Saturday, September 28, 2013

Celebrating Fall Colors

Inspiration Avenue is all into fall, and so this week's theme is "Celebrating fall colors of orange, yellow and brown". Oh bliss. May I add a little bit of green as well, please.

A couple weeks ago Jo and I went to the National Heirloom Expo here in town. It was a feast for the eyes, the nose and yes, if we had eaten there, the tasting buds. There was one building at the expo that was dedicated to pumpkins and gourds - at least so it seemed when you entered the building.

The heart of the expo certainly was this pyramid of gourds, squash and pumpkins:

But when you walked around this building - and we did go into every little corner of it - you saw other things apart from pumpkins and gourds that showed the glory of autumn - all heirloom, of course.

Flowers were all over the place as well - and they fit perfectly the color scheme of orange, yellow and brown.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Pink Stuff

Last Saturday we participated in the statewide coastal clean up (which actually was a global event!). We went to the same beach as last year and were quite surprised that we didn't find that much trash.

What we did see a lot of was this pink stuff - and I have no idea whether it is a plant or an animal (remains of jellyfish perhaps?). It is rather common at our beaches and I would like to know what it is - perhaps one of you can enlighten me?

This looks different from the ones in the top pictures:

The pink stuff in the very top picture and the two following ones I find rather fascinating - all these pictures were shot "blind" with my camera sitting directly on the sand.

I know what - or better who - this pink stuff is!

And there are no explanations necessary for this one either. (There were several all over the beach - of course it would be interesting to know WHY they were here.)

Here is the entire family - we're about half way through the beach clean up at this point.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The End of the Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt

I almost did miss it - the final post for Rinda's Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt! Hard to believe, especially since I only had four pictures left for it. So let's go ahead, shall we?

#9 A photo with someone or something that is clearly out of place or doesn't belong

That would be trash in nature for me. It simply doesn't belong, and it makes me angry whenever I see it. When I walk around my lake, I always find trash even though there are so many trash bins that everybody can easily deposit of any trash there. I have started to document the trash with my camera, and I have the feeling there is a future post in the making.

#15 A fire truck or police car

When I first read that I thought "that is easy". You know what? It was the last thing I took a picture of. Whenever I saw a police car I either didn't have a camera with me or it wasn't appropriate. So in the end I had to rely on Kaefer and her toy cars that luckily she still keeps. All the German police car you can see in this picture - and please note that there is also a horse trailer as well as a helicopter - are made by SIKU which is the biggest toy car manufacturer in Germany and is based in my hometown. I practically grew up with these toys (I had some myself) and for many of us working at SIKU was one of the first summer jobs we got. These are truly high quality toy cars and as good as undestroyable.

#17 Candle(s)

A visit to IKEA was all I needed for this photo.

#21 A photograph of you with an artistic tool or craft supply

Well, that had to be my camera!

With these four photos, I have found all 21 items - I wouldn't have thought that I ended up with that! It was fun to participate and find the items in the most unexpected places, like the dinosaur on Vancouver Island. Thank you, Rinda, for organizing this and I look forward to next year's summer scavenger hunt!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


When I first read about this week's challenge over at Inspiration Avenue I wasn't quite sure whether I would participate this time or not. But of course the theme was walking around my mind and silently working its magic.

I have always loved the woods and I always will - be it the beautiful mixed forests in Germany, the dark redwood forest in the northern part of my state or the rain forest in the Pacific Northwest.

But then I remembered the piles of wood that you find in or close to the woods in Germany. The wood would be cut to the (almost) same size and then piled neatly - after all, we're in Germany, so it has to have its order! As children, my brother and I loved to climb on and walk along them. When I grew older I often sat there with my back against the pile, soaking up the sun. They were there, every season.

They were particularly beautiful in winter. Some winters were so cold that icicles would hang from them. If it was a good winter, the wood pile would be covered in snow, the sun would dance over it and paint beautiful little patterns with light and shadow and cast its warm light over it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Tiny Place on the Water

Today I am taking you back to Vancouver Island - to be more precise to the North of Vancouver Island. "North" begins at Campbell River, the "end of civilization" at it is often called. Beyond here, "there's nothing up there worth seeing" as anyone below Campbell River will tell you. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After you have passed Campbell River, you enter the extensive wilderness of Vancouver Island. Here, you can find small primitive campgrounds where you can be on your own - our first night here was spent in a campground just north of Campbell River and we were the only people there. It was a bit unusual, especially when we heard someone walking around the campground in the middle of the night - someone with four legs! We never found out what animal it was - a bear? an elk? - but it didn't bother us and we eventually returned to sleep.

This part of Vancouver Island is mainly used by the lumber industry which you are aware of by the many lumber truck signs along the road. This sign below means that lumber trucks enter the road from the right. There are also signs with the front of the truck on the right side (just flip the image horizontally in your mind) which means the lumber trucks enter from the left. At least this is what I figured out after observing this for several (many) kilometers.

