Haida Gwaii :: SEP -- OCT 2002

Subject: Catchin' Up.
Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 11:50 AM

13:46 Ferry: Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, BC :: SAT 7 SEP 02

Finally, FINALLY, underway. Unbelievable how long it took to pull this one together. And I still feel somewhat unaligned. But I can see Gibson’s from here, the Sunshine Coast.

Just to catch everyone up since the last Nomadic Spirit journey…

I returned from China in October, 1998, and subsequently ski-bummed for a winter up in Whistler in a perfectly set condominium. It overlooked Alta Lake and up to Sproat and Rainbow Mountains. From there I also founded Suitable for Framing, an online art gallery (www.greymattermedia.com) which sells prints of the photographs I’ve been shooting all these years. That took up most of 1999, at the end of which I moved back to Vancouver to an overly swish 24th floor apartment. Right downtown, it was. With a panoramic corner view stretching from the North Shore mountains to the Gulf Islands. Quite spectacular, actually.

Year 2000 was primarily consumed by writing and producing the play "Prisoners" (www.greymattermedia.com/Prisoners) for the 2000 Vancouver International Fringe Festival. A pretty satisfying experience, despite being placed in a venue on the outer fringes of the fringe. A reviewer for Vancouver’s main entertainment weekly said, "it is a long and wordy journey...and I enjoyed the mental workout.... Prisoners is awash with big questions, about ethics, accountability, and existence."

After that, well, everything pretty much gets blurry. Actually, the wheels sort of came off.

It’s not that I didn’t do anything. Operating the online gallery ate up a good chunk of time. I entered an off-the-cuff partnership with a local gallery/printer and we worked several business angles on making and selling photographic prints, and collaborated on mixing photography and painting.

22:15 Porpoise Bay Provincial Park; Sechelt, BC :: SAT 7 SEP 02

And I’ve been quietly piecing together a book based on the writing and photography comprising this website.

This process has taught me a thing or two about the publishing industry. For example, fiction authors sell manuscripts, completed books. Non-fiction authors sell book proposals, statements of intent to write a particular kind of book, along with a chapter or two of the book exemplifying writing style and content.

Fascinating. But also a change of gears. It’s an odd thing to try to sell a book by first telling prospective buyers (publishers) and representatives (agents) what you think the book should be.

Being an endless fiddler, I’ve spent much of the past year piecing together a proposal for "Movement: Seeking Perfect Lines."

21:11 Wilson Creek Campground; Sechelt, BC :: SUN 8 SEP 02

In the past few weeks, I’ve moved to the next stage: seeking an agent. That means sending ‘query’ letters to various agents. A query briefly describes the concept of the book, and if it catches the attention of an agent, they’ll ask to see the proposal. I’ve received two positive responses to my first batch of queries, and one of the agents reviewed the proposal and likes the idea.

Weee Haaa!

Except she wants to see the full manuscript before going any further.


About 4 weeks of editing is required to turn the current state of the ejournal into "Movement: Seeking Perfect Lines." Which means I’ll be spending a fair portion of this trip editing old travelogue, rather than writing new travelogue.

Oh yeah, travelogue. I’ll get to that in a minute.

One more thing’s been happening in the interim between China in ’98 and the Haida Gwaii in 2002. I’ve been making movies.

Back in 2000, the money from Microsoft began running out. Always knew it would happen some day. So as we got into 2001, it was time to start thinking about a career…income. One area of prime interest was filmmaking. I’ve got friends in the industry and we began charting around for film jobs that best suited my talents and experience. Something in post-production. Editing, perhaps, or special effects. These are heavily computerised and the combination of my visual media skills and computer expertise would make me a natural. So we started putting out feelers.

Then, June of 2001, a friend of my now ex-roommate won a script writing contest and was given fairly substantial funding to make the film. I told her I was willing to help out in any way possible. When the call came, they needed a ‘set decorator.’

I’ve been a lover of film inside and out as long as I can remember. I’d even helped out a friend making a commercial years ago, and been an extra on a CBS movie-of-the-week (starring Kristy McNichol) back in University days. When I read novels, I often think about how to portray certain scenes in a film, or even how to tell the whole story on screen. I’ve taken film-history courses, and semi-religiously attend Tuesday evening mass at the cinema on cheap movie nights.

But I really had no idea what a set decorator did.

20:06 Coho Marina; Madeira, BC, Canada :: MON 9 SEP 02

Dusk now. Overlooking the harbour. Crescent moon rises to the west, through arbutus boughs, in a sky that is gloriously, gratefully clear.

I’m going to set aside the distant past and work a little on the more recent past.

I finally set out on this jaunt to the Queen Charlottes, Haida Gwaii, nearly a month later than intended. My organisational abilities seem shot to crap. If I just skip to the first two days out, you’ll get a pretty clear idea of the gong show leading to the departure.

The first day out is a good one. It starts out pretty well. If you ignore the fact that I didn’t actually leave until 11:00 AM. Can’t even remember the last-minute run around that pushed the departure so late. This means catching the 1:20 ferry to the Sunshine Coast rather than the 11:20.

No worries. After a leisurely pedal along beautiful Marine Drive in West Vancouver, I arrive at the ferry in plenty of time. Enough time to grab a bite, and get thoroughly ripped-off at Trolls’ take-out stand which sells me a sliver of cod with some greasy chips for $7.95. Sigh.

It’s a nice sail across Howe Sound, which I use to write the first part of this entry and then hurry off at Langdale, anxious to get riding. Fortunately, I realise my helmet’s still on the ferry before it departs and am able to race back aboard where I eventually retrieve it from the chief steward’s office.

Great start!

21:34 Coho Marina; Madeira Park, BC :: MON 9 SEP 02

The cycling starts out well enough. A kindly character, bad teeth and good heart, with a long-handled axe strapped to the top bar of his bicycle, calls out to me as I’m contemplating a 20% grade heading out of Gibson’s.

"You don’t really want to go that way," he says.

The hired help at the ice-cream shop had just told me I did. "No, I don’t," I reply.

"What you really want is to head down here, turn right before the post office, then left again. Then go along there to Pratt Road. That’ll take you back to the highway. It’s a bit of a climb, but not like this one. This is the climb from hell."

The detour route was a pleasant ride through a residential area which before long became a lovely, curvy, lightly hilly ride along a lightly used country road. It hugged the hillside above the shoreline. Views of the ocean and shore peeked through the foliage and odd homestead. Only the side-road to Halfmoon Bay, north of Sechelt, has equalled it for prettiness. On the other hand, the hills on the Halfmoon Bay road were much larger.

Can’t believe I’m whining about hills! Nothing like the climbs I endured it seemed every other day in China!

Anyway, Pratt Road does indeed take me to the highway. Highway 101. One of those utilitarian roadways cut just adjacent to some of the most beautiful country around, yet with no views of it whatsoever.

11:34 Coho Marina; Madeira Park, BC :: TUE 10 SEP 02

I’m just going to knock this one into the outbasket and tie up the loose ends on the next go ‘round.