Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas From Victoria

Hello and Merry Christmas from Victoria. Today was a beautiful with the sun shining mainly all day with a high temperature of around 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit).

Lots of people were found out walking along the seawall next to Dallas Road towards Ogden Point and in the Inner Harbour next to the Fairmont Empress especially along Wharf Street.

Because of the holiday very little businesses were operating with the only coffee shop found open being the Serious Coffee in Cook Street Village. The place was very busy with a lot of people looking to enjoy a sit down and the holiday spirit with one another.

The weather tomorrow on Boxing Day is expected to be about the same as today. Most businesses especially the service industry will be back to normal with a number of Boxing Day specials going on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembrance Day on the Jordan River FSR

Remembrance Day was very special this year as an informal group of us called Club Mud attempted to go on a hike near Jordan River called the Kludahk Trail.

Following information from the Kludahk Outdoors Club we went in search for trail access. The search involved travelling on Hwy 14 north Jordan River to the campground site for China Beach Provincial Park.

From here we then drove the Jordan River Main Line FSR which is located across from the campground until the 7 mile mark until the snow got too heavy for the vehicles. After parking we then hiked in the snow along the JR FSR looking for access signs for the Kludahk Trail.

Along the route a moment of silence was held at 11:11 am in respect for the fallen soldiers who had fought in previous wars and sacrificed themselves in order for Canadian’s to live in freedom and democracy.

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for the group as the road up to the trailhead became increasing difficult to travel on because of the snow cover. We never did find any signs or markers for the Kludahk Trail but we all enjoyed ourselves especially when we all got caught in a torrential hailstorm walking back to the vehicles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chef Big D’s in Squamish

On Monday during the last motorcycle trip of 2009 we had a chance to visit a highly recommended cafĂ© located at 38040 Cleveland Avenue in Squamish called Chef Big D’s.

The pastrami sandwich, which was described as good as any New York deli, came with a half order chips and Caesar salad. With mounds of pastrami smothered in mustard, cheese and sauerkraut topped with a pickle the meal was so large it had to be eaten with a fork.

The other meals at Chef Big D’s include breakfast, burgers and all types of sandwiches all coming with large portions. Chef Big D’s is definitely worth trying especially if you’re coming down from Whistler or if you happen to be visiting Stawamus Chief or Shannon Falls.

Just remember Chef Big D’s is only open for breakfast and lunch plus can be very busy on weekends or at lunch time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Victoria Spirit Celebration

Today a lot of people were out to be part of the Victoria Spirit Celebration signaling the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The event seemed to have everyone downtown as the torch visited Victoria direct from Athens, Greece. What an event, starting with a delay at YYJ then arriving at the Victoria Legislature near Government Street in downtown Victoria.

The flame will travel through all of but one of the 13 communities in the Capital Regional District then for four days on rest of Vancouver Island including Duncan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Comox Valley and Campbell River. It returns later to Port Hardy and Port McNeill on Feb. 2 and 3, 2010.

Get ready for a busy weekend on Vancouver Island highways especially if the weather gets bad. Expect a number of delays especially travelling through downtown and going up the Malahat.

The flame will be visiting several other British Columbia communities as reported by the Times Colonist.

For more information Spirit of BC

Sunday, October 25, 2009

4:20 at the Pizza Zone

Next time that you’re in Victoria and feeling like pizza try the Pizza Zone situated on Cook Street. Located across the street from Logan’s Pub at 1806 Cook Street, in between Caledonia and North Park the Pizza Zone serves up one of the best in British Columbia.

One local favourite goes by the unique name of the 4:20. Loaded with pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage and a large heaping of bacon this is truly a meant lover’s favourite.

Usually along with the 4:20 there is the Hawaii 50, The Veggie, and the Popeye all available on a per slice basis or the 2 slices and pop special for $6.

Along with great pizza the Pizza Zone is convenient if you are visiting downtown, Logan’s Pub, Salmon Kings hockey games at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena or watching Victoria Seals baseball team at Royal Athletic Park.

