Pop Went The Wonton

You’re kidding! It’s a BALLOON we’re looking for!

To break the humdrum of winter, China has provided us with a little comic relief. Aviation has been my fascination and passion for all of my life. I no longer maintain my pilot license but I still hold a keen interest in all things to do with flight. When I learned that a high-altitude Chinese balloon had trespassed through Canadian airspace, I was instantly fascinated. At the time the story first broke, the aircraft was already over central Montana and being born toward North Carolina. The US Airforce shot it down there just after it had drifted out over the Atlantic and away from causing potential civilian damage on the ground. At least that’s their story.

One of the military bases the device had to have passed over was the Canadian fighterbase at Cold Lake in Alberta. It is where we train our F18 pilots and surely they would have loved a real target to practice on. Whether it was a meteorological flight, or a surveillance mission, it was a simple balloon! The media speculated that balloon was at an altitude of 60,000 feet and possibly beyond the service ceiling of Canadian and US military aircraft. It think it is a hilarious, embarrassing bungle. We spend billions annually to maintain a super hi-tech defense umbrella. It was completely comprised and had been passed by before we little people learned of the air invasion. Old Nostradamus warned us to “Beware the yellow peril.”

Clearly he knew his business. Maybe “keeping it simple” is a clever new military strategy.

My warped brain imagined the radio com yesterday between base station and the assault aircraft. “Eagle defense, eagle defense, clear to engage.”

Roger base, firing one. Oh shit, oh no, there’s writing on the target! It says, “Woo Li World Famous Wontons.” POOF!

We all saw news footage of the deflated silk envelope fluttering earthward. I imagined Putin saying to his boys, “So that’s what they’re sending to the Ukraine. They can even shoot down balloons! Imperialist devils!” And think of the thousands of miles it travelled without burning a single drop of fuel! Green Wontons Rule! Suppose they’d had one of those American hostages aboard. He was trying to win his freedom by taking photos, tying the SIM cards to pigeons and heaving them overboard. Wars have started over less. There will be a bad movie, or two, out soon.

Oh yeah, have you heard? We’ve just learned of a serious program being developed to defend our planet against asteroids. Uhuh?

One huge sky One tiny balloon

If black boxes survive air crashes, why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?”
– George Carlin

The Electric Beaver

I try to keep my blogs like the proverbial box of chocolates “You never know what you’re going to get.” So, after the last posting’s polemic social comment here’s something much different.

Thursday morning coming down, for hours. The rain finally stopped after Jack and I were home again. Of course!
Clean feet and soggy bandana, keep the fireplace burning and take me home.
Gathering winter fuel. Driftwood collects in this tiny bight on the windward side of a  point in the harbour. Folks cut and try burning the soggy fibre fresh-in on the last tide in their boat stoves. It doesn’t occur to them that the black stuff there is coal. Just dry it out and be warm.

Aviation has been a cornerstone of my life. One of my favourite all-time airplanes is the de Havilland DHC2 otherwise known simply as the Beaver. Once while I was using a payphone on a Gulf Island dock a Beaver began it’s takeoff from the harbour. The usual ear-splitting snarl filled the air and awestruck, the person on the phone, from Southern California, asked what the noise was. I replied casually that it was just a Beaver. “Oh my Gawd” was the stunned response. I left the magic in the air and did not explain further that this beaver was an airplane.

C-FHRT (aka Seafart)  A standard DHC2 Beaver
A face every mother can love
Part of one of Harbour Air’s docks. This is in Burrard Inlet,  downtown Vancouver.
Bumper to bumper dream machines. Turbo Otters and Beavers.
Bomber dawn. Beavers and other float planes are sometimes referred to in local terms as “Bombers.”
A Beaver cockpit view of Degnen Bay on Southern Gabriola Island. I wonder how old the airplane was when its pilot was born.
YVR Jake.  A wonderful artistic tribute to the Beaver in Vancouver Airport’s South Terminal

Famous around the globe in an amazing variety of roles, this aircraft design is almost seventy-five years old. It is famous along this coast and is synonymous with the word float plane. There are books written about all its accomplishments and I could produce another. I love its raw, rugged simplicity and see this machine as an ultimate piece of Canadian technology.

It’s engine, the Pratt& Whitney R985 of 450 horsepower is little-changed since its inception in 1935. It still runs beautifully and dependably without computers and despite being archaic WWII technology it will be clattering through the sky for many years to come. As time wore on some Beavers were re-powered with the incredible PT6 turbine. This cut engine weight drastically and increased power by almost fifty percent. This engine has been one of the best improvements to aviation ever, powering a fantastic array of aircraft and is incredibly reliable. It made the Beaver into a whole new airplane.

Now there has been yet another upchange. Harbour Air, a local schedule and charter float plane service, with over 40 aircraft and 500,000 passengers annually, has just flown its first electric Beaver. Powered with a magniX 750 hp electric engine, this new generation of Beaver will currently have a range, plus reserve, to safely fly across the Strait Of Georgia and back. The batteries are NASA-approved lithium (An environmental conundrum) and as they are improved, will allow electric aviation to advance. Even a new style of propeller has been fitted and that lovely old Beaver banshee take-off howl may one day no longer echo between shorelines. There are skeptics, there are bugs, but it’s a giant step in a wonderful new direction. It is not so long ago that electric model airplanes were novel. I muse at the following scenario as a pilot makes this announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen, you will have noticed the recent jolt as we came to the end of our extension cord. However….!”

Sadly, as I wrote the word “thonk” beneath my caption about the photo of the little bird in my last blog, a similar but much louder and sickening din occurred on the beach of nearby Gabriola Island. A local and highly seasoned pilot augered his twin-engined Piper Aerostar onto a vacant woodlot between two homes. He and two passengers died after an apparent instrument failure during dark and foggy conditions only a few minutes from the safety of the end of the runway at nearby Cassidy Airport. The flight had started in Mexico with one stop for fuel in California, a long and tiring trek in a single day for a single pilot. It is a huge local tragedy yet also a miracle that no-one on the ground was taken as well.

As a former pilot I can tell you about the day of advanced flight training when you are put “under the hood.” It is a contraption that looks a bit like a welding helmet and prevents the student from seeing outside the cockpit. The flight instruments are carded over and then you are to maintain level flight simply by instinct and the feelings in the seat of your pants. After a few very long and sweaty moments the hood is removed and you are horrified to see that you have put the airplane into a flight attitude which is rapidly about to become catastrophic. I remember wondering why the engine revs were running away and then I saw! It is a very memorable event, both humbling and sobering. The lesson is simple: “ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTRUMENTS.” Eventually you learn to control the aircraft while wearing the hood despite what you instincts are shouting at you. It is very, very hard to do at times and flying under real instrument conditions regularly is a necessary practice. Regular proficiency exams are mandatory to maintain a valid IFR rating. Commercial aircraft have back-up systems and crew. I won’t speculate and leave that to the armchair aviation experts who rear their lofty views as always at such times.

