Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burgoyne Bay

M dropped me off at the trail head and headed off to Salt Spring Bread Company at the south end of the island. And I wandered off down the path that follows the north side of the bay below Mount Maxwell. I decided to keep today's walk short - this summer has been hamstrung by plantar fasciitis and I don't want to make things worse.

I've been wanting to explore the Garry Oak preserve down here for several years and this was a nice introduction, although I'd like to come back next year with more time and a better foot. There are some large patches of open oak woodlands - apparently some of the best preserved anywhere.

St. Mary Lake

Another week at Green Acres, this one unfortunately marked by the passing of one of our big extended Salt Spring family and for me, the loss of friend George back in Laramie.

As usual, much reading, much game playing (though not necessarily by everyone), and much time watching the teenage gang hang out, some of whom weren't even born when we started doing this back in 1998.

D joined us this year. He was painting houses last year and couldn't get away, despite his best efforts. As much as we relish the similarity of the experience every year, we also realize that some things simply don't stay the same!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Long Harbor

We arrive and leave Saltspring via Long Harbor every year, but other than from the deck of the ferry, it provides fairly few opportunities for visiting if you don't own one of the posh homes that line its shores. There are a couple of access points, though, and a few years ago I explored its upper reaches. This year I came back and paddled out to the mouth of the bay.

It was a quiet morning and I was just about the only boat on the water (under way, at least, since there were plenty of them just parked). There were some birds and a bunch of seals and a few folks sitting on their decks drinking coffee, but not a whole lot else.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saltspring Island

This our 18th trip to the Island and I think I've finally figured out that it can be Saltspring or Salt Spring. Either way, we spent it pretty much the way we do every year, which is basically the whole point.  Food - eaten in and eaten out, playing in the water, games (some of us more than others), reading, and a little exploring of the island.

The first few days were hot and muggy; the last few were gray and drizzly. Our heat-intolerant family prefers the latter, although most of the others prefer the former.

I took fewer photos this year than in previous ones and most of the shots I took were with my iPhone. Which I guess is significant, although I'm not sure what it means.


As we do every year, on Friday afternoon we headed up to Vancouver in anticipation of Saturday's ferry trip to Salt Spring Island. This year, we stayed in Tsawwassen, but piled into the car to drive into the city to try dinner at Vij's, where we met up with M's sister and a friend, who were also in town.

I dreaded the prospect of a long wait given the weekend evening, our group of 7, the place's stellar reputation, and the fact that they don't take reservations. But we were seated by 8, after a pleasant time outside spent with drinks and free hors d'ouerves.  And the food was great!


It's been a crazy couple of weeks - which left me with three and a half days of work between a long weekend in Wyoming and a week in the Gulf Islands. One of those work days included a meeting in Bellingham and along with it, an opportunity to check out the new beach project at Boulevard Park. Boulevard Park has it's own coffee shop (Woods), in case there wasn't already an excuse to visit.

Friday, August 08, 2014


The broken pink granite knobs of Vedauwoo lie less than half an hour east of Laramie on I-80. For most folks, they're just scenery along the interstate, or maybe a place to stop for a picnic.  For others, they're an iconic rock-climbing site. For me, Vedauwoo was a reminder of my first trip up here with George in 1978.
With little experience myself, I taught him some basic climbing stuff, including rappelling. It's amazing I didn't get us both killed.  Early Monday morning, I drove up to Vedauwoo. I scrambled up a ridge and found myself a perch on a very large boulder (there are plenty to choose from) and spent an hour sitting and thinking. I expected introspection but ended up in a jumble of emotions and thoughts. I need to work on the meditation thing.

This was my first exposure to this kind of eroded granite landscape, although I've since discovered the Alabama Hills and the Mojave, the City of Rocks in Idaho, and many others.

Snowy Range

George introduced me to the Snowy Range when I arrived in Laramie in July 1978. The crest is just an hour west of Laramie. We hiked and backpacked and I think (but can't recall for sure) that we climbed to the top of Medicine Bow Peak.

Early last Sunday morning, Bob and I drove up to Libby Flats.  It was hard to be up there without thinking about George, but I guess that was the whole point.

Sherman Hill

The original transcontinental railroad crossed the front range of the Rockies at Sherman Hill in the Laramie Range, between Cheyenne and Laramie. The precipitous front range of the Colorado Rockies sort of peters out north of the Wyoming border, so while this is the highest point on the cross-country route, it is a relatively easy way to cross the mountains.

The route is aided by geology, which besides keeping the mountains low, also provided a broad ramp on the east side (the "gangplank") which basically allows the prairies to gently rise all the way to the crest without having to follow (or cross) deep canyons or surmount (or tunnel under) a steep final pass.

I've been amused when I've heard folks on either coast talk of driving across the country and wanting to see the Rockies, then choosing to drive I-80. I-80, like the railroad it follows, chose the easy route, which means it intentionally bypasses the most spectacular parts of the mountains.

The summit is marked by the Ames Monument, a simple granite pyramid built to mimic the nearby granite knobs and to honor President Lincoln. The original railroad grade is just a grassy path that passes nearby, since the Union Pacific has relocated the route a little farther south.


Laramie was a stopping-off place on many adventures between 1978 and 1983. George introduced me to Fred and Anne that first summer and I kept coming back.  Like the following December when Martha found us sleeping in the front yard during a layover on our bus ride back from the west coast. Or in 1980 when I rode my motorcycle up from Denver on weekends. Or in the winter of 1983, when my Schlumberger crew got stuck in Laramie due to bad weather for two days. In 1981, Steve and I came through and sometime later in the 1980s, Michele and I visited.

After college, George and I each moved on, crossing paths again in Seattle a few years later. But George was drawn back to Laramie and created a life for himself there.  And last weekend I came back, because George is sick and the prognosis is harsh.

Early every morning, I headed up into the hills for an hour or so. It seemed like the best way to remember that summer of 1978 when George and I explored every nook and cranny of Wyoming in the Slater's old blue Datson wagon. Saturday morning I drove up to the Ames Monument. On Sunday, Bob and I drove up to the Snowy's. On Monday morning I drove up to Vedauwoo.  Those posts will follow.