Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vancouver Island 2003 - revisited

Nanaimo, BC
This was the first time we explored Vancouver Island, back then in 2003 I did not have a digital camera. A decent camera will probably cost about $3,000.00 if not more, I remember buying 1Gigabyte memory chip in early 2004 for more than $100.00. So the images here were shot with 35 mm camera then digitally converted by Costco at that time.

We explored Victoria, Nanaimo, Port Alberni then took the whole day excursion with MV Lady Rose, this was the first time we met Bruce Morton and Celia also known and simply CC, the we went to Ucluelet, what we remember was this was a fishing village and the relentless rain that we had, I think we stayed inside longer than outside. We went as far as Tofino then went back to Qualicum Bay, we spent a few nights in Parksville.

We also took two train excursions, one from Nanaimo to Courtenay with VIA and then Port Alberni Railway. We spent at least two weeks for the whole trip.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spending Time with Bruce Morton

Bruce Morton, enjoying morning tea
I am not a biographer by trade, but I will try my best to write about the person that inspires us. His initial is BRM – Bruce Ralph Morton, but we simply just call him “Bruce”. He is 97 years young; he was born in Roblin, Manitoba, Canada on July 30th, 1917. Way back then it was a very small town of a few blocks where everybody knows anybody. Presently, he lives in Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia by himself.

Bruce is pretty much very independent, he still drives to Victoria occasionally and of course around town, he prepares his own breakfast, lunch which he calls dinner and dinner which he calls supper. It is confusing for us, but we get used to it after spending two full nights with him. Bruce does not have a big lunch, usually a muffin and a cup of tea. Of course, he has to put cream on his tea; this is of course the big British influence when he grew up.

Bruce still goes to the market for groceries and does his chores around town; I almost forgot to mention that his supper is between 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. no later than that. In the morning, he drives to the beach and walks for about 30 minutes; he told us that walking is good for you. On the rainy days, Bruce pedals his stationary bike, where he placed it very conveniently close to his big living room window while watching any activities outside.

That day, Bruce took us to the Englishman River waterfall and we walked some more that afternoon. At night he walked through his backyard with Pokie, I was beat so I stayed behind. You see, the energy is like an advertising of Eveready battery, keep going and going and going.

Bruce Morton left home when he was eighteen years old; he went to Regina, Saskatchewan, looking for a job, any job. Back then you are lucky to make $1.50 per day. A loaf of bread is 5 cents, a dozen of eggs were 15 cents and chicken livers were given away for free. Bruce told me, he was very lucky to have two bucks in his pocket at any one time. Bruce has two brothers and one sister, they are all passed away, Bruce is the only who is still living, he even lost his only son at the age of 42 due to stomach cancer.
At this age he is considered very healthy, he does not have high blood sugar level, nor has high blood pressure, his cholesterol level is pretty much in check.

Hockey is his favorite game, in his earlier day he went to Vancouver but did not make the team. He did however made the hockey team in Lethbridge, Alberta for two years. His team was Lethbridge – Maple Leaf.

Enter the World War II; he immediately joined the Army for just six months but that he was not satisfied, so he quickly joined the Navy for three years in Calgary.  His job in the Navy was a supply ship, a convoy of 68, he also in charge of unloading the anti U-Boat (German submarine) depth charge during the Battle of Atlantic. He was shipped to Halifax to pick up the ship.

Bruce also worked at a control tower in High River, Alberta for one year; he worked as an employee number 159 at the High River Flying School. Back then radar was almost to a non-existence, he told me by looking at the cloud formation, and he could predict the condition. It’s amazing to think about it.

He then worked for Imperial Oil in Calgary, Alberta making a mere $3.50 a day. At one time he also applied to be a Canadian police – RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), but at the end he declined as he was requested to have his tonsils removed. It was indeed a strange requirement back then.
Now, enter his love life. Bruce first saw Celia (CC as we know her) when she was 16 years old in 1938, this is I believe his first love. CC was born on August 8th, 1922 and passed away on May 14th, 2012 some two years ago. CC was five years younger than Bruce.

The war was a terrible thing, for some reasons Bruce and CC got separated. Bruce married Betty in Calgary in 1944 and they were married for 50 years, having one son and one daughter.  Betty passed away in 1993 due to lung cancer. Bruce was alone again. Oh, at the beginning his in laws did not approve of him because he was in the Navy.

