Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wicked Van!

Okay some of you have been asking me about the new vinyls that are on the van.. here's the pictures.
The first has the back of the van and side
The second gives you a close up view of the stones.. now this photos does NOT do the actual vinyl justice as it's REALLY nice in person.. very detailed..
So there you are... our new Wicked Van...

New birds - Indigo Buntings and Purple Finches

WOW!! What a weeks it's been!!

I thought I'd post a few pictures of 2 of the new birds that have come to feed in our feeders! I'm delighted!! I've NEVER seen an Indigo Bunting before and it's been a just a treat to have something this vibrant of a colour fly into the feeders!
The first picture is of the purple finch - okay I know it's red but that's what my bird book said it was.....

This one is the Indigo Bunting peeking out from the other side of the feeder. He is tremendously shy and nervous about coming anywhere near the deck with anyone there (I took this one from inside the house, halfway behind the front door).
This evening he popped in for his late afternoon snack but flew away in a flurry of blue feathers when he noticed me sitting in the shade watching the goldfinches.
The goldfinches are not shy at all and now we have a family of about 30 that come in every day...
We're turning into a bird sanctuary!!

Turtle stops traffic

Today was a smile making day.

Leaving town today (heading south towards home) I saw something that offered a glimpse of the generosity and kindness of others on our planet.

On a busy four lane highway I spotted a car trying to drive backwards on the shoulder of the road.. I was thinking "What is this crazy person doing??" There were transports to the left of me, transports to the right.. transports zipping past me at a high rate of speed going the other way and this PERSON going backwards!

I had yet to reach him and saw that he'd flung open his drivers door and was quickly walking to the back of the car...

and there... trying to cross the highway..

...was a turtle...

I got a glimpse of him as I past, reaching down to grab the turtle... and in the rear view mirror he walked the creature to the side of the ditch and I got one last look at him while he deposited the turtle into the water.. far away from the rushing traffic.

I hope one day this person stumbles across my blog and reads this, and finds out that this act of kindness was a gift to more than that little turtle.

Thanks "Turtle Hero"...

Here's hoping it's a smart turtle and found another way across to the other side...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cloudy Morning Update on Things

Monday has arrived, bringing the much needed clouds and rain. I'm hoping that it pours the entire day as our lawns are very brown and dry. Even the pond out front is down at least a foot from where it usually is.

It's been a busy month, hence me not writing very much here on our Blog. I'm glad to say that sales have picked up wonderfully since we changed the site around. Thanks to everyone who has dropped in to visit and pick out treasures for themselves :-) We really appreciate it.

Our van is done!! I probably mentioned to some of you that we were getting vinyls done on the back and the sides. We found a REALLY great company in town (1 Hour Signs in Sudbury - on Lasalle Blvd) that did a really great job with the pictures that we sent in. I'll take some pictures when the sun comes out and post them here. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Yesterday I picked up 5 more blue Spruce for Rob to plant in the yard - he's yet to see them. Since he's been in and out of town on business, my large gardens have been put on hold and I've started planting veggies on the deck in containers. It's not that bad - I'm just really happy to have the space.

OOO Yes! Yesterday night we had 2 new visitors to our deck!! An Indigo Bunting came to sit on the feeder AND a purple finch! They have the most incredible colours!! I've taken a few pictures but their locked up in my camera at the moment.

Finally, all the rock bins in the back are stocked up, the wire is here and my creative energy has returned! You'll be seeing a lot more treasures in the next week or so popping up on the site. With that in mind? I'm off to create!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lake Superior Agate Search Adventure

We're back!! We had the most wonderful weekend trekking about the forest north of Sault St. Marie and I've decided to post some of our adventure photos here.

(That's me, sitting on the rocks out front of our cabin in Montreal River that we stayed in for our weekend adventure).
Aren't those neat rock formations?

Our adventure beings on Friday - I managed to get "just about everything" we could possibly need packed on Thursday (with a lot of effort) and into the back of the truck. It was a bit crazy as Rob had just gotten back from out of town and we had about a zillion things to do before we left.

The book you see in the picture is one of the publications we decided to use on this trip. It's called Geology and Scenery of the North Shore of Lake Huron Region. This book is like a travel guide that talks about some fabulous side trips you can take as well as the local mineralogy and old mines that are in the area. It's in a series of books - and not easily found... I spent a LOT of time with my nose in the pages reading off information to Rob as we drove west from Sudbury towards Sault St. Marie (there are a LOT of cool things to learn that I didn't know about!)

One of our first stops was at Rydal Bank - this is a very small town that is about 8 miles north of Bruce Mines.

A prominent ridge marks an outcropping of the Lorrain Formation and you can find what is called "Pudding Stone" (or quartz jasper-pebble conglomerate). This is a really pretty stone that is an off-white cream colour with beautiful dashes of red. I took a picture of just one of the stones that is on the side of the river area by the dam that is located in Rydal Bank. We didn't find a lot of stone near the dam - only a few smaller pieces that were littered about the ground where we were walking. It was really neat to look down and find these little goodies!

Off we went exploring!!

We turned onto a bridge going east and across the river towards what we figured "might" have been the ridge the book was talking about.

You can see it in the picture - there is a white coloured ridge that is pretty high up on the hills.

So off we went - we discovered a pretty good side road that goes to the left up towards the hill. Of course, we took it (checking first to make sure that there were no private signs posted - there were not).

About half way up the road we stopped as there was an address sign posted on the road (a number). After some discussion we pushed further down the road (deciding that if it WAS a house we'd just turn around and go back). Just a bit further up the road we found "Humphries Cemetery", a very tiny old graveyard with the most beautiful headstones and scenery. I took some very pretty pictures of some of the old headstones but I'm not going to post them here - these are very old families located up on the hill that date back to 1900 and earlier. I'd rather keep the names private.

Ah yes, back to the rock hunting! As you can see by the picture of Rob standing near the white rocks (in the picture above) there was some blasting and removal of rock going on in this area. At the bottom of this hill was a large gravel pit - we didn't find a lot of pudding stone here, just the odd piece here and there. The white stone he's standing on was quite pretty though with a lot of sparkles!

Back on the highway we went - and pushed our way through Sault St. Marie and beyond. We took a short side trip down Wolf Lake Road (around Batchwana Bay area) and did some exploring. It was more of a look around and not any serious rock hunting happening. Both of us found it FAR too busy with a lot of dirt bikes and fishermen everywhere - so we turned back on the highway to go further on.

Up the hills we went!! With my ears popping - the elevations as you go west are really amazing and the hills are just beautiful!

Here's one of the places we stopped to stretch out legs before driving on. Although this picture shows the beauty of the lake, what you DON'T see is the embarrassing piles of garbage everywhere. I have to say, I was utterly disgusted with what I saw. The shore was littered with diapers, bags of mystery garbage, cans, bottles, tires, even CAR batteries were thrown down into the water from the top of the lookout!! There was jug after jug after jug filled with 'yellow mystery liquid (take a guess)' in piles and piles that had been thrown out through windows and over the edge of this lookout. I was disgusted and shocked by the fact that so many travelers just figured it was "okay" to throw their garbage out and figure that it would just take care of itself. I do not understand how someone can do that.....

Alright, I'm done venting.. a little while later we arrived at our cabin in Montreal River. As I might have mentioned in an earlier Blog, the water was really low - so we were able to see a LOT more shore than usual.

This is the mouth of the Montreal River - usually this is underwater, but don't be fooled if you are going to visit this place and walk around - this IS a mouth of a river and the water flow is controlled by several upstream dams - so if you are going to walk around, make sure to keep your ears open for the sound of the water flow changing.

We had a super relaxing night off - sitting by our campfire and eating pasta... watching the stars come out and playing with the dogs that lived just down the street from our cabin. It was really nice...
(That's me sitting outside on the rocks in front of our cabin)... We did bring home a few nice round rocks for my mom too.

On Saturday we got up early and rushed out the door to our favorite beach (it's about a 10 minute drive towards Sault St. Marie).. (I can't remember the official name on the map at the moment but I think it's around Mica Bay). Mica bay has what is called the Keweenawan volcanic rock formations in it.

The Keweenawan are principally lava flows of basic or basaltic composition with vesicles (or gas cavities) that have been filled with minerals such as agate, amethystine quartz, calcite, chlorite, dataloite, epidote, prehnite, thomsite and zeolites. These are really pretty when you see them up close - as you drive past them on the highway they look kind of reddish and you don't see the inclusions.

You can see some of the calcite and quartz veins in the rock that I'm standing on in this picture.

Now this was REALLY neat to find!

Yes that's ICE on the shore! There were some areas of the shore that still had huge ice built up (all the rest of water is open by the way and there are boats on the lake). That's Rob and Treble (our dog) standing next to an ice build up. It's pretty strange to be out in a tshirt and be standing next to these icy giants!

