Friday, September 22, 2017

High on Astoria

Astoria, Oregon is located across the mouth of the Columbia River from Washington state. The 125-foot tall Astoria Column sits on a hill overlooking the city with 360 degrees in of the surrounding hills and the river.

The outside of the tower is decorated with murals depicting the history of the region.

You can buy small cheap balsa wood gliders from their gift shop which you can launch from the top of the tower.

Astoria seen from the top of the Astoria Column...
Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Big wheels keep on turning

That sinking feeling...
Where's your 4-wheel drive now?
The beach along the Long Beach peninsula has been described as "the longest drivable beach in the world". The sand is so densely pack along the shoreline that trucks and SUVs routinely drive it.

A local told me that the shoreline is considered a Washington State highway. I have no idea if that is true, but it doesn't mean that it's a good idea to drive it.

Unlike snow, a wheel spinning on sand will dig itself in deeper and deeper as the driver of this truck learned one early morning.

No amount of 4-wheel drive can help you at this point.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Long Beach

Delicate kites are lifted up by the stiff breezes at Long Beach, Washington...
A kite conga line at Long Beach, Washington...
Our first stop for a couple of nights was Long Beach, Washington, near the Oregon border.

As it turned out, there was a kite festival happening. We spent the day at a very windy beach watching kites spin, soar, dance and even fight(!) in the sky over the main beach.

Kites of many colours over Long Beach, Washington...
Flags and kites flutter in the stiff breeze.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Oregon Bound

Dawn creeps up on Victoria's Ogden Point...
The sun rises over Victoria's Ogden Point.
The summer wildfires in our home province of BC derailed our vacation plans to camp throughout the province. At the last minute we decided to return to Oregon. It wasn't a hard decision as we had a great travel vacation there two years ago.

So it was that we found ourselves on a ferry from Vancouver Island to the state of Washington at dawn.

On the first day, we drove hard to get down to Oregon as fast as we could. Along the way we passed through Forks, Washington which achieved a measure of fame fifteen years ago or so as the location for the vampire-themed Twilight books and movies.

Passing through Forks, Washington...
Sporx in Forks...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Lady in Red no longer?

Where has The Lady in Red gone?
Has my mystery woman vanished for good?
Recently, during a visit to Victoria's Fishermans Wharf I was ready to take my usual photo of The Lady in Red. She's appeared often in this blog and my previous one.

I was honestly shocked when there was no sign of her, or even her chair. 😢

It's the first time in years that she hasn't been there to silently watch over the many visitors who walk by beneath her, many of them unaware of her.

I will stop by again this fall to see if she has returned. I'll be disappointed to know that she has gone for good.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pink-y

Pink flowers glow in the sunlight behind them...
Pink flowers catch the rays of the rising sun...
Years ago, our elderly neighbour -- a sweet Spanish lady, now deceased -- was going to toss out a small plant in a container that was struggling to live.

I offered to care for it over the course of the winter, and the following spring I planted it in her yard next to the fence that divided our properties.

Over the next few years it blossomed into this large colourful collection of pink blooms that last nearly the entire summer. We have new neighbours now and we're hoping that they don't remove this plant... it's a living memorial to our good friend.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Paradise (soon to be) lost?

A cruise ship makes its way up the Inner Passage of Vancouver Island...
A cruise ship makes its way past Parksville's waterfront...
A couple of posts ago, I noted that the Beach Club resort in Parksville may soon have a new neighbour in the form of a proposed mix of commercial and residential units on the abandoned property next door.

My wife and I have been owners at the Beach Club for years. One of the pleasures of our unit is being able to sit on our balcony and watch cruise ships pass by on the passage of water between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

If the new proposal is approved, it's possible that we may lose these views which would make us sad indeed. 😢

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Doorway to ??

An intriguing door greets visitors in the middle of the forest on Mayne Island...
You unlock this door with the key of imagination...
On nearby Mayne Island, you'll find this mysterious door in the middle of a forest...

A half-rusted fish on the door... what does it mean?
An intriguing element on the door...

