Friday, September 30, 2005

Out in the Boonies

September 30 to October 3

After doing some errands and e-mails we headed to Colin’s brother’s (Rick) place. Rick and Bonnie’s house is actually in Boswell (there’s a community center and nothing much else) about 48 km north of Creston — further away from everything than we had thought. The location is beautiful, the house sits on the shore of Lake Kootenay and looks across the lake at mountains. The only drawback is the lack of computer access — I guess you can’t have everything. Ed, Zaph and I have walked the local roads, Zaph’s been swimming in the lake and we’ve driven the 30km to the ferry and checked out the local craft shops. The craft shops included a broom store, a forge, a glass blower and a weaver and they all did beautiful work. Colin and Ed did however find a true old time “general store” with a very large hardware/tool section and purchased a number of items priced at a tiny fraction of Home depot’s prices (most likely the prices from the 1970's).

Splash spent the afternoon with us and the good guys had a nap.

Near the boat ramp in Boswell.

View of the lake near Boswell.

One of the artisans -- a glass blower

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Good Haircut

We left Ainsworth Hot Springs and took the ferry across Kootenay Lake and drove to the south end of the lake to reach the town of Creston. After finding a campground we headed into town for lunch and asked the waitress for hair salon recommendation. Margaret and I walked up to the salon and were able to hair cuts on the spot — Margaret just got a trim and was very happy with it — I had a bit more cut off and am very happy with it. Feeling great with new haircuts Margaret and I headed over to the laundromat and did many many loads of laundry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday and I even remembered to call and wish her a happy birthday.

After one last soak in the hot spring we headed for the Ainsworth Hot Springs. These hot springs are known for the caves where you can sit in very hot water and soak. The caves were interesting but the water at the Halcyon hot springs was softer — nicer minerals I guess and we preferred the temperatures of the pools at the Halcyon hot springs. For a parking fee of $5 we stayed in the parking lot at the Ainsworth hot springs as they didn’t have a campground.

The Halcyon pools as viewed from the observation deck

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Keep on Soaking

We stayed at the Halcyon Hot Springs for another night and managed three wonderful soaks over the course of the day. I even swam laps in the “big pool” which was at 87F (about the right temperature for swimming). Zaph and Splash decided that they would like a swim as well but as they weren’t allowed in hot spring pools they had to be content with the lake.

The Halcyon Hot springs resort

A small chapel at the resort, constructed with some materials from the original 19th century hotel once at this site

Zaph's swimming hole

Monday, September 26, 2005

Renewing the Search for Hot Spring

With maps in hand and much advise from Ernie we headed off in search of hot springs. The route took us through some beautiful scenery and a free ferry ride across Columbia Lake at the town of Needles (reminds me of the Peanuts cartoon). We ended up at the Halcyon Hot Springs and were a bit surprised at how full the campground was given that it was a Monday in late September — I guess it’s a popular spot. The hot springs are a set of 3 pools, 50F, 100F, and 104F. The 50F pool was for cooling down — tried it once and that was more than enough. The other two pools were wonderful. We managed a soak before dinner and one before bed — now that’s the life.
Zaph and a friend

Ernie and Wendy, Marg and Colin, Zaph and Splash

The BC ferry near Needles

Log booms near the ferry crossing

Sunday, September 25, 2005

George the Cat

Ernie and Wendy had an outdoor but very friendly cat named George Wendy said that George comes and goes at will and they don’t usually see all that much of him. George decided that since there was suddenly 2 dogs at his house he was going to hang around and insure that no dog got any ideas about moving into his home. It was a gorgeous day so we spent most of it just sitting around the picnic table — with George staying under the table, hissing whenever a dog got too close. Ernie decided we needed to do something other than sit around, so out came the bocci ball set. Following the “Ernie’s Rules for Bocci Ball” (we’ll need to read the real rules before we play again), Colin, Margaret, Ed and I played an exciting game — I won!!! Zaph dragged Wendy around the yard so he could watch the action — ok he really just wanted to grab the balls while George sat on the edge of gardens watching as usual– I’m not sure if he was watching us or Zaph. A rematch was played with Ernie substituting for Ed. Initially it looked like Ernie was going to win without much of a contest but Colin came from behind and won. Next the croquet game was dragged out. The first game was played by Ernie, Colin and Ed with Ernie whopping the other two — they followed “Ernie’s Croquet Rules”(any wonder Ernie won?). We decided a second game was necessary and that all six of us would play. Ed and Colin decided secretly to play as a team so that they could “tie” for first, Ernie lost about 10 turns as he took a break to cook burgers otherwise he would have beaten them. Wendy gave up trying to get through the gates and just tried to stop Colin and Ed (unfortunately they kept hitting her ball away), Margaret and I kept slogging along just hoping we would catch up to everyone else. George followed along only having to dodge the ball a couple of times.

