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Muscle Beach, Tofino and Ucluelet

Muscle Beach, Tofino and Ucluelet

The start of this trip is in a parking lot in Nanaimo, exhausted after overhauling the van we spent the night in front of Calbela’s with about 6 other RVs.

The sun arose and the sweet rumble of RVs warming up their engines and turning on their air conditioning got us out of bed. We were off on the road again, this time to the western side of Vancouver Island. We were off to Tofino, otherwise known as ‘Tuff City’

On the way we stopped at the river swimming area, this used to be filled with giant rocks and trees you had to manouever to get down to the river, it now has a viewing area and locks all over a chain link fence. Also stairs, which out of stubbornness I did not use. We headed down to the water and I contemplated jumping into the glacial water, green and blue in colour. It looked cold.

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And it was.

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Finally we arrived at the junction that read Tofino and Ucluelet, after a 5 hour long journey on the road from Salt Spring.

We headed right, and drove down the road until we finally saw the turn off for Mussel Beach Campground. An hour and half later down a bumpy logging road we arrived to the other side of the inlet, we arrived to the muscle beach campground.

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Blue sky held overhead and we pulled up to the check in, the host was lovely and didn’t charge us for the day before we had booked, but were unable to make it up. We bought a wheelbarrow full of chopped cedar and headed to the campsite.

Trees on both sides and ocean up front.
It was exactly what I was looking for.

A small picnic table sat in front of the fire and a collection of seashells littered the ground.

We set up camp, decided to try out our new solar panels and auxillary battery from www.gowesty.com.

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Worked like a charm, we were able to power up our recording equipment and record a new song for Seraphina Mountain.

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Rain poured down and we experienced an crazy thunderstorm on our last night, lightning shot down from the sky over the ocean as thunder shook the windows and rattled bones.

We saw Mother Nature open up in full force, waves pummeled the driftwood and rocks that bordered the shoreline. As the lightning flashed I could make out shapes walking on the beach, people were trying to get a better feel of the storm.

We huddled inside playing Munchkin and cards, we read stories about King Henry the IIV to pass the time and I tried my best to calm my heart rate.

Storms always get me riled up.

We awoke the next day to warm blue skies, off again down that dusty logging road to Ucluelet to pick up a couple of friends who were travelling as well.

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We headed to Long Beach and Wickanninsh Beach to stretch our legs and go for a dip in the ocean. Cold by refreshing, we spent the hour chasing waves and body surfing. In the far distance there were surfers riding waves and couples strolling hand in hand. It was picturesque to say the least.

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After swimming we headed to Ucluelet to make some dinner by the oceanside, Westy Café party of four.

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We stayed overnight at a Campsite in Ukee with an amazing view, dinner, fire and towel whipping wars commenced.

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We dropped off one of our friends at the Nanaimo Ferry and another down at Buckley Bay, she was headed on a backpacking adventure in the Northern Islands.

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Beautiful Adventure. Off we go.
<3

Port Renfrew, a few beautiful days on the edge.

Port Renfrew, a few beautiful days on the edge.

Waking up to a the sounds of waves.
After days and days of rain and mosquitoes, we awoke this morning finally to the sun and waves.

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Pacheedaht campground, we pull up in the pouring rain the day before, people huddled underneath the small awning at the office using what little power they could get from the open powerbar and connect to the wifi.

I reminded the the woman behind the counter about last time I was here, and promised I wouldn’t become stuck in the sand again. She laughed, a chuckle that was full a hearty and could be heard across the parking lot.

“Oh yes, we remember you. We have nothing to do today so it might be fun to come and dig someone out.”

We grabbed one of the last beach front sites and as we drove up it seemed all too familiar.
It was the same one that I had come to the first time I visited with Rose and Katie.
Site 32.

And classically the Westy does her best to get stuck in the wet sand.
Great.
Mike’s skills with snow and vehicles come in handy as we rock that baby out of a sandy groove.
Finally we are parked.

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It was beautiful, the clouds misted over the tree line mountains and passed shadows overtop the choppy water.

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Waves crashed into the shoreline again and again as smelt fisherman sat on the beach with long drag nets looking for their income.

We walked along the beachside, Scarlet in tow, she loved the sand. Running around and jumping from side to side, climbing over driftwoood. She raced back and forth around us excitely as we climbed dead giants of forgotten trees, massive roots and trunks became our perches as we sat and watched the turning sea.

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Rain poured and we realized the one thing that is so useful we forgot to get…a tarp.
I grabbed the tarp off of my tent hammock and we made a make shift shelter out of it, it did very little to stop the torrential downpour from soaking us through to our bones.

2 wet humans and a soaked sheltie, this van sleep was going to be interesting.

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The rain let up enough for Mike to start up a fire, but it deemed rather frustrating with wet wood and with even wetter kindling. Finally the fire was started up and we sat by it drinking moonshine and preparing the world’s worst fire side dinner.

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Pancake batter wrapped around sticks and eggs in their shells shoved uptop coals. The batter was doughy and the eggs burnt. I decided a meal of coconut rice and black beans with fried bananas was a better choice.

One of our neighbours came over and introduced herself, Natalie from Nanaimo. She and a friend jumped in the car this weekend to go on an adventure and ended up in Pacheena Bay. After some good chats and shared blueberries she told us she’d be attending Diversity Festival on Texada as well.

We said goodnight and curled up into the tent, with stars overhead and clear skies predicted we set up the bed ‘upstairs’.

We woke up in the morning to blue skies and waves rolling in on the white sand beach.

Driving through town we stopped for a home cooked lunch at Tomi’s. It was amazing, tomato-basil, feta soup and homemade biscuits.
Exactly what I wanted.

We jumped in the van and headed down to Botanical Beach, the tidepools were an unreal teal colour, a black bear had just visited the beach escaping the oncoming hoard of tourists with cameras and the waves were in spectacular form.
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There were caves carved our of the soft rock, perfectly situated across from the crashing waves and held a beautiful echo. I had to sit in one and belt out a favorite tune.

Then it was off to China Beach, we needed a place to hang out hats for the night and decided on China Beach Campground.
It was immaculate, almost liked they combed the moss on the ground so it would be perfect.

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The campsite host was a wonderful man named Nick, lived there year round with his dogs and was kind enough to offer us a bit of extra wood to ‘complete our evening’.
IT was a break from driving and wet, we set up camp and worked on music by the fireside.

The birds were almost deafening. Filling the tree lines space with their song.

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Enough tranquility back to Salty for a recharge and onward.

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<3 Mandie

The Magic of Fairy Lake 

The Magic of Fairy Lake 

We left Salt Spring Thursday with all our belongings in tow including my 8-year old sheltie, Scarlet and set out to Port Renfrew making few stops along the way for drinks and groceries.

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Arriving to the campground in the pitch black and a few min before it closed, lucky us.

Mandie parked the van and setup camp and we both hunkered down for the night, but not before I was able to create the world’s best fire to provide heat and ambiance for my lady and my trusty hound.

Scarlet even attempted to help with chopping the wood.

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We spent a few days here checking out the lake and basking in our new found freedom. Now realizing enjoying that freedom is a lot harder than we thought.

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Both of us are use to waking early and commuting to our 9-5 jobs, though Mandie’s 10 minute drive down a mountain road walled with trees, birds and deer seems like a vacation compared to my 2 hour human walled bus ride to Burnaby and back again in the evening. Besides that it’s time, how do we manage time?
So use to having to do things both of us felt a little alien in our new schedule.
Coffee in the morning, breakfast, clean up and then…?

Basically we both had to get a bit creative.
It’s going to be interesting these next few months.

It rained everyday but helped with my allergies which have been plaguing me days earlier (probably due to packing) and the gorgeous grass field’s at our soon to be house on Salt Spring.

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Though it’s no small wonder why people flock to British Columbia, the trees here are ancient and the air is so fresh, makes me think I never want to live in a city again.

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Onto the next adventure.

-Mike

A night at sea.

A night at sea.

A friend of ours invited us out to his houseboat in beautiful Burgoyne Bay on one of our last nights before leaving Salt Spring.

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We chased the sun and met Balasz at the doc, two dogs and four humans squeezed into his trusty boat and we headed toward his floating cabin.

