And then there’s that…

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Sorry it’s been a bit of time between posts but life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  I’ve been talking to my buddy Dave Sloma and a few other friends about the self publishing thing for last few weeks.  They have been good discussions and are really helping me to figure things out.  I’ve also been working my way through my first book updating the manuscript and getting it ready to go to the beta readers for the first round of notes.

It’s been very engrossing.  There’s also been a bunch of drama revolving round the day job but I’m not going to bore you with that stuff here except to say, my plate’s been a bit full as of late and there’s still a bit of lingering malaise from the trip.

But yeah, I’ve been moving back into the writing space of my head.

It’s a bit of a trip reading and revising something I wrote over twenty years ago.  The really shocking part is not much has changed in the shape of the world since then at least not in the sphere I’m writing about.  It’s also interesting to see the evolution in my own style over all that time but not so much that I can’t see myself in the words.

The real kicker though is I was inspired for the first time in years to actually write something original in prose.  The knowledge that I could just do it for myself to see where it would go was a pretty heady one when every thing you’ve written for the last twenty years was geared towards landing a contract  or possibly a green light.  It feels a bit weird to just say, “Fuck it, let’s see how deep this rabbit hole goes.

 

Big and Slow

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I really struggled with posting this one up.

On the 24th of August I did a charity ride.  I’m not going to name the ride because it’s the last time I’ll be doing it.  From now on I’ll just give the charity (which I wholeheartedly support) $20 and call it a day.  There’s no point in riding if all I’m going to do is worry about the lack of skill of the people around me.

What was interesting is that I have no problem riding with my V-Strom group as they are all switched on and know how to handle their bike.  My experience with the air cooled V-Twin crowd is not as positive.  Maybe it’s the fact that they’re trying to control eight hundred plus pounds of metal on two wheels.  Maybe it’s the fact that we were constantly going under the posted speed limit or it could be that after the safety meeting where we were told to obey the laws of the road and then a large number of riders in the group proceeded to break those laws in stupid ways.

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The road’s narrow and that’s a blind hill we’re approaching.  So the guy on the blue bike is putting himself at risk and giving me little room to move if shit goes wrong.  I know he thinks he’s got it all going on but once we got into the narrow twisty sections, this guy was not fun to have near you.

Last year on this ride, there was a much more diverse series of bikes this year, I pretty much stood out like a sore thumb.

One of the reasons I wear HiViz… It’s not a color that occurs in nature, so it’s easily spotted in an environment it doesn’t belong in.

Then again, it might just be me.

I’ve been having a hard time getting back in the groove since coming back from the trip.  Really it’s more of an issue of not being moved by things.  The group ride just reminded me why I hate group rides in the first place.  Riding with people who can’t keep a line is taxing.  Yes riding is a lifestyle but riders like me don’t feel the need to plaster the name of our choice of ride all over our clothing, we’re really more interested in gear that keeps us cool and dry or warm and dry or if all else fails… dry.  We don’t ride to the coffee shop to hang around or to the pub, we ride to find new places and see things we’ve never seen before and we look forward to getting up on the pegs to really let it all fly.

I know the Adventure Rider group is looked at as the red headed step child of the riding community but I think we  prefer it that way.  It’s fun being a true outsider (or as I prefer, outlier)  as opposed to somebody who dresses like an outsider but everybody they know is in the same boat and shows up at the same bar.

At least when we got back to the BBQ I was sitting with guys who were in to old Japanese bikes.

There are a lot of things in the works right now, which I can’t really go into but in the coming months I will.  As I’m moving out of the screenwriting portion of my life I’ll be retasking this blog a bit to focus now and again on moving in to the self publishing side of writing.  I’m currently working my way through a rewrite of a book that I wrote a while back that almost made it to a publishing release and I’ve got plans in the works for a few other book projects including a non fiction book.  I’m nervous and excited but most of all, looking forward to a new chapter in my writing with control firmly back in my hands and not a director or producer.

I’m hoping you’ll all come along for that ride too.

