It’s that time of year again

We are sucking down smoke here, due to fires all over the Northwest. Particularly one at Gustafsen Lake – which is where the infamous fire of 2017 started and turned us out of our home and nearly burned it to the ground. A little PTSD anyone? BC is full of people with nervous tics right now.

Ironically I’ve started harvesting firewood for the Winter heating season:

First logs on the ground.

The air is still fairly clear out at the lake, but the sky looks like permanent cloud. Once you get near town you can smell smoke, and nothing but. This places extra physical demand on the body doing the unloading, which is me. Never mind the extra physical demand on the body doing the cutting, hauling, slicing, and loading – which is also me. I did that whole load in one day, plus splitting up some for the cabin in case I need heat there. Why would I need heat there? Because we’ve already had a couple of frosty mornings:

That ain’t sugar coating.

The forecast says some showers, with rain amounts not enough to do any good against fires but enough to mess up the dirt roads and plans for travelling down them. Fortunately I have a new tool to help me in this job:

2015 F-150 4×4 extended cab.

Yes it cost a lot of money. More than I’ve ever spent on a vehicle before. No it probably wasn’t a good idea, unless you consider that the Xterra was having trouble hauling an empty trailer and ‘throwing codes’ while trying to overheat. The ol’ Nissan was just right for ‘only me’ trips, but didn’t have much cargo capacity beyond a couple of boxes of stuff. It also was 10 years older than this with 100,000+ more kilometres on it. At least this truck is red. Beyond that there isn’t much I like about it.

At the cabin. Probably the last time it will ever be clean.

Good things: the bed allows me to haul more wood per trip. Not a 100% increase as it’s only a 6′ bed, but about 80%. The first load filled one row of the shed whereas the trailer required about 1.5 loads, so fewer trips (albeit more work to get a load ready). It has a 2.7L V6 (smallest 6 cylinder I’ve ever encountered) with twin turbos which should provide a balance of power and economy. So far it’s doing no better than my ’69 Chevy C10 did with its 250 CID inline 6, and it doesn’t have the full size bed of the latter. It is 4×4 and has a differential lock which hopefully I’ll never have to use. Also, it’s red. Did I mention it’s red? Oh and the seats are comfortable.

Bad things: Just about everything else. Topping the list is the excessive amount of technoglitz ‘features’ meant to sell vehicles to the gullible. There are four switches for the dome light. All you need is ‘ON-DOOR-OFF’ on one switch. The dashboard is a nightmare of displays and buttons … you know, kind of like a modern camera that’s loaded with ‘features’ which impress gullible buyers who then set it on ‘PROGRAM’ and never touch the controls again. In fact the 6 speed automatic has a ‘manual’ setting which allows you to pick the gear. Uh, whatever happened to D-2-1? Is this an admission that the transmission isn’t good at its mission and won’t pick the right gear? I haven’t noticed that so far, and it’s been driven at highway speed, plus down the gravel road empty, and back again fully loaded. Seems fine and has plenty of power. But it took me 15 minutes to find the headlight switch. (The owners’ manual, by the way, is a Tolstoy novel mainly about safety warnings with side plots regarding things this vehicle isn’t actually equipped with.) The door locks and key are a nightmare all unto themselves, never mind the remote start – which doesn’t.

All-in-all it’s a case of “let’s see if we can make this marketing joke of a pick-up truck do some real work”. It does not ride or handle well either; you feel every bump, the steering is too heavy, and the tires do not grip the gravel like the KO’s on the Nissan did. The body is massive, which makes it difficult to maneuver either in town or in the woods or even around the yard (turning the whole rig around was extremely difficult). I mean it’s worse than my E250, and that’s actually bigger. Visibility is terrible with this thing (I may add some flags to the trailer as I can not see it at all behind the truck).

But if it can get the job done faster without using a significant amount more fuel (36 gallon tank that will be painful to fill in one go) then … probably still not worth it.

So far it hasn’t displayed enough ‘personality’ to garner a name. We shall see how it works out.

First load home. There was room for a little bit more, but that would require cutting another tree. Next time it will be full.

Road trip.

Drove into town today for supplies. Saw a few interesting things.

Someone got themselves a project (early ’50s GMC).
Someone else’s project (first gen Mustang).
One fine ’69.
Yeah I could use this!
Somebody completed their project. I don’t know what it is because I chased him all over town and he never parked anywhere before I lost sight of him.
The thrill of the chase!

Now it’s time to return to the cabin with supplies, and get back to work!

More from the past

A few other shots taken with the Kodak P850 several years ago and recently rediscovered on a USB stick.

Case tractor

This is an old Case 530 tractor I owned when I lived in Langley. I bought it with the engine seized and still had enough ability then to rebuild it. Not so sure I could do that these days. I used it for a while around the property, and sold it on. Here it is sitting in a rare-for-the-area snowfall. I’m not entirely sure this is a digital camera picture as it dates from a time when film was still available and the format seems to be analogous with a scanned 35mm print @ 640 x 427 instead of 640 x 480.

1954 Ford F100

This old ranch hand I spotted not too far from here. I haven’t been back that way lately to see if it’s still around. An awful lot of the vehicles I’ve spotted over the years have disappeared. We can only hope they’ve gone for restoration and not for scrap.

Sky of fire

Taken in the backyard at Langley. Good sunsets are unusual down there due to the pollution. When you come down out of the mountains and hit the lateral valley towards Vancouver you drive right into it: a wall of stinking, unbreathable air.

Church at Spence’s Bridge

Along the winding canyon highway is the interesting settlement of Spence’s Bridge. I’ve seen quite a few unusual things while passing through there, including a Greyhound Scenic Cruiser (which is now gone).

Little Niagara

When the water level is high in the Spring the creek will flood the yard at the lake and the overflow finds its own path. You never know what it will be like until you get out there and see. This year there’s a lot of snowpack, so it could be very wet indeed.


This is in the rocks at Spence’s Bridge, across from the church and quite a ways away from the road. Another reason why I like long lenses, as it wouldn’t be possible to walk up to this even if ignoring the trespassing laws.


A few images kind of ‘leftover’ from other shoots. The first two are out of the Canon T100.

Duncan is suspicious

He’s thinking “hmm, there’s something going on over there. Maybe I should bark at it!”

Snow sand

I thought about desaturating that or colourizing to sand tones, but then I didn’t. It’s fine as-is.

This next lot are all from the Fuji EXP.

The secret of Telus

Oh you thought they had people that worked on the phone lines? Nope; it’s ravens.

Look right

It’s very small and you can barely spot it.

Ice fingers

Good thing I didn’t invert this.

Frayed flag

The Fuji has nice film-like tonal qualities, and a good lens.

King Ford

A bit of an oddity here, in that the red came out more vibrant than usual. In general digital cameras heighten blue-green and downplay red. The cloudy day probably influenced this as it skewed the blue shades to white. This ‘C’ cab, by the way, was used on Ford/Mercury, Dodge/Fargo, IH, and White trucks for several decades.

And finally a leftover print scan:

Lake point

This is at our cabin, on the “point” of the delta. It reminds me of a tropical island. The scene has changed a bit since this was taken some 20 years ago.