Incredible Island Interlude

There was nothing but sunshine today on Vancouver Island as Betty & I enjoyed a restful day at the beach – Long Beach that is. Tomorrow we are on the road again, heading to Port Alberni, on our way to Nanaimo. But on this day off, here are a few pics from our incredible island interlude:

This is the beach where we spent the day: Heavenly!
Before we left, Betty had some quiet time, contemplating life and looking over the harbour behind our campsite.
There are still little blooming flowers all around us – daisies, dandelions, and these little blue things…
Deer appear quite plentiful in our campground, and often come by for a visit.
Our campground is actually right in Ucluelet, where the streets are much steeper than anything we would find in Winnipeg. lol.
It’s a relatively short drive from our campsite to Long Beach, within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
All along the way, a bike/ walking path fringes the highway.
The newest stretch appears to run all the way to Tofino. It is paved, and very impressive!
On the beach were long strands of bullwhip kelp, like this one.
It was great just to walk on the beach in the sunshine.
The tide was going out, and little streams formed artistic paths through the sand on their way back to the Pacific Ocean.
The waves were quite large today.
They pounded the rock in the background with a mighty crash.
As the tide ebbed & flowed, it circled large rocks on the beach.
Betty & Charlie took a break on this one.
So I set my camera’s timer up to capture part of this incredible island interlude.

That was our day today – at the end of October on Vancouver Island.


Surf City (Tofino, B.C.)

It was overcast but mild today as we watched the surfers catching a wave at Pacific Rim National Park’s Long Beach.

“And we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now
Two girls for every boy…”

A couple of surfers are on the lookout for the right wave at Long Beach, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Long Beach is a great destination for surfers from around the world, even on overcast days..
Almost every other vehicle in this line heading to Tofino had a surfboard on top.

Jan and Dean were excited about going to Surf City, USA in 1963, but Betty & I were amazed when we arrived in Canada’s own surf city this week! From prior visits we were aware that the west coast of Vancouver Island attracted surfers to Pacific Rim National Park’s Long Beach. High waves regularly roll in on the wide sandy beaches, and the temperate climate makes the surf sustainable, especially with a standard wetsuit. But we didn’t realize just how popular the area has become!

The majestic Cathedral Grove trees are amazing! We were sorry that all stopping points in the area were closed.

From Parksville’s Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, Betty & I headed on the twisty narrow road that heads through the majestic Cathedral Grove old growth rain forest. We were looking forward to a hike among the natural Gothic architecture. But possibly because of the coronavirus, the pull-outs along the road were all closed, so we had to press on.

Our motorhome had to breathe in to get through some of the narrow stretches on Highway 4.

As we approached the west side of the island, we came upon a major traffic bottleneck. A rockslide on Highway 4 completely closed road access to Ucluelet and Tofino in January of this year. Now the road is back in operation and being widened, but a lengthy stretch is reduced to one lane, which alternates direction every hour, and closes completely for a large portion of each day & night.

It’s difficult to get the full perspective, but this jack hammer is operating 6 stories up a solid rock face, bringing down the wall in order to widen the highway.

We were happy to reach our site (#9) at Ucluelet Campground, and especially glad to discover that we had water, sewer, and 30 amp. electrical service for $30./night.

From our campsite, we can watch the tide roll in and out, as the boats bob in the harbour.
On the small island in the middle of this picture is a group of sea lions that make their way up the coast from California each year. We can hear them bark for our campsite.
Betty & I enjoyed the sculptures outside the food truck in Ucluelet where we stopped for fish & chips. That’s a surfer passing behind her.
This one, hung with shells, provides a glimpse of the mountains beyond, hidden by low lying clouds.

I haven’t checked with the Ucluelet locals as to whether there is a rivalry with Tofino for the “Surf City” title. Surf shops and boards are ubiquitous in both locations, although Ucluelet is a little less busy/ more laidback.

Surf shops appear on almost every block in Tofino & Ucluelet. Many pedestrians walk the streets – most are in their 20s & 30s, with the majority appearing to be very physically fit.
There’s another board, hanging out the back of the truck in front of us.
Many of the local resorts cater to surfers from all over.
Our gps often took us to the end of the road. Thankfully we were in the Smart car & able to turn around.
Here is another pic of one of the geodesic domes shown in the last shot. They have a great view over the waters at Tofino.

In our winter travels from Manitoba, I always light up when we finally reach the southern palm trees: Paradise is at hand! Well, to the best of my knowledge, this southern end of Vancouver Island is the only climate in Canada that can sustain the beautiful palm tree. It’s great to see them again!

Palm trees in Canada. Yeah!
I likely have more pictures of palm trees than I need, but they make me smile…

Today, in addition to our drives through Tofino and Ucluelet, Betty & I stopped in Pacific Rim National Park, for a long walk on a Long Beach. Charlie loved it too, and as we watched the surfers catching a wave, we joined Jan and Dean in singing along with that old surfer song:

Tomorrow’s forecast is for blue skies & sunshine, but I couldn’t resist posting this cloudy pic anyway, as the sun tries to peak through. This is low tide at Long Beach, btw.
At low tide, there are miles & miles of sandy beach to walk along and contemplate life.

“…You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun…”

A surfer with a bright coloured board passes Betty & Charlie, heading in the other direction.


Charlie loves Long Beach too! He likes goin’ to Surf City to have some fun!

On The Road Again (Again)

Canned Heat:

Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again…

…You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow

I didn’t have no payroll
Not even no place to go…”

On the road through the majestic Canadian Rockies.

That other On The Road Again tune – this one sung in the 1960’s by Canned Heat, with a distinctive falsetto vocal and echoing harmonica – often floats through my mind as Betty & I drive along North America’s highways and byways.  It’s a much sadder song than Willie Nelson’s, but in some ways fitting for our last couple of weeks.

Castle Mountain, between Banff & Lake Louise, Alberta.
Betty captures some of the captivating panoramic scenery.
Charlie says “Is it time to go yet?”

Of course, it’s all relative. We have been driving through some of the best scenery in the world, with WOWs at every turn. What could be sad about that? Well, without being too much of a Debbie downer (sorry about that phrase Debbie…) we had a few glitches along the way. 

This avalanche shed is pictured through the raindrops on our windows. Fortunately, we could still see to drive after our wiper arm disconnected.

Our new windshield wiper arm, replaced just before leaving Winnipeg, came apart at the linkage the first time we used it. (We spent over $4,000. to ensure our coach was ready for this trip.) Canadian Tire in Canmore, Alberta put it back together again (for $80.), and it worked until we needed it. 

John & Char Singleton live in Penticton, BC. John & I went to high school together in Ontario. John knows how to fix things much better than I do…

Fortunately, we haven’t seen much rain while driving, but the wiper linkage came apart again, and remained dangling until old friend John Singleton came to the rescue in Penticton, BC. He bored and bolted the linkage so that it should stay connected now…

Despite the stress of having a disabled vehicle, Betty & I were able to relax for a few days in Singleton’s beautiful back yard. Oh ya, Charlie loved it too!!!
John & Char’s backyard water feature includes a rooster that lived in our backyard, before we sold our home in Winnipeg. He looks right at home overlooking an attractive water feature!
In addition to fruit trees, the yard is full of whimsy, like this tree face.

Then the big ouch! We were driving up a steep hill at Kelowna, BC when the “check engine” light came on and we lost most power. We had to put our hazard lights on and limped all the way into Penticton. There John referred us to Midtown RV, who diagnosed our problem as a blown exhaust manifold gasket, and sent us over to Cullen Diesel for repairs.

Our GPS captures the terrain through which we drove – very dramatic, but hard on a vehicle.

In 2015 we had both left & right exhaust manifold gaskets replaced in San Antonio, Texas (for a couple of thousand bucks U.S.) and the right one was replaced again last year at a shop in Winnipeg (for about $1,500.). Unfortunately, according to Cullen’s friendly and capable Branch Manager, Harry Hohmann, the Winnipeg shop had bored out a bolt improperly, and the new bolt they had installed was not a tight enough fit.  Cullen’s had to rebore the hole, add a large plug, and then bore the plug to securely attach the bolt. (At least that’s what I think they did. Harry explained it all to me, but I don’t speak mechanic. lol) With the addition of new front brakes, our bill came to just over $3,000., but we were rollin’ on.

The remaining drive down the Okanagan Valley was most pleasant. We passed dozens of wineries, but the driveways and parking areas were too small for us. Too bad!
Driving down Osoyoos Main Street. We thought we might spend a night here, but it was too early in the day to stop.
The Crowsnest Highway, through Princeton, was jaw-droopingly scenic, but we found all the provincial parks along the route were closed. Betty’s arrow points to our road ahead.
We finally stopped for the night at a Flying J Truck Stop in Hope, BC, where we ran into a neighbour from Town & Country. Gordie’s tractor trailer was parked right behind us when he recognized our Smart & CruiseMaster. Small world! BTW, we parked before the fog rolled in.
Just outside Vancouver, in nearby Maple Ridge, we spent a couple of enjoyable days in an unserviced site at Golden Ears Provincial Park’s Gold Creek Campground.
This old stump was almost as wide as our motorhome!
The forest floor in the Gold Creek campground was covered in vibrant green moss.
There was a light rain during the day, but thanks to our granddaughter Isabella’s fire starters, we were still able to enjoy a roaring evening blaze.

Betty & I had planned on taking a series of ferries and driving up the Sunshine Coast to Powell River, then taking a ferry across to Comox for a tour of Vancouver Island before settling into our winter campsite in Nanaimo

So we weren’t crying on the road again until we entered Vancouver. Going up another steep grade we lost power, the “check engine” light came on, and we limped along at 30 km/hr to a nearby campsite in West Vancouver.

We were happy to be able to limp into the Capilano RV Park in West Vancouver, even though the sites are some of the smallest ever! You had to turn sideways to walk past our picnic table, which was partly under our neighbour’s slide out. The other side was just the same! Of course it is at the foot of Lions Gate Bridge, with world famous Stanley Park on the other side, so it’s easy to see why the RV park is so full & popular.

We were camped near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, and Harry told us that, if we could make it to Nanaimo, the Cullen shop could either fix us up, or tell us where to go.

Setting sail in a large ferry, from Horseshoe Bay.

Keeping our plans in jello, we took a very scenic ferry to Nanaimo. BTW, we had intended to keep the car attached for the ferry ride, but had left it off from the campground to the terminal, to avoid the ailing motorhome motor pulling extra weight. At the terminal I handed in a “dangerous goods” form, declaring our 1 attached and 2 small detached propane cylinders. Turns out I shouldn’t have bothered, but the staff who came to investigate our “dangerous goods” did say that only one portable propane cylinder could be in the vehicle. The other needed to be moved to the Smart car, which then had to remain detached and loaded on the ferry in a separate line. As it turns out, BC Ferries has a little car rate, so it actually saved us $30. by leaving the car detached. One win for us! Yeah!

Vancouver Island finally comes into view as we reach the end of our ferry ride.

Our next big win came as we approached the Nanaimo Cullen shop. Both Betty & I had images of needing to replace our failing motor. How much would that cost? Yikes!!!

Approaching our destination: Nanaimo, BC.

I informed Joe, Cullen’s service guy, of our crisis, and he came out to have a look. In less than a minute, he had diagnosed the problem as a spark plug wire that had come unplugged. He had a small co-worker crawl underneath on the spot, reattaching it. He then checked and cleared the codes that lead to the “check engine” light warning. Our motor is now humming quietly – and so are we! How much did that cost: “FREE”. Yeah Cullen’s!

Our current site, #113, is in Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville, BC. on beautiful (and relatively warm, but wet) Vancouver Island.

Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again…

So that’s our story for the past couple of weeks. Any further tears are tears of joy!


On The Road Again!

“…On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way
Is on the road again…”

As is our tradition, Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again blasted through our motorhome’s speakers as we set out on another leg of our overlandish odyssey this week. This pictorial post provides a quick update on the past few days.

Charlie says “I’m ready to go! Can someone push the gas pedal for me?”
Our site at Town & Country is packed up, with anything staying behind in our new shed.
As mentioned in our last post, our family bubble got together for a celebration of 4 birthdays & Thanksgiving on the night before our departure. We stayed within the current Manitoba guidelines for this gathering.
Adam & Valerie were also there. Just couldn’t find a wide enough lens to get everyone in one pic…
So we set out over the Canadian prairies to the west, with miles & miles of blue & fluffy sky above and golden fields below.
Our first night’s stop was in Elkhorn, MB, just about 3 1/2 hrs west of Winnipeg. (Don’t like to push it too hard on the first day. lol) The municipal campground has about 10 full-service sites at $25./night, plus a number of unserviced sites adjacent to Elkhorn’s fair grounds & cemetery. We more or less had this campground to ourselves, and it was a peaceful stop. Don’t those clouds look like mountains in the background?
Our second night on the road was in the large Walmart parking lot in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Next we drove to Calgary for a couple of free nights at this local casino parking lot. With the pandemic continuing, the lot had room to spare.
We were unable to visit most of our old friends due to COVID-19, but couldn’t pass through Calgary without seeing Wendy & Ken Colvin, who have been close friends for the past 50 years. Unfortunately, dementia has hidden many of our shared memories from Ken. It was still sweet to see him at his care home, even if we had to mask up and social distance. Our continued love and prayers for Wendy & Ken, as they gallantly face this part of life’s journey.
The Calgary skyline has changed a fair amount since we moved away in 1987, with a huge combination of remembered and unfamiliar streets.
As we left the city, the rugged Rocky Mountains came into view beyond Alberta’s foothills.
We couldn’t leave the area without a quick visit with old friend David Milgaard. While we masked up for our greeting hug and social distanced as much as possible, Betty & I couldn’t resist a hearty bowl of David’s chilli, to keep us warm on the road. Thanks David!
Our next stop was at the municipal campground in scenic Canmore, Alberta.
For $40./night, we had mountain views in all directions, and were able to get a site with 30 amp service and nearby access to drinking water & a dump station.
As we approached Banff National Park on the Transcanada Highway, we came to this familiar view of the majestic mountains. We never get tired of this!
Our site (#804) in the national park’s Tunnel Mountain Campground includes water, sewer, and 30 amp service for $39. Oh yeah, the dominant view of Mount Rundle is pretty awesome too!
Betty uploads some messages to social media, as we relax in our campsite. Where’s Charlie? – Blending into the grass. lol. The ranger says the park is full of elk, and other animals that are predators of elk, – guess we’ll have to keep our eyes open…

Well, that catches you up to the end of our first week on the road again. Many more miles to go before we set up camp for the winter, so hope to have a few more stories to tell. Keep safe!


Our current view – looking down the street from our Banff campsite. WOW!