Thursday, February 26, 2009

Achin' for the Bacon (Cove)

Today my kayak was a time machine. I've paddled here before with a group but today I was on my own with a plan to have a look for a geological feature known as an angular unconformity in Bacon Cove. I had been there on a geology class field trip almost 40 years ago and I wanted to check out if could find it again.

The first time, in 1971, was with fellow geology classmates. I can't remember a lot about the trip so it was going to be a challenge. I knew that if I saw it I would recognize the location. Question was, where exactly. I stopped in Bacon Cove on the first beach for lunch and looked around but nothing looked familiar. A couple of hunderd metres further another beach and this looked vaguely familiar. I landed and sure enough, there it was. I sat and took some pictures; it was really weird. So much water under the bridge and yet the mind recognized the location after just one visit almost 40 years ago.

After a while, back to the present. OK Scotty, beam me up and I was back at the take-out after a great day paddling. You'll see from some of the pictures following what I mean.

Tony :-)
Two churches. One traditional, the other on the water in my Necky Looksha IV. The church wasn't open for business today as it was Thursday but I had a spiritual day anyway.

Wharves done up in Conception Harbour. Looks like a nice place to socialize in the summer but not so inviting at this time of year.

Some rugged coastline along the way. Here some big rocks have tumbled down from the cliff face to land in the water. Glad I wasn't going by here when that happenned.

Small sea-stack after leaving Conception Harbour.

The reason for my trip to Bacon Cove. What is represented here is an angular unconformity where a lens of basal Cambrian conglomerate lies unconformably on Conception group siltstone. More on this in a subsequent post - its very interesting stuff, honest!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Theory of gargoyles

A natural formation that looks like a sculptured - by - man gargoyle

Gargoyles are carved stone grotesques with a spout used to convey water away from a roof and away from the side of a building. I connect gargoyles mainly with churches, maybe there's a bit of unnatural erieness connected to both?

I think kayaking has a gargoyle quality to it, not the grotesque part but the part about diverting water away from buildings. Instead of water, kayaking gargoyles divert worries and everyday concerns. Being on the water on sunny peaceful day has that same ability to take me away from things that may be on my mind and everything is good with the world.

Tony :-)

There something serene about paddling a kayak when you have time to stop, look and take it all in.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Theory of park

Contem- plative bench at a lookout in Pippy Park in the City of St. John's, Newfound- land

In the late 1960's local entrepreneur Chesley A. Pippy donated a big piece of land towards the creation of a park within the city limits of St. John's. The park has hiking trails, a botanic garden, lakes to kayak in and a trailer park. Its a jewel. Within minutes you feel as if you're in the middle of a wilderness. We need parks today as a society because its often the only space where we can be free of civilization and we need to protect their integrity.

There has been some erosion of land in the park recently. A piece of ground was used for a french only school and recently land was given to the YMCA for a new building. Its worisome because its like a slippery slope. Once the people who make these decisions start to justify use of the land for other than park land, it gets easier every time after that to nibble away at the boundary. Like Joni Mitchell sang "they paved paradise, put up a parking lot". A little bit of that going on here.

Today, I planned on a short paddle but opted for a short cross-country outing in Pippy Park. The snow won't be around much longer so I took advantage of the snow and beautiful day. Why? Because you don't know what you got till its gone!

Tony :-)

View from the bench. Oxen Pond and the OP Botanic Garden in the foreground with O'Leary's Indusrial Park of St. John's in the distance.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Theory of wealth

Looking down into Marysvale

There's a fault that runs through Marysvale, it runs directly down the center between the two hills. The fault is an area of weakness that has allowed the rocks on either side to erode faster than rocks farther from the fault, therefore the valley formed.

Marysvale also has been explored for manganese. An exploratory pit was sunk in the hill to the left. The rocks were found to contain between 5 and 10% manganese; apparently either not rich enough or not enough mineralization in the host rock that it could be mined for profit.

Wealth is from an old English word "weal" which was originally an adjective used to describe possession of great qualities. Today of course its meaning is not related to quality but to quantity. The more the better, especially if its money. But how much is enough? Enough to buy food and shelter? Enough to buy a 30 foot cabin cruiser versus a 17 foot kayak? Who would have a better view of Marysvale?

Like the manganese in Marysvale, for me, wealth is not measured in quantity but in quality. And, like the fault that runs through Marysvale, is it a fault of society that we place such high value in quantity? There are some things money can't buy and I had one of those things out with Stan for a paddle in Colliers Bay this past week.

Tony :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Theory of better days

The rusty bucket Baffin Run has seen better days

Well, today we're getting the snow (15-25 cms & 100 and wind we were promised yesterday so I'm glad we got out to enjoy Colliers Bay, Newfoundland in benign conditions.