The lumber floats on the water, something I had only seen in Scandinavia before, and it is also worked by little boats here.

The North Island has some quirky outback communities, one of them is Telegraph Cove. It is a tiny funky place on the water and is a complete boardwalk "town" with wooden buildings built on stilts.

Right at the beginning of the boardwalk you can see what this place is all about and why you find quite some tourists here:

Some of the best whale watching and grizzly bear tours start here in any kind of weather. These tours are not cheap, but I do think they would be a wonderful thing to do.

One of the whale watching boats

It's a dangerous place!

Unfortunately we didn't... but we visited the Whale Interpretive Center at the end of the boardwalk. It has some fantastic exhibitions and give you a lot of food for thought. This exhibit is the skeleton of a fin whale, the second longest animal in the world.

The busiest place in this small community is the marina with all its little and bigger boats and fisher boats as well.

Another great place to visit is the Killer Whale Cafe almost at the end of the boardwalk, right across from the small office of the Grizzly Bear Adventure Tours.

We ended up here twice during our stay on the North Island. Not only does it have a fantastic Killer Whale Pale Ale (try to say that very fast!) but it also serves the most delicious fish and chips we ever had.

You could choose between cod, salmon and halibut. While the Geek and Kaefer had cod I opted for halibut and a glass of Killer Whale Pale Ale - oh yummy!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kodak Moment

We all know this term, "Kodak moment".

Kodak just recently celebrated their 125th anniversary, and this is reason for Inspiration Avenue to feature the Kodak moment this week. The Urban Dictionary describes a Kodak Moment  as "a rare, one time, moment that is captured by a picture, or should have been captured by a picture."

For me personally, the Kodak moment still goes a little bit deeper. While what is said above is true to me as well, I also feel a Kodak moment touches my heart, creates some kind of connection. It is more than just a picture, a snapshot. It is something that is deeply connected with me, with my deepest inner feelings, perhaps with my soul.

This connection, the touching of what lies within me, makes this photo my all-time favorite.

It was taken in the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum near Tucson a few winters ago. Other than at our first visit, the cougars (or mountain lions) weren't sleeping on their rock, but were quite active that afternoon. Since I have a real weakness for them, I stayed there for a long time, observing them. I eventually figured out that they probably were mother and daughter, but of course I am not sure. I was fascinated by them.

At one time, this cougar went up to her rock and lay down. I thought she was going to sleep, but instead she just watched us. Just staring at us. Many people left by that time (it wasn't interesting enough, I think, no more action), but I stayed, looking back at her. She didn't look away which I had initially thought she would do. We just looked at each other, I was probably muttering something silly like "aren't you a beauty" etc. Anyway, this was the moment when I also started to take pictures of her, and this is the one that shows that moment in the truest way. When I look at it I still feel this, though brief, connection with this wild animal who probably never had seen the wild in her life. I felt my heart going out to her, I imagined to see a tiny sliver of her soul in her eyes.

It was my Kodak moment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Along the Sunshine Coast

Let's travel along the Sunshine Coast - we can take the Water Taxi if you like!

The Sunshine Coast - somehow sunshine is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of British Columbia. In some areas, though, they have more sunshine than in others, and the Sunshine Coast is one of those areas. Since it is on the mainland it is rather protected from all the bad weather by the many islands that you find in the straits, especially Vancouver Island that separates this part of British Columbia from the open ocean.

We took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Gibsons which is the first small town you get into when you have left the ferry. They greet you really nicely here:

It's mainly a fisher town with its own marina (more on that in a later post). I especially loved the signs in this town - signs of direction and the name of one of their fish and chips places.

The view over the strait from here is beautiful. It's pretty quiet as well, just add the sound of the ever hungry seagulls.

We spent the night in a campground nearby and went to the beach the next morning. It's a rocky beach here and rather "rustic".

Driving up the Sunshine Coast, you pass several inlets, all of them beautiful with a big sense of calm - quite what I like.

And watch out for those turtles!!!

When you're half way up the Sunshine Coast, the road ends in Earl Cove and you have to take the next ferry for a 75 minutes ride to Saltery Bay. While waiting for the ferry, you can take in the fabulous view - I would have liked to take the canoe and paddle out onto the water.

Instead, we boarded the ferry and enjoyed one of these peaceful, quiet boat rides that you get up here. It's a little bit like being in a different world - it smells of salty water and old forests.

We passed several smaller islands where people live in wonderful solitude while we listened to some violin music.

We arrived in Saltery Bay in the evening and immediately went to the campground nearby. It was a beautiful campground right in the woods. Unfortunately it was also infested with annoying mosquitoes, so we took our cooking stuff down to the strait's water to cook dinner. We had the place almost to ourselves.

This place was called Mermaid Cove. From here we could see the fisher boats come home and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

There were signs warning us that recently a bear was seen here, but on this evening the bear didn't "lust" for the mermaids.