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The Eagle Wing /Experience

The Eagle Wing /Experience

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018
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I recently went on a whale watching excursion with Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Tours  to check out their newest boat, “Wild 4 Whales.” I have been fortunate enough to have toured with most of the whale watching companies operating out of Victoria, Ucluelet and Tofino.

Wild 4 Whales is the largest boat in the Eagle Wing fleet. It has lots of indoor and open-air seating. The views from the massive windows are spectacular! When the whales show up, everyone is outdoors where there is still ample seating room, however with whale nearby everyone is on their feet. There is plenty of room indoors and outdoors for everyone to get a good view.

This is Wild 4 Whales

This is Wild 4 Whales
photo courtesy of Eagle Wing

The ride in this large catamaran styled craft is very comfortable. It handles well even when the wind blows.  I took some video on my camera and there was very little shake as we moved along. The ride is smooth and I will say the most impressive ride and whale watching boat I have been on. As usual the staff were pleasant and engaging, providing information to excited passengers. The washrooms were user friendly and even had skylights. There was excellent viewing from inside, out on the deck and room for 8 people up top with the captain. All of their boats have hydrophones.

 

On this trip we saw Humpback Whales, Orcas, and Harbor Porpoises… that was pretty cool. We stopped at Race Rocks Ecological reserve to take in one of the oldest light houses on the West Coast of Canada. While circling the rocks we got good views of “Ollie” the sea otter, yes a genuine sea otter, not river otters which are generally more common, and lots of “rock sausage” – seals!  Race Rocks has a winter population of hundreds of sea lions, however none were there on this visit. This place is special to me as I spent hundreds of hours there scuba diving. Little known by boat passengers, just off the dock at Race Rocks it is like Buchart Gardens underwater, absolutely beautiful. I knew the light house keepers going back years. Back then we could scuba dive from the island and my kids got to climb the lighthouse and eat cookies baked by the keeper’s wife.

Life Around the Rock

Life Around Race Rocks

Eagle Wing offers excellent value for your money. They usually go out for 3.5 – 4 hours and often extend that time if the action is

Under Water at Race Rocks

Under Water at Race Rocks

good. On this trip we were out for 5 hours. Not bad eh! Their boats are all very fast, extending their range. On two occasions with them we have almost cleared Juan de Fuca Strait. I was not sure if they were headed for Russia or Alaska, but they were determined to find whales. These extended ranges give them an advantage and the opportunity to see more whales than some competitors.

orca whales breaching and a sky hop

orca whales breaching and a sky hop

Eagle Wing makes an effort to do EVERYTHING they can for their guests, it is no wonder they have been #1 on trip advisor since 2007. On this trip you could just hear the happiness and excitement in everyone’s voices!  Wild 4 Whales was designed by the owner and staff. One of the things that I could not help but notice (especially as a senior) was that there were rails and grab bars everywhere on the boat to help everyone move around with much more safety. You will see this on some of the pictures. They reminded me of aids that are attached to help people with difficulties get in and out of bathtubs! This is the only boat that I have been on that had that feature.

 

They also make an effort to ensure that passengers have some extras like wind breakers, gloves and toques to keep them warm when the weather does not cooperate.

 

All in all, this is an amazing boat, the crew are great and there were whales galore! Thanks Eagle Wing, it was a blast! Generally, good weather follows me when I plan excursions. Sorry I let you down Eagle Wing! This was a cool day to say the least, but with the whales we saw, no one was complaining. Mission accomplished.

 

I have also experienced their open boats which are fast and wild! If you want to get closer to nature,  try an open boat. Of course there might be more spray, the odd bounce off a wave, etc. but then that’s the fun!

Check out Eagle Wing for your next Whale and Wild Life Tour! For more pictures of our Eagle Wing Experience check out our Facebook page: 

 

 

 

 

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Photo Ops Vancouver Island

Photo Ops Vancouver Island

  • Posted: May 30, 2018
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Photo Ops on Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands

This photo ops Blog will grow as time permits. I will accept great photos from anyone and give credit where it has been identified. This is intended to be a resource for visitors and tourists who come to our Island and would like to explore and find many of these gems for themselves. So if you are inclined, send in your photo ops! For me it is all about sharing what we have with our island guests. Come back often to watch it grow.

Gold River
The Upana Caves are located 17 km northwest of Gold River on the Head Bay Forest Road (to Tahsis). Driving time is 25 minutes. Vancouver Island has the largest concentration of caves in North America

Great Cave area

Gold River

Port Renfrew
Fairy Lake Hemlock
This tiny hemlock tree which is over 30 years old is growing from a deadhead log in Fairy Lake which is not far outside of Port Renfrew. Port Renfrew is roughly 2 hours west of Victoria. As it does not get the resources it needs to grow it remains small. It is likely one of the most photographed trees on Vancouver Island.

Hemlock tree growing on sunken log

Hemlock tree growing on sunken log

Botanical Beach
Located just a few kilometers from Port Renfrew, this beach is one of my second favourite place on Vancouver Island. It is quite mystical. You can look over Juan de Fuca Strait and see the last bit of land before the open ocean, or watch whales swim by in search of food, or explore the amazing tide pools (low spring tides expose a shelf of the ocean to explore), or the beautiful rock formations along the shoreline….pic ops everywhere you turn! I love watching the waves crash on the shoreline (but be careful you don’t get to close.

Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew

Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew

 

The San Juan Spruce – Port Renfrew Area

San Juan Spruce

The Harris Creek Fir – on highway from Poet Renfrew to Duncan (below)

Harris Creek Fir

Harris Creek Fir

Living Dead Tree

The Living Dead Tree in Port Renfrew on the Road to Soule Creek Lodge

Sooke
Not far from Sooke is a wonderful beach called Sandcut. It generally is very quiet and does not have very many visitors. One of the unique features is a waterfall that spills out onto the beach. It is a short but arduous 10 minute walk from the road to the beach.

Chemainus
Chemainus, the “Little Town That Did” converted a mill town into a tourist destination by covering the sides of buildings with cool murals. This is probably the most famous mural in the town as it is quite dramatic.

Chemainus Mural

Chemainus Mural

Victoria
Beacon Hill Park is the crown jewel of the City of Victoria. This waterfront park just north of Dallas Road has a lot of great photo opportunities. Some of them are the Mile Zero sign, The Terry Fox memorial, Goodacre Lake, and the giant, ancient sequoia tree across the street from the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm.

Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia

Goodacre Lake

Goodacre Lake

Turtles Sunning in the Park

Turtles Sunning in the Park in Goodacre Lake

Mount Baker provides Victoria with a magnificent eastern backdrop which is best viewed from Cattle Point in the Uplands district of Oak Bay Municipality in Greater Victoria.
The Royal British Columbia Museum has many picture opportunities and you can take all the pictures you want indoors as long as you do not use a flash. The “Wolly Mamoth” is a good place to start. Outside visit Totem Park for some good totem pole pics!

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

Victoria’s Scenic Drive-for some of the best pic opportunities available in Victoria follow Victoria’s Scenic Marine Drive down Dallas road and on into Oak Bay.

Gonzales Bay along Victoria's scenic drive

Gonzales Bay along Victoria’s scenic drive

The Chinese Cemetery along the scenic drive (just off the drive…take Crescent Road where it turns towards the ocean)

Chinese Cemetery

Chinese Cemetery

Greater  Victoria – Oak Bay – this house at the corner of Dalhousie and Beach Drive has probably the most beautiful flower gardens in all of greater Victoria. While there visit Willows Beach, arguably the most popular beach in Greater Victoria.

flower garden at Oak Bay House near Willows Beach

flower garden at Oak Bay House near Willows Beach (ab0ve)

Butchart Gardens is a “no brainer” for photo ops, they are everywhere, starting with the spectacular Sunken Garden.

 

Langford in Greater Victoria

Bear Mountain Golf Course in Langford: In addition to two 18 hole golf courses, Bear Mountain has incredible views of the south end of Vancouver Island as seen below.

Mile Zero – Trans Canada Highway – at the south end of Douglas Street at the waterfront on Dallas Road. This is probably the most photographed spot on Vancouver Island. Nearby is Canadian Hero Terry Fox’s statue.

Market Square Lower Johnson Street – great spot to photo op some of the architecture of old towne Victoria!

Market Square Lower Johnson Street

Market Square Lower Johnson Street

Abkhazi Garden Victoria BC

Abkhazi Garden Victoria BC

Abkhazi Garden Victoria BC

Abkhazi Garden Victoria BC

Abkhazi Garden Victoria BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladysmith Rhododendron

The Ladysmith Rhododendron above 
This a tree-sized rhododendron that was planted in 1889 in Ladysmith! It is called Lady Cynthia and when in full bloom it is absolutely spectacular. It is approximately seven metres tall and nine metres wide. It is considered as one of the most beautiful trees in the world.

Animals
Vancouver Island has the potential to give you very exciting animal encounters whether on land or at sea. Many types of whales, seals and sea lions, wolves, black bear and the occasional grizzly, roosevelt elk, and more deer than we want-most walking the streets of Victoria. The ugly one is a wolf eel, part of the underwater animal population. To fully enjoy our island you need to get out on the water. Starting top left…cougar dragging dinner, a wolf eel, orca lunging, elephant seal molting, sea lions at race rocks, Rossevelt Elk, Deer, black bear, and a wolf!

Campbell River – Approximately 3 hours north of Victoria and about 1.5 hours north of Nanaimo, this beautiful town has much to offer visitors and tourists. If you take the short Ferry ride over to Quadra Island or go boating off shore you will see the amazing backdrop of snow covered coastal mountains.

Vancouver Island Coastal Mountains

Vancouver Island Coastal Mountains

Saturna Island in the Southern Gulf Islands near Victoria

Bootcove- on beautiful Saturna Island in the Southern Gulf Islands near Victoria

Bootcove- on beautiful Saturna Island

 

Hornby Island

Halliwell Park Hornby Island

Halliwell Park Hornby Island

Saltspring Island -one of the Southern Gulf Islands near Victoria

Saltspring Island Shoreline

Saltspring Island Shoreline

Galiano Island Shoreline Cave -Look for a gate at the top of the hill just above the end of the road to Retreat Cove

Galiano Island near Retreat Cove

Galiano Island near Retreat Cove (above)

The Coombs Old Country Market, known as “goats on the roof” is the best little tourist trap in the world. It has put the small town of Coombs on the map! I will bet you cannot visit there without spending some money, even it is only having an ice cream cone in the 40 foot ice cream bar. It is amazing and a great pic

 

 

 

 

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Coombs Old Country Market

Coombs Old Country 

Butchart Gardens is a no brainer if you are looking for a place to take outstanding pictures.

Butchart Gardens is a no-brainer if you are looking for a place to take outstanding pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle Wing Whale Watch – A Great Experience

Eagle Wing Whale Watch – A Great Experience

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2017
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Today I was lucky enough to get aboard the Eagle Wing’s Whale Watching Catamaran named 4 Ever Wild. Old friend and former member of the Victoria Guest Services Network, Nathan Bird, Director of Operations knew that I was really keen on trying out one of their catamarans. I was just leaving downtown when he called me to advise that an opening just came up about 2 hours before the trip. I burned one of those Hollywood-style U-turns and headed back downtown.

I arrived about one hour early and signed in. To kill time I decided I need to catch up on my quota of fish and chips and went to one of my favourite outlets, the Fish Store on the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf.  When I placed my order, the order clerk noticed the Eagle Wing pass around my neck and immediately gave me a discount on my meal! I didn’t even have to ask! As usual it was delicious.

Fish and Chips at The Fish Store

Fish and Chips at The Fish Store

The Eagle Wing tour starts with an introduction given by Derek today. With some necessary information and a few corny jokes, we were off to the boat.

Everyone congregated on the dock and we were given further instructions just before boarding. Well organized for sure. The staff was introduced, our captain was Rod King, and the naturalists were Sidney McCabe, Corinne McKay and Derek Sterling.

4 Ever Wild is a large and very fast catamaran and 50 people seemed to quickly disappear, most going to the bow seating. I staked out a spot on the outer deck at the back of the boat. I have issues from time to time with my lower back and all boats move the least at the back just ahead of the power source. When there was activity in the water, there was rarely more than 6-8 people on the back of the boat. The skilled captain makes sure that everyone, no matter where they are on the boat gets a chance to see any wildlife that comes in view.

Searching on-line it is apparent that Trip Advisor rates Eagle Wing as the number one Whale Watching tour company in our region. That primarily occurs because people who use their service are happy enough that they comment back on Trip Advisor. However, I generally go into the company’s web site to learn more about them. Eagle Wing is an outstanding company. For example they are carbon neutral. In addition they donate 1% of their revenues to support groups devoted to promote sustainability and environmental protection and that is just for starters. I urge you to go to their web site to read more about their efforts. They are truly leaders in their efforts to make this planet better! Check out how they contribute to conservation and sustainable tourism.

