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Voyages North
Westview Blackberry Festival August 15, 2014
Elsie Hulsizer
08/31/2014, posted at Sydney, B.C.

Photo: The annual Blackberry Festival at Westview near Powell River

"Are you here for the Blackberry Festival?" the man behind the counter in the Westview Harbour Marina asked us when we checked in.

"Blackberry Festival?" We hadn't even heard of it. We had stopped at Westview because it was a convenient stop between Parker Harbour, where we had been the day before, and Pender Harbour, where we planned to go the next day for their Chamber Music Festival. I hadn't thought of Westview, the bedroom community for the pulp mill at nearby Powell River, as a festival town.

"It starts at 6 pm," the man told us. He turned and pointed through the window to a street up the hill. "They close the main street."

Six o'clock was still a few hours away. We decided to take a walk and explore the town. Already, businesses were busy setting up tents on the sidewalk. Walking along the sidewalk we saw several appealing restaurants, including a South American restaurant. We wondered what the chances of eating there during the festival were.

Six o'clock found us strolling the street with what must have been several thousand other people. Where did they come from? We hadn't realized the town was so large. "The whole town turns out for this," a resident told us. There were families with babies in strollers and toddlers in hand, children carrying balloons and eating (blackberry flavored?) cotton candy, teenagers in tattoos and T-shirts and old folks with canes. They strolled by tents selling everything blackberry plus anything else the owners might want to sell. Musicians playing jazz, rock, and folk seemed to be everywhere.

I stopped to stare at a blackberry pizza ready to go into an oven.

blackberry pizza


The South American restaurant had a large tent set up on the street in front of their building. We sat down and ordered blackberry margaritas and chicken tacos. The tacos weren't bad but the margaritas were a bit sweet. Across the street two men wearing bakers hats in a Safeway tent were giving away cupcakes as fast as they could squeeze frosting on them. We each got one for dessert.

We finished our dinner and walked on, enjoying the bustle of the festival. When we returned to our boat an hour later, the festival was still going on.

Kingcome Inlet, August 4, 2014
Elsie Hulsizer
08/24/2014, posted at Nanaimo August 24, 2014

Kingcome Inlet, August 4, 2014

Photo: Looking up the head of Kingcome Inlet

We hadn't planned on going up Kingcome Inlet this year, but then Loren of Shawl Bay told us about the pictographs at the head of the inlet. We had known about the large recent pictograph but not about the others. "Kingcome Inlet is right around the corner. We should go there while we're here," said Steve. I looked at the chart and saw that in deed, it was right around the corner and is only about 15 miles long. An easy trip up there and back in a day.

Kingcome Inlet was worth seeing for more reasons than the pictographs. Shortly after we turned into Kingome, a wall of white rock confronted us. A massive slide had bared white rocks beneath the forest.

slide

Farther in the inlet we saw domes, U-shaped valleys and smooth rock walls polished by water. Each turn of the inlet showed more fantastic geology, including a face looking down on us from the north side.

face looking down
We rounded the final bend and looked up into the river valley. And then we saw the big pictograph of a copper on a wall above us.

large modern pictograph

It was all beautiful and fascinating but I wondered, why would an artist creating a masterpiece choose to put it where few people would see it? We didn't see another boat the whole day. Obviously, I've got some research to do.



Nenahlmai Narrows. July 30, 2014.
Elsie Hulsizer
08/02/2014, posted at Port McNeill

Photo: Starfish and mussels on the shore of Nenahlmai Narrows.

The outboard roared as Steve put it up to full throttle, but the dinghy remained in place -- no match for the 6 knot current of maximum ebb in the Nenahlmai Narrows. But then we knew that; we'd come here to see the current through this narrow slot too shallow for our sailboat.

He started to turn the boat when I saw the riot of orange at and just below the water's edge. "Starfish!" I shouted. He gunned the outboard again and drove us as close to the shore as he dared. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of starfish lined the edge of the Narrows in a broad band of orange. Other orange splotches were scattered along the bottom farther out-- everywhere a rock provided the right depth for mussels and starfish. It would have been impossible to count the starfish even if the current hadn't been running; they were so piled on top of each other.

It was clear what was happening; water rushing in and out of Nenahlmai lagoon carried an abundance of food for the filter feeding mussels. The mussels in turn provided an abundance of food for the starfish.

Just two months earlier we had seen the devastating effect of starfish wasting disease on Blakely Rock in Puget Sound; starfish with missing legs, starfish whose bodies looked like mush and the numbers of starfish far fewer than we had seen there before. It was thrilling to see this pocket of healthy starfish. They represented hope for Puget Sound.

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Voyages North on SV Osprey
Who: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windard)
Port: Seattle
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