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British Columbia Burns Lake Canadian Animals Exploring Canada Skiing Smithers Travel Wheelchair Accessible

Scenic Smithers and Nechako Lakes District! Travel Northern B.C.

Northern British Columbia is larger than California and extends from Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert on the west coast east along highway16 through Stunning Smithers and Nechako Lakes District to Prince George. Northern B.C. area continues north defined by the B.C./Alberta provincial border extending up to the Yukon/Alaska border!

The dark green is massive Northern British Columbia, Canada

It truly is a massive area to explore. This blog post will focus on the towns of Smithers, east along highway 16 to Burns Lake in Nechako Lakes District, and ending in the city of Prince George.

This blog post will start at Smithers and end at Prince George, B.C.

Smithers is a cozy community which has maintained a steady population of around 5,500 people over the past decade. The town is located about one-half way between Prince Rupert and Prince George on Highway 16. The total estimated distance driving from Prince Rupert straight through to Prince George is about 8 hours (719 km) providing there are no stops for road work, moose, snow plow clearing, etc.

Smithers embraces parallels to the Swiss Alps from its much photographed Alphorn (also known as alpenhorn or alpine horn) to its Hudson Bay Mountain peak.

Smithers Alphorn in August and in March

The community prides itself on its “world class skiing and fishing” (particularly steelhead). We stayed at Smithers twice during the past few years. Once during March (before covid) and again in August 2021.

This video depicts our March 2019 (Spring skiing and Moose encountering) experience in Little Switzerland Smithers before Covid.

Stunning Smithers, skiing Hudson Bay Mountain, and “Oh! Hello?”

Despite its tiny population, Smithers has produced multiple NHL (National Hockey League) ice hockey players including: Joe and Jimmy Watson, Ron and Rob Flockhart, Alan Kerr, Dan Hamhuis and Michael Wall. Famous poets, musicians, authors, rowers, chefs, etc. also abound from this talented little town. For further information about Smithers, here is the local tourism link. http://tourismsmithers.com

Meanwhile…. Let’s check out some more Moose!!!!

Moose are generally pretty shy and not easy to locate… so we were incredibly grateful to experience these from a safe distance! The Moose mural was actually located at Prince Rupert.

This collage illustrates some of the beautiful wintery conditions around Smithers during our March visit. The center photo is the marsh area where my husband encountered a moose while out on an evening stroll.

Winter conditions around Smithers in early March.

There are many natural attractions to explore around Smithers; such as, Hudson Bay Mountain, Moricetown Canyon, or Twin Falls. In addition, you can view the museum, art gallery, or brewery; or participate in a multitude of extreme sports.

When a member of your travel group has mobility issues, sometimes a driving tour is the most effective option. We tried to explore the main street of Smithers using a wheelchair, but many stores had raised doorways which were very hard to maneuver using a wheelchair. Hopefully, the town will improve access for wheelchairs in the near future. There were several funky boutique shops that looked really interesting, but sadly they were non accessible to those individuals using a wheelchair.

The Stork Inn has a wheel chair room! Finally!!!

However, there was 1 motel in the town which had a limited mobility room with a walk in/wheelchair shower! The family run Stork Nest Inn offers a quiet location with full breakfast, wifi, and 1 room that is suitable for physical mobility. Warning: it is located at the end of a lengthy hallway!

There are many choices of eateries in Smithers. Several locals all recommended Telly’s Grill on 4th Ave. We were so glad we heeded their advice because the Greek/Mediterranean cuisine was superb! We enjoyed the menu so much we returned 2 nights in a row!

Delicious meals at Telly’s Grill. Make a reservation! This eatery is popular!

The Alpenhorn Bistro & Bar on Main St. has unique décor especially the antler chandelier and the snow shoes/archives on the walls. If you feel like a lighter, healthy lunch or smoothie Two Sisters Cafe on 4th Ave. is well worth investigating!

Two sisters Cafe

The one store that enticed mom to brave her cane and explore was Heartstrings Home Decor & Gifts! It truly is a diversified gem of amazing quality merchandise! No wonder nearly everyone we observed departed with teeming bags! It is easy to locate Heartstrings in Smithers. Just look for the Moose statue!

Heartstrings and the Smithers Moose statue!

Driving around Smithers on a beautiful sunny day in August was peaceful and tranquil. There are so many pastoral fields and beautiful river spots to explore and appreciate.

Scenic Smithers!

Prior to departing eastbound on Highway 16 here is a short video highlighting some of our August 2021 experience in Smithers, B.C.

Touring Around Smithers

64 km southeast from Smithers is Houston, B.C. (Not Texas!). No visit to Houston is complete without checking the incredible stylish, affordable inventory at Chia’s Dream Closet.

Chia’s Dream Closet in Houston, B.C.

As expected, both mom and I departed with lovely new additions to our wardrobes. Ironically while researching about Chia’s Dream Closet, (for this blog post), I discovered a google reference to a previous post I had written about a trip to Houston in 2019. If you would like more information about this area, you can check this previous blog post too.

Beautiful friends shopping at Chias in 2019 (prior to Covid).

Returning to highway 16, we drove another 71 km past quiet Topley to Decker Lake area where we stopped in to say hello to a dear friend. Thanks for the lovely lunch Wendy.

Lunch break … Beautiful friends

This is one of the two schools I taught at as Teacher-Librarian during the 2018-2019 school year. Ahhh memories at Decker Elementary School! I’m so, so grateful I retired before Covid 19 changed our world.

The students made the most incredible natural structures in the surrounding woods.

Ten minutes along hectic highway 16 and we entered the town of Burns Lake. When it’s -30 or colder in the winters and the snow and ice are piled over a metre high everywhere, this highway is brutal to drive!

The second school I taught at in Burns Lake was William Konkin Elementary. I lived in this home during the school year. (Photos taken in August!).

Beware of loaded logging trucks, huge semi trailers, massive oversized road and mine equipment, trucks, and a few cars on the road. Highway 16 is the major transportation link connecting the port of Prince Rupert (on the coast) to Prince George and Alberta. Did I mention the highway runs right through the downtown area?

Or… that the CN (Canadian National Railway) and VIA Rail train line also run parallel to the highway with phenomenally lengthy trailers multiple times a day? Train safety is taught at schools in this area as trains sometimes pass every hour! I contemplated taking a train trip from Burns Lake to Prince George during my year up north, but never was able to discover a depot location? Burns Lake is one hectic and very busy transportation junction!

Burns Lake. Pick up wonderful coffee and incredible European baking at the Old and Bold Espresso Bar.

As we were passing through Burns Lake en route to Prince George, we only had time for a quick tour of some of my favorite locations around this hub village of about 2,000 people. I have written multiple posts about this area during my year teaching up north. Please use the search feature in my blog to obtain extensive additional information and photos of the beautiful Burns Lake area.

One of my favorite locations directly off highway 16 in downtown Burns Lake is the Old and Bold Espresso Bar. Say hello to Mattias for me! He’s such a delightful man whose jubilance fills his Backerei with warmth and curiosity. Plus he bakes amazing European breads and desserts!

