Adventures in British Columbia, Part Five – Heading Home


On Monday, August 29th Jim, Pauline and I climbed into their SUV and began the execution of the plan Jim and I had put together several days before. He had a meeting in Comox so he offered to take me with them in the morning so I could catch the Island Link shuttle from there to take me to the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal. We had to leave early to catch the first ferry off Hornby Island. We were already too late.

We caught the second one, which took us to Denman Island. On the other side of Denman we boarded another ferry to Vancouver Island and then drove down the coast toward Comox, stopping for brunch at a beautiful resort dining room somewhere between Courtenay and Comox.

When we got to Comox we made sure we knew where the bus stop was for the shuttle. My phone data was all used up so I couldn’t check email or check in for my next day’s flight until I was somewhere that I could get WiFi, but I didn’t feel any urgency. Jim’s meeting was at 1:00 pm; my bus left at 12:50 pm. After running some errands and taking a walk along the boardwalk, they dropped me off at about 12:35.

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Plane coming into small Comox Airfield

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Boats along the bay at Comox

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Pauline with me

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Pauline and Jim

Perhaps I should have gone into the MacDonald’s to use their WiFi, but there wasn’t that much time, so I didn’t. Soon a young woman named Rose, who was headed back to University in Victoria joined me. We waited, and waited. By 1:10 we began to get concerned. I went into the service station to see if they knew anything about it. They didn’t. Rose looked up the Island Link website to get a phone number so we could call, but there was only an email address. What good would that do at this time? I had a reserved seat; Rose did not. At 1:20 I texted Jim to ask him to check with me before they left for home. At about 1:30 an Island Link bus drove in and dropped off some passengers.  The driver told us that our bus would be arriving shortly. I told him that it was supposed to be there 45 minutes ago. He knew nothing about it. He seemed to be done for the day and left.

To make a long story shorter, I’ll just say that Rose called her Aunt to pick her up. She’d try again the next day. Jim and Pauline came to pick me up and had to drive me all the way to Nanaimo, an hour and a half drive away. It was too late for me to catch the 3:10 ferry that I’d planned on, so the rest of the well laid plans also went down the drain. Pauline and Jim’s grandson Matt was going to meet me at the ferry at Horseshoe Bay and I was going to have him drop me off at the Sea Bus Terminal. From there I’d cross the bay and catch the Sky Train to Burnaby, where Ann would meet me. It was a good plan. Instead, we cancelled Matt and I had to ask Ann to drive all the way to Horseshoe Bay after work to pick me up.

At least this time I didn’t get lost at the Ferry Terminal and I had time to connect to the internet to do my flight check in while I waited. Once aboard, I found an empty row of seats, and slid over to the window. I was too stressed and tired to do anything but watch the waves roll by for a while.

An older woman with a thick accent, perhaps German, dragged her large suitcase into the row in front of me before she stood looking around and mumbling something to me, or herself. She said something about having to call her daughter. She caught a woman wearing the uniform of an employee and asked her some questions. When she was told where she had to go when it was time to get off the ship, and assured that someone would come to help her, she sat down and slept or read for a while. I was deep into my book when I caught movement to my left. I looked up to see her pushing her suitcase toward me.

“I have to find the Purser,” she said. “I need to call my daughter to tell her where I am. Can you watch my suitcase for me until I get back?”

“Of course,” I smiled.

She trotted off, seeming uncertain as to where she was going. I wondered if she’d find her way back on time. As I continued to read, I kept an eye on my watch. Time passed; my anxiety built. I had no idea what her name was or how to find her or what to do with her bag if it was time for me to leave and she hadn’t returned! Eventually the employee she’d spoken to before came looking for her, I thought. But she was looking for her suitcase. She had the woman safely in her office. Thank goodness!

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Ann arrived at Horseshoe Bay at just the time my ferry was docking at 6:30 pm. We’d both been up since 6:00 that morning and were anxious to get home, but traffic was backed up for the first part of the drive. Frank was waiting for us when we arrived at 7:45 and we all walked down the street to the local pub for dinner before Ann and I had to get organized for the next day (her for work; me for my flight) and crawl into bed.

