Easter Sunday Rabbit Road Trip (Plus Tiny Chicken)

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We were contacted last week by a local retirement home that desperately needed some bunnies for their Easter party, since they had advertised it everywhere and their previous bunny wrangler had backed out.

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We agreed, and spent a few hours today introducing some of our rabbits to a very enthusiastic bunch of seniors and their grandkids. As a special treat, Tiny Chicken the Old English Game hen came along as well.

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The bunnies did very well and were very well-behaved being placed on so many strange laps for photographs. They enjoyed their spacious box filled with treats while the kids gave them lots of love and attention.

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Tiny Chicken surprised me by being the best behaved little chicken I have ever seen. She sat quietly while being petted, picked up, loved and hugged by dozens of kids. She never once tried to fly off even though she is an excellent flier, and just calmly trusted that I would not put her into a dangerous situation. I’m very proud of her and now I know I can bring her to events with no problems. She was a huge hit.

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We couldn’t have done it without the help of our lovely Miss Nanaimo contestant who was stationed at the bunny pen making sure everyone was gentle with the animals. Thanks for a great day!

 

New Kayak!

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I have boats on the brain today!

I’ve always wanted a kayak, but even more so after my boyfriend introduced me to ocean kayaking a few years back. He has a pair of SOT (sit-on-top) kayaks that we enjoyed using for sightseeing, short journeys out to nearby islands and rockhounding along the shore. However he’s once again back up north, this time taking position of editor for a paper in Inuvik, NWT. I miss him already!

So it was finally time to get my own!

I initially had my sights set on basically the same kayak my boyfriend has, an eMotion around 6-8 feet long. Too bad it’s nearly impossible to find this brand in BC, but there are some models by other companies that are very similar. I had also read in a few places that these smaller kayaks can be shoved into the back of a hatchback, which is exactly what I planned to try.

I wanted something suitable for fishing, since if I’m out on the water alone I know I won’t be able to resist. There are a wide range of fishing kayaks on the market, but they are all in drab colors and outfitted with more fancy gear than I think I need. I want something small, light, uncomplicated and with room to bring the dog who probably loves boating more than I do.

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I decided to settle on the Perception Tribe 9.5 in sunset. I would have preferred another color, but this was the only one in this model they had left. That’s ok, I like the high visibility of the yellow/orange/red and since it’s nearly September, the new kayak shipments won’t be in until February. If I want any paddling this season it was this little boat or nothing!

I really like the stability, self-draining and unsinkableness of the SOTs. You can easily swim off them, stand upright on them and take them in quite rough ocean. This one can hold 300 pounds and weighing only 46 pounds I can just manage to carry it myself.

I also picked up a fiberglass paddle, lifejacket, floating tow line (regulation), a pair of neoprene shorts, a paddle leash and a fishing rod mount that I will install myself.

It turns out this 9.5 foot boat CAN be shoved into the back of a hatchback, which is great, but I’m hoping to rig up a foam and strap system to put it on the roof, as having it in the car restricts visibility a bit. I’ve done the research and I know I can secure it safely.

Now where to go first??

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The Martin Sheen

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While fishing in Port McNeill last week I noticed an interesting sailboat glide into the marina. I like checking out boat names, mostly because a lot of them seem silly to me, and this was no exception. The Martin Sheen.

I’m used to names like “It’s a Fisher”, or “Finally” or the “Santa” something. But this was the first boat I had seen that was named after a celebrity. It was a big, fancy boat too so it didn’t seem like a joke. The vessel had a tiny pirate flag and a carved wooden mermaid at the bow. I thought it was interesting enough to take a couple of photos.

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This morning when I checked my instagram feed as I do when I wake up, I saw the exact same boat turn up on the page of a very popular National Geographic photographer who I followed recently. What a coincidence! Here’s the post:

 

So this must have been happening right around the same time we were there fishing. It turns out the boat is a research vessel owned by the Sea Shepherd organization and was named after their longtime benefactor, you guessed it: Martin Sheen himself.

Kinda neat, right?

Fishing Trip to Port McNeill, BC

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Getting the prawn trap ready to drop

I’ve always loved fishing, but it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve been introduced to ocean fishing. This is all thanks to my lovely boyfriend who comes from a very skilled fishing family.

As he is currently visiting from his journalist post up in Nunavut, we decided to try to get ourselves a fishing trip in. A quick 5 hour drive north to Port McNeill and we were all set to go.

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Handsome ship’s captain

We’ve fished before around Nanoose Bay and we always have good luck. We generally pull up rockfish, greenlings and small lingcod with the occasional salmon or sea cucumber. We also usually set prawn and crab traps which do well and once even nabbed us an octopus.

Fishing up north is a bit different. We had to try a lot of spots in order to get any nibbles and prawning was a  no-go, except for the dozen or so good-sized whelks that came up. We like those kinds of surprises though and I plan to try to use them in a tasty chowder. Crabbing was hit or miss, but when we hit we really hit. We easily pulled in our limit of two male Dungeness each per day and they were the biggest crabs I’ve seen, many dwarfing our crab calipers.

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One of our whelks

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Big male Dungeness crab

Once we found a good spot, we started pulling up yellowtail and quillback rockfish by the half-dozen. The majority were released and we kept our limit of one each. Nice big fat fish that made up our dinner that first night. Yum!

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Once we found the rockfish, we found the big lings lurking underneath. I’ve caught plenty of small lings before but was shown the fight of my life with my first monster. He stuck himself against an underwater cliff face and wouldn’t budge. It took me almost an hour to land him and I estimate he was around 17 pounds. It felt like I was fighting my dog at the end of the line!

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Little did we know that that would be the smallest ling we would take home this trip. The next one was even larger and came up in record speed, I think it was about ten seconds. My boyfriend gaffed him expertly and not five casts later there was another monster at the end of my line. You know you have a big fish when you think you’re snagged on the rocks at first tug! This one gave me a bit more of a fight but didn’t stand much of chance with no cliffside to jam himself into. Humpback whales spouted nearby on their way through the passage to their feeding grounds as we dragged him into the boat, easily a 22 pound fish and as long as my leg. My new record!

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Humpback whales feeding

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Of course we also trolled for salmon. It hasn’t been a great year here for salmon and this was fruitless for the most part until we tried it in the passage where the humpbacks were traveling. The fish finder was chock full of blips and after about 15 minutes we got our first hit. Another super fast play and we had a great big beautiful coho in the boat. He was hooked through the eye so I don’t think he had a lot of fight left, we got him within about 30 seconds or so. It was the only salmon we got but still a really nice, fat fish that will turn into a lot of tasty meals.

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We also got to enjoy viewing some pacific white-sided dolphins playing in the rip tides and coming quite close to our boat, as if asking us to play with them. Our evenings consisted of my boyfriend professionally cleaning and filleting all our fish and crabs, trading some of our ling steaks for some delicious fresh smoked salmon another fishing couple had prepared, and being rocked to sleep by the gentle waves. I want to go back already!

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Expert fish cleaner

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Gorgeous lingcod fillets

 

 

A Visit to Petroglyph Park

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Although I only live a few minutes away, I’ve never been to visit this little park until today. Despite being a gorgeous sunny day, my dog and I were the only visitors, which is just how we like it.

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This park has been described by many online as “disappointing”. To be sure, it is small, surrounded on all sides by housing developments and the highway, and the “modern” petroglyphs are beginning to take over, see below:

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Pretty sure this one was carved recently

The original petroglyphs can be hard to make out, since they have become overgrown with moss and debris. Here is the main frieze as it looks today, but the individual images are hard to distinguish.

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Here’s an image taken from the internet of how they looked when the site was freshly prepared:

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A little more impressive! It’s interesting to think that so close to my home, Salish people were here carving these images into sandstone over 1000 years ago.

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Two headed bird?

One of my favorite parts of the visit were the dozens of pink and purple fairy slipper orchids that I saw everywhere. I’ve never seen this variety in the wild before and they were exceedingly charming. Apparently the corms used to be a food source for native peoples.

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I also saw a few white trilliums, a flower that always reminds me of my childhood back east, where the woodlands behind my house were wall to wall carpeted with them every spring. Sadly, Google Maps reveals that most of that magical forest is cut down now to make way for housing developments.

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One of the best things about this miniature park is that not too far in and up and you are treated to this pretty breathtaking view:

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Definitely worth a visit!

A Little Trip to Seattle

I recently went to visit my new nephew for the first time in Issaquah, and was lucky enough to take the Victoria clipper ferry over with my mom for company. I like the clipper ferry, it’s kind of like a plane ride with way more legroom and way more relaxed border security.

One of the days in Washington was spent in Duvall, for Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my nephew’s grandma on his dad’s side. It was great to finally get a look at the setup she has going, I had been hearing loads of stories about all the dogs, goats and sheep running the place. Truly, it was a dog paradise. There were five (six?) assorted dogs and most of them had cozy sweaters on. They had their own dog door leading into the expansive backyard and dog beds in every corner.

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I was also introduced to the goats and sheep, The goats were huge, since I guess I’m used to seeing Nigerian Dwarf goats around here. Basically you could almost ride the goats, they were that big. I was informed that one of the grandkids actually has ridden the goats and I was jealous.

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There were also a pair of sheep, who were completely adorable and also looked fun to ride. I think she said they were Cotswolds. Apparently I can have their fleeces when it comes time to shear them! Very excited about that.

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My birthday happened while I was there, and I was taken to the aquarium for the day to celebrate. Despite how bright and vivid all the displays were, somehow I didn’t get very many good photos. It was still fun, I always enjoy any aquarium I visit.

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Unfortunately I must have had too much fun and brought back with me an exotic American cold. I haven’t been sick in a few years, so I kind of forgot how to do it. I was doing okay until the Raptors Centre Christmas party, where I obviously talked too much bird talk and lost my voice. A week later, the voice is still gone but I feel the cold is finally almost on its way out.

And of course the whole reason for the trip is this little cutie pie right here. Great to finally meet you little buddy!

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