Moby, the Big Grey Van, travels to Powell River

Two weeks ago (how can this be two weeks ago already?!), we took Moby (the big grey van) on his maiden voyage. I had to work in Duncan (Vancouver Island) and Powell River (Sunshine Coast), so we knew it would be a perfect time to finally test out the van! Usually, September is a gorgeous month on the Pacific West Coast, and this year didn’t disappoint. We had one day of rainy weather, but otherwise we were welcomed to the Island life with sunny arms.

Day 1:

As always, I take the first ferry over to Vancouver Island on my site-visit day. It’s always a very early start and a long day, but more often than not, we’re treated to beautiful sunrises. There was a bit of low cloud this year, but the end result was still pretty fantastic.

Because the travel was for work, we decided to stay in campgrounds instead of finding a place off-grid. And at the end of the day, three nights in a campground is still significantly cheaper than three nights in a hotel! Our first night camping was at Brannen Lake Campground. It’s almost right in Nanaimo, although you wouldn’t think you were that close to a city. It was a nice little spot. The bathrooms were clean and it was quiet at night. We couldn’t really ask for more.

Day 2:

Day two was a travel day, as we needed to drive from Nanaimo to Comox, then catch the ferry from Comox to Powell River. We decided to make a leisurely day of it, stopping at the local marine hardware store in Nanaimo first (Jonty was in heaven), then googling one of our favourite phrases: “Best Bakery Near Me”.

Our search landed us at a Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery. The city is putting in a new road right in front of the bakery, so navigating into the little complex was a bit tricky with Moby, but I’m glad we persevered. We shared a cinnamon bun and a bread pudding roll (yes, it felt like vacation), and both tasted mighty fine with a cup of their locally roasted coffee. If you’re heading north out of Nanaimo, I’d recommend a visit!

An hour or so later of highway driving, you end up in Comox. We had about an hour before we needed to be at the ferry, so we planned a stop in for a quick flight at Gladstone Brewery. The brewery used to be an old mechanics shop and they still had some of the old memorabilia integrated into the space (think wrenches for beer pulls, old gears for door handles). The place was attached to a wood-fired pizza place, and it sure was a busy little spot! Good beer, nice people and the food looked pretty tasty, too.

The nice thing about small towns is that nothing seems very far from anything else 🙂 The ferry terminal is only about 10 minutes from the downtown, and we just managed to slide in before our 30-minute reservation cut-off time.

And one hour later, under a bright blue sky and on shimmering water, into Powell River we landed! Again, small town, short distances. Our campground (Willingdon Beach Campground) was just down the main drag, along the water’s edge. The site we were in didn’t have water hook-up (only electrical), but the views from our front door, more than made up for it. This was home for the next four nights!

We had one day of rain while we were in Powell River, but we still managed to get out climbing for a few hours before the rain came down. Even then, it was only bad for a few hours. Still enough time in between showers to snap some pictures of their harbour.

Day 3 to 5:

After finishing my site visit on Friday, we headed up to a local climbing crag (Higgyland) and tried to figure our way around the rock. The pdf guide wasn’t as helpful as we were hoping, and we’re pretty sure we climbed things that were much harder than was indicated online, but we had lots of fun and met some super helpful locals!

Our in-between climbing moments were spent enjoying the scenery, eating good food, and drinking good beer. Really, you can’t go wrong with that pseudo-vacation combination!

Day 6:

It takes almost a full day of travelling to get from Powell River back to Vancouver. It’s another two ferry rides plus about two hours of driving. But, they are beautiful ferry rides, and the drives don’t seem so bad when you’ve got a good co-pilot!

Before the ferry left the Saltery Bay ferry terminal (Powell River), we stopped in at Stillwater Bluffs (we saw there was climbing and bouldering there) to look around. The wind was a bit stiff but it was blowing the clouds away, and it was a great little hike before the journey home.

So, if you ever find yourself camping on Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast, here are somethings you might find useful:

Where to stay:

Where to get a good baked good:

  • In Ladysmith: Old Town Bakery (Definitely stop here if you’re heading south of Nanaimo. I look forward to it every single year! Their cinnamon buns…gah!)
  • In Nanaimo: Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery (we didn’t have any, but his homemade bread also looked fantastic!)
  • In Powell River: Powell River Farmer’s Market (runs Saturdays and Sundays) or River City Coffee

Where to get a good coffee:

Where to get a good beer:

Hopefully now that Moby, the Big Grey Van, is starting to make his way into the world, we’ll be able to start sharing more of our adventures!