At 6:30 the next morning Ann dropped me at the airport on her way to work. I had time for a good breakfast at The White Spot, which was just outside the Security lines. My first flight was to Calgary and took only 45 minutes. Before it left I got online to check my email. There was a message that had been sent an hour after we left Hornby Island the day before, from Island Link informing me that because of mechanical difficulties, the 12:50 shuttle bus from Comox had been cancelled and I should take either the 12:20 or the 3:20! I wrote back to say that I hadn’t received their email or text on time, and asked for a refund for my ticket. So far I’ve not heard from them again.

I had only a short wait to catch my final flight to Toronto, and it went smoothly, well except for the fact that I may have caught the exposed toe of a woman who decided to step into the aisle just as I lowered my heavy suitcase down from the overhead bin! Sorry!

It had been a great adventure and I was very happy to have seen so much of my family, but I was sure glad to see Jim waiting for me at the airport. As I opened my eyes the next morning, I wasn’t sure where I was! It’s good to be home…at least until our next adventure begins. 🙂

 

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Four – Hornby Island


On Tuesday, September 22nd my son-in-law Frank dropped me off at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal where I bought my ticket to Hornby Island at the low price of $17.00. I was there in plenty of time, but apparently my brain hadn’t quite woken up yet. I heard the ticket agent tell me to take the stairs up and then follow the red line to Waiting Area A, but the red line part didn’t register. I looked for signs and when I saw a sign that read “Waiting Area A” with an arrow that appeared to be pointing to my right, I followed it through a door and across an outside passenger bridge. That didn’t seem right. I eventually got turned back around and this time followed the red line! The room slowly filled to capacity before we were called to board. Because the vehicle passengers hadn’t yet made it to the main deck, there were no lines at the cafeterias. I took advantage and bought myself a packaged sandwich and a coffee that would be my breakfast and lunch, supplemented with the cheese sticks and granola bars that I had in my bag. Those two items cost me almost as much as the ferry ticket, at $11.25! Be forewarned, if you plan to travel on the BC Ferry System, and you’re on a budget, pack some food if at all possible.

The hour and a half trip went quite quickly. I slept for a while; I read my book, and I people watched, one of my favourite pastimes. I chatted with the woman sitting next to me who was travelling with her daughter and two granddaughters.  She’d traveled by foot before and told me where to find the Island Link shuttle bus that I needed to catch when I got off the ship. I found it without any problem and an hour later I was at Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island, where my sister Pauline and her husband Jim were waiting to drive me, via two more much smaller ferries, to Hornby Island. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could relax for a week.

On the Hornby Island Ferry

On the Hornby Island Ferry

Every time I visit Hornby I am charmed by the island’s uniqueness. This small island has lots to offer to anyone seeking a relaxed vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a place where there are no trains to catch, or crowds to push through. There are no big department stores or grand hotels and the only “traffic jam” you’ll encounter is while you’re waiting in line to catch the ferry when, reluctantly, you need to leave.

Driving up from the ferry you will come to the hub of the island where all roads seem to meet.  Here you will find a variety of little shops, including a bicycle rental shop, a couple of clothing stores displaying colourful summer wear and a few little eateries where you can experience some great and maybe unusual lunch items.  The main destination in the hub is the Co-op, where you will find all the staples you need, such as groceries (many organic), pharmacy items, dishes, clothing and rubber boots.  You will also find the post office nestled in one corner and an ATM somewhere in the middle.  The only island gas station is outside the door.

There are many residences on the island, but they are usually partially hidden from the road by the natural vegetation and are quite unobtrusive.  The pace is slow and relaxed.  The only “industries” are cottage industries – a variety of potters and weavers, and small farms.

Some of the highlights of this trip were:

Outdoor Cooking

Campfire Dinner

 

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Farm Animals at Outer Island Guest Farm

Beautiful Sunsets

Beautiful Sunsets

 

Walks on the Beaches

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

One of the many sandy beaches, at low tide

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

The rocky beach of Sand Piper

Rocky Sand Piper Beach

 

Good Food

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Clam Chowder by Chef Ben. Delicious with corn bread!

