Tag Archives: skateboarding

Our favourite things from 8 months on the road…

lee tim hunter water fall

We have been home now for 2 weeks and are still transitioning back into things. The first question that EVERYONE asks us is “what was your favourite thing?”. That is a really loaded question and one that just seems impossible to answer, other than with the simple statement of “spending time together” or “visiting family”. In 8 months we saw and did so many different things and had so many amazing experiences…

We’ve broken it down into favourite things by segment, to help highlight some of the top things:

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Favourite Mountain Biking

tim hunter in the surf

Favourite Kayaking

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Favourite Surfing

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Favourite Skatepark

lee & hunter fisherman's wharf

Favourite Touristy thing

I’m still working on a wrap up post so stay tuned for “Our learnings from 8 months on the road”!

Exploring the Comox Valley

quadra island boatsOur goal last week was to explore as many of the Gulf Islands as possible. Goals are a nice thing to start from and we’ve learned that they are even better when you adjust on the fly… With multiple days of rain scheduled, we had to adjust our expectations along the way.

Day One of exploring was on Quadra Island. We caught the ferry over from Campbell River and made our way to Smokey’s Bike Shop to say hi to our friend Finn, who was down taking a bike mechanics course. We then spent a few hours doing laps of the community centre bike trails, managing to put in 15km. A quick lunch (thanks to travelling with our kitchen) and we were off to drive around the Island. We were surprised at the fact that the entire north end of the island is actively being logged and there is no real residential presence. We were also surprised at the fact that there really isn’t a main “village” as you find on other islands. People are spread out all across the mid and south island. We had a nice walk out on Rebecca Spit, checked out the lighthouse at Cape Mudge and then caught a late ferry back as none of the restaurants were open on Monday night for dinner.

With rain off and on all week, we still managed to fit in some time at the Comox Skateboard park during non-rainy windows of time. It’s a great park, always full of kids and a diverse set of features.

Our next island adventure was Denman and Hornby, which are just south of Comox. Our original plan was to stay overnight so get the most of our ferry spend and get lots of mountain biking in on Hornby Island. It was grey and drizzly when we left the mainland and that proceeded to pick up all day, to the point of it being torrential rains when we were in Hornby driving around. We made the decision that the trails would be soup the next day and opted to catch the last ferry home instead.

It was only moderately wet when we were exploring Denman so we hopped out of the truck and went for an exploration wander when we hit Fillongley Provincial park on the east side of the Island. Denman actually has 3 provincial parks on this island and this is the smallest of the 3. It has 10 campsites, which are first come first serve and packed in the summer time, lots of beachfront to explore and a wooded set of trails.

Unfortunately we hit Hornby on the Thursday night of easter weekend and it seemed to be just waking up from Winter and getting ready for “outsiders”. A few places were open, but most don’t open up until the May long weekend. I was definitely disappointed that more things weren’t open as it looks to be quite an eclectic culture, with shops and restaurants that I would enjoy and Tim would describe as “hippy”.

With a break in the weather, we spent the afternoon up in Campbell River on the Snowden Demonstration Trails. They were a nice mix of terrain and trail difficulty and not at all soupy from all of the rain. A perfect place to blow off all the energy we had built up over 3 rain days. We got 12km in, some bush whacking and lots of smiles as well.

Saturday was cool, windy and overcast so we caught the farmers market in the morning and then drove up to see Mount Washington as it was their last weekend. They had a bit of a tough season this year as it was an abnormally cool and dry winter on Vancouver Island, which meant very little snow for them early season. The rain was still holding off so we hit the skateboard park when we were back in town. Hunter had another great session, with no signs of being ready to stop after 90 minutes AND THEN the rain came… it was just light but when you put rain + spray paint, it makes surfaces slippery. He went down a drop and was on his way up the other side when the board slipped out from under him and his right cheek hit on a metal rail. OUCH…

The Easter Bunny found us in Comox and we awoke to eggs and treats all around the camper (which was a feat in itself). The campground management also put on a hunt for all the kids, which was an extra treat.

