Saturday, February 27, 2010

Touring the Cowichan Valley - Part 3

Crofton Seawalk on a misty morning

Life with the critters is always entertaining, whether it be polar dogs or mischievous cats, pouty piggies or amazing alpacas. But critters in the natural environment are no less entertaining or fascinating to watch, and last week's travels around the Cowichan area were no exception. Here are some of the many critters we saw on our touristy traipses. (Click on any picture to enlarge, then use back browser to return to blog)

This was a strange looking critter - like a hairy, shell-less crab. I know hermit crabs lose their shells, but never knew the large orange crabs to do so. Yet this guy was clearly alive and healthy - and about eight inches across:

Then, of course, there are the sea birds (I hope I got their names right - feel free to correct me if I've guessed wrong!):

Female mallard

California Gull

Oystercatcher ballet

Mallards in sunshine

Grooming time


Female bufflehead

American wigeon


Mallards blowing bubbles

At Osborne Bay Park we saw a purple starfish:

And then there are the crows:

And the semi-feral cats who live in the brush along the shoreline:

And one sad, sad finding: I do believe Gumby has drowned - washed up on shore, like a piece of driftwood:

R.I.P. Gumby. I hope Pokey made it to safety.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Touring the Cowichan Valley - Part 2

On Sunday, my friend Ann and I headed down to Cobble Hill to their regular Sunday market, and then wove our way back along the coast line. I love looking at marinas with their rows of ships, masts high in the air, as I wander along wharfs and check out seaside shops.

First we headed to Cowichan Bay, a little resort-type town with a few shops and restaurants (and the world's BEST bakery, where they mill their own grains) spread along the waterfront. I've been told there is a float home community here as well, though I didn't figure out just where it was, other than a couple of floathomes attached to the main wharf.

We were standing on the wharf admiring this old ship when the man who works in the marina told us it was built around 1918-1920 and has been for sale for some time now - he hopes someone will want to restore her to her former beauty.

After stopping for coffee and goodies at True Grain Bakery, and loading up the car with more baked goodies to take home, we headed on for Genoa Bay.

Genoa Bay is the end of the road, so we backtracked toward Maple Bay. Halfway between Genoa and Maple Bays is Bird's Eye Cove, where Maple Bay boatyard combines with float planes and lovely float homes to create an interesting mix of images:

Then on to Maple Bay village, where children played on the beach this warm February day:

And finally back to Crofton, in plenty of time to take the dogs for a run at Osborne Bay Park, where the tide was out far enough to enable us to stroll along the beach.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Touring the Cowichan Valley - Part 1

Crofton Seawalk at Sunrise

For the past week, my friend Ann has been visiting me from the mainland. She last visited in June, when she and her husband Ken helped me move to the island and set up my new home. Needless to say, sightseeing was low on our list of priorities at that time.

So this time, I showed Ann the sights. We spent a day in Victoria where the cherry trees were in full bloom, lining the streets and providing beautiful backdrops for the wonderful range of architecture and old homes one finds in our provincial capital city. We checked out Cowichan Bay and Genoa Bay and Maple Bay, Cobble Hill and Shawnigan Lake and Salt Spring Island. And, of course, we walked the Crofton Seawalk and we took the dogs to Osborne Bay Park. We watched ducks and gulls and cormorants, starfish and crab and little backyard birds. We shopped 'til we dropped (mostly thrift stores, to which we are both addicted), we tasted local fare 'til we dared not step on the scale, and I took photos 'til both batteries were dead. The weather was amazing, the critters were healthy and well behaved, and we had a great time.

However, with over 300 photos to sort through (and that is AFTER my initial edit to delete the obvious 'duds'), coming up with a comprehensive entry for my blog is a challenge. And so I shall present the pictures a few at a time over the next three or four blog posts.

Here, not from Cowichan Valley but from Salt Spring Island just across the bay from Crofton, are some photos from beautiful Ruckle Park, where old growth meets ocean and beauty is found at every turn in the trail: