Monday, 30 September 2013

Long Point - Canoeing on Big Creek

We canoed last fall on Big Creek and realized this week that duck hunting season opens this weekend and we had not yet canoed. Bob, next door, assured us that they don't hunt in the marsh, only in the Bay, but we weren't sure about that so canoed last week.
We started out from the bridge, on the causeway, that crosses Big Creek.
Mid week there is not much traffic on the causeway and we had no problems taking the canoe, on the utility trailer, and parking by the bridge. As soon as you canoe away from the bridge its very peaceful and you could be miles from civilization. We disturbed numerous herons but never with enough time to get a picture.
This log had 3 cormorants on it but 2 flew away as we approached.
This cormorant allowed us to float right by him. This shot was taken with no zoom.
From the marsh area, canoeing further upstream, weeping willows
begin to line the bank.
There are kingfishers along the marsh area but even more prevalent once you get into the tree lined river. They each have a territory and swooped across in front of us, trilling their protests. Too fast to get pictures of them.
On the right going up river.
It became obvious that Bob was right. There should be no duck hunters going up Big Creek.
On the left, going upstream
The further we went up the river, the larger the willow trees were.
Many of the big willow trees had fallen into the river, or limbs had anyway. Made canoeing into a bit of a slalom course. Which mostly I left up to George as I was still trying to get a photo of the illusive herons and kingfishers
We canoed up to Port Royal, where the road crosses the river, and turned around. It took about an hour and slightly less time to return, with the current.

Back end of a heron, flying away. Best I could do.

Bonus! 3 Sandhill Cranes flying over.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Apps Ridge - Rug Hooking Weekend

But first a moment of silence for the loss of my favourite camera. George and I have had a number of "point and shoot", little digital cameras but the one we bought last spring was the best. It only cost abut $140, had a 15X zoom, large screen but best of all it fit the way I take pictures. For some reason I found the way it was set up, particularly easy to use. Well last week I was playing with it (trying to take a picture of a marshmallow in front of the fire) and dropped it in the sand. After that it wouldn't work. The lens made a grating sound as it tried to open and then gave a "lens error" message. We tried the blow drier (hoping to blow out the sand) and WD40 (just to lubricate) but nothing worked. Goodbye little Nikon.
One of the Nikons last pictures.
The last picture
So, enough of that. We bought a new camera and although I don't like it as much, its the best we could find for our use and I will adapt to it.
I spent the weekend at the annual J.J. Ruggers hooking retreat at Apps Ridge near Paris. Apps Ridge is like being at camp; bunk beds, shared rooms and baths, all eating together at catered meals, lots of laughs and sharing of stories (a limit was put on the medical stories - "its beginning to sound like we're already in "the home"), walking in the woods. But the difference, aside from the adult beverages, is the rug hooking.
One of the classrooms. We're a messy lot.
We had 2 teachers. One class on an Autumn scene and another on geometrics which challenged us to use bright colours and different materials. I did FIFI (Find It and Finish It), which just means I didn't take a class and worked on my own project. There were 4 FIFIers.
Pat and I could see this tree out the window and felt as if we could see the colour changing, as we watched.

The rug Pat is currently working on, complete with her "artists impression" and a, very small, part of her stash.
Rug hooking is quite a social activity in this environment. At home its a solitary, almost meditative activity. There was quite a lot of discussion regarding "the stash". As the projects required that we bring wool from home, most of us had arrived with part of our "stash". Bags, tubs, suitcases all came in full of wool that we might have a use for and some left with more. For the "stash". One hooker believes that there is male wool and female wool and it multiplies, like rabbits, overnight, as an explanation for her ever growing "stash". Beginner hookers need to develop a "stash" to draw from so that they don't always have to buy exactly what they need for a rug. Rugs often evolve as they are being hooked and we need (notice the word need here) a "stash" to accommodate the changes. For experienced hookers, we don't really need wool anymore but sometimes we just fall in love with a piece or see something that would be perfect for a rug that is still just in our head, not yet on backing. We have a complicated relationship with our "stash", one that can involve pride, responsibility, guilt, comfort, joy.........
The piece I am working on, a fantasy, moonlit scene.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Pelee Trip, Episode 3 - Pelee Island

We had to book the ferry to Pelee Island so went the day after we had intended. So, after a day of wine tasting, we had the bikes on the car and arrived at 10am for the 11am ferry. We travelled over on The Pelee Islander which was quite a small and old ferry but it was a lovely hour and a half trip.

We drove the car up to the ferry and then the staff drove it on. When we saw how squished in it was we were glad we didn't have to park it.
That's our RAV in the middle.
We couldn't see the island when leaving the mainland but gradually it appeared and grew as we got nearer. After docking and retrieving the car we decided to drive a little before taking the bikes off. 1st stop Pelee Island Winery, of course.
Outside the main building there were rows of different grapes planted with signs re how
to pronounce the type of grape, wine that results, wines that its used in etc.
After a tasting we carried on around the island and found a beach to swim at, as it was getting very hot. At the north end of the island was a sign to get to a trail to the lighthouse so we set out through some marshland, then woodland and finally a beach with the lighthouse at the end.
Lovely location and nice restored lighthouse, well worth the short hike.
Back in the car we decided not to do any biking as it was too hot so we drove to the South end of the island and hiked again. This time out to Fish Point which is the Southern most tip of the island and further South than Point Pelee.
Fish Point Trail was a lovely hike through Carolinian forest with information plaques (love those!)
Fish Point  looks a lot like Point Pelee or for that matter, Long Point, a snake of sand meandering South
with a flock of water birds at the end.
We swam again, still hot, and the water was beautiful, refreshing and crystal clear. Walked back to the car and then returned to Pelee Island Winery for a tour. The Guide discussed the grape growing environment and process, corking, wine making for the different types of wines and the history of grape growing on the island. All the grapes are actually taken to the mainland (by ferry) for processing. The tour ended with a guided tasting but we had to leave a little early in order to get to the ferry on time.
The return ride was on the modern ferry that held far more vehicles and we drove ourselves on.
Moon rising over Pelee Island and on the other side of the boat ........
......the sun setting.
There's not much to do on Pelee Island, its very quiet and people who live or vacation there, love that aspect. It is absolutely flat so hiking or biking is very relaxing (if its not too hot). For us the best aspects were the winery, hikes and ferry rides.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Port Dover- Maytham Regatta

