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.

Fireworks, Parades, Cars and Motorcycles – Canada Day Weekend in Trent Hills


Our community of Trent Hills is made up of the three towns of Hastings, Campbellford and Trent River, and their adjoining areas. When it comes to celebrating summer, especially on Canada Day, the events are grand, and well-coordinated to enable visitors to sample all there is. We did just that.

Celebrations started early in Hastings. On Thursday the long awaited stainless steel fish was unveiled at Pisces Park, a small patch of green space next to the marina. This six-foot high piece of art, sculpted by Bill Lishman, is to be the first of several fish that will form an icon to represent the fact that in 2012 Hastings won the distinction of being named the Ultimate Fishing Town of Canada in the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town Challenge.

On Canada Day the weather was a little uncooperative at times, so we didn’t go to the morning celebration in Campbellford, but the skies almost cleared up in time for the parade in Hastings at 4:00 p.m. I’m ashamed to admit that I went without my camera, but here are a few photos from last year:

A thunderstorm after that cooled the air considerably and when we walked to the park with our lawn chairs at 8:30 to wait for the Fireworks, Hastings’ big contribution to the celebration, we were dressed in layers. As the sun went down, the wind turned quite chilly, sending Jim home to get some more layers! But, it was worth it.

On Saturday the sun was shining again and the temperatures perfect for a ride on the motorcycle to Campbellford for another annual event, Chrome on the Canal. We found a place to park our bike, and then began the mile or more stroll along the Trent Canal banks to exclaim over the interesting variety of bikes and cars. They ranged from antique to classic, to the latest models. Some were “chopped” (modified); some were restored to original; some were just as they’d been found abandoned in a field or garage.

bikes

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Original Powered Bicycles?

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1948 Indian

IMG_14502015 Indian

IMG_1453A lot of work went into building this one!

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Amazing pin-striping

IMG_1482A few, like this one,were For Sale

On our way back from Campbellford, we turned north off County Road 35 onto Smith Road, a lovely tree lined stretch of curves, and then east onto Concession Road 11 that climbs high over the eskers. This is another recommended route for bikers.

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A Happy Canada Day!

Exploring and Camping in Canada’s National Parks Part II


Banff National Park

We were awake at dawn the next morning so thought we’d postpone breakfast and get back onto the Parkway before other traffic, hoping, again, to see some of the wildlife that a multitude of signs along the road warned us about. We saw none. Fifty-two kilometers later we finally came to the only service area on the Parkway so we stopped for breakfast. It was nearly 9:00, but neither the restaurant nor cafeteria were quite ready to open. We looked at the restaurant menu and decided that we’d just grab some coffee at the store and eat cereal in the motor home. The Continental Breakfast would cost us $14.95 each, and the full breakfast buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancakes, would be $25.00 each! As it was, two coffee cost $7.50.

The higher we climbed over the mountain pass, the more snow we saw on the evergreen trees and in the ditches. Fortunately it wasn’t on the roads. That’s the kind of snow I like to see! It was beautiful. By 10:30 we had crossed into Banff National Park.

Glacier Parkway

Glacier Parkway between the Glacier Centre and Banff

Glacier Pkwy (176)

It was just before noon when we reached our next planned destination, Lake Louise, but because it was still early we agreed to continue on to Banff and stop at Lake Louise on the way back the next day. An hour later we were at the Information Centre in downtown Banff getting campground information and lunch locations suggestions. We walked to JK Bakery and Cafe to fill up on salad and homemade lasagna for much less than the breakfast offered along the way. I also picked up a big loaf of their fresh multi-grain bread for less than the price of it in a grocery store. Look for it if you are ever in Banff.

We found a lovely, full hook-up campsite at Tunnel Mountain Trailer Park, that included a bus stop to catch the bus back into town, which we did as soon as we were hooked up. After looking around the shops, we found a grocery store where we bought a few supplies, and then had dinner at Tony Roma’s. To our surprise, the same cheery young Australian woman who’d waited on us at JK Bakery was our hostess here. In fact, most of the servers in the restaurant spoke with Australian accents. They love Banff, and I can’t blame them.

Banff

Banff

Banff

Our Campground

Banff (7) Banff (11)While we waited for our return bus I chatted with Wendy from London, England, who was in Banff on a bus tour.

The next afternoon we were out of the National Parks and into British Columbia. We decided to bypass Lake Louise this trip.

Winnipeg to Saskatoon in the Motorhome


We arrived at a campground outside Winnipeg in the late afternoon on Wednesday. The grey skies cleared out and blue replaced them, just in time for us to unload the bike and ride into Winnipeg for a quick look-around. We found The Forks, a meeting place where the Red River and the Assinboine River converge. There is a big indoor market there now, several restaurants and a boardwalk along the banks of the river. We didn’t see much as it was near closing time, and we became engaged in conversation with a retired school teacher who is now a publisher of children’s books and was giving away a few samples while trying to sell others. She was very interesting and excited about the books. When we finally walked away, a couple of books in hand, the other shops had closed. We returned to the campground with plans to return the next day.

The next day was sunny and warm, perfect for a motorcycle ride back to The Forks to begin our tour of the city. We started at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Little did we know that we would become so enthralled with what we saw there, it would be all that we’d have time to see.

Along the path leading to the entrance of the very unique building, we were greeted by a bronze statue of Ghandi.

GhandiAt the desk we were offered tickets for an architectural tour of the building, which would start in fifteen minutes. While we waited in the rotunda for the tour to begin, we watched with fascination as shadows of people of many statures, ages and sexes walked to a white board and wrote a greeting in their native language. Thirty-seven languages were represented.

Greetings on white boardGreetings on white boardThen the tour began. There is too much detail to cover here, so I’ll just share some photos and highlights. A quote on the website (https://humanrights.ca/) sums it up:

“The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will take you on a journey of education and inspiration unlike anything you’ve experienced before.”

Every component of the building was inspired by the late a philanthropist Israel Asper, to represent some aspect of life.

Once the architectural tour ended at the top of the tower, overlooking the city, we were on our own to tour the galleries.All were inspiring. Some were elating, others were depressing. The history of how inhumanly some humans have been treated over the centuries brings a tear to the eye, but changes have been made and the fact that more are being made, brings hope.

However, to quote John Humphries, “There will be peace on earth when the rights of all are respected.” We still have a long way to go.

One thing that impressed me was the stone carvings in one gallery that listed the names of every person who contributed to the building of the museum, from architects to pipe fitters and electricians. They all were recognized.

Contributors

One small section of the list of contributors

We took the stairs and ramps down to the main floor, learning new things in every gallery along the way. We finished in the private room dedicated to the interesting display of the Magna Carta, which was on loan for only another week. I couldn’t help but wonder when our current Prime Minister might have last read this document, if ever.

By the time we got back to the bike it was too late to do anymore touring. Instead we relaxed over plates of pasta and salad at The Spaghetti Factory, which was a real treat since these restaurants have all disappeared from most of Canada.

We were on the road in the motor home the next day, over some very rough roads, with strong winds blowing across the prairie. Our next stop was in Saskatoon where we spent a couple of nights with my cousin Terry and his wife Liz. It was fun to catch up with them and we enjoyed the tour of Winnipeg that they gave us, including a look into the Diefenbaker Canada Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, where we learned some more facts about our country’s history that we hadn’t known before.

Diefenbaker Memorial

Diefenbaker Memorial

Terry showed the rowing sculls that he and members of the Saskatoon Rowing Club use.

Rowing sculls

Saskatoon Rowing Club sculls

Some busy beavers have decided the dock is the perfect spot for their home, and everyday club members dismantle it only to discover it back the next morning.

Beaver Hut

Beaver Hut in Progress

We had lunch at The Berry Barn, where all things Saskatoon Berries were on the menu.

The Berry Barn

The Berry Barn

Jim was the only one to try a piece of pie after we finished our main course, but I had a taste. Hmm.

Next stop: Edmonton, Alberta

A Few Days on Prince Edward Island


The next morning I enjoyed a leisurely shower before Jim and Dave got up. After a stop for breakfast, we had a good ride to Prince Edward Island. Although dark clouds circled around us, we didn’t have any rain until after we crossed Northumberland Strait via Confederation Bridge. On the island, we stopped at the Tourist Centre where we discovered internet connection, so we took the time to catch up on emails and check for orders on our online stores. It was with mixed feelings that we learned there were no orders, which are more difficult to process while on the road, but help pay for the trip.

The sun had been shining when we entered the building; black clouds greeted us upon our exit. We rode for only about ten minutes before the rain started, forcing us to pull into a gas station to struggle into our rain gear, and fill up the gas tanks, and by then the rain had retreated. But, we caught another deluge in a few more minutes. It lasted only five minutes and that was the end of it.

At 4:00 p.m. we were knocking on the door of our friends’ cottage at West Point, and were quickly immersed in Maritime hospitality when neighbours began showing up and bottles of rum or beer were broken open.

The Cottage

Friends and Neighbours relaxing on the porch after a day of renovation work

After dinner we all went for a stroll along the beach and watched a beautiful sunset. We didn’t need to strike our tents for the next few days, as beds were offered in the cottage.

PEI Beach

Beach at sunset

In the morning we decided to ride the bikes to Skinner’s Pond, home of Stompin’ Tom Connors. We visited a fishing harbor, and enjoyed a lunch of mussels and Seaweed Pie at the Seaweed Pie Café. We learned all about the harvesting of seaweed and it’s uses, before continuing on to the Tourist Centre and the Windmill Farm on the most westerly point of the island.

Skinner's Pond, PEI

Skinner’s Pond, PEI

Home of Stoppin' Tom

Home of Stompin’ Tom

Fishing Boats

Fishing Boats

Mussels

Mussels

Eating Mussels

Dig in, Jim!

Seaweed Pie

Seaweed Pie, not what you’d expect,

Our last day was a hot one. Our friend Meg and I went into O’Leary to do some grocery shopping before Jim, Dave and I headed out on the bikes again. We left the jackets off when we rode to Summerside to the Tall Ships Festival. Having endured a half-hour of sitting in the blazing sun at a road construction site, upon our arrival in Summerside we were disappointed to find that only two of the ships had docked, one being the Bluenose, which we’d all toured before. So after a stroll along the shore, a light lunch, and another stop for ice cream, we returned to the cottage in time for the delicious scallop dinner that Meg had prepared.

The evening ended with us clapping our hands and stomping our feet at a Gaelic music concert in a nearby church.

Exploring New Brunswick


The next day we just enjoyed the ride, taking our time, stopping along the way. Our only tourist stop was at St. Jean du Joli to show Dave the Motorcycle Museum that we had discovered on a previous trip to Quebec.

At around 6:00 p.m. we stopped for dinner and looked for a campground within an hour’s drive. We called to reserve a spot at Sunset View Campground in New Brunswick, about 60 kilometers west of Fredericton. So far the GPS had been doing a great job, but it wasn’t enough up-to-date to include the new road rerouted that had recently been done in the area and it got us a bit lost! Add to that the one-hour time change and it was 10:00 before we drove through the gates.

Sunset View Campground

Sunset View Campground

It was dark and dewy, and mosquitoes swarmed around me while I waited for the guys to check in. The thought of fumbling around in the dark, swatting at our attackers while trying to assemble the tent had me eying the cabins and wishing we could rent one for the night. I have night-blindness so it was difficult for me to find my way around in the dark, but I did my best to help with the tent. Jim and I were both a tad grumpy by the time we got done. Then, after tramping off to the restrooms to get cleaned up for bed, we discovered upon our return, that mosquitoes had invaded the tent during the minutes when we had the flap opened to put our gear in. We spent what seemed like hours swatting and scratching before we finally drifted off to sleep.

I was awake and showered before the others stirred in the morning, and quietly enjoyed some alone time at that very clean, tidy and well organized camp ground that overlooked a lake or river – I’m not sure which.

Tenting

The Cabin and the Condo, as Dave would say.

Sunset View Campground

Sunset View Campground, morning view

When Jim and Dave awoke and were ready, we repacked the bikes and trailer and were off once more.It was another perfect day for riding. We soon left the new Trans-Canada Highway to take a more scenic route along Old Hwy # 2, which took us through Fredericton with its beautiful Victorian clapboard houses, and along the St. John River. We stopped at Camp Gagetown, where Jim and Dave had fun climbing on the tank outside the gates.

Camp Gagetown

Camp Gagetown

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Camp Gagetown

Boys will be Boys

Then we rode for another twelve miles into the Village of Gagetown, a quaint little place on the river. We had fresh-made clam chowder at a rustic café, eating on the back deck overlooking the marina. I poked around a pottery shop while Jim engaged the restaurant owner/cook in conversation about the best way to get to Moncton on some more biker-interesting roads.

Lunch in Gagetown, N.B.

Lunch in Gagetown, N.B.

IMG_1867His advice took us on Route 24, an excellent twisty road that crosses the river via a cable ferry from Evandale on the west bank to Kars on the east bank. It took all of five minutes to cross, and, like all the provincially operated ferries in New Brunswick, was toll-free.

Riding the Ferry

Riding the Ferry

Evendale, N.B.

Nearly there

Nearly there

A short stop in Sussex to look for an air mattress for Dave (he’d forgotten to bring one) and then we were back on the highway to Moncton.

Sadly what had been a beautiful day ended on a bit of a sour note. The campground that we found just outside of Moncton (Stonehurst Camping) was not really built for motorcycles and tents, although we weren’t told that when we checked in. The driveway was steep and the office was at the bottom of the hill, where the more level sites, apparently reserved for RVs, were also located. On the hill the paths between rows and sites were rough with rocks and tree trunks. It was difficult to find a spot that was anywhere near level enough to pitch a tent, but Jim saw one that looked better than where we’d been put, so while Dave went back down to the office to make sure it was available, Jim began to turn the bike and trailer around. The helmets were sitting on the top of the trailer and I ran to grab them just as Jim pulled out onto the driveway and made a left turn onto the upper path. But when he put his foot down to ease along the rough terrain, there was a drop off. In a split second I watched the bike go down, the trailer come unhitched and Jim roll down the hill toward a tree. I was too far away to do anything but hold my breath. Thankfully Jim got stopped before he hit the tree. He got himself up and we made a futile attempt to raise the bike. The fully dressed Yamaha Venture is not a light bike. Soon traffic was lining up on the driveway, blocked from their descent by the trailer which was still attached to the bike by the safety chains. The first in line was a middle aged woman in a truck, who wanted to help. Then two younger men, assisted by Jim, managed to get the bike up righted, much to Jim’s embarrassment. It was all over by the time Dave returned. Fortunately there was only a minor dent and a few scratches in damage to the bike, and Jim complained of only a sore toe, but he was badly shaken and it put a damper on the rest of the evening and partway into the next day.

After a careful ride into town for dinner at The Pump House, we were back at camp. Jim wasn’t settled enough to sleep so we looked at pictures of Dave’s trip to Asia, until 1:00 a.m. Of course the restrooms were nowhere to be seen in the dark, so we had to make do. I was glad to finally lay my head down on my pillow and hope for a brighter tomorrow.