Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hope we're not on the "Walmart People" website!

Leaving Tofino was sad and also a lot of work! Rain each night and many wind storms had left CC's roof, window ledges and slides filled with leaves and pine needles.  Inside, a combination of needles, sand and forest floor had been tracked everywhere by the three of us.  Each time we leave a site, we have a closing up routine but this took twice as long here.  Chris has to go up on the roof and sweep everything away; good thing he's been up a ladder or two in the past!

The road away from the coast is narrow, curvy and zig zags above rivers and lakes.  The giant maples have turned golden since we drove through last week and appear to glow with their own light source among the deep green conifers on the mountainsides.  In the high motorhome, we often came within inches of the mountain cliffs. Ayekaiaye!  We stopped for a hike in the wondrous "Cathedral Grove"; Vancouver's largest stand of huge Douglas Fir Trees.  One was over 800 years old.  Cameras can't capture the immense size of these beauties. You have to stand beneath them to let the emotion engulf the soul!

If you did not know before, you will know now that many Walmart stores allow overnight parking for RV's.
We thought that we may need to use one if all the parks in a particular area were full.  We decided that for our plans last week thatWalmart was the perfect fit.  We needed to take CC in for an oil change first thing in the morning and were ready to park later in the need for hookups or a great view.  We had a quiet night and woke up to see that another RVer had parked behind us!

Spent the rainy day in Victoria doing errands.  The sun joined us for a walk around the town and docks of the quaint town on Cowichan Bay.  Many residents live in funky floating homes along the wharf next to surfing schools and fishing boats.  Enjoyed the fall colours along the shore, sealions calling from the breakwall, and window-shopping the art boutiques and seafood restaurants.  Gardens here are showing signs of decay but Japanese maples glow red, triple-sized pampass grass wave in the breeze and holly trees filled with red berries remind us that "that holiday" is just around the corner.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Travelling Day

Its a sad day for Caron and I. Today we leave Tofino and head back east to the Nanimo area this time, and maybe Victoria later. We have an appointment at 8am Friday at Island Freightliner for an oil change and some other maintenance items on the chassis of CC.
We are just going to have a lazy morning and hit the road around noon and mosy back up the Pacific Rim hwy,  as its the only road back to the east coast of the island, then down Hwy 19 to the Nanimo area. Its about a 4hr trip, which is plenty of driving for one day. Our plan is to do the Walmart parking lot thing as we will be just a mile from Island Freightliner and can make a quick departure in the AM.
After we drop CC off we are going to try and visit Jeans brother in Fanny Bay, where he has an oyster farm. And hopefully tours with free samples.
Then we will have to think about the next stage of our journey. That is pointing CC south to the balmy climes of California.
The pacific tides here, the last 2 evenings, have been amazing. At low tide the water is about 15 ft lower than high tide and the islands (above photo) about a quarter mile off shore, are exposed to the seabed. We wander out there and explore the face of the island and surrounding rocks for sea-life. Starfish, anemones, hermit crabs, mussels, barnacles and other unnamed creatures that cling to the rocks waiting for the tide to come back.
Another wrench in our traveling works is a stop at a Tiffin RV dealer in Eugene OR to get some roof panels replaced. Its a 3 day procedure to replace them and do some other warranty work on CC also like replace the front jacks, reset the leveling system and repair the microwave oven. After that we have an appointment to have some solar panels installed on the roof at a nearby shop that specializes in RV solar panel installations.
If it ain't one thing its another.
More to come...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011



Beachcombing is different every time we go out. The beaches are always a different length depending on what stage the tide is at, the wave heights vary and the light changes the colour of the Pacific and alters the shadows cast by shells and seaweed. Dogs of all shapes and sizes run on the beach, play in the waves or dig in the sand. Dixie loves her long beachwalks and her favourite; retrieving sticks from the surf.

We hiked the rainforest trails in the rain and soaked in the beauty of the huge cedars, ferns and lacy moss draped across the branches. Every ten feet or so we saw different mushrooms, white, beige, brown, yellow,some flat topped, some spotted or frilly edged. So many bracket fungus clung to the undersides of ancient branches.

Our weather has been amazing with chilly mornings warming to sunny days and cloudless blue skies. Yesterday we were awakened with the sounds of barking seals. Just off our beach was a "raft" of stellar sea-lions.

There were about 30 of them floating together with their heads and fins up, soaking in the sun. A guard seal swam at each end of the line of seals. We learned that this is a common method used by the sealions to warm themselves. In the afternoon we were outfitted in our michelin-man-like survival suits and boarded Jamies Whalewatching zodiac at Tofino. We were the only passengers and thus had a private tour. Our skipper Brandon gave us an exhilarting ride across huge breakers. We were lucky to see three gray whales
blow, roll and dive. One rocky island way out in the ocean was covered in more beige and pink-toned stellar sea lions basking in the sun, a real treat to see. The highlight was viewing a "raft" of about 30 sea otters. The group split up when they saw us, the shy ones swam off a ways and the curious lay on their backs and stretched up their heads to check us out. We also saw some bald eagles and an eagle's nest as we neared the harbour after our three hour adventure. Stopped at the Tofino Brewing Company to pick up some celebration libation. They only sell their beer in big jugs called growlers. So we have been drinking beer non-stop.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Day of the Eagle

On Sunday morning , our last day at Bates Beach our RV neighbors, Sue and Sid,  knocked on our door to tell us there was an eagle sitting on a pole in front of our RV.  Aghast we quickly grabbed our cameras and started blasting. It gave us a look of disgust for having bothered her and put on quite a display of majesty as it flew off.
I shot these with a 200mm lens and some exposure/saturation adjustments in Lightroom.
We thought it was a positive omen for the day but it turned out not to be. See carons post below.

See more eagle pics here.

Friday, 21 October 2011

As far west as we can drive!

October 19 we drove across the island to the West Coast. Found ourselves again facing the ocean but this time through a few pine trees about 15' above an amazing sand beach with waves crashing in. Spent most of Thursday, combing "our beach" at Bella Pacifica campground and Long Beach, just south of here offering
the longest stretch of sand beach on Vancouver Island's west coast. We had a grand day, warm and sunny,
taking in the views, the piles of seaweed in all shapes and colours, some being nibbled on by a "murder
of crows." Explored a cove, water filled at high tide but rich with barnacle-covered rocks, pools with tiny fish and cliffs studded with mussel colonies and star fish. We also poked (gently of course) at various sea urchins some bright green, some black and some beige and orange. They protested by squirting out a bit of sea water at us or shrank down a size or two.  A few sandpipers dashed along the edge of the surf and Dixie  "feebly" attempted to catch them. The sound of the surf is hypnotic and great to hear day and night. It speaks to some primordial place in the brain a place where dreams come from. Watched some surfers wait for waves and attempt to ride a ways to shore. The surf was not too cooperative. There is a rich surf culture here, with colourful surf board shops and shacks offering surfing lessons. We've seen folks riding their bikes to the beach with surfboards mounted on special racks beside them. Tofino, a fishing and surfing town just
north of here is a quaint harbour village with a few art galleries, restaurants and a bay filled with float planes, whale watching tour boats and fihing rigs. It has a gorgeous setting with small islands and mountains that rise across the bay opposite the town.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Fresh & Local is Best

Restaurateurs out here are really big on FRESH and LOCAL. We have had fabulous meals where the
veggies, fish or meat, breads and wine or beer are acquired from local folk. It really makes a difference
and our meals of seafood pasta, bouillabaisse and scallops and local greens were scrumptious!!!!

We have enjoyed many dock walks beside fishing boats, tugs and sailboats chatting with local fishermen
and snapping photos of crab baskets, fishing boats and masts. Many towns have totems or local wood carvings adorning their parks, some exquisite and some pathetically below folk art status. Interesting nonetheless.

Good omen, we thought... bald eagle sitting on the post just outside CC on the morning we were heading south to Parksville. A series of little annoyances followed.....GPS took us two hours out of our way; we realized that our credit card was back in a Comox "Staples" photocopier and had to return to get it back; sunglasses pick-up in Victoria foiled by the arms breaking while being adjusted to fit tight; goats on the roof tourist market had put the goats into their barns for the season. Mumma said there'd be days like this! So much for good omens!

Today we made is as far west as we can drive. We are parked near Tofino on Vancouver Island's west coast looking over a beach at the Pacific Ocean! Woo! Hoo! More tales and lots of photos to follow!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

"Bull" Humour


Folks told us that the tube-like seaweed is called bull whip. Must harvest some
to keep on board just in case... if you catch my drift!

