A Travellerspoint blog

Ontario's Near North Trip - Rockwood Park

sunny 27 °C

This is our last day on vacation. :(. Rockwood Park is part of the Grand River Conservation system and has a really unique geology. We spent it canoeing around the lake and walking the hiking trail here. The canoeing was really fun because the calm waters and the geology of this place leads to inlets of rocks and cedar roots right up and in the water. There are all kinds of little nooks and crannies to canoe around. Lots of fun and a great place to learn to steer. Below are my favourite pictures. We didn't get a picture because they were too high up but there were many swallow nests clinging to the underside of the rock walls.

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Right before dinner we took a walk up to the hiking trail which begins at a ruin of an old mill and then goes on to some caves.
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Besides the really nice hike it was eventful in a few ways. We first hiked up to the lookout over where we canoed this morning. P7210068.jpg
While there we “interrupted” two people in a photo shoot. One of the kinds of photo shoots you don’t show your mother. Hmmmm. Then, we couldn’t get down to see all the caves because there was a film crew filming an episode of a kid’s show Dino Dana. Generators, wires, lights and cameras everywhere, not to mention crew members standing around being bored. We walked past them into another smaller trail which, we found out later, leads outside of the park. We were stopped from going further when we found this crime scene tape and a police officer guarding a crime scene of which we have no further details. P7210075.jpg
Along the way we found this abandoned cabin which had burned out many years before. So kind of an adventurous day!
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This is the end of our camping vacation this year. We may be out and about for some smaller weekenders this summer still.

Posted by blgracey 10:35 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Kawarthas & Rockwood Park

sunny 26 °C

Yesterday, on our last day in the Kawartha’s and we decided to go explore by car today. We drove down to Kawartha Highland Provincial Park which was is one of our newest working provincial parks, officially opening to the public in 2011. There are few (actually zero) serves there except a privy (aka outhouse) a few picnic tables and a some canoe boat slips. The park has the potential to be very active in the future with the development of trail heads and perhaps car camping (there are paddle in spots already). Although, there are many private cottages along the entrance way, I expect as you go long the long lakes and rivers it most likely gets quiet. We just drove in, looked around, and came back out.

We had lunch in Apsley at The Swiss Bear restaurant. They featured schnitzel dishes but Bud and I had sandwiches fries and soup. It was a very tasty meal prepared by Swiss Chef Robert. We really liked their salt and pepper holders on the tables and found them for sale in Apsley (below).
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Here are a few other items we’ve picked up along the way this trip. Eddie (our marshmallow guide) - from Algonquin - and the loon picture which is actually a dry erase board! - from Arrowhead.
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Today, we headed back into society. I really liked how we planned this trip. Making our first stop the most rugged and farthest away spot (Mississagi) without even hydro or comfort stations, and then working our way back to civilization each step we took closer to home. Enroute to Rockwood Park in the Grand River system of conservation areas, we let Google maps find us the fastest route that did not involve highways. It took us down absolutely beautiful winding roads (with amazing properties I might add). All the way through the Kawartha lakes region and the Caledon region ( known as the Greenbelt). My whole life I’ve lived in and travelled in Ontario and I’ve never travelled these roads which were stunning.
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We have arrived in Rockwood Park. We have, I think, the best site in the place. We are site 38 which is on the end of an aisle of what we call parking lot-type sites. Our site backs onto to forested land which is nice. Most sites do not.
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We biked the campground and day-use areas to think about what we want to do tomorrow. Its a fairly small park, in comparison to where we’ve been, but looks like it has a nice trail and canoeing opportunities. Tomorrow looks like its going to be hot so that may help us decide how much and what to do.

Posted by blgracey 18:01 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Silent Lake 2

sunny 27 °C

The weather couldn’t have been better for a kayaking trip today. The water was calm, the sun was in and out of light clouds, and the temperature was comfortable for being on the water. We rented the kayaks at the park office and then gathered our equipment from the boat shed at the canoe launch. The equipment here was in great shape and there are plenty of canoes and kayaks to rent. The lake doesn’t allow motors of any kind and when we left at 10:00 there wasn’t a sole in sight. When we returned at 2:30 there were plenty of people quietly gliding over the water. Silent lake comes by its name honestly. A few times we heard an airplane flying so high we couldn’t see it, but beyond that no artificial sounds at all. Huge rock formations jut out of the water like statues. Unlike Mississagi PP, the rock formations quickly fall away to deep, dark water just off the shore line. Lots of blue jays, and chickadees were calling from the trees.
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We kayaked all the way to the end of the lake and then went through a small river into a second lake (Quiet Lake). The land seemed so untouched there, like we were the only humans to see it. The water was like glass and the everyday sounds that we get so used to were gone. We would have kept going but there was a beaver dam on the next river which led into the next lake. We could have portaged but decided not to since we needed to get back before 3:00.
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We had lunch at this natural picnic spot of which there were many that you could pull up your kayak and get out, stretch, eat or swim.
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On our way back we saw 3 loons out fishing for lunch too.
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Back at our trailer, we had a campfire dinner with chicken breasts, potatoes and broccoli all cooked on the fire. Delicious and no dishes!!
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We are relaxing by the fire reading now as we watch the sun go down behind the trees. The other campers are really quiet and respectful of the peace.

