Thursday, September 17, 2020

Islands of BC ~ Hornby and Vancouver Island

What could be a better 'close to home' end-of-summer getaway
than a visit to a few of B.C.'s beautiful islands?
 

The sun was shining when we set sail...

...and with many passengers staying in their vehicles, we had the top deck almost to ourselves. 

It felt rather like we were on a cruise ship!

Three ferries and several islands later...
we arrived on Hornby Island.


It was our first visit...
but we had heard many stories from others who go often.


It seems most visitors book a cabin...
but we brought the RV and booked a site next to Tribune Bay Provincial Park.


The location was perfect...
and our bikes took us anywhere we wanted to explore on the island.

Tribune Bay beach on Hornby is known as Canada's 'little Hawaii'...
with its white sand and warm salt water bay.


Helliwell Provincial Park was a great place to go for a walk...
a 5 km loop took us through old growth forests and along the bluffs
 
 
...with a view of Vancouver Island, Denman Island, Georgia Straight and the Coastal Mountains.


Along the trail we happened upon a totem pole erected by the Comox First Nation a few years ago.
 
Helliwell Park was once a farm...
and was donated to the people of our province by John Helliwell.
We say thank-you! 

Just before we left for Hornby Island...
my dad asked us to see what we could learn about his old friend Keith who once ran a lodge on Hornby Island, and who he had not heard from in years.
Why had we never heard of this friend and hunting partner before?
We thought maybe dad was making up new stories in his old age.


We found the lodge which Keith had operated for 28 years..
before it was sold to the provincial government for a park in 1979.
It is now part of the outdoor education program at Tribune Bay.
We also learned that his friend spent the next three decades training and racing horses on Hornby Island...before his passing in 2010.
I called dad and shared our findings with him...
and he shared stories from his hunting trip in 1949. 
There was always another story!

 
 
We packed a lot into our four days on the island.
We lunched on the patio at the Seabreeze Lodge,
had fish 'n chips at Ford's Cove Marina
and had ice-cream cones at the Co-op store.
As we were told we should! 
Good recommendations all around. 

If we go again...
we will know that it is hard to conduct business from Hornby with no wifi and spotty cell service.
We may also think twice about taking our RV to the far reaches of the campsite...
which felt rather like squeezing an elephant through a rabbit hole.
We will also know that generators are not allowed...
and that e-bikes are hard to charge without power.
And we know that the slide-out will not retract if the the motorhome engine is running.
 Oh yes...and we will not store a watermelon safely above the dinette table. 
 
  
We spent our final evening at Whaling Station Bay Beach.
 

...and just like that, the sun set our our Hornby Island vacation.

It was memorable adventure!

Once we left Hornby Island behind...
we parked for next to the Nanaimo River on Vancouver Island for one night.

 

It was such a quiet, peaceful place.
 
'He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.' 
 
We had plans to cycle the Cowichan Trail the following day...
but that day never went as planned.
 
Early the next morning I received news that my sister had passed away.
 
If life was 'normal' we would have gone to be with family. 
But nothing is normal this year!
 
I spent a good part of the day on the phone...
with family.

We decided to do one short section of the trail that took us from Shawnigan Lake park to the Kinsol trestle.

This restored historic train trestle is one of the tallest timber rail structures of its kind in the world.

 It was built by local farmers and loggers and completed in 1920. 

It has been part of the Cowichan Valley trail system since it re-opened in 2012.

From the Cowichan area we travelled south to a lovely RV resort right on the ocean near Metchosin.

From our campsite we had easy access to the Galloping Goose trail
...a 55 kilometer rail trail between Victoria and Sooke.
 
One day we cycled the trail to Sooke...
past Matheson Lake and Roche Cove...
side by side along a forest trail. 

 

In Sooke we enjoyed a lunch of shared appies on the patio of a bistro. 


The following day...we cycled the other end of the trail...from Sooke to the Victoria harbour.


 We ate our picnic lunch in the shadow of Hatley Castle...


 ...and then toured the gardens. 

Hatley Park is a national historic site and so worth a visit!

As we neared the city of Victoria, the bike trail became more urban and busy.

We found a park bench on the inner harbour.

Much of what happened that day is a bit of a blur...
since I was on the phone making arrangements for my dad who was ill back home and needing to be hospitalized. 

We cycled back to our spot on the beach...


...where our kite-flying neighbours were from our hometown.

This was the scene right near our campsite...
such a peaceful one!

We had reservations for the homeward bound ferry the following afternoon... 

 ...and an invitation to join friends for lunch at their home in Victoria en route.

How lovely to have lunch on Honora's back patio
...surrounded by beautiful gardens.
It was just what I needed.

Is that not a fun backyard...with the cutest garden shed?

We arrived at the ferry terminal plenty early and were lucky to find a spot on an earlier ferry.

