Tag Archives: Vancouver Island

Jamjarjude’s Birthday, Part 1

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It was my sister Jamjarjude’s birthday yesterday and boy, did we celebrate. In fact we started celebrating the night before with a pizza at our favourite pizza place, Riso’s in Lantzville, www.risofoodsinc.com where JJJ had the Marinara pizza and I had the Margharita Ultima, preceded by Cinzano Rosso with lemon and followed by delicious gelato — hazelnut, vanilla and the most ecstatic-making pistachio we’d ever tasted (so heavenly we took a pint home with us).

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JJJ’s birthday dawned bright and after pressies…

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…we headed for brunch at Tina’s Diner in downtown Nanaimo www.tinasdiner.shawwebspace.ca

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…where we had the best eggs bennie I’d ever had,

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Then, full of our yummy brunch, we headed off to Ladysmith to kayak!

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We headed to Sealegs Kayaking, www.sealegskayaking.com

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where the personable Shea fitted us out with our lifejackets and boat shoes and showed us the fundamentals of kayak paddling, all while standing on one foot. 🙂

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It was JJJ’s first time (my second), so we rented a double kayak for 2 hours to paddle around the inlet around Ladysmith. The scenery was fantastic — so different when seen up close from the water. We were followed by some curious seals who kept bobby up near the kayak and had bald eagles flying around us much of the way. This is the life, I thought. Being an Canadian is pretty ace sometimes.

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Jamjarjude concurred.

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We’d worked up a small appetite after our kayaking so we headed along the coast road to Chemainus for an apple and cinnamon muffin and coffee at the Utopia Bakery Cafe which is tucked behind the main street and is a real gem of a find. You can read all about it on www.tripadvisor.ca where it has excellent reviews.

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Then, what to do? Oh, we found something amazing to do on the way back to Nanaimo. Part 2 tomorrow!

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The Call of the Wild

Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I had just reached the point at Neck Point in Nanaimo. I’d turned to pull at Ralphie’s lead, and JJJ had just sat down on a bench. We’d noticed quite a few boats out in the Georgia Strait just off Neck Point, but we figured it was because it was a lovely day. Then a sound, the most, unearthly barking, honking, blowy kind of sound, shot through the air. I turned to look out at the strait and I saw it. The black triangular fin, The spout of air and water. Orca!

I screamed! I yelled! JJJ! Orca! Orca! We fumbled for our camera phones, all the while watching the water as it breached again and again. Then there was another. It was like having a dozen Christmases at once. I am still speechless with the joy of it.

Unfortunately our photos are terrible. By the time we got the cameras on our phones ready, the orcas had swum farther into the strait. And camera phones are not known for their great zoom facilities. So, all me managed to get were…

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They’re there. to the right of the boat. They were so much clearer to the eye. And, before they swum out into the strait they looked like this…

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I need an SLR camera. On my Christmas list.

Food and Views from Victoria to Nanaimo

Another quick trip down to Victoria yesterday with Jamjarjude and Ralphie to pick up my new Canadian passport and see our Auntie Bee, ninety-four and as spry as either of us. We had a lovely lunch of Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches (pastrami on rye with mustard and a side dill pickle for JJJ and me, and blinis for Auntie Bee) at The Village Restaurant www.villagerestaurant.ca and picked up some delicious cupcakes at Crumsbys www.crumsbys.com across the street…

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…then drove along the beachfront to walk Ralphie and smell the fresh salty air…

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…where Ralphie cooled off in the sea.food! 038

We dropped Auntie Bee off and headed back to Nanaimo, stopping to admire the view from the summit of the Malahat.

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food! 051It was supper time when we reached the outskirts (we got caught in the Victoria rush hour) so JJJ suggested a light supper at the Crow & Gate Pub www.crowandgate.com in Cedar, one of our favourite spots. A veritable English Pub in the BC countryside.

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The evening was so lovely we decided to sit in the lovely gardens (although the interior is a cosy place that looks like it is straight out of a Dickens novel).

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JJJ enjoyed a Smithwick’s Irish ale and I had a A-class gin and tonic with lime. Then we decided on a Stilton ploughman’s which was perfect.

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Afterwards we walked around the idyllic gardens bursting with the flowers of early summer…

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There were water irises…

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…roses fragrant with scent…

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…paper-like Oriental poppies…

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…eryngium (sea holly) like fire crackers…

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…my favourite blue delphiniums…

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…giant alliums like puff balls…

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…rabbit-eared French lavender…

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…and flowering thyme sending its pungent scent into the evening air.

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We didn’t see any crows but there was a pretty tree swallow with brilliant blue feathers perching in front of a bird house.

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The Crow & Gate — not just for beer lovers.