Posted by blgracey 18:30 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near north -Silent Lake

sunny

Silent Lake Provincial Park is surrounded by granite bedrock that the campground is built upon. Huge hills wind through the park as you go to your campsite. As a result anywhere you go you are faced with hills to climb or go down. Our site is #138 which is on top of the Granite Ridge campground. Most sites are well spaced. Privacy is not abundant since the canopy of trees is thorough yet the undergrowth is non- existent. The park has undergone a lot of updates this year with a new trailer dumping station, new park store and new comfort stations. Here is out site:
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It was raining off and on (mostly on) today and so we did some necessary chores including the laundry. The laundry facilities are clean and have new machines.
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Most of the fire pits, including ours, are rock circles not iron grates. Some of them are even built up 3 feet to look like a BBQ. Ours was very deep and so I set about building it up a bit. The fire we made in it later was excellent for keeping away the mosquitos.
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Monday, we went for a “short” bike ride to the park store, which ended up being more than a km of up hill riding on the way back. We tried to go on the bike path on the way back but the mud on the trail made it impassible.

This visitor was looking lunch right outside our campsite undeterred by us.
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Instead of more riding we decided to go on a short hike on Bonnie’s Pond Trail. It is a 3km trail that goes around a pond that is named after a horse who lost her life on it while pulling logs in times gone past. The first part was a very nice trail through old hardwood tree forests. On the pond we saw a blue heron, heard many frogs, saw many dragonflies. It is a peaceful place which also goes by an abandoned beaver dam. We heard a chipmunk giving a warning alert and then we saw an Osprey swoop down, through the trees and out of the area screeching all the while.
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The second part of the trail was not well planned and not well maintained. Mind you, it has been raining a lot but the trail could have been planned to run a different path than the water. The trail, in fact, goes right through a small creek which was half mud, half water. We had trouble staying on the trail and still staying dry. Also, the mosquitos and deer flies were outrageous. Not a fun end to the trail.
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After cleaning up our bites and mud, we headed out for a more civilized dinner. North on Hwy 28 there is a restaurant called the Lakehouse Restaurant. It overlooks Paudash Lake and has very excellent food. We both had Tropical Hurricane drinks and bruschetta with mushrooms and walnuts. Bud had chicken alfredo and I had maple pork tenderloin. Excellent!!
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Posted by blgracey 17:46 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Algonquin Provincial Park

sunny 25 °C

We packed up and on our way to Silent Lake PP this morning via Algonquin Park. The day was a picture perfect one with the sun blazing and warm temperatures. We began with a short hike (.5km) just outside the gates of Algonquin in the Oxtongue River/Ragged Falls hike. It was an easy hike which led to a powerful waterfall.
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Lunch was next in order since it was now 11:30 and we stopped at the picnic area at Tea Lake (named for the colour of the water) for a quiet lunch. Algonquin staff do such and amazing job at maintaining this park.
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The weather being so wonderful, Bud and I opted to go for a bike ride for the afternoon along the Old Railway bike trail. We followed the trail all the way to Rock Lake which was 12km there and 12km back to the Lake of Two Rivers Store.IMG_7248.jpgP7150015.jpg On the trail we saw so many butterflies enjoying the sun that I felt like we were in a butterfly conservatory. He is a picture of one who decided to stay on my bike for a while.
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Our campsite for the next 5 days is in Silent Lake PP which was only 1.5 hours on the east side of Algonquin. We stopped in Bancroft for dinner at the Bancroft Eatery and Brew Pub and then made our way to Silent Lake. The sun shone all day and we made the most of it.
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Posted by blgracey 18:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Arrowhead Provincial Park 2

rain 19 °C

Another rainy day in Arrowhead PP turned out to be a treasure hunt. We decided to explore in our truck if we couldn’t venture out and explore on our feet. We headed north via 592 and then east through Kearney on Rd 518 past some cottages and waterfront. It was a nice drive full of winding roads with little traffic. The road put us out at Burk’s Falls where we happened up this store called the Wooden Roo. It is operated by a nice gentleman from Australia who does the wood work in the shop. The shop was full of the eclectic and whimsical and a skilled woodworking pieces. We bought this picture by an Aussie painter which is absolutely stunning. If you’re in the neighbourhood you should really drop in at the Wooden Roo.
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We went on to Sundridge for lunch at Bernard’s Bistro on the lake (which was quaint and had great food). The view would have been great if it wasn’t for the rain and fog. We then headed into Hunstville for much needed groceries.

Fortunately, the rain was basically over when we returned back to the campsite and we got to go out to the Big Bend Lookout. The Big East River is a very winding river and the erosion that occurs in these big bends ends up collapsing over 500 years and filling in the bends which change the course of the river. Here you can see this big bend has huge, steep banks that are very loose sand. Bud got some excellent drone footage of the course of the river.
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Maybe some day we’ll make it back here when the weather is better. Ontario Parks is putting a lot of new resources (comfort stations, a new visitor centre) into this park since it is so heavily used.

Posted by blgracey 18:46 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North -Arrowhead Provincial Park

rain 19 °C

Rain, rain go away! It sprinkled most of last night here at Arrowhead PP, not enough to make everything too muddy but just enough to make the mosquitos active. We were wary about going out but found a break in the rain around 10:00am and decided to risk going out for a ride. There are many trails to choose from here in the park and we decided to do the 5K bike trail first. It was listed as a moderate mountain biking trail and except for a few hills early on, the terrain was manageable even for my non-mountain bike. It was a quiet ride without meeting even one person on the trail. Of course, the threat of rain probably had many leery of going out. The trail leads over a river and around the Arrowhead Lake which is in the middle of the campgrounds. We saw where you can rent canoes and kayaks as well as fat-tire bikes. The trail was groomed with very loose rocks (bigger than gravel) which made it harder to gain traction not easier.
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The 5K took us just under an hour. When we got back to the trailer, it started to rain again so we managed to go out at a good time.

Later in the afternoon we ventured out again and hiked the 2.6K Stubbs Falls trail. Its a scenic trail that leads past and over (via a bridge) a waterfall and then along the rivers edge. It was a very nice walk which was easy. The trails here are very well maintained. We saw this really strangely growing birch tree that had 3 roots systems growing over an old stump. Very strange indeed!
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The rest of our day was spent beside the fire. It was cool outside and the rain threatened all evening but did not materialize. Our site is in Roe Campground #400. The site is very private and even though the road is behind us we rarely hear it. Our neighbours are a long distance away. It’s a very nice site.
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Posted by blgracey 19:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Chutes PP 2

sunny 25 °C

What a great day for hiking in Chutes Provincial Park. There is only one trail in the park but if you do the whole trail it is 11km. We only did about 3kms but took our time enjoying the waterfalls that make up Chutes. Very few people were hiking (I suspect because it was about 25 degrees many were at the beach) and so the trip was quiet and beautiful.
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You could notice that the waters ran over more of the exposed rock than it runs over now. Water levels of ages gone past were, I’m sure, much higher. Notice that in the picture below the rocks looks like water has smoothed them out and created a wave pattern.
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After such we took the bikes out for a ride through the booming (not) town of Massey. The park is situated right against the northern subdivision of the small town. Some very nice properties right on the water and some properties that needed some love. It was a nice ride which took us just under an hour.
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Around 6:00 Dad was able to join us on his way back home from a trip to B.C. It was nice to sit around the fire and talk, roaring sausages on the fire.
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Our next day was a driving day. We beat the rain out of Chutes PP and raced it all the way to Arrowhead PP near Huntsville. Since it was wet and we were not able to explore the park, we headed into Huntsville for dinner and to get propane. Hopefully our 649 ticket that we bought will be more lucky since the propane was finicky getting hooked back up, the TV we brought wasn’t the one with the DVD player in it and Bud’s data on his phone is getting maxed out. Oh well, no harm done in the end. Hopefully we don’t hit many more rainy days but if you have to have one on a trip a driving day is a good time.

Tomorrow’s weather looks much better so stay tuned for Arrowhead PP adventures.