Monday was only a light rain so we wandered down the street from the campground (Cape Lazo RV Park – fabulous… we stayed here in the fall as well) to the Lazo Marsh trails & conservation area. It is a set of trails that make for an easy family walk – enough to keep you amused and a manageable length.

IMG_1576Tuesday saw us up early in the morning to drive to Nanaimo and catch the ferry over to Tsawassen (mainland). This is the official beginning of our drive home – ack!!! (more on that later). Ferries are a very expensive part of our adventure as we are over in our height and our length. It costs $300 each way so we are sure to make the most of our Island time.

Tofino – it just keeps getting better…

starfishAfter leaving Tofino in the fall, with it continuing to be cemented as my top “happy place”, I was a little hesitant about heading back for a spring visit. We’ve always visited in the fall and I just didn’t know if spring would bring us the same kind of experience or 7 days or straight rain.

snow out of port alberniHeading westward out of Port Alberni and the weather had us wondering… We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot in Port Alberni and were pleasantly surprised to awake to sunshine. 30 minutes down the road and we were staring at snow and wondering what things were like on the other side of the mountain…???

TUFF City skate parkWe rolled into Tofino with the sun just breaking through and breathed a great big sigh of relief. Hunter has spent weeks waiting to get back to the Tofino skateboard park as that is where things really clicked for him in the fall. As parents we were cringing as he hoped to relive an experience and we were worried about him being rained out. After a quick brunch we went straight to the skatepark to catch the sun while it was out. Hunter was thrilled to discover that he has gotten better over the past six months and that he can successfully tackle more of the features.

lee condos & bootsThe foundation of our stay was unit 37 at the South Chesterman Beach condo’s, which was very generously lent to us by a friend for the week. It is a one bedroom unit with pull out couch, great amenities and you walk right out of the complex to South Chesterman beach. Not only was it great to have a bit of space to spread out in when it rained, and a place to dry our gear, it was also nice to be able to walk right out to the beach with our surf stuff. (P.S. – it’s for sale and is used as a vacation rental if anyone is in the market…).

We surfed almost every day, rain or shine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not cold in my super duper wetsuit that I bought in the fall. The waves were great – even better than California! It was a nice place to finish off our surfing for the trip.

We went out for at least one beach exploration a day, mostly at low tide to see what we could find.

We also wandered out to Frank’s Island every day to play in the tide pools – an experience we really missed in the fall. Every day we found something new and different.

We made it back to the bike park once and the skate park a number of times.

puppies playing cardsWe also had fun with daily/nightly card games, in between playing outside and getting school work done.

sunny tofino beachOnce again – worrying turned out to be wasted energy… yet another fabulous stay in Tofino 🙂

south chesterman beach low tide

Back on the Island – spring visit

hunter tim ridingOur entry point back into Canada was via the Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. Our original plan was to stay at West Bay Marine Village in Esquimalt and spend a few days walking around downtown Victoria and checking out the historic sites. That plan went out the window when we pulled into the driveway and the attendant looked at our length and went – Ohhh, I didn’t understand when you explained your set up… you won’t fit here.

pedder camp groundMoving on to a quickly created plan B – Pedder Bay RV resort & marina in Mechosin, just west of Victoria. It is a new campground facility run by the Oak Bay Marine Group and it is beautiful. It is between Mechosin and Sooke, out in the country, and right on a small bay. Big sites, beautiful views and clean facilities. No cell coverage but decent internet.

hunter tim lake rocksThe weather was beautiful (15c and sunny) so we got ourselves organized and headed out on the Galloping Goose Rail trail. It is a bike trail built on an old rail trail that runs from west Victoria all the way to Sooke. We hadn’t been biking for over a week so it was great to get out and moving. We found a great sunny stop beside a lake for snacks.

hunter sooke skate parkDay Two was spent doing school work and at the Skate Park in Sooke. Another sunny day so we hung out and played, flipping between skateboarding and wiffleball, with some lunch in between.