 
I won't be getting on a cruise ship anytime soon...
but I highly recommend a little jaunt on BC Ferries to some of our beautiful islands.
 
I'm thinking we may just sail across to the island again sometime...
when things aren't quite as stressful on the home front!

The ferry docked in Tsawwassen and we drove straight to the hospital where I had been cleared to see dad.

And so ended our most memorable RV trip to the islands...
which has taken me awhile to journal!
 
Until next time...

 


 


Thursday, September 3, 2020

August ~ memories and moments


August came and went...
the good and the hard.
 
And now it is looking and feeling more like fall every day. 


On the last day of the month we cycled on a trail covered in leaves.  

 
We did a lot of cycling in August...
both near home and on dyke trails a little further away.
 
 
We have missed the usual outdoor concerts and events of summer this year...
so being part of a small safe-distance concert/picnic a few weeks ago was a real treat.

It almost felt like ‘the good ole days’.


 My dad had his ups and downs this past month...
and that is all the more difficult when we could not go see him. 
 
I have been taking him to his essential medical appointments and he had three of those in August.

His last phone appointment with his family doctor took place in our back patio and included coffee and cinnamon buns. :)

I'm a little late in posting this and will add that he started September with an ambulance ride to the hospital.
 
He is wondering whether he can make it to his 98th birthday two weeks away. 
 
 
We have been meeting with our care group for Sunday morning church all summer.
 
We watch the online service together on a patio.
 
It may not be church as we are accustomed to...
but it is good fellowship.
 
And sometimes we take out our ‘Sunday-go-to-meeting’ car. 
 

We had a family birthday celebration / pool party. 
 
When the birthday boy does not like cake...
you have a watermelon cake.


 And Rollkuchen, of course!


 
Our corn fields are looking much different than they did one month ago.
Harvest is just around the corner. 
 
 
 After a hot dry spell...
the corn fields needed the heavy rain that arrived a week ago. 
 

We ended the month on a little camping trip to Hornby Island and Vancouver Island.
I’ll add our vacation photos sometime soon.

Let me just end this post by sharing the one event that overshadowed everything else.
 
 
On Sunday, August 30th my sister Bev of McAllen, Texas passed away after a valiant battle with brain cancer.
 
In the end, it was Covid 19 that took her life. 
 
We were not able to be with her when she needed us most, 
and she spent her final days here on earth  all alone.
 
 
I treasure my visit with her in February...
before travel restrictions came into effect. 
 
Bev is now free of suffering and pain...
and I know that our ‘good-bye was not forever’.
 
Until we meet again!
 

What day that will be!
 
 
 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

July ~ Good Old Summertime

Let me start with an iconic 'summer on the farm' pic...
the view from my front porch last week as the neighbours baled hay on the hottest day in July.


We never strayed too far from home most of the month...


but discovered a lot of beauty of beauty nearby.


This 'field of dreams' called for a quick photo stop while riding bike the other day.

There were many bike rides this month...
an easy way to get out and stay a safe distance from everyone else.


One sees so much more on a bike than in a car.


Things like a lovely garden on the roof of the barn.


Or a symphony of flowers on top of a piano.


The mighty Fraser River usually peaks in early June...
but 2020 is not a usual year in any sense!

The river peaked and flooded three times this year.


We cycled the dykes next to the river...


...and saw corn fields under water.


Even our corn fields which are far from the river...
were not off to a good start this year.
It seemed the rain just kept coming...
and the fields were mud.
It was a bit of a stretch to say the corn was 'knee high by the first of July'.

The grands were waiting for the corn to be tall enough to play hide-and-go-seek in.


We celebrated three birthdays here early in July...
and I guess they decided that if they got down on their hands and knees
they could hide in the corn field.

Maggie's cast would never be white again!


Sweet Lucy turned nine this month.

They posed with the Covid Smart sign...
but in reality it's hard to keep Lucy and Maggie apart.
Sisters and best of friends.


Between showers...


...the grass came off the fields once again.


Breakfast is always on the patio...if it's not raining.

Spending time with friends is pretty special these days...
after months of 'isolation'.


We have enjoyed cycling with friends...


...and watching our on-line church service with our care group on the back patio.


What a treat to have an outdoor brunch with  friends last week...
a group of us that had not been together since Christmas.

I am thankful that it is summer...
and that we can meet up safely outdoors in small groups.


What is an orange float...they wondered. 
I told them to come in once they were good and hot...
and I’d make them each an orange float.
That is my favorite summertime ‘blast from the past’ treat.


Last month dad was hospitalized and not doing so well. 
This month he felt up to going out for some fresh air on his scooter.


Let me leave you with one photo taken at Whistler,
where we ended the month.


We celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary on the last day of July...
with a little hiking n the mountaintops.

I am documenting our time in Whistler in a separate blog post (scroll down or click on the link).

And that is just a little glimpse into life here this past month.
Hope you are all enjoying the summer!