Visiting Vancouver Island

I spent last week on the west coast visiting my sister Betty, my son Robin/D-I-L Nici, and other family.  I love it when I have the opportunity to share time with my family in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.  Betty and I had a week full of adventures – and a pot of barley soup to eat – after I arrived late Sunday night!

We started off by visiting my cousin Jacklyn, her daughter Melody, and her mom Kathy.  It had been a long time since I’d seen Kathy so it was a real treat.   My niece Brodie, a talented singer, also dropped in for a quick hello too.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

The next day Betty and I were off on the ferry to go across the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.  Waiting for us was my son Robin and later my daughter-in-law Nici and their german sheppard puppy Gerda, who was actually the size of a miniature pony!   We had an awesome time!  Robin drove us up to the little town of Lund which is SO picturesque – it’s actually Mile One of a highway that will take you all the way down the west coast to South America’s Chile, 15,202 kms.  We had lunch on the patio at Nancy’s Bakery overlooking the small harbour and the ocean dotted with gulf islands.  Afterwards we went back to the farm to check on the goats and chickens.  I even learned to milk a goat!

I milked a goat!

I milked a goat!

Robin spoiled us with delicious homemade dinners and desserts using veggies from their own garden and milk from their goats.  I’m proud to say he’s an awesome cook!  In the evenings, we enjoyed watching videos on the computer of our Family Frolics – 20 years of videotaping of family life now stored on my external hard drive.  We also spent hours beachcombing, looking for beach glass and unique shells which I’ll make into Christmas tree decorations for our tree this year.  Finally, all too soon, it was time to catch the ferry back to the Island and leave Powell River behind.   A small pod of Orca whales graced us with their presence as if they were bidding us goodbye.

Rob's pumpkin pie made with fresh goat's milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Rob’s pumpkin pie made with fresh goat’s milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Next, we drove down to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, picking up Betty’s granddaughter along the way to bring her down to her daddy Curt for halloween.  Betty and I stayed at our favourite hotel, The Mayfair, where the rooms are clean and affordable.   We spent a relaxing evening on our computers, each one of us propped up in our individual beds, watching more Family Frolics videos and laughing hysterically until the wee hours of the morning.  We leisurely drove back up Island, stopping along the way at a few new thrift stores and lunch in Ladysmith.  Once back at Betty’s ‘cave’ a few hours later, we got in our comfy clothes and ‘chillaxed’ for the evening since I was leaving very early the next morning.  A week sure flies by way too fast and now I was on my way back to Vancouver to catch another flight to the Yukon/Northern B.C., the land of the midnight sun.

Linda and Betty

Linda and Betty

Vancouver Island Adventures

Sunset @ Courtenay Marina

You can already imagine by the infrequency of my blog posts lately, that I must be having a fantastic time on Vancouver Island in British Columbia with my two sisters Faye and Betty (and her family).  We’ve had a blast in the past week!  When I first arrived, Faye and I toured around the Comox Valley for a few days while waiting for Betty to start her holidays, stopping in at some thrift stores and The Freakin’ Coffeeshop http://freakincoffeeshop.com/ for a ‘world famous’ cinnamon bun.  Betty had prepared all month, by cooking my favourites:  delicious Barley Soup, Sheppards’ Pie, and Cabbage ‘Rolls’.

Betty’s Barley Soup

Last Friday night we were in full VA-CA mode!!  Let me tell you abit about our adventures:

In Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley, there are berries, berries, everywhere!  Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries:  wild, organic, pick-your-own, or store-bought.  Plus cherries, apricots and veggies like new potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuces.  We enjoyed a Queen’s feast!  Faye and I stopped in at Best Berry Farms for certified organic fruit and Shamrock Lavender Farm http://www.shamrockfarm.ca/lav.html for a ‘Happy Vacation’ gift for Betty.

Comox Valley Deer

While driving around, we saw dozens of Vancouver Island Black Tailed Deer just calmly sauntering around without a care in the world, munching on grass on residential lawns or roadways.  A sign on the roadside “Expect Deer on our Roads” said it all.  These deer are unlike our Ontario White Tailed Deer (who dart out frantically in front of cars or away from people) :  the Comox Valley Deer live in harmony with the humans of the area, unafraid of anyone.  There are also many majestic Bald Eagles, especially in the Comox Bay estuary.

