Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 9

Friday 11 August 2017

Nanaimo to Ucluelet via McLean Mill and Tofino - a journey of about 250 km.

Another 'blue sky apart from the smog day'. To start with anyway.

I managed a 4 km jog along the seafront in cooler conditions than yesterday's 35°C. Then we said goodbye to the Painted Turtle, stashed our overnight bags in Charlie, and wandered down to the seafront for breakfast.

A supermarket expedition ensured we wouldn't go hungry for a while, then we set off towards Port Alberni with the intention of getting elevenses there. Whilst we weren't distracted by the vineyard that delayed Robert, Lyn and Louise in 2015, we were distracted by some slightly clearer visibility by Cameron Lake, and by signs on the outskirts of Port Alberni for the McLean Mill. This had been recommended by Jonathan. Coffee was duly sourced, after which we enjoyed a stroll around the site of the sawmill that operated from 1926 until its closure in 1985. Most of the buildings had fallen into a state of dereliction before the City of Port Alberni acquired the site in 1988. It has been a challenging project to restore the buildings and return the mill to a properly operating condition.

Our visit coincided with the final stages of the setting up of the site for a music festival, the Five Acre Shaker, which takes place this weekend and features about forty performers on two stages, together with the usual accoutrements of a music festival. We were sorry to be moving on just before the first visitors arrived. We would have been interested to see bands like 'The Hip Replacements' and 'Looprechaun' in action. (Or would we?)

Lunch was taken - a couple of tasty quiches from the supermarket - under a canopy by the second stage - deserted before the arrival of the hordes, in hot sunny weather.

The drive to Tofino saw clouds appear for the first time on this trip (Day 9!), and with the clouds, which were partly sea fret, came plummeting temperatures - 25°C suddenly dropped to 15°C. By the time we reached Tofino our fleeces were being dragged from the depths of our luggage.

Tofino turns out to be Canada's answer to St Ives. Surfboards and other watersporty things abound and there are long sandy beaches nearby. The town was full, as Sue discovered when she tried to book accommodation there.

Like St Ives, Tofino isn't short of galleries. A Canadian artist, Roy Henry Vickers, owns the most upmarket of these. He's the brother of Arthur, who we met yesterday, but whilst Arthur sells just his 'high end' full size originals and limited edition prints, Roy reduces his masterpieces to cards and small block mounted items, one of which we bought for Sue to add to some nice earrings she acquired yesterday.

Back along the road we finally arrived at Ucluelet at around 5 pm. The receptionist at Little Beach Resort was expecting us and we were soon installed in chalet number 10, at one end of three adjoining chalets. We have all manner of facilities in one room, with a separate toilet. It's a  bit odd to have both a king size bed and a huge bath with jacuzzi in the same smallish room, not to mention the refrigerator, TV and microwave, dining table etc, etc.

Ucluelet is a place that despite being in the shadow of Tofino, is a notable destination in its own right. Lucy is still trying to get over her dismay when, some sixteen or seventeen years ago she brought my daughter here, only to be informed by the stroppy teenage nanny "It's bloody cold here, let's get back in the car" - she might have said the same today.

Sue went for a run whilst I made some tea that tasted awful so we strolled up the road for some beer to wash down our salady meal. Excellent. We still can't identify the reason for the horrible tea - all the components seem fine.

A most enjoyable interlude this evening involved readings from Robert's 'Brexton Travels' blog from his own Canadian Adventure with Lyn and Louise in 2015. Apart from the interest deriving from their route and activities, whatever gadget or addled brain Robert was using produced some very entertaining predictive text.

Today's pictures:

• The Painted Turtle Guest House
• By Cameron Lake
• McLean Sawmill locomotive 
• McLean Sawmill - the mill
• "Dead or Alive?"
• A Tofino view
• Our chalet at the Little Beach Resort

4 km run and about 7 km of walking in several outings.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 8

Thursday 10 August 2017

Victoria to Nanaimo - a journey of about 100 km.

A note about the delicious salmon we've been eating. It's the sockeye variety that has a deep red flesh as opposed to the paler flesh we see in the UK.

I didn't see any salmon, or even any seals, as I repeated the 4 km seafront run that we set about on arrival on Monday. Sue didn't join me this time.

After breakfast on Lucy's new deck in the hazy sunshine, Lucy and Jonathan gave us a conducted tour of their Winnebago, a large caravan that is towed behind a truck. It's a brilliant piece of kit, but I wouldn't like to have to reverse it down the driveway.

It was a shame to have to leave the Mears household; we only just touched the surface of Victoria in the three nights we stayed there. Thanks go to Lucy and Jonathan and the boys for hosting us at a time when they had just returned from one holiday and were about to set off on another to see the forthcoming eclipse of the sun in Idaho.

We eventually set off at 10.15, with the first stop at MEC to buy bear spray and camping gas. It turns out that bear spray is a protected substance that we could only buy after producing ID. We had to jog back to the place we'd parked as Charlie (our Toyota Camry) was on a meter for just 36 minutes!

Then we headed off up Highway 1 towards Mill Bay where we picked up fuel after midday, after which a coffee stop turned into lunch and coffee at the Rusticana Coffee café, where we sat in the shade in the garden. There were photos of nearby roads showing cars driving on the left prior to 1922 when driving on the right was introduced.

Cowichan Bay was our next stop. This village has galleries and craft shops, and a wharf where we saw boats that are designed for sustainable fishing. The Shipyard Gallery of Arthur Vickers was particularly good, although the screen prints and beautiful wooden bowls were out of our price range. The ones using gold sell for 200,000 CAD, and others were 5,000 CAD. The artist told us he had spent 8 years developing his 'inverse' technique, which was very unusual.

Onwards to Chemainus, a small town whose industry has suffered and many murals have been painted since the early 1980's that have become a tourist attraction. Many depict historic scenes and cover large areas of wall. Lemonade was being sold on a street corner by two young girls who were collecting funds for gymnastics equipment. It was welcome as temperatures were now in the 30's!

Onwards to Stocking Creek Farm, where Jonathan's sister Penny and her husband Dave have a PYO blueberry farm that also sells eggs, chickens and turkeys. We had a 'shindown' (blueberry milkshake) on their deck - it was an amazing colour, cold and very refreshing.

So, it wasn't until 6.45pm that we got to the Painted Turtle Guest House in Nanaimo, 'the harbour city', where we have a double room - our first 'paid for' room of the trip. Close by Shukkho Thai provided an excellent dinner, then we strolled down to the harbour and watched Chinese families crab fishing off a pier in the cooler air.

The outline of some nearby mountains appeared today, dark grey under a light grey sky. There were several good viewpoints on the coast road that we took, but only those who like an image that approximates to a wash of blue/grey/green paint, all mixed together, would bother with photography today.

Having said that, I've tried to offer something for readers - starting from the top:

• Outside Lucy and Jonathan's spacious house with its new deck
• Inspecting Winnebago
• Lunch at Rusticana Coffee cafe
• Houseboats at Cowichan Bay
• A mural at Chemainus
• Shindowns at Stocking Creek Farm
• David and Penny ("Hello, and thanks for the shindowns")
• Dinner at Sukkho Thai
• Nanaimo harbour

4 km run and about 7 km of walking in four separate outings.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 7

Wednesday 9 August 2017

A Walk in East Sooke Regional Park

Sue and I drove out to the large car park at East Sooke for our first 'proper' walk of the trip.

We enjoyed a circular walk with a couple of doglegs. Creyke Point offered a sandy beach (pictured) that we eschewed in favour of the coast path to some petroglyphs - ancient rock drawings.

Then we continued along a rocky path to Beechey Head and Cabin Point, before ascending to the 230 metre summit of Babbington Hill and returning to Aylard Farm via the easier Interior Trail.

The trail was mainly quite rough, so 'Alpine timings' of about 2 kph were the order of the day until we reached the easier Interior Trail. Of the distractions along the way 'that view' (which is 'to die for' according to some of the people we met) did not feature. As if the smoke haze wasn't enough, some sea fog rolled in and for a while obliterated even the close views.

There were quite a few people on the undulating paths, including a runner to whom we tried to sell the idea of going on Victoria's inaugural parkrun at 8 am on Saturday morning, and a chap called David with a dog called Oliver (that was easy to remember Dave O!) who proudly showed us a picture of the Barred Owl he had seen earlier. He's a 76 year old local who walks trails in this area several times a week.

We also saw some leafless green orchids - ID to follow, and a two foot long gopher snake. There were various seabirds around, lots of kelp in the shallows around the calm coastal waters, and a wasp that nipped Sue.

Oak Bay was our evening destination. We joined Lucy and Jonathan for a visit to the local market that takes place very close to their house once a month during the summer. My salmon burger was delicious.

Later, In a final bout of Rummicub, Lucy (a highly competitive individual) managed somehow to come out on top!

11.5 km walk with about 600 metres ascent, taking 5 hours.

Today's first four pictures were taken on our walk, the fifth is outside Lucy and Jonathan''s house, and the bottom two were taken at the market.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 6

Tuesday 8 August 2017

The Royal British Columbia Museum and a game

Sue went canoeing with Zachariah, whilst I went for a bike ride with Jonathan. As usual, the sun shone reddishly through the haze. It's a bit brighter today, even casting a few shadows. Yesterday we saw a deer as we ran past the golf course. It was looking very nonchalant today as we cycled past. There were no hummingbirds on view today though, unlike in the Butchart gardens yesterday. Nor did we see any of the harbour seals that were noticed yesterday.

After lunch, Lucy dropped the boys off for some canoe training and then left Sue and me outside the Natural History museum. Special exhibitions celebrated 'The Family' and a cancer victim - Terry Fox.

The permanent exhibits include a life like mammoth and rock pools teeming with life. There are constant references to climate change.

After dinner we picked up a couple of Cameron's friends on the way to see Victoria Harbour Cats against Kelowna Falcons at the Royal Athletic Park, in an important play off match. The game appears to be a version of rounders that's known locally as baseball. We had seats in the stadium but the ambience was more like that at stock car racing at Belle Vue than football at the City of Manchester stadium. An unexpected spectator, perched on a platform behind the floodlights, was an osprey.

