Subtle shifts in the air….

….I think….

When Sal and I ventured out to the boonies back around the turn of the century, I thought we were going to be on the vanguard of an urban exodus from Vancouver.  I am amongst the first cohort of baby-boomers and we left early (our early 50’s) but I was pretty sure that the cost of living, the increasing urban ‘restrictions’ and the desire to retire would prompt a rush for the Gulf Islands at the very least and probably to other places much more hell and gone like ours.

I was wrong.  Until recently the demographics have remained stable.  Young people leaving; old, old people leaving and the merely senior-old ‘snowbirding’ for longer times kept the local population pretty much the same.  Birthing and dying is also a limiting factor at our age – more than half the population is OVER 65.  The birth/death ratio is out of whack.  But we were ‘holding’.

Didn’t matter how you ‘cut it’ the place was NOT growing.  It was stable but not growing and, to be blunt, all the while that same stable was getting older.  Mind you, all that is anecdotal and concluded primarily from inferential scanning.  One just kinda ‘knew’ what was happening…kinda….

To be fair, it was not JUST gut feel and scanning.  Advertised real estate prices gave an indication.  It is NOT an accurate indication because so much property out here changes hands but NOT through realtors and the MLS.  A lot of change is simply not published, not noticeable.  If there is any indication from real estate ads and such it is that fewer people were coming because the tax assessments were dropping and the listing prices were steady if not occasionally dropping as well.  For the last five years it has been a buyer’s market.  Speaking, of course, of a market that is barely visible….

But now…..?  I think there is something in the air…..

I am seeing more young people coming out here.  A few more properties have changed hands.  Prices have been rising.  Listings are down…fewer choices….The towns and villages on the Island are growing.  Builders are building.

AND more to the point of this blog, I personally, have been asked more often to ‘keep and ‘eye out’ for a piece of property.  In fact, I think it is fair to say that I will be right in predicting that at least two properties will soon sell on our island and several more will sell on the one next door to us.  And this is winter!

Is it a land rush?  No.  Is it a boom?  No.  All it is – so far – is an ‘uptick’.  The migration of youth seems slowed.  The interest from retirees seems increased and, lo and behold, that is enough to pique the interest of the middle aged because they can imagine relocating and finding work.

“Dave, do you watch real estate trends?”

Yes and no.  I watch trends of all kinds.  I am fascinated by group behaviours and the economics they create and, of course, real estate is usually one of the easiest markets to keep tabs on.  So, yes.

But do I keep a running tally of the value of any one piece of dirt vs another in one town or village or OTG situation?  No.  The money part is scanned only in big chunks (hmmm….everything used to be listed in the 500K range and now everything seems in the 700K range….?).  Of course, the last scan might have included bigger or better properties so there is NO real analysis…

…….just something in the air….

A funny thing happened on my way to (and from) the forum.

When living OTG first piqued my interest twenty years ago, I did what everybody does, I read and did research.  Of course, reading is somewhat two-dimensional and it is the hands-on experience and personalizing that fleshes out one’s knowledge.  Books just weren’t enough to give me the perspective, the sense, or the feel for it.  Not for me, anyway.  But the Mother Earth News forums were a good compromise back then.  A great interim first step.

The MEN forums gave the topics and the people came together to share and explain the nuts and bolts of things, the stories that happened to them, the learning and experience of it all.  It was NOT the same as doing for me, of course, but it was a hugely MORE REAL way to learn than just by the often stilted printed words in how-to and instructional books.

Which, by the way, is the reason I write in such a personal-to-me way.  It was that style that I learned from.  It is ‘forum’ style and it reaches me.

The best part was that, after awhile, you got to know ‘the regular’ contributors.  In that ‘virtual’ forum, you made friends, bonded, made judgments and generally acted as much like a community as a computer and the internet will allow.  In fact, the MEN forums were the most human and personal places I ever found of that medium.  I still have friends from that time.

One just wrote.  It’s been ten years.

