“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
Clenched teeth relax into a smile when a sea turtle surfaces alongside our kayak. Five-foot waves looming overhead can intimidate novice kayakers like us, but with help from all members of the ten-day, twenty-person expedition, we make it: 121 kilometres along the roadless Sea of Cortez coastline from Loreto to La Paz, Mexico. (Map) Old missions, a cactus sanctuary, an endearing Malecon, taco stands, and ice cream shops are visited by adding extra days at the beginning and end of the kayak trip.
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.
“Where is your next big trip?” is a frequently-asked question. “We haven’t decided yet” is the honest answer. Meanwhile, there are adventures to be had close to home. Here are three day-expeditions we accomplished this week: a 50-km cycle across historic rail trestles on the Cowichan Valley Trail, a 16-km paddle-portage-pub loop that starts at our doorstep, and a 16-km backwoods hike we call the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Can you see why our blog is titled BootsBoatsBikes? (BTW, that is not our dog in the photo above—friendly though.)
A remote Pacific island shared with wolves, a forested hillside above a mountain-rimmed lake, a fun-in-the-sun campground with a water slide and mini-golf—three base-glamps from which to explore three very different areas of Vancouver Island. To help keep us young at heart, we were joined on this sixteen-day glamping adventure by our youngest granddaughters Robin and Scarlett, ages nine and ten. Glamping? That’s shorthand for glamorous camping, the fancy form of roughing it.
Aloha! Welcome to a string of Pacific islands with tropical climate, tropical scenery – and Walmart. Hawaii may be the apex of the Polynesian triangle, but it’s also the gateway to the USA. In four days we visited four islands, viewing tropical flowers and plants, a bunch of waterfalls, and famous movie locations. We surfed in an outrigger canoe, snorkeled with sea turtles, ate Hawaiian shave ice, attended a cocktail party aboard the USS Missouri, and, yes, we shopped at Walmart. Hawaii was followed by five days at sea, and then an all-too-brief, long-awaited visit with our son and his family near Los Angeles.
A fair dinkum didgeridoo is made by termites, Australians are proud of their convict heritage, and whip-cracking is harder than it looks. These are just a few of the facts we learned during our six port calls in Australia. We visited war tunnels and botanical gardens, snorkelled in the world’s most famous coral reef, sailed in a yachting destination, hiked through a rainforest, saw forty kangaroos in the wild, and kayaked twice: once in Sydney Harbour and again along the coastline of Tasmania. Wow! If Australia is not your bucket list, it should be!