A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver Island- Quadra Island


A farmers' market that truly lives up to its name, that's where we found breakfast this morning. The Comox Valley farmers market is a treasure trove of local people selling everything from cheese to bison meat and the amazing cinnamon buns I had for breakfast. There were dahlias and dog treats, lavender soaps and garlic bulbs. Even a man who brought his goats on a leash. What a wonderful place to have in your own backyard.
We planned to tour around the area today to find an adventure and the day day did not disappoint. We started north toward Campbell River and then headed over to Quadra Island on a short ferry (10 min.) we then decided to take a short hike to Mort Lake. The drive was beautiful and the further we went north, the more isolated the roads became. We finally came to the trail head which had a map posted which Bud thankfully took a picture of. It would prove to help us out in the end. The hike was moderate with some rocky uphill sections but lots of easily walkable areas. Big, old growth trees surrounded us and we only saw a few mountain bikers the entire hike. It was so quiet, it was eerie. No birds singing, no planes overhead. We saw a lot of black and green slugs on the first section of the trail and lots of ripe huckleberries and black berries.

We found Mort Lake about half way through the loop. The signage throughout the hike was sketchy at best, we found ourselves following some written upon caution tape to 'Nirvana' at one point and another time we found a yellow blob on a sign with an arrow?!?! Originally the map said the hike was 1-3 hours. Not very specific, I know. We were now coming up onto 2 hours and we weren't quite sure how far we were on the trail. At one point we popped out onto a road and chose the resonate way to go which ended up the wrong way. Anyway, we ended up eventfully back at our car and my Fitbit had recorded 15340 steps and 10.53 KMs and almost 4 hours!!
After the hike, we need some sustenance and so headed to Heriot Bay for dinner at the inn. It is a beautiful place right on the water and we saw an other eagle.
Right across for the inn is Rebecca Spit PP and we did some beachcombing for driftwood and rocks. And then back at Cathy's in Royston we went onto the beachfront near her house to fly the drone. It was a beautiful evening ending with a beautiful sunset.

Posted by blgracey 20:43 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver Island- Comox Valley

sunny 23 °C

Beautiful blue skies met us this morning as we made our way to Horseshoe Bay and the ferry to Vancouver Island. Our journey across the Salish Sea to Nanaimo was smooth sailing.
We saw some neat Tugboats pulling logs across the Straight.
We stopped for a few minutes in Union Bay and watch the Oyster boats fishing and then went on the Royston to meet our friend Cathy. She showed us around Comox Valley on our way to dinner at the Black Fin Pub which was right on the marina. We caught a few glimpses of a seal and a bald eagle both hunting for their dinners. Thanks for dinner, Cathy!


Posted by blgracey 20:33 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver - Grouse Mtn and Lynn Canyon

sunny 21 °C

Today's weather began opposite than the last two days. Beautifully sunny and warm. We headed up Capilano Rd to the foot of Grouse Mountain. When in BC you must find a way to take a gondola ride and so this was ours. We paid for the basic ride up and found our way to line. It's a smooth ride (except at the tower spots) and we coasted up the mountain in 6 minutes. The size of the pine trees and red cedars are astounding.



At the top of the mountain the activities were well organized. There were things for kids like a paper airplane contest and for adults like zip lining through the clouds. There is a grizzly habitat for 2 orphaned bears on top of the mountain. When we were first looking for them, they were sleeping behind a tree and we couldn't see them but the people going up to the peak on the chair lift were able to see them so we bought tickets for the second peak. Bud thought the chair lift ride was fabulous. The views were spectacular of the first ground below us. Being afraid of heights, I beg to differ although I appreciate how spectacular it was. By the time we got to the bear, however, they had moved on. We did ride up with someone who was visiting from Anchorage.



When we came back down on the chair lift the clouds had moved under us and the views were not as spectacular but instead sort of mysterious.
When reaching the bottom of the lift, we saw that the Bears had come down to the water to eat some apples and so we got some great pictures. Such massive creatures. Teaching people to respect them is very important.
As we were leaving, we saw this para sailer.

After a great lunch at Browns Socialhouse restaurant, we headed to Lynn Valley but as we got there a rain shower rolled in. We decided to return in an hour after a drive around the city. We were so glad we did! Not only was the sun out when we got back but most of the people were gone too! The decided to hike across the suspension bridge and down to the 30' pools. At the pools we found some people from Barcelona cliff jumping (despite the signs). No towels for us and the water was far too cold!



We turned around and hiked the other way to the falls. It was a beautiful hike that took us past many huge red cedars and down MANY stairs. The reward was a beautiful look at twin falls from on top of a bridge. What goes down, must come up hence the 60 stairs recorded on my Fitbit today!


what a great day today! Tomorrow we ride the ferry to Vancouver Island!

Posted by blgracey 23:24 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Vancouver- Sea to Sky Highway

rain 19 °C

Today was a grey and slightly rainy day but that didn't stop us from having quiet an adventure on the Sea to Sky Highway. Our plan setting out was to go from Vancouver to Permberton but as you will find out, things did not go to plan perfectly.

We began with breakfast at a little restaurant called the Tomahawk which has been in business since 1926! A great family restaurant with lots of character.

Heading out after breakfast, it was misty although not too cold and traffic was light. The highway itself is full of twists and turns and is a fun drive with sheer rock cliffs that stretch to the sky on one side and the sea on the other. The clouds were so low that we could barely see the many islands in Howe Sound. We stopped in Porteau Cove Provincial Park where there was a boat launch. From the launch we spent some time watching some harbour seals fishing. Pictures were hard to get because really most of the time they looked like rocks with just the top of their heads out of the water.
Here we saw what would be our first "fun" bus. It was a Pink Panther bus and we would see many more on our ft drive today.

We saw this fellow perched as well. He is a Sandhills Crane.

We stopped to cruise around a neighbourhood in Furry Creek where the homes sat upon the hill looking into the sound. Wha an amazing view they must have everyday. Then we headed to Shannon Falls to have a look at the waterfall that rains down from the top of the mountain.

We drove through Squamish, BC an it's high cliff rock faces. No wonder it is known as an outdoor playground for those thrill seekers wanting to rock climb or bungy jump.

We stopped at Garabadi Lake Provoncial Park which was a bit off the highway and Bud took some video with his drone of the beautiful rushing river and scenic mountain views. The clouds were still pretty low but formed interesting shapes themselves.
On to Whislter! The drive from Garabadi Lake turn off to Whistler should be about 20 minutes but it happens there is a music festival in Pemberton this weekend and so the traffic line was many kilometres long! It took us over an hour to drive it. Hence no drive to Pemberton today.
This brilliant person decided not to put up her top when it began raining and instead thought it would be smart to just hold an umbrella.DSC_0251.jpg
Whistler has an atmosphere quite like no other we've experienced before. Adventure seekers of all ages, shopping, sitting on cafe patios, and roaming the area with bikes. We had lunch at BG's and then drifted in and out of shops. At the of the walking concourse there is the biking park where we sat and watched the bikers come down the course. What an amazing rush it must be to navigate the course down from the peak of whistler mountain.
We walked the infamous walk that we remembered Jon Montgomery made when he won the Olymic Gold Medal in 2010, pitcher of beer in hand and had our picture taken by the Olymic Rings.

We sat for a while and took in an open air concert but the cool air had us heading back to car around 7:00pm. Our drive back from Whisler had much better traffic. We stopped I at the Brandywine Falls stop and learned that this part of the coast was actually formed by volcanos 13,000 years ago.
27A30232AC4B974D9DCA2B7E6846F1A4.jpeg 96D1AEE4F46DB730DBEC2505BBD5CDCA.jpgDSC_0267.jpg
The clouds had cleared for our drive back down to the sea and we stopped to snap some of these wonderful photos of snow capped peaks.



When we got back to North Vancouver, we headed to the Spirit Trail and shot some pictures of Downtown Vancouver and the harbour front all lit up. Just beautiful.

Posted by blgracey 09:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver BC- Stanley Park

overcast 19 °C

Our adventures this summer bring us to Vancouver British Columbia. Yesterday was spent travelling from Toronto, although we did stop in downtown Vancouver and the harbour front on our way to the hotel.


We are staying at the Capliano Inn in North Vancouver which is a Best Western. A nice little inn with well kept rooms very conveniently located just north of Stanley Park. No camping this trip!

Today we set out early to the Aquarium and were there right when it opened. We are so glad we did because the lines were small and the parking was good. The aquarium was not too large that you couldn't see everything in one day. The outside displays were excellent and we caught almost all of the shows including the 4D theatre film. We were there 4.5 hours.


After the aquarium we drove around Stanley Park to see the totem poles. A very beautiful picture of First Nations culture and a a tribute to the First Nations people who are from the Island.

It was now around 3:00 so we headed across the bridge to rent some bikes from Spokes. What a great way to see the park and for a reasonable cost as well. It was 34$ for the 2 bikes for 2.5 hours!


We rode around the Seawall taking in the container ships docking and coming into the harbour. The driftwood on the beaches was also a neat sight. We ended up taking a few off road paths into the forests of the park where we saw very large and old cedar trees. It was a great ride around and quiet off the main Seawall path.

On our way back we ran into these guys keeping the city safe.

dinner at Ciao Bella was exceptional ( and cheap on Tuesday's!).


Posted by blgracey 19:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

MacGregor Point Provincial Park -2

semi-overcast 11 °C

After some rain last night, the air was very cool in the morning. We bundled up, grabbed our gear and made our way to the Tower Trail. This trail is my favourite by far here in the park. Old cedar forests turn into bog wetlands and then you happen upon a pond. Keep your eyes open and in the trees if you want to see some amazing birds. We are so lucky to catch a look at a Scarlet Tanager who stayed with us for a photo shoot.
Coming upon the tower that overlooks the pond, we saw a Yellow Warbler darting around in the shrubs. DSC_0161


Lots of Red-wing Blackbirds filled the air with their songs.
As we continued around the pond on the trail we had to stop as to not disturb 2 families of geese. Both families had 4-5 goslings learning to swim and to forage for the best grasses. We waited for quite awhile, watching them play and protect their little families.
This trail has a bird blind but the wind had turned cold so we didn't stay long out of the sun. DSC_0166.jpg
I did catch this picture of a painted turtle though.DSC_0184.jpg
On the way out of the trail this little guy (a red squirrel) stopped to say goodbye. DSC_0187.jpg
In the evening, we headed out to the visitors centre to walk around. The visitors centre was closed but the trials take you down to the Lake Huron Shore and along boardwalks around an inland pond. Here we saw some Terns fishing for their evening snacks and another Painted Turtle having a fish dinner as well. DSC_0212.jpgDSC_0208.jpg The frogs and toads were singing up a storm!
The temperature tonight is heading down to 6C apparently so we better bundle up! Here are some more pictures of the wildlife we saw while here at MacGregor Point Provincial Park.

Posted by blgracey 13:48 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

MacGregor Point Provincial Park

semi-overcast 14 °C

Spring is finally here! Our first camping trip of the year is met with one of the best weekends so far and we are camping in beautiful MacGregor Point Provincial Park. MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located north of Kincardine on the shores of Lake Huron, Ontario. It is located well off the highway and has several well-maintained campgrounds. When I booked in February there were only a few sites left. We are in the radio free campground and even on a long weekend the grounds are quiet. We are on site 349 which is on the interior loop but is still a ways away from our neighbours and in the summer, when the leaves are out on the trees, it would be even more private.
Today we went down to hike some of the North Shore Trail and did a detour onto the Kempf's trail too. Both are wide, well maintained trails that bikes can ride as well.
We didn't see many ground animals but did see, and hear, many different birds. The walk took us right by the group camping area where, to our surprise, hear a group of young First Nations people, drumming and singing! The pond that was along the way just just full of baby fish as well as older fish. We looked for turtles and frogs but didn't see any.
While relaxing back at the trailer, I was bird watching with my camera and identified many birds with an app called iBird Canada. A great app that has a great search engine. And just as we were ready to go in from the fire at night, we heard a Night Hawk around camp.






American Redstart

American Redstart

Posted by blgracey 13:32 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Nature around home

overcast 15 °C

We have had a slow start to spring here in south western Ontario. Sitting out in the back yard,beside our backyard pond, I photographed these many birds and 8 toads.

Can't wait to go camping next weekend!

Posted by blgracey 11:46 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Algonquin 2015 - Day 5/6

rain 20 °C

The last two days of our stay in Algonquin have been rainy and cool. Day 5 rained all day and so we went for a drive around some of the other campgrounds to check them out. We also went into Whitney to get some gas. One thing we found is that driving around Algonquin to the trails etc takes a lot of gas. We were able to take some pictures of the sunset as the clouds moved.
Our last full day, although cool, was not as wet and we were able to get out and do some trails. We began with an easy walk along the Spruce Bog trail. I wish I could give you the smells along with the pictures here because there's nothing like wet pine smell on a wilderness trail.
We then headed down to the Algonquin Logging Museum exhibits. It was a great mix of a beautiful trail combined with interesting exhibits from Algonquin's logging past (and present). Exceedingly well done.P8210008.jpg
After lunch we talked about a bike ride through the Track and Tower trail but figured, while not raining right now, it would be wet and mucky from yesterday. So we went back up to the Mizzy Lake trail. A few days before we drove up and hiked the top of the trail and this time we figured we would hike the bottom. In 1 hour and then back out. On our way, we encountered a moose and calf in the woods near km22 of Hwy 60. We could only see the calf through the trees but it was a glimpse. We did however, see evidence that they frequent this area.
We saw evidence of the microburst/tornado that happened on Wednesday. The trees down and broken were obvious. Mizzy Lake trail while effected by the downed trees, was most beautiful. It is a rocky, rooted trail with very few easy walking moments but so quiet and wild its worth going back. Someday when we have the whole day, we'll go again and do more.
That is the end of our Algonquin trip for this year. Here's to more adventures!