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This was Scarlet’s first time out on a boat, she was calm cool and collected, almost as if she thought the mounds of fur would act as a flotation device in case we capsized.

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We arrived to Balasz’s floating ‘shack’ as he called it.

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We listened to jazz inspired electronic beats and ate cheese, crackers, olives and hummus wraps made by Balasz’s cousin visiting from Germany.

Playing music by the open picture window, Mike and I jammed for a bit with some percussion accompaniment.
Mainly feet and hands…and a howling sheltie.

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We caught the last bit of the sun, sitting out on the deck watching it dip below the mountains, a orange-pink infused sky painted the clouds overhead reflecting on the choppy water. I sat on the deck taking in big gulps of fresh air of the water.

Realizing that I’ve never lived away from the ocean, never been land locked before and often choosing to inhabit cabins that have access to the seashore.
The crashing of the waves became my lullaby while I slept in a trailer in Ucluelet and the sunset over the ocean was a sight seen nightly from my deck in a beautiful cabin on Salty (Salt Spring’s nickname).

This idea of being landlocked for months on end while driving across the country is finally setting in, I need to say my goodbyes to The Pacific Ocean before the long drive to The Atlantic Ocean.

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The Bioluminescence we out that night, if you’ve never seen them before, look up some images online they are tricky to photograph.

It started with drawing in the ocean with a paddle, when these small plankton-like creatures are agitated they give off a green-blue hue and there are thousands of them, it looks like you are painting the sea with a neon paintbrush.

Katie dared someone to jump in for $10, I immediately accepted and so did Mike, we no longer had jobs, we have to make money somehow.

I wish I could have captured a picture of it, it was like swimming in light, I was unable to tell what was stars and what was ocean. When I finally resurfaced every movement of my arms and legs we trace by a ribbon. Mike jumped out quickly to my astonishment, then realizing how cold the water actually was.

I thanked Katie for buying our breakfast and she said the light show was worth it.

She’s a good friend.

We headed back inside, played some more tunes by request then Hungarian Rum and wine got the best of us and we all curled up in front of the picture window.
Four of squeezed on a bed in the middle of the cabin, the ladies slept soundly as the men were apparently pushed to the edges of the bed, but I have no complaints.

We woke up to the sun and headed back to land, it was hard to leave such a beautiful scene but packing needed to be done and preparations for our trip.

A lovely last evening on Salty. We will see you soon again.

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A Squamish adventure.

A Squamish adventure.

I look up at the hazy sky, the only clearing I can see, I am surrounded by trees.
A familiar road, as we head through paradise valley, past the outdoor school I attended as a child, then again as a counselor and once more as an alumni.
I had spent many years walking groups of eager grade 3’s and 6’s through the forest playing games, learning about the local flora and fauna and wandering through the boardwalks and streams.

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We find our way to the end of the thick forest and onto a logging road, the van putters down the gravel road, driving through the potholes with a triumphant splash.

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Finally we make it down to the train yard for a coffee break, pop the top, heat up the kettle and grind the beans. Mike plays some tunes by the rail yard while I brew us up a pot to keep us warm.

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Scarlet waits in the van.

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Back to the road for us, thanks Squamish!

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<3

07 Bus Show

07 Bus Show

Great collection of Vans from this 2007 Bus Show. I would love to take part in one of these shows however I have yet had the chance to buy a van but I’ve created this site because I love them and hope to one day own one!

Slammed Van

Slammed Van

I’m not sure how the guy fit inside this and I’m not really sure if I like it or not but I though I would add it to the website. I say this not because he’s a big guy just he does not look comfortable driving the van!

’77 Chewie

’77 Chewie

Love the names people give their vans! I’m serious this rules so many great vans out there and this video is a great example of the fun you can have with one. It’s a costly start to actually buy one for the right price but once you have it your ready for the open road. I was talking with my brother the other night actually about what we could do with the van once I finally get it and we were thinking about installing a record player inside of it. Yes it does seem like a very strange idea but that’s the catch and we’re sticking with it!

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So many vans!

So many vans!

Lots of VW van’s arriving at a park sometime in 2007, great to see so many of them in one place. There is quite a mix of vans arriving of all different years from the early 60’s and so on so, I hope you enjoy the video because I sure did!