Butchart Gardens

Michael and I spent our last day on Vancouver Island visiting Butchart Gardens. It was crowded but the flowers and gardens made it worthwhile! It has been many years since we last visited and at that time we arrived by Tom’s catamaran. Callie was able to sit back in the RV and spent the day napping.

Yesterday evening we headed to Chuck and Angele’s house and they made us a delicious dinner and we reminisced about the old days. Chuck is an artist too and a long time friend of Tom’s. Angele, his wife, is a compassionate nurse and loves to travel around the world. Angele cannot stay in one place for more than 4 months! She has traveled all over the world with Chuck and by herself. It was so wonderful spending time with them. We were able to park our RV in their front yard in Sannich because it is only a 20 minute drive to the ferry lines. This helped us a lot for the next leg of our journey.

This morning we woke up to the delight of Callie, and with the help of an alarm, in order to get to the Black Ball Ferry line at 4:30 am for our ride back to the United States. Tom and Frances, David and JoAnne and Chuck and Angele were so good to us. We will miss Vancouver Island.

Time to head south though in order to view the solar eclipse! Central Oregon is our next destination. We will stay in Washington a couple more days though. The smoke has cleared from all of the forest fires and autumn is in the air.

The Princess Diaries

When we first started considering going on a road trip with our cat Callie, we weren't sure how she would respond to travel. Last summer we headed north up the 5 in our SUV, and the difficulties we had trying to find motel rooms that would accommodate cats became an issue. We always had to leave a hefty deposit and the manager would come through the room and inspect it before we could check out. Very few motels accepted cats and made us feel very unwelcome. Callie does not claw at furniture legs and is the cleanest little kitty I know. She is a perfect guest and always uses her litter box. I can't say the same goes for most dogs! On some of our adventures, Callie would hide under the bed and not want to come out if we had traveled for too many hours the day before. Driving in the SUV tired her out and stressed her at times. Worst of all, she didn't have a way of looking out the window. In the RV, all of our troubles are now behind us because we carry our house with us wherever we go and Callie can sit up on the dash and watch the world go by at 60mph. She loves it! She also loves sleeping high up in the loft that has tiny little windows in which she can peer out in secrecy and eavesdrop on unsuspecting birds. Ravens in particular love to share campsites with humans and have learned to raid any unsuspecting camper of a picnic left behind. Callie gets to spy on these raiders of food and the birds never suspect a thing! Such is the life adventures of a princess cat.


Tofino-BC

Callie thoroughly enjoys hanging out on the dash of the RV now and when we are ready to take off, she jumps down from the loft and settles in.

Tofino is a picturesque and quaint town with an airport on the sea. We were able to get a campsite at Mackenzie Beach Campground and the first thing we did when we arrived was to walk down to the beach. The tide was out and you can explore the tidal pools that hug the shoreline among rugged rocks. People were swimming and boogie boarding in the chilly water and surf schools are numerous. Michael and I think it is much too cold, but young and adventuresome surfers flock from all over to get a chance to surf here.

We biked into town along a paved bike and walk path and stopped on the dock to watch float planes come and go! What a sight to see these planes take off, with white caps frothing and the wind whipping the air up all around us. The engine noise is deafening and it is amazing that the planes have lift when facing the wind during take off!

We were having a craving for sweets yesterday and picked up Cadbury chocolate bars and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. That was the incentive for biking into town. Lots of fish and sushi restaurants, tourist shops and coffee dens can be found along the main drag.

Today, Michael and I are contemplating what and where to go next and may try a hike along one of the ancient cedar groves advertised at Wild Pacific Trails. This wilderness area banks both sides of the highway as you drive to Tofino. The forest is so dark and thick with mature trees, that when you try to look past the first row, there is very little light that passes through. Wolves are a frequent sight apparently and hikers are warned not to let their dogs off leash. Wolves kill dogs off leash. I won't be taking Callie on any of the hikes, not to worry!



The Salmon are Running

Icluelet, BC is a major fishing community, and fisherman have descended from all over the world to benefit from the salmon that are running. I met a fisherman named Dave who was just coming off of his boat after having been at sea for 3 weeks. He said that the times are changing and the fish are smaller and there are fewer of them. This is a concern for all environmentalists and the truth has been understood by the men and women who make a living off of the sea for quite some time now. He was very friendly, good natured and seemed starved to talk to another human being. Both Michael and I listened to his tales with genuine interest and concern. We talked of the fires inland where he lived, and of the catches out at sea which are becoming less and less profitable.

When we were finished talking to Dave, we walked around the Marina and marveled at all the fishing boats- real fishing boats that look like they had been through some pretty rough seas. These aren't charter boats taking tourists out for an afternoon of fun and games, these boats are the real deal and they look it. The fisherman that fish these waters do it for a living. They are a hardy international group that understand the tides and the dangers of being out on the ocean. A Finnish man came up to Michael and me with 3 other characters that were so open and friendly and in need of a new person to share stories with, that it gave me pause to consider the world that is made up of countries and borders and walls to keep out others!"

Looking around, I realized that the marine layer had come in and the temperature dropped down into the middle 50's. Quite a difference from the 80's in Genoa Bay, with its acrid smoke being exchanged for soothing fog. Canada has over 100 fires burning out of control as I write. It has been the worst fire season in recorded history. The visibility was greatly reduced from Victoria almost to where we pulled into the campground. But here up-island, the fog is very dense and misty, which helps to contribute to the sense that you are in another biosphere, one that is governed by nature and water, land, the sun and the moon.

The fisherman know this side of nature much more then the person who buys the fish in a package, precut and on a shelf. Dave knew that the salmon were running and were headed toward the Columbia Gorge. These fish all have predestined routes and are compelled to follow them home to where they were born. Returning to the place that they were born is paramount to completing their purpose on this beautiful planet. I looked up and was startled by the raucous sound of several seagulls harassing a bald eagle who had landed on one of the boat masts. Even though he was much larger and had a magnificent wingspan, he was being forced to vacate his coveted fishing perch by the smaller but much more tenacious gulls. Such is the way of nature!

We then decided to walk toward another, much smaller dock off to the side that was jutting out into open waters. I was saddened to read that this other dock had once been used by 60 Japanese families who were forced to leave everything behind after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were given 3-4 days notice and I didn't realize that Canada too had turned on Japanese families living in their country. Pearl Harbor was a horrible act of terrorism and
it was the catalyst to starting WWII. But innocent families lost everything they had worked so hard for and history has shown that these forced removals were not necessary to the safety of its Canadian and American neighbors. Canada seems to have learned her lesson…..

Life can be so difficult for immigrants that are just trying to eek out a living for themselves and their families. I hope that American people continue to stand up to the racist attitude of the Trump administration and embrace what America once stood for. Open up your arms and welcome people fleeing from persecution, poverty, war and climate change. We can do better and should keep fighting for justice for all people who are willing to work hard and contribute to society. We are evolved beings and as such, should behave worthy of the intelligence that has been bestowed upon us. Let us be sentinels to this planet and respect Mother Nature in order to contribute to the sustainable survival of all.

I also must mention my awareness of the native people displaced by Europeans…. I can't bring up every slight in this article and this topic will have to wait for another day.

Alfresco

Tom and Frances's catamaran- Alfresco, is a work of art. She is 38 ft long and 18 ft wide. When the wind is harnessed by the sail, she glides over the surface of the water with surge and power. The two hulls on each side of the boat keep her balanced and level so that they don't heel from side to side. The mast is taller than the catamaran is long, and when you look up, the sail seems to billow out forever. Tom built her 41 years ago when he was only in his 20s. The lines of Alfresco are so streamlined and contemporary, you feel like you are looking at a vessel that is sailing across a vast ocean far off into the future.

We spent 3 days and 2 nights at Burgoyne Bay and walked along Saltspring Island in the morning to stretch out our stiff and achy sea legs. Callie did wonderful and handled herself as a sea cat with grace, curiosity and charm. This was her maiden voyage across the salty sea and I was a little nervous about her going over board! It only takes one false move and over the rail she would go. Michael and Tom saw her slip just once, but she landed on the deck and walked away with dignity as if it had all been planned and done on purpose! Every morning when Callie woke up, she investigated the boat with curiosity, checking out every nook and cranny in hopes that there was something new for her to discover.

After the third day, we headed back to Genoa Bay where Tom and Frances live. When we finished dropping Alfresco off at the dock alongside the float house, Tom took us back to the RV by dingy. This time, Callie even sat up and peaked out over the water on our way back to the marina!


This is a gouache painting I did of Alfresco in 1985 when I was working on my BFA in drawing and painting at Cal State, Fullerton.


Crab Hunting in Genoa Bay

David, Tom's friend who is allowing us to park our RV on his property, invited Michael and I to go out with him to drop crab traps into the bay for a party we are going to be going to later on at Tom's float house. His aluminum boat was so steady and smooth, that the surface of the ocean felt like glass as we headed out to the opening of the bay. There is supposedly a highway down below where crab enter from the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.

After David dropped the cage overboard that was baited with chicken parts, he gave us a tour. It has the awesome distinction of being a safe haven for young salmon and is considered a nursery of sorts. If you look closely along the coastline, you see hundreds of silvery fry darting about in the clear seawater. After about 30 minutes of motoring about, we headed back to the trap and found 3 young rock crab attacking the bait. David tossed them back into the sea and said that this was a good sign that more will come. It is the big ones that you want! When the larger crab arrive, the younger ones escape in openings up above or they will be eaten.

Later on in the afternoon, Michael and David will head back out to check on the crab trap once again. If we are lucky, fresh crab will be on the menu for the party in the afternoon!

Michael and David actually caught 12 crab and only kept 4 large ones. You must let the young crab go in order to keep a sustainable amount left in the bay. When you live by the seashore, seafood is your major source of food. It is a different lifestyle, and one that is much more sensitive and in tune to the ebbs and flow of the tides, and the animals that they share it with…..





Where to Begin

The Coho Ferry ride over to Victoria from Port Angeles, Washington was a Disney ride of fun and adventure. Callie handled it with calm curiosity and seemed to enjoy all of the excitement! She rode on the dash as we checked into U.S. Customs and all the way to Tom Faue and Frances's float house in Genoa Bay. My brother and his beautiful, soft spoken wife, are both artists too. They also have an outrageously cute cat named Gypsy that fills in the gaps and makes for quite the family!

We took a dingy ride over to their float house for dinner and we motored past Tom's catamaran – Alfresco as we headed toward their home on the waters of Genoa Bay – Tom built Alfresco over 42 years ago and it is still a working, sea vessel. The float house they have lived on for several years and it too was built by Tom with the help of Frances. We are going to sail and motor to Bouchard Gardens in Victoria some time on this trip.

Callie loves being in the RV and has no trouble sleeping during the day while we sightsee and play. She is doing very well and has yet to cough. We think she has finally recovered from her bronchitis.

The skies are filled with smoke from the fires on mainland Canada- I believe there are over 140 fires raging and out of control at the moment. It is a difficult time for our forests.

Beautiful morning though and Tom has parked us and the RV at a friends house that overlooks the marina. David and JoAnn are gracious enough to plug us into shore power and an offer of water. We couldn't be happier.


Willapa Bay

Willapa Bay is fairly shallow and the second largest estuary in the United States. It has 260 square miles of water surface in the intertidal range. In fact, half of the water enters and leaves the bay every day. Michael and I walked along the shore line several times and two days ago we watched the tide creep back in at a very slow pace. The water glitters with reflective light and gently fills the bay back in, like molten mercury, one small puddle at a time.

We are staying at the Bay Center KOA until tomorrow morning and then we are going to drive to Port Angeles and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island. Callie is going to Canada! We have her paperwork in order and her health has returned and her cough is gone. My brother and sister in law live on a house boat, so I am not sure what the living arrangements will be when we get to their place outside Duncan Bay. It will certainly be an adventure though! Maybe Callie will even go sailing on my brother's catamaran. We shall see!

Callie had a lovely day of practicing her hunting skills chasing after bugs. The temperature is a fabulous 75 and the sun is out and there isn't a cloud in the sky….