Comox Glacier *

We went up to the quaint town of Cumberland which is nestled at the base of the amazing Comox Glacier in the Vancouver Island Mountain range a few kilometers/miles from my sister’s place in Courtenay.  We visited my niece Brodie, who is a very talented singer/songwriter  just about to release her first CD  http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/brodie.dawson  and http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_1084611?utm_campaign=opengraph&utm_content=song&utm_medium=link&utm_source=facebook#!/brodiedawson

Brodie Dawson

We ate a tasty pizza from a new family run pizza restaurant in Cumberland www.riderspizza.com  before heading back down to the city.  The Comox Valley is an amazing place:  you can ski in the mountains at Mount Washington or hike right there in the  incredible Strathcona Park and a half an hour later you can be on the beach with a breathtaking view of the Comox Glacier to the west or the mainland Rocky Mountains to the east!  Like I said, AMAZING!!

Nymph Falls on the Puntledge River

Across the street from my sister Betty’s partner Rob’s house is the Puntledge River where glacial water flows quickly from Comox Lake to the ocean.  Brave people on inflatable tubes and rafts ride the white water  current down the river all day long..  We walked the trail beside the river and watched several ‘tubers’ having a blast.

Seal Bay Park

We ventured up Island to Campbell River, first stopping at Seal Bay Park for a little 3 km hike.  EVERYTHING is bigger in British Columbia!  Some of the old growth Douglas Fir trees are bigger around than my car!  We travelled along the road weaving beside the inside passage of the Strait of Georgia and stopped to view the Cedar tree Chainsaw Art displaying incredible statues carved with a chainsaw.  Then we arrived at Rob’s sail boat at the marina in Campbell River and stayed for a little visit on board.  Campbell River, at the 50th Parallel,  is a Native Community, like many other places on Vancouver Island.  The Native influence is everywhere.   Of course, we HAD to stop at the Thrift Store before heading back.

The 50th Parallel
Campbell River, BC

Chainsaw Art

We arrived back in Courtenay at 5 p.m. rush hour traffic………… or “Rush Minute” as Betty calls it since nobody rushes around for anything! LOL

Old Growth Douglas Fir stump

On my last full day, we went on a road trip (!!) to Victoria at the southern tip of the Island to pick up relatives arriving on the Clipper Ferry from Seattle, Washington, USA.  Normally a 2 hour drive, it took us over 8 hours!.  What a beautiful drive!  Ocean on one side and mountains on the other side!  The usual 45 minute drive to Parksville actually took us 5 hours because we stopped at every Thrift Store along the way as well as a bakery and a garage sale.  LOL!  We brought along a picnic lunch and ate at the Parksville beach.

Totem pole @ Malahat Summit

Almost at Victoria, we drove through the Malahat, a 25 km (16 mile)  mountain route which connects ‘Vic’ with the rest of Vancouver Island.  This section of the TransCanada Highway # 1  has sharp, winding curves which climb up and down the mountain pass through rugged, steep slopes.  There are several scenic rest-stop viewing areas with unbelievable vistas of the Saanich Peninsula, Saltspring Island, and Mount Baker in Washington State.  The ferry was on time and after a quick visit with my nephew Curt in Victoria, we drove back up to the Comox Valley, arriving home after 10 p.m.  Thanks goes to my sister Faye who did all the driving!!

Malahat Look-out

For this past week, we all stayed at Rob’s beautiful home – he was SO gracious putting up with the “Cluckin’ Triplets” as he called us.  LOL  Thank you SO much, Rob!  The weather was just perfect too with temperatures in the low 20’sC (70F) – and NO humidity or mosquitoes!

I write this as I’m flying over Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, Ontario.  It’s good to get home to see my kids who have been taking care of everything on the home front, but I’ll miss my Sistas Betty and Faye ’till next time………..

Sistas @ Campbell River, BC

* http://www.keira-ann.com

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