Friday, March 25, 2011

WW Interviews Seth Whalen :P

So my son and wife got to travel to Elmhurst Outdoors today and I have to say I'm a bit envious.  I thought I would interview my son on his adventure and post it here.

WW: So Seth do you want to do an interview for my Blog?

Seth: Sure daddy.

WW: So you went to school this morning and where did you go after that?

Seth: I don't want to do this.

WW: Why not?

Seth: My cartoons are on.

WW: Well did you have fun today?

Seth: Yes

WW:  What was your favorite part about today?
Seth: Tasting the syrup at the sugar camp.
WW: Was it yummy?
Seth: Yes
WW: What did you learn?
Seth: How to make maple syrup and about different trees.
WW: Did you enjoy the trip to the camp?
Seth: (no response, there was lots of action on Scooby Doo)

From there I lost him...I guess maybe I'll try interviewing his mother.  I can speak from some experience that Gig and family at Elmhurst provide a great activity for all.  Hopefully next time I get to go.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Scooby Doo Effect of Wetlands

This wetland near Salt Springs was very photogenic
There are very few places in the wilderness were I feel uneasy and honestly I am a bit embarrassed to let you in on this here.  Recently there has been a great deal of discussion on protecting these areas in New Brunswick and, even as a conservationist, I'm not sure how I feel about it.  So where is this place that makes my skin tingle and the hair stand on the back of my neck?  If you're there you can smell its moisture laden vegetation and soil.  You can feel the softness of the ground as it almost moves under you.  As you pause you would likely hear the gurgle of water beneath you as the mud starts to give way under your feet.  As you look around you will notice the various grasses and shrubs and the large diversity of all things including bugs.

Wetlands are an inspiring place so I have no idea why they make me feel so uncomfortable.  I spend a great deal of time in wet habitat but for some reason I have always felt odd when it wetlands.  I have an elevated fear level when in wetlands and often feel like what you might when you walk through a cemetery.  You know there is really nothing there but for some reason you can't shake the feeling that someone is watching you.  Despite this fear I love exploring wetlands.

The different types of wetlands alone are impressive but add to that diversity the diversity in which you can find when you take the time to get wet and dirty they really can blow you away.  The number of bugs, grasses and flowering plants, mammals that depend on the existence of such ecosystems, and the birds are always present. 

Wetland beauty and value does not end with its diversity and aesthetic wonder.  Wetlands are a valuable component in maintaining hydrologic balances.  They hold water until it is needed, they purify water and keep it clean for consumption by animals, including humans, and they slow the release of flood waters during times of water abundance.  Take a wetland out of the ecological equation and the entire natural system would fall apart.  Fish would no longer have clean water to swim in if they had enough water to swim in at all.  As nice as it might sound many bug populations, including mosquitoes, would likely crash and subsequently many flower and bird populations would also suffer.

This wetland area has all the makings for a horror flick.
The diversity within a wetland is likely one of the reasons I feel uncomfortable there.  I could never become familiar with a wetland as there is simply to much to take in, even in a small woodland bog.  Maybe I shouldn't have watched "Scooby Doo" so much as a child because honestly I think I believe in the marsh monster.  I keep waiting for him to jump out of the open water holes and get me.  Good thing that wetlands are not that diverse. 
Note: The above was a column I had printed in the March 15, 2011 Kings County Record.  Here in New Brunswick there has been a great deal of discussion on wetlands.  I feel they are a valuable part of a healthy environment and can go a long way in protecting infrastructure and housing from flash flood type weather events.  If we continue to fill in our woodland bogs and wetland then we will continue to see municipal areas flooded.  I am not against developing but we have to be responsible in how we develop or existing green spaces, especially those green spaces that can provide cheap and effective green infrastructure, such as wetlands.  This responsibility does not simply lie with the policy makers but everyone, developers, home builders, planners, municipal councils and staff, and many more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sugarbush tours and meals

Hey everyone the following information was forwarded to me by the Fundy Model Forest.  Maple sugar tours are a great NB tradition so get out there and enjoy.

If you would like to visit a sugar bush, several in southern New Brunswick have let us know the trees are tapped and the griddles are ready.  They are: City of Moncton: Take Moncton Home – "Pails to Pipleine Tours", Elmhurst Outdoors: Maple Sugar Tours and Pancakes , McCrea Farms 7th Annual Maple Syrup Pancake Breakfast and Sugarbush Tour, and Dumfries Maples: Cedar Log Pancake House and Sap House. Details are below.

