Deer, take two.

Edit: ok, it was a deer, and not a bear. Don’t forget that I am a ‘City’ boy.

We were visited by another bear last night. At least we think it was a bear, although I think that a deer can do a lot of damage when it wants to.

We have a very nice little Tri-colour Willow that we planted a couple of years ago. This morning we woke up to see all the bark shredded and stripped off the trunk, and one of the larger branches broken off and lying on the ground.

Too bad, as it won’t survive the abuse.

I have now warned the neighborhood that if they hear gunshots, look the other way……just kidding……a little.

We Better Like Grape Jam

Last Thursday my uncle dropped off a 10 pound box of grapes from his backyard vine. The vine is a single plant, about 20 years old, that produces an abundant crop of sweet seedless table grapes.

After giving a few away to Sylvia’s Cousin Deb and Wes, who were visiting us after just moving to Kelowna, we ate our fill and wondered what to do with the rest of it. Sylvia had plans to make a bit of jam, and maybe freeze some. Once we started to de-stem them and put them in pots it didn’t look like that much fruit, so we decided to jam the whole batch, thinking we’d barely get two batches. We were incorrect.

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What looked like a simple job ended up being more than 3 batches (or 28 jars) of tasty Grape Jam, and several frozen Grape ‘pucks’ for use some other time. We learned that Grapes go a long way when you process them with their skins.

At least we now have lots to share.

No More Bears

Since we discovered the present that one of our resident bears left on our lawn and pulled in the rest of our fruit we’ve seen no more Yogi or Jasper activity in the yard. That doesn’t mean we’ve been getting off unscathed though, as I’ve chased a 4 point deer out of the yard a couple of times, and our roses have been chomped on quite a bit lately. Oh well, at least we’re keeping the local wildlife well fed.

With all the pears and apples we now have, we’ve been searching for different ways to preserve them. That has included a batch of Cranberry Pear Chutney, as well as Pear sauce. The Chutney is a variant of the Peach Chutney we canned last year, but instead of using raisins dried Cranberries are the secret ingredient. It has to sit for a month, but should be pretty good.

This is what it looks like once it’s assembled.IMG_20160906_103708

It has to cook for a couple of hours, so this is all we ended up with.IMG_20160906_125109

The Pear sauce is made just like Applesauce, and tastes just as good, we added orange rind and juice for extra flavour.

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We found out last week that our Colorado friends Deb and Dana were attending the home opener of their beloved Denver Broncos. As we figure we were at least partly responsible for the team winning the Super Bowl last February we geared up in our lucky Broncos T-shirts, took a picture during the game and sent it to Deb. Sure enough the Broncos won a very exciting game and Deb says we have to wear the shirts every week, and just to make sure they stay lucky we are not allowed to wash them!

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This week we took off for a few days to celebrate our 41st Anniversary. The location we chose this year is Halcyon Hot Springs, about a 5 hour drive from our home. We’ve driven past this resort several times, and never stopped in but always wanted to. Halcyon is on Arrow Lake, about 40 minutes north of Nakusp and an hour from Revelstoke and is only accessible by ferry from our direction. What this really means, is that it is miles and miles from everywhere, and is out of range of any and all cell networks. It meant for a quiet couple of days, which is the point of the place after all.

The view from our room was not hard to take.

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The first morning we were there we took a wander along the lakeside trail. The water level is quite low this time of year.

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The path took us to the original Hot Spring at Halcyon Point. There are home and RV sites available around the springs, but it all looks kind of derelict.

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Back at the resort we enjoyed the various pools. It is not a large resort, and the pools are never that crowded.

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And we especially enjoyed the view. It was a great getaway, and we really enjoyed ourselves. We’ve had a great 41 years, maybe we’ll make another 41 or more.IMG_20160913_153842

On our way home we stopped in at Ione Falls for a few minutes. Another real pretty spot.

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Our next stop was at Nakusp, a small town on the same lake, which is part of the Columbia River system. You can see how low the lake is. The line of logs are used to mark off the usual swimming area. There will have to be another 10 feet of water to reach the logs, and another 25 or so to reach the level of the beach where we were walking.

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One good part of the extra beach is that there are a very large number of boondocking RV sites available. That is a small Class C, and it was surrounded by various watercraft. Whoever is staying there it definitely enjoying the lake.

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Our last stop before heading home was in the small town of Lumby. This past spring Lumby won a competition to host an NHL hockey game, and it’s a big deal for the town, although the game itself will be held in Vernon, about a half hour away, since the town and it’s arena are very small.

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So that’s about it for the last couple of weeks. We still have lots of pears and apples left, and have some plans for more applesauce and jam in the works. That should be good!

Time to Harvest

Since we moved to this house and inherited a bunch of fruit trees it has been a bit of a struggle to get our fruit in before the birds, deer, squirrels and bears take more than their fair share. 

This year we got a decent amount of blackberries and raspberries, a small harvest of cherries, lots of great big peaches, and a couple of crops of rhubarb. Last week the Macintosh apples were ripe, and although we didn’t get very many we made some tasty applesauce with them.

Late this week we found that our Century pears were ripe and figured we had better bring them in before the bears started to show up. There were lots this year, which is nice considering the bears broke the tree in half just 2 years ago, and it has been struggling ever since. Yes, these are actually pears (with a few Mac’s thrown in), and are really juicy and sweet despite the green colour. We are looking for a few good recipes for them, and Pear Chutney sounds tasty.

This left only our mystery apples, which weren’t quite ripe, but since we hadn’t seen any evidence of bears in the neighborhood we thought we’d push our luck and see if they could ripen on the tree. 

That plan changed today when we found this little present on our lawn.

We figured that, ripe or not, it was time to bring in the apples, so that is what we did this afternoon. There were lots of good sized fruit on this tree, so we might be sharing some with our neighbours as they ripen. That is if Sylvia gets tired of making pies, applesauce and apple crisp anytime soon. I know I won’t get tired of eating anything she makes.

So now the bears won’t have anything to munch on in our yard and will have to be content with our neighbour’s grapes. Unfortunately they still need to go through our yard to get to her grapes, so the next few weeks might be interesting.

Another Project Finished

Just before we took off on our Colorado Holiday we began a project to replace the facing on the fireplace in our living room. It was a rather strange looking gyproc and black tile affair that we got rather tired of looking at.

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Our inspiration for changing the look (okay, Sylvia’s inspiration, I’m just the labourer in these projects after all) was the feature wall of rock tile that our son put up in his house renovation project in Calgary. We figured that he was now a pro at this type of work, and volunteered him to come to town and help me build this. (I’m not fooling you at this am I. Jason did the work, I was the labourer)

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I’ve posted a couple of pictures of the work in progress, but we were waiting until we got home to purchase and install the new Hearthstone, and today was the day it was finished and ready for pickup. It took me an hour or so to dry fit a 5 foot by 18 inch piece of solid granite a few times and figure out where I needed to put some shims.

Here is the finished project. Quite a different look to the fireplace don’t you think?

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We’ve been having a busy time since we got home from our holiday, but for the most part we’ve been doing fun things like hiking, pickleball and music events. Last Saturday we attended the ‘Soul of Motown’ Revue in Kelowna. It was a great night of music put on by Rann Berry who we’ve seen a few times before doing a ‘Chicago’ Tribute act and a show dedicated to ‘One Hit Wonders’. He has an annual show in Kelowna every August, and promises to put together something new and entertaining next year. We’re looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

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If It’s Thursday, We Must Be Hiking

In the 4 years we’ve lived in the Okanagan we have done very little hiking here. And most of the hikes we’ve been on can only be charitably described as extended walks in the park. Today we decided to do something different and drove to the Big White ski hill, just over an hour away from our home. There are several trails on the mountain, and from what we learned from a resident there, more to come in the future. The one thing about it being a ski hill, is that most of the trails are straight up and down, and our elevation recording showed it.

Over a 6.3 mile hike we climbed and dropped just over 1800 feet each way, most of it in the first hour and last half hour of the hike. Big White is the highest mountain in the Okanagan, and tops out at 7600 feet. That is much higher than we see in Arizona where the highest we’ve been is 5057’ but much lower than Colorado, or other parts of BC for that matter.

The ski hill has 15 lifts, and we passed under or around most of them during our time on the mountain. We were quite surprised at the amount of development there. According to their website there are 3 hotels, 25 Condo and Townhouse Complexes, and 250 individual homes. Over the course of a season they welcome 600,000 skiers to the slopes.

Sylvia was trying out her new backpack today. She has always wondered how she would handle the weight on her shoulders, but she and the pack performed great. Now I won’t have to be her Sherpa, and she can carry her own lunch and jackets.

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The trail was well marked, and for most of it there was either a Fluorescent cairn, a flag or a ribbon every 30 feet or so. IMG_3313 

While the flowers on the hillside were certainly no comparison to what we found in Colorado, there were some thick patches of Lupins, Paintbrush and several other flowers to catch our attention.

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One thing we also found were some massive mushrooms. IMG_3372

Just before we reached the summit we ran into some snow patches. Sylvia wasn’t inclined to show off her Snow Angel routine here, as she likely would have slid all the way down the hill.

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At the very top of the mountain there was a pile of rocks likely placed there by hikers. I added one to the pile for us.

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The view from the top was spectacular.

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We didn’t see all the trails on the mountain, but covered almost 75% of them. The one we decided to skip was supposedly just a walk down a service road. It turned out that the trail we eventually chose to come down the hill was just a rough service road itself. We finished the hike in a little over 4 hours, and have vowed to find other decent hikes close to home. Hopefully they won’t all be straight up and down.