Thursday, September 24, 2015

Victoria, BC, to Ucluelet and back

Waiting for the ferry to BC; the
blue bike carried us for miles. The
guy behind it is another rider.
M/V Coho arriving in Port Angeles.
After months of sunshine, during the last week of August and part of the first week in September 2015 the heavens decided to open up and answer all the wishes for rain that people have been putting forth all summer... and so there was a deluge over most of the NW... high winds, intense rain, falling trees, power outages, etc.

We both discussed whether or not the weather was going to cooperate, but I think in the end, since the adventure was mostly about the motorcycle ride, Beloved really wanted to take it, and just deal with what we got.

Vacation was set for August 30, and fortunately that day did dawn sunny and bright, not too much wind, so the crossing over to British Columbia and Victoria on the M/V Coho from Port Angeles was easy. I had never been on my motorcycle on a ferry, so that was a new aspect of adventure for me.

Leaving the U.S. and Port Angeles.
Nice view of the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles, WA.

Arriving in BC, passing the
cruise ship docks.

Clearing customs, the officer looked at my passport with all the visas and pointedly asked me, "Are you planning to stay long?" I replied, from the back of the Harley, "Nope, just a week."

We must have made a curious couple to him since Beloved's passport was devoid of any stamps at all. So he stamped them both.
Tudor Printing... a relative?

We had days of sunshine and days of rain and days with both. But what we had the most of was lots of walking - over five miles each day! - and a very easy time together. Given that we have been on a couple of motorcycle trips and spent some time together, we still had not had uninterrupted time, day and night. Even the best of friends can get a little stressed being together 24/7, so it was a delightful surprise that there was practically no disruption.

Victoria has so much to see and explore and this time the Royal British Columbia Museum was featuring a display of gold from the Museo del Oro in Bogota, Colombia. There were pieces there that I was sure I had seen in Bogota. And the history of the gold rush in BC was fascinating.

The famed Empress Hotel overlooks the waterfront. I had tea
here once, but neither of us cared to go there this time.
The museum should be very proud of itself because the standing displays have a lot of details, making it a place to return to.

We had lunch in Chinatown one day. That was an odd experience because neither of us could recall where we had eaten when there previously, so we ended up in a Dim Sum place that was clean and quick, but Beloved declared one of the dishes looked like something that had been pulled out from under a vehicle's oil change and tasted about like that, too. Not being inclined to waste food, he bravely consumed it all.

A lot of Victorian-era homes have been restored here. Some
are B&B's, but many are still residences. Pretty.
Another day in Victoria we stopped to speak to a local commercial metro bus driver. When he learned that my traveling partner was a commercial driver from Port Angeles he drolly said, "Oh, you have busses over there?" Great hilarity that.

Finally after a couple of days of rain, there was a break and we rode the motorcycle out to the Harley-Davidson shop to buy some t-shirts and I got some leather treatment for my chaps that were still pretty newish.

That day there was a lot of construction and it was stop and go for two-thirds of the way there, so it took us almost an hour.  Two days later when we made that same drive up toward Nanaimo to Ucluelet, it took us less than 20 minutes to get past that shop.
My favorite shot... love the clouds, the reflections over the
harbour in Victoria, BC. The little structures are on the
Fisherman's Wharf... very colorful during daylight hours.
The time share had an incredible view of the harbor and the sunsets, when they were visible, were amazing. It was also close to Fisherman's Wharf where we could get a take-out dinner or just go for an after-dinner stroll. One morning we had espresso coffee in a lovely place near there, but there wasn't much of a view since it was so far back from the wharf itself.

Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf lit up with early morning sunshine.
There are two airlines that fly in and out of the harbor, only during daylight hours, so it was great fun to watch them taking off and landing. Later when we caught the little bug-like water taxis that criss-cross the harbor we learned that they are not allowed to cross the 'runway' in case a plane needs to come in for a landing.

Huge cruise ships make stops in Victoria regularly and one day we counted five of them at the docks. Fortunately we were not competing with those travelers for the geegaws, souvenirs or special trips.

Approaching Lake Kennedy, about 40 minutes from Ucluelet.
Mid-week we were finally able to head north and the weather was off and on rain, mostly light but occasionally steady.

It was a lot of concentration for Beloved to watch the road, the oncoming cars and keep our two wheels under us.