A Period of Adjustment

I’ve been back now since the 7th and of all the trips I’ve taken this is the one I’m having a hard time getting back in the groove from.  The mai object of the trip was to of course take care of some family history.  Another was to solidify my skill set on the bike and the third was to get some thinking done in regards to what comes next.  And here we’re not talking about the next big bike ride, though that’s always on my mind.

The Translab wasn’t the best road to try and have deep thoughts on.  Basically you’re just trying not to put it in the ditch or lay it over or high side.  Essentially, you’re trying not to muff it too much to really have any higher level thoughts.  Plus the fun factor for the most part is pretty much pegged all the way over to the right.

It hooked me pretty ad though, I’ve een dreaming about riding on dirt for the last week.

No, the real thinking comes in the motel room on the return leg where you’re just pounding out the miles to get home.  Basically, fundamental changes need to be made in some areas of my life.  Especially the writing side of things.  Under the current model, I cant really continue on in film.  Specs are all but dead and the funding models in Canada are just too hard to work through or around and if I’m totally honest the whole process isn’t much fun for me any more.  I’ll still keep my hand in and if the one project I’ve got out there ever gets a green light, I’ll give it everything to get it through the preproduction process but new stuff?  As far as film goes, not so much.

This doesn’t mean no more writing though.  Since I left the prose world much has changed.  The Bulwarks of Publishing  are not so formidable any more thanks to the introduction of the Kindle.  Which set off a bit of a bomb.  Self publishing on electronic and on demand platforms allow new authors to break in and find their own audiences (not without considerable work on the part of the author) and sell to them.

So right now, the plan is to revamp one of my first books and write two more smaller novels so that I’ll be able to mount three titles in quick succession while I develop other books.  I’m writing for me, not some publishing committee or producer and that is an incredibly freeing proposition.  

Gearing my mind to write straight prose again is proving to be a bit of a challenge but nothing I can’t work around.

Translab Diary – Battle Harbour – Four

My Grandmother as previously mentioned was raised Catholic and for reasons of her own left the church when my Mother was a child.  The local lore on Battle Harbour raised two things.  First off, my Grandfather’s family attended the Anglican Church on the Island and while there were Catholics around, they weren’t in the majority (and they had their own graveyard).  So this raises some family questions.  Ones that may not be answered anytime soon.  I’m going to see if I can search the Dumfries marriage registry for some answers.  The second was that Alice changed the pronunciation of the name from, “Sooward,” to, “Seaward.”  Which in the end even effected the spelling.  So Seward became Seaward.  All of this done off the official records of course at a time when a name change was as simple as the stroke of a pen on a card or even a misspelling at a port of entry.  This does add a bit of a wrinkle to any search for other relatives still living.

Where my Grandfather was christened.

Churches are always a center point to any remote village, very much the social standard and it’s important to note that what is Battle Harbour now, is not the Battle Harbour of then which was about two thirds again the size (at least in Summer) and full of activity because the weather window is so small.  Even in May, the snow would have been high, not fading away till late June early July.   You’re always sort of aware of this as you traipse across the island.  At no point does its past of present feel like a cakewalk.  So during magic hour I tried to capture some more of what I was seeing there.

 

Translab Diary – Battle Harbour – Part 3

The morning fog lifts from Belle Isle to the South of Battle Harbour.

Seeing as I was at the head of the Island I decided to get fancy with my tilt shift lens.

The tide pools looked kind of cool through the tilt shift effect.

As did the abandoned fishing boat.

My second day on the island I decided to explore it starting at the remains of the Marconi Radio Building.  From there I moved on to the crash site of what looks like a Beaver that hit the top of the island in 1976 killing all four on board.   It’s a pretty somber sight as they’ve left the remains of the aircraft exactly where it hit.

The somberness of the crash site aside, the view was pretty spectacular.

As you move down the Island, the terrain shifts again and the grass gives way to rock.  It all looks pretty solid but there’s a lot of loose rock in these formations and it’d be easy to twist an ankle if you’re not careful.

Here I’m looking back to the mainland of Labrador from the cliff at the end of the Island.

And I still can’t get over the constant stream of Icebergs making their way South in the coastal current.

