Saturday, September 14, 2013


Murphys, Ca --  After 16 days on the road, and about 2,400 miles, we have re-learned an old lesson.

Do not over-plan. The best things happen when you just let them happen. 

That does not mean we did not know where we were heading, sort of. But stuff happens.

We knew we were going sailing with friends on San Francisco Bay. We knew we were going to see son Zack and grand-daughter Katie in their new home in Olympia. We knew we were heading for parts of British Columbia we had not seen before. And we knew we wanted a chance to sit down with old friends in Seattle before heading home. We did all that, and more.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here goes.

First two days we were sailing on San Francisco Bay during America's Cup prelims

 We expected to have nice sailing days with friends, but didn't know we would get up close and personal with America's Cup Oracle boats and the 42-foot Red Bull competition. Then it was on to Olympia.

Days 3, 4 and 5: Granddaughter Katie and son Zack hamming it up
Zack and Katie have a new home and apartment, and are surrounded by friends. She started her new high school and was excited about it. They showed us their new town and were the perfect hosts. Then we were  on the road north to Canada.

Day 7: Arriving at Nanaimo BC by ferry from Tsawwassen

We spent a night in Bellingham en route to Canada, crossed the border in plenty of time to catch the Tsawwassen ferry that takes folks and vehicles across to Vancouver Island. It is the only way to travel, and a delight. By chance we decided to head north on Vancouver Island and find a place to camp for a couple of days.

Day 8: Pat studies the flora, or fauna, or something
 The beach at the provincial park where we stayed was several miles long with tidal flats and rock and driftwood everywhere, overlooking the straits of Georgia. Very few people. Just us and the birds.

Day 9: Beach at the Provincial Park where we camped. Pat with birds and beach.

Our campsite was within walking distance of the beach. The place was clean and well run.

While there we heard a man talking about how beautiful the Pacific Rim Park area is on the western side of Vancouver, so we changed our mind about going further north and crossed the mountains to the West and landed in an area right out of a movie set.

Day 10: Our first look: Ucluelet Yurt living requires minimal activity

Also on day 10, we took a hike near Ucluelet to see the coastal area

Day 11: Pat reads instructions on yurt living
On the first day we took a hike near Uclelet, right on the Pacific coast. Local folks were disagreeing over what type of whales we were seeing. We did not care. The next day we went up to Tofino.
Day 11: Tofino, as far as you can drive in northwest BC
In Tofino, north of our private beach, we found picturesque views, lots of great places to eat local seafood, offers of tours to see bears and whales,  and an end-of-season fair/market where we bought photographs of wildlife.

Then it was heading south again, aimed for Victoria -- one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and a taste of the English-styled Canada.

 This  dockside cafe just happened to be along the way to Victoria. More great seafood and scenery, near Salt Springs Island.

On to Victoria.

Day 13: Victoria is a beautiful blend of old English stuff and First Nation art and atmosphere. 

In Victoria we managed to get slightly lost in traffic, but found our way to the harbor and the center of the city. We stayed here once before on a boat, a great memory. It is a great city, and the new Bateman Center in the old Steamship Building is host to some glorious nature art. We found it while looking for a bathroom. More serendipity. That afternoon we boarded the ferry for the trip back to the U.S.

Day 13: Learning to park on a ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles can be a challenge. That's us on the left.
We took the ferry across Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles, then another ferry across Puget Sound to Edmonds north of Seattle for a visit with our fellow fellows from the class of 1978 at the University of Michigan.

Journalists never really retire, they just get together to talk about the good old days, how much fun we had, and how blessed we are by friendships.

Day 14: The Pike Street Market in Seattle, one of our favorite spots. We are in front of the brass pig.

Day 14: Marsha gives me a lesson in eating smoked salmon, while Warren records the moment.

Day 14: A perfect end to to a perfect day: dinner on Puget Sound with old friends.

