The Wunder-Lusters Origin Story – Part 1

This series of posts came out of me doing a bit of semi-regular ‘blog housekeeping’, wherein I check to make sure links are live, no trolls lurk in the shadowy corners, that sort of thing.

I opened up the separate page I’d created for ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, and lo-and-behold I discovered, nothing … except that at some point I’d typed the words ‘under construction’, and then obviously forgot all about the poor wee thing.

I hastily added a link to The Wunder-Lusters burgeoning YouTube channel and set about writing a bit of a blurb about what The Wunder-Lusters actually was, just in case someone who hasn’t been on this journey with me dropped by and had no idea what it was all about.

So far I’ve written over 5,000 words about what this is all about.

Don’t worry, it’s not all here in this post. I’m going to break it up into edible chunks, post each one here and then post the entire story, at least thus far, on its own page. (as usual, any words in green and bold are live links for a bit of further info – and, our 2015 and 2016 Adventures need to be read from the last one to the first. Something about WP’s ordering of the universe)

Here we go …

-oOo-

The Wunder-Lusters Origin Story – Part 1

In the Fall of 2014 Mrs Widds and I embarked on a road-trip.

It started mostly as a whim, to visit all the hot springs within a reasonable distance of Widder Island, and with reasonable access, (because even back then, my knees were a shadow of their pre-motorbike-accident days) and turned into a pivotal Adventure that directly, and indirectly, led us to where we are today.

We’d gone camping in a tent for several summers prior to 2014, having decided, perhaps years before, that, being born-n-bred in the country, neither of us were of a temperament to take to city life and we didn’t want to stay in Vancouver and be ‘city-folk’, for the rest of our days. Going camping was our low-key, low-cost, way of exploring the possibilities.

Relocating from urban Vancouver to rural-ish Widder Island in 2012 was the first step toward living in the Interior. ( the ‘Interior’, being loosely defined as anywhere in British Columbia that wasn’t the coast or the Lower Mainland)

The next conundrum to be solved was, where. The Interior of B.C. is a very big place, and by extension, the whole of Canada is a very, very, big place. (about 1.3 times bigger than the whole continent of Australia. I know, technically, Australia is an island, but I still maintain that technically, Pluto is a planet)

(We weren’t closed to the idea of moving to another province, but after our 2015 Adventure,  wherein we speed-pootled from one side of Canada to the other, (near enough anyway) we decided B.C. was the place for us. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself …)

After settling in to our new life on Widder Island, and after my run-in with cancer in 2012-13, we began a series of camping pootles to get a feel for the lay of the land. No one area really spoke to us and said ‘pick me, pick me’, although the North Thompson River valley from Clearwater to parts north, came the closest. (it was the route we chose on our way up here to Prince George)

It was about this time too, the tides of Climate Change (it wasn’t called ‘Climate Crisis’, yet) began to lap at the shores of our lives. Not quite impinging on our little island, but warning signs of what was to come made themselves known, mostly with unexpected weather patterns, micro-climate changes, etc. The data was there, clear as day, if one choose to look.

Our road-trip of 2014 circumnavigated a goodly portion of the south-eastern corner of B.C. Although I made some posts about it, I seem to have deleted most of them when I did a major ‘clean-up’ of my blog. The remaining two give a feel for it …

‘A Perfect Ten’, and ‘Hot Springs’

One of my two favourite memories from that trip was discovering Lussier Hot Springs in Whiteswan Provincial Park. To sink into that glorious crystal-clear hot water, flowing directly out of the earth and into the Lussier River, all held within giant water-smooth river boulders, was a treat for all the senses.

My other memory was standing on top of Sulphur Mountain, in Banff National Park. At 2,400 meters above sea-level, the air was so clear I could see forever. The air was also noticeably thinner up there, and lowland me felt a tad out of breath if I moved too fast.

Just to be clear, I didn’t actually climb the mountain under my own steam. My bad knee vetoed the strenuous hike and opted for the more sedate, but no less thrilling, gondola ride up and back.

Which brings me to my two worst, perhaps not ‘worst’, but certainly very sad, memories of the trip.

The day before we left Widder Island, I had an obscene amount of fluid drained from one of my knees. By the time we’d dipped our toes, and the rest of our anatomies, in the Lussier Hot Springs, (near Columbia lake – the start of the mighty Columbia River) and then headed for Radium Hot Springs, I knew my days of sleeping on the ground, (albeit on an air mattress in a nice comfy tent) were numbered … and that number had finally wound down to zero.

Thankfully we were able to book hotels for the rest of our journey, but it was the end of an era for me. One that began a year after the motorcycle accident that buggered my knee in the first place, (1983) and required that I do everything in my power to live as ‘normal’, a physical life as was womanly possible.

