Posts Tagged With: Canada

Hot Springs Cove

The water from the hot springs poured over the ledge like a waterfall. I sat underneath and let the warm water wash away the grime from four days of paddling. But I was not alone.

This place is a strange contradiction of pristine, rugged coast wilderness and popular, yet hard to get to, busy tourist spot. It took me three days to paddle here from the closest town, Tofino. Tourists can take a two hour high-speed boat ride, or a 30 minute float plane ride; A day trip- Not 3!  For anyone, it’s a commitment just to get to Tofino – it’s not that easy to get to this remote area of West Vancouver Island. I forgot to mention, there is a two mile hike to the hot spring.

Hot Springs Cove with hot spring pools hidden in the rocky shore.

Hot Springs Cove with hot spring pools hidden in the rocky shore.

But it’s worth it- the rugged beauty of this place is breathtaking. The spring starts in the forest and flows into a steaming creek that winds around old growth cedar trees. It then exits the forest and flows over jet-black rocks into a long narrow crevasse, where the water becomes waist deep. Numerous pools of varying sizes and temperatures lead down to the ocean, with the cooler pools closest to the open water. Uniquely stunning; like no place I have seen before.

Hot spring stream through the forest

Hot spring stream through the forest

I had reached the springs early in the morning and it was a shock to find dozens of people from all over the world, after hardly seeing anyone for days. There were people everywhere in all the small spring pools. I was worried about stepping on feet as I maneuvered around the spring.

Spring waterfall

Spring waterfall

When I am on my solo kayak trips, it’s my mission to get as far away from civilization as possible, I hope to see no-one. So when I find a truly remote, unspoiled, wild place filled with people it’s a little disappointing. But when you see the unique beauty of Hot Springs Cove, you understand why so many people make the pilgrimage.

It was all good, after not speaking to anyone all week, It was nice to have a little chat. But before long, I retreated back to the the woods, alone.

Categories: Clayoquot Sound, BC - August 2016 | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada Day

Capital building BC

BC Parliament building

We were in Victoria BC for my friend’s surprise birthday party, which happened to be on Canada Day. On July 1 1870, Canada and England made a gentleman’s agreement and parted ways and what we know now as Canada emerged. It wasn’t celebrated at first, but now it is almost as popular with Canadians as the NHL Finals as a Holiday; there were fireworks over the harbor and so the streets were filled with celebrating Canucks.

We passed a local bar I vaguely remembered, Big Bad Johns, and had some time before the party, so we stopped in for a refreshment. The dingy, dark wood-paneled bar had a floor covered with peanut shells, bras hanging from the ceiling signed by their previous owners and bar stools filled with hardened drinkers. Craft cocktails here? Jack and coke.

The three women sitting next to us were getting in the spirit.

Big Bad Johns

An old woman slowly walked through the bar with a white cane, tapping it back and forth in front of her. I didn’t think much of it. Some time later, classic rock came on the jukebox and the blind women wandered by with a shaggy, hobo-chic man. She suddenly grabbed him by the hand and started dancing furiously. Drunken patrons cheered and clapped. Screeching at top volume, she pulled and spun the stumbling man. I wondered where the cane went.

A loud man with long greasy hair was at the bar cutting the sleeves off a bar T-shirt. He then took off his own CBGB shirt and gave it to a random women standing next to him. I (and she) had no clue what was going on there, but an unfortunate thing; he forgot to pull up his pants. One of those things, once you see it, you can’t un-see it.



When it was time to leave for the party, I was reluctant; This was the kind of place where you have no idea what was going to happen next. The night was young and I think the craziness had only just begun; The one thing in common with all the riff-raff in this bar: It was Canada Day and they were ready to party.

Victoria harbor.

Victoria harbor.

Categories: Victoria, BC- July 2016 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cowboy up!