Telephone: (250) 383-0241 for information on ordering take-out and/or delivery. For direction information Google Map for Pizza Zone.

The Pizza Zone has also opened a new location at 2571 Quadra Street near Fairway Market.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chemainus River Provincial Park

Just got back from Chemainus River Provincial Park which is located north-west of Duncan.

To get here take the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 to Hwy 18 the highway to Lake Cowichan. You travel on Hwy 18 approximately 7 km (6 miles) to Hillcrest Road. Turn at Hillcrest Road and travel on the pavement past the BC Hydro Substation then on the gravel Hillcrest Payne Forest Service Road (FSR) for approximately 8 km (5 miles).

The Chemainus River Provincial Park is a rustic recreational area that is managed by the Cowichan Valley Regional District for BC Parks. The river is noted for the local fishing especially for Steelhead salmon, wildlife viewing, off-road motorcycles, mountain-biking and serves as a local swimming hole during the hot dry days experienced during the Cowichan Valley summer.

There are absolutely no services or facilities located in Chemainus River Provincial Park here so be prepared. Camping out and fires are not allowed plus the park gate is closed from dusk to dawn.

Chemainus River Provincial Park – BC Parks

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hwy 99 Revisited

Just got back from a trip along Hwy 99, "The Sea to Sky Highway" on the section from Horseshoe Bay to Mount Currie.

Hwy 99 has gone through a major upgrade for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler and is about 99% complete. The only exception was some paving that was being done just north of Squamish by Brohm Lake. This section is expected to be completed soon and only caused a slight wait when travelling on the "Sea to Sky."

What a joy to travel Hwy 99 compared with what the road used to like when it was nicknamed the "Squamish 500." The big changes are the bypass going around Horseshoe Bay, the increase of lanes especially through Lions Bay and Brunswick Beach and the straightening of corners and hairpin turns by blasting through rock and adding wider bridges.

Also while travelling by Britannia Beach north to Squamish the big change on Hwy 99 was no Woodfibre Pulp Mill plume coming from the stacks ruining air quality of Howe Sound. This section of highway goes past the Stawamus Chief one of the largest granite monoliths in the world and offers northerly views of Squamish with Mount Garibaldi in the horizon.

After Squamish going north Hwy 99 goes past the Tantalus Range, along the Cheakamus River,then past Daisy Lake and Brandywine Falls with views of Black Tusk in the east. The route was safe with plenty of passing lanes and areas to pull off to enjoy the spectacular views.

Form here to Whistler the only hold ups along Hwy 99 was a live-line stringing project being done by Allteck for BC Hydro just south of Whistler Creekside and a BC Hydro cable project being done by power specialists from Victoria. Both created just minor delays.

The highway upgrade done by Peter Kiewit Sons has created a faster and safer route to enjoy one of the most scenic geography and outdoor recreation in all of North America. In all Hwy 99 upgrade was a very pleasant surprise which thanks to the 2010 Olympics will last long after the games have been completed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mount Wells Regional Park

With the weather in southern British Columbia hovering around 20 degrees Celsius as a high it proved excellent for a hike this weekend. If you live in Victoria one hike you might like to try is the one up Mount Wells.

Located in Langford, Mount Wells Regional Park offers great panoramic views of southern Vancouver Island and parts of the Capital Regional District.

To get to the trailhead take the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 north to the new traffic signals at West Shore Parkway in Langford, follow the signs for Goldstream Provincial Park, then turn at Humpback Road (Ma Miller's Pub) and travel about 2 km (1.3 miles) to the CRD parking lot.

The hike to the summit of Mount Wells takes about an hour one-way, coming down about 30 minutes. Going up there is a view towards the north of Mount Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park and from the summit most of the southern CRD.

For more information Mount Wells Regional Park - CRD

Waddling Dog $9.95 Breakfast Buffet

Have you ever travelled on Hwy 17 the Pat Bay Highway north to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay and noticed the $9.95 breakfast buffet sign at the Quality Inn Waddling Dog at Mount Newton X Road in Central Saanich?

