Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Vancouver Airport Floatplane Facility

Floatplane entrance/exit ramp on the Fraser River
Wayne and I regularly make the trip to and from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as we travel to and from Powell River.

The Canada/US border crossing time is hard to estimate, so we build in an extra pad just to be safe. After we park our car, we usually have enough time to walk over to the nearby Floatplane Base. The planes are fun to watch, and the Flying Beaver Restaurant has great food.

Harbour Air taking off from the river.
You can walk across the parking lot to the float plane portion of the South Terminal. Float planes (seaplanes) take off and land in the Fraser River. That can be tricky with tides and currents working together or in opposition. Mix in some wind, and you really have to give a hand to the professional pilots.

Several airlines serve passengers at the private and public portions of the YVR Floatplane Facility. They include:
If you like plane watching, there are lots of benches along the riverside path.

Nearby Seair uses the ramp on the shore of the Fraser River to launch and recover their planes using a motorized tug.

Seair taking a floatplane from the river across the road to parking.

All traffic is stopped to allow the tug and plane to cross the road to their parking area on airport property. If you love watching planes, this is the place to go. -- Margy

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Border Songs by Jim Lynch

I like books that are situated in places I know about topics I am familiar with. Border Songs is such a book. I think it will appeal to people who live in the Pacific Northwest, the Vancouver area and Fraser Valley, or anyone who has crossed the Canada/U.S. border. That's quite a broad audience for this novel by award winning Washington State author, Jim Lynch.

The main character is Brandon Vanderkool, the son of a dairy farmer turned U.S. Border Patrol agent. Brandon is an unlikely individual for Border Patrol service. He is a large, physically able man, but has a gentler side for nature. He is especially adept at bird identification, counting his encounters daily. While Brandon takes his job seriously, he is often distracted by the sight or song of an intriguing specimen as he wanders the farms and forests along the border. During some of these diversions, he encounters and captures unsuspecting smugglers and illegal immigrants.

Brandon's father Norm runs a struggling dairy farm right on the border. This week I drove Zero Avenue, and you can see that all there is between our two countries is a shallow ditch and marking posts. On the U.S. side is Boundary Road, the address for Norm's farm. Wayne, a retired professor who is trying to reinvent Edison's light bulb, lives across the ditch in Canada. Wayne's other favourite pastime is yelling at Norm about "Americans" and their political differences.

Wayne's daughter Madeline, a cross-border childhood friend of Brandon's, gets involved with the marijuana trade. One dark night she loads up her racing Laser sailboat and smuggles a package across the open bay to Semiahmoo Spit. Wayne (mine that is) was intrigued by what seemed to be an easy to manage sailboat, so he did some investigation and lots of pouring over copies of Buy, Sell and Trade. But after two summers, he traded it in for an easier boat to learn to sail in. Goes to show you the power of books.

Border Songs has lots of twists, turns and U.S. vs. Canadian humour. It was an enjoyable read for me, especially because I knew a bit about it's setting, people and issues. If you do read it, let me know what you think. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cozy Corner Books and Coffee in Ferndale

Chris, the owner of Cozy Corner Books and Coffee
Last week I stopped in at Cozy Corner Books and Coffee in Ferndale.  The owner, Chris, has consolidated his two stores into one at the Ferndale location.

I love this used bookstore, so I'm very glad to still have one nearby! Cozy Corner has a great collection to browse, reasonable prices, and a "cozy" atmosphere to read and enjoy coffee.  They even give you credits on books you return for discounts on new purchases.

My sister MaryLee cozying up with a books
You can tell Chris takes great pride in his store and provides his customers with a high quality experience. On this trip my sister MaryLee came along with me. She's an avid reader as well.

As usual, I checked out the local books section. I love it, they consider Canada local. There were several Canadian titles, but I chose My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir. It's a classic originally published in 1911.

Books are well organized by topic and attractively displayed.
Then I found two books by Canadian Author Margaret Atwood. Alias Grace (1996) a historical fiction about convicted murderess Grace Marks, and The Robber Bride (1993) is set in Toronto about three woman friends and a common nemesis. All three promise to be great reads.

On a shelf near the window you'll find books from Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series.  Maybe one will still be there when you arrive. But never fear, there's lots of wonderful books to choose from.

You will find Cozy Corner Books at 5722 2nd Avenue in Ferndale, Washington. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 5:00. You can also reach them by phone at

If you're a book lover, you've got to visit the Cozy Corner. -- Margy

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cornucopia on 5th in Eugene, Oregon

Cal State University, Long Beach, at bat.
We're back in Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA 2016 Women's Softball Regionals. Fifth ranked University of Oregon is hosting in their new Jane Sanders Stadium. The weather's been cloudy, but no rain, so far.

A bonus was that California State University, Long Beach (Long Beach State College when I went there in the 60s) was here. I kept switching T-shirts between games. Unfortunately, CSULB didn't make it to play UO.

While in Eugene, we never miss having dinner at our favourite restaurant, Cornucopia.

The Cornucopia is funky, bright, colourful, and popular with locals, college students, and tourists like us. It's tucked away on 5th Avenue next to the railroad tracks. You can even see trains passing by through a window behind the bar. How cool is that!

What's a vacation without lots of good food. We probably should have opted for a light dinner after all the fan food at the game, but NOT.

We had the Saturday special, a hot meatball sandwich, fries or tater tots, and a brew for only $12.99. There's a different rotating special each night. Plus, they have a varied menu with something for everyone.

Local microbrews are available on tap, and there's a reduced price happy hour M-F 3:00-6:00. Regular hours are from 11 am to late night, and they offer local home/office delivery. You can find the Corucopia online or Facebook.

