Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

This morning early Gary and I headed over to Victoria on the Victoria Express Passenger Ferry.  It’s an hour ride and on the way over I spotted some whales spouting off at some distance, but I believe they were Orcas.  I wish they had been closer.  Olympic Mountains in background.

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We arrived and waited at the Ferry Terminal for Sandy.  He picked us up and drove us around town, telling us all about changes to Victoria since he was a kid. 

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Then we parked near some interesting shops… and went browsing.  Gary found a beach chair he had been looking for and I found replacement batteries for my SPOT gps device.  Also found a small whisk for mixing cocoa and stuff in the van.  We saw the fancy old hotel – The Empress, beautiful flowers on their grounds, etc.

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Then we went to China town and walked all through it and also an interesting little alley that has a number of shops.  I guess the brick buildings there are made from bricks that were used as ballast in ships.  Some interesting signs:  Chinese Canadian Cultural Association,  Chinese Freemason Society, hum… things I’d never thought about.

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Saw this really interesting old brick building built in 1821… that is vacant waiting to be earthquake retrofitted… and it’s prime real estate.  The Janion Building -

In an almost unprecedented move, Victoria council has voted to start a process that will give heritage designation to the Janion and Morley’s Soda Water Factory buildings even though the owner hasn’t requested it.

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Sandy treated us to a lovely lunch in a nice restaurant we would not have found on our own, and then dropped us back off at the waterfront.  Sandy, you are a gentleman and a scholar… and a gracious host. Thank you for your hospitality.  Next time, I’ll bring the van across and drive the two hours to come and visit your home/shop.  Thank you for coming so far to see us on such short notice.

Gary and I drooled over these old roadsters that were for rent. 

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We walked the waterfront looking at all the craftsmen and musicians.  I loved this Orca made of glass mosaic.  I guess there are a bunch of these all around… like the pigs in Seattle. This was the only one we saw.

Artist: Sara Gifford, Jane Van Sickle & Michael Hofmann
Sponsor: Prince of Whales Whale Watching
Location: Lower Causeway - adjacent 812 Wharf Street

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Other things I enjoyed: these coins that had background carefully sawed out… beautiful work, the tiny little boats, the mimes that looked like bronze and plaster statues, and the sculptor Klaus Emmaneel – Merlin Arts.

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That evening we caught the last Ferry back to Port Angeles, passing a number of sea planes, a large freighter, but saw no whales on the return.  It was a good day.

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Another small and unimportant thing I noticed… RESTROOMS are called Washrooms in Canada.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Aberdeen to Forks (continued) Part II.

Continued from Part I.

Later, when they are captured by fishermen or return to the hatchery, these coded wired are recovered.  The information gained from the tags allows Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to document estimated survival rates and possible migration routes.

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“The roots of the Quinault Indian Nation lie deep within the land. The land and its resources represents both out heritage from the past and our legacy to the future.”

Guy McMinds, 7th National Indian Timber Symposium.

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The hatchery had nice exhibits… and was all very clean.  I enjoyed reading about the cultural history of the area.

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Just really want to get to Port Angeles and rest and then try my hand (errrr arm) at kayaking again.

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A couple miles before South Beach Campground there is a Trading Post near the Queets River, where you can do laundry and take a shower. 

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South Beach Campground was nice… costs $10 a night (and no fireworks allowed).  One camper had caught a fish this morning and had cooked it up.  I walked by drooling. 

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The beach of littered with dozens of very large crab that had washed up.  What a pity.  They were as big as my foot… and that is BIG. Who knows how long they had been dead or why they died.  Sure made me hungry though.

At about mile point 174 I saw something white at the side of the road… no, two something whites… and it was two large matted dirty Commodore(?) dogs.  I stopped at the next place I found to ask if anyone was missing two big white dogs.  She said they belong in the area and she would call the owners and tell them where the dogs were.  They were crossing Highway 101.

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Or maybe they are Great Pyrenees, yes, I think that’s what they were… they didn’t have the dreadlocks like the Commodores. 

