Port Hardy Part I

From Courtenay we travelled to Port Hardy. Our main reason for visiting was to be ready for our flight the next day to Great Bear Lodge. On the way we stopped for picnic lunch at Port McNeill, where we saw a bald eagle.

IMG_5952
Roadhouse moose
IMG_5961
Port MacNeill
IMG_5967
Port Hardy
IMG_5970
Hardy seashore
IMG_5975
Dusk views, Port Hardy

 

Advertisements

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.

IMG_5940IMG_594520170815_181356

20170815_204756
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.

IMG_5928
Lookout – just out of Victoria
IMG_5932
Rathtrevor Beach
IMG_5933
Grassy beach? but wonderful backdrop
IMG_5937
driftwood, Rathtrevor Beach
IMG_5943
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.

IMG_5843IMG_5845IMG_5846IMG_5870

 

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.

IMG_5801IMG_5803IMG_5807IMG_5820

 

Fiddle dee dee

So you might be like me and most of your historical knowledge of Southern United States comes from Gone with the Wind and that Civil War doco series. Therefore you would be interested in Plantation Homesteads that you can visit in Virginia. We only had time for one so we chose the oldest, Shirley Plantation. This was a beautiful location, a lovely homestead that has had 11 generations of the same family involved in its running. The family still lives in the floors above and below ground level. One of the tour stories told is that the reason the homestead still exists is due to two sisters living there during the Civil War helping hundreds of wounded Union soldiers that found their way there after a battle nearby. The Union General declared that no Union soldier would harm the family or the property after that. The usual modus operandi was to burn everything. IMG_5489

IMG_5490
Archaeological mysteries 
IMG_5493
View of the Kitchen and homestead
IMG_5495
More about ‘welcome pineapples’ later

IMG_5496

Magic Mashpi

On our second day at Alambi we travelled to the Mashpi cloudforest area, a region about an hour and a half away which is becoming well known for amazing bird life. Next to a very very very expensive lodge, for a mere US$10 you can see an incredible range of birds, some of which are only found in the Mashpi area. Gorgeous day.

IMG_5176IMG_5189IMG_5190

IMG_5211IMG_5219IMG_5255IMG_5280IMG_5312 (2)

 

Some more Vilcabamba

Around the town there are plenty of walks you can do to enjoy the local wildlife. We took an easy walk in Rumi Wilco (aka Rumihuilco), a large reserve and ecolodge which is about a 10 minute walk from town. We saw many birds, camera shy butterflies, a couple of squirrels, and some nudists. Something for everyone.

IMG_5008
View from the hammock

IMG_5010

IMG_5013
River view on the walk to the reserve
IMG_5015
Rumi Wilco – main track
IMG_5045
Accommodating butterfly
IMG_5047
Coffee drying

For a great view, you can climb Mandango. Or you can catch a taxi to Sol de Venenado Cerveceria in San Pedro.  We chose the latter.

IMG_5069IMG_5073IMG_5075IMG_5077IMG_5087