Travel on Vancouver Island

Written from the ferry leaving Victoria July 17

As I write this I am passing a white lighthouse with a red roof sitting on an outcropping of rocks. There are sail boats drifting by. Not too many have their sails up so there must be very little wind but the ferry is speeding along and my hair is blowing. The sun is shining and it is a perfect day. I am leaving Vancouver Island for the mainland. I have enjoyed myself so much on the Island that I feel a little lost as I head out onto the limitless mainland. There are places I missed in my quest to see the whole island, places I would have loved to see and places I know that I will return to. There are new friends in so many places. OOOO I feel a sense of loss as I turn my back on all of that. Continue reading

July 14 Duncan to Victoria

Diane Nick and Vincent

Diane Nick and Vincent

Yesterday I got up and had breakfast with Nick and Diane. As we ate she shared interesting stories of the history of the Victoria area. I love it when people have memories that can pull up details and dates. I was having almost too much fun to leave but I had a date with Victoria so I headed to the car. We had fun taking pictures with Vincent and then off I went. I thought I might stop along the way at a boat museum that the totem guide had mentioned but he hadn’t been very specific about where it was and at the time I didn’t think to ask so, I didn’t find it along the road.

Marty had said that my drive would be about 3/4’s of an hour but that was not reckoning on my detour at the top of the Malahat Mountain on the way in. I knew that Vincent was climbing a LONG hill and suddenly I caught a flash of what looked like the whole world laid out. There was a lookout point with at least a dozen cars parked there. It was set up for the north bound lane to pull over but Vincent and I did some fancy wheel work and found ourselves looking out over a panoramic view that seemed to take in most of the southern part of the island and into the USA. It was staggering. We were so high it seemed that surely I could see Ontario. On pulling in I had a momentary flash of, “how the heck will we ever get out of here,” which in the end had been quite justified. It took me a long time to make my way out into traffic at the odd angle I was working with. On the other hand, even looking back, it was worth it. Although we were the only Ontario plates up there, we were in good company with Manitoba, California, Minnesota, Washington and of course BC plates too.

View from the Malahat lookout

View from the Malahat lookout

On the way into Victoria we arrived at a stop light that was not working and was being used as a 4 way stop. I have heard of this being done, usually when they are explaining traffic snarls on the news in the morning but I have never actually been involved. With 4 lanes of traffic, left and right turn lanes I wondered how I would manage. Well, Victoria drivers seem very courteous and everyone took their turns. As I drove through after waiting my turn long enough to really watch it working, I thought that this was the way traffic planners had envisioned it happening. As each direction took their respective turns I thought that from above it would have looked like a well choreographed dance. Wow! I wondered if Toronto drivers could have pulled that off.

Arriving at Marty’s house was like coming home. Tea, a tour through the garden, talking about old friends and old times. We spend a wonderful afternoon. At times Larry would show up and add to the conversation and then he would be off but we sat and caught up, laughing and just being. After lunch Marty showed me an art project she has been working on. It is called needle felting. She handed me some wool (wool that has been carded and combed but not spun…I want to call it raw wool but don’t know if that is the term so hesitate to use it) We sat with needles that reminded me a bit of the big ones that we used to use to hold macrame projects in place except that these had barbed ends and we poked the needles through the wool over and over until it started go hold its form. Marty is making small birds and animals. She got me started on a little white mouse however, just playing and not particularly following directions, I got a somewhat cat shaped critter. What a relaxing past time. Easy enough to do that you can occupy your mind with other things like a great conversation, but engrossing enough to be totally relaxing. Some of the creations that come off of the end of Marty’s needle are spectacular. Go to her website to see some of them.

Critters mine in the front

Critters mine in the front

After dinner we went to a grocery store and saw something I had never seen before. The  store has conveyor belts to take you and your shopping cart from the lower level parking to the store and back again. I felt like I was in an airport but with a slant. Isn’t technology amazing? The west coast builders seem masterful at fitting big parking lots and stores into small spaces.

