Sunday, July 22, 2007

First half of Vancouver Island Journal

On day one (Monday), we left Salem at approximately 9:45. We stopped at Costco for gas before heading out of town. We had an italian pasta salad in the cooler to eat for dinner. It worked out for us to stop off at Kalama to say hey to mom and dad. We stopped off at the McDonalds at (maybe, we're not positive now) the Tenino Aberdeen exit to eat lunch. The employee who took our order had worked for "the corporation" forr 27 years. How does she survive?? We stopped at Bellingham Costco to gas up and then went into Office Depot to find a better adapter for the computer. The Targus universal adapter had sucked a bit from the beginning. A nice young man made a suggestion that's working great for us, plus it has a surge protector. Bonus! :>) The border crossing was relatively painless, since we had all necessary papers ready to hand over. We made it the BC ferry port around 6 PM, missing our goal of 3:15 (hahaha). July and August are the busiest months for the ferries to the island, so we ended up having to wait until the 10:45 departure for the 2 hour trip. bleh I was so glad we had a dinner packed. We ended up spending the last bit of time talking to two BCers - Hughie and Susan. Hughie is a Canadian war veteran and Susan is a nurse. He said he was 82 and we're thinking she could easily be 25-30 years younger. Ah, but he's a young 82! Hahaha! He had many good stories and we probably would've been entertained for many hours, but there was that Archie Bunker in him that crept out now and then.
The campground at Qualicum closed it's gate sometime around 11 PM, so we parked in the picnic area and tried to get some shut-eye. We MAY have slept an hour of two. Sometime around 6 or 6:30 AM we gave it up and began to move around. Ate a fruit bar and made a bathroom stop. We drove into the campground around 7 AM, set-up camp and took a nap. Before we left the campground to go exploring, we drove down to the picnic area we slept at and hiked the trails to the Qualicum Falls. Beautiful! I was surprised there weren't more ferns near the falls, but Norm thinks it may have to do with the sandy soil. So many cedars and madrona, too. We ate lunch then went for a drive to Port Alberni (not a prosperous looking place) and then to Qualicum Beach. The water in Georgia Strait is so still and glassy. So many tiny beach crabs, I don't think it would be safe to sit. Yikes! We saw a sign for Horne Lake caves and decided to go take a look. It was a semi-long oiled, gravel road that went past vacation homes and lots. We walked up and took a peak at the cave entrances - not big, by a long shot, and one had water running out. The map at the cave parking lot made it look like we could continue on the gravel road and come out in a slightly better position to head back to camp. We must've taken the wrong road, because we had to give up after traveling through an adolescent timber stand for 12 or more miles. We turned around and came out the way we went in. We made a casserole in the dutch oven with ziti pasta and italian sausage. It was tasty, yet reminded me of something you'd eat at a potluck. Clean-up was work for Norm, with the stuck on pasta, but then we were both pretty tired. We pulled out the new shower tent and proceeded to find out how that would work. Remember to turn off when the water turns cold! It felt good to wash off the first two days on the road.
We were surprised that we slept in until 10:30. That rarely happens when we're camping. Must've been a combination of how tired we were and the overcast sky dimming the sunlight. Nice campground, too, very quiet and clean. It took us 2 hours from getting out of bed until we were on the road. We stopped at Parkersville to get gas at Petro Canada. Our mileage was about 16.5 mpg. The first tank gave us 17.12. Heard from Sara with text messages. The colonoscopy didn't show anything, but the doctor did blood work to check for IBS and celiac disease. We arrived at Buttle Lake campground around 3:30. It appears we were fortunate to be able to set up camp without getting rained on. It's been raining ever since - started out slow, but now it's raining in earnest. We've noticed that the temps stay right around 65 - 70 degrees here. Like our coast with the little temperature variance, but warmer. I wonder how long the rain will continue? After dinner and clean-up, We pulled out SkipBo and tried to remember how to play. I think we finally figured it out. Now we need to remember to bring directions for both SkipBo and Cribbage. I wonder where the Rummy Cube game is?
It rained pretty much for the rest of the day. It came down pretty good and then would ease back for short periods of time. I don't think it rained much during the night, though. Norm cooked the meatloaf and veggies in the dutch oven under the awning. I'm glad we have that! We showered and hit the road to Campbell River. It's time for new ice for the coolers and probably some apples, too. I found a few bruised ones this morning.
