Archive for British Columbia

Victoria, British Columbia

August 11, 2008

Last nite I explored some areas not near the harbor, which I think is too touristy except for the Parliament Building [with pretty white lights on the edges], the marina, and the block long, ivy covered, fancy Empress Hotel [lit up with changing colored lights at nite].

Victoria has grown on me.  I really like the totem poles they have here.

Today I’m going to check out the Legislative Building, Butchart Gardens, and if I can pass US Customs/Border Patrol…will be on a ferry later today to Port Angeles, which is on a San Juan Island off Washington [and next to Olympic National Park].

MUST do’s re Vancouver Island:
* must drive to Long Beach/Tofino
* must book your accommodations [camping/room] in advance [in August].  Do NOT wing it…it is either impossible, or nearly impossible to get a room/camping spot…anywhere.

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Long Beach and Tofino, British Columbia

 

August 8, 2006

I would have been a fool indeed if I had NOT driven to Tofino.  The drive alone was worth the trip, even if I found mediocracy [unsure if that’s a word] at the end…which I didn’t.

It only took 10 minutes inland from Parksville for the wow factor to kick back in.

Spectacular.  Picturesque rivers, lakes, mountains.  Lots of stopping and picnicking.

This part of the island is only around 100 miles wide, however, the drive takes much longer than you’d expect.  Most of the road is very narrow, twisty/windy, up and down mountains, lumpy/bumpy…driving between 30 – 40 mph.

I’ve seen a few logging trucks on the road, not too many, and only saw one small spot where they clear cut the trees.

On the way I saw a sign for “pot sale”.  A week ago I would have known it was for plants, but it made me laugh with a different vision.

There was sign to check your fuel – next gas station was 55 miles away.  Right after that, there was  “closed” sticker on the gas station sign.  I knew to fill up.

Long Beach is on the west end of the island, and then Tofino is about 10 miles beyond that.  Between mid island and Long Beach, the temp dropped 30 degrees.

The area along the coast, including Long Beach is a Provincial National Park.  I hiked the Wickaninnish Trail, which they call the Bonsai Forest – due to the little trees/vegetation.  Hiked down to Florencia Bay where there were surfers in wet suits, surfing in the cold [60’] and fog.  Lots of white drift wood on the beach and people building fires.  Very misty/foggy…mystical.  I hiked thru trails of huge cedar and fern trees.  All I had heard about is Long Beach, Long Beach, Long Beach, which I thought was just ok [but I’m not a beach person].  More people in wet suits surfing, LOTS of driftwood, fog.  I think without the fog it wouldn’t have been as cool.

I had thought of taking a passenger ferry to Ucluelet and then cycling over to Tofino. I would have been sooo disappointed if I had done this.  First it’s far away, and second, there are no trails for people to cycle/walk on [narrow road], and thirdly, from the road you can’t see the water…you have to park and hike in.

I had done all I could do at Long Beach.  I decided to drive the remaining 10 miles to see Tofino.  Unsure if it would be worth the drive, but what the hey.  I drove past a few areas where there were 5 older wooden buildings, and wondered if this was the village of Tofino [ie Lake Louise], but kept going.  I thought I’d go until the road literally ends.  I turned a bend, and literally yelled out  “HOLY F*#%”. Immediately pulled over to take photos.  There were already quite a few cars there with people taking photos…and more cars stopping.  It was that initial POW.

What took away from the beauty was a huge tourist bus, other machinery/equipment, and the workings of a working logging/fishing area.  I spent the next hour meandering my way to areas where I could get a photo without the added “junk” in them.  However, I did attach the photos of my initial wow moment.  Of course, seeing it panoramically is more impressive.

Tofino is a working fishing/whale watching/logging town with a lot of young people who could use a good warm shower.  There is a dichotomy…lots of people/housing who seem in need of money, and then there are the resorts and the $25 personal small pizzas.  Meals at a small café are $25 – 30.

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Parksville, British Columbia

August 6, 2008

I am in Parksville.  Yesterday, my plans for yesterday and today changed about every 2 hours.  You are lucky I wasn’t sending emails out, and are spared the minutia.

 

After I sent the email out yesterday morning, I realized that I had asked Meredith her opinion of where to go/what to do.  She nixed several places I had heard about.  Told me I needed to go to Tofino, Ucluelet [both on the west side of the island. half hour apart], and she mentioned Parksville several times…even mentioned 2 places for me to stay here.

 

Victoria is on the southern end of the island.  There is a highway that runs along the eastern side of the island, and one, maybe two roads that cross the island to the west side.

 

My goals are to drive north along the eastern shore [6 hours to Port Hardy] and also to cut across to visit Tofino on the western shore [drive north 2.5 hours, then cut west].

 

Yesterday my only question/concern would be: which to do first?

 

I saw a Gremlin [car].  When’s the last time you’ve seen one of those [or a Pacer]?

