Showing posts with label Vancouver Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vancouver Island. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Traveling the Road Not. . ., well. . ., less Taken in 2013

Pelop2013 020I’ve chosen to put a new twist on Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, as we reflect on our travels this last year.

Sadly, with limited amounts of time we will always have roads not taken, but we’ve also had some great travel by choosing roads, less taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

O’ahu, Hawaii – January – February

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KoOlina2013 013If you drive west from Honolulu, past the town of Kapolei, past Ko Olina, a planned unit development, past Waipahu town, you come to the end of the road, where waves crash against the shore and the real beauty of O’ahu is found at every turn. . .even on days when clouds cloak the Waianae Mountains.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

Greece – Mani, Peloponnese – April

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Pelop2013 019We set out in our rented car from Nafplio, Greece to explore a section of the Peloponnese – a taster sized sample of a rugged, but beautiful part of this country with which we are so taken. Often times we found ourselves alone for hours on a narrow roadway that looped up and down, over and around the stunning countryside. (GPS hasn’t discovered this part of the world yet.)

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Vancouver Island, British Columbia – September

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VancouverIs2013 072The narrow roadway that cuts across Vancouver Island, British Columbia was a new route for us and one that cut through magnificent old growth forests leading us to Tofino, the small fishing (and tourist) village at the end of the road.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Mo’orea – French Polynesia – South Pacific – November


DSCF1299Never ones to favor those group tours organized by cruise ships, we prefer to set out on our own.

Lucky for us, Avis had an ‘office’ at the dock when we arrived in Mo’orea!  And some of the sights we saw were simply amazing to our American-safety-first way of thinking.

That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday! Drop by Budget Travelers Sandbox where we are linking up today for some more armchair travel!

Our wishes to each of you for a Happy New Year – full of travel whether it be by car, bike, ship, plane or armchair.  And try putting away that GPS once or twice and set out on the road less traveled. We recommend it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Over-the-top Tofino

We had done the research – some, anyway – prior to our spur-of-the-moment road trip to Canada’s Vancouver Island in early September.  And that research had somewhat prepared us for high hotel room prices.

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As it turned out they were breathtakingly high prices.

So high, that when the desk clerk at the Best Western Tin Wis Resort, just outside Tofino said,"$299CAD a night", it sounded inexpensive in comparison to what other places had quoted. The hotel was on a beautiful little beach and the rate was the best we’d found, so we bit the bullet and settled in for what would be a two-night stay.

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Part of the reason why we gave in to the prices (that we would normally not have done)  is that it was 3 p.m. as we stood at the Best Western counter. The drive had been an arduous one on the Pacific Rim Highway and The Scout, who had been behind the wheel, firmly said he wouldn’t be retracing our route that night. So, I mumbled a question to the clerk about a AAA rate. Whew! That brought it all the way down to $277CAD.

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As it turns out, the buildings that make up the  Tin Wis (meaning ‘calm waters’ ) resort ring a section of  beach which, up until the 19th century, was the landing place for Nuu-chah-nulth whale hunters who traveled these waters in their dug out canoes.

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Remains of a canoe

The resort displays, near its parking lot, the remains of a dug out canoe – once used to transport supplies.

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Another display – the totem pole – is a nod to the history of the First Nation’s people on this site. Back in 1970 the first buildings opened here operated as a residential school with 150 First Nation children in attendance. The school closed in 1981 and the site became a hostel and campground.

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Our room, the restaurant and our view from our room

The resort, operated by the First Nations people, opened its first phase in 1991 and the second phase opened in 2002 which brought the guestrooms and suites available to 85.  It has an on-site restaurant (where we ate some incredible meals).

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VancouverIs2013 113So, would we go back again?  

We might. . .perhaps during some real off-season time. Low season is when the storms rage and wet gear is needed to walk the beach.

We usually prefer sunshine on our beach walks.  That could be why we headed to Honolulu last week where our room rate at the Marriott Waikiki Beach was less than in Tofino! (In some future post I will tell you about Honolulu's killer taxes and the Marriott's mandatory resort fee. Both equal ouch!)

That’s it for Travel Tuesday – hope to see you back here on Travel Photo Thursday! And then come with us during the next few weeks  as we sail the South Pacific heading to Oceania! It is Tuesday afternoon and we are some 700+ miles south of Maui - we cross the Equator tomorrow afternoon. . .a whole new travel experience headed our way.  More soon - just got internet access!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Walk in the Park

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth. . .
                         --A Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

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Should we or shouldn’t we? 

While driving around the town of Tofino on Canada’s Vancouver Island we happened upon Tonquin Park. “Want to stop or just keep driving?” – our own version of Robert Frost’s poem.  We are glad we stopped – it was one of the high points of our road trip.
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We followed a winding boardwalk through this nature preserve.

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Past the remains of an earlier boardwalk, we wound our way through the emerald growth, all the while wondering where we were headed. Then down some 75 steps and our destination spread out before us:

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Tonquin Beach, a small beach in comparison to others that line the western coast of Vancouver Island, was washed in sunlight and small wonders . . .like the clusters of starfish we found sunning themselves on rock outcroppings. . .

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. . .with glorious views. . .

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And wonderful curiosities like those below that closed and opened with a gentle touch of the toe. . .

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Our stop was a good reminder to slow down the travels and take those ‘other roads’ when given the opportunity. . .

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IF YOU GO:  Tonquin Park: Located on Tonquin Park Road, free parking lot. No permits required.  There are no disability accommodations – the last step is a big one.  For the hikers out there, other trails lead from the beach. 