“Hey, David, don’t know if you’re still around but thought I would holler at ya.
Not much going on here, still kicking barely.  Had mitral valve surgery 
last week, and I’m doing about as good as I can. I’m trying to make it 
another year, not so sure I will though. Had a fib hit me about a month 
or so ago and my defibrillator kicked me 2 times and brought me back.
How are things going for you?” 

SK is/was a poor, Georgia ‘cracker’, ex-military vet with health problems, a lot of country wisdom and skills and even more knowledge on domestic animals.  He is single, kids grown and they were in the military, too.  Guns.  Engines. Flags on the porch.  Lonely.  Lots of dogs.  He was hardscrabble and food stamps.  Dirt poor and unemployable.  But generous to a fault and very helpful.  I liked him then.  I like him now.

He wasn’t the only one, of course.  There was P-45 immortalized as one of the characters in our last book.  The OOMs, of course.  A whole book in themselves.  Many more.  And nor was the MEN forum the only place to find friends.  Other OTG related bloggers ‘connect’.  So do readers.  I would venture a guess that I might have at least a dozen REAL friends as a result of the blogs and forums, books and other internet connections (DeWayne, Derek, John, Aldo, plus, plus, plus).  And I am sure I have 100 or so ‘internet friends’ that are very real at a certain level but that will never actually be encountered in person.

Deer Garden writes an OTG blog (see blog favourites).  Her husband had health issues too.  She shared that story.  Without being cardio-savvy, I am guessing but both SK and DG’s husband, E, had/have the same kind of bad hearts.  SK now lives in Kansas but E lives in BC.  E is going gang-busters.  All I ever read about E is how he is a-building and getting in fire-wood and doing projects and being busy all the live-long day.  E is a dynamo probably by nature but being the recipient of a new heart some years back made everything better. See E go!

The point: see socialized medicine work.

SK again: “Still in Kansas, I’m slower that’s for sure. 🙂  The ole heart is done 
for I fear, the valve was the last thing they could do. Got turned down 
for transplant due to no money to pay for the drugs afterwards.  That’s 
Waiting to see if I get any energy back to make decisions on whether to 
keep my 4 cows n 2 goats n 10 chickens.
Its cold here, freezing my butt off. Haven’t had heat.  No money to buy 
wood to heat with due to medicine costs.  Gotta love social security.
Hope your little island is warm and snug.   Haven’t heard from 
P45 in a long time.  Most of the rest of the folks we know are 
still around on the forum.”

I am sure there are a lot of differences between E and SK.  Especially now at 70.  One’s ‘Merican, the other a Canuck.  They are basically the same age, tho.  Same interests.  They are both skilled and love OTG.  They both had bad hearts.  The only tangible difference I know is what I read on the blogs and the forums.  SKs heart has limited his whole life, restricted his relationships, stopped his creativity and will likely soon kill him.  E was offered another path and it turned out better.

We, in Canada, have some real issues to deal with and even our socialized medicine can be drastically improved.  But E didn’t have to go to war.  Neither did I.  SK did.  And so did his sons.  E had his faulty heart replaced.  E has a rich life.  SK doesn’t.  And SK has had to carry his burden alone for 30 plus years.   American Capitalism has not been generous to SK.

Our peaceful, somewhat more socialized government is the difference.


‘Helping Professions’ has become an oxymoron

The following is a bit of a rant.  Spare yourself.  It’s a bit nuts.  I am getting weird.  I wrote it because I believe it.  Because it is true.  And, because I just went to help a non-profit deal with a landlord and came face to face with good humans doing good things but still putting money foremost in their considerations.  They have to, they think.  They are in the ‘money-making’ business and, as the one said, ‘gotta make a buck, eh?’.  I wanted to reply, “No.  You don’t gotta.  It’s a choice.  You can give as well as get, ya know?”

But I didn’t say that.  Waste of breath.  Foreign concept to the point of a foreign language.

But it made me think…..

