These stairs lead up to my friend's old home up on Chesterman Beach near Tofino. Terribly slippery when wet, very dangerous with eager dogs frisking about one's ankles, but oh so very lovely. Like much of the home itself, these stairs are a combination of local natural products and milled wood.
From the bottom of those steps, the surf roars to exclusion of all else, deafening, but oh, so refreshing! The power of the water causes the ground to shake with each thunderous wave. I never failed to awaken early refreshed and ready to walk the beaches with the dogs! You walk through the bushes pushing branches of dew dripping leaves to the side, and there, stretching before you into the distance, are mile after mile of beautiful beaches begging for exploration.
This is a lovely winding pathway along the shore of Denman Island, another beautiful universe away from the world. Each island has its own distinct culture of inhabitants who have escaped the humdrum world to live a different type of existence.
These smiling ladies share a large organic apple and fruit farm and make a respectable living selling their produce, including this very nummy juice from their roadside stand. There are roadside stands selling just about everything from the hundreds of small farms scattered around the islands. Every community also has its own weekly farmer's markets where growers and artisans sell their wares.
This is the most common sight in BC ~ the ferries that keep our islands connected. Originally built as part of the highway system, in the past few decades the ferries have been privatized and the cost of such transport has become prohibitive for many people. It certainly does add to the cost of living. This is Active Pass and the natives in this area hear the horns 24 hours a day. When I travel, I prefer to land in Vancouver so that on the ferry home I have time to be grateful for living in such a special place so far from many of the horrors of the world.
On one of the Queen Charlotte islands can be found this rare subspecies of bear, the Kermode, a genetic variation of the common black bear. The natives called this rare beautiful beast "The Spirit Bear". Imagine seeing one such animal materializing out of the mists and heavy dark winter rains: it could seem to be truly a creature of another world. The Kermode has been receiving international attention since logging interests threatened to destroy their home.
This could be an early morning in any one of thousands of such coves around the Islands. The only sounds are the gentle lapping of the water and the raucous croaks of ravens, perhaps the small shrill of an eagle floating overhead. A few friendly seals might be hanging around waiting for scraps! Some lucky mornings you will be gifted by the sight of a pod of orca swimming by.
This is another beautiful forest grove in Sir Francis King Park, a lovely forest retreat on the outskirts of Victoria.
Heavy rain forest is something you just have to experience. This shot from somewhere around Tofino captures a bit of the dark ethereal beauty of the lower ground levels.
This is a lovely little inlet somewhere on Hornby Island. These sheltered inner passage Islands, between Vancouver Island and the mainland are usually much calmer than the wild and windy west side facing the Pacific.
All around the island, on any beach removed from "civilization" you will find glorious tide pools crammed with little universes of ocean life. This is from Chesterman Beach on the West Coast.
In the Carmanagh forests they have created a humane way to get to the bottom of the hills causing minimal damage to the environment. It is also much easier for parents with small children.
This merry bubbling little stream in the Carmanagh Valley is truly exquisite. There are thousands of such magical feeling glens. It is quite easy to rest in such a place for hours. Lean back on a mossy log, close your eyes, breathe deeply and become one with the forest about you, the sounds, the scents, the energy of life, Allah's gift to us all.
So there I was, snapping photos of a white swan in the estuary when I heard a snuffle behind me. Slowly I turned to see this shaggy black bear, hungry after winter hibernation and eagerly looking for food about 20 feet uphill from me. Abandoning my best sunglasses where I had put them, avoiding eye to eye contact, I smoothly but quickly slipped into my car and got this shot before he began to walk towards me. Black bears are very common on the Island. Caution is necessary because every year there is at least one bear mauling or death ~ usually unnecessary if the human had followed a few rules.
Here is an old bridge I found along a backroad on the west side of the Island around the Cowichan River.
This is the foot of the street where I last lived. The Dallas Road/Clover Point walk along the sea shore is very popular amongst residents and often chockablock with all ages out strolling, jogging, flying kites, or watching the "crazies" playing on their airborne surfboards in wild weather.
Seals and sea lions are very common sights along the city beaches. In the winter their barking is almost deafening at times.
This is Holland Point, one of the local little beaches, and playgrounds for the kids. I liked to take the kids down there after school on the way home, just to let off a bunch of little kid steam!
The whole city is surrounded by beaches such as this one. Many are sandier and more people friendly however. The tide pools in the rocks are just wonderful little worlds to study with small children! I must have spent months on these beaches when my babies were young enough to be excited by seaweed and building driftwood houses. Oh, and the occasional dead seal!
Many people live at this set of docks downtown called Fisherman's Wharf. With this locale, Barb's Place has the freshest fish n chips around, of course. I find it a tad too cool to sit and eat there 3/4 of the time.
Here is a little corner of paradise in the middle of the city, Beacon Hill Park, a lovely retreat full of cultivated gardens and natural wildlife.
Beacon Hill is also the annual home of a very large nesting heron population. Every spring upwards of 120 families build their nests right in the middle of the city. They may not return next year because this spring a "rogue" bald eagle came in one day and killed most of the young in an inexplicable fury. The protests of the alarmed parents rang out all over the city deafening even traffic for a few moment. Usually the nesting eagles might only take a few herons a year so this might throw the balance off.
A few years ago heavy winter winds blew over a tree that had nested eagles in the city for 80 years or so. When they were cleaning up the debris they found at least 100 collars and tags for small dogs and cats long since missing!
It is in this lovely corner of the park that ~ on one sunny afternoon ~ my second daughter took her first steps.
An albino peacock in the park struts his stuff for the ladies. These noisy birds constantly escape the park and found wandering our streets and yards!
This is another delightful spring grove in Beacon Hill Park in its full glory, very beautiful as you can see. This is where many familes take their our old parents to stroll on Sundays and for nice outings.