Monday, May 10, 2010

Fat lady sings - Cowboy poet dies!

The CBC techies hard at work
Brent giving me an intro


Perhaps the title to this post is what I should have used as my six word entry in the final challenge of Canada Writes 2010. But I think it would have taken a lot more "perhaps' " and "what-ifs" to have had much of a chance against the other talent in the writing competition.

When all was said and done I think the whole exercise went much better than I had anticipated. My fixation with beer helped cover up and/or explained some of my lapses in writing and seemed to strike a chord with most of the judges and the audience. The irony of course is that my beer consumption rate is far below the average consumption rates for the typical Canadian male.

That is the beauty of being a writer though. You can create your own worlds, your own realities, and if you are good enough - you can invite others into those worlds.

I'm back in Kamloops now and I'm gearing up for some new projects: I have a pilot to prepare for a children's nature show we are trying to pitch to the learning channel. I have a radio play that I am wanting to pitch to CBC. I am burning incense and offering up chickens in a bizarre voodoo ritual with the intent of securing an interview with the people at TRU for a job as a research assistant. On top of all of that I am getting my solar system up and running and am trying to figure out how to spread the gospel about the benefits of augmenting the grid.

The solar project is going to take some work as I want to design a system that will automatically collect data from the system and post it onto a website so others wishing to invest in solar can see what the potential rewards are. For now I have a very low tech solution - I have thermometers on the intake and outflow sides of the solar panels and can record the differential in temperature. This differential, when multiplied by the volume of water going through the system will tell how many calories the system produces - a calorie being the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one degree celsius.

So with my plate overflowing with projects again, I must sign off and get to work.

Peace out - keep your cinch tight and enjoy!

On the road to Winnipeg

Friday, May 7, 2010

Forget Snakes on Planes - Try kidney stones on planes!

I am sitting here, quite comfortably I hasten to add, in the well appointed Delta Hotel in downtown Winnipeg.

Addicted as I am to maintaining my blog I spent the ten bucks it costs to get a connection for the internet and am happily catching up on my emails, blogs and other posts. Quick aside: Why is it at the Super Eight or the Blue Bell Motel in Fort St. John you get free wireless internet but the more expensive the hotel the more they charge you for what should be a free item?

So the trip out was quite eventful. Apart from our plane being two hours late in Calgary, I had the unexpected joy of attempting to give birth to a four pound kidney stone. Those that have had the joy of kidney stones will know of which I speak, for those that haven't - try to imagine a rabid ferret trying to gnaw it's way out of your lower intestine. The trip seemed to take forever but we finally landed in the (and I don't know what colloquialism they use for Winnipeg is but you can insert it here) city and we were met by my bleary-eyed in-laws. It was shortly after midnight their time.

I am afraid I was not much fun as we made the one hour drive back to their place. Unlike the strong silent types I am more of a free spirit when it comes to expressing my pain and I was howling like a coyote with a leg in a steel trap. Their threats of taking me to the local vet/doctor must of had some type of physical effect on me and the stone finally stopped. As long as it doesn't start moving between now and the end of the taping of the show tonight I will be fine.

I met up with Marc and Jason at the hotel and had a good time chatting with people equally as warped as I. Both Marc and Jason are like Brainiac from the old superman comic books  - okay maybe they are not super-powered evil types but they are super smart and actually know stuff - I just know how to make obtuse references to stuff and they actually know what an obtuse angle is.

We made our way over to the CBC building where we met up with Saundra Vernon the other contestant and after quick introductions made our way up to write our one hour challenges.

Jill Walker, who looks after all of us contestants said I looked horrible but after I assured her that this was in fact how I normally looked she allowed me to continue to write. I was in fact feeling a little under the weather but had brought my secret weapons along: Mars bars and Tylenol. The tylenol would cut the pain and the Mars bar would provide mental alertness by depositing large amounts of sugar into my system.

I can't tell about what I wrote or how brilliant I was or wasn't but I did make it through the two hours and with the writing behind us we went out for supper and some drinks.

It was great being around people who shared the same sense of humour and could follow your logic no matter how convoluted it might be. I will sign off now and the next post will be after the competition and then we will never speak of the mother corporation again.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Now I'm really gone!

Me and Ricco before being famous


So I checked my email this morning and I had a very good song suggestion by one of my co-workers from many years back. Alanna, with whom I worked in the newspaper business, has gone on to become a writer of incredible talent and covers international stories like the jet-setting heroines in those spy-thriller movies.

When I knew her however it was a much more mundane beat - reporting on the beer-belly league of men's hockey in Clearwater, BC and covering the escape of farmer Brown's prized Hereford. I sold ads for the paper and was allowed a small column on page 43 under the stipulation that I had to sell enough ads to make a 44 page newspaper. She has gone on to much better things - I went into the mountains and learned how to ride a horse.

Anyhow, she suggested I rewrite the words to Hallelujah and I did and here it is:

Two more beers Bro
Now I’ve heard there is a secret bar
Where rock still plays, and not so very far
But you don’t have the cover charge, do you?
What beer was this
The fourth, the fifth
I had a fall, I need a lift
But better yet I’ll have two more beers bro
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro

The scotch was strong, some say over proof
Next thing you’re dancing on the roof
But security and cops overthrew you
They cuffed you
And wino bill
They harshed your vibe, and your buzz they killed
And from your lips I heard the “two more beers bro”
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro
Two more beers bro

me and Ricco after being famous

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Farewell and adieu

Sunset last evening over Kamloops Lake

I had hiked out to my favourite little corner of Kenna Cartwright Park last evening - to get some more footage of the owls, stretch my legs and try to get my fix of bugs and snakes.

The weather had been miserable all day and there was a major round of hockey going on, so consequently I had most of the park to myself. The owls co-operated, the lighting even turned out to be all right as the storm passed and some of the setting sun's rays made it through the dead pines to illuminate my subjects.

After the obligatory 30 minutes of an owl sitting in a tree doing pretty much nothing, my mind wandered and I ambled off looking for other subjects. I found a Meadowlark staking out his territory and while filming that process I was treated to the chorus of coyotes from down the bluff.