Attendance: 1720 plus an osprey.
Cats 8 rounders - Falcons 2 rounders, after nine innings and over three hours.

17 km bike ride.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 5

Monday 7 August 2017

Butchart Gardens

A leisurely start saw us thanking Shak for his wonderful hospitality - we really enjoyed our time in Vancouver, then packing our bags and heading off to the Tsawassen ferry terminal for an hour and a half's ride on the massive and fairly full ferry to Vancouver Island. I think there should have been fine views, but these were obliterated by the smoke haze that gives a grey tinge to everything. The top picture is the best I could manage.

At least the sea was flat calm, so there was no chance of sea sickness. Despite the smog it has been t-shirt weather ever since we arrived. Without the smoke we would have had a series of red hot blue sky days. I think they have had a record period of around 45 days without rain. The grass is all very yellow, but I'm not aware of any water shortages.

Lunch was taken at a coffee house/lunch room in Brentwood Bay.

Then a short drive to Butchart Gardens, a great place that's over 100 years old. The rest of today's pictures are from there. It's a public holiday here, and very busy, but that didn't really detract from the pleasure of walking around thesee magnificent gardens.

A short drive found us at Lucy and Jonathan's home in Victoria, where we've enjoyed catching up with them and their sons, who my daughter Kate nannied for some 17 years ago.

Sue and I managed a 4 km dash along the seafront before enjoying some home cooking and a game of Rummicub. Leaving very little time to write this before entering the land of nod.

3 km walking, and a 4 km run.

Monday, 7 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 4

Sunday 6 August 2017

Bard on the Beach

A welcome lie-in was followed by a stressful visit to Enterprise Car Hire. Our car was hired for 54 days, but apparently the contract would have to be renewed after 30 days by way of a visit to an Enterprise depot - which at that point in our itinerary would mean a 400 mile round trip to Calgary. Shak's presence was useful as he regularly uses this branch of Enterprise. Eventually a second, manual contract was drawn up to come into force after 30 days.

The car is a black Toyota Camry - apparently a double upgrade. Rather larger than we'd have liked. Usual faffing with scratches etc, and as usual we missed some so will have to rely on photos if push comes to shove. Anyway, this vehicle is a fraction of the price of some quotes we got. Annual insurance bought in the UK to cover the excess has saved us over £500.

Eggs benedict at the Roadhouse Bakery were a most welcome brunch after spending that stressful hour at Enterprise.

Then it was back to the mansion (top picture) to try to work out the space (lack of) and access problems on this phone. Elimination of ES Explorer seems to have helped with the access I was being denied to various apps, and disabling Google+ and Dropbox, together with deletion of their files, seems to have created space for more photos. Deleting Anquet and Viewranger has also created space on my micro SD card, especially if I knew how to save photos directly to that card.

By mid afternoon we were ready to brave driving the Camry into Vancouver, where we parked at Kitsilano Beach and enjoyed ice creams and some beach volleyball.

Just around the corner, in Vanier Park, we lingered opposite a gay festival with bad music being held over the river. Passing boats, canoeists, boarders, cormorants, gulls and ducks kept us entertained. But not the music. Our view is pictured (middle). It would have been nice to see the mountains, but they are still hidden by smog.

A visit to 'Go Fish', an excellent chippie, provided a final interlude before today's dose of culture - Bard on the Beach - a competent performance of Much Ado About Nothing in a small temporary theatre, which neither Sue nor I could recall having seen before. It had been updated and adapted to be set in the 1950s. Today's final picture was taken at the curtain call.

6 km walking.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Canadian Adventure - Day 3

Saturday 5 August 2017

A parkrun, and a visit to Granville Island

6 km walking, 5 km parkrun

Shak kindly drove us to Richmond, where one of the few parkruns in Canada was hosting Run Number 38. A crowd of 42 runners duly assembled, including a convention of UK parkrun run directors. There were as many tourists as locals, from all corners of the UK. It was good to meet you folks.

It turned out to be a fast there and back course along a dyke beside the Middle Arm of the Frazer River. Sue managed to get within 10 seconds of her PB, and I was first in my age group. Very satisfying until I discovered I was the only runner in my age group, so I'm making do with a top ten finish, which is better than I'll ever manage in the UK in future...

Meanwhile we learnt that Andy Wright has at last managed to run 5 km in less than 21 minutes, albeit on Stretford's notoriously short course. Well done Andy!

We returned to the mansion in Surrey for a shower, then Shak zoomed us into Vancouver for an afternoon based on Granville Island. After that we got a ferry to the Vancouver Whitecaps football stadium and wandered up to the Chinese gardens for an informative tour under the tutelage of James. Lots of Yin and Yang. Then back to Granville Island and a short walk to meet Shakeel, Brad and Donna for a meal at the nearby Chi Modern Vietnamese restaurant.

Granville Island was crowded and hot, with a large, colourful market and some excellent buskers. The cement company had painted silos! It was quieter when we returned later.

After an excellent meal we took a stroll to a beach to reach a good position to enjoy a firework display with hundreds of thousands of others.

It seems an age since this morning's run.