Friday, September 24, 2010

A bit of fresh air.....

The weather here in Edmonton has been pretty grim since we returned from Tofino. It's been horribly wintery and cold literally freezing in the morning and not much higher then 6 or 7 degrees in the daytime, yuk! It's still September for goodness sake!! Well, as seems to be the norm in Alberta that has all changed yet again and today and we were back up in the high teens with gorgeous blue sky, so, we decided to head out for a family stroll. It couldn't have been nicer! The leaves have all turned gold, the river was running high and was perfectly clear. On the walk down through the woods to the river bank Sully bathed in every puddle he came across then had a good rinse in the river. I was pretty happy at how clean he looked until he decided to jump and roll in all the same muddy puddles on the way back up the hill. He's cute but boy does he get dirty!

"Eeeeew! Get away from me you dirty mutt, you're messing up my nice yellow wellies!"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The big trip....prairie to Pacific and back

We packed the trailer, dropped Sully off at the farm, loaded up the kids and set off on our mammoth 1000 mile road trip through the Rockies and out to the West Coast. The first three days of our trip we spent travelling through BC. We camped in Valemount, McLure and Parksville and loved it! It was so nice to travel at trailer pace (i.e SLOW) and stop whenever and wherever we felt like. Hauling your home around is pretty handy for potty breaks and lunch stops I can tell you! We saw parts of BC we'd never seen before and were amazed at seeing the landscape and climate change as we drove through. From scrubby dry hills to lush green forested mountains, we passed waterfalls and beautiful rivers and so many fishermen filling their bags with the Sockeye Salmon that are battling their way upstream from the Pacific at this time of year. Eventually the windy roads open up into highways and the altitude eventually drops as you enter the flat valley of Chilliwack. Here we passed farming fields filled with everything from corn to blueberries. We also got our first wiff of Skunk (the animal kind) and that's not something I'm too keen to experience again.

At a little town called Barriere our campsite host told us to check out the Fall Fair and Rodeo. Seb wasn't in the best of moods when we arrived and totally flipped out by the Llama tent. He threw a massive wobbly, screaming and writhing and then bit Neil in front of hundreds of people. Neil used his well practised policing skills to calm the situation.....he bit him back! God knows what everyone thought but it seemed to do the trick!

Here's Seb pre-hissy fit enjoying the kiddies train ride. About three seconds after theses photos were taken he burst into tears and demanded the train be stopped.

And then came the scary was about now that Neil was trying to restrain our wild child. I just walked in the other direction and took photos of Llamas.

After a short break in photography we were back to Seb laughing and having a great time at the Rodeo.

Mmmm.... mini donuts! After a stressful day at the Rodeo with a soon to be three year old they just make everything so much better!

Back at our camp in McLure Neil figures out what to do with all our logs.

We'd planned to camp our last night on the mainland in Vancouver but we got into the city early and headed straight for the ferry. We left Vancouver from the Tswwassen terminal on the 2 hour crossing to Nanaimo.

The sun was setting as we pulled into port and we loaded into the truck and headed out of town in the pitch black hoping to find a good spot on the side of the road to stop for the night. We didn't have a clue where we were and found oursleves following a camping sign and pulling into a provincial park. After a nightmare trying to reverse the trailer, in total darkness, into a tight spot between a massive tree and a huge tree stump we finally transferred two tired kids to their beds and collapsed into ours. The next morning was Neil's birthday and we awoke to find ourselves in paradise. We were surrounded by tall trees and couldn't see any other campers through the thick forest. There were deer grazing in the trees within a few feet of us and a little trail that led us out to a beautiful deserted beach. It was like waking up in heaven! I didn't get any photos at this campsite but we did take a bit of video so hopefully Neil can add that later. We had a stroll on our private beach, packed up and headed off on the last leg of our journey.....To Tofino!!!!

I'd read about a store called the Old Country Market, famous for its's "Goats on the Roof!" and decided we should make a pit stop there to pick up some nosh to restock the trailer. It's such a cool shop and I'm so glad we stoped there. They sell everything! Amazing fresh, local produce, a huge array of different freshly baked breads, cheeses, deli meats, unusual sauces, home wares, toys, wigs (yes wigs!) and even imported Branston Pickle and Bisto!! Definately worth a stop if you're passing through Coombs and need something to eat or a new wig. Oh and there really are goats on the roof!

Neil was pretty excited by the old country market but I eventually managed to drag him out and get back on the road. By this time we were so excited to be getting close to our destination, all that lay between us and Tofino was a two hour stretch of mountain hard could it be? Well, as it turns out, with a trailer it's pretty hairy! Once you pass Port Alberni, the only road in and out of Tofino is a windy, bumpy, single lane highway with some bridges just wide enough for one vehicle and a few drop off's that left me feeling a bit queasy to say the least. The scenery is amazing and was a pretty good build up to our long awaited arrival in beautiful Tofino.

We arrived at our campsite Crystal Cove in the afternoon and set up the trailer before doing a bit of exploring. Our site was right opposite the playground and about a two minute walk down to Mckenzie Beach. Perfect!

We spent the next week exploring Tofino and Ucluelet. Both towns are a really cool mix of authentic fishing village and surf town with just a little touch of luxury resort thrown into the mix. The beaches are AMAZING! Just beautiful. Honestly, on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Hawaii. We loved it.

Belly finds her identical twin at the Ukee Aquarium.

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary win Tofino and I was amazed to step out of the trailer after tucking the kiddies into bed to find this gorgeous table set for a romantic dinner for two. We sat surrounded by rainforest and ate the most humongous wild scallops, cooked on the barbie by my private chef. Then we warmed ourselves up by the fire and ate s'mores until we were stuffed. It was one of the best meal's I've had in ages! :)

We were introduced to the some of the tasty treats offered by the rainforest including these yummy Salal berries. You might recognize the leaves, you'll often see them used in the flower arrangements you see in the supermarket. The berries are a bit like blueberries and the local native people use them to make a good sauce to accompany Salmon dishes. We also picked huckleberries and blackberries (favourite bear snacks at this time of year) and heard about the wild chanterelle mushrooms but decided not to risk looking for those ourselves without a Mushroom expert.

Considering the fact that Tofino and Ucluelet are such small towns there's a pretty good choice of very nice restaurants. We had a really nice lunch at Shelter on our last day in town, mmmm... the smoked salmon platter was out of this world!!

Neil checking out a boat for sale....just out of our price range I think at $166,000.

This is a view of the building that Breakers is in. Sandwiched between a surf shop and a surf school, no excuse for us not to be surf pros by next year!

Check out the sticker on this old advertising for Breakers!

This is it......our soon to be bread and butter! :) :) :) :) And by the way they have the best muffins in the world!

My last shot of Tofino the morning we left. This place is so beautiful, none of these photos do it any justice at all.

And so that was it, we left feeling a bit sad, especially leaving our cosy trailer there, but we'll be back soon enough and we'll have plenty of other stuff we'll be needing to pull out there.
We headed back to the ferry with a few stops for Seb to be sick (that windy road didn't agree with him!) The journey home was the opposite of our leisurely journey out there. Without the trailer we picked up speed and just kept driving. 24 hours later we ere home, very, very, tired.

Cant wait to get back! See you in the surf ?!!