Sunday, 29 November 2015

Old places, new faces


One advantage of having been here before is that there are places I went to that I enjoyed and wanted to visit again: four years ago, we paid a brief visit to the Clifton Historical Authority, a national park that is on the far southwestern tip of New Providence.

Pirate Steps

Didn't have much of an opportunity to explore, and, to be honest, there wasn't much there that talked about why it was a protected area.

Looking out

About the only thing that there was to see that was serious was Sacred Space by Antonious Roberts.

Follow the, uh....

Imagine my surprise when we went earlier this week to discover wide paths, picnic areas, excellent signage, and a wonderful Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden installed as part of Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF)!

Life list: check

I'll be returning with snorkling gear to explore it next week, weather permitting, and trying out a cheap little underwater Fuji camera so I can, I hope, take some photographs.

So long. Farewell.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Scratch and swoosh

Anole #1

I've gotten more than a few of I kind of hate you for being somewhere warm notes from friends in frosty/snowy Calgary: I hope this post makes them feel better....

My first night in the Bahamas was eerily similar to my first night in Vancouver, with calamity stricking again. This time, it was in the form of some sort of insect which found my legs irretrievably attractive, and to which I had an allergic reaction: a multitude of large, red, itchy welts appeared on my calves.

Morning at the beach #3

Took awhile before we found something that worked to let me get a proper night's sleep, and although I've gotten one or two more every day, I'm not having such a violent reaction. But I'm not going to be getting a pantyhose modelling contract any time soon, either.


And I still itch.

The first couple of days here were hot, humid, and perfectly still, which probably didn't help either, but the temperature and humidity dropped, while a gentle breeze picked up.

Gulls in Paradise #2

Unfortunately, that gentle breeze became a serious, neverending gale, with large whitecaps even on some of the protected waters here. The nearest beach faces in that direction, and while I was looking forward to walking over there to soak my troubles away, even a strong swimmer like me doesn't have a death wish.

Great Egret in Paradise #2

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Catching up, part three


It was an interesting group of passengers on the ferry: if you want to take a car, you have to ship it over on a barge, which isn't practical or cost-effective, unless you live there. One guy, about my age, tried one of the less original pick-up lines on me "haven't I seen you on this ferry before?" even though I was standing and talking to my chauffeur at the time.

Someone else on the ferry mentioned that dolphins had been seen in the bay four days before, but had no information on how or where to find the feral sheep. Imagine my surprise when I saw this one and a companion in the schoolyard on our arrival!

After being met at the ferry, we piled into a rickety truck for the short ride to my friend's cabin: rustic was how it had been described, and it lived up to that in spades. Propane powered the small oven and three burners, as well as the bar-sized refrigerator, with a wood stove cranking out heat, and a wide range of candles (and one Coleman gas light) and flashlights enabling us to find our way outside to the composting toilet in the night.

Island Girl

Getting settled in basically meant putting all the food and beverages that needed to be cold into the fridge, so we then headed off to the nearest beach. It is neither wide nor particularly long, and covered with pebbles instead of soft sand, but it held a fine collection of pebbles, shells, logs, and one, somewhat windblown, very happy person (above).

Along with a dead jellyfish (below).

Shoot the light #11

Lasqueti has been my business name since I moved to New York City in 1982: I had sailed around it, and I had flown over it, but until November 5, I had not set foot on it. For my milestone birthday this year, I was determined to change that: being able to share it with two friends who helped to make it happen was bonus.


We left to hike down the road to another beach about a kilometre away, with a northern exposure instead of a northwestern one, listening to the wind in the trees, talking about music, food, life, and the mutual friends we shared, and watching the sun filter through the trees from time to time.

A great dinner, lots of perry, beer, and single-malt Irish whisky, and endless talk filled the evening and breakfast the next morning. Despite being in one room that was, in fact, a double-car garage kit that had floor-to-ceiling windows instead of roll-up doors, and "running water" that came from the rainwater collector and which had to be boiled before use, it was one of the best trips I've ever made.

I'll be back. Soon.

Shoot the light #12

It was all over too quickly, with a very rough crossing back to Vancouver Island the next morning: most of the passengers were either horizontal on the benches in the salon, or out under cover on the back of the boat, trying to stave off nausea. Despite the amount of alcohol consumed the night before, we were just fine.

