BC 2015

August is our traditional time to take a family summer vacation. This year we elected to go camping on Vancouver Island and in Fort Langley. Lynda booked 4 nights in the OTENTniks in Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site and I booked 2 nights in the same things in Fort Langley, and 2 nights in hotels going and 1 hotel room coming home.

We pulled into Kamloops late in the afternoon of day one. 2 things were obvious when we got out of the vehicle. 1; that wasn’t just haze hanging in the air as the taste of smoke was pretty harsh. 2; the heat was oppressive as it was 38 degrees Celsius.

Last time we stayed in Kamloops we stumbled upon Hoja Mongolian Grill and it was so good that we decided that was where we would go on this visit. It was just as good this visit as the first time. Fresh and fast and under $20 per person for all you can eat.

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I never got the chef’s name but he was fast and friendly.

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The outside doesn’t tell the story of what is behind the doors.

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We wanted to explore the downtown core but the wind was so hot it felt like we were beside a fire, even though the temperature had dropped a whole degree.

Night 2’s destination was to be Vancouver so I decided we would take highway 99 for the first time ever. The drive was nice and would of been scenic if it wasn’t for the smoke and clouds. Whistler looked pretty busy so we never stopped to check it out. The White Spot in Squamish was our lunch stop and as we were leaving I spotted Tim Van Horn driving his Canadian Mosaic van.

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The haze and clouds didn’t make it conducive to taking pictures so we didn’t stop much on the way into Vancouver.

We went for a walk and found this great Greek place a few blocks from our hotel.

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On the way back I noticed a community garden right along Marine Drive.

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The sunflowers were the healthiest looking things in the garden. It had started with great intentions by the look of it but the lack of rain didn’t do anything any good.

The smoke in Vancouver was replaced by rain clouds when we got up Saturday morning but they thinned out some by the time we made our way to the ferry to head to Victoria.

I love spending as much time outside on the ferry as possible. If I had to ride it everyday that might change but I doubt it.

We drove straight over to Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to check in for our camp site. The park was still open when we got there but it seemed pretty quiet. It would get quieter still.

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Bed time came early for us campers – much to Adam’s dismay.

I found myself up in time for sunrise Sunday morning. Since there was a total fire ban in effect I had no wood to chop so I grabbed the camera and headed off while Lynda and Adam were still sleeping.

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We headed into Victoria to kill some time before the whale watching tour Lynda had booked. Adam was hungry so we stopped at Quesada Burritos & Tacos for lunch. I’ve never been motion sick but I  decided that I would eat after our trip just in case.

We checked in at SpringTide Whale Watching & Eco Tours and waited to hit the water. The dragon boat races were going on as we left so the harbour was pretty busy.

Captain Dave did a great job of getting us as close as he was allowed to. 200 yards it the threshold they are allowed and a bigger lens would of been good to see the whales better but it was rough enough that it would of been really hard to get them in focus. One boat got caught closer when the whales changed direction slightly and the whale cops were over to see him right away. Another boat roared in close later on and the police were “talking” to him for at least half an hour after that. It was really cool to see the Orcas that close.

Monday morning dawned into another beautiful day.

After breakfast we headed up to Nanaimo to meet my friend Joan Skwarczyński for lunch. I hadn’t seen Joan in 5 years and this was just the 2nd time we’d gotten together since we graduated from SAIT together in 1992. Joan looked fabulous. (Why I never took a picture of her is beyond me.) She seemed healthy and happy, unlike the last time I saw her. Sadly lunch went by too quickly and it was time to move on.

We took the scenic route back to Victoria via Lake Cowichan. I had heard it was nice spot. It was nice but apparently not nice enough for me to take any photos.

It was almost 5 o’clock as we were passing by GBS Glass Blowing so I decided we’d go visit them on Tuesday. (Turns out they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). That was the only real disappointment on the whole trip. Nice folks and he does such nice work.

Adam wanted to go check out the waterfront in Victoria because his wallet was burning a hole in his pocket. After we got there he remembered it was the Nanaimo waterfront that had all the shops and restaurants.

We enjoyed our stroll around downtown but it was time to head back to our campsite.

I was up early again on Tuesday morning and I hauled my tripod down to the waters edge to shoot some sunrise stuff.

It was another peaceful morning. Once the raccoons had moved on the only sound was the birds.

Since it was our last full day at the fort we decided we should explore it some while we could.

It was pretty interesting seeing the history of the place and how they used to live.

We headed into town for lunch and some more exploring. Bin 4 Burger Lounge was our stop and it was fabulous. From there we headed over to Craigdarroch Castle. Once we got there we decided that between the line up and the probable lack of air conditioning we’d just admire it from outside.

After supper we went over to Lynda’s cousin Trevor’s place for a visit. We went for ice cream and then headed up to the top of Mount Douglas. In all our trips to Victoria we’d never been up there. It was stunning. It was still warm out and there was a slight breeze as the sun set. Sunrise is my favorite time of day, but that was such a fabulous setting to view the sunset.

Even though the moon was just a crescent it looked huge on our drive back to the campground. Unfortunately it was behind the mountains by the time we got back so we never got to get a photo of it.

Ah, it’s Wednesday morning and not only is it another nice dawn but it gives me an another opportunity to find a different angle to shoot the lighthouse from. It is the oldest lighthouse on the Canadian west coast and I loved seeing it in the morning.

Sadly it’s time to go have breakfast and start packing up to leave. After I got the vehicle packed up I took a last look around.

After a nice long shower we were on our way to the ferry to make the return trip to Tsawwassen.

Another fairly nice day meant I could be outside as usual. The most exciting thing was watching the little boat get out of our way when the captain blew the horn long and loud. He’d been getting pretty close to us and we were approaching a narrow spot between islands.

We went looking for lunch when we got off the ferry and between me not remembering where Steveston was and the GPS not being able to find it so we went to White Rock. I had been wanting to try some fresh fish and chips and I remembered the stuff I’d had at Steveston’s Landing had been great on previous visits. We tried Boathouse Restaurant and it was only ok. Joey’s Only at home is just as good so it was a bit disappointing.

Between our lunch destination and traffic we got to Fort Langley National Historic Site just before the 5 o’clock closing time. Even though everything was all prepaid, Ann at the desk was obviously not happy to see us. She was the only pissy person we encountered on the whole trip. We went and met our campground host and he was great. Unfortunately his name escapes me.

We went out looking for food and on the way back we walked along the river and saw a bunch of ladies launching a really big canoe.

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Thursday morning was cloudy and cold. Of course that was the day we had picked to go to Stanley Park and Adam wanted to go to the beach. We still went to the park but Adam was happy to just look at the beach. Once we got there Lynda was hoping to find a portrait artist she liked to do a photo of Adam. We got one 5 years ago and the lady did an awesome job. There weren’t many artists around and none of them caught Lynda’s eye. We looked at the price to get into the Vancouver Aquarium and the line up and decided that the gift shop was the way to go. I couldn’t decide on what t-shirt I liked so I got a shark instead. My new catchphrase was, “I have a shark so I don’t care.” He is really good a calming my nerves.

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She was pretty good

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Was strange to see all the fountains dry

We headed to Granville Island for lunch and to do some shopping.

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The OTENTnik’s are the same but here we had a mini fridge in our tent and a fan and 4 plug ins. All the comforts of home.

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We went out to visit Lynda’s cousin Janice and her husband Clay and son Marcus. Marcus has ALS so they got a place where he can live comfortably and they are close by. We got pizza from Jim’s Pizza in Fort Langley – really good stuff.

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Marcus’s pad

Friday morning dawned brighter than yesterday but it’s start to head home day so it really doesn’t matter. We went for breakfast at the Blacksmith Bakery for some fabulous croissants. Adam doesn’t think he’ll be able to eat regular croissants ever again after having their ham and cheese ones.

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I thought of Carl Ethier when I saw this.

We drove the Coquihalla Highway back to Kamloops to speed up our trip back. I had noticed that Tim Van Horn would be in Kamloops around the time we were passing through but even stopping for lunch there we didn’t see him again. The intermittent rain we got along the drive wasn’t too encouraging for photography.

We checked into the Power Springs Inn in Revelstoke and went looking for some supper. Since we hadn’t had any Chinese cuisine on our trip we decided to try the New Manning Restaurant and it was delicious.

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Our room was pretty tight and it is an old building. We could hear the neighbours talking and every door that opened seemed to slam shut but for $85 it was hard to complain.

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The sign talks about saving water but the tap doesn’t shut off.

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Our included breakfast was a bit disappointing. Adam wondered if my orange juice tasted like water like his – it did. The toast was ok.

We stopped at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk and the sun was shining so the contrast was brutal. I took some photos but nothing that will win any awards.

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Strike a pose.

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Lunch time found us on Canmore and could see there was fresh snow high up in the mountains. It looked nice up there.

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Doesn’t look much like a Sara.

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We had smooth driving all holiday until we got near the Kananaskis overpass and traffic was at a halt for construction. We did a quick up and over and headed back west so we could get on 1A. It wasn’t all that fast, but it was at least moving. Once we got to Cochrane we headed north and being so close I just had to stop at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.

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I find it very calming there even when there is a lot of people around. It was just what I needed to make the final drive home. From here it was time to head home and unpack. Laundry would wait till tomorrow.

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