Looking back, almost 40 (and still counting) years, isn’t a bad innings for a knee that was given a maximum life-span of 10 years before being replaced. But still, it was a sobering realisation.

My other memory in the ‘sad’, category was taking a guided tour up onto the Athabasca Glacier. It groaned and creaked beneath my feet, existing, probably, long before the last Ice Age ended. Because of Climate Change, it was, (and still is) retreating beyond the ability of any amount of snowfall on its high reaches to ever replenish.

That afternoon, spending time with such an ancient entity, Climate Change became Climate Crisis for me.

-oOo-

We’d often talked about buying an RV of some sort, at some point in the future, but by the time we returned home from our 2014 Adventure, it was obvious that ‘some point’, had arrived.

We went to a few RV shows. The ones where they showcase the $400,000 coaches with 9 slide-outs, 15 gold-plated toilets, and Italian marble countertops. (I’m exaggerating, but only slightly – those things are insane) A glorious fantasy they were, but I ask you, who in their right mind wants (very heavy) marble countertops in their RV? (someone with enough money to not care, that’s who)

We liked the idea of a 5th-wheel, (which is a type of travel trailer (caravan) that hitches up inside the tray of the towing truck, mostly for the ceiling height as I recall) with slide-outs for more room. We liked them, that is, until we started looking into costs and financing. We eventually settled on our trusty 8m/25’ ‘Canyon Cat’, travel trailer and started planning our first trip while we waited for delivery, and thereafter, our modifications, to be completed.

Out came the maps to be pinned to the wall and stuck all over with post-its. We’d surprise each other with, ’what do you think about this’, and ‘maybe we should go here’,

We initially planned a few-hundred-kilometer pootle, a ‘shake-down cruise’, while we learned the in’s-and-out’s of RV-ing. (something neither of us had ever, ever, done before)

 … yeah, about that …this is what we actually did …

10,000 kilometers in 31 days. From Widder Island, on the West coast of Canada to Niagara Falls, and back again.

It was one of those Adventures that usually have the appellation ‘… of a lifetime’, tagged on them, but somewhere along the way we wondered if we could do it more frequently, perhaps even as a lifestyle. There was nothing really to hold us to one place. The possibilities were … exciting, challenging, tantalising … endless.

Our steep learning curve turned vertical the moment we pulled out of our driveway, but we did it, and we made some truly memorable memories and saw some truly spectacular sights. (I was, however singularly unimpressed with the Prairies though. Not a mountain to be seen … for days, and days, and days and … I wrote a story about it that I might publish one day … perhaps in a collection of short stories inspired by our Adventures)

Elsewhere in the world ‘extreme weather events’, started making mainstream media headlines, and we took note, even as we planned our next RV-ing excursion (albeit a more modest outing than our maiden voyage) to Otter Lake in 2016.

On the way to Otter Lake, we drove through hundreds of hectares of devastated pine-tree plantations. Decades of forestry mismanagement and Global Warming provided the perfect environment for an opportunistic little bug, the Pine Beetle, to launch an invasion. Trees were dying everywhere, and when trees die in such numbers it’s only a matter of time before wildfires take their turn to ravage the land.

Throughout the summers of 2017, 2018, and 2019, wildfires wreaked untold devastation throughout BC, and blanketed whole regions in massive palls of cruel smoke and ash. Even on Widder Island, untouched by the fires themselves, visibility was reduced to a few hundred meters, and the smoke-filled air reduced any sort of outdoors venture to necessities only.

The regions we had planned to explore fared far worse, and it would’ve been the worst kind of irresponsible to visit them as tourists.

Through an abundance of caution and common sense, we cancelled our RV-ing plans for those three consecutive summers, although we still remained relatively untouched by the fallout from our rapidly changing climate until the summer of 2019 when Widder Lake was closed to swimmers for the first time. An algae bloom rendered the water too risky to human health. (no mention was made of the other species of creatures that used the lake, but isn’t that just like humans?)

As the summer of 2019 faded into Autumn and Winter, we took the time to finalise our plans to leave the coast permanently. Population pressure was driving the cost of living sky-high. We were lucky with our mostly absent landlady, but as renters our home could be pulled out from under us at any time.

We started ‘The Wunder-Lusters’, YouTube channel to document our journey, not only for ourselves, but for others who might be feeling the same way. To show what two older women could accomplish when they set their minds to it.

We waited for the high-passes to be free of snow, usually April/May-ish, so it would be safe to cross over them with our travel trailer, and then we would truly start our ‘wunder-lusting’, in the summer of 2020.

