Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chemainus - "The Little Town That Did"

The vacation didn't end at my parents home.  In fact, it continued for another week beyond that.  I had another wedding to attend on Gambier Island and some time to kill in between so I spent several days with good friends on Vancouver Island.

I couldn't resist taking a touristy photo of this ferry despite having travelled
almost daily on BC Ferries for the better portion of my adult life.
We visited one of my favourite childhood haunts while I was there.  Coombs, British Columbia is known for its thriving market and to many children as the place with the 'goats on the roof'.  I was not disappointed, as we drove in the goats made their appearance chewing away at the green roof of the marketplace.

We also made time during my trip to visit Cowichan Lake, swimming in the cool water and playing with the kids.

But the place that really stood out for me was Chemainus.  My girlfriend lives in this little town and I had some time to wander around and enjoy its sights.

Notice the palm tree in front!  The west coast has a much warmer climate than the east.
Chemainus has an interesting history.  It was originally settled in the 1850's and its inhabitants made their living working in mining, fishing and forestry.  These industries began to falter one by one throughout the years and a lumber mill was the only remaining industry employer when in 1982 it announced it would be closing its doors.  The citizens of Chemainus were faced with an uncertain future but instead of despairing, they rallied and decided to make their town a destination with a new industry of tourism. 

Gorgeous old homes with lush gardens seemed to be everywhere
In order to do this they began to beautify their downtown streets and professional artists were employed to paint five large murals depicting the town's history on the walls of various buildings.  This outdoor art gallery has grown throughout the years and today there are 40 murals throughout the town that draw busloads of tourists for the Festival of Murals.

Mural depiction of the logging industry.
I was reminded of one of those classic National Film Board of Canada videos from years ago.

In addition to the murals there is also a thriving theatre company in town and a multitude of excellent restaurants and shops to keep you busy.  

Walking down the main street I noticed this mural to the left
but also the blooming Catalpa tree on the right
Chemainus is also the location of the Thetis and Penelakut (Kuper) Islands ferry for those looking to make a getaway to a more remote location.
Just past the ferry dock you can see a log boom floating in the channel
I found myself following the yellow footprints imprinted on the sidewalks through town taking in the Saltspring Island Soap Company, antiques shops and bakeries.  Along the way I oggled old homes and lush gardens.  The warm zone 8 climate in this part of the country is very conducive to gardening and there were numerous trees and flowers that caught my attention.

One spot that I couldn't resist was Askew Creek Park.  A couple of acres set just off the main road beckoned me and I ambled along in the deep shade cast by the towering firs and hemlock.

Look up, waaaayyy up
While wandering about I was reminded this was not my little island of PEI.  A great crashing in the underbrush scared me out of my wits only to come face to face with a deer.

I had completely forgotten what it was like to enter the forest on the west coast.  Deer are everywhere and so are animals like bears and cougars.  I kept my eyes and ears wide open for the rest of the walk.

Unfortunately my time in Chemainus was limited and I had to move to the next part of the trip but I greatly enjoyed visiting this little town and hope to visit again in the future.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I've Missed You

It's been almost 3 weeks since I've looked at my blog and gosh I've missed you all!  I was in dire need of an extended break from life in general and I got that and then some.  Now it's time to put my affairs back in order so to speak, so please bear with me while I sort through photos and begin writing again and catch up on all of your posts that I have missed. 

The past three weeks were spent returning to my roots.  After three plus years on the east coast I finally returned to my home out west.  I am originally from British Columbia and this is my first trip back to the west coast.  It was geographically, logistically and emotionally a big trip. 

My vacation started out with a bang in Calgary, Alberta.  After a full day's travel I landed, jet lagged, but just in time for my nephew's wedding. 

The sun soaked plains of Alberta provided a tremendous background to several full days of drinking, eating and dancing.  Sitting on my sister's patio we watched hawks fly overhead and shared stories and laughter.

My sister in law, two nieces and myself on the far right.
I was fortunate to find a spare hour to visit my niece Julia's garden while in Calgary.  I wrote about Julia's garden and the permaculture movement in This Post.  It was amazing to see how, in her first year of gardening, the whole backyard had been transformed into a lush garden full of flowers and edibles.

After the fun of the wedding I headed west with my parents across the Rockies.  I was so excited to see mountains once again.  Despite the allure of the east coast it lacks the awe inspiring sights of the mountains.

The wild mountain flowers were in full bloom across the hillsides as we drove along.  Blues, yellows and reds caught my eyes.  This was a bittersweet drive, so many beautiful views to take in but not knowing if or when I'll ever return.

There is no blue I know of like the blue of the lakes in the Rocky Mountains

After our journey through the mountains we arrived in the dry desert climate of Chase, British Columbia where my parents reside.  It was a balmy 37 degrees celsius (99 Farenheit) when we drove into town.  Far hotter than the 25 degrees I'm used to on the east coast but lacking the east's thick humidity it was quite bearable.

My mother's garden requires constant irrigation in this hot climate.  Her vegetables and fruit trees would not stand a chance otherwise.  I was pleased to see some plants still alive that I had gifted to her on my departure.  A clematis blooming exuberantly, the unknown aster I had received from a friend and lupines in various shades.  I also found some flowers I coveted like this double pink poppy.

I've asked her to send me seeds when she has the chance.

And that concludes the first half of my trip.  There are more photos to review and more places to visit, not to mention a look at my own garden upon my return.  I hope you'll join me and I look forward to seeing what you have been up to during your summer.