Drive to Tofino

A sunny day in mid May turned into a drive to Tofino & Ucluelet. Great drive, of course. Surprised to see an amazing display of wild Native Dogwood Trees in full bloom along the highway near Sproat Lake. For about 40 kilometres. I have driven a lot of roads in BC but have never seen such a wonderful show of the White Dogwood blossoms. 

We expected to see road construction alongside Kennedy Lake but it has not begun. Several Emil Anderson Construction pickups around but no machines so far. There is a lot of tree clearing between the turnoff and Tofino. Apparently another Lane is being added to ease the traffic pressure going into Tofino.  

By the time we hit the coast it was a cool 13C and foggy. No worries. We headed right for THE SHELTER Restaurant in Tofino for lunch. Sat outside under a propane heater. Great service, great chowder and excellent fish & Chips. Split the order?…no problem. Split with full tartar sauce and slaw on both plates. I recommend Shelter. 

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We had not been in Tofino for a couple of years and noticed a lot of building. The town is growing. New shops, new homes. Went down to the waterfront to see the old Lady Rose. She was a lovely ship built in Scotland in the late 1930’s. I once sailed on her from Vancouver to Port Mellon back in 1952. Her last job was on the Port Alberni to Bamfield run. Alas she was old and was replaced on that run and has been sitting rotting away in Tofino for several years. 

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Sad to see her now. She needs a restoration which would be very expensive. 

Continued on to Ucluelet where I gave a copy of my Grandfather’s Diary to the historian at the district hall. A quick stop to see his grave at the Ucluelet Cemetery.

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Then we headed for home. 

Lovely drive, lovely day! 

Just saying…

BEACH HUT IN Qualicum Beach

Had not stopped at the Beach Hut for a couple of years so since we were in the area on this beautiful Friday I treated my favourite girl to Fish & Chips sitting in the sun.

The menu is casual, burgers, hot dogs, Fish & Chips, both Cod & Halibut. You order st a window outside and pick up your food inside. You can sit in or out on the patio. The view is fabulous. The place is friendly, efficient and spotless.

The Food was pretty good, though not cheap. 2 piece Cod & Chips was $18. And served in a cardboard box with plastic cutlery and packaged Tartar sauce.

The good news is that they now have a beer & wine licence. We enjoyed a glass of wine in a plastic glass. 97E855DA-3515-46C7-AEE0-9129D0406658.jpeg

Good place but a little pricey considering the lack of refinements.  But it does have location.

Just saying…

Island Wineries

This is a repeat post from 2016 but with summer on the doorstep it seemed worth repeating.

Forget the Okanogan. forget Napa. We have our very own wine valley right here on the island. The Cowichan Valley. We have made a tour of many of the wineries 4 times in the past couple of years and enjoyed it every time. You can easily do it in a day and include a winery lunch too. It’s a great way to entertain visitors too

We start at AVERILL CREEK Vineyard on the north side of Duncan. Take a right off of #1 at Somenos Road and follow it for 2 or 3 kilometres until you see the Averill Creek sign. Our first visit was quite a surprise. We were not expecting such a large facility. A modern building with a spacious tasting room and a delightful picnic area outside. A bonus is the spectacular view of Cowichan Bay. If you wish, you can purchase cheese and crackers, a cold white wine and relax on the patio.

The wines here are really very good.Try the Pinot Gris or the sparkling Charme De L’ile. Friends from Ontario had a case  of Averill Creek wine shipped home they enjoyed it so much. Their wine is available at SaveOn in Parksville.

http://www.averillcreek.ca

Nearby is The Deol Estate Winery, a small funky joint. We have had a great tasting here offered by a very enthusiatic lady. Worth a stop if you have time.
There are a couple of lunch options on a day tour. One is Vinoteca Zanatta, the oldest winery in the area. The food here is excellent and weather permitting is served outside on a big wrap around porch of the 1903 Zanatta Farmhouse. The chef is a gal from Mozambique, Fatima DaSilva. Go figure! I guarantee you will enjoy the food here. One of the anomalies here is that while noshing in a vineyard, you may see loaded logging trucks going by.

We Have not done a tasting here as the tasting room is very small and often crowded. Reservations for lunch are recommended. Zanatta is just south of Duncan on Marshall Road.

http://zanatta.ca

Another worthwhile stop is Blue Grouse Winery on Lakeside Road not far from Zanatta. A really impressive building that reportedly cost a couple of million dollars contains a very spacious tasting room. No restaurant here but a generous tasting experience of some very drinkable wines. I like the ORTEGA and the PINOT GRIS. You will want to take a bottle home from here.

http://www.bluegrouse.ca

In Cobble Hill, between Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake are two must visits. The MERRIVALE CIDERY is an impressive facility with a tasting room, gift shop, and a very large restaurant. We have not yet eaten here but the menu looks inviting. There is also a Bakery and Deli.

In addition to a range of Ciders, Cowichan Gin and Cowichan Vodka are produced here. I bought a bottle of the Gin on our last visit. Is it good? Yes it is  our good friend Joan likes gin and pronounced Cowichan Gin as excellent!

Merrivale’s grounds are impressive and special events like weddings are popular here.

https://www.merridale.ca

Just a skip down the road is UNSWORTH Vineyards. Another must stop. Although quite new, Unsworth is already producing some nice wines. We have slurped their Pinot Gris, Rose, and Pinot Noir. Spend some time in the tasting room, a separate building beside a pond, waterfall and patio. Since they are into marketing there is an assortment of stuff to buy.

Across the parking lot a restored vintage home contains the restaurant. Great food. The Burger is outstanding and the Moules Frittes looks fabulous. Great service inside or on the patio. You don’t want to miss this winery. Reservations for sure.

http://www.unsworthvineyards.com
Just one more. Rocky Creek Winery is a small place with a tasting room in the basement of a home. Excellent tastings every time we visited. We first visited because we had tried their Pinot Gris at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Victoria. The Pinot Gris is good and the Robin’s Rose is perfect on a summer afternoon on the patio. We always take some home from here.

http://www.rockycreekwinery.ca

There are several other wineries one can visit, but in one day that’s enough. Most of them are not open in the winter so it’s a summer / early fall event if you want to partake. Weekdays are less busy and most are open Wednesday to Sunday.

Google maps has all the wineries in the area marked.

Just saying…

Busy Ports

Although more than half of BC residents support the new pipeline there is certainly some resistance to it and to the increased tanker traffic in BC waters. My opinion is that the hysteria over Tankers is rather overstated. 

Currently, about 3500 deep sea ships visit Vancouver annually. That includes freighters, container ships, car carriers, bulk carriers, Cruise ships and tankers. That is about 9 ships per day.  The Port of Vancouver estimate that will increase to 12 ships per day by 2026. Of that total are about two oil tankers per week or 100 plus per year. 

In addition ships also stop at Port Melon, Nanaimo, Crofton, Chemainus and Victoria.  At any given time there can be as many as 65 deep sea ships on the southern coast. Today, there are about 60, 2 of which are oil tankers

Total in and out of southern BC waters is about 7000 per year. Almost all theses ships pass through Haro Strait a narrow channel between the Gulf Islands,  Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands in Washington State. The narrowest point is between Turn Point on Stuart Island and South Pender Island just over a mile. 

 

In my lifetime, I don’t recall there ever has been a collision or a grounding of a deep sea ship in this area. 

The big tankers are now accompanied by large powerful tugs from the terminal in Burnaby to Race Rocks past Victoria. The tankers are required have two pilots on board, two officers on the bridge with at least two crew as well. For a great article on how the tugs assist the tankers go to…

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/a-tankers-journey-through-bc-waters-carrying-oil-from-the-kinder-morganpipeline/article35070386/?service=mobile

In recent memory there have been only two serious incidents involving deep sea ships in our waters. In 1979 a tanker collided with the Second  Narrows Rail Bridge in dense fog. In 1970 a Russian freighter collided with a BC Ferry in Active Pass. Freighters no longer use that pass and tankers transiting First Narrows have tug escorts. 

While you might think 7000 ship movements is a lot for one port consider that the port of  Singapore has 260,000 ship arrivals and departures per year. Today, April 28, there are 1452 deep sea ships in Singapore Harbour.  Every day 700 or more ships arrive or depart.  Several years ago we enjoyed an afternoon cruise around this harbour. The number of ships is amazing to see. Whereas ships coming into Vancouver are required to use a pilot from the BC Pilotage Authority, a Pilot is not a requirement in Singapore. Of the fleet of ships at least a third are oil tankers. Singapore is the largest ship refuelling port in the world. Below is part of Singapore Harbour today, the red squares are oil tankers. The green are freighters  

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 Do they have collisions and oil spills?  Occasionally, but considering the enormous volume of ship movements very few. There was a spill in 1972, 1975, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2017. Some of those were caused  ships  running aground  and some the result of collisions. 