Crossing the line

A quick lunch in Nanaimo, a warm ferry ride to Horseshoe Bay, then checking into my hotel in Vancouver en route to a dinner party with friends from high school, and brunch Saturday with another transplanted Calgary friend, finished off my trip. I arrived back in Calgary exhausted, with much work to do in the few days I had before heading off on the road again.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Catching up, part two

Shoot the light #10

Sunrises are one of my favourite things to shoot: it's way easier this year to do it because I don't have to get up at 4 a.m. to do it.grin

This is beautiful downtown Cowichan Bay, on November 4, the day our new government was sworn in: I walked across the road from my hotel to the park, and decided to try some of the new bells and whistles of my new camera. This uses High Dynamic Range (HDR) to create several different photographic exposures from one simple shutter click, and then recombine them into a photograph that lets you see everything (like the town) that's in the shadow more clearly than just one automatic exposure would produce.

And it does it in less time that it takes to read that paragraph....

George or Gracie?

It was lovely and quiet down in the harbour, with the pair of tame-ish mute swans (this is either George or Gracie, I'm not sure which) cruising around the bay in their silent way. There aren't many ways to start one's day that are better than being alone and quiet with nature on a still morning.


After a hearty breakfast, we (an old friend from university days who retired out to Vancouver Island, and offered to be my chauffeur for the adventure) had a lot of fun tasting wines / beers / ciders, going to a fibre store (where, indeed, I bought some local product), eating some great food, and visiting the pier at the south end of the main drag along the water to see where the Stellar's sea lions raft up to exchange ideas of current interest. You could hear these boys from quite a distance!

Always something going on

We then made our way up to Parksville to spend the night before setting off on my bucket-list adventure to Lasqueti Island. This had been the most complicated part of my trip west to organize, between the research on the ferry schedule, the weather, things to do, and so on. Then, as luck would have it -- and I was remarkably lucky on this trip -- a friend owns property there, and who had been most helpful in the planning, said "hey, as it turns out, I'm going to be there that week: why don't you spend the night at my place?"

So what started out as a quick day trip turned into something much, much more.

Thursday morning dawned calm and bright, and we made our way to the ferry dock with time to spare. French Creek is a lovely little place, with a great cannery/market, where I bought salmon to take over for dinner (along with a great deal of beverages we had purchased on our tasting adventures) as thanks for staying the night.

Our faithful chariot

And so we steamed out on the passenger ferry promptly at 9:45 a.m. ....

to be continued

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Catching up, part one

Shoot the light #2

The week before my adventure out to the we(s)t coast was as hectic as I expected, as were the ten days of fun and (some) sun that began and ended in Vancouver, and apart from one large, but surmountable, glitch the day I arrived, was perfect.

After six-plus years of stellar service, my beloved Canon SX10IS digital camera packed it in while out photographing the pier at White Rock. I don't know what happened -- everything I found on the interwebs about what the error message meant hadn't happened to me -- and nothing I tried to cure the problem did so.

So my first evening was spent declaring it an ex-camera and then searching for a suitable replacement.


At least in that regard, I got lucky: my "must have" list for a camera was pretty short, and on the advice of a professional photographer friend, every six months or so, I'd have a look at what was new, so instead of taking me days to figure out what I want, it took about 30 minutes.

Then the trick was finding a good camera store in Vancouver that had one in stock, and I got lucky a second time: not only was I able to find my first choice (the Canon SX60HS) available nearby, but it was even on sale.

A wake

So my first stop the next morning, on the way to the Alcuin Society's Wayzgoose, was to buy the camera, and I spent that evening reading the brief (and awkwardly written, IMO) manual included in the box. I quickly realized that I would be better served by downloading the 200-page electronic behemoth instead, and found myself sucked into some of the new tricks it did.

Shifting colours

The ferry ride to Victoria gave me the opportunity to get in some quick practice shots, and even though, as I write this, I've had two weeks to play and read the manual, I'm still feeling my way with it. What you'll see in this, and the next two posts, will be the experiments I deemed successful.

DOF practice

Victoria proved to be the best weather conditions I had on the entire trip, with the better part of two sunny and warm days, and I spent some quality time with my ex-pat Calgary friends, seeing the sights, and consuming some terrific food and beverages, especially as I had both Monday dinner and Tuesday lunch at Spinnaker's, one of my favourite places.

to be continued

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