Wednesday, September 17, 2014

vancouver island's west coast...

Who knew we had Hawaii-like beaches in British Columbia? We do!


We packed up the camper and took a wee trip across the island to the west coast before summer 2014 was over. 


Right after Labour Day weekend, we caught a ferry to Nanaimo.  Though it was a little cloudy and drizzly, the weatherman told us we were in for a perfect week of camping weather.  He was right!


We spent the first night at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park...a park which straddles the Little Qualicum River and lies on the southern shore of Cameron Lake.  Just a short hike from our campsite we viewed the falls...where the river plunges through a narrow gorge.  Beautiful...and worth the short detour from Parksville if you are ever in the area.
 
We so enjoy camping in September when others seem to think that camping season is over!  We shared a large provincial park with a few European tourists.


We walked along well-maintained trails through lush old-growth forests of Douglas fir and stunning, arbutus trees.  Arbutus trees are always a novelty to me...with their crooked and twisted trunks and peeling red bark.  Arbutus is the only native broadleaf evergreen tree in Canada....and grows only near the ocean.  Tall, rugged and unique...it is quite beautiful!


We left our campground in the morning...and carried on westward down Highway 4.  Our next stop was Cathedral Grove...a remnant of an ancient Douglas Fir forest.  Many trees that are over 800 years old...and one has a trunk that is 9 meters (about 30 feet) in circumference.  We explored the trails...breathed in the forest scent, observed moss hanging from every surface and gazed up the massive trunks. And took photos!



Near Port Alberni...we visited McLean Mill.  It is Canada's only commercial steam-operated sawmill, and has many of the original buildings erected by R.B. McLean when he started the sawmill in 1926.  It is a national historic site...a working mill  featuring logging demonstrations using the rebuilt equipment.  Interesting...logging being such a part of British Columbia's history. 



From there we carried on our way...up and down the narrow twisting road that is Highway 4...past scenic lakes and on to the open sea.
 
We arrived in Ucleluet towards evening...


...and were delighted with our campsite right on the water.
  

Ucluelet means 'safe harbour'...and is a town with 1,600 residents situated on the western edge of Barkley Sound.  They get a lot of rain...and little snow.  And they are rather isolated out there on the west coast...being 1 hour and 42 minutes down that winding road from the nearest town (Port Alberni).  But they like it like that!



 We were also delighted to have our friend Trish show up at our camper and welcome us to 'her town'. (For those who are trying to connect the dots...Trish was part of the MGCC blog in the early days...before she moved to Ucluelet.)  The following day...Trish returned to take us on a tour.  Who better to have as a tour guide than Trish...since she knows the ropes of Ucluelet inside and out!


She also knows all the residents...it seems!  This fisherman was just returning from his time out at sea...and more than happy to show us the catch of the day!  He told us the name of each and every fish in his cooler...but my memory is rather like a sieve.  I do know that the one with the 'big throat' is a Ling Cod.  Since everything in Ucluelet seems to revolve around fishing...it only made sense that we have fish for supper.  But where?


Our trusty tour guide took us to Jigger's Fish 'n Chips...a food truck in the middle of town with outdoor seating and excellent food.  They have a good reputation for a reason!  Then it was off to tour Trish's home...her 'shack by the sea' as she calls it.  Quite a lovely shack, I must say!  And before the sun dipped behind the horizon...she took us on a sunset tour.  From our prime location...we watched the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean right before us.  And to our left...the moon was riding high.  And on our right a jet streaked upward leaving a pink trail behind.  I have lovely memories of Ucluelet at sunset on a warm September day.

While in Ucluelet...we also hiked the Wild Pacific Trail through a section of mossy rainforest and down a scenic path to the Amphitrite Lighthouse.  Folks come here to watch the waves surging above the reef...but all was calm during our visit. During the annual gray whale migration, this is also the perfect spot from which to view the whales not far from shore...or to see the sea lions and seals playing in the surf.

Before we left town and carried on up the coast...we also met up with a cousin who is one of those 1600 residents of Ucluelet.  She has made this her home for decades and quite enjoys her life here on the western edge.  As adults, our meetings have been few and far between...so it was good to catch up and enjoy a delightful lunch on the deck of the Canadian Princess. Thanks, Lorane!


Our next stop was Long Beach...in Pacific Rim National Park. It is aptly named...and is a popular surfing location in British Columbia. 



We walked in the sand...watched others surf...and marveled that we have such a beach so close to home.


