Can’t Get Much Closer, The Final Leg

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My previous post had us six siblings at the wonderful, Cowichan Bay. From there we drove the paved logging road across, Vancouver Island to, Port Renfrew. A never visited destination for all of us.

Port Renfrew, has less town than I expected, but it makes it up with scenery and tranquility.

The online pictures of our accommodation made it one of my anticipated stops this trip.

We reserved a two bedroom, log, row cabin, at, “Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages,” and one word describes it, “Wow.” Gorgeous, peaceful, or cozy would work too.

I’ve never stayed this close to the ocean. (Even on the cruise ship, the water was farther  away.) At this seaside cottage, high tide waves almost lapped  at our deck’s support beams.

The shoreline at the bottom of our few deck steps was by far the best part for me, a sea-glass hunters paradise. Every chance I got I combed the stretch out front of our room.

Until this trip, the most pieces I’ve found on a holiday was, nine. I left this cove with a cup full. Without an actual count, I’d guess in 7 different colors.

Wild Renfrew’s staff was great, Martin K. in particular. He checked us in, looked after our needs (the precious extra coffee and condiments needed), and suggested places of interest in the area.

He deserves a special thanks, for the courtesy of emailing us that the brother-in-law left something behind, and then for taking time to package and mail it to his home. Many places wouldn’t bother doing this, and it was appreciated.

Some may think I’m strange for this, but I chalk it up to being a mother. No cell phone service in most of, Port Renfrew, took a little getting use to. It’s not that I’m addicted to my phone, but I relay on it for accessibility if the kids need us. The cabin had internet though, so we touched base that way.

The cabin also had satellite T.V., which we didn’t really watch, but it was usually on when the guys were inside.

In mine and Mister’s almost forty years together, I could probably count with my fingers how many places we’ve stayed without television. Most of those were not by choice. Mister is not an avid watcher, but he has said, “Roughing it even while camping, is not having satellite T.V.” I guess regarding televisions and cell phones, him and I are creatures of habit who like the comforts of home. Smiley face.

Back to Port Renfrew and this holiday. We ate a big, tasty lunch at the pub, therefore that night we opted for a simple hot dog supper cooked in our cabin’s kitchen. There was a campfire area and wood available but we were lazy. Oh, another great amenity at, Wild Renfrew, is propane fire pits on each deck. The men made good use of ours, whether outside soaking up the view or avoiding a house full of women, who knows, but it kept the October chill away.

All six of us stayed the first night in one cabin. Space wasn’t an issue, but one bathroom was a little tricky. Older bodies and hide-a-bed sofas don’t always get along though, so the sister and her husband moved to a cute studio suite for the second night.

At the other end of town from where we stayed is, San Jaun Beach. Probably a busy place during the summer, but other than the few fishermen, we were the only ones strolling it on our daily visits. This was my sister’s favorite spot for soaking up sunshine while searching the sandy beach for small driftwood pieces for a wreath she wants to make. A great place to let the sound of rhythmic waves wash away your cares.

Martin K. also suggested we do the short drive to Jaun de Fuca Provincial Park to explore Botany Bay and Botanic Beach. He said low tide was the best time to go because it’s when you can see the marine life in the tidal  pools. Lucky for us low tide was at noon the next day, and that’s when we went.

Our group is plagued with age related issues and aches, but by taking our time we managed the hike down from the parking lot, and back up, I might add. Worth the effort, and a highlight for Mister and I.

After roaming the rocks the others started back up the trail. I had been trying to capture a picture of a big wave as it splashed over a certain rock, so Mister and I stayed behind.

While I stood positioned, concentrating and waiting for the perfect shot, Mister scanned the open water. He soon reverted my attention to something far more interesting though.

We spent maybe a half hour longer at the beach than the others, and with patience, and persistence, I got a good number of pictures of off shore whales and their water spouts. At one time we counted five water spouts.

The coastal drive from Port Renfrew to Sooke is pretty and one we would like to do again but would allow more time for stopping at beaches next time. One place we stopped at was, Sheringham lighthouse. We didn’t hike all the way down to it, but got pictures of it non-the-less.

We spent a night at Best Western, Prestige Inn, in Sooke before heading on to Victoria and the Days Inn on the harbor. These were both waterfront hotels and the last before we had to head inland and home.

Would watching whales be worth a hike for you?

Are you a patient picture taker?

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Everyone’s Favorite, Part#2

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Us six siblings and our two vehicle caravan drove off the ferry at Little River terminal, Vancouver Island. Continuing our ocean-side holiday, we crossed the city of Courtney, to Kingfisher Resort and Spa. Because of our short stay, I booked partial-view rooms here.

To our surprise, partial-view meant that a beautiful landscaped and manicured lawn was between us and the building which offered the full-view rooms. The unique part was, that building was terraced into the bank, so from our particular patios we could still see the ocean over it.

The next day we drove to the west side of Vancouver Island, which is open to the Pacific Ocean. A region with spectacular views and well known for wave watching and surfing.

Long Beach, is one of my favorite on this side. It’s ten miles of sandy shore and rolling to roaring waves depending on the day. The best part is, you pass right by it going to Tofino, our night’s destination.

All of us had been to Tofino before, yet Mister and I had never stayed there because it’s a doable day trip from across the island. Oceanfront accommodations at this end can be pricey, but this time we all splurged for rooms at the seaside, Best Western Tin Wis.

Tofino’s weather can be wet, but we went prepared. Our packed rain-gear came in handy when we walked the Hotel’s beach that afternoon and the next morning. (This beach is pictured in, “Pre-Book Accommodations or Wing-It”.)

The sister-in-law fulfilled her dream to waltz in the ocean with my brother. Even though, her mid-calf rubber boots filled with icy water in waves that splashed higher than their knees.

The town offers many small interesting shops, and there’s no shortage of fantastic seafood restaurants. There are also whale watching tour companies based there.

Before heading back to the east-side of the island, we also visited Uclulet where we walked the scenic Pacific Rim Trail and of course shopped a little.

Our next stay was at, Beach Club Resort, in popular, Parksville. The long wooden boardwalk out front of this resort is great for those who want to stroll and not get their footwear dirty. For shell pickers the shallow shores mean a huge beach becomes exposed when the tide is out. (Pictured in “Watching The Tide Roll Away”)

Since our last two accommodations were at busy, touristy spots, I searched for a, off the main path, but still on the water location for our next two nights.

When the GPS had us exit the Trans Canada Highway onto a road that wound down through about eight miles of country side, I began to doubt my travel agent skills.

The road hadn’t reached sea level when the town of Cowichan Bay started and we arrived at the parking lot of our accommodation. It was so unassuming that if we had been winging-it, we may have passed it by.

We took no pictures, and neither Mister or I can remember exactly what it looked like from the front. I vaguely recall a simple earth-tone two story building with little to no windows, other than the glass lobby doors.

But, walk through those sliding doors and beyond the reception counter there is a sitting area, furnished and cozy like a living room. The eye catching feature though was the wall of windows where we got our first view of the bay and marina.

Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay ended up being a little piece of heaven we all enjoyed. A place each of us say we would re-visit in a heartbeat.

I booked kitchenette suites in case we felt like cooking a meal, (which we didn’t). The suites were spacious with separate bed and living rooms, both areas had patio doors which opened to the bay. (The picture above is from our room.)

From our couches or beds we could watch Sea-Lions swimming in the marina and I saw on the news that shortly after we left there, Killer whales came right into the bay. Too bad we missed that.

When we went down to the swimming pool level, and stepped outside we were shocked by the size of the place. It didn’t match the impression we got from the front parking lot.

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It isn’t new but was clean, well-kept and updated. We encountered friendly staff and great food from both its restaurant and the pub next door.

The town of Cowichan Bay, offers a candy and ice cream shop, a general store, a bakery, a whale watching tour company. These and more little shops, and all just a short walk from the hotel.

If you’re planning to visit Vancouver Island, and you don’t mind staying minutes from city conveniences, we highly recommend Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay.

Its location on the coast is great for doing day trips to many of the popular tourist places. Or, if you’re looking for a comfortable and quiet place to relax with stunning bay views, this place should be a serious contender.

This is post 2 of 3 on our Vancouver Island trip.