Today we had chance to try it. The buffet held in Sherlock's Restaurant opens at 10 am and goes to 1 pm every Sunday.

The limited breakfast buffet included cereal, potato hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, cheese omelets, bacon, breakfast sausage, pancakes, waffles and toast. There was also a number of different fruit juices plus fresh apples and oranges. Coffee and tea was also included in the price.

If you are on a tight budget this meal will appeal to your taste buds. For the two of us the bill was $20.90. Pretty reasonable!

That being said the room Sherlock's Restaurant was located in was quite cold, making the breakfast cool off quite quickly. Also the scrambled eggs seemed lifeless, the omelets had not very much cheese, the breakfast sausages a little on the greasy side, the toaster was extremely slow and no pastries for those with a sweet tooth.

On the up side, there was plenty of bacon (which was cooked just right), the staff were pleasant and the Quality Inn Waddling Dog facility was very clean.

For more information and directions go to Quality Inn Waddling Dog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Island View Beach in Central Saanich

The weather held up today with no rain falling and some sun providing a good window of opportunity to cycle out to Island View Beach in Central Saanich using the Lochside Regional Trail.

The 30 km (19 miles) round trip from the Saanich Centre near McKenzie Avenue and Quadra Street in Saanich took about an hour to complete each way.

From the Saanich Centre the route along the Lochside Regional Trail is generally flat until Island View Road. At Michell Farm Market you have to go off the regional trail for a 2.5 km (1.5 miles) one way trip on Island View Road past Firbank Farm up a steep hill then descending sharply down to the beach.

Once at Island View Beach the conditions were absolutely perfect for beachcombing on the sandy beach offering beautiful ocean views of James Island and the Gulf Islands in the distance or windsurfing and kitboarding in the water.

For more information you can check out the CRD website on Island View Beach or earlier blog.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Western Speedway Swap and Shop

Just had a chance to visit Western Speedway Swap and Shop last Sunday. This event is located at 2207 Millstream Road in Langford and is held on the oval racetrack normally used for ‘hit to pass’ and other stock car events.

If you happen to be looking for curios, baby gear, kid’s books, fishing gear, wood products, old cameras, plants, memorabilia and other hard to find items such as a Silver Springs Brewery keg label from 1908 this is the place.

Situated on the Western Speedway grounds there is lots of parking available, washrooms, a concession stand plus only costs only a dollar to enter per person.The Western Speedway Swap and Shop, Vancouver Island's largest flea market, is held outdoors every Sunday from 7 am to 2 pm weather permitting and runs from April to the end of September.

If you have lots of stuff yourself and would like to get rid of it tables are available at a cost of $10. More info: Western Speedway Swap and Shop.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mount Tzouhalem

Walked up Mount Tzouhalem yesterday with a group of friends from Club Mud. The mountain which is located near Cowichan Bay offers one of the most spectacular views of the Cowichan Valley.

The hike starts at a parking lot bordering the south boundary of St. Ann's Catholic Church. The church is located next to Providence Farm on Tzouhalem Road near the mouth of the Cowichan River.

From the parking lot there is an unmarked forestry road that weaves around the back fields of Providence Farm. Unfortunately there are no signs showing the route up Mount Tzouhalem so you have to rely on a gut feeling on the proper route up. At times there is some pink surveyors tape that helps guide up the fairly steep climb.

The trail takes about one hour or so to get to a lookout point at around 427 metres (1,400 feet) in altitude. Here you can find a cross that has been erected and one of the best views of the surrounding landscape of the Cowichan Valley.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nanaimo Lakes Campsite

We went into Nanaimo Lakes recently. The Nanaimo Lakes are a set up four lakes in the region where the headwaters of the Nanaimo River starts about 35 km (22 miles) south-west of Nanaimo.

To get here the route starts on Nanaimo Lakes Road which is just north of Cassidy off Hwy 1. From here you go up Nanaimo Lakes Road eventually joining up with the Nanaimo Lakes Main Line forestry road.

You have to pass through a TimberWest security gate which is generally open to the public during Sunday and Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm plus Friday and Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. The gate hours often change check at the main gate for any seasonal changes in gate closure times or go to TimberWest website.

