September 21, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Campbell River, Wildlife Tours
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Today is the official last day of summer. Sigh. But, it has been a busy, and as usual, adventurous few months and I wanted to share with you my top destination of the summer.
I had never even heard of Mitlenatch Island
until the day before I left to visit it. I was told by a local boater that it was like the Galapagos of the North. I’m not sure why but pictures of penguins and sea turtles came into mind – two things you don’t find in waters 30 minutes off the coast of Campbell River
Mitlenatch means ‘calm water all around’ in the Coast Salish language. But the island was anything but calm. The noise from the birdlife was like a chaotic musical symphony. Gulls squawked, cormorants cawed and there were hee-ha and whee sounds coming up from guillemots, oystercatchers, auklets and other species of birds too numerous to count. We did count seven bald eagles including 3 hatchlings. It was early summer and the tiny island was filled with newly born baby birds.
As we toured to the other side of the rock the relentless roar and barking of the migrating sea lions joined in the chorus. I had never seen this many large lions on such a small space before. Needless to say they were all jockeying for position, with many getting pushed back into the crashing waves.
Once on shore (just a little beyond the basking seals) we climbed over sun-bleached driftwood and were met with the park keepers. BC Parks has a program where volunteers can stay on the island for a week in exchange for maintaining trails and ensuring visitors don’t encroach on protected areas.
The island is very small but we were able to climb up to the peak to peer down to study the roosting birds from behind a lean-to. Then we meandered through a meadow filled with vibrant wildflowers with intriguing names like seablush, chocolate lilies, death camas, gum
September 20, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Victoria, Sightseeing Tours
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Last week I had to make a quick trip to Victoria
. Of course, like all good West Coasters, I chose float plane as my mode of travel and eagerly booked my flight with Harbour Air Seaplanes
When the flight was ready for loading I was front of line and as luck (and a little maneuvering) would have it, the pilot asked if I wanted to sit in the co-pilot seat. Not too many people know this, but the co-pilots seat is often available on these flights. After always being the brides-maid and not the bride, so to speak, I finally figured it out - all you have to do is be the first in line or just ask.
Perhaps the best part of the trip is wearing the “official” headset and listening to all the flight chatter. My pilot was extremely amicable, complete with an Aussie accent, and I received a personal tour of the sites below. As we whisked our way over Pender Island, Mayne and Saltspring I watched ferries dock and sailboats find their moorage. From 3,000 feet up he pointed out the winery on Saturna Island and I picked out my waterfront dream home. We saw tankers, cruise ships, tugboats and the Coast Guard. On previous trips I spotted submarines and historic tall ships. I am still waiting to see a pod of whales.
Although I haven’t experienced it, Harbour Air offers the $149 Mail Run Tour, a 75 minute ride with the locals on their regular flights from Vancouver harbour to the remote villages of the Gulf Islands. That sounds pretty cool too.
September 19, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Sechelt, Outdoor Activity Tours
Saturday - Local Hangouts in Sechelt
It’s the middle of September and I have finally managed to make my summer pilgrimage to Sechelt
. Usually I come up to here at least 4 times between June and September, but this summer I was so busy on other adventures (Tofino, Campbell River, etc) that I pretty much missed the high time. This meant that I needed to fit in all my favourite local activities into one late summer weekend. Kind of like Christmas really, just a few short weeks to cram in all those traditions, but I only had two days.
Saturday morning was spent at the beach in Davis Bay overturning barnacle encrusted beach rocks and watching the kayakers paddle by. Did I mention I came up with three energetic kids? Beachcombing took a while and I was happy when we all agreed that green and black spotted crabs do exist and that they should remain hidden under the seaweed with their family. I was happy to move onto bigger and better things, namely "Troll Forest".
I had never heard of Troll Forest until my parents moved a 5 minute walk away. It starts from a non-descript pathway in Brookman Park and heads up Chapman Creek. In fact, you would have no idea you were even in Troll Forest until you got to the Troll House a few metres into the path. The House is an old tree stump with a dilapidated shingle roof. Continue walking up the path and see if you can spot the 14 hidden Trolls. A local carved these mischievous faces into tall cedars, fallen firs and spruce stumps. Some are easy to spot, some more difficult. I like to think of it as the I Spy of the natural world.
Onto Roberts Creek where I absolutely have to indulge in fries with miso gravy at the Gumboot Café. Roberts Creek is my favourite community on the Sunshine Coast, mostly because I feel as though I am on one of the Gulf Islands, complete with a vibrant art scene and a laid back ambiance. Kayaks, essential oils, pottery and Indones
September 19, 2005 | Tips from Us >
Sechelt, Cruises & Boat Tours
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Sunday morning in Sechelt
and I dragged the kids to Secret Cove, which I believe is one of the best kept secrets in British Columbia. For only $25 an hour, we rented a motor boat and explored the area by water. Bob from Buccaneer Marina marked on the map all the hot spots. We motored around Thormandy Island and searched for lingcod in the northern shallow bays. On the south side of the island we watched harbour seals sunbathe on their bellies and roll down into the waves. Zooming across the channel we then coasted in and around Halfmoon Bay (a great place to go kayaking) and into Smugglers Cove Provincial Park, which used to be a traditional First Nations fishing site and then a hiding place for rum runners. The pinnacle of the day was landing on Thormandy Island for a picnic lunch. Thormandy beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in BC and is boat access only. The long, white sand beach set against an evergreen forest. There is even a small provincial campground if you want to spend a few nights. The place is full of boaters, bathers and sandcastle makers during the summer, but this weekend we were the only ones around. Our three hour trip cost a total of $75.