Or cracking out the Tilt Shift to get all, “Artistic.”

As you make your way back towards Battle Harbour proper you pass through the second o the two cemeteries.  Both are heavily overgrown and the elements have not been kind to some of the markers erasing all the details from them.

And seeing how the tilt shift was still on the camera, I decided to give Battle Harbour a bit of a miniaturization.

The path down from the cemetery was a bit steep but I managed it even with all of my gear.  It’s funny, while it takes you a bit to get round the whole island, once you’re at the end of the path, you’re pretty much right back in Battle Harbour and only a five minute walk from the center of the place.  Which was good because lunch was going to be served in about fifteen minutes.

One thing you should know is you get three meals a day on your tour package and they happen at 9:30am, 12:30pm and 6:00pm all times you don’t want to miss or you’ll go hungry.  The food’s pretty good and you get just enough of it to satisfy, no more.  I had a bit of a laugh when I got home as I’d lost seven pounds doing this trip and I ate the heaviest food you can imagine for the most of it.  Though as mentioned in the other posts it took me a while to find a decent fried egg over easy.

So after lunch I took a long nap so I’d be up for shooting as the sun went down.

Translab Diary – Trap Cove

Just round this outcropping lies Trap Cove.  It’s been a long time leading up to this moment and some of the hardest riding of my life.  I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to find there.

The walk up from the landing point was steep.  You can click the panorama for the full sized image.  Because everything is built on what are essentially stilts, when the foundation goes, the houses drop down at all sorts of crazy angles.

The cove offers a good sheltered Harbour.  I’m sure there would have been a couple of jetty here or even fishing stages to moor boats to but there’s no evidence of them or any sort of walkway now but these rocks would be treacherous when wet.  The water looks inviting but it’s hovering around the freezing mark.  You fall in here and you’ve got a couple of minutes at best before hypothermia sets in.

This is the first house I make it up to.  It’s not one that was owned by any of my family.  As you can see, none of these places were insulated.

It’s nearest neighbor isn’t fairing much better.

This one’s doing a bit better.

The lee side of the house.

I guess the washing machine wouldn’t fit on the boat.

The first of the Seward houses.  Not much left other than a lot of old bottles among the wreckage.  When the tide turned in the fishery, I get the feeling they were some of the first to go.  Captain Jim told me they were year round dwellers, toughing out the winter year after year.

It’s got a pretty good view though.  The other two piles of wreckage are the other two Seward homes or at least what’s left of them.

The view out to sea.

Like I said, not much left.  As you can see, mother nature reduces these dwellings to splinters in no short order.

What’s interesting is the next cove over Matthew’s Cove is still inhabited.  I found it interesting that each place, Battle Harbour, Trap Cove and Matthew’s Cove had their own Cemeteries.  The place was well populated (at least in the Summer months) with most of the Summer crowd living on the hill across the Ticle from Battle Harbour proper.  It would have been quite the mix too and yet each location kept its dead separate.  My Mum thought her Dad was Catholic and there is a separate Catholic cemetery by Matthew’s cove (though I could only find the two on Battle Harbour) but Captain Jim tells me that the family was Anglican.  I’m not sure if my Grandmother (who was a practicing Catholic at the time) and Grandfather had a civil or a church wedding.  I’m thinking because of the war it was most likely civil.  Or maybe it was all out in the open and they went ahead anyway.  Perhaps those circumstances later led to my Grandmother’s leaving the Church.  Things I’ll never know because my Grandmother was tight lipped about that part of her life.  I don’t even know if she ever talked about Solomon to my Mum.

This is the last Seward house and I believe it belonged to William Seward.  He was the last to leave and by leave I mean, he passed away.  Apparently there is a headstone for him in this building which was purchased but never placed.  I wasn’t able to find the cemetery and even the locals were a little hazy on its location.  I tried spotting it from a higher elevation but there’s so much quartz in the rock around here that any flash of white is more than likely an outcropping and not a headstone.

This shot gives you a better idea of the sate of the collapse.   As I was at the end of the houses, I decided to hike up the hill behind the settlement to try and spot the cemetery.

It’s a fair hike to the top.

On the way up I discovered how the local Pine has adapted to the terrain.  Low and spread out seems to be the only way to keep yourself anchored here.

Still a ways to get to the top though.

From the top looking back to Trap Cove and Matthew’s Cove.

Trying to spot the cemetery but no luck.

These brackish pools are everywhere.  The larger pond to my left is the source of Battle Harbour’s working water.  It’s feeds a gravity line that drop down under and across The Tickle and it’s probably the source of the Leech in my toilet bowl.  Leeches in a body of water tend to keep me on the shore.  Still it all looks very peaty, it really does feel like Scotland.

Looking across at the Marconi mast and of course, more icebergs.

Not every question was answered and even a few new ones were generated but I’d finally completed one of the main steps in this very long trip to discover something about a side of the family that I’d only ever had vague notions of.  I also got to discover another part of Canada (Just the Yukon and Nunavut left).  It’s sad that there are none of the Sewards left here but at the same time I can’t blame them for leaving.  Life could be lived a lot easier elsewhere and your pay would go further.  Everything here needs to be brought in by ship.  A situation that still exists for many communities down the Labrador and Quebec coast.  This makes even the most basic of commodities very expensive.

I made my way down the steep path to the edge of The Tickle and radioed for a pick up.  Will I ever be back here?  Who knows?  It was a struggle to get here, though at the rate they’re paving the Translab (another reason I did it was to get it under my belt before it was all gone) it’ll all be tarmac in a few years.  Will that open these communities up?  It might but there’s still a lack of industry here and the fishing is sporadic as stocks dwindle.  It is a beautiful part of the country though, so maybe it’ll open up tourism.

No matter what the future brings though, I’m sure the people of Labrador will take it in stride.

 

Translab Diary – Battle Harbour – Part Two

Battle Harbour was at one time considered the capital of Labrador.  Bear in mind that right now, even with the boom Labrador’s population is just under thirty thousand people.  The slipway above is the true center of the town.  To the right is the old Salmon House currently being restored as the new dining facility.  Battle Harbour’s fortunes revolved around fishing, sealing and whaling though I got the impression, whaling was in the minority.

I missed Captain Jim’s talk about the flour store but I got in the next day when it was just me my camera and my tripod to take some proper shots undisturbed.

I started with the Flour Store

click to see full sized image.

As you can see most of the building is based off of shipwright construction.  This means plenty of low doorways to whack your head off of if you’re over six feet tall.  Flour was critical for survival here as there’s limited ways to store carbohydrates.  Potatoes do tend to get a bit mangy the longer they stay in storage.  There’s a few gardens about the islands but I got the feeling confirmed by Captain Jim that growing anything here is very very hard.   Every stick of lumber was brought in from the mainland.  No trees will grow here.  It’s weird knowing this was the world of my Grandfather and his family mostly because so little remains of them to show they were here other than the shells of these buildings (all of the family dwellings in Trap Cove have been flattened by time and the elements).

Next stop was the Oil Store.

Cooking Oil, Heating Oil and Molasses were stored here along with Sugar.  The floor is saturated with decades of spills.

This is the middle floor of the Salt Store, probably the most important building in the entire town.  The floor below is where the salt to salt the fish for transport was kept.  Salt was loaded in on this floor and dropped through trap doors to the storage below.  A second set of doors below allowed access to the salt store as needed.  All of it checked and weighed.  The red carts are two of the original ones used to wheel the stuff around.

A better look at the right hand side of the building.

Now those stairs lead up to the loft above the Salt Store and a space that is truly and historically unique.

This is the loft where Sir John Franklin held the press conference for his ill fated expedition and I literally couldn’t get the look of their desiccated remains out of my head the whole time I was up here.

The next stop was the Seal Store, a place my Grandfather would have been very familiar with.

This room was used to separate the oil from the seal blubber.  The remaining meat was fed to the hundred and fifty Husky dogs that provided transport around the Island in the colder months.

Most of the blubber was rendered into oil in big iron pots like this one.

