Thursday, August 17, 2017


The sun rose over the canyon walls.

We took a short stroll by a weeping mountain. Denise spotted a black-headed blue jay.

I loved this yellow flower, growing in what looked like hay.

The mountain does appear to weep, with ferns and lichens lapping up the moisture. 

Why yes, that is a tarantula.

Later Denise and I walked to the emerald pools.

These are cactus flowers: tuna.

The rain falls down from the upper pool.

I liked this bridge across the Virgin River.

All in all, not a bad day's work. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the land of milk and honey

We met up yesterday in Salt Lake City for our eclipse road trip. I managed to catch drinks with Joyce and Nate after a show and then today, we headed south to Zion. 
Chris and I were last here ten years ago. For Denise it was longer, on a bike tour. Adam was still little, so he's getting to experience it for the first time as an adult. 
The slot canyons are jaw dropping. 

We went on a short but challenging walk to an overlook. You can see the natural arch forming. The sandstone erosion is caused by rivers, winding their way through the desert canyons. 

We dubbed these stacks the beehives. (Utah is the beehive state. To Mormons, beehives represent cooperation and industry of honeybees.)
After dinner we listened to a talk by Ranger Brian on endangered species: tiny desert tortoises and Mexican spotted owls and bighorn sheep, which are on the rebound and which we saw. He ended by talking about conservation especially the national monuments under attack thanks to a Department of Interior review. These include Vermillion Cliffs, Grand Escalante Staircase, and Bears Ears. 

We could see the Milky Way walking back to the car. Unfortunately all the pie shops were closed. Looking forward to a lot of great hiking tomorrow.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

community health centres

Cross posting from my design blog: a visit to a community health centre of a different era, the hospital turned hostel where I stayed in Gros Morne.

I've also just finished listening to Sweetland, a novel by Michael Crummey about Newfoundland resettlement. Highly recommended.

Next adventure is coming soon: a road trip for the solar eclipse!

Monday, July 10, 2017


The Skerwink hostel where I stayed on the Bonavista peninsula is feet from the famous Skerwink trail.
It was quite foggy, though the sun burned through in parts. 
The seastacks don't appear to have names. What a missed opportunity in a part of the world that's not shy about language and naming.
 Kind of magical.
 These pinecones are purple.

The seastacks and turquoise water reminded me of Port Orford in southern Oregon. Or hiking in New Zealand.
The total loop is 5.3K, under 4 miles. It's not especially hard, but there are a few sets of steep steps plus mud.

But then you get to the top and it's all worth it.

Spanish moss, making an appearance.

And finally a clear view of historic Trinity and Fort Point lighthouse, whose foghorn I listened to all night. You can see why.
The end winds up in a meadow that could be Pt Reyes (an hour from my house). I earned my brownie.

For more information on the Skerwink trail: from Robinhood bay to Trinity harbor:

Sadly, my adventures end here. I'm back in St. John's headed for one last lobster dinner before I fly west. Until the next time.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

the good view

Everyone kept telling me about Bonavista peninsula. Newfoundland (known by locals as The Island but by people in the rest of Canada as The Rock) is fractal in nature, made up of many rocky peninsulas and bays. Twilingate was one of those long arms. Bonvista is another.

Predictably, I loved this story on "hicksters," hip millennials who are moving back to Newfoundland, some after exile in Alberta or Ontario, and opening trendy cafes and breweries. Bonavista is the next Portland.

I'm at Skerwink hostel, among the best hostels I've stayed at anywhere in the world. (Hopewell, look out!) Gavin and Martha are recent transplants to Newfoundland. True travelers, they've thought of almost everything. All the best conversations, the kind that make a trip meaningful and worthwhile, long after you've gone home, happen around the kitchen table. We stayed up talking late into the night.
I arrived yesterday after driving six hours in the pouring rain on an occasionally rutted road, with moose warning signs, and thick fog. I awoke the next morning to this:
 It looks a lot like Pt Reyes, or like New Zealand.
After breakfast of homemade bread with five kinds of jam, I headed to Elliston to see the puffins. I'd be warned you needed to go early but it was already close to noon.
It's a pretty area, with dangerous large hidden crevices...but I didn't see any puffins.
Next I drove north to the tip of the peninsula, to Cape Bonavista. 
Nice rocks, eh? And yes, that is an iceberg off in the distance. We're back in iceberg alley.
I watched the black and white and orange birds playing in the turquoise water. I snapped their photos. 
But when I got back and looked at them on a computer, it was obvious these weren't puffins. The couple from New Brunswick did see puffins at the lighthouse--unfortunately one of them was being eaten by a raven.  

On the way back, I stopped in at Port Union, Canada's only town built by a union. I thought it looked like a movie set. Newfoundland has a thriving film industry.
These buildings housed the newspaper of the FPU, the fisherman's protective union. We have an old company town in Northern California in Scotia, which was built for lumbermill workers. It never occurred to me that fisherman would have a union--or a rabble-rousing newspaper. Port Union was restored 15 years ago. Bonavista in general has a lot of heritage buildings and sites.

Which is nor surprising considering John Cabot first landed here in 1497. 
Until Newfoundland joined Canada, many locals lived close to the sea, often on small islands. One of the terms of confederation was that Canada would provide health, power, water, and educational services--but they required many residents of remote villages to relocate closer to population centers.

This resettlement era, which extended from the 1950s through the 1980s caused great distress, breaking up communities that had lived in this place for generations. Some moved to St. John's, others to their children in Ontario.

At the brewery I met a local couple, and she said, like many Newfoundlanders I've met, that she'd been away for years, but finally, at long last, she was home.