Once past the main gate you can find camping at First and Second Lake. The campsites are very spacious and clean. There is no running water here and pit toilets are only available. Access to the Nanaimo River between First and Second Lake is situated along the lakeside.

Access to Fourth and Third Lakes can only be done on weekends as active logging and heavy equipment is on the gravel roads during the week.

For more information see Nanaimo Lakes Campsite.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park

Just got back from an all day trip into Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park leaving from Victoria. The trip took around 11.5 hours with total distance traveled 444 kilometres or 276 miles.

Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park is noted as a sanctuary of "old growth" Sitka Spruce and 1000 year old cedar trees. The trailhead into to see the trees is situated on southern Vancouver Island about 38 km (24 miles) from Nitinat.

The park is absolutely amazing with some of the giant trees only 45 minutes or so from the parking lot. To get to the trees you have to walk on a boardwalk system designed to help protect the natural ecosystem through-out the forest floor.

For more information check out BC Parks website on the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Best Caesar Salad in British Columbia

As we travel around British Columbia we often have a chance to try new restaurants and cafes in different towns throughout the province. Often when we order rather than having a green salad or fries with our meals we like try a Caesar salad instead.

The quest often becomes who in BC makes a good Caesar Salad. We are not talking about the high-end establishments of Vancouver rather the small independent operations that offer good value for the money.

The latest edition of a very good salad happens to come from a small cafe in the very small community of Salmo. The cafe is called the Dragon Fly and was recommended to us very highly by the park attendant from Champion Lakes Provincial Park.

Once we arrived at the Dragon Fly we could tell by the packed house that the food was going to be good. We were not disappointed, the chicken wrap and accompanying Caesar salad was excellent. This was a definite surprise and one that will have to be experienced again.

If you happen to be going through Salmo make a point of stopping at this quaint little cafe which is housed in the 1934 built Jas. R. Hunnex building. Not only does the Dragon Fly Cafe serve one of the best Caesar salads in British Columbia but also has free wireless internet and serves up Kicking Horse Coffee.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bliss Bakery

Going through and editing my photos of a recent trip today I am reminded of a number of good times and certain highlights that were experienced. One category that keeps coming up is a number of coffee shops that were visited. Some of these businesses stand out and are often included as a favourite when visiting that community.

One of these businesses has to be the Bliss Bakery in Peachland. Located along the waterfront at 4200 Beach Avenue in the Gateway complex, Bliss Bakery offers a wide array of breads, pastries and coffee.

The facility is clean, open and if you prefer the outside has a good selection of tables with umbrellas offering panoramic views of Okanagan Lake. If you enjoy art Bliss Bakery sometimes features local photographers displaying pictures and artwork of the Okanagan.

Bliss Bakery web site:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pincushion Mountain in Peachland

We went for a hike up Pincushion Mountain in Peachland. The hike is moderate to hard and takes about one hour to complete. The easterly view from the top of Okanagan Lake is incredible. It takes in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park plus all the way to Penticton in the south to Kelowna in the north.

If you would like to take the hike turn on Ponderosa Drive off of Hwy 97 in Peachland. Take the road all the way up and go past the entrance to the golf course and continue right up to the last condominium and look for a gate near a fire road. Park your vehicle here.

Afterwords we went for a great coffee and baked goods at Bliss Bakery which is located along the waterfront in Peachland.

Smoke in Kelowna

There was no sizable amount of rain in Kelowna last night. This morning at least the temperatures at this time are starting to cool off at least and the skies to the north towards Fintry and Terrace Mountain seem to be clear.

The plan today is to take off soon and travel down to Peachland and hike up Pincushion Mountain. The skies might be clear in the south towards Penticton as the fire at Mount McLean near Lillooet apparently is 20% contained.

