Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Canada’ category

Niagara Falls, Lester Pearson College and Route 14

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On a chilly, overcast morning, we went to Goldstream Farmer’s Market in Langford.  Traffic was very busy on a Saturday morning. They are also building like crazy here. It is surely a bedroom community for Victoria. Martha loves a farmer’s market! There are still fruits, vegetables, jams and breads through October. A man was playing guitar to entertain the small crowd. After shopping, we shared a chicken risotto with Jamaican carrot sauce. It was excellent. Might have to go back for another.

Then we drove to Goldstream Provincial Park to visit the other Niagara Falls. There was also the hope of seeing salmon running the small stream to spawn. There was a pavilion with a wood stove burning. A group of young oriental people were cooking egg rolls and other yummy-looking things at a picnic table. I walked by twice to get a look. They just smiled, but no offers for an egg roll. On one end was a collection of perhaps retarded people gathered around a fire. At the other end, two families were cooking hot dogs. Then there is always a guy walking around in shorts.

We walked under the highway through a tunnel. It was the rocky stream bed, but without a drop of water in it. Walking on, I was surprised to see water coming over the falls with a pool at the bottom. Then it goes under ground. I have often wondered how our trout survive drought years when there is no water in a stream, yet the next year it will have trout.

There were lots of visitors in the park. I couldn’t watch as a young family climbed up to a rocky ledge to have their picture taken. A mother clutched her little girl. Canada is great in the way they warn people of dangers, but they don’t prevent you from stepping off a cliff if you stupid enough. There is a nice visitor’s center with great information, and a good film on the salmon run. At a viewing area of a bay and marsh, 20 mallards played, ate and took baths.

After lunch we took the local trail, took a wrong turn and ended up in Lester Pearson College. A young student from Swaziland greeted us and asked if we needed directions. The well-spoken young man had gotten a scholarship and was studying mining engineering.

Saturday night must be go out to dinner night, as Martha gave me two choices for places to go. I chose Route 14 in Sooke. It was crowded, so we said we would sit at the bar. There were two big guys at the bar, and the waitress asked one to move down to make room for us. All other chairs at the bar were taken. I thanked the man and we took our seats as Toronto Argonauts were playing the Edmonton Eskimos in football on one TV, while Chicago was playing Los Angeles in baseball. The big man started asking me about my favorite hockey team. I told him the last time I watched a hockey game was my first date with Martha. The big guy could not have been nicer, and it seemed he knew everyone who came in, kind of like Norm in Cheers. The bartender was giving these two guys grief and they were giving it back. I felt right at home. Dinner was also great with a good Caesar’s salad, mussels and lobster ravioli with mushrooms, arugula and a rich sauce. As the big guy left, he said good night to everyone at the bar. It was a cool atmosphere, a great bar tender and excellent food.

Move to Pedder Bay Campground

October 13, 2017

As we were getting ready to leave, Lonnie drove past. We hustled out to give her a bottle of wine as a thanks for all the help she had been and for the great job she does with the campground. She told us about carrying her 3-year-old granddaughter up the trail as she cleaned the trail with a leaf blower.  She said she kept poking her in the ear with sticks and yelling, so she had to scratch that idea. She had moved to the mainland in upper BC for five years, but finally decided to come back home. She was grateful to get her old job back, but last year was tough, with rains constant from October to mid-July, and a lot of snow. The snow is different here – wet and slippery. Sounds like Virginia snow. Lonnie has a great sense of humor, talking about hunters that poach and having to fix signs that people vandalize. She said at least they don’t walk far from their car. She tries to stay on the trails when she is in uniform as there are “grow-ups” – places where people grow marijuana. They defend their grow-ups seriously, but some aren’t too smart. One was smoking and put the field on fire. When authorities came to put out the fire, he was just sitting there crying over losing his crop.