We ventured out for a quick hike before dinner and were welcomed into the world of slugs… Hunter was the first to spot them on the trails and Dad (who we make do everything first) picked one up so we could investigate. Hunter then decided that it might be OK to hold it – after the first squishy feeling he was a fan, and carried the slug (whom he named) for the rest of the 40 minute walk. With much dismay, he returned him to a bog as we refused to allow him in the camper.

We ended our stay here with a fun dinner with Great Uncle Neil and Aunt Susan, whom we haven’t seen for a while. They generously drive out from Victoria to the rural sticks where we were and we got all caught up over dinner at the    My Chosen Cafe.

Parksville, B.C.

hunter tim parksville

After the rainy drive from Tofino and Ucluelet, we made it all the way back to the east side of Vancouver Island and spent the night at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park just south of Parksville.

Wow – what an amazingly beautiful park! It is 3km south of downtown Parksville and is a highly wooded park that sits right on the ocean. The campsites and facilities are immaculate and there are over 5km of trails to walk, hike or bike.

rathtrevor beach provincial park

Between a morning of homework and some quick rides on the trails, we didn’t manage to leave until just before noon. This was planned to be a quiet day with our only real stop being the Parksville Skate Park as part of Hunter’s new addition to the activity list.

The Parksville Skate Park is part of the main community park, which contains baseball fields, play grounds, fitness park, water park, arboretum, skate park, public beach and boardwalk and more. Pretty impressive for a small town. Hunter’s comment was that “this is like all the parks in Whitehorse put together!” and that pretty much sums it up – definitely something for everyone!

hunter tim parksville skateboard park

 

We highly recommend a pit stop in Parksville. I’m sure it’s quite jam packed in the summer time but off season gives you all the same family friendly experiences with waaay less people!

Tofino – you never disappoint!

tim hunter tofino bike park

Tofino is my happy place… Tim and I first came here 20 years ago on our first cross canada camping adventure. We were driving the ford ranger and pulling a small (relative to what we pull now) gear trailer. It was another fall trip so we spent alot of time camping (tenting!) in the rain. My memories of that first Tofino trip are of tenting at the Green Point Campground, surf kayaking on the beach, being almost permanently damp (ok WET) and of absolutely LOVING the feel and culture of the town.

Things have changed since then – we no longer really fit in the Green Point Campground (Pacific Rim National Park), we live in a trailer these days (yep, I’m getting comfortable admitting that…and am grateful for it on rainy days) and the town has been “discovered” with respect to development so there is alot more here than there was 20 years ago. The fabulous thing is that the town has done a solid job blending development with holding on to the earth/hippy culture (anyone remember the Clayquot Sound protests – that was here 20 years ago).

We have been back a handful of times since that first trip, always in October for my birthday, and it has always been a fabulous experience. Hunter’s first trip here was last year, and he was brought into the fold of magical tofino – surf lessons, beach walks, tidal pool playing etc. etc. etc.

lee & hunter surf boards

The last nine days have been fabulous – for a week that was forecast to rain every day, we had one cloudy day and one full 18 hour period of torrential rains. Pretty good balance for fall weather on the coast. We have made the most of that weather with almost daily surfing at either Cox Beach or South Chesterman, Bike rides to town (on what Hunter terms the most amazing bike path ever!) and plenty of time at both the Tuff City Bike Park and the Tuff City Skate Park.

hunter skate park & shoes

Driving here has allowed Tim to get back to Ocean Kayak surfing. He has humoured all of us by learning to surf with a surf board but in his heart he is a kayak surfer and this is his zen thing. It has been great for him to be able to do that and we look forward to much more of that through this trip. Hunter and I continue to plod through the learning curve (and pummelling that comes with it) and I am confident that we will be competent surfers when our 8 month journey comes to an end.

tim kayak surfing

Tofino is an amazing, family friendly, low key destination. I could write pages and pages of information so if anyone is interested in coming and either camping or hoteling, please drop us a line and I will be happy to answer questions and make recommendations.