Simon, Danielle, George and I organized the Maytham Regatta for the Port Dover Yacht Club Racing Division this weekend. This is the third year we have done it and we always wonder whether we will have enough people show up and eat everything we have bought and prepared. We also worry that perhaps more people, than have indicated, will come and we wont have enough food. Miraculously, we always seem to have about 60 people and each year we have got better at estimating the amount of food and alcohol that we need.
The wind gods were in fine form this weekend. It was the first regatta I have ever been involved in were boats were withdrawing due to sea sickness. There was also the usual difficulties with broken hardware and ripped sails.

We saw a great variety of weather over the two day event: winds gusting over 25 knots (that's about 35 kilometres), rain, stormy skies, thunder (no lightning was reported though) and sunny skies.
George sailed on Rhapsody and I sailed on Between the Sheets; the boat we visited and stayed on in the Bahamas in February. Neither are actually in the racing division and neither actually completed any of the races. However we went out and sailed in some pretty hairy conditions each day, complete with our sea sickness pills and foul weather gear.
On Saturday we had very little sail out, both the main and the head sail furl, and we were
still constantly sailing at an extreme angle.
There were some pretty impressive white caps and often the boats hulls
would disappear in the troughs of the waves.
(My apologies to Heather, she has said that she feels nauseous when she looks at some of the sailing photos.)
I love that my new camera will actually take pictures into the sun.
Port Dover fishing boat heading back into harbour.
Saturday we had one long "around the Bay" race and on Sunday, 2 shorter "around the buoys" races. Afterwards we all got together back at the Yacht Club for a BBQ, drinks, raffle (for the Sailing School) and presentation of awards. Everyone was quite tired from 2 days of dealing with heavy weather but there were stories to be told and experiences to share.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Port Dover - Monday night spinnaker races

September means the return to school, end of summer, etc etc but it also means that we are now racing two nights a week as the Monday night spinnaker series starts. Just to be confusing, this year, it actually started in August. George races on Goldfingers on Mondays so I went out to help on the Committee Boat, Sea Dancer. There were lots of able bodies on board which meant I didn't have much work to do so could take pictures.
It was a good windy night, gusting up over 20 knots at times but from the North West so the waves were not too intense.
Kestrel's crew "hanging out". Kestrel is Si and Dan's new boat.
Note the bow wave, she's fast.
The start of the race was bedlam and a number of boats went over the line prior to the horn. So we had a "general recall" and they all had to get back across the start line and start the 5min countdown again.
General Recall!
It was a lovely night for watching a race; good wind, pretty spinnakers, some close competitors and a sky that was magnificent. On the water there is so much sky to look at that a camera has no hope of capturing it. But I tried and got some of the effects while still taking boat pictures.
This is Amazing Grace with her spinnaker up. The clouds were developing beautiful blue and deep purple
stripes, interspersed by pale blue sky.
Sequence and Goldfingers, neck and neck.
By the time the race was over the sun was setting.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Pelee Trip, Episode 2 - wine country

The Pelee area is wine country. While there George and I, visited some wineries, did some tasting and made some purchases. It was quite hot and muggy so we only ended up bicycling to about 5 wineries near the town of Colchester, West of Leamington.
I love seeing the vineyards at this time of year, covered in green leaves and laden with green or purple grapes. When we travel in Europe, during the winter months, the vineyards are rows of gnarled and sculptured sticks, sometimes starting to bud a little about the time we leave for home.
Cycling down rows of grape vines.
Not long ago I visited some wineries in the Niagara area. In comparison the Pelee area either has free tasting or its $2 for 3 wines rather than $5 tastings. They also include their higher priced wines and ice wine in the tasting options where Niagara has restrictions as to what you can taste.
Loved the Crew logo (not the wine so much)
The Viewpointe Winery had a fabulous view from bluffs over the Lake to Pelee Island. We liked, and bought, their Big Bluff Red. The patio was beautifully located and quite reasonably priced.
The Oxley Estate Winery was our favourite for a couple of reasons: the friendliest staff person, nice retail area and favourite wine (cabernet franc). It was one of the first wines I tried. I then tasted at 5 other wineries, including a number of cab francs. I had to return to Oxley to check whether theirs was really the best. Tasted again! Yep! Purchased!
Comfy sitting area in Oxley Estate Winery
Many of the wineries went for the "dark wine cellar" look but Oxley's retail and tasting
area is light, bright and airy.
"Our go-to wine" is what is says on the Cab Franc display and I would love to
make it my go-to wine but at $18.95 its going to be my "special meal" wine.
We also visited the Pelee Island Vineyards on Pelee Island but that's part of the next post.
The grapes were ripening beautifully when we were there and it looked like a good harvest.