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Canada Exploring Vancouver Island Family Life during Covid 19 Sophia StarFish Medical Travel Winter Snow

White Christmas on Vancouver Island! Winter Wonderland–Snow to StarFish 2021

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas“…The lyrics incite such a romantic vision of a Winter Wonderland. It truly is magical when snow arrives for Christmas…

Winter Wonderland in our backyard…Merry Christmas 2021 from Vancouver Island, Canada.

After shoveling snow several times a day for over a week straight (Thanks hon!); and being basically snowed in during the entire time my 88 year old mother and son, Alexander, were visiting over Christmas; I must confess visions of sun and warm beaches have been slipping into my thoughts lately!

Shoveling snow every day since snow arrived! Dec 2021

However, it is with gratitude, I embrace the beautiful snowy scenes and Winter Wonderland our family experienced during 2021 Christmas.

In preparation of the Festive Season, we attended a George Canyon Christmas concert, set out the nutcracker collection, decorated the tree, and Sophia our cat set out to explore after the first snowfall.

Getting into the Holiday Mood–George Canyon, Nutcrackers, Tree, Sophia and Snow!

Gifts were created and shared. From Santa on a motorcycle playing “Born to be Wild” to homemade pumpkin pies for each of our neighbors. I even managed to get my hair cut and styled!

Getting ready for Christmas Festivities…

My husband and I headed up for a day of downhill skiing at Mount Washington prior to the influx of participation when school breaks for the Holidays.

Downhill Skiing at Mt Washington, Dec. 2021 (weekday).

By December 22nd my 88 year old mom and son, Alexander, arrived at our home on Vancouver Island. Alexander had spent the previous week in Toronto working at the StarFish Medical office in Toronto. Luckily his Covid test was negative after returning back to our province, so he was able to join us at Christmas. Sadly, his long time girlfriend, Benz, remains in Thailand due to Covid global restrictions. We all really miss her optimistic ways and quick smiles! Sophia, our rescue cat was thrilled to have Alexander home!

Beautiful Benz in Thailand and Sophia loving Alexander’s gentle touch.

When Alexander arrived my modest, reserved son quietly informed us that he had just received an award at his work place. We were all so proud when we learned that Alexander had been selected to receive the StarFish MedicalReach For the Stars” award.

My son, Alexander, was selected to receive the StarFish Medical “Reach for the Stars” 2021 award with Scott Phillips (Founder and C.E.O. of StarFish Medical.)

His grandad (Alex) would have certainly been beaming with pride! Alexander is the 3rd generation of exceptional Engineers. My dad whom Alexander is named after, was a Marine and Machine Engineer. His Uncle Mark was an Electrical Engineer. Alexander is a Design and Manufacturing Engineer. All three generations are incredible divergent thinkers, innovative problem solvers, and hard working leaders in their fields. Alexander is very humble, but he is allowing his proud mom to share this recent recognition. I am so proud of you hon!

So how do you entertain when snow is steadily increasing outside day by day?

Daily measurement of snow on the back deck table….The last photo reached 48 cm or 19 1/2 inches!!!

Well….The 4 of us (mainly Alexander) worked together to complete a 1,000 piece puzzle entitled “Wish you were here” sent by a lovely friend in Burns Lake. Thanks Wendy! Our one outing in the snow was Alexander’s gift to his nana. Mom selected a movie she would like to see and we all attended “West Side Storytogether! It was mom’s first time attending a movie theatre in years and she was thrilled watching from recliner chairs!

Christmas activities–puzzles and movies!

Eating….Meal planning was done ahead of time. Here are a few of the meals we shared together.

Sharing meals together….Enjoying extra treats over the Holidays.

Christmas is not quite the same without small children present and our day was pretty quiet with only 4 family members present together. Covid times have changed our celebrations, but we embraced our time and had fun together!

Highlights from Christmas 2021

The Fifth member of our home is our rescue cat, Sophia. Although she loves to spend time outdoors….We discovered that Sophia is not fond of deep snow and temperatures below 0! She is curious and likes to check in with us (especially me), but during a Winter Wonderland experience she is happy to hang indoors!

