Monday, November 20, 2017

The Legend of Munsen Creek

The dark and mysterious forest almost leans in near Munsen Creek Falls in Oregon...
Fog and forest in Oregon...
The title of this post is a nod to The Legend of Boggy Creek, a 70s-era cheesy pseudo-documentary about Bigfoot.

I'm not a believer in Sasquatch, but I would not have been surprised to encounter one on our hike to Munsen Creek Falls, not far from Pacific City in Oregon.

We were hiking a ravine. Tall trees on the hills to either side were mere silhouettes in the thick veil of fog that obscured everything. We could hear nothing -- not even birds -- in the indistinct forest. The idea that some sort of giant man-apes could be watching us from the gloom came up in our conversation.

The falls themselves couldn't be reached due to the fallen logs and slippery rocks that block access. We could only view them in the distance through the curtain of mist.

The falls are about 320 feet high and one of the tallest waterfalls on the Coast. On a sunny day, I'm sure they look beautiful and are often admired by local Bigfoots.

The falls through a curtain of mist...
The falls at Munsen Creek...


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Girl from Tatooine

Alien skies over Florence OR...
Standing under alien skies...
Although we had hoped to get as far south as the Oregon/ California border, the huge wildfires to the east of Brookings OR put an end to that idea.

The smoke drifted north and east. Combined with the sun, sky and sand, it produced this alien landscape that would not have looked out of place in a Star Wars movie.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sand bashing

Heading out to the dunes in Oregon....
Tearing up sand dunes in Oregon...
While in Florence OR my wife and I rented a couple of ATVs to tear up the dunes. We've done ATVs before in the jungles of Mexico. The advantage of sand dunes is that you're dry at the end of your adventure, compared to the jungle experience where you are often wet and/or caked in mud.

Heading out into the sand dunes...
Teeny-tiny ATVs...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sand surfing

Hands up, ass out... that's how you stay balanced on a sandboard.
She'll be coming down the mountain when she comes...
Pushing down the Oregon coast to the cute town of Florence, we were on the edge of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Sand surfing is a popular local sport. It's exactly what it sounds like... surfing down the sides of dunes on the fine taupe-coloured sand.

We took lessons from a pro who provided us with some very useful tips and information for staying on the board while going downhill.

We weren't always successful. If you wipe out -- see below -- you can end up with sand sticking to your head like powdered cinnamon on a Tim Horton's donut. We jokingly referred to this as Timbitting. You have to be Canadian to get the reference.

Dusted!
The hazards of a spill on the sand...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Perspective

On its way to Port Angeles the MV Coho is dwarfed by the Norwegian Sun.
Same ocean... different agendas...
The ferry MV Coho travels twice daily between Victoria, BC and Port Angeles in Washington state. It can carry 110 vehicles and up to 1000 passengers.

The cruise ship Norwegian Sun behind the Coho can carry nearly twice as many passengers. Which doesn't seem like much when you compare the size difference between them.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Neuvo Vallarta

Opulence along a Mexican waterfront...
Waiting for company...
Once again, my wife and I are on the road, this time to Hualtulco in southern Mexico.

Last year at this time we were not far from Puerto Vallarta. Most days we hiked the ten minute walk to the beach from our resort. Along the way we passed a line of gated luxury villas, including this one with an eye-catching sculpture in the circular driveway. We never did see any sign of the occupants during our entire stay.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Walking with sharks

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea...
Deep blue...
Newport in Oregon describes its Oregon Coast Aquarium as world-class.

One of its most popular exhibits is the "Passages of the Deep"... a series of Plexiglas tunnels through which you can watch undersea animals all around you. What's interesting is that the tanks were originally part an enclosure built for the orca whale known as Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy. Keiko's full story is, unfortunately, a sad one.

I was bothered that the shark tank didn't have any natural landscaping... just this big featureless tank filled with sharks, rays and smaller fish that could do nothing but swim around in endless circles. Maybe there was a good reason for this that I couldn't guess at, since all the other tanks were fitted with natural plants and rock formations.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Otter Rock

Another of Oregon's excellent surf beaches...
Another excellent surf beach along Oregon's coast...
Just down the road from The Devil's Punchbowl in Oregon, is Otter Rock, another excellent surf location.

Take a look at that fabulous beach and that beautiful water. Replace the trees with jungle foliage and you could be looking at some tropical stretch of sand.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Secret identity is secret

Raybans... for when the day is bright and the Knight is Dark...
So, you're a superhero and you decide you just wanna chill with the Halloween crowds at the Wicked Victoria event. But how to mingle without being recognized and mobbed by your adoring public?

