Archive for May, 2007

Cruising on By  Can you spot the floatplane in this picture??

We never get tired of watching the cruise ships on their way to and from Alaska.  We saw this one on Friday night from Cluxewe Beach (pronounced clucks-ee-wee).  I’m sure this is one of the biggest vessels that travels through here. 

Megan thought it was time we had a barbecue on the beach so despite a forecast for rain we packed up for a party.  Boy did we pack up.  Hotdogs, roasted potatoes, deli salads, cheeses & dips, crackers & chips, watermelon and it wouldn’t be a proper Canadian barbecue without s’mores.  We pretty much brought everything we could think of and then some.  It took both our vehicles to get it all out to Cluxewe which thankfully is only 10 minutes north of us.  Because it’s exposed to open seas the beach is much different than ours with lots of sand & shells.  There is an estuary that meets the ocean so fishermen love the fresh water/salt water fishing and birders appreciate all the species they can see in one small area.  http://www.cluxewe.com/

We invited the young Dutch couple staying with us at the b&b to join us as well as family and friends.  It was a very happy coincidence to find a campsite with a huge tarp big enough to cover the picnic table, firepit and lots of room for us to sit under cover but still see the ocean. 

The Dutch couple were game to try s’mores for the first time.  Megan’s secret ingredient is using Caramilk chocolate with the marshmallows and graham crackers.  They’re messy but delicious.  We only lost a few marshmallows and hotdogs in the fire and what’s a bbq without dirty hands and being short on cutlery.    

Just before dark we packed up the site for the very short trek home.  Our Dutch friends had to leave at 5:00 am Saturday morning for their ferry trip from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert.  Thanks to Megan for the wonderful idea – it was good fun.

Blessings from the beach…Karen


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Somewhere over the rainbow

Mama Bear’s Bedtime Snack

What an incredible week here on the beach.  It’s amazing I ever get anything done with so much much gawking out the window.  A few days ago we enjoyed the most incredible rainbow traveling across the sky to meet the ferry.   Because it rains so much here we see rainbows quite often…we’ve even had rainbows ending on our beach.  Without the pot of gold unfortunately.

Last night while traveling home from Port Hardy (30 minutes north of here) we spotted 10 black bears.  A mother bear and 3 cubs were most entertaining.  We pulled over to the side of the road and were able to take pictures from the truck without disturbing mama’s bedtime snack of clover.  The 3 little bears scurried into the brush and wouldn’t come back out.   The bears all look so shiny and healthy with their thick black coats.  Right now they’re eating grass & weeds and also spend time at the beach flipping rocks looking for crab.  We’re all enjoying crab season…at low tide we watch people in their waders poking the sand with long sticks.  My Dad went crabbing for the first time this week and he quickly had his limit of 4.  That night we feasted on fresh crab with melted butter….mmmmm. 

The weather isn’t great this weekend but the rain held off long enough for a bit of gardening and lots of relaxing.

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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Yesterday after a long day cleaning rooms Chris suggested afternoon tea.  What a gorgeous day to sit outside in the Adirondack chairs with our binoculars at the ready!  Calm water, warm sun and all the snow capped mountains were proudly on display.   We found out the name of another peak – Mount Benedict which is beside Mount Stephens directly north of us.  Hey at least it’s 2 peaks of the range we can name for the dozens of b&b guests this summer that are bound to ask.

We watched a pocket cruise ship go past, 2 float planes take off and some yachts sail into the harbour.  You know how some people have a sign on the door that says “gone fishin”  we need a sign that says “we’re on the beach.” Cuz if the weather is nice that’s the best place to sit and watch the world go by.   Best seats in the house

I’m so happy for the series of events that brought us here and can’t imagine being anywhere else.  People who don’t like to leave their house are agoraphobic – is there a term for people who don’t want to leave their town?   Sure we still want to do some traveling when Chris retires (there’s a Harley out there with our name on it) but Port McNeill is home.   I appreciate this sleepy little town where people smile and wave and mean it when they ask “how are you today?” 

And how am I?  Happy to be enjoying these spring days…I’m sitting at my computer listening to the waves and the birds and there’s a lovely fresh breeze coming in. 

Thanks a bunch to Scott who just sent us the photo  looking towards Alert Bay

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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What a lovely few days we’ve had on the beach.  Sun and warmer temperatures make it feel like spring is really here! 

Spring means new growth and baby animals.  We saw 2 cubs and mama bear on the beach this week.  It’s always reassuring to me to see the bears in the spring.  They survived the winter and have decided to stay here so we can enjoy watching them through until fall.  They spend time on the beach everyday and one of the yearlings is the one who’s been leaving his droppings on the road and sidewalk.  My Dad saw him walking through the bush on the side of the road. 