After the hike the plan is to go into Peachland and visit Bliss Bakery and Coffee Shop. They serve excellent bakery and coffee products and have tables outside that feature excellent views of the Peachland waterfront along Okanagan Lake.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kitselas Canyon

We had a chance to go to Kitselas Canyon today. The canyon, a National Historic Site of Canada, is considered sacred to Gitselasu people. Gitselasu which means "people of the canyon" have been living off the land here for thousands of years.

The canyon is located just east of Terrace near the small hamlet of Usk. To get here travel on Hwy 16 either west of Terrace or east of Kitwanga Gitwangak).

Kitselas Canyon also used to be the site of where they would take the sternwheelers through the dangerous waters of the Skeena River on the way to Hazelton. The captains of these vessels took extreme measures when travelling through perhaps the most difficult navigational river in North America.

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park is situated across Hwy 16 from the entrance to the historical site. You can find a small vehicle-accessible campground here. The park features riverfront campsites,a small canyon,river pools and river walkway.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fishing off Ferry Island Bar in Terrace, BC

The fishing on the Skeena River off the gravel bar at Ferry Island has been spectacular in the last few weeks. Today a number of people have been limiting out for sockeye and pink salmon.

Most of the fishers have been fly-fishing with a few using a cast method using a variety of techniques from floats to drag lining. All methods seem equally successful.

Travel on Hwy 16 and look for the Ferry Island Campground. When you turn into the campground take a hard left before the gate and park in the large parking lot situated below the Skeena River Bridge.

From here there is a short walk to the fishing site.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Gas Prices

One of the most discussed subjects these days on the internet is how much your driving habits will change this summer with the current gas prices.

Driving through BC yesterday on the Yellowhead No.5 highway from Hope to Edmonton we could not believe how good the prices are when compared to last year. At least a third less of what fuel was last year at this time.

Here are some prices as July 29th. Hope Chevron $.989 per litre, Kamloops Esso $1.014 per litre and the Valemount Petro-Canada $1.059 per litre. All prices seem affordable, especially considering what is going on especially with a carbon tax and climate change issues.

But wait if you go to Edmonton the prices are really affordable when compared to BC. All over the city prices are $.864 per litre. Absolutely incredible, and yet some people here are still complaining especially with the price per barrel being low now compared to the price of gas.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Organic Blueberries from Red Ruby Farms

This time of year brings forth a wonderful bounty of various fruits such as cherries, raspberries, strawberries and a local favourite organic blueberries from Red Ruby Farms in North Saanich.

Known for the best quality that Vancouver Island can offer Red Ruby Farms produces a blueberry that is perhaps the best in the world. Plump juicy, firm and full of taste this fruit is well worth the premium price paid at the fruit stand located just off West Saanich Road on Clayton Road.

If you cannot get out here during the next few weeks but are familiar with the weekly Moss Street Market in Victoria they have them here. Check out the website for availability of product, you will not be disappointed.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Out of the Okanagan

We were greeted with clean air when we returned to the west coast yesterday escaping the wildfires of the Okanagan . The air quality started to improve on Hwy 3 near Keremeos and with a little rain the air was very pleasant at Princeton.

The drive on Hwy 3 from Princeton to Hope was very busy especially with traffic headed out of Hope and travelling towards the east. Through the Fraser Valley via Zero Avenue the air was completely cleaned up with lots of sun, crisp blues skies and the smell of fresh raspberries and blueberries in the wind .

By way of great timing we arrived at Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Tsawwassen and managed to arrive at the pay terminal at 14:45 and drove directly onto the 3 pm ferry. "What a fluke!"

In Victoria the air quality was excellent. Last night it rained so hopefully the Okanagan will get some of that weather system. In Victoria it is sunny and time for a bike ride.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Myra Canyon Trestles in Kelowna

Had a chance to cycle the re-built trestles that were previously destroyed in the wildfire of 2003. The trestles look like they were built to the original standards that allowed the Kettle Valley Railway to operate around Myra Canyon which is located near Kelowna.

There are 18 trestles in total along with 2 tunnels that skirt around the canyon walls. The views and trail going around were incredible.

Unfortunately because of a recent fire in West Kelowna that started on July 18, 2009 at about 15:00 hours created a haze over the city.

The ride around Myra Canyon took around 45 minutes one way. There are two parking lots, one at each end, pit toilets and information kiosks throughout the trail.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

West Kelowna Fire

We witnesses a wildfire today in West Kelowna from Rotary Beach which is across Okanagan Lake in the Mission District of Kelowna. The fire which started at approximately 15:00 hours seemed to grow quite quickly threatening an area of West Kelowna called Glenrosa.

By around 16:00 the fire and smoke started to build quite dramatically. At times the fire seemed to be contained. By 17:30 the fire and smoke seemed to fill the sky and certain areas of West Kelowna seemed to be getting hit badly.

Apparently by 18:30 the fire has jumped Hwy 97 into areas near Westbank. The highway is now closed.

View photographs:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lochside Regional Trail

A favourite thing to do in Victoria has to be cycling the section of the Lochside Regional Trail that goes from near McKenzie Avenue in Saanich to the Town of Sidney

To get to the Lochside Trail Parking lot go to turn north onto Borden Street from McKenzie Avenue, turn onto then follow the road past the George Tripp Substation and the parking lot near Don Mann Excavating.

Once on the trail travel north, right away there is a turnoff to the east for another trail system, the Blenkinsop Greenway, do not take this route.

From here the trail follows a path that is lined with shade trees forming a tunnel eventually coming to Blenkinsop Trestle which goes over Blenkinsop Lake. From here the trail offers views of Blenkinsop Lake, 'Roy' with the farmland and Mount Doug in the background.

Once at Royal Oak Drive the trail follows Lochside Drive through the residential area of Broadmead to Matticks Farm and the Cordova Bay Golf Course on pavement. The trail turns back to gravel and once you're in Central Saanich goes through agriculture land.

At Mount Newton X Road the trail once again follows pavement along Lochside Drive past McTavish Road to Tulista Park and the Town of Sidney. Sidney has a number of places to eat, have a beer or enjoy a coffee.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Parksville and the Englishman River

Just returned from visiting Parksville a small resort town just north of Nanaimo. The weather was great and we manged to get a reservation at Parrys RV Park and Campground on very short notice.

Parrys happened to be more than we expected. The facility was clean, well organized and very close to Rathtrevor Provincial Park and the Englishman River. Parrys website is found here

The Englishman River proved to be a jewel again and provided most of the recreation for our short visit. Top Bridge Regional Park where you can find a very nice swimming hole is located a short bicycle ride away from Parrys by using the regional trail that starts near Tuan Road and Hwy 19A. Unfortunately there is a lack of signs pointing for directions to this trail.

Once at Top Bridge Regional Park there are a number of swimming areas along the rocks and pebble beach. The Englishman River flows through a narrow gorge where a rock outcrop nicknamed 'The Nose' provides an excellent platform for jumping into a deep pool formed in the canyon walls.

The area is popular with the young kids and this day a brave person drove his 4x4 down onto the rock surface from the parking lot. Unfortunately the music that was played from the truck's boom-box did not appeal to some other people that were visiting and sharing the park at the same time.

Non-the-less Englishman River and Top Bridge Regional Park are definitely a great place to visit every time we visit Parksville.

Photos can be viewed here:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Big Trailie 4

Just completed the Big Trailie 4 in the interior of British Columbia. The trip started off in Clinton and ended up in Princeton. The tour was organized for Adventure style motorcycle riding and involved about 35 individual riders from mostly British Columbia and Alberta with one rider coming from Washington State.

The ride took us through Lillooet to Gold Bridge eventually to Pemberton via the Hurley FSR on the first day.

The next day the tout went through D'Arcy then to Seton Portage via the High-Line route. We then went up and over Mission Mountain to return to Lillooet for lunch. After lunch to Cache Creek then to the Deadman Valley to Savona. From Savona over to Logan Lake via Tunkwa Lake. Everyone stayed at Logan Lake.

The final day we rode to Merritt to Kane Valley Road to Brookmere. From Brookmere to Princeton via the KVR along Otter Lake and Coalmont.

Photos can be viewed here: