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 and 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.

Farewell to Genoa Bay

What an incredible time we have had in Genoa Bay with my brother and sister in law and David and JoAnne. Tom, an artist and salty sailor, is captain of his domain. Frances is a quiet and unassuming artist herself, having descended from a long line of Dutch Master Portrait artists. David, our selfless host, has a heart of gold with a vast knowledge of audiophile components and JoAnne, a competent, compassionate nurse, loves to dance to Dave Matthews and can turn a dinner into a party!

We had a celebration together last night which was joyous, filled with conversation and good food, wine, dancing, and music. The horrific “T” word wasn’t mentioned once! Most Canadians, as do most Americans, feel a great deal of horror and anger at the Donald. Callie was able to crash the party for a bit… Elenor and Rigby, their two beautiful cats who are brother and sister, only got to participate from a distance.

I can’t begin to share all that I am grateful for and for the appreciation that I feel toward family and host and hostess. We have decided to head up Island at the request of Tom and our hosts though, instead of heading to Seattle. You can’t come to Vancouver Island without experiencing Long Beach. So Long Beach, here we come!

Callie has a New Tree to Climb

Callie has missed her beloved olive trees, but this morning she discovered an arbutus tree that is growing in front of David and JoAnne’s house. It has a wood carving of an eagle with the word “ocean” carved on it. The bark of the arbutus is gold and reddish brown, and the underbelly has pinks and green with yellow ochre much like our eucalyptus in California. The bark curls up and peels off in shredded pieces and Callie took great delight in climbing and sharpening her claws on it this morning. When she rakes her claws into the bark, it spills away in sheets and smells much like cedar shavings. Callie would like one of these trees growing in her yard in Anza Borrego, please!

One Version of a Story

Apparently, two brothers inherited Genoa Bay Marina from their father maybe 10 or 15 years ago, maybe longer, who knows? But most of the old timers have left in outrage and disgust for raising moorage rates so high and not appreciating the value and wisdom of the locals that have lived here the longest. It was so frustrating to my brother, that he can’t even talk about it to this day.

He had lived here for years and many of his sculptures decorated the dock. Like a marriage gone horribly wrong and a bitter divorce that follows, Tom and Frances moved their float-house away from the Marina and out into the bay. Most of Tom’s friends also feel anger and disappointment toward the new management, so Tom is not alone with his bad feelings.

It is still an adorable picturesque place though, and I walked around and shot photographs of the local scenery in spite of my brother’s difficult past experiences. David and JoAnne, the wonderful couple who are allowing us to park our RV at their place, don’t like the new owners either, and they are forced to look out at this idyllic scene every day.

In spite of all of this, the neighbors have been so kind and friendly, that I can’t walk Callie around without half of them coming out to say hello and to pet her. You would never know the negative feelings around here if you hadn’t been told. Every battle has another side to the story, but because I am Tom’s sister, I will go with the story told to me by him. He actually doesn’t even want to talk about it, so the details are sketchy, but the reaction has been strong!

Michael, Callie and I will be here until Thursday and then we are taking the ferry back from Victoria to Port Angeles. We will spend one more night there and then head to Seattle, Washington to visit one of my favorite nieces, Sarice. We had wanted to continue traveling through Canada and over to Banff and Jasper, but the fires and smoke are turning us back.

David and JoAnne are throwing a going away party for us tomorrow night and they have been extraordinary hosts. David plays Bob Dylan for us in the gazebo during the day, while JoAnne, who is a nurse, is away at work. Tonight they brought me dinner because Michael and Tom are visiting another good friend, Chuck and his wife, Angel that live in Victoria. Callie and I are so tired, that a night alone in the RV sounds like heaven.

What a fabulous time I have had with Tom, Frances and all the wonderful people they know. The hospitality has been first rate and Michael has finally gotten to sail again with Tom. It has been 10 years or so since the last time they have sailed together.

Callie spent the day relaxing in the RV and recovering from her big adventure as a sea cat out at sea! She and I are going to go to bed early and rise at the break of dawn, to start another day with our travelswithcallie adventure!

An afterthought!

My brother would like my readers to know that he is no longer upset. Life is about change and he is in a better place now that he moved. The owners of Genoa Bay have a right to do whatever they want with their Marina, and my brother has a right to move on with his life.

Looking for Trouble

Callie is going to become a sea cat! May she grow sea legs and stay safe!

We are heading out this afternoon to go sailing in the bay! My brother Tom and his wife Frances are taking us sailing on their catamaran- Alfresco. They confided in me that their cat Gypsy did indeed go overboard once while walking across the boom. She fell into the water below and had to be scooped out by a net.

This reminds me of a story about Callie when we first moved to an upstairs condo in Encinitas, California. Callie was left unattended for just a couple of minutes when I sensed that she wasn’t around and went frantically looking for her. I checked upstairs and downstairs and all around and could not find her anywhere in the condo. Surely she didn’t go over the balcony I thought to myself?

I ran to the balcony and looked over the glass barrier and calmly observed that an umbrella had been knocked over and was lying on the ground. Glancing around further, I spotted Callie in the bushes below entertaining the thought about getting into a catfight with a neighboring white Persian called- Snowball. I immediately yelled at her and ran out of the condo and down a flight of stairs to rescue poor Snowball from having her eyes scratched out! Callie is the sweetest cat around dogs and people, but she absolutely despises cats. She even detests cats that are minding their own business and staying in their own territory. Callie had been known to run down tom cats a block away from the house when she lived in Redlands, California.

The distance from the balcony to the top of the umbrella was maybe 10ft and it had to have twirled violently before Callie released her claws and went flying out and across the yard. I wish I had seen when it happened! It would have been pretty funny once I knew she was safe, but scary enough for her because she never attempted it a second time.

So keeping Callie safe and out of harms reach will be a little challenging for me. Gypsy has to stay on the float house while we sail, but that won’t keep Callie from looking for trouble!

Crab Hunting in Genoa Bay

David, Tom’s friend who is allowing us to park our RV on his property, invited Michael and me 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 enters 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 arrives, 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, the fresh crab will be on the menu for the party in the afternoon!

Michael and David actually caught 12 crabs 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 with the ebbs and flow of the tides, and the animals that they share it with…..

A Float House in Genoa Bay

Michel and I spent another fabulous evening with Tom, Frances, and their precocious cat Gypsy last night. I am once again full of admiration for their artistic lifestyle.

Alfresco, the catamaran that Tom built over 32 years ago, was a precursor to the sculptures Tom creates to this day. The floating house, which he also built with the help of Frances, is something out of a New Orleans bayou. Genoa Bay was exceptionally quiet yesterday evening, all except for the prehistoric squawk of a blue heron that flapped its wings overhead as it tried to take flight off the shoreline. The waters were calm and reflective and the overall mood, tranquil. We are visiting during a record-breaking heat spell, so it is difficult to imagine the horrific winter storms that blow through the bay with astounding force. Tom and Frances usually leave for Mexico in the winter months, but this winter they are planning to stay put and work on their beloved float house…