But I must now pack my bags and get ready to head out for the bright lights of the 'Peg. I'm hoping they still take B.C. dollars at par out there.  I will be back in a few days and will have great tales of excitement and "daring-do" from my sojourn to the city.

Remember, never say whoa when you're half way into a mudhole!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May day - May day!

campfires are always a good source for inspiration

Okay, that was the distress call used back in the old days of radio and is probably still in use today - although I have not seen it employed in anything that didn't have Humphrey Bogart as the leading character. It is a crude derivative of the French m'aider and was something that was easily recognized over the cruder radios of the day and when repeated three times meant the caller was in "grave and imminent" danger.

So it is with me as I am staring at a blank screen and trying to think of pithy things to write to prepare me for the upcoming Canada Writes competition. Unfortunately I am pith-less today and all I can come up with is parodies that involve Captain Kirk, Spock and the ever outraged Bones.

I had put out a call to my facebook friends to send me what they felt was the ultimate Canadian song and will be rewriting those all day today. I found it amusing that the folks at CBC gave one of the finalists in the east the Anne Murray classic "Snowbird" to rewrite - obviously the contestant did not heed the advice given a few posts back and missed a great opportunity to wow them with a song about a dead cat.

I have a few good tunes in my arsenal now but don't wish to share them on the off chance that one of the producers sees that I have already covered the tunes and would have an unfair advantage over my fellow writers. On the other hand they might just take pity on me and give me that foot or two headstart that my gym teacher always gave me when I had to race against the other kids.

Well I will churn out a few more songs and then turn my attention to capturing some video from my last field trip.

Just need a good rhyme for Klingon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Let the sun shine!

 free heat - well almost free - probably a 3 year pay back where I live

I know I don't strike many of my new acquaintances as being much of an environmentalist - especially since over half of my wardrobe is camo - but I do believe in doing what I can to make things a little easier on our planet.

I will have to, at some point, trade in that big diesel burner I drive - but it was a necessity in my past life and I can't afford to part with it quite yet - the book value is about $12 and I doubt that I can buy a hybrid (even a used hybrid) in that price range yet.

So instead I make a difference in other ways. One of our vices is a swimming pool that came with the house we bought. One of the biggest costs of running the pool was getting it up to a temperature that everyone in the family thought was appropriate - somewhere between poaching eggs and boiling lobsters - and although I am more of the luke warm type of guy, I was overruled and we paid the piper in terms of a large gas bill.

A cursory exam of solar systems led me to believe that not only could we cut down on the greenhouse gases, we could also cut down on our expenses and I set about researching systems that would work for us. I shied away from plastic components as I knew they would not weather well in the sun and was worried about the freeze and thaw cycles of Kamloops. I settled on glass vacuum tubes that were relatively inexpensive and could be installed without a lot of fuss or muss.

I tracked down a dealer in Kelowna -Okanagan Home Center - and was quickly a fan of the proprietors Dave and Cheryl Kelly (email: okanaganhomecenter@shaw.ca). Dave and Cheryl are good people to deal with and seem truly concerned about your satisfaction as a customer. They are committed to the solar industry and have tons of experience with pools and spas and had lots of good advice for a neophyte plumber such as myself.

It took me only two days to construct all of the panels (there is of course - some assembly required) and to plumb them into my water system. The system is incredibly efficient. I will post a video of how you can take water at about 10 degrees Celsius and raise it to the boiling point in about 35 minutes. Because ours is a large pool and we are high on the mountain where the nights get cool we need a fair number of solar panels to get the pool up to the temperature we want. Right now I have 5 panels and will probably add another 2 to get us into that slow boil range that is so soothing on old bones. Homes in the valley would probably get away with about 2/3rds of the panels that I need.

Check out the WSE Technologies website - that's where the stuff comes from and then give Dave or Kelly a call and they can get it out here before you can say "Al Gore was right".

Friday, April 30, 2010

Scrabble anyone?

what was the score?

Scrabble, or as we like to call it "Fight in a box", is a great game for those long winter nights. Actually it's a pretty good game anytime but there are many other outdoor interests that seem to trump the game throughout the summer.

My grandmother was an avid scrabbler and I can remember sitting around the huge kitchen table playing with her and my aunt and uncle. Having about 8 words in my vocabulary at the time I was at a distinct disadvantage but I was content to wait for the letters "P","I" and "G" to appear so that I could try to spell hippopotamus - the more astute will figure out that spelling was not my strong suit.

As the years progressed I improved marginally and now realize that there is no "G" in hippopotamus - unless you are using it as a verb of course. You should also have surmised by now that playing Scrabble with me makes for a long evening.

My best scrabble game ever I recorded in the above photo and I doubt that I will ever have such good fortune ever again. As my father was wont to say "Even a blind pig stumbles on an acorn now and then".

My question to those that have the power to figure out such things - I haven't found it on the net yet - is to figure out what the highest possible score a person could make in a scrabble game. The secondary challenge is to find out what the single largest score on one play could be. For an interesting read check out this Slate article on the highest score in club play.

Prizes will be awarded but the prize list has changed slightly - that thing that was moving around in my pack is no longer moving so shall now be offered as a second prize instead of a first place award. The first place prize will be  my Edgar Rice Burroughs biography.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"The smell of formaldehyde" - or "As the twig is bent"

RW Ritcey and Herb Green

I was sifting through my copious volumes of photos this morning, looking as I do for inspiration for something non-typical to write about when I came across this photo. In it are Dad and his friend Herb Green both of whom have changed remarkably little in the almost 50 years that have intervened since the photo was taken.

What struck me as interesting, apart from how well the two friends have weathered the years, was the similarity of the items in the photo to what I have surrounding the heap of papers that make up my work station. Sitting above my desk is a dissecting microscope fairly close in vintage to the one pictured above and a grizzly skull sits on a shelf off to my left - I'm assuming the skull in the photo is a grizzly simply by the size. And while my collection of jarred specimens is not nearly quite as impressive or orderly as those in the picture - the interest in the collected items is similar.

Dad was one of the first scientists to study the flora and fauna of Wells Gray Park and, as the daycare options were limited in those days, we kids got to tag along. At a very young age we were exposed to things like tagging moose and the subsequent picking of "moose ticks" off of all the participants in the exercise. And as we were living smack dab in the middle of the wilderness at the time, a lot of Dad's projects followed him home and we were raised concurrently with an interesting assortment of study subjects that quickly transformed into family pets.

