dry ground for a while.
We got back to the car at about 4:00. On the drive back to the campground, we stopped at the boat launch to wash off the mud all 6 of us had accumulated.
My regular readers may have noticed that we haven’t been out in the motorhome much this year. There’s a lot going on, but last Friday we finally got away to Kluane Lake for a much-needed break.
After a few delays (I had initially planned on going out Tuesday), the fur-kids and I left home at about 10:30. Cathy would come out to join us that evening after work. The first photo was shot west of Whitehorse right at Km 1446 of the Alaska Highway (measured from Dawson Creek, BC).
The rest area at Km 1566, just east of Haines Junction, is a common photo stop for me (and dog-walk spot). After a long spell of wet weather, the warm sun was sure welcome!
I posted the next photo on Facebook with the comment “In a few minutes we’ll have no phone or internet until Monday afternoon. #Yukon quiet…”
We reached Congdon Creek Campground just after 1:00. I thought we would have no chance of getting one of the lakefront sites, but one of our favourite sites was available and we were soon set up.
After some beach play and a nap, we went back to a beach with fine gravel that would be more fun to play on. The water level of Kluane Lake seems to be still dropping slightly – that gravel bar is new this year.
That beach was great to walk and play ball on, and we spent an hour or so there.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at another beach where a creek was pouring a lot of silt into the lake.
Tucker enjoyed chasing his ball down the creek 🙂
That water is as pure as it looks. I wish it was a whole lot warmer, though – I’d sure like to be able to swim in it!
Looking west at Km 1662. There was a Trumpeter swan feeding in the lake there, where a growing sandbar is creating a nice sheltered area for them.
A large storm cloud caught my attention as I was about to turn into the campground, and I decided to drive a few miles further to get some photos of it and other clouds forming over the lake to the west.
That extra few miles turned out to get me more than some cloud photos! Cathy and I have been watching these two grizzlies for 3 years now, since about 3 weeks after they were born up Congdon Creek somewhere. This is their first summer without mom, and will probably be their last summer together. It’s been wonderful watching them grow up.
Cathy arrived much later than I’d expected, and then friends from Whitehorse arrived with their 3 dogs, who are pretty much part of our pack. Molly (the cat) likes to pretend that she doesn’t like Rosie, but I think she’s still just making sure Rosie knows who’s boss 🙂
Saturday morning was grooming day for Bella, and when Adam saw the big pile of her wool beside the picnic table, he decided to strip some of Rosie’s. Bella enjoys it – Rosie not so much! 🙂
After it was all done, we could have knitted a new dog about Tucker’s size! 🙂
Much of the rest of Saturday was taken up by a hike up the Slims River that I’ll tell you about in the next post.
Going by the weather forecast, I had expected Sunday morning to be not very nice, so this view out the RV kitchen window was very welcome.
We had some great beach plays with the dogs on Sunday. Well, 4 of the dogs – the fifth one is 17 years old and his play days are pretty much over, though he does get silly occasionally. A dog from the camp site next door joined us for a while, too.
After our friends departed in the early afternoon, Cathy and I decided to hike the Soldiers Summit trail again. The smell of the wild roses at the trailhead was wonderful!
The wind was very strong and was creating quite a dust storm out on the Slims River flats, but most the the trail is fairly sheltered from the wind.
We walked past the Soldiers Summit commemorative site, out to the highest point on the old road. Few people go that far, but the views from there are spectacular.
The wind there made staying unpleasant so we quickly retraced our steps.
The next photo shows the commemorative site which is most people’s destination.
Parks Canada’s red chairs – red Adirondack chairs set in particularly quiet and scenic locations all over Canada – provided a perfect location to enjoy the majesty of this place.
Far below us, the dust storm got really wild at times – not a good day to hike out to Fish Heart Island!
We watched a small band of Dall sheep – 3 ewes and 2 lambs – walk across a slope high above us on Sheep Mountain.
We love Kluane Lake. The power of this place is so incredible when you slow down and pay attention.
We made a stop at another beach on the way back to the campground. It was too windy to really spend much time there, but we both got the same feeling about this spot…
We haven’t spread our husky Monty’s ashes yet – the right place and time has just not happened. But I brought “glass Monty” with me on this trip because he loved Kluane Lake, and we’ve now decided that this is where we’ll have that memorial next time we’re out.
Cathy went home Sunday night, but the kids and I stayed at Kluane that night. When it started raining lightly the next morning, we headed home, too.