Marty heading down to the parking lot

Marty heading down to the parking lot

One of the things I love about this house is the art. It is like being in a gallery of Noah’s work. Every where you turn there is some other treasure. Noah is a realist painter (again, not sure if the word is right) but some of the pieces on the walls look so real that you can actually smell the fruit and want to speak to the figures. It is inspiring. check out his website) With Josh playing his harp in the background last night our conversations seemed to be elevated to new levels, although we went to bed far too late so it may just have been too little sleep. Before we headed to bed we watched an episode of “Father Knows Best.” I don’t know if that show was ever meant to be funny in the way it is now…but what a  laugh. If you can rent the cd from the library I would recommend it. What a window on the values of the past. I am chuckling even now.

Today I am planning on going into the downtown area of Victoria to see what I can see. I have been here a couple of times before but remember it fondly. It looks like another beautiful day so I am looking forward to it. Talk soon.

Duncan the city of totems

I managed to hit town just as the week long music festival was kicking off and although I didn’t take the time to go out tonight to some of the big name acts I did manage to be in the right place at the right time to hear one of the first performers to hit the stage. I was there too late to catch his name but he was great. A talented song writer, he had the whole audience rolling with his song about why dogs sniff under each others tails in greeting. In case I give the wrong impression, he did some wonderful political stuff about our relationship with the earth. One in particular was about whales. It had heartbreaking lyrics but a lively tune that made you want to dance.

Do you recognize this singer? Give me his name and I will put it into the blog.

Do you recognize this singer? Give me his name and I will put it into the blog.

Of course I started my day at the info centre and the man in there was very helpful. He sent me rushing to the museum for a guided walk to see all the the totems in the down town area. What a great tour. The guide was knowledgable and so I learned a lot about the symbolism found in the poles. I also found the carving techniques tantalizing. I really need to get my carving stuff out.

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After the totem walk I went through the museum housed in the old Duncan train station and for the admission price of a twonie, I got my money’s worth. This small town  museum  really brings the history of the area to life.  It was totally enjoyable.

Then I headed for Walmart to get a bunch of pictures developed. No Dave, I didn’t actually buy anything…but for instant photos you really can’t beat them. The Forestry museum was across the street so I had to go in. That was $14.00 but the ride on the steam train was worth it. I didn’t see anyone actually shoveling coal but the conductor told me that the steam engine had been converted to diesel oil. It sure looked and sounded like the real thing.  This museum is on acres of forested land. I hiked through looking at all of the exhibits. My favorite was the rangers station. I always wanted to be a forest ranger and work in one of those places. Do you remember watching the Junior Forest Rangers on TV after school. I saw it recently and realized that the young RCMP officer was Gorden Pinscent. I guess I probably won’t get that job now but it sure was fun to recapture those memories.

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I got home exhausted and spent a pleasant evening with Diane and Nick looking at real estate in Sicily. Isn’t the internet amazing? You can dream those dreams from the comfort of your own livingroom and really get a good idea of what living in another country and culture might look like. That was fun.

Tomorrow I am going to skip over great chunks of this beautiful island and head to Victoria where I am going to stay with an old friend… not old, a friend I have had for a long time. I will be in touch next time I have internet access.

The Road

Today I did a lot of driving through more traffic than I would choose. Sunday afternoon rush hour on the way home from a beautiful weekend of camping. From the moment I say the tale end of Tofino on this beautiful sign, I entered the world of the road.

Tofino goodbye sign

Tofino goodbye sign

I really enjoy driving and today was perfect for it. The mist was hanging low when I said good bye and it was cool. The further I got from the water though, the hotter it got. I am not complaining. It didn’t get Toronto unbearable…just more and more beautiful.