Plans which, as it turned out, were already 6 months out of date.

(It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when Covid-19 first started, but this report, (along with others, I haven’t linked to, but they’re out there if you want to do a bit of research) reasonably deduces that late Autumn of 2019 is when the world changed for us all)

Well, I Guess That Was Summer

We painted our awning yesterday.

When we unpacked our trailer back on Widder Island, after that prolonged Winter, (and Spring-that-never-was) and rolled down the awning, we noticed that the fabric felt a little brittle. It was, after all, seven years old, and designed to have a limited life-span, as all such ‘add-on’s’, are made in order that as much money can be prised from RV owners wallets as is possible and still adhere to the minimum legal standards. (like just about everything where there’s a profit to be made)

The fabric itself is made of three layers, fabric (of some sort) sandwiched between two layers of vinyl. (of some sort)

And it’s black. Why it’s black I have no idea … well yes I do, it costs less to manufacture a black awning than it does a white or coloured, (or heaven forbid, a patterned one!)

We love our little home-on-wheels, but we’re certainly discovering just how much of it was constructed out of the cheapest materials possible. Thank goodness both Mrs Widds and I are ‘Ms Fixits’, when it comes to making repairs on the fly, or maintenance-y stuff that wouldn’t be necessary, or done as often, were the quality a little better. (I feel like I’m being a little too curmudgeonly today. Might pause and have a cuppa tea and a bikkie. That always changes my context) Having said that, we have the essentials for a comfortable day-to-day life, in the short-term, and that’s OK.

Back to the awning – having been out in the midday sun for days on end, for so many years, and being black, and layered, the poor thing’s layers had started to part company and a few tiny stress holes were showing. (that would swiftly become large stress holes if we didn’t do some repair work poste haste)

That was back in April. I don’t know if you remember April, but in the Lower Mainland, it was wet and cold. Not ideal conditions to even contemplate a major bit of outside work.

We researched the cost of buying a new awning – north of $800 – not an option, and settled for a special vinyl paint that would dry flexible enough so that it wouldn’t hinder the awning being rolled up and down as required.

Then we waited for a stretch of dry sunny weather … and waited … and waited.

April didn’t deliver, which was just as well because we were packing like dervishes to leave Widder Island for good.

May didn’t deliver. For the first half of the month we were at Cheam Fishing Village and Campground in Agassiz. (where it rained every, single, bloody, day) The second half of the month, we were amongst the gorgeous mountains in Valemount, where it didn’t rain every day, but it was too cold, and we were too buggered from the move to do anything more than bundle up and sit outside for a bit of fresh, very fresh, mountain air before the cold drove us inside again. (certainly not the recommended temperature range for doing a spot of outdoor painting)

We’ve been here in Prince George for a bit over two months now and between late-afternoon thunderstorms, rainy weather in general, and still being too cold, we still hadn’t got to fix our poor awning, who by this time had developed a bit of a tear. (which we were able to hastily patch with a bit of awning tape)

Finally, FINALLY, a few days ago, the skies cleared, the sun came out (and started to bake everything, but that’s another story – we’re having a heat-wave, not a heat-dome, it’s just waving) and we could begin!

Unfurling – if you look closely you can see the tape above the door ... a very common stress-point, apparently

Unfurling – if you look closely you can see the tape above the door … a very common stress-point, apparently

Day 1 – Mrs Widds, whose knees both work just fine, (mine couldn’t muster half a knee between them) ascended the ladder and washed the accumulated detritus off the awning.

Day 2 – Waiting. (we had to let it dry completely)

Day 3 – While I remained the designated ladder-holder, Mrs Widds again worked the ladder like a pro and slathered the awning with liquid vinyl … white liquid vinyl.

For the above mentioned reasons, we chose to paint it white.

White reflects heat – t’aint rocket science RV designers

White reflects heat – t’aint rocket science RV designers

The temperature waved at us as it merrily sailed past 30°C, but we forged on and finished the job …

You can’t beat a nice shady tree in Summer, for the extra coolness, and the dappled sunlight effect

You can’t beat a nice shady tree in Summer, for the extra coolness, and the dappled sunlight effect

You see that wavy valance-y thing along the bottom edge of the awning? This is what’s on the inside …

I think it looks like other-worldly dancers, ghosts and sprites

I think it looks like other-worldly dancers, ghosts and sprites

I’m in favour of leaving it as it is. (not cleaning the scuffs off) Mrs Widds remains undecided.

This is the weather forecast for the next 7 6 days …

Weather forecast – A bit all over the place, in’it?

Weather forecast – A bit all over the place, in’it?

We’re due for a thunderstorm tomorrow afternoon/evening and then, that’s the end of the heat, and going by the past few years, the end of Summer. (hence this blog’s title) We’ve had 6 days of glorious sunshine, just long enough to get the awning done, and after tomorrow, it’s business as usual in our corner of the world, a bit of rain, a bit of sun, and 10 degrees cooler.

-oOo-

May your awnings never crack, your ladder stay sturdy, and your sunlight be dappled.

The Adventure continues.

P.S. This stretch of sunshine is why we didn’t do our ‘road trip’ Adventure to Vanderhoof this week. Awnings before road-trips. We have it planned for the week after next, fingers crossed.

Leaf Puzzles And Assorted ‘Shrooms

A few oddities caught my eye as I surveyed my little patch of land I currently call home …

That’s a 30cm/12” ruler next to the ‘shroom, which has increased its girth by a third since I snapped this pic

That’s a 30cm/12” ruler next to the ‘shroom, which has increased its girth by a third since I snapped this pic

That thing could feed a family of starving ‘shroom-eaters for a month!

Also, there’s something snacking on the aspen leaves hereabouts…

I suspect whatever it is has been imbibing in far too much elderberry wine to gnaw in a straight line

I suspect whatever it is has been imbibing in far too much elderberry wine to gnaw in a straight line

It reminds me of a find-your-way-home puzzles I used to get in those jumbo puzzle books, with my Christmas presents when I was a kid, that were about an inch thick and printed on really cheap paper. Kept me occupied on-and-off for months.

Next we come to your bog-standard bit of lichen, just trundling along, minding its own business, connecting with all the other cyanobacteria all over the world …

Lichen – plotting world domination

Lichen – plotting world domination

When you think about it, all life-forms, by the very definition of ‘life’, are plotting world domination. I’m surprised they’ve let us humans have our delusions of grandeur (adequacy) for this long.

Finally, this little oddity kinda made my skin crawl …

Those bleached and wavy tendrils are just waiting for me to come close enough

Those bleached and wavy tendrils are just waiting for me to come close enough

-oOo-

And entirely on a different note – I came across this graphic the other day that is probably the best visualisation I’ve seen so far of why humidity kills, (more than just heat) in the sort of dastardly weather the northern hemisphere is dumping on us this Summer …

-oOo-

That’s it until our next adventure, probably some time next week.

May your humidity be low, your fungi edible, and your plants snack on … someone else.

The Adventure continues.

A Bit Of A Health Scare

We know what the inside of the ER, (Emergency) at Prince George Hospital looks like.

The other night Mrs Widds woke up with excruciatingly painful chest muscle cramps, as though a steel bands were crushing her ribs. It lasted for 5-10 minutes, and then was gone … completely.

Naturally we speed-pootled to the hospital, (thinking, as you probably did reading that last paragraph, that it was, at the very least, heart-attack-adjacent) whose location I had taken note of very soon after we landed here.

Almost every evening we are graced with a vigorous downpour from what are euphemistically called ‘localised thunderstorms’. The one that evening left the roads slick with rain, and I hadn’t driven at night, in the rain, for at least a decade.

I am nothing if not cool in a crisis, so my ‘speed-pootling’, was of the white-knuckle kind. Thankfully at that time of night there wasn’t much traffic around.

I may have known where the hospital was, but finding the ER entrance was a horse of an entirely different kettle of kittens. The rain-drenched, badly-lit, signage didn’t help … but in the end I got us there safely.

After not too long a wait, (it being just before midnight on a Thursday. If it’d been a Friday or Saturday night, we’d probably still be there) in a curtain-shrouded space on a fairly uncomfortable gurney, (no pillow nor blanket to be had in these uncertain times) the tests began.

Three vials of blood were removed from Mrs Widds person. ECG monitoring cables were attached to her person. Soon thereafter her person was whisked away for a chest X-ray.

We were thence ejected from our cozy little cubicle, (it was about 1am by this time) and sent out into the general ER waiting area … and waited …

The seating arrangements in these kinds of areas are designed to find a moderately acceptable balance between comfort and indestructability. They were however, wide enough to accommodate my generous derriere, so I wasn’t complaining. Neither of us were complaining about much really. We were too tired.

We told each other that if it were something serious we probably would’ve heard something already … probably.

1.30am – One-by-one, our fellow ‘walking wounded’, both literally and figuratively speaking, had their final consults with one of the ER doctors. They either passed through the sliding doors and disappeared into the rain-soaked night, with only the spattered light from the streetlamps to guide them, or were wheelchaired away into the well-lit depths of the hospital, never to be seen again. (by us at least)

As each person departed, we dwindling few, shifted positions in our not-horribly-uncomfortable chairs, gazed unseeingly at the TV screen playing the same healthcare messages over and over, and stared, (through the double-glazed plate-glass windows) into the night, awaiting our turn, and wondering by which means of locomotion we would be exiting the waiting room. (I’d be walking, either way, but where’s the poetic license in that?)

