Keji A

…or Kejimkujik Adjunct…or Boot Test #2…or Park Pass #2…or Today’s Costume: Even More Intrepid Hiker

Actually Park Pass #2 is a bit of a misnomer as no pass is required to visit Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct. It is more than an hour’s drive from the main park and it is for day use only. Beware, the dirt road leading into the parking lot is currently riddled with pot-holes. The hiking trail takes you to the sandy shoreline near Port Joli and the stompin’ grounds of the piping plover; one of the cutest little beachy birds you’ll ever clap eyes on,  or in a loop out around Port Joli Head and along a rocky shore and back cross the barrens. Today I didn’t see any plovers or even any sand because my goal was to hike only around the headland and along shore to Boyd’s Cove, an 8.7 km total back to the parking lot. Would it be an adventure? The signs were all there:

Notices left by conscientious hikers.

As always, given the warnings, I had to ask myself “Is it sensible to proceed?” (I shouldn’t have written that as an actual quote as my thought was more of a “Hngh?”) The little Angel on my right shoulder whispered in my ear: “Yes. You’re well dressed for ticks, there are no cars to worry about so you won’t get runned over, no recent reports of bear attacks on the news, there is cell service, and it would make a better story if you were eaten by bears.” The devil on my left shoulder whispered “You might get eaten by bears, not to mention being eaten alive by internet trolls who would publicly shame you for going into bear country without a musket” Wait, which one said what? Did the angel promote caution or adventure? Did the Devil wish me to have a bad day or to get eaten by bears? I digress. I heeded the warnings and started down the trail.

The trail over the coastal barrens on the way to the beaches is nicely groomed.

Once at the shoreline I paused only long enough to quench my thirst and then turned right towards Port Joli Head. This section of the trail becomes less and less groomed as you follow the shore and then pass through several patches of woods.

I am always amazed at how a heavy sea can throw rocks up over the landwash.

I didn’t pause to photograph the flora, except for these evergreen cones which caught my eye, because I wanted to maintain a steady pace. I am officially in training for a hilly hike of Cape Chignecto in August; I will  have to be able to keep up with my partner in climb who is much younger and more spry than I.

Do these qualify as flora? Is this a spruce or a fir? I looked it up and, Yes, and I don’t know.

The lichen on this old foundation was as pretty as any flower.

Long before I got to the foundation I began to see bear sign. At first I wasn’t convinced it was bear scat because it not did contain any  McDonald’s forks, bear bells, wedding rings or Rolexes. Also no berries!! What the heck are they living on? Seaweed and grass apparently. That would make for a darned hungry bear. Didn’t bode well. It made me kind of nervy and I wondered if this was an omen:

Was this abandoned balloon all that was left of a child that was eaten by bears?

Sheesh. I obviously have spent too much time reading The Gashleycrumb Tinies! (By Edward Gorey in which B is for Basil assaulted by bears). OMG!!! Is this one of those ropes that babysitters use to keep strings of daycare kids in line on field trips? Has a whole kindergarten class been devoured? Thankfully there were no signs of a struggle. I soldiered on .

What’s with this rope?

Walking along, enjoying the sound of the breaking surf, I would have been lulled into complacency were it not for the rough trail, my tired legs, and the regular appearance of fresh scat.

I love the regular rhythm of the breaking surf – makes up for the greyness of the day.

And then there was a bear. Not close, mind you, but definitely a bear. My mind went into overdrive with ‘what ifs’. Too late to turn back; would add another four km to the hike and I didn’t have that much reserve. Nothing to do but walk towards it. The bear was a little ways past where I had to turn off from the beach to walk overland to meet the main trail. Wait, that’s not one bear, it’s four! A mother and three cubs. Three! She must be extra hungry with all those mouths to feed. Sigh. Nothing more famous than a mother bear’s protective instinct vis-à-vis her cubs. There went my plan to have a snack at the beginning of the boardwalk – didn’t wish to be smelling too highly of peanuts – so I had a glutch or two of bottled water and tripled my pace. Once I had a little distance gained I slowed down long enough to take one snap.

