Another playwriting competition

Another year has come and gone and another playwriting competition is over.  There’s nothing quite like the joys of writing, caffeine, adrenalin, and insomnia that accrue in such a short period of time.

I thought about spending it working on two plays I’ve been trying to finish over the last while. However, I thought I would write something new for a number of reasons.

A friend passed away recently. We had worked together for 22 years and, as it turned out after half of that time, our grandparents had both emigrated from the same town outside Belfast in the 1920s. I figured it was time to write a play that takes place in Ulster, namely Derry in January and February of 1972.

If you think you can write a play from scratch in 24 hours, you will be disappointed. I`m content with the first draft I managed in that time. It`s a bit ragged at the edges, but that`s how first drafts are supposed to be.

So, there`s another one on my plate. One of these days, I going to have to retire, if for no other reason than to finish a few plays…

A new horse or a new cart?

Well, my parts request just took a funny turn today. I got an email from Rapala this morning. The email was forwarded including a previous mail from someone else in Rapala to send a parts diagram. The part of the email directed to me asked for my mailing address, including a full address if I had a PO box.

I responded with my address and then thought for a minute. Couldn’t they just have emailed me a PDF? I thought about emailing back suggesting that after work.

I actually got off work early. A water main was broken and they had to shut off the water at work. We all got sent home and the college was closed. I checked my email to send a request that they just email me a PDF if possible. What I got was this:

Hi Doug,
Mailed out one MGII reel. Final warranty/replacement.
Kind regards,


I was a wee bit surprised. I would have been quite content with repairing it. Suffice to say, I’ve repaired enough reels in my time. The reel was less than a year old, but I never even mentioned my emails.

So, I may not give Rapala huge marks for ongoing maintenance help, but they do score well in the customer service area…


Putting the cart before the horse

I’ll admit to being spoiled. Over the years, the reels I’ve owned have tended to be Penns, Daiwas, and Shakespeares. Reels take wear and tear and occasionally need repairs. In the case of all three manufacturers, all you have to do these days is go to the corporate website, find the parts diagrams online, and order the parts.

In those halcyon days before the internet, all reels came with parts diagrams in the box. This is why I’m spoiled.

Last year, I bought a rod and trolling reel combo as a “pick your own birthday present” thing. I decided it was time to step into the next century, or the current one at least, and get a trolling reel with a line counter. I picked up a Rapala combo from Canadian Tire.

Now, less than a year later, the reel basically fell apart. The level wind stopped functioning, as did the line counter, and the reel jammed. I took it apart and found a number of pieces cheerfully floating around, enjoying their newfound freedom from those restraints that kept them in the places where they were previously located. Such exuberant freedom cannot be tolerated, so I reassembled the parts in their appropriate position, reassembled the cover, and immediately watched the results of them escaping again. Some retaining piece, not contained in the reel body and located somewhere undiscoverable, is not there.

Going online to the Rapala site was useless. I couldn’t find a parts diagram. Actually, I couldn’t even find the reel on the site by its model number. So, with their somewhat limited Contact Us link on the page, I asked for a parts diagram so I could order repair parts.

Credit where credit is due, I got a response in about 12 hours. However, the request was for the parts I wished to order. How do I know this when I don’t have a parts diagram? I suppose I could have asked for the doodad that goes on the end of the whatchamacallit, but figured I should probably point out that I need the parts listing to order the parts I need. I’m still waiting for the response.

At this point, I’m thinking that the rod is quite nice, and the reel, useful for nothing else as is, did come with a lot of really good fishing line…

Labour Day camping

Camping on Labour Day has become a family tradition in our household. This was a bit odd, in that I was the only one who went out this year.

I’ll admit, it was nice to get out at least one more time this year. At this point, our weather can go pretty “iffy” but I’m still holding out hope for more fall to come. Camping can be quite nice this time of year. There’s no bugs to speak of and the weather can be pleasant if you’re prepared for the odd nippy morning. And, with the leaves changing, particularly at higher elevations, the scenery is wonderful.

Fall fishing can be good, although this weekend was not spectacular. I went to Fox Lake, and despite the normal trend over the last few years for Fox to pick up after Discovery Day and Kusawa to tail off, the fishing was a bit sparse.

