From There And Back

A Journey by John and Phyllis Wrobel

On December 3, we embarked on our journey to South America aboard the Golden Princess leaving from Los Angeles (temp 64F).

Cabo San Lucas, Puntarenas and Peru all shared desert dunes, high humidity and throngs of people selling everything on the streets.  Alpaca clothing was popular in South America.  Four stops in Chile gave us time to enjoy the lush regions, historic sites, local markets and the Casablanca Valley wine region. Read more

Big Trees – Big Dreams

Ballet on Water – Pas de Poisson – Photos by Jan and Shelley Nielsen
Ballet on Water – Pas de Poisson – Photos by Jan and Shelley Nielsen

Jan and I have traveled north – beyond on the rapids – to The Broughton Archipelago on three occasions since 2004.  We have always been the smallest, oldest and most wooden boat up there.  It is a go-to destination for yachts, mega-yachts and super-mega yachts without a doubt.

Being ‘bookie’ people, we have quite a library aboard.  We collect books on natural and cultural history, on local stories – from then and now and of course, the various boating bibles on the go-to destinations.  If you read my articles, you’ll know we love to mix travel and timber-talk as much as possible…..and what better occasions to see the industry in action.  These books spin a tale of hard work and the pioneering spirit, industry growth and decline…..and reinvention.  Up in the Broughton’s, you can ‘live’ history.

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Pacific Yew- The Cognac of Wood

This wood is my absolute favourite of favourites.  Quite simply, it has a richness that speaks to my senses like a fine cognac long-aged in French oak barrels, or perhaps your preference is Grand Marnier.  My kitchen cabinets are made from yew, as are many of our doors here at West Wind Hardwood, and upon returning from time away, I am always struck by how extraordinary this richly coloured, unique wood is.

There are many, many species of yew; one of the more common is English yew.  The name “Yew” comes from the Proto-Germanic “īwa-“and with a possible origination from the Gaulish “ivos” referring to the colour brown.  Our local species is known as Pacific yew, western yew, American yew, Oregon yew, bow-plant, mountain mahogany.

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Mesquite – There’s a Love/Hate Relationship

On our annual Mexican road-trip inland, we were drawn to the beauty of the mesquite tree.  The traveler sees twisted, crooked limbs, sharp spiteful thorns amid flowers looking like long spikes of yellow catkins and delicate feather-like leaves; as yet, seasonal pods have not matured.  There is a delicate fragrance perfuming the arid landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesquite (from Nahuatl mizquitl) is a plant found in Mexico and upwards through Southern US; some species are also found in Central and northern South America.  It is a deciduous tree reaching heights of 20-30 ft; depending on the particular species and environmental conditions, it can exhibit more shrub-like tendencies than tree.  With long deep taproots making it an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant, ranchers consider this a nuisance tree because it competes with rangeland grasses for moisture.

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European Beech

Fagus sylvatica, the European beech or common beech, is a deciduous tree belonging to the beech family Fagacaea.  It has a natural range extending from southern Sweden though to central Italy, west to France, northern Portugal and central Spain.  Although oft regarded as a native in southern England, recent evidence suggests it did not reach here after until after the English Channel was formed in the ice ages.

It is a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m and 3 m trunk diameter.  It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years. The appearance varies according to its habitat and forest conditions; it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches; in isolation with good side light, the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.

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