The mountain goats in this painting are both paying close attention to what is increasingly becoming as much a part of their environment as the eagles that frequent these heights, the helicopter.
If the bush plane earlier in this century opened up the northern wilderness, this extremely versatile machine has few limitations as to what it can make accessible to us. Starting as a work horse in the military, it has become more and more a recreational vehicle. People have discovered that it's a heck of a lot of fun to ride in one and even more fun to venture out into areas where few have been before.
No-one has used the helicopter for this purpose more successfully than Craig and Debbie Murray of Nimmo Bay Resort. They were the first to realize its potential recreational value and make it part and parcel of their operation, which it has been for the last twenty years, almost from day one.
On the day the idea for this painting took place I had a call from Craig. "We have a spare seat on one of the helicopters out of McNeill; do you want to come? We're taking some people on a heliventure, including lunch up on the glacier!" Did I want to come? Do I like to breathe?
I took my camera and some sketching supplies and met our pilot at Vancouver Island Helicopters in Port McNeill. Twenty minutes later we were sitting on the helipad at Nimmo Bay where the two couples were ready and waiting for their heliventure! with Craig as a personal escort. A gourmet lunch, replete with wine and tablecloth, accompanied the
entourage. To explain my intrusion I was introduced as "the artist" which seemed to give me an acceptance into the fold.
Riding in a helicopter is always a mind-blowing experience for me but to do it in these incredibly beautiful coastal mountain surroundings was a particularly wonderful treat..Nimmo Bay lies in McKenzie Sound at the foot of Mt. Stephens, the three-peaked beauty that we see from most of the North Island north-east coast. This time we flew behind it and on up to a glacier with a lake below it the colour of deep indigo. From our luncheon setting we could see Queen Charlotte Strait and to our right Wakeman Sound, while behind us loomed the icefields of Mt. Waddington.
After lunch we flew downward to view incredible waterfalls, canyons so deep they were dark, even in the sunlight, meanwhile passing a myriad of mountain lakes, each sparkling like a jewel. When I eventually finished this painting I named it using Craig's now famous quip, which he makes to all his guests, "To fly is human , to hover, divine!"
In the late seventies, when Craig was working as manager of the arena in Port McNeill, Nimmo Bay became a dream, finally an obsession. Twenty years later he and his wife, Debbie, with a tremendous amount of hard work and determination, not to mention the creativity which makes this place so special, have turned Nimmo Bay into a world class resort. They flew at it and then did a divine hover!
Good on ya, Craig and Debbie!