As I drove I realized that the road I was taking out was not the same road that I had taken in to Tofino. Well, literally it was the same highway but have you ever noticed that when you go one way you see some scenery and on the way back you see a totally different view. It is true. Today I say lakes and mountains that had been to my back on the way in on Thursday. I stopped at different rest areas and had a totally different drive. Of course it makes sense that the drive to Tofino would be different than the drive away.

Mountain Peeking

Mountain Peeking

This is a really literal look at the coaching perspective exercise that I love so much. We are all on the same road but some of us are seeing it going east and some going west. Some may see it from the side of the road and others from a longing to be on the road. All the same road, different ways of being on it. (oooo wow…it must be the end of a very long day)

Thursday there was not too much traffic on that winding road. Today it was steady behind me, in front of me and coming toward me. I found dealing with the other traffic exhausting. Then I hit the big roads. I couldn’t believe the traffic. Oh yes, I have been spoiled by the northern parts of the Island when sometimes you could go for a long time without seeing another car.

I was very glad to get to my destination and to find Diane and Nick waiting for me. Couch surfing is like finding family where ever you are. I highly recommend becoming a surfing host or trying it yourself. Go to the website www.couchsurfing.org to find out how you too can have an amazing travel experience either from home or on the road.

Distant view from the Duncan neighbourhood I am staying

Distant view from the Duncan neighbourhood I am staying

I am just on my way to bed now and I can hear either goats or sheep bleating. Diane told me that there was a farm backing on to their property. She didn’t tell me what kind of a farm. I can hardly wait to wander down their lane tomorrow.

I will let you know.

Pacific Rim National Park and musings

Today I spent time exploring the natural side of the Pacific Rim National Park. When I got up the mist was heavy. I couldn’t see the beach but who cares. I was on a mission. I ate breakfast and headed for the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre. I watched a movie about the park, how it came about and what I could expect to find there, explored a bit and watched a movie about whales. I was really impressed with the way the whole centre was set up. I spent hours there and learned a lot. It was really worth the price of admission which was $7.40, the cost of a day pass which also allowed me to park and use any of the other facilities in the park. Amazing.

Interpretive Centre in the mist. Sun is trying to come through

Interpretive Centre in the mist. Sun is trying to come through

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Tofino and another weekend

I am sitting in bed listening to the surf pounding the beach. Ummmm. It reminds me of the sounds I used to hear when I went to sleep in Bayfield on Lake Huron. I didn’t know how much I missed it until I heard it again.

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Today I got up fairly early, wrote in my journal, posted on my blog and then headed into Tofino. I hadn’t been there yet and was looking forward to the visit even though I had heard that it has become very commercialized. And it has. I am sure it bears very little resemblance to itself perhaps 25 years ago. Galleries, Restaurants and shops line the streets. Traffic is heavy and parking impossible. Once I found a parking spot though I spent a pleasant mid morning and early afternoon in the galleries and look at what Vincent and I found. Who knew that Tofino was named after an explorer named Vincente Tofino. You have to know that I indulged V. by having an Ice Cream….Island Farms Dark Chocolate. It was pretty good and tasted better considering the place.

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Tofino

Mary's place in the woods

Mary

Late yesterday afternoon I pulled into Mary’s place near Tofino. She says the town is another 6 or so Km North of here but I haven’t been there yet.

This morning I am sitting at a table with my computer on, looking out my window over the sand beach and surf. I can hear the water pounding the beach but in the mist/fog I can’t see much and I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by feelings of….what….not even sure. There is a lump in my throat and my heart is bursting…with…awe? Maybe. All of my life I have heard of and yearned for the legendary beaches of Tofino and here I am. Thanks to Karen for introducing me to Mary and to Mary for saying yes.

Misty morning view from the window

Misty morning view from the window


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Campbell River Farewell

Written June 8th

Here I am in a big town with countless wireless networks around me, unable to get a connection. Frustrating. Tomorrow before I leave I will post this using a PC that is wired up. For tonight I will just write.