Mid March to Mid April 2011
Each spring the City of Moncton provides guided tours demonstrating the value added benefits of managing municipal forests - sampling various maple products is a spring time tradition. For more information go to or contact Heather Hawker at 383-6700 book early as space is limited.
Dumfries Maples
Now open daily
Monday – Friday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Weekends and holidays: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Taffy on the snow)
Watch the syrup being made at the sap house and visit our new cedar log Cookhouse for pancakes, sausages or ham, baked beans, biscuits and lots of delicious maple syrup! 
Location: We are located between Fredericton and Woodstock, overlooking the beautiful Saint John River at 7520 Route 102. For directions and the latest information visit us at or call us at  1-506-575-TAPS (8277).
We accept cash only.

 March 26 and 27, April 2 and 3 (Saturdays and Sundays)
Time: Reservations required; sittings are every 45 minutes, first one at 9 am , last one 12:45 pm. To book, call Anna at 506 485 5600 or Nancy at 506 485 0095 (if you book and find you cannot attend, please let us know - we always have a waiting list)
Serving: All you can eat pancakes, with ham, sausage, eggs, muffins, donuts, tea/coffee, juice
Cost: Adults $10 / Children 10 and under $5
Sugarbush tour, including candy on the snow, follows breakfast (appropriate footwear strongly recommended)
Location: Community Hall in Belyeas Cove, Route 705; the map on our website takes you to Shannon, and the hall is just couple of miles farther, on the right (as you get closer to this part of the world, watch for signs along the way)

Opening weekends from March 19 - April 10, 2011
By reservation only!
Learn about the history of sugar making, watch the process of turning sap into syrup and taste some delicious sugar-on-snow. Tours take approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Join us afterwards for pancakes in the lodge!  
Saturdays @ 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 1:30 
Sundays @  11:30, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30

Tour  & Sugar-on-snow .......  $5.00 pp
ON THE MENU ...........
We serve homemade pancakes, local sausage, delicious maple syrup, and coffee/tea/juice. You can also add some homemade baked beans & homemade bread!
We take pride in serving only the best from our kitchen. Our pancakes are made using Spearville Whole White Flour, we serve Degenhardt's gluten- free sausages and our beans and bread are made by Gig and Denise right here at Elmhurst Outdoors.
Pancakes, sausage & bev .......  $7.50 pp  (with baked beans & bread.....$9.75)Taxes are included.  We accept cash only!  By reservation only.

65 Ganong Road, Erbs Cove, NB  Information: 506-832-4421 or

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bluff in Carnival Style

Looking towards the lights of Poley Mountain ski hill while standing on the Bluff.
Recently the Village of Sussex Corner hosted their annual winter carnival.  The event was a huge success and drew people from across Kings County.  Families crammed into Sullivan Park, the Village's green space that borders Trout Creek, to enjoy all the activities on a seasonal Saturday.  My favorite activity though took place the night before with a much smaller crowd.

As players competed for the 3rd Annual Corner Cup, a group of 14 people of various ages prepared to snowshoe to the Bluff.  The sky was clear and the air was crisp as we stepped into our snowshoes.  I was anxious to get going as I hadn't been to the Bluff in sometime and it has always been one of my favorite hikes.  With the clear conditions I anticipated that the view from the Bluff would be inspiring and I was looking forward to finding a nice spot to sit and enjoy a hot cup of tea while staring into the winter night sky.

John McNair from Outdoor Elements was to lead the group along this trek.  Once he got everyone to the trail head it was fairly easy to find the way as a well beaten track was already present.  I was glad to see that people were getting out and enjoying this great area.  The pace was modest and people talked happily as they trudged along the narrow trail.  Headlamps lit the woods ahead of us and the shadows in front constantly changed as the group moved past the various landmarks.  The trail to the Bluff has a number of landmarks that help you gauge how much farther you have to go before you reach the end.  The "elbow" tree is always a favorite to climb and have a portrait taken in.  The root jump indicates the end of the last small climb before making the climb to the face of the Bluff.

We make the last approach to the Bluff with only the darkness separating the group from the face.  I was close to the back of the group at this point but walked by a number of them before making the face and was shocked to learn that many were not going to step out onto the exposed summit to enjoy the view.  Some were timid of the height while others were worried about the cold wind.  I couldn't wait to get to the summit myself.

 I enjoyed a cup of tea while taking note of some of the constellations overhead.  The lights lower on the horizon seemed to have a brighter presence than normal.  The lights from Sullivan Park were cheerful and warmed my soul even from that great distance.  My participation in planning the Winter Carnival elevated my anticipation and with the event now upon me I was excited.  I pried my body from my warm seat and with Mike Coggan started the trek back to the cars.

As the group treks back to the trail head the lights of Sussex Corner and Sussex show the way.
On the return trip I took time to take a lot of photos in hopes that one or two would turn out.  The lack of natural light made it difficult to adequately capture the spirit of the night.  In the end, the group quietly enjoyed the trip, one that created a memory that will last at least until next year's Winter Carnival.