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Archive for July, 2007

Thursday afternoon while unloading groceries from the van I heard the unmistakable blow of a whale.  Looking to the water I spotted a humpback whale surfacing just off our beach.  Leaving everything in the van I ran into the house to tell Chris who was already enjoying the show.  For the next hour we sat on the beach with 4 of our guests who were thrilled to see the whale, eagles and a bear at Hoy Bay all at the same time.  Really, it just doesn’t get any better than afternoons like this !!

This morning is cool and cloudy but the sun may be able to fight it’s way through.  We have a guest from Denmark going grizzly bear watching at Knight’s Inlet, a couple from the UK relaxing after arriving late last night and sadly some guests are heading home after many North Island adventures.  We say goodbye this morning to Dave, Penny & 5-year-old Olivia who lived in Port Alice 2 years ago and come back each summer to visit friends and to do some salmon fishing.  This year Dave caught his limit each day and has kindly given us 2 salmon which will taste delicious barbecued with Chris’s secret marinade – maple syrup.  

Today Chris is boating south to Blind Channel Resort http://www.blindchannel.com/index.html to visit our daughter.  Blind Channel is situated on Thurlow Island and only accessible by float plane or boat…a tiny community.  The resort is owned by the Richter family and includes:  a general store, restaurant, laundromat, post office, marina & cottages for rent.  When asked what Chris could bring along – Megan’s list includes: pizza, wool & knitting needles, watermelon, dill pickles, energy drinks & a hair straightener.  All the essentials while working in a remote location !!   The bed & breakfast keeps me close to home this time of year so Chris promises to take lots of pictures so I can see little bits of what Megan is experiencing.

And now it’s time for me to start the coffee, finish setting the table and get breakfast ready for 7 guests. 

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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Yesterday Chris and I attended the memorial service for Mike Xylinas who passed away July 14th.   An experienced pilot, Mike and 2 passengers were flying to the Merritt Music Festival in Mike’s Cessna 172.  Tragically the plane crashed into Mount Kinman just south of Port McNeill and Mike was killed instantly.  Miraculously the 2 passengers Glen Olson & Nick Tiechert also from Port McNeill survived the crash although both are still in serious condition.

For anyone who has ever visited Port McNeill, the Xylinas family owns the Haida-Way Hotel.  An extremely close Greek family Nick & Angela (mom & dad) and sons Angelos & Mike worked side-by-side every day for 14 years.  Mike never married and never had children but absolutely adored his 2 nephews & niece.  He traveled the world, learned Spanish, entered triathalons, played all competitive sports and had an infectious smile.  A few years ago he also started flying people to medical appointments as a volunteer with Angel Flight of BC.

600 people from all over BC came yesterday to pay tribute to this remarkable man who was only 34-years-old.  Childhood friends, employees & customers, pilots, family & neighbours all spoke about Mike as the embodiment of someone who lived life to the fullest every day.  I knew Mike as a hero.  In 2004 Mike, Tyson & Bill Mackay and my husband Chris helped rescue a stranded kayaker and in November 2005 they all received bravery awards from the Lieutenant Governor in Victoria.   Mike is the one wearing a green shirt in the background.

So yesterday we said farewell to a friend.  This morning just before 6:00 am in the calmest water with a beautiful sunrise as a backdrop a humpback whale swam right past our beach.  He surfaced again and again arching his enormous back before swimming into the harbour.  Mike used to fly past his parents house just a few doors down from us and wave his wings as a hello.  I think today he was saying goodbye. 

In lieu of flowers, donations kindly accepted to Angel Flight of B.C., Box 2623, Sidney, B.C., V8L 4C1 in Mike’s Memory.

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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What started out as an ordinary trip to the dock turned into another “aha” moment.

It happened while waiting for my Mom to arrive by float plane Wednesday afternoon.  On this sparkling sunny afternoon we raced down to the waterfront to hurry up and wait.  The plane was late – we found out the schedule is dependent on how many stops the plane makes along the way.

The hour spent waiting was wonderful.  Our pace slowed immediately as we stopped to watch a heron.

Next we took a few moments to marvel at the countless holes in the mud at low tide and wondered if it would feel as cool and deliciously squishy on bare toes as it looked from up above.

We took turns pointing out miniature crabs, a school of tiny fish and “ocean cauliflower.”

As first I anxiously kept an eye on my watch.  It’s so difficult to let go of my preoccupation with time.  There’s no time like the present.  Time is money.  After a while we made ourselves comfortable at the very end of the dock and lay down on our backs listening to the water lapping underneath.

From there we played “what does that cloud look like to you?” 

We sang old camp songs as loud as we could.  The sound was drowned out by logging trucks that were unloading onto tugs nearby.