Put on a pair of slick Raybans, of course!

Or, you could... just TAKE OFF THE SUPER-SUIT.

Just sayin'...

Monday, October 30, 2017

A-maze-ing

The stalks grow tall at Gayley's Farm.
The corn grows tall at Gayley's Farm...
Last weekend, the family took our young nephew to local Gayley's Farm for their annual Corn Maze of Horror and Crazy Train Ride.

The day was appropriately rainy and grey. As we wound our way through the maze, birds -- mostly crows -- were everywhere to take advantage of the free food growing "on the vine".

A pumpkin stands watch over the crowds below...
Dark skies...

Friday, October 27, 2017

Coast line

Oregon's dramatic coastline...
Encroaching cliffs threaten seaside homes...
Not far from The Devil's Punchbowl -- mentioned in my previous post -- was a lookout with this magnificent view of Oregon's coastline. The Devil's Punchbowl is the visible point of land that you see in the top part of the photo. For two days in a row we watched local pods of humpback whales feeding near the kelp beds close to shore.

If I lived in one of those homes that you can see, I'd be very nervous. They are very close to those seaside cliffs. I expect that some of them will have to be abandoned at some point in the future.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: The Ghosts of Halloween Past

Today's post is a highlight reel of some of my past blog entries -- along with artwork -- related to this most scary time of the year. Enjoy...

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Devil's Punchbowl

Seawater fills up The Devil's Punchbowl.
Water fills The Devil's Punchbowl.
Continuing on with our Satanic theme in Oregon, The Devil's Punchbowl is a seaside geological formation north of Newport. It is thought to have been formed by the collapse of the roof of a sea cave.

As the tide rises and falls, it fills the bowl with churning sea water through the former cave opening.

The interior of The Devil's Punchbowl...
The dramatic interior of the punchbowl...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Tent city memorial

The nrewly installed children's park outside the court house...
Where squatters once lived is now a peaceful park...
Out and about a few weeks ago, I stopped by the lawn of Victoria's court house to see the new playground that was installed several months ago.

It's a far cry from the squalid tent city of homeles people that had sprung up here a couple of years ago. The province spent millions of dollars on new housing and services for them. The site was repaired and a children's playground installed, probably as a means to prevent such a situation from developing again.

That said, for all the money and effort spent, tent cities continue to pop up throughout the Greater Victoria area. Nobody in authority wants to admit that a big part of our homeless problem is actually a symptom of the drug problem, and that a lot of these people are showing up from other jurisdictions to take advantage of the nicer weather and government handouts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fancy float homes

The posh palaces of Westbay Marine Village...
The posh palaces of Esquimalt's Westbay Marine Village...

I've featured the float homes of Fishermans Wharf often in this blog, but there is another float home community nearby in the town of Esquimalt.

The luxury homes at Westbay Marine Village are considerably upscale than the ones at Fishermans Wharf and they command correspondingly higher prices on the market. It's also a gated community... they are not so welcoming of visitors as Victoria's version.

Monday, October 16, 2017

We stand on guard for thee...

A Canadian warship on patrol...
Canadian warship on patrol...
On a windy day off Victoria's waterfront, a Canadian Patrol Frigate (CPF) goes through its paces...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Devil's Creek

The suspension bridge over Devil's Creek...
75-foot high waterfalls spill into Devil's Creek...
I'm not sure why, but a lot of natural landmarks along our Oregon route were designated "Devil's this" or Devil's that".

On this particular day, we hiked in to see the suspension bridge and the 7-story high waterfalls at Devil's Creek.

Sunlight through the trees near Devil's Creek...
Sunlight streams through
the forest near Devil's Creek...



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: The Lady-in-Red says adieu

If you've read this blog or my previous one (Alternate Tales from the West Coast Cafe), you'll be familiar with The Lady in Red who watched over Victoria's Fishermans Wharf from above.

Over the years, I took many photos of her in different outfits. I never wanted to ask her caretakers about her, preferring her origins and purpose to remain mysterious. In my mind, I imagined her as a guardian angel looking after visitors to the community.

Some weeks ago, I was upset to see that she had disappeared from her customary spot on high. I made it a mission to return to see if she had truly disappeared, or was just off somewhere getting "cosmetic surgery".

About ten days ago, I returned to Fishermans Wharf and was disappointed to see that she was well and truly gone. The houseboat that had previously been her home for years was freshly painted, suggesting new ownership. I guess the Lady in Red wasn't welcome anymore.

Somewhat disappointed, I decided to wander the jetties for other photos opportunities.

