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...




  1. Oh, Judy!!! SO much in this post.....first of all I am so sorry to hera about your sister's passing but I can praise God along with you that she is in heaven now. I know you have been sad that you could not be with her more than you have due to Covid.

    Your every photo is sicu eye candy!I love how y'all do such great adventures!

    Finally, I am so happy to see you with Honora! She hosted us two years ago when we were on our Alaskan cruise. A visit I treasure in my memory. Love you both - two such gracious ladies!

    Prayers for you and your family. I have not lost a sibling and I hope in my heart that they lose me before I lose one of them....

  2. Beautiful, restful, peaceful and part of God's plan for you with a watermelon tossed in...there's always that. 😏 I am sorry for your losses in such a short amount of time,Judy. I thought it misery when losses were separated by six weeks...days is a real test of faith. I know the anchor holds. It was wonderful that you were able to share with your dad about his friend. Things like that tell more of the goodness of God. He cares about everything that we care about.

  3. Beautiful views of this part of the world. Hornby is an interesting place, with interesting people. We went there quite a few years ago. Bikes would be a good idea. The watermelon incident sounds "messy". Your losses following upon one another in such short order must be so hard. May God's loving arms hold you in comfort.

  4. Loved that story that your dear dad uncovered for you. What a treasure of stories his life held. You saw so many beautiful things and always tucking away things learned. Smiling about that watermelon. Continued prayers for comfort and joy in the midst of your sorrow.

  5. Life can be bittersweet, can't it? Being in such beautiful locations, while navigating loss and real life worries. Definitely bittersweet. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful part of the world with us. The trestle bridge was amazing.

  6. What a wonderful get away you and Elmer Had! Staying close to home but enjoying a beautiful island and visiting a good friend at the end. I'm sorry your received the sad news about your sister passing away during your trip, but I think she'd have wanted you to be somewhere peaceful in nature when you heard the news and she'd have wanted you to continue to be happy. Your dear father gifted you with one of his last stories, which is another memory to treasure. The photo of the sunset over the lake is gorgeous and should be framed. I also loved seeing you with Honora. Stay healthy and enjoy autumn!

  7. These islands and beatiful places will always hold memories of what was really happening in your family. Like someone said, bitterseet. I had to smile at the things you will know about next time you pack up. And I hope there is a better next time.

  8. Oh Judy - what a trip you had! Filled to the brim with emotion and peaceful moments. I was so sorry to hear of your losses ... such a time it is that you can't even be together to grieve. Amazing that you were able to check out your dad's memories right before he was hospitalized. It was meant to be. It was wonderful to see you with Honora who also lost her mum just recently! You will not soon forget what 2020 continues to bring. May October bring peace and still waters ... Hugs.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson