This is a journal of our retirement move and life in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island's ruggedly beautiful west coast. The town's motto is "Enjoy life on the edge".

Follow our new adventures at Eyes On Vancouver.

Check my main photography website, or follow me on my Facebook page.

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Until the Next Time...


This will be the last post of the Ucluelet Bound! blog, as tomorrow, we pack up the truck and head across the water to our next adventure in North Vancouver's Lower Lonsdale neighborhood. The past year in Ukee has been an adventure that we'll never forget, a year in a place that offers a spectacular palette of Nature's wonders, all served up in golds, greens and blues.


Today, we pretty much finished up the packing, made a run to the dump, had a final lunch at the TacoFino Cantina, and then did a beach walk from Incinerator Rock up to the fabulous area just before Schooner Cove, one of our favorite stretches along the coast.


The weather for today and the next couple of days is simply stellar, with deep blue skies, bright, warm sunshine, and no fog. After a trek to Port on Tuesday through a downpour, this break in the weather is most welcome... we've done too many moves over the years in pissing rain, and it dampens not just the person, but the spirit too.


Later tonight, we expect my daughter, Rachael, and my eldest son, Alexander, who have once again volunteered to help us with the move, and we are enormously grateful, as both Marcelle and I both have arthritis and simply trying to grip things these days can be a punishing experience. My back also gives me much grief if I even attempt to overdo things, so having the kids' help is marvelous! It's also just plain fun to do this as a family, and the main reason for our moving back to the mainland is to be closer to the kids.


Tomorrow morning, we're off to Port to pick up a 17-foot U-Haul truck into which we will then shoehorn the household. Then Sunday morning, we head for the 10:40 AM ferry and on to the new digs.


If you, Dear Reader, enjoyed this blog, I hope that you'll follow us along on our next adventure in my Eyes On Vancouver blog. Hope to see you there, and thanks for the memories!


Monday, 1 September 2014

Dining Out in Style

After a full day of pre-move packing and cleaning, Marcelle and I were not just fatigued, but famished to boot. We made a desultory attempt at trying to figure out a dinner choice, which is difficult to do when you've packed virtually the entire kitchen, upon which Marcelle declared we would go out for dinner. Well, being the dutiful husband that I am, I immediately embraced this stirling decision.

Into the car we climbed and headed for a restaurant that, unbeknownst to us, was not open. Regrouping, we got back in the car, and in the spirit of the moment, I suggested we try Norwoods Restaurant. For those of you, Dear Readers, who are unaware of this establishment, I can only say you are missing out on one of Ucluelet's treasures.


We have had the pleasure of eating at Norwoods twice before tonight, both times before we moved to Ukee. Tonight, we treated ourselves once again, and the experience was magical.


We were lucky enough to arrive just as they opened the door, and this was indeed fortuitous as we had no reservation, but were seated at the wet bar, where we were served by Kaylee (profuse apologies if this spelling is in error), a vivacious and charming young woman looked after our every need.


Chef Richard Norwood has created a business here in Ucluelet, with a cachet that one would expect in the finest restaurants in a large city, yet nestled in this small village, it offers a unique dining experience.


After a marvellous appetizer assortment, we segued to the main course you see being finalized below, the beef tenderloin which literally melted in the mouth.


Dessert was as scrumptious as the appetizer and main courses had been, Marcelle had a fruit tart with custom made cinnamon ice cream, while I had goat cheese on a bed of crushed hazelnuts topped with a delicious compote.


Kaylee suggested an Earl Grey Double Cream tea to finish the meal, and it was perfect. Indeed the entire experience was perfect.


Many thanks to the chef and staff for a meal that we will long remember as we wind down our year in Ucluelet. We may be living on the edge, but dinner at Norwoods is a heavenly experience!


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Escape from Chaos

As this is our last week as residents of Ukee, we are currently hip-deep in packing activities which means that we are presently surrounded by all manner of baggages, packages, parcels and paraphernalia... in short, utter CHAOS!


And to boot, it was pouring down with rain this morning, making the propect of filling further cardboard coffins a decidedly miserable prospect. Imagine our delight when, as we broke our fast, the the rain stopped, and the sun shone brightly in a sky of deep azure. Time to hit the beach!


We have promised ourselves that during this last week, that we would try to get out as much as our duties allowed to bask in the beauty of this amazing place and pack our memory banks as full as possible before we leave next weekend for our new digs in North Vancouver.

Today, we headed for Wick Beach and were pleasantly surprised to see some quite decent waves, possibly from the hurricane that has been responsible for the great surf along the California coast the last few days. The surfers were out in droves, taking advantage of both the weather and the waves.


As usual, Marcelle was right in the surf, wading along the shoreline as we made our way north along the beach. And, as usual, it didn't take long before a 'rogue wave' managed to attack her and thoughtfully drench her to the waist. (As you, Dear Reader, will probably know by now, this is de regueur for my darling wife, who seems to somehow attract these 'rogue waves'.)



A fine mist was blowing in from offshore, creating a layer of separation from the background distance, helping to pop out subjects on the beach in the middle distance.


Reaching our turn-around point, we found a convenient log upon which to cop a squat and have some water and rest our old legs for the walk back down the beach to the car.


As we trudged back, I shot some of the innumerable tiny jellies that lay upon the sand, capturing the sun's light like little biological lenses, magnifying the sand they lay over.


Weary from the walk, but with hearts full, we made our way back to town and treated ourselves to a lunch at the The Blue Room, where Trish and Melanie looked after us in style, as always. While we have often had breakfast there, this was our first time for lunch, and with the countdown to the move, we will probably be eating out a bit over the next few days and our kitchen inexorably disappears into boxes!


We just need to figure out a way to package some of this marvellous place and take it with us. But then again, that's what this blog has been all about: Capturing life on the edge!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Local Photographer Shot on Big Beach!

Now that I have your attention, let me allay your fears, Dear Reader... your humble narrator was not a victim in the sights of a mad gunman, but rather in the viewfinder of a very talented fellow photog, David Paul Crombie. David, whom Marcelle and I had the pleasure of meeting just recently, has become a valued and generous friend. An amiable, gentle, soft-spoken soul, David has a remarkable eye for composition and a sense of timing that enable him to work easily and effectively with subjects to produce stunning images.

Last evening, Dave asked us to meet him at Big Beach so he could shoot Marcelle and I for some sunset pictures. Here is an example of his fine work:

Image copyright David Paul Crombie

Be sure to check out more of David's fine work on his website.

The three of us had a fun and productive time as David posed us here and there and let us do what we just love doing... love each other! Snogging in the great outdoors, all for the sake of art, is something that I can get behind 110%, so a splendid time was had by all. We look forward to seeing more of the results of David's wonderful art.

Here's a picture of the artist himself:


And just to prove that no photographers were harmed during this production, I present a couple of iPhone shots from this morning where Marcelle and I went for brekky at our favorite diner, the Blue Room.


Food for the soul last evening, and food for the body this morning.

Ah, life on the edge can be exhilarating!


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Musico Diminuendo

As we get closer to our moving day, where we will leave our current 2600 sq ft and shoehorn ourselves into a modest 600 sq ft space, the downsizing activity is becoming frantic. Furniture and other sundry goods are disappearing out the door at a pleasing rate, and we have a trip to Port coming up to supply the Thrift Shop there with odds and sods that we will be left with and no longer need. Well, the dreaded day finally arrived where I had to tackle downsizing my computer/music setup.

In the picture above, you will see the old system, based around a Fatar 88-key piano-action MIDI controller keyboard, the tubular, modular 'A-frame' stand stretched to 60" in width, presenting a formidable footprint, especially as the 'A-frame' legs splayed out quite a distance at the floor. A half shelf above it all, on the top crosspiece, held my backup drive array etc. In fact, we simply had no space for something this big in the new condo. Surgery was called for!


As may be seen here, this tubular construction set (from Ultimate Support Stands) is completely modular and with a bit of imagination, you can build almost any type of supporting structure. In fact, I've been dragging this stuff around with me for years, and used it for all manner of modifications to the base stand.

Because the 88-key Fatar was really the limiting factor here, my dear, patient, loving, and all-around incredible wife told me to go ahead and buy a new, smaller keyboard. I lucked out and found that Tom Lee Music had a special on the M-Audio Axiom Air with 61 keys. The 61-keys are just about perfect for the stretch between bass and treble notes I play, and it's easy to reach past at either end to additional octaves with the tap of a button. The Axiom is also hugely lighter than the heavy Fatar, which also helps things out. So, to work...


