Prepare to be overwhelmed with photos this week.
Monday 27th April
Bev n Pete went to work today so Bev kindly offered me the use of her car. I took the opportunity to visit Geoff & Margaret at La Perouse. They have a wonderful four story brick house with views over Botany Bay and Kurnell to the south. Geoff and I took a walk along the foreshore and exercised their poodle, Pippa.
Tuesday 28th April
I had trouble sleeping and was wide awake at 3.30 am unable to go back to sleep. At 6am Bev drove me to Sutherland Railway Station for the train to take me to the aiorport.
My next adventure began.
Hmmm! Being first in line at the Air Canada ticket desk does not mean first on the plane. Getting through security and customs was my first exercise in futility and holding my annoyance and dare I say, anger, in place. These people operate under a different set of rules, logic and are a law unto themselves. A word of advice. Do not leave water in your carry on bag – it will be confiscated – and no matter how much you may think you would like to clean your teeth on the plane, forget it. Leave your toothpaste at home, buy some on arrival or leave the toothpaste in your checked in luggage otherwise it will be confiscated. I was seated at the departure gate waiting for my zone to be called when I heard, “this is the final call for my flight”. WOT THE! Last on the plane!
Tuesday 28th April
Did you notice there are two entries for today? That’s because I crossed the date line and arrived in Vancouver three hours before I left Sydney. The flight was 14 hours long. That’s 12 hours more than my tolerance level. Just as we were coming in to land I could see the runway below the plane when suddenly there was a burst of power and the plane went into a steep climb. WOT THE!!! All the passengers looked at each other and asked the same question. What was that about? The pilot announced the landing was aborted as a plane was already on the tarmac! He further announced this was normal. Yeah right! As if anybody believed him. At last we eventually landed – safely – about a half hour late. I had no sleep on the flight and arrived in Vancouver tired and irritable. Immigration and Customs in Canada are just as humorless as their Australian counterparts. Despite those hurdles I still found a shuttle bus to take me to Harbour Air two hours early for my seaplane flight to Vancouver Island. I asked to take photos and was assigned the Co-Pilots seat.
Donnis and her sister Joan collected me from the seaplane jetty at Nanaimo
and drove me to Duncan, our home for the next week. After a few hours of sleep it was time for dinner followed by a full nights sleep.
One of the first things I learnt today is that Victoria on Vancouver Island is the state capitol for the Province of British Columbia. (Or should that be Province Capitol?)
Wednesday 29th April
Today was Joan’s day off before returning to work tomorrow. She graciously drove us around much of the Cowichan Valley Trail and the sights of;
Kinsol Trestle Railway Bridge . The timber bridge which spans the Kocksilah River was built in 1920 and fell into disuse when the last train crossed in 1979 and abandoned a year later. At 44m high it is one of the highest trestle’s in the world. The bridge began to deteriorate and cyclist and walkers were unable to use the bridge in their Trans Canada Trail hikes. In 2007, CAN$5.7 million was provided for restoration works as a non motorised trestle. It is now a tourist attraction especially in the summer months.
Cowichan Bay, a fishing village now used by alternative type shops.
We stopped for coffee at an Organic Bakery
then found our way to the Timber Boat Society Museum on an old jetty. Some of the old timber boats were just simply loving creations. We visited what is known locally as the Butter Church or the Indian Stone Church built in 1870.
The church fell into disuse and the land became part of a lot given over to the First Nations Peoples. Vandalism soon put the church into a poor structural state and funds were raised to restore the historically significant building. Due to lack of use it again has fallen into a sorry abandoned state and is a haven for graffiti with one stone wall almost completely knocked out.
Next on our list was Maple Bay
and the Lion Rampant Scottish Pub (once known as the Brigantine Inn Pub) re-furbished and re-opened in 2014. We had lunch here and I had a typically Scottish “butty” (a breadroll with chips, bacon, cheese, lettuce, mayo and I dunno other stuff in there as well) with a bowl of rich gravy for dunking and washed down with a pint of Scottish beer.
To work off the big lunch we went for a walk in the woods at Osborne Bay Park
between the towns of Crofton and Chemainus and then arrived in Chemainus, a town which was, once upon a time, populated mostly by Chinese, Japanese and Swedes as labourers in the mill, as fishermen or shopkeepers. Families of those early settlers are gone now but First Nation Peoples still live on nearby Thetis and Kuper islands.
Whew! It was a long day and we ended it with a barbecue and a couple of glasses of a local Pinot Grigio.
Liquor prices are or were controlled by the Government via the 10 Provinces and the three Territories. Alberta has now privatised sales but British Columbia sales are still controlled by the province of BC.
I was staggered to find that a 4 litre box of wine which would sell in Australia between AUS$12 to |AUS$16 sells for CAN$28 to CAN $40 more than double the price. Of course on top of the sale price must then be added a 10% GST and a Provisional Sales Tax (PST) of 5% so that increases the cost even more. The Australian price already includes GST.
Hmmm. Perhaps |I should not complain about the prices of Australian beer wine & spirits!