Mrs Widds’ assigned doctor, an impossibly beautiful young man, arrived at last, to tell us our fate.

The blood-tests – clear.

The ECG – clear.

The chest x-ray – clear.

NOT A HEART ATTACK!

No idea what had actually happened, but the three of us, Mrs Widds, the beautiful young man, and I, agreed that it was probably some kind of (excruciatingly painful) muscle spasm.

We thanked him profusely, and left that strange and unfamiliar world, filled with the energies of humanity on the edge, to its own devices, and wandered out into the rainy night, filled with our relief.

We didn’t speak much on our way back to our campground, probably too tired, I expect. Mrs Widds climbed into her bed not long after we got back, but I needed to unwind a little.

I played a few rounds of solitaire, not thinking about much of anything, on auto-pilot mostly, and by 3am I was snug in my own bed too.

Life throws us these little whirlwinds every so often, doesn’t it? One moment we’re facing a familiar path, then next, there are hundreds of paths in front of us, leading we know-not-where. And just as quickly, we’re back on the familiar path as though nothing has changed.

Everything has changed, of course, but only within ourselves. The world turns as it will, uncaring of our mortal plight. There’s comfort in that thought though, knowing that She, (Mother Earth) will always carry on.

-oOo-

May your night-time drives be incident free, and your test results negative.

The Adventure continues.

Flowers And Flours

We had an early morning visit from this wee beastie …

A Mistress of Camouflage

A Mistress of Camouflage

I took it as a sign that it was high time I did a bit of flower-gazing. Since it started to warm up the wildflowers around these here parts blossomed overnight. Much to the delight of all the pollinators who’ve been patiently waiting for them.

We are surrounded by the most delicate of wild rose bushes. They flower in a day and the next day the petals have fallen to the ground, but while they’re here they are a delight to see …

Intermingled with the roses were these little ‘five-leaf-clover-ish beauties …

A Five-Leaf-Clover-ish – on a stem, on a bush

A Five-Leaf-Clover-ish – on a stem, on a bush

… and these Magenta Two-Toes …

Magenta Two-Toes ... I have no idea of the names of any of these flowers so I’m making them up as I go along ... as usual

Magenta Two-Toes … I have no idea of the names of any of these flowers so I’m making them up as I go along … as usual

The RV/camping spaces behind us have been left to their own devices and this is the result …

A field of pollinator’s dreams

A field of pollinator’s dreams

Close-ups …

Daisies being pushed by the breeze

Daisies being pushed by the breeze

(Pushing Daisies – greatest 2-season TV show, ever!)

Dandy-Lions getting up close and personal

Dandy-Lions getting up close and personal

Dandy-Lions after too much sun

Dandy-Lions after too much sun

When you stare at the fruit and the fruit stares back …

Wot ch’oo lookin’ at?

Wot ch’oo lookin’ at?

It grows on this bush, and I have absolutely no idea what it is …

Probably best not to know

Probably best not to know

What about this one. An Elven hat-rack perhaps?

Elf hats – cheaper by the dozen

Elf hats – cheaper by the dozen

Self-explanatory …

I hope, because I have no idea, except that it’s not a wildflower

I hope, because I have no idea, except that it’s not a wildflower

-oOo-

In the film ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, Will Ferrell’s character brings the woman he’s courting, played to perfection by Maggie Gyllenhaal, a ‘box of flowers’, which turns out to be a box of flours. (the entire movie is worth a watch, or in my case, several re-watches, but that moment struck a chord with me)

When I was thinking of a title for this post which is a collection of photos of flowers and Mrs Widds latest baking effort, (she is pleased, and like all artists – if you think bread-baking isn’t an art then you’ve never made it from scratch – she’s very hard to please when it comes to her own creations) that scene came to mind, because the main ingredient in bread is, of course, flour …

The buns in the foreground were dipped in melted butter and maple syrup before being baked – divine!

The buns in the foreground were dipped in melted butter and maple syrup before being baked – divine!

Fresh bread burgers for dinner … (with potato salad on the side)

Bread this fresh is notoriously hard to cut evenly. I’m rather proud that they all look like decent slices

Bread this fresh is notoriously hard to cut evenly. I’m rather proud that they all look like decent slices

-oOo-

May your wildflowers bloom and grow, bloom and grow for ever, and your bread slices never be too thin.

