Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miracle - Our Traveling Companion

Our Old English Sheepdog Miracle (Mirra for short) is our constant companion, and a great traveling dog.  We got Mirra soon after we lost our male Old  English Sheepdog Buster.  Buster made it to the ripe old age (for an Old English Sheepdog) of 13.  My husband and I were heartbroken over loosing him.  We lost him right before I retired, and we had our first big post-retirement trip scheduled - a winter in Arizona, then stops along the way home in Texas and the Florida Panhandle and Keys.  I couldn't envision making this trip without my Buster, and just had to get another dog to ease my breaking heart.  We searched for a dog that was old enough to travel with us but was still a puppy, and lucky for us we found a breeder in New Hamshire that had a 41/2 month female that she had decided she didn't want to show and would sell.  Anxiously, we went to pick Miracle up.  She greeted us by jumping up on us and licking our faces all over, something we have now gotten used to and call a "mugging".  She jumped into the car with us and I could tell from the trip home that she was going to be a wonderful traveling dog.  She has accompanied us on all of our trips since, and has brought us so much laughter, joy and love.   Here's a cute video of Miracle's first encounter with Sheep that I put on YouTube. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island

Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino

As the grand finale of our 2010 cross country tour, we decided to make Vancouver Island our last northwestern stop before heading home.  We had just finished visiting Olympic National Park which was nearby the ferry in Port Angeles, so it was a natural extension of our trip.

Our first stay was at Crystal Cover Resort in Tofino which is on the West side of Vancouver Island.  The drive to Tofino was somewhat rough once we got away from Victoria.  The road took lots of really sharp turns and wound its way through mountains.  Finally we reached Pacific Rim National Park, so I knew that we weren't far from our destination.  It was foggy and damp, a theme that remained throughout our entire stay in Tofino.  We pulled into our campground late in the day, checked in and headed to our site.  The site was extremely narrow and hard to get into, but Bob, ever the skilled driver, got it in after much grumbling. The resort was really quite beautiful though, and was right on McKenzie Beach.  Although no campsites were on the beach it was a short walk to the access path.

We had dinner out in the small town of Tofino that night and were treated to a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.  The next day we took a whale watch, expecting to see Orca Whales, but found out that you rarely see them.  We did see some Humpback Whales and lots of Sea Lions laying around on rocks.  The next few days were spent exploring Pacific Rim National Park which is outstanding, but after just having been to Olympic National Park probably didn't seem as spectacular as it should have since the two parks are quite similar.  Still, we loved hiking along the Ocean every day.  However, by the time our five days were up in Tofino we were anxious to get going because of the eternal fog and damp cold air, which was really getting to us.  Keywords for Tofino - foggy, damp, cold, expensive.

Whale watch from Tofino

Sea Lions seen on whale watch

Tight fit!

Weirs Beach Campground in Victoria was our next destination.  I had booked us into an oceanfront campsite for five days.   It felt like a long drive from Tofino to Victoria, but we arrived at our campground fairly early and we were pleased with our site, although once again it was a little tight.  However, the clear sunny weather more than made up for any displeasure felt, and we happily settled in.

Of course we went to Buttchart Gardens, a must see in Victoria, and we played golf at nearby course.  Outside of that our five days were spent enjoying the beach and the sunshine, walking, reading books, and just chilling out.

Moonlight Over Weirs Beach

Buttchart Gardens

Although we loved our stay in Vancouver Island, I must caution anyone going that it is VERY expensive.  Everything is taxed so much that it really costs to stay there for any amount of time.  I'm glad that we went, but think that it may be a very long time before we stay in Canada again because of the expense.