We drove to Campbell River this afternoon. First we stopped at the vistor's center where we picked up some maps and guides and i bought a tee shirt. Bathrooms are always nice. :>) Or should I say "washrooms", as that's what they're called here in BC. We drove back and forth through town while the rain came down. We stopped at a small park to watch the water and eat lunch. An airplane took off while we watched. Then we drove back into town and parked at Discovery Pier, where we walked out and watched a couple of sailboats and some barges out in the choppy water. We discovered there was wi-fi available, so we did a little surfing, email checking, etc. Then I called Sara to see how everything's going. Some things just don't translate well to texting. Gwen and Randy, took good care of her for her colonoscopy and then took her out for her first solid food afterwards. Then we drove to one of the local liquor stores and found out they had apricot brandy, but not peach. Hmmm, little cultural things we discover. We bought gas and then drove up Buttle Lake as far as Auger Point and then turned around to head back to camp. We ate delicious steak and made a silly video without sound. Clean up time and then a walk? Sounds good to this old dog. We played SkipBo and this time was it was my turn to win most of the games. Sorry Norm! :>)
Ah, I slept well last night. I did wake once, but that's not bad after past nights. We took our sweet time getting up and moving around. Sometime around breakfast, filling the water tank, making lunch and taking showers, the rain began again. We became aware of a disturbing condition affecting the trailer ceiling last night. The ceiling covering (?) is puckered, wavy and bubbling over the wee window by the couch. It's damp/wet to the touch. Not a good sign, especially since this is the same area that showed leakage and grew mold last Spring. We've heard about these problems on the trailer bulletin boards. When we return we'll make an appointment to take it in. We better have them fix the trim around the sink cupboard, too. We're on the road around the lake for a sightseeing tour today. We hiked a couple of short trails. One to Myra Falls and the other to Lupen Falls. Both fairly easy trails, plus it wasn't raining for either of them. :>) At Myra Falls we chatted with a German couple who decided not to walk it and on return with a young couple from Australia. They talked about seeing a mother bear with a cub just down the road. We drove up what we think was Jim Mitchell Lake Road. One place was too much for the Tundra. We need to have a talk with Toyota! We did spot a rental Hyundai abandoned on the side of that road and then the soaking wet "owners" walking back from the top where they'd been given a ride up to. It looked as if there had been some major rock slides off of the mountain. It had taken out trees and road and a pipeline in several places. That's what made the road tough - how loose the rock and how big. We tried driving to Gold River for cell access. No luck. But we did see a black bear on the side of the road. Then we stopped at an Elk viewing spot. Nothing to see, but I think i heard an elk bugle and Norm's sure their scent was in the air. So for today that makes one young buck, a heron and now the bear. Finally, wildlife!
It rained good and hard most of the night. The ceiling shows it. I wonder what it looks like between the roof and the ceiling? Can't be good.
On our way out the door, I came upon more wildlife - a big banana slug had found my bright pink thong on the outside rug. He was doing some serious investigation. This morning after our routine of breakfast and showers, we noticed a voice mail message on the cell. In response to my pitiful pleading, we drove to Campbell River to check who and what it was. Once we arrived, a text from Lisa and Karen showed up. :>) According to Karen we'll have rain until Monday. Hopefully enough sun after that to dry things out. I called Sara to get the latest from her. All is fine, now I can relax again. We stopped at a grocery store to buy apples and Kashi - no beer or wine at grocery stores. Then we went to Canadian Tire (like Yardbirds) and found a possible replacement glass chimney for the Coleman lantern (we found out it works to light up inside for playing cards to save battery) a battery gizmo which may help to charge the trailer batteries more efficiently, a travel candle to get rid of food odors and a "knot a bag" for making your own size of garbage bag. Now we're driving in the rain on the way to Gold River and then Tahsis. It'll be about 4 PM by arrival. Tahsis gave us the impression that it had been an important logging or fishing place at one time. Guess we'll research when we return.
So many big boats headed in on our way out. Norm's trying out his new doodad to help with maintaining the trailer batteries or battrees if you're Canadian. :>) I'm getting some jobs done to help with getting out of here at a decent time in the morning.
I think it rained all evening and most of the night. Everything is damp, damp, damp! I spread out our raincoats and bath towels near the warmth of the propane lantern while we played cards last night. It did help a little It helped to dry the ceiling a little, too. Now we've noticed the other side, over the waterpump, is doing the same thing. bleh! We only slept in a little this morning, ate, showered and packed up. The awning slowed things down a little, but not enough to keep from using it. It's 12:30 and we have a good start on our trip to Cowichan Lake. Okay, just saw sign for a place called, "Sushi Eh"! That's worth a good laugh. Ladysmith looked like a nice place to stay. Arrived at Lake at 3:30.

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