Tag Archives: rain

The Power of Nature

Welcome to the second half of June. The weather is now hot and humid and this is usually the best time of year for our most powerful thunderstorms. As an example, let me share with you the one from last Wednesday.

We had had some really cool weather up until recently and early last week was the last of it. Then it warmed up considerably and any time you have a rapid change in temperature, along with rising water vapor, you get some really powerful storms.

It was around 15:30 in the afternoon and the sky was getting darker and darker, but the clouds were moving faster and faster. As I was watching it from inside the trailer, the clouds were taking on a noticeable twisty-spirally kinda of form. This did not bode well. It had started to rain, and the wind was fairly stiff, but that was just the precursor.

There wasn’t much of a build-up, the major part of the storm just hit like baseball bat. In the space of about 10 or 15 seconds, I watched four large trees drop on our property. Let’s start with these ones.

It almost looks like it’s lying in the sawbuck, but it’s not. That one was a spruce and it took out a small maple sapling on it’s way down.

Walking around behind it, you see the second spruce that fell as well.

Continuing the to turn, you now see the first spruce from the back.

This was shortly after the storm had finished and the sky was still quite grey and roiling.

Going further down the driveway, there was a rather substantial poplar tree that dropped over the driveway. Here you can see me standing in front of it looking mighty impressed.

Later on, when we were clearing that one, Kat took this picture from the end where it broke off. You can see me in the distance with my hard hat on as I’m using the chainsaw to clear up the part on the driveway.

This one is a shot of the stump that was left after it broke off. It broke off around eye level.

Heading back to the trailer, you can now get a good look at the maple tree that wanted to reach-out-and-touch-someone, with that someone being our roof.

Here is a closer look.

Fortunately, there wasn’t any damage to the roof or chimney so we came out of that one unscathed.

This was another large poplar tree that had snapped off, but it didn’t cross the driveway.

Later on, Kat and I took a walk up the hill to find other victims. This was another poplar tree that had snapped off about 9m (30′) up and as laying across the pathway.

This one was a maple that was viewable from the pathway up the hill, but had just crashed in the forest.

As you can see, it was quite sizeable, but also had a rotten core. That was a common trait on all of the trees that came down. All of them had an unsound core and with the force of the wind that hit (90-100kph I was told, somewhere around 55-60mph), their inner flaws were what did them in.

On top of the wind, the rain was just pounding and we had hail too. Here is a picture of our garden bed afterwards.

Hail and shredded leaves. The hail wasn’t huge, maybe somewhere from the size of a green pea to a chickpea, but it came down in buckets, really fast. When the hail started, it was just like someone was up in the trees with a weed-wacker because it was also raining leaf parts. We were fortunate that it didn’t damage our new truck shelter as we had just replaced the one that didn’t survive the winter.

Here is a handful of hail I picked up out of the bed of the truck.

Needless to say, this was just what happened on our property. Downed trees were wide-spread and about 8000 people were without power. One person we talked to didn’t have their power back until Friday. Fortunately, being off-grid as we are, we never had a power outage.

Oh, and remember me mentioning the whole twisty-spirally clouds? Yeah, a tornado did touch down just a few km from us. Fortunately, it was short lived. The whole storm only lasted about five or ten minutes, but that was all it took to wreak some havoc.

So we came through this one alright. It could have been much worse. We are very grateful to the powers that be for that.


Heading Down Under

It’s been a few days now and lots of things have happened. I will start where we left off last time.

We arose on Jan 29th to a lovely sunny day. It was lovely, but super windy. We had the highest waves we’ve seen yet on Kenawa island.

We boarded up the Earthship as best we could and then headed over on the boat later in the morning to Poto Tano. The wave action made that quite interesting.

We met up with Suji one last time and he showed us where to buy the ferry ticket. For the two of us it was 34k, which is a lot less than the 200k the taxi driver got from us to buy our ferry ticket on the way over. The taxi drivers at the airport will all try to rip you off.

Fortunately, Katrina recommended a smal B&B to us that would pick us up at the port, drive us there and then take us to the airport the next day, all inclusive for 700k. Thats rougly $70CAN. It is a really good deal, the driver and owner of the B&B speak English quite well, and they don’t try to weasel more money out of you.

I snapped this random picture during the ride there.

Yes, that is a scooter coming right at us in our lane. This picture doesn’t even show half of it. Instead of sticking to lanes of traffic, it works closer to a flocking pattern. Yes, they generally stick to the left side of the road, like the UK and Australia, but there is no speed limit so there is lots of passing and being passed, not to mention other vehicles parked on the road, pot holes and random crowds of people.

That being said, the speed is never very high. On the more major roads, we might get up to 80kph, but that was the top end. We asked about accidents, and we were told that it happens a lot less than what you might think. I guess when you grow up in a culture where spaces are small and cramped that you’re just used to the roads being the same way. They figure it out as they drive.

