Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Canada’ category

The Royal British Columbia Museum

 

October 18, 2017

On a very rainy day in Victoria, we went to the Royal British Columbia Museum. It was a bit difficult to find parking since the truck wouldn’t fit in the parking garage, but we found something a few blocks away. We checked our rain gear and started on the first floor, which is all about people of British Columbia and their varied backgrounds, pictures and stories. There is a great display of the wildlife of BC, so real you think you are there. You can walk through the HMS Discovery, Captain James Cook’s ship, as it landed in a First Nation town to replace a mast. Then you can walk through a recreated town of the 1800’s.

I was particularly interested in the Natural History section that gave great descriptions and displays of how previous climate changes affected animal, plant and human life. There were excellent displays of today’s climate change with our warming planet. Some areas will turn into deserts as fires and heat destroy trees and plants. Different insects and animals will move into these areas that formerly wouldn’t survive the cold. There was a display of how the Mastodon had tusks and teeth perfectly suited for digging through snow and eating moss and lichens. As the climates warmed, they couldn’t adapt to other foods. Rising waters will also affect our landscapes, and warming waters will affect fish populations.

For me, the First Nations section was the best. Great displays showed how they made fish traps, carved bones for tools, cut stone for arrow points, wove goat wool for clothing, made clothes and rugs from skins, made canoes and much more. The totem pole display was awe-inspiring. Martha kept coming back to get me to come along. This is the best I have ever seen. I think it is a shared endeavor with the First Nations.

We had a bit of lunch in their little restaurant, then went into the iMax theater for a 4-D movie of Henry Bates’ research in the Amazon for 11 years in the 1850’s. The screen is four stories high, and you feel yourself looking up into trees and down to the forest floor. It is so life-like, and the photography is incredible and so is the true story. The acting is superb. How could a young man and his friend, Alfred Russel Wallace go to the Amazon in the 1850’s, tramping through such a dangerous forest looking for bugs? If the other three movies are nearly this good, I’d like to see them all.

The Royal BC Museum is a wonderful museum. I hope I get to return.

Butchart Gardens

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We moved into Victoria to Fort Victoria RV Park. It rained all morning, but by the time we got there, it had stopped. The sky cleared, and it was a beautiful day. The forecast is for rain for the next week, so we hustled out to Butchart Gardens. It is unbelievable what Robert and Jennie Butchart did with their property.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butchart_Gardens :

“Robert Pim Butchart (1856–1943) began manufacturing Portland cement in 1888 near his birthplace of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Jennie Butchart (1866–1950) came to the west coast of Canada because of rich limestone deposits necessary for cement production.

In 1904, they established their home near his quarry on Tod Inlet at the base of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. [2]

In 1907, 65-year-old garden designer Isaburo Kishida of Yokohama came to Victoria, at the request of his son, to build a tea garden for Esquimalt Gorge Park. This garden was wildly popular and a place to be seen. Several prominent citizens, Jennie Butchart among them, commissioned Japanese gardens from Kishida for their estates. He returned to Japan in 1912.

In 1909, when the limestone quarry was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. They named their home “Benvenuto” (“welcome” in Italian), and began to receive visitors to their gardens. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they replaced their kitchen vegetable garden with a large rose garden to the design of Butler Sturtevant of Seattle. Samuel Maclure, who was consultant to the Butchart Gardens, reflected the aesthetic of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross (1918–1997) on his 21st birthday. Ross was involved in the operation and promotion of the gardens until his death 58 years later.

In 1953, miles of underground wiring was laid to provide night illumination, to mark the 50th anniversary of The Gardens. In 1964, the ever-changing Ross Fountain was installed in the lower reservoir to celebrate the 60th anniversary. In 1994, the Canadian Heraldic Authority granted a coat of arms to the Butchart Gardens. In 2004, two 30-foot (9.1 m) totem poles were installed to mark the 100th anniversary, and The Gardens were designated as a national historic site.

Ownership of The Gardens remains within the Butchart family; the owner and managing director since 2001 is the Butcharts’ great-granddaughter Robin-Lee Clarke.[3]

In 1982 the Butchart Gardens was used as the inspiration for the gardens at the Canadian pavilion opened at Epcot Centre in Orlando Florida.

In December, 2009 the Children’s Pavilion and the Rose Carousel were opened. The menagerie includes thirty animals ranging from bears, to horses, to ostriches, to zebras and mirrors the world from which The Gardens draws its visitors. The designs were hand picked by the owner, in consultation with an artist from North Carolina. The carvings were done by some of the few remaining carvers of carousel art. Each animal is carved from basswood and took many months to complete. There are also two chariots able to accommodate disabled persons.”

On the way back, we drove into Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. It’s not well-marked and a bit hard to find. We parked and were reading the map as a young man walking hand-in-hand with his three-year-old daughter came up asking if we need help. He lives just around the corner and likes to come to hike in the park. He said there are so many places to hike around the area, you could never do it all. Some are difficult, but the views at the end are often spectacular. He had some suggestions to try, but with all the rain coming, I don’t know what we might do. As we parted he said, “Enjoy this beautiful day before the next four months of rain”. His little girl sneezed. In her little raincoat, holding an apple she had taken one bit of, the little girl and her nice father strolled off to the trail head.

We stopped off at Six Mile Pub for a beer. It is the oldest pub on the island, and in old Tudor form. It is what a pub should be. A fire burning inside. Lots of people of all sorts spread about. The bartender was very patient explaining all the beers on tap, and the menu looked excellent. We settled on an appetizer of vegetarian samosa with curry paste and pear chutney. Sitting with her back to the fire, Martha was quite content.

Bike The Galloping Goose Trail

Monday, October 16, 2017

We hiked from the campground to the Galloping Goose Trail, a rails-to-trails that runs from Victoria to Leechtown, just north of Sooke. This is 55 km, but they are building an ENN Trail in Victoria that will connect. Seeing how pretty it was, we walked back to camp and brought the bikes back up. We rode 12 miles up to Sooke and back. It goes along Lake Matheson and Roche Cove and into Sooke. It was all through a beautiful rain forest where moss grows a foot thick on trees, and ferns grow out of rocks. There were trestles across streams and great views of the lake, cove and the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Some beautiful houses sat on rocky outcrops with great views. We might have gone further, but with a prediction of rain and gathering clouds, we turned back. It didn’t seem as far going back, and it was all flat. This is a gorgeous trail with benches in scenic locations, kilometer markers and maps along the way.

We went back into Sooke to the grocery store, then Martha wanted to stop and get some beer at a liquor store. I couldn’t believe all the craft beers. How could you ever choose? It’s like buying wine now. She bought one big craft beer, Dark Lager by Tofino Brewing Company and a six pack of something else. The Dark Lager was excellent. We cooked a nice dinner of rainbow trout, rice, a nice Italian bread and leftover ratatouille.

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Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and Port Renfrew

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Martha said I got to choose what we do today. I wanted to go back to Port Renfrew where we saw people lined up on a bridge over the Gordon River. There was nowhere to park the trailer, so we couldn’t stop, but I knew there was a big salmon run. It’s only 41 miles. I knew it was a long, curvy, bouncy trip with the trailer, but thought it would be faster with just the truck. I was wrong. It’s an hour and a half trip if you don’t stop. The Road to Hana in Hawaii has nothing on this winding road, but it’s worth it.

We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park and walked down. there is a beautiful picnic area, a playground and benches along to edge of the beach. It’s a round rock beach where the waves roll the rocks back and forth, a very cool sound.

Driving on, we came to a very cool spot, Jordan River, where surfers and paddle boarders worked some small waves. A fire kept onlookers warm, but it was a nice day by now. A coffee shop sits on the other side of the road, and a small campground sits right next to the water.

We stopped at China Beach, where the Juan de Fuca Trail begins. It goes for 47km along the coast next to Juan de Fuca Straight. We hiked it for two hours to Mystic Beach and back. Of course nothing can go in a straight line on this rugged, beautiful coast, and neither does the trail. It winds up and down hills in this section, and you have to be vigilantly watching roots that go everywhere. Martha slipped on one and took a fall. It could have been nasty, but she was OK. It was Sunday and there were a lot of people on the trail, and everyone had at least one dog. One young lady was running the trail with her music plugged into her ears. I don’t know how you would run this trail! It’s cool though. You can camp along the trail or on one of the beaches.

We thought about hiking another section, but decided against it. It was a beautiful, warm day when we arrived at the Gordon River Bridge, but chilly winds blew off the ocean and up the river. This is the look of British Columbia I love. A big river surrounded by mountains thickly covered in pine trees. It still appears wild and free. There was only one fisherman on the bridge. We gazed into the water and saw four, big salmon moving upriver. It certainly wasn’t a big salmon run like there must have been on our trip down. Maybe the tide has to be right. Another fisherman worked form a kayak in the middle of the river, while a couple sat under an umbrella, soaking up the sun.

We drove into town, now hungry for lunch. Two places were closed for the season, but we stopped at The Renfrew Pub, not knowing what to expect. Motorcycles, trucks and sports cars were parked in the lot. It has to be a great trip for motorcycles. It was busy with people out for a Sunday spin on a pretty day, maybe the last for the next spell. I ordered a salmon burger and fries, and Martha had seafood chowder and fish tacos. It was all very good with good service. We walked out back of the pub and down the dock. Martha posed next to a beautiful Indian Motorcycle. There were the cutest tiny cottages right on the dock with great views and gas fires to keep you warm. I asked Martha if she wanted to stay the night, but she declined. Looking into the water, there were thousands of small fish, sardines I suspect. On the other side, we saw two large crabs. It looks like a healthy, beautiful environment.

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Just north of Port Renfrew is the end of Juan de Fuca Trail at Botanical Beach. We walked down to the beautiful, rocky beach at low tide where a small forest grows on a rock. Then we got back on the road for the long drive back. Well, it’s not a long drive, but it takes a long time.

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.