Considering the numbers of tankers it is surprising there are not more spills. Singapore seems to have an excellent spill response protocol. 

http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/countries-regions/countries/singapore/

Another busy shipping area is the English Channel where 182,000 ships transit every year with rarely an incident. Of that total about 50,000 are oil tankers. Rarely is there a serious incident in the channel despite rather extraordinary volume of traffic  

Here are some interesting statistics on oil spills world wide. 

http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/data-statistics/statistics/

So considering other much busier ports around the world the traffic in BC waters is rather small. With the safety measures in place, with the use of pilots, with compulsory double hulls for tankers, with the modern navigation aids including radar, GPS, AIS, Chart plotters etc., ship traffic in and out of Vancouver should remain as safe as it has been for decades. 

Just saying…

Ships & Tankers in BC Waters

Although many British Columbians are aware that Vancouver is a  busy port, few really know the magnitude of the port activities. 

Today, April 16, all of the moorage spaces in English Bay are full. 15 freighters and one tanker are waiting to load or unload cargo. In Burrard Inlet there are 4 ships at anchor and 13 at the various docks. There is one tanker at the terminal in Burnaby. 3 more  freighters are  inbound between Victoria and Vancouver. Another is docked at Ogden Point in Victoria and 2 more at anchor off Esquimalt. 

13 more are anchored in various spots in the Gulf Islands. And 5 more are anchored in Nanaimo. 4 more up up the Fraser. And 3 tied up at Roberts Bank. One more loading pulp at Port Melon. In total there are 63 cargo ships of one sort or another loading unloading or waiting for same. 

Some are loading coal, potash, grain, oil,  pulp,  Others are unloading vehicles, General cargo including food, clothing, hardware, etc. 

All these ships are diesel powered and all are carrying large quantities of diesel or bunker oil. How much do they carry? See below. 

  • Small tugboat (30–60 feet): 1,500–25,000 gallons
  • Ocean-going tugboat (90–150 feet): 90,000–190,000 gallons
  • Puget Sound jumbo ferry (440 feet): 130,000 gallons
  • Bulk carrier of commodities such as grain or coal (500–700 feet): 400,000–800,000 gallons
  • Large cruise ship (900–1,100 feet): 1–2 million gallons
  • Inland tank barge (200–300 feet): 400,000–1.2 million gallons
  • Panamax container ship that passes through the Panama Canal (960 feet): 1.5–2 million gallon
  • Ocean-going tank barge (550–750 feet): 7 million–14 million gallons 
  • Large oil tankers (987 feet): 55 Million gallons ( this is the type of tankers that go into Ferndale and Anacortes in Washington State)

So today there could be as much as or more than 32 million gallons of diesel fuel floating around in our waters. Since approximately 3500 deep sea ships visit here each year that means 7000 or so transits of Haro Strait near Sidney. Which equates to something like 1 – 2 BILLION gallons of fuel moving through Haro Strait annually. 

What damage that could do to our environment! But it doesn’t. It’s safe. Our BC Pilotage Authority Pilots do a wonderful job of ensuring that these vessels are moved, anchored and docked safely. Every day, every month, year after year. 

The anti tanker hysteria is not reality.

 

Just saying…

Sent from my iPhone

Buns

This is a great time of year! Why? HOT CROSS BUNS, that’s why. I love them with butter or toasted with butter and jam liberally applied.

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But today my bun quest hit a new high. COB’S bakery has FOUR kinds of Hot Cross Buns. Traditional, Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Orange & Apple Cinnamon.  No matter. Just choose the Cranberry Orange. Outstanding.

Just saying…

 

 

 

Another Drive, Another Pub.

Since it was such a beautiful sunny day, my favourite girl thought a drive would be the plan. So at noon we jumped into the ILX and headed up 19A to Comox to check out a pub we only recently heard about.

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Right beside the Canadian Forces Air Base is the GRIFFIN PUB. We arrived just after 1300 so there were lots of tables. The pub is decorated is all manner of military memorabilia, mostly air force variety. The walls are covered in dozens and dozens of photos and drawings of military planes. Quite interesting if you are into aircraft.

We had heard that this was a great pub, a favourite of some folks we know who live in the area, so my expectations were high.  Unfortunately, we were somewhat disappointed. The food was OK but was just regular old pub food. I had the Beef Dip which wasn’t even close to the gold standard Beef Dip at the Crow & Gate Pub. The latter serves up at least twice the Beef for less money. My favourite girl chose Chicken Fingers with a honey mustard dip. Was good but nothing to rave about.

Our server was a pleasant young lady who did a good job, although the table beside us remained uncleared during most of our time there even though 3 different staff people came by and looked at it.