If you help and get paid for doing so, aren’t you somewhat diluted in your kindness and caring account?  Are you helping someone or selling your service?  I mean, is a prostitute in the kindness and caring business?  And, if a prostitute is a moral sell out, what then is your doctor?  Your lawyer?  Your therapist?  What then of the institutions that control those professions and do so to maximize income for their members?  Are those institutions there for the benefit of society and community or to keep their members wealthy and from being strung up?

Quick gut check for an answer: how do you view the BCMA?  The Law profession?  POLITICIANS!  Courts?  Police?  Gotta lot o’ love, do ya? 

Short answer: Yeah, they care but they have been taught NOT to.  They have been counselled to ‘limit their caring’ or else they will burn out (which is partly true).  They have been advised to ‘makes sure to first get paid’, ‘fill in the form – get their name and identification number.’  The ‘client’ and their needs or problems is NOT where the attention is focused first.  Not ever!

Caring and humanity have left the building.

For the record: if you are hit by a car on the street outside the emergency room of a hospital, no one in the Emergency Department will attend.  Rules require an ambulance to bring the victim in.  For the record: if your 16 year old is strung out on heroin, you cannot legally snatch him/her and put them in treatment.  (Even if you accidentally hit a deer with your car and it is wounded, in pain and lying at the side of the road, you are not legally allowed to ‘put it out of it’s misery’).  Doing good?  First, get a permit.

None of those rule-following situations are there for the benefit of the victim or even the Good Samaritan trying to help.  They are there for the professionals that might be involved later down the process.  And those would be those ‘HELPING’ professionals.

Worst-named oxymoronic profession: Conservationist.  THEY kill animals!

A doctor friend of mine told me that when being interviewed by the BC Medical Association, the entire conversation was around how to ‘max out’ billing fees, get tax advice and set up RRSPs.  Nothing on the Hippocratic oath.  Nothing on patient care, nothing on making the system work better, nothing on ‘how to do a good job’.  It was all financial advice.

Another way to make the same point: If I do something nice for you and help you, you say thanks and we build a relationship and all is well.  If you pay me for the assistance, you are saying, “Here.  Take the money.  We are now even.  Goodbye.  Don’t call me, I’ll call you.  We are done here.”  If I take the money, I am saying, “Fine.  I agree.”    In effect, the monetary transaction served to separate us.  No relationship.  So, if money has that effect and the helping professions are all well-paid, are they really helping?  If so, who? Or, better put: ‘who first?’

I dunno.  I guess it is helping.  Kinda.  In a corrupted way.  But NOT with care, kindness, humanity or compassion.  More like ‘management’ than care.  It is business because of the monetary transaction.  And money separates us.  Is the ‘professional perspective’ only a money-getting one?  Helping by separation?  Is that even possible?

“Dave, what ARE you going on about?  Money is a necessary means of exchange and common to our way of life.  You are attributing traits and characteristics to it that are in your imagination.”

I guess.  Clearly it is a means of exchange.  Clearly people have to eat – even lawyers.  And clearly our means of distribution and service in large numbers requires that medium-of-exchange otherwise things would not get done.  I agree with all that.  It is just that in the helping professions care and humanity (and the original motivation) is ALSO severely eroded by the money exchange.  And money has that same affect everywhere.

Looking at an exaggeration as an illustration:  Trump wants people to pay ‘their fair share’.  Wants NATO to pay more.  Wants NOT to pay into the UN. The effect of holding off the dogs of war has no value to him.  Trump only knows how to measure life in money.  He has no decency, no manners, no morals, no honour.  He lies and he cheats.  And he is rich.  I dunno….those two aspects of the elite life seem to have a natural attraction…they seem drawn to one another.  Sociopaths and money go hand in hand.

They say a rich man can never get into heaven.  But it is a ticket into politics.  

Put yet another way, do you trust the super wealthy or powerful to be good people?  Well, do you?

Here’s what I really think…I think money was a necessary evil and I think it still is.  But it is evil.  At all sorts of levels, money is bad.  It IS convenient, I will give you that but it is MORE convenient for corporations and governments than it is for Bubba and Joe.  And governments and corporations are sociopathic by design.  The more we ‘value’ by money and ‘think’ with money, the more money plays a role in our life and makes our decisions for us.  And the more absorbed we are into the nightmare that we are currently seeing unfold with climate change and Trumpism and family erosion, drug use, street violence, terrorism, and on and on.

Money may be necessary but it is NOT benign.

Would giving up money and just ‘doing favours’ for one another work better?  Strangely, the answer is: that kind of behaviour does seem to work better way out here but, honestly, ‘doing favours’ cannot work without relationship and it is hard to have that in an urban setting.  Even harder when dealing with 7 billion people.  So, no.  Money is here to stay.  But the point of this rant is to say, “Do not love money.  Love people first.  Dogs second.  The planet is tied for first and second.  Money should be the last thing on a very long list. 

These days, it’s first.  And that madness is showing up a lot.

Jus’ sayin’…..  



Remembrance Day

I barely acknowledge it.  I don’t hate it like I hate some stupid societal rituals but I don’t feel what I should about it.  So, it comes.  It goes.  I should put on a better show than just buying a poppy, I suppose, but my father didn’t have much time for it.  I learned from him.   And he should know.

Seaforth Highlanders.  Italy.  WWII.

My father was wounded badly in a historic battle at Ortona.  Hit by heavy artillery. Lay hanging in a tree in the battle ground for three days.  Carried out on the dead cart.  Received a 100% disability pension.  They not only didn’t think he’d live, they thought that if he did, he’d be a vegetable.  And they were right for about 15 years – like the plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, though.  After that, he got a bit of life back but even then, it was corrupted by PTSD writ HUGE.  He was pretty wrecked.  Crazy dysfunctional.  Dangerous dysfunctional.  He was literally a ticking time bomb of violence for two decades.

If you get both your legs blown off in battle, you get an 80% disability pension.  His was 100%.  Think about that.

I have.  I always wondered why 99% wasn’t the highest rating of disability and the top number – 100% – wasn’t reserved for dead.  But, what do I know about war?  I do know this: my father wouldn’t talk about it.  Maybe once or twice.  He thought it was all madness.  Evil madness.  Money madness.  He didn’t think freedom or liberty or ‘our way of life’ or any of that had anything much to do with it – not up the ladder, anyway.  The soldiers were just kids but they were okay.  Governments were all complicit in war.  They were NOT OKAY.  Whatever was true, he never knew it.  It was nothing but a big lie.  It was about ego, empire, lies, money and more lies.  He was not proud for having served his country.  He was not a flag waver.  He just survived a lie.  He was fodder for a corporate agenda.  And he knew it….too late.

Did the country stand behind him?  Maybe.  Some.  Not much from my perspective.  He got two years in the hospital (much of it in a coma).  He got pounds of drugs for years.  Literally.  A box the size of a loaf of bread would be delivered every month.  I once saw him pouring his pills down the toilet.  “Dad, shouldn’t you be taking that stuff?”

“The war almost killed me.  This stuff will kill me.  And they know it.  I flush them to stay alive.”

“Couldn’t you just send them back?”

“Then they would stop my pension.”

I guess I remember.  I just remember it differently than I am supposed to.  I remember the effects on my father, the effects on my mother, the effects on our splintered family.  I distinctly remember the hugely dysfunctional community of veterans and their alcoholism, violence, and inability to cope with civilian life.  I think a lot of people suffered other than just the soldiers but theirs was the worst.  I feel for them.  They were lied to.  They were used.  And then they were ignored.

Until Remembrance Day.  And then they are dead.

OK….I’ve been thinking about that suppressed anger written above.  I am NOT as angry over the past diabolical schemes of governments and corporations and their lies so much anymore.  It was bad.  Our family paid a huge price.  I am angry still.  But it is over and the past should not own me.  The real anger is more fresh and present when I see those who were never there, never suffered, never served, walking somberly and saying platitudes, laying wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  All those rich men.  I get angry when I see Trudeau and Trump ‘posing’ and acting.  Those bastards make me remember in all the wrong ways. 

Potpourri, incidentals, miscellaneous and……whatnot?

