Do you ever read about a place that piques your interest and you hope to see it in person one day?
I used to read a little magazine called “Reader’s Digest” from cover to cover as a young girl.After I moved away from home my Father bought me a subscription to this magazine.“Reader’s Digest” was my pop culture, my humour, my miscellaneous trivia, and it contained an abundance of interesting, informative articles.
One of the articles in this magazine in the 1980’s was about a town that had recreated itself on Vancouver Island.At that time we were living in Northern British Columbia.
I always remembered this story and I was hoping to one day visit
Chemainus, “The Little Town That Did.”
Chemainus is in the District of North Cowichan, on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
Lumber used to be the primary industry in this town. The lumber mill operated off and on for 120 years until the mill closed down in the early 1980’s.
As part of a revitalization project, local and international artists were commissioned to create
Giant Murals on the downtown business walls showcasing the history and the culture of Chemainus.
And like “The Little Engine That Could” written by Watty Piper, Chemainus became known as “The Little Town That Did.”
We also drove to the picturesque town of Chemainus.Many times.
We often had visitors and Chemainus did not disappoint.It was the perfect place to explore on foot with family and friends of all ages.
Now, 28 years later
It occurred to me how I haven’t spent much time exploring Chemainus for many years.
I go to Chemainus at least twice a year to see the live theatre shows with family and friends.The performances are always excellent!In the month of August we saw “The Magician’s Nephew” and “Mamma Mia.”
We drive directly to the theatre to watch the productions and then we drive home.
This year, we decided to spend the day in Chemainus.
We decided to become a tourist again.
Chemainus has interesting galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants,ice cream parlours and
Forty-plus World Famous Giant Murals.
10 Takeaways When Planning a Visit to Chemainus
2.Bring a camera and good walking shoes.
3.Stop at scenic lookouts on the drive through the mountain pass called the Malahat.
4.Plan on visiting a show at the unique, intimate Chemainus Theatre.Book early!The shows are usually sold out well in advance.
5.Walk into a delightful candy store.It is a fun, colourful and sweet place to visit.You will learn how many of the decorations and trim were hand painted.
6.Make sure to leave room for an ice cream cone. The girls had strawberry cheesecake and cotton candy flavours. I had a double which included three flavours.Mine was blackberry, peanut butter chocolate and green tea (don’t judge me…….I love ice cream!)
painnt app – Mandala
painnt app – Mandala
7.Enjoy the visit with children and adults young at heart.
8.Visit Chemainus with a dear friend.The extra hours together, priceless!
9.Plan to spend time strolling along the streets looking at the murals and learning about the history of Chemainus.Pictures do not do the murals justice. Enjoy the extensive artwork and read the stories describing the murals.
Chemainus is now a world famous tourist destination showcasing forty-plus giant murals with new murals being added.“An Outdoor Art Gallery.”
Become a tourist again. I am glad I did!
I had fun playing with painnt app (free) on a few photos. A fun suggestion from Terri Webster Schrandt who is an amazing photographer with a very interesting blog site Second Wind Leisure Perspectives
1.You will waste your precious time spending hours walking on beaches and checking out tidal pools.
2.You will have to put up with fresh, clean air and a constant breeze.
3.People are very neighbourly and approachable here.Expect a friendly wave with the obligatory friendly wave in return. You will have to constantly say “hi,” a tiresome custom.
4.You will have to tolerate views of lakes and the ocean as far as the eye can see.
5.Camping outdoors on “The Island” will mean almost no bugs.You willnot have the pleasure of swatting, swelling, investing in bug repellent and Afterbite.
Gordon Bay, Cowichan Lake
Gordon Bay, Cowichan Lake
6.You will have to get accustomed to the colour green.Moss, ferns and diverse, spectacular trees are found in our forests.
Harris Creek Sitka Spruce
Harris Creek Sitka Spruce
7.You will take too many photos and have the challenge of selecting only a few favourite ones.One of the pictures below is an often photographed little bonsai conifer growing out of an old mossy stump.
This Fairy Lake tree became famous when Adam Gibb’s photo was selected as one of the 100 winning images from 48,000 global submissions for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012. Adam Gibb’s photo
Fairy Lake Tree
Fairy Lake Tree
8.Hiking with friends will consume a great deal of your time.You will never run out of places to explore.Decisions.Decisions.
9.You will want to avoid the Malahat at the end of a long weekend in the Summer.Taking the Pacific Marine Circle Route home will add stress to your day.
You will have to drive an extra hour through a beautiful rain forest, gaze at stunning scenery and endure minimal traffic.
The extra one hour drive may turn into four hours because you will want to stop and explore the beautiful sites along this route. You may possibly include a leisurely lunch in the picturesque town of Port Renfrew.
An entirely wasted day! (in Paradise)
10.And most importantly, why you should NOT live on “The Island?”
Will you be able to keep “Vancouver Island” our little secret?
I think not.Especially when you call it “home.”
Dedicated to:All the visitors that come to “The Island” each year.The people that make “The Island” their home.And to Deb, Widow Badass Blog who has discovered“our little secret.”