The “Nose Olympics” was the next exciting event of the day. While we were sitting around the fire and Margaret pulled out a present she had received for her fiftieth birthday. It was a pair of eye glasses with an arm that stuck out in front of your nose to which different items were attached to. One was a basketball net and ball that you had to wiggle your head to get the ball into the basket. Another one was two rings that you had to get spining in opposite directions and yet another one was “clackers” that you had to get to clack. The expressions on the person’s face when they attempted these feats were priceless. If you ever see “Nose Olympics” and need a gag gift pick it up. George, of course was present and as Zaph was sleeping under a chair, he decided to check the dog out — unfortunately Zaph woke up and started barking, scaring George away.
The cat won in the end as we left the following morning taking those nasty dogs with us.
Ernie and Frances plot the next few days driving route

Splash has a conversation with George the cat

Under Ernie’s Croquet Rules, is Ed really allowed to use Colin's head as a ball?
Nose Olympics

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hike to See the Valley

After a leisurely brunch on the picnic table in the sun, Ernie, Ed, Zaph and I headed off for a hike to a lookout. The hike was only about 20 minutes long but it was pretty much straight up the 200 M. high hill. The view of the valley was great. We headed along a deer trail to a 2nd peak so we could get a top side view of Wendy and Ernie’s house.

Back at the house, Zaph and Splash had a rousing game of frisbee (they each had their own frisbee and thrower) and the rest of us sat around the bon fire. What a nice day.

The "Braun Trailer Park"

A view from the lookout.

Zaph and Ernie enjoying the view.

The valley. Ernie and Wendy live somewhere in the middle of the photo.

Friday, September 23, 2005

What Nerve

We continued to drive north as our destination was Vernon and the home of Margaret’s friends. As we headed north we saw a lot of vineyards and wineries, unfortunately it was too difficult to stop with the trailer (none of the parking lots were large enough). The guys wanted to check out a Princess Auto store, and as it was lunch time we stopped in Kelowna. We found a mostly empty parking lot beside a gas station so Ed and I pulled in. Colin had missed the turn and parked in another lot about a block away. First item on the agenda was food so we headed to the IHOP for a great lunch. As per usual, “care packages” were made for Zaph and Splash. Margaret and I decided to take Zaph his treat and as we were walking across the parking lot, Margaret said there’s someone by your trailer. Margaret said “What are you doing?” and the guy jumped about 10 feet exclaiming “you scared me”. He said he was poking around in the box of the pickup truck because he had accidently dropped his lighter and it fell in — yeah right. I climbed into the box of the truck and proved there was no lighter and Margaret suggested that he be on his way. We checked out the truck and trailer and everything seemed OK. The truck box has the extra fuel tank, a couple of tool boxes (locked and secured to the truck), boards for leveling the trailer and some firewood — nothing worth stealing.

Margaret’s friends (Wendy and Ernie) live about 15 km from Vernon on a 1 acre lot with a very large driveway. They had told Margaret that they had room for both trailers so we could just park at their house. Sure enough the driveway was big enough to hold both our trailers plus trucks as well as their motor home.

A view of Kelowna lake.

Driving into Kelowna

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fruit and Vegetable Stands

We decided to follow the suggestion that Thea and Ian had given us and drove highway 3 instead of the toll freeway. The road wound it’s way through a small mountain range and ended at the bottom end of the Okanagan Valley. We drove through a town called Keremous and were amazed at the number of fruit and vegetable stands. There were piles of squash and pumpkins along with other fruits and vegetables. This area definitely is dryer than the coast, with orchards and vineyards lining both sides of the roadway. We continued up the highway to Penticton and spent the night at a Walmart. After we landed Ed took Zaph to the park / beach that was about 1 mile from Walmart where Zaph had a nice romp and swim.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Hunt for Hot Springs

We said good-bye to Vancouver Island today. I wish we had more time to spend there and hopefully we will be able to return someday. We took the ferry from Shwartz Bay (Victoria) to Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver). The ferry ride took us through the Gulf Islands — much prettier than the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

Colin decided that we needed to start visiting hot springs — sounds like a good idea to the rest of us, so we looked for a hot spring between Vancouver and Vernon. While searching through campground information we found Harrison Hot Springs. This is a resort community located on a beautiful little lake amongst some mountains and has several golf courses as well as (of course) the “hot springs”. You can access the hot spring’s water from either at the Hotel/Resort or at the public pool. The “hot spring source” (as indicated on the map) was at least a kilometer out of town and the water is pumped in. Colin and Ed had a look at the public pool and decided that it wasn’t worth the $8.50 charge per person per visit.

