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Archive for the ‘Whale Sightings’ Category

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Summer doesn’t officially end for a few days, but fall is quickly showing its muscle.  Shorter days, Canadian Geese flying in formation and finally after one of the driest summers — blessed rain !!  One of my favourite parts of autumn is the cool, crisp breeze that comes in off the ocean.  Wish I could bottle that fragrance up and sell it.

The summer months were jam packed and action filled.  Not as many motorcycle trips as we would have liked but it is hard to beat last year’s 2 1/2 month North American trek. We managed a few mini vacays traveling with friends and family and the bike will NOT go back into storage until the last day of September when the insurance expires for the season.  We live so far away from most of our family so it’s such an event when they come to visit us in Port McNeill.  My brother & cousin rode their Harleys across Canada and we were thrilled they carved out three nights to spend time with us.  Much laughing over a few cold drinks !!  With her new hip and so much more mobile than when I saw her in March, my Mom just flew home to Ontario after being here for 3 weeks.  We chatted.  We shopped.  We ate bad snacks.  And GG (great-grandma) got lots of quality time with Bowen.  My Mom’s cousin Judy and her friend John come up from Washington State for a mini family reunion while GG was here.  Their moms grew up in Saskatchewan and then one went east to Ontario and one went west to Vancouver and then on to Seattle.

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1) Trip to Hornby & Denman Islands with fellow bikers  2) My brother Dan and cousin Brian posing in front of the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove 3) Our daughter Megan, her husband Justin and their adorable son Bowen were all in a wedding party 4) My Mom & Bowen at our regular Friday night Legion dinner

I’ve been dragging my feet for two days now trying to decide which pictures encapsulated our summer.  Then realized I’ve used most of the best ones in previous posts or on Facebook.  So I started thinking in overall themes: people, flowers & north island scenery.

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1 & 2 taken at Shepherd’s Garden near Port McNeill.  3) Alert Bay Ecological Park and 4) The Community Garden at St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill

Thanks to Mackay Whale Watching for the unforgettable moments out in the Broughton Archipelago.  Twice in two weeks I was out on the Naiad jumping up and down with glee to see orca & humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions.  Over almost 20 years I’m sure Chris and I have taken thousands of whale pictures.  The majority of them are little black dots or splashes of water on the surface.  Although enlarged and cropped this is by far the best shot of an orca in our collection.

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1) Orca spyhopping taken onboard Mackay Whale Watching vessel the Naiad a few weeks ago 2) smoky sunrise the result of forest fires in the Interior of BC 3) after the smoke cleared we went back to our normal morning view 4) one of the beautiful giants at the Alert Bay Ecological Reserve

It’s time to start getting the garden and yard ready for winter.  Chris and I are happy to get back to the gym this morning and start back on a much healthier eating plan after slacking off most of the summer.  So long carbs…hello lean protein and salads 😇 Chips & dip I will miss you *sigh*

Here’s a challenge for you.  Do more of what makes you happy.  What does that look like for you this autumn?  I’ve got a stack of books to read.  Information to add to the family tree on ancestry.ca.  Umpteen crafting projects to finish.  An online photography course to get through.  Happy Autumn 🍂🍁

Hugs from the beach…

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These words are inscribed on a small plaque that hangs in our office.  I’ve always felt drawn to this old fashioned phrase and today it fits how I’m feeling.  Blessed…content…grateful.  This morning’s breakfast included two lively groups visiting from Vancouver who shared their adventure tour experiences out of Telegraph Cove.  Once again we are reminded how amazing it is to live in this place.  Our guests were thrilled to see the grizzly bears of Knight’s Inlet, black bears, humpback whales, sea lions, seals, river otters and eagles.  They excitedly shared their pictures and I’ve been carrying around that enthusiasm all day.  Driving home from errands this afternoon I dumped the groceries on the kitchen counter and raced outside to take capture a few things that are making me smile today.  Clouds.  Big white fluffy clouds as far as I could see.  Quirky formations that make me want to lay on the grass, look skyward and daydream.

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We’ve had a few weather systems pass through since this picture was taken a few hours ago.  Including lots of cool, fresh rain responsible for our garden looking so beautiful and green.  A riot of colour and blooms — roses, bird of paradise, and um lots of beautiful plants I don’t know the name of 🙂  My favourite right now is the lilac tree.  Oh our little lilac tree.  I’m not sure if it was root bound in a pot too long or if it needs better soil but after 10 years it offers up just one lone blossom.  One of my favourite scents that ranks up there with lavender & peppermint.

