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Good Food, Bad Food

Day 16

In the previous post, I briefly described the first part our drive from Pacific Rim National Park to Victoria: the part from Tofino to Cathedral Grove near Port Alberni. But I missed the above picture of Cuppa in the Grove; I like it and wanted to include it somewhere, so there you have it.

To continue: just as it was slow going from Pacific Rim to Port Alberni, so it remained slow going for the rest of the way as well. We thought that it would be different, for the map seemed to show an expressway from Nanaimo to Victoria, and the distance was not huge. In fact, in our experience it should only have been about an hour because that’s about how long it takes us to drive an equivalent distance in Ontario. It was different on the Victoria route, however, for there were stoplights every few miles, or so it seemed. We’d get up to highway speeds and then be forced to stop — time and time again.

As a result, we were somewhat travel-weary by the time we hit Victoria, but we found a generic motel easily enough where we also begged for directions to a decent restaurant. As it turns out, we were directed to Irish Times Pub in downtown Victoria. As this poor picture shows, it was a pretty impressive establishment.

Day 16

And Praise Be! for we did have a very decent meal, not the best ever, but it didn’t have to be after the previous night (see below). It was quite good, however, and the atmosphere was great. AC and Cuppa even sampled four Irish beers. Not to fret about us becoming alcoholics though, for as the photo shows, the portions were small which is just as well as neither of us are exactly world class beer drinkers. What led to the sampler was the fact that I had never tried that world famous Guiness, not in my whole life, and my life is moving apace thank you very much, so it seemed to be high time.

Day 16

As it turned out, both of us ranked Guiness as our least favourite, with the much lighter Harp coming out on top. After dinner we toured downtown Victoria. From the outside, we saw the famous Empress Hotel and the Legislature and many other tourists and many touristy shops. It seems that tour ships frequently pull into Victoria, and the stores reflected that as did various conveyances such as the caleche below.

Day 16

All of that being said, however, I have left you hanging just a bit — something about bad food on the previous night in Tofino. Was it ever bad! Judging by the next photo, I must have had a premonition because Cuppa took it even before the food came. We had fancied and ordered fish and chips. I ate two bites (can’t think of why I took the second) and gave up in a state of nauseated disgust. I don’t leave my food very often, particularly at restaurant prices, but this stuff was truly awful. It wasn’t halibut, wasn’t haddock, and wasn’t even cod, but it sure was fishy. Ugh!

Day 15

My goodness! We’re almost done with the trip. In a later post I will share some photos of the famous Butchart Gardens and our return ferry crossing, but that should be close to the end of Rambling and Roving for now.

What with a lack of internet access and a lot of moving about, we’re a little behind our posting times lately, so this post takes us back to Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, we couldn’t quite make up our minds about what to do: stay in Tofino or drive, eventually to Victoria. Once we got up and moving, we opted to drive because once again the weather wasn’t favourable. Am I sounding just a bit like a broken record? In fact, as we began our drive it was pouring, which caused us to exercise caution on a road that was extremely winding and constantly changing its elevation. But, with low clouds drifting along the mountain sides, it was very beautiful in its own way, which the next photo may partially capture.

Day 16

After perhaps almost two hours we began to drive through Cathedral Grove, just west of Port Alberni. There, the trees have been living for three hundred years or even longer.

Day 16

We stopped and took a short walk (in the rain) through the grove, and I posed with this tree, the largest in the area. They know that it’s at least three hundred years old, but it could be even older. In other words, it was here before Captain Cook chanced by and about a hundred years before Simon Fraser crossed over from the east.

Day 16

And I do like the look of these trees and the mood they create.

Day 16

After about six and a half hours of driving, we eventually made it to Victoria, but we’ll leave that for another post.

I posted about yesterday morning already but not about the afternoon, so here we go — the condensed version, I hope … and you hope too, no doubt.

Tofino is on the northern edge of the Pacific Rim National Park which is part of the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound World Heritage site. Phew! I hope I got all that more or less right. So, we headed back into the park this afternoon. I say back because we did have to drive through it to get to Tofino yesterday.