Have you ever stumbled on a hidden treasure like this when you’ve pre-booked an accommodation?

Ferries Not Fairies, The Start

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Brilliant yellow and orange leaves colored central Alberta’s trees, yet we woke to branches sagging under the weight of fresh overnight snow. It hadn’t accumulated on the roads and would probably all melt by later that day, but we didn’t stick around to find out.

For this October road-trip my brother and his wife joined Mister and I. We left shortly after sunrise for a scenic three B.C. Ferry, instead of the usual one, venture to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Our first day goal is always to make miles, put as much distance between us and home as we can. So after 10 1/2 hours in the van we arrived at Clinton, BC. Not as far as our younger selves would make in a day, but we also have more time now, since we’re all retired. (Gorilla Tape Saves The Holiday, talks about a morning mishap that delayed us.)

Clinton nestles in the hills of BC’s Cariboo region, and we were glad the historic Cariboo Lodge we booked was unharmed. The town was one of many evacuated during this summer’s devastating wildfires.

The next day we traveled highway #97 to #99. A pretty drive they say once it nears the river. A little high, and exposed (as in no guardrails) at times for me, but more so for the sister-in-law who has a height phobia.

Familiar with many roads, Mister or I, try to remember to have her sit on the side of the van which will be on the inside of the road when we’ll on a picturesque section like this. Where our heads were this particular morning, who knows.

Both us girl sat on the passenger side which offered unobstructed views across the narrow shoulder, off the edge, and into the valley far below. The men, being the boys they sometimes are, seemed to enjoy our muttered curses. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in Mister’s driving. He did nothing crazy, but sometimes on roads like this it’s hard not to sweat and apply pressure to my invisible brake pedal.

At Lillooet’s Tourist Information/Museum we met one of my sisters and her husband and they joined and followed us for the rest of the trip.

The section of highway #99 leaving there needs a mention. If you have a tendency to get car-sick from side to side cornering motion, or travel in a large RV, be prepared if you head this way. Make sure your cupboards and fridge doors are latched, and you may want to have something handy if you’re prone to seatbelt rash on your neck.

Mister and I, do a lot of back-roads so we’ve been on many windy and even hair-raising paths, but this was a top five windiest road ever for us. It’s a pretty drive, just be aware. The good part was it isn’t as high and open as the previous stretch.

After lunch in Whistler, B.C. the Sandman Inn at Squamish, was our stop for the night. Another without ocean-views but we were within minutes of the first Ferry terminal.

In the morning we boarded the Horseshoe Bay ferry which goes to Langdale.

My advice if traveling on multiple B.C. ferries is to check into the, B.C. Ferry Experience card, it saved four of us in the one vehicle a hundred dollars overall.

Once across to land again our first stop was in, Gibsons. A small charming town some may have heard of because of the Canadian television series, “Beachcombers.” Filmed there from 1972-1990. It made the still operating waterside restaurant, Molly’s Reach, a well-known place.

Our next ferry departed further north on the Sunshine Coast highway 101, so after exploring Gibsons, off we went. This path goes through one of my favorite spots of the area, Sechelt. Unfortunately, on this trip we didn’t stop there or at any of the beaches along that stretch. All I’ll say as to why not, is communication skills were not 100% between Mister and I right then. A rarity but it happened.

We continued to Earls Cove for the ferry to Saltery Bay. From there it was a short drive to Powell River, and the first of our 11 ocean-side accommodations. Beach Gardens Resort Hotel, is older but with nice rooms and balconies facing a marina on Malaspina Strait.

We enjoyed beautiful sights, and it’s where the pictures for this post were taken. My brother’s candid shot of me and one I took of him the morning we left to board our third ferry, the one to Vancouver Island.

There are two places on the island where we stayed that deserve mentioning more than just their name so stay tuned to find out which they are and what made them special.

Have you been on a ferry?

Was it the large multi deck onewith restaurants and gift shops or the one open car level type?

These three we were on are the large type, but open ones travel between the many smaller islands and Vancouver Island.

I would also like to wish all my American readers

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!!