 

Lots of wineries and fruit stands.  I had my fill of strawberries in WI and MN, then I had my fill of cherries all thru Canada to Vancouver.  Am currently eating my fill of raspberries and blueberries.

 

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the highway is “near” the eastern coast, but NOT next to it.  Besides lookout/viewing areas, I hardly saw the water.  The landscape w/o the water, is just OK.

 

I got to Parksville, which just happens to be the turning west point and decided I needed to suss the situation out [see if further north the landscape suddenly gets the “wow” factor].  Meredith had highly recommended me staying here, so I decided to do that.

 

I am unsure why she’s is so keen on Parksville, and have decided that maybe this is the best there is.  To me, it’s just an ok little town.  The big thing here are the beaches, and I’m not a beach person.  The tide does seem to recede greatly – several hundred meters, and the water is warm.  They claim it’s around 70’, I’m not sure about that, but I would consider it warm.

 

I made 3 friends yesterday, all of whom said that the drive north is exactly the same as the drive from Victoria.  I have had my fill.

 

The big thing to do here [besides the beaches] is to go to Coombs.  It is a little community about 10 minutes away that sells a bunch of artisan products, has a health food store, a café, and several ice cream places.  The store/café has a grass roof and goats live up there.

 

While standing in the café line, I met Sandee, her 2 poised, well behaved daughters, and her mom-in-law.  Sandee is a spitfire and I loved her company. I had lunch with them and then hung out with them while the daughters and MIL shopped.  Sandee grew up just north of here and they are staying there with friends.

 

Her hubby and father-in-law come here each year to go fishing.  Depending upon the size the fish, they come back each year with between 200 – 300# of fish.  They catch the limit, take it to a place to be cleaned and shipped to them in Calgary.

Sandee says Tofino is “mind blowing”. It’s rugged, the edge is a Provincial Park [Long Beach], the trees are only so high cuz of the wind, you won’t find anyone swimming in that water…the COLD Pacific Ocean…which is the only thing between you and Japan. [You had to hear her say it to fully enjoy.]  Hanging out with her was thoroughly delightful.

 

We were looking at maps, and she said that all that land [where there are no roads – the middle of the island] is full of pot growers.  The gov’t stopped flying over the land cuz they kept finding too much, and now they just rely on people squealing on their neighbors.

 

After that, I went to the coffee shop…and met Anne Marie.  She’s  a little older than myself, teacher and wheel chair bound.  I talked with her all afternoon re things to do on the west side/coast.  She told me I would be a fool if I came all this way and didn’t drive the 3 hours [along twisty turning roads] to Tofino. Just a fool.  She said it’s something I just have to see.

 

I then went and explored the beach[es].  As mentioned above, the water is warm…but not warm enough to entice me [at 5pm].

 

Later I had dinner with Anne Marie, her hubby and her son, who is 10.

 

All around an enjoyable day.

 

Am off to Tofino to have my mind blown.  I wonder if that includes a stop along the way to a pot growing farm?

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Change of Plans – in Victoria, British Columbia

August 5, 2008

As I was leaving Vancouver yesterday to drive to Seattle, I found out my Austin music was cancelled.  So, instead of driving south, I drove east and took the ferry over to Vancouver Island and went to Victoria.

This weekend, and especially yesterday, BC is celebrating their 150 yr anniversary, and Victoria is the provincial capital of BC.  Needless to say, it was a madhouse!  I had heard there was a music festival going on…which is always good, but oh goodness.  You know what it’s like when a stadium event lets out?  Well, that is what it was like there.  It’s a town of approx 75,000 people, and they claim over 100,000 were there, packed into the city center.  Good thing I had my bike, cuz I had to park wayyy aways and then cycle into town.

Burton Cummings played – from The Guess Who [No Sugar Tonight,  These Eyes, American Woman…].  Sarah McLachlan played for a whopping 30 minutes.  Others I can’t remember…the last act was Fiest.  I hadn’t heard of her but apparently [in Canada] there is an ipod advert on tv where someone is singing “one, two, three, four…”.  If you know what I’m talking about, this is her.  Bubblegum pop to me.

I am unsure 100% re what my plans are.  I need to go back to the Victoria city center too see how it is without the crowds, but yesterday my thoughts were that it was just ok…I little too touristy for me.  A female cop laughed at me when I asked her for a non-touristy, “character” place to have lunch.  In the city center???  Ha ha ha.  She was right.  I had such a hard time finding a place to eat [besides $4 scoops of gelato], that I actually went to the downtown mall’s food court.  Imagine that.

I have been invited to dinner Thursday nite by a woman [Meredith] I met last nite.  So, I most likely will travel around Vancouver Island for the next couple days, have dinner with her and her friends Thursday nite…then head/ferry it to Washington.