We were up in Calgary this July for the 100th anniversary of the Stampede. The Calgary Stampede is a ten-day rodeo on a huge complex with amusement rides, casino and enormous rodeo grounds. It’s ten days where everyone is a cowboy; they come out of the woodwork; everybody is wearing some form of cowboy hat: traditional, Stetson, straw, foam.


Cowboy Up!


We went to the rodeo one night. I’ve been to some small town rodeos before, but this was big time, with large stadium seating for thousands. They had all the classic rodeo events: bucking bronco, calf roping, and one of my favorites, bull riding. Bull riders who lash themselves to a half ton bovine lay in that dangerous dimension between badass and crazy. There were also some events I had not seen before including chuckwagon races, where a team of four horses race, pulling a replica chuckwagon.


Our favorite  event was ‘ride the pony’, where they get a team of three boys under the age of ten with oversized helmets, and a miniature pony with a ten foot rope around his neck. The object is for the kids to get the pony under control enough for one of them to jump on his back and ride him for ten seconds. Only one of these teams pulled it off; all the others ended up on their bellies being dragged by the pony, with their oversized helmets filling with dirt.



Ride the pony.


During Stampede, temporary tent bars spring up all over town.   One night we went to the Wild Horse Saloon tent with Helen’s coworkers, Christina and Anne. It was the size of a football field with a BBQ in the back, a large stage and dance floor bordered by hay bales and multiple bars and Tub Tarts. Tub Tarts are women dressed in tight cut-off jeans and bikini tops that serve beer out of a huge metal trough full of beer bottles.  The rumor was, the drunker you were, the more they charge you.

There were also waitresses in similar garb, but with large holsters with bottles of booze instead of guns. For the right price, they would hop up onto a hay bale, grab under your chin, pull your head back and pour liquor down your gizzard, after which, she would shake her cleavage in your face.. Yeee Haaa!


Yee Haw!

The band started and the cowboys began to dance, prancing about, taking their hats off and twirling their partners. The huge dance floor was instantly full; it was a good friendly vibe and everyone having fun. I looked over to see Helen, Christina and Anne gawking at the rough and rugged ‘cowboys’ dancing about the floor. Wide-eyed, they were straight up staring at the sea of tight wrangler jeans gyrating in front of them.  Helen turned and spoke to me, the words blasted out of her mouth like birdshot from the barrel of a 12 gauge, words so disturbing they haunt men’s dreams in the dark of night: “When we get back home I want us to take dance lessons so you can dance like them”, pointing towards the boot-scooting cowboys. Light-headed I staggered backwards thinking “Hell no! I’m going to get one of these good ol’ boys to take me to pasture and shoot me.”

We took the long way home from Calgary to Seattle. Through Banff, through the Canadian Rockies, over three mountain passes, South through the Okanogan wine valley. So of course there were a few quick visits at the wineries to taste the local vintages. Needless to say, we pulled into our driveway at 11:45 pm on Sunday, so as usual, we milked every last minute out of our vacation time.

Categories: Calgary, AB - July 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vancouver Olympics 2010

I’m back in Vancouver for the Olympic events at Cypress Mountain. The weather has gone from rain/snow/fog to sunny and fifty degrees. The workload has gone from shoveling snow in the rain to sitting in the sun and watching the athletes train on the course we built. The crew I’m on has grown very protective of the course and grown a bit of an attitude, “We built this course so stay the hell off it”, berating anyone that gets near it.





You’ve got to love a serious Athlete!

Helen has been having fun working in the Athlete’s lounge. She was given a top-secret mission by the French snowboard team to find a sharpie pen and draw fake mustaches on each other before the half-pipe competition watched by millions all over the world. She was successful. Hours before the biggest event of their career they are in the bathroom drawing moustaches on each other laughing like schoolgirls. You gotta love snowboarders.

I’m a short-timer now, with just one last shift tomorrow, but its race day, the first Olympic women’s ski cross on the course we built. I will be working on the course.

I should be easy to spot; I’ll be in a Smurf-colored jacket and hat.

Categories: Americas, Vancouver, BC - February 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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