Now for some new home-spun creativity. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

This is how it all began. I bought this little work trailer, removed its metal sides and converted it to carry my inflatable boat. It worked well.

It has evolved. I built the toolbox at the front to fit the back of an RV and is big enough to even  hold a twenty pound bottle of propane as well as all the tools I should need. It fits the trailer as if I’d planned it that way. The plywood was purchased new, but much of the  project has used recycled parts and hardware. I re-installed the axle beneath the springs for more ground clearance and to allow room for bigger wheels and heavier tires which desert roads will demand.

Who’da thunk? The upper back part slips out and the sides fold down onto a removable support for travel. A friend donated the locking door handle and upper windows.  Thanks Jimmy. The lower window was found in a sailor’s garage sale and has waited years to find its place.  The top is coated with a special HD deck paint found for sale at half-price. The sides are treated with Cetol, a marine wood oil which  I happened to have. It will be easy to repair if scratched along the trail. Hardware is from second-hand shops or out of salvage boxes I’ve stowed away for years.

With standing headroom inside at the back This will provide a snug shelter where I can sleep warm and dry or sit and write when the weather is harsh. I could even cook in there if necessary. The top, when laying flat, is an excellent platform for photography and shooting video.  I MADE IT!

I’m calling this my “Hobbit Box. ” The flooring came from a ‘Restore’ The bed base unclips and folds out of the way. The trailer will hold my outboard motor and rolled-up inflatable boat, a bicycle or small motorcycle, generator, compressor, chainsaw, gas and water containers or accomodate one or two friendly people. The bunk is 36″ wide folded down. I still need to acquire a custom-made mattress and finish insulating the top and sides. My generator will easily run a small electric heater and charge other batteries at the same time.

Once a sailor, always one. The cables and turnbuckles hold the lid down securely in the up and down positions. Beneath the corner brace, a sturdy bracket holds an outboard motor in place, handy to the door and yet safely upright.

So how many Hobbit Boxes have a porch? Now all  I need is a rocking chair and a banjo! A friend provided the two jack stands. Thanks Niels! They’ll be handy for many things, including roasting wild game over a campfire. This hinged ramp will double as a work table and the trailer can be a cargo transporter, a workshop, a camper and general storage box. What about a taco stand?”Fred’s Mexican Curries.”Tha, tha, thaz all folks! With the hinged ramp locked in the up position we also have a bear trap/ paddy wagon. The section of pvc pipe is intended to facilitate loading kayaks and other gear on top. It has proven to also be an excellent rain catcher! The closest ideas to this trailer were on Russian YouTube videos. Hopefully the next photos of the Hobbit Box will have cacti in the background.

Same old view with an ever-changing scene. Two naval vessels were skulking about this morning.

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” …Jay Leno


McMinnville – Part 2

(Once again, a reminder that you can enlarge any image by clicking on it)

The last blog was cut short when the host, WordPress, informed me that I had used up all my cyber bits and bytes. I had to purchase a business-grade subscription. I was delighted to hear from several subscribers who wanted a part 2. So, now I’ll now finish my photo essay on this wonderful aviation museum. No matter how many photos I post, it is impossible to portray the enormity of this incredible display.

Oh those Russians! There is an amazing number of Russian equipment on display. We tend to forget that the Russians have always been a forerunner in aviation and space technology. These copper borscht kettles are enormous.
I remember Yuri. he followed monkeys into space. They all survived their flights.
Nice ride Yuri!
A pointed relic of the cold war.
“Oof, it must’ve been something I ate!”
“Aw quit your whining and get back in here. It smells fine inside my suit.”
Sikorskys in a row. I have bent wrenches on the two types on the right, an S-55 and an S-58
An S-56. This was a new one on me. It is described as the world’s first heavy-lift helicopter introduced during the Korean War. What a pig it would have been to fly! Note the little girl at the tail. I could just reach the white band on the lowest tail rotor blade. Now let’s clear something up. If you go to U-tube and look up Nazi helicopters, you’ll learn that the Germans had heavy-lift helicopters in the late 1930s! There are films of them flying artillery field pieces. So…fake news? Uh huh!
Remember the Jetson cartoon of the ’60s and the notion of personal commuter aircraft? This is a McCulloch J2 autogyro from that era. It is, apparently, still available from a Nevada builder now as the Pegasus III. At the same time, in Canada, a similar aircraft was produced called the Avian Gyroplane. Despite government subsidies it followed the dodo bird south, just like the Avro Arrow. Today, with some wonderful composite plastic materials available, there are several new-gen gyro products being built. I’ve always wanted one.
The flying lawn chair. This is a home-built Benson autogyro. Plans and kits are still available. I flew one once. That was enough…no airbags! The 2-stroke McCulloch engine on the back was used in WWII target drones.
Of course! The military explores all the angles.
“I just dropped in to see if you have any hand grenades.”


A Piasecki Vertol H-21. I have some personal experience helping repair these clatter boxes. Introduced the 1950’s, they were being surplused out from the military by the mid-sixties.. With a metal fuselage, they still twirled wooden rotors.
A Piasecki HRP1 from 1944. With wooden rotors and fabric over tube fuselages, it would take one brave soldier to go for a ride into battle in one of these.
Remember the 1954 film ‘The Bridges At Toko Ri’?
Mickey Rooney played the pilot of one of these rescue machines. It is a Sikorsky H-5 Dragonfly.
The office, full of steam gauges and switches. This is the cockpit of an F4 Phantom. Imagine having an intimate knowledge of every item there so you could invade the steaming skies of Vietnam while trying to evade a herd of Mig fighters trying to blow some smoke up your bottom. Today’s fighters have a full electronic display and lots of computers to help you make it all work.
The F4 Phantom
Jet fighters are everywhere, inside and out. I lost track. This is an F84 Thunderchief.
One of the engines from the SR71 Blackbird which could fling it at up to several times the speed of sound and to 70,000′. The huge evil-looking black beast carried cameras.
The SR71 looks like an angel of death from every angle.
I prefer biplanes.
I kept wondering how the museum acquires all these items. It is amazing how billions of dollars in military assets are relegated to the scrap heap.10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1- Gone!
Even the humble Piper J3 Cub, all 65 horsepower of it was turned into a weapon called the ‘Grasshopper.’ A light observation aircraft, someone figured out how to lash bazookas to the wings.
The Cessna 337 was similarly employed during the Vietnam conflict.
I can’t take it anymore!
A Skyraider, designed for stowage aboard an aircraft carrier. That monster was flung off the deck with the aid of a steam catapult. It’s something I always wanted to do…as a passenger.
From this…
…To This! In a single century! Imagine if we had applied the same diligence and resources to eliminating war, starvation, malnutrition, and disease. What if we presented God as being on everyone’s side? We would not need all those war toys. It is all a matter of choices and the first should be to overcome our insatiable craving for possession and control.
Finally, I could take no more. The photos in this and the previous blog are by no means all of which I took. Outside there was more. Scrap heaps of parts and engines sit randomly in the dirt and pouring rain.
Like my headers? A corn-cob radial anguishes out in the weather.
The drip! I could not resist this parting shot of the hand of the bronze statue of the museum founder.



It is a real place and home of a very fine aviation exhibition, The Evergreen Aviation Museum. I arrived too late to go in for a self-guided tour. I would need at least a half day. They let me park in the back corner, dry-camping next to old US Air Force rockets. There are four massive buildings. The largest one houses the Hughes Hercules and is nearly big enough to fly some of the small aircraft I have known, around inside it! The massive airplane is known worldwide as the “Spruce Goose” although it is actually built almost entirely of birch plywood. Howie himself flew it, once. An icon of dreams, it is the world’s largest wooden airplane ever and among the world’s largest airplanes, even today. Of all the amazing achievements of old weird Howard, this is the big one. Just imagine all the people telling him and his crew that it couldn’t be done. But he did, and so did it. Then WW II ended and the need for a massive air transport machine ended, at least for the time being.

The whole goose and nothing but the goose. This is the centerpiece of all the exhibits, around it and underneath it.
Inside, looking aft. It cost another $39.US to see the flight deck and have your photo taken. No, I did not.
A brilliantly-done cutaway of Pratt and Whitney R-4360. The Goose used eight of these. Each engine had 28 cylinders (With two spark plugs per cylinder for a total of 56 on each engine) They produced a net horsepower of 3500. The Goose sported eight of these. “I say old chap, number seven is a bit rough don’t you think.”  The flight engineer was a very busy fellow.
” Now son, I want you to change the spark plugs. When you’re done on this wing, do the other one. Don’t drop anything.”
The office up there.
Big smoothie. The huge Hughes.
One wing sponson dwarfs a beautiful Curtis Robin.
Where the money came from. Howard Hughes Sr invented this drill bit. He refused to sell it to oil companies, and instead leased it. Howard JR inherited the massive wealth at age 19 and started messing with airplanes. He was, by all accounts, a very skillful test pilot.
A Bell D1, the ubiquitous M.A.S.H. helicopter. Part of my apprenticeship was spent working on these. Wooden main rotors, dozens of grease fittings, it was crude. To trim the aircraft for varying loads, you slide the battery to the correct position in the tailboom.
Just think of it!
A Beech 17 Staggerwing.
When it hit the civilian market in the 1930’s it was faster than anything the US military possessed at that time.
A Pietenpol, probably one of the first home-built designs ever. The engine is from a Ford Model A
One of my flying mentors built one of these during the Great Depression and made an income selling rides. As he travelled, he’d sleep beneath a wing at night. There should be a song: “And that’s why I hit the tree, I couldn’t see, there was a radiator right in front of me.” These are still being built today with modern engines.
Them’s the brakes. A primitive toe-brake on a Curtis Pusher (That means the engine pushes instead of pulls. OK!)
A GeeBee Sportster, gentle sister of the GeeBee racer as portrayed with the model on the floor.
A beautiful full-scale replica of Lindberg’s famous “Spirit Of Saint Louis.” There were others who made the Atlantic crossing in little airplanes when we seldom hear of, but hi was the first successful crossing.
A misty-eyed moment for me. This is a Bell Huey, the most famous Vietnam helicopter. When I was graduating from high school in 1969 three friends  and I were determined to join the US Army. (30,000 Canadians went to ‘Nam) We could learn to fly helicopters for free! The first friend went ahead…and came home in a Glad Bag. We became a lot smarter overnight. It was my second consideration of a military career, and I lost interest for good.
A Le Rhone rotary engine. First World War technology. It was used in an airplane designed to kill…only a few years after powered flight had been proven possible. It was crude. The cylinders spun with the propellor. A 2-stroke engine, the lubricant used was castor oil, which flew everywhere. Pilots carried spare googles to exchange ones which had become coated with oil.
A DC3, probably the world’s most well known aircraft. Introduced in the late 1930s, it was the first to have a full-cantilever wing. (No external bracing) Eighty years later, many are still earning a living in skies around the planet.
An ME 262, the world’s first operational jet fight. Fortunately for us, allied bombers obliterated the factories where these were being built.
These are both real flyable airplanes, a kit-built helicopter and a Bede 4 personal jet. The little boy was completely fascinated by the jet, a perfect size for him.
A FW 190., another very respected Luftwaffe fighter. With its massive BMW radial engine, monstrous torque high-propellor, pigeon’toed undercarriage and short fuselage, this machine must have been a beast to handle while on the ground.


Even as modern airplanes go, the Goose thing is a monster. I am amazed at the survival of this wooden wonder. How it has not rotted or burned in 75 years is yet another wonder. The aircraft that I came to see is the only one of its kind ever built. This is my Mecca, the object of a pilgrimage for a guy who has been flying and otherwise messing around with airplanes his whole life. I’m hoping to find inspiration to cope with some tough weeks ahead. I’ve looked up at it already. The only time I’ve know that same feeling before was when I stepped aboard ‘Cutty Sark’ in Greenwich.

The museum itself is massive with its four huge (Ha… Hughes, get it?) buildings, three are for display and a third is a swimming pool. They have somehow hoisted a Boeing 747 (Imagine the fleet of monster cranes required to work in full co-ordination…with no wind)) onto the roof and converted it into the apex of a water slide. The parking lot behind the buildings would be adequate for landing smaller aircraft.. Imagine having rows of jet fighters for lawn ornaments!

Now that’s a lawn ornament!
It sure beats plastic flamingos or garden gnomes. It is a Lockheed T-33 or ‘Shooting Star’ I remember then from my early childhood. they are still flying in a few countries.
Am American drone clone. The US decided to copy the German V-1 and use it for a target drone. Someone has been droning on about something ever since.
Then came the V-2, brainchild of Wernher von Braun. It was the beginning of the space age.
There is something to amaze everyone, even if they’re not interested in aviation or space travel.
How about the lunar RVer?
Or…the lunar ATVer?
After a while sensory overload began to kick in. I began to worry about missing something. I’m sure I did.

The exhibits go on and on, with a movie theatre complex in the middle of the complex. I am a small airplane guy and there were plenty of these dispersed among the big fellows, both civilian and military. It was a dull overcast day for taking photographs, but I managed to click off about one-hundred-fifty frames that I’m keeping. That is a lot of editing. I could have easily taken twice as many.

Evergreen, a private enterprise, draws a very close second to the amazing Boeing aircraft museum in Seattle which doesn’t have a water park. Ha! It also doesn’t have the Goose or, the SR71 Blackbird. There are also two other great aviation museums in the state of Oregon, one in Tillamook and another in Madras. Here are a few of the photos taken at Evergreen, I once again repeat myself in saying that they don’t begin to compare with actually seeing this operation in the flesh. When I was growing up in the post-war, pre-space age, aviation was still a bit of a novelty. That, despite the massive aviation advancements of WWII. By the time we had put men on the moon the reality of flying machines had become a ho-hum fact of everyday life. We no longer look up when an aircraft passes overhead. Yet, clearly, there are a great many people who do hold a deep fascination for a highly and still rapidly evolving technology which is only a little over a century old.

I have long held the theory that the human race is not indigenous to this planet. We certainly do not fit in here. As far back as we know, we have had an affinity for the sky, for the stars, for flight. God is always from somewhere up there ( God being the concept which is our convenient pigeon-hole for all that we cannot comprehend including love, wisdom and infinity) Many of our wisest ancients speculated on ways and means to rise above our earthly bonds. We have scrambled frantically to fly, then to fly ever higher and faster. It is a compulsion which now has us sending machines beyond the known edges of our universe, looking for ways to personally visit and inhabit places like Mars. I believe that it is all part of that ancient quest to find our way home. Yet at the same time, we need to look within and consider our aberrant nature, and that that is perhaps why our ancient ancestors were dropped off here. Once we realize the way to get along with each other, as well as other species, only then will we be truly ready to go home. Then we won’t need to. In the meantime, to survive that long, we need to become considerably more gracious toward the beautiful planet that is hosting us. For now, it is the only place we have.

The computer grinch says that I have run out of space for any more photos in this blog, even in my edited series. I’ve challenged him three times because there is so much more to show. If, readers care to send a comment in favour of posting a part 2 to this particular blog, I’ll be glad to post more images. Happy Landings!

“Sometimes, flying feels too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see. ”   

Charles A. Lindbergh


In A Fog

A trillium in the sun. When you live in the dark dripping Northcoast jungle, seeing real wildflowers is an absolute thrill
Feral tulips picked from a vacant lot on mainstreet Ladysmith.

NOTE: All photos in this blog were taken with my cell phone. Click on any photo to enlarge.

First of all I must confess to providing some “Fake news” in my last blog. I was told the nearest advance polling station for the BC election was in Masset, when in fact it is in Bella Bella. ALWAYS confirm your sources!

I awoke wondering where I was. The room was bright and there was someone in the bed beside me. That, I realized, was my wife. I was home in Ladysmith, not alone as usual in my berth in the boat. There was a strange yet vaguely familiar sound outside. I realized it was the sawmill on the other side of town. I was hearing the clack and bang of lumber in a drop sorter. The sound was from the past, that of a working sawmill, now a sadly rare song of what made this province great. Once, nearly every town in BC had at least one sawmill. A few days ago when my flight was landing in Nanaimo Harbour I looked down into the gaping holds of an Asian ship on the wharf of a former sawmill. It was receiving yet another load of raw, prime BC logs. All the while, fewer folks can afford to buy houses built with BC lumber.

While this is not a political blog I like to get a few jabs in now and then. Right now we are in the middle of a provincial election campaign and one of the hot topics is the lack of affordable housing in British Columbia. That story has now been extrapolated to people living on their boats and pumping raw sewage overboard. In enclosed waters, such as False Creek in Vancouver, doing something as thoughtless as that will certainly draw attention. In places like Shearwater, where I live on my boat, there is no sewage facility on any of the docks, so feeding the crabs is ‘De Rigeur” but , at least, we do have plenty of tidal action to dissipate the DNA from a few boats. In an area of dense population and no open tidal flow everyone will end up with a shitty situation. I’m far more concerned about the oils and chemicals that wash out of our yard in the incessant rain.

I like to preach that the price of freedom is responsibility. If you want to live beneath the, radar,”off the grid,” great! Just quit firing rockets for attention. Don’t do things that piss everyone else off, then demand your right to live as you choose. There is an eternal debate about raw sewage and how it is dealt with. For years in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, filtered sewage is piped out into the Strait Of Juan De Fuca. There is a recurring outcry in the cycle of popular protests about that, although few seem to note that in the vicinity of those discharges is where some really big salmon get caught. It’s the food chain thing; big fish eat smaller fish which eat tiny fish, you know how it goes. Few people seem at all concerned however about all the toxic crap that flushes off of our streets, into the storm sewers and out to sea. The oceans of the world are all in deep peril from over-fishing and every type pf pollution from noise to plastic to chemical and nuclear. Frankly, I see our species treating the whole world as a toilet. Our bowl is running over.

Wreck Beach, Ladysmith aka Dogpatch. When folks in the small liveaboard community find their basements too wet, they scuttle their old hulks on the beach and often the venerable vessels are burned. The debris below the pilings in the background is the ashes of a floathouse lost to fire this winter. Eventually someone else has to clean up the expensive, toxic mess.

Coincidentally the same newspaper page that carried the sewage story, ran a report about a very expensive construction property which has been abandoned. The project broke into an aquifer and now the city of Vancouver is saddled with the expensive problem of containing and diverting the millions of daily litres of fresh clean water into the Fraser River. Um, you know ,…there are many cities around the world that would love to have this problem. Even Vancouver runs out of water in the summer. When life gives you lemons make lemonade, go with the flow. Truly amazing isn’t it? Human beings are determined to try forcing nature to conform to our will and a gift from the Gods is considered a problem.

Today was to be my return to Shearwater after a few days south. An early morning drive of about two hours to Campbell River got me to the airport in good time. The near-empty flight roared into the sky and eventually landed in Port Hardy for fuel after much circling and two aborted landing attempts in Bella Bella. The fog was thick and especially viscous right over the airfield. We probably passed 500′ over the terminal building. So now it’s a day’s pay lost, plus the price of a motel room and meals. Remember last blog’s quote about making God laugh by telling him your plans? We’ll see how tomorrow unfolds.

Tomorrow has become today. I sit in my motel room looking out on Discovery Pass where the fog drifts and lifts and settles. Flocks of snow geese fly northward, low over the water, hooting and calling their distinctive sounds. On an adjacent wall, a woodpecker hammers his way through the wooden siding of the motel’s dining room. I find it hard to photograph the bird through the sifting fog. It is very peaceful. I have a suspicion that today’s game will be called “Hurry up and wait.” We’re here because we’re not all there.

Name that bay! A glimpse of earth before we venture lower toward an aborted landing. It’s so hard being an old pilot sitting in the back!
“Is a flashing bunny a good thing?” The little guy on the right watches cockpit procedure as we buzz Bella Bella a second time..