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vancouver – somewhat change of plans

july 31, 2008

 

let’s just say that i don’t like where i am staying.  do NOT stay at: www.vanwestghbb.com


due to this being a holiday weekend [for canada] and the high price for a room, i’ll only be here until saturday.

so…instead of a leisurely time here, it may be a whirlwind.  OR i may still be leisurely in my 3.5 days…and see what i can see.

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Drive to Vancouver, British Columbia

July 30, 2008

This should be short.

I forgot to mention that in Peachland, they have a bunch of docks for people to play on and jump off of [either from the dock, or ropes to swing out].  Between a couple of the docks they have a zip line.

 

I didn’t make it to Summerland yesterday.  I had heard that there was road construction going on, which was true.  Longgg traffic jam.  So, I thought it best to turn around and drive to Vancouver.  Per mapquest, it would be around 4.5 hours from Peachland. 

 

Which really means around 7 hours for me.

I don’t know where the disconnect on mapquest was, but it took me 4 hours, and I drove leisurely and took my stops.

There weren’t too many rest stops along the way, but at this one, this guy has a kiosk and he is selling homemade Indian food + sausages.  I had the veggie samosas [sp?], and they were really good – his wife made them.  The sausages looked good too.

 

The 1 hour drive from Peachland to Merritt was just ok. Hilly, still half arid and half green.  South of Merritt it starts getting green again.  About halfway to Vancouver, right after the $10 toll, it starts getting impressive again.  Very green and lush, and great looking tree covered mountains, as I drove thru light rain.  Hmmm…light rain = lush, green mountains.

 

1 hour from Vancouver, and we are back to farmland [with mountains nearby in the distance].

 

You know when you enter a city, on the welcome sign they state the name of the city and some slogan or something: a drug free zone…

 

Here in Vancouver, they state it is a “nuclear weapons free zone”.

 

Have only seen 1 cop car on the highway this entire time.

 

I have driven 5,000 miles since leaving Baltimore.  When I lived in Houston I put 3,000 miles on a year.  Less when I lived in Baltimore.

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Peachland, British Columbia

July 29, 2008

i had to stop in the visitor center to send out an email re how much i love Peachland. incredibly beautiful. everything is along the lake. they have a trail, but the road is very wide and easy to cycle along. there are 2 great coffee shops. one is very cinnamon rolls smelly!

lots of rose bushes [my B&B had these too]. lots of picnic tables along the water, and people in their own chairs enjoying the view. the beach/shoreline is just rocks/stone…no sand.

i saw a sign for U-pick apricots a block over. i thougth i’d go and pick 5. come to find out, they are FREE. as i pulled up, the family was pulling out in their car. they turned off the engine to talk.

they said i could take all i wanted – and they had small boxes set out for people to put hte apricots in – but they were all taken, so best that i come back in a few

hours. i said all i wanted was around 5…oh, then there are that many “ripe”. a ripe apricot is one that has fallen from the tree – you don’t actually pick them. they have a tarp set up under the tree for them to fall onto. as i was there talking to this family, a couple fell and almost hit me.

they asked if i lived here or a tourist.

tourist – i came in last nite and fell in love, so spent the nite.

did you fall in love with the town or with someone?

ha. the town. BUT if you know someone…

we have someone in the backseat!

i only see 2 pretty women back there [i could tell there were 3 people in the back seat, but i could only see 2] to my amazement [and from the look on his face, his too], dad automatically rolled the back seat window down so i could see him!

he was good looking…but probably 25.

they asked where i was from…the states and being a nomad for awhile.

a free spirit? we love free spirits. this is the place for you to be.

i agree.

i am loving it here…and just had to send this off.

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Vernon and Drive to Peachland, British Columbia

July 28, 2008 

 

I’m in Peachland. I was going to spend the nite in Kelowna, which is a city of around 100,000 people.  As I mentioned last week, the highways here go right thru towns…they don’t bypass around them…and I drove mile upon mile of businesses, and just a quick look towards the city center didn’t inspire me.

 

The woman at bfast in Golden suggested I travel to Peachland, which is about 30 minutes out of my way, and also to Summerland, which is around 30 minutes further out of my way.

 

Going thru Kelowna, I was hoping I would like either Peachland or Summerland…and be able to find a play to stay.

 

Got to Peachland and fell in love.  I was going to cycle along Okanagan Lake last nite, but just enjoyed the view and breeze.  I also started doing research on Vancouver…which I will spend the nite tonite.

 

If anyone has any suggestions at all…even obvious ones…please pass them my way.  I plan to be there for at least 5 days…and will leisurely explore the town, mountains and various neighborhoods.

 

After Vancouver and Victoria, I will check out the state of Washington [then Oregon], so again, if anyone has any suggestions…pass them on.