Sophia our Turquoise shell cat prefers indoors….but likes to follow me when the snow is under 30 cm.

It is a lot of hard physical work keeping snow under control–including keeping the vehicles accessible and driveways/paths cleared. But sometimes…..you just need to have a bit of fun and make snow angels!

Mark and Alexander demonstrate how to create Snow Angels! Dec 2021

Sophia demonstrated how to create paths in the snow and play with the snow. She was not successful creating snowballs….but she tried hard!

Sophia (rescue cat) tries to make snowballs….

We definitely had a “White Christmas” this year and as we approach the New Year of 2022, I can say honestly that we will have a “White New Year” too!

Yes. We had a “White Christmas” 2021

The snow seems to be very content resting here and weather forecasts do not indicate that it will be disappearing in the near future. So….Here are some highlights showing the beauty of a Winter Wonderland in our city.

Scenes around our cul de sac during our December 2021 Winter Wonderland.

Alexander assists nana through the path in the snow to my husband’s truck. Mark drove her up the cul de sac hill to get into the vehicle which would be taking her back home up island.

Alexander assists his nana through the snow. Mark checks out an icicle!

Christmas is over for 2021….The Winter Wonderland remains in our city on Vancouver Island.

Happy New Year 2022!!!! From our home to yours!

2020 and 2021 have had their challenges with Covid global pandemic lockdowns. A new year is inspiring and offers new opportunities and hope. Happy New Year 2022! From Canada to your home!

Keep Safe and Keep Optimistic. Cheers. S

Categories
Adventure Canada Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Hiking trails Travel

Hike Historic Harewood Colliery Dam Park. Vancouver Island.

Introducing Harewood Colliery Dam Park–officially recognized as one of Canada’s Historic Places. This blog post is dedicated to explaining some of Harewood Colliery Dam’s historical significance while illustrating the beauty and features related to my theme of Hiking trails around Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Colliery Dam Park during Autumn (October).

The Colliery Dam Park, at 635 Wakesiah Avenue, is a popular destination in Nanaimo for a multitude of reasons. Parking is available in several locations around the park. There is wheelchair access to the first lake which is a popular picnic spot during summer. Fresh water swimming (no lifeguards) and fishing is permitted in the lakes. Although dogs must be on leash on the majority of the trails, there is an off leash area with lake access on the upper dam. The trails offer a variety of fitness options from easy to fairly steep climbs.

Colliery Park trails—May

In addition, Colliery Dam has historical significance to the Nanaimo area. The Dams were built in 1910-11 by the Western Fuel Company. Originally the water was necessary in coal mining to wash coal, and be utilized by miners, mules and horses. Many of the homes in the historic area of South Harewood eventually gained access to, and benefitted from, this fresh water supply.

Colliery Dam fresh water lakes—May

While researching about Harewood Colliery Dam, one of the most informative websites I discovered was from Vancouver Island View. vancouverislandview.com Colliery Dam Park In Nanaimo

Beautiful foliage and bird songs—May

The photos I am sharing of Colliery Dam Park were taken on several walks and hikes in the park during mid May, September, and October. We avoided the summer months, as this popular park gets too busy for our Covid safety comfort level.

Autumn—some of the wooden bridges and stairs sections along the trails.

The following photos were taken during autumn (September and October) on some more challenging trails around the park and surrounding areas.

Autumn. Colliery Dam Park.

The deciduous trees are dropping their leaves — particularly the giant Maples. It’s a harvest feast of colour and lush undergrowth. Note the cedar stripped off the trunk of the cedar tree. Aboriginal People traditionally used cedar to create art, baskets, regale, and hats. Cedar bark is stripped in a lengthy narrow section, then the chosen tree will be left to heal and continue growing.

Autumn hiking group soaking up the lush rainforest.

Feeling the richness of the woods around us…

Autumn—Colliery Dam

Time for our photo shoot beside Granny Falls (also known as Chase River Falls).