Throughout the trip the naturalists were always on the lookout for whales and anything else of interest. When we did find whales they were quickly into the reference materials to determine if these were resident whales or transients. They provided additional information to passengers throughout the trip and were always very helpful and attentive. They seemed keen to watch for opportunities to help which was very refreshing. Corinne and Sydney were nearby me and they were most helpful and seemed very knowledgeable. Good job ladies!

Our first stop was Race Rocks, an ecological reserve about 10 miles West of Victoria. Most of the operators who travel west from Victoria go here because it is such a unique experience. Race Rocks is a group of small islands in an area where Juan de Fuca strait shallows up. This causes the currents to become fairly strong. Underwater has an abundance of sea life due to the constant flow of food. Filter feeders open and close often because there is so much food in the water. The rocks around the light station are full of harbour seals, northern sea lions, California sea lions, Alaska Fur seals, river otters and sea otters. Below the surface there is sufficient fish population to feed these visitors. At the peak of their migration, there can be as many as 800 sea lions at Race Rocks. I have been scuba diving there at least 100 times and to me it looks like Butchart Gardens under the sea!

Race Rocks Light Station

Race Rocks Light Station

Our Captain maneuvered the large Catamaran around the rocks so that we all got great views of the large sea lions basking in the sun. Our resident Orca population only eat salmon, however the transient orcas eat just about anything they can catch. So Race Rocks is a great spot for lunch for the transients.

There are also large populations of sea birds on these islands. Since the light station no longer has staff on site, the houses and other buildings are showing signs of neglect. I noticed the roofs were covered in bird poo!

After we left Race Rocks we went looking for Humpback whales. The whale watching tour groups have quite a communication network that helps them find whales, so I assume they were directed to a certain location. After a thorough search of the location our captain decided to move on. The humpback did not show!

Our next location was at the mouth of Puget Sound. From Race Rocks that was quite a healthy distance. I found out from a previous trip with Eagle Wing that they often go above and beyond to ensure that their guests get the best experience they can provide. This often includes extending the 3 hour session to 4 hours. This was the case on this day as well. The result was that we found a good sized group of Orcas. There were two groups in that area and they were on both sides of the boat, so everyone got a really good look. They seemed to be on the move so we didn’t get to see some of the more exciting behaviors like spy hoping and breaching. However we did get some excellent looks at these magnificent animals! After about 30 minutes with the Orcas we had to head back to Victoria.orcas

The Province of BC has been inundated with forest fires. For the past few days the smoke has moved out to Vancouver Island. I think this is the first time this has happened in Victoria since I moved here 34 years ago. Long distance visibility has gone away so I have included a couple of photos of the Olympic Mountains that are normally seen while looking for whales in beautiful Juan de Fuca Strait. None of these views were available on this trip. The visibility however was good enough to see anything that was around us in the water with good clarity.

I would like to thank owner Brett Soberg and his wonderful staff for yet another great whale watching experience and I heartily recommend this business to my guests and all visitors to Victoria. It is no wonder that the Eagle Wing catamarans are in high demand. They are fast, smooth riding, spacious and have two washrooms aboard that function like normal toilets. They are definitely a service oriented company. Well done!

2 Days For Kate

2 Days For Kate

  • Posted: Oct 13, 2016
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 A Two Day Whirl Wind Tour of Greater Victoria

The weather has been gorgeous so it was not difficult to show our Australian guest Kate around our beautiful city. She was only with us for two days, so we had to keep up the pace! Most guests we have entertained over the years want to see sights and do activities that they would not get where they live. So this was our mission with Kate. Kate’s introduction included Esquimalt Lagoon, Albert Head Lagoon and Beach, A walk through Tower Point Park with views of Juan de Fuca Strait, Race Rocks Light Station, sea sausage on the rocks (seals  backing in the sun), Craigdarroch Castle, the Bateman Gallery, Whale Watching with Orca Spirit (and of course lots of Orcas), a trip back to the lagoon for an early morning sunrise and photos of herons, a trip through the country side of rural Metchosin, views of Beecher Bay and views of Juan de Fuca Strait and Race Rocks from the head of Pedder Bay at William Head Penitentiary.

Esquimalt Lagoon: A large salt water lagoon that is a sanctuary for all types of birds (ducks, gulls, geese, swans, eagles, a wide variety of ducks, etc.) and it is on the migration route for lots of turkey vultures. The area between the lagoon and ocean beach has a road across it and there is a sandy beach and lots of drift wood. Beach fires are not allowed.

Swans at the Lagoon

Swans at the Lagoon

 

Herons and Ducks at the Lagoon

Herons and Ducks at the Lagoon

A wide variety of ducks can be found at the lagoon and some winter there.

A wide variety of ducks can be found at the lagoon and some winter there.

Albert Head Lagoon: There is a great beach at Albert Head with spectacular views of downtown Victoria, The Olympic Mountains, and Juan de Fuca Strait. It is a great place to cool off during hot summer days. The lagoon has a variety of birds and the area where the lagoon enters the ocean is very interesting. It is generally not as busy as Esquimalt Lagoon but it does have limited parking. You can walk forever down this beach!

Albert Head Beach and Lagoon

Albert Head Beach and Lagoon

 

Craigdarroch Castle:  The castle was built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and now a National Historic Site. Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored, giving visitors a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. The Castle weaves a fascinating tale of an intriguing family’s achievements, relationships and quirks.  This is one of Victoria’s finest attractions!

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Beecher Bay: This is home for the The Sc’ianew (Cheanuh) First Nations‘ main community. It is  in East Sooke, 30 km southwest of Victoria. It has some of the most scenic property on the south island and the community there has a development underway call Spirit Bay. It is next to the Beecher Bay Marina. Check it out. If you travel out that way, try stopping for lunch at Glenrosa Farm or Smokin’ Tuna, which is on the way to East Sooke Park.

Beecher Bay

Beecher Bay

Whale Watching with Orca Spirit: The Orca Spirit Crew are one of the best companies in Victoria to go whale watching with. Great Staff, good fast boats, and lots of fun! Check them out!

Orca Spirit Whale Watching

Orca Spirit Whale Watching

Race Rocks: This is the 2nd oldest light station on the West Coast of Canada. It is just outside of Pedder Bay so we decided to take some photos from the closest land points we could get to. It just happened to be “Club Fed” a federal penitentiary! This “resort” provides oceanfront living with incredible views, a short but cold swim to freedom, a golf course and other amenities! We are not recommending that you stay there. There was a bit of marine fog, but you can see the lighthouse and out-buildings. In one photo a large freighter is passing by. This is one of the best scuba diving sights on the west coast of Canada.

Race Rocks Light Station

Race Rocks Light Station

As you can see from the photos the weather was very good for the middle of October! Fall is just starting and some leaves have fallen. When all the leaves are gone from the trees, it is still very green in this part of Canada. The whale watching boat was full and all of the fleet was out. Good weather brings out the tourists. We do not have a lot of trees with great color like some parts of Canada, but there are some.

Fall in Victoria

Fall in Victoria

One of the most beautiful views in Victoria is that of Mount Baker in Washington State USA. Some days it is obscured by clouds and tourists don’t get to see it. When Kate and Linda were on the whale watch, they got up close and personal with Mount Baker. They could see the mountain and all the smaller hills and mountains around it. Well done ladies!

Mount Baker from near San Juan Island USA

Mount Baker from near San Juan Island USA – San Juan Island’s south shore in the foreground!

There was a whole lot more we would have like to share, but our time was limited. Over the years tourists have through our website asked me what were the best things to do (for the 3 days we will be in Victoria). My answer usually included “stay longer”!  I have put together an article which I call an “insider’s guide”. Check it out!

So, the solution we offered to Kate, was to come back for another visit! We love sharing what we have at our door-step. After 30+ years here it still is loads of fun! Enjoy our photos and be sure to read the info with each photo.

The 2nd Best Place to Live or Visit in BC

The 2nd Best Place to Live or Visit in BC

  • Posted: Sep 17, 2016
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Where Is The Second Best Place To Live or Visit in British Columbia?

It is the Okanagan Valley. Most maps show it running from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos on the US/Canadian border. The major towns/cities are Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. So what does a couple of tourism professionals do when they have time off. Well it is tough to leave Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria, the number one place of live or visit in BC. We have a rule that we don’t leave Victoria in the summer months because of our sensational weather, fantastic scenery, great food and a whole lot more.

We this year we decided to revisit the Okanagan for a week to see what is new. This area has tremendous beauty and a bounty of fruits and vegetables and vineyards. The fruits and vegetables are very reasonable when you buy from local markets. There are 200+ and growing. Pun there! So you can visit a new one everyday for 2/3 of the year! The grape is doing very well in the Okanagan! The local tourism brochures will point out something to do for everyone.

grapes in the Okanaga

grapes in the Okanagan

We love to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, so I did an internet search and found what I believe to be two of the best B&B’s in the Okanagan. As we have a cousin in Lake Country that we wanted to spend time with we started our stay in Oyama, a small community a bit north of Kelowna. This was our base for the first five days. Robby, our hostess runs the Country Ridge Bed and Breakfast high in the hills overlooking Woods Lake and Kalamalka Lake. Country Ridge BB is situated high on a hillside overlooking surrounding lakes, orchards and vineyards. Expansive windows and a magnificent wrap around veranda take full advantage of breathtaking views and the very tranquil setting.The views of the valley and lakes are stunning! Her home was built as a bed and breakfast and contains three well appointed rooms with very comfortable rooms. Each room has windows that overlook one or both of the lakes. The out door balcony has plenty of seating where you can enjoy the spectacular views and each room has private seating as well. This B&B has everything you would ever need in your room. Robby has thought of everything as far as we could see. At the entry, there is a ramp for people with movement challenges and the ramp even has a metal non-slip section. The main floor is spectacular. Upon entry through the front door you will observe a magnificent spiral stair case going to the living space of the home. The main floor has two separate rooms where you can watch TV, listen to music or talk with other guests. There is also a reading room with shelves of games to play. The dinning room is spacious and all guests share the same table, so you get a chance to meet the other guests at the 8:30 am breakfast. Robby serves excellent breakfasts. Her chocolate croissants are addictive! Each day were served parfaits of fruit, nuts and yogurt! They were delicious and nutritious! We also had eggs served in a variety of ways along with some of the best bacon I have ever eaten. Linda requires gluten free options and this was handled very well by Robby. Robby also brings out the tin foil, so that if you have left overs and we always did, you can wrap them up and take them with you for a snack later or put them in the common fridge in the foyer for later! Robby has lots of suggestions and information that will help you enjoy your stay in the valley. We heartily recommend a stay at this most excellent B&B!

Country Ridge B&B Oyama

Country Ridge B&B Oyama

Country Ridge B&B Oyama

Country Ridge B&B Oyama

While we were in the Okanagan we thought we would take in some golf so I looked for a couple of courses that fit our skill level. Those were not championship style courses! The first one we played was in West Kelowna. Two Eagles was well manicured and had par 3,4 and 5 holes. The length of the holes suited us just fine. The weather cooperated and we had a nice time and then visited old friends John and Diane, who live just up the hill. You might notice the wire protective fence that has a number of golf balls stuck in it, all stray shots! (not ours)

Two Eagle Golf Course West Kelowna

Two Eagle Golf Course West Kelowna

The 2nd course that we played was in Osoyoos at the NK’MIP Resort. The resort is a four season playground with a golf course, accommodations, camping, an interpretive centre showcasing their culture, dining and wine tasting. It is located at the south end of the Osoyoos Indian Band’s land, NK’MIP Resort encompasses over 200 acres of the ‘bottomland’ (NK’MIP). “NK’MIP” in the Syilx language refers to the area at the north end of the lake where the mouth of the lake meets the Okanagan River. Note the signing warning to watch out for rattlesnakes! No one wants you to step on them and hurt them!

NK'MIP Resort

NK’MIP Resort

While in the Okanagan Valley we did some serious research at many of the 200+vineyards and wineries scattered through out the valley. We covered Lake Country (Winfield and Oyama), Kelowna, Penticton & the Naramata Bench, Oliver and Osoyoos. I volunteered to be the designated driver so that Linda could deepen her research and for part of the time cousin debbie joined in! I am not sure how Linda came home with only 18 bottles of wine. Maybe her research was blurred!

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Okanagan Vineyards and Wineries

Now the most important part of the research. The wine must be tasted. Linda did her best. She found a lot of really good wines and some that did not match her preference. Apparently the research was all good. Grapes are apparently good for many things! Some of the tasting facilities were amazing. Every place we visited made an effort to display their wines appropriately and the grounds and facilities were generally immaculate. Some served lunches and some did not. The staff were always knowledgeable and informative. As you will see below, Linda was deep into her research. Just to prove that the DD was protecting her I threw in a picture of the two of us at the Arrowleaf Vineyard, one of the finer operations in Lake Country. This one had beautiful views of Okanagan Lake, a nice lunch venue and a beautiful wine bar.

wine-tasting

wine-tasting

While in Lake Country we attended an annual event call Artwalk! The venue was at the high school and community venues across the street. It was to showcase local artists and artisans. There was a lot of variety and some excellent work displayed. The event was very well attended. It is important to ask about these type of events and others like local markets. Our host Robby directed us to this one and it was well worth the visit.