 

On to yesterday…

 

Yesterday was relatively low key. Hung out at the cool coffee shop.  Went back to Okanagan Lake [yes…same lake…it’s huge].  The water temp wasn’t COLD, but wasn’t warm either.  I could see that people would swim in it [not me..too cold], and there were lots of people in the water.  I had no idea that blow up rafts/toys/things little ones can ride on were so popular at the beach.

 

I then went to hike up to Juniper Bay [Rattlesnake Point]. On my way I was planning…bring bear spray, where hiking shoes and thick socks…  when I got there, the parking lot was full of families and lots of teenagers.  Very popular spot.  And lots of people walking the 20 minutes paved path/trail to the point/beach.  I figured I didn’t need any of my safety gear.  There was a sign “We Live Here Too” re rattlesnakes.  This lake is called Kalamalka Lake [lake of many colors].  This lake was prettier than Okanagan, and it did have various colors of blue.  Really pretty.

There was a shirtless hippie guy carrying around a tray selling pina colada’s and strawberry daiquiris.

 

On my way back to my car, I walked by 3 boys around 10 years old.  2 had no shoes on, and one did.  One of the no shoes boys says to shoe boy: you need to take your shoes off and walk on the pavement…it will burn your feet up!!  [Somehow, this must be fun to a 10 yo.]  Shoe boy replies: no way…there are rattlesnakes here!

 

I thought Kalamalka’s water was cold, but there were tons of people in the water.

 

I had another wow scenery moment just south of Vernon.  Tree covered mountains to the lake in the valley.  The entire 1 hours drive to Kelowna was really pretty. 

 

Lots of wineries here.  Lots of fruit stands – mostly cherries, peaches, apricots.

Interesting landscape – the mountains on one side of the lake are baby mountains covered with green trees, the lake, and the baby mountains on the other side of the lake are brown/arid.  The great divide!

 

As you drive into a town, there are signs that tell you the local radio station.

 

Today I plan to hang out and cycle around the lake here.  Then check out Summerland.  Then, I head to Vancouver, which is a 4.5 hour drive.  I plan on taking my time and getting in later tonite.

 

The innkeepers are Russian.  I know 2 Russian words, besides the ones we all know. 

 

One I can get into conversation, the other one is difficult.

 

Spa see ba = thank you.  Except, I think she was telling me it means I wish you good luck.

 

I always ask how to say hello, but it is just too many syllables.

 

Ma trush ka = as in matrushka dolls – those nesting dolls.

 

Oh…and I think I wrote this a while back, I also know:
EEdee!!   EEdee!!   EEdee!!   When the little gypsy kids have you swarmed and they are trying to snake their little hands into your pockets and purse.  You say this with gusto while doing that “move away” motion with your hands.  I have no idea what it means, but it seems to work.

 

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B&B in Peachland, British Columbia

July 28, 2008

You would not believe the B&B I just scored in Peachland, BC, from a Russian couple. Contact info: Yelena Volkova  at okanaganbreeze@hotmail.com.

It is a brand new home that faces the lake, and mountains on the other side.  The entire “basement” area is mine…2 BR, 2 bath, full kitchen AND a patio with the view.  Per the photo, it looks like those fruit trees block a view, but that’s not true.

AND I have wireless with more than 1 or 2 bars of strength!!

The weather is 82′, dry [not humid] and they have no mosquitoes here.  Imagine that.

I am in bliss.  I was going to cycle around/near the lake, but now I’m not so sure I’m moving from this patio.  And if I did…the drive is just a 5 minute drive to the lake/village.

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Lake Mara and Vernon, British Columbia

 July 28, 2008

Last nite when I first got into Vernon, I was asking a hot 28 yo the best way to get to Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake.  I know I didn’t need to tell you he was hot, since, after all…I’m in Vernon.

Anyways, he tells me in minute detail how to drive to each lake.  Every turn, every curve.  Then he proceeds to tell me in detail which beach he suggests at each lake, and which runner up beach. Then he makes suggestions for food, again, in detail for both lakes.

He highly suggests hiking at Kalamalka out to Juniper Bay which is at a point, and there is also a beach nearby…and of course how to get there in detail. 

His gfriend walks up, and he tells her:

Him: I’m sending her to Rattlesnake Point!
Me: Ahhh…is there something you forgot to tell me?
Him: Oh…ya…watch out for rattlesnakes. 
Me: Jokingly, I say: does my bear spray work on rattlesnakes?
Him: [he doesn’t get the joke] no, but if you’ve got bear spray, bring it.
Me: I need bear spray?
Him: You’re in BC…you ALWAYS need bear spray. 
Me: And what about the snakes?
Him: You’ll be ok if you stay on the path.  They don’t want anything to do with you.  I’ve lived here 8 years and I’ve only seen 4 rattlesnakes – and 2 were on the same day.

So, in all the minute details he told me, he forgets to mention rattlesnakes on the trail?  Goodness.

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