Road Trip to Victoria, Part 2

After our delicious lunch at Ottavio’s deli in Oak Bay Village, Victoria — www.ottaviovictoria.com — Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I hopped back in the car and headed back to Nanaimo. But we made a stop at the Goldstream National Park — www.goldstreampark.com — just before we hit the dreaded Malahat (crazy road, crazy drivers) — the main road out of Victoria.

Running through the centre of the park is a salmon-spawning river.

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No salmon there this time of the year, but there are signs along the river which explain the whole cycle.

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I’d love to go back when the salmon are running, although the salmon also bring out the bears. 🙂

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It was a lovely day, and the forest was cool and quiet, the path springy underfoot from bark and moss. We followed the river…

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…passing the knarled trunks of dead “wildlife” trees — homes to insects for birds like woodpeckers…

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…pass “nurse” trees sprouting octopus-like growth…

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…past fallen trees, which Ralphie had to inspect…

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…and the stumps of long-gone giants.

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The saskatoon berries were starting to ripen… bear candy…

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…and plants were unfurling into their full glory on the forest floor.

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All along our walk, the river rippled beside us…

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…tempting Ralphie for a drink…

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…and a Canada goose for a wade.

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Eventually we came out of the forest onto a marshland where the streams were full of the honks and squawks of ducks and geese…

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…a lovely place for a picnic… some day.

Then we retraced our steps, piled back into the car and headed up to Nanaimo. But our day wasn’t quite finished yet! Jamjarjude made a turn off the highway to Shawnigan Lake. “I know a little place for lunch,” she said.

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It was off the beaten track. So unassuming it was easy to drive by. But, oh, what you miss if you drive by! The West Arm Grill — www.westarmgrill.com .

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With a view out over the lake from our table by the window…

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…and the most delicious spinach salad I’ve ever eaten.

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Yes, I do actually eat salad sometimes. (JJJ had the caesar salad which she gave a thumbs up too).

Road Trip to Victoria, Part 1

Jamjarjude, Ralphie and I set off on a road trip to Victoria the other day so that I could renew my passport. I’m off to the UK in June for the summer staying with my sister Tootsie and her family, and will write my blog over there, sans Princess Ralphie and JJJ. So I’ll be a girlwithoutadogand(with)goodshoes. But no doubt my 4-year-old nephew Hankenstein will be joining me on my adventures, so that should add a novel twist to things.

So, off we three were. We made an early stop in Ladysmith to fuel up on java and home-made squares at the Bean Time Cafe.road trip may 006

Let me tell you, when you have the opportunity to eat squares baked by a Canadian, do it! It’s one of our unsung talents.

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After our sugar shot (maple pecan for Jamjarjude and a macaroon brownie for me), we trundled off down the highway. A quick stop into the passport office in Victoria, then we were off to walk on one of the many lovely beaches along the Victoria waterfront with Ralphie.

The wildflowers were out. Clover….

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…poppies….

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…yellow lupins…

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…and sweat peas scrambling over driftwood.

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And speaking of driftwood…

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…and the view… beautiful.

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It was getting on to lunchtime so we headed off to Oak Bay Village and found a wonderful Italian cafe/deli, Ottavio, www.ottaviovictoria.com

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…where we shared a board of cheeses and salami with fresh bread and pickles. We couldn’t resist a bag of their tempting cookies to fortify us on our drive back to Nanaimo. Perfecto!

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The Big Tree

I had an errand to run in Port Alberni yesterday, and on the way back I stopped at Cathedral Grove to see The Big Tree. I’d missed it the last time I was there with Jamjarjude — it was in another part of the grove and we didn’t have time to trek there. But this time, I was on a mission.

But, of course, once you walk into Cathedral Grove, with its centuries-old redwoods, your pace is slowed and your mouth drops open. Because all you can do is look up.

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The grove goes on for miles, but only a small portion of it is accessible. The paths are covered with moss, which drapes from branches like swags of green velvet.

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The grove is so quiet… you tend to find yourself whispering. It is a place of awe.

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Then the quiet is broken by the murmurings of a brook, and, for a moment, I bring my eyes back to earth, to reconnect.

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I pass a lightning tree – a giant which has been immolated by a blast of lightning from a sky god…

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…just the one tree, in the middle of the forest, all its neighbours untouched.

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Then, it is there. The Big Tree. A Douglas fir eight hundred years old. Already 300 years old when Columbus set foot on the New World. Born at the end of the 12th century, when Richard The Lion-Heart was on the throne of England, and Genghis Khan’s armies overran Asia. Still alive. A connection to all that has lived since it’s birth.

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Seventy-six metres tall, nine metres round, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And still growing. It has another two hundred years to go before it starts its decline.

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And I touched it of course.

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/macmillan/