Posted by blgracey 19:39 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Chutes PP

sunny 25 °C

Leaving Mississagi PP this morning was bittersweet. It was a gem of a composite with no neighbours and beautiful rugged scenery, yet this morning the mosquitos were hungry and decided we looked like breakfast. It was cool outside which made them more prevalent. The basically chased us out of the park!
After gassing up and getting a few groceries in Elliot Lake, we headed for Chutes Provincial Park just an hour up the road. Its a small park just off the Transcanada Highway at the town of Massey. Our spot is right at the back of Circle B and behind us is the trail and the “Chutes”. Its a wide spot and the pines trees are all around us.
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A quick walk to the River aux Sables made us realize the sound we hear from the campground is not the highway but the roaring of the many falls. This was originally a logging company’s area where they would haul the fallen trees to the frozen river and then in the spring when the ice melted, the logs would flow down to Lake Huron with help from the log drivers.
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After dinner we headed out to explore on our bikes and found the beach area below the falls. Very shallow and so sandy with white sand you’d think we were in Jamaica! Tomorrow we will explore more the trails and might head into Massey to see what’s there.
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Posted by blgracey 17:55 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Mississagi PP 3

Mississagi PP

semi-overcast 23 °C

It was a hiking kind of day today. We set off around 10:00 out of the campground area to Flack Lake which had a short hike that ended at a river without a riverbank. It ran from Christman Lake into Flack Lake via a bedrock slide and Bud got some drone footage that is very picturesque. Not a person in sight.
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After a return to the truck and a trip down a very hilly Hwy 369, as seen here in these pictures,
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We found our way into the Cobra Lake trail head, named for a now abandoned copper mine. The ‘road’ was very narrow and only one way so we aren't sure what would have happened if we met someone coming the opposite way. But the trail was well worth it. It is an 11km round trip. We only tackled the first 1km in and it was the part that hugged the lake. I'm sure the rest was even more spectacular with lookouts from above.
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We went as far as the first lookout which was a rocky clearing right on the shore line where we had a snack and put our feet in the water.
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Across the lake we saw there was a tent camper on the far beach shore. We're not sure how they would have got the trailer in there but what an amazing off the grid spot. Probably crown land.
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On the way out we saw this ruffed grouse. He was not scared of us but instead was a little incensed we were on his road.
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After we got back Bud and I took a quick dip in the waters of Semiwite Lake right off our campsite. The water was warm enough because it is a shallow lake but the sun would not cooperate and so the air was chilly.
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Tonight is overcast and spotting rain so we are inside. Tomorrow we leave for Chutes PP which I'm sure will be more populated. It has been a great 3 days without any crowds or noise.

Posted by blgracey 17:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North - Mississagi PP 2

Mississagi PP 2

semi-overcast 20 °C

Our adventures took us canoeing today around Semiwite Lake. The fibreglass canoes were already taken so we got one of their standby aluminum canoes.
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It was a little sketchy but held water. The lake is shallow enough to touch the bottom 20feet out from shore. With rocky and sandy bottoms, it was nice to see the plants and terrain as we paddled by. We even stopped at a tadpole hatchery with big frog tadpoles sunning themselves on the rocks just below the water.
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We found an inlet that was away from the wind and Bud was able to put his drone up and look around.
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The day was quite windy and so it wasn't a really relaxed trip at any part. Not many people were out on the lake in any vessels let alone a canoe but we were fine, just tired when we got back. We saw a spider sunning himself on a rock and this spider was one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. Bud had his hand close to it so we could get perspective on the size.
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We also had some visitors at our campsite in the form of a bold little mouse and a chipmunk both looking for handouts.

The bugs (both mosquitos and black flies) have been noticeable but, for the most part, manageable and we were hoping to have a fire tonight but the wood we bought in the park was far to wet to light. We barely got a flicker going just to make our hamburgers but then it was too much effort to keep the smouldering fire going. The hiking trails from the campground are far too long for us to venture out on (22kms) and I’m not so sure the bugs will be manageable out there. Good Night All!
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Posted by blgracey 17:27 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Ontario's Near North- Mississagi PP

Mississagi PP 1

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Friday July 7,2017

So we are off on our 2017 summer vacation into central and near north Ontario. Our first is planned as a driving day, camping at our farthest and most remote spot on our 5 site tour. We decided to drive the back roads through Mitchell, Pemberton and Mount Forest and on to Barrie instead of going the 401/400 on a Friday through cottage country. We made good time, had lunch in Barrie and then took the 400 north to 69 and then on to Sudbury. Although we had traffic all the way it was not enough to slow our drive. I saw a deer and 2 Sandbilled Cranes.

After gassing up in Sudbury, we turned the truck west on the Transcanada highway. All day we drove in and out of rain storms. Sun one hour, a downpour the next.

We hit road #108 and the way up to Elliot Lake around dinner time so we stopped at George’s Family Restaurant for their buffet. We had a great meal offered up by the great chef himself.

The drive north of Elliot Lake was less…. manicured. The road had no shoulders to speak of, almost a one way width and very hilly. 80 was the posted speed limit but we dared go no more than 60. Our things were a bit tossed inside the trailer when we parked!