Looking up from 13,000′ The contrail high overhead represents a few hundred people hurtling eastward
enjoying some sort of lunch and completely oblivious to the speck crossing beneath them. It leaves me feeling very tiny.
Breathe! Finally the fog dissipates over Queen Charlottle Strait. We’re passing over a tiny nook known to mariners as ‘God’s Pocket’
Short final, Port Hardy.
With empty fuel tanks and bursting bladders, a very welcome sight.
A sexy airplane nobody wants to ride in. This immaculate Beechcraft Super King Air is part of the BC Air Ambulance fleet. On the ground in Port Hardy.
Phweeeeeeeeep… all night long. The fog whistle at the Cape Mudge Lighthouse across Discovery Passage from my motel room. The Campbell River airport was still fogbound.


Snakehead Rock. Sitting on the tidal flat beneath my motel room balcony this large naturally sculpted rock faces the flooding tide and makes it easier to comprehend aboriginal mythology. Even the bird dropping in the eye is perfectly placed.
A lousy photo of a rotten guy. In the early morning fog this flicka hammers out a second condo in the motel wall. Fortunately his union doesn’t endorse working night shifts.

I’d barely finished breakfast when the phone rang to tell me that a bus had arrived to take the Bella Bella refuges back to the airport. At the airport, we were loaded onto a second bus and hauled off to the airport in Comox. After a little more shuffling the passengers were herded toward a waiting aircraft sitting on the far side of the tarmac. The pilots were wrestling with a stubborn fuel cap on a wing tank. It was the same crew with whom we’d flown the previous day and the young captain was showing rising frustration with his ongoing bad luck. I know that feeling. You can’t start cursing and jumping up and down on your hat when there’s an audience of passengers belted into their seats. We were grounded without an airworthy fuel cap. I volunteered my services as a former aircraft mechanic and soon found myself out at the wingtip on a ladder. Letting a passenger tinker on a aircraft is not the way to run an airline but it is wonderful what you can accomplish with a screwdriver and a pair of vise-grips. The innards of the special cap were worn out and jammed. I persuaded it to function for one last time. We flew. The flawless landing in Bella Bella was right on legal minimums in fog and torrential rain. I made a whole bunch of people happy today.

The red thing goes where?
Passengers were beginning to raise concerns as this young pilot tried unsuccessfully to repair a faulty fuel filler cap. I finally went and helped. The aircraft in the background is an Argus, part of the Comox Aircraft Museum’s collection. It was used for long-range anti-submarine patrol.
What a feeling!
Northbound out of Comox,
Bella Bella or bust.

All’s well that ends. I’m back in Shearwater. The heavy rain continues.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.”

… Will Rogers

Flying Back To Bunga Bunga

 (No disrespect intended, it’s what some of us call Bella Bella. Bella Coola is Bunga Cunga)

Yes Really!
They’re out there.
Like it or not, it’s spring…and the flowers know.
Well now that I’ve showed you mine…! Another Southern delight for me, Arbutus trees.
The hook. A salmon jaw left over from last autumn’s spawn, hangs at shoulder-height. Part of the annual drama is the distribution of the dead fish. They feed both flora and fauna as their bodies return to the natural world.
Jack’s new ride. He loves it! So do I. My new used 4×4, full-sized crew cab truck, with a V8 engine gets slightly better gas consumption than my previous small SUV and import truck with much smaller engines.
Go figure!
I know you’re leaving. Again! Without me!
Little Boxes. People choose to live in this sterile environment on the water front. It’s all about a view. There was a time when poor folk lived by the sea and ate fish. If I had the price of one of these condos, there would be photos in this blog with palm trees. In three hours I travelled from this warm sunniness…
…This! WTF? It’s officially spring tomorrow. The long white strip is the airfield on Denny Island. We’re about to land in Bella Bella. Kliktsoatli Harbour is reflected in the spinner.
Moments later over the metropolis of Shearwater. Check gear down. You can see the nose wheel in the spinner. The aircraft is a Beechcraft 1900D; a fabulous airplane.
Dodd Narrows. Just out of Nanaimo Harbour we pass the yachtsman’s dreaded southern approach to Nanaimo. Here the narrows have recently turned to ebb. soon there will be nasty whirlpools and back eddies and a current of 6.7 knots. Oh yeah, add some spinning logs and a few terrified weekend boaters!
Trincomali Channel. Looking south through some of the Gulf Islands past Porlier Pass and into far-distant Plumper Sound. A tug tows logs between two deep sea bulk ships waiting to load in Vancouver. The anchorage on the right is Pirate Cove, famous to Westcoast yachters and former home of notorious Brother Twelve.
My old stomping grounds. Degnen Bay below and Silva Bay beyond. Hello old friends all.
“That you Mac, or is it Harmac?” A tired, ancient joke about Nanaimo’s smelly pulp mill. In the distance on the left is the other foul pulp mill in Crofton. In the center is Nanaimo’s busy Cassidy Airport. Ladysmith is just beyond on the shores of Oyster Bay. A fabulous place to come home to.
The curve.
The open horizon has always been impossible to resist for this old pilot and sailor. This view is of the Southern Strait Of Georgia.
South YVR. The floatplane is a DHC3 Otter. I’m sitting in another one. The seaplane terminal is on the Fraser River on the south side of Vancouver International Airport. The terminal is adjoined with a wonderful pub, ‘The Flying Beaver.’
The Otter Office. The panel of an Otter cockpit. When I first sat in this seat, fifty years ago, these aircraft were powered with a thundering radial engine. All instrumentation was analog “Steam gauges”
Modern computerized “Video games and turbine engines have turned a wonderful airplane into an incredible one.


On arrival at the YVR South Terminal I flopped my big old wheeled travel bag onto the weigh scale. The ticket agent raised an eyebrow at the readout. I looked down at the bag and said, “Don’t move around granny, you’re almost through.” The young lady raised her eyebrow again and asked with a posh English accent, “You are joking!?” I grinned.

Well, we have to be sure!” I wasn’t actually feeling jovial, I was just trying to mask my dismay about returning to Shearwater. Lately it has not been the magical destination one could hope for; more of a ‘Club Dread.’ As I pocketed my boarding pass, I looked away over my shoulder and said, “Hi Jack.” Then I smiled to the ticket lady. “Nothing like a sense of humour to stir things up at the airport.”

Rather!” But then she began to smile.

I’d ridden the float plane across from Nanaimo with two former neighbours. They were on their way to Varadero in Cuba, a five hour flight from Vancouver. As I edit today’s snowy photo’s back aboard ‘Seafire’ they’ll be sipping mojitos on the hotel patio and watching the sun set over the Carribbean. BUGGA! Some co-workers have quit and left during the week I’ve been away. Will I be next? One of those folks has since been in contact from Thailand. Good for him.

Goodbye Nanaimo. Now bound for Bella Bella the view is west across the strait to Nanaimo and it’s magnificent harbour. I wonder when I’ll see it again.
The letdown. Beginning our descent to Bella Bella, we get a glimpse of a snowy mountain.