Thursday 30th April
Today after driving Joan to work, we went to Victoria, capitol of the Province of BC. Along the way I could see snow covered mountain peaks in the distance. After making enquiries I found the mountains are the Olympic Range including Mt Rainier, across the Straits of Juan de Fuca in the United States in the state of Washington near Port Angeles. The town of Port Angeles was already on my list of places to visit next month.
We visited Victoria Harbour where a cruise ship berthed earlier and Parliament House stands proudly overlooking the harbour as does the nearby Empress Hotel.
On our way home we stopped at a lookout on Mount Malahat which has great views to Brentwood and as far as the Juan de Fuca Straits.
While a passenger in Joan’s truck, driven by Donnis I had time to observe local traffic and learn that Canadians, men and women, like their USA counterparts, are in love with their “trucks”. Mostly gas guzzling giants made by GM, Dodge and Ford. Toyota also holds a large part of the market. Some of these trucks are huge with the bonnet being taller than me. These trucks take up more than one car parking space and seem to be occupied by only the driver. The drivers all seem to share the same emotional reason for driving these monsters – they feel they are safer on the road if they have an accident. Canadians, like their US counterparts also love the baseball cap which they wear everywhere. To fit in I have taken to wearing a cap with AUSTRALIA printed across the top.
Friday 1st May.
Gulp it is Friday already.
Today Donnis dropped me at downtown Duncan while she took her mother for a haircut. This gave me the chance to wander around to look at the sights and sites.
Duncan is known as the City of Totems. I am reliably informed there are 80 totems around the city. Far too many to visit and photograph so I have only a few photos to share. Incidentally Joan was once the Totem |Tour Guide and wrote a guide book detailing around 35 of the totems.
A list of Totems and explanation can be found here. http://www.duncan.ca/totems/index_totems.htm
In the afternoon we took Donnis mother to the BC Forest Discovery Centre where Joan works. Apart from wandering the grounds looking at restored machinery, equipment and buildings we took a ride on a train pulled by an original diesel locomotive called The Green Hornet.
The huge steam locomotive was on holidays today. Life was tough for the timber men 100 to 150 years ago. A display showing original hand tools and a diorama showed how timber was felled and moved to transport points was fascinating. The display showed the changes over the years and how fewer and fewer men and equipment was required as technology improved. Life is still tough but timbermen no longer need to spend weeks or even months in the forest. Now they can drive to a site and return home the same day.
Saturday 2nd May
Today after dropping Joan at work Donnis and |I toured the downtown Duncan markets. As regular readers will no doubt be aware I am not fond of markets but I will do a cursory tour looking for paintings and photographs – only to look mind, not to buy. At least these markets insist on all locally produced items, food, artwork etc being for sale. No imported or mass produced items can be sold.
After lunch we collected Donnis mother and drove to Maple Bay Marina
and then on to Genoa Bay Marina.
Maple Bay has delightful floating houses for sale or rent. http://maplebaymarina.com/float-homes Eight klms further along a narrow twisting road is Genoa Bay Marina which has a used floating homer for sale. http://www.genoabaymarina.com/ Although the floating homes look wonderful the remainder of the two marina’s are badly in need of maintenance. In fact more than maintenance. Insurers in Australia would not provide liability insurance for either of these two marina’s. The Maple Bay marina also has covered marina berths for those owners who want (and can afford) to leave the boat in the water, undercover, during the winter. Both locations are well endowed with restaurants and I am sure, at least for awhile, living in one of these floating homes would be relaxing and fun.
Sunday 3rd May
Today was intended to be a lay day. Joan was at work and we would have an easy day at home with Donnis mum.
Once we had lunch Donnis took her mum back to the nursing home and said we are going to climb Mt Tzouhalem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tzouhalem
Well alrighty, I am up to the challenge. The first challenge was to find the parking area. Next was to find our way up the mountain avoiding wrong turns. There are no directional signs anywhere on the track/trail. There are no distance signs either. We could only ask questions of other hikers coming down the mountain. About halfway we came across a series of small rock cairns built by hikers – most likely stopping for a rest.
Once at the top we were rewarded with views along Cowichan Inlet, Cowichan Bay and the city of Duncan.
A large cross sits at the top of a the sheer drop below.
At least another dozen hikers were there before us. They came prepared with food, water, hiking poles, backpacks and things to sit on. We did not even carry water.
Tags: BC Forest Discovery Centre, British Columbia, Butter Church, Chemainus, Cowichan Bay, Cowichan Valley Trail, Duncan BC, Duncan City Hall, Duncan Totem Poles, Empress Hotel, First Nation Peoples, Genoa Bay, Harbour Air, hummingbird, Indian Stone Church, Kinsol Trestle Railway Bridge, Kocksilah River, Kuper Island, Lion Rampant Scottish Pub, Maple Bay, Mount Malahat, Mount Rainier, Mt. Tzouhalem, Nanaimo, Olympic Mountains, Osborne Bay Park, seaplanes, Straits of Juan de Fuca, Thetis Island, Trans Canada Trail, Victoria, Victoria Parliament House