Sal worked at the post office the other day.  As she was coming home, she saw a sea lion heading towards her accompanied by a flock of gulls trying to snatch bits of lion-lunch.  She stopped the boat and the HUGE sea lion swam slowly right alongside her.  She could have touched it.  But, the best part?  Just as she was enjoying the moment, two huge humpbacks surfaced on the other side of her 11′ Whaler (only about fifty feet away) and made their presence known with a blast of fish-breath and mist.  “Cool!” 

The creek water that won’t flow downhill has presented again for the umpteenth time.  It’s crazy-making.  This time, the big guns are being brought to the equation.  I am going up with the chainsaw.  This past couple of months saw some short-lived flash flooding type stream behaviour and lots of debris is moved around when that happens.  Sal has tried to clear the small stuff away from the pick-up but the water pressure just isn’t getting up there.  So, hiking and climbing up and down the length of the jumble-in-the-ravine is the next most logical tactic.  “Free the pipe”.  It may be squished somewhere and maybe needs freeing.  Fingers crossed.

Follow-up: we spent three hours yesterday doing all that.  Nothing.  NO water.  Both of us exhausted and sweating from wrestling through the underbrush and me doing the odd bit of chainsawing.  Very discouraging.  My friend, water system sharer and designing partner and neighbour stayed warm and comfortable in his cabin waiting and hoping for our success but thinking all the while that he knew better. “I think it is just bleeding the system, really.  Gotta bleed it right.”

Yeah.  Whatever.

We dutifully reported in that we had been – yet again – unsuccessful in getting water to flow downhill.  Plus we bled everything all over the place.  Blood and water.

After we got home chagrined, soaked and humbled by the sophistry of gravity, we had a shower and settled back into the sloth of a late afternoon and a roaring fire. Sal made a great curry for dinner.

“Hey, Dave!  J and I went over to the water system after you went home and really bled it.  Like, for an hour.  Nothing.  So, I cracked a little tap open a bit and left it overnight.  That did the trick!  Water is a-gushing!” 

I love my neighbour.

This month has been travel hell.  Seems people and things need more than the usual amount of attention and none of that could be done several demands at a time.  Each event needs a separate day and trip.  We will ‘go in’ to the other island at least ten times this month.  Maybe more.  Some of them at night.  That’s 3 hours of travel each time and at least 30 hours of driving this month (mid Oct to mid Nov).  Does that make any sense?  Seriously?  Feral seniors living on a remote island COMMUTING at least thirty hours!!  I just refilled my gas tank and some boat-totes ($160) and have not gotten off the neighbouring island!  Does that sound sane to you?

It sounds insane to me.

Speaking of insane……Trump. Sanders. Conway.  All of them on point with the bald-faced lie of Acosta ‘putting his hands on that young intern.’  Man, oh man.  A president who is a pathological, serial liar and his friends deny what was captured live on camera and then, submit a doctored version of the same film to persuade for the lie.  This is Orwell over-the-top.  This is 5-year-old type behaviour.

In that sense, TRUMP is right.  It’s all fake news.  Nothing is real.

Speaking of hopeless…..Keystone XL is hung up.  Trans Mountain is hung up, (the latter maybe hung up to dry).  AND the price of crude is dropping!  I met Rachel Notley years ago and took an instant dislike.  She too, like Trump and Ford, is rude, arrogant and a self-centred bully.  Nasty piece of work.  I have no time for her.  But, but, but….can you imagine being the NDP premier of the Oil, Cows and Guns province at a time like this?  She’s got the worst job in the world.

Well, Teresa May doesn’t have it easy either and Angela has had enough.  And Trudeau really should hide out more.  Mr. Selfie has gone more low-profile.  The genius of John Horgan?  Mostly invisible.  It is a tough time to be a politician right now.  I suspect that even Trump is unraveling even faster from whatever made up universe he lives in.  I think I see the signs….but then again, he has been mad as a MAGA hatter from day one so it could also just be more of the same.  Hard to tell when they are THAT evil-crazy.


