Category Archives: Travel

Camping With Typewriter

We had 5 days out camping around Southern Vancouver Island. On day 1, before we got to out first destination we stopped for lunch then went to a thrift store nearby, where I bought a typewriter for $10. I hadn’t thought to bring one along with me, but this seemed like an omen. If it wasn’t for that I would not have written these two poems. I present their edited versions, and some pictures. We had a variety of geography on this voyage, from the ocean to a lake to the alpine zone. Lucky for us to live so close to all this!

Underwood 378 – $10 cheap!

First stop was an ocean-side camp at a rocky beach called French Beach. We camped in the forest of tall trees, and rode our bikes down the road to the beach where we swam in the frigid water in wet-suits. This was on the Juan de Fuca Strait, looking across at Washington and the Olympic Mountains.

French Beach

Ocean Beach Summer Night

Briefly a rush of truck tires from the road nearby
Then a softer sigh, we look to the sky
A raven so black whooshes through the air
Voyaging from perch to perch in treetop bare
Campers pass soundlessly with dogs
None barking, quiet like beach logs
Tiny flies flit there and here
End up dead in our beer
We pick them out and drink up
We have no fear

Next to us the water tap and garbage bins
Two outhouses, one women’s, one men’s
Through the trees waves endlessly pound rocks
Where earlier we stood without socks
Watched them rolling thunderously, splash
Sometimes offset, sometimes one great crash

A zipper dumping energy like a long liquid spear
Which makes its mark and instantly disappears
To reappear in the following frame
Tag for the ocean is a favorite game
Any hour may bring change
Fast, unpredictable as a sneeze
But tonight there is a warm breeze
And the happy waves play without fights
Like children do on summer nights

djn
August 28 2017
French Beach, BC

Up the road a ways we camped on another coast, beside the air force. Jets and big choppers were flying around. We were on the inland waters, looking eastward into the endless mountain ranges of British Columbia. Some of the most inaccessible territory on the planet, yet so close by. There are no roads north from there, no “civilization” for hundred of miles, only countless square miles of forest and mountains.

Kin Beach

The Force Is With Us

Roaring jets remind us how
Beside this camp an air force lurks
Ever ready to strike if called
Who or what we don’t ask
Sitting in this field of grass

Writing, reading as the sun sets
another long day in the car
another camping meal enjoyed
chirping crickets and songs of birds
announce the end of their day
chirping and hunting for prey

the road gets longer year by year
how long it seemed to get here
travelling is not so easily done
a short trip is as hard as a long one
or are we weary from the sun?

still, we do enjoy these camps
discovering new places like tramps
later we remember them again
forgetting how we endured pain
remembering sunshine forgetting rain

fondly recalling pleasures from simple things
reading by lantern light and optical illusions
playing cards against a chain link fence
warm nights and stars, noises from cars
snuggling into a narrow bed, banging your head

tired and dirty we are now
in a day or two we’ll have forgotten how
we walked across a field before bed
felt the cold descending, instead
sitting inside on comfortable chairs
do the wash, arrange socks in pairs
go upstairs to bed, turn on a light
lie inside the covers, say goodnight
set the alarm, close our eyes
sleep to be awoken by surprise

djn
August 30 2017
Kin Beach, Comox, BC

From here we made a day trip to hike in alpine meadows. Driving from the beach we looked ahead across the valley to a huge glacier on top of the mountain. Once in the alpine we walked through a pristine wilderness of forests, lakes and meadows full of berries and flowers. Then a rescue helicopter arrived to help an older lady who was backing up to take a picture and fell off the boardwalk, breaking something in her shoulder. A strange sight to see a chopper setting down between tall trees into a tiny clearing.

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Filed under Great Hikes, Photography, Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Travel, Typewriters, Wildlife

On Tour Sketchbook

We just did the fairly annual week of the Juan de Fuca Festival in Port Angeles, followed by a few days off camping.

Leroy Bell

Leroy Bell

The festival was great this year; we saw many amazing acts, like Leroy Bell here, an amazing songwriter and singer.

wide beaches here

wide beaches

Then we headed off to the wild Pacific coast to camp.

did I mention you can drive on this beach?

did I mention you can drive on this beach?

June is never particularly warm around here, but we lucked out for a few days with lots of sunshine. I swam in Lake Quinault, which was freezing cold, but after a while I just went numb to it and it was wonderful.

Lake Quinalt

Lake Quinault

There weren’t any good typewriters in the few antique shops I found, but there was an interesting old LC Smith on display in Olympic Stationers in P.A.

LC Smith with right hand return lever

LC Smith with right hand return lever

When it isn’t raining the beaches are wonderful.

famous weird tree

famous weird tree at Kalaloch

interesting heap of debris

interesting heap of debris

sandpipers

sandpipers

We always love to see restored vintage camp trailers like this one, an old Shasta.

Shasta trailer

Shasta trailer

Saw a lovely butterfly, too.

DSCN3310

I regret not doing more sketching, but with driving, cooking & eating, sleeping late and general laziness I only had time for a few watercolours.

village scene

village scene

windmills from the beach

windmills from the beach

closed but rumoured to be going to open again this year

closed but rumoured to be going to open again this year

Coho ferry arrives to bring us home

Coho ferry arrives to bring us home

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New Olympic Event – Speed Touring

from the sketchbook

from the sketchbook

Before the Olympic Games came the Olympic Mountains. The latter occupy a large peninsula up in the top northwest corner of the USA, aka the bottom southwest corner of Canada. A simple twist of history and the Canada US border might now be the Columbia River, and the State of Washington – the Province of Olympia, or something. But nevertheless, we love the place, even though it costs $81 just to get there. Lat weekend, plus a few vacation days, we did a quick circle tour of the Salish Sea. That name has been given to the great inland waters that divide and unite us up here/down here as the case may be. On and surrounding that sea can be found the great cities of Vancouver and Seattle, as well as many smaller ones, and innumerable towns and villages.

Victoria to Langley, Washington - the long way

Victoria to Langley, Washington – the long way

We began our tour by being refused room on the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, this on a Thursday. Where did all those tourists come from? So we toured clockwise, leaving via the BC Ferries route over to the US Border crossing on the mainland. When we arrived we saw that all Canada bound traffic was being turned back. Had the refugee/illegal immigrant/future brother-in-law crisis reached the great north/south west? No, it seems there was a gas leak.

Langley - county fairgrounds

Langley – county fairgrounds

First stop in the US was Langley, Whidbey Island – where the annual Djangofest was getting underway. We love this town, it is hip but unpretentious, has cheap and pleasant camping available, a lively arts scene, great food, numerous coffee shops (and no *bucks), and world class pizza, not mention world class NW microbrew. We are in the golden age of beer, thank Dog I lived to drink it.

We had breakfast here:

cafe in Langley

cafe in Langley

One night there, complete with concert and fifteen minutes of jamming, then across Puget Sound by ferry (love these boats) to Port Townsend – yet another great little town full of history. They were having film festival – outdoors! A giant inflatable screen and hay bales occupied one block of the downtown core.

outdoor cinema

outdoor cinema

Washington State ferry boat - Salish

Washington State ferry boat – Salish

Whidbey-Pt Townsend ferry

Whidbey-Pt Townsend ferry

On the street, Port Townsend:

a pay phone - how civilized

a pay phone – how civilized

How can I resist this one?

Corona folding typewriter in stationary shop - Pt Townsend

Corona folding typewriter in stationary shop – Pt Townsend

Not for sale..but I did buy an old Eversharp fountain pen, with 14k gold nib, at a consignment/antique/art/clothing/furniture/jewelry/carpet shop.

old Eversharp pen

old Eversharp pen – filled with ‘Herbin Larmes de Cassis’  ink it writes like a hot damn

Next stop Port Angeles, where they were having a beer festival. I know this just sounds too fantastic to be true, but it is true. However, we had our own mini beer festival courtesy of Safeway, and retired to the National Park to camp. With only five days we had to keep moving.

Langley to Kalaloch Campground on the coast

Langley to Kalaloch Campground on the coast

doggy in shop window - Pt Angeles

doggy in shop window – Pt Angeles

Next scheduled stop was to be the Olympic Hot Springs, up the Elwha River valley, but alas the road was closed for repairs. So we went to the Sol Duc Hot Springs instead. These are your tourist type hot baths, basically concrete tubs full of bored looking folks and always some Russians. (Russians – what’s the story?) Not that we mind them, we just prefer to hike two miles and bath privately naked in the wilderness (or at Harbin – see previous post). Warmed and relaxed to the point of narcolepsy, we had to return to the highway (US101) to camp, since the campground at Sol Duc was full – of course! But in this way we turned adversity to opportunity and discovered yet another gem in the way of Fairholme Campground on Lake Crescent.

dock - Lake Crescent

dock – Lake Crescent

There we watched the super moon rise over Lake Crescent, an awesome site indeed.

super moon over Lake Crescent

super moon over Lake Crescent

Next day we went west and south out to the big wet called the Pacific Ocean, where we camped on the shore and listened to the lullaby of thundering surf. All this time we were enjoying blue skies and sunshine, incredibly.

fellow VW bus on the road Hwy 101

fellow VW bus on the road: Hwy 101. Honest pollution!

Then the sea, the endless sea.

Pacific beach logs

Pacific beach logs

cliffs at Kalaloch

cliffs at Kalaloch

The trip ended the next day but not before we had a great breakfast in Forks (Vampireville, USA) at one of those perfect little restaurants which we pray for constantly when hungry. Why is it so difficult to cook one egg perfectly? Who knows, but one cook in Forks sure can do. Then we were back in Port Angeles and on the Coho ferry home to Victoria.

crazy tree on ocean cliff

crazy tree on ocean cliff

Stellar's Jay - camp robber

Stellar’s Jay – camp robber

POSTSCRIPT

for typerati only..seen on safari:

1-IMGP3141 2-IMGP3103 3-IMGP3101 4-IMGP3100

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Filed under Photography, Sketching, Thrift shop finds, Travel, Typewriters, VW Vans

No Going Back

Gathering my sketching gear for our upcoming fall camping trip I had to search the house for a certain watercolour notebook to stuff into my sketching bag, along with the paint box, the folding stool, and a few brushes. After discovering the book under a pile of junk I opened it to find a panoramic sketch I made while traveling in California last October. We were on our way home from a trip to Napa Valley (for the beer) when we diverted to Harbin Hot Springs for one night. Considering Harbin was a clothing optional hot spring, no pictures were allowed. Fair enough, I satisfied my artistic impulses with a sketch. Sorry, it’s merely the interior of the reading room, but it reminds me of the calm and peaceful atmosphere of the place. Sadly, Harbin Hot Springs is no more, having been totally destroyed last week by a raging forest fire. This upcoming trip will take us into the Olympic Mountains, where we’ll hike in to a series of hot springs high in the hills of the National Park. No pool, no showers, no admission but the effort to hike two miles there and back. I’m so grateful we live next to a rain forest.

Harbin Hot Springs - Reading Room 2014

Harbin Hot Springs – Reading Room 2014

Another sketch from the same book reminded me of drinking some very fine wine in Napa, and some excellent sketches that hang on the walls of the Sterling Winery, including this version of a Picasso (my sketch). In case you’re wondering, Harbin Hot Springs was not like this.

picasso by me

picasso by me

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Memories of Katahdin

Katahdin - June 1978

Katahdin – June 1978

Before the Appalachian Trail became too darned famous for its own good, in June 1978 my buddy Bob and I hatched a plan to take the overnight train from Montreal to Portland and get off in Greenville, Maine. From there we could get to Monson on the Appalachian Trail and hike north about 100 miles to Mt. Katahdin, where it was possible to return on the homeward bound train. A nice simple plan to go for a long hike in the woods, and with no need for a car or a ride to get there.

