Saturday, July 27, 2013

Houseboating on Shuswap Lake, British Columbia

Antonio Royal beached for the night
This time last year, my family had a reunion in British Columbia, Canada. We met up with our siblings and their families in Calgary, and a couple of days later, drove 5 hours to Sicamous, where we had rented a houseboat. My significant other didn't join us, and I don't blame him. We had taken a trip to Europe several months earlier, and he could not fathom being cooped up in a 60-ft houseboat with ten adults and 3 kids for four days.

We live on a boat after all, and one of our pet peeves is ignorance of boating safety. We have seen many boats overloaded with passengers, and not have enough life jackets for everyone. There have been many cases of carbon monoxide poisoning on houseboats in major lakes in  the U.S. Swimming or fishing near the fumes produced by gas-powered generators are deadly, and unfortunately, many novice boaters are unaware of these hazards. These issues were on my mind as I embarked on the Antonio Royal, our houseboat rental for four days.

Loading and shuttling our supplies to the boat
Houseboats tied up back to back at Sicamous Marina.
Enjoying the view of the lovely Shuswap Lake
Two and half men at work (securing the boat)
Please bless me with some fish for dinner

Checking out the environment
Fishing at the back of the boat

Testing their balances on a log
Frolicking in the water. Brrrr

Relaxing after a hard day's work of swimming and fishing
Shuswap Lake, Sicamous
Dinner around the campfire

Campfire, s'mores and music go together very well
After being confined to the small space on the houseboat for four days, everyone, I'm sure, was glad to be back on terra firma. Our next stop was Kelowna, two hours south of Lake Shuswap. The heart of British Columbia's wine country, Kelowna is also famous for orchards, u-pick farms and farmer's markets. Cherry was in season, so the next day found us picking cherries at a u-pick farm. We got carried away, and picked a $120 worth of Rainier cherries. A sweet ending to our get-together.

Sweet Rainier cherries
I like this. I could do this for a living.
Picking Rainier cherries at a u-pick farm in Kelowna

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Suddenly, it's summer

The rain that drenched Chattanooga and its surrounding towns for almost two weeks suddenly gave way to summer. A hot sweltering summer with temperatures of 95 degrees F. All week long. As a result of the inclement weather, our friends' mini farm got off to a late start.
Pole beans
Left: Japanese eggplant, Right: corn
Back: beets & brussel sprouts
This year, even I, someone who does not have a green thumb, planted a couple of Japanese eggplants. I thought the plants' result has been meager, having produced only one tiny eggplant, but this morning, I was elated to see several more eggplants hanging on the branches. The brussel sprouts lost the battle with the Japanese beetles, and the beets and peas are overwhelmed with weeds. The squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash, cucumbers, jalapeno and banana peppers are looking great; they always seem to do well, no matter what the weather. The pole beans, oh my Gosh, they thrived in that rain. We picked 4 pails of them this morning.
Pole Beans
Yellow squash, zucchini, spaghetti squash,tomatoes

jalapeno and banana peppers, beets
The wild blackberries along the riverbank are back. After the tornado last year, the marina cut back the blackberry bushes, so far back that there were no berries last summer. This year, they are back with a vengeance. The rain probably helped. I'm no blackberry fan, but I have the utmost respect for this plant. It is able to bear sweet berries while fighting for survival against massive weeds, bugs and other critters.
Blackberries along the riverbank
Wild blackberries

I'm tired from the picking. Next time, I'll post a recipe of one of my favorite dishes - chicken, pork or beef with jalapeno peppers. I'm freezing the blackberries for another boater, who has all kinds of ideas for them.

Care to share your summer harvest?
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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I'm pretty sure everyone agrees that the weather so far this year has been awful. From the violent tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma to the deadly wildfire in Arizona (and triple digit temperatures in the Southwest) to the floods in Europe, Canada, and now China, it's been one disaster after another (feels like the end of the world, doesn't it?)

Closer to home, the sun finally came out after a week of rain. Many places around the Chattanooga area had some minor flooding. The waterfront and the Tennessee Riverwalk were off limits due to the high water. Below are some pictures taken on Thurs, July 11.
Ross Landing, on a normal summer day

Ross Landing several days ago
Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge
Submerged pilings at the waterfront.
Mai Thai at the downtown waterfront one normal summer day
Some of the small farms in nearby Jasper were not so lucky. Their cornfields were  totally inundated. It's sad to see all their hard work gone down the drain. The garden in our friends' home in Jasper fared pretty well. A few days ago, we picked some zucchinis, yellow squashes, jalapeno peppers, radishes and an eggplant. The Japanese beetles paid a visit to the brussel sprouts (sorry Julie!). Before we can spray them, rain came again. Not sure what they'll look like this morning...

Farm under water

Corn leaning to one side, beets, etc
Zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant
Are you having a rainy summer too?

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Friday, July 5, 2013

A Rainy Fourth of July (sadly, no fireworks)

In the early 80s, I made a roadtrip from Boston to Florida, and one memorable rest stop was South of the Border, the Mexican-theme complex on I-95 between the states of North and South Carolina. There were shops, restaurants, a motel, an amusement park and a large observation tower that is shaped like a sombrero, with neon colors and lights at night that you can see from miles away. The fireworks store was an eye opener because it's illegal to buy fireworks in the north.

Now, I live in a state where it is legal to purchase fireworks. As a matter of fact, there is a huge fireworks supermarket (Big Daddy's Fireworks) near my marina. I pass by it every time I go to Chattanooga. It got my curiosity piqued, so I went to check it out one day. Almost everything I looked at is from China. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Afterall, China invented the fireworks back in the 7th century (read who invented the fireworks here). If there is one product the Chinese is excellent at making, it has got to be their fireworks. You would agree after you watch this incredible video of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo opening ceremony fireworks. I was mesmerized with the barges, lined up along the HuangPu River, shooting fireworks into the sky, with the pyrotechniques and the fountains synchronizing with the music. Watch the video in full screen, click away the ad, and let the awesome fireworks show blow you away. It is almost 11 minutes long, but don't miss the part at 4:08 and the grand finale at 8:05.

It's unfortunate that this Fourth of July was a wet one. Most area fireworks shows were cancelled, including Chattanooga's festive Pops on the River, which was scheduled for July 3. Hales Bar Marina normally puts on a good show too, but not this Fourth of July. And probably not today, as the forecast calls for more rain. Here are my favorite pictures from a previous Fourth of July Pops on the River.

July 4 with Pops on the River

Looking at Coolidge Park from Walnut Steet Bridge

Anchored boats awaiting the festivities - music and fireworks
Hope y'all had a good Fourth of July!

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