And in the Ho Rain Forest there I also saw a Hostel along the highway.  Good to note. In the morning I’ll explore The Forks a little and then head on in to Port Angeles.

Travelers’ Necklace


When I decided to van-dwell and travel fulltime, I devised the a necklace in order to keep track of how many other like-minded vandwellers I met on the road. I bought a bag of plastic craft beads and had a leather shoe lace. Each time I met another vandweller, I added a bead to my necklace. Soon others got to liking the idea and began trading beads with me. Some are even making there own beads to give out to other vandwellers they meet. The idea is spreading... and my necklace is growing. I have a list of who each bead represents. As time goes on some of the earlier beads are being replaced with glass or stone beads by the people they represent.  The arrowhead in the center was found on a California beach and Vandweller Grandmahuggababy did the beautiful wire-wrap for me.  The red bead is hers which she also wire-wrapped. Next to it is a little gold Buddha from Vandweller AstroBri.  The purple bead is from Brian deYounger, and Grandmahuggababy also wire-wrapped that one. The necklace seems to take on a life of it’s own… and of course each Vandweller’s Necklace will have it’s own distinct look… and will be as varied as we are ourselves.  We are a family, a tribe on wheels… seeing America… loving life.

"We were an island of misfits, a family, a tribe. much like i imagine more primitive and wise cultures lived. anyhow, i feel that way about vandwellers. we are drawn to a way of life on the fringes of the common culture. some of us seek solitude, some community. we have times of incredible peace, and sharp loneliness. we are all such different individuals, bound by a passion for the adventures in life, as experienced from our little mobile dwellings. at vandwellers, we find a place to give support/get support..... a tribe of our own."   by twokniveskatie

See for more information on vandwelling.

Aberdeen, WA to The Forks, WA – Part I.

Well, can’t say much for Aberdeen, WA.  It smelled bad, it was run down and depressing and depressed.  Dirty town.  Along the main street (Route 101 heading north) houses were so bad that the community began a local campaign to have local business support re-painting them.  There are signs posted in front of the house with the name of the business that sponsored that house.  Tacky.  (clever but tacky)

I tried to find the tent I want at their Wal-Mart there too.  No luck, again.  Getting out of that town was like working your way through a broken maze.  Finally I got on 101 going north.  It was really good to get out of the pollution of Aberdeen, WA.  And although I got good internet connection last night, enough to do my blog, I got nothing this morning.  I still (at 3:30pm in Forks) cannot get a Verizon Air Card connection and am using one of the Forks hotel free wifi connections.   Geez!  Well, I wanted boondocks… and guess that’s what I’m getting today.

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But as I was leaving Aberdeen and getting out into the wilderness again… I found I had no one in front of me and no one behind me.  That’s what makes me feel like I’m going in the right direction.  I love this life.

Saw a couple deer along the road.  Listening to the radio, the announcer called it “Bigfoot Radio,” but after awhile, I lost radio signals too and resorted to CD music to keep myself awake.

Not much out there between Aberdeen and the Forks.  Some timbering activities.  When you look on a map and see nothing between the two towns… or very little, it’s cause… that’s right… not much out there.

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The most exciting part was where the road comes close to the ocean… and you can see it… the ocean.  I guess there are lots of places to get off the highway and into the Olympic National Forest, but with my rig (trailer and van) I don’t feel very adventurous.  There were signs of timbering activities all along Rt. 101.


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I did stop at the Quinault National Fish Hatchery… which was really interesting.  I didn’t know the fish were tagged so that when caught you could learn where they had come from. 

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Before European arrived in the Quinault area of the central Washington coast, hundreds of native peoples were living here in villages, hunting and foraging in the pristine forests, and fishing on these shores and crystal clear rivers. The hatchery is on lands within the Quinault Indian reservation on Cook Creek.  From September through February visitors can watch the exciting spectacle of these magnificent fish ascending the hatchery’s fish ladder and see large adult fish in the hatchery’s holding ponds.  While I was there, they were inserting coded wire tag in the nose of fish.

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To be continued in Part II.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.