Roughing it! Why Leave The Comforts Of Home?

Why Go Camping?

 

Version 2

 

  • Is it the Forest Bathing?  Do the trees emit oils that replenish my body?
  • Is it the Ions near the ocean?  I feel more in balance when I am near water. 
  • Is it the Silence in the presence of nature.  My breathing slows down.  I have a sense of peace and belonging.

 

Version 2

Getting There

 We are all packed and excited to get on our way.  We are heading to Long Beach on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.   

This campground is fully booked almost a year in advance.  The sites are a hot commodity, almost as difficult to obtain as tickets to U2, Pink, and Justin Bieber.

It takes us approximately six hours to drive to the West Coast.  No ferry travel, which is a bonus.  We travel through lush forests and beside beautiful lakes.  10 Reasons Why You Should Not Live On The Island

Version 2

We Bring The Basics

  • Eight foot camper.  Easier than a tent.
  • Tarps.  Tarps.  And more Tarps.  My husband is the Griswold of camping.
  • Layers of clothing.  It is Fall weather with a combination of sun and rain.
  • Camping food.  Everything tastes better outdoors.
  • Many books downloaded on an ereader plus hard copy books.
  • A good, flexible attitude.  Nature and camping can be unpredictable.

 

We Bring Extras

  • Fondue Pot.  A real treat and a tradition for the two of us.
  • Blueberry tea ingredients.  A classic recipe resurfaced from 1970’s camping.  A combination of amaretto liqueur, orange liqueur, hot Earl Grey tea or Orange Pekoe tea.
  • Propane campfire.  Campfire bans are often in effect.
  • More tarps.

 

8 Reasons I Love To Go Camping

1.  I spend uninterrupted time with my husband.  Our discussions contain topics we don’t delve into at home.  These topics often contain the truly important layers of our life. 

Our discussions often contain silence.

       “When you can sit in perfect silence with someone, you truly know how to

                          communicate.” Richard Wagamese

 

Version 2

2.  I go for long hikes. 

3.  I watch the sunset. 

Version 2

 

4.  I see the stars and the planets at night. 

5.  I take many photos giving me new perspectives on my surroundings.

 

 

6.  I can read all day and not feel guilty how I should be getting more accomplished at home. I indulged in many books this past week.  (see bottom of page)

 

Version 2

 

 7.  The Sound of the Ocean.  The Sounds of the Birds.

                             The Sounds of Silence. 

8.  Ocean and lakes as far as the eyes can see. Untouched old growth forests.  Open spaces.  

                It is in these Spaces where I feel most Whole. 

 

Version 2

Why Leave The Comforts Of Home?

Many great books are available on the Blue Zones and the concept of Health, Happiness and Living our Best Life.  One of the books I just finished reading is “The Blue Zones of Happiness” by Dan Buettner.  This book reinforces and  summarizes many of the concepts we have learned about enriching the quality of our life.  

Hundreds of factors affect our happiness. The research shows how 40% is what we can affect through our behaviour.  Most of us are familiar with:  exercise, eating healthy, meditation, declutter, minimalist lifestyle, surround ourselves with positive, supportive people, to name a few.

Buetnner’s book contains research from Sonja Lyubomirsky.  She wrote a popular book a few years ago “The How of Happiness.  She discusses,  

          “the challenge lies in sustaining the new level of happiness.”

Lyubomirsky cautions, 

“If you repeat the same happiness-boosting strategies too often, they begin to feel routine.  They lost their ability to lift your spirits.”

 

 

We need to vary our activities. This concept can apply to our nutrition and diet. It can also apply to exercise, stretching and maintaining a healthy body. 

Marty, from  Snakes in the Grass  shared in  The Core of it All   how his chiropractor advised him,  doing the same sequence of stretches will lose it’s benefit over time.  We need to mix it up.  Our body does not derive the same benefit from doing the same, routine activities over and over again.  

For me, camping falls into this category.  I benefit from a change in my surroundings, a change in my activities and a change of pace.

Version 2

My Life

I appreciate my day to day life and the comforts of my home.

 I also feel great when I have a change of scenery, I vary my routine and I go camping.

I gain perspective and I feel the harmony, balance, and beauty in nature. 

I rest, recharge and replenish my spirit in solitude.  I am better able to manage life’s challenges.

I am reminded how I am a part of the bigger picture.  I belong here.  I am timeless. 

                          I become my Authentic Self.

                         

 

What activities make you feel your best?  Do you vary your routine?  Have you gone camping?

 

Version 2 

 

Blog sites:  Thought-provoking, informative articles on the vast subject of Happiness.  

Kathy:  Smart Living 365   Shares many great posts helping us Live our Best Life.

Nancy:  Defining Third Age  A series of posts sharing information from courses she has taken on the Science of Happiness.

Leanne:  Cresting the Hill    Many interesting articles on the health benefits of “calm” “peace” “serenity” “balance” in our lives.  This specific post discusses the concept of “Unbusy.”  Choosing to be Unbusy in Retirement

 

Books I read on my Fall Camping Trip: 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis.  I recently saw the “Magician’s Nephew” in Chemainus.  I was curious about the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. 

“The Book of Life” by Deborah Harkness.  Book three of “Old Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches.” I read the first two books last Fall.

Embers” Richard Wagamese.  A book filled with rich, yet simple words containing a wealth of wisdom.  I LOVE this author.  This author was brought into my life by a lovely, smart, wise, intuitive, family member.  You know who you are.  Thank you for sharing your light.

The Blue Zones of Happiness” Dan Buettner 

A Mother for my Twins” by Jill Weatherholt.  I met Jill this past year following her blog site.  I was immediately pulled into this engaging story and I read the entire book in one evening. Suspense, characters you love, the concept of choices and forgiveness.  I did shed some tears at the end.  jillweatherholt.com 

 Better Blogging with Photography” by Terri Webster Schrandt.  An amazing photographer with a very interesting blog site.  Many gems in this book.  Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron

“Habits for Success” by Brian G. Benson

 

 

 

 

Have you heard about “The Little Town That Did?”

Do you ever read about a place that piques your interest and you hope to see it in person one day?

fullsizeoutput_95fa
My Photo Malahat Lookout(August, 2019)painnt app – Mercury

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.”

fullsizeoutput_9643

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.”

 

28 Years Ago

When we moved to “The Island” in 1991 we began exploring many areas near our home.   10 Reasons Why You Should Not Live On The Island   We camped in Strathcona Provincial Park and at Long Beach our first summer. 

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.” 

fullsizeoutput_962e

 

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.

     

fullsizeoutput_9623

   fullsizeoutput_9621fullsizeoutput_9618

 

10 Takeaways When Planning a Visit to Chemainus

1.  Leave early.

2.  Bring a camera and good walking shoes.

3.  Stop at scenic lookouts on the drive through the mountain pass called the Malahat.

 

fullsizeoutput_9645

fullsizeoutput_9647

 

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!)

 

7.  Enjoy the visit with children and adults young at heart.

Untitled
Sadie having fun with “Old-Timers on a Bench” (painnt app)

8.  Visit Chemainus with a dear friend.  The extra hours together, priceless!

fullsizeoutput_962b
A dear friend of mine for over 50 years

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. 

 

fullsizeoutput_9614

10.  Drumroll please:

              Become a tourist again.   I am glad I did!

 

fullsizeoutput_960c

Sources:

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 

Further information on Chemainus:  Chemainus     Mural Town    Weekly Wanders

North Cowichan

 

 

 

10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Live On “The Island”

 

Version 2
Botanical Beach

1.  You will waste your precious time spending hours walking on beaches and checking out tidal pools.

 

Version 2
Botanical Beach

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.    

 

Version 2
Cowichan Lake – photo credit Alisha (my daughter)

 

5.  Camping outdoors on “The Island” will mean almost no bugs.  You will not have the pleasure of swatting, swelling, investing in bug repellent and Afterbite.

 

 

 

 

6.  You will have to get accustomed to the colour green.  Moss, ferns and diverse, spectacular trees are found in our forests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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     

        

 

 

 

8.  Hiking with friends will consume a great deal of your time.  You will never run out of places to explore.  Decisions.  Decisions.  

fullsizeoutput_923f

 

 

 

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)

Version 2

 

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.”

                          

The Mystery of the Eleven Eggs

Eleven eggs in one nest?  A puzzle!   

We were tramping (the New Zealand word for “hiking”) in the Central Otago region of NZ.  This area has many cave-like tunnels created during gold mining in the 1800’s.

 

                         Central Otago Region, NZ 2/1/19

My husband was exploring inside these dark tunnels and he was  encouraging me to go in there with him.  I was adamant that I was not going into a manmade tunnel in an isolated area, especially in a country known for it’s earthquakes. It was not a good idea for him to go in there, either.

fullsizeoutput_7429

                         Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

As he was coming out of a tunnel he caught a glimpse of a nest.  It was well hidden behind brush on the side of a wall.

We were surprised to find eleven eggs in this concealed, camouflaged home.

These eggs were large.  Much bigger than robin’s eggs, yet smaller than chicken’s eggs.  What bird is capable of laying eleven eggs?

At that moment, we saw a rabbit running over a hill.   Neither one of us wanted to consider the possibility of The Easter Bunny.  How foolish.  Yet, my husband and I just looked at each other, scratching our heads.

 

fullsizeoutput_6a34

                               Rabbit, Hokitika, NZ 2/5/19

One of the first things I noticed about NZ is the numerous, diverse birds and waterfowl native to this region. 

What kind of bird and what size of bird would lay these eleven eggs? 

We had no access to wifi so I couldn’t ask google questions. 

We did not disturb the eggs, spending a brief amount of time taking  photos.  One of the eggs appeared to have a crack in it.  This egg may have been damaged or a chick was ready to hatch.

 

fullsizeoutput_7425

Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

We came across very few people on these trails, spending our day tramping in the desert-like hills.  When we met a couple of hikers, we did not share information about the nest or the eggs. We wanted to keep this bird’s secret hiding place safe. 

fullsizeoutput_7431fullsizeoutput_741f

                         Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

For the rest of the day we carefully scrutinized the different birds we saw.  We couldn’t imagine how any one of them could carry eleven  eggs.

In the evening we did have access to 100mb of wifi.  It was a faint, slow, inconsistent signal. Sometimes we could see words.  Other times we could see photos and words. We were hoarding our wifi mb and using them sparingly. 

A quick check into Messenger to see whether any new family news.  Then, our priority was to google “what bird in the Central Otago region of New Zealand lays eleven eggs?”

We compared our photo of the eggs to other pictures online.  We are quite certain that the eggs we found are from a Pukeko bird and more likely Pukeko birds.

 

fullsizeoutput_7415

                       Pukeko Bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19

The Pukeko bird is very common and widespread in NZ.  Pukeko birds have a complex social life and a highly variable mating system. The birds may nest as monogamous pairs, polyandrous (one female, two or more males), polygynandrous (the male and the female have multiple partners) and polygynous (one male with multiple females, although the female will mate with only one male).  Are you still with me? 

 

fullsizeoutput_7417

                       Pukeko bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19

Each female will usually lay four to six eggs.  A nest can contain as many as eighteen eggs. Multiple breeding females will all lay eggs in the same nest.  All group members contribute to chick care. Weblink    Link      

The eggs in this nest likely belonged to two or more Pukeko birds sharing the nest.

We learned Pukeko are very territorial and aggressive, especially when defending their offspring.  We didn’t see any birds near this nest. 

Even though Pukeko birds are abundant and widespread  throughout NZ, they are new to us. It was interesting to learn about their complex social groups with multiple breeding males and females. We were very fortunate to uncover this nest which prompted us to learn more about the native birds of NZ.  

We have solved The Mystery of the Eleven Eggs. 

As for us and our tramping adventures?  After 42 years I have learned that I cannot tell my husband what to do, even if I want to protect him and prevent any serious mishaps. 

I can only stand by, capture the photos, and be prepared to seek help if necessary. 

If any unfortunate predicaments do occur I will continue to be a caring, supportive, loving wife.

I will not say “I told you so.” 

 At least not out loud.

 

fullsizeoutput_7433                      Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

What do you do when you love Mussels as much as I do?

 

image

 

You visit Havelock, New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel capital of the world. Definitely one of our favourite days exploring NZ!

This area is in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds region on the South Island of NZ.

 

Version 2

 

We left early on the Pelorus Mail Boat out of the town of Havelock.   This boat delivers mail, supplies and people to remote coastal areas.  There are no roads, ferries or cruise ships.

Living out west on Vancouver Island, we have had the opportunity to spend the day on mail boats.  It is a nice way to let someone else do the navigating and spend a relaxing day enjoying the scenery.  We were looking forward to a break from driving the challenging NZ roads.

 

Version 2

 

It was a gorgeous day, some areas calm, some windy with stunning scenery in every direction.

 

Version 2

 

The captain and guide were very kind, fun and knowledgeable about the history and wildlife in this area. 

The Green-lipped Mussels are endemic to NZ.  The name comes from the distinct emerald green colour of the shell.  They are sometimes called Green Shelled Mussels or NZ Mussels.  They may have anti-inflammatory health benefits for some people. (weblink)

We saw many mussel farms in the inlets of Marlborough Sounds.  Up until now, I have enjoyed eating mussels, although, I had no idea how mussels grow in the coastal waters.

 

Version 2

Version 2

 

Spat (juvenile mussels) are collected, where they wash up attached to clumps of seaweed.   Spat arrive at a mussel farm and are transferred to ropes in seawater until about 6 months of age.  They are removed and then reseeded onto long stretches of rope, and grown for another 9 to 12 months.  They are then harvested. 

Most aspects of farmed and wild mussels are identical. The mussel farms are located in the same areas where wild mussels thrive.  Mussels require sheltered areas. There are over 600 mussel farms in NZ and they cover thousands of hectares of marine space. (weblink) (link)

We saw some boats go by carrying huge white bags.  Each of these bags contain over a ton of mussels.  These boats were obviously very low in the water.

 

Version 2

 

We stopped at a remote lodge for lunch.  Of course, we ordered the mussels. 

I bit down on a mussel to the sound of a crunch.  Was it a piece of shell or my tooth?  Hiding underneath the mussel was a pea-sized crab.  More on this later in a future story.

 

Version 2

 

We stopped for a hike on a secluded beach.  The only access to this area is by boat or helicopter.

 

Version 2

 

We came across colonies of beautiful, big seabirds called Gannets.

 

Version 2

Version 2

 

We were introduced to a huge insect endemic to New Zealand called a Giant Weta.  It is described as a relatively harmless insect.  Only a few of them bite.  I didn’t know which side of the fence this Weta belonged, the biting or the nonbiting side.  And using the term “relatively harmless” does not make me feel better. 

 

Version 2

 

A highlight towards the end of the day was to have a large school of Bottlenose dolphins swim around us.  Even, Trish, the guide became very emotional. Although she travels these inlets every day,  she had never seen this many dolphins stay as long to play. 

 

Version 2

Version 2

Version 2

 

We have been surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible natural beauty in NZ.  Every day has been an adventure.  We have learned about the history of the Islands.  We have been fortunate to witness the diverse marine life and wildlife native to this country.

Exploring the Marlborough Sounds region on the Pelorus mail boat was definitely a highlight for us. It was one of our best days in New Zealand!

 

Version 2

 

And what will I continue to order for my favourite meal?  Mussels, of course!

 

Version 2

Version 2

 

How much do you rely on Wifi, the Internet, Google?

 

Version 2

 

No wifi again.  This time for 5 days. 

The past few weeks in New Zealand have been filled with amazing adventures, exploring and long road trips.

 It was now getting to the end of our trip.  We arrived at Cook’s Lookout Motel, Paihia, an area called the Bay of Islands, the very north part of the North Island.

 

Version 2

Version 2

 

The information about this motel had indicated access to wifi.  I had planned a couple of days of catching up.  Messenger and FaceTime with the family.  Surfing the internet.  I wanted to read the blogs I follow.  I was planning to research some information to add to my stories. 

The owner of the motel had a complicated story about major wifi glitches in this area the past few weeks.  No wifi for guests right now.

It was slightly disappointing.   Although, not unexpected.

Over the last two months in New Zealand we often have had minimal or no access to wifi.  Sometimes, we were allowed only 100mb of use. 

 

I really didn’t know how much I rely on the internet until it was no longer available:

  • Researching my husband’s spider bite:  symptoms;  should he see a doctor?
  • The weather forecast each day
  • Sending birthday wishes to friends and family
  • Is the Giant Weta harmful?
  • Names of bird species we encounter
  • Booking excursions
  • Opening times of attractions
  • Prices
  • Restaurant open/close times
  • Restaurant menus
  • Checking emails
  • Confirming our flights
  • World news
  • Who won best actor category at the Oscars?
  • What would you add to the list?

 

Version 2Giant Weta – “New Zealand’s most recognizable creepy-crawlies”   weblink 

 

Version 2Kea – species of large parrot found in the forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand  weblink

 

What did I do without wifi for 5 days?

  • I finished reading books I had started at the beginning of this trip.
  • I went swimming.
  • I did more tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking).
  • I wrote stories.
  • I took photos.
  • I watched the sunrise and sunset.
  • I sat outside, breathing in the fresh sea air, truly enjoying the scenery.

 

 

Version 290 mile beach – North Island, New Zealand

Version 290 Mile Beach – North Island, New Zealand

 

Do I miss not having wifi?

We have gone camping in areas on the west coast of BC and in the Yukon where we were truly unplugged.  I plan for it, and I actually look forward to the respite from the online world.

 

Version 3Long Beach – Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

 

My stress level and angst significantly decline when I am oblivious to the daily news, fake and otherwise.

Wifi affects almost every part of our lives now.  It is how we communicate, surf for information and often do our shopping and our banking.  Our entire vacation was researched, planned and booked using the internet.

 

Version 2

 

I did not miss access to wifi while we were on the Bay of Islands.

We were there for only five days.

The first thing I did when I arrived home?

I plugged in my computer. 

 

Postscript:  I wrote this story about one week ago while we were still in New Zealand.  We experienced a wonderful, life-changing adventure.  Everywhere we went we met kind, thoughtful New Zealanders.  I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Christ Church this week.  My heart goes out to the victims, the victim’s families and all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, this is not fake news.