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reflections

Parksville's Beach Club resort reflected in the tidal pools of the main beach...
Early morning tidal pools reflect the Beach Club resort in Parksville.
An early morning view of Parksville's Beach Club resort... In the distance, you can see Mount Arrowsmith which dominates the landscape of Vancouver Island's Oceanside district.

What you don't see in this photo is the clapped out and shuttered motel beside the resort's tower. The unsightly property has been sitting untouched for years, but it may soon get a face lift.

Locals don't appear to be happy.

When the Beach Club was constructed about seven years ago, it was -- and still is -- the tallest structure along the waterfront. At the time Parksville residents resented the loss of their ocean and mountain water views. However, they grudgingly accepted the boardwalk that the Beach Club builders financed. Today, the boardwalk is extremely popular.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Life as art

I always enjoy (and envy) people who are able to successfully incorporate art into their everyday lives.

I recently came across this home with its dramatic contrasting shades of red and green. Even the flowers and the fabric covering the settee on the veranda have been chosen to add to the impact.

Or, judging from the strand of lights along the roof line, maybe the homeowners are just big fans of Christmas.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Oregon Redux

A sea stack glows in the morning sunrise of the Oregon coast.
"It's a beautiful day."
The wildfires that have burned through BC this past summer have forced my wife and I to ditch our original plans to tour the southern routes of the province.

Instead, we've decided to return to Oregon like we did two years ago when the photo above first appeared in this blog. At that time the fires burning in Oregon and northern California had left much of the state shrouded in smoke.

This year there are fires again burning throughout Oregon -- thank you for that global warming! 😠 -- but less so than BC. So our plan is to stick to the coast and get further south than we did last time. We may even make it to northern Cali, who knows?

Monday, August 28, 2017

All style, no speed...

An eye-catching car for sale in Victoria...
Not a car for the shy types...
A Citroen 2CV waits for a new owner on a Victoria side street...

Google tells me that the 2CV has an engine size of only 375 cc which is smaller than a lot of motorcycles. As a result you can't use this car to go anywhere fast... it's top speed is 65 kph, barely faster than my little 50 cc scooter.

But, that will give pedestrians more time to admire the colourful paint job as a you whiz wheeze past them...

Friday, August 25, 2017

"Life...uh, finds a way..."

A single tree grows defiantly in a hostile environment...
Plant your flag wherever you can...
The title of this post is a quote from Jurassic Park uttered by Jeff Goldblum as mathematician Ian Malcolm.

It nicely encapsulates the situation of this isolated single tree growing out of the remains of an old log upended in a Vancouver Island lake.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Halo

A sea-dog frames early morning walkers near Tofino...
Beach combers framed by a white rainbow near Tofino, BC...
First published Jul 5, 2014...

I wasn't able to get any photos of the recent partial solar eclipse that crossed Canada coast to coast, so this past photo of unusual atmospherics will have to do instead.

Technically, this is known as a fog bow. It occurs when the sun is at your back as you face a bank of fog. Wikipedia tells me that mariners call them 'sea-dogs' which is a more colourful, if ambiguous expression.

This was taken during an early morning stroll along Tofino's Mackenzie beach.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Colourful chalk art on Victoria's Moss St...
Art is where you make it...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Exclusive

You're not welcome here unless you're one-half of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice...
I guess Ted and Carol aren't welcome either...
During a recent outing to Salt Spring Island, we came to this sign at the end of a road that we were exploring.

What makes Bob and Alice so special that they are welcome while the rest of us have to shove off?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Incinerator Rock

Long Beach's Incinerator Rock...
No Statue of Liberty here...
Last month I saw the movie War for the Planet of the Apes. Much of the movie was filmed in BC, including Long Beach here on Vancouver Island.

Incinerator Rock is a Long Beach landmark. My wife and I have surfed this part of the beach many times. You can see it make an appearance in the movie in this Youtube video.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Don't look too closely...