Just a bit further down this beach we stumbled upon a fabulous find. I was walking towards the shoreline (thinking that I had spotted a REALLY big Lake Superior Agate winking at me near the edge of the rocks) I reached down, only to have the rock I was looking at roll and crush my thumb between it and another rock... OUCH! I screeched, and tried to stand up.. only slipping on another pile of rocks and landing flat on my butt on another pile of rocks. As I sat there nursing a throbbing purple thumb (not broken - thank goodness), I took a look at where I was sitting and found myself in the center of a treasure pile of Hematite and Jasper stones.

As I sat there in awe, watching the waves roll in near me (knowing that these stones were only recently hid by layers of ice and before that, many feet of water.. I got to thinking of Mishi Peshu - the great underwater lynx like creature who lives in the depths of Gitchigumi (Lake Superior).

A bit of history on this:

Mishi Peshu is the ultimate metaphor that represents the power, mystery and innate danger that comes from these sacred waters. With razor like spikes on his back, the face of a lynx or panther, and the body of a sea serpent, this creature demanded respect. The Anishinabe offered tobacco and prayer to the creature spirit before they embarked out onto the waters in their canoes. The calm waters of Lake Superior can be quickly transformed into raging squalls and huge waves from the northern, north-eastern, and north-western gales that often suddenly crop up. These gales sweep over the open water, quickly picking up momentum and causing huge waves, some up to 40 feet high.

A picture of Mishi Peshu is found at Agawa Bay, Lake Superior National Park, in northern Ontario, north of Sault Ste. Marie. The Midewiwin Society claimed in 1850 that this pictograph was painted by an Anishinabe shaman, and represents a heroic 4 day crossing of Lake Superior by a war party of five canoes. The author is believed to be a tribal shaman named Myeengun which means "Wolf." The images are painted using red ochre, a pigment made from the iron ore called hematite, mixed with clay minerals. This is the most famous rock art painting in Canada, according to National Collection Archive sources.

As I sat there nursing my sore thumb, I started to wonder about the Great Spirit in the lake and the wonderful treasures that had shown up where I least expected them to. Even Rob was in awe over this find. The stones I "stumbled upon" were the stones that were used (all those years ago) to paint these ancient cave paintings - it was crushed and the residue inside was used on the rocks). I spent hours with the red ocher colours on my fingers after picking some of these stones. (That's me, holding my sore thumb and sitting on the stone that looked like an Agate from a distance). I've got a chunk of Hematite Jasper in my hand about the size of a baseball. Yes I'm smiling but it's more like "Ow.. hurry up.. take the picture")

We popped back to the cabin to pick up supplies and then headed up to Wawa for lunch. A quick tour around town, a Subway sandwich and we were back on the road again.

We stopped and poked around a few glamorous rock cuts on the highway (don't look down or you'll step in someone elses garbage - frown - and picked up some really interesting shale type rocks for our collection).

Next stop - Gargantua in the provincial park.

When you pull into the road, you'll see a warning sign that lets you know that there are 14km of rough winding single lane roads ahead. Don't take that lightly...

The picture you see here? Is a NICE picture of the road - most of the drive in was single lane traffic only - we drive a huge 4 x 4 dodge truck so there was little room for anyone else coming the other direction. Luckily we only passed by one other truck - but I had to get out and move TREES out of the way so we could pass through. Now as I understand, these roads are being worked up but they are still rough. (This part of the park is left open during the off season - that's why we were able to go in).

Gargantua is AMAZING!!

There are miles and miles and miles of the most beautiful and well hidden scenery on this part of the shore. It is a rough stop to get into so there were only a few folks there when we arrived (some were set up for camping on the shore).

That's Rob in the picture looking at the map of this area - you can walk for quite a long time from one end of the park to the other - he's just looking at the Gargantua area.

Here's 2 pictures of the Gargantua beach - you can see that it's split into stones and sand..

The rocks range from pebbles to large boulders in incredible colours, shapes and sizes.

I don't know if you can see the picnic table in this picture, but there is one.. wayyy off in the distance (we are still on Gargantua beach) and that's Treble on a rope attached to my pack trying to rush ahead to see what is sticking up out of the sand in front of us.