The Adventure continues.

Mrs Widds Bakes – In the RV

I’ve been cutting my own hair with a fabulous set of hair clippers since 2019. I got tired of not being satisfied with the cuts I was getting from a salon, and as my styling needs are simple, (#4 blade on the back and sides, #9 on top) I decided I could do a better job, or at least have no-one but myself to blame for a bad haircut. It took me quite a few try’s to get it right, (trimming the back of my head using a mirror took some mental gymnastics) but now I can knock off a decent cut in about 10 minutes.

The other day I decided it was time to do the deed once more. Only this time I didn’t have the privacy of a nice big bathroom, (our bathroom on Widder Island wasn’t all that big, but compared to what we have now …) in which to be naked. (for purposes of jumping straight into the shower to wash all those stick-to-your-skin tiny scraps of offcuts)

No, this time I stood outside, (with all my clothes on – we may have a secluded camping spot but it ain’t that secluded) and a split black plastic garbage bag pegged around my shoulders. With clippers in one hand, hand-held mirror in the other, I proceeded to trim my flowing locks.

This would’ve all gone swimmingly had not a brisk breeze suddenly blown in from the south-west. Scraps of leaves and pine-needles fled before it, my be-pegged cape began to flap as it tried to escape its be-pegged confines. The (empty and dry) plastic wash-basin I was capturing the majority of my shearings in also shimmied across the picnic table and tried to make a run for it.

The end result of all this wind and free-standing/flapping plastic was that my off-cuts, now being thoroughly electrified, stuck to everything … everything. Believe me static electricity is not your friend in the tonsuring business.

-oOo-

On to the bread baking.

Mrs Widds too, has had to make some adjustments to her usual modus-operandi, being bereft of the kitchen as we knew it.

All she needed though was our handy folding table, a fabulous silicone pastry sheet (the blue thing underneath the dough), a bit of nice weather, and away she went …

Ah, the benefits of an outdoor kitchen

Ah, the benefits of an outdoor kitchen

Speaking of nice weather … a heat dome is supposed to descend on our heads in a day or two, so one could reasonably expect the temperatures to start leaving the single digits, couldn’t one?

It was 4C last night. Today never got above 9C, and tonight is forecast to be a luxurious 7C. Apparently we can blame this on La Nina deciding to stick around for a while longer. However, as Ms Scarlett O’Hara was wont to say, ‘Tomorrow is another day’, and it just might be a warmer one than today!

(unfortunately, as I’m writing this and preparing to publish it, our campground Wi-Fi is nowhere to be found, so you won’t be reading this until tomorrow anyway … I’ll let you know if we have sunny skies or cloudy ones … )(Update: We had sunny skies and now we have clouds. I’ve given up even guessing any more)

Chemistry in action – the dough riseth

Chemistry in action – the dough riseth

The last outside action is to knead the dough one last time, form it into loaves, and place in a well-oiled bread tin … and wait …

The dough riseth some more

The dough riseth some more

You see what the pans are sitting on? That’s pretty much the extent of our kitchen. Roomy eh?

The raw dough has been turned to sheer golden deliciousness by the application of heat – Chemistry for the win, again!

The raw dough has been turned to sheer golden deliciousness by the application of heat – Chemistry for the win, again!

Actually, it has taken Mrs Widds five rounds of bread baking to get a feel for how the propane gas oven works in order to have that all-over glow-y crust. A genius, is she not?

-oOo-

May static electricity never intrude upon your haircuts, and may your bread rise perfectly.

The Adventure continues.

Buckhorn Lake

Proof! That the sun doth shine, and breezes doth tease the aspen leaves in Prince George …

Our campsite is surrounded by these beautiful trees. I’ve always loved the way the wind makes their leaves ‘shiver’ as though they’re talking to each other … perhaps they are.

Today was our first official ‘Pootling Day’. We’ve pootled to a few places since we’ve been here, but those little adventures were in conjunction with other tasks, and all of them in to Prince George. Today we headed away from town … Note to self: Find out if the locals refer to Prince George as a ‘town’, or a ‘city’. (or something unprintable) … to a little puddle called Buckhorn Lake … about 30 kilometers south-east-ish of Prince George.

The drive there, almost entirely on a sealed road, quickly passed through the swampy lowlands, that are reminiscent of our campground, hence the plague of mozzies that greet us every morning the moment we stick our noses out the door without having engaged our whizz-bang ‘mozzie-shield’. (which, although expensive, actually does work, on mozzies … a good thing because the little bastards love me, and I’m allergic to them)

We saw mostly horses out there, lots of stables and fields of horses, (although a few cow-herds were visible in the background) which told us that that particular area was probably a bit pricey for our humble means.

