Courtenay spa life

We had one night in Courtenay, at Kingfisher Spa, which turned out to be a beautiful location. M was so disappointed we didn’t have time for any spa treatments, but the cafe/restaurant and view from outside our room was excellent diversion for one night. From the beach and then from the restaurant we could see seals popping up their heads. The mountain backdrop behind was very impressive.


Hopeful menu item


Victoria to Courtenay

From Victoria we headed up the coast. The first hour out of the city was excruciatingly slow – in an hour we travelled about 15 km. They are repairing the road and there was an accident and a breakdown – luckily we had planned for an easy driving day.  We were heading to Courtenay but on the way stopped in at a couple of lookouts, and for lunch checked out Rathtrevor Beach. So far the Canadian beaches we’ve seen in BC are different to most Australian beaches – it seems like there’s a lot of dark sand, and the tide is always out – but the mountainous backdrop is absolutely stunning.

More about Courtenay next.

Lookout – just out of Victoria
Rathtrevor Beach
Grassy beach? but wonderful backdrop
driftwood, Rathtrevor Beach
Courtenay Beach



Vancouver Island – Victoria

From Vancouver we headed to Victoria on Vancouver Island. By lucky accident we found out that it’s better to book a spot on the ferry rather than just turn up. We were early and nearly made it onto the ferry prior to ours, missing out by about 6 or 7 cars. But we didn’t have long to wait to get from Tsawwassen terminal to Swartz Bay. It was a lovely crossing and then an easy drive to get to Victoria.



Othello Tunnels

On a day trip from Harrison, thanks to our friends local intel,  we checked out the Othello Tunnels, a park close to the town of Hope on Highway 3. In town we discovered that Hope and surrounds is where Rambo First Blood was filmed – they are celebrating the 35th anniversary soon. There was also a mountie in full kit roaming the streets, but I didn’t get a chance for a pic.

It was a lovely walk and the tunnels were impressive. We approached from the further entrance, which had cougar and bear sighting warnings – as is common almost everywhere in BC.

On the name: apparently the chief engineer was a Shakespeare fan. And when they first ran the train service they scheduled it at night so passengers couldn’t see the sheer drops either side.



(Vancouver) smoke gets in your eyes

From the US we headed to Canada, arriving in Vancouver through the smoke haze. We stayed with friends on the outskirts of the city. A quick drive through gave me a sense of the city centre, and I hope to get back again one day – when visibility is a little better. BC has had terrible bushfires this year, with some burning for weeks, and smoke has affected nearly the whole state. With our friends we escaped to the tranquility of Harrison Hot Springs, home of the Sasquatch. A beautiful area, even with the smoke haze.

View (cough) from Burnaby Mountain Park
Hicks Lake, near Harrison Hot Springs
How many times do I have to tell you, don’t climb the sasquatch!
Evening haze, Harrison Hot Springs


IMG_5717IMG_5730IMG_5737While at Miami Beach we took a day trip drive to the Everglades. We saw an alligator from the safety of a boardwalk, and various birds – and were attacked by the most vicious mozzies (even through the repellent). When we stopped at the Royal Palm Visitor Centre and boardwalk, we had to cover the car with a tarpaulin (provided at the centre). Apparently the vultures have taken a liking to rubber and will sometimes pick at windscreen wipers, door rubber and tires. Luckily the hire car survived intact.

Definitely more to explore here than can be seen in a day.  Our fancy to ride on an airboat (Gentle Ben style) had to be saved for another visit.


Miami Vices

From DC we travelled to Miami and stayed at the beach. MB – like the Gold Coast on steroids. Worth a visit but you probably wouldn’t want to live there. We saw a lot of booty and not all of it was pretty. The art deco buildings were amazing though.


Washington Capitol

I was disappointed to discover that tours of the White House are all but impossible these days. Will just have to go back to watch The West Wing. However, the Capitol building is definitely worth a visit and tour, and we had booked ahead as advised. Some beautiful artwork and many sculptures to see. After our tour of Capitol Hill we visited the National Museum of the American Indian – fascinating, sad and inspiring. Then we walked to the White House for a look – from a distance.



This is the closest you can get to the front of the White House