Apart from our strange collection of critters one of my earliest memories is of the smell of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde was one of the most common preservatives back in the day. Everything from embryonic moose to giant water beetles would find their way into jars of the stuff to be preserved and studied at a later date or sent off to provincial collections down in the far-away Victoria. I was always fascinated by the specimens hovering in those liquids and for some reason never pictured them as being recently demised but instead could always picture them as running or swimming about in their natural world.

To this day, if I get a whiff of formaldehyde my mind goes back to my childhood and one specimen in particular - a yellow bellied marmot. Now the animal itself was not preserved in formaldehyde but it had been stuffed and I don't know if the hide had been cured in formaldehyde or what but it definitely had a different smell to it. The specimen had quickly become a surrogate for a stuffed toy that had been left behind when we had moved to the big city and I would cart that thing everywhere with me. We must have been quite a sight for our neighbours - that strange red-headed kid from the mountains, toting around that dead animal. Much to my dismay though, I had forgot my stuffed marmot outside one evening and the neighbourhood dogs tore it into a million pieces - bits of my marmot were scattered up and down the street. Without my trusty, but admittedly unnerving-to-others companion, I was forced to start making friends with the city kids and I started to make the long transformation into a "townie." But that is a subject of a whole different posting.

I still love to poke and prod about the natural world but now I find the digital camera and video camera are good alternatives to the jars of formaldehyde or stick pins.

"Lippy" the moose -dad's project and my buddy!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yellow canoe - emerald waters

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens


I had a very good English professor at UBC way back in the dark ages, I think shortly after Shakespeare had packed it in and just before disco, whenever it was it was a long time ago. She had taught me many things but one thing she had told me was that the mark of a good poem, such as The Red Wheelbarrow, was that after reading it - would you ever be able to think of white chickens without the red wheelbarrow?

I think, had she not told me that, it would have been very easy for me to think of a white chicken without that damnable wheelbarrow but now I am forever linking the two.

So, good reader, I present my own experiment. After reading, the Yellow Canoe, and some ten years hence, let me know if you can ever come across the term yellow canoe without thinking about the emerald green waters.


The Yellow Canoe
by Frank Ritcey

so much piled
within
a yellow
canoe
top heavy
with beer
slicing through
emerald green
waters

yellow canoe on Clearwater Lake

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Secret Places

 the secret Burl forest

my daughter, the tree hugger!

I keep threatening to write a book called “Frank’s Secret Places.” The downside to such a book of course is then the secret is out – the upside is that you get to share something. Now the joy from sharing a secret place is one of the greatest feelings there is. I guess it would only be second to the joy of seeing your children born or winning a free coffee at Tim Horton’s.

Whenever I take someone to one of my “secret spots” I love to watch their face light up as the true grandeur of the place sinks in. I’ve shown friends: canyons, caves, waterfalls, twisted forests and moss covered alcoves that you won’t find in any guide book or tagged on GoogleEarth. The response is almost always the same: “You dragged me out here to see this?” The term “Philistines” I think most often comes to mind.

Truthfully though, most of my friends, at least the ones I drag any distance from civilization, are impressed with my secret little showcases. One such place is a small piece of spruce forest, perhaps two or three hectares in size, located on the east slopes of the Northern Rockies. Just a short distance from our base camp, I discovered it one winter day while snowshoeing about, in an unsuccessful attempt to wear off the half pig I had consumed for breakfast.

This forest is unique in that most of the trees display numerous burls. The burls are outgrowths that result from a fungal infection and give the forest a whimsical look. I took my daughter up there one summer afternoon and we just poked around, seeing what hidden shapes or stories we could get the trees to offer up. It was a special afternoon and that forest offered up treasures far greater than one could ever get through 3D glasses and seven viewings of the forests of Pandora.


I'm off early to the mountains tomorrow so probably won't post until I'm out of the hospital. I'm woefully out of shape and figure it will be an hour or two on a defibrillator before I can type again.

Keep your cinch tight!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The party's all over

Marc and I off to Winnipeg

where the magic is made

the magicians: Anshuman Iddamsetty and Peter Morey - and if it isn't Peter then it's Paul Hodge, and if there had been a Mary on the staff then it might have been Peter, Paul or Mary but I was really zoned out at the time so my deep and profound apologies for screwing up on the names - someone from CBC could post a comment as to the proper names. I'm pretty much screwed now as the man controlling the sound board pretty much has your fate in his hands. Just found out that it is in fact "British Pete" and my brain isn't total mush - and that I have just set a world record for the longest photo caption on a blog.

Well that was so much fun I had to pinch the girl beside me on the plane to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I wasn't, but she was and that's what led to all the trouble in the first place.

But let's not talk about that, let's talk about my trip to Vancouver and the western semi-finals of the Canada 2010 Canada writes competition. That, of all the competitions I have entered and not won, except for the gold in a triathlon that had no other competitors in my age group, was the best of them all.

First the production of the show was incredible. I will do another blog when I can properly mention everyone by name but I am afraid of missing someone, or getting a name wrong which is worse. They took four people from the general population with limited performance experience and inserted us into a very tightly timed show format - and everyone hit their marks. Okay so now I've got the names, the credits are as follows: Brent Bambury, host; David Carroll, senior producer on GO and writer of Western semi-finals;  Peter Morey, producer, GO; Anshuman Iddamsetty, program assistant, GO;  Paul Hodge, broadcast technician. And then there's Jill Walker, whose title I don't have but it must be pretty close to something like Person Who Does Everything under the Sun - she made everything run so smoothly behind the scenes that we didn't have time to be nervous or to get into too much trouble.

The judges were perfect for their job - each was a master of their craft and knew how to be honest without being too "Simon Cowell". It was just so cool to be able to meet people like Mina Shum, John Mann and Sugar Sammy. John is a master lyricist - his performance of the rusty knife song was bang on for those of us that grew up in the era when playing "the splits" was still allowed. Mina will be getting my three hundred screen plays next week before she can get the restraining order in place. Sugar Sammy - google his act on Youtube and you'll be hooked - just a warning to the women though, he is a player - he made two dates with audience members while on stage, and I don't know how many after the show.

The other writers were really interesting people that loved to write and you could tell that in our conversations off stage. Marc is an extremely talented wordsmith. He knows just which words to use to convey not only action but to evoked the right emotional response - a true craftsman. Evan is a passionate writer. His punk band, The Isotopes, plays punk rock songs about baseball and he says: everyone writes about love - why not write about something that you love. Marissa's Zombie song (which you can see on her page on the GO website) shows her to be a kind and caring person - even for the undead. Hopefully her songs will go platinum one day so that all can enjoy her humour.

And I do have to talk about the audience. It is true what they say - CBC listeners are the nicest people in the world. Everyone of the people out there came to have a good time and were extremely supportive of the show. They laughed and applauded even without the laugh and applaud signs which are necessary with some of those TV game shows. Everything you hear on GO is real, well,  except for the trap door but they are working on that.

The show's host Brent Bambury is amazing. He gets everyone's name right. He memorizes an hour and a half show and if something goes too long or short he can improvise with the best of them. I never realized how intense the pressure is to ensure that there is no dead air time on a show like that.

After the show, Brent opened it up to a question and answer session and the audience stayed for another half hour and asked some really good questions. Brent and the producers made everyone feel a part of the production and it was all in all a great time.

I think I have run out of adjectives as I have used "great" and "amazing" eight times now so that means it is time to sign off.

I promise my next post will be a lot more interesting as I notice my vial of wood ticks that I had by my keyboard is missing a lid. The great tick hunt begins.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Okay I'm a big fat liar

Me at CBC

Had to break down and make one more quick post. I made it into the big smoke and wanted to share a couple of quick pictures.

The producers at CBC are great - they make a fellow feel right at home, but they did ask me to return the pencils, pens and staplers which I really thought were complimentary. Actually it was quite an experience to be inside the CBC building and see where everything goes on in terms of putting together the news and all of the shows we love to listen to.

The writing went well I think - I just sort of blanked out when they set me in front of the computer and then I came to out on Georgia Street somewhere.

On to phase two of my plan which is to go out and enjoy the bright lights of the big city. Maybe some bravery in a bottle will help me with calming my nerves - or maybe it will just make me really hungover. Probably the latter but one should never jump to hasty conclusions.

Where it all takes place

So I lied!

 The fire around which I like to sit and tell stories

Okay, maybe lied is too strong a word, but I did say I wasn't going to post another blog until my return from Vancouver - triumphant or otherwise. But events have conspired to such a degree that I thought I had best write this last entry.

So in preparation for the writing contest I thought I'd best buy a pair of glasses so that I might be able to read what it was that I had written. My eyesight, up until 78 days ago had been very good. Then one morning I awoke and the crisp clear words I used to read had become no more than fuzzy little ants scurrying about the page. Every now and then they would morph into legible words, but more often than not they were just fuzzy ants.

It was then that I started wearing glasses. Just readers mind you, as I can still spot the neck hairs on a mule deer at some 200 paces. Close up work is an entirely different matter.

I had a pair of dollar store glassed but I thought one should always have a backup set as one would not want to lose the competition due to poor eyesight - far better to lose out due to lack of writing skills and then blame the glasses. Anyways I went to the local druggist and bought a pair of readers which, upon a cursory exam looked adequate.

Now that I have them on at home however I am starting to understand how a fish in a glass bowl feels. I now have 340 degrees of peripheral vision. Unfortunately anything but that directly in front of these portable microscopes is badly distorted - somewhat akin to a very bad trip on LSD - or at least how they used to portray acid trips back in the 70's public health films.

So now I must return to the store and get a pair that are a little less intense. These I will keep for studying molecular biology or starting forest fires.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's show time!

 I'm off to the rodeo!

The astute reader will have noticed a decided increase in the number of postings to my blog. That is because I believe the story about the violinist who stops and asks a New York policeman - "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The reply is the now famous: "Practice, practice, practice"

So I have been practicing, practicing and watching Star Trek re-runs. Hey - I'm not a machine.

I have written ads for wet-dog scented deodorant, movie pitches for horror movies set in Nakusp, blogs about Buddhism, and I have just finish rewriting every song penned since 1957. My songs need a little work however if we are not allowed to make reference to animal guts or anti-social behaviours.

The practicing, for those of you that have just stumbled onto my blog, is for my trip to the Big Smoke and my participating in the Canada Writes 2010 competition. Due to a series of bureaucratic mishaps and a friend of mine hacking the CBC mainframe, I managed to end up on the shortlist of writers competing in Vancouver.

While this competition will obviously not vault one to the dizzying heights of the Canadian Literary world it would, none the less be a great honour to show one's ability to the rest of the world. And it would be really nice to show my fifth grade teacher that yes, you can still make it in the world, even if you can't write within the lines.

Actually, all of my teachers were great. In looking back I can't remember a single bad teacher in the public school system. They were all very dedicated people and for some reason I think they felt the need to take me on as a project - sort of like that one bronc that could never be rode - they all took it as a challenge to try to get some knowledge, no matter how small, to actually stick in my head.

So you won't see a blog entry until I come back Saturday from my trip to the city. If I win you will most likely read nothing else until the finals in Winnipeg. If I lose and don't advance you will probably never read the letters CBC again in my blog. Which will be very hard as I will have to think up whole new spellings for my 24 letter alphabet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tick Talk

 a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

On my last hike into the mountains with my buddy Gerry Shea the noted author of hiking books and co-conspirator in the great "Contact Explosives" caper I think I mentioned that I was hunting for ticks. Maybe I didn't mention that but I should of.

Now I have to make a mental note to myself at this point - okay, maybe I'll just make a blog entry instead as that mental note thing wasn't working out too well, couldn't find a pencil - but the note is that I should blog about Gerry's discovery of an underground manual that circulated back in the early 70's. That manual told how to build all types of very dangerous, and thus very cool, explosives. We successfully made our way through almost two of the recipes before Gerry was whisked off to the emergency ward at RIH with shrapnel wounds. The manual was lost to time and we have since mellowed. Anyways, the long version of the story is quite good but I think I may have given away the ending, but I didn't mention the part about the police chase, the swim for freedom, or the encounter with the one-armed fugitive - so there is probably enough material to keep a reader interested if I work it correctly.

But that was a pointless detour from my tick talk. As I had mentioned I was out searching for ticks as there had been considerable discussion about the arthropods on the naturalist chat line of which I am a member. I had vision of me going out with my tee-shirt tied to a stick and collecting great quantities of the animal so that I could then expound ad-nausium about how to collect ticks. To the untrained eye it looked like a yeti was running about waving a flag of surrender. To the trained eye it looked pretty much the same.

After 6 hours of hiking and collecting I had zero ticks to show for it. Stopping off at my folks place after the hike though, I did get one that was crawling up my neck. Back at my abode, my daughter retrieved one that was crawling up my door and away from my discarded tick trap.

What was interesting to note was that my ticks were two different species. I had both the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick and the Dog Tick. At least that is what I think these are as I am no entomologist but a cursory exam of the literature suggest that is what these are. The one will fetch sticks and the other yodels so that pretty much clinches it.

I was trying to get some photos when my herd of captives tried to make a break for it. Since the other members of my household have some strange aversion to getting the various diseases that these ticks carry I had to spend the better part of the day rounding up the escapees. In the end I was still one short so I made a cut out of a small piece of brown paper and put that in the vial with the others. No one is going to look close enough to notice the switch and I can get on with important things.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Wheeler Mountain

 Gerry on top of ridge

see - two inches to spare!

Gerry's pic of the chimney

My hiking buddy and longtime friend, and now famous hiking author - Gerry Shea - and I had a great day hiking up in the fringe land between the grasslands and Pine bunchgrass/Douglas Fir forests of the upper reaches of Wheeler Mountain.

The day started out very windy and overcast and ended up very windy and clear. The wind and cooler temperatures proved to be a godsend as it was a considerable hike up the mountain.

All in all it was a great day, we got out in the fresh air, got plenty of exercise and got to go play like kids up on a rock face that I had often looked at and just never had the opportunity or ambition to hike to.

Others contemplating the hike should of course all of the normal warnings about hiking/climbing on unstable rock formations but then you know all of that already. Getting there is simple, take the first dirt road to your right after crossing the train tracks on the Red Lake Road on your way out of Kamloops. Drive up hill as far as you can go - make sure you are in a four wheel drive vehicle (oops that should probably be the first thing) - get out and hike towards the large rockface to the north west. There is no trail or preferred route, just get out and explore.

Animals of note were: a pair of chukar on the top of the rock face, a dusky grouse on the lower slopes, and more deer sign, the polite way of saying deer poop, than I have ever seen in one area. The deer love to bed down on the tops of these rocks as it affords them a great view for approaching predators and numerous escape routes.

The hand!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Iditabike - The Idiotbike - The I did a hike

 me after 180 km. on a bike at -40

I was interviewed by one of the producers at CBC today and was asked what my proudest moment was. I had to think about it for awhile and it finally came back to me - the moment I lay my bike down at the finish line of the Iditabike. There by my lonesome at the Knik Lake Bar, I swaggered in and ordered my first beer. I had just finished 320 kilometers of quite possibly the hardest bike race in the world and I was going to celebrate.

I had given up beer - and any type of alcohol for that matter - the day I decided I was going to train for, enter and complete this ultra-endurance ride in the frozen wilderness of Alaska. Most of my reasons for entering were purely practical: my brothers said I couldn't do it and as we had all been drinking heavily when the conversation came up I had to argue that I could and because one should never back down from an alcohol induced assertion I weaved into the house, retrieved the magazine with the entry form, dialed the number and signed up on the spot.

Since the entry fee was non-refundable I thought - What the heck - and started a rigorous training regime. That regime consisted mainly of reading books about people that had done really brave things and trying to avoid books that mentioned people freezing to death and/or being forced to eat their companions. I did actually buy a bike and rode it a few times but I knew that one did not wish to overtrain for an ultra-marathon as one should conserve his energy for the long journey ahead.

The race was quite an epic journey for I and the other seventy some souls that started. There were a few who did not finish, many who froze bits off, and some who laughed in the face of adversity (Those guys doing the laughing were also the ones who made use of Alaska's then very liberal laws regarding the cultivation and possession of marijuana).

The 320 kilometre race followed a portion of the same trail used by the mushers in the famed Iditarod dog sled race which was to run a week after we finished. The race conditions were favourable, -40 and very little wind. The trail was good in most places but there was one 80 kilometre section where we had to push our bikes.

The first leg of the race took me 24 and a half hours to complete and I was a little cold, cranky and tired by the time I made it into the checkpoint for the mandatory medical check and 6 hour layover. I ate three cheeseburgers there, bought two more - storing one under each armpit - to keep them from freezing solid - and to ensure no-one asked for a bite of my burger on the trail - and then headed off into the brutal cold that was the long Alaskan night.

I had some grand adventures on that trip - many of which I am sure must have just been tricks of the mind - tricks of a mind fighting to stave off death by freezing. The one thing I do know for certain though, is when I crossed that finish line, some 54 hours after having set out, I was ready for a beer.

Thoughtfully the race organizers had placed the finish line next to the last outpost of humanity - the Knik Lake bar. Because racers were straggling in over a five day period the race organizers knew that they could stay warm and entertained in the bar and that eventually we would all end up there anyhow.

The barmaid was great. She was marginally taller than she was wide and she had just informed one poor mountain biker from California, who had mistakenly thought he wanted a cooler, that "We serve whiskey or beer" and emphasized the point by spit polishing the glass she was holding. I ordered a bottled beer. She opened it with a flick of her thumb which was impressive because it wasn't a twist top.

I never got on a bike again for at least six months after that race. Any ride after that just seemed anticlimactic.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dr. Dirt and the Masters of Mud

Out for a ride?

My friend Jason (lower right) just had a birthday and I knew I had to send him this photo. The three of us; me, Noah and Jason, were having a contest to see who could ride the furthest out into the river on our mountain bikes. 

The contest seemed like a pretty good idea until I got out over my head and then remembered my feet were stuck in the toe clips and I am far from being a good swimmer. I swallowed a lot of river that day and Jason and Noah had a good laugh about it. 

I really couldn't fault the two for it was pretty funny - seeing your buddy struggling between life and death and trying to swim while packing a mountain bike under one arm. The insensitive clods!