Harrison Hot Springs is also famous for it’s sand sculpture contest and as luck would have it, the sculptures were still up for viewing. It’s amazing what people can do with sand.

Leaving Schwartz Bay

A lighthouse on one of the islands we passed on the ferry.

See the mountain hiding behind the clouds

A "sand castle"

One of the sand sculptures.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where Did the Day Go

I had hoped to go to the Art Gallery or visit the “castle” near the campground today but alas that did not happen. The day was taken up with laundry, cleaning, getting the truck serviced, paying bills, etc.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yumm... Chinese Food

After Ian’s tour the night before we decided to see Beacon Hill Park in the daylight. It is a large park that starts near downtown and ends by the water. There are many gardens, several duck ponds, a children’s petting zoo, a look out point and lots of green space. The section of park beside the water is a leash free area so Zaph got to enjoy chasing his ball here. He found some steps leading down to the beach and wanted me to throw his ball down the stairs – what some puppies will do to go for a swim (I didn’t fall for it). Since it was a beautiful day so we decided to drive up the coast to the town of Sidney. This is a cute small town with a large boat harbour about half an hour from Victoria. There were some very large, very expensive boats tied up at the dock, where I overheard some people talking about the trip they are planing on their boat — go up the coast of BC to Alaska and then head south to Mexico. Sounds very nice to me.

We had thought about going to Butchard Gardens but the cost was a bit scary— $22 a person. Thea had said that the gardens were nice especially if you could see them in the daylight and then after dark with the lights on them. Unfortunately, September 15 th. was the last day they were open at night. So we decided the cost was just too much if no evening show was included..

The Werners and the Agnews headed to Chinatown for dinner. After checking out all of the restaurants on the street we selected one. Colin and Margaret didn’t know what to order so Ed and I chose the dishes. Luckily, they liked what we picked. However we could not talk the Werners into using chop sticks, as they preferred North American eating tools.

At the end of beacon hill park is this marker, the real western terminus of the Trans Canada Highway

not far from the above mileage marker, is this totem pole, the tallest in BC, if you look closely you should see Frances and Zaph at the base

Beacon Hill park's gardens

Oh... Please can I go swiming? Water's edge in Beacon Hill park

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Old Friends

One of my roommates from university lives here in Victoria. So I telephoned her, and arranged for Ed and I to spend today with her and her family (Thea, Ian and their daughter Elizabeth). When we arrived at their home, bicycles were being wheeled into the driveway — it appeared we were going bicycling with them and two of Elizabeth’s friends. The city of Victoria is a great place to bicycle as there are bike paths and lanes all over the city. We headed out to one of their favorite places — a market complete with gift shops and mini-golf. Along the way we saw three wild deer — they weren’t impressed by the bikes. The 3 girls, Ian and Ed played a rousing game of mini-golf where blowing on your ball to get a whole in one was allowed. Thea and I had a nice time wandering around the shops. On the ride back I seemed to have a lot of trouble keeping up with everyone else. We stopped at one place, and Thea said she thought the rear tire might be low on pressure, and Elizabeth said she thought the front tire looked low. Sure enough the front tire was almost flat and the rear tire also needed air — luckily Ian had a bicycle pump with him. Boy, was it a lot easier to ride with air in your tires! Back at Thea’s house, the girls headed out back to the trampoline, it would be nice to have that much energy. Later the five of us went out for Thai food .... mmm good. After dinner, Ian gave us a quick tour of the city.

