Subject: re: Antarctica clothing, Florida and Northern B.C.
Hello from Victoria to Ruth, in Fort Myers, Brenda, in Smithers, and Ziners, all over.

Ruth, friends from West Palm Beach, who we joined this month on their annual boat trip up the Inside Passage to Alaska, swear by silk thermal underwear because it is warm yet much less bulky to wear than cotton versions. Also, stored in a ziplock bag with the air squeezed out, it's very space efficient to pack, and apparently, it's easily hand washed and dried, all good features for travellers. I just did a search on Google using the phrase "silk long underwear" and came up with several U.S. suppliers.

Brenda, your posting reminded us of an overnight bus trip last week from Prince Rupert to Prince George from where we were able to catch a direct flight home to Victoria. The mountain and Skeena and Bulkley River scenery is absolutely wonderful even when viewed overnight as at this time of year the twilight of the northern horizon continues to define the landscape throughout the wee hours. Our Greyhound stopped briefly in Smithers around 2:30 a.m. so you'll excuse us for not suggesting a ziner get-together ;-)

Highlights of a leisurely two-week motor boat trip up the Inside Passage were the many remote anchorages at locations that seemed untouched by any element of civilization, and, the **seafood**. Every day ended with a home-made feast of chowder, steam pot, fish fry, paella or bouillabaisse from just-caught crab, salmon, clams, scallops or oysters. I've always heard that fishing was no good when there were Killer Whales (Orca) in an area but this notion was certainly disproved off of Point Cumming light where we landed six coho in 45 minutes (hard work!) while four whales showing their distinctive dorsal fins cruised up and down the same shoreline.

Navigation wise, some of the more narrow channels and fjords comprising the Inside Passage which are too small for the summer navy of cruise ships contain tidal rapids and whirlpools that provide interesting sights for small boaters and are best avoided by slower motor boats and sail boats until slack tide . One whirlpool especially, at Dent Rapids, formed a series of concave swirls each about 50 ft wide and at least a foot deeper than the surrounding water. We gave it wide berth with engines at about 75% power to keep clear of the action.

Part way along the narrow, deep, 45 mile long Grenville Channel at the north end of the Inside Passage is Lowe Inlet and waterfall. It is a special place surrounded by peaks and entered through a narrows leading to a circular shaped anchorage which forms a refuge for small boats away from any force of wind or tide. At dawn the air and water were so still the that resulting silence seemed to exaggerate the sound of a whoosh from a nearby eagle's feathers as the bird made a fast near-vertical dive to an unfortunate fish found too close to the surface. Later that day we heard the distant, repeated, human baby-like call of a cougar as we fished along shore in a dingy. And, a few days before, we were fortunate to see a young bear with a healthy, shiny, black coat mooching along a beach for food (best avoided when one is claming). What vast and intriquing country!

Well, with pleasant memories of sights, sounds and scents (and photos yet to download) of B.C.'s central coast and northland, please accept good wishes for Canada Day tomorrow and Independence Day on Friday.

Regards, Nancy and Jerry in Victoria