Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Exploring The Kootenays

Part V

The Hoodoos

Often did we drive by the Hoodoos on our way north to Invermere this last year. I always marvel at their extraordinary formations and unique look. But not until I read an article in the Brithish Columbia Magazine this spring did it occur to me that one can actually hike the Hoodoos.
A few days after I read the article, I grabbed the boys and dogs and off we went to explore them.

The Hoodoos are just a bit south of Fairmont Hotsprings and easily accessible from the back via Westside Road.

From there a short trail leads up the very top of the Hoodoos. And up there you have a spectecular view over the Columbia Lake and the Purcell Mountains...


...and of course down the crevasses and stone sculptures of the Hoodoos themselves.

There are two explanation as to how the Hoodoos came to existence....

Geology explains the formation as deposited sediment from a glacial river at the end of the last ice age, which after a closer look sounds absolutely plausible.

As always, you can enlarge the images by clicking on them.

This sediment deposit is rather vulnerable to wind and rain. As explained in the magazine article, the rain washes the sediment down and wind blows sand up, this forms the unique appearance of the Hoodoos and explains the almost beach-like trail and area behind the top of the Hoodoos. 
Luckily the hoodoos are covered by a more weather resistant capstone layer, which is clear in the following image:

The local Ktunaxa people though have a different explanation in their creation story:
In the beginning of time when only animals lived on earth, a huge sea monster was eating many animals. The other animals decided that the monster, Yawu?nik, would have to be destroyed. As they finally succeeded in conquering Yawu?nik, his meat was given to the other animals, leaving only the inner organs and the bones.
The inner organs gave life to mankind and the scattered ribs form today's hoodoos. 

Easy to understand how this legend came to be.

At a certain time on a sunny day, in spring it is around noon, the sun bounces off the south facing cliffs and illuminates the north facing cliffs, which gives the Hoodoos an almost eerie glow.

Walking along the ridge for a kilometer or two will then reward you with a stunning view back to the Hoodoos with the Rocky Mountains as background

A magical place I sure will go back to many more times!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April Conservation Tip

Spring Cleaning

It's that time of the year, the days get longer, the sun shines through the ever so dirty windows and everybody wants to get the "winter" dust out of the house.
Perfect time to share some DIY natural cleaners and housekeeping tricks with you!
I think I have never been a friend of that harsh chemical odor that one used to associate with house cleaning. But since we are living in a house with a private sewage system, I got really sensitive as to what is going down the drain.

My absolute favorite cleaner right now is a orange vanilla vinegar concoction. I actually found that recipe, believe it or not, in a book by Lisa Steele Fresh Eggs Daily, as a chicken coop disinfectant. 
As I did the spring cleaning in the chicken coop, I had made a batch and was so pleased by the cleaning power and smell that I wondered, if I could use it also as a shower cleaner. We have rather hard water and I usually attack the water stains with pure vinegar, but that just smells horrible.
And yes, the orange vinegar works wonderfully and the shower smells so good afterwards!

Orange Vinegar Cleaner

You need:
Peel of about 3 oranges
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 vanilla beans, slit in half
white vinegar
1 one quart canning jar, or any other jar that holds about 1 liter
Spray bottle

Put the orange peel, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick in the jar and fill  up with vinegar. Screw on the lid and leave on your kitchen counter and shake every other day or so. In about two weeks, or earlier, the vinegar mix will turn orangy. Strain through a fine mesh and fill in a spray bottle.

Another great (smelling) bathroom cleaner, especially for bathtubs is even simpler:

Salt and Lemon Juice Bathtub Scrub

You need:
the juice of one or two lemons
a stiff sponge

Sprinkle the salt  generously in the bathtub, soak the sponge with the lemon juice and scrub your bathtub. This will get rid of all the residues of a long cream bath and the rings around the drain. If you don't have a stiff sponge, just use the lemon halves. Instead of juicing the lemon gently squeeze the half while you are scrubbing with the salt.

Clogged drains...how I hate them. Vinegar to the rescue again!

Baking Soda Vinegar Drain "Unclogger"

You need:
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
hot or boiling water

Funnel the baking soda into your drain and carefully pour the vinegar down the drain right after the baking soda. Put on the drain plug to keep the action down below. After about 15 min follow up with a quart of boiling water (if you have metal pipes) or with water as hot as it comes out of your faucet (if you have plastic pipes). We had a very stubborn clogged drain, so I had to repeat this a couple of times, but eventually we won...;-)

Baking soda is also a great help if you accidentally burnt some food and have trouble to get the burnt stuff from the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle ample baking soda on the bottom of the pot or pan and fill with about 1 inch of water. Put it on the stove and let it gently cook. After a few minutes you will notice flakes of the burnt material floating in the cooking water. Let the pan cool down, wash it out and you have a clean pan again.

Finally the proud owner of a dishwasher I did quite some experimenting with dishwasher detergent. The mainstream stuff works great but I wasn't quite as happy about their environmental impact. I did not come up with a satisfying DIY detergent but settled with the ECOVER detergent and rinse, both work really well with our dishwasher. After a couple of washes though, probably due to our hard water, the glassware gets that whitish film. A cup with vinegar in the upper rack during a normal cycle took care of that.

Not really in the cleaning section but a good smelling tip against moths in your clothes....

...just put some dried lavender in your closet and they will stay away (and your clothes will smell lovely).

And to this effect