2 photos of Granny Falls —Autumn

Compare Granny Falls a month later…

Granny Falls (Chase River Falls) Colliery Dam

Another interesting site to explore is the tunnel of graffiti! It’s a fun art experience for all.

The tunnel of graffiti!

Since Covid 19 surfaced, a covid face mask mysteriously appeared inside the tunnel protecting Marilyn Monroe’s stunning face.

Bridges and trails around Colliery Dam—October

There are many trails to explore around the Colliery Dam Park. I will return again soon! In the meantime, there are other hiking locations to explore and Sophia’s (our cat) antics to share.

Keep Safe and Keep Optimistic! S

Categories
Black-Tailed Deer British Columbia Canadian Animals Exploring Vancouver Island Nature Sophia

Columbian Black-Tailed Deer at home in my Vancouver Island Neighborhood.

On Vancouver Island, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks there are 150,000 to 250,000 Columbian Black-tailed deer. These deer are identified by their large mule-like ears, a white rump and an all-black tail.

Black-Tailed Deer

The population of Columbian Black-tailed deer (subspecies of the mule deer) fluctuates based on a variety of reasons. This Discover Vancouver Island website contains interesting facts about Black-Tailed Deer from general habits and mating, to their life cycle and food choices. https://www.discovervancouverisland.com/wildlife-on-vancouver-island/black-tailed-deer/

An informal consensus with friends typically divides people’s opinions on our Black-Tailed Deer population into 3 categories: hunters (fresh wild venison), gardeners (annoyed by the foliage consumed by deer), and nature lovers (adore watching the deer and encourage their presence).

Sophia (our cat) watching the Deer family grazing in the front yard.

I must confess, our household has evolved into a combination of the 3 categories. Although we do not hunt, a gift of lean wild venison is a delicacy we greatly appreciate.

Fenced backyard… open to graze in the front yard

Our backyard is fully fenced in order to keep the deer out. They quickly consume fresh veggies, flowers, and new growth on plants. However, our front yard is free territory for deer to graze and wander or relax.

As the seasons rotate, we find ourselves curious about the upcoming new fawns and look forward to observing the deer family behaviors and interactions.

Rutting/mating Season! This big buck suddenly started showing up and chasing the does!

At present… It is November (Autumn in Canada). To our Black-Tailed deer this means it is rutting/mating season! We can hear the Bucks (males) crashing their antlers together as they fight to establish dominance!

Another big buck recently appeared… The doe started running away when she saw him heading her direction–right beside our vehicles!

We observe the Does (females) pushing away their 1 1/2 year old sons. It’s time to leave mom’s company and become independent. The does will be in heat soon and inbreeding is not encouraged!

This was a family unit that frequented our yard until this past month. Momma doe is now being chased by big bucks. This year’s fawn remains with her. Last year’s fawn (buck) now has spike antlers and momma has chased him off to be independent.

By late October … Spike was not included when momma doe and this year’s fawn wandered through our yard to munch on newly fallen leaves and grass. The fawn seemed to enjoy resting on top of the autumn leaves.

Late October…. Spike was no longer part of the family unit.

Dominant bucks suddenly appear during daylight hours to mate and chase does. The bucks remain by the doe’s side for several days while she is in heat.

Bucks remaining by doe’s side during her estrus period.

Reflecting back to September and October, the deer family units were still intact in our neighborhood. Momma doe had been injured on her back leg and she continues to lick the wound regularly and struggle to walk. This year’s fawn is usually close beside her and rarely wanders out of her sight. Last year’s fawn has grown into a healthy young buck and is now sprouting spikes on his forehead!

Our usual deer family—including Spike!

Our cat, Sophia, continues to be fascinated by the deer family–mainly the youngest fawn. They watch each other from a distance, and naughty Sophia even sits on the roof of the vehicles to increase her safety and view.

Sophia and the fawn playing in our yard.

Sophia watching the action from a distance!

Sophia and the fawn! October 2021

Once a doe falls pregnant, the gestation period is nearly 7 months long.

We don’t see our urban deer as often during the winter months

During the winter the deer cope with the colder temperatures by hiding under foliage and growing thick coats.

