Tuesday, August 11, 2009

tales from the trail...

We’re home…always a good place to be! Today I’ll just share a few tales with you…more to do with what we learned along the way…than the places we visited. Tomorrow…I’ll take you along on a road trip to Vancouver Island.

We had a wonderful time on a whale watching trip off the coast of northern Vancouver Island…with a company called Stubbs Island Whale Watching Tours. The same company also has a marine museum in Telegraph Cove…where we chatted with one of the naturalists about the difference between harbour seals, Stellar sea lions and California sea lions. We described for her…a visitor that we once had on our dairy farm. It was July first…Canada Day…some years ago...when a very lost sea lion somehow made it’s way up the Fraser River and then down ten miles of drainage ditches…to pay us a visit. Our dog wasn’t all that thrilled to see a very large (maybe 350 pounds) brown-spotted sea lion trying to get under the trickle of water dripping from the eaves troughs of the barn roof. The dog barked…the sea lion reared up…and barked right back. We called the conservation officers to come rescue the poor animal…but with it being a Canadian holiday and all…it seemed that was not an option. The sea lion stayed the night on the farm…and was still there when hubby went out to chore at 4:30 am…but by the time the conservation officers reported to work…our sea lion was gone. We were never quite sure of the exact identity of our visitor…but we now know that it was a California sea lion…by it’s bark…by it’s size…and colouring. It is rare for them to make their way that far up the Fraser River…and unheard of for them to visit the countryside of the Fraser Valley. But it is a true story…and I’m sticking to it!

While we were in Telegraph Cove…we picked up a little book about an orca whale for our granddaughter, Ranen. As we were paying for the book…the cashier wondered if we might like to have it autographed by the author…

who just happened to be in the shop. How cool is that! Ranen loves books…and also happens to be somewhat of an expert on orca whales…even at her young age. Before she had her second birthday…I mistakenly called one of her bathtub toys a dolphin…and she laughed and said, “That is not a dolphin…that is an orca whale”. I stand corrected…and now know the difference between dolphins and orca whales…as well as between seals and sea lions. I am getting quite smart in my old age!

And here is a wee tale of a forest fire averted. As many of you know…British Columbia has been experiencing one of the driest summers in history. Forest fires have been raging throughout the province for several months…and everyone knows that the forests are tinder dry. There has been a total ban on campfires for more than a month…and extreme caution must be exercised when out and about enjoying nature. As we traveled…we heard countless radio ads warning of large fines for anyone caught disposing of cigarette butts improperly! One morning as we sat at our breakfast table…we watched our neighbours preparing to ‘hit the road‘. While one guy packed everything up…the other stood and watched. …and lit up a smoke…and threw the match on the kindling lying at his feet. Hubby was incensed…but bit his tongue. Once they were ready leave…the smoker threw his smouldering cigarette down on the ground…next to the match. Hubby was up and over there in a flash…before they could make their get-away. He asked them if they had any idea how dry our forests were…and suggested that maybe it was not a wise thing to be tossing out matches and cigarette butts…as he had just witnessed. The offender scrambled to retrieve the evidence…and his friend apologized on his behalf. And we wonder why there are new forest fires starting up daily! As of yesterday…the rains have arrived…a much needed boost for the fire fighters in our province.

Food always plays a big part of the vacation experience. And so it is that I have fond memories of a fried chicken picnic at the parliament buildings...fish 'n chips on a dock...and fondue overlooking Telegraph Cove. Ten years ago we traveled to Alaska with our friends from Switzerland…and had cheese fondue in the shadow of Mt. Denali (McKinley)…prepared by Pierre and Ute in true Swiss style. Although our friends weren’t with us on our adventure this summer…we thought cheese fondue would be the perfect way to end our day after our whale watching expedition.

And it was! And for dessert…

...Swiss chocolates…thanks to a friend who sent them along for our journey.
Those are today's tidbits from our travels.

Have a great Tuesday...


  1. That fondue.......it looks yummy!...and dessert looks decadent.
    Good for your husband for having a talk with the careless campers. The rain of the past two days will help, but people will still need to take care if we're not to up in smoke.

  2. Judy..I applaud your hubby for talking to the careless smokers.
    Sea lions at the barn?..wow!
    I have never tried a cheese fondue..hmm, it's been a long time for a 'fondue anything'.

  3. Welcome home Judy. I'm sure finding the Sea Lion in your ditch was a shock. Did you get a picture? Cheese fondue...we had one not so long ago...so yummy. Looking forward to your Island tour in the coming days. I'm sure the farmers are happy to see the rains. I know my yard will be happy. Kathy

  4. This was an interesting read. You made me smile about your whale education. My grandson enlightens me, too.

    And, good for your husband approaching the careless smoker.

    Now, I would like some chocolate - right now.

  5. It has been a while since I ate, and that cheese fondue looked mighty good to me. This post is so fascinating. Every thing you wrote about was educational to me. I am most amazed at the Sea Lion story. I am so thankful for men like your husband that take action when action is needed, and I think your granddaughter is pretty smart knowing the idenity of certain whales. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. What a fabulous post! I love it when you put in little stories along the way, and add pictures that tease all the senses. Sea lions are a hot topic in my home town, ever since they decided to own the children's beach.

    The environmentalist decided the sealions should have the beach, and that people should not use the beach anymore, as they would "scare" the sealions, and the sealion would be so frightened they would race to the water in fear. HUH??? Isn't the water where they go to eat anyway???

    Now I am hungry for Swiss chocolate (an addiction picked up in Switzerland!) and fondue. I've promised myself NO fondue until the first ski trip here, well, maybe the first snow fall, umm...first day it is chilly...well, how about a day that ends in the letter "y"? Why not!

  7. A sea lion inland on a farm...what an adventure that fellow (or gal) must have had. Hopefully he survived his detour and found his way back to seashore.

    As I read the story of the "match and butt", I could feel my BP rising... not only do some folks throw these items away without a care, but there are people out there that also are looking for left over butts to smoke up.... at least in my world where mental health & brain injured clients living at risk, and homeless, are seeking out these items and often are not cognizant of the danger that carelessness brings on.

    Yum to the cheese fondue....

  8. It's night time and I realize the day has sped by....
    Interesting time with those campers eh? I would of been hysterical.

    I will be next to try the fondue for a special occasion.

  9. Judy, I'm sorry I missed so many blog posts .. two of my friends lost their elderly parents this week and I have been attending wakes in the evenings.

    I'm so glad your husband spoke up to that smoker! I honestly don't think people realize what they are doing. Yellowstone National park lost so many animals and woods woods a few years ago because of a careless smoker.

    I laughed at your sea lion story because I thought that if that happened today you would have had many photos and a blog about it! I find myself taking photos of so many things I never would have!

    How wonderful to have Ranen's book autographed by the author!

    Your fondue dinner looks delightful --I am a devoted cheese eater and would have ordered the same!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson