Day 18: Back in the USA…Hello Mt. Rainier!

When was the last time you had “one of this days?”  Well we had “one of those mornings”…Poor Champ! Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  Trying to keep up with the flow of traffic, he got pulled over for speeding.  (It will be interesting to discover how to resolve a Canadian traffic violation…another part of the adventure?) Then, when we were finally able to navigate our way to catch our ferry into Washington, they could not locate our reservation, and because we could not wait until 3:00 pm for the next one, we were rerouted to a commuter ferry about an hour away.  Then, things started to look up…We were able to board the ferry in Swartz Bay in Victoria, bound for Tsawwassen, Vancouver.  Once there, we successfully made our way to the U.S. Border Patrol  entering Washington state.  Crossing the border took a little more time than we hoped, but we did make it through and had enough time to drive Kent to Sea Tac Airport and get him on his flight back home.

Next on our list, make the long drive to Ashford, which is at the base of Mt. Rainer in Washington.  There we hoped to grab a much needed dinner at a place I found on Yelp called Copper Creek Inn.  We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we were more than ready for a good meal.  We drove through lots of Washington cities and finally made our way to beautiful mountain roads for the last 35 miles of our drive.  We enjoyed the huge trees that hugged that road,  and at the same time felt really sad to see yet another forest fire, along Alder Lake.  Our waitress Becky told us it’s been burning for about a week now…so sad.  Big theme across the lands we have traveled so far…there are fires burning just about everywhere we have been.

We had a delicious dinner, I had salmon and Greg had a flat iron steak.  With full stomachs (finally), we made our final, short trek to our campground, Mount Haven RV and Cabins.  Absolutely gorgeous site.  Might be my favorite one so far!! 

Tomorrow, we will look into hiking and exploring Mt. Rainier, Washington.  We are tired, but happy!  Hopefully tomorrow will be nothing but smooth sailing!

Day 17: Last Chance to See Vancouver Island

P1040501We started our day’s journey in the charming town of Tofino, had a little breakfast and looked around a while.  Then,  since yesterday we allowed ourselves to go wherever our adventure would take us, today we needed to backtrack a bit, to get us to our destination campground at Weir’s Beach, in Victoria, BC.   That was a-okay with me, because I slept through our drive by Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park in Nanaimo the first time around and this time, we opted to stop and look around.  So glad we did…the Grove was magnificent!  These trees are so huge, it was impossible to capture their size in pictures.  The oldest trees in the grove are 800 years old, but most of them sprouted after a fire 300 years ago.  There are warning signs throughout the grove telling visitors to exit immediately in case the wind kicks up, as the trees are vulnerable to destruction in the strong winds.  All 4 of us enjoyed the serene walk through the forest (I’m including the ladies, of course.)

We hit the road again, with the goal of making it to Butchart Gardens, which we have heard about since our trip years ago to Vancouver.  According to our calculations, we would make it there around 5:00 pm, which seems like late in the day to visit an attraction, but actually it was perfect timing.  Most of the tourists were gone by then, and the park had only a few people visiting by the time we got there.  Here’s a little information about Butchart Gardens, to help you appreciate what we saw.  Butchart Gardens was founded over 100 years ago, when Jennie Butchart planted a garden of rose bushes and sweet pea pods on the grounds of her home, which was situated adjacent to a a giant pit from which her husband Robert was excavating  limestone. Her attempt to beautify her surroundings, combined with her green thumb, the mild weather conditions on Vancouver Island and her kind, hospitable spirit, led her to grow this world renown 55-acre garden that is maintained by 50 full time gardeners and open to the public 365 days a year. The planning and care for these gardens over the years have yielded the most expansive, amazing gardens I’ve ever seen.  (I’m going to have invent some new superlatives! It seems I use this them over and over again :/)  This place is definitely worth seeing, if you ever have a chance to visit Vancouver Island.  Taking in all the beautiful flowers will give you a “peaceful, easy feeling.”

At the end of another day, we made a winding drive to our campground, Weir’s Beach, where our spot for the night was right on the sand.  Too bad we didn’t get there until after dark, and left at sunrise, before we had a chance to enjoy the sandy beach and the gentle tide.  Oh well, such is the life of adventurers…no grass grows under our feet! We have places to go and people to meet.  Speaking of which, I almost forgot…you know by now that we enjoy meeting people along the way and learning about them. Well yesterday we had quite an experience early in our day at a little town called Ucluelet.  We stopped for gas and propane at a local gas station and then the WEIRDEST thing happened:  A gas station attendant came out and actually filled our tank and checked our oil for us!! Whaattttt??? Have we entered a time machine back to the 1960’s?? We are quite taken aback by this level of service which is obsolete in our world.  Tim, the delightful attendant, not only serviced our RV, and gave the doggies a treat, but he did so with a huge smile on his face.  

When Greg engaged him in conversation, Tim said that for many years he suffered from overwhelming depression.  He said that his father was a very negative, mean person and that he couldn’t stand the idea of being just like his dad.  Instead, he purposely tried to be more like his mother and found that serving people with a great attitude cured him from his deep sadness.  He went on to say that he’s not a rich man, but he has found his purpose by helping people at this gas station. Greg encouraged him and thanked him for being a bright spot in our day. Thank you Tim for our delightful brief interaction.  It was memorable!

Sandy’s final thought for the day…Tonight, when you get ready to say goodnight to your WiFi,  give it an extra big hug and express your appreciation for it for its strength, accessibility, faithfulness and consistency, making it always possible to reach the ones you love…. when you don’t have your virtuous WiFi by your side, it makes life much more challenging :/  I look forward to good ol’ fashioned U.S. WiFi!!