Friday, 31 July 2009

Bench of the Week (15)

This bench is located on a trail to Wreck Beach where clothing is optional. Wreck Beach is located on part of the University of British Columbia's Endowment Lands west of Vancouver, B.C. This bench was carved by Michael Rose.

Bench of the week is an informal meme begun by RuneE of Visual Norway.

Photo Credit: theeeeta CC=sa-flickr. Click to enlarge photo.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Hiking Trails - Sawback Trail - Day 11

[124 - Ptarmigan and Pika Peaks north face]

The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). The trail is rated moderate to challenging.

On Day 11 the hike leaves the Skoki Lodge for a final trip to Fish Creek parking lot above the town of Lake Louise with a side trip to Hidden Lake covering a distance of about 18.5km.

The hiker takes the trail back over Deception Pass.

[125 - Skoki Lake]

[126 - Deception Pass]

The trail back to the Junction where it intersects with the trails to Baker Lake is 4.0km going through sparse forested areas and treeless meadows past Redoubt Mountain and the western end of Ptarmigan Lake. For a view of the bottom of Deception Pass looking south to Redoubt Mountain here.

In 0.6km is the Junction (1680m) at the 62.1 km mark which intersects with the trail to Baker Lake.

[127 - Ptarmigan Peak, 3035m (9958ft)]

[128 - Ptarmigan Peak]

In another 3.3km at the 65.4km mark, the hiker reaches Boulder Pass (2345m) where the snowy top of Mt. Temple (3544m) can be seen to the south.

From Boulder Pass the trail goes steady down hill for 1.5km to the Corral Creek meadows where there is another junction at the 66.9km mark.

[129 - Packhorse on trail with Redoubt Mountain in background - click to enlarge]

[130 - Redoubt Mountain south face]

[131 - Black bear]

A side trip of an added 2.6km return to Hidden Lake is well worth the effort. The trail passes the Hidden Lake Campground (Sk5) at 0.1km then makes a steady climb up a vale to the lake where the forest gives way.

[132- Approaching Hidden Lake]

[133-Hidden Lake - click to enlarge]

Upon returning to the Junction, 100m south is the Halfway Hut sitting on a low bluff. The hut built in the 1930s had received its name from the early days of skiing when it served as an overnight location from the Lake Louise train station to the Skoki Lodge. Now it only has a day use.

[134- Skoki Trail Halfway Hut - click to enlarge]

[135 - Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk - click to enlarge]

The Red Tailed Hawk has a wingspan of 50 inches, preferring a habitat of open woodland, plains and prairies. They build nests 75 feet above the ground, laying 1-4 whitish eggs that are incubated for 27-33 days.

[136 - Looking back toward Halfway Hut]

The trail now goes through forested areas of spruce, fir with small areas of larch,. Here the trail is wide and graded for the commercial horse trips and packtrains supplying the Skoki Lodge.

[137 - Trail ]

Then the trail proceeds downhill over a long meadow slope for 200m to Temple Lodge (2010m) and the ski lifts at the 70.1km mark.

[138 - Trail out leads to Lake Louise Ski Resort. Whitehorn Mountain, 2637m (8652ft.), in background - click to enlarge]

From here there is a 4km long gravel service road to the Fish Creek parking lot (1690m) where the 74.0km mark is finally reached.

NOTE: ParksCanada has an important announcement on their website about BEARS on part of the Sawback Trail area here. This hiking series covering the Sawback Trail will pass through to Lake Louise in PRIME GRIZZLY BEAR TERRITORY. Any reader thinking of taking this trail please read this notice. It could save your life.

ParksCanada – Banff
Backcountry Overview
Trail Conditions
Backpacking Equipment Checklist
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki
Gem Trek maps for Banff and Mount Assiniboine
HI Hostels Intl Survival Guide
A Field Guild to the Birds of North America by Michael Vaneer (2006), p.69

Photo Credits: [124][127][128][120]-fotohog CC=nc-nd-flickr, [125]-orlandk CC=flickr, [126]-jockrutherford CC=sa-flickr, [129][136][137][138]-Kris Griffon CC-nc-sa-flickr, [131]-ElCapitan CC=nc-sa-flickr, [132]-macz out CC=nc-sa-flickr, [133]-Travis King CC=nc-flickr, [134]-petes pics CC=nc-nd-flickr, [135]-ru_24_real CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)

Nekropolis is a hard boiled crime mystery set in an urban fantasy landscape within a shadowy dimension separate from Earth. Matthew Richter, a cop from Cleveland, followed a murder suspect through a two-way portal into Nekropolis. There he ends up as a zombie working at the only business he knows: as a private eye.