That is scrap metal tacked to a pole, right?
If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise.
When I first came across this art exhibit in the gloomy forest floor of Tofino's Botanical Gardens, I had a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" moment... I thought these posts were topped with skins of some sort.

Turns out they were just chunks of twisted and rusting scrap metal. I think. To be honest, I didn't confirm that.

Friday, August 11, 2017

VAN-couver Island memorial

The decrepit remains of a VW bus at Tofino's Botanical Gardens...
A memorial to simpler times...
The remains of the first hippie-filled VW van to reach Tofino can be found being overtaken by the local Botanical Gardens...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Banana float


Who doesn't love a good deal? I've been on the lookout for a portable watercraft of some sort that my wife and I can take on the road.

I posted an ad on our local used goods website with a plea to anyone who had a boat to sell. A very nice woman named Joan responded and sold me this inflatable kayak for a mere $150. It normally sells for a $1000!

My wife and I tested it recently in Saanich Inlet and it passed with flying (yellow) colours. Quick to set up, easy to paddle... and one nifty feature it has is clear panels in the floor of the boat allowing you to see what's passing by underneath as you paddle.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bone Dry

Dehydrated to the extreme...
Dehydrated to the extreme!
Much of our province is in flames right now as wildfires rage across the central and southern parts. The smoke has been drifting westward. As a result skies over Victoria have been hazy, resulting in a soft orange sunlight throughout the day.

On days like this, it's best to do what our little friend here at Fishermans Wharf has done and stay inside in the shade.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Smoke on the water...

A dim sun rises over Swan Lake in Saanich, BC...
... Fire in the sky...
The smoke from wildfires raging in the BC interior has drifted west, resulting in haze and a sun that glows orange throughout the day.

At this point, we are re-thinking our summer vacay plans. Originally, we were going to drive and camp across southern BC. But with so many parks and roads closing, and smoke everywhere, suddenly a return to Oregon is looking much more appealing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Stones and waves

A gathering of inuksuks...
A gathering of inuksuks...
Visitors along a Long Beach trail have left a monument of stone Inuksuks along one of the massive rocks on the beach.

Columns of rocks created by beachcombers...
What beachcombers do for fun...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rocks and waves

The view from Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail...
Rocks and waves along the Wild Pacific Trail...
The view from Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail looking across the shoreline...

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tissue issues?

That's a lot of schnozz...
One big sniffer...
This humourous sculpture featured in Oak Bay's ArtsAlive art installations is "What the Nose Knows" by sculptor Ronald Simmer.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Gatekeeper

Oak Bay's The Gatekeeper...
The imposing Gatekeeper...
During the summer, the nearby Oak Bay hosts ArtsAlive, a collection of art pieces that are distributed throughout the city.

This year, the most dramatic of these pieces by artist David Hunwick was entitled "The Gatekeeper".

Somewhere between the living and the dead...
Somewhere between life and death...
Details of The Gatekeeper...
The fine details of The Gatekeeper

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sandcut Beach

Neon green cave plant life...
So green it glows...
Sandcut Beach -- about 75 minutes to the west of Victoria -- features some shallow caves that are alternately exposed and hidden by the changing tides. The roofs of the caves are lined with this bright green carpet of... well, some sort of plant life.

Water seeps through and down the sandstone cliffs to flow to the ocean, creating these abstract patterns in the fine sand.

A film of water gently etches the beach...
Beach sand etched by a film of water...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Beaches

Sandcut beach stretches off into the distance...
View from the top of Sandcut's waterfall...
No, not the sappy 80s chick flick...

To the west of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island are a series of beaches that collectively make up the 47 km long Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The terrain of the beaches varies from fine sand to gravel to fields of barnacle-covered boulders. A few of them feature waterfalls that get quite spectacular during the rainy winter months.

None of them are suitable for surfing in the ways that the beaches of Tofino and Ucluelet are although I did get a few short runs in at China Beach recently. Mostly I played on the water with my paddle board, periodically accompanied by a curious seal or sea otter sneaking up behind me in the kelp beds.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Buskin' it...

Dancers, jugglers and acrobats...
Jugglers, dancers and acrobats... plus fire!
Last weekend the six day Victoria Buskers Festival wrapped up. We saw about six acts, including long-time returning favourites Les Vitamines (above lower left).

There was some controversy over the event this year. In past years, it was a two-week long event with many more acts spread out over the main harbour waterfront.

However, the organizer of that event had some sort of falling out with his business sponsors and Victoria city which led to his festival leaving town and re-locating to the interior city of Kamloops. It won't be back.

Instead the city and businesses threw their weight behind a new scaled-down event.

It definitely wasn't of the same calibre of previous events. There were fewer acts, spread out over venues that were separated by a few blocks, forcing you to hussle from one show to the next to see the good acts. Nor were the chosen venues physically ideal for crowds of spectators.

Hopefully, the new iteration improves for next year...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Manic Monday: Blow me down!

Not the landing that this para-glider had hoped for...
Only his pride was hurt...
Scootering on a fine sunny day along the Victoria waterfront, my wife and I came across this scene... a para-glider over the local beach got caught in winds that blew him ashore and into a power line. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt although he did seem embarrassed by the attention he attracted from passing motorists and pedestrians.

It took a fire truck to come and unhook his lines from the overhead light. No word on whether he was facing any sort of fine or charges for his misfortune.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gorge rapids

White water spills out of the upper Gorge in Saanich, BC...
The churning waters of the Gorge waterway... 
I've been looking for opportunities to practice my stand up paddle surfing skills. Inspiration caused me to consider the Gorge waterway as a potential source of wave action.

Most of the time, the water along this river-like sliver of ocean is calm and inviting. However, under the local Gorge-Tillicum bridge, the waterway narrows and can produce whitewater rapids as the water flows out of upper Portage Inlet at low low tide.

I went to check them out and was disappointed to see that they are completely unsuitable for practicing any sort of paddle board sport. The water is turbulent, full of eddies and whirlpools that don't mimic ocean waves in any way. Even the most experienced paddler would likely find themselves getting tossed into the churning, heaving water and facing a watery death.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pride Parade 2017

Highlights from Victoria's 2017 Pride Parade...
2017 Pride Parade highlights...
This past weekend's Pride Parade was the biggest one to date. The usual faces were in attendance, including flamboyant regular Attila Basset who went for a simpler costume this year... one that didn't require its own set of wheels to transport.

I remember simpler times when it was a parade that celebrated the gay and bi- communities. Then the transgender crowd become part of the event.

This year marked a sort of gender-bending free-for-all where dozens of new 'genders' are now required to be recognized in Canadian law, each with their own pronouns such as zie/hir/ey/em, etc. It's now possible for someone to identify as 70% female/ 30% male, whatever that means. In times like this I identify as 'extraterrestrial' because I'm pretty sure I'm not on Earth anymore.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Post-parade

Spectators watch the Canada Day Parade go by in Parksville, BC...
Canada Day Parade spectators
Parksville Canada Day parade...
Parade floats are cheered on by the crowds...
Parksville on Vancouver Island celebrated the recent Canada Day with a parade. Being a small community without a big budget, the parade was big on emergency vehicles whooping it up with their sirens.

Still it didn't stop the crowd from enthusiastically cheering and waving. In fact, the parade was so long that one little girl lost interest and got down into the gravel to play.

Parade burn out...
Dealing with the parade burn out...



Friday, July 7, 2017

Sally's Cafe

Qualicum Beach standing in for Chesapeake Shores...
Downtown Qualicum Beach stands in for Chesapeake Shores...
Last year at our up island condo I briefly met actor Treat Williams. He was staying at our resort as part of the cast of Hallmark Channel's Chesapeake Shores. Season 1 of the series was filmed in and around the Oceanside area of Vancouver Island, standing in for fictional Chesapeake Shores in Maryland.

It's a rather tame night time soap -- no evil twins, scheming wives or crooked businessmen -- but my wife and and I eventually enjoyed watching it just to see the familiar locations. One of the most prominent locations on the show is Sally's Cafe, the social hub of the small town. It even turns up in the show's opening credits.

