Saturday, October 30, 2010

Left the Island


Luckily, blogging has no deadlines, or I would be very overdue for this post.CIMG2338

I set a new record for getting on to the ferry at Swartz Bay.  I was lying in bed in the McDonald Park campground checking for messages, weather forecasts, and ferry schedules on my iPhone.  While still lying in bed at 0823 I decided to see if I could make it onto the 9 AM ferry.  After a quick feeding of Hailey and a cup of coffee while the walls were coming in, I made it to the ferry terminal and was in the lineup 20 minutes later!  In 30 minutes we were loaded on the ferry and on the way.  I decided there was no better time to send in my retirement notice to the employer!

Fortunately, there were some photo ops on the ferry, otherwise this would be a very short post!


The weather cams and road reports were fair for the highways to the east, so we took the toll-less Coquihalla.

Snow levels were just above the road at the summit of the pass.



After a night spent in Revelstoke, it was up and over Roger’s Pass.  The snow level was also just barely above the elevation of the road, but the roads were bare and dry.

CIMG2358Every now and then, I would see a chunk of frozen snow or ice on the road surface, like it had fallen off a passing truck.  I was concerned that this was a harbinger of worse conditions ahead, but I made it all the way back to Alberta with good roads.  Apparently Saskatchewan had been having storm conditions, so I suspect that was the origin.

Back in Lake Louise for a few days, surviving sub-freezing temperatures at night, while I shredded files at work and cleaned out my desk.

As usual, Hailey is stressed by the constant travel.


Next, off to my house in Sundre to organize things for my southern departure in the very near future.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting Tired – at Walmart

Sometimes there are advantages to camping at Walmart, and this is one of these times.

My tire adventures continue.  After a day spent in and around Nanaimo, I noticed another low tire on the same side as the last flat tire.  I pumped the tire up with my air compressor, but it still lost half it’s pressure in a few hours ;-(

I must have driven over something sharp somewhere on the logging road or around the Horne Lakes Campground that got both tires at the same time.

It was a Sunday and the tire centre was not open when I first checked in the morning, but they were open later so I dropped the tire off for repair.  Unfortunately, they deemed it not repairable, with a cut in the sidewall.  A quick trip across the parking lot to get the spare, and they installed it on the aluminum rim, while the non-fixed tire was put on the back as an emergency spare, since it still holds air for a while.

Of course, I forgot to take any photos of the whole operation.  This time, I used the truck jack to lift the trailer for the operation instead of the blocks.CIMG2321

Fortunately, Hailey decided she would pose for some photos to fill all the empty space in this post.

Hanging out in the back seat of the truck.


Watching the Nanaimo nightlife out the window.


Napping. CIMG2322

And having a serious fight with a toy she got from the late Ms S, a very special cat who recently passed on.

Pics of Ms S on our Alaska trip last year.

image image image

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Hailey checking out a crow sitting on the back of the truck.CIMG2336

After this we’re heading back to the south end of the island to visit some more friends before heading back to Alberta.

Friday, October 22, 2010

East Central Island Wanderings

After a few days of ‘driveway camping’ in Courtenay, it was time to head a bit south, catching up on a few odds n ends along the way, like fuel and propane.

The Horne Lake Caves provincial park looked like a good place to camp and explore, so I turned west off the island highway to check it out.  The pavement soon ended and the potholes began on the predominantly logging road.  My backroads mapbook showed a few lakeshore campsites on Horne Lake, so that’s where I was headed.  Unfortunately, the provincial park has no camping at all, and one of the regional park campsites was secured by a huge gate. CIMG2305

I wish someone in BC Parks would tack a ‘closed’ sign on their highway park signs, especially when the closed campground is several kilometers or more off the main route.  Parks Canada is notorious for closing campgrounds and facilities early, but at least they are good at putting ‘closed’ signs up before you drive in to them!  Listen up, BC and Regional Parks people.

I carried on past, looking for a lakeshore forest service (?) campsite, but the logging road soon got a bit more rustic for a 5th wheel and signs on the open gates said they could be closed and locked at any time without notice!