The first thing was obviously to clear all the equipment off the stand so I could dismantle it and start modifying and building my new design. My design goals were:

  1. Reduce the width
  2. Reduce the height
  3. Reduce the front-back depth
  4. Increase the available shelf space

While goals 1,2 and 3 are fairly easy, incorporating number 4 was a challenge, especially as I was shrinking the entire structure! Before I actually solved the shelving issue, here is what the basic redesigned stand looked like:

As may be seen, it is essentially a rectangular two-tiered bench that is only as high as the top-rear shelf for the monitors needs to be. The top-rear crosspiece holds the shelf for the monitors, while the lower-front crosspiece holds the MIDI controller and the computer keyboard and mouse etc.


Well, here's the finished piece. And if you're wondering where the additional shelf is, it is mounted on a crosspiece below the top-rear one and is thus not visible in this picture. This works out really well, as it keeps the clutter of hard drives, audio/MIDI interface and USB hub out of sight, and makes cable management a lot easier. When we get settled, I'll properly dress the cables with Ty-wraps to keep everything clean and as noise-free as possible. (This means keeping AC lines away from audio lines, or if not possible, have them cross at 90 degrees to minimize crosstalk.)

The whole cost, excluding the new controller and almost a full day's labour, was $27 for some new shelving to properly fit the stand. I was able to reduce the size by 12" in width, 20" in height and about 12" in depth. And, I have double the storage shelf space.

All-in-all, a banner project day here on the edge!


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

They Roam in Packs

A photographer friend, Phil Douglis, once told me that his wife compared photographers to dogs... "they were always stopping at every lamp post". Put us in a pack, and all manner of chaos may be observed (and documented).



Thus it was late yesterday afternoon when I accompanied good buddies Holly Enn and David Paul Crombie out to Florencia. David, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is a superb photographer, and produces stunning images. His friend, Holly, was shooting yesterday too, under the excellent tutelage of David, so there we were, a brace of ambulatory lenses, pointing and poking our way along the shoreline. Grubbing for the elusive graphic element that then triggers a composition, and with luck, a potential image... Snap! Next morsel...


When you add into the fray that all of us were shooting different focal ranges (all 35EQ):

  • I was using 18mm, 42mm and 135mm lenses
  • Holly used a superzoom with 450mm at the long end (maybe the 18-300)
  • David shot with a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom (a magnificent piece of glass)

In consequence, we were all probably working in different focal lengths, and even if we shot the same scene, we could have quite different, individual representations of the original image.



In the slanting late afternoon sun, peering just over the trees at the north end of Florencia Bay, Holly and David were lit up by the lovely warm light.


In places, where the water had carved delicate fluted channels in the sand, the sunlight reflected on the wet edges and made the fire-like lines of the pattern come alive as if indeed on fire.


Looking back down the beach to where the trailhead is, there were the inevitable band of visitors who seemingly never stray more then a few metres from the corridor between the parking lot / trailhead and the water. The low, long sunlight popped them out nicely against the wet sand, so I forgave them their silliness.


Walking north into the sun, the beach was lit up with tidelines and a patchwork of silver puddles on the sand. The aperture blades of my ultra-wide angle 12mm (18mm 35EQ) create exquisite light rays around the sun. (J.J. Abrams approved, dontcha know.)


With the sun almost down beneath the trees, you get a curious combination of colour temperatures where part of an image will look warmer (gold colour) and part cooler (bluish colour). The remaining barnacles warm against the cooler background rock. (I'm not sure if the light circles are the remains of barnacle foundations, or the start of a new barnacle!)



As we ascended up the stairs to the trail above, the sun was just visible through the trees, creating a beautiful dappled light effect and again, the rayed-sun.


Lovely afternoon, lovely friends, lovely image to have as the last remembrance of the hike.


Friday, 22 August 2014

A Little on the Small Side

This morning, I went and walked the Shorepine Bog trail, intent on trying for some macro images. While there's a lot to see, trying to capture macro images, which require you to be within centimetres of the subject, become quite exciting while trying to remain on the boardwalk. The surrounding bulk of sphagnum moss just devours anything you sink into it. This left me only with the few subjects that grew right along the sides of the boardwalk.





Three little images, a bit small.

Life can be tiny on the edge.