the provincial parlament building after sunset

the inner harbour

The CP's empress hotel

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Royal BC Museum

You can tell that a museum is interesting when it takes Ed a full day to get through it and that was the case with the Royal BC Museum. The special exhibit at the museum was a collection of items from Tibet on loan from the Newark Museum – very interesting. The standard exhibits in the museum included a history of the local aboriginal population, history of fishing, mining, farming, and other industries as well as a geological overview of BC. In one exhibit you walked into a mine and looked down into shafts complete with real mining cars on tracks. Another exhibit was a street with various shops from a hundred years ago. You could look in some of the shop windows as well as walk up the stairs into the Grand Hotel and look at some of the rooms. In the exhibit on the local aboriginal civilization, they had an Indian long house complete with totem poles. I thought the exhibits were really quite well done. Also, there is the National Geographic IMAX theater attached to the museum. We opted to see the movie called Bears on the super sized screen.

one of the exhibits in the museum, a street from a century ago

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Dog Lovers

We decided to do the “scenic drive” around Victoria. As one end of the drive starts in downtown Victoria we headed there. It is a quite pretty downtown and a parking spot presented itself, so we decided to stop and walk around. As Zaph was in the truck, he got to joined the tour as well. We walked around the harbour, provincial parliament buildings, the Empress Hotel, and other attractions. Perhaps the most interesting part of the walk was the number of people who stopped to pet Zaph. One man positioned himself so that Zaph had to stop to see him, another man hurried behind us calling that he wanted to pet the dog and yet another man stopped to pet Zaph and his wife came back and hurried him on – I don’t know if they were heading somewhere with a time frame or she didn’t want him petting “strange dogs”. Victoria is a beautiful city and the remainder of the scenic drive supported that feeling. There are several picturesque small craft marinas, many beaches, lots of parks with trails for walking and beautiful gardens.

the BC provincial parlament building

the Museum in Victoria

Flower gardens in front of the Parlament buildings

If you look closely, you will see Frances and Zaph under the large tree

only in Victoria? A dog seat on a bicycle.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Dog Lovers

Today is one of those necessary but not real exciting days – laundry, a trip to the thrift shop with Margaret, getting groceries and some other errands. Zaph on the other hand didn’t think the day was a total waste. Margaret, Splash, Zaph and I went for a walk this morning. On the way back, a garbage truck stopped beside us — no we weren’t carrying bags of garbage. The driver got out of the truck with his box of dog cookies and handed one to Zaph and one to Splash, then got back into his truck and drove off. Not only was this driver dog friendly, but the city itself appears to be also. There are a lot of leash free parks in the city — one being only a couple of minutes walk from the RV park where we are staying. Victoria appears to be full of dog lovers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Who Painted on all the Buildings?

Time to head to Victoria and the start of our last week on the Island. The literature indicated that the town of Ladysmith was named “One of the ten prettiest towns in Canada” by Harrowsmith magazine, so we decided to drive through it and look for a place to park. Well, the section we drove through wasn’t all that pretty and there was no RV friendly parking so we continued on our way. When we got to the town of Chemainus, things were a little different. For starters there were signs for RV parking, making parking of the rig quick and easy. This town is famous for its outdoor wall murals. Starting in 1982, the people of Chemainus invited internationally known artists to use the town as a canvas, so they painted murals on the buildings depicting the town’s history, people and its future. The murals are beautiful as is the town with some some cute houses with beautiful gardens. Zaph was impressed as there were a lot of water bowls put out for touring dogs. Chemainus was definitely worth the stop.

We also stopped in Duncan in hopes to see some totem poles. Unfortunately, we arrived just after 5pm. The visitor center was closed, we didn’t see any signs and we were hungry. We phoned and found a place to stay in Victoria, ate dinner then headed to Victoria. So much for totem poles. Duncan is only 60km from Victoria so we can always go back.

a wall mural on the post office of Chemainus

a house in Chemainus

a store in Chemainus

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Trails and Beaches

Today Ed, Zaph and I decided to check out the trails and beaches in the Pacific Rim National Park. We started with the Rainforest Trail. The temperate rainforest is full of gigantic western red cedar, western hemlock and hanging gardens of moss. Combers trail and beach was the next stop. In the parking lot Zaph had his picture taken giving kisses to a cute little girl and her father. We had a picnic lunch and Zaph and a roar around the beach. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see much of the beach as fog was rolling in from the ocean.. We headed down the road to Schooner Trail and luckily sunshine. The trail was mostly boardwalk and lots and lots of stairs through stands of cedar-hemlock forest. The trail opened onto another beautiful beach. We wandered down the beach where we met some people from Ottawa. Ed offered to take their picture sitting on a huge piece of drift wood. They wanted to include Zaph in the photo, so I boosted him up on the log — unfortunately he jumped off before Ed could take the picture. The next beach stop was Long Beach. I think it’s a beautiful beach but you couldn’t tell because the fog was here as well. Shore pine Bog Trail was really interesting. Here we felt like the giants among the trees. The bog provides very little nutrition for plants so only certain plants and trees can grow and they grow very slowly. The Shore pine grows about 1 meter a century, the same tree in a better environment is know as Lodgepole pine. The last beach we visited was Florencia – named after a ship wreck that occurred in the bay.

