The Butchart Gardens

On Tuesday, we went to The Butchart Gardens. The gardens are dog friendly. Surprisingly, there were only about 5 dogs there in total, and Daisy was a hit in her little pouch on Paul’s chest. Every foreign visitor had to take a picture of her, so she was photographed as much as the gardens! A woman from Delhi, India must have been missing her pug and yellow Lab because she took several pictures of the dogs, and then later when we bumped into her again, she wanted a picture holding Daisy. Then, she showed us pictures of her dogs and how her pug cuddles with her husband on the sofa. She showed us the pictures her husband had just sent her that morning of their yard with peacocks in it. You could tell she was missing home, but she was so talkative and happy to be travelling.

The gardens are over 100 years now.  I found the Japanese garden the most beautiful and serene, but the Sunken Garden was the most impressive.  This is because it was originally a quarry before Jennie Butchart began to transform it.

The Sunken Garden:


I found this picture on an information board fascinating.  This is the big mountain of rock left in the garden when she first started the transformation:  

This is what it looks like today: 

A Poppy and a Daisy invading The Rose Garden:


The Japanese Garden:


After a tour of the Italian Garden, we stopped for gelato.  I had rose with chocolate chunks.  Spectacular!  The girls enjoyed sharing our cool treat, but then they were ready for some fresh running water, specifically for visiting pooches.

Poppy is still quite skittish, but I was so proud of her behaviour in the gardens.  Strangers came up to her and stole a stoke of her soft coat, and she never flinched.  Sometimes she moved right in for a deeper cuddle.  Daisy was her usual aloof self, though posing for the paparazzi.  After all that intense practicing of good behaviour, they were both ecstatic to roll around on the lawn at the entrance/exit of the gardens.


Victoria — Canada’s most beautiful city?

We stayed an extra day in Jordan River because you do not get ocean sites too easily and it gave Paul an extra day to enjoy the Hobie.  On the first day in Jordan River, it rained, so we drove to Port Renfrew.  It was too misty to see anything.  It was a wild drive again, so I was glad that the Airstream was safely parked.

 We arrived at Goldstream Provincial Park one day late, but our reservation was honoured.  We have been spending time with our first friends in Saskatoon: Darren and Jennifer.  Of course, they work during the day, but we see them right after work.  On the first evening, we went to a New York pizzeria.  Oh, so wonderful!  The pizzas were 20 inches and only about $22.  Victoria has maintained its heritage buildings, so we had ambience as well as delicious pizza.

I had always thought Ottawa was our most beautiful city, but after seeing Victoria, my mind has changed.  

BC Parliament buildings 
The Empress Hotel  


Float homes 

After visiting The Butchart Gardens on Tuesday, we went to see Kris and Liane, the retired couple we met while camping at Jordan River.  We spent a lovely afternoon with them.  Kris showed us his workshop and some of the furniture pieces he has made.  We also learned he paints and does metalwork!  All with one arm.  He has a prosthetic on the other.  I hope to meet them again some day.  We really enjoy their company.   


Jordan River

Jordan River is virtually a ghost town between Sooke and Port Renfrew.  The river is dammed upstream by BC Hydro.  However, due to increased seismic activity, the hydro company does not think it is safe for residents.  They’ve been trying to buy the properties to get people to leave the area due to the threat of an earthquake destroying the dam and causing mass destruction.  This is also a tsunami zone.  I feel bad for the residents.  Many have spectacular ocean views, but many are now boarded up.  Some are partially boarded and have spray paint notices: “We still leave here.  BC Hydro hasn’t taken possession yet.  Private Property.”  Poor things.  They are losing their little piece of paradise.

For $15/night, you can have a piece of paradise at the campground managed by BC Hydro.  


 In the other section of the campground, it is windier, but this is where tenters often go.  You can see a tent in the next picture.  Actually, a family is living in it.  The kids get bused to school and dropped off again at the campground.  In our usual fashion, we have made stories about their situation, but one of our stories seems to be a reality.  Many vehicles go down there and then come back up again.  Is mom growing BC Bud in the bushes?  The traffic seems to indicate it.  Well today, a 70s van came down.  It was all spray painted with groovy “art” and the words Party Animal and something like “rolling right along” — with big marijuana joints.  Maybe that was mom’s supplier.  This is the BC coast, after all.  

We have paid reservations at another campground for Sunday night, but we’ve decided to stay here instead. We will make it to Goldstream on Monday instead.  We have friends to visit and we want to see Victoria, but this is a hard campground to leave.