I made a quick trip to Skagway last Wednesday, mostly to pick up some shirts I’d ordered. The weather forecast wasn’t great but any drive through the mountains to Skagway is a good drive.
Going through the summit area, the scenery wasn’t as spectacular as it is some days 🙂 – I used to hate doing “fog tours” when I was driving those busses.
My first stop was at the post office. All 3 shirts had been stuffed into my PO box – that saved some time as there was a lineup at the counter.
I then headed down to the docks. There were 3 large cruise ships in, and the highway and town were both busy. Norwegian Bliss was the largest of them – she carries 4,002 passengers at double occupancy, plus 1,700 crew members, and can go a fair bit higher with kids etc. bringing occupancy above 2 per cabin.
Celebrity Millennium carries 2,218 passengers at double occupancy plus 1,050 crew members. Cathy and I and 4 friends did an Alaska cruise on “Millie” in June 2012 and we loved the ship.
Royal Princess carries 3,560 passengers at double occupancy plus 1,350 crew members. So on the 3 ships there would be 9,780 passengers at double occupancy plus 4,100 crew members. In a town with a population of just over 1,000 people…
I saw some action over at the airport, so that was the next stop. This 1980 Cessna T207A Turbo Stationair 8, N1301L, is registered to a numbered corporation in Juneau so I don’t know what it was doing.
It was actually this 1956 de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Mk 1 Beaver, N2400F, that attracted me to the strip. Operated by Mountain Flying Service in Haines (Paul and Amy Swanstrom), it was probably going for a flightseeing trip to Glacier Bay.
As Alaska Seaplanes’ Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N750KP, landed on a flight from Juneau, the Beaver was taking off.
A better look at the Grand Caravan as it taxied to the terminal.
I was soon headed north. Clearing Customs was quick and simple as usual, and a few minutes later I stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge to talk to the staff and get a few photos. The company has been offering people who are using “Murray’s Guide” to explore the highway a discount on admission, and I wanted to make sure that they’re still happy with that arrangement – they are 🙂
As well as the great views from the bridge high above the Tutshi River, there are excellent interpretive displays. I had planned on having lunch there, but the restaurant is now only for the bus tours which bring most of their visitors.
Driving along Tutshi Lake, I witnessed the most disgraceful driving I’ve ever seen by a Skagway tour van. That dark blue van is STOPPED in the middle of the highway on a blind corner, watching a bear!! I didn’t see a company name. If I find out who it is I’ll be filing a formal complaint. It’s bad enough when tourists do that, but for a commercial operator whose job is to keep people safe, it’s absolutely unacceptable.
Continuing on, I made a short stop at Michelle Phillips’ mushing operation, Tutshi Sleddog Tours, just to watch the action. Happy huskies make me smile 🙂
Part of the fun of seeing the dogs is hearing them! I love husky singing.
On the way south, I had noticed that another piece of the roof of the Venus mill has collapsed, so I stopped to get a few photos, just from the highway. When I posted this photo at the Yukon History and Abandoned Places group, somebody said it would make a good puzzle. So I made a 300-piece puzzle at jigsawplanet.com.
I rarely buy clothes, especially online, but I’ll show you the results of the funny mood I was in a few weeks ago. The next photo shows the amazing shirt that started me off 🙂 I still haven’t got the wrinkles out – I guess it needs to be ironed 🙁
Then, a couple of “statement” tshirts – “Rescued is my favorite breed”…
and “Cameras make me happy, humans make my head hurt” 🙂
A bad case of writer’s block put me a month behind on the blog, but I think I’m just going to skip most of what happened during that month as far as blogging goes, and move on. Yesterday, the Pride Parade was held in Whitehorse, and it was extremely well attended – by far the best ever from what I’ve heard. This was the first one I had attended, because I’m rarely home in June, but it won’t be the last.
The weather looked ominous, and everybody expected that we’d get hit by a nasty storm, but it never happened, though there was some distant lightning and thunder, and a few drops of rain. We’ve been getting a lot of violent afternoon storms for the past week or so – very unusual for the area.
The parade route was a mile long. I parked at the end, Shipyards Park, and walked to the staging area at the top of Main Street. Setup was to start at 12:45 but when I arrived at 12:20, there were already lots of people getting ready.
This musical float was circling the area entertaining people.