There was brilliant sunshine on the south coast today. We flew north over a broken overcast. Near Bella Bella we slid down through a hole in the cloud and began our final descent. I hope I didn’t curse aloud. More fresh snow! Bloody hell! Three hours earlier I’d been watching a woman blow huge soap bubbles for kids on the Nanaimo waterfront in the warm spring sunlight. Now back to this! What the hell? I throw my gear aboard ‘Seafire,’ slam the hatch, turn up the heater and hunker down for the long night ahead. The forecast for the week ahead calls for rain and snow flurries, just like last week. The next light on my horizon will be the Easter long weekend and I’m resolved to gloomy weather then.

Moments Before…
landing in Bella Bella. One of my joys in a 1900 is being able to watch the instruments. An old seat-of-the-pants pilot, I marvel at the efficiency and precision of today’s modern aircraft and crews. They possess an entirely different skill set than mine.
The real thing. After repairs our travel lift is back in action. First up is this locally designed and built offshore sail boat. It incorporates traditional and novel ideas. Built of aluminum, twin-engined, twin-ruddered, it is a floating bomb shelter which I can see sails and works very well. It is a joy to see. There is a great beauty in this practical and capable vessel.

The poor old boat is suffering mightily thanks to the weather. The finish on the exterior woodwork has been seriously damaged this winter. I cannot do anything about it or the other jobs waiting for a little warmth and dryness. The general spirit of the whole community seems diminished as we wait for signs of a reluctant spring. Yesterday morning, in Nanaimo, while walking Jack, a flock of wild swans flew low overhead. They weren’t heading north.

It will be a while until we see them flying over up here.

A bouquet of hope. Surely spring will come some time soon.

Don’t let the same dog bite you twice.” Chuck Berry

“That’s The Way The Pickle Squirts”

It’s a metaphor which a friend, now long dead, used to express the vagaries of life. It makes a wonderfully descriptive image for me. More than once, as we stab at it with our fork, the ubiquitous pickle of life squirts us in the eye or stains our best shirt. We never know which way it might go, just like everyday life. We may as well find some humour.

Planetary system A tiny shell from a tiny beach with tiny barnacles for stars and palnets
Planetary system
A tiny shell from a tiny beach with tiny barnacles for stars and planets

Almost a week ago I was at work in a sooty, greasy bilge desperately trying to get a sailboat engine back together. The client had been tied to the dock for over a week while we waited for parts. They were very nice folks but did not understand that to do finicky work, a mechanic needs to be left alone to focus on the process.

The following hand-held video is intended to leave you with the sense of wonder I hold for the mid-coast of British Columbia. Note the stream running down the beach, the distance surf and the call of an eagle. If you can’t open it, the still photo below is from the same location.

Looking East onto Seaforth Channel from Fisher Point
Looking East onto Seaforth Channel from Fisher Point

It was one of those shoehorn engine jobs which requires a fully articulating third hand, on a three-foot-long arm with an eyeball in one knuckle of some very nimble fingers. My hands are two bunches of arthritic bananas. I hate asking folks to leave their own boat while I work but surely one shouldn’t have to ask for something so bloody obvious! Once I even explained that this particular job was rather like trying to do brain surgery through the rectum. They still had a way of pouncing on me just when that last one and only special-thread nut or bolt was almost in place and again went ka-ping down into the bilge. Murphie’s law says that nothing in an engine room falls straight down and that magnets will retrieve every bit of metallic debris before finally clicking on to the missing item. It happens over and over. Grrrrr! Finally the engine was back together, a second time, everything was good, all their ancillary problems were resolved, the bill had been ‘edited’ as tightly as possible, they left the dock next morning.

Seafire in Mouat Cove I'd just flushed a a pair of Sandhill Cranes here
Seafire in Mouat Cove
I’d just flushed a pair of Sandhill Cranes here

Three hours later they were back.

I had carefully explained that with their particular cooling system they would have to check the air bleeding valve regularly during the first day of operation. They now raged that the engine had overheated. They had charged off until the engine boiled over and then finally bled out a copious amount of air. Fortunately with no new harm done, the temperature had returned to normal, but now they were “gun shy” and were determined something might still be wrong.

GRRRRRRRR! With some folks you just can’t win! July was a blue moon month (Two full moons within one calendar month) and the boat with the engine trouble was named ‘Blue Moon’. This leads to yet another song title, “There’ll Always Be Another Blue Moon.”

Oliver cove Marine Park Someone wanted the sign for their bedroom wall. This spot, near Port Blackney is aleged to be where Vancouver careened his ships for repairs.
Oliver Cove Marine Park
Someone wanted the sign for their bedroom wall.
This spot, near Port Blackney is alleged to be where Vancouver careened his ships for repairs.
Is this it? Between two adjacent coves, this is the sandy nook which seemed most likely to be the place to careen a ship. Imagine the crew working with muskets and sabres handy, wondering who might come rushing out of the thick forest.
Is this it?
Between two adjacent coves, this is the sandy nook which seemed most likely to be the place to careen a ship. Imagine the crew working with muskets and sabres handy, wondering who might come rushing out of the thick forest.
If my guess is right, this venerable Sitka spruce would have been a verdant tree looking down on the events in that nook.
If my guess is right, this venerable Sitka Spruce would have been a verdant tree looking down on the events in that nook long ago.

The mid-coast area is not a place for weekend warriors who don’t understand the basics of boat and engine maintenance. But still they come. It’s how we make our income. One gets worn down as the summer grinds on. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of quitting at least once in frustration with either a customer, my employer or both. Clearly my days as a marine technician are nearly over. Physically and emotionally, I’m too worn, bent and busted to keep doing this. My finances are at an all-time low but I can’t go on like this. I was sure that I was on my way to Mexico from here but now I’ve got that old dead-end feeling again. That’s got to be yet another blues song! The problem is that when one turns a passion into a career, the risk of becoming jaded is very real. And here I am. Thankfully, I can untie the boat on weekends and re-affirm my sea lust is real and entirely reasonable; at least to me.

A strange sky in Oliver cove
A strange sky in Oliver Cove
Seafire at rest
Seafire at rest
A day well done,. Last light in Olivers Cove
A day well done,. Last light in Oliver Cove
A bonsai moment, typical small twisted tree found on one of my beloved islets
A bonsai moment, typical small twisted tree found on one of my beloved islets.
A mobile fishing camp. Once a working tug, the 'Glendevon' is splendidly refitted. Here she's moored in the head of Berry inlet.
A mobile fishing camp. Once a working tug, the ‘Glendevon’ is splendidly refitted. Here she’s moored in the head of Berry inlet.
Another sort of fishing machine. This friends are ardent anglers. Here they're working the waters at Idol Point.
Another sort of fishing machine. These friends are ardent anglers. Here they’re working the waters at Idol Point.
Gifts at the tideline. You never know what to expect.
Gifts at the tideline.
You never know what to expect.
Passing Squall. a view up Spiller Channel. no worries, fish on ,fish on.
Passing Squall. A view up Spiller Channel. no worries, fish on, fish on.
Buzz job. Later that day there was enough wind at Shearwater to spin the props on the big model Stranraer. I did as rough photo-chop of the supporting pylon to give a sense of what the real thing might have looked like.
Buzz job. Later that day there was enough wind at Shearwater to spin the props on the big model Stranraer. I did a rough photo-chop of the supporting pylon to give a sense of what the real thing might have looked like.
The Goose. This is from the same era as the Stranraer. It was acutting edge aviation technology at the time and 80 years later, she's still working for a living!
The Goose.
This is from the same era as the Stranraer.
It was cutting edge aviation technology at the time and 80 years later, she’s still working for a living!
Hakai Pass from 20,000' on a beautiful day. Looking southward out to sea. Five days of sailng from Campbell river, this Pacific Coastal Beech 1900C had me back there in 50 minutes!
Hakai Pass from 20,000′ on a beautiful day. Looking southward out to sea.
Five days of sailng from Campbell River, this Pacific Coastal Beech 1900C had me back there in 50 minutes!

Since that sooty engine compartment of last week, I’ve taken a quick sabbatical back south to Ladysmith to take care of business, visit home and make sure my buddy Jack still recognized me. I’ve had so many setbacks this summer that my finances are in full tatters. My wife Jill provided tremendous support to get me the hell out of there for a few days. The soot from that last job is almost gone from my pores and I’m heading back to work at Shearwater already. Those few days off have passed all too quickly and I’m pecking this out at the BC Ferry terminal in Port Hardy. The huge hinged-open bow of the ‘Northern Expedition’ looms over me. Up at 04:30 to be here for 05:30 for some verbal abuse from a surly baggage cart attendant, (With arms folded, and head cocked she demanded, “Yeah, let’s talk!) I can’t find a hint of coffee or breakfast anywhere.

And then the aliens transported me aboard! BC Ferries 'Northern Expedition' with bow section raised for loading... and so we waited, an waited.
And then the aliens transported me aboard!
BC Ferries ‘Northern Expedition’ in Port Hardy with bow section raised for loading… and so we waited, and waited.
A tyee skiff meets Mickey Mouse. Disney cruise ship southbound in /discovery Passage at Campbell River
A tyee skiff meets Mickey Mouse. Disney cruise ship southbound in Discovery Passage at Campbell River
The Real Thing. Before cruise ships and tyee skiffs, this is how real mean got around on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Yes it IS a real dugout canoe
The Real Thing. Before cruise ships and tyee skiffs, this is how real men got around on the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Yes it IS a real dugout canoe.
SEE! And there are no leaks, it's holding rainwater. What an ultimate art, form and function!
SEE! And there are no leaks, it’s holding rainwater. What an ultimate art, form and function!

This paragraph now comes from aboard. I’m sitting in a luxurious cafeteria waiting for the breakfast gate to open at 06:30. We’re supposed to sail at 7. The vessel is lovely and I know this wannabe cruise-ship is a jewel in the crown of the BC hospitality industry but speaking for coastal residents, I think a little less glitter and more accountable, affordable regular service would be grand. Features like a high-end gift shop selling cheap reproductions of Haida silverware has nothing to do with basic transportation. I’ve already ranted in previous blogs about the ineptitude of the entire BC Ferry Corporation so I’ll leave this alone. However, there was a time when this Northern coastline was much more heavily populated and served by various private carriers. I’ve never heard anyone recall that they felt at the mercy and whim of a down-south crown corporation board office. It seems the time when people said what they meant, meant what they said and kept their promises is a fiction from some other era. Folks have always been folks but I recall when integrity was a personal mandate. (Engines at full throttle since 07:07, we finally back from the dock at 07:35) By the time we have left the dock, Jill has driven back almost as far as Campbell River. As I sit writing, a “Rubenesque” lady and her clone daughter have reclined and fallen asleep. Their snoring takes me back to some of the tugboat foc’sles I’ve known. When i awoke from my nap, there was nobody around. Funny thing!

Yep, it's the same blog. Jill inspects old 113, a stean engine operated by Canadian Forest Products, who ran the last working logging railroad on the continent. When I last saw this locomotive, 25 years ago, it was shining bright, belched clouds of steam and black smoke, hauled eco-tourists and backed up the diesel locomotives when they broke down. It seems so sad to see this machine pushed out of the way.
Yep, it’s the same blog! Jill inspects old 113, a steam locomotive once operated by Canadian Forest Products, who ran the last working logging railroad on the continent. When I last saw this locomotive, 25 years ago, it was shining bright, belched clouds of steam and black smoke, hauled eco-tourists and backed up the diesel locomotives when they broke down. It seems so sad to see this machine pushed out of the way in her home at Woss Camp on Northern Vancouver Island.
No voice command controls here. no airbags either!
No voice command controls here. No airbags either!

The summer grinds on, the daylight ever shorter, the evenings cooler, the rain more frequent. The list of before winter to-do jobs on ‘Seafire’ is begging attention. How it will end up is anyone’s guess but with all the crap, there has to be a pony somewhere. Yeehaw! There’s got to be a bright side I haven’t discovered yet.

REALLY! Real telephone booths, still working. At the Woss Café.
REALLY! Actual telephone booths, still working
at the Woss Café.

Enough grumpy rambling. Here are another batch of photos. As I edit them, I look forward to the summer when I can come to these wonderful waters and simply cruise. I’ll have my own tools and parts aboard. We’ll see what Murphy can do to me then. I recently explained to a lady on a passing yacht in for repairs that ubiquitous old Murphy was so devious she has us actually believing she’s a man. With a twinkle in her eye, this woman quietly replied, “Yeah, God too!”

God spelled backwards. Jack indulges in a favourite pastime in a pool on the Nimpkish River
God spelled backwards.
Jack indulges in a favourite pastime in a pool on the Nimpkish River

Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know.” …. Donald Hamilton

Runamuck In Tillamook

Tillamook blimp hangar. The rig, beneath an airplane called a Guppy and finally a workshop almost big enough for all my projects
Tillamook blimp hangar. It once housed up to nine K-class blimps each 252′ long!
The rig in front of an airplane called a Guppy and finally a workshop almost big enough for all my projects.

It is March the fourth already. The sleet is angling down and my hands are numb from being outside with the dog. I should be working on my client’s boat but first I warm up with the dregs of my morning coffee pot and this bit of finger aerobics. Did anything, as portrayed in the last few blogs, ever happen? The heaped-up bills are real enough and all I have to show are my photos and blogs and a few souvenirs. I am very tempted to put my few significant possessions up for sale, pay my debts and go south with whatever is left. Tell me why not.

