Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Victoria to Comox to Qualicum Beach B.C.

It was a journey of several hours to drive from Victoria B.C. up to Comox to visit fellow blogger, Tammy ( and see the place where my dad spent the last months of WWII playing semi-pro baseball.

The journey was made longer by my stops at various lookout points along the way. Like Tammy said, you can't NOT stop at these very scenic spots can you? Below is Mt. Malahat - how beautiful is that!?!

 Below are some random photos of other spots along the way where I pulled over to take a photo or three :) Several times I couldn't stop quickly enough so I would drive to the next turn around spot and go back. I am a dedicated photographer!

Finally I arrived in Comox. Not really knowing my way around I contacted Tammy who led me to a place I could park my car. She took me down to the beach where she hangs out frequently with her dog, Buddy. I drank in the views, seeing them from my dad's memories of his time in Comox.

As you can see the tide was out.

My dad mentioned Goose Spit many times in his memoirs.

Here's a selfie of Tammy and I - I'm glad she is including more personal photos on her blog now so I can share this one with you :)

I love these next photos - the lone kayaker on the calm water, mountains in the distance. Quintessential B.C.

It was a special time - I love meeting my fellow bloggers in person. You get a certain feeling about a person by the way they write and the things they write about and Tammy and I have bonded over a common interest in thrifting and travelling:) And yes, she is just as lovely in person as she is on her blog!

 And standing on the shore connected me to a time in my dad's past long before I was born. Good thing he made it safely back to Canada near the end of the war or I wouldn't be here now writing this!

Here's a little of what my dad had to say about Comox:
"In 1944 I was stationed in barracks on a piece of land called "The Spit" at Comox on Vancouver Island, B.C. Fishing for salmon was great there. I myself never fished; I ended up on the business end of a pair of oars in the Captain's dinghy while someone else sat in the stern and trawled, using filleted herring as bait which acted as a shiny spinner. Some Fridays we were able to supply the noon meal with freshly caught salmon. We didn't have meat (on Fridays) because of the R.C.'s. (Roman Catholics)
In order to catch herring for bait we used an old Indian custom. We acquired a thin piece of wood, similar to house trim about 6' long. At one end we pounded in about 18 inches of finishing nails about an inch apart. The heads were snipped off the nails and it looked like a long comb. When we saw the seagulls diving for fish near the jetty we rushed down with our long comb, and when a school of herring swam past we just poled them up onto the jetty. What we didn't require we threw back in. The natives had a rule: if the gulls are in, the herring are in, and if the herring are in, the salmon are, and away we went fishing.

A few miles west of Comox was the small town of Courtenay, and I have stood amazed on the bridge over the river in spawning season and watched the salmon. Bank to bank salmon--it didn't seem possible. 

I was on the navy softball and hardball teams and we played as many as six games a week. For a diversion when we had liberty on weekends a bunch of us sailors would go into Courtenay for a show, beer, or dancing at the Sons of Freedom Hall. One man went in advance if possible and booked room 14 at the Riverside Hotel. There was a good reason for getting room 14. It had a low window which faced on an alley, and late Saturday night and early Sunday morning after a long night on the town, many sailors retreated through the window to sleep wherever space was available, piled like cordwood, as many as twelve in a room for two. 

In the morning when we had to sign out of room 14 it would have made some sense if a few had again retreated out the window, but oh no! Everyone had to file out past the desk clerk whose head moved back and forth like someone watching a tennis match. The management of the Riverside remained nice to us however, and in due time we quit taking advantage of their good nature--that was enough of a good thing.

L.S. (Leading Seaman) Doug Harrison

Next up - Qualicum Beach and Spiritual Spheres:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Last Day in Victoria B.C.

My last day and night in Victoria was also my birthday! I celebrated my 61st birthday and Canada's 150th anniversary by using my free pass (generously given to any Canadian who applied) to visit a couple of national historic sites. Here I am trying my best to take a selfie with the sign for Canada's 150th in the background. My arms aren't nearly long enough!

I was visiting Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse - both national historic sites. Instead of going into great detail about Canada's first west coast fort I will razzle dazzle you with gratuitous mountain and water views from various locations within the park.  Perhaps I'll throw in a photo of a bird or two :)
Most of the time the mountains were shrouded in mist and clouds so I was happy to finally get a relatively clear photo!
People taking advantage of low tide to walk their dogs and no doubt do a bit of beach combing.

Away off in the distance is the lighthouse. Oh, and there's a bird flying through the shot!
One of the many things I loved about the island was the pairs of red adirondack chairs so people could relax while drinking in the view. I sat in at least three sets of these chairs, 2 on this site and 1 in Ucluelet.

I took advantage of the hiking trails within the park and they were lovely though definitely not challenging.

This location is home to the gorgeously twisted Garry oak trees, the only truly indigenous oak tree on the west coast and which thrives in the rainforest eco system. The Garry oaks also have their own eco system which was shown in a large garden full of wild flowers developed for educational purposes. I walked through these gardens and the aromas were almost overwhelming! In a good way!

I walked and I walked and reached the very picturesque Fisgard Lighthouse, now a museum.

A heron enjoying her lunch.

In the huge rock formations beside the lighthouse I spied a couple of red chairs so clambered over the rocks til I reached them - it seemed like the perfect spot for a snack:)

The view wasn't half bad either!

This cute lil fella sang his little heart out:) - a song sparrow?

 From here I made my way to the campus of Royal Roads University where my friend, Troy, now works. They are renowned for their amazing gardens, peacocks and a castle!