Unicorns in many forms were a very popular item to bring, for both marchers and onlookers 🙂
The 3 paramedics and their 2 vehicles – the supervisor’s truck and an ambulance – were well decked out. The uniform enhancements were especially wonderful.
The area rapidly got more and more colourful as people and floats kept arriving. I was starting to feel left out, with no good gear.
The Parks Canada mascot, Parka, arrived with 2 ranger escorts.
As the 1:15 parade start time neared, I went up to 3rd and Main where there are a couple of rainbow crosswalks that would make great foregrounds. I was hoping they’d be repainted for the event, but no such luck. Right on time, here they come 🙂
There were organized groups from banks and other businesses, unions, and a wide range of organizations, as well as plenty of independent folks of all ages lending support.
In the 30 years I’ve been here, I’ve always seen the Yukon as being exceptionally open to any lifestyle, and people can be whatever they want to be. What used to be known as the gay or LGB community is large and increasingly active, in Whitehorse particularly. I see that the initials have now grown in some quarters to LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) but really, can’t we all just get along? When I posted the initials, I initially left out the “A” for “ally” as I recently saw that lead to plenty of nasty online commentary, but then I put it back in because it is what it is.
Queer Yukon has been organizing Yukon Pride for the past 7 years. The parade this year is the highlight of a 6-day series of events called “24 Hours of Gaylight: Yukon Pride”. As of last year, Queer Yukon is a registered Society that “supports, promotes, and organizes events for the LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies in Whitehorse”.
Okay, let’s get back to the fun stuff! The musicians were still hard at it. The “CMHA” stands for the Canadian Mental Health Association, a supporter of Pride events across the country.
This is the age I like to see people understand what acceptance really looks like. Nice work, parents 🙂
This marcher/dancer with lots of colour, a big unicorn, and a bubble-blower got my vote as the person having the most fun in the parade 🙂
More photos of the Yukon EMS (Emergency Medical Services) supervisor’s truck just because they were so awesome 🙂
The almost-life-size pink moose was my favourite creation.
There weren’t many guys being risqué – thumbs up to construction-dude (and the big guy on the Sourdough Rendezvous float)!
They were even handing out rainbow candy! Well, sorta rainbow 🙂
At the foot of Main, the parade split up, with marchers going down the waterfront trail and floats continuing on the roads.
I met a couple of friends along the waterfront trail – Lucky Marshall and his mom. Thanks for the great photo, Sue! There aren’t many places in the Yukon I can wear my silk Tommy Bahama shirt 🙂
Shipyards Park was the end of Pride Parade and the start of the party. The loop around the park where everyone gathered was called “Fruit Loop” for the event! I was hoping there would be a sign 🙂 Talking to Whitehorse Star photographer Vince Fedoroff at the park, I said “remember how frustrating it was to have to shoot even events like this in black-and-white for the newspaper?” Colour film would be mandatory here!
Haha – one more photo of it!
The party was going full-tilt when I headed home. Every now and then something happens that makes me particularly proud of this town. This was one of those days. The turnout for the Pride Parade, and the spirit shown by everyone, was incredible. You looked fabulous, Whitehorse!
I spent a while on Amazon when I got home. Next year I’m going to have some great gear for the parade, and a neighbour has offered to help with stuff from her “Tickle Trunk”! 🙂
On the way home to the Yukon from a family event on Vancouver Island, I took an extra day so I could visit a couple of cemeteries in the Fraser Valley where grandparents and a great-grandmother are buried.
Though neither of us are interested in “gambling” (a.k.a. “donating money to some large corporation” 🙂 ), the location of the River Rock Casino Resort made it a good choice for our one-night stay.
As I mentioned in the last post, our room at the River Rock was great for plane-watching – traffic for runway 26R passed right over us, and with Flight24Radar I could see the aircraft approaching and get the aircraft identification.
Cathy and I had a lazy morning, then checked out and started driving to Coquitlam just after 10:00. The first cemetery I wanted to re-visit was the Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery, where Dad’s maternal grandmother, Maria Wahlberg, was one of the first 25 burials. The cemetery is very nice.
I particularly liked the memorial wall. We need such a structure in Whitehorse, and I keep an eye out for designs I like.
Dad and I had visited his grandmother’s grave in 2013 – his first visit since she died, and my first visit ever. At that time, the grave had no marker but Dad had ordered one. Dad had huge respect for her, crediting her with pretty much raising him while his parents both worked.
Maria’s plot is one of the nicest in the cemetery, backing onto a thick natural forest, and with a bench. With the photos I shot this day, I was able to enhance Maria’s memorial page at Find A Grave.
From there we drove out to the Newton district of Surrey, where my paternal grandparents are buried at Valley View Memorial Gardens. I had visited the cemetery last September but was unable to find their graves. Following that, I had been in contact with the cemetery office, and a nice young man drove us in a golf cart out to the right area. With a bit of searching, we were able to find their graves, which are in the lower left of the next photo.
I had never visited their graves before, nor had any of my siblings. I wasn’t even sure that their graves had markers, as I remember the conflict between Mom and Dad over the cost of them. It was a great relief to find that they did, partly because I was going to order markers if there weren’t. Memories of my grandparents came flooding back – for most of the time I was growing up, they lived just a few doors away so I saw them often. When we moved from Coquitlam to Surrey in 1956, so did they.
After going back to the car, I wasn’t completely happy with the way the visit had gone, so I returned to the office, got a paper cup for water, and returned to clean their markers and get better photos. When I returned home, I was able to create memorial pages at Find A Grave for both Jentina Charlotte Wahlberg Lundberg and Erik Mauritz Lundberg. Neither of them had even been listed there before.
My flight back to Whitehorse wasn’t until 8:15 pm, so from cemeteries,Cathy and I continued visiting sites from my past. The next stop was White Rock, where I spent a lot of time because my family owned a kayak rental on the beach in the early ’60s. While a lot has changed, of course, the basic look has changed little.
From there we continued on to Crescent Beach, which is a much quieter place now that when I was in my teens and 20s. Other than the lovely park out at the spit which used to be party central, the community has changed very little. We spent a long time there, just sitting on a bench watching the world go by.
Returning to the Vancouver airport at about 5 pm, Cathy took the Canada Line downtown for her conference, and I killed time by watching airplanes and looking at some of the wonderful art that YVR has so much of.
I was flying Air North (of course!) but had checked in online so didn’t need to go to their counter.
I’ve always loved “The Flying Traveller”, a cast fiberglass piece created especially for YVR by Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent in 1996. I rarely get stressed by travel, but I occasionally see people who look rather like that as they’re rushing for their gate 🙂
Ten minutes after takeoff, over the aptly-named Sunshine Coast. It might be worth noting that no filters or special gimmicks of any kind were used to get this photo – that’s what we saw. Ahhhhhh….
Flying north feels even better to me than flying south does. Same incredible mountains and always headed for more adventures, but different.
I shot the next photo just before 9:00 pm – shortly after, the peaks got hidden by clouds and I went to sleep.
Getting ready to land in Whitehorse at 10:40 pm.
Our wonderful house-sitter had stayed until I was home. As always, the fur-kids were happy and the house was spotless. It had been a perfect few days, but now there were plenty of things to do closer to home.
Monday, May 6 was our last full day on Vancouver Island, and beaches were our focus for that afternoon and the next morning. Then we packed up and flew in a Harbour Air float plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver for a one-night visit.
After leaving the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre just after 3:00 pm, we returned to Qualicum Beach to take a walk on the beach.
The beach was once again nearly empty – I expect that in a few weeks it won’t be this quiet.
There was a bit of sea grass and other vegetation in a few places that created some wonderful patterns.
We only stayed for half an hour or so, then drove back to our cottage a few miles away.
Sunset that night at the Seaview Beach Resort was lovely, and sunrise the next morning was spectacular. The next photo was shot at 05:33.
Cathy and I spent a long time trying to figure out a fin that very slowly cruised back and forth past our cottage. As we were leaving, the manager told us it was the flipper of a lounging sea lion.
At 10:00 we had one last look around the cottage and started the drive back to Nanaimo. The Seaview Beach Resort had been absolutely perfect for this family gathering and for chilling after.
The Harbour Air base in the harbour in downtown Nanaimo.
Walking to our aircraft at 11:38. C-FHAD is a 1956 De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter. This aircraft, Otter #119, has had a very colourful history, including serving with the US Army in Vietnam for a few years, then as a bush plane in Quebec.
Right at the scheduled 11:45, we were away for the 20-minute flight back to Vancouver. Downtown Nanaimo and the waterfront have seen dramatic changes over the past 30 years or so, all of them positive from a visitor’s perspective.
In the centre of the next photo is the large BC Ferries dock. This was our first trip to Vancouver Island using floatplanes rather than the ferries – it certainly won’t be our last.
There are some very cool islands in the Salish Sea. This one, Snake Island, is particularly intriguing. It sure looks like you could land a small bush plane on that strip of grass 🙂
Fourteen minutes after taking off from Nanaimo, we passed over the are where the muddy water from the Fraser River meets the clear salty waters of the Salish Sea.
This is a view of YVR I’d never had before.
The Harbour Air base on the Frase River.
On the downwind leg of the landing circuit, about to turn onto the base leg.
Strong winds made the landing pretty rough.
As we taxied past, Seair Seaplanes was just launching C-FDHC, their gorgeous Turbo Beaver.
I had rented a car for my activities the following day, and that turned out to be more complicated than expected. I rented for pickup at the South Terminal, where the float plane base is, but Budget doesn’t actually have any cars there. So we took Harbour Air’s shuttle to the main terminal, got our car, and made the short drive to the River Rock Casino Resort, where we had reservations for one night.
Our room at the River Rock was great for plane-watching – traffic for runway 26R passed right over us, and with Flight24Radar I got the aircraft identification.
All of the food venues at the River Rock were either closed or didn’t appeal to us, so we drove into the commercial heart of Richmond and had an excellent dinner. The next day, after visiting some graves of my family members, Cathy would move into downtown Vancouver for a conference and I’d fly home to Whitehorse.
On May 6th, following breakfast and an outing to Little Mountain with family, Cathy and made the short drive to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA) at Errington. I’ve taken a particular interest in since a friend started working there after moving from Dawson Creek.
When we pulled into the parking lot, the first thing I noticed was the great wraps on their vehicles. Those would be hard to miss on the road.
Although we went in through a back gate because of a culvert being replaced in the driveway, this is where visitors normally arrive at the facility. The sign in the middle says “Please take injured wildlife to the drop-off area.”
This is normally the entrance to the 8-acre property. Admission is $15 for adults, $6 for children 4-12, and little ones get to visit for free.
This photo is out of order, too, but a map of the property is a good way to start this photo-tour of it.
The birth of NIWRA goes back to Christmas Day, 1984, when Robin Campbell discovered a Great Horned Owl entangled in a neighbour’s fence, its wing mangled and in need of emergency care. Robin and his wife Sylvia cared for the owl, soon took on more injured birds and animals, and started the Buckley Bay Wildlife Recovery Centre. Two years later, they moved to the current property at Errington and changed the name to North Island Wildlife Recovery Association. After finding my friend Joyce Lee, who is now the Administrative Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, she took us to meet Robin, and we had a brief chat. He and Sylvia, who we met later during our visit, are both still very active in the centre’s operations 35 years after starting it.
We began our tour in the impressive Museum of Nature, the second-largest building on the property.
It was wonderful to see Joyce again. We first met in Dawson Creek when she was at the Visitor Centre there. My at-least-annual visits to explore and research for ExploreNorth and Destination BC got longer and longer, and when she and her husband moved to the Island to semi-retire, I didn’t know that I’d ever see her again. But once she started worked at NIRWA, seeing her passion for the place on Facebook, this visit was a must 🙂
The quality of the taxidermy in the museum is quite exceptional.
Having been involved in a few over the years, how non-profits get funding always interests me. I quickly learned that NIRWA is run largely by volunteers and gets no core funding from government. It fluctuates, but on average there are less than 10 paid staff members and almost 100 volunteers. Knowing that made what we would see and hear about during the tour even more impressive.
We watched Teresa, one of the volunteers, patiently glove-training an owl so it can take part in educational programs.
There is a very well-equipped veterinary hospital equipped to deal with most injuries. Vets are on call when needed.
Their eagle flight cage (measuring 140′ x 30′ x 20′) is the largest of its kind in Canada. Allowing the birds to regain muscle strength after an injury (often from being hit by vehicles) is crucial to being able to release them back into the wild.
This poster of Robin and a bald eagle is on display in the upstairs viewing at the eagle flight cage.
Also at the eagle flight cage is this bank of monitors looking at the various bear areas, some of which we’d see later.
A recent arrival was this raven who was brought in and found to be blind. He certainly wouldn’t survive much longer in the wild, so he’ll be a permanent resident, and staff is experimenting with ways to keep him happy and healthy.
Some of the displays, like this Mounted Police cabin, were a surprise, but I’m sure are a wonderful way to keep younger visitors in particular engaged.
