Mini Adventure: A Perfect Afternoon

I admit to stealing the title idea from another blogger,, he has such lovely insights into what could be a not so good day by finding a nugget of perfection. (Check him out – he is also a Canadian) Yesterday was a bit like hitting the mother lode. I knew I had to get away from the day. Where else but to one of the many spots to not only glimpse the ocean but be immersed in the experience.

I love Vancouver Island. I do not love how expensive it is to live here. A 45 minute drive away is French Beach. A rugged, surf crashing, mist in the air, giant driftwood strewn beach that is not your typical sandy, flip flop, run into the spray type of beach. Although there were two children, under the watchful eyes of the adults with them, who were actually in the water! My daughter said they must be true west coasters.

That is what we do when the world seems to be crashing down. When money, jobs (or lack of same), housing, age and pain become too much a trip to the ocean can wipe it all away, like the writing on the sand. Even if for only a couple of hours. I may not have solved any of the problems but I was certainly invigorated.

The cherry on top of an already perfect afternoon was a stop for coffee and a treat at Shirley Delicious. Yes, Shirley is a real place. Yes, everything is delicious. (Interesting side note, one of the owners has the same surname as the sports doctor I will be seeing later in the week). Shirley a positive sign.


Have Chariot – what about meals?

Five years have passed since my mother died, nearly eight since my father. So July and August have not been happy months in recent years. However, as I continue my plans to travel, possibly even live, in my car and camp I am reminded of all the adventures my parents went on. With only one driver. The only difference is that they had a truck although I am positive it did not have a canopy let along a camper. They camped.

Which brings me to what campfire bans? In B.C., probably the majority of the province, there are campfire bans currently in place. It just happened that my inbox had an article that discusses just that problem. Although it speaks of Vancouver Island the message is that camping can still be fun. This made me think that perhaps I should collect the rather ancient Coleman stove my sister found with our parents things. If they could survive for a weekend, weeks and even a year once (although that included a lot of B&Bs) then surely I can.

First thing to do will be to make sure it is in working order!

Of course this brings me to another issue. Once cooking is done what on earth does anyone choosing to use their vehicle as a place to bed down in do with food? All the material I have come across says to lock it in the vehicle, assuming you have one, but nothing about those especially hungry bears that choose to sniff about, and possibly break into, said vehicle. Just stay away from grizzly country? Camp in fields only? I have camped, even had to cower in a shower once when bears were nosing about – Jasper National Park many, many years ago.

Perhaps needless to say we have not yet gone camping. However, I am working on it!

Have Chariot – second thoughts

One of my daughters liked the idea of my plan to once again cross the country and camp on the way but wondered why I had not considered pulling a small trailer or perhaps finding a van. A reasonable question and one I have lobbed back and forth in my brain. Now that the bouncing has stopped I remain firmly on the side of car camping. (Until I started researching everything I was not even aware that ‘car camping’ was a thing) However, I also came up with ways to make this latest plan less crazy. Or, I thought I had. Most likely just as well we are looking at next year!

First, why not pull a small camper, tent trailer or trade in my car for a van that I can kit out to suit me needs? Besides finances – always a major consideration – I just cannot envision being comfortable driving very far with a behemoth non-motored two wheel (or four) sleeping space attached to my backside. Even a small behemoth. In addition, it would mean constantly having to back into a space, uncoupling and setting up in specific areas meant for more than just tents. So why not a van? Well, finances again. Also, what does one do with a van that is camperized once a trip is finished? I doubt I would be going on other major driving trips. So. Back to my 2002 Hyundai Elantra. I know the car, I am happy driving it. I feel safe in it. Yet, is it realistic to take two plus weeks to travel across Canada with only a hatchback to sleep in? With a passenger.

After checking out 10+ tents of various shapes, sizes, colours, and space, we think this MEC Camper 3 best suits our needs.