Mattias serving in his Old and Bold Espresso Bar (prior time covid)

The inside of Old and Bold Espresso Bar has been adjusted according to covid restrictions, but the lattes and baking remain incredible!

We drove down to the Lakeside Multiplex area and had a quick view of Burns Lake, the camping area, Spirit Park, skateboard park, tennis courts, and new water park.

Burns Lake from Spirit Park August 2021

Continuing along Highway 16E meandering around Nechako Lakes we drove the final 227 km to our destination of Prince George, British Columbia. This section took about 2 1/2 hours to drive passing by the communities of Fraser Lake and Fort Fraser.

Mouse mountain at Fraser Lake. The CN train park at Fort Fraser.

I always planned to hike tiny Mouse Mountain! Oh well… I guess I’ll need to add that to my list for our next trip up north!

Continuing east on highway 16, as we neared Vanderhoof evidence of wildfire smoke started to stain the skies.

Highway 16 from Vanderhoof to Prince George! Wildfire smoke!

We were all grateful to spot the Prince George iconic statue of Mr PG. Time to relax. It was a lengthy day of travel for mom!

Returning home would be an adventure due to highway closures (wildfires, mudslides). The next blog posts will highlight our return adventure through British Columbia from Prince George back to Vancouver Island.

Keep safe and Optimistic. Cheers

Categories
Adventure Canada Introduction Travel

Adventures and Contemplations from Sandy’s Perspective

The years 2020 and 2021 have been challenging and the covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented global change. However, as 2022 draws ever closer there is renewed optimism and International borders are carefully beginning to re-open in some countries. I can officially state I’ve had my 2 doses of Moderna and have my Covid Vaccine Passport. Thank you Canada! There will be new ways to explore, have adventures, stretch comfort zone levels, and develop new insights. My blog is my chosen venue to share my story.

Background information is provided by clicking on the Menu (upper right). The Search feature assists quick location of previous blog posts including: Prior to Covid travel to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mexico. Since Covid lockdowns, exploration has focused around beautiful Western Canada–particularly Vancouver Island. You are welcome to join my journey. Virtual Hugs Sandy.

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British Columbia Exploring Canada Life during Covid 19 Prince Rupert Smithers Travel

Prince Rupert to Smithers, B.C. Heading East along Highway 16.

The previous blog post reflected our journey on the B.C. Ferry, Northern Expedition, from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert during August 2021. My husband, my mother, and I were taking advantage of an opening of travel restrictions within our own province of British Columbia, Canada thanks to over 80% of our citizens (including us) being fully vaccinated against Covid 19.

Prince Rupert (near #11) is the hub for travel to Haida Gwaii, Alaska, Port Hardy, or northeast B.C.

As darkness engulfed our 10:30 p.m. August 2021 ferry arrival in Prince Rupert, I have included some photos of the ferry terminal and surrounding harbour taken during the daylight on our 2019 trip.

The Prince Rupert terminal is the hub for travel to Haida Gwaii, Port Hardy, and Alaska!

These photos were taken during a previous trip on March 31st 2019 when we reversed route directions and departed from Prince Rupert heading south to Port Hardy.

Prince Rupert harbour is a busy working harbour!

The Prince Rupert harbour is a hectic location. As we departed from the Ferry Terminal we could observe the active CN freight train line, Coast Guard vessels, Commercial Fish Packing plants, Float planes, and stacks of containers being loaded and unloaded onto International freighters that were waiting their turn in the bay.

There are totem poles in several locations near the terminal. The dock connecting the B.C. Ferry is fairly lengthy and the way the ferry connects and departs from this dock is worth watching! (From our 2019 trip).

Totem poles and “We’re off!”

Time to explore Prince Rupert… This coastal community is a hub on the northwest coast of British Columbia. At present it boasts a population of 12,220 people. Wikipedia calls Prince RupertThe City of Rainbows” and claims it is Canada’s wettest city with 2,620 mm (103 inches) of average annual precipitation.

The following photos were taken while exploring Prince Rupert in late March 2019. Note the snow on the surrounding mountains and frozen icicles hanging off the rocks beside the walking trails.

March 31st 2019 exploring Prince Rupert.

Cow Bay is a really colorful and historically interesting area to explore. You will have located Cow Bay when you discover the “Pride”rainbow sidewalk.

I must confess that as we explored Prince Rupert in mid August 2021 we were stunned by the green, lush plants and grass compared to the dry heat wave yard conditions on Vancouver Island and around much of the province this summer.

Around Prince Rupert August 2021. No evidence of a heat wave here!

https://www.travel-british-columbia.com/northern-british-columbia/yellowhead-highway-16/prince-rupert/ For additional information about Prince Rupert this is a practical website to view.

Another fascinating aspect of Prince Rupert is that it’s actually located on Kaien Island in the territory of the Tsimshan First Nations.

Prince Rupert — Kaien Island. August 2021

Prince Rupert is only 48 km (30 miles) south of Alaska, USA! It’s closest main Canadian City is Terrace, B.C. located 145 km (90 miles) west along Yellowhead highway 16.

Leaving Kaien Island Yellowhead highway along the Skeena River

The majestic Skeena River, in its full glory, is a regal companion as you travel from Prince Rupert to Terrace. The highway runs adjacent to the river for most of the trip and its beauty is stunning!

Skeena River Yellowhead highway 16

Periodically you may lose sight of the Skeena as incredibly lengthy CN (Canadian National) freight trains pull cargo multiple times each day. Bill Gates owns over 10% shares of this Canadian company!

Sharing the view with trains!

VIA rail also runs passenger trains which travel between Jasper and Prince Rupert, B.C. A good percentage of the train transportation route tends to run between the highway and the river.

Just prior to Terrace we encountered several interesting bridges. People were swimming and fishing in the rivers or enjoying sunbathing on the smoother banks.

Kitsumkalum Near Terrace. Note the Spirit bear statue.

Onward to Terrace which is a city of similar size to Prince Rupert—just over 12,000 population. It is located on unceded Tsimshian First Nations territory. Terrace is the largest city in the Kitimat-Stikine district. For more information about Terrace check out this website. https://www.terrace.ca/discover-terrace/about

More fascinating highway and railroad bridges near Terrace

While exploring Terrace keep a look out for Kermode or Spirit bears! They have many Spirit bear statues scattered around the city. Each one is unique and beautiful. Here is a sample of 2 Spirit bears we discovered.

Kermode or Spirit bears at Terrace, BC.

Continuing on the highway, we headed northeast towards Hazelton area on highway 16.

This truck from Alberta had an interesting metal attachment on the back. Hmmmm…. We rarely see these on Vancouver Island. But as my brother lives in Prince George and has one for his truck…. I am familiar with its purpose. Snowmobiles or ATV’s! During much of the year there is deep snow up here!

Ready to haul heavy snowmobiles or ATV’s.

The landscape started to change as we continued travelling away from the coast towards the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena rivers at Hazelton.

Nearing the 2 Hazeltons

There are several communities that make up the “Hazeltons” area. There is much rich history here in the historical heartland of northwest B.C. European Pioneer settlement started in the 1860’s. But the Gitzsan and Wet’suwet’en First Nations settled here over 8,000 years ago.

Mom was not keen to stop and explore during this trip. So I’ve included some photos from our March 2019 visit. The first collage depicts the Old Town Hazelton pioneer community 1880’s.

March 2019. Pioneer Hazelton area. Lots of interesting artifacts and little shops.

If you are fascinated by First Nations culture and history I highly recommend visiting the ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum. Learn about Gitxsan history and if you are lucky, you may be invited to assist with carving a majestic totem pole.

‘Ksan Historical Village March 2019

We were invited to learn to carve at ‘Ksan! What an honour!

‘Ksan Historical Village. Carving lesson.

For more information about the diverse history and experiences available at the Hazeltons, check out their local website. http://www.hazeltonstourism.ca/ksan-historical-village-and-museum.html

Our final destination during this journey was Smithers, British Columbia. Smithers is located about one-half way between Prince Rupert and Prince George along Highway 16. It is 74 km (46 miles) by car from Hazelton to Smithers.

Welcome to Smithers, B.C.

Smithers is a stunning alpine type town in northwestern B.C. famous for its world class skiing and fishing. Its population of about 5,400 people has remained remarkably consistent for the last decade. If you love outdoor recreation, this community has much to offer.

The next blog post will explore Smithers and the Nechako Lakes District area of north central B.C. Keep smiling and stay safe. Cheers.

Categories
Adventure Canada Exploring Canada Life during Covid 19 Pacific Ocean Travel

Cruising the Inside Passage on B.C. Ferries Northern Expedition. Canada

Ever contemplated taking a cruise up through the Inside Passage from Vancouver Island north along the British Columbia pristine coastline to Haida Gwaii or even Alaska?

B.C. Ferries Northern Expedition docked at Port Hardy, B.C.

Well, did you know that B.C. Ferries Northern Coast route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert covers a similar geographical route?

BC Ferries Routes off western Canada

This blog post explores our experience on the Northern Expedition B.C. Ferry in mid August, 2021.

My husband and I were travelling with my mom, who requires mobility support, so our experience will also be beneficial if a member of your group requires wheelchair accessibility.

Driving aboard the Northern Expedition at Port Hardy, B.C.

This ferry trip is lengthy (about 15-16 hours) but the pristine coastline offers a scenic mode of transportation up the British Columbia coast from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. The majority of the trip occurs during daylight during the summer and during the night during the winter months.

7:00 a.m. Early Departure… outside in the wind near God’s Pocket.

The cost for this experience depends on the ‘extras’ you add, and the season you select to travel in. Check the B.C. Ferries website for more thorough information. https://www.bcferries.com/ We travelled one way during the summer (peak season).

Our reservation included: 2 adults and 1 senior over 65, plus 1 vehicle. We added 1 inside cabin as mom requires lying down periodically (only cabin choice available when we reserved) $100.

Inside cabin… There was a small TV and a complete bathroom with shower and towels.

Plus we purchased 2 reserved seating spots in the Aurora Lounge for $40 each. Our total cost was over $1,000 CA for the 1 way trip.

Aurora Lounge Reserved Seats (Recliners)

The Northern Expedition Ferry has a maximum capacity of just over 600 passengers and crew and 115 vehicles. Our experience in August was a partially full ferry with plentiful physical spacing. Perhaps this was due to Covid lockdowns severely limiting international visitors permitted in Canada?

After making our way from the car deck to the wheelchair accessible elevator, we headed up to the passenger decks. First stop was the Purser’s Office to pick up a route map, and receive the pass key for our assigned cabin and reserved recliner seats in the Aurora lounge.

Points of interest along the route.

The walkway areas were wide, modern and attractive. It was easy to maneuver mom’s wheelchair in most areas.

The hall in one of the staterooms/cabins sections.

However, we quickly discovered that some of the Northern Expedition areas were now closed to passenger use.

The lovely Vista Restaurant was closed. We wondered if it was related to Covid safety restrictions? The Gift Shop was closed too. It only opened once, for about an hour, during the entire trip. This is a shame because B.C. Ferry Gift Shops usually have a varied and quality selection of clothing, books, souvenirs, First Nation’s art and designs, and miscellaneous items.

Food was only available from the Canoe Cafe. This cafe was open 3 times during the trip during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Lunch and Dinner menus were nearly identical–with very limited choices.

Canoe Cafe

This was a surprise to us and quite different than our previous experience on the B.C. Ferry Northern Expedition prior to Covid lockdowns in March of 2019. If we travelled on this ferry again in the near future, we would definitely bring food items with us for the journey.

During the trip there were 2 different movie/documentaries shown in the Raven Lounge. The movies portrayed characters unfolding stories about the local history and culture of the small isolated communities along the coastline of B.C. It was really powerful that the settings in the movies were reflective of the coastline just outside the ferry windows! We found the stories entertaining and educational.

Inside Passage

In addition to walking around on the decks, we spent the majority of time during this trip through the Inside Passage relaxing in the Aurora Lounge. It is a comfortable location, with ceiling to floor windows, which encourage full advantage of the pristine beauty seen along the British Columbia coastline, coastal mountains, and surrounding islands.

Lovely Aurora Lounge on Northern Expedition

The high point of the trip up the Inside Passage for us was the beauty of the coastal scenery and the whales! Yes. We saw whales at #4 Boat Bluff on the Points of Interest Map shown above.

After leaving Port Hardy on northeast Vancouver Island we journeyed north through Fitz Hugh Sound passing Egg Island, Calvert Island, and Namu. Namu is a tiny community about 3 1/2 hours from Port Hardy.

The name Namu is a Heiltsuk First Nation’s word meaning ‘place of high winds“. It is claimed to be the oldest settlement on the coast. (More information is found on #8 of the Points of Interest map). The population statistics there vary, but there seems to be 50-100 people living in the area at present.

Namu … old cannery and fishing base

I have read 2 books including: Namu Quest for the Killer Whale by Ted Griffin, that recount Orcas being captured at this location and sold to aquariums for exhibition and performances in the mid 1960’s and 1970’s. Gratefully, this is no longer permitted or practiced in Canada.

Fitz Hugh Sound… near Namu

Continuing north maneuvering through channels and sounds we passed King Island, and Fishing Resort areas, such as, Shearwater prior to stopping briefly at Bella Bella, on Campbell Island. (5 hours from Port Hardy).

Bella Bella area. Salmon were jumping like crazy in the bay!

Bella Bella, also known as Waglisla, is the home of the Heiltsuk First Nations people. The population of this remote community is approximately 1,600 people.

Shearwater Dryad Point area

As we wove around beautiful islands in channels off the Great Bear Rainforest of B.C. we observed a few tiny logging/fishing camps and 2 regent historical lighthouses. The water was very interesting in this area creating color changes and unique rippling effects.