West Coast Wonderful

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Spectacular Shorelines

 

Tomorrow will be the first of two, long, tiresome legs of a coming journey. The thought causes a twinge of an expected ache in my lower back and butt. Excitement mounts as the hours tick closer, to the point where the last nights sleep in my bed becomes restless.

Prior to departure is a week if not more of preparation and sleep deprivation. The, I got to run to a store for that. I better start a pile of what not to forget. Oh, I might need that but where the heck is it? Wash clothes and then don’t wear items that might get packed. Arrange who will water plants and cut lawn.

A couple days before we leave it’s time to Google the weather for where we’re headed. Next is decisions and the actual packing. Layers, it always ends up layers. If I take that skirt I’ll need different shoes. If I take extra shoes, I’ll lose valuable clothes space, what a dilemma. I rethink my choices knowing I can be more efficient with mixing and matching. Time to empty the suitcase and start over.

Does this silly routine sound familiar? Who else starts a holiday with a similar process?

I sometimes think, “Is the trip worth it?” then scold myself. Stressing about the extra effort doesn’t last long because I’m grateful for travel opportunities. Whether one or numerous nights away, whether a near or distant destination, a trip is a trip and I cherish them all.

Of course, not every vacation is uneventful, minus challenges or mishaps. Our family has a motto for life though, which came years ago from my mother, “See the best in every situation and simply enjoy. Things happen for a reason. Delay’s put you where you need to be.” Some most remembered and talked about past holiday adventures involve, vehicle breakdowns, travel delays, last minute plan alterations, or unexpected weather.

It’s also normal for me to mourn the end of a trip. A fairly fresh feeling as it’s been mere weeks since returning home from the latest special excursion.

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My Travel Companions

Exploring the Washington, Oregon coast was not new to my husband and I, but we’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying the sights with my oldest brother and his wife. A fun two week, 4334 kilometer road-trip, spent appreciating glorious scenery and each others company.

We strolled beaches, boardwalks, and interesting small-town streets. A unexpected bonus was stopping at roadside pull-outs to whale watch, and yes there are pictures to prove this fish story. (I point that out because of a trip where only I saw a whale and which our kids still believe was a rock formation.) During this recent drive we spotted deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and even a black bear. We photographed sea lions, seals, amazing views, lighthouses, and waterfalls. After a GPS programing issue, we made our sternwheeler reservation with only minutes to spare and relaxed on a river cruise. Who knew Oregon state has two towns with very similar names. Of course, we shopped, we ate our fill of clam chowder soups, and we relentlessly teased each other, but most importantly we laughed and laughed often. What more could one wish for? Thanks again to our travel companions for the wonderful time.

We proved you’re never to old for pipe-dreams. Visiting quaint ocean-side towns and breathtaking areas the four of us discussed where we would relocate after winning a big lottery. When we toured marinas and shipyards, the huge ocean crafts compared to our familiar lake vessels left us in awe. We picked out which yacht for my husband and I and which sailboat for my brother and his wife would fit into our new imagined lifestyles.

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Gang Leader

My brother found this little guy at one of our stops and he became our trip mascot. A squeeze of his paw when we started a drive triggered a rough gravelly rendition of “Born To Be Wild”. I shared a performance video of this with our kids and our daughter replied with a sassy text, “So you guys are born to be wild, travelling in a mini van, going to fabric stores.” She gets her sarcasm from her father. (Here would be a great place for a happy face emoji.) Our son teased us less, probably because only last year he experienced one of these madcap, minivan trips with us four. A post covering that adventure will appear in the future. In our defence, it was only one fabric store, and we had a purpose. It’s difficult to find nautical prints living in the prairies. I needed some such material for a quilting project and my brother needed a curtain for his sailboat. 

Lesson I learned

Road trips with siblings once you’ve become an adult can be less traumatic. Being the youngest child of five, two of those being brothers pretty much explains my sediment. At least I’ve outgrown my fear that mountains are sleeping monsters waiting to eat little girls. A tale and little joke both my brothers found entertaining

Are you a organize ahead type of traveller or the day before throw a few things into a suitcase and that’s that?

Has anyone else travelled with siblings and enjoyed the excursion?

Liking or commenting on a post helps me see what topics are of interest.

Thanks in advance for your support.