Victoria Stories and Tips

Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo

View to the mainland BC from the ferry Photo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

There was frost on the ground this morning, and that doesn’t happen too often round here. We got on the road about 10:30 and took the Inland Island highway to Campbell River. This is a fairly new road, and though there were some glimpses of the water, the views were mainly trees and some mountains inland on the island. We arrived about noon and had a drink before lunch. Alison’s house is lovely and very sunny and bright. Lunch was delectable, that salmon melted in our mouths and the garlic bread and salad were perfect side dishes with apple pie and cream for dessert!

We had a lovely visit there for the afternoon and drove back along a waterfront highway which is a bit more scenic than the inland road, stopping for a few photos along the way. The incongruously named Fanny Bay where there are a few oyster farms brought a snicker and we stopped by the beach at Qualicum where we’re going to shop tomorrow. The sun was going down by now, a pink haze over the mountains over on the mainland and gulf islands, the water deep shining blue in the last of the golden sunlight.

Another relaxing evening with friends and making plans for our shopping trip into Qualicum Beach tomorrow.

November 6

The town of Qualicum Beach has a bylaw that bars any franchised businesses from the town area so all of the shops and restaurants are locally and independently owned and you won’t see a golden arch or a Tim Horton’s within the town limits. There are some really lovely shops here too, lots of bookshops and gift stores. The streets are tree lined and many of the one or two storey shops have really lovely outside displays and entrances. There are also a few residences scattered through the downtown core but most of the pastel painted buildings are businesses now. Qualicum Beach downtown has one stoplight, one gas station and a small community theatre called "Get Into The Act".

We wandered along one street, poking our noses into a few little shops. Found a lovely small bookstore that we really liked and another wonderful gift store called Silverwood that carries imported and locally crafted gifts. But the piece de resistance was a store called Smithford’s (see review). It's one of those stores that has an immense variety of items from gifts, furniture, candles, crafts, etc.

We spent an hour or more there before working our way back to the main street, in time for lunch at a nice bistro called Lefty’s. Lots of menu items are left-handed termed and the menu opens "backwards" (though it isn’t backwards for us left handed individuals).

We did a few errands on the way home and Betty is leaving for Edmonton this afternoon. Today is Karen’s birthday and she is having a group of her women pals in tonight for a pot luck dinner. The guests all arrived by 6:30 and we had good food, good wine and good company. After the guests left, Karen, Don and I stayed up a while longer and spent some quality time chatting. I made sure I was all packed since I’m heading over to Vancouver tomorrow afternoon.

November 7

Last day here. I’m going to catch the bus from Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver via the ferry and meeting my cousin Linda there. We are heading into Nanaimo this morning for a little walk along the waterfront before the bus leaves at noon. It’s about a half hour drive to Nanaimo, where Karen grew up, with some spectacular views along the way. This is an extremely scenic part of Canada, as you might have guessed by now. The mountains in British Columbia are the highest of the Rocky Mountain chain that extends into the U. S. A. and there are mountains on the islands and Vancouver Island as well. Along this eastern coast of Vancouver Island you get views of the mainland and Gulf Islands, blue water and mountains rising out of the haze.

We arrived in Nanaimo about 10 and I sorted the bus ticket out first. It’s $21.40 for a one way to Vancouver including the ferry. We then went over to a waterfront park and walkway along the shore. Down one pier then over where a busy harbour of fishing boats, sea planes and passenger ferries to the Gulf islands including a fast catamaran to downtown Vancouver, the Lynx. This is privately owned and independent of BC Ferries. This ferry wouldn’t have worked for me because the timing was either too early or too late.

We walked and I got a few postcards at a shop in a strip that had a few nice souvenir and gift shops. There is also a little tea room with about a half dozen wooden tables so we went in there to have tea and scones, very delicious too I might add. Near the waterfront is a Bastion tower, built in the 10th century which used to guard the harbour. We didn’t walk up the stairs to get a closer look due to time constraints. There is also a wharfside fisherman’s market where you can buy freshly caught seafood off the boats and a seafood restaurant on a wharf as well.

Back to the bus depot, a tearful good bye and hugs. I hate this part.

The incoming ferry was late so the outgoing was as well and was nearly an hour late getting into the other side. The ferry ride was uneventful, views nice but I was surprised to see a haze of pollution over Vancouver. I didn’t realize that the smog does gather and sit in the Fraser Valley, the mountains more or less harnessing it in. Cold on deck but I was in and out a lot as the fresh air was bracing. I fretted about getting hold of my cousin Linda who was waiting for me at a downtown sea ferry and train terminus. A woman sitting by me on the bus i boarded once the ferry docked kindly lent me her mobile phone. Once Linda knew I was going to be late, I could relax. I caught the skytrain from the bus terminal to the terminus, humping my bag up the stairs. I’m glad I only brought a carry on roller case!

The ticket machine at the skytrain station seemed broken so I took the chance and got on anyway. Nobody came through to check. Linda was waiting for me at the Waterfront terminus and we got on a commuter train to Maple Ridge where she lives. They didn’t check for the tickets that she'd bought on that either. They seem to work on an honour system but if you don’t have a ticket and they check, you can be fined. I don’t know how that works for them lol I suspect a lot of people take great advantage and risk getting caught.

Linda only lives a few blocks from the train station so we were home fairly quickly. Her husband, Dave, and son Brian are there as well. Dave cooked supper while we sat and had a drink. We’ve discovered that we both love museums and galleries so Linda was keen when I suggested that I'd like to go to the Vancouver Museum. We may even try to squeeze in the Art Gallery if there’s time and we’re going to the Zoo tomorrow. After dinner, Linda and I chatted about family history, Halifax and all kinds of things, again, just like we'd known each other all our lives. I guess it’s that family connection but we seem to have a lot in common too.

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