Island Hopping – Part 1

Way back in November we took a little 3-day vacation over to Vancouver Island to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We took the ferry over to Nanaimo, meandered through the Cowichan Valley, down to Victoria then returned to Vancouver from there. I think we hit most weather patterns throughout our trip – blue sky, grey sky, a bit of rain, a lot of rain, a bit of fog and some gusty winds. All in all, though, it was a great, much-needed, getaway!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver BC

We had glorious weather heading over to Nanaimo. Although the winter sun was shining low in the sky, the wind was brisk and we managed about 30 minutes outside before feeling a bit windswept and headed back indoors.

Day 1: Nanaimo

We decided our anniversary vacation was going to be a food-and-craft-beer tour so once we landed in Nanaimo, we meandered down to Wolf Brewing to try their brews. The have been brewing their craft beer for quite a few years now, but have only recently opened up a tasting room (their Scotch Ale and Porter were fantastic!). We sat at the bar and chatted with one of the head brewers (a fellow UK lad), getting recommendations on where to go in the evening. The Wolf tasting room is slightly off the beaten track, but that didn’t seem to stop the steady flow of people coming in for growler fills. Business looked good for a Monday afternoon!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Wolf Brewing, Nanaimo BC

The following day was forecast to be cloudy and foggy, with rain starting mid-morning – so our plan was to head down to the harbour at first light in an attempt to catch the sunrise and, if the weather thwarted our plans, then we would enjoy a cup of coffee while people-watching, instead. The alarm went off just before sunrise and we grabbed the camera and headed down to the waterfront. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I’m a sucker for sunrises!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver Island getaway, Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

Nanaimo early morning was just what we were wanting, I think we saw the best part of the day! We had a few moments of blinding sun while we enjoyed our coffee, and then the clouds rolled in to stay for the day.

The Next stop? Down through the Cowichan Valley to snack and sip. Stay tuned!

You Say Nanaimo, I Say Ferry Time!

Part of my job involves testing mammography equipment, making sure it’s up-to-snuff, in terms of all things physics. I enjoy this part of my job, as it’s nice to have a change of scenery (i.e. gets me out of the office) and I get to travel a bit to (sometimes) remote parts of BC.

Every year, during the second week of September, I head over to Vancouver Island for a few days for work. The site I visit in Duncan is one of my favourite – the technologists are very helpful and treat me very well, and they’re always so well-prepared. It makes my job much easier!

And the other reason I like this part of my job? I get to take the ferry to the island! Midweek, after all the children are back in school and the summer-vacationers have finished traveling, taking the ferry is quite relaxing.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Ferry ride, Nanaimo BC

I always take the first ferry out, which makes for an early start, but then I get to see the sun rise as we head out of Horseshoe Bay (and you know I like a good sunrise!). The clouds were starting to lift, giving me a great view of downtown Vancouver and Mt Baker in the background.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Vancouver sunrise from the ferry

I wanted to take a few pictures of the totem poles in Duncan but I had to rush back to Nanaimo to visit the mammography site before everyone left for the day, so those pictures will have to wait another year 🙂

If you’ve never been to Nanaimo, I’d recommend staying in the Historic Downtown, near the harbour. I always stay at the Coast Bastion Inn, and was given a room upgrade this time (whoo hoo!), which placed me up on the 10th floor with a neat view of both the harbour and the downtown.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

The view of the sun setting was truly spectactular.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Waterfront sunset, Nanaimo BC

I decided to pick up a coffee and fresh-baked scone from Javawocky, and take an early-morning stroll along the harbour to watch the float-planes come in, soak up some sunshine and get in a bit of exercise!

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Nanaimo waterfront, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Float plane arriving at the dock, Nanaimo BC

The ferry ride back to Vancouver was fairly uneventful. The sun was shining brightly and the outer decks were full… then an announcement was made that there was a humpback whale about 200 meters off the starboard side of the boat (which made the outer decks REALLY full!). Then we sailed through a thick patch of fog, which promptly sent everyone back inside, except for those few passengers, enjoying the calm, peace and quiet 🙂

We left the fog, just as we rounded the corner back into Horseshoe Bay.

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Foggy ferry ride, Nanaimo BC

ClimbEatCycleRepeat.com | Foggy ferry ride, Nanaimo BC

It was a hard day of work 😉