Momma and last season’s twins

Last March a momma doe and her twin fawns popped by to graze in our yard.

The deer are in the process of shedding their thick winter coats! (March)

The majority of fawns are born during May/June in our area. Twins are common, but young does sometimes only produce one fawn.

The new spotted fawns finally venture out to visit! Summer

On Vancouver Island, the major predators for black-tailed deer are: humans, wolves, cougars, and occasionally Black or Grizzly bears. Lynxes and wolverines are additional threats on the coastal mainland of British Columbia, but do not exist on Vancouver Island.

A new threat is making the news in the past year. AHD (Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease), is a contagious virus killing black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands in B.C.

Apparently, the disease is only found in deer populations and spreads mainly through nose-to-nose contact. Information is accumulating about AHD on many veterinarian and hunting websites.

Here is a September 30th 2021 Chek TV News article about this disease . https://www.cheknews.ca/deadly-virus-killing-hundreds-of-deer-is-spreading-on-vancouver-island-891862/

Dedicated to our neighbourhood Pacific Northwest Black-tailed deer.

We are entranced by our urban black-tailed deer families and look forward to observing visits each day. Keep safe and keep healthy my cervidae friends. Winter is coming!

Upcoming posts will be about antics of Sophia and more hiking adventures on Vancouver Island.

Keep Safe and Keep Optimistic. S

Categories
British Columbia Canada Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Hiking trails Nature Remembrance Day Travel

Autumn Hikes. Exploring the Rainforest around Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island!

Vancouver Island is a nature lovers’ paradise. If you love to be outdoors and explore nature, there are endless possibilities around our beautiful Canadian island. This blog post discusses day hiking options around Nanoose Bay, British Columbia.

Colorful autumn hikes around Nanoose, BC.

If you commence your hiking trips from Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay is approximately 30 km or about 30 minutes drive northwest via the Island Highway 19 N (North).

Popular hiking trails at Nanoose Bay include: Enos Lake Trail, Notch Hill Park, Notch Hill Loop Trail and Bonnell Creek Falls. It is easy to search for information about hiking trails in this area, but a source recommended by many local hikers is https://www.alltrails.com/canada/british-columbia/nanoose

Due to reaching herd immunity (over 85% of people over 12 are now fully vaccinated against Covid 19 in my Canadian province of British Columbia), hiking groups are now allowed to explore once again! We are all covid careful and everyone has to show their covid vaccine QRCode passport in order to join the group.

Covid style hiking groups

Let’s go hiking!!!!

This is Enos Lake hike in September. The weather was sunny and warm. The deciduous trees were only starting to change colours. This is a gorgeous lake hike with many trails to explore.

Enos Lake, Nanoose Bay

We stopped to have a break and eat a snack on a grassy spot up the hillside above the lake.

Hiking break at Enos Lake Park trail

A week later, our hiking group explored trails closer to the Lantzville side of Nanoose Bay. It was another sunny September day. We did not require jackets or toques yet.

Lantzville area hike in September

The trees along the trails were regal and the rainforest undergrowth was so thick in places that we had to create new paths!

Breaking paths on hike near Lantzville

As the weather started changing into normal Autumn patterns, the winds and rains increased causing more trail obstruction damage from tree windfalls and slippery trails. The water levels in the creeks and rivers also increased.

Bonnell Creek Falls, Nanoose Bay in October

Our hiking rain jackets and pants were getting used more regularly now as were 1 or both hiking poles during our adventures. This next hike occurred at Bonnell Creek Falls in mid October.

Creating new paths through underbrush at Bonnell Creek Falls area

Another great hike in the Nanoose Bay area is “Big Trees” trail. This hike occurred in late October.

Big Trees Trail

We discovered some enormous Arbutus and an enormous Evergreen.

“Big Arbutus Tree”. Our hiking leader posed to illustrate the size of this Arbutus tree.

There truly were “Big Trees” to discover!

Another “Big Coniferous Tree” we discovered.

The rains and winds had assisted in dislodging most of the Maple tree leaves around the trails. Although the deciduous trees looked rather bare, the colorful leaves and variety of fungi were enchanting.

COVID Careful Hiking. Break time at Big Trees trail.

A musical Canadian experience in Autumn, is the sound of leaves rustling around your feet as you walk or hike along through the abundant variety of nature trails.

Fascinating diversity of fungi in late October.

Last year on November 11th, our group explored around Enos lake and upward to the “Notch“.

November 11th 2020 hike around Enos Lake and upward to the Notch

At 11:00 a.m. we stopped in a quiet location in the forest beside a river. We all respected 2 minutes of silence to reflect on our freedom in Canada, our goal for peace, and our gratitude for those soldiers and personnel who fought to ensure our freedom. Following the silence, we had an opportunity to share a personal vignette of how Remembrance Day is significant to our families. It was an extremely powerful and sentimental experience.

Here is a video presentation of our November 11th (Remembrance Day) Hike at Enos Lake and up to the “Notch”.

Remembrance Day Hike in Nanoose Bay

Remembrance Day 2021 will soon be here. I will be wearing my poppy and reflecting with deepest gratitude on the past; embracing the freedom we have living in Canada; and hoping for global compassion and peace.

My next blog posts will be about more amazing hiking experiences on Vancouver Island and possibly an update on our Rescue Cat Sophia and our neighborhood deer families.

Keep safe and Keep optimistic. S

Categories
Adventure Beaches Canada Canadian Animals Exploring Vancouver Island Kayaking Newcastle Island Travel

Kayaking around Newcastle Island (Saysutshun). Marine Provincial Park in Nanaimo.

One of the many joys of living on Vancouver Island, B.C. is that nearly all communities are near, or adjacent to, the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Living in Nanaimo (population over 100,000), there are so many diverse ways to explore nature and the outdoors. This blog post focuses on one of the favorite kayaking areas to explore in Nanaimo. Newcastle Island, is also known as Saysutshun by the local Snuneymuxw people.

Let’s explore Newcastle Island!

The following excellent website thoroughly explores Newcastle Island (Saysutshun) from Ferry Schedules, to Camping, Moorage, Maps of Trails, and Explanation about the Culture and History of the Marine Provincial Park. http://newcastleisland.ca

Newcastle Island is less than a kilometer’s paddle across the water from several launching locations in Nanaimo. It is about 8.5 km to circumnavigate the island by water. These aerial views of Newcastle and Protection Island were taken from a float plane while flying in/out of the Nanaimo harbour.

Nanaimo harbour and nearby islands. Views from float plane.

Newcastle and Protection Islands are popular locations, so expect to see other kayaks, sailboats, pleasure craft, even B.C. Ferries sharing the water with you!

Sharing the water around Newcastle Island, Nanaimo.

There are several FREE locations available to launch your kayaks. The size of your kayaks and ease of parking influences your selection. Some locations have free parking. Other locations require pay parking. You can launch from the following locations: Nanaimo Harbour Marina (downtown);

Downtown harbour

Maffeo Sutton Park has access for smaller kayaks to launch;

Maffeo Sutton Seawalk

More launching sites include: Brechin boat ramp; Queen Elizabeth Promenade (near the Yacht Club); Departure Bay Beach; and Stephenson Point.

We own touring ocean kayaks which are longer than most day trip recreational kayaks.

Brechin Boat Ramp. Newcastle Island in the Background.

Our boats are very seaworthy, designed for multi day trips with 2 hatches, but are over 16 feet in length! Our usual launching location is Brechin Boat Ramp.

Let’s get kayaking! The following kayak adventure photos were taken during 3 different adventures while kayaking around Newcastle (Saysutshun) Island. One trip occurred during April (Spring), the other 2 trips occurred during August (summer).

April: Needing to take a break from Covid masks and restrictions? Kayaking on a sunny day in Spring is such a pleasant remedy to any feelings of confinement. We departed from Brechin boat ramp and headed along Newcastle, toward downtown Nanaimo, then continued across the water to Protection Island.

My husband and I paddled past a log sort boom and continued towards a beacon. From this location, there is a fabulous view of the cliffs on Gabriola Island.

Beacon. The cliffs of Gabriola Island in the background.

Dingy Dock floating pub was open with limited capacity due to Covid. A pleasure craft arrived before we could maneuver our kayaks to the back dock, so there was no space in the floating pub for us today!

Dingy Dock Pub on Protection Island.

Returning to Newcastle Island, we explored the spit area adjacent to the park picnic area.

Newcastle Island

As we continued to explore the craggy notches between the island and the water, we observed a few raccoons feasting on low tidal delicacies.

Can you locate the albino raccoon in each photo?

It is common to observe raccoons on Newcastle Island, but today we glimpsed a couple of the more rare, albino raccoons.

Albino raccoon scavenging along the tidal rocks at Newcastle.

Time to head back…

It was a beautiful day to explore!

Summer (August) kayak highlights from our paddle circumnavigating Newcastle Island.

Circumnavigating Newcastle.

The 8.5 km trip around Saysutshun is lovely and there are many gorgeous hidden gems to discover. Expect a few larger waves when you round the corner and head towards the more open strait on the outside of the island.

Here is a video highlighting our kayak adventure around Newcastle island in mid August.

Our wonderful day kayaking around Newcastle

The sunny weather and beauty of this location drew us back for an additional kayak the very next day! This time we went out for an evening kayak and swim in the ocean at Newcastle.

Mark waves hi as he swims. Cozy spot to rest the kayaks.

August Kayak adventures and swimming at Newcastle…Part 2. The evening sunset glows were magical.

Evening kayak and relaxation around Newcastle. Such a gem!

No wonder Newcastle Island is such a popular kayaking destination in Nanaimo. Meanwhile…Switching sports, I have hiking adventures around Nanaimo to blog about next. Keep Safe and Keep Smiling! S

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.

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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
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
Adventure Canada Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Pacific Ocean Seashore Travel

Beach Exploration around Northern Vancouver Island

One of the many advantages of living on beautiful Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada, is its endless and diverse selection of beaches. Vancouver Island is the largest island on the West Coast of North America stretching about 460 km long and 50-120 km in width. The Pacific Ocean surrounds us creating endless sandy and rocky beaches. Some are famous and well known internationally–Rathrevor Beach and Long Beach (Pacific Rim National Park).

Evening at Rathtrevor Beach

However, there are a multitude of other stunning, less known beaches if you are ready to explore our Island. This blog post will present a few other beach options at Port Hardy and Campbell River at Northern Vancouver Island.

Commencing in my home town of Port Hardy located on the northern end of Vancouver Island.

If you plan to depart on B.C. Ferries heading north to Bella Bella (and area) or Prince Rupert you will be departing from the Port Hardy Bear Cove terminal. There is also a small airport. Port Hardy is the gateway to outdoor adventures: like kayaking, scuba diving, God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park, fishing, whale watching, exploring First Nations culture, exploring the beaches, caving, or hiking to Cape Scott or the North Coast trail.

There is much to see and explore in Port Hardy and the small communities on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This informative website is packed with ideas and nature information. https://www.visitporthardy.com/

If you prefer sandy beaches; kayaking around the nearby islands; and possibly seeing sea mammals (Seals, Sea lions, Pacific white sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, Humpback whales, or Orca whales then Storey’s Beach is an amazing place to experience.

Photo Credit to my friend, Dana Rufus, for these lovely photos of Storey’s Beach.

Storey’s Beach and the Tex Lyon trail hike are also favorite locations for north island locals.

Mid tide…During low tide the sand extends far out into the bay.

If you prefer Rocky shorelines abundant with fascinating sea life and beautiful views of mountains and down town activities, then the Port Hardy sea walk and beacon area is where you should explore.

Exploring Hardy rocky beach area… May

There is an abundance of sea life around Port Hardy … from Moon Snail collars (egg casings), rock weed and tidal pools, chitons, shells, and whelk snail eggs. These are only a few of the fascinating things you could discover.

Check the tide schedules… this was a low tide in May.

If you are lucky enough to discover a zero low tide, don’t miss the opportunity to explore! We discovered ghost shrimp, shells, barnacles, crabs, sea stars, sea anemones, whelks, limpets, and so much more.

Moon snail collars and moon snails, sea cucumbers, sea stars. Photos by Dana Rufus.

If you are ambitious and hit the lowest tides of the year… you can cross from the sand spit over to the beacon. We just missed the opportunity this year, as the tide was not quite low enough and we could not quite pass from the spit to the beacon. The ocean water was over our boot level.

The sea life species are incredible at the beacon. These photos were taken by my friend Dana Rufus who managed to hit the lowest tide and cross to the beacon for a limited time. Thanks Dana

Sea life at the beacon in Port Hardy. Photos by Dana Rufus.

Bat stars, bull kelp, sea squirts, crabs, sea anemones… even gumboot chitons can be discovered there! For decades I took my students across to the beacon on the zero tide each year. It truly is a remarkable experience!

One last look view of some of the scenic areas around my home town Port Hardy, as tomorrow we head southeast down Vancouver island.

Beach views around Port Hardy, BC in May

Taking highway 19 down island from Port Hardy to Campbell River takes about 2 1/2 hours (230 km). The trip can be quite challenging in rainy, foggy winter weather; but glorious and majestic otherwise.

Fuel up prior to departure as there are only fuel stations in Port McNeill, Woss, and Sayward during the trip. Watch for nature and wild animals–particularly in May–as bears are often more visible eating fresh grass.

Highway 19 between Port McNeill and Sayward

Campbell River is a lovely community with great fishing, and lots of beautiful walking trails. Instead of heading south on the inland highway, try the old highway which follows the ocean.

To get acquainted with some of the tourist options available in Campbell River, check out the informative website. https://www.campbellriver.travel/

We love stopping at Foggdukkers Coffee stop on the Campbell River Seawalk at Simms Creek. It is a favorite location for locals and a funky fun place to take a break and enjoy some great coffee!

Foggdukkers Coffee Stop at Campbell River

Another favorite location in Campbell River, is the Baikie Island Nature Preserve and Campbell River Estuary. It is a beautiful location to walk or kayak and peacefully while enjoying the sounds and antics of ducks and birdlife. Float planes land periodically and Tyee boat history is displayed. Seals and even the odd beaver can be viewed here too.

Campbell River Estuary in the evening —May

There are so many pristine beaches and wilderness options to explore on Vancouver Island. In this blog post I shared a few less travelled locations which truly are stunning.

My next blog posts will cover Sophia’s 1st year (our rescue kitten), and more gorgeous areas for nature walks/hikes/kayaking adventures around Vancouver Island.

Our province of British Columbia just moved into Stage 2 of B.C.’s Restart Plan after Covid. The future looks so optimistic!

Categories
Adventure Canada Cats Exploring Outdoors Exploring Vancouver Island Nature Pacific Ocean Vancouver Island

Beaches, Blossoms, Being with Family

Despite Covid health regulations and restrictions enforcing citizens to remain in their health regions of British Columbia, Canada; the beauty of Spring blossoms, sunshine, and diverse nature opportunities from hiking to beach walking around beautiful Vancouver Island brought daily smiles and optimism.

Vibrant May blossoms around our home

Our neighborhood is surrounded by an abundance of huge evergreen trees particularly Cedar and Douglas Fir interspersed with Arbutus and a smattering of other varieties including: Spruce, Pine, and Dogwood. The trees vary in height, but many stand 60–120 feet tall! Bird songs and calls are constant entertainment and wild deer and rabbits visit regularly.

We adore nature and embrace the beauty and sounds around us. But…As the trees increase in stature, our views decrease. So…When we hear chainsaws and see Tree Falling companies arriving to remove an unsafe tree, the people in the neighborhood come out to witness the event!

Removal of an unsafe tree in our neighbors yard.

Even the neighborhood deer family came to check out the event!

A doe arrived to check out the action!

Spring fever and sunny days gave me incentive to stain the fence in the backyard! As our new roof and gutters are slate/granite colored, I decided to stain the back corner fence to match. As always, Sophia assisted and was by my side to encourage me.

From natural to stained. The phases of staining the corner back fence!

When the sun is shining, our choice is to spend as much time as possible outdoors during lockdown. When the weather shifts to rainy, gusty days…this time is a gift for working indoors organizing, sorting photos and revisiting memorabilia. May I present 3 generations of Alex? My beloved dad, Alex, passed away in 2007. As a globetrotter, he reminisced of his trips and informed me that when in Scotland he was called “Sandy”. My only son, Alexander, also follows the name tradition.

The importance of family!

More rainy days brought more blogging and reminiscing. Many years ago….my son and I won a zodiac whale watching adventure out of Tofino. It was stormy and a bit rough travelling by zodiac. We got totally drenched! The highlights were Humpbacks and Grey whales sleeping and some sea lions playing in the surf.

Memories from the past…Zodiac Whale Watching in Tofino. Playing guitars in PG.

It was fun…but we are spoiled coming from northern Vancouver Island where Orca pods, Seals, Sea Lions, Pacific white sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, and Humpback whales roam on a regular basis.

Dedicated to my family….Here is a short video showing some flashbacks from the 1950’s onward.

Family flashbacks!

Birds are plentiful around our home, but the Juncos are particularly bold and don’t seem to mind the rainy days.

“Wet” coast birds in the rain. Especially Juncos.

In mid May 2020, during lockdown, my 87 year old mom (in excruciating pain) was transported by ambulance from her home to the hospital in isolated Port Hardy. Although I was not permitted to be with her due to Covid lockdown, it was discovered that she was passing several large kidney stones!

After several days, they transferred mom via ambulance from Port Hardy to the Campbell River Hospital 230 km south for further tests and to see a specialist. It was on the parking lot outside the hospital that we were finally permitted to see one another. This was a very emotional and stressful reality of Covid lockdown. In spite of mom’s suffering and fear, it is evident by her smile that having family support means the world.

Mom at the hospital in Campbell River

I was not permitted to see my mom for hours after I first arrived north in Campbell River from Nanaimo 155 km south. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day and I walked along the Campbell River shoreline trying to gather a more peaceful, calm perspective.

Campbell River shoreline

After the hospital allowed a quick outdoor visit with mom, I was sent away again and asked to remain in the Campbell River area. The Campbell River Estuary is a favorite location of ours to go for an easy walk, or kayak paddle around the estuary and into the ocean.

Campbell River Estuary…Crazy cloud formations!

The weather was changing as storm cloud formations and lighting portrayed stunning art in the sky.

Seals playing despite the storm.

The seals entertained between float plane landings while I waited for an update from the hospital. The sunset at the Estuary was sublime.

Geese, Seals, and Kayaks exploring the Campbell River Estuary during the storm!

At 7:30 p.m. I received a call that mom (dressed in her pajamas and robe) was being discharged from the hospital. The ambulance was gone and there were no buses north to Port Hardy until the following day! That meant that my 87 year old physically challenged mom was released on her own, without support, 230 km from her home during Covid lockdown!

Thankfully, I was able to pick mom up and drive her back to her home in Port Hardy. Keep in mind, this was a 230 km road trip, during the dark of night, through lengthy sections of isolation without any (or extremely limited) cell coverage, little possibility of any gas stations open en route, no medical support if the kidney stones flared again, my mom is 87 years old–and it is Covid lockdown! Mom was quite stressed and I was not impressed that this could truly be a plausible option!???

Mom and I back home in Port Hardy.

It was a stressful 230 km trip during the dark of night and we were incredibly grateful to arrive safely in Port Hardy. Mom is now a huge advocate of drinking lots of water and taking apple cider pills! We are both Kidney Stones’ survivors and do not wish this pain on anybody!!

The next blog post will explore the nature and beautiful beaches around Port Hardy, heading south down Vancouver Island through Campbell River, and around Parksville and Nanaimo.

Sophia turns 1 year old!

In addition on May 28th our beautiful rescue kitten, Sophia, will turn 1 year old! Keep Optimistic and Safe. The world is opening up again soon…