Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adventure 52- Home Butchery

This isn't how I envisioned the finale of this journey for Natalie and I. I am sitting home, listening to Jack Spirko, sipping a coffee, alone. Natalie has been invited on some cool adventures with her mom, and who am I to step in the way of that. I really wanted to finish this writing project in 2012, and she will not be back with me until the new year. In this regard we are out of time to participate in one last grand adventure for this year. I know over the years we will be undertaking many great trips, and see any number of wonderful things around Vancouver Island and beyond.

Going back through my mind as I recalled other adventures that were not recorded in this blog, and the one that has stood out since it took place, happened right here in my kitchen. Or as I call it Scruggs Chop Shop and Smoke House. My kitchen has become the focus of my life, finding great comfort in fresh meal ideas and learning processes for interesting sauces and preserves. As I wrote about in 730, my diet and passion for local food has increased incredibly, with canning and preserving high on the list for keeping these products out of season. Natalie has begun her interest in cooking as well. She has been making her own oatmeal for breakfast for months now. She is no longer scared of the stove, and is learning to us a knife. For Christmas I gifted to her a cutting board and two knives, one a Santuko and the other a pairing knife. I hope her to help me with prepping meals and canning, teaching her the importance of being prepared and the skills involved in with storing food.

I had a fantastic deer hunting season, luckily harvesting three deer. I take pride in looking after all my own processing, the only thing that I am not able to do at home is the hanging, and that is fine to leave somewhere it can be hung in a proper environment. My last deer I took on a rainy, windy early December morning, on a farm property that I was very fortunate to be allowed access to hunt the 100 acre property. The deer was not a wall hanger, but a fantastic eating animal that I was very grateful to be able to take for the deep freeze. I field dressed the animal, loaded it in the truck, and brought it to my uncles home to hang in his shop. I usually hang an animal for at least a week, but because of the circumstances, I just left it over night. Being a young deer, the worry of gamey venison was not a concern, so I broke it down and readied it for transport home in a couple of coolers. Next season I hope to do a more detailed blog post about how to take a deer apart, into primary cuts. I can do so in about 45 minutes and is really quite easy, just don't wreck the backstrap!

I prepared the kitchen table by washing and wiping with vinegar to sanitize it, and sharpened my boning knife. Natalie showed up just as I was getting ready, so I invited her to help me. Her eyes lit and she grinned "Sure Dad!" I reached a cutting board from the shelf, popped a pairing knife from the magnet and slid it along the steel. I was about to trim out the backstrap, so I gave her the tenderloins, and explained how to cut off the fat and trim off the little bits for the burger bowl. She went to task and had the "sweet meat" done in record time. I was de-boning a shoulder, so I pulled the rib cage from the cooler and tossed it on her board. Giant eyes again. I explained how to strip the meat from the bones, cutting out from between the ribs, and neck. I don't think that I have seen her have that much fun in a long time. She worked on that the whole time it took me to finish up the shoulders and hams, as well as wrap it all up. She would poke around, finding blood vessels, coagulated blood, investigate how the bones were attached to the others. This is a biology lesson, your text book in front of you, in 3D.

Natalie did so good at stripping that carcass. I ended up helping her to get the last bits from between the ribs. There was no complaining, not gross outs, no boredom. It was interesting for her the whole time. I am thrilled to pass on skills that I did not have the opportunity to gain at her age. I saw a very few deer cut up as a youth, so for her to learn this stuff at 9 will carry through her life. I hope to bring her hunting with me more next season, so I can show her how to field dress and skin. She did help me make sausages during my first attempt doing so in October, and I can't wait to get her plucking ducks. I did learn this at a young age, with my uncle, who would take me along with him on lots of duck hunting trips.

Most of all, it is about learning traditional skills, self sufficiency, and common sense. To be able to provide for yourself, even if she never hunts, she will know what good food looks like, and what food looks like before it is wrapped in plastic and styrofoam at the grocery store(I hope she has better choices than that) We learn a greater appreciation for what is offered to us as food when we have a hand in taking care of it, not wasting and honouring our food. I am so proud that she has shown interest in butchery, and hope she follows in my footsteps with this great skill!

I guess that wraps it up. 52 weeks, 52 adventures. There were peaks and valleys this year, much frustration, much laughter, many firsts and changes for both of us. I am excited for the base this year has laid down for our relationship, our working together, planning, trying to cope with adversity, and giving us something to focus on each week. I am also looking forward to not having the task of writing every week, and hope to writing more about building self sufficiency, gardening, playing in Scruggs Chop Shop and Smokehouse, prepping and building 13 skills. 2013 will be another great year in my house, and I hope to share more of that with you all. Find Adventure!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Direction

After five plus years of immersion in a certain website called Facebook I have decided that it is time to pull the plug. Recently the news that Instagram had changed their policy on photos, so that any photos posted to the site would be property of Instagram and they would be free to sell them, without telling the photographer or compensating them in any way. This made me furious. But it was also eye opening. I realized that being a part of social media and getting more and more plugged in all the time slowly made us hooked on these sites and creating false realities, friendships and social circles.

The Instagram headline(Facebook owns Instagram) made me upset for the most part because the powers that be in Facebook are already worth billions. Is it that tough to make it work that you need to pull the wool over the public eye and basically steal their content. To me, it is the same as me using someone else's blog content and not crediting them for it. Plagiarism is very illegal and in bad taste, maybe Facebook doesn't see it that way? I loved using Instagram for a while now, sharing food porn with like minded people, the filters gave my shots an interesting effect. I cannot stomach the idea of supporting a business that would rule like this.

I am also getting tired of knowing what is happening in so many peoples lives. Not that it is bad, for the most part people are doing good things. I have gotten a little bit frustrated with constantly hearing "I saw on your Facebook" or "Did you see that thing on my wall?" I am no saint obviously, and I am not trying to be hypocritical. I would kind of like to meet friends and have something to talk about. I am one who is very observant and can remember things that people tell me very easily. So if you post it on your status, good chance I will remember it. Then when we have a conversation, I feel like I can fill in the blank when people are talking about their lives. This is a good time to bow out and I will be leaving on January 1st.

This maybe a bad move, since I have been involved with creating a social media based projects with this blog and with the Edible Valley podcast. I appreciate everyone who has found my content because of Facebook. My stats will suffer as a result, I know this. I encourage you to sign up for email notifications for new posts to the blog. It is easy and you will be informed each and every time that a new post is published. If you are on Twitter, please follow me @cynicalcyclist. Also consider subscribing to Edible Valley on itunes. Every episode will be uploaded to your device as it is published. We have so many ways to stay in touch. I don't wish to post my cell number or email address on here, but if you email me through the blog, I will get it.