Wow ... the trees hollow in the middle.

Trees growing on a "nursery log" (a fall tree) in the rainforest.

One of the beaches.

Beach at Schooner Cove.


The trail to Schooner Cove

Surfers on Long Beach --- even fog won't stop them.

Trees in the bog.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Sun and the Sea

The morning was cloudy but cleared up nicely – by noon there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We headed into Ucluelet (u-clue-et) this morning walked the first 2.5 km of the Wild Pacific Trail. This trail follows the coast line and we saw four whales in the distance as well as some spectacular ocean views. In town, we stopped at an interesting restaurant – it’s an old cruise ship that is anchored in the harbour. We opted to not eat there as the prices were a little more than we wanted to spend for lunch.

After a quick lunch at the local deli, we headed to another trail in the Pacific Rim National Park about 1.5 km from our campground. This trail led 1.2 km down a gravel walkway to 0.2 km of stairs (now that’s a lot of stairs) leading down to the beach. Zaph and Splash went crazy when they got to the beach. Splash because a wild creature running around as fast as she could and Zaph got into the “ready” position waiting for a toy to be thrown. There were moderately strong waves coming in, so it was fun to time throwing the toy so that the dog would be trying to fetch it as the wave crested and broke. Splash learned to turn her back into the wave and Zaph just body slammed it. Zaph had such a good time that we decided to head to the 2nd beach — up the stairs, walk a couple of hundred meters and down another series of ramps and stairs. This beach was smaller but very pretty and worked fine for playing chase the toy.

Back to the campground for a rinse off and some ball fetching to dry off. Ed and I headed to the hot tub to relax.

Wild Pacific Trail.

Wild Pacific Trail

Interesting tree.

The beach.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Pacific

Over the years our friends Jack and Lori have told us how wonderful Ucluelet and Tofino are that it was a must to visit these two towns and the Pacific Rim National Park. So, finally we are there. Ucluelet and Tofino are about 40km apart separated by the Pacific Rim National Park. And if the name of the park doesn’t give it away it, they are both on the Pacific Ocean. We found an RV park that advertised a hot tub, was between the two towns and was advertising a price of $20 a night for any type of site. How could we resist? — We didn’t! When we checked into the campground, Colin was told to not leave Splash alone outside and both guys were told to not leave any food / pet bowls outside as there are cougars, wolves and bears in the area. Hmmm there are berry bushes around the campsites. The only issue was a very narrow twisty road in the campground, score: park 1, trailer 0, lost an awing support and there are a few scratches down the starboard side.

We were surprised to hear that the national park’s campground was full and the $50 a night private campgrounds in Tofino (okay they’re right on the beach) were also full. Oh, well ours is nice and affordable.

After settling in, we decided to take a drive to Tofino. What a cute little town — not as touristy as we thought. There was a nice harbour, some cute shops and lots and lots of restaurants. We stopped at the crab shack down on the dock in hopes to pick up a few crabs for dinner but unfortunately no one was there – it was Sunday after all. On the drive back we stopped at Radar Hill which was suppose to be a scenic lookout over the area. I don’t think the person who wrote the literature has been there for awhile. The trees have grown so it’s not quite so scenic anymore. We also decided to stop at the Wickaninnish Restaurant in the park . When we turned down the road we saw a couple of cute black rear ends disappear into the bush (bears). The restaurant and centre are on an absolutely beautiful beach and there must have been at least 20 surfers in the water. Colin said the waves weren’t that high (but he’s been to Hawaii and Panama City Florida) — I thought they were more than high enough. The restaurant looked very nice, windows on three side overlooking the ocean. It would be a beautiful setting to have a meal in — don’t know if we will though, prices are a bit high.

Returning to the campground we had supper then sat in the outdoor hot tub.... very, very nice.

This plane is a water bomber used in fighting forest fires.

Another spontaneous dog pose.

Now that's a big leaf.