Artwalk

Artwalk

Continue reading

Galiano Island

Galiano Island

  • Posted: Aug 31, 2016
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Galiano Island is a place to visit, to be sure!

Galiano Island is one of my favourite Gulf Islands and it can be reached by BC Ferry from Victoria or Vancouver. The island is long and narrow and has some of the most beautiful scenery available. My favourite place to see spectacular views is Bold Bluff Park on the south shore facing Active Pass with views past Victoria to the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Let me suggest you go there late in the afternoon to get the effect of the setting sun. It is amazing to watch the marine traffic that goes through the strait. Most of it is BC Ferries but there is more. The Orca whales often go through the pass in search of seals, sea lions and fish. Another great spot to view the activity in the strait is Bellhouse Park, within walking distance of the Ferry Dock.

Bold Bluff

Bold Bluff

The south end of the island is where most of the commerce is. The island has some good bed and breakfasts, and  a great resort (Galiano Inn and Spa).

One of the coolest things to see on the island is the sandstone caves near Retreat Cove. If you take the road to the Retreat Cove dock, you have just passed the gate that gives you shore access. It is private property, but at last visit by me, no one seemed to care. Or you can kayak there from Retreat Cove.

GalianoShores

GalianoShores

Another special place to visit is Stone World. In addition to the great gallery there, the stonework on the property is like a visit to a “Stonehenge” wannabe”. It is amazing to see. Check it out.

The last time I was there, there was no road access to Dionisio Provincial Park on the north end of the island. Check out boat rentals or local water taxis to see if they can take you there.  It is in Porlier Pass and it is spectacular. Continue reading

Butterfly Gardens: A World Class Attraction

Butterfly Gardens: A World Class Attraction

  • Posted: Jul 09, 2016
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Butterfly Gardens is on of a handful of World Class Attractions in Greater Victoria

Victoria Butterfly Garden’s 12,000 square feet of a tropical jungle-like eco-system awaits you. There is bound to be something that will astound you at every turn, so take your time and look closely so you don’t miss anything. The gardens are filled with lush tropical plants home to ducks, flamingos, rare tropical birds, poison dart frogs, tortoises, turtles, giant koi and thousands of free flying butterflies. Some may even land on you for a short time! Among the tropical plants you will find vanilla beans growing on the vine, papaya trees, pineapple, coffee beans, and ginger. Staff is always available to answer questions about the feeding butterflies, the amazing blooms and the rare and carnivorous plants growing in the gardens.

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly Gardens

This is a great place to have a mini tropical vacation during you stay on our lovely island. Here you will find something for every one of all ages. It is near the world famous Butchart Gardens so you can easily visit both attractions in one day and have time for other activities. Be sure to bring your camera as the garden is full of great photo opportunities.

If we were publishing a list of the top 10 things to do while in Greater Victoria, this would be high on the list. Don’t miss it! Be sure to take home a memento from their well stocked gift shop.

Whale Watching With Orca Spirit

Whale Watching With Orca Spirit

  • Posted: Jun 28, 2016
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Hunting Killer Whales (Orcas) in Juan de Fuca Strait

Transient Orcas in Juan de Fuca Strait

Transient Orcas in Juan de Fuca Strait

Everyday you get to spend on the water is one of life’s bonuses! When you see whales in their natural environment, consider that a big bonus. Wild whales cannot be trained to be in a certain spot at a certain time, so there is always the chance they may not appear. For us they did!
Now these whales can put on a three act play or just show us their dorsal fins. Today, we just got to see their fins. It was either three or four times that we had interactions with this group of transient whales. They were on the hunt for food, so they would dive and then not come up for 5 to 10 minutes. They also turned around and disappeared on us, but we did find them later on our return trip down Juan de Fuca Strait thanks to the skill of the crew on our boat the Orca Spirit I. They are diligently on watch with binoculars and in constant contact with other boats in the vicinity. If whales are around, they will find them. They also have tons of whale info on the boat and the staff are all very knowledgeable  with lots of facts about the whales, the other critters you will see and the area in general. Don’g be afraid to ask them questions, it will enhance your tour!