Once we got into the foothills of the Mountain range that surrounds Prince George, the Cariboo Mountains, the properties and houses became more modest, more our kinda thing really, and the mozzies were few and far between. (unfortunately replaced by tiny black flies, who, I’m sure would’ve enjoyed dining upon my person if I’d let them)

Then the lake hove into sight, and we stopped to take in the view …

 

It seems that we’re destined to have a lot more cloudy days (at the moment) than non-cloudy ones, but the reflections in the water were quite wonderous …

 

And some very, very, very, tall cottonwoods …

 

Mrs Widds recalled the name of this flower, and the tree it’s blooming on, as a broom tree.

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

Whether ‘tis or no, it is now and forever after known as a Broom Tree.

The Naturalist ponders

The Naturalist ponders

We breathed in the lovely lake-side air, but the clouds began their afternoon loom and raindrops were spit-spotting upon our heads. We about-pootled and returned to our ‘home, only to catch a fleeting glimpse of ‘The Vandal’, perhaps wondering where we’d been and why we hadn’t left out any suitable oblations …

 

Going Sideways

A couple of days before we left Valemount, my monitor, an 18” one we specifically bought with us because of its size, (the 32” curved one would’ve had to sit in the next campsite for me to be able to use it!) turned up its toes.

Two days after arriving here in Prince George, Mrs Widds’, laptop also turned up its toes, perhaps in solidarity. (I wouldn’t put it past ‘em to gang up on us ‘ommins like that)

Both of these issues are, or are in the process of being, resolved, thanks to a little computer shop called ‘Sarita’. Great service, reasonably priced, and open on Sundays!

The next ‘sideways’ has been with the brakes on our truck. We had the truck serviced at our regular dealership before we left on our Adventure, because that’s what responsible Adventurers do, and we asked them to check the brakes because we’d both noticed they were a little ‘grabby’.

Long story short: The service dept. said they checked them out and all was good – turns out they didn’t – we noticed the brakes being even more ‘grabby’ on the way here – called into the local dealership (here in Prince George) – discovered brakes are in need of some major work, (and you can guess at how much ‘major work’ is going to cost) that should’ve been done at the original dealership.

We are currently exchanging strongly worded emails with the dealership’s Head Office, who have, so far, said they take our concerns seriously, blah, blah, blah. (translates to that dismissive meme that was going around a while ago, KTHNXBY – short for ‘OK, thanks, bye’)

I intend to pursue the matter to the fullest extent of my vocabulary.

The result of all the above is that we’ve decided to stay put for the summer, look for work so we can pay down this recent insane level of expenditure, and once our little truck is roadworthy again, take occasional pootles about the countryside checking out the various ‘hoods’, towns’ and villages, and see what there is to see.

-oOo-

Because Spring and Summer have been so shy about showing up this year the snowpack that feeds all the rivers in British Columbia is reported to be 100%-265% above normal for this time of year. (‘normal’ late Spring/Summer temps would’ve already melted a good portion of it)

This means that the inevitable warm-up, which is starting now, will melt all that snow and bring it down into the watersheds of all the rivers as torrents of water, way faster than the land can cope with.

Last year, it was an ‘extreme weather event’, in Autumn that flooded great swathes of land where we lived, and as of last night, flood warnings are being posted for an even greater area.

That kind of flooding was part of what prompted us to leave Widder Island, (it’s actually called Hatzic Island – I can tell you now we’re no longer living there) when we did.

We feel for our neighbours, and in spite of our current challenges, (there’ll always be some, no matter where we go or what we do) we’re very glad to be well-clear of the sort of catastrophic flooding the poor Fraser Valley is about to undergo for the second time in a year.

-oOo-

On to other things.

This is the only shot I’ve managed to garner, so far, of our local vandal …

I don’t know who moved first, me or the skwrl. Either way it’s an interesting photographic effect

I don’t know who moved first, me or the skwrl. Either way it’s an interesting photographic effect

Mdme, or Msr, Skwrl, greeted us on our first day here by bouncing on to the folding table we have just outside our front door, thence leaping, with great expectations of being fed, onto the flyscreen, and clinging there, staring at us like a kitten with the zoomies that finds itself halfway up the curtains and not a clue as to how to get down.

After we made it clear we were not the sort of RVers who fed the local wildlife, (aka bowed down to threats of extortion by means of extreme cyootness) Mdme, or Msr, Skwrl, harrumphed off, climbed the nearest tree and laid in wait. Some time later, when were were innocently ensconced underneath said tree, sipping our afternoon beverages, the little bugger proceeded to pummel us with discarded bits of pinecones. Deliberately, or an accident of gravity? The jury’s out on that one.

