The start of tourist season

A storm brewing.

Part of the reason I started blogging many years ago was to document the transformation of the Columbia Valley from a small town to a small city. That transformation has been complete for years now. If we haven’t quite hit city status, nobody can deny, we are a bustling tourist trap, full of self serving business people and disrespectful tourists and second home owners.

The photographs I publish on this page rarely show the popular tourist sites. There is plenty of places to see those. Although places are spoiled yearly, I’m lucky to know of a few good places that still exist far from the hand of disrespecting tourists.

Although the original purpose of this blog is complete I will still continue to put up pictures. If I wanted readers I’d do it on Facebook or Instagram, but those platforms make me sad.

As I continue I am going to turn off commenting. For a couple reasons, although I appreciate people reading and commenting, it seems like a chore for both the reader and writer.

A typical Alberta tourist defying the non-essential travel suggestion to get in some boating on Lake Windermere. Alberta has the highest active case rate in Canada by population. Twice that of the next highest, Ontario. Our Mayor and Provincial MLA have continually encouraged Albertans to defy the travel ban and come to the Columbia Valley.

This past year has been difficult, as we face another tourist season I fear it’s going to get worse for the valley. The past year has shown just how disrespectful people are towards one another.

I have always tried to have a positive outlook for humanity. I’ve thought, although slow to learn, goodness and common sense will prevail. Having watched this past year of destruction and absolute disrespect towards each other my faith has been shaken. As humanity faces unprecedented environmental and health challenges I’m unsure it can be turned around.

So what does this mean; not much really. It doesn’t mean I will change or stop caring about the place I’ve grown up. However, I don’t think the people who give a shit can be as forgiving as in the past.

late april

A young transplant.

It feels good to be caught in full fledge spring. The warm air, the quick change to chill, shades of green in every direction and the promise of work, good work.

Willow watches over the composted manure.

Planting a small garden but bigger than we need. Assessing the trees, some dying quicker than me doesn’t seem fair. The lake flat as a pancake, reflecting the mountains, light just right, oblivious to abuse.

There is a lot to be done. That’s spring for you.

An unlucky bug captured in a web. I was surprised to see this spider out so early filling up on a Box Elder bug. Spiders have patterns on their backs to scare off birds. If I had a macro lens to see the pattern, I’m sure it would be every bit as interesting as the stars and Milky Way. Judging from the web, there could have been a struggle.

THE GRASSY KNOLL

A good friend and father is worried about his daughter and family.

They are conspiracy theorists. She called him to dissuade him from getting vaccinated for Covid. Bill Gates, nanobytes in the serum, government taking over and the rest of the bullshit.

It’s unfortunate. He is worried, not so much about them not being vaccinated, but what rabbit hole they may go down next. Each one of those holes get deeper.

I understand not trusting the government due to their incompetence, but that’s also why they can be trusted.

Those kids are in their thirties, not quite kids anymore, they have kids of their own, they like to think of themselves as living off the grid.

They have internet service, to keep the kids busy on their iPads and to keep feeding them the latest conspiracy theories.

Neither parents have jobs. Considering their view of the government, they have no problem signing up and receiving every bit of assistance the government is offering.

Regardless of their beliefs, and contradictions, it seems like a difficult life to maintain.

April

Spring dusting.

Most spring days are strange like the weather and I like that. Took off for the Kootenay on Saturday. Willow and I rounded up some firewood. It wasn’t hard. The Kootenay was clear as a bell and I could have brought back supper if I had half a mind and a rod.

Lisa asked if I worry about my head considering, concussions, sickness, drinking and all the rest. I said nope, I remember things just like I want to. I know this is selfish.

It did piss me off coming back with a load of wood not remembering the creek my father and I stopped for water. There was Fade-Away Creek, Witness Creek and Bone Dry Creek, but damned if I could remember the small trickle that crept, ice cold, filtered under a thick canopy of full grown spruce around mile 9.