And talk about friendly people!  Another couple moved in next door: Chris and Leanne.  Chris’ hobby is cutting down trees, drying the wood, and making exquisite furniture!  He has showed us pictures.  He can even do French legs on his pieces.  He is truly an artist.  He’s from Croatia originally. Leanne is from Quebec.  Chris took Paul up a logging road today to get firewood.  They encountered a black bear who was really scared of them.  We will have a sweet cedarwood fire again tonight.


The Yellow Pot

Good things always came out of the Yellow Pot.  My parents got a yellow enamelled Dutch oven for a wedding gift.  A few years ago my mother gave it to me and I put it in the Airstream.  Whenever my mom made hand-cut fries or onion rings, they went in the yellow pot. Out came deliciousness!

We made our way south to Jordan River.  We found an ocean site.  Only 2 other campers were there.  One camper came over and introduced himself.  We went over to meet his wife and dog and talked about the area.  Such friendly people.  While we were setting up and getting things ready for dinner, he came by with a special treat:  fresh caught Dungeness crab!  He said to cook it for 4 minutes in sea water.  So, Paul went down to the ocean with the Yellow Pot.  Out came deliciousness!


We had just been discussing how we meet the most interesting people while camping, and then we met this couple.  This meal will be forever in our memories.

Goats on the Roof

On our way back to the east coast of Vancouver Island, we stopped in Coombs.  We had wanted to stop there to go to a Dutch confectionery and shop.  To make the visit even more special, Valerie and Rick suggested we stop at a marketplace called Goats on the Roof.  Yes, there were goats on the roof!  This marketplace was a kaleidoscope of goodies!  There were international groceries, a bake shop, toys, garden items, a cafeteria, etc.  People drive to Coombs specifically to go to this place.  It is worth the drive!  We got some Italian groceries, hot sauce, pastries, and 2 big bells from India.  They are like temple bells.  We thought they’d gong gently in the Saskatoon breezes.  If they make too much noise, they’ll be going to Value Village.

 On the way, in Port Alberni.  


Dutch store:


Tofino and Ucluelet

Highway 4 is wild!  It is narrow and winding and busy.  We thought we were somewhat off-season, since school is still in session; however, there is no off-season on the west coast of the island.  Campgrounds near the ocean were booked up.  We ended up at a campground outside of Tofino named Longbeach Campground.  It was well-treed and the sites were quiet and private.  This campground had such potential, but the facilities were poor.  Instead of outhouses, there were Johnny-on-the-spots.  The shower houses were odd.  Each house had 2 showers, but the doors weren’t marked as male/female.  The shower heads were directly above from the ceiling.  Fortunately, we had enough water to use our own shower. 


Classic motel with palm trees:


The hospital looks like a ship.  It’s ship-shaped!

 Ucluelet is quaint.  Many buildings are on stilts, though I doubt it would help in a tsunami.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures in Ucluelet.  Tofino is very busy and touristy.  Most buildings are new and cater to the resort crowd.  Nevertheless, there are many trying to revive to hippy-surfer culture.  In fact, many people and dogs looked like they needed a good comb out.  These were in drastic contrast to the resort crowd.  The restaurants are excellent and focus on local ingredients.  We only tried 2.  Shelter was highly recommended.  They even have a small herb and vegetable garden out back.  The other on our list was the original Tacofino food truck.



I had Tuna Ta-taco  and a fish taco..  The fish taco was better.  Paul had a chicken burrito and fish taco, and he agreed the fish taco was better.  Lesson:  just order 2 fish tacos.  They are cheaper too.
On our last day, we discovered the kayak launch.  No one seemed to know if there was one when we asked.  The weather wasn’t great for most of the trip, but we were disappointed that no one knew where it was.  I guess it’s all about surfing here.  The surfers are hardcore.  The water is C-O-L-D!


Little Qualicum Falls

Upon pulling into Campbell River, we noticed a laundromat.  It’s been so damp that our towels were getting ripe. I used a little box of Tide Original we had stored in the trailer.  Oh, how I love that scent! Why did Tide have to change the “original” scent and call the new scent “original”?  I can’t wait to crawl into fresh pjs and sheets tonight.

We didn’t make it to Tofino.  We will get there tomorrow.  We are glad we stopped. We want to see Cathedral Grove tomorrow, and Little Qualicum Falls is the closest provincial park for camping.  We set up camp right by a trail head. 

On the trail, I felt like I had walked into an Emily Carr painting.  It was breathtaking.

