Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011.23.221 - Fish heads. Eat Them Up. Yum.

So let's be clear about this. I don't do hot. And as we head into the last weekend of August, we've experiencing our first real long stretch of summer weather, and after weeks of complaining about it being too cool and too cloudy, now it's too bright and too hot. I'm thinking of changing my names to Goldilocks. On this hot Sunday we had no real desire to wrap ourselves up in a drysuit or neoprene, or to be broiled outside during the forecast blaze of midday, so we went for an early morning quickie up the Gorge. Of course, before we began, we had our traditional pre-paddle round of charades. Today's topic was music albums, and Paula and Louise did their best impression of Devo's New Traditionalists cover.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0078

Paula, in her Advanced Elements inflatable joined Louise and I in our Deltas and we headed out into the windless morning.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0082 copy 2011-08-28 The Gorge_0083 copy

It wasn't long until we kayaked by this seagull who clearly was having trouble eating his breakfast.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0011 copy
That fish head is bigger than his head! Clearly this violate the B.Kliban rule.
From there, we meandered in to Portage Inlet....
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0089 2011-08-28 The Gorge_0092
...but we were soon reminded that even under such benign conditions and so close to home, you're still on the water, and medical emergencies, even minor ones, suddenly become a whole extra level of difficult. One of Louise's eyes started burning, and she couldn't keep it open.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0093
Paula and I came along side and we helped flush her eye. Fortunately we had plenty of water with us. We suspect that a ball of sweat rolled down her face and took some sunscreen along for the ride into her eye. She didn't seem to have anything in it, and it was only slightly red. A few washings and she was able to continue, but we decided to head back.

As we headed back, we saw the local swans. We didn't get to see the baby swans this year, so we're not sure how many babies they started with, but at least one made it near-adulthood, and that's a good thing.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0045 copy
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0043 copy
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0047
We ran one final gauntlet of geese and we were done.
2011-08-28 The Gorge_0104 copy
Trip Length: 7.25 km
YTD: 187.38 km
More pictures are here.

It has come to my attention that Louise somehow escaped her formative years without being exposed to the song Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes, and thus had no pop-cultural reference for the blog post title. Just a blank stare that seemed to say, "What kind of crazy are you now?" I get that a lot.
It seems inconceivable to me that someone as literate and well-educated as Louise could have gone this far in life without hearing this song. Clearly, those noisy right-wingers must be correct about the state of our education system!
To rectify that, here's Barnes and Barnes' website. And for all you trivia masters out there, one half of Barnes and Barnes is actor Bill Mumy who played Will Robinson on the original Lost in Space and Lennier on Babylon 5! Who says you don't learn anything in the blogisphere!
At least I didn't have to explain who Devo is.
2011-08-28 The Gorge

Sunday, August 7, 2011

2011.22.220 - Elk Lake

Today, on another sunny summer's day, Louise and I decided to be spontaneous and change our plans and paddle at Elk Lake, a place that we haven't paddled at in an astonishing four years. In fact the last time we paddled here was my first paddle back after breaking and dislocating my arm and shoulder in a bicycle riding accident. Where does all the time go? Too many places to paddle, not enough time.
It's also a fitting place to paddle, as my paddling career (such as it is) started right here:
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0000
Well, not at the Cat Clinic obviously, but on this spot across form the beach where the Cat Clinic stands now once stood a shop that rented kayaks and other assorted water sports accessories, and it was about six years ago that Paula and Bernie bought a used Pamlico play boat from the shop and on this beach that they let me have a try in it. And I've been broke ever since, but loving every minute of it.

Elk Lake is local shorthand; it's actually two connected lakes and parks, Elk Lake, the larger to the north, and Beaver Lake to the south. We were launching from Hamster Beach on Elk Lake. Hamster Beach is named because the beach was once overrun by hamsters. This caused an influx of feral cats to the area, prompting the building of the Cat Clinic-- excuse me, but-- no, I'm busy...I'm writing the blog right now-- just telling the story of Hamster Beach...what?...really? Oh.
Sorry about that. I've just been informed that the name of the beach is Hamsterly Beach, and that my story about the hamsters wasn't very funny anyway. Some people have no sense of humour. Who makes adverbs out of nouns anyway? Hamsterly. Humph.
Anyway, we put in at Hamsterly Beach....
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0044
...and carefully avoided the rowers from the nearby rowing centre.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0050

Sunny and warm, water like glass. We decided to go around the shores of both lakes.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0056
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0057 copy

We saw an eagle perched high in a tree surveying its domain, and a fish jump nearly two metres out of the water. How strange that was! Straight up like a mackerel missile, although it was probably a trout or a bass. We meandered around the south end of Beaver Lake. And then we saw turtles.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0008
There were seven on this log, although one had scampered back into the water by the time I got my camera out.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0014 copy
I think these are the Western Painted Turtle, an endangered species. The Habitat Acquisition Trust is monitoring the plight of the Western Painted Turtle -- check out their website here.
A few minutes later we found another turtle going solo on an different log. I think this one is a Slider.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0022

As we rounded the north end of Elk Lake, we saw a heron in stealth mode in the reeds.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0034
It was such a good idea that even the ducks were trying it.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0031

The end of the paddle drew near. Where does the time go?
2011-08-07 Elk Lake_0058 copy

Trip Length: 10.44 km
YTD: 180.13 km
More pictures are here.
2011-08-07 Elk Lake

Saturday, August 6, 2011

2011.21.219 - At Land's End

With it half over, it looks like summer has finally arrived.The last ten days or so might be the first long stretch of the year where we've had seasonal temperatures. By "seasonal temperatures" I mean a daytime high that reaches the normal expected average high for the day, and by "of the year" I mean since January 1. And sadly, I don't believe that to be an exaggeration.
Louise and I decided to check out a put-in I'd never heard about until discovering it on Mike Jackson's blog. However, a certain member of the family seemed intent on stopping us from leaving the house on this sunny day. Or maybe he was trying to save me from a fashion faux pas. Or faux paw in his case. "You really want want to go out of the house wearing this? You'll look like a giant melon. You'll thank me later."
2011-08-07 - Land's End_0120

The launch point was at the northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula, at the end of Land's End Road, aptly named because at the end of the road, there ain't no more land. From here north, you're into the Gulf Islands (that's Salt Spring Island on the right in the photo below, just a short hop of about 2.5 km away), but if you paddle south, you're entering Saanich Inlet.

We didn't get off to a good start. Many pleasure boats cruise these waters and a big one roared by just as we were launching. At the start of every paddle Louise's stomach needs a few moments to became acclimated to being on the ocean, a few moments that she didn't get this time as the pleasure craft's large wake caught us just as we were heading out.
We waited a few minutes for her stomach to settle, then proceeded south.
2011-08-06 -  Land's End_0204

We were in the area of multi-million dollar homes. You can tell because all the homes are huge and are miles apart. Apparently rich people don't like living too close to other rich people.
2011-08-06 -  Land's End_0198 copy

The oystercatchers don't really care where they live as long as there is something to eat.
2011-08-07 - Land's End_0127 copy

Speaking of something to eat, we saw a seagull trying to choke down a starfish. Not a great picture -- the seagull was determined to stay out of focus.
2011-08-07 - Land's End_0129

We meandered through coves and bays as we made our way south, paddling a piece of local coastline that we'd never travelled before thus enabling us to cross off a few more kilometres on our quest to paddle the Slowest Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.
2011-08-06 -  Land's End_0192 copy

We even paddled near the flight path to the airport.
2011-08-07 - Land's End_0136 copy

WestJet wasn't doing the only flying today. We followed an eagle for a while as he fluttered from tree to tree. (Yeah, "fluttered" is utterly the wrong word to use for an eagle, but I'm tired, and it's late. "Fluttered" is the best you're going to get.)
2011-08-07 - Land's End_0141 copy2

A shaky start but all in all a lovely day.
2011-08-06 -  Land's End_0188 copy

Trip Length: 7.84 km
YTD: 169.69 km
More pictures are here.
2011-08-06 -  Land's End