On the way back to the put-in in Colliers, we paddled alongside two rust buckets that have seen better days: the Baffin Run and behind it the Baffin Bay. So today, weatherwise we have something in common with these "boats" - we've seen better days.

But today is also good if you like raw weather. I like walks in the woods (i.e. forests) in this kind of weather and I don't even mind shovelling the snow that falls in my driveway. If I didn't like it I'd move. Move and give up the secenery we paddled in yesterday, I don't think so. You have to take the "bad" with the good, realizing that there's no day better than the one you're given.

Tony :-)

5 degrees warmer and this mass of icicles will melt. Climate change in a century may mean an increase in the average global temperature of as much as 5 degrees. Its a fine line as 5 degrees isn't much.

Stan sizeing up a picture opportunity. Stan has a real eye for some great kayak phototaking. The picture he took here is on his blog

When Stan gets his black Nordkapp he'll blend into the landscape.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Theory of opportunity

Stan seizing the opportunity.

We all know that opportuniy only knocks once. Winter is so unpredictable here on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland that when the opportunity presents itself you just have to take advantage of it. The forecast for tomorrow, Wednesday, was 15 - 25 cms of snow and 100 NE winds. Today the window of opportunity was open for a short time.

So, Stan took a vacation day and we decided on a paddle from Colliers to Marysvale, which we managed to turn into about a 20 km paddle. I brought a lunch but my neoprene hatch covers were frozen solid to the boat so I had to put it in the cockpit. It didn't get eaten until the drive home.

We started off in some crusty ice on the surface and a few flurries falling. Just right to keep ya cool. Picked our way along the coast taking pictures of icicles where water flowing out of the cliffs had frozen. Crossed over to the Colliers side and had a liesurely paddle back to the take-out. Conveniently, there's a river running out so we washed out the boats and splashed around to wash the salt off our gear. It wasn't a challenging paddle but a very worthwhile thing to do today.

Stan and I didn't wait to see if a second knock would come, we were happy we didn't. Thanks again Stan for your excellent company on the water. I expect it was a good use of your vacation day!

Tony :-)

Looking out the bay. Marysvale is around the headland on the left. It was glassy calm in close to the put-in but lots of ice forming on top of the salt water.

Stan making his way into Marysvale. I stopped here and took a drink out of a natural spring that was running out of the hillside. The water was much warmer than the water we paddled in.

There was a bit of swell that made for a bit of splish - splash!

Stan cruising along the ice and snow covered cliffs on the way into Colliers.

The rock is an erratic, that is it was transported from somewhere else by the glaciers that retreated here 12,000 years ago.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Theory of patience

Cover of LP "Recall the beginning ... a journey from Eden" by the Steve Miller Band

I bought this record back in, I think, 1972. I can't be certain as you'll understand, 1972 was a long time ago. I bought the record before the hit single "the Joker", in other words I didn't get turned on to Steve Miller Band because he got on Top-40 radio. I bought the record after working with friend Scott Stoyles who had seen him perform in San Francisco.

Its one of my favourite LPs. It just hit a chord (pardon the pun) with me. Today, I still have my turntable but I thought wouldn't it be great to have this on CD. Fast forward to today's technology that lets me rip it to CD. Fantastic, still has a little crackle and pop and that warm feeling but the convenience of slipping it into the CD player.

Out of curiosity, I googled Steve Miller and I read that he's the godson of the father of the Les Paul electric guitar - Les Paul (!). Les Paul taught him his first chords at the age of 5 in 1948. That was 24 years before he recorded said LP at age 29.

I've been trying to learn the guitar for about 4 years now and progress is slow but I put time in every day. At the age of Freedom 55 +, I don't expect to become a guitar god but I thought I'd be able to play a few more tunes than I do now. But 24 years is a long time and if I have patience, I just might get there.

Tony :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Theory of boomerangs

Rusting reminders of Bell Islands mining history

Boomerangs are curved pieces of wood that were used for hunting and recreation. I always thought of boomerangs as the ones that when thrown come back to you but there are also non-returning boomerangs that are primarily used for hunting.

I happened upon this pile of rusting "stuff" while out for a recent paddle by Bell Island. How it got here I have no idea, maybe thrown over the cliff but probaly related to Bell Island's mining history. I wondered if the iron in it was mined on Bell Island, shipped to some industrial complex to be made into machinery and returned to Bell Island to be used in mining more iron ore.

In that sense, it represents typical use of Newfoundland's resources - extract the raw materials and use them in other places to create good paying jobs and then sell it back. Sort of like a boomerang!

Tony :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Theory of unbridled joy


Sometimes patience pays off and you get a bonus day. On those days ya just got to pinch yourself and ya fill up with glee.

Today the weather cooperated. It was -7C and we were promissed west winds of 20 kms/hr with gusts of 40. Its been windy here on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. Cold, well ya - off and on. Minus minus one day, tropical the next.

I headed back over to Bell Island as the shoreline from the Beach to Lance Cove looked protected from the wind. And it was for the most part.

I had a liesurely paddle southwest from the Beach where the ferry docks. There were occasional pocket beaches and longish stretches of beach but not much distance between water and cliff face. Not far from where the ferry docks is where iron ore was loaded onto freighters. Numerous places along the way were bits and pieces of machinery and pieces of god-knows-what rusting and returning to nature. A short visit at Lance Cove speaking to an old gent feeding ducks in the little harbour and then a speedy, wind and tide assisted ride back to catch the ferry.

Overall, what a day it was. Just to be on the water, taking my time, drinking it in, contemplating things you contemplate on days like this.

Tony :-)

Theory of unbridled joy - pictures

Much of Bell Island from the Beach to Lance Cove is sheer cliff so without a kayaker to throw in, its a challenge. The first picture, I'm not sure what these sheds are used for but I thought - people will do anything for beach front property.

The next looked like a sea of posts. Its an old wharf that has seen better days.

Next, take out for lunch and the pocket beach where I had lunch. The ice and rocks were falling so I didn't stay long.

Last, must have been some kind of loading wharf? Nothing lasts forever!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Theory of teamwork

Everyone doing their share of work

Kayak Newfound- land and Labrador is a small and active club of seakayakers and whitewater kayakers. There are approximately 175 members currently but its estimated there could be as many as 5,300 kayakers in the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador.

We have a full calendar of events for both cold and warm seasons. During the winter we have presentations on kayak safety, navigation and other topics of interest to kayakers. The spring and summertime calendar is full of paddling events. This is all possible through the efforts of volunteers. including past volunteers who have grown the club to what it is today.

Check out our website, especially for the trip reports, at (Can't get a clicable link)

I had a Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Directors meeting last night. I had a look around the table and the picture of the dog team I saw last week while cross-country skiing in Butterpot Provincial Park came to mind. Just like in a dog team, if only one is pulling nothing gets done. It takes all hands pulling together to make a successful club.

Unlike a dog team, that doesn't mean everyone has to have the same opinion or decisions have to be unanimous. Progress is made by consensus. I disagreed with a decision made last night but I accept it as the majority ruled. That's teamwork without going to the dogs!

Tony :-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Theory of Byrds

Playground in Butterpot Provincial Park, dead of winter

The Byrds sang in Turn, Turn, Turn "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven".

That's sometimes hard to accept, like today. I was itching to get out for a paddle, even a short paddle. I looked out the window, saw the whitecaps on the water, thought I could just put-in the harbour at St. Philips and paddle around there. I hem'd and haw'd. I asked Sherry - I feel uncomfortable with you going by yourself she said.

I looked out the window some more. Thought what would people who saw me paddling alone think. What's that idiot doing out there in this. It wouldn't be a problem if Stan was with me ... they'd probably say what are those idiots (plural) doing out there. Its easier with company.

I didn't go. Was I chicken? Maybe I wasn't committed enough or maybe just listenned to the voice of reason. Paddling by yourself in cold weather and water with whitecaps isn't rational. OK, I can accept that. There'll be times yet this winter when I'll have company or the water will not pose such a risk.

Like a playground in winter doesn't draw kids ... there is a time to every purpose. Turn, turn, turn.

Tony :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Theory of geologic periods

Stan in front of the Ordovician rocks of Bell Island

The Ordovician rocks of Bell Island represent the only rocks of that period on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. They date from a time of 490 to 445 million years ago.

The established geologic periods were not just arbitrarily set but represent distinct events in earth's past. Most of the time period boundaries are set based on the appearance or disappearance of various life forms. The Ordivician began after a major extinction event that ended the Cambrian period (trilobites predominate) and ended with another mass extinction when 60% of marine life was wiped out.

You can see in the picture the typical layering common to sedimentary rocks. These rocks are made up of fine grained shales and somewhat coarser sandstones. If you imagine the layers as a deck of cards, the deck would be tilted from left to right and dip slightly away as if you were looking under the deck to see what the last card was. The whole sequense of rocks are estimated to be some 1,200 metres thick.

Oolitic hematite (don't ya like that word!) beds were laid down higher up in the sequence but they can't be seen here because the rocks dip away from this view. They outcrop several miles inland where they were mined for iron ore over a period of 70 years.

The most interesting thing about these rocks are the wormcastings that can be seen on some of the rock surfaces when they break apart. The wormcastings show up as trails in the rocks where worms burrowed 100's of millions of years ago. That really puts time in perspective if you think time flies now. In the grand scheme of things though its only the blink of a geologic eye!

Tony :-)