August 26, 2015

I could have stayed on Vancouver Island forever. Unfortunately the road was calling. It wasn’t calling so loudly that I didn’t stop to watch the sun rise over the mountains to the east.   I sat at the picnic table while the dogs ate their breakfast waiting for the water to boil for my now standard breakfast of instant oatmeal with a wide selection of dried fruits and nuts and a cup of tea.  All I have to do is get the water boiling and in less than five minutes, I’m chopping away next to the dogs.

As I broke camp I saw that the campground was not much better than it had appeared in the dark. To be fair, it did look like it was a new campground so once it has a chance to establish itself, I’m sure it will be better.  One of the things that I hope would be better were shower facilities.  I didn’t mind having to use a port-a-potty but not having access to a shower was a bit of a bother.  I never minded going for, well, a very long time in the backcountry; I guess it’s different when we were still in and out of civilization.  Never mind; we’re tough and we’ll work with what we have.  Finished packing and on the road we go.

We made two stops on the way to the ferry. The first was at a gift shop where I could pick up a few souvenirs to bring back for my nephews. It turns out it’s owned by a couple from Sarnia, Ontario.  One of the owners was working the counter and he told me there are a lot of Ontario expats in BC. Not surprising at all.

On the wall of the souvenir shop.

The second stop was at Coombs Country Candy. I bought fudge. I bought a lot of fudge.  It was good.

We had to wait a bit for the ferry out of Nanaimo so I took the dogs for a stroll. And as I was sitting talking with a man about the dogs, a woman just walked up with her furry little shoebox of a dog on a (shudder) retractable leash. Now we were out of the way of the ferry terminal traffic and there was nothing behind us which meant that she made the conscious decision to walk directly to us.  I had not really been paying attention so I did’t see her come from behind where I was sitting.  Leo jumped towards the dog then Piper did as well. I’m sure it looked really aggressive and she just turned and walked away. I called out “sorry about that” even though I wasn’t and didn’t even get a response. People like that drive me nuts because I try really hard to make sure that my dogs don’t bother other people.  I know that not everyone likes dogs and not every dog likes other dogs so I go out of my way to keep mine out of trouble. Fortunately I didn’t have time to stew about it as it was time to board.

My irritation was quickly forgotten once we settled on board.  I’m still surprised at how well the dogs have dealt with being on the different ferries. This time it seemed like they were actually bored. I walked them around as much as I could but we spent most of the time sitting at the…aft? Stern? The back of the boat.

Another boat ride.

Once we got off the ferry we headed to Whistler. I’ve never been there before and wanted to check it out. And I couldn’t get out fast enough! I’m sure had I been on my own it would have been a nice place to meander but with three dogs, we do tend to take up a bit of space; space that is apparently very valuable because no one wanted to give us any.  Add to that the mountain bikers that insisted on riding through the Village even though there are signs posted everywhere saying they were supposed to dismount.  And I heard a few people muttering under their breaths about dogs so it was obvious that we would have to move on.  The women working at the visitor’s centre were just the nicest people and they more than made up for the rest of the people walking around the Village.  They gave me directions for some dog areas we could go visit and so with maps in hand we left Whistler.

By this time it was well into evening and I had learned my lesson about getting a campsite when you have the opportunity. I did not want to spend another night sleeping in the car so the next park I saw, I went in.  We never did make it to the dog areas but I figured that having a safe and comfortable place to sleep was a higher priority.

Nairn Park is another pick your site campground. I picked a fairly decent site and set up camp. Leo kept trying to get into the tent every chance he got. I’d turn my back to go get something from the car and when I turned around, he’d be inside as far as his tie rope would allow with what I can only imagine was a smile.  Little city boy is doing well in the outdoors.

Then we went for a walk. There’s a gorgeous river that runs alongside the camp and we waded across to a rocky island in the middle. The water was cold but the dogs handled it with no problems at all. We wandered for a good long while and then headed back to camp.

I actually cooked dinner for the first time on the trip. I wouldn’t normally touch packaged pasta but once you add some dried tomatoes and mushrooms and dine al fresco…well it doesn’t get much better than that.  I talked with one of the park staff who came around checking site permits.  We actually talked for a very long time as I not so subtly plumbed her mind for information about the area.  When I asked about shower sites she told me it was a “primitive” campground and I could go and use the community centre down the road if I wanted to.  I guess all the campgrounds close to home had me spoiled.

It was quite warm in the mountains that night. The dogs were asleep almost as soon as they lay their heads down.  I wasn’t far behind them.