Thursday, 30 May 2013

In Tide, Out Tide and Low Tide

Low tide yesterday 10:40 a.m. 
Low tide 11:40 am

Lets go exploring!  It still boggles my mind which that such an astronomical amount of water can move every 12 hours or so. High tide today rose 11.52 feet. They creep up the sandy beach not by a couple of meters, a couple hundred of meters.

Bob having a closer look at the starfish
A sharp contract seeing the creatures of the sea in their own environments.  The colours of he ocean are not quite as spectacular as they are when they are submerged in a salty brine. 

all choked up!
Yes, salt.  I feel like a salt lick after a walk on the beach.  The exposed mounds of rock where clams, crabs, starfish and sea anemones make their home is exposed each and every day. Touch on and they cower, thinking a predator is after them.  Food for the birds, a palate of colour for our eyes to admire. 
They look so fragile out of water.  Just try to pry loose a clam or starfish.  We watched a seagull trying to pry loose his breakfast.  A lot of work to choke down a spiny starfish.  We were told sea gulls would swallow  starfish whole to scrape the oesophagus and digestive system clean.  We did witness this circus act. Have a look at his neck:  that is the leg of the starfish.
Colourful starfish clinging on the barnacles and rock
They look soft and slimy, but not so.  They are very hard, leathery, spiny creatures.  

 Ornaments of the sea...... will wait until the tide returns and come back to life.
As for the sea anemones; their bright colours seem faded in the salty air by comparison to their underwater brilliancy.


This is one way to get the surf board to the beach
As for the two legged creature on the beach, the surf is what brings them here.  The surfing capital of Canada.  Tofino.  We now see why.  We watched the surfers practise their techniques in the small waves.  We spoke with a delightful young couple, (who were snowboarders from Calgary) that moved to Tofino for the lifestyle.  Surfing.....mild climate and culture.  Here on the west coast the temperature doesn't drop much below 9 degrees Celsius.
By the way, surfing is much more difficult than snowboarding, we were told.  A similarity to skiing and snow boarding:  surfers need to find the centre of balance much like skiing. Surfers work against gravity and waves.  Skiers work with gravity and the snow.  Surfers don't need lifts to take them to the top.  Surfers have no lift tickets to buy!   Good point... 

But, they pray for  a day or two of snow. Vancouver Island is home to Mount Washington Ski Resort.  When it snows,.... it snows and locals trade in the surf boards for snow boards for a few days.

Transportation is inventive.  Surf board carriers for bicycles.  One observation is: No one wheres helmets.  When we asked why, we were told the locals won't have any part of it!  They protest helmets. Well, for those who know Bob and myself, we don't need to rant on how imperative it is to wear them.  Helmets save lives. 

Meanwhile, the surfers were out in the rain.  Don't bother hibernating.  Water is water that is.
 Cold warm, but always wet.
I like the idea of dry suits.  We are contemplating on investing in a couple of suits for kayaking.  Lake Superior is a cold lake at the best of time and would extend our season in the Northwest. We will make a visit to Grand River Kayaks and visit our friends Ed and Tanya for their expertise!
Looking Good!!!

We did manage to find sunshine later in the afternoon.  So did everyone else.  They all came out of the woodwork to basque in the golden rays.  The sun rarely comes out in May.  With sunshine comes tourists in droves.
 We are told the beaches are absolutely insane with people.  Even in the misty weather, it is beautiful and the beaches are ours to walk and explore.

Tonite...high tide, & time to go in tide

As for now,  another day on the beach enjoying Vancouver liquid sunshine.  We have one more day here in Tofino before we head off to Victoria. 
this could be dinner?

Tomorrow's another day

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Aquariums and Ukee Dogs

Thanks Nicky & Chris
 Our anniversary began with breakfast served to our room.   "Breakfast in Bed"  This hasn't happened in years.

