We never imagined we could accomplish a road trip like this: cycle up Vancouver Island to Comox, ferry over to Lund, then cycle down the Sunshine Coast on Highway 101. Confident road-cyclists will fall in love with this classic coastal loop, while those accustomed to Victoria’s gentle rail-trails and protected bike lanes will find some sections frightening. The cars and trucks are in a hurry, but we are not; we cycle 600 km in a leisurely sixteen days, with detours to Savary Island, Texada Island, Princess Louisa Inlet, and the Gibsons shoreline.
“We hear that a lot,” says the Visitor Centre person, when we admit this is our first visit to the north end of Vancouver Island, although we’ve lived on the Island for nearly fifty years. Week one we explore four friendly communities and tackle nine hikes of varying difficulty. A six-day kayak expedition to the Broughton Archipelago comes next, and there we see more wildlife and fewer people than expected. Relaxed eco-adventures, just a day’s travel from our home in Victoria. Continue reading
A Mini Cooper Clubman, Ice Blue with black bonnet stripes: doesn’t this cute little station wagon make you smile? Why would we ever give it up? It is not an easy decision, but going car-free is our resolution for 2018. Continue reading
Who can forget the first time they walk onto the endless sands of Long Beach? In 1970 hordes of hardy hippies, draft dodgers, and surfers would make the drive over a long dirt road to a glorious tent city on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We were there in our paisley shirts, with two naked toddlers in tow. Beach camping in driftwood shelters, drag races on the hard-packed sand, huge bonfires – forbidden now by Parks Canada regulations, and firewood costs seven dollars for a little bundle. Can two old hippies go with the flow?
One hundred little islands and rocks scattered like pieces of a broken jigsaw puzzle in the centre of Barkley Sound. Open-ocean waves, swaying kelp forests, and a maze of quiet lagoons. Curious seals and shy minks. The piercing shrill of the bald eagle and the haunting call of the loon. Ancient trees, archeological sites, and colourful tidepools to explore. “Totally” is our guide’s favourite word, and we totally agree: the Broken Group Islands four-day kayak tour is a totally awesome, completely classic west coast experience.
The bears ignored us, but the raccoons did not. As senior-discount season drew to a close, we took our tent, hiking boots, and bikes to two nearby provincial parks: Stamp River and Montague Harbour Marine. After a week of discount camping, we splurged on a guided day-tour to Discovery Island, to celebrate our oldest granddaughter’s fifteenth birthday. Seal haul-outs we expected; the whale-sighting was a birthday surprise. Continue reading
If we are twenty minutes from home and there’s no igloo or snow cave involved, is it still winter camping? Goldstream Provincial Park may lack permanent snow cover or ice, but meteorologically it is winter – and cold enough to test our new four-season tent.