Who are we

We are a family of 3 who took a break from our routine. Usually we live in Scotland but February to the end of July 2011 we were on the road in North America for 6 months. We are Mark (also known as Dad), Rachel (also known as Mum... and a whole bunch of other names... my usual at-home blog is here) and little h (10/11 years of age during the trip).

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Beautiful British Columbia – part 3 (Vancouver Island and more from the young one…)

Orca, near Mayne Island

Orca (killer whale), near Mayne Island, off Vancouver Island

In real time we leave Alberta tomorrow for Saskatchewan but in blog time we’re still chasing whales on Vancouver Island… like this...

Monday 20th June we took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Firstly we met up with someone I knew from blogging and writing – Sandra Leigh (her blog is here). We had a lovely lunch with Sandra, felt we had known her for years after about 30 minutes and then she showed us some of the local sites (particularly Pipers Lagoon). We then went on to our place for the night – Parksville (a little further north) – where we enjoyed some dramatic views over the water (the Strait of Georgia) at night.

The next day (21st June) we played mini-golf (well, we are on holiday…), spotted bald eagles, met up with Sandra again, said good-bye to her again and then set off south towards Victoria. On the way we stopped at Chemainus – a town filled with striking murals (please find many photos below…). We got to Victoria pretty much at bedtime and watched the solstice sun set over the Odeon cinema over the road. Our photos from Nanaimo, Parksville, Chemainus and heading south are here:

Vancouver Island part 1

On 22nd June we woke up in Victoria on a smashing sunny day. We booked a place on one of the many whale-watching tours available locally and headed down to the harbour to get aboard. And now here is our youngest correspondent with the rest of that day’s old news:

So, on Wednesday 22nd June, we went off to the Prince of Whales whale watching company. Mum, Dad and I got dressed up in big red suits and hats and gloves. We’d been told we’d get wet, but we didn’t know about the suits. When we were getting onto the boat, the Zodiac driver was telling us the water would be rough. He also asked if I was ok with that. We said yes. Well, it was certainly very rough!

The trip started off slowly and we were in the back of the boat. The water was calm in the harbour. I didn’t know if it would get that much bumpier, but it did. When we left the harbour the waves were huge and it was like being in a rollercoaster (and a lot of fun!). We saw harbour seals lying on some rocks.

The Zodiac drivers of other boats told our driver they’d seen a pod of whales, but they were a long way away. There were some bumps, but not many, on the way to the place they had been spotted. It got cooler, so we were glad of our suits. Eventually, after a long boat trip we arrived to see a ton of boats there too. After not too long, the whales (orcas or killer whales) were sticking their heads out. There were loads of them. The driver was very proud and showed us all pictures of the three pods of whales that live in these waters all year. The whales weren’t at all shy, showing themselves a lot. We stayed a long time, ate some crunchy bars, watched some whales through binoculars.

For most of the trip back it was quite smooth. We saw the seals again and then near the harbour the waves got much bumpier again (even bumpier than before!). We were all holding onto each other. Hats, gloves, we wore them all. We talked about the waves, though we didn’t let go of each other much. After a long bumpy bit, it seemed, it was eventually calm again.

We saw lots of different kinds of boats back in the harbour: Taxi-boats, Tour-boats, big boats, small boats. When we got off, we were really hot in our suits. Once the suits were off we got lunch and went shopping. We also went to the cinema. Dad saw “X-Men – First Class”. Mum and I saw “Mr Popper’s Penguins”. It was very funny. We also got popcorn and afterwards ate what should have been Chinese, but was Indian. It tasted good.

And that’s goodnight from her…

On Thursday 23rd June we went to the Royal B.C. Museum and watched an IMAX film about orang-utans and elephants (excellent) and looked at all the exhibits on show (mainly the top floor – history of BC). Then we made our way to the ferry at Swartz Bay and back to the mainland… pretty much in time for bed.

Our Victoria, whale-watching and leaving the island photos are here:

Vancouver Island part 2

We absolutely loved what we saw of Vancouver Island (there is lots, lots more that we didn't see – the west coast for a start). Friendly locals too. Great place.


Sandra Leigh said...

You know, it's lots of fun to see your home through someone else's eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed your tour, and I'm delighted that I had a chance to meet you. See you in Scotland! :-)

Rachel Fox said...

Great to meet you too - thanks for making us so welcome.


The Bug said...

Love the murals - what a cool town. And the little building with the bears on the roof...

H did a great job describing the whale watching tour :)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, it makes me want to go home and encourage lots of people to paint them all over Montrose!

h worked hard on her writing last night... like a proper journo... working to the deadline!