Saturday Snippets: 17.February.2018

With this past Monday being a long weekend in BC, and Valentine’s Day falling mid-week, and a few site visits thrown into the mix, it’s felt like a really short week! No complaints here, though. To the rest of Canada, we hope you enjoy your Family Day long weekend this coming Monday! Next year we’ll finally join in on the same day 😉

Here’s what caught our eye online in the world of climbing, eating, cycling and repeating. Saturday Snippets for 17.February.2018.

On Climbing, Eating, Cycling and Repeating:

On Moby News (aka Sprinter van conversion):

Last week I had to spend a day over in Nanaimo for work, so we took the opportunity to bring the van over and stay on the island for some of the long weekend. The big highlight of the trip? After almost two years, Moby got his first bath finally! His favourite part? A little scrub behind the wheels 🙂 It was the best $12 we’ve spent on him!

The other bonus of the weekend was that we were able to gather some data from our second-alternator charging system. All week, we let the batteries run down, and by Saturday morning, we had about 30% charge left. So on the drive from Nanaimo to Victoria, Jonty hooked his laptop up to our Mastervolt controller via USB, and gathered data from the system. I’m hoping he will do a proper post here, because we’ve had some interest from the Instagram community!

We’re the very first customers to use the Mastervolt charge-control system in conjunction with the Nations high-amp alternator and, as far as we’re aware, no other group is able look at their charging data in real-time. It’s kind of exciting! Here are a few graphs showing a very small subset of some data we’re able to look at. In very (very) general terms, we obtain real-time information on alternator temperature, battery voltages and currents, charging rates, etc.

In less than 2 hours of driving time, we were able to completely charge up our batteries, and we didn’t even tax the system to its full potential. So from now on, our off-grid / off-road travels will really only be limited to our fresh water supply!

Weekly progress report:

We’re definitely getting toward the end of this van conversion. Until we figure out the grey water tanks, our weekly updates are going to be a lot of little finishing-up projects. This project this week was installing a slide-out garbage and recycling tray under the sink.

After nearly 2 years of having to custom-fabricate virtually every component in the van, we finally purchased something that required almost no additional work! Ikea, we thank you for selling something that is shorter than the standard household cupboard depth 🙂 The rollers and tray were UTRUSTA, and the bins (with lids) were VARIERA. All Jonty had to do was to make a mount to attach the rollers to the L-track in the floor! Hallelujah, a quick project!

Pictures from the week of 17.February.2018:

Like I mentioned, we spent last weekend on Vancouver Island. We stayed in Nanaimo for one night in Nanaimo and the second night in Victoria.

While Jonty was washing up the breakfast dishes, I snapped a few pictures of the morning light in the Nanaimo harbour. These were the views we woke up to in the morning – not too shabby, hey? I’m a sucker for a good water reflection 🙂

And our ride back to Vancouver!

Happy Weekend!

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!

Victoria Day Trippin’

Last month I was travelling regularly for work, heading to the far-reaching corners of BC! Just kidding, not that far: a few days in Duncan and Victoria mid-month, then up to Powell River a few weeks later.

I think September is one of the best times to travel in BC. The weather is generally good and the crowds are minimal, with the kids being back in school. | Day trip to Duncan, BC

When I travel for work, I always get the earliest ferry from Horseshoe Bay, in order to get to my first site visit at a reasonable time. I don’t want to jinx it, but in the 10 years that I’ve been taking the trip, I’ve had a poor-weather crossing only once or twice in September.

More often than not, I’m treated to the glow of the rising sun and the outline of downtown Vancouver and Mount Baker in the background. It’s definitely worth the 4am wake-up call. | Day trip to Duncan, BC | Day trip to Duncan, BC

My site visit in Duncan usually takes a full day, and I’m often pooped by the end of my testing (hello, 4am wake-up call!) so there are no pictures to show off this quaint little town. One of these years I’ll get my act together!

On these annual site-visits, I usually stay overnight in Nanaimo before heading back to Vancouver. (I shared a few pictures from that visit last year, as I was waiting for the ferry). This year, however, I needed to make a stop in Victoria, which made for a nice change of scenery! The weather was fantastic and I had the morning to hang around in the downtown harbour before catching the ferry home. | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I stayed at the Capital City Centre Hotel. I’ve stayed there several times for work, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s within walking distance to the waterfront and all the downtown amenities, but the prices are lower than if you are staying in the heart of downtown.

Perfect for a Pearson 🙂 | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I was right in the middle of my monthly photo challenge, so many of the photos are slanted toward My Month of Buildings. The architecture is nicely varied in the downtown area, so I can’t really complain! I love the brick and old plaster and vines crawling over the store-fronts. | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

It wouldn’t be a trip to our Province’s capital city, without a walk around the Parliament Building! The last time we were in Victoria was almost a year ago, for a little wedding anniversary get-away. Jonty was still on crutches and I remember him eyeing up all those stairs, wondering how badly he really wanted to go on that free tour inside. He was a trooper, and we both enjoyed the tour. Oh, how quickly the year has gone by! | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I really do appreciate having a job that allows me to travel around the province a bit; it’s just infrequent enough that I still get excited to go to some of these places when those times of year roll around. | Day trip to Victoria, BC

Where to stay:

Where to eat:

  • Red Fish Blue Fish: An outdoor (seasonal) eatery, selling tasty sustainable fish and chips, with a view.
  • Jam Cafe: A great place for breakfast and lunch! I ate at the bar (the best spot, in my opinion) and had Green Eggs and Ham. Really good. Just be prepared to wait, if you don’t get there early.