Fascinating ocean effects

Just over 8 hours from our departure at Port Hardy we were informed to glance outside the windows and observe picturesque Boat Bluff. This famous and scenic lighthouse complex, established in 1907, is about one-half way between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert. The light is visible for approximately 32 km and marks the entry into Tolmie Channel when heading northward.

Scenic Boat Bluff

My husband and I raced outdoors to take photos of scenic Boat Bluff lighthouse and were further blessed with the sound of expiration and sight of ‘seasmoke‘. Whales!!! There were 2–3 whales near us.

Whales passing at Boat Bluff

The low curved dorsal fins indicated they were not Orcas, but probably a baleen whale species. They did not breech or spy hop as they passed by so the type of whale was difficult to determine. My best educated guess from living in northern Vancouver Island for 50 + years, combined with their approximate size, was Humpback, (maybe too small?), Grey, or Minke whales.

Hmmmm… what type of whale am I?

Whichever species we had the good luck to share the channel with, whales always bring excitement and awe as they journey near by.

This video depicts the beauty and fog we experienced during the second half of the journey from Boat Bluff to Prince Rupert.

Video of highlights from Boat Bluff to south of Prince Rupert.

Passing through narrow Grenville Channel during thick fog with fog horns blaring is quite an adventure!

Foggy Grenville Channel

One final collage illustrates highlights as the fog thickened, before night darkness blocked our views.

The Northern Expedition arrived in Prince Rupert after 10:30 pm. It was dark as we all disembarked and headed to our respective accommodations.

The next blog post will illustrate our exploration from Prince Rupert heading northeast to Smithers, British Columbia.

Keep safe and optimistic my friends.

Categories
Adventure Beaches Canada Exploring Vancouver Island Nature Pacific Ocean Seaside trails Stormy Surfing Travel

Tumultuous Tofino! Check Drive B.C. First!

Summer 2021

After the second heat wave hit Nanaimo, we craved much lower temperatures and a cool, windy location…Even for a day!

Our choices were to drive 4 + hours (350 + km) northwest up Vancouver Island to seek temperature refuge in much cooler Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Port Alice or other tiny northern communities. Or, we could head due west 201 km to Tofino. The estimated time for this trip, according to several online sources, was about 3 hours. Today, Tofino won out as the destination of choice!

Tofino, B.C.

Temperatures in Nanaimo had been hitting 32-38 degrees C most days for a second stretch this summer. In some areas of the globe, this is normal or possibly mild, but for us in Canada, this is quite extreme and people were getting hospitalized with heat stroke and trying to cope by staying indoors or swimming in the cool ocean. In contrast, the weather forecast in Tofino was listed at 19-20 degrees C! We packed a cooler with picnic supplies, beach mat, hiking and swimming gear, and headed off to Highway B.C. 4 W.

There are so many amazing natural wonders and tourist attractions along this journey, so you need to decide whether to take a leisurely trip and investigate locations, or to push through directly to Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino. The choice is yours!

Thirty-five minutes (44 km) after departing from Nanaimo, you drive past Coombs. It is difficult to miss the line ups of parked cars near the Old Country Market. Look up and you will usually spot the goats eating grass on the roof of the market.

Coombs Goats on the Roof

Coombs is a fun and funky place to spend time sauntering, eating, shopping, and exploring. Coombs Old Country Market is usually open every day from March to December.

If you enjoy hiking and exploring the beautiful natural coastal rainforest, check out Little Qualicum Falls, and the famous Old Growth Douglas Fir Trees and giant Cedars in MacMillan Provincial Park at Cathedral Grove.

Old Growth at Cathedral Grove

The largest trees in this protected park are over 800 years old, 9 metres (29.6 feet) in circumference, and 75 meters (246 feet) tall. Bring your camera….The old growth trees along the trails are impressive and majestic! Here is a link to a practical guide for the Cathedral Grove Trail Area.

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/canada/british-columbia/old-growth-and-living-forest-trail-loop

Once you arrive in Port Alberni make certain you have fuel and food as the next section of the road is twisty and services are limited until you arrive at Ucluelet or Tofino.

23 km from Port Alberni the road curves around the edges of gorgeous Sproat Lake. This 25 km long, deep, fresh water lake is known as Kleecoot by the Indigenous peoples. It is a local favorite location for swimming, fishing, waterskiing, kayaking, windsurfing, picnics, hiking or camping. https://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/sproat_lk/

Wally Creek

Continue about 30 km from Sproat Lake and you will discover another natural treasure at the junction of Wally Creek and Kennedy River.

Check out the natural “Potholes“, climb boulders, or relax on the rocks adjacent to the creek.

Wally Creek/ Kennedy River

This is such a fascinating area to explore and appreciate. Natural erosion at its most intricate, exposes crystal clear turquoise waters and orange, green veins of color within rock layers.

This pristine area needs to be appreciated and preserved. If visiting here, please be respectful of the area and take any trash with you when you depart.

Climbing Boulders and Exploring

While my husband and I took a break from driving and explored this natural wonder, a friendly local also exploring the boulders with his family, questioned whether we were heading to Tofino. He informed us about the daily road closure between 11 am and 3 pm weekdays at Kennedy Hill due to major road construction! As it was after 11:30 am, we had missed the opening and now faced a road closure for another 3 + hours!

Lots of time to appreciate the beauty

We always check DriveBC.ca road status and conditions prior to any travel. But, for some unexplained reason, today we had not checked ahead! Murphy’s Law!

As we had several hours to wait, we delved into our picnic from the car cooler, then explored the boulders and rugged creek area.

Amazing potholes from erosion and orange/green coloured formations

Cars continued to arrive as people joined us exploring Wally Creek, relaxing on the rocks, or swimming in the eroded “Potholes“. We wondered how many of these new arrivals were aware of the Kennedy Hill road closure?

At 2:30 p.m. we departed and drove to Kennedy Hill. We joined the incredibly lengthy line of vehicles waiting in the cue. There were “Black Bear in Area” warning signs posted.

Picking Huckleberries and Thimbleberries while waiting at the Road Block.

Most people remained in their vehicles with windows down. But the heat, boredom, and enticement of huckleberries on the side of the road drew me outside. I started picking wild Huckleberries and some Thimbleberries. Before long, I had taught 3 young men from the car ahead of us about wild berries, and they were also having a berry feast.

The time passed, the road opened, and soon we were meandering through construction zone areas.

Video of Kennedy Hill Construction

It is a 14 km drive from Kennedy Hill to the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway 4 Junction. Before planning a trip to Tofino or Ucluelet check road conditions. Here is a useful link created by Tofino Tourism. https://tourismtofino.com/

Later than planned, at 4pm (and 19 degrees) we were finally enjoying the beautiful main street of Tofino. We observed tourists, decked in matching life jackets, returning rental kayaks and gear; while another group (possibly exiting a whale watching tour) chugging up the hill at Jamie’s Whaling Station.

Tofino Campbell Street— Delicious late lunch at Shelter Restaurant

Directly across Campbell Street, we relaxed with beers and delicious meals at the popular Shelter Restaurant. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his burger and I was very impressed with the delectable gluten free Surf Bowl. This experience was so welcomed and appreciated after the unexpected, lengthy road closure. We will definitely return to Shelter Restaurant.

Finally, we were off to explore Tofino! During a previous trip here we visited with the famous Indigenous Artist, Roy Henry Vickers, at his Big House Gallery. We were lucky enough to catch Roy creating art and even listened to his story telling session. Later that evening while walking on Chesterman Beach we also caught Roy carrying his surf board emerging from the waves. I purchased his print entitled “The two of us” which is reflective of stunning Chesterman Beach.

Roy Henry Vickers Gallery & Downtown Seaside Park area.

We were not successful sighting many kayakers at the downtown seaside park and Tofino Air location this afternoon.

We drove to Tonquin Beach for a little wander through local nature trails leading to one of the many beaches around Tofino.

Tofino Weather/Ocean Warnings

Warning signs remind locals and visitors that waves can appear unexpectedly and the weather/ocean conditions are tumultuous in Tofino. Today was calm and both the trails and ocean were pristine and stunning.

Tonquin Beach trails

Tonquin beach is quite small, but very pretty and appears to be a bit sheltered.

Tonquin Beach, Tofino

By 6:30 pm the sun had disappeared and the fog was rolling into Tofino. The temperature was dropping quite quickly and was now sitting at 16 degrees C. Tofino has many quirky shops and unique features. There were hundreds of shoes (mainly runners) draped over cable lines around a downtown skatepark.

Tofino skateboard park decorations

After a quick tour around town, we decided to drive to Pacific Rim Park and walk along stunning Chesterman Beach. We noticed that Parking lots were emptying as surfers, in full neoprene suits, loaded their surf boards on their vehicles and departed for the day. Two of the favorite cold water surf beaches in this area are Cox Bay and Chesterman Beach.

Map and Rules for Chesterman Beach, Tofino

I found the enthusiasm of the surfers a bit surprising as huge signs lit up messages near the beach trails indicating the water temperature was “Very Cold”. Hmmm? What does this mean?

After researching, I discovered that the ocean water temperature at Tofino does not rise above 20 degrees Celsius. Apparently in winter the average water temperature in Tofino hits about 8 degrees C, while in summer the average temperature is about 13 degrees C. Brrr…. Those are dedicated cold water surfers!

Foggy Chesterman Beach

By 7 p.m. we had arrived at Chesterman Beach. The fog had really rolled in making the trees and landscapes quite mystical and eerie. In addition, the winds had increased and the gusts were getting powerful.

Fog and Gusty Winds at Chesterman

We walked toward Frank Island along the tombolo which is a sandy isthmus connecting Frank Island to Chesterman beaches during low tides.

Frank Island No Trespassing—located between the 2 beaches at Chesterman

We battled the winds as we observed a handful of keen surfers still playing in the frigid waves. Without toques and warm weather clothing, we were unprepared for this. When we departed from Nanaimo this morning it was 28 degrees. When we started the vehicle, it was a balmy 13.5 degrees C in Tofino.

13.5 degrees Celsius. We actually turned on the heat for the first time in months!

Our goals of having an adventure and locating cool temperatures were achieved.

It was time to commence the 3 hour trip home to Nanaimo. Hopefully there would be no construction hold ups during the homeward trip.

On the road again…Homeward bound

What did we learn? Always check the weather forecast and road conditions prior to any trip. Be grateful for new experiences.

Keep safe and have fun my friends. The next blog post will be about the B.C. Ferry trip up the Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert.

Categories
Canada Exploring Outdoors Family Motorcycles

Motorcycle Mommas (and Poppas)

Let me introduce my mom, Patti. Mom is 88 years young and still gets up during the night to watch tennis. She can name most NHL Hockey teams and list how they are placing in the hockey league. Mom interacts with friends and family using social media. She likes to stay up to date with global news and loves the Olympics. Her only conflict is whether to cheer for Australia or Canada.

My mom, Patti is 88 years old.

Patti travelled the globe quite extensively when she was in her 20’s. She is a social butterfly, assists with the Woman’s Auxiliary, and attends the local Senior’s Center where she lives on Vancouver Island. Her name, Patricia, couldn’t be better suited for her as she was born on St. Patrick’s Day!

Mom and I on St Patrick’s Day

Patti caught Scarlet Fever when she was a child and had to fight to build her leg strength again. As a crucial part of her recovery, her mother enrolled her in multiple types of Dance where she eventually made quite a name for herself as both a Dancer and Dance Teacher. Patti became an Elementary School teacher in Tasmania when she was still a teen. She also had an extensive Dancing school and tells fascinating stories about riding in the milk truck overnight travelling between her Studio and School when she was under 18 years of age!

Patti pushing her wheelchair at the Cancer Survivor lap of Relay for Life

In her 60’s Patti had additional physical challenges which led to the closure of her Dancing School and once again, she had to learn to walk. This did not stop my mom. We can all learn from her tenacity!

So, when Patti got up to dance at my brother’s Surprise 60th party…. I wasn’t surprised at all. “Shake your Booty” mom!

Show them how to Boogie Patti and Angela!

The following day my brother got out 3 motorcycles and offered rides on the back of his cruiser.

Checking out motorcycles

I responded with a jubilant, “Yes Please! I would love to ride on the back!” Then mom started working to convince Marilyn to also ride the motorcycle with my brother driving. I did not expect mom to participate in this activity. But….

Hmmm? Maybe I don’t really want to ride the motorcycle?

Marilyn agreed to ride after mom insisted she was going to try too. (Thanks for also sharing photos Marilyn and Mark.) So we helped my 88 year old mom get ready for her first motorcycle ride.

You can do this mom!

Here is a video of my mom riding on the back of my brother’s motorcycle. My Motorcycle Momma!

Patti on her first Motorcycle Ride

Begona and her BFF’s returned from their day shopping. Mark shot some baskets with lovely neighbors. We celebrated one final dinner together as tomorrow we would depart from northern B.C. and return home avoiding highway routes effected by provincial wildfires or mudslides.

Fun August visit together

Here are some Motorcycle Mommas and Poppas highlights… Please click the video to check them out!

Thanks for the hospitality Mark and Begona and love to all our wonderful friends up north. This blog post is dedicated to our amazing mom, Patti! Your style, and youthful social playfulness at age 88 is a hard act to follow. You inspire me.

Categories
Birthday Canada Family Life during Covid 19

Surprise Bro! My brother’s surprise 60th/Retirement Celebration in B.C.

During early August 2021, British Columbia experienced a loosening in Covid restrictions resulting from over 80% of our provincial population (aged 12 +) having received one or both of the Covid vaccines. This offered the perfect window of time to co-plan a 60th Birthday/Retirement surprise celebration for my brother, Mark.

The date, time, and location were determined for this outdoor event up in northern B.C.

Mark’s beautiful partner, Begona, and I started the planning committee. So many caring people ended up being involved and assisting with the surprise celebration. My brother is truly blessed and clearly well loved by so many!

My beautiful family

This blog post is dedicated to my incredible and talented brother Mark, his partner, Begona; our 88 year old mom Patti who made the long trip; and all the beautiful people who were part of this amazing day.

There was certainly boundless amounts of enthusiasm, happiness, and love experienced on August 14th in Mark’s backyard in northern B.C.! To protect identities, I will not be using people’s surnames. Special thanks to my husband Mark, Marilyn, and Blanca for contributing photos or video clips shared in this post.

After months of initial planning, communication, and redirection based on Covid updates, the final days played out something like this.

Begona, Blanca, and Angela were quick to assist and have fun!

My husband Mark, mom (Patti), and I travelled by ferry and vehicle departing August 10th from Port Hardy up to Prince Rupert then headed East. (A blog post of our trip through areas of B.C. will follow this post). Other dear friends flew north from the lower mainland (Vancouver area).

Mark was thrilled to see school BFF Alex and his lovely wife Marilyn who also flew in for the event!

On August 14th, three of Mark’s neighbors took him out golfing for over 4 hours.

The night before….

While he was away the yard was transformed by family, friends, and incredible neighbors!

Setting up the yard… Some worked inside on photos … Some organized food preparation…

There were display tables with highlights and awards from his career with B.C. Hydro…

Also a myriad of highlights from Mark’s childhood, family, and hobbies.

Family displays

In spite of a sampling of rain and a few gusts of wind, the outdoor event was a huge surprise and success. This video shows some of the highlights from Mark’s arrival and the speeches prior to the BBQ, cake and activities time.

Mark’s surprise celebration!

Special thanks to Kathy, Chad, Charlotte, Lennie, Doug, and Marie for sending emails to share with Mark. Thanks to Kate, Bill, Andi, Blanca, and my wonderful hubby Mark for reading these messages. I read your message of love Lennie! Thanks to Harry for reading touching email messages from Mark’s adult children in Ontario. Special thanks to Alex and Tom for the personal, and often humorous, stories about Mark!

The speeches were personal, informative, touching, inspiring, and sometimes comical, but the final presentation was the most emotional.

I had located an ancient cassette tape from the mid 1980’s of our precious Dad (Alex) singing one of his favorite travelling songs. Growing up in isolated northern Vancouver Island meant that each family trip or journey in the car was lengthy. Dad started singing when we departed from our home and Dad, Mom, Mark, and I sang nearly non-stop each entire journey! We lost our Dad in 2007 and we miss him from the depths of our souls.

I knew Dad would be so proud to hear all these touching stories and tributes about Mark. My husband and I created a CD for Mark including songs Mark sang in grade 8, a couple of my classical conservatory piano numbers, and our Dad singing.

Upon hearing Dad’s melodic, beautiful voice singing one of our favorite travelling songs from our childhood Mark, mom, and I all were overcome with the deepest emotion and intense need to bond together. It was extremely personal, so I will only share a snippet of this family experience.

Dad’s travelling song…

This is for you Dad with love forever and always.

I relinquished the MC role as Mark and Begona shared their thanks and appreciation. It was time to eat, socialize and prepare for more upcoming surprises!

Rain? What rain?
Bring on the food!

Matt, Andi, and their gorgeous daughters had created a surprise for Mark! Since they were toddlers Mark had an endless stash of Kinder-surprise eggs as a treat for them. They decided to create a Kinder-Surprise piñata for his enjoyment! Here are a few pictures… there are more in the next video…

Kinder-Surprise piñata!

Next was the incredible trick cake created by Sierra. We were all in shock and awe as 60 photos were pulled out of the center of the cake!!! Very cool Sierra!

Sierra’s amazing Photo Surprise Carrot Cake!

While the DJ played his tunes we took turns relaxing, dancing, and visiting. However there was one other special item needing attention….

Last month my handsome nephew Shelby and his beautiful bride Kiersten were married in Blind River, Ontario.

Due to covid restrictions and Patti’s health my husband Mark, mom, and I were unable to attend the wedding. Shelby’s wish was that he dance with his nana to the song “Knock 3 Times” by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Knock 3 Times — This is dedicated to you Shelby! Starring nana aged 88 years!

So…. In honor of Shelby, his dad (my brother) Mark and his 88 year old nana (Patti) danced “Knock 3 Times” together. This is for you Shelby!

There were so many beautiful moments to capture from this wonderful event! Thanks to all who attended my brother, Mark’s, surprise 60th birthday/Retirement party. This next video covers some more of the fun from the piñata to hanging out in Marks garage!

More fun from Mark’s party!

This blog post adventure is dedicated to my one and only brother. 🥰 Love you Mark! Begona… You’re a charismatic, loving, and charming future sister! Thanks for the memories!

The next post will be about our travels around British Columbia during August. Cheers. Keep safe!

Categories
Adventure Canada Englishman River Falls Exploring Vancouver Island Hiking trails Nature Travel

Mystical Englishman River Falls Trail

If you enjoy fresh air, exercise, and experiencing nature through lush Vancouver Island rainforest adjacent to rivers and waterfalls, then Englishman River Falls Park is a mystical place to explore.

Central Vancouver Island–Between Nanaimo and Parksville.

The British Columbia Provincial Park even offers seasonal camping and the trails are utilized for hiking, running, biking, and nature exploration. Check the BC Parks website for updates about any trail closures or campfire bans.

Englishman River Falls Trails

Englishman River is located 35 km northwest of Nanaimo or 13 km southwest of Parksville. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to the park and conservation area from Nanaimo.

It’s a Tranquil hike on a hot day during summer!

The main trail is a 1.3 kilometer loop with a minimal elevation gain of only 52 meters mainly adjacent to the meandering river.

Englishman River Falls Trail during summer

There is a suspension bridge which overlooks a popular swimming area.

Cooling off in the river during summer.

Many additional trails, of varying levels of difficulty, are fun to explore too. The previous photos were taken during the summer month of August.

Englishman River Falls Trail in mid October.

The following photos illustrate the richness in green growth, increased levels of water, and presence of mushrooms and fungi during autumn (October) on the Englishman River Falls trails.

Autumn hiking on Vancouver Island

In addition to hikers, people walking leashed dogs, and trail bike enthusiasts, you may even encounter the odd horse and rider traversing the outer, less used trails.

Gorgeous trails. Hikers practicing physical distancing safety protocols during Covid.

The Vancouver Island rainforest is abundant with vegetation and bird species. Watch for old growth and second growth evergreens interspersed in the forests of the park lands.

Lush Englishman River Falls

Englishman River waterfalls flow with the greatest volume and vigor after rainy seasons. However, this is also the season when trails can experience windfall (trees and branches down) and water erosion on the trails.

Englishman River waterfall mid October 2020

An excellent source of practical information when considering hiking on Vancouver Island is available from AllTrails app. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/canada/british-columbia/englishman-river-falls

I will return to hike along Englishman River Falls trails. However, the next blog posts will highlight some of the other amazing locations to hike or kayak around Vancouver Island.