When I later showed him the pictures I had taken along the way up there, he was surprised to see moments of sunshine captured. "It was a drive requiring a lot of my attention," he said. I replied, "I know. And you did a fantastic job of it, too."

A little spot of sun as we passed Lake Kennedy on the way in.
We stopped briefly for directions in Parksville, north of Nanaimo. Then it was on to Port Alberni, which was large enough to support a Walmart, and other big box stores and because it was close to 3 p.m., we decided not to make another stop and push on since there was still more rain ahead.

Good choice, because once you leave the outskirts of the city, the road narrows down and the frost heaves from previous years are still there to remind you of what a winter might be like up here.

That made the drive just a little more challenging, as if it needed more.

Lake Kennedy is an enormous inland lake. The photo I took as we were heading westward doesn't do it justice as it was a bit squally.

Canadian Princess permanently docked in Ucluelet, BC.
I have another shot taken as we were returning to Victoria that is considerably nicer.

Just as we pulled into Ucluelet the sun came shining through all the clouds and stayed with us the rest of that day and the next!

A couple of couples... 
We had a delicious 'lunch' that really turned out to be supper on the deck of the Canadian Princess.

It was delightful to sit in the sunshine and warm up.

The one shot we got on our walk at a spot where there was a
bench, but the walk down to the water looked a little bit
challenging, so we didn't take that path.
Afterwards we walked around the village, but it is small and since it was at the end of the tourist season, not much was going on.

In fact, there weren't very many local people out and around, either.

We had to put a notice on our hotel door that we weren't interested in being awakened to go fishing at 5 a.m., and if there were folks going off to do that, we never heard them.

Breakfast the next day on board the ship was every bit as good as the earlier meal. And we had great service, too.

There was no real easy ocean access that we could find. As we were leaving the next day, we took the bike and tried to find a road to a beach, but there was nothing he dared to transit with only two wheels.

Lake Kennedy on the return trip; a really, really pretty place.
Road repairs near Lake Kennedy.
We didn't rush to head back, waiting for the sun to dry up any of the night's dew or frost... even so, it was pretty cool going through the mountains.

I imagine that going up and over those mountains
much later in the season that having frosty or icy roads is a real likelihood.

Traveling at 60 m.p.h. when the temperature is around 50 degrees is a chilling experience. I wore my chaps, but Tough Guy did not.

Even so, the sunshine rushing past my helmet, the smells of the fields and fallen leaves, the wonderful rush of being in the open will stay with me for a long while. It was a great ride!!

No surprise that he was pretty glad to get back to the heat of the city. And since we did not stop once on the return trip, except for gas, it was considerably shorter in time than it took the day before.

Coming back into Port Alberni; part of the deep water inlet
that made this city possible to be a true port of call.
Approaching the outskirts of Victoria, BC.
This was the weekend for the "Classic Boat Show" and a
pretty significant collection was available to walk through.
We had one more night and a morning in Victoria before we had to catch the ferry.

After a walk around the city for the last time on Friday, we opted for Greek takeout and caught one of the water-bug taxis back to 'home.'

We both agreed it had been a really good vacation, with only one scary time on some gravel... as a former motorcycle rider, I'd had a pretty disastrous dropping of my bike on gravel, so I am sure my own tension was conveyed when Beloved had to deal with it.

But it all ended very well... in some ways I wish we might have explored more farther north, but the weather didn't allow for that.
Last night in Victoria, BC. "Red skies at night, sailor's delight."
The big guy in the leather jacket is my traveling companion.
He was admiring a Chihuahua as he has two of his own. The
ferry ride back was cooler than our arrival, but the sun was
still much appreciated.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Proving a point

As we age, our metabolisms slow down. There is a lot of other stuff going on, too. So in my quest to find ways to improve my physical being, I stumbled upon a product that is really, really good for the mental self as well.

I have sort of come to the point of realizing that if I want to seriously lose a lot of weight, I need to cut out all the sugary things that give my pleasure. Some of those items (like ice cream) also have a lot of fat, too. But what to do when after an ice cream orgy I promise myself I will NOT do that again, only I find that now that sugar demon is in my body and wants to be fed again?

It's a torment as many of you know. And willpower may not be enough to get through at least seven days of being sugar-free to reduce that craving.