Bears at the beach. The one black bear-like thing on your left is a boulder. At least I think it was a boulder, it didn’t move like the other four black splotches.

By the time I reached the parking lot I didn’t know whether to be relieved that I was spared dismembering, or offended that I was so unappetizing. I added my own note to the bear sighting page.

I really must look into finding a hiking companion; one whom I can easily outrun!! By the way, the boots performed well at all speeds.

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Keji B

..or Kejimkujik Backcountry…or Boot Test #1…or Park Pass #1…or Today’s Costume: Intrepid Hiker

The stars are beginning to align. Earlier this winter I received my Canada 150 National Park pass in the mail and not so long ago I got my new deeply discounted Keen Logan (black and periwinkle) hiking boots via eBay. Last Sunday the weather cleared and it was time to put them both to the test so I drove up Route 8 to Keji. No admission charge, just a few survey questions answered got me past the booth and into the park. I had already decided to walk to back-country campsite #3 by taking a slight detour along the Hemlock Hardwoods trail, about 6.5 Km return from the Big Dam parking lot.  You can find it on this Keji map. There were three varieties of trail on which to test the boots:

Groomed gravel,

 

boardwalk to protect the roots in the old growth area,

 

and not so groomed, as in rooty and sometimes wet and muddy.

Regarding the boots: I didn’t even notice I was wearing them. No blisters or chafing. This is probably due to the fact that I was wearing fancy padded merino wool socks inside them. If you buy these boots, get them a half size too big to accommodate the slight swelling you can get when walking on hot days and to keep your toes from jamming forward when going downhill, and spring for the good socks. The boots passed muster and I will speak no more of them in this post. Regarding the hike: the walk through the Hemlock Hardwoods was beautiful. This stand of old growth forest has some of the oldest and tallest hemlock in the area.

The tree behind me is estimated to be around 400 years old. If I wrapped my arms around the trunk they would go halfway. 

It seems some of these trees are being forced right out of the ground. Or perhaps the ground is growing away from them. Have I been reading too much Tolkien when I wonder if these wise old trees could just slip their roots and walk away? I admire their tenacity.

These roots are braided like a Celtic knot.

There was scarce little flora but I did find a few blossoms trail-side

Painted trillium

and thankfully no fauna other than the two deer I say grazing in a bog on the drive through the park. I worry about coyotes. And bears. And wild bolognas ( you central Newfoundlanders will know of what I speak). I like to worry.

I discovered that back-country campsite #3 can be reached in about an hour. Despite being a pretty site right on the lake, if one is going to make the effort to carry one’s full outfit of camping gear, one might as well cover a little more ground and find a further campsite before suppertime. Next trip out I will try to make it to campsite #46. That doesn’t mean I pass 45 sites to get there, it is actually the next one past #3 on the trail; another hour and a half in in my estimation. I let you know later if that is correct.

Kejimkujik back-country campsite #3.

So the biggest excitement of the hike? I found where the Keji gnomes live:

Gnome home.

Don’t see it? Here’s a closer look:

Gnome door, about eight inches high. 

Maybe next visit I can get a glimpse of the inhabitants. What? Sure there are!!

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Tool of the Week #4

….or In Praise of the Humble Coat Hanger

I recently had to empty some closets. Clothing is much easier to stuff into bags without the hangers and so there grew quite a pile of them on the floor. More of a snarl than a pile. Really, is there nothing more of a convoluted complexity than a tangle of coat hangers? And why do we call them coat hangers when they are just as relevant to shirts and pants? This got me making a mental list of all the non-clothing uses for a hanger. For wire hangers anyway. Here are a few uses that immediately come to mind: stretch into a circle for a wreath frame or a giant bubble blower, straighten out and make a small hook on the end and it can be used to break into a car, to clean a clogged drain, to fish a wire through a wall, to pick a lock, to toast a marshmallow (although it is my opinion that it is one of the more inferior marshmallow toasting tools.) Various other configurations can give you a TV antenna, a stitch holder for your knitting, the frame for a head-dress or mickey mouse ears. They make great S hooks, especially if you glue beads onto the sharp ends.

Super duper home-made cup hooks

I’m sure if you google it you can find thousands of more uses and I just found a Pinterest page dedicated to them. And if your creativity fails you, you can always use them to hang clothing!

By the end of my task I was thinking that I could write a dissertation on the evolution of the lowly hanger but why bother when there is already a perfectly good Wikipedia page. So many varieties in one household was astonishing. That is all except the plain bare-naked wire hanger which was conspicuously absent because it is inclined to leave rust marks if it gets damp. Here is a selection:

Wooden hangers with two varieties of hook.

Fancy wooden hanger with bottom rail that unhitches.

Pants hangers.

Skirt hangers.

Felted hangers.

A variety of plastic hangers.

Hangers that came home with purchased garments.

Fancified store bought hangers.

Home-made fancified hangers.

What to do with all of these random hangers? When we delivered the bags of clothing to the local Salvation Army we asked “Do you want any hangers?” The store clerk just smiled and waved her hands towards a rack. “I guess that means no” I said.

They already had an infinite quantity of hangers.

There were even more in the back room; just about every variety known to mankind.

Sigh. However did we get this far from a plain old nail in the wall on which to hang our coats?

© Judy Parsons 2017

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New Glass

…or Longing for the Peace of Granny’s Kitchen.

  We didn’t spend a ton of time at my Grandmother’s house when she was still there because it required a boat and cooperative weather, but what time we did spend there is remembered as the best days of my life. That’s a big statement, I know. I also know it is not just me who feels that way; my siblings hold the same fondness for the place. Perhaps it was the fung shui of that point of land, or the novelty of the old fashioned lifestyle, or maybe just as simple as the love we felt for Granny and Grandpa. Anyhow, when I decided I wanted to try making a larger glass panel that is the first place that came to mind. There will be four when I am done. Here are the first two. They are approximately 14″ by 17″. Please excuse the shadows from the window trim and the small amount of artistic licence I have taken.

Granny’s Kitchen.

I should explain that there was a day-bed in many Newfoundland kitchens. It was where the men could come in to dry off, warm up, and have a rest, without having to remove their work clothes; a mid-day nap often a necessity when a fellow had to leave the house at first light to check his nets or traps, around four in the morning.  So it wasn’t very fancy. I don’t think I ever saw Granny lie down there; she preferred to nap sitting up with her chin resting in her hand. As kids we would fight over who got the daybed as it was a wonderful place to lounge about and be lazy and eavesdrop on the adults who usually forgot all about you if you were very very quiet. Grandpa would also lie there to listen to the radio, which was battery operated and rationed to important broadcasts like the news, the weather, the steamer report and most important, boxing matches. The rocker was a great place to sit and watch the fishing boats come in to the community stage – you could tell if they did well by how low they were in the water. The door with the glass led into the other half of the house where there were bedrooms and the parlour which was never used, at least not while I was there. When the house was torn down my Uncle saved me the glass from the door. It will become part of a larger piece once I become more proficient. The other two panels are in the design phase and will be constructed next winter.

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North

….or We Spread Our Tiny Wings and Flew

How, you might ask, did we know it was time to head north? Well the signs were all there: the lavender was harvested,

It was exceptionally dry and the trails were too sandy to be fun for biking any more. Danged sand got in and on everything.

Not to mention, my favourite trail was blackened by a controlled burn and now as ugly as yer boot.

The geese were flocking and heading in a generally Northern direction…

and it was 30 in the shade.

So I’m back in Milton, trying to change gears, catch up with friends, unpack, uncover, restock and organize.

It’s a bit early for boats even though today was over 20 degrees. Hard to believe we had snow just last week, but only a bit.

More than the usual excitement: an osprey spent the day on the eagle crag

…and the salamanders are thawing out, though not too lively yet. I even heard someone complaining about the ticks today.

It’s good to be back.

Comment:

Judy,

Glad you and Lance made it back north safely.  I hope you will post photos next winter of the burned out bike trail.  It would be interesting to see how quickly–or slowly–it comes back from the burn.

Thanks for the posts, I always enjoy them.

Cheryl

♥ Thanks Cheryl, I will try and remember to update the trail situation. A park information poster says it comes back pretty quickly with lots of new green growth the following year. I’ll be the judge of that!!

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Tool of the Week #3

….or Meet My New Chicken Lifters.

Once, a long time ago and far far away, while at work, I Googled “lifting techniques” to find some images for a presentation I was giving on how to use good body mechanics. Ha. I hit enter and the screen was flooded with thumbnail photos of boobs in all shapes and sizes. Ha. Apparently getting a breast lift is a way more common search item than how to save one’s back. Who knew.  Anyhow, that’s not what I sat down to show you. My story today is about how to lift a chicken. Now don’t let your mind go to that frightful Mr. Bean episode in which he gets his head stuck in a turkey (I was going to post a link to that but there is something about that huge raw bumpy pink turkey that is beyond revolting ) I just want to show you a quick and easy way to get that pesky chicken out of the roaster and onto the platter.

I regret not posing with this fork in an American Gothic style.

Although I have never dropped a cooked chicken I have come pretty close. By the way, it’s only okay to pick it up and brush it off à la Julia Child if you are alone in the kitchen. I’ve tried it all manner of lifters: wooden spoons, serving spoons, carving forks, getting someone else to do it. But now my problem has been solved. Roast lifters. God’s gift to chicken cookers.

Now don’t be lookin’ too closely at that chicken. I forgot to tie its legs up so they flopped and the underside didn’t brown. Hmmm, that combination of brown and white reminds me of my Florida farmer’s tan.

I digress. The lifters held up well under the weight of this plump over-inflated Winn-Dixie hen. American chickens tend to be more the size of juvenile turkeys so this one over-filled the roaster. You probably don’t want to wonder what they feed those chickens to make them so big. I’m willing to bet it’s not spinach and home-made bread. More likely steroid and corn syrup smoothies. Mmm, smoothies. Where was I? Oh yes, lifters. (I’m going to tag this entry with ‘lifting technique’ so that when someone Googles how to restore their bosom to its former beauty they will get at least one image of a juicy roast chicken) They can be purchased for under two dollars at the local Thrift Store. Lifters, not boob jobs.

I’m a little behind in my Blog entries. Don’t be alarmed if you see Christmas decorations or Valentine chocolates in a May or June posting. It’s been a rough winter.

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Today’s Costume: Biker

…..NO, no, not that kind of biker!  Bicycler.

Our area of Florida has some real nice biking trails; paved, no hills to speak of, not overly crowded. But my favourite trail is an unpaved seven mile loop through Crystal River State Park. I always see critters there – wild turkeys, wild hog, armadillos, raccoons. Thankfully no bears. Well it used to be my favourite trail but not so much this week as you shall see. Here’s how it played out.

It was in late March. I arrived relatively early to beat the heat and was greeted by this sign:

I was rotted but also pleased to think that they were finally doing some trail maintenance. It was badly torn up in one section from service vehicles. I figured I would go as far as the blockade and come back and fill in my time on the paved road in the park. Off I go. And go. And go. No barricade, no caution tape, surely I am more than two miles in. Then I noticed the trees on my right were charred. This was new since last ride but they frequently do patches of controlled burn to keep down the noxious invasives. No, that’s not a Trump initiative, I mean the invasive plants.

 The burn went on and on (still no tape or trail marker) “This is no controlled burn!” I thought to myself. I kept going and the blackened swath along the trail-side showed no sign of stopping. Then I noticed it was getting  a little hazy
And then there was a distinct column of smoke.
The plume dissipated by the time it reached the treetops but it was enough to make me think “where there’s smoke, there’s fire!” What to do? Do I call 911? One thing I did do was turn around and start to boot it out of there. There is little that I am more afraid of than forest fire. Give me a gale at sea anytime, or a night in the woods by myself, but please don’t let me near any fires!! Trying not to panic I shifted up to 14th gear and gave it all my little gnome legs could. There appeared suddenly a critter-chewed map alongside the park trail. Odd, I didn’t notice that on the way in.
It had a park phone number.”It’s an omen!!” Looking behind to ensure there wasn’t a billow of smoke following me, I stopped and got out my cell phone. “Your call cannot be completed….” I tried three times. No connection so I got back on the bike and figured I would try again when I was at the vehicle. In the meantime my imagination went into overdrive. I wondered if I burned alive would that make me a saint. Or did I have to be martyred to be a saint. Or Catholic? I thought, if it catches me I will get off this bike and sit in the path in the lotus position like a good Buddhist monk and let it consume me while meditating on ‘when you’re hot, be hot’. That oughta get my picture in the paper.
It wasn’t long before I was back at the trail head. Intact. There was a different number on the posted sign and this time, thankfully, I connected with a real human.
Me: “Hi..I don’t know if this is the number to call but I was just on the loop trail and saw some smoke…..”
He: “Ma’am, the loop trail is closed”
Me: “No, the sign says it is only closed between mile 2.2 and 5.2….”
He: “Ma’am, the loop trail is closed”
Me: “Even so, I was just  in there and there is smoke”
He: (in a patronizing voice, I’m sure if he saw my grey hair he would have prefaced with Dear or Deary) “We know about the burn. They have it under control. You needn’t worry about that.”
Me: “Well, I thought with it so dry they would want to know that  there is a spot that is actively smouldering”

He: “it’s all fine, Ma’am. We are looking after it”

I wished I’d asked him how long the park was to be closed. I wished I’d asked him if it was indeed a controlled fire or a wild fire. It has been really dry and there were as many as seven recent brush fires in our area. But I was pretty sure by his tone that I was becoming a nuisance so I hung up. In the span of two minutes I had gone from an intrepid junior forest ranger who was out to save the park from total destruction, to errant trespassing criminal. (Indeed, on the way out I passed a sheriff coming in but I doubt if he was looking for me)

Anyhow, what exercise I missed out on in distance I made up in speed. I wished I had taken some photos but was too concerned about being deep fried. So Sunday past I went back only to find the park had reopened. I got my pic of the sign (the photos used above were from my second trip in) and then decided to do the loop. Not pretty. Not pretty at all, but I determined that it must have been a controlled burn because it definitely followed the trail edge on one side only and never crossed over, nor did it go deep into the brush.

It didn’t seem to have scared the critters off either. I saw lots hoof prints in the sandy parts of the road, and one wild turkey who, when she saw me, took off into the charred woods. “Mmmm” I thought “roast turkey.”

The fire was still smouldering and for some of the trail it made for some pretty smoky breathing. I wondered how sensible I was being by biking along a smouldering trail (that’s progress, for many years I never stopped to wonder which can get you into all kinds of situations) and whether I should turn back. Maybe someone just took down the sign and the park was still closed. Maybe it flared up again over-night and no one knew yet. I have to admit to being nervous but I thought, it’s like falling off a horse right? You have to get right back on. So, there being no wind, I completed the seven miles, but the ugly charred landscape sucked the fun out of a good portion of the trek.

So just a reminder to all you woodsy folk: make sure your campfire is out before you go to sleep and don’t smoke. Period. Intrepid aging bikers and Smoky the Bear will thank you.

© Judy Parsons 2017
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New Acrylic

….An Early Start On Easter.

Last year I painted a pink lily from Lance’s garden. I wanted an orange one to go with it – I now like that one better and will revisit the pink lily to try and add a little more depth. Later. Maybe next year.

A pair of lilies.

 

Is it wrong to love your palette scraps as much as your picture?

The finished piece.

DC lily. here  hang together:

 

Here they hang out together.

Lilies.