Where to get a good coffee:

  • Parsonage Cafe: I found this place during my last visit. They serve homemade muffins and scones in the morning, and you can get a great bagel-and-lox sandwich at lunch. | Day trip to Victoria, BC

I’m working on the photos from my trip to Powell River, so stay tuned!

Vancouver Island Getaway: Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen

Island Hopping – Part 3

We took a few days off last month and headed over to Vancouver Island for a mini-holiday to celebrate our wedding anniversary. You can read about our previous stops in Part 1 and Part 2!

We continued our drive through the Cowichan Valley en route to Victoria. In all the years I have been going over to the Island for work, I have never driven that stretch of the highway before. The constant drizzle didn’t help the views, but under better conditions, I think it would have been a pretty drive.

We had no concrete plans for when we arrived in Victoria, only that we knew we would have a few hours to kill before checking into our hotel. The first order of business? Consult Google for the “Best Donuts Near Me” and find out that the top two contenders are Yonni’s Doughnuts and Empire Donuts. Yonni’s was the closest, so Yonni’s it was – and with a good Americano, it hit the spot 🙂 | Vancouver Island Getaway, Yonni's Doughnuts, Victoria BC

With the weather improving and Jonty able to walk a bit further, we decided to take a little tour around the Legislative Building, as it was pretty close to where we were staying, and just a stone’s throw from the donut shop! | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

There were tours running every 30 minutes, with the next one started in 5 – perfect timing! I didn’t see any signs disallowing photographs to be taken, and nobody stopped me after I snapped the first one, so I just continued 🙂 | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

I think this was my fourth legislative building that I’ve toured over the years, and while they all have similar qualities, they are all quite unique in their own way. Jonty and I were the ring-leaders for question-posing, and I think our tour guide was appreciative of that – I expect it can be fairly monotonous, giving the same tour, if nobody asks questions. | Vancouver Island getaway, BC Legislative Building, Victoria BC

We checked into the Marriott Victoria and were surprised to find we had been upgraded to a penthouse suite for our anniversary, overlooking the harbour! It was a great room, with a beautiful view, and made a wonderful surprise! | Vancouver Island Getaway, Downtown Harbour, Victoria BC

After we settled into the hotel room and checked out the complimentary concierge lounge (ooh, swanky!), we mapped out a few of the local craft breweries in our vicinity that wouldn’t require a tonne of walking for Jonty on his crutches. We stopped in at the Hoyne Brewing and Driftwood Brewing Companies before quickly realizing that Victoria doesn’t really have the same zoning regulations as Vancouver, so many of their really small craft breweries don’t have “tasting rooms”, where you can sit down and enjoy their beer. Instead, we sampled a few tasters at each place, bought a few bottles to take home with us, and got a few recommendations of other places to try.

We stopped in at Moon Under Water for a flight (they were having an event, so we couldn’t stay very long) and Swan’s Brewpub for a meal (it was okay, but perhaps a bit too commercial for what we were looking for), and finally onto The Churchill, which was exactly the type of place we were looking for!! With a cozy atmosphere, a long pub bar, and a bartender with the right amount of crack-a-joke-then-leave-you-alone vibe, it was perfect.

The following day we caught the ferry back to Vancouver and, again, we were treated to beautiful blue skies and gorgeous views. | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC | Vancouver Island getaway, ferry ride, Vancouver BC

Since we made it back to Vancouver in good time and we weren’t ready to finish our anniversary getaway just yet, we finished up our vacation by going to Postmark. They were just changing over from their brunch menu to their dinner tapas menu, so we enjoyed the ambiance and setting sun over a drink or two. We love the ambiance of this place – it’s an old warehouse building with very high ceilings, reclaimed wooden beams, and a great place to people-watch while eating really good food. | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC | Postmark Brewing and Belgard Kitchen, Vancouver BC

It was so nice to get out-of-town and explore our province, without a plan or agenda. We were reminded of our three-month road trip and how much we loved that experience. Hopefully 2016 will bring more of the same!

Island Hopping – Part 2

We took a little vacation over to Vancouver Island a few weeks ago. You can read about Stop #1 here.

Stop #2:

We had to stop for the best buns on the Island! If you’re ever near Ladysmith, make sure to stop in at the Old Town Bakery. You will most likely have to queue, as I have done. Every. Single. Time. 🙂 But it is always worth the wait; bread, buns, cookies, bars, scones, you name it, they bake it. However, we didn’t go for any of those, delicious as they are, we went for the cinnamon buns!! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

There were no fewer than 8 different kinds of cinnamon buns to choose from. After MUCH deliberation, the Pearson’s settled on the Lemon Poppyseed and the Peanut Butter buns. Both were more than worth the wait! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

To walk off the buns, we meandered around the downtown (which took about 30 seconds – Ladysmith is not that big…). There are great-looking buildings, though; sometimes I wonder if people choose to paint buildings a bright colour to bring some cheer on the gray winter days. It certainly helps lighten the mood! | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC | Vancouver Island getaway, Old Town Bakery, Ladysmith BC

Stop #3:

Continuing down the highway on our way to Victoria, we made another stop at Duncan. One of my mammo sites is located in their hospital, so we took a little detour so I could show Jonty where my annual travel takes me. Did you know that Duncan is known as the City of Totems? You can find them throughout the city! | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Our final stop in the Cowichan Valley was for a mid-day sipping session at Duncan’s local craft brewery – Red Arrow Brewing Company. | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Actually, the main reason we wanted to stop there is because we’re currently loving this show (and he’s the Green Arrow, so we thought it was fitting to have a brew at the Red Arrow!) | Vancouver Island getaway, Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan BC

Next stop? Down to Victoria! Stay tuned 🙂