Keep Safe and Enjoy Life. Cheers.

Categories
Adventure Canada Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Seaside trails Travel

Nature Fun in Sunny Nanaimo!

August 2021

We are so thankful to reside on gorgeous Vancouver Island, Canada. During Covid 19 lockdowns non-essential travel was not permitted to our amazing island paradise. As our province currently has over 82% of all residents aged 12 + with at least 1 dose of covid vaccine and over 60% of all people in B.C. fully vaccinated against Covid 19, restrictions are carefully being lifted and travel has resumed once again.

Pipers Lagoon is fun during the day and gorgeous during sunset time.

This blog post shares a few fun ways to explore nature and relax around the Nanaimo area. Piper’s lagoon area with its long spit and choices of swimming in the lagoon or the Pacific Ocean is always a favorite of ours. Whether you are swimming, relaxing, climbing rocks, checking out the trails, or embracing nature and recreation water activities this location has it all!

Practicing safe kayak rolls while the BC ferries pass in the background!

The Pacific ocean surrounds Vancouver Island and is our highway to connect Vancouver Island with the mainland of western Canada. There are 200 Gulf Islands located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland. Water vessels are common sights from kayaks and SUPs, to sailboats and pleasure crafts, or ferries and freighters.

There are so many beautiful sights when Kayaking around Vancouver Island

If interested in exploring the nearby Gulf Islands, here is a great website to check out. https://www.hellobc.com/places-to-go/gulf-islands/

During the heat waves and sunny summer days, the refreshing Pacific Ocean is a popular location for swimming, kayaking, and playing in the refreshing salt water.

More photos of beautiful Pipers lagoon

Sometimes curious river otters or harbor seals entertain or pop up nearby in the ocean to visit. When the Herring or Pilcher fish are running you can also see sealions and sometimes a magnificent whale, or a small pod, make appearances.

If you prefer a busier, more urban seaside location then downtown Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton park area might be more suited to your taste. There are lovely flat walking areas along the seawall and around the park to the marina area.

Maffeo Sutton park in Nanaimo

Music and Art events occur on a regular basis throughout the summer. The Dragon Boating competitions are held in this location. You can also locate the small walk-on ferry transport vessel which commutes between downtown Nanaimo and Newcastle (Saysutshun) Island and Marine Provincial Park. Another tiny commuter ferry departs from the marina area to the famous floating restaurant Dingy Dock Pub on Protection Island.

Maffeo Sutton Park sculptures and history.

The park embraces the Arts and there are dozens of interesting sculptures and statues reflecting historical figures and events scattered throughout the grounds.

For the sand loving individuals, there are several sandy beaches located just beyond the Nanaimo area. One option is to drive 34 km to Parksville and relax on Rathtrevor beach. Check the tide schedule as low tide requires a lengthy walk to the edge of the ocean!

Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville.

If you prefer to swim and relax on a fresh water lake, there are many options for this too! Long Lake is popular for water sports, swimming, and picnics. Motorized vessels (Sea-Doos, water skiing) must keep to the middle of the lake. Non motorized vessels (kayaks, SUP, big floats stay around the outside of the lake. The Nanaimo Rowing Club has their clubhouse here so it is also common to see rowers practicing. There is a swimming zone by the beach/picnic location.

Relaxing at Long Lake, Nanaimo

For people who prefer more shade and trails through woods or marsh areas, there are extensive opportunities to explore this type of habitat too. One example is the marsh and pond around Oliver Woods park.

Oliver Woods pond and marsh area, Nanaimo

Multiple species of ducks and birdlife can be viewed here as well as amphibians, wild berries, wildflowers, and occasionally a beaver is visible.

Abundant floral displays mainly wild….

My goal was to expose a taste of a few of the beautiful and diverse locations around my home of Nanaimo. In future blog posts I will concentrate on specific hikes or nature explorations in our rainforest or oceans of Vancouver Island.

Meanwhile, I conclude this blog post with another option for relaxation. Let me suggest… reading a wonderful book from a hammock under majestic 120 Foot + evergreen trees.

Cheers! Have a wonderful day!

Stay safe everybody. Cheers from Nanaimo, Canada.

Categories
Canada Covid Projects Garden Life during Covid 19 Organic Food Vancouver Island

Raised Bed Veggie Garden for Newbies!

In our province of British Columbia, Canada we currently have over 70% of all people having received at least one dose of Covid vaccine and our freedom to interact is increasing steadily!

Pipers Lagoon during recent heat wave in Nanaimo

The 15 months of lockdowns and Covid 19 safety restrictions in British Columbia were indeed challenging, but necessary. Like many others, we utilized this period of lockdown to reflect and enhance our sustainability independence.

As fresh produce was increasingly difficult to obtain, and we were avoiding shopping line ups whenever possible, we decided to join so many others who were establishing vegetable gardens. Until now, our gardens were the flower and shrub variety. Priorities were changing…

Flowers and shrubs around our yard on Vancouver Island

Initially, we researched by watching youtube videos, contacting experienced gardeners, reading about most successful plants to produce in our growing zone area, and talking to experts at local garden stores. Then we observed the areas of our yard which produced the most direct sun for varying periods of time each day and season.

Location selected… Mark and Sophia measure the area

My husband measured the selected location while Sophia (our rescue cat) observed. We decided to use 3 raised beds for this initial garden creation. After establishing level bases, the support beams were placed. Next the 3 beds were framed and built.

My husband created these beautiful beds mainly utilizing using recycled materials from previous projects.

Mark designed the raised boxes and built them mainly utilizing recycled materials. I learned about companion plants and the most successful vegetables to use for newbies first attempts at growing vegetables.

Gogo Family Business in Nanaimo

Next stop, was Gogo’s sawmill to purchase some local rough edge cedar planks to beautify the exterior of the beds. The Gogo family has been involved in local logging for a few generations.

Local Gogo Sawmill

The office displays amazing photos of old growth timber from past eras. Sadly, the number of these majestic trees still standing has dwindled substantially.

Historical photos of old growth trees and logging practices –many moons ago!

Green Thumb, our local nursery, sells local organic mixed soil.

Getting the right combination of soil

We needed to consider drainage and mixes of soils. This project was more complicated than we anticipated!

Wahoo! Beautiful raised beds completed and ready for planting!

Once the raised beds were lined and completed on the outside, then we commenced the process of mixing all the soil types and compost together and carefully planting the seeds being cognizant of companion planting.

Companion planting in each bed was carefully considered. Waiting….

Everything seemed to make perfect sense. But, there was much learning yet to come. The water irrigation system was set up. The trellis for the peas was up. Patiently we awaited the signs of growth.

Sophia plays with fawns in our front yard

Meanwhile, Sophia played with the neighborhood fawns. My husband and I constantly appreciate the diversity of beautiful flowers popping up around the yard.

Then finally, our vegetable garden started to establish itself. Selecting fresh vegetables and herbs as you create your meals each day really is inspiring and so gratifyingly.