We waved to boats coming into the marina and marveled at the wing of a Twin Otter that passed directly over our heads.  In that hour we watched a duck tipping his feathered bottom up and diving in the water over and over again.  Feet away from where we sat tiny little fish jumped like bolts of liquid lightening.

Eventually the plane we were waiting for appeared on the horizon making a perfect landing amidst the perfect North Island traffic jam.  Birds and fish boats and planes.  Next time I’m bringing a lawn chair.

This was originally printed in the Mid Coast Beacon  newspaper August 1, 2001

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What does it look like?  Remember this game?  Where you lie on your back and look up at the clouds trying to figure out what they remind you of.  Maybe that one is a  spaceship or a teddy bear with the stuffing falling out or a mountain of marshmallows.  The sky was mesmerizing yesterday and I spent a lot of time looking out the window as the clouds slowly changed shape.  

We have a 5-year-old guest named Ethan staying with us right now who is really enjoying the beach.  With his mom watching from a chair in the yard Ethan methodically scours the beach putting his treasures into 3 plastic pails.   It is interesting with all the tiny crab shells and rocks and bits of driftwood – I’d trade beachcombing for housework any day.

Yesterday morning we said goodbye to Les and Karen from Nanaimo and Les and Judy from Vancouver.  The four had never met before but after chatting at breakfast and then enjoying the same whale watching tour yesterday they departed (as Judy put it) as “new best friends who might never see each other again.” 

Our nephew Stewart stands in front of just one more cruise ship passing through, not something he’s likely to see in Cambridge, Ontario.   Things we don’t have that he does are malls, fast food restaurants & traffic lights.  If he misses any of that he hasn’t mentioned it.  Since we do have 2 video stores he seems okay in our little town.  In a few more days we’ll be waving goodbye at the bus terminal as Stewart makes his way down the island and back home. 

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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Today we were blessed with a spectacularly sunny day – the weather channel says it was only 25 degrees but it sure felt a lot warmer than that.  The butter is melting in the kitchen cupboard and I’ve had the fan going full speed all day.  A lovely breeze blew in off the water so this afternoon Chris and our nephew Stewart and I sat in the backyard to beat the heat.  Relaxing in the shade

Last Friday and Saturday night we met guests Jill & Tyler from the Vancouver area.  The conversations around the breakfast table never cease to amaze me.  Over 2 mornings we learned that Tyler played minor hockey for a living in Manitoba, BC and then New Mexico.  He is now a real estate developer and part owner of a family hair & tattoo salon.  His wife Jill teaches pre-school, once taught a year in Hong Kong and is a professional belly dancer.  My life seems very tame !! 

Our 17-year-old nephew Stewart is visiting from Ontario for 2 few weeks.  This life-long city dweller seems to be adapting well to our quiet town.   His hometown has a population of 300,000 – Port McNeill is under 3,000.  Stewart’s first night he started a bonfire on the beach and he’s been golfing, canoeing and tomorrow goes whale watching. Life in the slow lane   Today whale watchers saw 3 orca clans the A’s, G’s and R’s come together (more than 50 whales) after many days of no orcas.  

Finally I leave you with this picture of a boat parked just off the beach in front of a neighbour’s house.  No worries about limited parking…this fellow got off his boat, hopped into his rowboat and was quickly on shore.  All Day Parking

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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It’s funny how so many of our conversations revolve around the weather.   Guests often ask me what the forecast is before they head off on their adventures.  Each morning I try to have a look at the Environment Canada website so I have the latest and best information.  I’d rather just look out the window and make my own predictions.   I remember hearing as a child “red sky in the morning – sailor take warning…red sky at night sailor’s delight.”  It works although if you wait long enough any weather prediction eventually comes true.  This picture was taken a few days ago on a grey & drizzly morning.  Oh what Heavenly Clouds

Lars & Yvonne visiting from Spain have been busy exploring the north island during their 4 night stay with us.  I thank them for sharing their special photo of this orca they saw while out with Mackay Whale Watching Orca on Vacation  Captain Bill says in his 30 years of whale watching he’s never seen the southern resident orcas in our area.  This was a very special sighting that proves that yes even the orcas from Victoria love the North Island.   The next day while in Zeballos Lars & Yvonne came across some black bears enjoying a mid-day meal Black Bear in Zeballos

Thanks to all of you who voted for Clifton Murray.  We were very disappointed that he didn’t make it to the final 14 on tonight’s show.  He’s an incredible young man and I believe him when he says we haven’t seen the last of him.  Stay tuned !! 

We’re enjoying another incredible week here on the beach and I’m looking forward to see what tomorrow brings.

Blessings from the beach…Karen

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