Thanks for the years of fun Facebook, but I cannot support your endeavors anymore and I wish to build community face to face, the old school way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Adventure 51- Ice Skating

Waiting to go on the ice
This adventure was a few weeks in the making. Natalie had asked me for sometime to take her ice skating at the Comox Valley Sports Center. It was planned a couple times but because of the pace of the holidays we didn't make it before today.
Such big smiles!
I am no expert skater, that is an understatement. Ask anyone who has watched me play hockey. I have never had so many bruises as I did one time playing ice hockey without any gear. Falling down more than skating back and forth. It was a good gag, but I sure paid for it the next day. Natalie had only skated once or twice over the years, and used roller skates a few times. I was unsure how this would play out, for both of us.
A little hesitant
Due to circumstances Natalie and I arrived late to the Everyone Welcome skate at Arena 2. It was over at 3 and we arrived at 2:20. We quickly paid and got our rental skates. Ice skates are tough to get on the foot. They are a tight fit to say the least. Once my foot was slipped in, they felt much better. I helped Natalie tie hers, making sure the laces were cinched up to give her the best stability. On the ice we went. Natalie was scared to leave the boards, and we did a lap with her holding my hand. She only fell down once and then decided that she wanted something to help her out, so she grabbed a tall traffic cone and tried to use that. The cone didn't want to slide easily, that got left behind after one lap. Natalie took a break and I did a lap by myself. I was impressed with the ease I had of gliding around. For not being on skates in five or six years, that was pretty comfortable.
We did a few more laps in the short allotment of time that we had left. Natalie tried using a "skate tutor" to help out, and it worked really good for her. She built confidence and for the last lap left the support on the side and was doing some short glides and letting go of the boards. She had a huge grin and was so proud of herself. As we left the ice Natalie kept telling me she wanted to skate more and she was so sad that it was over. We will be going back to the rink for sure. It cost $11 and change for admission and rental. Fantastic price for potentially two hours entertainment and exercise for a mid-afternoon winter activity. The patrons were a mix of children, teens and grown-ups, and most were pretty casual. Only a few that were skating really fast, showing hockey skills. They only were doing this in short bursts and were not getting in anyones way. Go skating, Find Adventure!
Ya! What What!!

Adventure 50- Union Bay Coal Hills

Nice and calm
As much as the snow has been quite nice this holiday season so far, there is something about getting out and visiting somewhere that had little snow, see some greens and browns again, and get close to the ocean. It is amazing how quickly ones eyes get accustomed to all the whiteness and the relief that comes with seeing the colors that are more normal for our climate. As the day matured today the brisk of morning revealed a warmth as bright sun glistening off the snow, bringing a heat that can only be appreciated after two weeks of coastal December.
Barely hanging on
The original plan for the day was to participate in an "everyone welcome" skate in Courtenay at the Comox Valley Sports Center, the same place that we watched the Glacier Kings game. With the need for Vitamin D high on the priority list for these shortest days, itinerary changes rapidly with the weather. I wanted to see the ocean and the sun, to get a little exercise for Natalie and Marshall, also to just get out of the house. I can easily occupy myself in the kitchen all day, and leave Natalie for her own devices, which often includes her ipod, and you tube. Now that she has received her own knives and cutting board as a Christmas gift from me, maybe she will encourage her inclusion with more regularity and pass on some hard won knowledge.
Happy beast!
After bouncing around a few ideas, the Union Bay Coal Hills were the destination of choice. It was sure to be sunny and quiet, and located on Baynes Sound, with its mix of sea birds, driftwood and related treasures. I invited my dad along with us, as Poppa used to walk these shores daily, even after moving to Cumberland. We drove down to the Bay, observing the gradual lessening of snow as we descended the hill. How beautiful  for the eyes to see the greens, yellows, and browns of winter, mixed with small protected patches of white snow.
Waiting to Superman jump
The parking area had several vehicles in it already as folks were out enjoying the day. Unfortunately the skies were not as clear as anticipated, low cloud cover blocking out some of those so crucial rays. Cumberland must be above the clouds, and now we were underneath. It was still wonderful out, slightly cool, calm and still. Cormorants, surf scooters, various sea gulls and ducks rafted or soared over head looking for security and a meal. We walked the shore close to the quickly receding bank, that is being rapidly being eroded by winter storms. Every time I visit the road that we used to drive in my youth is getting narrower, and soon will probably not be passable without some major bush whacking. Marshall bounded about like he does,  looking with madness for a stick and someone to toss it for him. Without hesitation he was in the salt-chuck, swimming, not care one for the temperature of the water, and ready to have it launched away again. Natalie investigated some tree roots exposed by the erosion, a small cave appearing in the bank.
"So thirsty"
We crossed onto the inland area and over the top of the mound that gave this place its recognized name. I explained to Natalie how different the place is from how I remember it as a child. More and more trees are popping up constantly, Mother Nature trying to re-claim this place that was a waste dumping ground for decades during the coal mining hey days of the Comox Valley. This horrible pollution is being swept away at a steady, uncontrolled rate, coating the floor of Baynes Sound and potentially destroying natural sea floor habitat. This is the results of a mining operation not looking after its due diligence and cleaning up after it is finished operation. Lets not see this happen again in our area.
This one didn't make it
We brought Marshall over to Hart (Washer) Creek to play a little bit and wash off the salt water. He leapt in once, struggling hard in the current, and was successful in getting himself out. I thought that I was going to have to lend a hand to pull him out. Natalie decided at one point she was absolutly thirsty and needed a drink. So I encouraged her to grab a sip from the creek. She managed without a problem and didn't get wet. Nice job! It would be a cold slip if that happened.
Weird reaction to a Doug fir cone
Visiting places that meant so much to me as a youth with Natalie has been so special over this year of us doing adventures. The Coal Hills were very much an everyday part of my life. We could see them from my house, we swam and fished there in the summer, hiked with various dogs and rode our bikes. Multi generations of my family spent time on the Coal Hills and it is seated deep in my being. Find Adventure.
Pretty mushroom

Monday, December 24, 2012

Adventure 49: Cumberland Snowshoeing

Trail Head
The Comox Valley and in particular, Cumberland, was inundated with an intense winter weather front that came on Sunday night and dropped eight inches of snow. We were given a break on Tuesday, but that night it began again, with strong, gusting winds and more snow, that closed schools in Cumberland and cut our power. Another six inches of snow fell before it stopped, the skies cleared and made lots of ice. The roads were suspect and a little treacherous. Saturday morning welcomed yet again more snow, and it was falling all day. Dinner plate sized flakes dropping adding yet more depth to the already impressive Cumberland snow pack. I was actually not that upset with the snow this year, having a truck with four wheel drive and brand new, snow-rated tires, gave me confidence to travel around. Natalie was loving it of course, as any kid would.
Goofy face. Hope it doesn't stay like that!
For years it has been my wish to snowshoe from my front door and walk in the woods behind Cumberland. Even before I had shoes, this was a dream. After spending so many hours hiking around the deep snow over the holiday season on the trails, using shoes was my fantasy. Natalie and I were fortunate to both receive them as Christmas gifts last year, so now this dream could become reality.
Took this one behind my back
We had a busy weekend of socializing and eating at three different holiday parties. Santa came to our annual Christmas party at the Logan's. This event has been going on for eight years, and it is neat to see how the kids are growing, and new ones are arriving all the time. After that gathering, Natalie and I ventured out in the snow to drive south to Qualicum for a dinner party at our friends place. There was potential to have a large gathering, but with the weather being what it was, many were not prepared to make the trip. It was a very good time, great food and company, and I got to bring home an absolute windfall of food. As we drove home an idea for an adventure came to mind. Lets do this snowshoe trip! We got a late start since Natalie spent all day cleaning her room, and I was busy canning turkey meat and doing other kitchen stuff(weird huh!) I was stoked.
Happy beast!
The road was plowed so we did not put on our shoes, electing to walk in our boots instead. Approaching the swamp crossing, I forgot how much of a mess the beavers have made at the crossing. The dam that was built recently has flooded the trail on either side of the bridge. Natalie and I both got soaked feet as we tried to negotiate the flowing water and trees. We almost called it quits, but she decided to give it a whirl and see if her feet wouldn't be too cold. We strapped up and carried on. Marshall was with us, and he was being insane. He was deer bounding around the snow, chasing anything and everything we threw in the woods, hound baying at me to toss more objects. He was just a little obnoxiously loud if someone was hiking for peace and quiet. However, Natalie and I had lots of fun watching him recklessly leaping about.
Concentrate Daddy
We found ourselves on a trail called Tied Knot. This trail is full of mountain biking stunts, including skinny logs, ramps, bridges and gap jumps. Tied Knot twists through the Cumberland Community Forest, a beautiful, community owned chunk of woods. Over the years, Natalie and I have spent many, many hours wandering these woods looking for mushrooms, geo-caching and biking. Tied Knot was really awesome. Walking with snowshoes on the stunts was very challenging, balancing and trying to maintain traction on slippery logs invigorating. Not as adrenalin filled as two wheels, just slower and more methodical. One has to be careful not to step accidentally on the rear shoe and trip. Falling would hurt regardless of transportation method. Natalie did really good trying the traverses. She attempted everything I did, needing just a few helping hands. I was impressed how she walked so far with soaking wet feet. It really began to bother her the last little bit, but goes to show how merino wool can help out. With cotton socks she would have been ruined.
You can do it!
I plan on doing another snowshoe tomorrow for my annual Christmas Day hike. It was wonderful for Natalie, Marshall and I to enjoy this excursion so much. We have a week to finish up and undertake three more of these adventures. Wish us luck!
Always a mushroom shot. Turkey Tails

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Here it is, a milestone, a celebration of a re-birth, an anniversary to be proud of, two years without alcohol. It has come with little fan-faire and excitement, but is reflected back on to what has come in the second year of the best decision of my life, I am amazed with the changes and accomplishments that have been gained. Re-reading what I had written from last year at this time to remember how it felt after 365. At that time just the satisfaction to have made it one full year without falling off the wagon, but no word on how my life had changed. This year was just incredible and this is what this post will entail.

If you have been reading this blog, or know me in person, pretty good chance you know that I adopted the Paleo lifestyle about six months ago. Again, my friend Russ, inspired my immersion into Paleo, by sharing his success with it and passing on information. The results have been spectacular. I have lost close to 60 pounds, just by adapting away from a high carb, grain based diet to one of protein, fat and vegetables, with some fruit and nuts tossed in. I have fully switched and cannot imagine ever going back. My energy levels have never been higher, body been trimmer and sculpted, digestion this good, and testosterone levels sky high. I was even featured on Robb is the guru of the Paleo lifestyle, and to be part of the community has been massive. Social media has allowed me to connect with many like minded individuals, sharing ideas and "food porn". This has led me to all sorts of new ideas and inspirations due to my vastly increased confidence and social capital building.

Edible Valley was an idea that was proposed by myself to my good friend Jon as a way for us to re-connect our friendship. Little did I know how much this podcast would change my focus on life to be almost completely independent of imported food and building of friendships with local farmers and chefs. There are now dozens of wonderful people in the Valley that I can now call my friends, including some of the most successful chefs, renown farmers and food writers. We also were offered to record our podcast in a radio studio, with the producer helping us out and doing the edits for us, which has been a huge blessing and now I call many people from Jet FM my friends. We are constantly getting wonderful feedback about our little show, and being modest, down playing it all the time. I am really proud that Jon and I have been able to keep this thing together, and so grateful for the support of so many. Thank you all deeply.

Edible Valley has also ignited my love of cooking. Hanging out with a chef one night a week, visiting the farmers market near weekly, and building inventory of my own hunted, fished and gathered foods have made cooking exciting again. Also learning the unique recipes that can be created using Paleo ingredients to mimic traditional dishes has been so rewarding. I had great success with salmon fishing this summer and also was lucky to take three deer this season, plus butchered half a hog(Tannadice Farms) and a bunch of chickens(Ash Berry Farm) that were purchased from farmer friends of mine. Scratch cooking is so rewarding with ample opportunity to secure amazing ingredients, stuff that most aren't lucky to get. The Comox Valley is Paleo paradise and I hope to expand on this coming in 2013. Stay tuned.

I learned to make sausages, pepperoni, cured deer ham, and pickled eggs. My canning went from a few jars of peaches to include salmon, tomato sauce, chutney, pickled beets and cukes, and salsa. I tried and had success fermenting cukes and cabbage into sauerkraut, and also made kombucha. In the spring I hope to do some kind of butchery demo and sausage making class at one of the local retailers. I really want to help people learn to build self sufficiency in their lives, getting away from the "system" of corporate control of our food, health care and well being. I wish for folks to have practical skills and common sense, and do for themselves. I have joined and have pledged to work on 13 individual skills in 2013 to enhance this freedom in my life. Teaching is one of those skills. The words of Jack Spirko have influenced me in so many ways opening my eyes to the realities of the world, encouraging myself to build self sufficiency, and to be prepared for emergencies large or small. The Survival Podcast has become a massive part of my education, and working on 13 skills is very exciting.

My blog has been rolling along nicely. With Natalie and I into the last stretches of our 52 weeks of adventures, I am feeling burned out, and unmotivated to write about it. Not sure how many words have been written over these weeks, but there have been so many, and photos too. We have done some pretty cool things this year, including cycling, camping, hiking, foraging. Many of these were firsts for my girl as well. She recently helped me butcher a deer, and I will be helping her build those skill for herself in '13. I want her to start life with the ability to do for herself the things that I had to learn as an adult.