Loving the fresh produce each day

From this experience we learned to deeply appreciate local organic farmer market producers as we battled slugs, earwigs, cabbage worms, mildew, overcrowding, and wilting from excessive heat. There truly is a lot of thought and effort involved in producing fresh produce.

Our learning curve was steep last year, but this year we have returned with more optimism and ideas. The tomato plants are separated in their own caged pots on the sundeck.

Our veggie garden July 7th 2021

We have given up on iceberg lettuce (earwigs love it) and Gai Lan (cabbage worms love it). Planting occurred a month earlier than last year (early May) with extra radishes in place. We also added raspberries and strawberries this year in addition to all of our fruit trees.

Produce from last season! The cherries are nearly ripe right now and the radishes are delicious this year!

Each morning there is such satisfaction checking the garden’s progress. We wait with inspired anticipation to see what bounty we are offered this season.

Keep smiling! Upcoming blog posts reflect hiking, kayaking, and outdoor exploration on Vancouver Island.

Categories
Adventure Canada Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Hiking trails Nature Seaside trails

Seaside Trails. Jack Point/ Biggs Park in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island located off the western coast of British Columbia, Canada is a delight to explore. Today’s blog post shares another gorgeous seaside trail around Nanaimo. In keeping with the emphasis on nature and outdoors, I have added some cheery flowering plants found during June around Nanaimo as an extra bonus in this post.

Jack Point Trail in June

The B.C. Ferries arrive multiple times every day from Vancouver area to dock at one of 3 major terminals on Vancouver Island. The major terminals are Swartz Bay (Victoria), or Departure Bay, or Duke Point (both in the Nanaimo area).

Today’s seaside hiking trail runs along one side of Duke Point. Biggs Point is the name of the 32 acre park which leads to Jack Point. Jack Point is a 5.1 km seaside trail. The elevation gain is only 65 m and the first section along the river is wheelchair accessible.

Scientists were busy studying ocean samples

The trail is quite easy and used for walking, light hiking, and trail running year round. Keep your eyes open for interesting art and sculptures.

Jack Point Trail

Beautiful views of Nanaimo River estuary, downtown Nanaimo, Protection Island, and Gabriola Island can be observed from the trail. Freighters, sailboats, and pleasure craft are common sights.

Nanaimo River estuary

During our previous two hikes at this location, there were over a dozen Great Blue Herons feeding in the initial estuary area in addition to a variety of birds: ducks, shorebirds, cormorants, songbirds, eagles. In spite of all the birdlife, there are still quite a few insects in sections, so arrive prepared.

As you approach Jack Point you will discover wooden stairs and boardwalks over the bluffs. The rock erosion is quite interesting and the bluffs provide wildlife viewing opportunities.

Jack Point… This is where the Humpback whales were active

Bald eagles, sea-lions, seals, and harbour porpoises like to frequent this area. Humpback whales were even sighted breeching in this area recently!

After reaching the Jack Point lookout area (look for the marker in the ocean), you return by retracing your route along the trail through the beautiful trees and along the edge of the ocean which eventually turns into the estuary trail. Watch for the Great Blue Herons feeding at the rock bluffs and in the estuary.

Beautiful Nanaimo seaside trail at Jack Point

Bonus….As promised, here is a collage of a few of the diverse and beautiful flowers you could see while exploring the Nanaimo area on Vancouver Island during June.

A selection of a few flowers found in June in Nanaimo.

Keep positive my friends…The world is carefully returning to the new “normal”. My next blog posts will be sharing more outdoor exploration around Vancouver Island.

Categories
Animals Canada Cats Pets Rescue kitten Sophia

Sophia (Rescue Kitten) turns 1. Flashbacks.

Presenting Sophia–our Rescue Kitten from Port McNeill area on northern Vancouver Island.

Photos posted of Sophia which won my heart.

After speaking with the family who had located Sophia, her mother, and her sisters and brothers; we drove the 350 km distance north west up island to adopt this little waif. The kittens had been rescued from the woods of rural Port McNeill, where sadly they had been dumped!

Reflecting back now, we really knew such a minimal amount about Sophia’s background and the initial weeks after her birth. Sophia won my heart immediately and I wanted to protect her! We named her after Sofia (Sophia) Loren. This tiny kitten was so attractive and had markings similar to eye liner near her eyes reminding me of this beautiful Italian actress who wore a trademark of ample eye liner.

Travel was challenging because Sophia was very anxious and meowed pitifully. Once we arrived at her new home she explored, burrowed under things and eventually fell asleep.

Sophia shortly after we adopted her. Aged approximately 2 months.

The first few months were a transition for Sophia and us! We saw several different vets as Sophia had quite severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from her short life experiences prior to us. We sure wished we had more information to assist her transition and help her feel less anxious.

Sophia’s first few months!

Sophia was prescribed daily anti anxiety medication as well as using a Feliway Diffuser to assist keeping her more calm. Sophia was extremely dependent on me and would get very fearful if I departed from her sight.

Sophia during the first few months

Luckily, I had recently retired so I could focus my attention on Sophia’s emotional development. She was slowly expanding her circle of adults she trusted, but was still angrily scratching and meowing to escape outdoors. More vet consultations determined that Sophia was NOT intended to be solely an indoor cat. She was spayed early at 4 months, with the goal that by 4 1/2 months she could be introduced to the outdoors.

Her first taste of freedom was sweet!

Sophia’s first introduction to the outdoor world

I was worried that Sophia might run away, but she did not! She raced around the yard in ecstasy leaping, smelling, racing up trees, and experiencing her new freedom!

From 4 1/2 months of age, Sophia officially became an indoor/outdoor cat. During rainy, windy weather she tends to stay indoors more. During late Spring, Summer, and early Autumn, Sophia spends more time outdoors. We reside in an area with lots of forest, and our immediate neighbors love Sophia!

Sophia likes to be around us and “help”. October

Sophia checks in with us multiple times a day and usually comes when she is called. Initially she was fearful of other cats and animals, but her curiosity generally wins out. Sophia loves to watch Mark work and is always very curious and helpful!

Sophia is super curious and loves to “help” Mark.

She is also learning to trust more people and her affectionate side is developing. Sophia clearly trusts and adores my son Alexander.

Sophia and Alexander have a special bond.

Sophia’s curiosity is endless and her antics keep us entertained ! After 6-7 months of age her anxiety started reducing and we were able to slowly withdraw all medical supports. She continues to be fearful of more than about 5-6 people at a time, loud noises, and unknown or unfamiliar things. We love her and she is definitely a much loved member of our household. Even her excessive scratching is ever so slowly decreasing!

Sophia and Mark watching the snow…

Sophia was truly fascinated by snow and had a fabulous time tunneling and high stepping through it on our deck and in the yard. But she was also quick to run back inside to get warm and dry!

Sophia’s first snow encounter!

This video highlights the second half of Sophia’s first year with us!

Sophia aged 6 months to 1 year!

Happy 1st Birthday Sophia! You have come a long, long way baby!

The next blog posts will focus on hiking and kayaking adventures around mid Vancouver Island. Stay safe and keep smiling my friends.