Saturday, August 29, 2015

“Ride the Rising Wind” by Barbara Kingscote

I follow several Powell River friends online. One day there was mention of a book about horses, one of my favourite subjects. As a young girl in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I dreamed of having a horse of my own. My dad helped by taking me riding at a nearby stable on the Los Angeles River, which at the time was not the cement channel it is today. I always rode Flash, but I think his name was more of a joke than a description of his fleet footedness.

When we came to Powell River, I saw a brochure offering trail rides at Tanglewood Farms. I’ve never completed my desire to check it out, but when I learned that the owner Phoebe Kingscote’s mother Barbara wrote a memoir of a riding adventure from the early 1950s, I had to get it.

Barbara Kingscote grew up in Quebec in the 1940s. She too had a love of horses. Working on a small subsistence farm, she gained the experienced needed to apply for veterinary college. In 1949 when she was twenty years old, the owners of the farm moved to the West Coast, but couldn’t take their horse Zazy. The solution? Barbara would ride the black mare all the way from Montreal to their new home in Lytton, British Columbia. But just prior to departure, Charlie, the owner, gave the mare to Barbara to be her own.

Ride the Rising Wind: One Woman’s Journey Across Canada (NeWest Press, 2006) is Barbara and Zazy’s story of the massive undertaking spanning sixteen months and over four thousand miles. Barbara left with minimal supplies lashed to Zazy’s saddle and $100 in her pocket. She stopped along the way at logging camps, farms and towns to intercept mail, buy meager supplies for herself and her horse, and enjoy the company of generous Canadians all along the way.

When she wasn’t offered a loft or bedroom, the intrepid pair slept under the stars or a tarp in pouring rain. Their winter was spent working in the cookhouse at a logging camp. That was a story in itself. But come spring, the two were back on the road.

To take such a journey today seems impossible. The roads are more like freeways, the traffic even more congested. Towns and logging camps along the way no longer depend on horses, so support would be minimal. That’s one reason Barbara’s story is so compelling. Horse people dream of such adventures and opportunities. The closest I ever came was riding in the Chilko Lake area helping a dude ranch hand with the horses.

After learning about the book, I found a used copy online. And then, strangely enough, I bumped into another at the Powell River thrift store. I always stop in every week or so to see what Canadian and regional treasures I can find to add to my reading shelf. -- Margy

Saturday, August 15, 2015

“On Island Time” by Hilary Stewart

If you want an out-of-print book, there are many wonderful used bookstores and thrift shops. But if you are looking for specific topics, online is often better. I recently searched for books about British Columbia. I found a nice selection for not much more the shipping charge of $3.99 USD. It’s strange, hardbound books are usually the cheapest at $.01. Given the choice, I purchase from It’s reputable and profits go to a good cause.

On Island Time: Stories and drawings about island life and the small wonders of the natural world (Douglas and McIntyre, 1998) by Hilary Stewart was a recent arrival. This one cost $3.99 plus shipping, but it was a signed copy. Cool!

On Island Time is the memoir of renowned author Hilary Stewart covering the years leading up to and including her life on Quadra Island. Quadra is one of the Discovery Islands just off the coast of massive Vancouver Island. It’s easily reached (or relatively so if you know ferries) from nearby Campbell River. Quadra Island, and many other coastal communities, attract authors, artists, and individuals wanting to get away from big city life.

Hilary discovered Quadra while passing through with a friend on the way to his property on Cortes Island (an additional ferry away). Heading home one day she discovered a property for sale near the Quathiaski Cove ferry dock. Her decision was a spur of the moment event, much like our float cabin purchase. Another similarity is that Hilary had to wait for retirement to move into her dream home. She built a cozy cottage, but had to rent it out for eight years. We kept our cabin private, but had to wait five years before we could retire, and three more before we got our permanent residency to live there full time.

Rebecca Spit Marine Park on Quadra
Hilary is a detailed observer of nature around her island home. She provides detailed descriptions and lovely illustrations to go along with her chapters. Her bird watching and plant logs were fun to review. And I’ll try her recipe for Salal berry jam. I have lots of those on the cliff next to our cabin.

Another interesting aspect was her work with educational programs at the Strathcona Park Lodge near Campbell River. Wayne and I were just there this summer. We saw lots of young people having dinner and talking excitedly about their daytime activities.

Are you thinking of getting away from the city to retire? Are you younger, but want a change of pace for yourself and your family? Reading about others' experiences helps you discover the advantages and pitfalls. But like Hilary’s and our experience, sometimes the decision comes to you in the most unexpected way. You just have to know when to make it happen.

Have you made a big change in your life? How did you come to that decision? How is it working out? I’d love to hear. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Painter's Lodge in Campbell River, BC

Painter's Lodge Oceanfront View
Every cloud (even on a cloudless summer day) has a silver lining. After a very frustrating day trying to get to Strathcona Park for two days of kayaking, we ended up getting towed back to Campbell River.

After dropping our not so trusty 1989 Ford Tempo with her Big Yellow Banana (the nickname for our kayak) on top at Gord Knight for repairs, we started walking towards downtown to get a late dinner. Being a small town, a good Samaritan stopped to offer us a ride. And also because it's a small town, we accepted. While eating pizza and salad at Boston Pizza we tried to figure out a place to stay for the night.

We called Painter's Lodge north of town. It's a resort, which was fine with us. We felt we deserved a touch of our cloud's "sliver lining."  We checked in after 9:00 pm and still got a lovely garden view room.

Painter's Lodge is located right on Discovery Passage. It's well known for fine accommodations and dining. We were too lake for dinner, but had a wonderful breakfast in Legends. There's also the Tyee Pub for lunch, dinner and drinks with a view.

Painter's Lodge is well known for its fishing charters and wildlife adventures. You can bundle lodging and tours for some great deals. There's also a free water taxi across the passage to the April Point Resort, another property in the Oak Bay Marine Group Resorts. It runs from early to late linking the amenities of both resorts.

Click here for more information about Painter's Lodge. Wayne and I give it our own personal two kayak paddles up award! more information about kayaking in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, check the Powell River Books Blog by clicking here. You can also preview Wayne's book Paddling the Pacific Northwest on Amazon. It's available in print, Kindle and e-book formats at most online book retailers. -- Margy