Monday, February 22, 2016

Our First Venture Out

Most striking about the island is the lush greenery, the moss, and the ever-present dampness. Suddenly you realize that this is the Rain Forest. The best saying I heard was “if your feet aren't in salt water, then you are probably in the rain forest.”

The trees are so twisted and stunted they look like broccoli, reaching up from a mass of thick, wet moss. Some trees are so big the hobbits could live in them. The vivid greens of the moss covered soil; the ferns that arch up towards the overhanging layers of green vegetation; the impenetrable canopy that blocks out the light can only inspire the imagination.
Our first destination was a small village called Mill Bay just northeast of Victoria. 
We were lucky enough to arrive on the first day of the Chinese New Year and enjoy the Dragon Dance Celebration put on by children in the community.

  Mill Bay was established in the 1860s, twenty years after Victoria was founded. 
Many of the settlers in Mill Bay arrived in 1862, when the HMS Hecate came to the 
Cowichan Bay area from England. 
According to written records, the standard payment to the natives for settlement land was two blankets. 
Mill Bay was the location of a power-generating station for Henry Shepard's sawmill. 
An American industrialist named W. Sayward turned the mill into one of the major industries in the area. 
Cowichan Lake was too far into the wilderness at the time, but eventually logging spread into the area as well. Mill Bay continued to be the hub of the industry for a number of years. 
Logs had to be dragged by oxen in a process called 'skidding'. 

The road we took wandered in and amongst the ever present overhanging of vegetation . . . sometimes sunny and sometimes socked-in by mist or low-lying clouds . . . but always surrounded by shadows.
Like always, we wanted to get back before dark but there was just so much to see:
 The Salish Bear Pole

 The creek rushing through the woods

The Marina at Cowichan Bay

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bless the GPS

Mary voiced our last GPS. She did mislead us a few times and we ended up calling her “the navigator bitch”. Jill is our ever-faithful voice of direction now and she does a wonderful job. We have only experienced one failure and that was because they closed off the road.
I am so-o-o glad she is with us. The drive from the ferry to my brother’s place was rather uneventful because of her.
I forgot how green and lush the island is, even in the middle of winter.
It’s funny, when Sheila and I were driving down a street in Lethbridge a couple weeks ago, there was one lawn, in particular, that was very green and we joked about it being artificial turf. Lo and behold, on our way back, we discovered that it was artificial.
Our stay in Victoria was shortened by a couple of weeks so we didn’t do all we had planned. We mostly beach strolled and ate in wonderful places  - - - we had East Indian food, wonderful seafood and Dim Sum – treats we haven’t had for years.
Beach strolling is a marvellous past time and people watching, of course.

Victoria must be a wonderful place to live but as a visitor, it is a difficult place to find your way around.

The Fisherman’s Wharf is amazing with all it’s colourful boats and begging seals.



The one thing I wanted to share with you-all was something we had never seen before and I just had to get a picture of it. There is a huge 2-story Walmart in a large shopping centre. It has a cart escalator!! No, really, you put your cart on the escalator and it will take it to the next floor – fascinating!!

Not being city type people we were anxious to find our way out of the city and onto roads less travelled. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

We left!

To my great relief, we are on the road. Our plan was to leave Wednesday, but the promise of mild weather and little snow prompted the early departure.
In his usual manner (saying he felt great) Fred put in a long, hard day travelling through the mountains.
I remember a time when he drove a straight 24 hours before he stopped and another time we drove all night to get to Wyoming for the weekend and then back for work. But he is getting older – this time we did manage to stop at Salmon Arm, just before it got dark.
Nothing can compare with a trip through the Rocky Mountains especially in the winter. 

From a distance, the mountains don’t seem like much but as you get closer and closer, you realize how massive and majestic they really are.
I was surprised just how little snow there was on the upper parts of the mountains. And yet, in spots the branches of the trees were so heavy with snow, they nearly touched the ground.

We took the Trans Canada Highway right through Banff National Park. Banff hosts about 3.5 million visitors every year and an additional 4.5 million that drive the Trans Canada and never stop in the Park. All this traffic takes it’s toll on the abundant wildlife that populates the Park so when they decided to expand the road from two to four lanes, they decided that something must be done to protect the animals.
Since 1996, they’ve opened six wildlife overpasses and 38 underpasses, which has allowed for more than 140,000 documented wildlife crossings. You don’t see the underpasses but the overpasses are fascinating.

 Rather than take the Trans Canada through the Fraser Canyon, we took Highway 5 over the Coquilalla (el. 1,244 m or 4,081 ft) and dropped into the green, green fields of Hope. It’s amazing to see green fields this time of year. We stopped in to a grocery store and they were selling petunia bedding out plants. I couldn’t believe it – the first of February!!

Ferry to Vancouver Island
We left Langley early in the morning (we accidentally left our pillows there, too) and caught the ferry with no wait time.
I don’t think we have ever taken the ferry when it was sunny and warm. This was no exception but I still feel a sense of warmth and excitement each time we cross the straits from the Mainland to Vancouver Island.
When we drove up the ramp, the counter told us we were the 80th vehicle in that line to go up the ramp. There was another ramp beside us and two more on the other side of the ship.
I couldn’t find out how many vehicles or passengers each ferry holds but it runs into the hundreds. They can load a ferry within 15 minutes. It is quite a process.

We spent about an hour and a half wandering in and out amongst about a dozen small island as we wend our way from Vancouver to Victoria.

 I’m not sure about spending so much time in the city but we will do our best!!