In my personal life, aside from all the social media and homesteading stuff, it is going well. I am single now, since June, and have adapted well. I am sometimes lonely for short periods, but working to embrace that and enjoy the time alone, trying not to fill in all the empty spaces doing things constantly. Twitter and Instagram help with that. I am steady sharing my pictures of cooking and other foodie stuff with the Paleo community. I have connected with some really great people as I previously stated, including another Paleo gentleman in the Comox Valley, as well as new friends in the Edible Valley circles. I also have re-friended someone from high school and that has become a very important relationship. Natalie is doing amazing and she is such a great kid who doesn't bat an eye at all the "weird" stuff her dad is doing all the time. She is very happy to follow along with me and I hope she can spend more time in the field with me hunting in the years to come.

What path would life be on if I had not stopped drinking? There is no answer, but I can honestly say that these accomplishments would not have happened, without a doubt. The crutch of alcohol would have gotten in the way of the openness I feel in my ability to communicate with people. My shyness has disappeared and the ability to approach strangers is gone up exponentially. The future looks bright for this guy, and am so proud to be able to say that. I am on a path to greatness, even if I never blog, pod or use social media again, because I have a shelter, food, heat, water and love. What else does one need? Just the confidence to know that there is nothing to be afraid of, and I can overcome any obstacle in my way! To another year of excellence and Happy Holidays to all my readership. Thank you for coming on this ride with me!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Adventure 48- Goose Spit(a fictional experience)

Wow the weather was incredible today. The wind was blowing strong like a dragons wings stroke. Natalie told me that this was perfect weather to search out the mythological beast of the sea. We undertook the voyage from one side of the valley to the seashore. We crossed paths with a gang of rabid, mangy stags, an angry troll who wished to steal our food(Natalie showed him a mirror, the sight of his ugly mug caused him to break out in tears of fright and run off back into the woods), and a smelly goblin. His magic was powerful, as was his musk. I told him to find a bath and he proceeded to begin a spell, pointing his magic beaver stick in my direction. From the sky came a winged coon hound to relieve the goblin of his scepter that could have caused me much discomfort I am sure. We beat hastily from this area to get to the seashore, and away from all the troubles of the valley bottom. This area is a natural funnel for the evil doers to intercept those looking for a short cut from the foothills down to the misty oceanfront. The winged coon hound followed us, soaring just above our equine transport. We were dressed in heavy full grain leather suits to help shed some of the downpour, with an under layer of warm sheep's wool, knitted into the finest sweaters and leggings. Our heads were covered with rabbit-lined fur skull caps for warmth. This late fall weather was unpredictable and being in the open was perilous and vexatious.

Approaching from the north was the only way to enter this place. Natalie was very specific on where to find the goose spit she needed for the certain potion she wanted to experiment with. This potion would be applied it to a piece of chewing gum and the flavour of the gum would last for days, not just minutes. I was unsure how she would find such a unique ingredient. Apparently the goose would chew on the sea asparagus, and leave little trailings of drool on them. She would just capture the drool in a small glass jar to be brought home. Nerves were on edge as the wind made it challenging to keep watch over would be aggressors against our task. Certain witches disliked our spells and potions. We were trying to do good for the world, polar opposite of the witches modus operands. We gained the beach in a slow and methodical way, eyes on the prize and on the skies for marauders. The sea was an angry torrent. The tide was lapping the boulder lined shore with frothing fury. The winged coon hound was now walking because the gusts caused him all kinds of problems.

Suddenly from across the way, a terrifying sound. Men flying in the sky, being towed with giant kites. The witches sensed our location and sent in henchmen. They screamed in like banshee and tried to attack us. Natalie went into action. She began to dance and call out a spell, conjuring magic to protect us from the witches cohorts. Her face became glowing crimson with the power of words. Sea foam began to dart and dive, smelling slightly of crab farts, like the Time Bandit. Joining into a massive ball reminiscent of the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man. The ball lifted off and soared at the henchmen, knocking them from the sky and into the waiting mouths of Two finned sharks that were known to frequent the same seas.

Adventure 47: Oyster picking in the dark

I am really running out of steam with these adventures. Time constraints with the holiday season has put excess pressure on the ability to undertake these little trips. If I could plan it again, we would have started in the spring, and run it through the year. Winter is limiting on our outdoor pursuits, where I prefer to take Natalie to learn and explore. We will complete the adventures but the writing maybe somewhat less involved for now, and maybe it will be explanded in the future.

I had been wanting to go to my favorite oyster beach for a few weeks now. Fresh harvested oysters during December are wonderful. The caveat is the best tides are during the night. So to participate in this fishery, we needed to get out later than either of us are normally still awake. I was going to get out two weeks ago, but the incessent rain had created a closure on shellfish harvesting in the area I pick. Last week the closure was lifted and the tide was prime for a harvest. How to get out so late? My sister invited us to an open house at her house on Friday night, so a slight detour on the way home would result in a pile of delicious, wild seafood.

Natalie and I grabbed our headlamps and boots before leaving for a paleo feast at Mandy's house. We ate amazing food, including some surprising, paleo friendly, cupcakes. I brought some pepperoni and smoked salmon to share with family and friends. Natalie got to visit with her cousin Livia and I had a great time talking about local food and paleo with interested folks. Soon it was time to go, before it was too late to stay up. We hit the beach around 10:20 and by 10:30 we had our limit of my favorite mollusk. Natalie had not the opportunity before to search the beach by headlamp. It was a good adventure in harvesting local food, and on Sunday I will be teaching her how to shuck and cook them. Find Adventure.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Flour-less Chocolate Cake

I found this delicious recipe while listening to the The Survival Podcast with guest Chef Keith Snow. Keith is a hobby farmer, chef, prepper and family man who's goal is to help people to eat healthy, nutritious food, and to cook in their own kitchens from scratch. Growing your own food is also something he promotes and he talks about these subjects on his pod too. Jack Spirko of TSP has had Snow on for the past few years to talk about cooking Thanksgiving dinner and the trimmings. It was an awesome show and I was listening with mouth watering interest. I badly want to cook a turkey, something that I haven't done in years. I am sure that this will happen at some point in the near future.

The highlight of this interview was Snow mentioning a dessert that is light, slightly sweet, very easy and grain free. My interest was piqued and when I arrived home the google helped me to locate a YouTube video of Chef Keith preparing the cake. As I watched and recorded the ingredients list, my heart was filled with joy of finding a dessert that was mostly Paleo (probably a little too much sugar for some), and easy. A missing piece of information from the video was the quantity of chocolate for the recipe. So I emailed Chef Keith, and he messaged me back in short order. What great service! I highly recommend listening to his podcast "Harvest Eating" and check his site for recipes and other great information. Thanks Keith.

I served this dessert to a friend and she coined it a "chocolate omelet". That is a funny, but pretty accurate description of this cake. It tastes like cake, has the mouth feel of cake, but it should be more like an omelet by the ingredient list. We served this with thawed local berries and whipped cream. The cake is thin but could be used as any other sponge for what you wish to make with it. Give it a try, maybe include it in to your holiday celebrations!

Here is the recipe and process for Flour-less Chocolate Cake.

6 free range eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
6 ounces of high quality chocolate
a few tablespoons of black coffee

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

Separate your eggs, set the white aside. Add the sugar with yolks and mix together until it is creamed together and turns a tan color.

Use a whisk or electric hand mixer(as I do) and whip the egg whites until the peaks are stiff

With a double boiler, place the chocolate to the bowl and melt. Add the coffee to get the chocolate liquidy.

Slowly combine the chocolate to the yolk/sugar mix so the hot chocolate doesn't cook the egg yolks. Put in a few tablespoons at a time into the yolks, mix in thoroughly, then add more. This technique is called tempering.

Once all chocolate is mixed in, fold in 1/3rd of the whipped egg whites into the mix. Gently mix together and then add another 1/3, fold, then do the last bit.

On a sheet pan, spray the pan with a food spray then apply a sheet of parchment paper. Smooth the paper on the pan and press into the corners. Now spray the paper. The high protein content of the cake could cause the cake to stick really badly, so use precaution.

Pour batter on to the sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until a toothpick is clean. I leave my cake on the sheet and paper until serving, but one could make a layer cake with it and serve it on a nice platter. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Appearance on Robb

A few months back my sister began investigating the Paleo lifestyle for herself after seeing my striking results in weight loss, as well as disappearing aches and pains. She was browsing Robb Wolf's website and was reading the Testimonial page. She suggested that I do one and send it off. I pondered writing a few paragraphs explaining my journey to health and the truth of our "system" run by the food, drug and insurance companies. So I sat down and put words on the screen and sent it off. Within a few days I was contacted by "Squatchy" Chris Williams, who works on Robb's team for the blog and podcast, about my testimonial and told me that it would be added to the list. I was thrilled to be included on the list. I assumed that it would be months before the essay would be up. Low and behold it came online this week.

Wow, how cool. To see my writing on the same pages that I spent so many hours working through, learning about this lifestyle, getting motivated and finding new recipes. During this conversion to Paleo I have connected with so many wonderful, like minded, individuals. The twitterverse has a massive community of Paleo practitioners and bloggers. I have so much fun looking at everyones pictures, habits, mistakes and other random thoughts. This Paleo life is a good one, I am so blessed to live somewhere that I have access to clean water, clean food, clean air and room to roam the woods to forage for wild edibles and exercise. I never set foot in a gym, my exercise comes from the natural world and the physical labour of my job. I am living the Paleo dream, and it is here to stay. I hope to bring a few of you along with me! Thanks for reading and listening to my spiels.

View my testimonial here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Adventure 46: The Good Old Hockey Game!

Always loves getting her picture taken
Late fall brings the excitement of outdoor adventure down to a crawl, at least in our house. We don't ski, or snowboard. Of course snowshoeing is always an option, but the purpose of this challenge is to try different things and see new places. We have already gone snowshoeing several times during this year, last winter. With only a few adventures left our focus has turned to the indoor ice rinks in Courtenay. Courtenay has two ice rinks and offers public skating at various times of the week. I wished to bring her this week to give skating a try, but I was blessed with the harvest of another blacktail mule deer on Saturday morning, and by the time I was done dealing with the animal, I needed a break and we made other arrangements for the night.
My kid is a dog!
As most folks around the world know, Canadians are nuts about hockey. It is our unofficial national sport, with ice hockey at various levels being played coast to coast to coast, inside and out, from recreational beer league mens teams, youth as young as three years old and professionals making millions. When I was growing up, hockey wasn't a part of our family. Some of my youngest memories include hearing the familiar sounds of the C.B.C.'s "Hockey Night in Canada" theme when we still lived in Naka Creek. It was the lone channel that we could fuzzily pick up on the 13 inch black and white screen in this remote area, and Saturday afternoon it was hockey time. To think, that if I could remember, the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers were in their heyday, Gretzky and Bossy scoring like demons. Once a teenager I was introduced to sports by my classmates and became a huge fan of all, hockey being on the top of the list. Natalie and I are now casual fans, and, if you have been reading this blog, know we went to a Vancouver Canucks game last winter.
Now with the N.H.L. in a lockout, with billionaires fighting with millionaires and making all us hockey fans suffer, our thirst for frozen rubber and curved blades has been growing. The silly thing is the Comox Valley has lots of hockey happening, including the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. The Kings are a part of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, which plays 48 league games a season and the players are all high school aged. These players have the opportunity to move up to the Canadian Hockey League and if very successful, be drafted into the pro's. Craving the sport and looking for something interesting to do, I went to a game a couple weeks ago with some friends from Jet FM. It was a wonderful time. Great action, up close and personal. I instantly wished Natalie was there with me.
Book time
I checked the schedule and sure enough the Kings were home on Saturday night playing Oceanside. Perfect. Since I have been wishing to spread my wings around to the Valleys dining establishments and had no interest in cooking dinner, I asked Natalie to join me for dinner at Atlas Cafe. My friend Jon is the chef at this fine eatery and I know many of the employees there because of it. We had a nice meal of cheese pizza and pork tenderloin(guess who had what) and Natalie made a paper airplane with the coloring menu. And she really wanted to test it out. Silly kid! Off we went to the hockey game for the 7:30 start time.
Watching the Zamboni. Shameless plug for Jet FM
Going to a Kings game is completely different than a big league match. You can freely bring in your own food, coffee, and beverages. The two of us cost $16 for our tickets and we were entertained for two and a half hours. Try and do that at a movie theatre, or many other outings. Natalie was so fun to have at the game. She brought a book in case she got bored, and she did read a fair amount. She also went down to the glass to get a closer look at the players and the Zamboni. She was very brave and went out to the lobby by herself to buy a puck for the "Huck A Puck" contest. That is an interesting, bordering dangerous, game. Spectators toss their pucks on the ice and the closest ones to targets on the ice win prizes. Natalie was much to strong with hers and it slid clear to the other side of the rink! Another lady beside us way under tossed it and it nearly hit a kid standing by the glass! Oooppppssss. She went red faced and let the kid send it at the target. The most funny thing happened while we were waiting for the puck toss. Several young kids asked the P.A. attendant to play the song "Gangnam Style". They went to the balcony and danced to the song. We were laughing like crazy, it was so funny. I am not sure if Natalie was embarrassed for the performers or she really wanted to be up there. I told her it was okay if she wanted to, but she was too shy.
"Oopa Gangnam Style"
At the beginning of the third period, Natalie asked me for candy. We both celebrated "NO"vember and refrained from eating processed sugar for the month. She was so good at keeping away from it, so I allowed her to go fetch a bag of nickel candies from the concession, on the condition that she shared with me. She was pumped and ran out to grab it. She paid with her own money even. That was cool! The game didn't go the way the Kings fans were hoping, they lost 7-3. It was a pretty tough loss, giving up three short handed goals. The fans were a large mix of every demographic. Teenagers watching their classmates play, retirees out for an evening, middle-aged parents with their children, and everything in-between. A good number of kids Natalie's age were in the rink. I have no idea how many people were watching the game, but I would say the turnout was pretty good, but there were still loads of seats available.
Huck a Puck
Supporting the Kings is a fantastic community supporting event that is family friendly, no alcohol, inexpensive, and above all, fun! Don't forget that there is more hockey to watch than just the N.H.L. Junior hockey will never have a lockout and the owners are just regular people trying to make a living doing what they love, not multi-billionaires using it as a tax right off. I felt very Canadian at the game and proud to be so. Find Adventure and support your community!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adventure 45- Wildwood

It had been months since Natalie and I had been out on two wheels together, so strange since we rode constantly all spring and summer. With the change in the weather and with all the hunting, gathering and processing that we have been doing, cycling adventures have been on the back burner. My lack of lone cycling has probably contributed to this as well. Very little riding in my life as of late, and that will probably continue until February, when I start commuting to work again and battling the snow.
Inky Caps
This week we ventured out to Dove Creek to check out a new to us area called the Wildwood Interpretive Forest. Located on Piercy road approximately two kilometers from either the Inland Island Highway exit or the four way stop at Condensory road, this interpretive forest is 682 acres in size and contains second growth Douglas Fir, hemlock and spruce trees. I am a little disappointed that our adventure did not go as planned and we must return to this park better prepared for the weather.

We needed to visit Dove Creek to see friends Allen and Heather McWilliam at Tannadice Farm. As many of you know I had purchased a side of their wonderful pork several weeks ago, butchering it from a whole side in my kitchen. What a cool experience for me and just today my first attempt at creating homemade bacon turned out very well. I also had promised my sister that we would meet her out at the farm so she could pick up some beautiful meat. She has adopted the Paleo lifestyle and wants to avoid shopping for meat in the grocery store. So after confusing set of instructions from Google maps she finally arrived at the farm and loaded up with protein. Natalie and I had a nice visit with Heather and picked up some pepperoni for the road.
The "trail"
I took the long way out of Dove Creek, down along the Tsolum river on the hunt for eggs. I found a cooler with six dozen in it at Rusty Gate Meadows, $3.75 a dozen. Add that one to my list of spots to check when I need the chicken hens marvelous gift. I pulled three dozen and pushed twelve dollars in the money box. I feel that four dollars is a great price and it is easier to send the extra quarter that carry around so much change. We rolled back up Piercy road and parked along side the road the the trail head.
Nice grassy puddle
Natalie argued with me before we left about wearing warm clothes, especially gloves. She decided that, with no worries, her hands would be plenty warm and she needed to bring nothing. I disagreed and warned her. Alas she did not believe her dad and brought no gloves or mitts of any kind. Silly girl. She wore her merino gear so the rest of her was warm, but having cold hands can easily ruin an adventure.We began the ride through a mature forest with decent sized trees and pretty under story, and a little bridge over a creek. We happened upon a fork, with my choice being left, hers being right. Guess who won? Yep the girl. Unaware of the trail situation in the area I agreed and we rolled down hill along a road bed. I didn't realize that this was outside of the park and this is actually a service road for the gas pipeline that continues north and south along the B.C. Hydro transmission tower right away. The coast down the hill was pretty easy and un-interesting. Soon little Miss Natalie's hands were like icicles. The day was below freezing and we were not in the sun what so ever. Her folly was assuming it would be warm because the sun was shining. Being in the truck made it appear to be toasty. Nothing was further from the truth. We originally agreed to come back up the hill and take the other branch, but by the time we came back up the hill she was finished. Too cold and apparently tired(what else is new), so back to the truck.
Hemlock on a nurse stump
We loaded up and drove into Courtenay. Natalie wanted to stop at the Comox Valley Farmers Market and procure a bottle of love, namely some Island Soda Works product from our friend Mandolyn. I dropped her off and parked the truck. Natalie had a mini adventure shopping in the Native Sons Hall alone with the hundreds of others packed in. She did well and came out with two bottles of delicious beverage.
So thirsty, must have soda....
It was a brief adventure, as most have seemed to be lately, but we did get to stop at a new location, visit with friends and family and support local businesses. In my books that is a perfect morning regardless of anything else. Find Adventure.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Egg Hunt.

I have a new foraging item that has become an exciting, and sometimes frustrating, search. My whole life I have noticed these little "eggs for sale" signs out all around the Comox Valley, and practically everywhere else in my travels. Anywhere that there is rural areas, you will find people who are raising backyard chickens. From four hens in a chicken tractor to several dozen, complete with roosters, egg "hunting" is something that is accessible to everyone and there is probably one close by your own house.

The pure thrill in opening up a cooler at the end of someones driveway, seeing it chocker block full of cartons of eggs. Four dollars a dozen! You have to be kidding me. Wow. Look at those eggs. They are beautiful. Oh look over there, I see the hens. They look so happy. They are scratching for bugs. Nibbling grass. They are so healthy. The rooster looks so proud of his brood. Oh man, how much change do I have. 

These are the thoughts that go through my head when visiting one of these roadside egg "stores". The product is so wonderful. The whites are thick, and stand on their own, the yolks are bright yellow and plump.  The ability to purchase all this incredible protein for a very reasonable price from someone in your community is a marvelous introduction to buying food outside the grocery store. Many times you would be able to meet the people who are raising the hens, ask them questions about the birds, go look at the housing and yard( the chickens, not the property owners). If that isn't something the seller is interested in, maybe have a look for another vendor. Transparency is not usually a problem with small local growers. 

If you are someone who is interested in foraging, but are not sure where to start, searching for eggs in this way is considered foraging, in my opinion. In Paleolithic times man would search high and low for eggs of various game birds. Especially in the spring, when wild birds do their breeding and hatching the young. We are lucky that most of the year we can access eggs from chicken hens without having to climb trees to raid nests. Get in the car, or better yet, the bicycle and go explore. Load up with some twonies and loonies and some way to transport the delicate orbs. Once a good spot has been located, other products maybe available from the same grower. I know egg vendors who also sell cut flowers, fruit, vegetables and many also sell frozen cuts of grass fed meat that are available with a quick phone call. 

When I find some eggs, I often will buy two, three or sometimes four dozen. Eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for two weeks. If I am not going to use them all that quickly, I will pickle them. Pickled eggs will be fine in the fridge, packed in vinegar and water, for months. These make for a quick snack or lunch on the run. Mixed with some local vegetables, regardless of the season, fresh eggs will yield a delicious omelette or fritata. I usually add ham or bacon to mine for a little extra punch of protein and wonderful flavor. Of course you can make other great dishes with eggs, including some of the best sauces, like hollandaise, mayonaise and ceasar dressing. 

Once you have established an egg source, I recommend finding a couple more. Since most places will only have a few dozen at a time for sale, they sell out quickly. Many times I have emptied someones cooler, and wished there were more available. More sources builds food security in your life and helps to create community by supporting those who work so hard to make our sustenance. Regardless of what you think about the price of food, we get a bargain when shopping locally. Even if the eggs cost $6, we are still ahead. Ignore the price at the grocery store. Most high production facilities use subsidized corn as feed, and subsidized fuel usage, so the true cost isn't passed along to the consumer. Read this article of a young lady in Colorado and her experience poultry farming. In a way the costs are passed on, in increased tax burden and health care costs. We don't generally think about those costs, but they are there and  very real. 

For your health, the health of your community, and health of the earth sourcing more of your food locally is so crucial. By switching some of your spending slowly but surely, you will gain confidence and realize how easy and varied the products that are grown and available in your community. I thank each and everyone who makes the effort to grow delicious food for us.

Super funny video about pickling! Thanks Mado:)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Adventure 44-Nymph Fall Regional Park

Fish Ladder
Holy smokes did we ever get a quick burst of winter this weekend. We awoke to a dusting of snow on the ground around the house on Remembrance Day. Big shock to most to have snow this early in November, as we don't usually have any snow until December. Natalie was invited to participate in a choir performance in Courtenay for the Remembrance Day ceremony, so we bundled up in anticipation of standing out in the cold weather. And it was pretty chilly. Natalie did really well and sung in the choir, each experiencing the emotions of the day in our own ways. I was really feeling it, such pride with the knowledge that my grandfather and great grandfather served for Canada in the World Wars. The ceremony was really well done, and soon we were heading back to the vehicle. We discussed doing our adventure after-word that morning, but with already chilled bones, we opted out and re-scheduled for the next day.
Candid shot.
The choices for adventures are really starting to get tougher. With the ho-hum fall weather, and short days, motivation is waning. I am struggling to figure it out every weekend. Maybe I am over-thinking making the choice. We have so many parks around, and beaches that have yet to be experienced. We only have seven left to wind down this year long challenge, so the easier I make it, the better chance we won't skip any days and finish it up. Nymph Falls was on the original list, but it seemed almost too easy. Finally after all these weeks, it was time to explore this park off Forbidden Plateau road. First thing I realized upon leaving for our adventure was my camera battery was dead. I think Natalie was using it and left it turned on for too long, and I failed to check. Steve Harris's quote "Two is one, one is none" plays in my head, and having my iphone gave me redundancy and allowed me to still take pictures. If the quality isn't quite to par, that is the reason.
Nestled between Forbidden Plateau road and the Puntledge River, Nymph Falls envelopes pretty river vistas, large second growth Douglas fir and red cedar forest, hiking trails and mountain biking routes. We stuck to the hiking trails, that I would offer are wheelchair accessible. Wide and compacted gravel make for pushing a child buggy a snap. The park is for the most part a level landscape, with few moderate hills to get down to riverside. As the name suggests there is a pretty waterfall, actually more of a cascade than a true fall, a sculpted fish ladder to help salmon and trout to ascend the fall to the upriver spawning grounds. Trails criss-cross the park and connect with the B.C. Hydro lands to the west, and mountain bike rider built trails on Crown Land that continue under the Inland Island highway to the east. I have found some tricky stunts while out exploring these trails including a teeter totter that scared the heck out of me.
A certain bunny?

Natalie and I spent our time alternating between running races and looking for symbols in the rocks and stumps. We walked cross-country and along the main trails. We walked out on the rocks and looked for salmon in the pools. Many folks were out and about in the park, surprising considering the weather. While not really awful, it was pretty cold. The rain held off for the most part so our adventure was a dry one. Natalie tired of the cold pretty quickly so we cut the walk short and vacated back to the truck.
B-girl stance
I am looking forward to the time when Natalie is more sure on her bike and she can accompany me on these trails. This area is probably as close to beginner riding as we have in the Valley. While I don't usually frequent the typical places that the crowds do, Nymph Falls is a popular place for summer swimming too. Go Find Adventure in an area park, regardless of the season.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Home Butchery

Gothic pig turns into...

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, Instagram and my personal Facebook account probably came across an strange, gothic picture of a pig on a table. Laying on a sheet of clear plastic, eerily resembling something from the cable T.V. show Dexter. This was an attempt to de-sensitize people to what their food actually looks like before it goes on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic and pasted with labels advertising the company behind the meat, but little information regarding the actual animal, who's flesh is contained in this mass of garbage. Where was this animal raised? Who was the farmer? Where was is slaughtered? What is the food safety record of the abattoir? Was this animal caused undue stress and anxiety before it took it's  place on the food chain? Not a chance. Reason why? Because no one cares. Broad spectrum of consumers really don't care about the actual animal they are eating and would rather not think about it. Usually they the price point is the main factor in which package is peeled from the display(ever notice how the styrofoam and plastic wrap sticks together, making that unnatural sound).  Food with a face and a soul scares people. I am not sure why? This is a completely natural cycle that must take place for humans to thrive. Sure we can be kept alive by eating third world proteins like nuts, seeds, and grains along with fruit and veg. But to really fuel us to perform to our utmost potential we must consume protein and fat of an animal origin. It just is. If you don't agree then you probably shouldn't be reading an essay about home butchery. Thanks anyways.

Wow, not to be a jerk, I just feel this strongly about my belief in the consumption of animal fat, muscle and organs, along with my passion for sourcing local animal products that are raised in a happy environment. I know that through my research and travels, the ability to purchase these well raised, well fed and small batch animals are within my grasp. I like to take this one step further in the security of my food. I prefer to buy these animals whole and fresh from the farm. They have been through the first step in the processing plant, which is slaughtered and cleaned. Taking it from this point isn't for everyone, but it sure is a wonderful way to get a lot of meat, for a reasonable price and take some pride in how you feed your clan.
This, which turns into....

I started learning about butchering when I was about 18, working at the Kingfisher Inn. We often had to trim up whole pork loins, de-bone turkeys and fillet fish. My first exposure on a large scale was in the helping of butchering of two veal that our sous chef brought in for his own personal use. I offered to help in exchange for a few cuts and a pint of beer. It was somewhat intimidating, but he was easy going about the process and gave me instruction on de-boning, trimming and wrapping. Fond memories of the slow cooked ribs that were  our reward of a job well done at the end of our hard work. This is still part of my tradition of the harvest, always cooking some kind of delight for a feast upon the final wrap of paper. I have smoked backstrap, grilled tenderloin and slow roasted dry rubbed ribs for this meal.

Hunting for deer is something that I really enjoy. The ability, with your own hands, to harvest, then process right down to the last morsel of flesh feels ancestral. Not much goes goes to waste. Bones for broth or dog treats. Several organs go in the larder. The fat for rendering for candles or soap. I endeavor to keep the hide for leather, but have not found a use for that much yet. With the purchase of a meat grinder and sausage stuffer has made the process completely in house. I can grind my own burger and make delicious dinner sausages with little more than salt, pepper, garlic, and onions. I have total control of the cleanliness of my kitchen and the ingredients of my product. I can also easily make other preserved meats, like jerky and biltong, bacon and salami.
To this. The rewards of hard work.

Home butchery will probably not in the long run save much money. Professional butchers are, in my opinion, very inexpensive. That is not why I choose to do this. I do it mostly for the skill building aspect and the challenge, along with the pride in telling people "I did that". I am a sponge for information on subjects that appeal to me. Instead of spending money on a hobby that really has no end result, like golfing or golfing, I end up with a freezer and pantry full of food that can be served with no worries about e-coli, salmonella or lysteria.

If home butchery is something that interests you, just try it out. Start small. Purchase some chicken legs with the backs attached, and work at separating those. Learn how the bird goes together on a one that has already been broken down. Soon you will have the knowledge to move up to a whole, fresh bird. Take it down into pieces, toss some rub on it, grill it and have a feast. You will be in love. Please don't be afraid of ruining it. How can you? It is still meat, even if it has a knife mark, or some missing skin. It all ends up looking the same a few hours after eating it anyways. 

So far, in 2012, I have butchered up 10 chickens, 16 salmon, three deer and half a hog. I will continue to be making sausages and jerky on and off for several months. I am pretty confident that I have about six months supply of protein in my freezers. Having that much food on hand is empowering. If something unforeseen happens, like a job loss, accident or sever weather event, we will be fed in this house for quite sometime.

I am always open to helping a novice who is not sure where to start. Feel free to send me a message, or a comment, and I will try my best to help you out. As the old Nike ads used to say "Just do it"!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Adventure 43- Boyle Point Provincial Park

Trail head
Hornby Island was on the original list of awesome places to visit in the Comox Valley right from the start of this undertaking, way back in January. Very few trips for me outside of work have been taken, with the prohibitive costs of the ferries being the main reason that we spend very little time at this gem of the Salish Sea. Hornby is blessed with gorgeous, sandy beaches, bordered by some of the warmest swimming waters this side of Hawaii, old growth forests, funky homes, cycling paths and mountain biking routes. As a youngster my uncle owned a cabin on Hornby and we would visit it a couple times a year. That was before it was really discovered by the wealthy and made property values skyrocket. First choice for this adventure was to visit Hornby Island and hike the unique terrain of Helliwell Provincial Park, on the south east side of the island. But because of Mother Nature, and my own cautious nature, we didn't actually make it.
Where did you go? Good camo N!
I checked the weather forecast for the day shortly before leaving to catch the B.C. Ferries from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. The report called for winds gusting up to 60 kilometers per hour. That is pretty strong. Not a wind warning for the area, but still strong enough that the little "rubber duck" of a ship that makes the run across Lambert Channel from Denman to Hornby, may not be able to make the crossing and sailings could be cancelled. We paid for the full trip across just in case. The breeze was beginning to pick up as we waited to cross Baynes Sound(or as Natalie observed B(L)aynes sound), so I wasn't too hopeful. The biggest issue would be having to sleep over in the truck on Hornby, missing time at work and school, if the sailings were cancelled. Always wanting to be prepared, a sleeping bag and extra water were packed in the truck as a redundancy, just in case. As we waited for 30 minutes for the boat, Natalie challenged me to a few games of Memory on her ipod. She kicked my butt every time. Old age I tell ya!
New angle on Chrome Island
We crossed the Sound with no problem. Immediately upon driving up the hill on Denman, the wind was picking up rapidly. Trees were swaying, leaves getting tossed about. Gorgeous colors of fall painted the landscape of the small farms that dot the island. We even saw some Highland steers. Que the Corb Lund. They are massive animals with huge horns. As we drove I explained to Natalie how the wind can wreck havoc on the ferry system, and the risk of having to sleep over if for some reason the boat couldn't go. She agreed that it would be better to play it safe, although she did think that sleeping in the truck for the night would be better than going to school! Once the view unveiled Lambert Channel, the choice was simple. White caps were rolling from the strong south easter. Having been caught in more than my share of these winds, I know how brutal they can be. It was always in a much smaller craft than the B.C. Ferries vessel, including one memorable weekend aboard my friends sailboat.
Eagle Rock
So now what to do? From my geekness of reading the Backroad Mapbook, I knew a Provincial Park was located at the very southern end of Denman. Boyle Point is a 125 hectare site that meanders through a mature second growth forest to the look-out that gives a wonderful view of Chrome Island, and the Strait of Georgia. This day the view was impeded by the low cloud and we could hardly see Hornby for it being so socked in. The vantage point is special allowing a great open look at the Chrome Island lighthouse. Continually manned since it first began to signal mariners of the treacherous rocks and shallows surrounding the rock. It is a symbol of my childhood as we spend many days fishing the waters around this part of the the coast. The bright white buildings are a classic symbol of B.C.'s marine history.
Turkey Tails
Another short trail veers off to bring hikes to a view point to Eagle Rock. I also was lucky enough to spend a few visits to this "island" in my childhood. At low tide one can walk from Denman to Eagle Rock, and it's unusual rock formations. Many cormorant sea birds nest and habituate both Chrome and Eagle. I remember the water being very clear in this area and we could look over the gunnels and witness starfish, urchins, anemones and various crabs. I would assume that the scuba diving would be really spectacular around here.
Not sure, but it's pretty
Our walk was really nice today. The breeze was quite powerful, but we were in the trees for the majority of the time. The fall colors were amazing, big leaf maple leaves in the various hues littered the ground. I was searching for any kind of wild mushrooms to look at. No chantrelles around, of course. We heard eagles calling loudly to each other, saw a smashed up wasp nest and smelled the misty sea air. Although were just had a short visit to this park, I would love to re-visit it in the summer and explore down the precarious cliffs to get a better look at the inter-tidal creatures. Anytime we get to spend quality time outside, not doing chores or being distracted by electronics, is amazing. Find Adventure.
"Hair in my eyes...."