My choice off campground was based on more than fishing. I have found, over the past years that Fox Lake has become more of the family campground, while Kusawa Lake campground has become party central. Kusawa can be downright noisy through the night, and the YTG camp officers can’t be everywhere all the time. It’s not as bad as the government campground at Pine Lake, though…

I did get one lake trout: small, about 2 lbs. What struck me as odd this year is that the surface temperature of the lake is quite warm, 55° F throughout the entire weekend. I usually see it about 49° or 50° by this time in the fall. That probably explained why the fish were still down quite deep in the water column. Most of what I saw were hanging around clouds of bait fish in the 60 – 90′ range. Trying to get a line down that far, without snagging the bottom at the same time is not easy.

I had a few complications. My relatively new (bought late last year) Rapala trolling reel fell apart. The line counter quit earlier this year, and I hadn’t fixed it because you can’t even find a parts diagram online. The level wind crapped out this weekend.

Fortunately, my 20+ year old Penn was also in the boat. I did put it on my good rod and used it. Its one issue is that the clicker isn’t working, but I do have the online parts diagram from Penn and will check to see which one of two possible parts needs replacing. My 10 year old Penn 190 also needs a bit of repair, but both of these are off season repair plans. When winter comes, a little diversion that makes you think of spring coming is perfectly good, right?

The weather was a bit strange. It followed the progression of sunny, sun showers, cloudy with showers, just cloudy. Repeat as necessary. There was a slight interlude with a bit of hail with the sunshowers at one point while fishing Sunday afternoon.

I’m not ready to put either the camper or the boat away yet. The issue with the camper is freezing temperatures and when the local sani-dumps close up. I may fix that issue since I’m calling our plumber tomorrow to see about having a dump attached to the house sewer system. Putting the boat away usually doesn’t happen until some time in October. The Environment Department is planning to keep 10 campgrounds serviced until the end of September, and they usually are available without services until the end of October for the hardy.

I will say one thing about the fall. I’m not the biggest fan of what it portends in the future, but it is damn pretty…


Fox Creek wetlands, Labour Day 2014.

A little job?

Did you ever start one of those little jobs that seem to multiply into big ones? That’s how my Sunday has gone.

I ordered a part for the inflatable boat, a Mercury HD, in the spring. The drain vent, which has a sliding handle that is used for draining the inside of the boat, had to be replaced. The handle broke off mine last year, and I had to order one since there were none in stock.It seemed to take forever to come in. Apparently it did in June, but no one called me to say it had until I called in late July. And, with the road trip, I didn’t get a chance to put it in until today.

The handle is a necessity, since you can drain the boat simply by running up to speed in the water and lifting the handle. The water runs out of the boat but the valve prevents new water from entering if you’re running. Without it, you have to take the boat out of the water to drain it. Given the amount of rain we’ve had this year, the ability to drain it is handy.

Here’s the issue. To remove two of the three screws in the vent to take the old one off, and to put the new one on, you have to take off the outboard and remove the floorboards. Anyone who has helped me do this before is probably gnashing their teeth and rending their clothing as they read the last sentence.

The floorboards are a bone of contention with the boat. When I first bought it four years ago, the salesman said, “Until the fabric stretches a bit, you may find getting the floorboards in a bit difficult.” If that was difficult, what is a hardship to the guy? The first time took four of us 4½ hours and my grandson wouldn’t talk to me for a week.

That being said, I did get the job done, after about two hours. Actually, it’s almost done since I have to go out in a few minutes and drop the motor back on it. It was “a bit” frustrating replacing the floorboards, but since I only took one piece of the five out, it was easier than it could have been. I also had another job to do. Since they haven’t been out of the boat in two years, cleaning underneath them seemed an important thing to do. Blech.

So, once again, the little fish killer, which Clara named, “Ruatha,” is ready to go back to work. This is important, because I’m developing a craving for smoked trout as I sit here…

Road Trip, last day

We woke up early, had breakfast and was on the road by 9:30 AM. Our starting mileage was 106,420.0. We ended our trip at 107,268.3. We put 3800 km on during the trip and spent about $1,500 to make it. Our final mileage was 25.1 l/100 km.