But KETO-OS, created and sold by a new company called Prüvit creates a higher level of ketones in the bloodstream which actually causes a kind of appetite-suppression for four or five hours and gets me through that 3 p.m. low when it seems like a sugar-fix is all I want... and then it's dinner time... and after four or five days of this, I suddenly have realized that I'm not craving sugar-loaded foods, I have been eating better over all, and drinking more water... and nice surprise... lost a few pounds, too.

There are plenty of peer-reviewed documents about the benefits of increase ketones in the system, and this company is more than willing to make them available. Athletes want to stay lean, without any loss of muscle, and ketogenic diets are used world-wide to do this. But anyone who has been on the Atkins Diet knows how hard it can be to stick to just protein and vegetables for weeks on end... 

So, this is a new process for me... trying it out. And very interested in what my readers might think about it... this much I do know, having access to a liquid that will provide me with more energy, better focus in the brain, less appetite for things that really are not very good for me and an improved mood are worth investigating.


Click here to check it out!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vacation mode...

This photo was taken earlier in August and was published
in the Peninsula Daily News on their website.
This is one of my photos taken at Lake Crescent, WA of my beloved as he was looking out at the lake. We were on his motorcycle, taking a drive... bliss!

Today we are leaving for a week in Canada on that same electric blue machine and I am so excited!!

The weather is cooperating and everything is working out for me... How does it get any better than this?

And yes, I'm taking a camera because I hear that Ucluelet and Tonino are gorgeous... back after Labor Day, folks... have a safe time yourselves.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Once in a blue moon..."

The phrase has come to mean "not happening frequently, a rare event" because the blue moon refers to a full moon that comes twice in a month or the fourth moon in a quarter (usually there are only three). You can read more about it here.
While the color of the moon is rarely actually blue, just it's usual cheesy color, if there has been some heavy particulate matter in the sky it might cause a color variation.

We had the rare chance to see a 'blooming' balloon as the moon was rising. I went and took pictures.
Morningstar Balloon Company beginning to inflate.

There was little wind, which was a good thing, and not too many folks actually were aware of it; guess it was mostly by invitation and if you were a FB fan of someone who knew about it, you got 'invited.'

I've only seen balloons inflated on television shows, never on site. It was interesting to watch it go from a sliver of silky materials to a fully inflated balloon with a fire below.

There was an idea that I might offer up a balloon ride to my Beloved for his 65th birthday, but he stuck a pin in that one... "Not interested in doing that - at all!" he said quite definitively. Turns out he has a fear of heights. So that would hardly be an enjoyable birthday experience. Instead we will take off for Victoria, B.C. on his motorcycle, weather permitting, and spend some time tooling about the island.

My dear friend, Jenna, is engaged to one of the handlers and photographers of the event, so that was how I learned about it. As the sun was setting, I drove over to the airport in Sequim, finding about 25 people there.

I particularly liked that I caught the four crew members with the moon
behind them as they were starting to fire up and lift off....
There was a lovely scent of new-mown hay from the cutting that was just finished along with the lively energy of lots of children who had been brought down to see the balloon... kids and balloons seems so perfectly logical, doesn't it?

Lighting up the balloon for all the viewers and the
photographers who were there to capture the moment.
I meant to get my Canon charged up for this evening, but I fell asleep after dinner and so I ended up using a monopod with my Sony and my Samsung phone... all these photos are with the Sony, but I actually got a rather sharp one with the phone, too.

The temperature was dropping with the sun so it seemed the captain was having to get more heat in the balloon to keep it up. I was close enough to hear her commands and hear the strain on the ropes that were keeping them from disappearing into the night sky.

As the sun went one way and the moon the other, the bats came out to play, too. Probably some tasty tidbits stirred up by the mower...
Don't know if the bats got caught in this shot, but they were zooming
about as I was taking it.
Dry days, hot ones, and fortunately the nights do not carry the heat most of the time. As I am writing this, it's down to 60 degrees F. outside and I will sleep well.
The blooming balloon and the blue moon... fun after dark in Sequim, WA.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dry heat but the bees abound

This peony has a lovely scent, but I don't know its name.

The bees are very happy I planted these... I am, too.
The lovely spring flowers went quickly by without much coverage by me... it was dry, still is, and the summer blooms are not going to last long either. Some places on the peninsula are now under water restrictions... and we aren't even into July yet.

My raspberry plants are going to be prolific as long as I can have water for them. The bees are zooming around my garden, into every bud they can find, emerging with yellow pollen all over themselves.