In the meantime CC (Bruce first love) married another person by the name of Earl which passed away in 2001. Luck would have it that CC’s niece phoned Bruce, letting him know and CC’s husband just passed away. Bruce gathered his strength and called CC at that time.

Three weeks has gone by, Bruce got a call from CC, guess what, she was just less than an hour away from where he lives, she landed in Comox Airport to the north, she said, “Pick me up”.  This was the first time in 63 years that Bruce met CC, the last time being in 1938, he told me that maybe CC had put a lot of weight, but to Bruce delight CC was just still the same, still cheerful and full of smiles.

This was another beginning of another love affair, a continuation of their first love separated by World War II.  They went together again for the next eleven years until CC passed away in 2012. Bruce remained in Qualicum Beach and CC lived in Lethbridge, Alberta.  When they were not together physically, Bruce phoned CC almost on a daily basis at night.

Thank you Bruce for being such an inspiration to us, you are more than a family in our hearts. His motto is “Every day is a good day”.  We look forward to see you again next year.

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault
This was our last destination in term of sightseeing. It was just an hour and a half from where we stayed last night in Forks, Washington. The drive was not bad at all. Many people is wondering “where is the rain?” since we are right smack in the middle of the rainforest. Forks has an annual rain of 12 feet, that’s 144 inches of rain about four times the annual rain we receive in Portland.

Arriving in Lake Quinault, I fell in love with the town, it has one general store, one museum and another small store doubled as our registration for the campground. It is located next to the lake and it is just plain appealing, one exception, the RV Park is not maintained to the standard of a good park and I have to tell the office to clean the bathroom before we settled in.

Lake Quinault is the home of the largest Spruce tree, located just one hundred feet from where we park our Wanderlust. It was really cold when we came in, later it cleared up to a sunny afternoon, the next morning it clouds up again, but it represents another opportunity for photography subjects that I did not see in the previous day.

Cape Flattery & Neah Bay

Cape Flattery
We left early that day in anticipation of winding roads and a two lane highway from Sequim to Neah Bay. On a day of travelling, Pokie usually prepares breakfast and lunch beforehand. So in case we could not find anything interesting to try and eat, we always have something ready to eat. Breakfasts usually are on the road while we are driving, this will cut down a lot of time.

We skipped Sol Duc Hot Springs and Hoh Rainforest for our future travel; I think we had enough to see on this trip. We arrived in Neah Bay just after 10:00 AM,  I wanted to be the last destination, but Pokie pressed on to Cape Flattery (I am glad otherwise we will regret it later), then another dilemma, we still have to hike to see the most Northwest point of the US continent.

It started with an easy downhill trail, but soon it was more challenging for me, going downhill is more problematic than going uphill. The wooden trails are wet and slippery plus the roots of the trees are notorious to catch your footing if you are not careful. To say the least it was spectacular scenery, the fog just added to the beauty. Again pictures do not do any justice! The trial was three quarters mile down and another three quarters mile up. I was exhausted, but happy and content.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Port Townsend

Port Townsend
Sometimes we have a tendency to ignore any Point of Interest or destination that are closer to home. It is just a human nature I guess. So this time we want to make sure to visit Port Townsend since we are just 30 miles from where we stayed in Sequim.

Port Townsend preserves its many historic Victorian buildings, it houses many unique shops and within a walking distance in downtown, so the best way to explore is walking from one end to the other.

I stay outside taking photographs while Pokie goes to every shop that interests her. We found a very good ice cream shop and a small pizza joint. In this trip we also found vinegar shop that is unique to this town, we brought home two bottles of Cranberry-Pear and Raspberry.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge
We climbed up to 5,200 feet in just 17 miles from where the ferry dropped us in Port Angeles. It is a winding road, after just five miles we had to stop and deposit an entrance fee of $15.00. By the way, I managed not to buy a drop of gasoline in Canada, which cost about 25 percent more than in the US.

We can’t ask for a better weather than this, it was sunny with a slight breeze and the temperature is manageable. I am really impressed with this place; I ask myself a question, why should I go to Switzerland? We have all the alpines here.

