1991 Toyota Landcruiser FJ80

One of the youngest trucks in my fleet – Only 31 years old !.

It is a US truck, in miles – slightly confusing when the speed limits in Canada are in Km.  Compared to most trucks of its age (e.g. old battered Ford pickups), there is no rust and a few small dents and scratches.   It does have a crack in the windshield, though where I live that is considered normal.  The combination of extreme cold and gravel roads makes cracked windshields inevitable.

It has a ARB front bumper, Warn Zeon 12 winch, ARB airlocker on rear differential, 2.5″ Old Man Emu heavy lift, rocker guards and a 23Zero rooftop tent on a DIY roof rack with Smittybuilt + 8020 rails.

Needs minor things like a new windshield, mudflaps, and flares. Mechanically very solid.

Maintained properly for the past 4 years for sure, can’t speak past that as no records.

I count the emission delete as an upgrade lol.

 

For winter use, the is a liner for the 23Zero tent and a Propex2000 heater.

Really tempted to have a Campteq poptop tent installed for additional headroom. 

Got any questions or comments – Drop me a line.

 

Zion, Canyonlands and Arches and National Park

It has been ages since I’ve posted –

It has been ages since I’ve had a vacation and

It has been ages since I’ve actually used a camera.

January 2023.

Yes – I am one of those people that still use a real camera instead of taking pictures with a cell phone. This vacation I brought 3 cameras; GoPro, Fuji X-T1 and a Leica M240. Add chargers, extra lenses (14mm Fuji, 8mm Samyang, and 24mm Leica and 19mm Leica)…it all adds up to a ton of gear. Wait, Leica M240 and Leica 19mm ??. Leica M240 is a rangefinder camera and the 19mm Leica lens is for SLR-type cameras !. Who does that ?.  The Leica 19mm has a Leitax adapter (to Nikon – and compatible with my D700 and D850) and with a Nikon – Leica L/M adapter.  This was supposed to be the final voyage for that Leica lens. It was dropped years ago and bent. No broken glass. Sent to Leica for repair and re-built – sort of.  The ring with the serial number was lost when it was dropped, so Leica gave it a new serial number. A unicorn lens !.  Since then, fungus has developed in the lens showing up as lens flare on the top of photo. My work-around is to hold the camera upside down.  A bit weird – though works !.

 

Zion National Park

So, on this trip I had 3 cameras. Each night the task of copying the images to a computer and then to an external hard drive for backup. In contrast, my travelling partner had her photos on her phone. With WiFi at the hotel her images were backed up to Google. Her posts to social media were quick and easy. Ugh. For me, copying the photos to the computer took ages and them more time to back them up. I also shoot in RAW format and the images are at least 25Mb.  And – with the Leica, it is manual focus too….More delays during the hikes.

All that complaining aside, I really enjoy using the old Leica camera and lenses.  There is something very different with those lenses. My Nikon lenses are crystal clear and sharp, auto focus, and light weight (carbon fibre instead of brass). The Leicas, designed in the 1970’s are…Not. That said, the Leica lenses have a certain character, the pictures have a look that is quite distinctive than modern state of the art lenses, and I like the feel of using them.  Similarly to a woodworker using hand tools instead of power tools, or a gardener using a shovel instead of a power tiller.

All the photos are in Black & White. Why ?. Although the colours are spectacular, the tone and patterns in B&W are more obvious. And, B&W is more old school, back when everyone had manual focus lenses. ;>

Zion National Park

Virgin River, Zion National Park, Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

 

Arches National Park

Petroglyphys. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches Nati0nal Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canoe Trip: Trough Lake Loop (June 24, 25 and 26)

Trough Lake loop – sounds so much better than Goop Lake loop !.  I’d paddled a nearby river many, many times during the past 20 or so years, to the point that I was learn of going back to that area yet again. Oh – I was so pleasantly surprised how beautiful this route actually was – and why had I not been on it before.  Maybe, it was the name – Goop Lake loop that had deterred me. It sounds and looks much better called Trough Lake loop.