We made a few stops before arriving at the B&B, but for those details, you will need to check out Kat’s post. By the time we made it to the B&B (called “Sama Sama”, which translates to “You’re Welcome”), it was really pouring rain. The car driver parked as close as he could to the door and we made a dash for it.

They don’t usually serve dinner, but because we couldn’t go out due to the rain, they served us a really nice veggie curry dish, with fried egg and rice. It was great after so much rice and fish.

The rain eventually calmed down enough for us to make the trek out to our cabin, but it was full night by that point. As a result, all of the pictures you’re about to see we took the following morning.

This was the hut that we stayed in. The sleeping pad is just big enough for a standard double mattress and a narrow walk way beside it.

There is a doorway at the back of the hut, with some stairs that lead down to the toilet and shower. The shower water is not heated, nor is there a sink or mirror. We were pretty cozy while the wind howled around us.

It was much nicer the next morning and we were able to get a view of our surroundings. Like all of these fun signs.

During our ride with the driver yesterday, he put on some music. The first song was Indonesian but after that he played stuff from North America. The first American song that came on was “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns and Roses, which we thought was rather apt for the location.

You can see a bit of the mountain in the background between the trees there. Kat looked it up and it is an active volcano with around 12,000 feet (3650m) of elevation.

You can’t really see it too well in the pictures so far, but there is a sheer drop right in front of the path that goes beside the huts, probably 3 or 4m (9 to 12 feet). Right on the edge of that was this swing that was attached to two trees. Here is Kat trying it out.

I tried it too, but that picture is on Kat’s blog.

Before breakfast we took a short walk down the hill, to experience the Indonesian wilderness. We discovered this small stream at the bottom.

Looking back up the hill we just walked down looked like this.

Fortunately there was a path with bamboo steps in it to prevent all of the dirt just washing away in the rain. That made the trek pretty easy.

We came across this guy lying beside the path. It’s a land snail and not a small one either. That shell is longer than my hand is wide.

Here is a close-up of the stream.

And the little waterfall going the other direction.

Beyond the stream was a little rice paddy. There are tonnes of these all over the area.

After we made our way back, we found this little toad just hanging out in the dirt.

Some other fun things that were growing right on the property of the B&B are these.

Yup, bananas. Lots of coconuts too. I even found one of these trees.

It is a bit dark, but I think you can see the papayas hanging from the top there.

That was it for our little forest foray. We had banana pancakes for breakfast. No maple syrup here, just chocolate sauce.

We wanted to have lots of time at the airport, so we headed out on another lengthy drive. It took about 1.5hrs to get there, but the weathere was nice and we didn’t have any misshaps on the road.

We had to wait to check in for our flight as we were a bit too early, but it wasn’t too much.

The previous flight from Bali to Lombok was on a propeller plane and took about an hour and 45min. We were on a jet this time and it was under an hour. We arrived around 14:00 and our next flight wasn’t untill 23:00 so we had a bit of time to kill.

Eventually, we made our way through the first security check, to then line up at the check in desk with about a thousand other people all going various places. It was divided up by destination so we didn’t have to wait too long.

Once we made it through that, there was another checking of our credentials, then we had to go through Indonesian exit customs. I guess they really want to make sure you do actually leave when you say you are going to.

From there you walk through a massive hallway with the most glitzy shops you can imagine, selling things like perfume, watches, luggage and jewelry. All the things I go to the airport to buy 😛

At that point we stopped to have a bite to eat before heading to our gate.

The weird thing I noticed about our gate number, was that it was the same gate as several other flights scheduled at roughly the same time. All we could do was head over and see what was up.

When we reached the gate, they had all of the waiting area blocked off and you had to go through another security check. This one mainly for confiscating any water or other liquids you may have just bought on the way through.

It wasn’t setup very well as if your flight wasn’t one of the immediate ones being loaded, they wouldn’t let you through. Also, nothing was labeled so you had to get in a line and get rejected before you could figure this out.

So, not only did this create more lines, it created a lot of confusion and congestion between the passengers milling abount trying to find out when and where they needed to be.

Now I get the whole security thing, but if you’re going to take everyone’s water away, and then charge money on the plane for any type of service or beverage on a 4+ hour flight, that’s a lot like extortion. I wasn’t impressed.

Once we made it through that process, and they strarted to load the plane… or at least that’s what we thought they were doing. They did the ticket scanning, we went through the gate and then we got on a bus.

The bus drove out to the middle of the runway, they glued on some wings, and then backed the bus up into a huge elastic band. The band let go and we were launched into the stratosphere. We now know what it’s like to travel by Airbus.

Okay, that last paragraph was a bit exaggerated, but they did bus us out to our plane, which explained how they could load several flights from the same gate, just by directing you to a different bus.

It was an overnight flight, so we had planned to sleep most of it, but it was tough. I have slept on many flights, but this one it was really difficult to get in a position that was either comfortable or wouldn’t make some part of my body go numb.