You'll never find something like this driving the freeways!
You’ll never find something like this driving the freeways!
Wot! No airbag?
Wot! No airbag?
Is there a car named Darkness?
Is there a car named Darkness?

Yesterday the price of gasoline here went up twelve cents a litre, allegedly because of the unrest in the Crimea.  We have our own abundant petroleum resources and I can’t make sense of it. I joke about a chicken farmer who goes to town to buy eggs but that’s exactly what we do. I drove up the Oregon Coast where I saw Asian ships being loaded with raw logs in world-famous timber towns where the sawmills now sit idle. It’s just the same here where our raw logs are loaded into foreign vessels tied in front of more shut-down sawmills. What the hell is going on? At least in Mexico, folks eat the eggs and chickens they raise in their own front yards. Not once down there will you hear the wasting drone of a lawn mower, They have livestock.

Out behind the blimp hangar
Out behind the blimp hangar

The only way to make sense of life is to stop trying and simply get on with what works for you. What a curse to be someone who has to constantly feed their questioning mind! Sometimes I envy those who can be content with a case of inferior beer, a sack of potato chips and a television. Sometimes; for a second or two, but I just can’t say baah.

Teenage boys once flew these off aircraft carriers. They're old men now but this baby is still good to go.
Teenage boys once flew these off aircraft carriers.
They’re old men now but this baby is still good to go. This is a Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair. In WWII over 12, 500 were built.

The last lost photograph I’ll try to describe is from the morning I awakening in my little trailer on the beach in Bandon Oregon. It had been battered by frequent squalls throughout the night. Now a sunrise back lit the crashing surf and the grey storm clouds offshore. Seagulls, fluorescent in the sunlight against grey clouds, hurtled sideways in the gusting wind. Then in the rain of the next cloudburst appeared a brilliant rainbow which framed this timeless scene.

It's all larger than life!
It’s all larger than life!

Eventually after coffee and breakfast I trundled northward toward Astoria and the Fisher Poets Gathering. It is an annual event and can be checked out through the link posted on this blog.

Brute force and ignorance. P-47 Thunderbolt
Brute force and ignorance.
P-47 Thunderbolt

Tillamook Oregon is a couple of hours south of Astoria. Perhaps most famous for it’s cheese industry it also has one of the world’s largest wooden buildings. During WWII a coastal patrol base was established here. Two monstrous blimp hangars were built. One has since burned down but the remaining hangar housed up to nine blimps! Some of the airplanes I have flown could burn off a full tank of fuel flying inside this building! 

A Stearman 17 More people have learned to fly in these than any other single type. I knew these as crop dusters when I was starting out in the flying business, late 1960s
A Stearman 17
More people have learned to fly in these than any other single type. I knew these as crop dusters when I was starting out in the flying business,
late 1960s
The basics of real flying
The basics of real flying

Essentially a monstrous quonset hut it is built as a single incredible arched truss, almost a thousand feet long. My first thought was of all that old-growth clear fir timber, air-dried for over seventy years. Its value as boat lumber is incredible!


I was alone and took the liberty of  a prolonged indulgence in the aircraft museum now based here. A collection of airworthy vintage aircraft, some of which I have flown many years ago, It is sobering to see icons of your youth now in a museum. Flying was once a huge a part of my life as the sea has now become. I miss flying immensely, especially the old school of flying where it was personal skill and not electronics that got you there. I understand that not everyone is passionate about aviation so I’ll try not to post too many airplane pictures.

Grumman N3N3 So ugly it's beautiful
Grumman N3N3
So ugly it’s beautiful

I was intrigued to discover a collection of derelict locomotives in a yard behind the hangar. Yes damnit! I also remember working steam trains when I was a child. I know, I know, I’m older than dirt! It was all a great photo opportunity despite the poor light. Fortunately I used my trusty Olympus T2 pocket camera. Those photos were stashed in a separate folder and so all is not lost.

1930 Bellanca Aircruiser This one was a bush machine in Northern Ontario. One snow ski sitting under port wing.
1930 Bellanca Aircruiser
This one was a bush machine in Northern Ontario. One snow ski sitting under port wing.
No inflight movies! This is how you got to your trap line and fishing camp -40 outside, -50 inside But, if you could get it loaded inside, it would fly it! Yes it IS fabric-covered.
No inflight movies!
This is how you got to your trap line and fishing camp -40 outside, -50 inside
But, if you could get it loaded inside, it would fly it! Yes it IS fabric-covered.
Fond memories
Fond memories

I confirm my previous rave about what a wonderful camera this is and I heartily recommend it as a back-up, or single travel camera capable of both great still photos and movies with excellent sound above and below water. I have proven that it is water proof and shock resistant and am confident it is  superior to competitive products.

Bell 206A Jet Ranger I was 17 years old when I began my apprenticeship on these. They were absolute civilian hi-tech at the time, obsolete junk now. this one has over 22,000 hours logged
Bell 206A Jet Ranger
I was 17 years old when I began my apprenticeship on these. They were absolute civilian hi-tech at the time, obsolete junk now. This one has over 22,000 hours logged

The Fisher Poets Gathering was the usual affirmation for me. Kindred water folk bared their souls in song, poetry and prose behind the microphones of several venues. It is uplifting and deeply inspiring to be among such incredibly talented performers. There are always some new faces and voices who manage to raise the talent bar yet another notch. This year, two nautical poets from England came to read and record us for the BBC. Then, on the last Sunday morning of February, under the brave glow of a sunrise beneath the cloud cover,  I crossed over the five-mile long bridge across the Columbia River. As I drove northward through the long miles of raped forest, the sleet and rain thickened. I was home without a doubt. But the dream is more alive than ever. Soon I’ll be gone again.

Iraq veteran
Iraq veteran
Damn! It's ugly! But it flew. This one was used to transport S-64 helicopters, which are huge themselves
Damn! It’s ugly!
But it flew. This one was used to transport S-64 helicopters, which are huge themselves
Photo of a photo
Photo of a photo
The office
The office
Leg room
Leg room
Bomber nose art
Bomber nose art
Not a way to see Europe
Not a way to see Europe
Ubiquitous Mig 15
Ubiquitous Mig 15
BORIS! Don't point that thing at me!
BORIS! Don’t point that thing at me!
1001 projects for the home handyman
1001 projects for the home handyman. The roof!
Radio room ...Roger blimp 69
Radio room
…”Roger blimp 69, where are you?”
Columbia River view Astoria Oregon
Columbia River view
Astoria Oregon
Inside the Wet Dog Café A Fisher Poets venue
Inside the Wet Dog Café
A Fisher Poets venue
Looking back to Astoria from Dismal Nitch Washington, five miles across
Looking back to Astoria from Dismal Nitch Washington, five miles across
Home from Mexico ...and planning to go again SOON!
Home from Mexico
…and planning to go again SOON!