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:

  

Geocaching in the rain

On Wednesday, it was raining, so we decided to take a drive from Parksville down to Cowichan Lake, with stops in Ladysmith and Duncan.  At Cowichan Lake, we decided to see what caches were in the area.  We found a really cool cache on an old train at the museum.  Geocaching takes you to interesting places.

Behind the train where the cache was, there was this rail car:

   

When we got back to our site at Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, we decided to search for more caches on the trail.  We found about 5 that day.  Here I am putting a bolerama pin in a cache, with Poppy looking for treasure:

  
We ended our stay at Rathtrevor Beach with a crackling fire and clear skies.  Not a sound in the campground but campfires.  Heaven on earth.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

We arrived at the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay almost 2 hours early.  We did not think they’d park us, but we were not the first to arrive.  We got an excellent spot on the ferry next to a tour bus.  We had been a little worried about getting a gouge on the Airstream.  A couple in a campground showed us a gouge on their motorhome.  We told the attendant and he said, “Don’t worry. I’ll put you in a good spot.”  We were right at the front.  Great spot.

  
We had good luck with the ferries last year too.  The workers are so incredibly friendly and eager to please.  They must be valued by their employer, so they are happy to do their jobs.

We moved Daisy’s bed to the top of the kennel so that she could look out.  She was pleased, but oh so sleepy.

  
It has been very cool and rainy. We always keep a coat in the Airstream “just in case” for Daisy.  She has worn it every day.  Unfortunately, her humans didn’t pack warm coats for themselves.  We have been going “German” and wearing socks with our Keens.  However, we didn’t pack enough, so we’ve been trying to get 2 days out of every pair.  Eek!

Approaching Nanimo:

   
   

We drove north to Parksville.  I had made reservations at Rathtrevor Beach PP.  I think this is the most beautiful park we have ever camped in.  Most BC PPs don’t have power or other hook-ups, but the scenery makes up for it.  Upon arrival, we asked if there were better sites than the one we reserved available.  He said, “You can’t get better than that one.”  It turns out, the beach is right next to us, about fifty feet through a forest path.  I thought we’d have to go down a cliff, but we are level with the beach.  

 The roads are paved within the park.  

Dogs are allowed on the section of beach near us, but not during nesting seasons.

   Poppy enjoyed the beach, but she drank way too much sea water.  Fortunately, she did not get sick.

   
  

Check out the bird on the right watching the kayakers.

 

We saw this memorial sign on the side of a bench overlooking the ocean.  I totally understand it.

 
In the early evening, we went out for provisions.  Look at what I found:

 FrontBack:

 

I’m not sure how good it will be, but what marketing!

Let’s hope the weather is favourable for going out in the Hobie today.

Porteau Cove

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Porteau Cove Provincial Park on Highway 99, between Squamish and Vancouver.  Apparently, this is the second most popular park in the BC system.  I wonder what the most popular park is because this one is spectacular!  The park was full last night since it was a Sunday.  I booked a site a few months ago, knowing how popular this park is.  However, I couldn’t book an oceanside site.  When we arrived, we asked if any had become available.   What luck — someone had cancelled.  We were upgraded to site 31 on the ocean.  It is a very private site.  Unfortunately, the many trees on the site block much of the view, but when we are at the picnic table or fire pit, we have a clear view.  Today (Monday) most of the sites have opened up, but we are too lazy to move.  

   
 Gregory, our good friend, came to visit last night and he said that the BC provincial park system operates very differently than the Saskatchewan provincial parks. In SK, there is a panic on the day that reservations open because they will book parks 100%.  In BC, they allow for people travelling through, so there are many “first come, first served” sites.  

It rained most of Monday.  The good aspect of having many trees is they sheltered us from the rain.  The rain gave us a chance to go into Burnaby for fish & chips.  Friends introduced us to Cockney Kings.  They do fish & chips right.  We had hoped to spend the day on the ocean with the Hobie, but it was a little cool and rainy.

When we came back to our site, the rain had subsided.  We walked a short trail that climbed up above the campground.

   
Our campsite is somewhere down there.  

This is an arbutus tree.  They are finicky to grow because they don’t take well to being transplanted.  They have to be oriented exactly as they were growing.  This is Canada’s only broad-leafed evergreen.
Daisy enjoyed the walk from her pouch:
  
Summary of Porteau Cove

This park is a must for anyone visiting the west coast.  Although most campers are in vans or tents, many sites can accommodate larger trailers, but not big 5th-wheels or motorhomes.  A 30 foot Airstream would fit fine in our site, but the tow vehicle would have to be unhitched.  We have enough room for our truck and trailer hitched (43 feet).  There are many oceanside sites, and there are really no bad sites.  In the main loop, it is a bit noisier, but you only hear people’s voices and laughter.  This park doesn’t seem to attract the rowdies.  We prefer sites 22, 31-37 because they are very quiet.  

On the negative side, the trains going north run right alongside.  Fortunately, they don’t operate all day long, so we have only heard them 2-3 times.

Tomorrow, we catch our ferry to Nanaimo.  We will be staying at Rathtrevor Beach P.P.

Guaranteed Rugged

That’s the motto for Lillooet.  Highway 99, from Lillooet to Whistler, was incredibly picturesque and rugged.  There were several single lane wooden bridges, hairpin bends, and steep grades.  The flora kept changing, so we knew we were going through different climate zones.  The trailer got whipped around because when I opened the door, everything on the counter and sofa was on the floor.  Pillows have never fallen off the sofa before, but the Airstream had never experienced Highway 99 before.  Guaranteed rugged.

Fortunately, Paul had a little snuggle fest with the girls before venturing out this morning.

   

I think I had one of the best sleeps of my life last night.  The campground was so quiet. I got up while everyone was still asleep and took some pictures of the tent sites:

  We met the woman from Site 3 later in the morning.  She just retired, and she’s on a 3.5 month trip.  She’s from the Muskoka area of Ontario and she’s heading to the Yukon.  She said she refused to be like others who pass through Manitoba and Saskatchewan, so she stopped in parks along the way to learn about the areas.  She went to Manitou Lake in Watrous and Prince Albert National Park.  I wish we had more time to visit.  I love her sense of adventure.  The thought of being in a tent in the Yukon would give me pause.

The size of your trailer is all relative

Over the last year, we’ve been considering getting a 27FB or 28RB.  On the prairies, there is so much space, and a 28 foot trailer is relatively small.  However, in BC, the best sites are for small trailers, up to 18 feet.  Most people have B-vans or C-class motorhomes.  Now, I’m curious what Airstream has coming out in the next few months.  They are working on a little larger motorhomes than the Interstate.  Maybe we will consider it.  Our 23 footer is a little big for this rugged province!