But what was funny was when on the next day we rode up to Sylvia falls and I played a little trick on Jason. After leaving the falls we tried going further up the trail to Mahood Lake. Now the trail is very steep on one section and we had to push our bikes up the narrow trail and we finally tired of that, left our bikes, and finished the hike on foot. On our return to the bikes we stopped and had a little lunch. While Jason wasn't watching I unhooked his brakes. Now that was funnier than a man drowning! Jason, was a very good rider but even he had to bail after about five seconds. We all had a good laugh about it (well Noah and I had a good laugh about it).

I think it was shortly after that, that Jason retaliated by hiding about ten pounds of rocks in the bottom of my panniers at the start of our ride up to the top of Baldy Mountain. Now Baldy is about a six hour climb on the bikes with nary a level piece of ground on which to catch your breath (we did it once in under two but that was during a race). Anyways we started out in good spirits but I just couldn't seem to get my wind that day and my legs felt like lead as I struggled to keep up with Noah and Jason. About three hours into the ride I had a flat and had to go into my panniers - when I found the rocks I was not a happy camper! Noah and Jason again had a good laugh about it.

Those were the good ole days - we rode most everyday - wind, rain or snow. Actually the worse the weather, the greater the adventure. My bike is still hanging in the garage, perhaps I'll dust it off and coast down to Tim Hortons one day.

Dr. Dirt and the Masters of Mud at Sylvia Falls


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Ritcey Maxim

 Pick out the predators (2 eyes) and the prey (1 eye)

Now ever since I had learned Boyle's law in a grade nine science class I wanted a law named after me. As I matured however I realized that most good laws had already been taken and started to lean towards perhaps postulating a good theorem. Theorems are by definition a lot less stringent than a law and should have been easier to come up with. Now I have come upon something a little more attainable - a maxim, which by my understanding is a step above "some guy I know told me" or "a friend of a friend says".

So I am now presenting the following maxim to biologists and naturalists the world over. The Ritcey Maxim or the One-Eye Maxim states that if you have a picture of a bird or a mammal and you can only clearly see one eye, then the animal is most likely a prey species. Two eyes clearly visible in the photo and the animal is most likely a predator.

Try it out with your own photos. And yes there will be exceptions to the rule, even I have photos of a rabbit with both eyes clearly visible - but I would estimate that this maxim holds true over 78.6% of the time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Breakfast in Spain



I added this photo as I loved the feeling it invoked. The brightness of the courtyard playing off against the darkness that partially obscures the produce gave it an interesting ying-yang effect.

Now I don't know that produce in Spain is necessarily any better for you than that grown in Mexico or where-ever it is that we get our fresh local produce from but it sure tasted better. Daughter Lisa and I would take the train into Barcelona or the el-traino as those of us who don't speak Spanish would say and after doing the sight seeing thing we would go to the marcado and load up on whatever caught our eye.

Now it may just have been clever marketing but it looked like the vegetables were from small truck gardens and the produce was always fresh, clean and very very bueno. Fresh salads were always the order of the day as were interesting stir fries and rice dishes.

The marcado often provided a palette for both the eyes and the taste buds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

That last glimmer of hope

the last glimmer of hope

Well I thought I'd best get this blog entry in while there was still a glimmer of hope. If I wait til tomorrow I might have to write an all doom and gloom post and that just isn't fun to read.

I arrived home yesterday to a message on - you guessed it - on my answering machine. It was a pleasant sounding lady from the CBC out in Montreal, asking me to call her back with regards to the "Canada Writes" competition. Now, I can't be sure but she was either phoning me for the necessary phone interview to see if I would be a suitable candidate for a "game show" or she may have been phoning to ask that I quit submitting things to CBC literary contests.

Either way, I was a blip on the radar for a moment and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and then. . .

And then I drew a blank - I couldn't remember which piece of prose I'd wowed them with. I knew it wasn't in my sent files as you submitted via a form on the web so I had to search all of my files that had anything to do with CBC. It seems I've entered a lot of CBC contests in the last number of years, but adding a chronological sort along with a word search for CBC found the two most likely culprits - my "dog-gone" song - an homage to all dogs that have packed it in on film or in song, and then my pitch for my next great "B" movie -"The Attack of the Mutant Kreepy Krawlers"

After having re-read both submissions I have unfortunately concluded that CBC must have been calling to persuade me to give up writing in favour of something more in the realm of reality. Something like moose polo or rabid beaver toss.

Oh fame, you're a cruel temptress.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Indicator Species

 
Indian Pipe - a saprophytic plant


I was out on an extended hunt in the mountains with another guide and a hunter. We were after Thinhorn sheep and we may as well have been hunting hippos for the amount of game we were seeing.

As we were making our way through a valley pass to the next mountain range the other guide commented on how much our horses seemed to enjoy "that swamp grass". I mentioned that the swamp grass was in fact some form of "equisetum". He looked at me as though I was from another planet and then took up a good fifteen minutes of our ride to explain to me how ridiculous it was to have that piece of information at the ready.

At that point I realized that I was dealing with a lost cause. There are people who go through this world, not only ignorant, but in fact reveling in their ignorance of many things. This was not an uneducated man but one who simply didn't understand nature and the bigger picture.

"Why would you want to know about something like that?"

I knew the question was rhetorical so I didn't bother to answer. I'm sure one of you reading this might want to know, so here it goes: When you understand all, or some, of the components of an eco-system you can glean what is going on from all types of "indicator" species. Maybe at the time you don't know that you are in fact looking at an indicator - but at some point the light will go on - and you'll have that moment of knowing how everything fits together.

The photo at the top of this entry is of "Indian Pipe" a saprophytic plant that feeds of dead plant material and is white due to it's lack of chlorophyll. The plant, in of itself, is not that useful to we humans directly, but it is an indicator of the plant in the photo below - the Huckleberry. So, find some Indian Pipe and you know you're in a good huckleberry hunting area. This I know only to be true in the environs I've traveled in and it may not hold true for your neck of the woods so please don't raise too much of a protest.