Considered a rare entity as a self-willed zombie, Richter does favours for the creature citizens of Nekropolis in exchange for fees to purchase restorative spells. Now that they have begun to fail, every day he focuses on survival while searching for an alternative spell to preserve his decaying body.

A voluptuous half-vampire named Devona enlists his assistance in locating a magic crystal missing from her father’s collection. While unraveling the mystery of the disappearance of the Dawnstone, Richter finds more questions to every answer he uncovers. He follows the same method he used when he was a detective in Cleveland, while carrying a sense of responsibility from his former life.

The pace was steady, with situations and places explained in short bits of detail as the story moved forward while Richter put together his case. I had to keep reading to learn how Richter made out by the end.

Described in vivid detail, the different creatures such as the genetically enhanced shapeshifters and gangs of cyberpunk vampires, and the incidents within the story have a decided ick factor to them. There were episodes of humour throughout combined with the intriguing history of Nekropolis.

It’s an interesting book meant to be fun. I recommend this book for any crime, mystery, fantasy or horror reader who wants a taste of something a little bit different. As this is the first volume in a series with two follow-up novels, I look forward to the next.

Book format: paperback, 419 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of HarperCollins
Author website: Tim Waggoner

August 6, 2009 (UK / Australia)
ISBN 978 0 00732 386 9
January 2010 (Canada / US)
ISBN 978 0 00732 946 5

Order through:

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Fishing - Lorette Pond

This is Mount Lorette Pond in Kananaskis Provincial Park, Alberta, which is stocked seasonally with rainbow trout. It's a good idea to pick up a fishing license before putting a line out, as the fish police tend to lurk.

Photo Credit: appaloosa CC=nc-nd-flickr. Click to enlarge.

Monday, 27 July 2009

My Town Monday - Samuel B. Steele - Fort Walsh

[1-Cypress Hills]

Fort Walsh became the headquarters of the North-West Mounted Police in 1878, with its beginnings as a fur trading post in 1873. The fort is named after Superintendent James Walsh . The fort was later moved to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan where the railroad was. The fort was used in 1948 to 1962 for the RCMP to breed horses for the musical ride and the force.

[2- Historic Site - Fort Walsh at Cypress Hills Provincial Park]

[3 - Fort Walsh bunk house]

[4 -Fort Walsh Officer's Quarters]

[5 -Fort Walsh bunk house]

In 1875, Inspector James Morrow Walsh with about 30 men were sent to the Cypress Hills region where they built Fort Walsh, not far from where the Cypress Hills Massacre occurred. The NWMP investigation revealed that American “wolfers” (poisoned wolves for their pelts) and horse thieves had instigated the massacre. Although the NWMP were unable to convict any of the participants, the First Nations appreciated the efforts resulting in a good relationship. This resulted in the eventual signing of Treaty 4 in 1877, and Treaty 6 in 1879 and 1882.

[6 - click to enlarge]

[7 - Fort Walsh old book]

[8 - Fort Walsh - Photo of Queen Victoria]

[9 -Sitting Bull]

The country near Fort Walsh was the location where Sitting Bull, Medicine Man, and 5,000 Lakota Sioux followers took refuge from the US Army after the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Walsh was instrumental in ensuring Canadian law was enforced, and peace maintained between the Canadian and American First Nations. When Sitting Bull continued to refuse to leave Canada for the US, Walsh was accused of neglecting his duties to get the Sioux to leave. To separate Walsh from Sitting Bull, whom he had become close friends with, Walsh had been sent to Ontario and later forced to resign from the NWMP due to his “too friendly association” with Sitting Bull and the Sioux. A letter Colonel James Macleod wrote to his wife, Mary, on July 29, 1878 sums up his opinion of Walsh’s association with the Sioux. Sitting Bull and the majority of Sioux refugees returned to the US in 1881 when the federal government refused to provide supplies and food when the buffalo had declined in numbers, almost to extinction.

[10 -Cypress Hills wildflower]

[11 - Cypress Hills is known for star gazing - Aurora]

My Town Mondays were started by Travis Erwin in Amarillo, Texas who has handed the reins over to Clair Dickson. For other participants please visit the new location here.


For previous posts on this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Forty Years In Canada by Col. Samuel B. Steele (1915) [pp. 160, 161]
Glenbow Museum Archives
ParksCanada – National Historic Site

Photo Credits: [1][2][3][5][7][8]-Space Ritual CC=nd-flickr, [4][6]-bribriTO CC=sa-flickr, [9]-wikipedia, [10]-kiwehowin CC=nd-sa-flickr, [11]-Kevin Satt CC=sa-flickr.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Index to War of 1812 (Canada) Posts

Major-General Isaac Brock
- Part 1
- Part 2 - The Battle of Detroit
- Part 3 - In-depth look at Isaac Brock
- Part 4 - Correspondence
- Part 5 - Pre-Battle at Queenston Heights
- Part 6 - The Battle at Queenston Heights

USS Constitution v HMS Guerriere

Landscape of Michigan Territory and Michilimakinack

James FitzGibbon - Hero of the War of 1812
- Part 1 - The connection with Major-General Isaac Brock
- Part 2 - Quebec Citadel, Fort York, Fort George
- Part 3 - 1807
- Part 4 - Fort Henry to Fort George
- Part 5 - Battle of Beaver Dams
- Part 6 - Correspondence re Beaver Dams, Colonel Boerstler (US) surrender
- Part 7 - Battle of Chippawa
- Part 8 - Irish Riots of 1823, 1826
- Part 9 - 1866 - A Lasting Impression
- Part 10 - 1855 - Pros and Cons of Canadian Militia
- Part 11 - 1855 - Opinions on Canada
- Part 12 - Cholera Outbreak in 1832

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Bench of the Week (14)

These benches are located at Two Jack Lake, 12 miles from Banff, Alberta on the Lake Minnewanka Road Loop. The mountain shown is Mt. Rundle, 2949m (9675 ft). Mt. Rundle was named by John Palliser in 1858 after Reverend Robert Rundle, a missionary who visited the Banff area in the 1840s.

The Bench of the Week is an informal meme begun by RuneE of Visual Norway. Please visit his site for a lakeside bench.

Other participants are:
Gerald from Ackworth Born, Gone West with a refreshing bench.
Malyss has a bench location perfect for bird watching.
Pam of Textilosophy Oz has a bench in a picturesque location.
Dina from Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo has benches fit for siestas.

Photo Credit: Wing-Chi Poon, September 2006, wikipedia.

Hiking Trails - Sawback Trail - Day 10

[112-Skoki Lodge]

The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). The trail is rated moderate to challenging.

On Day 10 the hike leaves the Skoki Lodge for a day trip to Merlin Lake via Merlin Meadows covering a distance of about 6.2 km return.

[113-Inside the Skoki Lodge]

[114-Brewers Blackbird - click to enlarge] This bird has a preference for human modified environments. It is sociable and gregarious, nesting and gathering in large flocks.

[115-Merlin Meadows looking south to snow capped Mt. Richardson]

[116-Alpine meadow flowers - click to enlarge]

[117- Bull Elk]

Merlin Lake is set between Merlin’s Castle , 2840m (9318ft) named by John Porter in 1911, and the Wall of Jericho . [Please look at the link to the photo for a very unusual mountain.] This photo was taken from Pika Peak. Merlin Lake is on the left side of the photo of the Wall of Jericho.

[118 - Merlin Meadows looking south to snow covered Mt. Richardson, to left is the west side of the Wall of Jericho - click to enlarge]

[119-Bear Berry - click to enlarge]

[120-Mt. Richardson from Merlins Meadows - click to enlarge]

Mt Richardson 3086m (10,125ft) with long northwest ridge called Merlin Ridge, and the northeastern ridge is called the Wall of Jericho. The eastern ridge extends out to Ptarmigan Peak and its southern ridge includes a smaller summit known at the Whitehorn. Mt. Richardson was named by James Hector in 1859, for Sir John Richardson, surgeon and naturalist on Franklin’s Arctic expeditions.

[121 - Merlin Meadows]

[122- Clark's Nutcracker - click to enlarge] This bird visits mountain camp sites and picnic spots where it likes to scavenge for food scraps, though it's main food source is pine nuts. It stores pine nuts for the winter and is able to carry the seeds a long distance with a pouch under its tongue.

