Gretchen Markle

Travel Blog

(posted on 3 Nov 2016)

Oh, joy of joys. A sunny day!

It started our wettish, but by afternoon things had cleared off. We chose to remain dry, too. Walked the one path we've found that doesn't have standing water all over the trails. Last month was the wettest October on record, and the water table is exceptionally high. We humans skirt around most of the puddles, but the dog goes right through them and gets just filthy. We've bathed him twice now, and we wanted this last toilette to last a few days at least.

On the painting front, I did it in sessions. First I did an outline of Mt. Rainier, locating the main shadow areas. Then I left it to let the light get more interesting. Ha. I left it a bit too long and ran out of light for working. So I guessed at the colours and values, and here's the mountain late in the afternoon:

Mt. Rainier Late in the Day

(posted on 31 Oct 2016)

There are days when there's little or nothing to be seen from the window, except possibly for raindrops coursing down the outside of the glass. That was the case this morning. So I turned to inside sources, and there was a Christmas cactus in bloom:

Christmas Cactus

Now that you've had your Hallowe'en scare, I can tell you about the exciting afternoon.

The rain eased up, and the sun almost made an appearance. We took the opportunity to explore a new park. No dogs are allowed (it's a nature reserve), so we left Sherman behind. Good thing, too, because we saw all kinds of wildlife. First of all, en route we spotted a coyote. That was a first for my beloved, and just a second for me. (My first was decades ago when I first came to BC.) Further down the road we got a good view of a Redtailed hawk perched in a tree and soaring.

Once at the the park, we got another treat: Rough-skinned newts (four in all). These little amphibians have rough brown skin on their head, back and legs and orange bellies. This kind of colouration is typically a warning sign to other animals. Good thing, too. These newts have the same toxin as puffer fish, and it's very potent. Garter snakes have co-evolved to be able to eat them, but theyre the only critters that can safely do so without perishing. An Oregon man swallowed a newt on a dare and died a few hours later. Definitely a Darwin Award candidate!

(posted on 29 Oct 2016)

It was a mixed bag day with sunny breaks. However, you wouldn't have known there was this horking great mountain just miles away on the mainland - unless you figured out that that is where all the clouds hang out. In the midst of the sunshine, there were no views of Rainier until late afternoon. And then suddenly, voilà, there it was, all clean and bright with fresh snow. Luckily, I had just stuck dinner in the oven, and my paints are always close by.

So away I went. And, as I worked and waited for the layers to dry, the clouds started moving back in, and we got:

Mt. Rainier Playing Hide & Seek

Note: We heard a Great Horned Owl early this morning. It's our first since we got back from the antipodes. Actually, it's probably our first in years, since we never heard any Great Horned Owls on Gabriola. (There, it was all Barred Owls, and lots of them!)

(posted on 28 Oct 2016)

It's a red letter day.

The sun came out. We took Sherman for a nice long walk through the park and down to the beach.

We have hot water again! The handiman found parts to at least temporarily fix the plumbing problem, so we can turn the hot water tank back on. Oh, the luxury of running water!

And, finally, I knew there was a mountain somewhere behind those clouds:

Mt. Rainier in the Sunlight

(posted on 27 Oct 2016)

We're jinxed. We went from the wettest New Zealand winter/spring in years to the wettest October on recent record in the Pacific Northwest. Good thing we have great rain gear and waterproof (sorta) boots. Regardless, we took Shermie out for a walk in the woods. The trail was mostly underwater for the first bit, but we managed to skirt around the edges most of the time. Shermie didn't care. He just roared back and forth up the trail, happy as the proverbial pig. We had to wash him down when we got home, but he's nice and relaxed now.

Mount Rainier made a brief appearance this morning, looming under the cloud cover for a while before things socked in. I'm hoping to paint it in its full glory one of these days, but for now this glimpse is enough:

Mt. Rainier in the clouds

(posted on 25 Oct 2016)

We took Sherman to a new park today. This is one where he can run free. Turns out there's not a chance of his running away. He's far too insecure. He'd run off ahead of us, pelting full-tilt until there was a turn in the path. Not wanting to be out of sight, he'd turn around and rush back to us. A quick glance at one and the other, and then he'd wheel around and tear off to the next bend. We walked for over an hour, perhaps 2 1/2 to 3 miles, and Shermie did at least twice that. Small wonder, then, that this was him this afternoon:

Sherman Resting

(posted on 24 Oct 2016)

Yesterday was a real yoyo day.

We had a lovely morning. We took Sherman, the dog, for a walk down through the forest to the beach. There, we found a gorgeous Red rock crab shell covered with barnacles:

Beach Treasure

We'll take it back down next trip, but I just had to paint it.

The afternoon was something else again. We had a plumbing emergency - a hot water tap that would not turn off. My beloved tried all his rather extensive plumbing skills, but without the right tools and parts, there was nothing he could do. We couldn't even turn off the feed to that particular faucet. In the end, we turned off the hot water tank, shut the valve, and called in the big guns... They turned out to be the little, local guns who couldn't do any more than we could, but at least they'll get the proper parts and we should have hot water again by Wednesday or so.

Then there were the Seahawks. For the first time in ages, we got to watch a football game, and what a game it was! Talk about defensive. After four virtually scoreless quarters, they went into overtime. Both kickers missed easy, but vital field goals! Final score, six/six, more of a baseball score than a football score, was the first tie since 2012. Weird.

(posted on 20 Oct 2016)

Well, on the sea again. Crossing the Juan de Fuca from Victoria to Port Angeles on the Coho ferry. Heading to Vashon Island to meet up with new friends that we met when we housesat here back in May. The sea is calm and beautiful.

Freighter at Anchor in the Juan de Fuca Strait

We arrived on Vashon, had dinner at a great diner-style restaurant with our friends, and then crashed out. This morning, we're still busy catching up on all the stuff that has happened since May. Funny, isn't it, that sometimes you haven't seen people for years, and still there's nothing to talk about. On the other hand, there are people with whom it will take years to catch up on a few missed months. Must be something to do with being on the same wavelenght...

I also caught up with Phil Volker this morning. It was just the two of us today. We walked his Camino in the pouring rain (just like when I walked the real thing in Spain), and the weather didn't matter at all. He's almost up to O Cebreira in Galicia. (Weather matches there, too.)

(posted on 16 Oct 2016)

Here we are back on Vancouver Island, this time in the very tiddly enclave of Oak Bay. Actually, it's easy to see why the haves would want to live here. The streets are quiet; they're shaded by huge Garry oak trees; the gardens are invariably lovely; and, while there are many stately homes, there are also many modest, but sweet, little houses. Also, one can walk everywhere - either to the ocean or to the village centre with its choice of shops, galleries, pub, library, etc. It really is the best of urban living if you can afford to live here.

Oak Bay View


This is an Oak Bay tidbit. While this community has a reputation for being 'more English than the English', it's also very progressive. It was the first municipality in the Capital Regional District to have compost pick-up - and that started at least a decade ago. As well, they allow chickens (no roosters). We dropped by to see an old friend today, and she sent us home with four gorgeous eggs straight from the coop. Delicious!!!

(posted on 11 Oct 2016)

Aukland International Airport

I was feeling much better today, so I managed to do a drawing at the Aukland airport while we waited for our flight. It lasted for twelve hours, but since the plane was quite empty we were able to stretch out over three seats each to sleep.

Now we're waiting in the San Francisco airport for our flight to Victoria. It may be a couple of hours late. This travelling takes a lot of patience, so maybe I'll do another drawing...

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