Warren and Marsha, friends for 36 years, were the perfect hosts in Seattle. Years ago they interviewed us about having children: we had two and they had none at the time. They went home and had two beautiful daughters, both grown now. We've shared a lot through the years and miles, and we are better for having known them.

After two great days and nights, we loaded the car one last time and headed south on Interstate 5. Homeward bound. By the end of the first day we were very tired of driving, and looked for just anyplace to stay. We found this spot in Southern Oregon.

Day 15: The last night on the road at Wolf Creek Inn, Oregon
The Wolf Creek Inn is a restored 1880's travelers inn, run by the state of Oregon. The place once was a major stop for people going from the Oregon Trail to California. Still is.
Our room was furnished with antiques, the dinner was superb, and we even ran into people with whom we share mutual friends. More serendipity.

Day 16: Homeward bound with Shasta in sight

I believe this is in Northern California, somewhere near Weed, and we headed home on the final day. If it turns out t be Mount Ranier, or Lassen, I am truly sorry, but I am a bit tired.

I've refilled the bird feeders, been to my favorite bakery for a morning treat, and we are back in touch with home.

Tonight we work -- a pleasure really -- at a Habitat for Humanity Fund Raiser.

Home is good.

To misquote someone: "It's not about the destination. It is about the journey."

And, one last sunset....

Sunset at Wya Point on the Canadian coast

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cool nights in Canada - Beauty all around us

The view from our Yurt at Wya Point
Ucluelet,  Vancouver Island, British Columbia -- We are in the land that no one can pronounce.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The First Nation people who live here, and the frequent visitors seem to manage quite easily.

The community of Ucluelet, for example, is called “Uke” for short. But the native name for it is “Yuul?il?ath.”  Pronounce the question marks as a  consonant in the roof of your mouth and you can come close.

We are deep into our vacation, 1,200 miles north of smokey Murphys, staying in an oceanside Yurt at  Wya Point. We are staying on native treaty lands just outside the  Pacific Rim National Park.  The resort town of Tofino is a few kilometers north. This is a far west as you can get in this part of Canada, and there are no roads to the north. They use boats and planes.
During a short hike we enjoyed hearing Canadian tourists arguing over the whales we saw were Orcas or Grey Whales. Matters not to us.
This area was inaccessible for most people until a road was built across the island of Vancouver in the 1950s. Now it is a sought-after resort area, mostly campgrounds and surfers, hikers and kayakers, but with a distinctive native chill out  ambiance.
Pat reads the "welcome" book at the Wya Resort yurt

The Ucluelet First Nation people have lived here for 7,000 years, and through a treaty they have taken control (regained?)  600 acres of old growth  rainforest on the edge of the Pacific, the almost forgotten Pacific side of Vancouver Island.

No casino here, just a beautiful place, well cared for where guests are welcomed. To quote the welcome page in our yurt: “The yurts are a part of a First Nation cultural destination resort ...

The Yuul?il?ath cultural connection to the land means that sustainability  is the guiding principle for all aspects of Wya Point development..”

Everything is made from local products, including the cedar floors in the yurts, and the  nearby lodges have earned a LEED Platinum award. That means it is very green.

That also means the showers and toilets use non-potable water, limited electrical power from battery kits and generators, and drinking water is hauled in every day.

But that allows us the privilege is being nestled into the edge of the cedar rain forest overlooking  a beach. At sunset last night a big crowd of maybe 8 or ten people were visible. 

My photos cannot do this place justice, but it gets two thumbs up, more if I had them.

Meanwhile,  here are a few local names to consider: Amphitrite is the lighthouse; Du-Quah is the native art gallery, Otalith is the local music festival, Cynamocka is a road, Ukee Scoops is the ice cream parlor, Kwisitis is the Feast House Restaurant located on  Wickaninnish Beach, popular with surfers but with miles of sand and driftwood that no one comes near.

You get the idea.

So, Nuu-cha-nulth
(Take Care and Thank You).

From the beach

A two-person Yurt, with deck and million dollar view, cost us $113 a night