Thursday, September 24, 2009


So after a great summer in Canada and visits with lots of family and friends it was time to cross the border. We were entering new territory that neither had visited before and did not know what surprises lay ahead. After our border inspection of the motorhome we now found ourselves in Washington State. Still feeling a little bushed from the West Coast Trail we decided to take it a little easy and head to the Coast. Spending only one night in Washington State we crossed into Oregon (no tax state) and knew we made the right decision. WE LOVE THE OREGON COAST! The coast is absolutely beautiful but maybe it's being by the water and the Newfoundland feelings being aroused. However, this coast is nothing like the east coast. Sandy beaches, white surf and blue skies everyday. Also important to note are the State Parks. We were very impressed with the amenitites we receive and also how quiet they are with the summer season coming to an end.


Measuring 363 miles (580 kms.) it could take approximately two days to drive. But for ten days we meandered down Highway 101 with pitstops in small towns to explore and sample the "catch of the day". We even took time to tour the lighthouse at Heceta Beach. The running was great and we found both quiet roads and trails. Don even managed a swim and some biking on Crocus. But to our surprise not only is there a variety in the beaches/shores there were pasture lands where we toured Tillamook Cheese Factory and sampled the cheese as well as the great ice cream. 

Time to take a break from the Coast and travel inland to Eugene. A city approximately the size of Guelph that has so much to offer but more importantly it's trail system for biking/walking and running. We did our 33 km. training run by the river and completely on trails. It also boasts a reputation for track and field. Some of the high school tracks would leave our Canadian coaches filled with envy. 

We had a short stopover at Hayward Field where Don & I both got to run on the rubberized track. WOW! It was like a cushion. This track was also home to Steve Prefontaine the famous US athlete who died back in 1975 after setting multiple records. Cities are great but it was nice to return to the Coast.

As I said earlier the Coast has variety. I will close this blog with some pictures to indicate it's beauty. We will continue on to California and the Redwood Forest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail continues for 75 km. along the west coast of Vancouver Island through coastal temperate rainforest. It is part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

We had friends who had previously hiked the West Coast Trail.  As well, Alicia and Chris are avid backpackers and for these reasons  we had made plans to walk the trail six nights/seven days commencing September 6th. Though in good shape we truly did not know how difficult the trail would be especially after rains and the ensuing mud. On Sunday morning we took the West Coast Trail bus from Port Renfrew to Pachena Trailhead, a four hour physically jarring ride over mainly woods roads. We started at the easier (ha ha) end of the trail. After completing the mandatory orientation; warning us about injuries, evacuation, tsunamis, tides, wolves, bears, and cougars, we set out mid-afternoon in the rain and mud to complete twelve kms to our first campsite at Michigan Creek. As we approached the nine km. mark, although walking inland,  we could hear the barking sea lions before we reached the viewpoint. 

The next morning being inexperienced it took us three hours to break camp. By the last day in our enthusiasm to finish we had this task down to one hour. This day started off in wet clothes. It gave us our first experience of beach walking, suspension bridges, and lots, and lots of ladders. As well we had our first cable car ride or also referred to as "Canada's Wonderland for Adults" ride. We arrived at Tsusiat Falls by mid-afternoon with enough time to dry out our wet equipment and clothes. 

We set our two tents up in a cave in case it rained again that night.

Day 3 was our longest hike, 16 kms., to Cribbs Creek.  Due to the excess weight of our low tech equipment, and the extra water which had to be carried that day, this proved to be Don's hardest day as he was carrying about 50 lbs. This is when Alicia and Chris' youth and high tech equipment became apparent.  The day did provide an opportunity for a cold beer sold to us by the ferry operator at Nitinet Narrows at the end of the ferry ride. 

Wednesday started off raining again which increased the mud experience for the rest of the week. We did get a respite from the weather at Chez Monique's where we ate burgers and coucous salad well worth the $15. each. As good as the free refills of hot coffee were, we had to push on.  Most of the day was beach walking on slippery kelp covered rock and climbing over boulders and tree trunks interrupted by two cable car rides. This 12 kms. took us to our campsite at  Walbran Creek.