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Whether everyone is home and available or it’s just me by myself I love a cup of afternoon tea.  Today in the spirit of happiness I treated myself to a homemade London Fog.  Three quarters of a mug of strong Earl Grey tea with 1/4 mug hot milk with a little shot of real vanilla.  Delicious !!  This beautiful mug is from the “Crazy Daisy” collection I found at Murchie’s Tea in Victoria years ago.   Am I a tea-oholic?  How many kinds of tea do you have to have in your cupboard?  Ten, twenty, thirty.  As many times as I tell myself I’m not buying one more kind until I used up all the others I just can’t help myself.

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My soundtrack for today’s happy moments was the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young CD “So Far” I found at the thrift store for $1.50.  I’ve been singing along to “Woodstock,” Teach Your Children Well,” “Ohio,” and this one “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Blessings from the beach from one happy hippy…

 

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Summer is officially here.  The signs are all around us.  Warmer temperatures, orcas have been spotted in the area and finally we’ve traded in raingear for shorts, flip flops, sunglasses and yesterday I should have put on some sunscreen…ouch !!  Tagging along with Megan while she went for a golf lesson out at Seven Hills Golf & Country Club I spent the hour poking around the clubhouse and decks.  I think the name is incorrect — there looks like a lot more than 7 hills to me and one of them has been nicknamed “heart attack hill.”  Not that I’d know for sure.  I have golfed, I may golf again but I am definitely not a golfer.  Driver of the golf cart perhaps but the game just stresses me out.  Wayyyy too many things to remember and I usually end up performing a 3-Stooges move spinning completely around and missing the ball entirely.  So yesterday I was delighted to just enjoy the scenery.

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This is what the clubhouse looked like in in the early days.  Financed & built by dozen of North Island businesses and volunteers in 1982 this gem of a course is set in a beautiful mix of mountains & valleys.  Chatting with a long time member I found out that they’re in the process of revamping the 1st and 9th holes with much of the work donated by locals with the final excavating to be completed by a professional.  The club is lucky enough to have a golf pro on staff every summer.  Kevin plays pro golf so occasionally does fly off to tournaments but yesterday he was sharing some golf etiquette with Megan as she played a few holes of the course.

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This picture doesn’t do the scenery justice.  There was a cool breeze blowing, the sun was shining and there lots of happy golfers enjoying time outside.  Not to rub it in but it’s possible to golf year round at our course.  And after Megan’s lesson we went into the clubhouse for a late lunch.   It was fantastic — we both had the roasted red pepper, pesto chicken burger with homemade fries.  Sharon is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch, dinners on Wednesdays for men’s night and she’s talking about Friday night dinners as well.  We will definitely be back !!

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I love this sign.  At some golf courses you have to worry about alligators but here you have to watch out for bears.   I didn’t see him but apparently there’s a three legged bear that’s been hanging around the course for years.   A convenient excuse to not go looking for your stray ball in the woods I think 🙂

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This hungry fellow barely gave us a second glance as we slowed down on the road back out to the highway.  He looked a little beat up but seemed happy chomping on grass as we slowly drove past.

Seven Hills Golf & Country Club is open 7 days a week and situated on the Port Alice Highway just off Highway 19.  It’s a challenging 9 hole course that locals really enjoy.  For more information here’s a link to their website. http://www.sevenhillsgolf.ca/  Bring your own clubs or rent some or just go out for a meal & a walk.  One more thing for your North Island “to do list.”

Hugs from the beach…

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It’s official — the busy season is in full swing !! Already this spring we’ve welcomed guests from New Zealand, England, Scotland, Germany, France & Holland. This morning I unearthed a few french phrases from an unused and dusty part of my brain so I could explain to our guests that Chris is retired and now drives a water taxi part-time. Cue Chris — there he was in the Rainbow Chaser driving past with a big wave !! Somehow with my rusty French and our guests limited English we managed to talk about children and how sad (tres triste) it is when they move so far away.

We’ve had an incredible amount of wildlife sightings this spring. Transient orcas & humpbacks and black bears are all over the place. We know there is a mama bear and cubs nearby. We hear them crashing around in the bushes looking for berries on the beach and see them at low tide flipping rocks looking for crab. We’ve heard stories of bears walking into carports and even sleeping on front porches. I’m afraid for our furry friends that the more brazen they become the more phone calls the Conservation officer will get. We’re in the bears backyard so as good neighbours we should do everything we can to keep them out of harms way.

