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Not Your Normal Call

November 29th, 2011  · stk

As a volunteer firefighter, you train in preparation for many different kind of emergencies. This one came across as a "river rescue", but it turned out to be much different than that. These calls don't happen very often - thank God - and it's something straight out of a Hollywood movie.

"Swift-water Rescue"?

When you're a volunteer firefighter, you never know what kind of emergency you're going to attend. You try to prepare for anything. Sometimes, however, a call comes across for which, no amount of training, can help. This was such a call. Something a screenwriter in La-La Land might come up with.

The call came across to us as a river rescue, but it was ... and turned into ... something much more bizarre.

Man Arrested after Hours-long Pursuit

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Updated: 29-Nov-2011
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Canada Post on Strike

June 20th, 2011  · stk

Did you know Canada Post is on strike? The Canadian postal system shut down over a week ago. The United States is no longer accepting mail addressed to Canada. Who cares? In the age of text messages, email & a myriad of private parcel delivery companies to choose from - is Canada Post even relevant?

Canada Post is on Strike? Who Cares?

 Canada Post Strike 2011 - Mailbox closed

My seven (and a half) year-old daughter recently participated in day-long "Hands-Across the Border" event, where girl scouts (Brownies) from Canada and the United States traded goodies and celebrated at the near-by Peace Arch border crossing. Alex had obtained some nice "City of Nanaimo" and "Canada Flag" trader-pins from our MLA, Leonard Krog, when Rachel visited his office a couple of weeks ago.

"What's this got to do with the Canada Postal Union strike?" you might ask.

Well, Alex wrote a very nice, colorful, personal letter of "thanks" to MLA Leonard Krog and we took it down to the post box this morning to mail it. We couldn't put it into the outgoing mail slot, as it had been covered over with the Canada Post "closed" sign shown above.

"Oh, right," I told Alex, "Canada Post is on strike, so there's no mail delivery."

Sadly, MLA Leonard Krog will have an easier time finding his mail here, than he will finding it in his mailbox (an e-mail from his website will let him know that he can read his "Canada Post mail" here!)

This incident made me curious about the Canada Post strike. I know the Postal Union members have been on strike for a while and that mail delivery stopped over a week ago. But ... why are they on strike? If the strike doesn't affect me much, how many others don't care? How relevant is Canada Post in today's world of electronic mail, Skype, cell phone text-messaging, FaceBook, Twitter and private parcel services (e.g., UPS, Fed-Ex & DHL)?

The Irrelevant Postal Strike

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Updated: 24-Oct-2011
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BC Nursing Crisis - Five Years Later

March 15th, 2011  · stk

Five years ago, we wrote about the nursing crisis that British Columbia anticipated. How did British Columbia respond? How is socialized Health Care working out for residents of British Columbia now? Find out in our "BC Nursing Crisis" update ...

BC Government Cuts Health Care Despite Shortages & Overcrowding

Back in 2005, when Rachel had just over a year to complete her BSN degree, we wrote about the BC nursing crisis facing the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This bode well for job placement and when Rachel graduated from the UofA in 2006, many of the BC Health Authorities were hiring nursing graduates. (She accepted an offer from VIHA and has been gainfully employed there since).

Fast-forward to 2011 and the latest issue of "BCNU Update" (a BC Nurses' Union publication) describes a very different experience for those now graduating with a BSN degree. Despite an acknowledged and continued shortage of nurses, BC Health Authorities are facing government cut-backs and many recent nursing graduates are finding it difficult to find full-time nursing jobs. In an effort to make ends meet, many newly educated nurses are having to accept work outside of health care - namely in the service-sector - serving coffee Tim Horton's doughnut shops or selling paperback books at Chapters. Sadly, it's their only employment option.

BC Nursing Crisis

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Updated: 28-Apr-2011
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Ollie the Octopus

December 31st, 2010  · stk

In July, we caught a juvenile North Pacific Giant Octopus in one of our prawn traps. We took it back to the floating cabin for Alex to see. She named him "Ollie" and kept him as her "pet" for the afternoon. Ollie's story, with video, pictures and interesting facts about octopuses.

ollie the octopus

6-year-old Alex Meets an Octopus

One of the stories worth telling from Alex's summertime fun is the story about an octopus Alex named "Ollie".

The story begins as many of our more interesting stories do - at the floating cabin The Floating Cabin floating cabin barkley sound bc canada Picture of the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound. Located off the west coast of Vancouver Island and not far from the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. It's a wild, pristine wilderness area and wildlife abounds. Black bear, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, mink, cougar are among the inhabitants. There's oodles of sea food here too. Clams, oysters, prawn, crab, salmon, halibut, ling cod and snapper. It's an amazing area and we're lucky to be part-owners of this unique floating cabin. Click to learn more about the floating cabin (map, photos, etc). . The cabin is situated in the Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, very close to the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a wet and wild place, accessible only by boat and we love sharing it with family and friends. It was late July and Scott's folks were at the cabin. It was their second visit and they too, love the solitude, the wild nature and rugged west coast scenery.