Wildlife in Juan de Fuca Strait

Wildlife in Juan de Fuca Strait


In one of my pictures, you will see a whale about 2 feet away from another whale watching boat and a dozen or so people in awe of this close encounter of the very best kind. Lucky people!
All whale watching boats are required to stay 100 meters away from the whales, but the whales have no such rules!
I have included a photo from my last trip with Orca Spirit to show you one of my lucky days with a close encounter iof the very best kind. It is the luck of the draw. You just never know!

One thing I would recommend when you are on one of these excursions, spend as much time as you can on deck. There is so much to see. The amazing scenery, the variety of marine traffic, the wild life and more.

Always something to see as you tour Juan de Fuca Strait

Always something to see as you tour Juan de Fuca Strait

Enjoy my pics! Here are two photos, both close encounters of the amazing kind. The tail of the humpback was on another tour! The more you spend time on the water, the more you are likely to see. So come back to Victoria and always go out whale watching!

Up-close Encounters of the Best Kind

Up-close Encounters of the Best Kind

Evedar’s Bistro

Evedar’s Bistro

  • Posted: May 22, 2016
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Evedar's

Evedar’s

It has been sometime since we ate at Evedar’s Bistro, so last night we thought we would give them another try. Good call Ron! In the past the food has been good. Over the years the staff have changed and so has the ownership. The dinner we had was one of the best we have had in a while. I chose the pork schnitzel as it is something I don’t get to eat too often and I really like it. The schnitzel had a panko crust and was flavoured with herbs. The portion was large enough to cover a small mountain of mashed potatoes on a delicious gravy base. The veggies were cooked perfectly and delicious.
For a starter we shared a large Caesar salad. Lots of restaurants don’t do a very good job with Caesars, but this one was delicious.
Linda chose the stuffed pork loin which was presented in the same way, covering an assortment of vegetables (carrots, zucchini and asparagus) and tasty gravy. She also really enjoyed her meal.
The service was very good and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The décor is pleasing and there is a choice of seating – quiet and romantic in the back or upfront with the live music.
I made the mistake of asking what was on the desert menu. I was too full to try all of the three selections but when I heard that a fresh bread pudding had recently come out of the oven, I broke down!
The bread pudding was filled with mandarin oranges and cranberries and covered in a sweet caramel sauce.
Delicious food, good service and a nice quiet environment…how could it get any better! We suggest that you give Evedar’s a try. It would be worth the drive from anywhere in Greater Victoria. It is one of the gem restaurants on the West Shore!
After the meal I closed my eyes, leaned back, and whispered “yesssss‘!
Evedar’s also has a Facebook page, so go there a be a friend and you will get access to the specials they have, some really good deals and schedules of the live entertainment.
Evedars Bistro
The Sea Cider Farm and Cider House

The Sea Cider Farm and Cider House

  • Posted: May 20, 2016
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sea cider

sea cider

Last week my son Robb and I had the opportunity to stop at the Sea Cidery on the way to Victoria International Airport. My son has Celiac disease, and so was disappointed not to be able to check out the many craft breweries in our region. However, cider is on his list as being gluten-free, so we planned to go for a tasting. We arrived on a sunny May morning promptly at opening time and were surprised to find other guests out that early in the day, on the same mission as us! After a short but informative tour of the cidery, my son chose our samples from a list of available ciders. Some ciders are seasonal, and so not available year round. While waiting to be served, we perused the items for sale, cider of course and other items such as honey. Honey was available for sampling that day too.

It was such a nice morning that we sat outside on the deck, with views across the apple orchard to James Island and Cordova Channel in the Haro Strait, also known as the Salish Sea. Naturally, bees buzzed around us, and let us be (get the pun?!!). Then our samples arrived, 9 pours in glasses designed to enhance the aroma and flavor of the cider. Being the driver, I only took small sips to savor and left the rest for Robb. We were given a checklist to record our favorites, and of course I had to buy a bottle of my favorite cider before we left.

Sea Cider is a family run operation on the Sannich Peninsula. They grow their own apples, and in fact grow their own trees from seeds. The cider is made on site and sold there, as well as in many liquor stores. In addition to their tasting room and outdoor deck, they hold special events in a large tent adjacent to the main building. Check out their website at http://seacider.ca/ Cheers!

sea cider ciderhouse

sea cider ciderhouse

Linda

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