Surprise! The Lady wasn't gone... she had found a new home (with a new ensemble, doncha know) at the end of the jetty outside the door of another houseboat.

The Lady has a new address...
Lady on the move...
I'm glad that she'll still be around for awhile yet, but I've decided to "let her go" so to speak... she won't be making any more appearances in this blog.

Now that she has been discovered by tourists who are posing with her at her new location, I feel like our special connection has come and gone.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Bigfeet

North America's mysterious Sasquatch...
Sasquatch is an ancient expression for 'marketing opportunity'...
Tourist shops in Oregon and Washington states capitalize on the Sasquatch legend, pedaling coffee mugs, key chains, postcards, snow globes and similar stuff that feature the mythical forest dweller of the Pacific Northwest.

My wife made it her mission to take as many Bigfoot photos as she could on our trip. I can't help feeling that the one on the right above is just a little bit racist.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Doppelganger

The former tourist attraction on Victoria's inner harbour...
-- Victoria's Undersea Gardens
photo: Ryan Bushby / Wikipedia
Pacific Undersea Gardens was a fixture of Victoria's inner harbour for more than 40 years until it closed in 2013. It allowed visitors to descend below the water to observe some of the local sea life in their natural habitat.

During our Oregon trip, we were strolling Newport's waterfront tourist district when we experienced deja vu. There was Victoria's former tourist attraction attached to a jetty.

Newport's version of Undersea Gardens...
Newport's version of Undersea Gardens
Well, not so fast...

Despite the similarities, Newport's version has been around for twenty-five years or so. The connection between the two appears to be that they were both owned by Victoria's Oak Bay Marine Group.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Those Daring Young Men in their Flying Machines

A mix of man, machine and kite flies over the Lincoln beach.
Man, machine and kite come together to create colour and noise...
After Pacific City, we pushed further south to the cities of Lincoln and Newport.

Lincoln is also known as a kite-flying mecca. On the breezy day that we went to their main beach, I brought along my 5m kite. I was setting it up when the buzz of this machine passing overhead caught everyone's attention.

Our intrepid flyer wasn't very high, and I wondered at the legality and safety of a contraption like this flying over a public beach... but, it WAS fun to see.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Hello wave(s)

Heading out with surf board in hand...
The waves at Manzanita beckon...
While staying near Cannon Beach, we drove down the coast to try surfing near Manzanita. Oregon's coast is a surfer's wet dream... many of the beaches are ideal for beginners as the waves are regular and well-spaced.

Here on Vancouver Island, the surf can be chaotic, making it hard for beginners to even get past the break point to the good waves.

Short Sand Creek beach near Manzanita...
The protected bay at Short Sand Creek beach...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pacific City

Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda, OR...
The REAL Haystack Rock?
Pacific City, further down the Oregon coast, is home to Oregon's 'other' Haystack Rock off Cape Kiwanda. The beach is popular with surfers and beachcombers.

The far end of the beach at Cape Kiwanda...
The dune at Cape Kiwanda...
At one end of the beach is a huge sand dune which attracts hikers, sand surfers and even the periodic para-glider. That speck in the photo below is someone climbing to the top... that's how high it is.

One tall sand dune!
A small mountain of sand...
I have their live beach cam bookmarked to visit whenever I need my dose of Oregon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sculpted in sand

Neil Young, sculpted in sand...
Canadian singer/songwriter Neil Young
Taking a brief break from Oregon, these are photos from summer's sand sculpture festival in Parksville. The theme this year was Canada 150.

Neil (not so much anymore) Young is a Canadian icon. He was part of the band Buffalo Springfield back in 1967 -- 50 years ago!! Their song For What It's Worth is the go-to soundtrack song for nearly any modern movie set in the 60s trying to establish its era-specific/anti-establishment cred.

I can't remember the specifics of the sculpture below, only that I was impressed at the intricate details carved into the face. Aside from the fine wrinkles, notice the 'highlights' carved into the eyes, reminiscent of studio portrait lights.

Details of a Parksville sand sculpture...
Tiny details...



Monday, September 25, 2017

Beaches beautiful

Cannon Beach at sunset...
Sunset over Cannon Beach...
Oregon is blessed with an entire coast of beautiful beaches and the best of them have to be the beaches of the neighbouring communities of Seaside and Cannon Beach.

As I first mentioned in this blog two years ago, Cannon Beach has been rated as one of the 100 most beautiful places on Earth. The beach is dominated by Haystack Rock which is accessible at low tides and is home to all sorts of sea birds.

Oregon's Haystack Rock...
Haystack Rock in the distance

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.