ParksCanada – Banff
Backcountry Overview
Trail Conditions
Backpacking Equipment Checklist
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki
HI Hostels Intl Survival Guide

Photo Credits: [112][121]-orlandk CC=flickr, [113]-Gamber CC=nc-sa-flickr, [114]-quinet CC=flickr, [115][118][120]-petes_pics CC=nc-nd-flickr, [116]-dbuc CC=nc-nd-flickr, [117] Chris & Lara Pawluk CC=nc-flickr, [119]-Satoru Kikuchi CC=flickr, [122]-richardcjones CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan (Book Review)

Format: Paperback, 640 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Published Paperback: March 10, 2009
Website: Padma

The Toss of a Lemon provides an excellent insight into Brahmin culture in the early 20th century spanning three generations. This is a compelling story of a family in the changing times of India through the fight for independence from colonial times.

The story begins in 1896 southeastern India with a marriage proposal, after careful astrological calculations, between Hanumarathnam, a young man with the ability to heal, and ten-year-old Sivakami, a girl who looks “capable of bearing great burdens.” They are married “like everyone else, at an auspicious time on an auspicious day in an auspicious month,” despite Hanumarathnam’s warning to his in-laws that he may die in the ninth year of his marriage.

It is the horoscope that dictates the destiny of Sivakami, widowed at age 19, and her children: a girl, Thangam, and a boy, Vairum. Thangam is a beautiful child whose skin gives off gold vibunthi (dust) with healing properties—a result of her father’s alchemist experiments; and Vairum is a math genius with a skin condition. Their world is one of rituals and superstition within the caste system which undergoes a transformation through the social movements and political events of India. Within all this lies a layer of magical realism woven into peoples’ destinies where there are undeniably forces beyond control that propel them forward.

Although the strict Brahmin caste traditions require Sivakami to shave her head, wear white and not contaminate herself with human touch between dawn and dusk, she rebels by choosing to raise her children in her husband’s home rather than returning to her family’s village to live with her brothers. Aiding Sivakami in this endeavour is Machumi, a non-Brahmin villager and closet gay man, who manages Hanumaranthnam’s real estate properties and business.

The complexity of the characters with rich descriptions of their interaction in a changing world is a work of brilliance. Ms Viswanathan describes in subtle detail each situation as it unfolds, providing just enough information and touches of humour before moving to the next keeping a reader enthralled. The pace allows the reader to savour while losing themselves within, experiencing the life of Sivakami and her family.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to settle in a comfortable place to read a family epic filled with an intimate look into life in India.

Padma Viswanathan is a fiction writer, playwright and journalist from Edmonton, Alberta. Her writing awards include residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Banff Playwrights' Colony, and first place in the 2006 Boston Review Short Story Contest. She lives with the poet and translator Geoffrey Brock and their children in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: 21 July 2009

A book I have been reading is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a layered story with multiple genres. So far a fascinating read.

Here is a sentence that stands alone and needs no second: “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.”

My own writing skips from day to day between historical articles and my WIPs of dark fantasy. Recent written sentences are:

Brother Cristo kept his back to the robed men, making the appearance of one who had returned to work on the parchment laid out on the lectern. He wondered over the purpose of their visit; dropped the reed nib into the dark ink and from a droplet quickly wrote the words needed for the next line.

Voices carried to where he sat perched upon the stool, clear without accent to identify them: “I would not want anything bad to happen to him."

For other participants in reading and writing of two sentences please visit Women of Mystery.

Fishing - Kathlyn Lake

Kathlyn Lake is 4 km north of Smithers, British Columbia on Highway 16 not far from Prince Rupert on the coast. Here the fisherman can find Cutthroat trout.

Photo Credit: Ian BC North CC=nc-nd-flickr. Click to enlarge.

Monday, 20 July 2009

My Town Monday - Samuel B Steele - NWMP Routed the Whisky Traders

[1-George Arthur French]

When Colonel George Arthur French’s party had parted from the one Samuel Steele was in at La Roche Percee on July 29th, they had gone “via Wood End depot, across Long River and Dirt Hill to Old Wives’ Lakes to Old Wives’ Creek…Cypress Hills,” where they halted the last week of August waiting for supplies from Lt.-Col. James Macleod. Macleod had been forced to keep strict observation of his native guides as they appeared unreliable. It turned out the Cree guides Macleod had been using were reluctant to investigate the country populated by the Sioux and Blackfoot as their top-knots were in popular demand.

[2-Jerry Potts] Colonel French engaged the services of Jerry Potts, a half-Scotch, half-Peigan scout and interpreter, and made arrangements for horses and supplies for the members of the force established in the south-western area.

