Archive for June, 2007

Cathedral Grove and Butterflies

Today’s expedition was to Cathedral Grove, part of the Pacific Rim National Preserve. Some of the ancient trees there are over 800 years old – they are the living definition of sacred space – they me feel tiny and humble.

Then we visited the Butterfly World and Orchid Gardens, a beautiful change of scenery.

Roadside Deer
Roadside deer.
Cathedral Grove
Cathedral grove.
Jeri’s Tree
Jeri’s tree.
Trunk Silhouettes
Trees in the sun.
Bryan’s Tree
Bryan under the trees.
Mossy Trees
Spanish moss.
Butterfly and Caterpillars
Butterfly and caterpillars.
Orchid
Orchid.

Posted on Saturday, June 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: garden, travel | 2 Comments »

Beaches and Bears

Bryan Long BeachYesterday we drove to the Pacific side of Vancouver Island, to the little surf town of Tofino.

It was a beautiful, if slow, drive over the mountain backbone of the island. Tofino was completely charming – atlhough I think we may have been the only people in town over 21 and I’m surprised they served us in the coffee shop.

Tofino TidepoolWe spent some time wandering the very gorgeous Long Beach. It’s my favorite kind of beach – easy access, firm sand, miles and miles of space to wander, and lots of rocky outcrops and tide pools to poke around in for treasure.

On the way back, we encountered a nominee for the Darwin award. Bryan slowed down because there was a car only partially off the road to the side up ahead. As we neared, we saw these things: 1 – a black bear about ten feet off the road, snacking on shrubbery, and 2 – a beaming tourist, rushing back from his car on foot, camera in hand, ready to grab the picture.

Hello, it’s a BEAR! Although it may be the size of a Newfoundland retriever, it’s not going to be nearly as receptive to close-up photography. Why in the world would anyone rush a bear on foot with a camera? Maybe his logic was, “Roadside bears are domesticated bears.” “It’s so little, it’s probably a cub, so it won’t be aggressive.” “I bet I can outrun it.” “It looks like a vegetarian bear.”

I sure hope I don’t read about him in today’s paper

And no, I didn’t get a picture. ;)

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | 2 Comments »

Our Oceanside Retreat

TighnamaraWe are staying in the same Vancouver Island lodge resort we stayed in on our honeymoon – the Tigh-Na-Mara, in Parksville.

The view, above, from our room’s huge deck is spectacular, worth a million bucks… the beach and tide flats go on for miles and make for wonderful walking and beachcombing. The room is cozy, with log beams, a gas fireplace, and a jetted tub. The food at the lodge dining room is excellent, if you want to spring for a fine dining experience with every meal – that’s not really our style (nor our budget!)

Tighnamara ViewThe lodge now has a high-priced destination spa, with all the body treatments you can think of – facials, skin, manicure/pedicure, massages, etc. I’m mostly not a massage fan – although I do enjoy a really good pedicure/footrub – I think it’s the whole intimate touchy-feely with a stranger thing.

I am very disappointed that there is no internet access to any of the lodge rooms – and this is a pretty high-end resort. I can go to the conference center and use wireless there – but from a convenience and family vacation perspective, that’s pretty disruptive. Having it and not choosing to use it is a vacation. Not having it available at the price I’m paying is frustrating.

Update, day before checkout: I have actually been quite disappointed with the resort throughout my stay here. It’s as if they are coasting on their million dollar view and fabulous facilities – and
providing fair-to-poor customer service.

Sometimes it’s the little things – like not following through with their commitment to eco-friendly housekeeping practices.

And then there were the bigger issues – like housekeeping throwing away an expensive package of barely used cigars from the back deck during their visit. Or not vacuuming our room – once – during our stay.

Or the final straw. When we called the front desk to let them know we wanted to depart a day early, we were informed, “I’m sorry, we have a five day cancellation policy, we’ll have to charge you for that night.” Nothing more. No customer service inquiry like, “I’m sorry to hear that, is there a problem, or anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable?” Just, “We have your money, we’re going to keep it, do what you want.”

So, we stayed the original duration, under duress. And didn’t spend one thin dime at the resort outside of our room – not at the spa, the restaurant, the bar, nothing. And we won’t be back, nor recommend this place to others, because a great resort requires more than a nice room and a high price to be truly special.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | 4 Comments »

Butchart Gardens

We spent our first day on Vancouver Island going to visit one of my favorite places – the Butchart Gardens.

These 103 year old gardens, originally carved out of a rock quarry, include some 55 acres of carefully cultivated land. We never saw a single spotted leaf, pest, weed, dead branch, even anything so prosaic as mulch – just mounds and thickets and glens of glorious trees, shrubs and flowers.

Begonia

Beautiful begonias.
Sunken Garden

Sunken garden.
Sunken Pond

Sunken pond.
Daylily

Day lilies.
Private Tea Garden

Private tea garden.
Rose

Huge rose.
Passion Flower

Passion flower.
Japanese Pond

Japanese garden.

Wouldn’t it be glorious to be a master gardener in a place like that? You’d create in color, texture, scent and bloom season like an artist, a sculptor, and then be able to touch, feel, see, walk about within your vision throughout the year.

Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: garden, travel | 1 Comment »

Are We There Yet?

Road TripWe are getting ready to head out on vacation for two weeks, so posts here may become a bit sporadic. I will try to post some photos and impressions from the road, though!

We are traveling to Vancouver Island for the first week, where we’ll stay in the same lodge we did on our honeymoon. Then we’ll take a road trip through the national parks of the Pacific Northwest (Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons) and finally wander through Eastern Washington wine country.

I’m really looking forward to the down time – and the sleep!

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | 3 Comments »