Blackberries

Freshly picked Blackberries

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Hornby Island Market

Walking the Trails

A hidden treasure along one trail

A hidden treasure along one trail

Helliwell Trail

Helliwell Trail

We also enjoyed a fantastic music concert by renowned Marc Atkinson – acoustic lead guitar, Brett Martens – acoustic rhythm guitar and Scott White – stand up bass, at the Community Centre one evening, and a delicious meal at the Sea Breeze Lodge dining room another night.

Before I knew it, it was time to pack for home.

Adventures in British Columbia, Part Three – Vancouver


After having another visit with Judy, enjoying a wonderful sushi dinner at a Vernon restaurant with her and Keith, and then another night’s sleep, I was back to the airport for my morning flight to Vancouver. This time my bag had a few new items in it, including a piece of fairly flat pottery, but I had left a couple of pieces of clothing with Sarah so it wasn’t much thicker. However, this plane was smaller and the overhead bins were just a little more shallow. Neither I nor the men around me were able to squeeze my bag into place. I was stuck with it on my seat while I waited for everyone else to get past me, then I told the flight attendant of my predicament. She said, “No problem. I have magic hands.”  She did indeed. With very little effort and no pounding, she got it in! At the end of the 45 minute flight I had to ask for her assistance again to get it out.

It seemed like every plane had landed at Vancouver Airport at once because the pickup area outside was jammed with traffic. But my daughter, Ann, eventually got to me and we were off to Abbotsford, where her husband was playing baseball. We caught only the last few minutes of the game and then socialized while we waited for his daughter to appear with the two grandkids, one of whom I hadn’t yet met. That was a special time.

My great-grandchildren, Lucas and baby Andrew

My great-grandchildren, Lucas and baby Andrew

We finally arrived at Ann and Frank’s place in Burnaby where we had a late dinner at the nearby Golf Club before we all crashed.

The next morning Frank was back to the Ball Tournament and Ann and I headed to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) where we indulged in some carnival food and drinks, watched the Super Dog Show and the Langley Ukulele Ensemble performance. As we wandered through the Market Place Pavilion I found a few things of interest, but remembering my problems with getting my only suitcase onto the last plane, I refrained from purchasing.

Japanese Lanterns

Elephant Japanese Lanterns

Obviously I was still a little weary. I forgot to take my camera along and captured only these two pictures during the whole day!

On Monday Frank was back to work. Ann had the day off and suggested we drive to Squamish to ride the Sea to Sky Gondola and see what was to be seen at the top of the mountain. It was a perfect day to walk the trails and enjoy the views from the patio while enjoying lunch.

Taking the Sea to Sky Gondola

Taking the Sea to Sky Gondola

Taking the Sea to Sky Gondola

Taking the Sea to Sky Gondola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overlooking  the Fjord

Ann Overlooking the Howe Sound Fjord

Views from the top

Views from the top

Along the Trails

Along the Trails

Made it to the Top!

Made it to the Top!

After dinner at home the three of us went out for Gelato and then it was time to repack my bags in preparation for the next part of my journey. My visit with Ann and Frank was brief because they both had jobs to go to the rest of the week.

I have to admit that by the time I crawled into bed I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the traveling and almost wished that instead of boarding a ferry the next day, I was boarding a plane home. But after a good sleep I was up for the challenge early in the morning, knowing that Frank was going to take me to the ferry terminal so I didn’t need to worry about catching buses and sky trains. That was so much appreciated!

Lavender, Motorcycles and Prison


It’s hard to believe that half the summer has slipped away and I’m a month behind with my posts. Guess that means we’ve been busy! I now offer a summary of what we’ve been up to.

1. Something to improve My Quality of Living While in the Motor Home

The installation of a new refrigerator in the motor home was exciting for me, and I was happy with the results when we spent a weekend in nearby Preston Springs at the Country Jamboree. We decided to try a house fridge instead of the usual two-way models used in most motor homes, mainly because the very hot, direct sunlight in the spring in Arizona sometimes causes freezing on those, and because the gas components take up a lot of space that I’d rather have for inside fridge space. Household models are also much less expensive than new motor home models. Since we already had a voltage inverter in the motor home, Jim just had to run wiring to reach from it to the fridge outlet, and install a switch so that we can use the coach batteries to power it when we are on the move, and then switch to 110 volts when we are plugged in at an RV Site. It was a bigger job than expected, but worth it.

 

2. Lavender Fields

In mid-July I made a trip to Campbellcroft to meet my Red Hat friends at the Lavender Fields, but  by the time we all arrived, heavy rain and the threat of thunder storms chased us away to the nearest shopping area and an indoor lunch.

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I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any pictures of the fields, so Jim and I took a drive out a few days later. There were so many people there that day, it was still difficult to get good unobstructed shots, but here are a couple.

 

3. A Motorcycle Ride to Picton

Last week, instead of playing pickle ball on a Wednesday afternoon, we joined our friends Steve and Sue on one of the few motorcycle rides we’ve taken this year. We left Hastings at 10:30 in the morning, expecting to be gone a couple of hours, but having no particular destination. By the time we stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm, we were in Picton in Prince Edward County, having explored many country roads and covered many more miles than anticipated. Picton is an interesting community that is heavily populated with tourists and cottagers during the summer months and well worth checking out if you are in the area. We reached it via Hwy. 49, but after lunch we took the Ferry across the bay to Glenora and drove along the shore of Lake Ontario before turning back north through the towns of Napanee and Tamworth, then cutting back west to Campbellford and home. That was the longest bike ride I’ve been on since my hip replacement almost a year ago, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the scenery and the perfect riding weather, but my joints and muscles were a tad sore when we finally got off at nearly 3:00 pm!

 

4. A Tour of Kingston Penitentiary

This past weekend we went to Kingston to tour the Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased operations on September 30, 2013, and was opened to the public just last year. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it, but the hour and a half passed very quickly. We were amazed by what we learned about this, the first British North American penitentiary, which sits on 8.6 hectares of land on King Street. It was constructed through 1833 and 1834 and officially opened on June 1, 1835 with the arrival of the first six inmates. Our various tour guides, many of whom are retired guards or wardens, explained the operation, the security systems, the routines, and enlightened us with stories of riots, escapes, work crews, rehab programs and building updates. It was well worth the $25 price of admission.

 

After a visit with family in Brockville over the next couple of days, we stopped in Napanee on our way home to have a lovely lunch with friends on the riverside outdoor patio of a relatively new restaurant that wasn’t there when I used to live in Napanee. How things change in thirteen years!

 

Next week I’m flying out to British Columbia for three weeks to visit with some more of my family. Because they are spread from southern BC to Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, it has been a challenge arranging the various modes of transportation needed. It will be an adventure. Stay tuned!

Settled Back into our “Summer Home”


It’s been almost a week since we arrived back in Hastings, Ontario. I apologize if any of my readers and friends have been concerned about us, since my last post was about the high winds. We did get away from there the next day, but poor internet connections prohibited posting pictures so I postponed blogging. Once home, there was a week’s worth of household chores, and of course we had to play some pickle ball. Activity was very much needed after nearly 10 days of mostly sitting in the motor home.

We did have a few adventures along the way though.

We got away from Clovis, New Mexico shortly after 8:00 a.m. and, despite the usual strong winds across Texas, the sun was shining and we made good time. We made one stop in Texas, back in McLean hoping for lunch at the Chuck-wagon Restaurant we’d visited before. We were disappointed to discover that, being a Wednesday, it was closed, so we pulled onto the road shoulder near the highway entrance and finished off some leftovers. We were once more struck by the desolation of the town, which probably had once been booming before the new highway bi-passed it. Beside us was what appeared to be a large motel, now overgrown with vegetation.

By 2:00 we were in Oklahoma; two hours later Jim was beginning to feel the effects of fighting the winds. We’d already stopped once to check the awning on the slide out because it was constantly banging, but it was just the wind playing with the spring. I found a KOA at El Reno, but it was fully booked. This doesn’t often happen this time of year. We moved on for another hour. I called ahead to reserve a spot in the Rockwell RV Park where we’ve stayed a few times, near Oklahoma City. The weather was much cooler than it had been last year.  We took a walk around the park for some exercise, stopping to see the Buffalo in the pen, before heating up the last of the chicken pot pies for dinner.

