Sunday, September 30, 2012

Word on the Street 2012, Vancouver, Canada

Word on the Street, Vancouver Book and Magazine Festival, 2012 was a big hit this year with thousands attending and hundreds of participants. Tents surrounded the Vancouver Central Library, a fitting venue for a world class festival. Readings from local and international authors ranged all day. Booths for writers, editors, schools and just about anything related to writing were represented. There were even reading glasses on sale.
I was impressed by the volunteers at the Canadian Authors Association booth. I'd just missed Anthony Dalton, I heard, but was delighted to chat with Margot Bates, Robert Mackay, Jean Kay and Bernice Lever. I actually met Bernice's adult children who ,no doubt because of Bernice's poetry, turned out themselves to be highly creative. It's part of the fascination of the Canadian Author's Assocation and festivals like this that one actually meets the genius behind the books we so enjoy. Patrick Taylor, author of the Irish Country Doctor series was on site, there for a reading later in the day.
I walked about and heard several readings going on in tents. A couple of musical poetic events were truly avante garde. The crowds certainly spoke to the ever increasing appreciation for this event. Despite or because of digital we all are reading more.
While I bought a t shirt for the event, I did come away with the 'feel good in the hand real old fashioned paper version of the book Gas! The Battle for Ypress 1915 by James L McWilliams and R. James Steel, recalling the Canadian soldiers in the WWI encounters with mustard gas and other neural toxins.
A great day for readers and writers alike!

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Ustad Sultan Khan Tribute, Vancouver, Canada

Laura and I were honoured to be guests of Ganesh and Anita Nanda at the Ustad Sultan Khan tribute performed by Ustad Zakier Hussain, Sabir Khan and Dishad Khan. The Virasat Foundation of Vancouver hosted this Indian classical music concert at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby. It was a packed house very appreciative of the spiritual and at times whimsical presentation of these world famous artists who so respected the deceased Saurangi artist Ustad Sultan Khan. Ustad Zakir Hussain had played tabla drums for years years with the Saurangi master. Now he played between the two young men he called this generation's genius, one of who was the son of the great Ustad Sultan Khan. I loved the music. So many mountains and valleys. The drums were truly incredible though with hidden hands necessary to give such rich diversity of sound. What a glorious night of high culture. Presentations were made, gifts and praise. Saurangi - 100 colours - the album of Sabir Khan and Dilshad Khan was launched as well. Truly a splendid evening.

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Rally for Recovery

The first Rally for Recovery kicked off today in downtown Vancouver at the Vancouver Art Gallery squae. According to God's plan it was a 'dry' day '! Sunshine and smiles were everywhere. The speakers and singers were uplifting. Enthusiasm filled the air. One after another people spoke with gratitude for their freedom from the bondage of addictive disease. A great celebration!
The Recovery Societies, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and various others were well represented. Tents for information about the various treatment facilities were there, Orchard from Bowen Island, Edgewood from Nanaimo, Pacifica from Vancouver, Cedars from Vancouver Island and many more were ready to assist. The Drug Prevention Network of Canada booth was encouraging people to drop by and let the friendly folk there know how many years of recovery one had. They were tallying the total number of years for announcement later in the day.
Speakers encouraged high fives for success and the crowds answered with loud cheers. Obviously the success stories were there. Everyone looked so healthy. No one was puking, fighting or trying to steal from friends and family. There were a lot more tattoos though than might be found at a church picnics by comparison. Famous athletes shared their gratitude for returning to the real game. The Salvation Army and Union Gospel folk were there too. The First Nations community representatives promoting traditional healing for abstinence were naturally under a tent.
I liked seeing the Turning Point Recovery Society booth and looked about for Avlon Women's Recovery. New Westminister Recovery House for women had very attractive brochures.
On stage Rap artists rapped on recovery after a woman sang recovery blues. It goes on all afternoon. Hopefully it will be an annual event. Victoria, Calgary and Ottawa have joined in with their own Rallies for Recovery.

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Treestand Hunting

Victor is a serious moose hunter. Every year he bags a moose from a tree stand. He'd been in a motorcycle accident years back causing some injuries to his back and leg that made humping about the backwoods a bit too painful for pleasurable hunting.
Since flipping my Polaris Quad my back had been hurting. So I asked him about the treestands I'd recently seen in the Cabelas catalogue. (Cabelas is the one stop shopping for adult males who've outgrown the Sears catalogue.) Everything related to hunting all manner of game in all kinds of conditions is found in Cabelas. They've even opened a new store south of the border near Bellingham and it's been my plan for a year to get down there and attend a hunter revival meeting. My friends Luke and Sonny had been and they were pretty much ecstatic describing being inside a Cabelas store like they could walk as Lilluputians right into a Cabelas catalogue
Victor borrowed my Cabelas Catalogue and said he'd look into it for me. Next thing I know, Victor has a newer Cabelas bigger cadillac tree stand and has sold me his old one for next to nothing. He said his was lighter but now that I expect the new one might have hydraulic lift, hover craft and heated seats that made it more appealing than the original basic package. For me the price was right and I figured if this had worked for Victor it was surely going to bag me a moose on it's own. Given all the good mojo it had collected with Victor I kind of hoped it would maybe fall on an animal and crush it in the night so I could just come along and collect the game.
It was spring when Victor showed me how it went up. It was fall when I first took it hunting.
Tom is a Queen's University Mining Engineer, Airplane Pilot, and sailed back from Hawaii with me one summer after I sailed solo to Hawaii one winter.
Meanwhile I'd found a place with regular moose highways all over near Clearwater BC. It was a perfect place for a tree stand. I'd carried the treestand all over in the back of my truck by then looking for just this spot. Finally Tom and I were going to assemble it and put it to good use.
It has a big seat at one end and a half dozen interconnecting scaffolding bits for the ladder. Left to my own devices I'd have had the seat facing the tree but Tom turned it about on the ground getting the bits facing forward to save me later embarrassment.
Getting the 16 foot high contraption up against a tree was a whole other proposition. First the tree I had originally picked was hardly 10 feet high. The next tree we picked was high enough but had a little tree in front of it making for later difficulties. It really should be just one tree and bare tree at the bottom. This little tree caused the whole thing at the last moment to shift so only half the of seat was against the tree and half of the brace. But that only came to light later.
Having watched movies of the Alamo and other Hollywood renditions of wall scaling in war by men charging with ladders, we naturally approached this 'laddered' tree stand the same way. Tom and I got under the ladder walking it up as we assaulted the tree. We forgot that in the war movies they are using light weight wood ladders, not steel scaffolding with a blood heavy padded seat contraption on top. That heavy seat at the top wasn't at all in a cooperative mood, either. The tree stand just about catapulted us back to the ground as it twisted away from the little tree and left us very glad there was no enemy above with cross bows and boiling oil.
While I was trying to remember what Victor had told me about getting the tree stand up, Tom figured a rope was the answer. Thankfully Luke had left one in my truck.
With this Tom got behind the tree and lassooed the tree stand pulling it up to the tree. That worked a heck of a lot better than our previously plan. He even went on to climb up the ladder tying the rope higher and higher each time, having me fetch him up the end. Pretty soon he actually had the stand up and tried pivotting to sit for awhile admiring his work, high up in the tree stand way, close to God.
Proud of himself, he descended, having tested the engineering creation said, "Now you can use it."
I remembered I was afraid of heights from falling out of Garth Robertson's tree when I was 6 or 7 years old. Though I've climbed sailboat masts, worked on roofs with my father and brother, it all seemed at that moment in retrospect, to have been psychotic 'counterphobic behaviour." The ladder was wobbly, seemed very flimsy and the tree stand seat was really really high up there.
Of course, I snagged my rifle on the safety bar that is used to keep a person falling out of the stand. I had to slither up through this opening and laying my rifle across the chair arm rests make this daring pivot. I snagged my coat and the knife on my belt bucket after that. I was exhausted from effort and terror when I finally had myself turned around so I could sit facing out from the tree.
Seeing I'd finally got myself in place Tom showed his approval by bidding adieux. He left in the truck taking Gilbert the cockapoo with him. Victor had given me a basket I could haul Gilbert up in like the Mediterranean monks had done. I figured we'd reserve that plan for another day.
It was nearly an hour before I became unfrozen and got a bit comfortable sitting way up in the ether near the space station. A bird flew by almost hitting my face.
The view though was incredible. The treestand is a great way to hunt. Unfortunately I nodded off and woke with a startle so sure I was falling that I almost threw myself out of the chair to compensate for the feeling.
Victor had told me "Don't kill yourself." I understood better what he meant now.
I prayed, meditated, looked at every shadow with my binoculars , ate granola bars and drank the coke I'd brought alone. I nodded off again, again waking with a startle, sure I was falling out of the sky. This happened a few times over the next few hours. Definitely very disconcerting. Also the no see um bugs found me and I'd not brought bug spray which was in the truck with Tom and Gilbert.
No game came however. I watched voles, chipmunks, whiskey jacks and jays come and go. But the moose remained elusive.
Finally because I had to pee I went back through the daring contortions that had me turned around in the seat not dropping my rifle and getting it over my shoulder so I could descend the ladder. Only my knife hilt snagged this time.
I'd got up and down the ladder a couple times more for night and morning hunting without successfully shooting anything but feeling better and more confident each time.
When Luke and Tom had gone off in the truck for early evening hunting and I was riding the Honda Big Ruckus, all of us agreeing to meet back at the lake , that last evening night, I decided as darkness fell to go the treestand and start taking it down myself.
I left a note for Tom and Luke by the lake and decided I'd start to take it down myself only to arrive in pitch darkness to find Luke's Toyota truck. Tom and he had come while the light was still out so Luke could climb up and check the system out. "Incredible," he said. When I arrived Tom and he with the scaffolding ladder on the ground.
"Taking it down was almost as much of Gong show as putting it up," said Tom. I couldn't imagine that possible so wished I'd been there to see this. Luke had loved it, seeing the incredible view one had. As the big game didn't have predators in the sky, they didn't look up. Clearly one could simply climb into a tree but the tree stand provided a whole other level of comfort to the experience. this was the cat's meow of technology. That I hadn't seen a moose wasn't a reflection on the tree stand but the incredible sunny late fall weather which had the animals having all night to cavort so that they were asleep early and late in the day.
I'd certainly recommend a tree stand. Taking a certified Engineer along the first time was a wise move too. Someone else might remember to pay attention to instructions or read them, if they consider this truly beautiful hunting addition. I was actually lifting my gun and sighting things the next day I was up in the stand. The first morning I didn't even lift my rifle but hung on for dear life trying desperately to stay awake.
Red bull would be a better tree stand beverage than Jack Daniels, just for those who might benefit from such advice.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bad people are always crazy