The Cornucopia makes for a perfect end to a long day of sports whether it be softball, basketball or football. -- Margy

Friday, May 13, 2016

Driving the Oregon and Washington Coast

To cap off our mini-vacation to Eugene, Oregon, for sports and more, Wayne and I took an extra day to drive back to Bellingham along the Oregon and Washington coast. It's been a long time since I've been there, and Wayne had never been to some of the areas.

We left Eugene on State Highway 99 heading north to Corvallis. From there we crossed the Coast Range on Highway 20 to Newport, Oregon. We've been to Newport quite a few times in 997, but this time we got to see the lush farmland and forested mountains up close.

From Newport, we followed Highway 101 north with an overnight stop in Astoria at the Holiday Inn Express right on the Columbia River. The next morning we headed across the mighty Columbia on the huge and very long Astoria-Megler Bridge over the river's mouth.

Highway 101 weaves in and out along Washington's west coast. The Pacific Ocean was a brilliant blue with large white breakers on this warm spring day in May.

A few clouds started to dot the sky as we travelled farther north. If you look close, you can see small lenticular clouds over the tops of the puffy while cumulus. This is a sign of turbulence and a hint of the coming storm.

We had to rush a bit to catch the 3:30 ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. Sure wish the ferries in British Columbia were as inexpensive. Our car and both of us travelled for less than $12.00. Back home it would be more like $35.00.

We stopped in Oak Harbor for dinner at Seabolt's Smokehouse. We shared the Captain's Platter for Two and watched lots of locals coming in to buy fresh fish and shrimp. We'll be going back again for sure.

The last leg of the drive up Whidbey Island took us over the picturesque Deception Pass Bridge. Even this early in the season there were lots of tourists parked along the road to catch a glimpse of the rapids running underneath.

Thanks for coming along on our trip this week. Hope you had as much fun as we did. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Emerald City Roller Derby's "The Big O" Tournament in Eugene, Oregon

Wayne and I've been going to roller derby games at home in Powell River. The Pow! Town Roller Derby is only a few old, but they now have a really nice dedicated venue for their team practices and meets.

When Wayne and I were having breakfast at The Keystone Cafe in Eugene, Oregon, we noticed a table of women wearing Auld Reekie Roller Girls shirts.

Wayne was curious and Googled to see if there was a game in town.

To our surprise, there wasn't just one game but a huge tournament with teams from around the world skating simultaneously on three separate tracks.

The Emerald City Roller Derby team from Eugene has hosted The Big O tournament for the last five years. What luck for us.

Emerald City vs. Chicago's Windy City team.
By the way, the Auld Reekie team came all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland, to compete.

Roller derby is now skated on a flat track. Larger teams belong to the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.

Roller derby started in the 1930s on a banked track and became a spectacle sport much like wresting. In the early 2000s, flat track roller derby took over and spread rapidly around the world. Its popularity is related to the minimal track and equipment needs. And besides, its lots of fun.

Click on the video below to watch the action.

The women are true athletes, but have carried forward the tradition to pick nicknames to match their personalities such as: Miss Kittie La Rue, Psychotic Rage, and Spunkee Bruizer. Even the referees get into the act. Check out the Umpire Strikes Back.

Do you have roller derby in your town? Have you been to a game yet? If not, you should give it a try. -- Margy

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Keystone Cafe in Eugene, Oregon

Wayne and I have a favourite breakfast stop when we travel to Eugene, Oregon, for sports events at the University of Oregon.

In the morning, we get up late and want a hearty breakfast to hold us over until dinner. Within easy walking distance from the downtown Hilton is the Keystone Cafe on the corner of Fifth and Lawrence.

The Keystone serves breakfast and lunch from 7:00-2:00 Monday through Thursday and 7:00-3:00 Friday through Sunday.

Sit at the counter, at an inside table, or out on the covered patio. The menu includes homemade dishes of the kind you remember from "way back when." On the menu you'll also find eggless and Vegan selections.

Even though it was a Saturday, we got immediate seating. We were invited to help ourselves to coffee from the self-serve bar while we waited to give our order to the helpful waitress.

I opted for my favourite, biscuits and gravy. Wayne had the Eggs Benedict with crispy bacon, spinach, and tomatoes. I snitched a few of his crispy homestyle potatoes to go with my leftover gravy. Yum!

The service was great considering how busy it was. Of course, it was filled with lots of locals and a table of women dressed in roller derby shirts. Stay tuned for more about that later. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

University of Oregon Women's Softball

It's women's softball season, so we headed back to Oregon for another tournament. This time we went to Eugene to watch the University of Oregon women play against the University of Arizona. Earlier this year we saw both teams in action. In March, Arizona was matched up with their rivals from Arizona State University. And just three weeks ago, we saw Oregon play their main rivals from Oregon State University.

Cheridan Hawking, the Hawk, pitching.
For us, the highlight of watching the University of Oregon team play is following their star pitcher Cheridan Hawkins, the Hawk.

She's an amazing left-handed pitcher. And during the Friday night game, she achieved her 1000th strike out. Quite impressive!

This is our first game in the university's new Jane Sanders Stadium. It's very nice, but for two of the three games it was a sellout.

Happily seated in the new Jane Sanders Stadium.
Originally we could only purchase general admission tickets for the outfield. But closer to the game, we used StubHub to purchase seats in the main stadium that were being resold by season ticket holders.

Wayne stood out front before the first game and "sold" our extra outfield tickets for free. It took a while, but we found new owners for all of them.

It's said that additional outfield seating will be added for regional games. They are going to need it because Oregon is #1 in the Pac12 and #6 in the nation. They are sure to be selected as the a site for Super Regional and Regional playoffs. -- Margy