What we saw was the Pacific Ocean. I mean the beginning of the whole big thing. We’ve been seeing bays and inlets and such ever since we got to the west coast, but not until today were we able to look out and see all of the way across to Japan (ha ha).

The day was cloudy at best and rainy at worst, but I Photoshopped the first photo and brightened it up a bit. It’s part of Long Beach (yes, I know there’s another more famous one about a thousand miles to the south), which is quite long indeed. In fact, all of the photos (except the flower one) are of one part of this Long Beach or another.

Day 15

The next two photos are a little truer to what it actually looked like to us. I didn’t mind the cloudiness too much. It does have a certain atmosphere, and it is pretty darn typical. Guess who that solitary figure is in the second picture.

Day 15

Day 15

We kept driving to the village at the southern end of the park — Ucluelet (as in You-Clue-Let). It’s much the same size as Tofino but less touristy, which is not to say that it isn’t at all touristy. We walked around a bit, and for the umpteenth time in BC I saw splendid Foxgloves, so I took this picture with them in the foreground and the ocean in the background.

Day 15

Finally, on the drive back to Tofino, we made one more stop at Long Beach and took this photo from a lookout point. It was completely overcast and also raining by this time.

Day 15

We enjoyed the day and are now uncertain what to do tomorrow: stay here or head to Victoria and meet up with the A-Team there.

Tofino Morning

As promised there was cloud and rain this morning, but not too much rain (a little drizzle) although the ground was certainly wet when we woke up. The Schooner Restaurant provided us with a great breakfast — very tasty hash browns and French toast (made from sourdough bread). The inside actually featured the hull of a ship — real or fake, I don’t know.

Day 15

Day  15

Then it was time to browse and shop. Across the street from the restaurant lay an art gallery, and we found the most amazing art inside —paintings by a native artist, Roy Henry Vickers, much of which seemed to be backlit but wasn’t. So …. I finally fell off my wallet and bought some art cards and a small print. I played with the notion of purchasing the original of the print, but at $12 000, it was a little rich even for my well-heeled, blue blood (ha ha — pure irony there, folks).

Day 15

A native store, The House of Himwitsa, was our next destination, and AC fell even further from grace with the purchase of a T-shirt and native CD featuring flute music etc from Monument Valley, AZ. I know that it sounds strange to purchase an Arizona souvenir way up here, but we actually experienced a most haunting and evocative playing-of -the-flute by a Navajo guide deep in the valley last year, so I’m looking forward to perhaps rekindling that memory just a bit more. Here’s a snap of some of my souvenirs. Cuppa didn’t purchase any today, but she has done quite well for herself on this trip, I assure you. No, don’t feel sorry for Cuppa.

Day 15

In Tofino

We are quite a distance from Vancouver tonight. This morning we drove to Horseshoe Bay and took the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there we drove about four hours to Tofino. For the first day since we’ve been here, the sun came out and more or less stayed out although we worried over it a few times. Hey, we’ll appreciate what we get because it’s supposed to rain from tomorrow onward. We took many pictures, but I’ll go with these six for now. The first two are taken from the ferry.

Day 14

Day 14

One reason we’re here was because the tour book raved about the drive to Tofino. It wasn’t too far off the mark because it was quite a wonderful drive. One problem we seem to have with BC, however, is the relative scarcity of viewpoints — places where we can pull off the road and drink in the scenery. Hence, Cuppa took many pictures from the moving car as we travelled along, but these two are from actual stops that we made.

Day 14

Day 14

Finally, we arrive in Tofino and secured a nice but not too pricey motel (relatively speaking — it is a tourist town after all!) with a view of the harbour on Clayoquot Sound. Nice eh? The ocean, mountains, flowers and even palm trees. Yes, there are two small palm trees in the motel garden that you can’t see in this photo. There really are palm trees in Canada; there were a few by English Bay in Vancouver as well.

Day 14

Then we walked around the town and took this picture of the Tofino harbour.

Day 14

If it rains tomorrow, there are countless shops where Cuppa can browse. What the heck! It was nice today, and we enjoyed it, so we can take more rain. Sure we can.