A Ruffed Grouse

I stopped at the creek and the water was just as good. That’s what’s important after all. Perhaps the name will come to me.

The time between still early and damn late is shorter as you get older.

rain

Kingfisher, mullen and tracks.

Slight rain, a bit of snow mixed in. The grass is getting greener before my eyes. The trees are budding. Some grow with vigour and some don’t come back. It has nothing to do with harshness or strength. That’s why young die and we shake our heads at the sky.

Religion is both to blame and expected to offer comfort. If you believe in that stuff.

I prefer the rain thawing the ground. The creeks filling with water dirtied by sluff, carving a new route, washing out bridges when necessary. It seems more truthful.

Even a slight rain will soak through, if you let it.

Real estate

A male Western Meadowlark, does it’s best, giving the sky shit while trying to get laid.

Lisa had a late start this morning. We spotted a few Meadowlarks and Ospreys, while heading into the bush. Less snow than the other day. Willow and I walked down the mountain getting muddy.

***

Real estate is going crazy in the valley with many listing selling the same day they hit the market.The property I grew up on has just been listed again.

I come from a long line of men that buy high and sell low. There truth is I’ve always felt the same regardless of my bank account. With that said, Lisa and and I have been lucky enough to have never seen our kids go hungry.

I have tried to instil in my children that money can give you freedom and nice things. I’ve done this mostly by posing as a negative example. Believe me a negative example is just as powerful as a positive one.

My brother and sisters sold our family property and house after my parents passed away many years ago. We sold it for a price recommended by the realtor. It sold the day before it hit the market. The realtor made more money on the deal than any of us did.

It was bought by a couple small time local developers. Lisa and I knew them well. Our kids even went to school together. We knew them for what they were. I would run into them here and there and they would say how they were going to turn into a Bed & Breakfast with nature paths around the property. In short a bunch of bullshit. Which was fine with me. The only thing that bothered me was that they thought I was stupid enough to buy their shit.

After sitting on the property they sold the property for a cool $200,000 + profit. Not a bad take and who can blame them.

The second Alberta developer had grand plans, buying the 3 adjacent properties and proposing a large 10 story resort.

The Mayor and town council of the day was all too happy to rezone the property salivating over the taxable business they promised. Of course it was, as well, bullshit.

They kicked the renters out of old family home and left it unlocked and vacant. Its turned into a crack house. Police were called often. Nobody complained to the Developer because the promises they made were still in play.

It was heart wrenching to watch the home we grew up in being abused in such a way. I called the developer myself and told them to board the place up. I had a newspaper at the time and wrote editorials about corporate responsibility, that did not endure me to our advertisers that were waiting on the developer to deliver on the 10 story hotel that would put Invermere on the map.

I remember going down to the house late at night and walking through it. It was like I was a ghost. The inside was graffitied, garbage everywhere, crack heads had started a fire in the fireplace and burnt part of the mantle, a cedar plank from a washed out bridge in the Palliser my father and I found and spent days sanding by hand.

There were bodies in every corner passed out among garbage and feces. It crossed my mind, just briefly, to bash their skulls in. It would have been easy, but the truth was I was angrier at the developer for letting this happen.

I do have a regret. I gave it a great deal of thought, over the year the house was used as a crack house, I considered getting the derelicts out and burning the place down. Again it would have been easy. The only reason I didn’t was I knew the fireman and first responders would have to charge in to try and save the people who were using it.

Eventually, after many phone calls, I shamed the developers into tearing the house down. These people and our own Mayor and Council were some of the worst people I have ever had to deal with. Absolutely blinded by their own ambition and the pipe dreams sold to them.

***

Regardless, of that history. Our house was a place of love, flawed at times, but nothing, looking over the sun coming up over the lake, or walking into the surrounding bush couldn’t cure.

***

The property, thanks to the previous developer is zoned for just about anything, condos, commercial, multi or single dwelling even a 10 story hotel. The realtor I talked to said they expect it to sell to a wealthy Albertan looking for a lake view. There is no shortage of those guys. Guaranteed, like usual in the valley, they will care less about the history that came before.