We landed in Cairns, Australia just before 6am local time. Went through customs, got our bags, and found our driver to take us to the hotel. It’s nice having someone waiting for you.

Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t even open at that point, let alone have our room ready. We waited a bit and when they opened up at 7am we were able to stow our luggage there while we headed out and did other things.

First thing we did was have breakfast. There are a lot of shops and things closed that early in the morning but we were given directions to a breakfast place. It was nice not having fish, for a change. I had eggs benedict, with ham and spinach. Definitely worth it.

After breakfast we had a lot of time to kill, so we wandered around the neighborhood until we came to this park.

We had been walking for a while at this point and needed to sit. They have these really big trees here too.

I say big tree, but really it’s several smaller trees all combining together like some wooden Voltron to form a super tree.

Here is Kat acting like she is having and amazing time, while secretly suffering from sore feet.

As we continued to wander we ended up out by the harbour. We came across these lovelies just hanging out on a post sticking out of the ground.

These next two guys are mud skippers. They’re a bit like a cross between a fish, a tadpole and an eel. They skip along the water and then hang out on the rocks.

Last, but not least, there were a bunch of pellicans just hanging out waiting to have their picture taken.

These are not small birds. The tops of their heads would probably reach the top of my thigh. They didn’t seem too concerned with people taking their picture.

That was a lot to cover, so I’m going to leave it at that. We have a trip to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow and a rain forest tour on Friday. We should have lots to tell after those adventures.

Earthship Island, Day 21

Two days ago we came upon this guy. He was much larger than most of the other hermit crabs we have come across.

He looked quite oversized for his shell so we tried offering him a bigger one.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t going for it. I don’t think he liked being handled so much and just wanted to get away. We left him be, but he still didn’t take either of the shell options we offered.

The mornings here are usually pretty nice. The wind is calm and the tide is out. Sometimes the sun shows up too.

Yesterday afternoon the clouds rolled in and we were pretty sure it was going to rain on us. Here is what it looked like looking out from the Earthship.

It wasn’t long after I took those photos that the sky opened up and the rain came down.

It was fascinating to watch as the rain smooths out all of the waves coming to shore.

This rain was driven by strong winds from the south, so the back of the Earthship fills with water.

I had put a towel over the door to try to reduce the wind and rain coming in. It did cut down on the wind, but didn’t do much for stopping the rain.

Out front, we saw this guy out in his boat in the rain storm.

He didn’t seem overly concerned. He did pull into shore in front of the Earthship to bail out his boat and the headed back out, sticking to the shoreline.

I was watching all of this and thought to myself, “how many opportunities will you have in your life to go out and experience a tropical rain storm?” So I ran out into the rain and had a good frolicking.

I have to say that compared to the rain water, the ocean water felt like bathtub warm. I yelled out to Kat, who took the picture, “This is the coldest I’ve been since we arrived!” The rain was chilly, but not unbearable.

I can mark that down on my list of exciting life experiences.

Earthship Island, Day 13

Good day and welcome to day 13 of our stay on Earthship Island. It’s not exacly like Fantasy Island, but it’s what was available.

Yesterday we decided to tackle the fixing of the screen on one of the vents over the door.

As you can see from the picture, it has suffered some damage, Probably due to the earthquake that also cracked the wall.

Here is a close-up of the screen. You can also see how much the rebar has rusted due to the salt and humidity.

Why they didn’t paint it like the outside ones, I cannot say. Though, it may be something as simple as they ran out of paint.

We decided on a simple patch, which isn’t the greatest, but it would make things better than it was. We used bailing wire to sew the patch on, which was tricky because if you pull too hard it damages the screen. We wanted to try using string, but we would need some sort of needle to thread it through the screen, which we didn’t have.

We managed to get it installed, and it’s better than it was, but far from perfect.

In other news… playing with hermit crabs.

This has become an almost daily event for us now.

We find them on the beach all over the place and you just can’t resist picking them up.

Mama Kenawa brought in a fresh batch of coconuts the other day, so we all got a coconut with a straw. It was quite tasty.

It actually rained here yesterday while we were having dinner, and it came down pretty hard. Not sure how well you can see that in the picture.

Here you can see all of the boats up on shore. These are the boats all of the locals use for fishing.

Looking to the east of us, you can see the rain in the hills on the island next to us.

Approaching from the south is more rain for us. This is good as it adds more water to the cisterns.

When it rains hard, it comes right through our back door, as it’s mostly just screen to let the breezes through. Fortunately, the floor is concrete and brick so it doesn’t affect it too much.

I have to say that the water just in front of our Earthship is fascinating. All of the other ocean water I have encountered has had some degree of surf. We have had some surf, but on many occasions, it’s almost completely flat. I find it a bit bizarre that I can skip stones on the ocean water.

I’ll add that to my growing list of new experiences.