Surfer on Wickaninnish Beach

Another view of Wickaninnish Beach

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Wow, Another Great Day

We were dressed, organized and driving away from the trailer by 7:10am. No, we weren’t awake yet. The Lady Rose allowed dogs on board as long as they stayed on the deck. So Zaph and Splash were able to go on the outing today along with the 2 other dogs that also came on board — they all got along fine. The day started cool and cloudy but after about an hour and half it cleared and started to warm up. The boat departed Port Alberni at 8:00am traveling down the Alberni Inlet to the village of Bamfield. Along the way the boat stopped to deliver / pickup mail, freight and passengers. The captain slowed down as we approached a group of seals sunning on rocks and he pointed out various places of interest such as fish and oyster farms, floating homes, a floating Post Office, lumber operations, etc. We saw several black bears on the shore. Upon arrival at Bamfield West we were able to disembark and walk around town – or should we say walk down the boardwalk. We crossed Penny Lane (a short path paved in pennies), saw the tree house public toilets, the local bistro and Liquor Store (they sold everything from food to ice cream cones to alcohol). Across the inlet was Bamfield East — it too had a look of character about it but you needed a mode of water transport to get there. The boat ride back to Port Alberni included a humpback whale siting and a fly-by of 2 eagles. Luckily lots of people on the boat liked dogs — Zaph said he got almost enough pets! This boat trip was certainly worth it.

All aboard!

Kildonan floating post office.

Seals sunning on a rock.

Bamfield West Harbour

Looking across the inlet to Bamfield East.

Hey where's our boat going? It did come back and pick us up.

The whale!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Is the Week Over Already?

It’s hard to believe but the week in Parksville is over and it’s time to move on. We’re not going very far today — less than 100 km. to reach our destination of Port Alberni. We are staying at the Port in hopes of good weather for at least one more day so we can take the Lady Rose to Bamfield. The Lady Rose is a freighter that takes locals and tourists to villages down the inlet where there are virtually no roads. Anyway, more about that tomorrow.

Port Alberni is a industrial town but does have a nice harbour. A few KMs. outside of town is an old steam powered lumber mill that is now a National Heritage Site. We got there a little late in the day so the mill wasn’t running but it was still interesting to walk through it.

When we got back to the campground, Colin walked over with a bag of blackberries he had picked. Sounds like a good job for Ed. Mmmmm those blackberries were good.

What's the top of the totem pole?

The harbour park in Port Alberni.

The harbour in Port Alberni.

A train at the old mill.

Steam powered lumber mill.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Swimming?

Unfortunately, we do have to take time out of touring and do mundane things like cleaning the trailer, laundry and shopping. Today was one of those days. Zaph did manage to get us to take him for a walk at the provincial park more or less across the road from the campground. It’s amazing how the coast line changes in the manner of a couple of kilometers. Part of the beach is sand and the rest of it is rock. Returning to the campground, Zaph talked Ed into taking him for a swim in the river. Whose vacation is this anyway? Ok, we all know the answer to that question ... it’s Zaphie’s vacation.

A fruit and vegetable stand near the campground.

The Agnew version of a Totem Pole. I think we've gone local or is that loco?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Swimming, swimming and more swimming

Another beautiful sunny day. We decided to take it easy today and enjoy the great outdoors. We asked Zaph what he wanted to do and his immediate reply was “woof woof woof” (translation: go to the beach). So, off to the beach we went. Luckily the tide was heading out this time so we the beach got larger giving him more room to run around. We spent over an hour at the beach throwing Zaph’s toy and splashing in the water — I was surprised that the water wasn’t really cold (I wouldn’t call it warm unless it was 85F). We tried to shower Zaph off in one of the beach showers but he thought it was like a bath and wanted away from it.

After lunch and a walk around the beach park we decided to go for a drive. Jack and Lori had told us about a town called Lantzville just outside of Nanaimo. It is little town more like a large subdivision. It does have a Home Hardware, a couple of restaurants and few other stores — I didn’t see a grocery store though. At first I didn’t think it had a beach but where each road dead ended at the water there appeared to be a beach access. One section of the water front was large limestone type rocks with neat wear patterns, another section was beach. One the drive back from Lantzville we decided to have a look at Nanoose Bay (Lantzville is only about 15 km from Parksville and Nanoose Bay is on a peninsula in between.) Now Nanoose Bay is subdivision central. When you enter the area there is a plaza that has a grocery store and a few other stores. As you head out onto the peninsula there is a web of roads that are lined with houses. At the point of the peninsula is a golf course and a marina. Lantzville is nice but I think I still like Parksville and Qualicum Beach the most.