We spent the next few hours poking around lots of other beaches and finding little gem treasures here and there. I'll be posting a few desktop images of our trip (some really nice scenery on our website mid May plus a few of the treasures for sale - we need to figure out what's going to be just for us and what we're willing to part with.
Well... did Rob and I find any Agates this trip? I'm sorry to say... no, we didn't.
This trip was all about the Hematite and the Jasper that kept being found under our shoes.
Stay tuned... you never know where we'll be heading to next!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wicked Graphics!

This morning was quite interesting!

Rob needed to go into work to get some vinyl stickers (for where he works) put on the truck - as well as a few other work "things"... so I decided to tag along with the van.

As luck would have it? He went to one of the places that I had called asking questions about getting body vinyls done for our new van (with our Wicked Stones information on it). After talking with the folks at 1 hour Sign (in Sudbury) I was simply delighted with the cost and the content that I'd be able to afford to work with!!

SO! At the moment I'm working on sending them some graphics for the back of the van as well as a few other goodies. It's going to be really neat once it's all put together! I can't wait!

So how's my packing coming along for our trip North in a few hours? Well.. I have not started yet (arg)... There is SO much to do that I've kind of gotten lost in all the little jobs to take care of. So after supper we're going to really get things moving and start packing.

I promise to take LOTS of pictures of our rock hunting trip. Most likely I'll have to make up a page on my site as it will be too much for Blogger..

I'm off to make supper!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lake Superior Agate Search

Well folks! It's that time of year!!

Yippee! I've made reservations at our favorite camping ground in Montreal River (Ontario - Canada - in case you are wondering where we are). The place is called Twilight Lodge and it's just amazing!! (They have cabins as well as campgrounds there - this year we managed to get the very private cabin near the shore - I can't wait!)

Last year we went up just to look around and figure out where this spring trip was going to take us. We went in August last year (according to fellow rock pickers - the worst time of the year to go hunting!).. We were told that the very best time (for this area) was just after the ice has gone off the lake - or in this case, the shore is free of ice. I've talked with the folks at the lodge and they have told me that the shores are clear of snow and ice.

Just a few weeks ago it was SNOWING along the highways when Rob drove up to Red Lake to teach a training course! SNOW!
This is one of the pictures that he took. It looks like its going to be a cold rock picking weekend!!!

I've got our maps ready, extra clothes packed (warm ones and cool ones - heck, it might be a fabulous weekend with lots of sun - I can hope!) and a huge pile of Rubbermaid boxes to store all our collected goodies in. I don't expect to fill any bins with Agates, I'll be happy to find just a few. (Last year we came home with oodles of stones but only about 4 Agates). Most of these treasures are going to be polished and turned into jewelry or used around our gardens and in the fish tank (they are SOOOO pretty! I should post a few pictures of some of the treasures we found last summer).

Well, according to the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) and folks who live in this area, the places were are going to visit have a LOT more shore line exposed right now. Lake Superior is at a record low (VERY bad for many things, but excellent for us rock hounds) so there will be a lot more shoreline for us to explore.

I'll post some pictures of our adventures next week and let you know how it went.

Winnie Wedensday - Visiting Old Woman Bay

Arg! So many many Wednesdays have gone by that I've not posted to this Blog.. so without further wait to our Winnie the Pooh fans.. it's WINNIE Wednesday!!
Here's Winnie peeking around the corner of a huge rock (trying to be brave enough) to venture onto the beach at Old Woman Bay just north of Sault St. Marie (well VERY North - along the highway going towards Wawa Ontario).
Winnie is in search of the "elusive" Lake Superior Agate, combing all the beaches and coves along the shoreline. (I think he's scared to get his feet wet).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Coffee with the Geese - Avian TV

What a lovely morning so far!

This morning I poured my first coffee of the day and went out on the deck to enjoy the sun coming up. (Our deck faces East so we get a very nice morning view). I had gotten quite comfie on the deck box and was watching the Goldfinches (about 2 feet from me) having their seed for breakfast when..


A pair of Canada Geese flew past me (about 15 feet from my shoulder) and splashed into the pond out front! I did manage to hang onto most of my coffee on the Goose-Flyby (if you dont know this, Canada Geese are huge! Imagine a medium sized dog flying past you and that's the size of the birds that dropped in on me).

So I had the opportunity to sit quietly on the deck, watch the sun come up, the birds chirp in the feeders and a pair of geese swimming around in the pond watching "me" have my breakfast. Giggle.. I'm *Avian-tv* it seems.

I wonder if they expect me to dance or something? :-)