We haven’t seen much of the resident orcas yet but in mid May thirty transients came right into the harbour. And last week all it took was our guest Val from the UK to wistfully comment she hadn’t seen a whale. Minutes later she spotted a humpback tail. Our guests were delighted to get breakfast and whale watching that morning. We aim to please at At Water’s Edge Bed & Breakfast 🙂

On a sad note we said goodbye last month to Lisa Falk. Shocking that it was only six days from the day she was diagnosed with leukemia to the day she passed away. I love this picture of Lisa and our daughter Megan on graduation night June 2006. Lisa was a beautiful, bubbly & caring woman who is dearly missed by husband Jed, family & friends. A reminder to us all that life is precious and fragile. We’re seriously looking at our list of things to do “someday” and will do everything we can to make the important ones happen. Top of the list is a motorcycle — so get ready we may be coming to a town near you.
Hugs from the beach…

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I don’t think I’ve ever been amazed so often by the sky than I have right here. Getting up early in the morning to make breakfast for our guests makes me privy to some unbelievable sunrises. I wake up in plenty of time for a quiet cup of tea and a good gaze out the window before I start my day. Because I get up so early I don’t see as many sunsets but that suits me perfectly. I wasn’t always a morning person. When I was in college my Mom would sometimes give me a ride to school. Most mornings my first word was “bye” when I got out of the car and shut the door. These days I think I’d have to stay up most of the night to sleep in past 9:00. I know that I have full brain power in the morning — full energy — and full creativity.
Look at this glorious tree. I took the picture on a trip to Sointula last month because I couldn’t get over the sheer number and beauty of the blossoms. All the signs of spring are here !! I saw my first hummingbird of the season yesterday and this morning dozens of robins were enjoying our freshly cut grass. It must be easier to dig out the grubs or worms or whatever it is birds eat 🙂 Rumour has it (although I haven’t seen one yet) that our neighbourhood black bears are awake after their winter sleep. What a mild winter we had with only a few flurries but no real snow. It’s the “wet” coast so we had our normal winter months of sideways rain and wind. Grey day or sunshiny day — it’s all so beautiful on the beach. And now with all the trees and plants in bud and the choir of birds singing away I throw the windows open every chance I get for the fresh, crisp ocean air.

I love Victoria in the spring!! These adorable ducks live in a pond at Government House where the Lieutenant Governor lives. Incredible that just a few moments away from the city acres of beautifully landscaped gardens are open to the public year round. Megan, my Mom and I also visited Craigdarroch Castle which had been on my “to see” list for year. It’s a very small and new castle by European standards but pretty impressive for BC. I sure enjoyed the 3 generation bonding and managed to hold my own surrounded by 2 girls who were born to shop. My favourite purchase is a floral tea pot from Murchies. These days we’re getting ready for another summer season of b&b guests from around the world and looking forward to whatever coastal adventures come our way.
Blessings from the beach…

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007Mother’s Day was the start of a week of North Island adventures.  Since the Killer Whale Cafe opened in Telegraph Cove we’ve never missed their Mother’s Day brunch.  The sun was shining and after a delicious meal we wandered along the boardwalk to visit the whale interpretive centre.  We were happy to see Buddy the brave little dog who survived a cougar attack a few months ago right outside Stubbs Whale Watching office.  Severe injuries left Buddy blind and requiring further surgeries but owner Mary Borrowman says he’s still greeting guests at the gift shop.  

015Most of the group headed back to Port McNeill but Chris and I along with friends Gwen & Ron carried on to explore Hanuse Beach shown here as well as Beaver Cove, Ledge Point and Cluxewe Beach.  It’s amazing how the beach changes just a few miles from home.  Cluxewe is a shell collectors heaven.  It didn’t take long for Gwen and I to fill a huge bag of shells that have now been placed along the walkway leading to their oceanfront haven. 

The next day Gwen and I did some island hopping.  It was more than a year since I’d been to Sointula so was really looking forward to a day of poking around the shops and doing a bit of beachcombing.  Gwen found lots of driftwood for a Christmas gift idea she has for landlocked relatives. 

019We drove along Kaleva Road the main street and stopped often to take pictures.  This is one of my favourites — only on the North Island would a wooden sculpture be wearing gumboots !!  We visited Harmony Gardens Gallery full of original glasswork by Deb and we chatted with her husband Dan who showed us his new book of incredible photography.   Sadly we didn’t have time to do any hiking or to drive out to the Pultney Point lighthouse — that will have to wait for another trip.

