Monday, July 25, 2016

Victoria Summer Walk

There is nothing so lovely or enlivening as a walk around Victoria, B.C., and when it's sunny and low 70's, it is pure bliss.

The American Volkssport Association has a local group called Olympic Peninsula Explorers which I joined earlier this year.

Our annual Canadian trip was this past weekend of July 24th, and our hosts and hostesses were so gracious and welcoming, it felt like we were coming home.

As we waited for everyone to gather, we watched the boat ballet in the inner harbor.

Once everyone was together, we headed out, past the 1,100 plus restored cars that had gathered for the weekend from all over the NW.

It was reminder to me of the days when I helped my father restore the 1932 Model A Ford and later he was interested in a 1931 Buick, but it was the first experience that taught me how to take apart, and put back together, a combustion engine.
Victoria water taxi ballet...

This information has served me well with my own cars. I saw a 1949 Ford convertible, one of my cars from the past, but no 1955 Ford T-Bird. But then we didn't walk past all the cars, either.

What sort of amused me was the high level gloss paint on these restorations, when those of us who once drove some of these cars in their original condition knew the paint job was no where near what can be accomplished today.

Huge car show with restored vehicles from early years.
It was also the Busker's Festival on the other side of the harbor, but we were not able to break away from our own group before our ferry deadline, so I'm going to mark this on my calendar for next year.

City gardens featured sweet peas
along with edible kale and lettuce.
Our 'guide' from the Wanderers was well-versed in local knowledge and walked us through some well cared for neighborhoods with sweet gardens and curbside decorations to inspire us.

I particularly liked the gnome homes on Pilot Street, and the 10-foot tall holly hocks seen in a back alley cut-through all in the Jamestown area.
The Garden City Wanderers hosted the OlympicPeninsula
Explorers in the waterfront park in Victoria, BC.
This area has many Victorian homes, but is also a desirable location for those wanting to rebuild with 'green' and modern designs.
Gnome home 'base' planted at
the base of a maple tree.
Incorporating the whimsical exterior 'little folks' residences on a shady street only made our walk that much more enjoyable.

Full view of the gnome home... I intend to do this someplace.
Another view of the gnome home.
Closeup of room and entry.

Another gnome home.

Breakwater walkway has recently been completed for enjoyable walks. 
We reached the edge of Vancouver Island, near where the cruise ships come in, and then returned via Pilot Street, passing more curbside entertainment.
Another interpretation of a fairy cottage.

These flowers are called a name related to eggs, but now I've
forgotten it... sunny side up?

Brilliant lilies!!

Thistle or artichoke? Or just that
awful stinging nettle BC size?

Peach colored rose has delicate
scent... would like to find it for
my own garden.

Interesting gate...

Last of the R2AK rowers returning to Victoria?

There was plenty of gentle joking about our upcoming presidential race and warnings that if we wanted to seek asylum after November it was probably going to be causing Canada to sink into the Baltic Sea with all the folks running over the borders.

I always meet new folks and this was no exception.

The food was delicious, served as a picnic overlooking the Fisherman's Wharf area. There was a broccoli salad with raisins and grapes that was so refreshing and crisp!

3 p.m. ferry took us back to Port Angeles, WA. It was warm
until we cleared the harbor and then the gale force winds
drove most of us back inside until arrival.
My personal walking goal was the 5K, but with walking to the ferry in Port Angeles, walking around and then off the ferry in B.C. to the park, then a delightful walk past Tudor Printing (again) in the Jamestown area, I reached 16,576 steps or about 8 miles!!

I was feeling just a little worn out by the time I got home, but a hot bath and some post-exercise vitamins restored everything to normal on the morning after... such a wonderful memory!

Approaching Port Angeles; see, there's no one on deck!

Monday, June 27, 2016

How was your weekend?

Cats do not know what the word
'work' means... we should follow
their example of living. (This is
Maksim, the Russian Blue.*)
Today my friend Carol called and her first question was "How was your weekend?"

I had to stop for a second and think... 'Weekend? What is that?' and then I replied, "Carol, all my weekends run together since I don't have any week days in between anymore. My life is great, I'm loving what I'm doing - or not doing. It's all very good."

For example, this morning I was up with the birds, literally. They tuned up about 4:30 a.m., I got up and looked out the window. "Hmmm, gonna be a nice clear day. I might want to water the berries later." Then I went and made some oatmeal (with blueberries from the store) and a cup of tea.

Back to bed to eat the oatmeal and read a story on my Kindle. Now the sun is really coming up and I'm feeling sleepy again. So I pull the covers over my head and take a nap.

Mallard duck watercolor on 9x9
paper, finished today.
Around 8 a.m. I decide to get up and get ready for my art class. I putter about and grab a jar of jam I made a few days ago to give to my teacher. She likes me already, so I'm not buttering her up or anything. I just appreciate her taking time to give us her knowledge.

Class goes until noon, so I head home again and read some mail, make a nice salad for lunch, but in the process I was reminded that I had four boxes of strawberries that needed to be hulled and frozen.

After a leisurely lunch watching the news (Twitter feed, Facebook and other postings) about the R2AK unpowered race to Alaska up the inland passage, I decide to cut the berries up, eating a few and then getting them into the freezer.

First crop of raspberries from my bushes... easy to grow here.
A trip outside to the freezer reminds me I have raspberries about to be picked and they also need some watering.