We saw so many deer, and they get used to the visitors and ignore them. It was indeed a treat to be able to take pictures up close.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC at night

Welcome to Victoria, BC. This is our third time to this city. We stayed here for its convenient since the COHO ferry will take us right to the center of the Olympic National Park. The US Custom is very easy as well, they will come to your vehicle and we do not want to go back to Blaine, Washington where it could take hours just to get back to the US.

When we travel, usually Pokie cooked way ahead and brought the foods with us since we have a pretty good size refrigerator, heck, we can even make ice cubes if we need to, We do cook rice almost on a daily basis with a small rice cooker.

On this trip Pokie enjoys oysters a lot since it is fresh and does not smell, it is something about Canadian oysters in this part of Canada. We stayed two full nights in Victoria and went to the ferry dock pretty early since we do not make any reservation, we were number 11 and we were lucky to take the 10:30 AM cruising back to the States. It takes about 90 minutes to cross Strait Juan de Fuca. By the way, the ship is as old as we are, built in 1959.

Qualicum Beach and its surroundings

Deep Bay
We promised ourselves NOT to buy souvenirs for us. This habit stopped when we do not know where to put our cups from so many different places. They are stacked in our cupboards and never been used. But we do shop for specialty foods such as homemade breads and cookies, locally made ice creams, specialty teas, and foods that we could not find at home, for example Lemon curd jam, this one is made in England and only available in Canada.

Oh…we bought liquor (duty free) when we cross the International water to bake cakes and not to drink, the price is almost half price. Enjoy Qualicum beach and its surrounding.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Denman Island - A Picnic

Denman Island
This is my second installment of our vacation. I will take you for a tour of Denman Island. We took a short ferry ride from Buckley Bay to Denman Island, just ten minutes away. I wanted to take the 9:00 A.M. ferry but when we got there at 8:25 A.M., I was surprised that the operator hurries us to board the ferry to our delight; we just took an earlier ferry!

I believe the total cost is about $43.00 Canadian dollars. We wanted to see Bryanna and her husband Brian. She is a vegan cookbook author, to date she has published seven books and sold more than 60,000 books. We met her some 12 years ago in Seattle and we became friends since then.

In a blink of an eye, we arrived in Denman Island. Now what? I suppose to make a call to let them know and I am not using my cell phone, it costs an arm and a leg to do roaming call in Canada. So the best thing was to see a public phone, so I tried and failed. So….I went back to the only general store on the island and I ask how to use this antiquated public phone, I was told to use all the 10 digits instead of 7 digits.  In short, I made the connection; it was the first time in more than a decade that I used the public phone again.

We met at the only Denman Island Guesthouse minutes later, Bryanna and Brian took us around the south side of the island and we had picnic later at Fillongley Provincial Park. Bryanna prepared Inari Sushi, potato salad, marinated tofu and kale salad. Yummy…..of course they are all vegan dishes. On top of that, no paper cups, no paper plates, no paper napkins. How’s that for a picnic on the beach?

Thank you very much Bryanna and Brian, we miss the island hospitality!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let's Go Camping

Blaine, Washington
We have just completed a journey of 1,130 miles or 1,818 kilometers in Canada measurement.  We went to Vancouver Island and explored Olympic National Park. This time we skipped Sol Duc Hot Springs and Hoh Rainforest, we reserve these place for our next travel. We spent a total of twelve nights, including one night in Seattle and two nights in Parksville with Bruce Morton.

This is my first installment of the websites that I will create throughout next week or so. This time our Wanderlust is the “star”, I will show you where we parked for the nights and some places that we initially went.

Meeting Bruce Morton was certainly the highlight of this tour, he is 97 years young. We met him some eleven years ago.  He is such an inspiration to us, that’s why we diverted to the north to see him. I will have more to share with you later. His motto is “every day is a good day”.

During our trip, we were reminded to take life to the fullest. Mortality does not know the time and the place. One morning on our last day in Parksville, I saw a RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in our RV Park. My initial thought was one of the neighbors made so much noise or something in that nature.

Later it downed on me when Pokie spotted a coroner van coming to the park. The guy next door just lost his lovely wife; I saw the body bag being loaded to the van. I felt so bad, later I saw the guy with his dog walking aimlessly around the park. So, enjoy life to the fullest!