Joyce had to get back to work, and long-time volunteer Dave Erickson took over guiding us. Let’s go see some bears!
Bears require a great deal of special care and facilities, and it wasn’t until 1997 that NIRWA started accepting them. The center has now spent about $430,000 to construct a bear nursery, clinic, examining rooms, rehab area, play areas, a pre-release enclosure and a 120′ x 120′ enclosure with a cave, pond, and a feeding chute. Major funding for this project came from the late Arthur Knowles, the Donner Canadian Foundation and an anonymous donor. The bears seem to be a particular soft spot for Dave 🙂
He wasn’t there, but Bill Helin is currently the Aboriginal Artist in Residence at NIWRA, working on carvings, paintings, and educational programs.
A snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus), a rather uncommon visitor to BC. Biologists aren’t sure why they come south from their normal Arctic home, but it happens on a 4-5-year cycle that may be linked to changes in the northern rodent population.
A gorgeous Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) named Elvis. It was taken illegally from the wild as a chick and kept as a pet. When neighbours reported it, it was confiscated and brought to the centre. Because it never learned to hunt, it is a permanent resident. Sad stories like this are an important part of NIRWA’s educational programs and tours.
There are also displays about trash – showing the damage we’re doing to the ecosystems the animals live in.
Ravens (Corvus corax) are one of my favourite birds – they are incredibly intelligent and can be real characters. The raven enclosure in the next photo is loaded with all manner of interesting things to keep the bird active.
I think this is a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus).
We passed by the intensive care facility without comment – I don’t even want to know what goes on in there 🙁
There were a few different types of ducks in this pen, brought here for a wide range of reasons.
The further we got into the property, the more I was reminded of the Driving Creek Railway and Potteries in New Zealand. There, too, whimsical works of art are scattered all over the property. This 7-foot-tall turkey is wonderful! 🙂
Easter Island moai? Sure, why not 🙂
Andrew Cotton is the full-time maintenance guy and groundskeeper, and is doing wonderful work. The property is not only immaculate, there are some really unique landscaping features like this massive stump and root mass.
“Dan’s Nook” Wildlife Garden has a wide variety of plants designed to attract butterflies in particular.
This part of the Wildlife Garden focusses on aquatic plants.
The next photos shows the main outdoor presentation area for educational programs.
A large pond at the back of the property is home to turtles and ducks and whoever else happens by. Efforts are being made to stop large toads from happening by, as they eat some of the other residents.
Here’s a broader look at the pond, with it’s benches, fountains, and artwork.
The beautiful 40-foot-long Ravensong Canoe, carved by Bill Helin in 1993, and a cedar log that he has begun to carve into another canoe. A 4-minute video on Youtube shows more of the Ravensong’s story, and her voyage to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Even the power boxes are cool!
Back to the turkey pen. I could do a separate tour just on the art and the funky/unique structures and landscaping.
For days when it’s not sunny and warm as it was when Cathy and I visited, this building provides a comfortable place for the educational programs.
The final bird we visited was a bald eagle named Sandor, another permanent resident with a great home.
We spent over 2 hours at the centre. To say I’m impressed is an understatement. Before leaving, we adopted Sandor through their Care Shares program. No, he didn’t come home with us! This is a symbolic adoption to help with his care.
A week or so later, we got a certificate and other information about Sandor in the mail. It’s probably a good thing the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is so far away – I’d sure like to be a volunteer there! 🙂
This was wonderful way to end our visit to the Nanaimo area – the next morning, we’d start for home.
Our May 3-7 visit to Qualicum Beach, BC, for my eldest sister’s 75th birthday was mostly about family, which I won’t say much about except that it was wonderful.
On Friday, our arrival day, we just went into Qualicum Beach and did some grocery shopping, then went back to our cottage at the Seaview Beach Resort and enjoyed the views and great vibe.
On Saturday, we went to The Shady Rest restaurant on the waterfront in Qualicum Beach for an excellent early-lunch. The beach and the restaurant were both very quiet but I expect this place hops when it warms up.
The birthday celebration began early Saturday afternoon. It was a surprise party, and Val’s reaction was beyond perfect. Nobody said anything when she walked into the banquet room at the Canadian Legion near her home in Bowser, we just let her slowly recognize people. After dinner, we managed to get everyone out back for a group photo. When over 50 people from all over North America, from the Yukon to Ottawa to California, will show up for your birthday, I’d say you’ve led a good life. Most of the people in this photo are descendants of my father and his two wives.