In reality, the cafe is the former Chamber of Commerce building of nearby Qualicum Falls. During a recent stay at our condo, we stopped by to take a photo. I had always assumed that the interior scenes were filmed elsewhere so I was surprised when we peaked through the windows to see all the props set up to film the interior scenes as well.

They've just finished filming the second season of the continuing adventures of the O'Brien clan which should start airing later this summer.

By the way, the series makes a great drinking game if you want to try it. Every time you hear a main character heave a sigh, down a drink. You'll be tanked before the final credits role...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Return to Otherworld

Otherworld art installation...
The great and powerful Zardoz...
I re-discovered this old photo in my archives... a record of my attendance at Otherworld on Vancouver Island five years ago.

It's one of numerous Burning Man ancillary events across North America. I went at the insistence of a friend who was a regular at this annual event. At the time, it took place in the forest on private land near Shawnigan Lake, but has since re-located further up island to Bamfield.

If I had to describe the event, it was sort of a cross between Bartertown (see the film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome for reference) and Woodstock.

There were two distinct groups who were there. The first group were young adults there to just sit around and socialize, dance to the techno music, and do a lot of drugs. That was most of them it seemed.

The second group were the talented artists who put together art installations such as this one. Or people with entertaining skills such as fire spinners. I would have preferred to see more of this group.

I really couldn't get into the spirit of it. Many of the people that I met struck me as self-absorbed and vacuous. It was an interesting experience but not enough that I wanted to repeat it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mixed messages...

Three skulls mean "Keep Away!"
Esther, Hector and Axel...
This small house is found on Tofino's main street. It was clear that the owner didn't want cars parking on the street in front of his property, but he managed to make his point with a bit of humour.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Not so fantastic plastic

Your grandchildren's grandchildren will see this...
It will last long enough for your grandchildren's grandchildren to see..
Many ancient civilizations that have disappeared have left behind traces of their existence. Pyramids, catacombs, the Sphinx, coliseums...

In a future time -- maybe sooner than later -- when our world is just another dead planet in a solar system full of them, visiting extraterrestrials may learn of our existence via the plastic that we left behind.

As a result of our throwaway society, plastic infects every bit of our globe. Micro-plastics fill the ocean and are making their way up the food chain. Recently, the beaches of Henderson Island, a remote island off South America located 5000 miles away from the nearest civilization, were discovered to contain an estimated 37.7 million items of debris together weighing 17.6 tonnes. The wall of garbage -- carried to the island via ocean currents -- is killing off the local sea turtles that can no longer access the beach to lay their eggs.

Separately, photographer Chris Jordan has documented the sad deaths of albatrosses on Midway Island in the Pacific, twitching the last of their lives away as they starve. Their stomachs are full of ocean-borne plastic bits that they have mistaken for food.

This display at Tofino's Botanical Gardens is a testament to the durability of plastic and styofoam. It's a collection of the debris that poured into the ocean following Japan's earthquake of 2011. It floated all the way across the Pacific Ocean to wash up on the shores of Vancouver Island in the two years following the disaster.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Can't you READ?!

Everywhere a sign...
Take me down to the Paradox City,
Where the pot is green and the signs are witty...
-- with apologies to Guns'n'Roses
Seen at the Tofino Botanical Gardens...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Art is where you make it...

A bit of on-the-spot art on a Vancouver Island beach...
Somewhere... beyond the sea,
She's there... watching for me...
-- Beyond the Sea
Improvised beach art on a Vancouver Island beach...

Friday, June 23, 2017

The golden hour

Mother and daughter play in the day's dying light...
A mother and daughter share quality time at the perfect end of the day..
In photography, the golden hour refers to those hours immediately after sunrise and before sunset. They are considered the best time to capture photos because of the warm light.

In Tofino, locals and visitors congregate on Mackenzie Beach with wine glasses in hand to say farewell to the sun at the end of the day.

The girl who held the sun...
Not gonna let the sun go down on her...