Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wayne and Margy's Summer Vacation

Powell River Ferry Terminal
Life on a Powell Lake float cabin is like a perpetual summer vacation, but sometime Wayne and I think it would be fun to do something different. Our 2015 "summer vacation" is an example.

We loaded up our 1989 Ford Tempo with the Big Yellow Banana, our 20' Current Designs Libra XT two person sea kayak. If that wasn't enough, we crammed lots camping gear in the trunk and back seat.

We set out for Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. That's not as easy as it sounds. From Powell River, you have to catch a BC Ferry to Comox before driving along the Island Highway north to Campbell River. Because Mr. Kayak starts to vibrate quite a bit over 80 kph, we decided to take the old coastal route 19a. Plus, it's much more scenic passing forests, farms, and finally right along the shore.

Our old 1989 Ford Tempo with the Big Yellow Banana on the Comox Ferry.

After a quick McDonald's run for a McFlurry and wifi for our iPad GPS, we headed out of town to Strathcona Provincial Park. We had reservations for two nights at Buttle Lake Campground to use as a home base for exploring Buttle and North Campbell Lakes with Mr. Kayak.

Blocking the road to load up.
It's excellent road all the way, and our old Ford Tempo with it's big load was doing exceptionally well. We decided to stop at the Strathcona Park Lodge just outside the park to check it out. We parked along the road and walked around to see all the amenities: cabins, lodge rooms, restaurant, hiking, water sports, and special youth activity and education programs.

When we got back, the Tempo wouldn't start. Seemed like vapor lock, not surprising on a hot day after a long drive up a mountain road. We sat in the shade and let her rest -- several times. By 5:00 we thought we better call for a tow. We have AAA from the States, but it's seamless with BCAA.

Strathcona Park Lodge entrance was our exit.
In just over an hour, Clint and his a big tow truck arrived from Coastline Towing. That's amazing. Sometimes you have to wait longer  in the big city. Coastline serves Vancouver Island, and will even go out in the bush to get you out. Good to know! First Clint unlocked the car, which accidentally got locked with the keys inside on the last try to get it started.

Clint determined that there wasn't anything he could do except haul us back to town. Fortunately, their big truck had ample room on the bed for the Tempo with it's long load on top. To get her on board, we had to block the road in both directions. Wayne went out to assure drivers it would be quick. You see, salmon were running up the coast at Tahsis.

An overnight and all day stay at Gord Knight for repairs.
When we got back to Campbell River, Clint dropped us at the Gord Knight used car sales lot with a full service shop. Don't tell our Tempo, we did have fleeting thoughts about a trade in. But fortunately the mechanics found a burned out inertia fuel shutoff switch. It's supposed to protect you from fuel leaks during roll over accidents. Basically, it shuts off all fuel flow. Not good when you are trying to take a summer vacation.

The fix wasn't expensive, so the Tempo was reprieved. But by that time, we didn't want to head all the way back to the campground. We'd already spent one night in town at Painter's Lodge (watch for a future post). All we wanted was make it back to Comox to catch the last ferry, and head up the lake and our perpetual summer vacation at home.

Do you have any funny (after the fact) summer vacation stories? -- Margy

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

Need a large casserole to share with family and friends. This pasta dish is easy and inexpensive. Have leftover chicken, it's even better.

I started with this Campbell's Soup recipe and then made it my own. If you need a smaller portion, check it out.

Easy Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
3 stalks celery diced
1 bell pepper diced
2 cups mushrooms sliced
2 cans condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup cream (or milk)
1/4 dry sherry or white wine
3 tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups spinach steamed and chopped (or a frozen package)
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-pound package of spaghetti cooked and drained
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Cook 5 skinless boneless chicken breasts in boiling water, cool, and cut into bite size cubes. Set aside.

Saute onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Add soup, cream, and wine. Cook on low.

Steam spinach. Squeeze out as much water as possible and cut into smaller pieces. Peel, seed, and dice tomatoes. Add both to the sauce mixture.

Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme (or your favourite spices).

Add prepared chicken and cook on low.

Cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain and rinse with hot water. Add spaghetti to the chicken and sauce mixture and blend thoroughly.

Transfer the cooked ingredients to a 9X12 inch baking dish, or several smaller ones if you plan to freeze them for later use. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until it is bubbling and the cheese is browned

I split my batch into one small and one large casserole.

The small one made two dinners for Wayne and I while we were in town at the condo. The rest went to our friends in the Maithus clan, where the bigger casserole was enjoyed by all. -- Margy

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Arlington Fly-in

Last Saturday, Wayne and I went to the annual Arlington Fly-in at the Arlington Airport, not surprisingly in, you guessed it, Arlington.

This important aviation event has been going since 1969. It started as an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) get together and spaghetti dinner.

It has grown a lot since then. It's even grown since Wayne and I first attended in a rented Piper Warrior in 1984.

That trip included a funny story. We had just spent a wonderful night at the Paradise Ranch in Grants Pass, Oregon (now closed). We enjoyed the local wine so much we bought two bottles to take with us.

Airplane camping at the 1984 Arlington Fly-in.
To protect the bottles, we wrapped them in towels and put them in our clothes bag. But we guessed wrong about the tolerance of corked wine bottles lying on their sides.

When we landed at Arlington, everything was soaked in wine, so our plane became and impromptu clothes line. Good thing we didn't have to explain the strong odour of alcohol to anyone for a couple of days until we could get to an laundromat!

We meet up with Bob from Powell River.
This visit to the fly-in was more uneventful. We went in our car on the way back from a basketball game in Seattle.

The last day was overcast, but the rain held off for the three days of the event. There's still camping on the field next to your airplane.

As we were walking around, we found our friend Bob from the Westview Flying Club in Powell River. He comes every year with his Tri-Pacer.

Flight of eleven approaching in an arrow formation.
In addition to airplanes, there are static displays, vendors, lots of food booths, and aerial demonstrations. On the last day there's even an airshow.

We didn't stay long enough for the show, but that didn't matter. All day long there were airplanes coming, going and flying in unique formations.

This group of eleven planes went overhead several times. Their last maneuver was the flying arrow for obvious reasons.

The Arlington Fly-in is every year in mid-July. Mark your calendar and watch their website.

The entrance fee for walk-ins was $15 and children 15 and under were free. They even had a special kids day, making it a great family event. Have an airplane? People arriving by air get a reduced rate. Maybe next year we'll fly 997 down and camp with our friend Bob. -- Margy

Friday, July 10, 2015

Seattle Stormin'

Tonight Wayne and I went to a Seattle Storm women's professional basketball game. We really enjoy women's basketball. You can get great seats and the women play more as a team than the pro men. Yes, there are stars, but they all work together in a more cohesive manner.

Tonight the Storm faced off against the Phoenix Mercury.

The Storm play at Key Arena, right near the lofty Space Needle in downtown Seattle. The Space Needle is quite an architectural marvel (and tourist attraction), especially on a nice summer day with clear blue skies.

But for our trip today, it was stormin' with high clouds. Guess that's appropriate considering the team's name.

We chose to come all the way down from Powell River for this particular game for two reasons. Of course, we wanted to cheer on our "local" Seattle team.

Brittney high-fives a teammate before the game.

We also wanted to see Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury play. She's a remarkable player who we've followed since she played college basketball for the University of Connecticut.

Brittney Griner making a free throw.

Tonight the Mercury won 94 to 79, but the Storm fans never quit cheering for their women. That's a loyal following for sure.
If you want to know more about Brittney Griner, she's written a memoir. In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court is available in print and Kindle formats from Amazon. It's an amazing read about a strong woman who has overcome many obstacles to become a professional basketball star.

And this month, Brittney is being featured in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue available this month on newsstands. -- Margy