July 1-7, 2015 – Nanaimo, BC

Wednesday morning we packed up and headed into Port Angeles where we are taking the MV Coho Ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island, BC.  The Ferry coming in from Victoria with Mt. Baker in the background.

The MV Coho was commissioned by Black Ball Transport and first sailed to Victoria on December 29, 1959.  The 341-ft, 5,135-ton ship was at that time the largest privately funded ferry ever built.  The MV Coho has been updated and refurbished numerous times since.  We were impressed with how well this 56 year old ferry has been maintained.  Every winter the ferry is brought into dry dock where the hull is inspected and painted while interior and mechanical maintenance are performed to keep her in tip-top shape.

Looking back toward Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains where we hiked on Hurricane Ridge yesterday.

Rex enjoying the view of the Olympic Mountains – it is either windy or the lady behind Rex got a really big scare!  About halfway through the 90 minute ferry ride we saw a whale - couldn’t see what kind it was as it submerged immediately after we sighted it and we never saw it surface again.

We arrived in Victoria, went through customs and landed in the middle of their Canada Day celebrations (much like our 4th of July).  After negotiating their crowds and horse-drawn carriages we made it out of town and on our way to Nanaimo where we will spend a month visiting our friends, David and Colleen, and others and touring the south half of the island.

We are staying at the Westwood Lake Campground just outside of Nanaimo.  This is a small campground about a block from Westwood Lake.  We have a nice shady and fairly secluded site.  The weather has been hot here also – we had hoped for cooler weather but they are unseasonably warm right now.

David and Colleen are not able to get together with us until Sunday so we spent the time getting settled and relaxing.  We went to the Visitor Center and got lots of brochures and guide books to help with our visit.  Rex gave the dogs much needed baths on Friday and we have been walking along beautiful Westwood Lake every day.  There is a 6 km (3.6 mile) path around the lake and we have walked parts of it every day.  On Saturday evening we walked the entire 6 km - we were not sure if Camille would be able to go the whole way but she did great.  It was a beautiful hike as the lake is completely surrounded by woods.

Sunday afternoon we went to David and Colleen’s for a nice visit and a great dinner – David is a retired Master Chef and we always enjoy his delicious meals.  David and Colleen moved to Nanaimo from Edmonton a couple of years ago and have a beautiful home.  Their back deck overlooks a ravine and it is like being in a wooded park.   It is very dry here as they have not had rain for some time and are on water restrictions so all the grass is brown.  We are disappointed that we are not able to see the island all green and lush but it is still beautiful.  As we left David and Colleen’s the smoke got worse – you could really smell it and you couldn’t see very far.

We stayed close to the 5th wheel on Monday as the smoke was causing Rex’s asthma to give him some problems.

On Tuesday the smoke was a little better so David and Colleen took us to Neck Point Park where we walked a beautiful trail in the woods and along the shore of Departure Bay.  That is smoke is the distance not fog.

We found this Bald Eagle sitting on rocks just off shore.

After our walk in Neck Point Park we drove to the downtown waterfront area and walked along the docks.  The plane is a commuter service to the city of Vancouver - you can really see the smoke in this picture.

In 1852 the Hudson Bay Company started coal mining operations in Nanaimo and in 1853 built the Bastion to protect miners and their families.  This is the last remaining wooden Hudson Bay Company bastion in North America.  It was moved twice before being taken over in 1985 by the Bastion Museum Society.  Management of the Bastion was transferred to the City of Nanaimo in 1997 and it underwent a major restoration in 2010. 

As we were walking along the bay, we thought we could hear bag pipe music. When we followed the sound, we found this bagpiper performing outside the Bastion.  In talking with him, he stated that he had played the pipes since he was a youngster and then was able to play for the military till he retired. He now plays for the city and at the Bastion. It was great to stand and hear him play - t was almost like being in Scotland and hearing the pipes.

This interesting whale sculpture is made out of all kinds of parts – motor parts, chain saw blades, etc.  Reminded us of the large horse sculpture in Fountain Hills, AZ.

We enjoyed our day with David and Colleen but are going to wait for the smoke to clear before we do much more sightseeing – it is supposed to get better in a few days.


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