"Bad people are always crazy," Dead Eye said. "That's why they do what they do. And sometimes it takes crazy guys like me and Uncle Boomer to go out there and stop them."

Quote from Apaches an excellent detective novel by Lorenzo

While this is probably right, and it does simplify things, what is implied if not stated outright is that 'crazy' people aren't always bad.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dutch Lake Resort and RV, Clearwater, BC

We really enjoyed staying at the Dutch Lake Resort and RV right in Clearwater, BC at the turn off before the bridge right beside the RCMP Station. I never ate at the Painted Turtle Restaurant at the the Resort but Laura did with her cousin Catherine and said it was lovely. Tour buses stopped there daily for the famed cuisine.
The lake has rainbow and kokanee. Despite my efforts with lures and worms it still has rainbow and kokanee. I saw another fisherman catching them and Laura said she saw the actual fish by the dock in the morning.
I loved the location for hunting and fishing. It was only 5 minutes from the incredible network of logging roads where we hunted moose, bear, deer, hare and ruffed grouse. We got ruffed grouse, sometimes 5 or more a day, often seeing coveys of 4 or more. Gilbert was a specialist at raising them and finding the birds we shot. Luke got a rabbit. The moose, deer and bear are still there. We saw them but we weren't able to shoot them, not for lack of trying either.
The town of Clearwater has the most incredible food mart with everything you could find in a major downtown supermarket. There were several restaurants and we loved the friendly folk at the gas station.
It was really quiet in the RV Park and the views were incredible. We barbecued and Luke made great fires. Laura stayed at the trailer during the day while Tom, Luke, Gilbert and I went off hunting. She says she mostly lay in the sun reading fashion magazines but occasionally walked about the park.
Her cousin, Catherine, came down with her kayak from Salmon Arm and rented one of the resort cabins. Laura and she loved it. It was right on the water and had the most elegant tasteful decor.
Catherine and Laura then chatted up a storm while the guys were in the woods hunting. Catherine's one son was a Canadian Air Force who served in Afghanistan, her other son a business manager, her daughter a dental assistant is the same age as Laura's son. But mostly they talked about their sisters as the four of them all played together summers on the beach growing up.
Dutch Lake Resort turned out to be this place that served both the girls and the guys. At night when we all got back together Gilbert however got the most attention.

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Grizzly Lake Cabin, Clearwater, BC

The volunteers of Wells Gray wilderness community maintain some cabins for hunters and winter recreational users. It's a first come first serve basis. The Gizzly Lake cabin is terrific with an obviously superb stove for folks who must enter the area on ski doo in winter. It gave me a good feeling to see that despite people carving their names and such on walls, clearly people had made an effort over the decades of this cabins existence to keep it in good condition. There was a guest log going back to the early 90's.
Seeing the set up I remembered other hunting and trapping cabins I'd stayed in while hunting and winter cross country skiing. There was an alpine lodge too I used down hill skiing one year. These are amazing shelters that keep one alive in the cold of winter.
I'd done my time as a young doctor learning how to make Quincies and staying in Igloos in Churchill Manitoba, While they were terrific solutions to cold weather I personally still prefer a good old cast iron wood stove and lots of room to dress, cook and have coffee.
Luke who was hunting with Tom and I this fall had stayed in this one one year when the temperature was 20 below. They'd been enjoying a balmy day hunting only to have the evening temperature drop through the floor. He said they really had enjoyed the stove then.
We had lunch there and the camp friend, the Whiskey Jack, flew down and took food out of Luke's hand. He would have been even more daring but Gilbert kept barking at the begging competition.
There was no need for a stove on this day. We had incredibly high temperatures for late September with everyone going in shirt sleeves in the afternoon.

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Hunting with the Honda Big Ruckus

"What is that thing?" he asked.
He was another hunter who was riding a Honda quad.
"It's a Honda Big Ruckus, 250 cc."
"Is it made for off road?"
"It was made for gravel roads but it really does well off road too." I'd traded my Honda 230 CRF for a Polaris 500 Sportsman but a man child had not returned it so thankfully Laura had let me use her Big Ruckus which I'd got her a year ago so we could ride together to Whistler. Standing with the 4 other hunting men I didn't mention that it really was my girlfriend's motorcycle. I just accepted the praise and fascination.
I really was enjoying the Ruckus. It's a scooter. Automatic. Street legal. That's what I like over the quad.
We were hunting moose but when Luke saw one it skiddadled to safety before he could get his rifle up. I saw 4 and they got away too disappearing into the thick forest off the side of the road.
It was spike fork season and because of the fabulous autumn weather they were getting a full nights fun and frolick and going to bed early in the morning. We weren't seeing them that much but there was all the evidence in the world that they were about. Regular moose highways of tracks in mud and sandy areas.
We were shooting grouse and Gilbert the cockapoo was flushing and finding the birds we shot. He even rode between my knees on the ruckus. It's got room on the back too to carry his box so he can come along for the ride.
I figure if I do shoot a deer or bear I can carry it out on the ruckus. I once rode down a Vancouver Island hillside sitting on the back of another fellows off road honda motorcycle with a deer being carried under my rump. If that littler Honda could do that, this Honda Big Ruckus could carry one for sure. It wouldn't be able to carry a moose but I figured when I was off riding alone with a rifle on my back I'd just go get my truck, and hopefully my friends Luke and Tom, if I shot one. The last moose I shot three years back I was riding my little Ruckus, the 50 cc one when I saw that moose on a hill and shot it. Luke and Tom did all the hauling, gutting and cleaning, and getting the moose in the back of the truck.
As it was this trip, we didn't get a moose, but each of us took a turn on the Ruckus with the other two and Gilbert following behind in the truck. Half the fun of hunting is all the other stuff we get up to like riding a Honda Big Ruckus high speed fishtailing on gravel logging roads.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Clearwater, BC -Hunting with Luke, Tom and Gilbert

Up at 6 am. Porridge and coffee. Trucks packed the night before. Driving up logging roads at dawn. Luke had his Rhino GPS and was taking us to Grizzly Lake where he'd been once before. He was in his truck with Gilbert and the Honda Big Ruckus on the back. Tom and I were in the my truck.
They were in front and stopped as a moose ran in front of him. He was getting his rifle out while Gilbert was ran after it up the hill. Tom and I joined up but the moose was long gone.
We left Tom and Gilbert to fish at a lake further past Grizzly. Luke went off in his truck. I took the Big Ruckus, 250 cc, up the mountain seeing lots of bear sign and moose sign but none of the animals that made them.
Back at the lake Tom hadn't caught any fish but I'd shot one grouse and Luke a couple. Gilbert was ecstatic we were all together. He found a grouse head from where Luke had cleaned the bird and brought this to us to play a grissly game of 'ball'. I would like him to 'fetch' the grouse not just find them so we played 'fetch' with the grouse head for a while.
A couple of other hunters on quads came by. We chatted a bit. We'd meet a couple more people and one dog that had Gilbert really excited at as social opportunity.
We ate lunch, the hard boiled eggs Laura had made with trail snacks, cheese, kippers, chocolates and apples. It was a glorious sunny fall day and life was good.
After lunch we headed round the mountain to a clearing where we target practiced for a bit before heading back to the moosey area. I shot another couple of grouse and Luke shot 2 more as well, he having shot 4 to my 3 for the day. We chided Tom for not catching any trout but he was there to drive the truck and prepared to help haul moose, complaining that we hadn't given him employment hauling moose.
At night we loaded up and drove the 20 minutes back to Dutch Lake Resort where Luke built a fire then cleaned the last of the grouse. Laura had warmed up the rabbit stew I'd made and we had that with Caesar Salads.
Then we planned the morning hunt.