What with the weather and all, we continued to lie low on Sunday, Father’s Day, but it was a fine day. The girls surprised me with a Father’s Day Hat Dance. In fact, I didn’t know what the heck they were doing at first, but the point was to present me with Father’s Day gifts, which were hats. Cuppa took a video clip of the performance, which of course I just had to join in, and I may post that on YouTube later (now posted click here for YouTube or here for my blog, Raindrops). They presented me with not one but two hats, one of which I am wearing in these photos, but I have worn the other already as well.

Not only that, but they spoiled me even more by gifting me with a CD of First Nations music. I had been wanting to get an album of aboriginal music, and Althegal knows some about the style with her academic background. We don’t get to spend much time with these two, so it was very special to be with them on a special day like this, and with the rather stirring native music playing in the background, I lost it for a while and am barely managing to control my emotions in the first photo but am doing better in the second.

Day 12

Day 12

As it turned out, Cuppa was also presented with a hat. She has never felt that she looked good in hats, but she tried on this one of Bug’s and it suited her very well. Since it didn’t fit Bug all that well, it is now Cuppa’s to look cute in.

Day 12

After that the spoiling continued with a brunch in The Common Room, a pub with a fine view of English Bay.

Day 12

After brunch we headed to the campus of the University of British Coumbia where Althegal will be pursuing her Master’s degree in the fall. I have seen some very nice campuses and actually been to school on two of them, but UBC is something else entirely. What a magnificent environment Bug has chosen to further her studies. The first shows the girls in the rose garden with English Bay in the background (the south side of the bay, the opposite side from which all other picture, including the header, have been taken). The second shows some flowers in front of a different building near what will be Althegal’s faculty.

Day 12

Day 12

The Anthropological Museum is located on the campus, and we enjoyed our little tour. Outside, Cuppa took the following picture of the three of us.

Day 12

We were to head to Vancouver Island and Pacific Rim National Park today, but we simply weren’t ready, so we shall remain here for another day. One thing we have to keep an eye on is the front, right tire of our rental. It was almost completely flat when we left the museum yesterday, but we filled it and are trying to monitor whether it is still holding the air. If it’s leaking, it’s very slow.

We also went online to check motel rates in Tofino, and they’re high, so another rent-free day also holds some appeal. Besides, it’s cloudy and cool again today, and we’re happy to pack and blog and spend more time with Althegal while Puff is off to a work-related conference.

Once we do leave, I’m not sure if we’ll be able to post regularly or not. We have time and internet access here, but both of those commodities may be in short supply once we hit the road. Nevertheless, we’ll try to update you briefly if possible.

Say What? No Photo?!

It’s true; we have no photos to post from today. If we did, they would show rain — again! What we did do was sleep in a bit, sit around a talk for a bit, go out for a bit of brunch, and shop for a bit. The ladies now have their fair shares of baubles, trinkets, and sundry items. They are happy, and, therefore, so am I. I don’t seem to need to buy a lot of stuff to be happy, but it’s nice to see my loved ones experience pleasure and delight in little things. When I do seem to want to add something to my life, however, it tends to be a purchase that is somewhat grander than a piece of costume jewellry, for example. It’s not by design; it’s just the way of it.

I hope that you are enjoying a fine weekend wherever you may be whether it is hot or cold, sunny or cloudy, dry or rainy there.

I have already posted (below) that yesterday was pretty uneventful. Perhaps this first photo, taken from the north-facing apartment window, at least partly explains why. Behold the grayness and the clouds on the mountains on North Vancouver.

Day 10

However, come mid-afternoon when we were walking along the bay, the weather changed and suddenly became warm. We actually removed our jackets for almost the first time. Later, I used my telephoto lens for the first time and took the next photo. You can see the mountains much more clearly.

Day 10

Since I had the telephoto on I played around a little. I peeked out of the balcony window, looking south and saw this sailboat passing between the two apartment buildings.

Day 10

Then I looked down and captured this guy cleaning the bus windows. I don’t know why, but I just like this one.

Day 10

In the evening, we walked along Denman Ave and then sat at the bay for a while. As you can see, the sky was quite pretty.

