Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vancouver Island, B.C.

First stop, Nanaimo B.C.  After waiting 2 1/2 hours for our flight in Vancouver, it was a pretty crazy notion to find out that our flight to Nanaimo was only 8 minutes long.  You honestly wait longer on the ground to get on and off the plane than you are in the air.  We arrived in Nanaimo to beautiful weather at about 6:30 B.C. time, which is 9:30 p.m. Ottawa time.  By the time we hailed a cab, checked in to the hotel, it was waaaay past bedtime for the kids.  We stayed at the Buccanner Inn and  upon check-in the innkeeper gave the kids a freezie, so we decided that it was fate and we were supposed to check out the surroundings while they finished them off.  The below picture is from our little walk across the street from the inn.  We also followed a flock of waddling, pooping geese into the water.  The kids were off to bed and we were delighted to have a separate living area to watch TV as they fell asleep.  The next morning we were lucky to be picked up by my Brother-in-Law, Trevor and chauffeured to Qualicum Beach. 

The above waterfall and "fairy garden" is part of the beautiful yard at the B & B we stayed at in Qualicum Beach, The Tea Cozy.  Hans and Tannis were our hosts and just happen to be the next door neighbours and good friends of my grandparents.  Hans is a Swiss trained chef, so needless to say we ate very well in the mornings, but Tannis always made sure we had home-baked treats and fruit to come home to in the afternoon as well.  They were very kind to let all the cousins take over the yard to hunt for fairies or play bocce ball.  We rented both of their rooms and were very happy with that arrangement, as the kids could go to bed and we could watch a movie in the next room or read until we were ready for bed, too.
After the big anniversary party was over, we had a day to have some beach fun.  My Uncle Dan has a couple of "yaks" as he calls them and brought them down to Parksville so we could each take a spin.  I was a little too nervous to want to go far in the ocean water, but it was fun to get in and out and have the experience.  Jasmine took a turn again this year, but  Devin opted not to and he had fun scouring the beaches for crabs with the Japanese exchange student Akane.  Parksville has a great playstructure and water park.  I tried to use the panoramic view to show you, but it doesn't do it justice.

The above picture is the marina in Ucluelet.  We stopped here for lunch our way to Tofino and ate lunch on a parked ship called the Canadian Princess.  The road to Tofino was windy and Devin did throw up, unfortunate for Les and Trevor, as Jay and I were driving up with mom and dad.  Good thing we were caravaning, so they walkie talkied us and we pulled over to get Devin some new clothes.  He was fine and barely even noticed - what a kid!  Below is our first beach visit to the farside of the island at MacKenzie Beach.  We walked there from our B & B condo that we were ALL staying at.  It was a cool experience, crazy windy, freezing water, but soft sand and cool rock outcroppings off to the side to climb and explore.  You can see the panoramic photo below where we were trying to explore (our family had taken our shoes off further down the beach, so it was tough for us, but quite a cool view)
In the above pictures you can see snow on the mountains in the background.  We weren't at a major beach here, actually we were at the botanical gardens and one of the paths had led us to this beaut of a spot. The next two are at Long Beach.  I can only tell because of all the logs washed up in the background.  Long beach, was well long - wouldn't really matter how many people were there, I don't think it would ever be too crowded.  Below are some pictures from Chesterman Beach, which was our favorite.  Going during low tide, you could walk right out to Frank's island and explore.  We found loads of mussels and barnacles stuck to rocks and with a close eye you could see starfish, too.  We did peel a few off the rocks for kids (and Jay) to touch and have fun with.  Our kids loved jumping waves and I took some great video clips of that in action, too.

We ended our trip with a crabfest, which I also have some cool video of, and a campfire, including sparklers and colored flames.  Your choice was crab or hot dog?  Hmmm?  Not tough for most people, but I love a cheap hot dog.  My brother-in-law, Jamie and my dad dealt with the crabs the most, but they did give me the chance to put one to death :(  Why is that fun?  Who knows, but it kind of is!  I'm trying to remember if the kids tried any, but for some reason I think they did. 
After all of that, and many things I haven't even had a chance to mention, like homemade ice cream treats and the guys on their scooters, it was time to head back to Qualicum.  We spent one more day with all the Gramma's and Grampa's, mostly treasure hunting for geo-cache's, which unfortunately we could not really find.  But everyone was such a good trooper, including great-gramma and grampa.  The only real problem is, it was soooo hot!  Especially for there, as no one had air conditioning to cool down in afterwards.  Great-gramma hiked all through these woods (and the picture below was the clear path, most were full of roots and stumps).  
On our very last day, we headed to Parksville once again and had a final play with cousins Sam and Hayden.  We collected baby crabs and Auntie Nanny made this crab hotel for them.  We treated ourselves to Dairy Queen and then went for our best swim yet, low tide at Parksville.  It had been so hot that day, the sand was warm and the water was like a bath.  You could walk out a block and not even be up to your waist.  The sand was soft, the water was calm and the kids had a blast.  My dad drove us back to the Buccaneer Inn and the next morning we were off on our flight home.  What a trip to remember!

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