Posted by blgracey 14:02 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Algonquin 2015 - Day 4

sunny 28 °C

Beaver Pond trail is where we spent a few hours today. The trial took us 1.5 hours to complete but we went at a leisurely pace, stopped to quietly observe some of the ecosystem that goes into a self-contained habitat that beavers build for themselves. There were several families of beavers in the ponds and the dam they have built is quite something, holding back tons of water so that they have still and deep water for their homes. We learned, through the trail booklet, that beavers farm water lilies! They apparently eat them and by doing so disperse the roots which will grow more lilies. The consumption of lilies allows the beavers to stay in their homemade habitat and limits their need to go on shore where their predators, like wolves, live. We have found the trial booklet system in Algonquin quite interesting and easy to use with booklets at each trail head, in French and English, and sign posts throughout the trails.
On a side note, we keep seeing these roots coming out of the ground that look like fingers clawing through the dirt! Freaky!

We decided that we would try a trial known for wildlife nearer to dusk for a better chance at seeing something other than chipmunks and frogs. We decided to drive up the Arrowhead Lodge road and then walk into the top of Mizzy Lake trail via an abandoned railroad bed. On the way on we saw the evidence of yesterday’s microburst/tornado. Trees downed, the park building with damage and signs of Hydro One cutting trees that had fallen across the road. It looked like Mizzy Trail had been reopened. (It had been closed earlier in the day for emergency repairs.) The road up to the trail bed was fairly long, 3 kms or so, and then we walked into the trail about ½ hour. It was a really nice hike and we would do this one again with a bit more time. Because we left later in the evening, ½ hour in and a ½ hour out was all we dared. As it was the trail was getting very dark by the time we emerged around 8:45. We saw the sign posts 7,6,5, and 4 of the trail. We passed many research stations for turtles and many beaver houses. We are guessing that the extreme heat (It was 28 plus 90% humidity) was the reason we didn’t see any wildlife. It is human nature, I suppose, that we were disappointed we didn’t see anything when it was light out, and glad we didn’t see anything once it began to get dark.


Once back at the campsite, and after our fire had died out, we walked down to the beach. It was a clear night again and so we snapped these pictures. We were there from 11:30pm-1:00am so the milk way was in sight overhead.

Posted by blgracey 08:28 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Algonquin 2015 - Day 3

storm 25 °C

We had high hopes for today’s adventure, and an adventure it turned out to be! We got an early start because we had a reservation on a water taxi for a canoe trip. We arrived at The Algonquin Outfitters store on Lake Opeongo and got fitted for our life vests and paddles. The Water Taxi ride was about 1/2 hour and they brought our canoes with us to the mouth of the Hailstrom Creek. There they dropped us at a paddle-in campsite and said they would return at 1:30 to pick us up at the same spot (The 12:30 taxi was full). We had the next 4 hours to explore the creek. We had the creek basically to ourselves for the first 2 hours paddling up-stream. The creek began with a beaver house (and then we saw 5 more up stream) and then a beaver dam, which we had to go around on shore. Laden with thousands of water lilies and bog plants, the creek was easy to manoeuvre as long as you stayed in the middle. The creek is a wildlife conservation area and despite this, we saw no wildlife. Maybe they could sense the weather to come.

After 2 hours, we turned the canoe around and paddled downstream to meet up with our taxi at 1:30. We got back a bit early and so we picked our way along the lake shore looking for turtles birds or snakes. At 1:10, we returned to the campsite at which we had been dropped off. And that’s when our day went sour. At 1:25 we saw a taxi come by, drop some other people off around the corner from us. We expected it to come over and pick us up but the driver simply looked at us and then kept going. WTF! Oh, it gets better. Pretty miffed, and in disbelief, we spent our time at the beach looking for another taxi. Maybe that one was going somewhere else first, maybe another one was right behind it etc. Come 2:00 we heard a roar coming toward us. Now, for the last 20 minutes we had been seeing the clouds getting dark and hearing far away rumbles. We had read the weather for the day and the prediction was rain in the afternoon so we booked a morning trip, so we thought. As we see the rain beginning to advance toward us on the lake, a pair of kayakers came paddling quickly toward the beach and hurry up onto shore.
‘Rain’ does not do the water that poured upon us justice. We found an abandoned tarp at the paddle-in campsite that we quickly strung up to some trees and used the paddles to keep the ends up. Unfortunately, we found out why the tarp was left behind because it was full of holes. At times we couldn’t see the shore opposite us because the rain was coming down sideways, lightning and thunder all around us. Our important things (cameras, ID) were safely tucked inside waterproof bags and we had our rain jackets but we got wet just the same. Standing for an hour and a half with our new found comrades, Jennifer and Glen from Alliston, Ontario we learned all about potato farming and joked about the possibility of having to spend the night out there.
The taxi missed the 2:30 pick up because, of course, they couldn’t be on the water in a thunderstorm and by the time they got to us at 3:30 we were soaked and pretty angry. If they would have picked us up at the scheduled time we would have been back at the trailer nice and dry! Just to add insult to injury, the water taxi has no ‘inside’ and so we were pelted with cold, hard rain the whole way back to the store.
Our driver, while very apologetic, was not able to help us out much with our grievances. He later phoned his manager and we received a 50% discount for the pickup mistake but we really had to fight for that discount.
Back at the trailer, we changed into dry clothes, hung our wet ones to dry. We then realized that our trailer had no power, in fact, none of the campground had power. We had already planned to head out for a hot meal at The Mad Musher in Whitney. On the way past the campground office, we went to inquire about the power and found out that there had been a tornado, or microburst, only 10km down the road that tore the roof off a building.
Good things can be counted today on one hand; we were not cold, we are safe, the trailer is dry, and as I sit and write this the power is back on. Tomorrow will be another big adventure.

Posted by blgracey 19:34 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Algonquin 2015 - Day 2

sunny 33 °C

Today was a hiking day in the park. It was very hot, but we got a good start before the weather got too humid. First up was the Peck Lake trail which took us around the edge of the lake. It took us 1.5 hours but it was a very easy walk over a dirt and root trail. Very similar to the Bat Lake trail we took 3 years ago.

Next, we went on the shorter, yet steeper, Harwood Lookout trail. The trail took us up and down some very steep slopes and through old and beautiful hardwood forest. Most of the trees being Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch. The trail ended at the lookout which over looked Smoke Lake. Trees as far as the eyes could see and its no wonder the booklet said that it was the most stunning in late September when the trees were turning colour.
Back at the trailer the sunset over Lake Pog and I got these pictures.

Much of the campground is not very private and there are a lot of families with children and dogs but all was quiet by 9:00pm. We would probably not camp here again for this reason but all-in-all not unpleasant.

Posted by blgracey 19:32 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Algonquin 2015 - Day 1

sunny 30 °C

We are enroute to our next adventure in Algonquin Park, in northern Ontario. We arrived after a long drive avoiding the Highway 400 chaos. We made our way through small-town Ontario which was very quaint, but slow. We arrived at 4:00pm to our campsite at Pog Lake Campground. We are on site 123 which is across the road from the Lake and fairly private. Pog_Lake.jpgPogLake2.jpg

It was a very clear night and Bud and I snapped these pictures of the night sky.

Posted by blgracey 19:31 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Eastern Swing- Old Forge NY

sunny 30 °C

The campground here is not what we are used to. It is like a metropolis. SO many campsites and people, an arcade, a movie pavilion, boat rentals, and a big store, which has free wifi. While not usually our preference it was still fairly quiet and the sites were well treed. There is a vast amount of standing water in the natural areas though which produced a few mosquitos.
In the morning we set off to visit the water park which is located beside the campground. It is the Enchanted Forest Water Safari. Immaculately kept, and cleverly laid out, we went on the slides, on the lazy rivers and in the wave pools until dinner time. Perfect weather, not too bad with crowds and a really family atmosphere.
We did a bit of shopping in town and then had dinner at the Pizza and Clam Shack.

There was some excitement in the evening when a bear came through the campground. Bud saw it and said it was a bigger black bear who just lumbered around the sites looking for garbage left out. It came back around our area later in the night and we saw the camp wardens monitoring it all night. We just made sure our trailer was cleaned up of garbage and food smells. I wish we had been able to get a picture.

Tomorrow we head home via Buffalo. It was a great trip of both city and country exploring.

Posted by blgracey 06:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Eastern Swing- Upstate New York

sunny 27 °C

This was a travelling day. We made our way back west through the small scenic highways of this area, travelling out of New Hampshire, through Vermont and then into New York State. The road was quite mountainous, taking us all the way up and then all the way down mountains sides. On our way we saw a biking event and met many riders making their way through the twisty roads. Kind of neat to see.
We stopped for lunch at a roadside pullout with a nice view, and made it to our destination in Old Forge NY by dinner time.

Posted by blgracey 06:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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