Arriving back at the campsite, Zaph reminded Ed that he needed a river swim to wash off the salt water. After about 45 minutes of swimming a waterlogged Zaph returned to the campsite. Boy did he sleep like a log in the evening.

The boys having a good time on the beach.

Hey, that's my toy!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sunny Day....

We woke up to the sun shining .... not a cloud in the sky. We’ve been having better weather than we expected on Vancouver Island. What to do on a sunny clear day? I know lets drive to Mt. Washington. It took us about an hour to drive up the island to Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island’s only alpine ski resort. The mountain is used by mountain bikers and tourists wanting scenic views in the summer. A chairlift takes you to the top. There are three ways down: on the chair lift, hiking one of three trails, or mountain biking one of many trails. We opted to hike down and met a couple picking blueberries. They live in Victoria and own a chalet at Mt. Washington. It seems that they spend every other week in the chalet. Now that sounds like a pretty good life to me. I decided to conquer my fear of riding down on the chair lift so we decided to go up one more time but stay on the chair and continue down (our ticket was good for as many rides as we wanted on the chair lift). I don’t know what I was afraid of .... it wasn’t really that bad — I didn’t leave any finger nail marks on Ed’s leg.

Next stop was Comox. After a pleasant drive through the country we arrived back at the coast in Comox. We walked around the down town area and the dock. It didn’t have the same homey feel that Parksville and Qualicum Beach have.

Arriving back at the campsite I found a note on the trailer. That wonderful Margaret Werner invited us for a spaghetti dinner .... mmmmm good. Finishing dinner we hopped into the trucks and headed for mini golf and bumper boats. We played eighteen holes of golf and somehow Colin won. Four holes in one — do you believe it. I think the rest of us only had 1 hole in one each. Now bumper boats — that was another story. These bumper boats had water guns on them and boy did we laugh (I think the girl running it thought that “these old people are weird”). My water gun set at the right height and I was able to shoot people in the forehead — Colin was very wet when I got through with him. Luckily his water gun aimed high or I might have been drowned!

Zaph did manage to convince his dad to take him for a river swim.

A view from the chairlif at Mt. Washington.

Another view at Mt. Washington.

Mountain bikers enjoying the ride.

The harbour in Comox.

Who are these crazy people? There was a photo machine at the mini golf / bumper boat place.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Butterflies and Eagles

In the small town of Combs is the Butterfly World & Gardens. We decided to visit it (we’ve seen the one in Cambridge and the one in Niagara Falls and thought we should see this one as well). The one in Combs is the smallest of the three but was well done. They have some tropical finches (very cute), 8 hummingbirds (didn’t see any but Ed was buzzed by at least one), several quails, lots of turtles and coy, some bugs in aquariums and of course lots and lots of butterflies. They also had an outdoor water garden.

The next stop was in Errington (even smaller than Combs) and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association. This center specializes in releasing rehabilitated bears and birds back into the wild. They have a large building where Eagles that are ready for release can get exercise. They can be view through slits in the wall. Any of the bears and birds that are able to released can not be viewed by the public unless it is done in a way that the animals cannot tell — don’t want them to get imprinted. A part of the center contains birds and a couple of animals that cannot be release either do to the extent of the injury or the fact that they had been imprinted. One of the eagles received a gun shot wound to his beak and has a prosthetic beak that is changed yearly. He’s quite a ham. The cage for the Raven is full of Fisher Price musical instruments and the ferret has a 3 storey home.

After all the sitting in the car, Zaph wanted to do something. So we headed to the Englishman River Falls. There are two falls in this park and they are somewhat larger than the Little Qualicum Falls. The hike to the falls was not enough exercise for Zaph so we headed to the beach in Parksville. We saw a couple of dogs running loose on the beach so we let Zaph loose. You can bet someone had a great time. He loves running on the sand and dashing through the water chasing his ball. As he needed to be rinsed off, he also got to have a swim in the Englishman River back at the campsite.

A flower on the Passion Vine. These flowers only last a day.

Obviously, one of the butterflies.

Some of the birds at the Butterfly World & Museum. The three chubby fellows are useful as one of the things they eat are ants.

A couple more butterflies.

The eagle with the prosthetic beak.

A perigon falcon

A view as you drive into Parksville.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Goats on the Roof?