So I go and pick two pints of berries, then water them. Now it's 4 p.m. and time for tea. I answer some texts from my daughter about a visit and go for a walk.

Cleopurrtra looking up at the birds
that woke us up earlier today.
In a few hours it will be dark and I'll get my Kindle and another cup of tea, go and sit with a cat as a pillow and my day will be nearly over.

No stress, no loud voices, no demands... following my bliss.

This is what it means to be Retired For Good... and it is good.

* NOTE: Maksim and Cleopurrtra are rescue cats. When I first adopted Max, he was looking for the KGB around every corner, scared of everything. Today he is a relaxed, normal, still-a-bit-shy guy, but very different from the cat I brought home. And some of the credit goes to Cleo who was a 6-month old kitten and still loves to play. She forces Max to join her in her nightly entertainments from time to time and he's learned to love the window seat, too.

These two fur-iners in my life keep me on track so everybody wins.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Race to Alaska 2016 (Pre-race mostly)

Port Townsend's Pope Park statue was the center of the pre-
Race to Alaska Ruckus.
Last year I was intrigued by the Race to Alaska (2015) a race of non-motorized vessels without any additional support from Port Townsend, WA, to Ketchikan, AK. I read about it and became interested enough to follow it from beginning to end. The winning boat, Elsie Piddock, did the race in less than a week.

As a former ocean racer on AVIVA (my 45-ft. Hunter Legend sloop), I was able to extrapolate the conditions from reports by contestants, videos and photos, weather reports and the tracking devices on each boat.

So I decided to volunteer this year, to be a little closer to the action. I have no desire to be close enough that I can feel the very cold salt spray from the waters of Puget Sound in my face, so working as a volunteer in the Chandlery at Northwest Maritime for the pre-race Ruckus was a good choice.

And after finding a parking space (that takes a considerable bit of time in Port Townsend when there is an event these days) I still had time to walk around and look at all the various types of watercraft that people were going to use for this second race.

There was everything from a stand-up paddle board to an 8-person catamaran, which included skiffs, kayaks, scows, monohulls and a Boston Whaler Harpoon. There are all women crews, all men, mixes and two fellows who left their wheelchairs on the dock.
This screenshot of the tracking of the race shows Team Mad
Dog way ahead of the rest at 8 a.m. Winds were dying, but
not before they caught their lift and flew across the sound
with speeds of 18 knots at times. They won this part.
I had a chance to speak to some of the crew members of various boats and in their words felt the excitement I used to enjoy of imagining the start and the race ahead. I do miss it, for sure. But part of being safe is knowing when it is time to do something else on a regular basis, like walking or biking.
Competitors are prepping for the race the next day in this
Port Townsend marina. 65 boats (watercraft) entered the race.

Wednesday was a bit cool but mid afternoon the sun came out for awhile. 

Then by six p.m. when the Ruckus was in full swing, the promised front arrived with cooler air and by 7:30 p.m. it was showering everyone. I doubt anyone had to be shooed away from the event for staying too late.

Thursday was cloudy and there was enough wind to get everyone off at the start, except for five boats that for some reason or other did not get to the start within the proscribed 'golden hour.' 

You can visit for videos and replays and listings of all those signed up and those who were eliminated or withdrew.

The challenge that any race on the water faces is how to keep the spectators happy. And a race of 750 miles over water that is bordered by bears is even more difficult. But the tracker system provides a way to 'watch' a team's progress and thus stay involved to a degree. You can find the tracker here.
(For your information, once the race is completed, the tracker will no longer be operational.

Apparently the tracker developed some kind of glitch and stopped giving information mid-afternoon on Thursday, creating some anxiety for followers.

If a vessel has a large number on the bow, it is in the race.
Team Mad Dog Racing won that first stage with a Marstrom M32 catamaran sporting a red hull, a clear sail and three crew members. If you look in the photo (second in sequence) above, you can see the boat almost in the center. 

I have posted a bunch of photos (most have captions) for your enjoyment.

If you are interested in more about the race, please go to the links posted. And thanks for stopping by.

Vessels in the slips are generally contestants.

The general level of excitement on the docks was high, for
the participants and the followers.

The fellow in the wheelchair is a competitor on Team Alula,
one of three leg-challenged crew members on a 27-foot
Corsair trimaran. They are racing to Alaska.
Team Hodge came in 53rd in the Stage One race to Victoria.
When we were racing and didn't place, we would say "It
took X boats to beat us!" They finished and that's something!

Team Alula prepping for the race. They are #7, a good number.

Team Nordica finished in Victoria, too.

If I was going to buy another boat, I'd seriously look at the
Seascape 18. They were 24th across the Sound.

All by yourself...

Noddy's Noggins only planned to do Stage One and they did
it, coming in 45th. Impressive as it looks like something for
the Owl and the Pussycat.

It's the rowboat on deck that is competing... No. 60. They were only going to Victoria. Not much room for food, water.

The only stand-up paddle boarder did make
it to Victoria. Not my way to go there.

Excellent Adventure is a Montgomery 17.
They are going to Alaska.

Navocean had to withdraw after the start.

All kinds of boats entered the race; I think this is #11. If it is,
this boat did not finish the first stage. No shame in trying.

The 'Minions' of the R2AK... we think we are important (LOL)!