We decided to look at tents. We even think we found one that is not too outrageously expensive – many would would consider it relatively cheap. Which brings me to how does anyone decide which tent is the right one? There are so many! Knowing we have the car as a back up for a sleeping space we still decided that a three person 3 season tent would suit our needs. Not so big as to be cumbersome yet have enough room to give us about 18″ between us. We chose to not look at lightweight backpacking tents which will most likely limit campsites (so far the main plan) we can stay at unless we are willing to carry a 3.07kg tent plus everything else. In other words, my daughter would have to carry it! My plan is to buy it, then drive up to maybe Rathtrevor on Vancouver Island for an overnight test. Baby steps. Hoping less chance of cougars and bears. Besides, if all else fails I know someone who lives nearby.

Evening at Butchart Gardens

A couple of mornings ago I discovered a nasty mosquito bite on my neck. Seems I am allergic to Canadian mosquitoes. Like last summer when my leg became infected after being bitten this bite hurt by the end of the following day. However, I was not about to let this prevent me from going to the world famous Butchart Gardens where my sister was singing in The Chorus choir – not to be confused with The Choir choir. ( The two choirs blended into one for two songs.

The Chorus and The Choir

They had a wonderful stage that helped project stupendous voices. Although a non-audition choir there is no lack of talent. The setting was stellar, the audience appreciative of music and surroundings. There is always a bit of magic when a blanket can be placed on cooling grass, a picnic is laid out and music begins to drift over the landscape.

The sunken garden, probably the favourite for photos – also recognized worldwide

I had time to discover the Rose Carousel with 30 hand carved animals, (horses, frogs, cats, an orca are just a few) installed in 2009 – it had been probably 20 years since I was last visited the gardens. I also had never been on a carousel! For a twoonie a delightful 3 1/2 minutes, and even had a fleeting dream of springing off like Mary Poppins, were mine. In reality I had trouble dismounting the horse I was riding! So much fun I convinced my sister to give it a whirl which meant I had two rides. We laughed and giggled like little girls the whole time.

Photo shared by the parent of a child riding behind me – he even asked permission to take it! Beside me are two dear friends – my second ride I was on the cat with the fish. Cats have tails – not easy to climb off!

Only the rose garden has labels to name the flowers – I believe this is a Pope John Paul rose (of course I deleted the label photo)

Alas, I did not have time to truly enjoy the gardens, There was time enough to take in some of the lush gardens, like an appetizer. At 33.10 CAD plus tax it is unlikely I will return soon. There is also a yearly pass for 60.50 plus tax. (Choir members were given a free guest pass – quite a treat) However, what I did see was lovely and I even enjoyed a quick bite and coffee from the coffee shop. Everything is made fresh on the premises – my chicken curry wrap was delicious! In other words, despite mentioning a picnic I did not actually take one with me. I may have to rethink my budget.

Below is the Dragon Fountain, a gift in 2015 from Suzhou, China – sister city to Victoria

Fountain near the Blue Poppy Restaurant – take a close look at the snake and frog

Have chariot – will travel

Anyone who has read my posts may have realized I like the quirky, but not dangerous, side of adventure. Having barely settled back home with a good book it is time to pull out my notebook & pencil, power up my iPad, erase all traces of wedding plans from my whiteboard and start some research for an adventure that is definitely outside my comfort zone. Time to call a friend with more experience than my usual travel companions. (Pandas tend to appreciate the softer side of travel)

With my daughter seriously considering a move to Toronto to further her studies and two of her sisters already in Ontario it is extremely likely I join her, or take up temporary residence with each of the three on a rotating basis. Or permanently live in my golden chariot. This is where my lumberjack friend enters. A rugged individual with attitude and lots of hugs he should be able to help me figure out how to get from Point A to Point B (approx 4500km depending on where B will be) on a very thin budget. Driving.

I swear he is smirking.

I really do not intend to ride across the country on a dogsled although it might be handy if I end up being caught in a snowstorm. My chariot is a 2002 Hyundai Elantra 4 door hatchback. I also intend to turn the car into a camper. Probably the most challenging adventure I will undertake. I think the first venture will be a weekend somewhere on the island before the end of September – Tofino perhaps. Keeping this short for now, looking for any words of wisdom besides suggestions to stop now.

What do I have so far? Chariot, nerves of steel (questionable), sleeping bags, various backpacking camp items, tiny BBQ (hey, its only a list so far), navigator. My daughter does not drive – yet.