Jerry Potts, a short, bow-legged man, with piercing black eyes and long straight nose, accompanied the party with Lt.-Col. Macleod as they set out westward for the post on Old Man’s River. He was quiet and laconic, and known to be a fighter with a reputation. He gained the confidence of everyone the first day out as he rode out ahead, and when the party reached the Milk River they found him near a buffalo cow that he had killed and dressed. The second day he showed the force water springs with good water.

During the night there had been mysterious rumblings, explained in the morning by the sight of a dark mass of thousands of bison moving eastward, crowding down into the coulee to the springs. On Jerry Potts’ advice, orders were made not to fire any shots in case the sound caused the herd to stampede.

Plains bison
For those unable to watch embedded see here.

Part of Annual buffalo roundup in Custer State Park in South Dakota 2007.
For those unable to view embedded videos go here.

When they resumed their march, the wagon train and guns were kept to one yard distance, the men walking alongside the train while making their way through the immense herd of 60,000 to 70,000 animals.

[3- Rockies on horizon - click to enlarge]

The Rocky Mountains had been in full view for several days.

[4- Chief Mountain -click to enlarge] Chief Mountain (rock face is 2,000 feet in height located on the eastern border of Glacier National Park in Montana and the Blackfoot Indian Reservation) could be seen with its huge square block rising through the clouds. Potts explained to them about the natives and conditions of this part of the country. The natives who came to the trading posts to trade were often paid with ‘whisky’ or ‘fire-water’ and soon maddened by the drink, settling their old scores and family feuds by shooting or butchering one another in their camps or other places where they obtained their intoxicants.

During their first month established on the Old Man’s River, Chief Three Bulls with the Blackfoot informed Macleod that a coloured man named Bond, had a trading post at Pine Coulee, fifty miles north, and had given him a couple of gallons of whisky for two of his horses.

[5- LNF Crozier] Potts arranged to meet with Three Bulls the next evening about dark on the trail to Pine Coulee. Inspector Crozier and a small party of well-mounted men, guided by Potts, had instructions to seize all robes and furs which they suspected had been traded for whisky, and any other goods and chattels to satisfy fines.

Crozier returned two days later with Bond and four others in custody, whom had been captured about 45 miles away. Their wagons had been loaded with alcohol, 116 buffalo robes, and each carried a Winchester Henry magazine rifle and a Colt revolver. Macleod confiscated the robes, destroyed the alcohol and fined the two principals and Bond, who was their guide and interpreter, $200 each, plus the two hired men, $50 each. The following day, a well off trader from Fort Benton came to Macleod to pay all the fines except for that of Bond.

As the force was in need of bedding, the confiscated buffalo robes and furs were issued for this purpose. The hides of younger animals were made into coats and caps, one being issued to each member of the police.


For previous posts on this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Forty Years In Canada by Col. Samuel B. Steele (1915) [1-pp. 76,78]
Illustrated History of Canada, Edited by Craig Brown (2007)
Glenbow Museum Archives

Photo Credits: [1][2][5]-wikipedia, [3]-elliottzone CC=nc-sa-flickr, [4]-jotor CC=nc-nd-flickr.

My Town Mondays were started by Travis Erwin in Amarillo, Texas who has handed the reins over to Clair Dickson. For other participants please visit the new location here.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Webster's Falls

Webster’s Falls are located at the Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls Conservation Area near Hamilton, Ontario, and one of many falls on the Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail descends by staircase into the gorge where the base can be easily reached. The Bruce Trail continues downstream, and for the next half mile Spencer Creek is one cascade after another.

Photo Credit: andreakw CC=nc-nd-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Bench of the Week (13)

These benches are located at the edge of the National Historic Site of the Plains of Abraham at the Upper Old City of Quebec City, PQ.

The plains are named after Abraham Martin, known as "the Scot," (1589-1664), a fisherman and river pilot, who brought his animals to graze there as he owned land near the area of the current park.

More than half of the buildings in Old Quebec (including the ones in the photo) date back to pre-1850, and are in one of the 11 architectural styles.

RuneE of Visual Norway originated Bench of the Week as an informal meme. Please visit his site for his spectacular photos of his bench location today.

Other participants this week are:
Phoenix C of Sylvan Muse
Gerald England of Ackworth Born, Gone West
Malyss has a lovely bench.
David Crammer of Education of a Pulp Writer has a seaside bench.
Steve Gallow has joined this week with a bench at Long Lake.

Photo Credit: Diof CC=nc-sa-flickr. Click to enlarge.