Equisetum, apart from being great horse food, is also great bear food - especially if the berries or food sources are not ready at that particular time. So why know this? If you find yourself in a big patch of equisetum and you've noticed a lack of berries or other things a bear might want on his plate, there's a pretty good chance that you're walking into Yogi's kitchen/dining room and you might want to be taking the necessary precautions.

 
Huckleberries - as indicated by Indian Pipe

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunrise - Sunset

sunrise over Kamloops

Mornings have to be the best part of my day. I guess it is because I am always the optimist and believe that each day has that immeasurable opportunity for greatness. Some days I make it through till lunch before having that notion beat out of me.

Sunsets are the second best part of the day because it means that in a short while, it'll be sunrise again and in the words of Little Orphan Annie:
"The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun! 

 Sunset -Puerto Escondido

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bite Me



So I am going through some of my old video footage and I come across this one. It's a mosquito that is feeding on my hand. It was as much a test of my will power as it was about getting the shot for the camera.

As you can see there were a few mosquitoes out that day. I have found it's all a matter of mind control. If you can get your head into a certain zone, the mosquitoes really don't bother you. When you think about it - their bites is really not all that painful. When you allow them to annoy you though - you are in for a world of hurt.

Just remember - that first frost of August, and they're all gone. Yes I did say August, because up in the mountains that's when you get your first frosts. I think there is a short period at the end of june and the first couple of weeks of June that are usually frost free.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A blast from the Past

 
Mara mountain -park at red circle

When I've missed an entry or two in my blog it is because I am busy with either - working at the computer (working on databases or websites for clients) or I am off hiking (working off the weight I put on while grazing at the keyboard).

This past couple of days has been a bit of both. Yesterday my buddy Gerry Shea and I went for a hike up Mara mountain. Yes the same Gerry Shea who is the noted author (whose first book should hit the shelves in a couple of months) and longtime chum whom I have known since "peace" and "far out" were considered "hip".

Anyhow, Gerry and I agreed that an easy hike was in order for a couple of old guys coming out of hibernation so we decided upon Mara Mountain. Mara is within the LacDuBois Provincial Park and is a great place for people looking for a hike close at hand. Admittedly, Gerry and my ideas of what constitute "easy" may differ considerably from that of the reader and you should make your own determination as to whether or not you should attempt the hike.

Getting there is easy if you have a 4x4 with high clearance and no fear of heights. The road to our jumping off point is not maintained and I think the plan is to eventually let it get so bad that people just quit using it. Which is fine by me but until then I will make use of it. To get to this road, turn north off of the Red Lake Road just after the railroad tracks and stay on the dirt track until you come to your first cattle guard. Park off the road but don't venture onto the grasslands as that's what the park is here to protect.

There is no trail or route to Mara and you can just head off towards the peak. Mountain climbing is great for the directionally challenged - as long as you are going up you are going in the right direction. Coming down is a bit more challenging: while mountains have only one peak, they have an infinite number of points that could be considered their base. Please remember where you parked your vehicle.

If you approach the peak from the west side you should be alright. Getting too far to the south will put you into some very tough terrain and you may fall to your untimely demise - or get some real bad boo-boos as you tumble off the not too stable side-slopes.

Take lots of water especially from about January-December as these are the dry months in Kamloops.

While it is an arid area there is still lots to see. Over the years I have seen: mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, chukar, blue grouse, eagles, all types of songbirds, wood ticks and - "wait a minute, did you say woodticks" interjected the attentive reader.

"Yep, woodticks" replied the sage old mountain man as he picked one of the creepy crawlies from his neck as if to make an exclamation point with the squirming arachnid. Wood ticks are in good numbers in the Kamloops grasslands and one should watch out for them from about March through June. While I haven't been killed by one yet, they do carry a lot of nasty diseases and you should be careful to ensure that you are properly de-ticked at the end of a hike.

Our hike yielded no wood ticks and few photos as it stay gray and gloomy until we got back to the vehicle. Maybe we'll see you out there hiking around some day.

 
Gerry on bluff looking at Kamloops lake


(above)Gerry taking more pictures of grasslands 
(below) Me walking softly and carrying a big stick

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Using the camera to explore nature

 
Vermiculata - that's the latin name for this moth


 Vermiculata up close and personal

So I took this picture of a moth. It's a Vermiculata of some type or at least that's what I've been told. The truth to be known I probably wouldn't know a Vermiculata if it came by and bit me in the . .  . Well you get the idea, I'm not really much of a Lepidopterist but because of my camera, I can take a picture of something interesting - get onto the internet and search the image - or go to a chat room - or post a note on a Google Group - and before you know it, I know it!

Not only does the camera allow you to identify things it allows you to study your subject in great detail. Take this specimen for example. When you zoom in on it you notice some interesting things.

First, I noticed that its proboscis is about the length of its body. On us that would mean a tongue that would reach to the floor. It would also make for interesting mealtimes as you wouldn't have to keep asking your children to pass the jam or eggrolls - you could snag pretty much anything within a 2 meter radius of your chair.

Secondly I noticed that this insect appears to have multiple eyes. While I know that arachnids quite often have multiple sets of eyes, I have never heard of it in moths. Now that gives me something to research - are these real eyes, pseudo eyes to trick predators, or perhaps adornments to make the ladies stand up and pay attention. It gives a person lots to think about - and while I know I could turn my thoughts towards solving third order differential equations or solving cold fusion - I think pondering the wonders of nature much more fruitful.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Maybe not the Olympics

 
Canada Winter Games Brandon 1978
 
Okay, I have to admit it - I did watch the spectacle of the Olympic opening ceremonies. I figured if we're going to be in hock for the next 39 years to pay for it, I might as well get my money's worth.

It did bring back memories however of my own attempts at athletic greatness. Blessed as I was with no physical coordination, an unmanly aversion to pain, the upper body strength of a five year old girl, and virtually no cardio capacity to speak off I was naturally limited in my choice of sports.

While at university I wanted to be a "Letter man" - which back in the day was the accolade afforded to people who made a University sponsored sports team. Being the scholarly type I researched all manners of sport and picked the one with the fewest competitors and by dint of statistics found something that I would have to rank amongst the top ten in. That would have been the case of course had not another junior joined the team and relegated me to a lowly 11th position.

I stuck it out however and through my athletic prowess and through a particularly violent flu outbreak which struck down 90% of our Sabre squad I was chosen as part of a three man team to represent our province at the Canada Winter Games.