 Not since the girls brought me breakfast for Mother's Day.  Cheerios, toast and tea.... I think?
Sunflower Starfish
We drove to Ucluelet where we visited the Aquarium.  This facility is the only catch and release aquarium in the world.  As we entered the building we saw row upon row of tanks filled with mysterious creatures of the deep.  Majestic Colour!
Wow, I never would have expected to see such vibrant colours painted on these moving objects.  Sea cucumbers, sunflower starfish, hermit crabs, algae, octopus, and more.

Hermit Crabs

We had the opportunity to hold starfish, catch a crab in the open tanks. 
Did you know starfish can grow back their legs, if they have been broken or used as a snack for a hungry seagull?  They also tickle the hands when held.  Their tiny feet try to latch on to you skin. 

Sunflower starfish with baby
After the salty visit, our hands washed, and hungry, we visited Ukee Dogs.... they were expecting us. (the story behind this is:  Good friends in Thunder Bay, Al and Fran's best friend's daughter, Paige owns Ukee Dogs with her partner Zane) Al suggested we visit them for lunch.  So, here we are. 
Paige & Zane from Ukee Dogs

Not just your regular hot dog stand!  Fresh baked, organic, free run, vegetarian, raw, vegan, meat lover, healthy and not so healthy chow. (what a mouthful)

Paige suggested Smoked salmon sliders topped with grain fed naturally smoked bacon with a side of organic greens drizzled with Vancouver blueberry balsamic vinegarette.  Yummy in the Tummy.  Everything in the area is locally sourced and fresh.  Especially the fish. 

Ukee Dogs

Unique and unsual shoppes. The murals on the building, are beautiful. Much like the graffiti we found in Spain.  Art in its best form.

mural from Ukee Bike shoppe

Next:  Off to hike the "Wild Pacific Trail" or "Life on the Edge" in Ucluelet.  This trail skirts the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, where ancient rain forests meets the Pacific Ocean.

Amphitrite Point Lighthouse

Our hike overlooks Barkley Sound and Broken Islands in Pacific Rim National Park. 

We feel like we are in an episode of the Ewok's forest from Star Wars. moved!

Walking under the mossy forest canopy in the misty rain listening to the stormy waves crashing against the rocks.  The Light House sounds the fog to alert sailors (if any are at sea)  The photographs don't even come close to the mythological landscape. 
the land of the Ewok

Trees looking like creatures with their branches winding out to encompass you when your  not looking!    You won't catch me in here after dark, as I was already looking over my shoulder through the misty rain, thinking something was behind me.

Since good food is a priority, and with the recommendation from our wonderful hosts at Harvey House B & B Nicky and Chris; we were told "Shelter" in Tofino was right up our alley.  Seated beside the open fire we enjoyed fabulous local brew, B.C. wine and romantic ambiance. 

Treated to artisan yeast free breads, grain fed chicken, lamb steak with warmed kale, our taste buds were treated to an exquisite evening.
Happy anniversary! a perfect day (even in the rain)
I feel spoiled on this trip............. Breakfast in bed....beaches on the ocean.....fabulous

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Cathedral of Time

Cathedral Grove
After a long and wonderful day travelling in Vancouver Island sunshine (rain) we both were so tired, we succumbed to take out food and a cozy bed in our B & B on the Pacific Ocean in Tofino. 

Flowers of the West Coast

Bob and I departed from Naniamo shortly after breakfast; drove down the parkway to "Jingle Pot" road.  A curious name.  I will leave this one be!  HaHa
We travelled through narrow winding roads. Up, down and over mountains on Vancouver Island as we visited many natural and wonderous landmarks.

Our highlight of the day....Cathedral Grove: This area was given to the province by the H.R. MacMillan Export Co. in 1944 as a way to preserve an incredible stand of trees.
Douglas Fir
We strolled through trails of majestic Red Cedars & Douglas Fir trees, some over 800 years old standing straight and tall reaching and touching the sky.  One reaching 9 meters in circumference.
Feeling like an Ewok from Star Wars

The lush greenery, created by the high moisture and sub tropic climate accelerates your senses.   A drastic contrast from Terrace Bay, Ontario, where you still can find snow and frozen grounds. 
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A tropical forest
And, yes, Star Wars (the location used for filming the Ewoks) was done here in Catheral Grove.

 Despite the quaint shops, cafes and heritage site, All the worries of the day just vanished into the trees.

The sights, the sounds and the smells of the outdoors soothed my senses.  

There is something inexplicable and magical that draws us humans back to nature. We feel the beauty within the trees, mountains and salted ocean breeze.  'We are at home in the forest".  It's in our blood and souls....a comfort within.

A fallen tree:  These are the roots reaching 20 feet in height

Then; a true contrast, we visited "The Country Market"  Famous for the Billy Goats on the grass roof.  Yes, for just a few blades of grass, these four legged bearded critters are an economical way to advertise.  Now, this was worth the stop.  Boutiques, fresh breads, gourmet foods and unusual items in this grass hut!

"The Country Market"

Billy Goat Gruff!   Baa Baa

Billy Goat Gruff

Along the B.C. Highway, we approach a humbling sign:  "Tsunami: evacuation route"  Totally ignorant of the fact.  Thinking it would never happen.  Especially in Canada.  Not so!  A fault line runs along the coast to California. 


We arrived in Tofino in the mid late afternoon.   Had a quick drive through the village and Checked in to "The Harvey House, where Nicky met us at the door.  What a delightful woman.  Nicky escorted us up to our room with maps, things to do and see during our stay.  With a wall of windows, we over look the forest and across the road from Chestermann's Beach/Clayoquot Sound on the Pacific  Ocean.        Delightful.
  P.S.   "Happy Anniversary to my husband and best friend, Bob.  I love you.....


Sunday, 26 May 2013

"Knitters are just a close knitt bunch!"

O.K.: Today, we are both awake and ready for the day.  Yep!  We were awake at 4:00a.m. this morning!  The robins weren't even singing.  Pacific Time has its advantages.

Bathtub race winner
We began our day with a wonderful breakfast.  Thanks to Judith from The Kennedy House B & B.  Fresh fruit, smoked salmon and egg on toast. We were ready to be official tourists of Naniamo.  Look out, here we come. A pair of Norwester hippies.  Pony tail included.

Our mission today was to tour Naniamo Museum, where we learned about the history of coal mining at Naniamo.  Naniamo bar tasting at "Serious Coffee Co." and the Bastion.

Naniamo tasting @ Serious Coffee Co.
I have to agree, the authentic tri level sweet of the west coast is absolutely delicious along side a cup of west coast java!  Now.. we are ready to start our day.  Caffeine and sugar.  WOW what a rush at 10:00 a.m.

Original recipe

The secret to Naniamo bars: "Bird's custard powder"

Sunshine, warm temperature!  Upward and onward.

Time for lunch.  Already tired of restaurant food, we are now eating by "default" and it is my "pick" for the meal.  "Lets try raw vegan.  What do you think, Bob?"  Waiting for the "I don't think so" 

To my surprise, we find ourselves ordering raw, vegan pizza.  Complete with cashew ricotta on a bed of organic pesto drenched over carrot puree crust.  Doesn't this sound just scrumptious? 

Well, don't be so turned off on tasteless food.  This pizza was absolutely wonderful.  Bob was pleasantly surprised.  I didn't even have to coax him to take his first hesitant bite.  Maybe, it was just hunger that succumbed his feelings towards raw vegan food.

We visited the "Old City Quarter" where chic boutiques are nestled among heritage building in the Old city of Naniamo.  And low and behold:  A yarn boutique. Well, we just have to visit.  Bob and I enter the tiny shop filled with exquisite colours and fibers.  Bob fit right in.  So much, that another customer asked Bob if he could help them with a selection of yarns.  He replied: "I don't work here, I'm just a tourist"  He did look pretty spiffy in his Irish knit sweater and sexy ponytail.  (Remember, hippie in B.C.!! and pro ski bum) After a long chat with Bob's new customers, and of course the staff, he came to the conclusion;  "All you knitters are just a close knit bunch, aren't you?"  That's no surprise at all.  We all knew of different shops all across Canada, from Baddeck, Nova Scotia to  Duncan, British Columbia and every where in between!  It's is scary that Bob knows the lingo of us fibre junkies.  Yes, very scary.  And, yes, I did leave with a decadent skein of hand dyed emerald green wool from Gabriola Island, B.C.

Next, on the agenda: The theatre in the afternoon.  At least, it will keep us awake.
"Two tickets for "Island Soul Choir" please.  We were in for a treat.  Afternoon concert featuring Vancouver Island's "Soul Patrol" (Soul, R & B), "Triva", (Acapella trio) and "Island Soul Choir" an African, Gospel choir that shook the walls of the Port Theatre.  This is what Naniamo is about.  The culture, live local talent, coffee shops and food.

Next stop is the Bastion, an eight sided fort  protecting the coal mining town of Naniamo.  Standing guard since 1853 over the city built by the Hudson's Bay company, the only original fort still standing in North America. 

To Bob's surprise, that small slice of raw vegan pizza still kept his belly satisfied for most of the day.  I'm now getting hungry.  Yes, it is almost 5:00 p.m. and time for a cold beer.  What a better place than Asteras Taverna, an authentic Greek restaurant, complete with a cold glass of Mythos Beer, red wine and fresh baked pita bread with Tzatziki.
A complete day it was.  At least, today, we didn't misplace the car!

Tomorrow, we depart and head even more westward toward the Pacific ocean to the coastal town of Tofino.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Beauty from Above


Canadian Rockies from above
I could only imagine what Chris Hadfield experience when he view our planet from above.  I don't often sit, let alone look out the window of an aircraft. Today, I gazed in amazement on the beauty below.

It was an early morning waking up at 3:45 am in Thunder Bay. We arrived in Vancouver at 8:00 am Pacific Time (a three hour time difference)  We felt like we were chasing the sun. 

Lion's Gate Bridge

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It was misty, "Vancouver sunshine" as we visited Stanley Park.  We were so excited to see the colour green everywhere!  Terrace Bay has just begun to bloom, so we were treated to saturated greens, pinks, and hues of the rainbow within the park.

The totem poles were majestic and stood tall beside the trees.
We then boarded the Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  After parking the rental car we walked up and wandered to the sun deck and admired the views as we approached the island.  The swaying of the ship had tranquilized me into a sleep, as I stretched out on the bench in the sunshine.
Once docked we had to return to our vehicles.  Except....we kind of lost our car in the row upon row of vehicles on level 4 of the ship. OOPS!  We did finally find it, as all the other cars had departed.  It was only a matter of time and embarrassment.  Oh well.....we won't do that again!

We  sheepishly drive off the ferry and arrive at our destination.  Nanaimo, called the 'Harbour City"  a small town. One of many small towns we will be visiting.  And of course, the mystery of the Naniamo Bar:
Some legends trace its roots to Nanaimo's coal mining days when families of miners sent care packages that often included rich custard treats. Other accounts say Dutch settlers brought the recipe over in the early 1900's.  Local historian figure the Nanaimo Bar was most likely inspired by a recipe in a 1952 Woman's Auxiliary to te Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook.  
Tomorrow, will be hiking the Nanaimo Bar Trail.  Yes, it exsists.  A trail of sweet shops where you can sample traditional, deep fried, Nanaimo Bar ice cream, and espresso bars!

We just returned from dinner, and cannot even fathom eating the delectable treat as our bellies are full, and the body clock is scrambled. 

It has been a long day travelling, so a good sleep, ocean air and Pacific time zone weighing heavy on our eyes, so by tomorrow, we will be ready to explore with both eyes open.  The Goal:  Desert!
Naniamo Harbour


Bottom layer:
1/2 cup butter
5 tbsp. cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coco nut
Melt first three ingredients in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat and stir remaining ingredients.  Press firmly into an ungreased 8 x 8 pan.

Middle layer:
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp cream
2 tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together.  Beat until light. spread over bottom layer.

Top layer:
4 squares semi sweet chocolate
2 tbsp. butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. When cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in fridge.