 

And for those of you who dislike lilies, here’s a teenie tiny bunny I knitted.

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Archaeological State Park Part III

…..or Moonlight Madness

So I figured if I couldn’t sense the ghosts of the ancient precolumbian inhabitants of the Crystal River Archaeological State Park on any old random weekday, I was sure to be able to do so at their  “Moonlight Over the Mounds” tour. It was a perfect night for it on the night of the full moon in February; clear and cool, so I loaded up on bug spray, donned a sweater and headed out.

February full moon at the state park.

We started in the park building with a history lesson which was given by volunteers.

Early gathering. Hey, they cast for fish just like they do in Nfld. for caplin though I don’t suppose the weights on their nets were lead balls. 

There was such a good turn-out that we split into two groups and started at opposite ends of the trails. It was like an episode of Survivor – the trails and the stele were lit with tiki torches.

Only the steps to the ceremonial mound had modern lighting.

Safety first.

We stopped at six or seven locations and listened to a retired archaeologist fill us in on the known history. It was an excellent talk in that it was so professional. No speculation or embellishment or exaggeration for effect. Some folk had arrived hoping for a mystical experience or some enlightenment into the ways of the ancient people that would make our hair stand on end. They may have been disappointed. Only facts based on knowledge of similar cultures or on artifacts recovered were presented.

An excellent lecturer.

But it was far from dry – the volunteer had a great wit and made us laugh frequently. Of course there were the few annoying people who chatted away while we were trying to hear the guy at the front and the other annoying people who took pictures with their cell phones, bright enough to attract attention from any possible life forms on Titan, the moon of Saturn, and completely wrecking our fresh night vision in the bargain. I may have been a little annoying myself, darting around taking pictures, tripping over my tripod.

A dozen phones capture images of the stele.

Thus the poor selection of photos for my blog; I didn’t use my flash at all. And did I get goosebumps? The willies? The sense that there were ancient spirits hovering? Nope. Just another Florida night under the full moon with a bunch of folks as curious as I.

The Spanish moss and tall trees would have made it plenty spooky were I alone.

That’s it for Archaeological State Park adventures. I might look into volunteering if they schedule another dig.

© Judy Parsons 2017

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Archaeological State Park Part II

…….Oh The Drama

  A while back we drove up to look at the Mullet Hole as a possible place to put the kayak in for an afternoon paddle and later I saw that there was a 1. 7 mile bike trail (that’s 2.7 km) starting there and running out to the Crystal River estuary. I’m not actually sure which park it is in; it kind of splits the difference between Crystal River Preserve State Park and Archaeological State Park – didn’t know where one left off and the other started. No matter, it was not a long trail and next to impossible to get lost. Not, however, impossible to get eaten. It looked innocuous enough:

The Mullet Hole.

but the sign said otherwise. So much for launching my old reliable inflatable kayak here. I daresay Mr. Gator has developed a taste for musty plastic over the years; enjoying that first little pop and hiss as the teeth puncture the boat, chowing down on the old squishy coffee flavoured flesh filling, then picking his teeth with the paddle.

Not arguing with those rules.

And if the gators don’t get you the pythons might. I haven’t been kayaking since I saw this on Youtube. (It’s a bit of a long video, taking down an alligator is not a real quick thing)

So I stuck to the very pleasant trail, thank you very much.

Not too scary starting off.

It got a little tighter and very rooty as I neared the end. Felt like I was riding on a Newfoundland corduroy logging roads. I was hopeful it would have the effect of one of those old fashioned weight-loss vibrating machines, but sadly all it did was loosen my teeth a little.

Into the wilds.

So a pleasant little five mile ride in the heat. I sat and had a mug up on a little park bench here where you come out at the end of the trail.  After reading the cautionary sign I will be cognizant of not bringing fishcakes or tuna or kipper sandwiches for my snack. Wonder if gators like tomato with sprouts. You’re never alone very long in Florida:

Wonder if these folks have gator repellent. 

© Judy Parsons 2017

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