All things considered, I’ll choose the Crow & Gate, The Lantzville, The Rocking Horse, or the Shady Rest before going back to the Griffin.

If you want to give it a try, you can find the Griffin At 1185 Kilmorley Road in Comox.

Here is their website. http://www.griffinpub.ca

Just saying..

The Rusted Rake in Nanoose

Having driven by THE RUSTED RAKE Restaurant in Nanoose many times, we decided that today we would give it a try. We arrived just before 1:00 and found the place nearly full. No tables left so we sat at the bar. Well it’s like a bar without liquor. No beer or wine here yet. Maybe by the fall they say. Too bad.

One orders at the counter here. Mostly soups, salads & sandwiches. We chose to share the Pastrami Sandwich with an order of Cole slaw and two Cappuccinos . The food was very good but for $15.50 a sandwich better be good. Everything is made to order so the food delivery was slow.

The room is bright with lots of big windows, a fireplace and in summer a patio. It is large and noisy. The acoustics are such that is annoyingly noisy. For that reason and the lack of wine it will be a while before we go back.

However, if you are interested, here is the sandwich board.y

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No website but they are on Facebook. This joint is on Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose. Turn at the Petrocan station on Highway 19 and it’s a few hundred yards down the road.

just saying…

Lunch in Courtenay

Since we were doing a Costco run to Comox today our post shopping timing was prefect for a late lunch somewhere. So why  not a visit to Stephen & Carol’s FRANKIEJO’S Bakery Cafe in Courtenay.

We were greeted by Stephen and his daughter Frankie like good old friends. After catching up we took a look at the specials board and decided to share a Grilled Mango Glazed Chicken Sandwich on foccacio with pineapple coconut slaw and siracha mayo. Plus I ordered a cup of todays special soup…Milligitawny.

Wow, was the sandwich delicious and large. Perfect to share. Carol’s Foccacio Bread was excellent. And the soup was very tasty.

I enjoyed a coffee and my favourite girl had a cappuccino. In the afternoon? Yes! Something one should never do in Italy but it’s quite OK in Courtenay.

FRANKIEJO’S coffee is from Coyote Coffee Roastery in PARKSVILLE and it is fabulous. FRANKIEJO’S is selling so much of it that Stephen was off to buy a bigger, newer cappuccino machine.

This is a cute little bakery cafe that we strongly recommend if you are in the Comox Courtenay area. Great owners, delicious food. Check out their Facebook Page for daily specials. Here was today’s

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Open Monday to Friday and located at 501 Fourth Street in Courtenay.

Just saying…

Joy of Shopping

Shopping is something we don’t do much anymore, except food and wine shopping, of course. But today we set out to replace our, who knows how old,  washer & dryer. The washer is making very loud protestations in the spin cycle. Sounds like an over revving Indy Car and it’s death is definitely pending. Off we went to the big smoke. That would be Nanaimo.

Stop number one was Home Depot, a store I quite like. I headed directly to the appliance department and quickly found the laundry appliances. I looked and looked. I lingered and lingered hoping to make contact with a sales person. I was ready to buy. But did I encounter a person of knowledge? Nope. I high tailed it out of there and headed to THE BRICK. They too had a sale on and I hung out in their appliance department for a while. They had pretty much the same units as Home Depot and the same prices. Might have bought here if anyone had said Hello. Not a sign of a warm body.

So back in the car thinking I might have better luck at Lowe’s. Good selection, easy to find the appliances but no one working here either. Finally found a guy in a ball cap staring at a computer. Do you know anything about this stuff, I asked. I do, he replied but I’m busy with another customer, be with you in a minute. No sign of said customer. Maybe He was into Virtual Reality. I loitered awhile but ball cap disappeared so I took my leave.

Thought the Hudsons Bay might be worth a try so off we went to the mall. Well, well, well, there were actually two ladies in the department at the desk not far from the washing machines. I sauntered over and asked if either knew anything about the products and one said, She does. She turned out to be a very personable lady named Linda, a newcomer to the area who lives a few blocks from us in FRENCH CREEK.

Linda seemed quite knowledgeable and provided some insight into the Maytag units I was viewing. Their prices, on sale, were the same as the other possible vendors too. She printed off some details for me so I could think about the units and make sure they would fit the space in our home.

So the decision was made. The Bay it is. Can get points on the visa and points on The Bay rewards card too. Well done HUDSON’S BAY! The three other stores lost a really easy sale today because of rather appalling customer service. Amazing what can happen when there is someone to serve you.

Just saying…