-oOo-

And now, a bit of a video

Come to sunny Prince George, they said. It never rains here, they said. It’s rained just about every afternoon we’ve been here, and today, this happened …

Hail – through the flyscreen, taken after we’d run around like chooks with our heads cut off, packing everything away, ahead of pendulously looming, and very loud, stormclouds.

Never a dull moment around here.

May your hailstones be tiny, and your monitors never discover they have toes to turn up.

The Adventure continues.

Leaving Valemount

As I’ve discovered about most things to do with our Adventure, it allows one (that being me) to contemplate the raw edges of my psyche, that haven’t seen the light of day sine I left my life behind in Australia almost eighteen years ago, with nothing but two slightly battered suitcases. (and the knowledge that Mrs Widds would be waiting for me at the arrivals gate – which she was!)

Before we delve into those semi-uncharted depths, here a bit of a thing that tickled my fancy …

See anything unusual about this RV?

See anything unusual about this RV?

Let me enlarge it for you …

– ‘Stealth’ – I don’t think that word means what they think it means

– ‘Stealth’ – I don’t think that word means what they think it means

(with many thanks to The Princess Bride for the innumerable quotable quotes over the years)

-oOo-

If you strip away all that is familiar, in a very brief period of time, the unfamiliar, the unknown, leaves you with nothing but your own inner resources to call upon when things go agely-googly. (as the do on an almost daily basis) I’ve discovered I don’t do at all well with that level of ‘unfamiliar’.

In a dollar store the other day, I felt scarily panicky wearing a mask.

You’d think that wearing masks for the last two years I’d be used to it, but no, my lizard-brain was convinced it was going to suffocate.

Later, after having a good cry and talking it through with Mrs Widds, I had to acknowledge that tiny self-judgemental ‘I’m not the sort of woman who gets the vapours’, give it a good smack, and accept that I am indeed, the sort of woman who can only deal with so many ‘unfamiliars’ at a time.

-oOo-

And so, here we are, ready for the next Adventure.

Arriving in prince George – About two hundred meters lower in elevation. Aspens, firs, pines, and tiny salmonberry plants. This is much more our kind of campsite.

Nellifant Saves The Day, The Endless Potato Bag, And Strawberry Fields Forever

Have you ever … (a short entry into the continuing occasional series of weird and wonderful things that never, seriously, never, happen to me) … posted a very important piece of information where the spelling absolutely had to be correct, and wondered why nothing was working and then someone very kindly points out that you forgot an ‘s’? Nah me neither!

Thank you Nellifant for catching that poor ‘s’ as it flew about the cosmos, untethered to purpose or outcome.

The email address I had in my previous post to connect to Paypal has now been corrected. It is … widdershinsfirst (at) gmail (dot) com

-oOo-

A long, long, time ago, or so it seems now, (probably some time in March) we bought a 20 kilo bag of potatoes as part of our essential ‘on-the-road’ supplies.

No matter how many we used there always seemed to be still more in the bag. It did however, get lighter and lighter, but no emptier. We had mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes, and boiled potatoes, and potato wedges, Mrs Widds used some in her bread, and still, the bag kept on giving.

Yesterday I was determined to uncover the Mystery. And as is the nature of such Mysteries, the ultimate and final Truth could not be found by mortal means.

In the bottom of the bag I discovered five sad and sorry individuals

In the bottom of the bag I discovered five sad and sorry individuals

These five, these final five, were transformed into the crispy topping for a magnificent Shepherds Pie, and that, I thought, was the end of that.

The bag however, had other ideas. After being tied up and set aside for our next top-up shop, I discovered, there was still something inside …

Although I dared not look, and haven't since, it felt suspiciously like potatoes

Although I dared not look, and haven’t since, it felt suspiciously like potatoes

-oOo-

Wild strawberries are very tiny, but so sweet and flavourful, that it’s worth going hunting for them. Unfortunately the cooler start to the growing season has slowed down all sorts of wilding growth.

The strawbs here are only starting to flower, and this was the first one we came across …

And flowering with all its might

And flowering with all its might

And upon looking around we discovered the field was full of them …

Tiny flowers with even tinier fruits just starting to show

Tiny flowers with even tinier fruits just starting to show

-oOo-

On the writing front, I’ve completed the first draft of the first three chapters of the next book in the Last Dragon series, ‘The Last Dragon In Time’.

If you haven’t checked out Book 1, The Last Dragon In London, the first two chapters are posted HERE.

-oOo-

That’s it for now, but the Adventure continues.

May your strawberries and potatoes last forever too. 🙂