A friend shows me her Grandmother’s ring on her finger.She is emotional and very moved telling me how much this ring means to her, how much her Grandmother meant to her.
Another friend shows me the ceramic bowls she created in her first few pottery classes.She describes preparing and centering the clay.She explains how this challenging process requires stillness, concentration, calm perseverance and becoming one with the clay.
Our three year old granddaughter brings me artwork she has created along with an elaborate description of the shapes and colours.Her unfiltered pride is evident in her smile when I display her painting on the refrigerator.
Are objects simply inanimate materials?
Is an heirloom handed down from past generations only symbolic of a special relationship?
Does artwork merely showcase the craftsman’s talent and skills?
Or is there an essence, an energy present that animates these physical materials?
I had not really thought about these concepts until I began to learn more about the Maori culture.
We were surrounded by many art forms visiting New Zealand this year.The Maori believe art is an expression of the life force, the energy within you.
They believe that a physical object, a Mauri, contains a vitality, an essence.
Maori art conveys spiritual information, ancestry and culturally important topics.
The Maori believe that the gods create and communicate through the master craftsmen.
We had the opportunity to visit Te Puia in Rotorua this year. Te Puia is home to the “New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.”
Today artists learn through classes and much practise.The styles vary from region to region.
Traditional Maori art was created using the materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax, and feathers.Many artists continue to use these natural, organic materials today.
What do I think?Do I believe a person’s energy can be attached to an object?
Entire fields of science and pseudoscience are dedicated to the concept of objects and energy.I went down the “crystals” rabbit hole when reading about this subject.Possibly a future story.
I had not given this topic much thought until we were exploring New Zealand and learning about the Maori culture.I respect the Wisdom of theAges. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities.
I find I appreciate art more when I learn about the history and cultural significance of an item.
The Maori traditions have helped me recognize the spiritual connections we have with our environment and the emotional connections we have with our ancestors.
The effort and meticulous care taken during the creative process is an expression of our inner selves, our essence.
Are materials infused with love and energy during the creative process?
Is this life force passed on to the artifact?
I do believe it is.When I learn about the traditions, the history and the spiritual significance
I have a great respect for the incredible forces that shape our planet Earth.
Living on Vancouver Island, we are prepared (somewhat) for “the big one.”
Most of the time, I try not to think about it.
It was difficult to not think about it when we were exploring around Rotorua in the North island of New Zealand.The geothermal forces were evident all around us.
We were visiting two specific areas:Te Puia is a large geothermal reserve and contains an eco-cultural centre. Wai-O-Tapu is a scenic reserve with the largest area of surface thermal activity within the Taupo Volcanic Zone. More on Wai-O-Tapu in a future post.
We spent the first two hours at Te Puia with a guide, learning more about the Maori culture, history, vegetation and geothermal formations in the surrounding area.
The Te Puia area contains many hot, steaming, bubbling mud pools, pools of boiling water. The depth and appearance of these pools can vary depending on the amount of rain and how often and how long the geysers erupt.
Our guide informed us that increased activity in this geothermal reserve often means that other areas on our planet are experiencing changes to the Earth’s surface.An example he gave us is a tsunami or an earthquake.
Interesting and scary!
The Te Puia reserve contains inactive and active geysers. The PohutuGeyser is the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere.She (the brochure calls it “she”) erupts once or twice each hour and can reach heights of thirty metres.
We visited the geysers in Iceland last year.The name “geysir” originated in Iceland.The Te Puia area had similarities to the Iceland geothermal areas yet also appeared very different.
Iceland 2017: Strokkur Geysir & Hverir
The Earth’s crust is very thin in both areas.Our friendly, knowledgeable, very large, robust guide stomped on this thin crust to allow us to hear the hollow sound.A description would have sufficed.
I don’t think a demonstration was necessary.
At approximately 3:30pm many of the visitors had left.A few people decided to wait for the next eruption and potential photo opportunities.After 45 minutes, some of the smaller geysers in the area showed increased activity.
A rumbling noise began.
Then the Pohutu geyser began to erupt.
We expected to watch it erupt for about two minutes, and half an hour later it continued to erupt and increase in height.This created waterfalls coming down from the rock area.An hour ago there were no waterfalls in this area.
I didn’t feel confident staying close by, especially after all of the information from our guide.There was a hotel nearby that had been recently closed due to geothermal activity on the site. Te Puia (weblink)
The ground beneath the building was unable to support it.
I left and walked about one kilometre back to the entrance of this geothermal reserve.
If any significant events occurred in this area, would one kilometre make a difference?
The staff at the entrance reassured me that length, height, and time between geyser eruptions vary a great deal.
I didn’t see any of the staff hanging out at the Pohutu Geyser right now.
I have a lot of respect for the natural forces on our Planet Earth.I am very aware that geothermal effects, earthquakes, tsunamis are beyond my control.
Unusual and increased activity may occur near an erupting geyser.The thin crust of the Earth may not be able to support my weight.
If I am nearby, I plan to distance myself at least one kilometre away.I may be safer.
I had the privilege of being asked to write a story on “What makes me thrive over 50.” It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the life lessons I have learned on the yoga mat. What makes you “thrive and feel truly alive?”