Here's Hately Castle - once upon a time a residence of James Dunsmuir (and family) who was a wealthy mine owner and eventually Lieutenant-Governor of Canada.

Wisteria growing madly in the Italian gardens.

One of the many water features in the extensive Japanese gardens.

After Troy and I met up we headed to downtown Victoria as she hadn't really had time to explore yet. We checked out the parliament buildings and the Empress Hotel seeing some unique sculptural pieces while wandering around. An orca mom and baby...

Ummmm....a green shoe...

And my favourite spot - Fisherman's Wharf! It's a working wharf for fishing boats but also a very colourful place to live year round in one of 33 "floating houses", some of which are businesses and restaurants. I had seared tuna for the first time and a couple glasses of chardonnay - yes, the area next to the restaurant was licensed!

The sun setting between 2 floathouses...

seems like I'm spelling it wrong :)

The float houses really captured my interest and if I can quickly come up with around a million$$ there's one for sale!

Yuck yuck!
I miss you my dear!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Whadda Week

I'm kind of glad this week is over.  I've debated writing about my little hike in Kilally Meadows earlier this week as my older sister reads my blog and she'll be telling me not to hike there any more or at least stay on the main paths!

I followed my usual route, parts of which are on secondary trails, because I love to explore and this particular section is a spot where goldfinches hang out. As I moved along the very overgrown paths I whacked at the bushes with my big walking stick. I do this because of spider webs that hang from one side of the path to the other - I hate getting them in my face and hair so it's become a habit to move my stick up and down to clear the path. As I got near the end of this path to where there is a little clearing I saw a man with his pants around his ankles sitting on a log or low-lying branch. Caught by surprise (to say the least) I heard my mother's words come out of my mouth as I said "goodness" in a withering voice and moved quickly on.

Now...I'm about 95% sure he was taking a "bathroom break" but I think if that were me I'd say something like "oops, sorry" or "caught short, pardon me" but he was silent. I quickened my pace and moved on. I moved across an open field looking back from time to time but I never saw him again. I'm sure he went in the opposite direction, hopefully mortified!

Then I caught sight of this beauty! It was a lovely few moments as we watched each other.  Until I realized something was biting my legs - I looked down and found about 10,000 mosquitoes sucking my very delicious blood. As I've mentioned before I am a "bug buffet"! I stood still long enough to get 3 photos then slapped myself silly watching the doe run off into the trees. Needless to say I've had a tough week recovering from all of those itchy bites. I try not to scratch at all as they seem to disappear more quickly that way. Anyhoo, I have survived and healed.

Once piece of good news - my daughter finally brought a pickup truck today from work to get her Jeep's hard top which has been sitting on my patio for weeks! Now it's going to sit on her boyfriend's parents' patio! (I'm told their yard is much bigger than mine - I'll take their word for it!) I'm so glad to have that monstrosity gone! So now I have to try and grow more grass in that area- I have successfully grown grass between the flagstones but now have a large area of just dirt.  (Now seeded) I have more room for my patio furniture and plants - but everything needs to dry out as we've had a TON of rain the past few days.

This was the sky on Thursday when I was playing slo-pitch. Shortly after I took this photo thunder started to rumble so the game was called. It rained the rest of Thursday and all day Friday. Today it's sunny and I look forward to everything drying out and having a nice bike ride.

Have a great weekend everyone. Any special plans?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mystic Beach - The Juan de Fuca Trail

I had a great time hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail - well, a little piece of it anyways...I walked to China Beach and back; then did a 2km section to Mystic Beach and then back again, parking my car in between the two. 

Yes, I know I was breaking the #1 cardinal rule of hiking, (don't hike alone), but I was seldom alone. As I hiked towards Mystic Beach I passed a mom hiking with her 3 year old boy! I told the kid he was making me look bad! 

 This part of the trail was considered "medium difficulty" with further sections considered "very difficult. I saw a group who were leaving to do the whole 47km over a couple of days - I doubt I'll ever do the whole length. First of all you have to apply for permission and secondly you need to hike in a group. Only a certain number of hikers are allowed at any one time and it fills up early in the year.

I found it challenging enough - I lost the path many times and did some "bushwhacking" - whenever I spotted a bit of boardwalk I knew I was on the right path.  With so many tree roots it was often hard (impossible) to detect where the path was. A lot of the boardwalks were under water and under mud and I'd have to detour around to keep from getting bogged down in the mud. The whole time I could hear water trickling under foot.

 A perfect environment for ferns! There's a path there somewhere!

 Photo below: now I know why my nose is always burnt!  Note to self: need bigger hat!

At one point I had to cross a suspension bridge over Pete Wolfe Creek - my least favourite type of bridge!

Wibble wobble wibble wobble...

Made it!

 Various sections of boardwalks and bridges were in need of some repair. I almost took a tumble where this section turned to the bridge - a few boards had rotted through.

 And then there were the stairs! Going down! ...and down...and down...

Bit of caution tape to warn of crumbling wooden slats... voila! Mystic Beach! There's the group of serious hikers lounging about :0

 It was a beautiful beach with a few grotto like areas that did make it seem the depth in this photo...

There's one little waterfall... favourite waves crashing photo...

...lovely big rocks in the water...

I didn't stay in this spot too long - the tide was coming in and I'm always afraid of getting caught!

 Another waterfall...

 ...a sweet little grotto...

...and another...Mystic Beach has earned it's name...


Ummm - time for those folks to move away from the incoming tide - there's a rope hanging from somewhere which I'm sure gets put to good use once the water is higher...

...what a magical place!

 Time for me to head back UP.

Hiking back didn't seem to take as long.

Here's the monster that I made :) Go check it out!