I pulled into Campbell River yesterday, made some phone calls, posted some emails and dropped in for a final visit with my uncle and aunt who live here. For those who think I am driving around in circles passing the same big tree (Campbell River) over and over, you are kind of right. If you have a map take a look. If Vancouver Island is long and skinny, sitting basically in a north south orientation with some Islands scattered around it (apologies to any geography teachers who might be reading), Campbell River is the place where all of the roads (all two of them, one 19 and one 19A) come together and head to the north end of the Island, so to go anywhere it seems that the route passes through town. My uncle did point out that if I had started at one end or the other of the Island, (if you remember I had planned to start in Port Hardy) instead of in the middle, this wouldn’t have happened but then again, I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to visit a second time.

Tomorrow I am heading to the West side of the Island. I will not (although I am learning never to say never) pass through Campbell River again on this trip so I dropped by to say goodbye and thanks to Rob and Henriette. Tomorrow Tofino and then maybe Duncan and Lesquite Island. After that I will pass through the Comox Valley again on my way to Victoria and then good bye to Vancouver Island. Wow. On to Mainland BC. Things are really moving along. Who knew that Vancouver Island was so large…and there are still huge portions that I will not see, at least not this time around.

Today I did some errands. Picked up a few things that I needed, got a hair cut (finally) and got Vincent a good bath. I also got Karma out and put her through her paces. We got lost…is this Campbell River? I don’t understand it but we are always lost here…not really lost because if you look for a hill and head down, you always end up at the water front and then you can try again.

Looking for the water to orient myself and find my way back

Looking for the water to orient myself and find my way back

So yes, I am going to see more of Canada. Now to figure out the best route through BC to see the most that I can see and to meet the most people. Suggestions are welcome.

Good night.

Gold River and Tahsis

July 6th 9 pm sitting in Vincent with rain on the roof.

Just across from my campsite

Just across from my campsite

It is quiet here. So quiet. I can’t hear road sounds at all. There is no one but me and some evening birds murmuring their sleepy songs. I am parked in an unsupervised, uninhabited campground just outside of Tahsis. It is called the Leiner River Campsite. I assume that it must be on the banks of the Leiner River but my map isn’t making any claims about the name. Across a small road from here there are two small sets of rapids, at this point probably not deep enough to navigate a canoe through but it bears signs that it could be much faster and more aggressive in the spring. I stopped at the Tahsis Info Centre and asked where I could go to have cell phone (no cell phone here), wireless for the computer (the library but it is not open so I can’t sign on) and a place that I can camp free. Out came the maps and here I am. One out of three isn’t bad. Continue reading

July 4th Coal Harbour, Bear Cove, Port Alice and Link River Campsites

View from the lawnchair in my campsite

View from the lawnchair in my campsite

I am sitting in my canvas camp chair listening to the sound a a small rapids racing past my campsite and I am feeling content. I had a busy day, more driving than usual, and I was heading back to Karen’s which was probably going to take me 2 hours or better. I had my map folded showing a place called Marble River Campground and I remembered passing the sign for the turn off earlier in the day so I thought I might check it out. The young lady at the information office in Port Alice had mentioned a camp ground closer to town. It was hot and close to 3 pm. I thought I would give it a try. The Link River Campground. I had seen a sign for it too but it had been a very small sign and I thought it might be a private party or something. The road there was no wider than a driveway and it was in much worse shape. It was so dusty that all of the trees were silver with their branches hanging from the weight. I passed several signs saying tt was an active logging road and to give the trucks the right of way…oh yes I would. The sign had said it was 6 km but I wasn’t driving much faster than a walk. It took a long time. Some one passed me going much faster. I cringed thinking of my stone chipped windshield but we were fine. The only problem was the giant cloud of dust. I couldn’t see anything and had to stop. I was worried at that point that a giant log truck might come and drive over me in the dust. It didn’t. I continued. After a couple of turns, which I hope to remember on the way out, I came to a little shaded lane and soon after to a gate. Continue reading