The fifth day was only 9 kms., but all inland through diifficult mud, swamp and roots. It felt more like 90 kms. We met a family from Seattle up to their knees in mud totally unprepared for the experience but the mother still managed a big smile. It was Charlene's most difficult day with several falls. Upon arrival at our campsite, Camper Creek, an evacuation was occurring of an injured woman and momentarily Charlene was ready to join the departing group on the boat. Gatorade, hot chicken soup and a good night of sleep made her ready to complete the final two days.

Our second last day was almost all beach walking but not all easy. We had to rush in the am to get to and around Owen Point at low tide where we had only a 15 minute window. In our enthusiasm we arrived early but took the opportunity to remove our wet boots from all the streams we crossed. Chris made coffee and we enjoyed watching more sea lions on Owen Island. This was followed by two kms. of extremely difficult boulder climbing and gigantic tree trunk straddling. We camped at Thrasher Cove where a high tide greater than expected came within feet of our tents that evening. Chris and Alicia moved their tent three times to avoid the approaching waves.

Our final day started with a one km. climb up from Thrasher Cove to the main trail. From there it was all up and down with tricky footing until the 75 km. mark. Alicia and Chris had gone ahead and when we finished the ferry ride we found out they had to walk another four kms. on the road to retrieve the car. On our way to get the ferry back to Vancouver we stopped at a quaint  100 year old pub for local pints and fish and chips.

The West Coast Trail is difficult to do but great to have done!

Friday, September 18, 2009

British Columbia

It seems ages since I managed an entry and I apologize to those who have emailed looking for pics and info. 
We have been busy with family stuff! However here we go.....

We entered Beautiful British Columbia (as the licence plate indicates) and enjoyed our drive through Rogers Pass. I cannot imagine what winter travel must be like but the snow sheds through the mountain tunnels gave me a little idea.

We headed to Revelstoke and decided to take a few days to simply relax. It turned out to be the ideal location for running, biking and swimming so Don decided to do a mini mini triathlon. We ran our 28km training run and he proceeded to swim and bike later that day while I played lifeguard from the shore. 

We knew we were in the forest fire area as there was a small fire the night before our arrival and hints of the smoke filled the air. It was good to have some downtime after the hiking in the Rockies. As suggested by Alicia, we visited Revelstoke Dam to see where BC gets a large portion of their hydro power. 

The scent of wine country; the Okanagan Valley, was not too far away so why not sample some spirits. We paid a visit to Larch Hills Winery, the highest elevation winery in Canada. The winery was tucked into some pretty steep mountains and Moho whined upon reaching the top. Rest time for our vehicle/home!

The Okanagan Valley has to be one of the most unique areas of Canada. The road is lined with fruit stands and wineries. The hills almost appear to be misplaced and belong on the Mediterranean coast. We reached our destination of Kellowna where our friends Tom & Shirl opened their home and pampered us with their hospitality.  Tom has not lost his ability to whip up a good steak and next time Shirl & I will not talk so much that we forget the potatoes. We reminisced about Grand Falls, NL and how the girls considered Tom & Shirl as family and would run back and forth from house to house. Again we had to say good-bye to Kellowna and move on. 

Our route took us south toward Osoyoos, Canada's desert.  We found a very young winery, Cassini Cellars which opened in May of this year. A quick sampling and purchase to share with Alicia and Chris. The next valley, Similkameen, Don's favourite, is a hidden treasure. The fruit stands are even more abundant than the Okanagan. 

We found a quiet RV park where the owners said people camp there to pan for gold in the surrounding hills.  Note to selves: we must return and seek our fortune. The next day we hiked around Lightning Lake in Manning Provincial Park. Our last stop before Coquitlam was in Othello (the man who named this area of the Fraser Valley liked Shakespeare) where we ran through the Othello tunnels and Don tried his hand unsuccessfully to catch Rainbow Trout even though the pond was stocked. 

Finally Coquitlam, our last Canadian stopover, Alicia and Chris' old residence for a few days. Time to move into "moving mode" and get ready to flex the muscles and help the couple move into their new residence. An early start and a well organized daughter got us moving in all the right directions. It was a smooth transition and to celebrate we enjoyed the delicacies of the East Indian restaurant in their new neighbourhood. 

Next onto the West Coast Trail..........