Our adventures today started with a drive through town looking for the information center. We ended up in the next town (Qualicum Beach) and wandered around the downtown area. We found one store that advertised “If you don’t need it .... we have it”. They certainly did have an eclectic collection of items. When we did find the information center we were helped by a nice gentleman who retired 5 years ago and moved from Toronto to Qualicum Beach. He loves it on Vancouver Island.

First tour stop was the Cathedral Grove (MacMillan Park) an old growth forest. Walking around the forest was like being in the Land of the Giants. One oriental family found that it took all six members of the family with arms outstretched to reach around one of the larger trees. Zaph was not impressed when we walked into the center of a tree.

Little Qualicum Falls was another stop on our travels today. The falls weren’t very large but hike was good.

On the way back to the campground we saw a sign for “Goats on the Roof” and pulled over. Sure enough there were goats grazing on the roof of The Country Market (the roof was made of sod). The goats were a way of getting you to stop but the market itself was also quite amazing. I think the market had a little bit of everything: ice cream, fresh baked pastries, fresh baked bread, at least 6 types of smoked salmon, gourmet grocery items, nic nacs, clothes, fresh vegetables, etc. We bought a spanikopita and an African samosa — very good.

Cathedral Grove

Man... that's one big tree and it's not the largest one.

Goats on the roof.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Warnings to all dogs: Do not enter a pet store with a sign Dog-U-Wash in the window — no matter how many treats you are offered. signed Zaphod.

Yup we found a Dog-U-Wash at a local pet store in Parksville. Zaph didn’t think he needed a bath but he was due. I think the Dog-U-Wash worked much better than trying to give him a bath at the trailer’s outdoor shower at the campground. The area around the trailer is packed dirt with a bit of gravel so Zaph might have been dirtier after his bath.

We moved the trailer from the site we were in to another site (the people who had reserved it didn’t show). Tents don’t work mixed in the middle of trailers especially when the sites aren’t aligned welled. We had been parked next to a tent. Our sewer drain was on the other site and right beside their tent and their water was on our site.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Labour Day Weekend Rush

When we realized that Labour day long weekend was approaching we booked a campground in Parksville. Now we don’t normally book campgrounds site unseen but the long weekend dictated the need. Colin was a little worried when we were driving through the city of Parksville and I radioed to say we were within 2 km of the park — he began to imagine us in a busy downtown area. Luckily the city ended, we crossed a river and country appeared. The campground is quite nice, has internet access, full services and swimming in the river. Splash and Zaph found the river and went swimming on our first walk around the campground. As Parksville is in a central area we are staying put for a week.

Scene from our campsite at Ripple Rock RV park.

Another view of the Ripple Rock RV park this time from the hot tub deck. They had a lot of carved statues.

Another view .... our trailer is in the cluster somewhere.

Man.... I'm sooooooooooo cool.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ripple Rock Explosion

I wanted to go to the Campbell River Museum today. They have a film on the Ripple Rock Explosion and I really wanted to see it. Ripple Rock is (was) a mountain with 2 peaks that was submerged splitting the main channel in half and had resisted attempts to be removed by normal means. In 1955 they decided to try to remove the peaks again and were determined to succeed. It took close to 3 years to tunnel under the channel and up into the mountain. More than 1,375 tons of high powered explosives were set. And on April 5th 1958, boy did it work. The explosion was the most powerful non-nuclear in history and resulted in a depth of approximately 40 feet where one peak was and approximately 75 feet where the 2nd peak was. If you want to know more about ripple rock you can go to

The museum also had several other good exhibits. There was one regarding native masks. When you walked into the room a recorded message would begin and lights would shine on the appropriate mask.

Campbell River has a very nice down town / harbor area that we walked around.

Back to the campground and a hot tub before dinner. Now there was one problem with the campground and that was the number of rules. Ed and I would have liked to have had a complete list of rules so that we could check off all the ones we broke (most of them before we knew the rule existed). Dogs were not allowed on the nice grass area between the trailers and the water, only 4 people in the hot tub at a time (didn’t break that one!), no beverages at the hot tub and many, many more!

Carved Sea Monster at the Brown's Bay Marina.

They have "tame deer" at Brown's Bay. These guys enjoy munching on the flower bushes.

Which one is the real dog?

A view in Campbell River.

A memorial from the Dutch people to Canada commenorating the 60th anniversary of libertation.

So our totem pole isn't as big as the other ones.... but the bottom part is really cute.

Norske Canada's Elk Falls Mill outside of Campbell River.

Seymour Narrows, the location of the Ripple Rock Explosion.

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