logs, bogs, and frogs

logs, bogs, and frogs

The only real difficulty here was hiking the 100 miles through the woods, carrying 10 days supplies. The food bag was so big it was astounding to see, and I think we even had extra food; however we ate it all and still lost a fair bit of weight during the trip. Later on I heard from various “authorities” that the Monson to Katahdin section is the absolute toughest part of the entire AT. When we arrived, worn out, at Baxter State Park, it was raining to beat hell, and freezing cold. This after a week of sweltering heat and horse flies as big as horses. At least there were no flies on Katahdin.

moose alert

moose alert

We existed on the remains of the food for two days, and when we finally got a break in the weather we had nothing left to eat but the crumbs of trail mix down at the bottom of the baggie. But off we went to bag the peak. We’d heard it was a tough climb, but it was ridiculous in the wintry conditions. We got to the  upper bits, half frozen and weak from hunger, only to have a swirling fog blow in and obscure everything. Plus it was snowing lightly. Considering our weakened state, and the prospect of having to negotiate an infamous knife edge ridge to reach the peak, we regretfully called it a day. We saw no one that I can remember. It was beautiful.

starved and frozen in June

starved and frozen in June

Recently Katahdin has been in the news due to a minor uproar over the fact that some self righteous AT speed running “hero” got a $200 fine for creating a disturbance and drinking champagne with a party of friends to celebrate his conquest of the entire AT by the act of running it in record time. All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t see him when we were there. Lucky for him too, or he would have got a Royal Canadian ass kicking before being tossed down a cliff.

the warning sign at the north end. we started at the south end, no sign there.

the warning sign at the north end. we started at the south end, no sign there.

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The Good Old Days

Remember when you could smoke and type on a plane? Two things you could be arrested for these days! But which typewriter did Higgins use? We know what she was smoking, however I doubt she actually wrote the quote about why she smoked Camels; the grammar and sentence structure are much too dumb to have come from a Pulitzer Prize winner.

This LIFE ad popped up in a search I did for a totally unrelated thing! I’d never heard of Higgins but it turns out she was a very interesting person. Random!!

camel cigarettes margeurite higgins typewriter

I bet she had a beer down on the seat.

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The Long Hottest Summer

I stole the title of this from a great old movie with Paul Newman and Orson Welles called The Long Hot Summer. But now we know for certain that 2015 is the hottest of all summers, globally speaking. Fortunately Canada has about half the freshwater on the planet, and we got to sample a fair bit of it this summer. For example, you can raft down this river and drink the water as you’re floating along. It tastes especially good going down class 1 rapids in 29C heat.

drink this, it's delicious

drink this, it’s delicious

Not all the rivers are like this, some are smaller and have swimming holes that we always hit when we pass through town.

heading to the old swimmin' hole

heading to the old swimmin’ hole

While out traveling around BC and enjoying the waters we found some out of the way antique shops with old and interesting typewriters, too. This was the best of the lot:

3 bank portable Underwood

3 bank portable Underwood

This little old gem was sitting on an Olympia Sm3, but sadly was too expensive for my budget.

While away I managed to do a few watercolour sketches.

lake at Marble Canyon

lake at Marble Canyon

The lake beside this one, Pavilion Lake, has extremely rare freshwater coral growing in it.

in the ferry lineup

in the ferry lineup

The above sketch is of an oyster operation. However, due to the warmth of the ocean water hereabouts, the local oysters developed a toxic bacterial infection and cannot be consumed raw.

visitor centre, Clearwater BC

visitor centre, Clearwater BC

At the risk of turning it into another world-beauty-spot-ruined-by-tourists I will reveal that the above sketch and the wild river of drinking water is in the aptly named Clearwater, BC. Please do not go there, this is for information only!

 

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