DSCF0175022What we did make time for was a homemade halibut burger and fries at Burger Barn.  That’s me putting in our order !!  And while we were waiting here was our view looking over the marina to the old boathouses.  What a wonderful day.   

The next Friday I was part of a gaggle of girls off on another adventure.  This time the destination was Coal Harbour on the west coast of the island.  During World War II, the village was a bustling base for the Royal Canadian Air Force and their “flying boat” coastal reconnaissance missions.  Coal Harbour was also a whaling station until 1967.

005We were there to have a look at the Community Centre which is being dismantled after having hosted 50 years of dances & events.  Talk about recycling at its finest — friends of ours will be using some of the lovely fir floor planks for their new home down island.  

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This mama black bear was happy munching away on grass along the highway.  Her cub was nearby but hiding behind a tree stump.  We’ve seen lots of bears along the highway this year but are still waiting for “our” bears on the beach down in Hoy Bay. 

On May 15th Nicole from Mackay Whalewatching phoned to tell us there was a humpback whale right out front.  For more than an hour we watched the whale breach over and over again and slap his fin.  I’m so glad we’ve got binoculars on a tripod because my arms would have worn out.  At one point I could see the ferry full of passengers enjoying the show, a floating resort coming into our marina & this enormous humpback coming up out of the water thrilling all of us.  Just another reason why we have  4 sets of binoculars at the window — we don’t want to miss the next act in the never ending adventures.  Blessings from the beach…

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On Tuesday September 22nd I was thrilled to board the Naiad for a whale watching trip.  Some years the b&b is so busy I don’t get a chance to go out with the Mackays so I was absolutely determined to go before the season ended. I joined b&b guests Steve & Gill from the UK and Ria & Rob from the Netherlands. Also on board were visitors from Ottawa, Michigan, Germany and another local like me from Sointula.

We made a few stops along the way to pick up more guests.  The first stop was Alder Bay Resort to pick up a fellow wearing shorts (yikes – it made me cold just looking at him) and next Hidden Cove Resort shown here.  Years ago before we knew we’d be living on the North Island my Mom asked me to organize a whale watching trip for the 4 of us.  We stayed here at Hidden Cove Resort and one night as we sat on the deck watching a cruise ship go by we couldn’t believe people were lucky enough to live in such a beautiful place.  And here we are…

We didn’t have to travel far to see whales.  The A-30’s were near Critical Point and entertained us for a few hours with their spyhopping, tail  & flipper slapping.  They were fishing & playing which was great for the guests who had never seen orcas before.  No peaceful synchronized rest mode for this feisty pod.    I can’t even imagine how many thousands of pictures were taken on all the digital cameras onboard.

I didn’t take that many because I didn’t want to spend all my time with my eye to the viewfinder hoping for the perfect shot.  Instead I scurried from one side of the boat to the other so I wouldn’t miss anything.  It was pretty chilly out there and the weather started to get rough so we left the orcas for a bit to find a calm harbour to eat lunch.   Amazingly enough when we came back out into the strait the whales were still there.  Finally they headed east and Captain Bill turned west so we could look for humpbacks and start to make our way home.

It always seems to unfold like a well rehearsed performance.  Cue the orcas, cue the humpbacks.  There they were 4 humpbacks who were determined we would all get a close-up view. 

They’re not as pretty as orcas but so incredible and so huge !!  Not an easy life traveling the ocean…see all the nicks and scrapes and imagine the tiny organisms hanging on for a free ride.  I’ve seen a humpback breach and it’s hard to imagine how a creature so huge can throw itself completely out of the water.  The humpbacks didn’t stay around very long and we were off to the next part of our magical mystery tour. 

 

 

Exit humpbacks…cue the sea lions.  I’ve never seen so many sea lions at one time.  They were fighting, sleeping, resting and making sooooo much noise.  And when we suddenly moved downwind we found out sea lions are incredibly smelly.  Think rotten fish and multiply that by about 100.  This isn’t the best picture I took of the stinkers but I like it because it shows so many of them at once.  They weren’t bothered by us at all but carried on with their arguments and afternoon naps. 

 

Huge thanks to the Mackay family for allowing me to tag along on one of the best shows on earth.  It was great to catch up with first mate Nicole.  She’s been friends with our daughter since they were in grade 5.  Nicole and I are both huge fans of tuna with extra mayo.  Really it’s more a case of would you like some tuna with your mayo.  So I was happy to bring along sandwiches and cookies to share.  Hey it was cold out there — we needed the extra calories 🙂 I’m a happy girl.  I’ve had my whale fix now.

Blessings from the beach…

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