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We said good bye to our new friend and headed out. Driving over the pass to the west coast of Vancouver Island, the roads were winding and bumpy. Twice we stopped to put things back in their cabinets. Behind the wheels takes the worst beating. In front of the wheels, not so much. We passed many logging trucks. I know it’s a huge industry in Canada, but it sure spoils the landscape, especially in such an incredibly beautiful place.

We went into Port Renfrew. It’s a small village, and we came to a point we couldn’t take the trailer further, so we headed south to Sooke. On a Friday, there was a lot of traffic headed north, probably from Victoria. We pulled into Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina, hoping they had a place for us. Fortunately they had plenty. We needed a laundry and hookups to charge the batteries, so we signed up for three nights.

I built a fire and was happy to post a couple of blogs with good WIFI. Martha fixed a nice beef stew while we went back and forth to the laundry, just across the drive. I talked with our neighbor and her grandson, who live in Port Alberni. Their firewood was wet from the rain today, and the grandson was having difficulty getting it started. She said property in Victoria is getting so expensive, people are moving to Port Alberni. Property values are rising dramatically, but so are taxes. You get caught in the bind of OK, I feel good my house is worth more, but I can’t pay the taxes. The government has also moved some of the people on the dole there, because it was less expensive. She said things are changing too fast. Then talked about how crazy and scary the world is.

Cowichan River Provincial Park

October 12, 2017

As Lonnie suggested, we went to three day-use areas on the Cowichan River. We were astounded by its beauty. Lonnie said it is very busy in the summer with fishermen, so it is closed to fishing now below the falls. Steelhead run the river in December after the rains come. She said the river will be up 20 feet! People will still fish it in drift boats and pontoon boats. It is also very popular with kayakers, and I can see why. At the falls, there are two fish ladders, each for different water levels. I don’t know how you would fish this when it is rocking like that. This is a gorgeous river with a lot of uses.

We drove up to the town of Cowichan, which is at the bottom of huge Lake Cowichan. We stopped at the grocery to stock up on a few things, and returned to camp to sign up for another night and get some lunch.

We went up to Marie Canyon Day Use area, another gorgeous area on this beautiful river. In its summer form the river cuts through an impressive rock canyon. No wonder kayakers love this river. What is really amazing is how the water cuts concavities  and even holes right through rocks. One rock looked like a Mickey Mouse face. This park follows the river for a long way with hiking, biking and horseback trails. The Trans-Canada Trail comes through here. It is a very well thought out park, where picnic tables and benches are tucked into secluded places.

Back at camp we enjoyed a nice fire and told each other the stories our books told. I am reading “13 Hours in Benghazi” while Martha read “Fugitive Nights” that she picked up at a visitor’s center “Need a Book” shelf. Rain drove us indoors for dinner and early book reading. It rained all night. Dick was right when he said, “ You can set your calendar to October 12th for the rains to begin”.

Move to Cowichan River Provincial Park

October 11, 2017

Driving back across the island, west to east, through beautiful mountains, we passed several big, pretty lakes. There is a provincial park on the other side of Kennedy Lake. The only way to get there is by boat. I imagined kayaking there for a few days. The highest mountains were lightly covered with snow, and leaves were beginning to change.

We stopped in Coombs to visit the Country Market Brian and Leslie told us about. It has a sod roof where goats graze. It works. Everyone stops here. To my surprise, the store is quite nice, offering all kinds of goods at reasonable prices. Fresh-baked breads, pastries, jams, cookies make your mouth water. There is a good deli, and they make lunches and salads. It is a happening place with all kinds of things.

We passed through Nanaimo in a little rain. Further south, headed toward Victoria, we turned right and headed into Cowichan River Provincial Park. It’s a self-register park, very neatly kept. We drove the loop to select a site, only passing a few campers. We chose a site with some sun coming through the trees. We needed to charge the batteries. Although we had power at Green Point, the circuit breaker shut off in the middle of the night. It was 37 degrees and windy, so we were heating with the heat pump. I flipped the circuit breaker switch back on in the morning, and didn’t noticed the batteries at 50% until we were ready to move. Why they didn’t charge while we were driving I don’t know.

Of course I was interested to see the Cowichan River, so we got on the trail and walked over. It’s a beautiful river in its summer, clear and low form. I was hoping to see salmon, but didn’t. All I saw was one fish show himself, but couldn’t tell what it was. We started along the loop trail when I tweaked my calf muscle. Martha continued on and i hobbled back to camp. I gathered a bunch of sticks and built a fire. We didn’t have any firewood, so when Martha returned, we drove around looking for some. At the boat launch, a young lady was gearing up behind her Jeep Wrangler to go fly fishing. I screeched to a halt in front of her. She said she was new to fly fishing, but she was planning to fish for trout. She didn’t think there were salmon here yet. I thanked her and wished her luck.

A ranger was collecting the registration envelopes, so we stopped to ask about firewood. She had some and would meet us at our campsite. Lonnie is her name. She said she didn’t see many Airstreams, but she loved them. She told us all the Day Use areas to see along the river, about the trails and the Trans-Canada Trail. She told us about the town, Cowichan and where to get groceries. She said the river is closed to fishing except above the falls, and then it is catch-and-release. The park is open all year and really gets busy in summer. It is used mostly by locals, and she rarely sees people from the US. When the rains come, the river will rise 20 feet or more. Steelhead run in December, so people will come to fish for them then. Kayakers love the river. Lonnie was great. Who needs a visitor’s center when you have a Lonnie.

 

Rain Forest Trail, Bog Trail, Information Center, and Tofino

October 10, 2017

We had rain last night, a good thing for British Columbia. It’s also good when it comes at night. Although chilly when we set out at 9:30, it was most pleasant for a hike. The Rain Forest Trail is only 1km, the whole way covered by a beautiful wooden walkway. Whoever built this was a real craftsman. This forest is gorgeous, so pretty it took an hour to travel the short distance, and I could have taken longer.

A raven clucked softly in different tones the entire walk through this magical forest. I wish I had recorded him or her. Huge trees, one giant cedar being born in 1247! Signs educated us about the forest, plants and trees. It told us about how huge, dead trees serve as nutrient for new trees. If you see a straight line of trees, you know they grew from a fallen one. Gardens grow on tree stumps and limbs. One sign told us one very old fallen tree harbored more insects and animals than all the humans on earth. Last night’s rain brought the forest to life, and the sun was perfect for pictures. I rank this hike with one of the best I have ever hiked, along with yesterday’s Wild Pacific Trail.

True athletes that we are, we went for another 1km hike at the Bog Trail through a totally different landscape. Warnings were posted for bears and wolves, but didn’t even see a sparrow. On to the Kwisitis Information Center.  It’s a great view from the deck of the Information Center of Wickaninnish Beach. The real treat was their movie. Like everywhere else, this area was ravaged by Europeans. The salmon were fished out. Whaling had been done here for thousands of years with little effect, but with more advanced methods, the whales were soon fished out. Then lumber companies were stripping the island of age old forests. Finally the Tla-o-qui-aht had enough, and their chief made a stand. In what became standoff battle, other residents and people from other parts of Canada joined the First Nation people. The story is the question of how to make resources sustainable. Vancouver Island is an incredibly beautiful place. How do you protect it and still let your citizens make a living. This is an excellent film that should be required for all inhabitants and visitors. If anyone has a link to this film, please share it.

We went into Tofino and had lunch at The Shelter. It was excellent – great food, great waitress and great view. Thanks Brian and Leslie, for the recommendation. Then we went to the library to post and read e-mails. It’s a very small library, but steadily busy for the two hours we were there. One lady ran the show, and while I was trying to write, I couldn’t help listening to her. The way she handled people was a delight. After helping a little girl find a book and telling her all about it, the little girl turned to her mom and said, “Do we have to leave”? That’s when I started paying attention. One young lady came in with a book overdue. She was apologizing right from the start, but the lady in charge said, “What are you? Canadian? Stop apologizing”. Cracked me up. A persnickety woman was searching for some magazine and couldn’t find it. The lady in charge went over and said, “Nope, we don’t have it. We don’t have any A’s”. Others asked about a book, and the lady had comments and suggestions about all of them. I wondered if she had read every book. I couldn’t write any more, I was so mesmerized by this woman, and sorry I hadn’t paid more attention from the start. I was really sorry when it was time to leave. I went up to her and told her she was the best ever. She looked at me quizzically and said, “Are you messing with me?” I told her I wasn’t. I didn’t tell her how many libraries I had been in since July – big ones, small ones, good ones, bad ones. This one may be small, but if you want a warm, comforting atmosphere with an incredible lady running, count your blessings. I said, “No, it’s the truth. You are the best. Thank you so much”. She stared at me, wide-eyed, mouth hanging open, and hesitatingly said, “Well, thank you”.

Wild Pacific Trail

October 9, 2017

We walked the Wild Pacific Trail central section in Ucluelet. It is a beautiful trail along the rocky coast with benches to sit and admire the beauty. Eagles, blue herons, sea gulls lots of small birds inhabit the area, along with some wolves. Keep your puppies close warned a sign. There are stunning views around every bend. We took a little loop through an ancient cedar forest. I had no idea cedars could grow so big.

We cruised the little upscale town, but it is Thanksgiving holiday, so all businesses were closed. We were surprised by the number of vacation houses, hotels and resorts. Bike paths went through town, and hiking trails went along the coast. It’s a very pretty area that is probably very busy in summer.

At 52 degrees, it was a great evening to sit by a big fire. Martha made a great split pea soup and bread warmed over the fire. We walked down to the beach for sunset. It is a beautiful beach with a lot of character – rock outcropping, trees and pounding surf.

Move to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. Love those things! We started to pack up to move to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of the island whenBrian was getting ready to walk the dog. He had all kinds of suggestions of places to go. I asked about a campground around Victoria, and he had a good suggestion for that as well. Soon Leslie came out in her PJ’s with a list she had made for us last night. Geez, what nice people! They teach at Brentwood College prep School in Mill Bay where students come from all over the world. They get 100% acceptance to college and 85% get their college of choice. Everyone has to be involved in academics, athletics and art. Some go to UVA, and rowing is a big sport. We enjoyed talking for almost an hour. I gave Brian my blog card as he left to walk the dog. He was quickly back as he read my last name was Wall. His is Carr, but he has a lot of relatives named Wall, some in northern Virginia. We’re going to have to do some research on this. We could be cousins!

I took a few pictures of our excellent campsite overlooking Strait of Georgia. Then we set out for Pacific Rim. I knew the road wound through the mountains and was an old logging road. It was fine until the last 20 miles when it got really bumpy and rough, but it was OK. Just had to go slowly. Stopping at the information center, Martha got some maps and brochures. A lady spoke to us as we were leaving. She was from the island, but moved to Ontario and was just returning. She also had suggestions of where to go and wished us well. We found our way to Green Point Campground and stopped at the gate. The ranger said a bear had been visiting the campground, so we should keep our site clean and to store all food. Fortunately there are no Grizzlies on the island.

The campsites are huge and very private in a dense forest on a bluff above beautiful Long Beach. Although a generous site, the entrance was a bit narrow, and I had to do a lot of finagling to wiggle the trailer through. Once set up, we walked down the trail to the beach. The tide was out, but the Pacific Ocean was crashing onto big rocks and to the wide, sand beach. We walked to a rock outcropping and climbed up to a beautiful view.

It was a perfect evening to sit by a fire, have a glass of wine or beer and watch the sun go down over the Pacific. Leftovers are nice for such an occasion. Just heat them over the fire.

Hike Cable Bay Trail and Nanaimo River Park

Friday, October 6, 2017

We hiked two pretty trails, the Cable Bay Trail and Nanaimo River Park Trail. The highlight was seeing four River Otters in Cable Bay. Martha went down to the point to get a closer look, and they popped up right in front of her, trying to figure what she was all about. Two eagles were yelling, unable to catch a fish. Maybe they were yelling at the otters, which are very good at catching fish.

The Nanaimo River Park would be a great place to bike. The river looks like it would be fun to canoe or kayak. Back at camp, Martha fixed a great dinner of ratatouille, pork chops and mushrooms.

Vancouver to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

October 5, 2017

We have the hardest time getting on the same page when we travel and this day was no different. By the time we got in line for the ferry to Vancouver Island, Martha had a headache. The ferry is more like a ship than a ferry with great seating and views, food and shops. It was a perfect day to cross over beautiful waters to Vancouver Island. Blue skies, blue waters and blue mountains looming in the distance surrounded us. i couldn’t keep from walking from side to side to see one spectacular view to another. It was a great day for sailing, and sailboats seemed in a perfect environment.

Getting off at Nanaimo, we headed south to Living Forest Campground and RV Park. It is a big campground and full for the coming Thanksgiving weekend. We drove down to Bowen Park and walked the trail for a while. I was hoping to see salmon coming upstream, but there was very little water in the stream. It has been a dry season for Vancouver Island, like the rest of the northwest. Salmon, however, will wait for the rainy season to begin before heading upstream. As Dick Dudley said, you can set your calendar for October 13.

Then we went down to the boardwalk where people jogged, walked and played in the park. We talked to two photography enthusiasts who were taking a bear viewing trip up Campbell River tomorrow. Mmmm, would love to do that! Nanaimo has a beautiful harbor and harbor walk.

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Aquarium

October 4, 2017

Riding our bikes north along Capilano Road, we came to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where the Capilano River cuts through a gorge. Huge cliffs stand on the east side of the gorge. A cruise ship must have just come into Vancouver, as it was crowded with people speaking Japanese. I’m sure this swinging bridge will support all the people you could cram onto it, but it is also a long way to fall if something goes wrong. Of course there is always someone who wants to make it swing more. Others stop to take pictures of themselves or their families. Once on the other side there are wooden walkway trails and canopy walks. Except for the masses of humanity, it is all very pretty amongst beautiful, big trees. Back on the starting side, is a cliff walk that is cool. At least it doesn’t move. It’s $40 to get in, but they have done a fabulous job of building it, while minimizing the impact.

We rode back to camp, which was all downhill. I don’t know which is more frightening, the swinging bridge or biking in the city. After lunch, we took the more frightening route across Lion’s Gate Bridge. Traffic is always busy across the bridge that goes into Vancouver, but the bike/walk trail is protected by cables. The scary part comes when other bikers want to pass, and you have to move over toward the right where there is a slot big enough for your tire to go through. You wouldn’t go through, but it would cause a fall, which could knock the other rider into traffic. Thinking of all that makes it difficult to hold the bike steady while someone passes.

Vancouver Aquarium gets an A+. It is a great aquarium with the usual porpoises, sea lions and fish in tanks, but they do some cool things. They have a 4-D movie about the great sardine migration and all the animals who depend on them for food, complete with water splashing in your face and whooshing wind at your back. They also have lots of very cool jelly fish displays. There is a room where they have pictures of different places in British Columbia with a tank below showing what lives in the water. There was a good video on sustainable fisheries. I know wild-caught is the rage and probably better for you, but it is not sustainable. How there are enough fish to feed the masses of humanity, I just don’t know. Then there are all the other animals that need to eat.

Getting back on the bikes and riding through beautiful Stanley Park, we agreed we could have spent a month just exploring this great park. I am getting excited about leaving tomorrow for Vancouver Island.