We quickly lost cell service when we neared the Mississagi PP border but the entrance to the campground was clearly marked.

Inside the park it is very quiet. There are very few sites taken and they are very private. Ours was almost the farthest from the gatehouse. Site # 23. It is right on Semiwite Lake and a pull through spot with a semicircular driveway so no backing in needed.
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There is no service in the park so no comfort stations, no electrical service. We are using our battery to fuel the fridge, and the heater if need be tonight, but we are using our camp lanterns for light.
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The mosquitos are quite bad as well as the black flies and without a fire tonight it turned pretty cold as well so we have retreated into the trailer. It was a long drive today, leaving at 8:45 and getting to our spot at 7:00 so we'll retire early tonight.

Posted by blgracey 18:54 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver Island- Pacific Rim/ Cathedral Grove

rain

Today began with a steady rain in Tofino. We waited a bit to see if the rain would stop but it didn't so we went on our way. The plan was too begin our day with a view from Radar Hill viewpoint in Pacific Rim National Park. When we get there we found the road closed for construction. ☹️ The road didn't look too bad and on the map it didn't seem too far. We asked a parks person who was there and he said it was about a 1 km walk. Ok... We can do 1 km for a great view. We packed our rain gear just in case and got going. Well, what wasn't said was that the 1km was completely and totally up hill. Like 20% incline up hill. Ok, we can do this. So we kept going. It was a cool walk and there was no one with us on the road. The Radar part of the hill used to be the middle detection for the Soviet misses in the 1950s. cool! The interactive showed us what the landscape was at the view point, unfortunately because of the rain, yes rain now, all we saw was clouds. I bet it would have been beautiful! But we can only imagine.
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We continued down the highway and the rain stopped thankfully. We made a stop at the Visitors centre off Wisk Rd. where Bud flew the drone for a bit on the beach. There were seals on the islands we flew over so hopefully we got some cool footage.

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Heading back to Nanaimo on highway 4 we stopped only once at Cathedral Grove to see the big trees. Some trees were 800 years old! Big Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, the forest was erie and beautiful with all kinds of witch's beard hanging on the trees.
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Tonight we are staying in Nanaimo at the Buckeneer Inn, which is a great little inn with a mini kitchen as well.
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Tomorrow we head to the ferry for our trip back to the mainland and too the airport for the flight home.
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Posted by blgracey 21:18 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Vancouver Island - Pacific Rim National Preserve/Tofino

overcast

We said goodbye to Cathy and headed out across the island to Tofino today. We stopped at Qualicum Bay where went walked out onto the beach where the tide was quite far out. We found some sanddollars and a few oysters and clams. We don't know type what the little fish is but he swam parallel to the bottom not perpendicular to it!
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The drive across highway 4 is beautiful and very winding. You really need to believe the signs when they say to slow down to 30kms/hr!
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We stopped at a rushing river which had big boulders to walk across and the water was so clear and cold!
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It was 2:00 when we got to the Pacific Rim National Park but we needed lunch so,we headed into Ucluelet to eat lunch at Howlers bowling and restaurant. Good food!
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The next stop was just inside the park at Long Beach where I did some beach walking and Bud fly the drone. The water was pretty cold but ok for my bare legs. The surfers didn't seem to mind!
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Our motel is right in a marina with private boats and fishing boats. A room with a view.
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Dinner was at Jamie's restaurant and was excellent. We drove a bit around Tofino after dinner but most of it is just a jump off point for ocean tours.

Posted by blgracey 20:57 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver Island - Pacific Rim National Preserve/Tofino

overcast

We said goodbye to Cathy and headed out across the island to Tofino today. We stopped at Qualicum Bay where went walked out onto the beach where the tide was quite far out. We found some sanddollars and a few oysters and clams.
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The drive across highway 4 is beautiful and very winding. You really need to believe the signs when they say to slow down to 30kms/hr! We stopped at a rushing river which had big boulders to walk across and the water was so clear and cold!
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It was 2:00 when we got to the Pacific Rim National Park but we needed lunch so,we headed into Ucluelet to eat lunch at Howlers bowling and restaurant. Good food!
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The next stop was just inside the park at Long Beach where I did some beach walking and Bud fly the drone. The water was pretty cold but ok for my bare legs. The surfers didn't seem to mind!
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Our motel is right in a marina with private boats and fishing boats. A room with a view. Dinner was at Jamie's restaurant and was excellent. We drove a bit around Tofino after dinner but most of it is just a jump off point for ocean tours.

Posted by blgracey 20:57 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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