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".

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Beachwalking 101

One of the things I find most fascinating about being at the beach is how other people react to it. On a beach such as Long Beach, where we were yesterday for example, you can divide the people into categories. First, because of the nature of the Pacific beaches, you have the surfers, who, of course, are there for the waves, and for the most part are the only folk who really enter the water. (Even in summer, the ocean is bloody cold, and without a wetsuit, can quickly numb you.)

You do see people wading in the shallows where the sun and sand tends to warm the water slightly, and then there are always a few intrepid souls who venture briefly into the waves in just a bathing suit. Generally, they are then seen quickly scrambling back up the beach to their towels.

What always surprises me is that the majority of people congregate on the beach right where they parked their cars, never straying from a narrow corridor from the back of the beach to the water's edge. This behavior is incomprehensible to me. A beach yearns to be explored, from end to end, front to back, low tide and high tide. There is simply so much to see, to experience and the learn!

Those of us who do indeed venture into the misty distances may again be be categorized as well. You have the runners, of course, who tear along the sands, generally with earbuds firmly in place, which is puzzling to me as I find the sound of the surf to be an integral and soothing part of the outdoor experience. Some, like a woman whom we saw yesterday, seem to float past you, running on her tiptoes in bright pink runners. Others have a heavier, plodding gait that makes you tired just watching them.

Then you have the walkers, like ourselves, who wander slowly along, reveling in the detail, detouring here and there to examine some interesting piece of plant or animal life that the ocean has put out for display during the last high tide. And the view is always different. Some days, like yesterday, there is an astonishing amount of detritus that has been scoured from the ocean floor and washed ashore.

Yesterday, in just a short walk, we found several floats, a large industrial light bulb, and a plastic packing palet from Japan, most likely flotsam from the tsunami.




Walking the beach also lets you see the marvelous way that nature finds to perpetuate life. I'm always amazed at where I find plants growing, and what beauty that they add, little oases of colour and form that catch the eye and feed the soul.




Beachwalking is one of life's great goodnesses, it invigorates you with the salty, fresh air, excersises the body, gives a greater understanding and appreciation for nature and guarantees you a good appetite and a great night's sleep. Highly recommended!


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Yes, But is it Art?

Sometimes, it's fun to go out on the edge. As you, Dear Reader, have probably noticed, I tend to like my images with more 'punch' than a pure documentary portrayal would show. Some of the reasons for this include the fact that as photographers, we can only capture so much of what the human eye sees, let alone what we experience with our other senses during the original encounter. In reality, I'm making art, not documentation. I like to see nice bright colours, and crisp, clear edges that help to pop the image out and bring a sense of the experience that drew me to capture the picture in the first place.
But with software tools available to us today, it's sometimes just plain fun to push things and see where they get you. Today, we did the lighthouse loop of the Wild Pacific Trail, and after I had done my usual post processing in the computer, I decided to treat the files with some of the more interesting apps that I have on my iPad. These apps allow you to apply different treatments that replicate more traditional artist's media, such as oil painting etc. I hope you might enjoy them.


Friday, 20 June 2014

Seeing Stars

After a lazy morning, Marcelle and I drove up toward Tofino to again have lunch at one of our all-time favorite eateries, the TacoFino Cantina.

Stuffed full with an elegant sufficiency, (or, as I used to say when I was young, 'elephants and fishes'), we drove back south to the Incinerator Rock parking lot of Long Beach, and set off walking north to one of our favorite beach areas, past the Esowista area of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations peoples, toward Schooner Cove. This part of the beach has several rocky islands that are accessible during low tide, and are remarkably picturesque.
Walking up the beach, we saw a profusion of marine life that we hadn't come across before, from sponges washed up on the sands:
To scads of what appear to be something perhaps related to jellyfish. (Edit: I learned that they are Kite Jellyfish.)
These small organisms look like little blue boats set with a translucent diagonal fin, looking for all the world like a sail rigged for tacking.