It was a nice drive. I got reminded once again just how beautiful both Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks are. I do have to make a trip where you do get a chance to have that area as a destination, rather than passing through heading somewhere else.

I also did plan my trip to not drive through either Stone Mountain or Muncho Lake at dusk, or worse yet, after dark. The last time I did that, all you saw on the side of the road was a constant reflection of eyes from sheep, caribou, moose and bison. Never again…


Summit Lake, Stone Mountain Park



Slide area, Stone Mountain Park

One thing to note after you pass through Muncho Lake Provincial Park: watch for bison on the road. The largest North American land mammal does make a rather substantial obstacle to traffic and they don’t really seem to care that cars and trucks are driving on the road. Challenging one is not on my list of preferred activities. Several groups were on the road between the northern portion of Muncho Lake Park and Upper Liard.


Bison, Upper Liard, BC

By the time you get to Stone Mountain Park, you get to remember some of the winding nature of the Alaska Highway. From here until close to Watson Lake, the road is narrow, with numerous curves and hills. We stopped at Watson Lake to gas up the final time and to grab lunch. It was nice to see the TAGS store there rebuilt after it burned down several years ago. A few details need to be finished but it does add another choice to grab a quick lunch on the road. It was also a chance to remind myself I was back in the Yukon, land of cheap gas. Other than the one stop in La Glace, AB for fuel, most other places in BC had incredibly high gas prices, ranging between $1.59 in Wonowon to $1.64 in Dease Lake per liter.


Nisutlin Bay, Teslin Lake, YT


Teslin, YT. The only picture of me from the trip

We drove the rest the way back in about 6 hours. We took our time, particularly from the Yukon River Bridge south of town when we got hit with a torrential downpour. It had cleared by the time we got to the house though.

A few general notes. First, if you can’t live without connectivity, this is not the place to come. Internet and cell service was only available in limited places on our trip, and you have to be within a centre, and not on its outskirts to get either. There is no cell service on the highway.

The big observation was another reminder: 14 days on vacation, with 6 full days spent driving. You get an idea of how large this place is…

Road Trip, Day 13

Well, we started the home trip this morning. Our starting mileage was 105,714.2, and we ended with 106,420.0. Total for the day was 705.8 km.

We woke early and started packing for the final trip. Then we got a visit from everyone but the wedding party, and took a quick run to Ernie and Dora’s to drop everyone off so Ernie could show us where the free RV dump was at the Sexsmith Heritage Park. It’s a nice place and seems to have a nice campground there, although we didn’t really have much time to look around. Then, it was off to La Glace, cheating back around Grande Prairie using Highway 59 again. I got gas there, and it was the cheapest I bought on the trip, $1.24 9/10 a liter.

We started driving along, and had a nice drive. The highway was in great shape between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson. I originally thought we might stay there, but felt like moving on to try this supposedly nice place at Tetsa River, about 115 km past Fort Nelson.

That was quite an eye opener. We ran into construction 35 km past Fort Nelson, and had to wait 30 minutes for a pilot car to run us through. The sign said there would be construction for 1 km, but it turned out to be more than 8 km. We ran into two other areas on either side of Steamboat Hill. The first wasn’t too bad, but the second was rather poor. The speed zone for the construction was 30 km/hr, but don’t try going that fast.

We came into the campground, with a flashing sign on the highway saying “Open.” The office wasn’t, although there was someone inside. I knocked and no one answered. I drove around looking for an open site, and just deal with it in the morning. When I was looking, another camper came over and told me the owner won’t talk to customers after he decides to close up. He doesn’t know what time that is, but we arrived about 7:15 PM. Also, he told me that the power is shut off at 10 PM, since all he has is a diesel generator and it is rather noisy. That’s OK, since our site has no services at all. Apparently very few are serviced, and the electrical power is only 15 amp, not the advertised 30 amp. Also, there is free Wi-Fi advertised, but no Wi-Fi transmitter in the campground. If there was anywhere else to stay, I would have moved on. Unfortunately, that would involve driving through Stone Mountain Park in the dusk, but there’s way too many large animals on the road at that time of night for my liking…



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