Now the sabre is one of the three fencing weapons used in the sport, the other two being the foil and the epee.  The sabre, until the plane touched down in Brandon Manitoba - the home of the games that particular year - was also the only weapon I had never held. I had however seen a number of Zorro movies and being of strong Viking descent I figured it couldn't be all that hard.

The lesson in it's use was short and sweet: it's a cutting tool - you cut people with it and try not to get cut yourself in the process. Of course the weapons we were handed were a much tamer cousin of the real sabre but could still inflict a nasty welt if administered with enough force. Apparently in the refined world of fencing it was not consider "de riguer" to try to chop off your opponent's appendages but instead we were supposed to merely affect a "touche a droit" which was the way they recorded a "touch to the right". I never did learn the term for the "touch to the left" as it seemed I was the only one getting "touched".

I had been beaten badly by one of the Quebecois in my first round and was to come up against a Newfie in the second round. I sized the "bye" up and he was a towering specimen and carried the swagger of one of the Viking explorers from years gone by. We were both standing there watching another pair of fencers go at it when he made a comment to the effect that this wasn't what he had signed up for - he wanted to do some real sword fightin' . I agreed, and in the spirit of the games we agreed to our own terms of engagement - it was obvious we weren't going to win anyhow so we might as well get one good sword fight in before we got sent home.

We were called onto the piste (which is french for the mat) and we squared off. Normally there is a lot of footwork and dancing about, but this was not to be a normal match. We planted our feet and began an exchange of blows that brought to mind the "Ballad of Abdul Abulbul Amir". Steel hissed as it sliced through the air to crash against steel as we parried, thrust and chopped at one another.

We fought with a fervor and exuberance of two opponents who were truly enjoying a good fight. I, like a lumberjack hacking at a great Western Red Cedar and he, like a sealer on a bashing spree with a four foot club. Neither gave an inch nor requested a reprieve. I broke two sabres on that man. He broke one sabre on me and managed to break my thumb.

I actually don't remember who won that bout but I do know that we set a record for breaking sabres and drew an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny by the various officials that were trying to preserve the sanctity of the sport.

I do know that my goal of become a letterman was quickly fading and it would be another ten years before the opportunity for true athletic greatness would present itself (see below)

 
Iditabike - 1988?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pa - the water's risin'

 
Hemp creek in full flood - circa 1967

 Okay, haul up your suspenders for this one, cause it might get pretty deep by the end of the story.

Raised as we were, in the outbacks of British Columbia, our choices for entertainment were limited. We had a monophonic record player and a well worn copy of the Sons of the Pioneers, we had beagles which you spent as much time hunting for as hunting with, and we had gramma’s kitchen table. The table itself wasn’t that interesting but the people that gathered around it in the evening were a colorful lot.

Uncles, who drew the musical straws in the gene pool, could play guitars and sing. Gramma would play the fiddle when she wasn’t tending to the prodigious amounts of food she would have to prepare for our crew, and those of us who couldn’t sing, play or cook, would end up telling stories.

I don’t know who to attribute this following story to but it was always told to me as being gospel and I repeat it as such. There was a father and son team of trappers a few valleys over that were by most accounts two of the least motivated people in the history of the great Canadian fur trade.

I shall call them Joe and Little Joe, and just so as to keep it straight, Joe was the father and Little Joe the son.

Joe and Little Joe were out beaver trapping one beautiful spring day and as was their custom had stopped along a grassy knoll along the creek and had stretched out for a mid-afternoon nap. Little Joe, awakening after only a half hour or so of slumber turned to his father and remarked:

“Pa, the water’s a rising”

Joe’s response was the now legendary, “Yep, I reckon we’s a goner!”

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Praise the Lord and pass the Gun Powder Biscuits

Gramma (Jennie Helset) in her kitchen

One of Grammas’ favourite sayings was, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” I think that was her way of saying, while it is good to invoke help from above, it doesn’t hurt to do what you can for yourself. Not only did gramma have a pretty sound outlook on life in general she was also an incredible cook.

These baking powder biscuits she would make, we children would refer to as “gun powder” biscuits. We had, even at that young age, more experience with gun powder than baking powder due in no small part to an understanding uncle who would facilitate any experiment with explosives that we wish to undertake.

These biscuits make a great addition to a hearty stew or are appreciated wherever good gravy is served.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbs baking powder
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter

Mix all dry ingredients and then cut butter into the mixture. Mixture should be a little coarser than corn meal. The tricky part comes when we add the water. Slowly add water and continue to lift the water through the mixture with a mixing spoon. It takes a little practice but your mixture should be considerably thicker than a pancake dough and hold together in a large ball but have a wet look to the ball. Start with a cup of water and then add in tablespoon increments til the right consistency is reached.

Grease 9 holes of a 12 seater muffin tin and drop the mixture into the 9 spaces. Bake for 12 mins at 375 and then finish off with about 2 mins with the broiler going. Watch it closely as they can burn quickly. You only have to do that 5 or 6 times and then you’ll remember to watch it like a mother hen and her chicks.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A major undertaking . . .

 
It's a long way to Saskatoon


getting closer

the view from up here



Okay, it's pretty sad when the biggest part of the hike is the running around the house trying to find where you last hid your hiking boots.

But that's how it was this morning as I can't seem to remember where I'd last stashed my boots at the end of the hunting season. I had to settle for a pair of my steel toed work boots. Boots which I am happy to say were up to the task.

Daughter Lisa, and her friend, Nick, agreed to toddle up the hill with the fat old man that I have become. Fortunately for me, they had been out partying most of the night and had some of that zip that young people exhibit worn off of them. The hike up Kenna Cartwright Park is a very pleasant one and I was glad to see so many vehicles in the parking lot.

There is nothing to comment on the hike except that you go up hill, stay on the access road/trail and eventually you will be rewarded with one of the greatest views of Kamloops. I'll provide the google map below for those of you that would want to take this stroll one afternoon - allow yourself 40 minutes to an hour for the round trip - any longer than that and maybe you'd better lay off the cerveza and tacos.

take the North Copperhead exit off of Hwy #1 and hang a right, a louie and then a dogleg and you're at the parking lot