Close to one of the tide-stranded islands, in a small pool encircling a rock, I came upon what I think is a Sunflower Star. With 21 arms, it was about 18 inches across. Apparently, they have more than 15,000 tube feet that have to be coordinated in its stepping movements. Quite beautiful!
Further along, there was an Anenome that was busy digesting a small Dungeoness Crab.
And a few metres away, a larger Anenome was in the last stages of choking down one of the ubiquitous Ochre Sea Stars. BTW, word has it that it is not a good idea to stick your tongue into an Anenome. Apparently, your tongue will swell up from the poison they use to subdue their prey, and can easily choke you. So glad I read this, as it had been a burning desire for years!
The Tofino airport is just beyond the tree line at the back of the beach, so there's often aircraft overhead taking off and landing. At one point, a large Sikorsky rescue chopper clattered in for a landing there. I've always had a fascination for helicopters, actually logging a few hours in my youth before I realized that the economics prohibited me from getting my license. There's nothing that comes as close to just flying with your body as a helicopter. I used to have the most vivid dreams of flying with just my body... sadly, I no longer have them, as they were always very enjoyable.

Although it was an overcast morning, the afternoon was spectacular, with the most beautiful billowing clouds on the horizon. Now I'm a sucker for good clouds, so naturally, I just had to capture some for you, Dear Reader.

If you look closely, you'll see another helicopter headed toward the clouds here.
Well, another day comes to a close here in Ucluelet. What will tomorrow bring, I wonder?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Back to the Back (of the Beach)

One of my favorite spots when beach walking is the back of the beach. There's often so much drama there, from the huge logs that the sea throws about like jackstraws, to the delicate and often beautiful plants that cling tenaciously to almost anything in their quest to perpetuate life.

This morning, Marcelle was busy working on the Compassionate Vancouver Facebook page she put together, so I ventured out alone to Long Beach to do some photography.

The morning was partially overcast, which suits me fine as it offers a scenic element in the sky that is very useful to add not only drama, but depth to the images. The overcast also provides a muted, non-directional lighting that yields pictures that don't suffer from the harsh highlight/shadow portrayal you get on really sunny days.

This type of sky is also very effective for black and white photography, which I very much enjoy.

Besides looking for detail shots that have an element that catches my eye, I love to look for tracks in the sand. There's often little areas of drama that you can isolate and feature, and I find that this works out really well when showcased in B&W.




Of course, now and then, the occasional splash of colour is useful to show the wonderful variety that can be found at the back of the beach. The sun-and-salt-bleached logs make a perfect foil for the colour elements.




With the morning's oblique lighting, I found several places where there was a lovely display of sand, scalloped by both the water and wind into mini-dunes, that, again, do so well when processed for B&W.




As I'm still recovering from my hernia surgery (eight days ago now), I'm finding my stamina just isn't what it was, so I managed only a couple of kilometers today, but as I trudged wearily back up the beach to the car, I couldn't have been happier.

There's nothing quite like life on the edge!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Back on the Beach

Day 5 of my hernia surgery recovery saw us actually out and about at Wick Beach. At least for a little while. I managed about an hour before it was a bit too much, and we had to retreat. I'm finding that I'm surprised at how much my strength is easily sapped and by how tired I am. However, it's good for me to move around, and so the healing process goes on.


The day was beautiful, with enough cloud to make the sky interesting, and provide a backdrop against which to feature the scenery.


We arrived at low tide, which enabled us to walk out to some of the more interesting rocks just south of the interpretive centre.


The waves were 'High' today, which almost guaranteed that there were a number of surfers in the water. From my vantage point with my 300mm telephoto lens, I could just see them obliquely across the curve of the beach and incoming waves.

Tuckered out, but happy to have had some fresh air and beach time, I retired home, to once more become Captain Couch, watching movies on my iPad, taking my Tylenols, and having much needed naps.

Cheers from the edge!


Friday, 13 June 2014

Out and About

Day 3 of my hernia surgery recovery is turning out quite well. I was allowed to finally shower (Yay!!), I'm off the Tylenol 3s (Yay!!) and I actually got out for a short walk (Double Yay!!). It's actually gorgeous today here in Ukee, and I was able to hobble my way down to Big Beach. Slow going, as I'm still quite sore (and remarkably swollen and bruised in places generally best categorized as NSFW), but damn, it was good to get out!

In the interest of traveling light, I just took my little Panasonic LX5 camera, great for capturing the little still lifes that Mother Nature so conveniently dots here and there. We sat up above the beach at a strategically placed picnic table and just took in the sights and lapped up the sun.


Below us, on the beach, a father explored a tidal pool with his youngster, while further out, the incoming tide pounded against the rocks sending up fountains of spray.



Walking back to the house, we could see the Salmonberries starting to pop out.

Well, that's it from life on the edge today... I'm plum tuckered out and going down for a nice nap. See you all tomorrow!