We were NOT looking forward to a return to winter after our balmy ski vacation in BC, but to our surprise, its been quite nice to be back. One friend told me we were entering the nice part of winter, and another calls it Winter Light (as opposed to Winter Dark). The weather has been warm and sunny, the skiing is fantastic, and a lot of great things have happened while we are away.
The most amazing of course is the return of daylight. We now have about 11 hours of daylight, which is lovely, but our days are growing by 6 minutes per day, which translates into a full three hours more daylight by the end of the month. Imagine! Believe me, I have.
As well, our neighbour next door erected his teepee, and yesterday had a pig roast for friends and the houseboat community. It is actually quite warm in there with the barbeque going, but just in case, he has a fire pit as well. I think I’m going to have to sleep outside in it one night, just because I can. In preparation I’ve bought a winter sleeping bag, rated to -40. I am sure it won’t keep me warm at – 40, (although probably alive) and I don’t ever aim to find out, but I think I may be warm, if not toasty, at -20. I am looking forward to using it this month.
The other cool thing that happened last month was the completion of the ice castle. Our neighbour Tony, more commonly known as the Snow King, spends the whole winter building a life sized ice castle, and for the month of March its open, and full of events. The grand opening was this weekend, with an art gallery showing. There also be lots of bands playing and all manner of fun things happening there. (You can see the details on the website here.) Along with the ice castle, in March there is the upcoming winter festival, the Long John Jamboree. Preparations are seriously underway for this. Yesterday there was a full sized flat bed trailer out on the ice hauling chunks of ice from the main lake to the castle area for an ice carving contest, and the snow plow this week created a path through the ice for the upcoming dog sled races. They also build a strange contraption out of pallets in the same area- the thing is two stories high – not sure yet what that is for.
With the coming of the light, and the warmer temperatures, life on the ice is getting positively busy. There are tons of folks out skiing, walking, and skijoring, more traffic than ever on the ice road, and lots of snowmobiles buzzing around like wasps. When the ice castle opening this weekend there were probably a 100 cars parked on the ice. During the festival, last year they had something like 1000! Apparently all the weight caused the ice to sink, and some of the cars were parked in about a foot of water. That sounds like extreme parking to me! Thank goodness our house floats – who knew that would come in handy in the wintertime? A local photographer, Fran Hurcomb, has a wonderful photo on her website of the activity on the ice last year. You can see it on her website here. While you are there, be sure to check out her other panoramic photos. They are amazing. There are several photos of the houseboats, including some of Houseboat 28, and tons of great shots of the whole area, in all its splendor.