This mill was tried briefly but wasn’t as efficient at extracting the oil as the traditional method.  But I’m willing to bet it took a few fingers and maybe a hand or two before they binned it.

I’d arranged with Elsie to have somebody drop me off at Trap Cove just round the spit on the other side of The Tickle.

That’s going to be the subject of the next post.

C’mon, I took over eight hundred pictures (thank God for Digital), it takes a while to go through them.

Translab Diary – Battle Harbour Part One

I’d ridden like a demon from Port Hope Simpson to Mary’s Harbour.  Other than a small section of soft and loose gravel on the hill coming down to the Mry’s Harbour / Red Bay turnoff, it was good material all the way.  I could get up on top of it and really go.  Third gear gave me plenty of range on the throttle and the bike just sang along.  Richard and I shook hands and parted ways at the junction.

The Ferry Office and the parking lot. The Strom is just up the hill at the right.

There’s only one way to get to Battle Harbour and that’s by Ferry.    The Ferry leaves once a day at 11:00am and does not return to the mainland until 9:00am the next morning.  There are a variety of options for accommodations on the Island and you can see them all the the main website here.  The wharf for the ferry is not exactly well marked.  If you end up at the fisheries dock, you’ve gone too far.  The parking for the ferry is right across the street from the Anglican Church.  You can leave your vehicle there overnight and if you’re on a motorcycle, they’ll let you store any loose and unlockable items in the booking building.  There is limited phone and telephone service on the island and no cell service at all.  Make sure you bring a book or magazine to read.

Who your people are is a very big deal in Labrador / Nfld., genealogy matters and oral and memory based local history is going to be key to any search for links to the past.  I got the feeling right away that my Grandfather  Solomon’s death left a deep family wound.  Very little seemed to be known about him.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.

The bay to the left of the ferry wharf.

A little bit after eleven in the morning we set out for the Battle Islands.  I spent a bit of time talking to Captain Jim who was also born and raised in Battle Harbour about my family and their links to trap cove.  I filled him in on the details of my Grandfather’s death and his remains interment in Bergen in the Netherlands.  It would seem that the Sewards were pretty much done with Trap Cove by the early to mid sixties, dispersing to Happy Valley / Goose Bay and to Port Aux Basques.  Before the exodus, they were a year round family.  Living in Trap cove through the harsh Winters.  The last ferry of the year would leave in November and not return until the following May.

We had a smooth sea on the way out and we all took time to get to know one and other.

The Fishery you end up at if you miss the ferry parking lot.

Leaving the Harbour.

Some of my fellow travelers catching some sun on the front deck.

Coming up on The Battle Islands.

My first Iceberg

My first view of Trap Cove.

A storage building across The Tickle from Battle Harbour. There used to be a thriving community on this side of the Harbour, made mostly of people there for the Summer to work. This building and some splintered wood on the hill are all that remain.

One of the landings they’re trying to repair.

This was the bunkhouse. It sleeps 12 and is $50 a night. I had the place to myself.

Well almost to myself.

The front living area. My bunk is by the window

From the other side of the room.

The kitchen and eating area

Power for the island is provided by these two generators that switch back and forth as service is required. There’s an 8000L Diesel tank just outside. I believe the blue thing is a water filtration unit.

This is the Fish Flake reconstructed on part of the site of the original. In it’s prime, it was three times the size. The fish are salted and dried in the sun on the Flake’s surface.

A wrecked boat on the South side of the Harbour.

After lunch there was going to be a guided tour of the buildings with Captain Jim leading it.  I was a little late to the party so I’m going to cover it in the next post.

 

Translab Diary – The Rubber Aftermath

Front – Before

Here’s the before and after pictures of my Metzler Karoo 2 tires.

Front – Before

Front After

Rear – Before

Rear – After

I’d say both those were done.  I ordered some new Shinko 705s this morning, they should be here in a little over a week.  I also ordered new boots at the same time.  After years of faithful service, the leather on my right instep totally failed in the last forty Km of the Translab down to Red Bay.

At least they got me home.