Since I was there, I hiked up to the entrance of the single cave in the park that was open and accessible.  It looked pretty dark (!), wet, narrow, muddy, and I did not have proper lights or equipment, so I left it for another time.  During the summer months, guided tours are available in a variety of the caves.CIMG2302CIMG2303CIMG2301CIMG2300

Eventually, I returned to the main Horne Lake Regional Park campsite, which was pretty much deserted, but open with a reduced fare of $10 plus hst.


The campground is located on a point of land between the lake and the Qualicum river, with some sites in heavy timber, and some out in the open.  I chose the latter, so I could set out satellite dishes if desired, as well as for the view.  The view down the lake was very nice, and the morning fog burning off made for some good photo ops, especially after a night with a full moon and a campfire.


Unfortunately, or luckily, depending on your point of view, I heard one of the trailer tires going rapidly flat just as I was setting up.  It was a good time as any to see if the spare tire actually fit and had air in it!  As planned for this type of occasion, no jack was necessary to raise the tire; I simply drove onto some blocks with the other tandem wheel till the rear one was off the ground.  The spare had air and fit, but I was still glad I had my air compressor with me anyway.

Next day at the OK Tire shop in Parksville, I used the same wood blocks to aid the shop in replacing the patched tire.

Got a bit of a propane problem to figure out.  I have two 30 lb tanks, one on either side of the rig, with a self-switching regulator arrangement.  Unfortunately, it claims the far tank is out of gas even when it is full.  The tanks all work fine, but I have to manually move the tanks to the other side to get the gas out of them.  I guess I will have to start replacing hoses and regulators till the problem is eliminated.  In the meantime, I just haul the tanks to the side that works.CIMG2313CIMG2315

OK, I know that Rick and Paulette are camping nearby in the trendy Surfside RV park in their shiny new rig!  Perhaps I will have to track them down for a coffee in the next day or two!

Hailey continues to enjoy the rolling camping adventure!


   Found this large tree growing in the campground that started on an old stump, and now is completely draped over the old stump!CIMG2309       

A couple portions of the Horne Lake road are rather narrow, where a few of these ‘pebbles’

CIMG2318 CIMG2319 intruding on the travel surface.  Might be interesting in the dark with a high rig!

Good to see Wandering Willy has started to wander south again, and I know Al is packing and planning for his departure as well.

After I get back to Alberta and straighten out a few things (like work), I’ll be doing a final re-pack and heading south as well.  Can’t wait.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Island Zigzagging

Map picture

The last post had us half way across the island from Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan.  The roadside spot was adequate, but lots of logging and industrial traffic in the early morning.CIMG2275The road is basically all paved, but there was a 6km detour on rough gravel logging road while a bridge was being repaired or replaced.  Soon we were out at Lake Cowichan, where a couple of provincial park locations were checked out.

CIMG2276The the community of Lake Cowichan I came across this kiosk that said it was the western terminus of the Trans Canada Trail!CIMG2279A couple of nights were spent camped on the driveway of a friend in Qualicum Beach, then he and I headed back across the island to the west coast at Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino, where another couple of our friends live and work.

In typical National Parks fashion, the only campground in the park was already closed for the season, in spite of warm sunny weather and a big surf competition happening nearby.


We found a nice private campground site with an ocean view that was not closed.

We spent some time on the beach watching the surfers and beach combers.    CIMG2287 CIMG2282 And we walked around on the waterfront area in Tofino.CIMG2283 CIMG2284CIMG2286I stuck Hailey in my jacket and smuggled her by all the loose dogs on the beach, to a spot where she could enjoy her first west coast beach experience.CIMG2288CIMG2289After that she was tired and had to have a cat-nap on the way home.CIMG2281Next, it was back across the island and a bit north, where I tracked down an old friend from Jasper that I had not seen for about 25 years.  CIMG2295     We spent part of a day hiking and exploring trails and rivers in the area of Courtenay and Comox.  This is the Puntledge River, if I have my geography straight.CIMG2292 There are some neat fish ladders built right into the river bed to let the salmon have good access through the area.CIMG2293 CIMG2294 It’s been a challenge finding time and technology to update the blog. 

If my photo program is not responding, it’s the lack of time or power or wi-fi at the appropriate time, but most of it came together to get this online.

So sorry to hear that fellow RV bloggers Margie and Bruce ‘Bruce & Margie’s Full Time Journey’  from were tragically killed while walking on the street in Pismo Beach California.  I had not met them, but they will be missed by the blogging community as well as their families of course.