Category Archives: Travel

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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Filed under Sketching, Travel, VW Vans

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 theĀ  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.


Filed under Great Hikes, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

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.


Filed under Travel, Typewriters

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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Filed under Painting, Photography, Travel, Typewriters

On the Road


Harris Beach, Oregon coast

Summer behind us here, with two weeks vacation to spend we set off on Highway 101, down the Pacific Coast, bound for California. Like all trips, this one was a perfect opportunity to do some sketching and scour the thrift and antique shops for cool stuff (typewriters and old cameras). 101 is a marvelous road, full of stupefying vistas, interesting towns and endless campgrounds.

After 2 weeks of browsing, it was on the last day of the trip that I discovered two typewriters that I could afford. The poem was typed on the one in the picture. The typewriter came with the previous owner’s name on it. A Google search revealed that she died over 10 years ago, but her husband only died last year. So I surmise that the typewriter was disposed of by estate sale, hence ending up in an antique mall.

My first trip down 101 was about 25 years ago, and I thought it wasn’t very interesting. At the time I was fresh from the east coast and had been hoping to see a lot of quaint east coast villages. Now, many trips along the route behind me, I see it differently – an amazingly interesting and varied route. I can hardly imagine that there is another single highway of its length that offers so many beautiful landscapes and scenes as this one does. However, I have heard tell that US Highway 20, which happens to start at the intersection with 101 in Newport, Oregon, is a likely competitor. One day…1-sk004


Manzanita trees, Napa


Skytram at Sterling Wines


Typewriter from Astoria, Oregon



Filed under Painting, Poetry, Thrift shop finds, Travel, Typewriters, Uncategorized, VW Vans

Paris in the Backyard


P.S. this really was from the backyard:

anyone for a game of cribbage?

anyone for a game of cribbage?


Filed under Photography, Travel

Fun With Coffee

Vintage British motorcycle

Vintage British “Panther” motorcycle

After my first adventure with Caffenol film developer I loaded one of my twin lens reflexes with a roll of film, that was best before 2007, trusting that it would still be good 7 years out of date. Here are some of the results, and I can report that it worked quite well indeed. I much prefer medium format when it comes to film. Of course I always did, but it was so expensive that I ceased doing it around the time I bought this film. I scanned this at 1200 dpi and the resolution is amazing. I once read that even if the lenses on medium format cameras never approached the resolving power of the best 35mm cameras, they still could outperform them due to the huge advantage of the large negatives.

These pics were shot recently, one at a British car rally, and one on a trip to Port Angeles. They seemed to go together. Ricohflex TLR camera, Fuji ACROS Neopan ASA 100, developed in Caffenol C-M for 12 minutes. Scanned on an Epson 2400 with a homemade 120 format cardboard mask.

Vintage American gas station

Vintage American gas station


Filed under Cameras, Photography, Technology, Travel