Here is a view from our Airstream door.  You can see the bridge to the start of the trail.   

Enjoy the splendour!


Of course, the trail leads to waterfalls.    

Daisy held up with the falls in the background.  Paul is the shih-tzu king. 

I’ll finish tonight with a picture that Valerie took of the four of us yesterday.  I miss them already.


BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival

My oh my!  Heaven, Nirvana, Shangri-la all on a half-shell — I’ll take all three please!

When we told Rick and Valerie that we were coming to Vancouver Island, they told us about the festival, so we booked our tickets immediately.  I had oysters, salmon, halibut, tuna ceviche, chowder, more salmon, brought salmon home.  You get the idea!  It was soggy outside, but seafood starts out wet, so who could see any problem?  Get this — even Paul ate some salmon, and more salmon.  (He doesn’t eat most fish, especially not salmon.) He was so shocked that this salmon was sweet and not fishy at all.  That’s fresh fish.  Mmm!

 The festival was held in Comox at Filberg Park.  
Shucking succulent oysters.


We returned to our campsite to pick up the dogs and then we did another trail up to the suspension bridge and Elk Falls in Campbell River with Rick and Valerie.  This was a much gentler trail, but there were sections that required walking on metal platforms, stairs, and of course the bridge itself.  Poppy was very nervous and even cried at first, but she is desperate to please, so she summoned up her inner Golden retriever and followed us on the trail.

 These are the wooden tubes that carry large volumes of water for power generation. The land is owned by BC Hydro, but they give back to the community in the form of trails and outdoor facilities.  
  Poppy crossed the bridge with Valerie.


Elk Falls


A nervous Poppy. (Look at how far she spread her little toes.)

  Daisy crossed the bridge with Paul from the safety of her pouch.

A slightly soggy Daisy 

Tomorrow, we plan to head to Tofino on the west coast of the island.  It will be sad to leave Campbell River and our friends.  We hope to see Rick and Valerie again, but next time in Eastern Europe in 2017.  That was what we were scheming.  We hope to get our Rick Steves group together for a reunion tour.

Campbell River: Day 2

Let there be sun!  In the morning, we hiked some of the trails in the Elk Falls campground and did some geocaching.  BC Parks are full of caches.  We came back to camp for lunch and to solar charge the dogs and the Airstream batteries.


Then, we went to the harbour.


This Kwakiutl Bear Pole was erected in 1966.

Later we met Rick and Valerie for a strenuous hike and a reward of Thai food.

  The Campbell River



Hot red happy faces.  


   The slugs here  are mammoth.  They must grow in the rain.    On our first night, Valerie was picking them up in her yard by hand and throwing them into the green space behind their house.

  Modern petroglyphs

  Paul and Rick near the water tower

Campbell River: Day 1

We met Richard and Valerie on our Rick Steves’ European tour, and they are from Campbell River.  We couldn’t wait to see them again here in their stomping grounds.  We have been staying in Elk Falls Provincial Park since Thursday.  (Today is Saturday).  Campbell River far exceeded our expectations!  Rick and Valerie were terrific hosts and found days out of their busy schedules to show us sights and take us to the Comox Shellfish and Seafood festival (aka NIRVANA!).

Rick owes a car dealership and Valerie is an award winning soap maker.  Valerie is First Nations from Haida Gwaii.  She is from the clan Raven, so her soap is called RavenSong.  We purchased several bars, and Valerie threw in many more!  Our Airstream smells so sweet now!  Here is Valerie in her curing room.  


Don’t her soaps look edible?  She even has a Nanaimo bar soap, and it looks and smells like the real thing!  You can purchase her soaps online.  She is currently updating her website with a new format and photographs, but it should be up and running really soon.  Search for RavenSong soaps and you’ll be in for a treat!

Campbell River is everything we want in a place to live — ocean, forests, hiking trails, amenities.  How can I not mention that this is the salmon capital?!

On our first night, Rick and Valerie treated us to a dinner at the famous Painters Lodge.  Many celebrities have stayed there, including Bob Hope and John Wayne.  The dining hall overlooks the ocean and the lodge provides a complimentary water taxi to Quadra Island.  Our meal was exceptional!  I had tuna tartare as my appetizer, and Paul had seafood fritters.  For my entree, I had cedar-wrapped salmon, spicy greens, and potato croquettes.  Paul  had halibut cheeks and Brussels sprouts.  Everything was perfectly seasoned and the flavours of the sides complemented the main dish.

Painters Lodge dining hall: