Up in Smoke

We screwed up! The journey from Victoria BC to Klamath Falls, Oregon was a lengthy, arduous and smoke filled day. Michael drove over 500 miles non stop. The forests are on fire and the eclipse zone filled with smoke. It is a sad thing to see such beautiful countryside going up in flames.

Our campsite is a dump, and this is the first time I have written such a negative opinion, but there is no pride of ownership and most of the campers seem to be long term. We are heading out this morning in hopes of finding a first come/ first serve Campground that can accommodate our 24ft RV.

We are so fortunate to have our health and a cat that loves to travel- that is what is important. Heading out with a positive attitude that we will find a wonderful site in which to view the solar eclipse.

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.

Our Last Party at Genoa Bay Float House

Tom and Frances invited us for one last party at the float house before we head to Victoria tomorrow morning and then taking a ferry ride back to the states and Port Angeles. We want to get to Central Oregon in order to watch the solar eclipse on August, 21st. What a fabulous time we have had on Vancouver Island. The wildlife is abundant, the people are friendly and the campgrounds, extraordinary. Callie, Michael and I have had a first rate adventure of a life time.


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!



A Room with a View

It doesn't get any better for Callie to wake up first thing in the morning, after a storm, and have a room with a view that she can look out over. The bald eagle is way up high on his perch at the boat dock surveying all that is below and a family of ravens are scavenging noisily on the beach. Seagulls are calling out whenever they spot anything of as they circle overhead, and all of them seem to be feeling some kind of joy after the passing of a rainstorm. You can hear it in their voices and the way that they are playing. We even have a kingfisher sitting on a tree branch next to our campsite that plummets down like a rock into the shallow water, and comes up with a tiny fish in its mouth. The morning has dawned with clouds that are fractured- allowing light to pass through, the smoke has been cleared, and the sun is going to peak out soon. It is perfect weather for BC. Not too cold and not too hot…..

We will be moving on late this morning and continue up island to our next destination in Tofino. Michael told me about it a couple of days ago, and it is a lovely fishing town with. bird watching, hiking, surfing and camping. We don't have a reservation and will wing it today. It is Sunday, so it may work out for us! How exciting it is to travel with an adventuresome husband and an RV that is so comfortable and mobile at the same time. Life couldn't get any better than this for two aging seniors and a cat that refuses to be a couch potato.

The Fisherman and the Bald Eagle

We are camped at Icluelet Campground. Our next door neighbor who is a fisherman, caught a 50 pound halibut today and he offered the head to a bald eagle. The neighbor has been staying here for a month now, and the eagle knows when the catch has been good. The stately raptor hangs out in a tree along the shoreline and when the fish has been cleaned, the fisherman throws the head up into the air for the eagle to catch! This particular afternoon, because it is raining heavily, a raven almost thwarted the eagles attempt at catching the fish head. His frustrated cries are like nothing I have ever heard before… short, staccato, high pitched bursts of sound that pierce the sky and then leave behind nothing but the soft plop of raindrops hitting the water. It is good to see a fisherman sharing his catch with an eagle. It feels like the right thing to do. Take a little and then give a little back in return. The eagle is a scavenger and knows a good deal when he sees one. I give him credit for being wary though. It took a long time for the eagle to gain enough confidence to snatch the offering. It will serve him well in the future if there is ever a time when a human does not have his best interest at heart!


Icluelet Campground

It is a rainy, chilly morning, perfect for staying inside in our awesome 24 ft Icon RV. It is so roomy and spacious and perfect for camping, that Michael, Callie and I are delighted with it. We bought it used in Huntsville, Alabama 8 months ago and have already put 10,000 miles on it.

Icluelet Campground in BC, is an older Campground and the sites are close together but the view couldn't be more gorgeous. The Marina is home to serious fishing boats, bald eagles, gulls and the town has fabulous little restaurants and 2 beaches, Terrace and Little Beach. Long Beach is on the outskirts of town and has wolf warnings posted all over.

Today it is suppose to increase in rain density and I am happy that the skies will be washed of smoke. It has been very smokey here all week because of all the forest fires. I am hoping this will help extinguish most or all of them.

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.

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!