A break from our break

September 15 – 25, 2014

Our ferry from Vancouver Island did not depart until 7:30 pm which meant we would arrive to our next campsite after dark but we hopefully it would still be open. Unfortunately they really did not want after hours visitors given that it was closed, gated AND locked so we continued our search in the dark. Our F350 diesel makes an awful racket so entering campgrounds after hours makes us pretty unpopular neighbors. We finally found a campground near Sequim, Washington and set up for the night.

Sequim is on our list of potential new places to call home. It seemed like fate was telling us we need to seriously consider Sequim since we continually ran into travelers from the small town who told us stories of the town’s beauty. Although in Washington, Sequim sits in its own climate vortex the repels the constant rains that plague the rest of the state; even pilots call it the blue hole because of the phenomenon. We spent a couple of hours driving around Sequim the next morning but in the end, we determined that our future home sweet home was not to be in Sequim. It’s a little too small for our taste although it is a beautiful area.

We continued toward Seattle where we would spend the night then fly to Pennsylvania in the morning. About 10 miles out of town we had our first mechanical issue with the truck. I was driving when the truck pulled hard to the right, really hard! I pulled over immediately and we could see smoke coming from the front passenger side. Darryl got out and saw that it was coming from the wheel and that our trip to Seattle was at an end. AAA arrived an hour later tow us back to Port Angeles and we had to quickly work on our back-up plan to make our flight.

While at Ford, we booked a 5:30 AM flight out of Port Angeles. The Port Angeles Ford service was exceptional. While I was booking the flight they were booking our hotel room in Port Angeles for the night and arranging for the hotel owner to drive over to pick us up!

I love flying in these tiny planes! Look at the views!!
I love flying in these tiny planes! Look at the views!!

Our upcoming week would be a short vacation from our trip visiting family and celebrating the wedding of Darryl’s sister. It was a busy time in Pennsylvania with wonderful home cooked meals prepared by Darryl’s mom and late nights catching up with family. I was able to contribute in a small way to the festivities assisting with the flower arrangements. One of the highlights for me was spending an afternoon in a family friend’s flower garden picking flowers for the bouquets. Vicky is the master gardener and also very talented at flower arrangements. Darryl’s Aunt Joan, and I followed Vicky’s guidance making the flower arrangements for the wedding. It was a busy time full of laughter and in the end we created some beautiful arrangements.

These gardens were beautiful with enough flowers for a few weddings! Vicky’s hat is barely visible amongst the flowers.
The bounty for our project.

It was a wonderful wedding surrounded by family and friends and full of love. We stayed until the last guests left the reception then the party continued the next day as family and friends dropped by Darryl’s parents’ home and we enjoyed more great food and company. Our time in Pennsylvania quickly came to an end and off to Iowa to visit my family before returning to our trip.

Jumping the broom! 

Our time in Iowa was a much quieter time even with visits from the majority of my family. My nephew brought my dog Jhango over along with the rest of his pack and a short period of chaos ensued as Kota, Kira and Jhango stormed into the house. He is so happy with his new posse it eases the guilt of leaving him behind. Jhango actually seemed excited to see me but once it was time to leave he was up and running with the rest of the pack to the car. He knows where his next meal is coming from these days!

There is a whole new generation of youngsters in the family, most of them of the toddler and younger age group. They are lots of fun but can wear you out! We made it to a volleyball game and watched my niece’s team destroy the competition! Ok, maybe not destroy but from the viewpoint of a proud Aunt it certainly seemed like it!

Yup, that’s my niece with the white sweat band with the killer spike!

We were able to get in a few runs at the local parks which felt great but I quickly realized that my fitness level has taken a serious hit during our travels! i pulled out a deck of cards for a low cardio competition with my dad and we had a running series of gin rummy games going for the week. I even managed to beat him a couple times!

My dad was kind enough to let me win a couple of games!

It was great to take a break from our travels to see our families. One thing that we learned from this trip is that it is important to not get so caught up in work and chores that you miss out on time with family and friends. Time will tell if I actually put this into practice once I return to work after our travels. I certainly hope the lessons of the road will infiltrate my daily life.


Tofino, Vancouver and Victoria

September 3 – 15, 2015

After our incredible day watching the orcas and humpbacks we had a quick lunch at our new favorite restaurant the Killer Whale Cafe in Telegraph Cove. Based on the advise of Jen and Dave we decided to spend a couple of days in Tofino. It’s a beautiful windy drive out to Tofino. For some time we drive along a river and then through a temperate rainforest. We camped at Bella Playa which is set amid a coastal forest. The coast was just a few steps away from our campsite and we spent every evening enjoying the colorful sunsets.

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With so much to do in Tofino, our time here was far too short. There are a number of hikes in the Pacific Rim Rainforest park but we only did a couple of them. We spent most of the time walking along the beach where I enjoyed watching the star fish action. It’s a little like watching paint dry but I think it’s much more entertaining. 🙂 We also went on a couple of short hikes through the rainforest. I love walking through these forests which are so different from the pine forests I’m more familiar with in Tahoe or the massive redwoods along the Santa Cruz mountains.



We had a chance to break out our kayaking skills in Tofino on the Islander Tour with Tofino Sea Kayaking. This tour explores the Clayoquot Sound and the islands near Tofino. It was nice getting out on the water and seeing the area from a different perspective. I’m kind of enjoying this kayaking sport! Maybe we’ll be good enough one day to kayak the Napali Coast one day in Kauai!


We took a short side trip to Vancouver where we spent a few days enjoying the city. From Nanaimo on Vancouver Island we took the short ferry ride over to Vancouver. There is a great campground, Capilano RV Park, just under the north entrance of Lion’s Gate Bridge. The campground’s location made for easy access to the city.

On our first day in Vancouver we visited the Vancouver Aquarium. In 1996 the Vancouver Aquarium became the first aquarium in the world to commit to no longer capturing cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) from the wild. All of the whales, dolphins, and porpoises cared for by the aquarium were either born in an aquarium or suffered some sort of trauma in the wild and now considered unreleasable due to their situation. These ambassadors from the wild hopefully can impress upon visitors the importance of safeguarding our oceans and the planet.

I find the jellyfish exhibits to be the most beautiful at any aquarium. I love watching their graceful movements through the water.


One of the two pacific white sided dolphins at the aquarium. Both of these dolphins were rescued from entanglement from fixed fishing nets and were rehabilitated by Japan’s Enoshima Aquarium. Unfortunately their injuries were too severe to release them back into the wild.

This is either Helen or Hana. I can’t tell them apart.

The beluga whales at the aquarium are a mother (Aurora) / daughter (Qila) pair.  Qila is the first beluga whale conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium. The pair will spend the rest of their days at the aquarium entertaining the visitors. It’s disappointing to learn that the aquarium promotes the breeding of captive whales rather than strictly limiting the number of cetaceans to rescued and rehabilitated animals.

Beluga whale spraying the trainer.


We spent one of our days walking through much of Vancouver. We started with a stroll across Lion’s Gate Bridge then spent some time enjoying the sprawling Stanley Park along its southern entrance. As we walked across the bridge we were passed by dozens of bike commuters. Vancouver is a beautiful city that seems to be commuter friendly although my research for this blog post seems to contradict what I assumed based on my observations. There are bike lanes everywhere and we saw public transportation full of riders making it look like a lot of people actually use these two commute options yet the city is struggling to meet ridership projections to support the extensive network.

Darryl and I spent much of our time exploring Vancouver on foot. which is a favorite way for us to explore the cities that we visit. Driving through an area feels too sterile but walking the streets gives me a real sense of a place. It’s the perfect way to get a vibe on the city and its people.

Entrance to Lion’s Gate Bridge


Vancouver reminds me of the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz with buildings of glass creating a skyline that looks at once fragile and solid. I can’t imagine how it must feel to live in these steel framed glass houses growing out of a concrete landscape, disconnected from nature.

Orca street art along Vancouver wharf.


We walked along the waterfront from the park to the gaslight district enjoying the changing scenery. Eventually we succombed to taking a cab rather than walking to the Science Museum across town. After the museum we stopped at The Patty Shop which quickly hit my list of must try restaurants after reading the reviews on Yelp. If you ever make it to Vancouver you absolutely must make a side trip to The Patty Shop! This is a very small restaurant that only makes Jamaican patties (think empanadas). There is no place to sit inside but trust me that it’s worth a trip. Our first taste made it mandatory that we make a special side trip on our way out of town to stock up on the spinach patties and vegetable curry patties. I packed our refrigerator / freezer in the back of the cab with enough frozen patties to last us a couple of weeks!

We returned to Vancouver Island and continued south toward the beautiful city of Victoria. There was the cutest neighborhood of floating houses where we passed a few hours watching the local seals begging for food and photographing the quirky homes. What a fun little neighborhood! It might be a fun place to live if it weren’t for all of the tourists disturbing the peaceful setting.






The Royal BC Museum had the most beautiful exhibits that I have seen yet in a museum. Many of the exhibits had a wonderful interactive element to them which I found to be extremely engaging. All of the displays were impeccably designed giving me a new appreciation for the talents of museum curators.

Part of the beautiful natural history exhibit at the Royal BC Museum.


Totem Pole exhibit at Victoria’s Royal BC Museum.


At the museum we learned about the chalk festival that would start the following day. Below are a couple of artists working on their 3-D chalk art piece inside the Royal BC Museum. The museum did a wonderful job promoting the existence of the chalk art exhibit but nowhere on their brochures or website could be found a location for the exhibit! None of the museum employees knew where to find the street exhibits either. Luckily we found a local who directed us to where the exhibit was staged.

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We spent the following afternoon admiring the chalk art on the streets of town. There were a few blocks that were cordoned off for the artists to display their talent. They spent one to two days drawing the art for the public to enjoy before traffic or the elements wiped their street canvas clean.

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The streets were packed with admirers.


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No, we didn’t stage this photo of a tourist with a matching tie die shirt!




Our time on Vancouver Island drew to a close as we bumped up to a previously scheduled engagement on the East Coast. We jumped on the ferry to Port Angeles, Washington then drove to Seattle to catch a flight out of Seattle for a wedding. On the way to Seattle we had our first mechanical failure with our truck. Wouldn’t you know it, the one time during the trip when we have to meet a schedule we would break down! We called AAA and had our truck towed back to Ford in Port Angeles then made alternate arrangements to fly to Seattle to catch our flight. Now for a short break from the trip to spend time with family and friends.

Goodbye Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I’m sure we’ll be back some day to explore more of this area!