Family members had booked all 4 beachfront cottages and a couple of others in the back at the Seaview Beach Resort, and we had a great evening around a campfire.
The spectacular sunset was quite a bonus, and we watched one of the first Alaska cruise ships of the season, the Nieuw Amsterdam, sail by.
The next photo shows family members chatting on Sunday morning as most of them prepared to head home. The Seaview, which Cathy had initially found, turned out to be as perfect a place as we could have imagined for an event like this.
Cathy and I just chilled for the rest of Sunday. We’re both very much drawn by the sea, and this location was superb.
Each evening, bunnies would come out in front of our cottage.
On Monday morning, a few of us gathered for breakfast, then one of my nieces led us to Little Mountain, a spectacular location near Parksville, just a few miles away. Being a weekday early in the season, we were able to drive up to the tiny parking area at the top – on a summer weekend, it’s quite a hike up. In this next photo is a grandniece I had never met before. This birthday celebration was the largest gathering of the clan ever 🙂
I love arbutus trees (Arbutus menziesii), and there are lots of them at Little Mountain.
The cliffs at Little Mountain have claimed a few lives in accidents and suicides. It was very easy to see why. A fence along the cliff edges was removed because it was found that it would encourage certain people to climb over it, increasing the danger.
Cathy and I had a 1:00 appointment for a tour of the nearby North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. It was so awesome that it gets its own post, which will be next.
From the wildlife centre, we went back to the beach at Qualicum Beach, and spent a while just wandering on the sand.
If we were still looking for places other than Whitehorse we might be able to live, Qualicum Beach would be on that list 🙂
“Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 05:22” says the next photo’s metadata. I shot a lot of photos of this glorious sunrise that went on and on and on.
Cathy and I couldn’t figure out the fin she’s watching in the next photo. The cottage manager told us as we were leaving that it was a sea lion lounging on his side.
One more look around our lovely little cottage just before 10:00, and it was time to make the drive back to Nanaimo for our flight back to the mainland, where we’d spent another night.
On May 3rd, Cathy and I flew and drove to Qualicum Beach to attend a surprise party for my eldest sister’s 75th birthday. It was a wonderful 6-day trip – this is the first of 4 fairly brief (well, brief for me 🙂 ) blog posts about it.
We were on the 07:00 Air North flight out of Whitehorse to start the trip. It was uneventful, with clouds most of the way, even descending into Vancouver – I only shot 3 photos, in the Tweedsmuir Park area.
The Harbour Air shuttle from the main terminal at YVR to the South Terminal arrived very quickly, and we soon had our boarding passes for the 20-minute flight to Nanaimo harbour. This was flying the way it used to be – great service, no security, no long waits…
A couple of minutes before 11:00, we were out on the Fraser River in a DHC-6 de Havilland Twin Otter, which seats up to 19 passengers…
Right at our scheduled 11:00 departure time, we lifted off the water. It was wonderful getting this new perspective on getting across the Strait of Georgia – all my previous crossings had been by ferry.
At low tide, the islands in the foreground are connected – Mudge Island on the right, and Link Island on the left. In the distance is little Round Island, and Vancouver Island.
Dodd Narrows, at the west end of Mudge Island, can be a challenging transit.
This is the Nanaimo Forest Products operation, including the Harmac Pulp Mill at the far side of the property.
The Nanaimo River estuary is a log booming area as well as a vibrant ecosystem. In June 2017 we had a good look at it when we spent 2 nights at the Living Forest Oceanside Campground, which overlooks it.
This is the cruise ship port at Nanaimo. They did a great job on it but it has pretty much failed. Dad and I docked there while we were on a cruise on the Norwegian Sun in 2013, but large ships were already giving up on Nanaimo because of passenger complaints that there’s nothing to do there. This year, only 3 small ships are visiting – the Azamara Quest, Silver Explorer, and Silver Muse.
Downtown Nanaimo, 19 minutes after lifting off the water at Vancouver. In the foreground are 3 new coastal spill response boats. Built in Singapore for Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, they just arrived in late February. Unfortunately, they were built to support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which has been cancelled. So here the 300-tonne vessels – which cost $5.8-million each – sit for the foreseeable future.
We had booked a Budget rental car through Harbour Air. We called Budget from a direct-line phone in the Harbour Air office, and a shuttle driver showed up very quickly to take us a mile or so to their office.