We left town on Friday June 24th. It is about an hour drive down the Ingraham Trail to Tibbet Lake where the loop starts. We went counter clockwise and camped a couple of km from the start. Next day, under clear sky and no wind, we had two short and then one long portage from the Ross River into Trough Lake through a 2014 forest fire.  No obvious route, just find your way over fallen trees and bare rock.  A quick lunch and swim at Trough Lake – then the weather changed.  It down poured for 90 minutes, and us still wet from swimming huddled into one tent.  After the rain ended, we decided to return back the same way as the wind was still quite strong and we would be in for a headwind paddle on a long lake.  Miraculous ? – as soon as we turned around and re-did the 1km portage though the burned area, the sun returned and the wind stopped. 

We took the northern route through Upper Thierry Lake and aptly named Goop Lake back to Tibbet Lake to the vehicles. All pictures taken with either a GoPro2 or Nikon D700.

Canoe trip: Boundary Creek (June 4 & 5, 2022)

A couple of pictures from a canoe down and up Boundary Creek June 4 and 5th, 2022.  Boundary Creek is approximately 30km west of Yellowknife and flows into Great Slave Lake. It river meanders, a couple of easy portages, and a couple of places it is easy to take the wrong turn.

All pictures with a GoPro2 or Fuji X-E1 (14mm lens).

Flashback 16 Years – 1981 BJ60

I admit

I am a Landcruiser Nerd.  I don’t tape on my glasses, or wear a shirt pocket pen holder…

But – I do live and dream about landcruisers, and have a few in my yard.  For the number of times that people have asked – “How many landcruisers do you have ?”, had they given me 1$ – I could have bought another one. !

Yes, I do have a few, and am still looking at landcruisers for sale.  One day a few weeks ago one caught my eye.  It is a 1984 BJ60 that had been converted to a pickup (Australian ‘Ute’). Although in much better condition that mine, it looked very similar.  Could the same person have done the conversion from SUV to pickup ?

I contacted the owner so determine if he had any information. Interesting enough, he had also been contacted a few months ago asking if he had seen a similar truck with a custom deck, a vehicle that he had modified 16 years previously.

Well, that truck is the one I have now !.  Strange coincidence !

16 Years ago (2006)

And Now (2021)

It hasn’t changed much. The paint is more dull, a bit more dirty, door corners are rusty. It even had the same roof rack (which I have since removed). 

During that time it was in Lytton BC and Salmo BC with two different owners.

The (Empty) Chair

It is a hard feeling to describe. At one time we’ve all sat across from the empty chair. There was a happy beautiful person there. Full of life and energy and enthusiasm, and now it is empty. They are not dead – simply no longer in the chair across the table.

 

That chair still holds the memories. Both the many, many Amazing memories and the – not so wonderful memories. As with every person in the chair across the table there are the ups and downs; the glorious moments and the misunderstandings, the Arguments, the Conflict and the Sarcasm. Some friends even called it a Toxic relationship.

Overtime, the latter became more prominent that the former.  Plans made and plans cancelled, misunderstandings that continued over and over. Moving together, moving apart, moving in and moving out, moving closer and moving away. Counseling sessions, couples therapy, and people that continued to ask…”Are you and YYY still together ?”. Friends that took sides, and would only invite one of us, and optionally the other. Communication was more than often – Wrong, misinterpreted, not enough, or silent.

Sarcasm seemed to rule – I was expected to know if they were being serious (‘Don’t you know me yet), or are you being sarcastic ?.

Throw kids into the mix, a week of full time parenting two kids, and now young adults. Trust me, dating with kids isn’t easy.

Separate vacations, separate social events, separate — pretty much everything.   

Years pass.

The Misunderstandings, Conflict, Volatility and Assumptions continued…

We split up and got back together so many times I can’t even remember how many times, though April 2021 was the last. 

Weeks and months of silence. Finger pointing, assumptions and …”you didn’t contact me”

I needed to break the cycle.     

Roll ahead to April 2022 –  That chair will always be empty. Its over.

I broke the cycle.

There is a new person in the chair in front of me.

There is however still plenty of healing to do.

Last Friday in April !

Its a Friday !. 

The last Friday in April…

For those of us in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Canada) it is one of the last opportunities to enjoy winter activities. We have had winter since mid November, but most of that time is has been too friggin cold to actually enjoy being outside.  My cold weather cut off is -25C. Below that temperature, there is no glide on skis, and hands get too cold too easily.

Today, it is +1C. For most of the season, we don’t use the + or -, it is simply understood to be below zero.

The things I’d rather be doing !!

Kite skiing on Yellowknife Bay

Fat Biking on a northern runway. The ice is at least 4′ thick.

Planespotting 101

 
 

Planespotting 101:  A beginner’s guide to Yellowknife’s soaring skies

 …knowing your airplanes is not essential to life and death, though it is good for impressing friends…

Stories and photos by Steve Schwarz

 

Article written about northern aviation, and published in  _EDGE

(https://edgenorth.ca/article/planespotting-101)
 

A couple years ago my mom visited Yellowknife. One sunny morning as we walked along McDonald Drive she stopped almost midstride and turned her head slowly skyward. “Mom, are you OK?” I asked. A few seconds later she smiled and said, “That’s a DC-3.” What the…? My mom is a plane spotter! As a child, my mom lived in the Netherlands during World War II. German, Canadian, British and American airplanes were always flying overhead, and knowing how to correctly identify which was which could save your life.

My father too was a plane spotter. I remember as a kid Dad would sometimes tell stories and draw the airplanes he saw as a child during the six years he spent in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp while he lived in Indonesia. I’ve always been interested in planes. I guess it’s in my genes. Often while walking with the kids we will see an airplane, and I will blurt out, “That’s a DHC-5 Buffalo,” or name some other aircraft. Sometimes I can even identify the airplane before we can see it. I am not bionic, it’s more that my eyes and ears have learned to recognize the shapes and sounds made by the different airplanes. Fortunately for us living in Yellowknife, knowing your airplanes is not essential to life and death, though it is good for impressing friends and family. (Right Mom?)

If you want to hone your own planespotting chops, here’s a quick guide to the main features of six unique airplanes common to the Yellowknife area.

How to Plane Spot

The Noorduyn Norseman

This is a Canadian-designed and built single-engine bush plane that first flew in 1935. Nine-hundred were made. Typical of airplanes designed before the Second World War, the fuselage (body) of the Norseman is welded steel tubing covered with fabric, and the wings, except for the flaps and ailerons, are made with wood and covered with fabric. Characteristic features: One engine, high wing, really noisy (deep growl). Often seen on floats on Back Bay (Buffalo Airways). From a distance the Norseman can be confused with the Beaver and Otter.

 

Norseman

 

The Lockheed L-188 Electra

Originally designed for passengers, this four-engine turboprop airplane had a serious design flaw (the wings could tear off in-flight) and by the time the design was modified, faster and quieter jet airplanes were introduced that lured passengers away. The remaining Electras were converted to cargo planes by adding large cargo doors (Buffalo Airways), and some were redesigned as Aurora, the long-range maritime patrol aircraft used by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Characteristic features: The Lockheed L-188 has a long rounded fuselage, the wing is at the bottom of the fuselage, and the four engines ‘sit’ above the wings. Buffalo Airways’ Electras are white, whereas military Auroras are distinguished by the grey color and a long ‘needle’ sticking out from the tail. Although the Electras and Aurora sound very similar to the rumble of the C-130 Hercules, they can easily be distinguished by the shape.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules

This four-engine turboprop transport aircraft was originally designed for military transport use on short gravel runways. The ‘Herc’ was designed in the 1950s and has been upgraded and is still being produced. If you need to fly a fire truck to a remote northern mine – this is the airplane to use (it has happened). First Air has two Hercs based in Yellowknife, and the Royal Canadian Air Force version (painted dark grey) is often seen passing through. Characteristic features: Hercules are big, with a wide fuselage, wing attached to top of fuselage, four engines, large rear cargo door and a high wide tail. With a little bit of practice, you will soon be able to identify that distinctive rumble of the four-turboprops way before you see one.

 

The Herc

 
The de Havilland Canada DHC-7

Popularly known as the Dash 7, this four-engined turboprop plane first flew in 1975. In many ways the Dash 7 – designed to carry 40 passengers a distance of 320 km, and able to use relatively short (2,000-foot) unpaved runways – was envisioned as a big brother to the Twin Otter. Characteristic features: Although there is some resemblance to the Lockheed Electra, Dash 7 can be identified by a long slender rounded fuselage with a pointy nose. The wing is attached to the top of the fuselage and most obvious is the shape of the tail which resembles a capital ‘T’. Air Tindi / Discovery Air operate Dash 7s, some of which are painted red with white dots. Compared to the Hercules, the DHC-7 is quiet, more like the sound of a large ceiling fan running at slow speed.

 

Dash-7

 
The de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo

Initially called Caribou lI, this aircraft was based on a redesign of the DHC-4. First flown in 1964, the DHC-5 is a twin engine turboprop aircraft with a large rear door and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. There are currently two Buffalo aircraft used commercially in Canada, both operated by Summit Air in Yellowknife. The Royal Canadian Air Force version of the DHC-5 is used for search and rescue, and can be distinguished by the orange with red stripe paint scheme. Characteristic features: Although there is some resemblance to the two-engine Dash-8, Buffalos can be distinguished by boxy fuselage, a bulbous nose, and a rear fuselage that ramps upward toward the tail. Similar to the Dash 7, the Buffalo has a distinctive slow propeller sound, like a large ceiling fan turning at slow speed.

 

DHC-5

 
The Short Skyvan

This twin-engine turboprop cargo aircraft, was manufactured in Northern Ireland. Although designed for the same purpose as the Twin Otter, the Skyvan actually resembles a flying railroad boxcar due to its boxy shape and large rear door for efficient loading and unloading of freight. Need to move a mid-size pickup truck? It will fit! Characteristic features: The Skyvan is short and boxy, has two engines and two rudders. Skyvans sound similar to a de Havilland Twin Otter, a noisy high pitch squeal that reminds me of a couple wasps in a beer can.

 
 

Short Skyvan

 

 

 

 

A Brief Guide to Yellowknife’s Aviation History

The first airplanes flew over parts of the Northwest Territories in 1921. Imperial Oil used two Second World War Junkers F 13s to support the oil-staking rush at Fort Norman (now called Tulita). At times, these ‘strange birds’ were riddled with bullets. Starting in the mid-1920s, aircraft were used to deliver mail (letters, fur and general cargo), and for mineral exploration. By airplane, previously unexplored remote areas of the North could now be accessed within a few hours, instead of weeks or months by canoe and dog team. The use of airplanes for mineral exploration led to the discovery of several new deposits, and the NWT’s first mine, Eldorado Mine at Port Radium on Great Slave Lake. Most were canvas-covered, single-engine airplanes made by Fairchild, Stinson, Bellanca, Fokker, and Junkers. They’re long gone now but they’ve been immortalized on Yellowknife buildings and street names (although interestingly, there are no streets called Fokker or Junkers).

A new generation of planes was designed after the Second World War. These all-metal airplanes with enclosed cockpits were better for remote northern areas. De Havilland of Canada produced a series of short takeoff and landing ‘bush’ airplanes with unique mammal names including the Beaver, Otter, Caribou, Buffalo and Twin Otter (initially called King Otter). By far, the most popular bush plane is the Cessna 172. Most likely, if you see a small, single-engine high-wing airplane on skis or floats, it is a Cessna 172. 

The northern skies are still traveled by many converted Second World War vintage airplanes. The Beech-18 is a small, twin-engine bush plane often seen on floats on Yellowknife’s Back Bay. Larger transports include the DC-3, DC-4 and C-46 operated by Buffalo Airways. These airplanes are easy to maintain, cheap, and tough bush planes on gravel runways. More modern twin-engine airplanes include the generically named Dash-8, ATR-72, Do-228, and Skyvan, while modern four-engines are the Dash-7, Lockheed Electra, and Hercules. Many Yellowknifers will recognize the sight and sounds of the bright yellow and red Canadair Cl-215 water bomber, since these were used to help extinguish the fires at the city dump. Finally, although not technically designed as a bush plane, the Boeing 737s used by First Air and Canadian North have been modified with extra-large cargo doors and rock-chip deflectors for use on gravel runways.