There are plenty of birds, too, so even though it's an anomalous year, they don't seem to mind.

The Olympics, still snow-covered, but for how long? The
glacier to the right is melting at a crazy speed. Still, I don't
believe it is just human-caused global warming.
Last weekend I had my first ride with SF on his motorcycle. It's a huge Harley-Davidson cruiser and very, very comfortable. I especially loved going through the tunnels up to Hurricane Ridge and listening to him rev the engine so the sound reverberated around the concrete... silly, I know.

Looking southeast from Hurricane Ridge (Port Angeles) WA.
The deer were bold, wandering about in various groups, and I wondered idly where they find water since there is no snow left, and I didn't see any streams. While it is really not my problem directly, I am doing my part to conserve water at home.

It was pretty warm and clear and we could see all the way to Victoria and beyond. That was the weekend that the Race to Alaska (R2AK) (a 750-mile, no power allowed, sail or rowing race) was starting and I was tempted to catch the ferry over on Sunday to watch them start, but my garden really, really needed some attention.

The last time I was on a motorcycle was my own, riding in Florida. It was pretty relaxing to be a passenger, and I trust SF completely; he's a very safe driver all the time.

People from all over the world seemed to be at the top... we saw license plates from Wyoming, California, Canada and even as far east as Michigan. There were Orientals, Sikhs, light-skins and dark skins and plenty of other motorcycle riders. I felt a wave of happiness as everyone was peacefully enjoying the afternoon along with us. I want it to be this way always... does it get any better than this?

The hazy outline of land is British Columbia, only 45 or so miles across
the San Juan de Fuca Strait/Puget Sound, Washington.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Ascent on Mt. Baker

When I was younger, but still older than most, I went on a mountain climbing expedition with the company where I was Executive Director for taking inner city kids to the wilderness.

I climbed to 11,203 feet in the Colorado Rockies, lost 17 pounds carrying a 55-lb. pack up and (it was lighter coming down, but not by much) dealt with a child having sickle-cell anemia, a young lady wanting to run away from home for good and a team leader who absolutely refused to take my EMT evaluation of the ill child seriously.

So, I left that company and did other things.

But climbing mountains must be in my blood... thinner at higher altitudes - LOL!

I have read lots of books about Everest and other major peaks, cringed to hear about the recent Nepal earthquake and all that it meant for all the folks involved, and still I risked my life once more to "get to the top, just because it was there..."

This is not me climbing... it was a group of folks learning
how to do this... I already have my own method.
The sky was a little hazy at the base, but the weather report said it would be clearer near the summit. I agreed with my pal, Carol Joy, and her partner, Earl, that it was going to have to be a pretty quick trip - no hanging around for too long once we got up there.

We packed a few essentials, especially plenty of water, and off we went.

As we approached the snow level, it was clear that lots of other folks were going to try for the top as well. You know it's crowded when you have to wait in line to get to the next level.

From a distance we could see there was still a lot of snow at
the top of Mt. Shuksan, east of Mt. Baker. 
Carol was the team leader; she'd gotten part way up once before and she wasn't sure if the route past the last huts (and where the ski lift for Black Diamond skiers starts) would be passable.

Although Earl has limited sight, he was a great motivator for us to keep going, and he seemed to know the route almost by heart.

You can see the mound of dirty snow that I was standing on
just to the lower right. This is the absolute peak of Mt. Baker
beyond that lovely evergreen tree. We just didn't have the
time, energy or resources to achieve that summit.
By the time we reached our destination, getting past the barriers that denied Carol's access in previous years, it was exactly noon.

Here I was, standing incredibly close to the very top of Mt. Baker, (it is 10,701 feet) and the sun broke through the clouds so I could actually see it clearly. It is possible for me to see this mountain from over in Sequim, so after today I would never look at it again in the same way.

I turned around and looked over my shoulder and this is what
I saw... all those other folks who were also vying for the top.
And now, we had to head back down, because sadly my weekend was over, and I had to catch the ferry back to Port Townsend.

The winding road down to the ski huts, with a view of the
Canadian mountains, also bereft of snow in May.
But what an awesome day! What fun we had! Our brief time at over 5,500 feet in elevation only left me breathless because of the views. I kinda wish I was still skiing because this must be an incredible place to enjoy whooshing down the mountain slopes. Hope you enjoyed the views, too...