The next morning we drove to Bricktown, Oklahoma City in search of the Banjo Museum. We found a place to park beside the Land Run display along the River Walk. We had to walk through there again, and discovered many details that we’d missed the first time.  It’s still one of our favourite places.

To get to the Banjo Museum, we walked nearly to the other end of the River Walk and up onto the streets. Jim was following a map he’d found in a travel brochure of Oklahoma City, but it wasn’t quite right.  It took us some time to find it; however, it was worth the effort. Two floors displayed these beautiful instruments that not only are used to entertain, but are works of art!

Banjo Museum (1)Banjo Museum (3)

Gibson1EarlScruggsBanjo Museum (22)Banjo Museum (21)

When we left there an hour later, we returned to Jazzmo’z for another delicious lunch before getting back on the road again. After that, we focused on our destination – home. We stopped only for gas, meals and sleeping. The folks at the Cracker Barrel chain along the way became our best friends. Construction near Troy Illinois held us up for an hour, meaning we got only as far as the Casey KOA on day seven, but we sailed through Indiana and a good portion of Ohio the next day before stopping at a Cracker Barrel, where we always have dinner and breakfast in exchange for the privilege of staying in the parking lot for the night.

By 3:00 p.m. of day nine we were crossing the border into Canada at Buffalo, New York, seeing only a bit of snow in the ditches of Pennsylvania. While traversing the bridge the side mirror (yes the one that almost fell off on our way down!) caught in a section of the chain link fence that had been erected along the under-construction sidewalk, cracking the case and leaving the lower part of the mirror hanging. There was nothing we could do about it before we got through Customs. There was a big crowd of vehicles filling the lanes right back to the beginning of the bridge. A fellow directing traffic managed to get us across three lanes of cars to the Bus Loading Lane, where we had to go into a building to check in. While Jim answered questions I watched an officer come out of the back, take a look around with his hands on his hips and then retreat without a word. I could be wrong, but the dazed look on his face and the weird eyes made me think that he might be stoned. That could have been a scary thing!

Once we were back into Canada Jim pulled over to put the mirror back together, and a few miles later we stopped for Tim Horton’s coffee, and to change the phone SIM card. Then we were into the crazy slow Toronto traffic. It had taken us only six hours to get from Ohio to Buffalo; it took us four more to get home! The restaurants of Hastings were already closed, so I had to make us some dinner. I was tired and hungry, but it was good to be home.

 

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

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We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.

Leaving Mesa Regal


The time has flown by this winter, probably because we were late arriving in Arizona in the fall. The last weeks were filled with a bit of pickleball and a whole lot of eating out with friends before saying goodbyes. I will really miss all those people who have become an integral part of our lives. But I am anxious to get back to my efficient, well equipped kitchen in Ontario.  It’s been over a month since I’ve had a properly working fridge, which meant we ate out too much.

We left Mesa Regal at noon on April 1st, after our motorhome played a trick on us – the leveling Jacks refused to rise up off the ground. It took about an hour before the problem was solved with an electric drill being used to manually lift them to their traveling position. When we finally got the bike loaded into the trailer, said our final goodbyes and started off, we realized that when we’d parked and covered the car in its storage spot, we’d left the GPS in it! Fortunately it was just a few streets away so we swung by, uncovered the car, retrieved the GPS and re-covered the car. We were already tired! Some lunch helped, and then we were on our way.

By 4:00 we were almost at the turn off for Tombstone. We decided to stop there for the night, and spend part of the next day seeing some of the things we missed the last time we visited that old city. We found a spot in the Stampede RV Park, within walking distance of all the attractions. In the morning, after breakfast served in the park’s Coach Stop, we took the trolley tour,

witnessed a comedy version of the notorious gunfights common in the old west

and looked around the Rose Museum, where the world’s largest rose is huge and presently blooming.

A big thanks goes out to Sue in the RV Park office who gave us a great summary of what to find and where.There are still a few more sites to see, but at 1:00 we knew if we were going to get out of Arizona before the day was out, we had to get back on the road.

We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico before it was too dark, and stayed at the Coachlight Motel & RV Park.