We had taken the boat out to pull up our prawn traps, though Alex elected to remain behind at the cabin, on this particular trip. It's about a 10-minute boat-ride from the cabin to the traps and we usually check them several times a day, when we're prawning.

Pulling up prawn traps from the depths of the ocean sometimes yields sea creatures other than prawns. The most common of these creatures is also the least desirable - the dreaded slime eel About Slime Eels (Hagfish) pacific hagfish A slime eel isn't an eel at all, rather a very primitive fish called a Hagfish. They've been around for 550 million years. Because of their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities, the hagfish is often referred to as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Hagfish have a sluggish metabolism and can survive months between feedings. However, hagfish often enter and eat the bodies of dead, dying or injured sea creatures that are much larger than themselves. Lovely, eh? More of nuisance to us, however, is the slime one of these "eels" can generate if agitated inside of a prawn trap. This slime encases the eel, the trap and the prawn and can take an hour or more to remove. An adult slime eel can secrete enough slime to turn a 20 liter (5 gal) bucket of water into slime in a matter of minutes. Yuck! Click the red-underlined link to learn more about Hagfish (Wikipedia) . This time, however, as Scott manually hauled up two traps from a depth of 250 feet, we noticed a reddish octopus in one of the traps!

Since Alex wasn't with us, we thought it would be fun to show her the octopus, so we carefully lifted it out of the prawn trap, put it into a pail of seawater and took it for a boat ride, back to the cabin. We were curious to see how Alex would react to this soft, eight-armed Cepholapod.

What follows is the story about Alex's encounter with an octopus, along with some interesting facts, video and pictures of these amazing and intelligent sea creatures.

Meet Ollie the Octopus

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Updated: 7-Jan-2011
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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

August 23rd, 2010  · stk

The day before yesterday, we returned home from our first cycle tour in which Alex actually pedaled a bicycle (attached to our touring bikes). We cycled from Nanaimo, up-island to Comox, took a ferry to Powell River and then cycled down the coast to Vancouver. This coastline is called "The Sunshine Coast". It's a cycle tour that's been on our list of adventures for some time.

Since we moved to Vancouver Island in 2006, we've been spending our holidays exploring British Columbia. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful Province and - so far - there has been no shortage of wilderness adventuring.

Now that our daughter, Alex, is six and a half years old, she is too big to tow in a bicycle buggy. Some time ago, we bought Alex a 'Trail-a-Bike', which allows her to sit behind our bikes, on a bike seat and contribute to pedaling. The 'Trail-a-Bike' even has a 5-gear shifter, though she hasn't quite gotten the hang of which gear to switch into at any given time.

Because we have been giving some thought to a Cross-Canada bike tour, we thought it would be a good idea to see how Alex does on a long bike trip. The trip we concocted was - "The Sunshine Coast Bike Tour" - which we did as a loop trip from Nanaimo, up to Courtenay/Comox, across Georgia Strait by ferry to Powell River, then down the Sunshine Coast, ending with a ferry ride from Langdale to Vancouver (where we dropped Alex off at her maternal grandparents house).

The trip took us the better part of five days. Along the way we stayed at a First Nations camping area, repaired a flat tire and a broken spoke, visited a salmon channel and sorting facility, swam in the ocean, cycled onto four different BC Ferries, stayed in two Provincial campgrounds ... all the time enjoying sunny weather, beautiful scenery, challenging cycling and a wholesome family vacation.

Join us on our family cycling adventure and see how Alex fared on her Adams 'Trail-a-Bike'. We hope that our journal whets your appetite for adventure and is useful to others who are thinking of a similar cycling trip. (Some time ago, Rachel and I had made a list of adventures we wanted to do and a "Sunshine Coast Bicycle Trip" was on the list. It's always nice to be able to check another adventure off the list, eh?)

Note: I updated this journal entry from our 1991 Subaru Loyale station wagon, whilst hurtling northward to check off yet another adventure off our list - a backpacking trip to Cape Scott, at the northernmost point of Vancouver Island! (Ain't technology grand?) The laptop is connected to the iPhone, the iPhone is connected to the Internet, the Internet is connected to the journal ... anyway ... it's a work in progress (i.e., photos to follow).

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Updated: 25-Oct-2010
Web View Count: 67562 viewsLast Web Update: 25-Oct-2010