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Archive for the ‘Vancouver Island North’ Category

Christmas !!  And I absolutely love Christmas.  No not just love it — I daydream about it and plan for it all year. My Pinterest boards are full of holiday cards and craft ideas.  I’m a little later than usual but today my dear husband will drag the 10 foot tree and the many, many totes upstairs from storage.  It will take a few days but every flat surface will be decorated.  There will however be a few minor adjustments this year for our curious 18-month-old grandson.  The Nativity scenes will be placed much higher and Megan has suggested that ornaments on the lower limbs of the tree be replaced with bells.

Last week we made our way down island for a three-day island staycation.  Glorious snow-capped mountains and sunshine made us smile.  Sadly the sun didn’t last long and we spent most of the first leg of the journey dealing with torrential rain and high winds.  Thanks to the staff at Java Shack in Campbell River for keeping the kitchen open a few extra minutes to make us a late lunch.  I call it salad on bread but it’s definitely the best tuna sandwich EVER.  Tuna with smoked cheddar, cucumber, tomato, red pepper, red onion, sunflower sprouts all on rye bread.  We spent one night at the Comfort Inn near the Quadra Ferry terminal in Campbell River.  A bright, spacious room and very comfortable.  Chris donned his tuxedo and headed off to a Masonic Lodge meeting.  I stayed behind with a big bag of cheezies and binge watched HGTV while assembling homemade Christmas cards.

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From snow capped mountains of the North Island to the Legislature building in Victoria

It is a long drive from one end of the island to the other !!  But then we arrive at our favourite home away from home.  The suite at Hotel Grand Pacific was lovely. Two balconies both overlooking the harbour with many downtown buildings dressed in their holiday finery. Arriving late in the afternoon we headed downstairs for pub grub instead of venturing out in the rain. I had the Romaine Salad with prosciutto, black pepper brioche, oh so garlicky lemon dressing and showered with shavings of fresh Parmesan. Chris had salt & pepper chicken wings and the potato skins with sweet & sour chili sauce, sour cream, bacon & onion. I’m so glad Chris doesn’t mind when my fork wanders 😉

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The ducks in the front pond of the Hotel Grand Pacific kindly pose for pictures.  The lobby is sparkling with windows, tables and trees all beautifully decorated.

The next morning with absolutely no plans we started off at Belleville’s Diner at the Day’s Inn for brunch.  The whimsical menu is fun to read and the walls are covered with movie memorabilia.  I finally decided on the Dr. Suess which is basil, pesto, goat cheese scrambled eggs with in-house smoked ham, rainbow potatoes & grilled tomatoes.  It was a huge plate of delicious.  Eating out is one of my favourite parts of being away from home — but I’m sure you gathered that by now lol.  Or is it just because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and really hungry.

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The concierge at our hotel gave us a “Downtown Victoria Holiday Guide”  I didn’t get past the suggestion to Snap a Selfie at the Bay Centre’s Giant Christmas Wreath

The Bay Centre is hosting a festival of trees and there are dozens of trees on each level sponsored by nearby stores and companies.  A few of our favourites were the LEGO tree and one that had an elf’s bum sticking out the front.  Sorry five year old humour.  We sauntered through all three levels of the mall and then made our way back out onto Government Street for a browse through Monroe’s Books and Roger’s Chocolates.

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This chocolate giant is on display at Roger’s Chocolates.   It weighs 25 pounds and costs $449.  I entered the contest to win one – but they haven’t called me yet !!

The main reason for the trip to Victoria was to attend The Tenors concert at the Royal Theatre last Wednesday night.  Clifton Murray who grew up in Port McNeill joined the Tenors 8 years ago and we’ve attended six of their concerts and have all their CD’s.  Sitting in the Port McNeill cheering section we were surrounded by Clifton’s parents Craig & Deborah, his siblings and their families.  One of the teary moments I had that night was Clifton’s adorable 3-year-old niece Fauna who walked up to the stage stairs to sing a verse of “You are my Sunshine” to her uncle.  Oh that got me right in the feels !!  And my big goosebump moment was the whole theatre singing the last encore “Auld Lang Syne.”  Magic 💕

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My annual photo with Santa – he’s a lovely fellow !!

And now the Christmas chaos begins.  Today Chris is supervising the arrival of Christmas trees for our church’s annual sale at the grocery store.  Hurry because  they won’t last long !!  The Salvation Army Kettle is in Port McNeill for the first time this year so Chris and I will be ringing the bells along with other Rotarians & their families.  I’m still crafting to get ready for “The Last Minute Christmas Shopping” craft fair at the Lion’s Hall on the 13th from 10am-2pm and sure I’m hoping to sell a few craft but really I’m looking forward to the homemade peroghies, cabbage rolls and borscht for lunch !!  Throw in two concerts and a play and yes my dears it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Hugs from the beach…

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Summer doesn’t officially end for a few days, but fall is quickly showing its muscle.  Shorter days, Canadian Geese flying in formation and finally after one of the driest summers — blessed rain !!  One of my favourite parts of autumn is the cool, crisp breeze that comes in off the ocean.  Wish I could bottle that fragrance up and sell it.

The summer months were jam packed and action filled.  Not as many motorcycle trips as we would have liked but it is hard to beat last year’s 2 1/2 month North American trek. We managed a few mini vacays traveling with friends and family and the bike will NOT go back into storage until the last day of September when the insurance expires for the season.  We live so far away from most of our family so it’s such an event when they come to visit us in Port McNeill.  My brother & cousin rode their Harleys across Canada and we were thrilled they carved out three nights to spend time with us.  Much laughing over a few cold drinks !!  With her new hip and so much more mobile than when I saw her in March, my Mom just flew home to Ontario after being here for 3 weeks.  We chatted.  We shopped.  We ate bad snacks.  And GG (great-grandma) got lots of quality time with Bowen.  My Mom’s cousin Judy and her friend John come up from Washington State for a mini family reunion while GG was here.  Their moms grew up in Saskatchewan and then one went east to Ontario and one went west to Vancouver and then on to Seattle.

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1) Trip to Hornby & Denman Islands with fellow bikers  2) My brother Dan and cousin Brian posing in front of the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove 3) Our daughter Megan, her husband Justin and their adorable son Bowen were all in a wedding party 4) My Mom & Bowen at our regular Friday night Legion dinner

I’ve been dragging my feet for two days now trying to decide which pictures encapsulated our summer.  Then realized I’ve used most of the best ones in previous posts or on Facebook.  So I started thinking in overall themes: people, flowers & north island scenery.

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1 & 2 taken at Shepherd’s Garden near Port McNeill.  3) Alert Bay Ecological Park and 4) The Community Garden at St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill

Thanks to Mackay Whale Watching for the unforgettable moments out in the Broughton Archipelago.  Twice in two weeks I was out on the Naiad jumping up and down with glee to see orca & humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions.  Over almost 20 years I’m sure Chris and I have taken thousands of whale pictures.  The majority of them are little black dots or splashes of water on the surface.  Although enlarged and cropped this is by far the best shot of an orca in our collection.

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1) Orca spyhopping taken onboard Mackay Whale Watching vessel the Naiad a few weeks ago 2) smoky sunrise the result of forest fires in the Interior of BC 3) after the smoke cleared we went back to our normal morning view 4) one of the beautiful giants at the Alert Bay Ecological Reserve

It’s time to start getting the garden and yard ready for winter.  Chris and I are happy to get back to the gym this morning and start back on a much healthier eating plan after slacking off most of the summer.  So long carbs…hello lean protein and salads 😇 Chips & dip I will miss you *sigh*

Here’s a challenge for you.  Do more of what makes you happy.  What does that look like for you this autumn?  I’ve got a stack of books to read.  Information to add to the family tree on ancestry.ca.  Umpteen crafting projects to finish.  An online photography course to get through.  Happy Autumn 🍂🍁

Hugs from the beach…

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Longer days.  Photo worthy sunrises and sunsets.  Much warmer temperatures.  It’s finally time to dig out flip flops, shorts and slather on some sunscreen.  And the people said AMEN .  Just to be clear 20 degrees Celsius is considered a suitable summer temperature on the north island.  It’s never too hot or too cold.  We don’t get scorching hot summers and we’re happy with the mild winters — some years we don’t even have to get the snow shovel out of the shed. Add it to the many things we love about living on the west coast.

Deciding to be tourists in our own backyard last week we hopped the ferry and headed over to Sointula on Malcolm Island.  Approximately 800 souls call the island home.  I like to think of them as “the Finns and the hippies.”  More saunas per capita than anywhere else in Canada. Artists, writers, musicians and free spirits.  Our first stop off the ferry was the Sointula Resource Centre to pick up the Sointula Guide for 2017.  And groceries don’t get any fresher than goodies for sale in the garden stand out front.  Monday’s offerings were farm fresh eggs, garlic and assorted jams/jellies.  I love the honour system — you write down what you purchased on a a clipboard and leave your cash in the slot.  Our next stop was the Co-op Store where I found some organic instant oatmeal made in BC.  Because it’s a store owned & operated by the people there are always different items than we find at our grocery store.  We then wandered across the road to Upper Crust Bakery where I was thrilled to find a loaf of pulla — Finnish sweet cardamom bread.  My mouth is watering just thinking about toasted pulla with butter and homemade jam 😀 Chatting with the owner Victor we found out with a bit of notice he’ll bring baked goods to Port McNeill on Mondays.  After sharing a delicious cinnamon roll, sausage roll and ham & cheese croissant with my fellow travellers we’ll be calling him very soon.

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Sointula is a Finnish word meaning “place of harmony”

After cruising the main drag we made our way to Burger Barn at the Boat Harbour. Sitting at an oceanfront picnic table we dove into scrumptious homemade cheeseburgers & fries.  An added bonus was being serenaded by two guitar playing locals.

We had all afternoon to explore before catching the 4:25 ferry.  Made our way to the other side of the island to Bere (pronounced “bear”) Point.  Even traveling with a one-year-old we managed to walk with the stroller for a bit of the Beautiful Bay Trail and finally ditched it with mama carrying baby the rest of the way to the platform at Malcolm Point.  Stunning views of Queen Charlotte Strait and the Coastal Mountains.  Walking the entire trail takes 5 hours round trip and depending on damage from winter storms it’s not always open the whole way.  There’s a caretaker’s shack in the campground parking lot with information if you’re not sure.

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Bere Point Park & Beautiful Bay Trail

Before we had to line up at the ferry terminal we had time to relax on the beach past the Finnish cemetery on the Kaleva Road.  With nobody in sight in either direction we happily plunked ourselves on driftwood with faces turned up to the sun.  Bowen is happy no matter what his surroundings — picking up and throwing rocks pleased him to no end.

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On Monday eager to take advantage of another sunny day, our merry band of adventurers packed up for a trip to Telegraph Cove.  When you travel with a little person preparation takes time and effort.  Stroller, toys, baby bag with diapers & change of clothes.  Check.  Snacks, sippy cup, soother and sun hat.  Check.  Safe to proceed.

We brought our own picnic with homemade macaroni salad and picked up some fresh buns & deli meat on the way. Topped off with specialty coffees from Sea Horse Cafe we sat and watched the comings and goings in the harbour. Fishing boats, kayakers and visitors from around the world make their way to Telegraph Cove.

The yard of foxglove in front of one of the homes in the Cove stopped us all in our tracks. Glorious !!  I’ve learned since then that they are a biennial plant meaning they bloom the second year and then die. But each flower contains seeds so they spread like crazy.  And the last picture is my favourite.  Bowen fell asleep from the time we left the Cove and drove to the campsite so we could hike the short trail to Bauza Cove.

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Telegraph Cove — launch point for whale watching, kayaking, fishing

Still on the list of North Island day trips this summer is Port Alice.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never visited Devi’s Bath or the Eternal Fountain.   And it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Alert Bay — walked through the Ecological Reserve or visited U’Mista Cultural Centre.

I’m throwing out a challenge — to explore your own corner of the world.  To family and friends we wish you a HAPPY CANADA DAY 🇨🇦

Hugs from the beach…

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