Day 10

In both photos,, above and below, you can see heads turning to the right (of the photo). There was a busker doing his thing. I have seen him three times in all. He has a sardonic, low-key patter that I don’t like, but he always manages to attract a crowd and gather in dollars — a few hundred in my estimation. He’s actually quite good: does aerial stuff with fiery whips and the like. Note: it wasn’t really that dark in the following photo; I stopped it down for effect and drama.

Day 10

Every now and then, I attempt to become arty; hence, the following photo.

Day 10

Just Beeing Around

Today has been an off day, the kind of day that you sometimes need on a holiday — a day to recuperate or do the laundry. I guess that it was both of those needs that were met today, thanks at least partly to the weather: the cloudy, rainy, cool weather that faced us grimly this morning and caused us to want to pull the covers back up over our bodies. But it wasn’t all bad because we had been needing an opportunity to do the laundry — and rest just a little bit on our tenth day of this trip.

So, that’s what we did — laundry, some grocery shopping, a two hour saunter in the park (sitting idly on park benches for at least half of the time), and a stroll down Denman Ave in the evening. Hmmm … that doesn’t sound all that restful when I put it that way. Does it?

Since there’s nothing much to report from today, I am going to thrill you (he said sarcastically) with two photos from the week. They are both of bees on flowers, the first from the West Vancouver sea wall and the second from Stanley Park. Go ahead, take a look, and meet me again below.

Day 8

Day 6

I really do have a valid reason for posting those pics. It has to do with perhaps the very best thing about Canada’s West Coast. It’s that there are no bugs here. Well, obviously, that’s a wee bit of an overstatement, but in comparative terms it seems as though it is true.

It was not much more than a year ago that I sat in a car repair shop back home and fell into converse with the young man beside me. It turned out that he worked for the MNR of Ontario — the Ministry of Natural Resources. We chatted about a number of things, including his stay in British Columbia doing a similar job there (I know, there is here at the moment — it is confusing). I think I must have opined something to the effect that the mosquitoes and bugs must be large and numerous out here. I was thinking that made sense because of the tall trees, forests, and abundant precipitation. I was shocked when he said that there are “no mosquitoes in BC” (his very words). Yes, it’s still possible for AC to learn new things.

And guess what: we’ve been here for ten days now and have seen nary a biter, and we have been in the forests folks. Back in Ontario, you get swarmed in the forests at this time of year, but we’ve scarcely seen a bug of any description — except for those bees. We sit here in the apartment with our screenless windows wide open, and nothing flies in. I don’t know why it’s like this, and I don’t care. It sure is nice though. Really nice!

… and Treetop Walk

On yet another cool and cloudy day we decided to try this place. Old AC was somewhat leery of navigating another bridge of this sort but decided to give it a try. Once I got on the shaky structure, I wasn’t happy and decided to get off for a while. I sucked it up and then got back on and did pretty well. Three pats on the back to me, eh?

However, before all of that, I went to a lookout point and took this photo of Cuppa on the bridge. She’s the third in from the right, and you can see her a little bit better if you click on the photo. The centre of the bridge is about 230 ft above the river, approximately chest height on the Statue of Liberty if you wish a comparison.

Day 9

After the suspension bridge, we did the Treetop Walk. While we were more at mid-tree height that at the tree tops, it was still quite a nice walk. It felt good to be there despite the rather high cost. Almost $60 for the two of us was a rather steep (pardon me, eh?) fee, but I think I would still recommend the outing to someone else. However, if we’re just talking about suspension bridges, the free adventure at Lynn Canyon compares very well indeed.

Day 9

That’s one of the larger trees, but not the largest, that Cuppa is hugging so passionately. If I’ve got the signs correct (I sometimes take photos of signs), it’s a Douglas Fir that is 300 years old, stands 300 ft high, is 14 ft in circumference, and is still and youngster and still growing.

Day 9

At the end of it all, we hit the gift shop (of course we did), but got out of there without actually breaking the bank. Meanwhile, Cuppa poses with a funny looking Mountie at the door.

Day 9

Finally, just to prove that AC was really there, here he is at the lookout after it was all done.

Day 9