Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Wonder of Thunder

We are having a short but very loud thunderstorm - right now!

And yet the sun is shining really brightly, as it pours with rain outside - casting sharp shadows across my front room.

And as I look out of my back door, there is a double rainbow.

And in fact, this one is a complete arch.
I have never seen a whole rainbow reaching from one side to the other - unfortunately, I could not get a good enough view (seeing as how it was raining so hard), but ain't the weather grand sometimes?

Maybe I should have saved this for Skywatch Friday
but I was too excited!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Shades of Blue

Quite simply, blue is my favourite colour

I relish blue skies and the clarity of the day ...

I delight in watery reflections ...

and the shade of the flower is to die for.

Blues belong to nature - she shows them off to their best.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shuswap Lakes, British Columbia - Part 1

Have been on me holibobs!

We spent a week in a holiday home in a tiny lakeside bay not far from Salmon Arm in British Columbia, which is a small town (pop. 16,000) set on the banks of the Shuswap Lake(s). I say Lake(s) because there are about 1000km of shorelines among several inter-connected lakes. They are situated north of Kelowna, and between Kamloops and Revelstoke - and truly beautiful it is too. But all those bloody tourists, eh?!

I'm sure I could bore you rigid with 200 photos of my kids in various poses in, on or about to leap into the water, but thought I'd share this day out with you instead.

See - isn't it just so gorgeous? I've got first dibs on that hidden home in the centre.

So one afternoon, we took a wee detour up a twisty road to White Lake. This is a small individual wetlands area. To be honest, I just saw another patch of water marked on the map and wanted to go and be nosey. I do that a lot. As we drove a couple of miles, passing a few residences, we kept seeing home-made signs by each gateway, telling motorists to slow down .... demanding it, in fact.

and this was why.

Other than the "Why did the turtle cross the road?" jokes, I had nightmares of crunching tyres in case we inadvertently caused a massacre of hard-shelled creatures, valiantly making their way to the waters edge.

So we drove at a snails pace, keeping our beady eyes open for any scurrying turtles, but sadly, we had no such luck in spying the Western Painted Turtle.

So I cheat now, and offer you an internet-provided image from the website (thank you). Kinda cute in a wrinkled, leathery sorta way - perhaps the Mick Jagger of the Turtle world.

But look at this ....
... amazing colouring - now that is some fab tummy art. That could keep a tattooist busy for hours.

OK - here's the science part - Western Painted turtles are the most widespread turtles found across North America and grow between 4 and 10 inches long. Favourite habitats are slow moving waters with muddy bottoms (say nothing), and my question was how on earth do they survive the winter here?

Apparently, they put on weight and fatten up for the winter - I can identify with that - then burrow down into the mud and hibernate. They mate from May to July, and lay 1 to 2 clutches of 5 to 15 eggs per year. Once hatched, baby turtles are very vulnerable to predators (or fast moving vehicles); however there is a good chance they will survive if they reach water. Hence widespread signage to the dumb interlopers.

Male painted turtles reach maturity in 2 to 5 years and the females in 4 to 8 years, and may have an overall lifespan of more than 20 years. Phew! There will be a test later.

The turtles were probably having a shy day - sick and tired of summer tourists staring at them, no doubt...
and another thing that was in hiding that day was another geocache. Couldn't find this one at all - boo, hiss.

But I have just fallen in love with this part of the country.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taking to the skies

My husband started to learn how to paraglide last year. He did a beginner's course through the University of Calgary and caught the bug.

We live in Cochrane, Alberta. There is a big hill in Cochrane - it's called Big Hill (!) - on top of which is Muller Windsports, the largest paragliding school in Alberta (and probably Canada?) and it is about 3km from our house. Result!

This is where you start the intermediate level which consists of throwing yourself off the hill, attempting to master inflation techniques, and take off. So after about about 20 seconds, or a minute or two in the air, you land at the bottom of the hill, and then walk all the way back up to the top again (no mean feat) to once again launch yourself.

After you have done this about 20 times, and lost the will to live and sweated off about 4lbs, eventually you just "get it" and you're flying properly.

This is my very technical take on things anyway. I don't have the correct vocabulary, I am sure, but this stage would have put me off the whole thing, and no mistake. Far too much hard work for such little reward (plus I'm not fit so it would have killed me to walk up the hill hauling my glider!).

But eventually, after an accumulation of lots of minutes in the air and lots of work on your technique, you get to go on a "High Flight" course. Yay! Reward at last.

So last weekend, hubby headed off to Golden on the British Columbia side of the Rockies and joined some other nutters, sorry, enthusiasts as they prepared to jump off a mountain. For some, like my husband, this would be a first.

Signal on cellphone - check.
Paraglider and reserve chute packed correctly - check.
Life insurance up to date - check.

This is a large mountain. Mount 7, some 3,800 ft high, overlooking the town of Golden along the river valley. Those clouds were cause for some concern for a while, but eventually they got the green light.

With great excitement, and only a little trepidation, he gets ready to launch.

A couple more steps, the glider is fully inflated and his feet leave the safety of the hillside.

Settle down into the harness ....

... take a good look down the mountain side and ...

... fly !

Disclaimer (and thanks): most of these photos are not my own, so thank you to Vincene at Muller Windsports for providing some great shots of all our nutters as they took to the air!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

SkyWatch Friday - A week of loveliness

We've had some truly lovely skies this week -
mostly during the late evenings,
as the sun is heading off to warm someone else's day ....

and mostly, involving splotches of clouds breezing on by ...

or some feathery streaks of a watercolour paintbrush.

Colours have been rich and fiery ...

... and with remnants of a pink setting-sun sky in the background, the moon was been a bright, sparkling ball hovering on a piece of invisible twine over the golf course.

To see more pictures from around the world, click here:

Happy SkyWatch Friday!