A few days ago I could hardly believe my eyes when the big ferry “Queen of Prince Rupert” came cruising into our harbour.   Why would it be coming into our tiny little dock?  Was it lost? I found out later it was heading up to do the Port Hardy – Prince Rupert ferry run while the new vessel “Northern Adventure” is repaired.  Definitely a bit of excitement for our UK guests during their breakfast.   They were thrilled to watch float planes taking off and all the boat activity.  Northern Adventure

Then yesterday a gray whale was feeding close by.  I watched and waited patiently for the blow of water but couldn’t see anything.  I did however follow the progress of a lone kayaker paddling quickly through a very busy shipping lane.  I’m grateful to have neighbours phone when there’s something happening outside…it’s the Beach Drive telegraph.

The same day we saw our first cruise ship of the season.  How dramatic to see the huge white vessels come through the channel.  Sometimes we can hear the murmur of announcements and can only imagine what they’re saying “bingo starts at 2:15 on the Lido deck.”  The cruise ships are making the Vancouver to Alaska voyage and in the busy season we can see 4-6 of them per day.   We’ve had friends on the cruise who said they could see our house from the ship – they’re a few kilometres away but would have a great view of Beach Drive.

Today will be a day of puttering in the yard.  Cutting the grass and washing all the decks to get ready for a full house this weekend. 

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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Wet & windy spring day 

After my last posting we received a phone call from a neighbour telling us to look out the window.  There was a pod of 5 transient Orcas heading into the harbour.  I sat transfixed in the window with binoculars and watched them until they swam out of view.  Apparently this was the second day in a row for this pod to visit.  It doesn’t matter how many times it happens it’s a thrill to see whales !!On Sunday a friend called to tell us they’d been watching a Gray whale feed just 20 yards off the beach while they enjoyed their Eggs Benedict brunch.  Sadly we didn’t hear about it until 2 hours after the sighting so the whale was long gone.  I’ve never seen a Gray whale here although they do travel through.   I believe they spend most of their time on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  

My husband Chris is far more knowledgeable than me when it comes to whales.  I see a fin and yell “whale.”  He sees a fin and he can tell if it’s a transient or resident Orca pod.  We have about 200 resident Orcas.  Because their main source of food in the summer is salmon they follow the fish through the Broughton Archipelago which is our backyard.  We have also seen minke, humpback whale and once an enormous fin whale.

There is an amazing website called Orca Live http://www.orca-live.net/community/index.html  Dr. Paul Spong has underwater hydrophones in the area and during the summer months you can hear real time whale calls.  You can also chat with folks from around the world interested in whales.    

We can’t see the mountains this morning and it’s grey and drizzly out there.   Another wet & windy spring day.

Blessings from the Beach…Karen

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Late in the afternoon yesterday a road-weary young couple knocked on the door looking for a room.  He’s originally from Ontario, she’s from Germany and they now live in Luxembourg.  How on earth do people end up on Beach Drive in Port McNeill?  They’re touring Vancouver Island  & Vancouver looking at the possibility of moving to BC.

 The conversation at the breakfast table was fascinating.  All 4 guests have traveled extensively so talked about all the countries they’ve visited.  The couple from Victoria visit France every year or two and we talked about Canada being bilingual but how few people in the west know much more than a smattering of french.  I’ve had to dig up my rusty high school french a few times but once had to rely on a free translation website to communicate with guests from Paris.   I wanted to make sure they had directions for their adventure tour…turns out they had GPS in their vehicle.  No maps required !!  Between the five of us we discovered that we all speak some French,  one speaks German & Luxembourg, and another Spanish.  I’m not sure if it counts but I can also swear in Italian.

This morning the guests were able to see the panorama of snow capped mainland mountains.  It is drizzly and cold today but it’s always a treat to see the mountains.  Apparently Luxembourg is much warmer right now.  Our European guests are a bit surprised at our 3 degree nights.   The electric blankets will have to stay on the bed a little longer. 

And now off I go to clean rooms for the next guests.

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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The breakfast dishes and housekeeping can wait!  This morning I can’t stop looking out at the water.  The water is so calm and the sunshine makes a blanket of sparkling diamonds. 

Last night we thought we saw a whale fin.  It could have been a wave or a log but it was exciting to scan with binoculars.  We don’t watch nearly as much tv in this house.  There’s too much happening outside. 

Today feels like spring!  A good time to wash windows or cut the grass.  Clean away all winter dirt and debris and get ready for another busy summer season of guests. 

The black bears are up and out now.  We’ve seen a few along the highway heading up to Port Hardy – a mama and her 3 cubs which is so incredible.  Yesterday a friend of ours came for lunch and started her conversation with “well it’s official – bears do not poop in the woods – they poop on the sidewalk.”  Yup just down the street from us is a big pile of bear scat.  When the bears come out of hibernation we all have to be very careful with our garbage cans.  No putting them out the night before collection day. 

Sightings so far today: commercial fishing boats, a few merganser ducks and a beautiful blue sky.

Blessings from the beach…

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