In researching the park after our return I found it has a rather violent history.  Well, the ship for which it is named had a violent history. For a more detailed story of the sinking of the Tonquin, click on  this link.

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.  This week we begin our South Pacific adventures so hope you’ll come back often – we’ll be writing from somewhere on the Pacific Ocean en route to Oceania. . and for those of you regulars, we arrived in Honolulu on Tuesday evening. We board the cruise ship on Friday - hope you'll set sail with us then. . .I've been posting to FB for those of you following our TravelnWrite page there.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On the Pacific Rim Highway

“When it says, ‘Slow’, it means it,” we were cautioned several times in Nanaimo before setting out on the twisting, two-lane Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim Highway 4.

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The  highway cuts across the forested spine of the island and was our route from Nanaimo on the island’s east coast to Tofino on its west coast.  Short of using a boat or plane, it is the only route between the two.

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The scenic route some 124 miles (208 kilometers) long, twists and turns past spectacular mountain peaks, stunning lakes, many power lines and concrete road barriers; the latter two, every shutter bug’s bane. 
Come along as we set out on the Pacific Rim Highway: 

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We took a break from the highway at Port Alberni a deep port city some 51 miles/82 kilometers from Naniamo. We drove to its Harbour Quay, a delightful mix of tourist accommodations and industrial businesses.

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VancouverIs2013 051Set in the Alberni Valley it is on Vancouver Island’s longest inlet, Alberni Inlet.  With a population of some 18,000, the town’s motto is: Gateway to the West Coast

Directional signs pointed towards the Chase and Warren Estate Winery and Emerald Coast Vineyards, but those we tucked away in our ‘future trip’ file.

VancouverIs2013 053One place we couldn’t resist was off in the industrial looking area of the Quay – Home of the Cod Father.  The clever name got us in and the display case filled with smoked salmon was a feast for the culinary senses. . .teriyaki, lemon and honey, some spicy concoction . . .the selections far too many.  We finally chose two types and set off for our destination.

By early afternoon we were approaching the west coast – the sky had turned heavy and gray, the ‘highway’ narrowed and coiled:

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But by late afternoon, we’d arrived in Tofino where they obviously didn’t want anyone confused about being at the end of the road:

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If You Go:

Thanks to Tourism Vancouver for the excellent map showing the route of the Pacific Rim Highway. (It is also called Highway 4). 

VancouverIs2013 196The route is a beautiful one, but not for the faint at heart or those who have a fear of being on road trips. 

The warnings we had received were on point: the twists and turns make it a slow go.  Sadly, we passed two accident scenes – one on our westbound trip, another on our eastbound. One was an upside down car and another was a car smashed into a tree trunk. . . and both, even more sadly, were on straight stretches of the highway!

That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beach bummin’ and Bare footin’ in B.C. Canada

Surfers, ocean waves, sandy beaches, blue skies, high hotel prices – sounds pretty much like Hawaii, doesn’t it?

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What it hadn’t sounded like – until last week’s road trip to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island – was, Canada!  If you’ve followed along on Facebook or Tuesday’s Travel post, you know we headed north on a whim last week; our last chance  to squeeze in a summer road trip. 

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Long Beach, British Columbia

Tofino, on the island’s West Coast mid-section was our ultimate destination; one that is a great place to watch the churning Pacific Ocean surf attack the coastline during winter storms.  Having never been here before, we assumed September was mid- to low- season, hoped for reasonable hotel prices and prepared for unsettled weather. 

PicMonkey Collage
Monday to the left and Tuesday to the right
Those who live in the Pacific Northwest know ‘what a difference a day makes', and that was certainly illustrated during our brief visit. The photos on the left were taken Monday afternoon and those on the right on Tuesday.

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Long Beach, just a few miles south of Tofino is the largest and longest beach in the island’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

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The beach surface

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The beach surface was a mixture of fine sand pebbles and hard pack (photos above) – and felt much like walking on a cobbled-street.

This portion of the Reserve with its scattered campgrounds and picnic areas, spans the forest and coast on Wickanninish Bay between the small towns of Tofino (toe-fin-oh) and Ucluelet (U-clue-let or Ukee, for short). It is one of the most popular surfing locations in Canada.

While Long Beach required a user’s fee for everyone on the beach, (self-service,‘credit/debit card only’ machines were in the parking lot and security officers checked vehicle’s dashboards for the permits), we almost preferred no-cost MacKenzie Beach, a bit further north, on which our resort was located. You can probably tell why from the photos below. . .

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MacKenzie Beach, Vancouver Island

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Sunset MacKenzie Beach, Vancouver Island

For those who have images of the Pacific Northwest being mountains and towering fir trees – don’t despair.  Come back next Thursday when we’ll take you across Vancouver Island on the Pacific Rim Highway and later this month we'll take you on a tour of the resort where we stayed.

If You Go:

Map picture

The push pins show MacKenzie Beach (near Tofino, where we stayed) and Long Beach, which is within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Hotel prices:  Mid-September hotel prices were so high, they took our breath away.  Most hotels had “No Vacancy” signs on display and we stopped at two resorts to inquire about rooms: one quoted $399CAD for a room overlooking the parking lot behind the hotel away from the water and another offered a partial view room at $420 and $460CAD for a beach view.  By the time we got to a Best Western and were quoted – at first – $299CAD a night, it sounded, downright cheap! There’ll be more on where we ended up in a future post.

VancouverIs2013 265Pacific Rim National Park Reserve user fees and other information about the reserve can be found at:

That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday. Head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travels around the world! On Friday check out The Tablescraper's Oh, The Places I have been"

‘Hang Ten!’ as they say in the surfing world and see you soon. . .


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