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
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun! 

 Sunset -Puerto Escondido