Vancouver Gems

Back to Vancouver, October One: Highlights: Stanley Park hosts miles of forest with a few surviving
old cedars, hydrangea and rose-filled gardens, first nations totems, harbour view pathways across
crystal waters, wetting our appetite to explore the city. Tour planes take off regularly and fly above
the silhouetted ships heading out to sea.

Granville Market, seaside farmer's stands and prepared foods stretch many aisles inside the old building.
Of particular interest for the palette and olfactory senses were the amazing shellfish and salmon, and haddock; incredible cheeses,brilliant flower stands and fresh fruit and veggies featuring "giant" grapes as well
as fresh figs and dates. (oh, and for the meat lovers: myriads of sausage, steaks, pate and Scottish bacon)
The narrow streets around the market housed artists and craftspeople of all sorts. The quality was high and
inspiring. Dixie joined us for a beer sampling at the Granville Brewery but chose H2O as her beverage of preference.

University of British Columbia houses a unique Japanese garden, a tranquil setting whose gates were
unlocked for us even though the high winds may have sent a branch crashing down. The Museum of Anthropology has an amazing collection of totem poles, carved and painted boats and masks. A treat, was
viewing the Bill Reid Raven-Creation sculpture, one I've been sharing with students for years but never
enjoyed in person. We also ventured down the billion stairs to Wreck Beach, know for it's hippie
clientele and "Bathing Suits Optional" The beach was grey and chilly and the only bare bottoms we viewed were a few summer images on-line when "things" were in full swing!

We had a few socked in days of rain and fog, as promised by the locals. Squamish was our next home base
where we hiked to the foot of Shannon Falls, 3rd highest in BC; lunched at the rustic Howe Sound Brewing Co.gazing out on the amazing white, black and grey granite Chief Mountain, a draw for climbers. Took a personal boat tour of the Squamish Harbour with skipper Chris. As a local, working on the harbour for
thirty years, he was wealth of stories from landslides to logging lore and history, to mining disaster tales.
As we passed cliffs coloured with copper, native rock paintings, seals lazing about on the log booms, small tugs mightily towing, bald eagle, and herons, we were treated to spectacular views of snow capped Mnt.Atwell and Garibaldi. Skipper Chris taught us all we need to know about logging, which logs in the huge log booms go where. Some are exported, some for pulp and paper, some for cedar shakes. We now know how logging grants are doled out and how much they cost, all this and more in an hour and a half boat tour.

Whistler,so often seen packed with enthusiastic sports fans or drunks during the Olympics, was the town we expected. Great chalet-inspired buildings and modern condos in nature's colours, manicured gardens and maple trees turning red.  Shops were all high end sports equipment with an art gallery or coffee shop thrown in now and then, the place was swarming with mountain bike "Cult" members, decked out in incredible
gear including helmets with built-in cameras and expensive bikes of all shapes and colours. As we embarked on our long cable car journey up Whistler Mountain, we could look down on the bikes swerving and speeding around the muddy trails, some starting their challenge in the fresh fallen snow at the top! Olympic rings and many Canadian flags remained as remnants of Vancouver's Olympic Fame. Google the Peak to Peak Gondola to get a sense of the magnificent journey we had high above the forest, ski trails, river and town of Whistler from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb. Once there, everyone went a little snow crazy.
making angels, throwing snowballs and building snow sculptures. We used some "loaner" ski poles to assist
us with the "slip factor" as we hiked further up Blackcomb. We were lucky to have a blast of sunshine for the views and to counteract the 0 degree temperatures. Dixie happily spent the day frolicking with some of her own kind at a doggie daycare in rural Squamish.

Ferries to the locals, Cruise Ships to us

Sailed across from Horseshoe Bay to the Port of Langdale. Ferries are part of everyday life for
many "Vancouverites" but we treat them as mini cruises! The ferries are huge and can accommodate
over 75 cars, and 10-15 large vehicles like trucks, trailers and RVs. Our ferry routine is to grab a coffee,
bundle up for the cold and head up to the top deck to enjoy the view. Drove further up the coast to wait
for the Earl's Cove ferry to Saltery Bay. Settled in at the Saltery Bay Provincial Campground. We were
in a rain forest site with trees that could be hugged by 4 people all round and the largest ferns we'd seen, over 6 feet tall! Dixie had her own personal stream behind CC to drink from and paddle about in.
Google the Arbutus tree to appreciate the unusual, non-coniferous tree with it's flesh coloured, peeling bark, twisting branches and gorgeous shiny, leathery leaves! Saw a few of these beauties growing along the shoreline between smooth, rocks.

Happy 25th Birthday to Sam!

Saltry Bay celebrates excellent scuba diving including a shipwreck that once contained an ancient bronze mermaid statue. At this time of year however, we had the park to ourselves but unfortunately with a rain
forest comes rain. Coastal rock and mermaid trail were beautiful to hike, even in the rain and fog.
We ventured up to Powell River, a town boasting the largest pulp & paper mill in the world. It was
Thanksgiving day and we hoped to snag a bowl of homemade soup and a slice of pumpkin pie. The town was sealed up tight for the holiday so we retreated to camp where I made a hearty soup and apple crisp
for us to make our thanks over!  We are thankful for all our family and friends, for our health and for this opportunity to travel.

Woke to see a few sunbeams piercing through the mighty pines above CC, a good omen for our day's
adventure. Headed up to Powell River where we caught the SS Chilliwack to Comox,Vancouver Island.
Nice chop on the Strait of Georgia as we crossed out of grey clouds and towards gorgeous back-lit clouds and mountains on the Island shores.

Happy Birthday to Mark!

Set up camp at Bates Beach with our windshield facing the strait. Chris has already made an entry about this amazing site. The stony beaches are loaded with various seaweed, some black with tread-marks like car tires, pink ruffled varieties, some branching types in white or deep eggplant colours, a shiny brown, flat fingered species, flat green-brown large leaves with curled edges and other long tubes twirled around each other like giant skeins of wool, looking a lot like tails of African lions! The air is filled with "parfum de sea".
There are sounds and sights of a variety of seabirds, flying, floating, fighting. We also spot various sized seals....small "melon-heads" bobbing or large brown fellas (sea-lions) coasting and curving across the surface. Each day is so different, we are finding it difficult to leave. Tomorrow we will venture south for a couple of days, then head to the crashing waves of Vancouver Island's West Coast.

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Boondocking in the Rainforest

View Larger Map
It seems so long ago that we left Squamish and Whistler. The days ebb and flow, and as time passes we put aside our experiences of one destination and concentrate on the next.
Last Sunday we set out from Squamish and drove back down the Sea to Sky highway (99), and caught the morning ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langford. From that wharf we drove the Sunshine Coast Rd up to Earls Cove where we got another ferry to Saltry Bay. Upon landing we had a choice of driving another 18km to a Garnet Rock RV park or 1km to Saltry Bay provincial park. Since we have stayed at other BC parks we chose this place. Unlike Ontario provincial parks, few BC provincial parks have electric and water hookups, but the BC park sites are a)very secluded, b)level, c)gravel (good drainage) and are in magnificent forests. As it turned out we had the whole place to ourselves as we were the only campers in the park. And we got to practice our "boondocking" skills. So we stayed here for 2 nights in this blessed solitude. Thanksgiving day Caron threw together a fine dinner and we enjoyed our last bottle of Voignier from our Okanagan valley stay.
Did I mention that it was very wet in this fine park, it rained most of our stay there but Tuesday morning the clouds parted and some sunshine filtered through. Also this morning we packed up and, continuing our adventure west, drove up to Powell river where we caught the noon sailing to Comox on Vancouver Island, and are now camped at Bates Beach Rv resort. And on the beach we are. Most of the time we back into our campsites but when you have a fine view of the Strait of Georgia you pull in nose first to fill your windshield with an Pacific ocean view.

More To come...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Drive thru Corn Barn

This is how they roll in BC. Just pull up, get your bag of 12 corn, give the girl $4.50, drive off.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

CC Rider Rambles.....In the Beginning

Hello friends and relatives! The long awaited blog has begun……
For those of you who need a summary, I’ll go back to July 4 when we moved out of our Newmarket home and moved into “CC Rider”, our new home on wheels. If you missed a viewing, you can peruse the Allegro RED Open Road Motor Home on the Tiffin website.

For 6 weeks we unpacked, packed, sorted, did doctor and dentist appointments, banking, mailing, visiting and planning. We lived in Albion Hills, a Conservation Area just north west of Toronto. Those who have never been, will enjoy great hiking and fabulous bike trails there. Dixie loved it but continued to ask…”when are we going back to MY old backyard?”