Saturday, April 2, 2016

Finding Highway 4 Gems

You have to take Highway 4 to get to Tofino and Ulculet on the west side of the Island. Highway 4 actually starts at the Oceanside Route (19A) near Parksville but there is a connecter road from Qualicum Beach. We are usually so anxious to get over to the other coast that we don’t take time to explore along the way. So exploring Highway 4 has become an on-going challenge.

Although interesting, Coombs is a bit overrun with tourists now. That’s the place that has the goats up on the sod roof on the store. There are a number of artists around but it is always so crowded that we don’t stop there.

Up the road from there is the Thai Smile restaurant – a little off the road place recommended by friends. The Thai food is prepared and served by a family from Chiang Mai, Thailand and is superb.

Cathedral Grove


Big attraction along here is Cathedral Grove. Cathedral Grove is one of the few remaining remnants of an old growth rainforest. Paths wander in and among sacred ancient Douglas Fir and Red Cedar that have stood for over 800 years.




As it was so eloquently put, the giant mossy trees glowing like stained glass in nature’s cathedral. Even with your eyes closed there is a humid, fragrant coolness that enables the mosses and lichens clinging to the tree branches to grow.

Multiple canopy layers, forest openings with remnants of human infiltration mingled with, dead standing trees with holes for owls, bats, squirrels, and birds are just a few of the highlights.

To the Natives the Cedar was the Tree of Life and provided them with materials for canoes, totem poles mats, baskets, ropes, etc.


See those holes in the trunk of this old tree? Well, apparently the old lumber jacks would make those holes to hold planks that they stood on to cut down the tree.



North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is off the beaten track at Errington, between Coombs and Parksville. Whether it was because we were there so early in the season or that we had had such awesome experiences of the Desert Museum in Tucson but we came away very disappointed in what we saw and experienced.

There was an abundance of taxidermy and very few live exhibits (except for a few birds). We did expect to be able to see the bear cubs they rescued but were only able to view a video.

He is looking for his mate:clip_image016[1]



Other Nature Crafts:





The Deep Bay Marine Field Station (



The Deep Bay Marine Field Station was a treasure we came across quite by accident. Deep Bay was a place close by that we had not explored - so off we went.


What a pleasant surprise.

clip_image032Hm-m-m Marine life needs a lot more exploring - maybe next year!



Qualicum Trading Post (

A funky little place



with some authentic treasures!


Where I finally got a pair of rubber boots! Maybe next year I’ll manage to wear them!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Couple More Weeks

All of a sudden – geez we are only going to be out for another couple of weeks and there was still so much we wanted to do.
Son-of-a-Gun, we were not going to let the soggy weather keep us down!!
The Totem Poles at Duncan
When we were here in 2007, Duncan was a place we kind of missed.  The weather was horrible (worse than this year) and the Cowican Village was not really open. I slogged around in the mud through a few buildings but never really spent as much time there as I wanted to.
So the next sunny day we went to Duncan. When we stopped into the Visitor Information Centre for a map of the totem poles, they told us that the Village had been closed down.
So much for that idea. But we did manage to wander around and capture some of the 80 or so Totem Poles throughout downtown Duncan.
Cedar Woman and Man
The Friendship Pole
Raven’s Gift
Sea and Sky
Transformation in Life
The Totem Pole collection is on traditional Quw’usun’ (Cowichan people) lands. According to their oral tradition the Cowichan people have lived on this land since the beginning of time. Quw'utsun' in the local Hul'q'umi'num language means ‘sun warming the back’.
Duncan is known as the ‘City of Totems’ is an on-going project to develop the largest outdoor collection of publically displayed Totem Poles.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

More of Our Island Story

Vancouver Island is big (32,134 km2 (12,407 sq. mi) 460 kilometres (290 mi) in length, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in width at its widest point. There are about a dozen or so inhabited islands in the Strait of Georgia and all sorts of ferries that transport people and things between and among the islands and over to the Mainland of BC.

 Nanaimo is the hub for shopping. It is reputed to have more shopping centres per capita than any other place in Canada. So it is the place to go.
 I was surprised to find out that the ferry coming into Nanaimo is considered part of the Trans Canada Highway and if you go south to Victoria it continues as the Trans Canada but if you go north it becomes highway 19. All kinds of things surprise me, the speed on that highway is 120 km/hr – imagine!!
Mind you, there is a lesser traveled road called the Oceanside Route that wanders in and around the many settlements and villages along the shore.
French Creek is one of those places between Parksville and Qualicum Beach. It is where many of the fishing boats bring in their catch and where you take the walk-on ferry to Lasqueti Island (home to a small population of farmers and artisans). We wandered down there to see the eagles when the herring was supposed to be running but the run never happened there this year.

 When we were at the French Creek Marina, we were talking to Dorothy and her Mom who run the store on Lesqueti Island. They were taking supplies over on the walk-on ferry. We talked about Lesqueti being off the grid and, darn it, they wouldn’t want it any other way!! “Come and visit”, they said.
BTW French Creek has the best hidden Seafood Shop on the Island.
The weather hasn’t been the greatest but one cold and windy day, we checked into Rathtrevor Beach and just happened to see this brave and crazy fellow set up his para-sail and cruise into the icy water.

There really is nothing like the west side of the Island and our visit to Tofino and Ulculet reinforced the allure of the rage and serenity of the ocean.
We toured many of the beaches along the coast and realized we probably have as many photos of the ocean as we do of sunsets. And like sunsets, the ocean is always fascinating, intriguing and never the same twice.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Qualicum Beach - Out and About

My brother told me that the locals call Qualicum Beach, Q Beach so I will too. We'll be here for over six weeks, so we're not residents but we do feel more like locals than strangers. Q Beach has a population of between 8000 and 9000 and is reputed to have the oldest average age (around 61) of any place in Canada.
Historically the Salish people had inhabited the Qualicum Beach area for hundreds of years. The word Qualicum means "Where the Dog (chubb) Salmon Run" in the Pentlach language. It is considered within the traditional territory of the Qualicum First Nation.
In 1886 a road reached Parksville and was extended to Qualicum in 1894 and the arrival of rail service in 1914 boosted the tourist trade.
BuenaVista by the Sea, the place we are staying, is one of the oldest still-operating resorts was built in 1937.

I'm not sure if we fit in but we have been out and about almost every day doing what we usually do – tour around and find sights that interest us. It is definitely different from the desert!! 

Everywhere you look there is special manicured garden spots and invitations to beautify.

Downtown is filled with specialty shops of all sizes and descriptions and coffee shops in almost every nook and cranny.

The aisles in the local grocery store are extra wide to accommodate the numerous walkers and over at the hardware store, they have a special place for customers to park their scooters. 
As with most smaller communities, Q Beach has its Farmers Market filled with home-style type products. 

I was so tickled when we discovered the Salvation Army Thrift Store Boutique. 
Doesn't that say it all - a trendy senior community!