***

The property is offered for 1.2 million. It’s not for me. I buy high and sell low.

Solar wind

Greens and purple auroras give way to approaching dawn.

Lisa called me to look at the Northern Lights at around midnight. They were spiking and visible from within town. Having been asleep for a couple hours I didn’t feel much like going out to take photos.

About 3 am I had a change of heart and Willow and I packed up the camera and headed for the dark part of Lake Windermere.

The Milky Way arches across the sky. The light of Invermere, BC can be seen to the left of the frame.

The auroras had died down yet were still visible in the northeast as a stream of solar wind hit Earth’s magnetic field.

Geese, ducks, coyotes and hooting owls provided a fitting soundtrack to the clear moonless morning. It felt good to be out looking up. Very fine start to the day.

mid april

Got the binoculars out to scan for elk and grizzly bears. Even they are keeping their distance, these days.

Pure blue sky on a day off. It doesn’t get much better. Willow and I had grand plans to head to the backside of Swansea, follow the coolie and walk out to the front of Pinto. I knew there would be snow, but was surprised how much was still on the side looking east. And here I thought wood ticks would be the biggest concern.

We still found time to stop and walk admiring the mountains and sky. Back down in the valley bottom I rolled the windows down and heard the first Meadowlarks of the year.

I thought about going over it. There was only snowmobile tracks beyond.

the row you hoe

Planting a row.

After rain, sleet and snow the day turned sunny. Since I’ve had time on my hands I’ve dug the garden. It is much better done by hand than rototiller.

This afternoon I put in two rows of peas, and one row each of lettuce/spinach/greens and beets. We have some cold weather ahead of us, but they should be able to handle it. I hope to get the carrots, onions and spuds in within the next week. This will be the earliest I have planted.

I mentioned having time on my hands. I have been in quarantine for the past thirteen days due to having close contact with someone who tested positive with Covid. Tomorrow I am out of quarantine.

It has been trying but not as much so as it has been for the people who have tested positive. I know about ten personally. I know at least twenty in quarantine.

Willow plants a rock.

The people in the valley have been lucky while we have flirted with disaster. The area has been busy with people vacationing.

The District of Invermere’s Mayor, Al Miller and Provincial, Liberal, MLA Doug Clovchok have acted less like elected officials concerned about peoples health, and more like members of the Chamber of Commerce or Welcome Wagon, encouraging tourists to visit instead of heeding the warnings, against non-essential travel from Canada’s top doctors.

The Windermere Region is hard hit.

Hopefully no one dies on their watch. Like I said, we have been lucky despite everything.

Willow couldn’t be happier to have us home each day. I’m back to work on Saturday and looking forward to it.

fever

The lights of Invermere across Lake Windermere.

Cleaned up the wood pile. We have about as much firewood as we started with before winter, due to Lisa and I getting a few loads in December and January.

We’ve been burning it even in spring when the weather turns rainy and cold. We are rich with firewood. It feels good.

***

I drove a good sliver into my hand the other day. Of course my hands have been softened by the gallons of hand sanitizer I apply every time entering a building. At least it won’t become infected.

***

In my dream last night I was walking behind a women with hairy legs, strangely aroused, I wondered if she had hairy armpits too.

The winter stars, Betelgeuse in it’s diminished state, star clusters Hyades and the Beehive on either side of the page. The big dog, front and centre, twinkling in the muck.

It didn’t seem like a hard winter. The dry sunflowers still have a few seeds. I find them hidden in the woodpile where the bark was left on the fir. The Chickadees show up to take them out the trees and between shingles on the shed. They planned well and came out chirping on the other end. Sometimes they’re not so lucky. A reminder of sorts. No matter how much we plan we’ll all have that bad winter one of these days.

***

Winter’s on it’s way out. Orion’s still up there after dark, but it won’t last. The extra light, before the turning, will take care of it faster than should be allowed.