Now to something ‘interactive’……a question…..waddya think?  Winter is coming on.  We hate February here.  It’s bleak, wet and dismal.  Sometimes even cold.  It is NOT unendurable but it is the least best part of being here (altho the extra quiet is nice).  We usually go away, tho.  One month.  Maybe two.  Six weeks is good.  And we have a place to go to.  Arizona.

But, I dunno……?  Arizona?  Yes, it is sunny.  Yes, it is cheap.  And it is likely safe because 90% of Arizonians can’t even spell ‘politics’.  And I am white.  I doubt anyone there reads.  They follow professional sports instead.  The Kardashians.  But it feels wrong.  It just feels wrong to even go NEAR the US/Mexico border surrounded by Republicans at a time like this.  Does anyone know what I am talking about?  I mean….NASCAR-fan, Bubba flipping burgers may be as stupid as the hat he is wearing but he’s no real threat to me.  The sun is shining.  We have a roof over our heads.  Avocados are cheap.  Food is very cheap.  Wine is also very inexpensive….what is NOT to like?  But, still…….it feels wrong…

Know what I mean..? Please way in….

Winnipeg Free Press Editorial cartoon for Nov. 9, 2018

NOT good….

….the midterms.  The midterms were not SO bad but so clearly NOT good that it is a form of bad simply because it was so bereft of good.  Let me explain….

Trump is bad.  Trump sucks.  The GOP toadies are bad.  The GOP toadies suck.  Any 3-digit IQ knows that – even the embarrassed GOP!  And that blanket condemnation could be applied to all the rabble deplorables as well but I tend to forgive the blind, the halt and the lame…and the massively ignorant, addicted and fearful as well.  THEY are conned victims even if they don’t know it.

But here’s the really bad part: November 6th could have been a ‘correction’.  It could have been an ‘oops’.  It could have been a ‘sorry‘.   It wasn’t.  Trump is horrible and that is totally evident but the masses could have ‘sent a message’.  But they didn’t.  As Sarah Sanders said, ‘it may be some ripples but it is not a wave’.   She’s right.

Americans stood up and got counted as bigots, fools and fear-mongerers.  Americans stood up and got counted as idiots.  They turned out in the millions to support a bully-cum-tyrant who lies, cheats, steals and intimidates his neighbours.   Americans stood up and applauded all that.

It is hard to believe but the evidence is there.  Those slimy sycophantic, power-tripping crooks, McConnell, Ted Cruz and Orin Hatch, along with Pence, the ultimate toady-in-waiting, are NOT alone.  There are millions of them!  November 2016 was NOT an aberration.  Trump was NOT a fluke.  It was NOT an accident.  Trump IS AMERICA!

Well, he speaks for half of it, anyway.  The other half are as shocked as I am.

And therein lies the genesis of the two bigger threats.  Civil war and international war.

Let’s face it, Trump (and friends) can make life hell for a lot of people and he has done it every which way but one.  War.  Now that the House of Representatives can partially hold him in check, he has only one viable place to go.  It’s the same place dozens of presidents before him have gone for little reason.  Trump makes up an enemy and then fights a war.  It doesn’t matter who the ‘enemy’ is.  Not really.  War on Iraq.  War on Drugs.  War on Terrorism.  War on WMD.  Waddya got?  Grenada?  Let’s hit Grenada again!  The economy surges, Congress unites behind the flag and a few million pigmented people die by drone strike.  And the idiots continue to march with guns, MAGA hats and wave the flag.

The original All American recipe.

If it ain’t broke……

But something else might be at play here.  It could be Russia.  Probably not.  But maybe. Could be the elite 1%.  Could be simply built-in-the-genes programming.  But wouldn’t an American Civil War be good for Russia?  Good for Iran, maybe?  DEFINITELY good for business.  The elite, the corporations and the GOP could make more profit, consolidate more power.  They would be GREAT AGAIN!

Hell, maybe an American Civil War would be good for the whole world!  Why not?  Let ’em blow each other up for awhile.

Look, I have lots of US friends and I care for them deeply but let’s be honest: the Civil War was never over.  They kept it going.  The North and the South have had an acrimonious relationship ever since Lincoln freed the slaves.  The American marriage isn’t working.  The US is like a very dysfunctional family that only gets it together when fighting someone else.  Hell, they mock-battle every weekend with the NFL and every other kind of violent sport.  ‘Mericans like to fight.  They think it makes ’em stronger.

Fighting gives them meaning.  Something to live for.  Purpose.  They believe in competition, they believe in fighting.  They believe in winning.  They love the game, the stage, the competition, the spectacle and the celebrity.  They love the cheats.  They love the heroes.  They love the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  They watch pro-wrestling.  They love the smell of napalm in the morning.  Most of all, they like to see the other guy fall. If you have any doubt about those preceding sentences, you have not watched even a dozen ‘Merican movies. 

And that, my dear friend, might just be a blockbuster action-thriller coming to a theater near you.

“Do you really think so?”

I dunno.  What do I know?  I guess I know a bit about history.  I guess I know a bit about war and economy.  I guess I know a bit about American culture and I guess I know what they value and worship…..and NOW I KNOW HOW MANY OF THEM THERE ARE LIKE THAT……..

So, yeah… it is a definite possibility and an OBVIOUS choice for a little man like Trump.

Dinner OUT

We left at 4:00.  Dinner at the neighbouring Island hotel was at 5:30 but it was rainy.  It was dark.  We had to go part way by boat.  Also winter is coming and sometimes the trees fall along the logging road to herald the change in season.  An hour and half to get in was a reasonable allowance.

We could go all the way by boat?”

“Yeah.  Never thought of that…..but…nah….not smart.  Not really.  The wind is getting up, our running lights are not working.  Fog has filled the channel every night recently.  I think the logging road is safer.”

“We have the new GPS navigation app on the phone….?” 

“Great!  You suggesting we test it out by intentionally heading into a rainstorm with fog?”

“No.  Guess you are right but I will work the app and see how we do the along the safe route and that will be a good test.”

The group was pleased we made it.  They asked about the journey.  Sally pulled out her phone and showed them the app.  It was still on and indicated the whole route.  Dinner chat made adventuresome thanks to Navionics and a small boat ride in the rain.

At 7:30 while the dinner was slowing but still lingering, I reached over to the new couple we met and said, “It’s been great.  Goodbye.  Time for us to go.”  They were a bit taken aback by the abruptness but there was obviously no offence intended and they understood that being out at sea, at night, in a storm, in the rain, black as pitch meant an early departure was logical.  We said our goodbyes and left.

Getting back was a bit slower.  The rain had intensified and the wind had risen.  But most of that was to be expected and we did.  To a rainy trip home, we were adequately prepared.  Emergency kit stuffed somewhere.  Boots, wet weather gear, flashlights, the GPS….we had even left our house lights on so that we could see the house before we got close.  Basically it was all good.

But, OMG, it was dark.  Black as coal was the night.  Usually when I travel at night going in any direction southerly, I can make out a glow of lights in the distance.  That would be Campbell River or maybe Heriot Bay depending.  Not this night.  This trip was blind.  Even in this kind of darkness, I can usually get enough ‘night vision’ to see the silhouette  of our island and the neighbouring one.  It’s quite amazing how well you can manage your way simply by seeing familiar topographical humps in the dark…..but not this time.  This time – nothing.

So, this time, we used the new GPS and Navionics.  And also aided by the slight flicker of light in the foggy distance, we headed straight home.  Confidently, too.  As our destination loomed out of the not-so-dense fog, we saw our neighbour’s light on as well.  They had considerately left a workshop light on for us, it being the closest light that might have helped.

We got into the house, shed our wet weather gear, stoked the fireplace and put on slippers.  I put on the kettle and checked the time – almost 9:30.  Two hour dinner party…three and half hours of travel.  An evening out hermit-style.  In the forest, on the ocean, in the rain, in the pitch black dark.  Conclusion: we may do it more often.  It was a pleasant evening.  Plus we learned a thing or two about phone apps.