Just a little further up the road is Wickaninnish Resort...which we checked out while we there.  Maybe one day we will return to watch the storms...and visit The Pointe restaurant.


We stayed at Crystal Cove Beach Resort near Tofino...where the beaches continue...


...and the sun sets are spectacular! If you ever have a chance...visit Vancouver Island's secluded west coast.


It was the perfect little end-of-summer get-away...but now it is back to real life and corn harvest on the farm. 

Whew...this was a very long post!

Friday, August 29, 2014

august ~ one last glance

As July rolled into August we found ourselves at Halcyon...and stayed for a few days.
 

Halcyon is a hot springs resort on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake in the Kootenay country of B.C.

It features three mineral hot pools...and is a great place to relax and unwind in any season. 

If you are interested in seeing a little more of Halcyon Hot Springs...

We enjoyed beautiful weather throughout the month of August.  It was ideal for many things...



...including painting the house.  
It was ten years and time for a bit of sprucing up!
  
That cleaned things up quite nicely...though the flies returned to leave their mark again before the paint was even dry!

August is also fall fair time over here...
and we had good reason to visit the fair this year.  
Both Ryder and Emme had 4-H calves so we went to cheer them on....



...as did cousin Ranen.

It was their first year and they did great!


Now that brings back memories of my time in the Chilliwack 4H Holstein Club...
many eons ago.

In other news on the farm...


...we have barn owl babies in the hayloft of the old barn again this year.

Our veterinarian is very involved in the preservation of raptors and barn owls...
and placed a box high up in the rafters of the barn many years ago.
Over the years...
it has served as an owl nursery on many occasions.
When he checked the box last week...
he found three baby owls (about 9 weeks old)...
and arranged to come back in the afternoon to band them.
Well that called for a party of sorts in the hayloft.

 

My dad arrived on the farm just as the owl banding was about to happen...
so he got in on the fun as well.


We all did...
four generations of the farm family and a few extras!
 


They took their turns holding the owls.
Most special!


The three baby owls all returned to their nest with a new 'bracelet'...
which will identify the bird if it should be captured or recovered down the road.

Dr. Clegg has been working to protect the endangered barn owls in our area for over a decade. 
The Fraser Valley is home to an estimated 250 to 1,000 adult barn owls...
which represents most of  Canada's population.
We feel honoured to have them call our farm home.

Also this month...



...we celebrated the birthday of our firstborn son.
I'm sure you could never guess his age!

Then there was a 90th birthday celebration...
a night at the horse races...
a few games of tennis...
walks on the river and around the lagoon...
many meals on the patio...

 
(photo by Kathy)
...and special times spent with friends.

The days are getting shorter...
and the nights are cooler.



As I walked down a nearby hill the other day...
I noticed the leaves are already turning colour.

August.
The 8th month of the year.
It was a good one.

Happy Labour Day!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

halcyon hot springs



Halcyon...a retreat in the mountains of British Columbia.

Let me take you there today.
My month-end post will be far too long if I include our visit to this jewel of the Kootenays.


The name itself means 'calm and serene'.
And it was!


We took a little detour on our way home from the prairies in order to spend some time there.

Situated on Upper Arrow Lake near Nakusp...
the views are fabulous all around.

Getting there required a short ferry ride.


And being a long weekend...
that meant waiting around at the ferry terminal awhile.

But that's OK when you have your 'home on wheels' with you.
We had an early lunch while we waited...


...enjoyed the scenery



...and watched the ferry coming and going.



We checked in...
found our spot in the RV park...


...and checked out the pools.

There are three mineral hot pools overlooking the lake...


...the perfect spot from which to watch the sun set.


We hiked through fields of wild flowers...



...and walked along pristine shorelines.


Though we brought our camper...
 there are many cottages or chalets available for guests.


We checked them out.
Nice!
The resort is open year round.


I'm thinking it would be nice to sit in the hot pools while the snow is falling!



The chaise lounges would not be of much use in the winter...
and the many baskets of flowers would be missing...
but I am sure it would have a beauty all its own!



Our time there ended far too soon (my book was not finished yet)...
and we bade farewell to Halcyon Hot Springs.



We boarded the Columbia (no wait this time)...


...and were soon on our way back across the lake and homeward bound.


Did I mention that the ferry ride was free?
It is part of the highway system of British Columbia.
A lovely part!

If you've never been...
go for it.

You won't be sorry!
 

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