By about 1:00, we had made the easy 52-km drive to Seaview Beach Resort in Qualicum Beach, and were settled in to a lovely little beachfront cottage for a 4-night stay. The final photo shows the view from our cottage.
A couple of weeks ago (April 30th), I was working around the house doing various projects. Every time I went outside the sun got warmer and warmer, and I finally decided that I needed to get out hiking and soak up more of those rays. The Venus mine was the destination of choice, and just before noon, I was on my way south.
At 1:40 I was parked at the trailhead, near Km 82 of the South Klondike Highway. The first photo is looking north. Starting up the old road, I noted that there was a new chain and lock on the gate. Interesting…
The road has seen some traffic recently, and I wondered if I might meet someone up ahead. It’s a nice hike, with a reasonable grade and spectacular views across Windy Arm of Tagish Lake.
The next photo is looking north, but looking back down the road after making a switchback. The land sticking out into the lake is the delta of Pooley Creek.
The view to the south, again looking back down the road after making another switchback. The Yukon/BC border goes across Windy Arm just this side of the curve in the lake.
Less than 20 minutes into the hike, the destination, the 1906 working of the Venus silver mine, could be seen directly ahead, though there was a lot of vertical to come.
My plan was to hike to the mine on my usual route, which is pretty much vertical, then come down via the road/trail that a friend and I had hiked last July.
From the 1970s mine manager’s office, the 1906 workings can be seen above, marked by the arrow. My unmarked vertical route starts just north of this building, the only one remaining on the property.
The rock outcropping to the left is my landmark to start climbing, first scrambling up from the mine road, going across the slope to this outcropping, then straight up just past it.
The straight-up route eventually intersects a trail from 1905-1906, and it leads across the slope to the mine.
In photos the trail is barely visible, and caution is needed while on unstable rock. Below the trail in the next photo, the collapsed bunkhouse/cookhouse can be seen.
The collapsed bunkhouse/cookhouse, and a tower for the aerial tramway that connected the mine to the mill that still stands on the shore of Windy Arm.
The final 50 feet or so up to the mine entrance is quite treacherous, over pieces of steel and century-old wood. This is not a place for kids or dogs. The building in the next photo was the blacksmith shop. I reached the mine at 3:05, an hour and 25 minutes after leaving the car.
While the adit looks solid as far as you can see, I’ve never gone in more than 50-60 feet. Having worked underground at Granduc copper, I have great respect for such places.
Ore cars were run out on this trestle, dumped into two storage bins below, and from there the ore went into the buckets on the aerial tramway.
The next photo is a good overall view of the workings, looking south. There used to be a rail line from the mine to where I was standing, but it has slid down the slope in recent years.
If you fell here, I don’t know if you could stop yourself from sliding on that extremely steep slope of mine waste. The mill can be seen on the lakeshore near the upper centre.
Remains of an ancient shovel. It’s about the only artifact left – 25 years ago, there were lots of tools and pieces of equipment laying around.
I explored around the mine for half an hour then started down. What a stunning place!
Rockhounding around all of the Montana Mountain mines is quite good. This bed of quartz crystals is a beauty.
It only took 20 minutes to get back down to the 1970s Venus workings. A lot of cleanup was done here about a decade ago, but a lot of stuff was piled up but not hauled away.
The main adit was sealed but is now open a bit. A monitor for little brown bats was at the mouth of it for a while in recent years.
I got back to the car at 4:10 – 2½ hours in total. From there, it’s not easy to get down to the lakeshore, but I wanted some new photos of the mill from that angle, and the ice intrigued me. Some rock scrambling and bushwhacking got me there.
In the spring, the ice turns into long slender “candles” – I threw some rocks to break pieces off.
It was much too cold to go swimming, of course, but ahhhhh that water felt good!
I had to go in to get some candle ice to show you.
Candle ice is made up of candles as long as the ice is thick – so can be several inches long. When breakup happens, the candles sound rather like wind chimes as they bump into each other. I shot a video of it at Carcross 5 years so you can hear the sound – it’s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASmIsh-q68w.
I headed home just after 5:00, very pleased with the way the day had gone. I had planned to have a new edition of my book about the Venus and other mines in the area out about now, but too many things got in the way. Oh well – some day…
On the way home, I stopped at Nares Lake at Carcross. At low water levels like we have now, it looks more like Nares Meadow.