Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Another day, another scenic hike. This took us to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, just a few miles south of the Little Qualicum River we visited the other day. In addition to the falls, the trail meanders through an old forest roughly following the route of the river. After a brief lunch we began at the upper falls.

This rather unusual water fall plunges from a wide, flat rocky spread into a narrow crack and beyond our vision. This is a deep gorge.

On the other side of the bridge the water flows out into a deep, relatively calm pool.

After crossing the bridge we entered the forest trail down the river to the lower falls. However, due to the cliffs the trail stays back in the forest and one doesn’t get to look down into this narrow slot. We just enjoyed walking among the trees.

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We particularly love the arbutus with their papery red bark and wood. Sometimes trees fall and when they do they leave a giant dent in the fence that protects us from the cliffs.

As usually, I enjoyed photographing the little things along the way.

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The lower falls are also dramatic due to the fact that they are hidden from view by a large boulder wedged in the narrow canyon. We could hear the roar behind this rock. Note the level of the water behind the rock, then see the difference in front. There’s a big drop there!

The pool below the lower falls reflects beautiful emerald green and provides refreshment to adventurous swimmers.

Of course the primary goal of our adventures is to be together, and so we are!


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Little Qualicum River

One day we took a trip over to Little Qualicum River Falls Provincial Park. Each time we come to this place we discover new things to see. The trees change, the light comes from different angles, new plants surprise us, and different flowers bloom. This trip was no different.

The river and the falls are the main attraction.This trip we ventured to a vantage point to which we had never been. It turned out to be prime viewing for this triple cascade.

However, as many of you know my eye is drawn to the small beauties around the larger landscape. The cliffs and forest around the river provided many subjects for my camera.

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Jean is always nearby.

And I sometimes get a selfie!

Just down the road from the falls is Cathedral Grove, a magnificent stand of old growth cedar and fir trees. The oldest trees here are 800 years and going strong despite surviving a massive forest fire 350 years ago. The grove was ravaged by a wind storm a couple of years ago and some of the trails have just been reopened. Walk among these elders and listen to their murmurs. Perhaps you will learn something.

Jean stopped to listen.

So ended our day among the forests of Vancouver Island.



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An Overnight to Victoria

We took an overnight trip to Victoria. Originally the plan was to meet some friends there and then they would drive back to Courtenay with us. However, when illness intervened and they could not come the plans changed. We decided to go to Victoria anyway since there are so many wonderful things to see and do there.

Upon arrival we stopped for lunch and to pick up some of our favorite Murchie’s tea…Paris Afternoon! Once stocked up on tea we drove directly to Beacon Hill Park. This park, long a favorite of artist Emily Carr, has become our destination of choice in Victoria. We can lose hours walking the paths and enjoying the flora and fauna of this magical park.

Flowers are in abundance:

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Animals provide endless entertainment:

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The peacocks are a show unto themselves:

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Jean concentrates on her photography and sometimes I get her to look up at my camera.

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After checking into our condo we took a water taxi downtown. First I visited Opus Art Store to buy a sketchbook. Opus is a great art store that we usually visit in Vancouver. The Victoria store turned out to be just a well stocked and friendly. Then it was on to dinner at Fishhook, a waterside eatery that specializes in local seafood with an Indian flair. A water taxi back to our condo and we were finished for the evening.

This morning we walked out to Ogden Point Breakwater and Lighthouse. We love this walk, particularly on a sunny warm day with no wind! We are never disappointed with the sea life out on the pier.

Jelly Fish, not to be mistaken for a plastic bag.

Baby Sea Otter

Mama Sea Otter

A couple of fishing boats were working just off the kelp beds next to the pier. We watched as a fellow hooked a very large fish that gave fight.

He landed what turned out to be a giant ling cod. Here’s the angler being photographed with his catch.

We returned to the condo, checked out, and programmed the GPS to take us back to Courtenay. However, we did make a stop at the Chemainus Bakery in the lovely seaside town of Chemainus for a quick lunch of their amazing savory pastries.

A stop at Fanny Bay Oyster seafood store to get some ling cod for dinner and we were safely home. Dinner was great and now we sit here watching the tide ebb and the sun set.

It’s all good!


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Life in the Slow Lane

Life here in Courtenay is a pleasure.  The birds sing, the breeze in the trees is peaceful, the tide comes and goes, along with the herons and eagles, we walk the Riverwalk which starts only a few feet from our house, explore trails in the local and provincial parks, and of course we make art.

A few days ago we explored a different part of Millard Nature Preserve, across the road and up the hill.  A brief sample of the sounds.


And in response to fan requests (you know who you are my friends) here are a few paintings as well. The first three are from photos taken years ago at the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been testing colors and methods.  Did this painting twice.


Sunset 1

And again.

Another view of the canyon:


Leaving the canyon, this one from imagination, with an underpainting of marks made when testing pastels for values and test how many layers of pastel I could get on unsanded paper.


And finally, a rose from a photo taken last week.

There are a lot more, mostly sketches, but that’s enough for now!



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A Few Artworks

Yes, we have been sketching and painting up here on Vancouver Island as a few of you have asked. Here are pics of some of my efforts.

Canada Jay, Oil

Grasses and Mountains, Pen and ink

Cattails, Oil

Forest Flowers, Watercolor



Forest Flowers, Oil

I have some other sketches done while walking and have other oils in the works. However, there is only so much time for painting between taking long walks and playing music. Of course I also spend lots of hours just watching the tide come in and out in our bay.

Jean has some paintings as well, but I leave it to her to share them.


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Nymph Falls

We’ve been walking every day, doing some painting, and playing some music. I played once more on Sunday evening at Roy’s Towne Pub. What a great group of musicians! The open mike is hosted by Judy and Bruce Wing, an award-winning duo from the area. Bruce backed me on guitar this week on Sunglasses After Dark while I sang and played bass ukulele. Thanks Bruce!

We also spent an afternoon sketching and painting at Nymph Falls.

The falls are a series of cascades on the Puntledge River. A salmon ladder was blasted into the rock many decades ago. We sat by the ladder for our sketching.

Many people have created wonderful balanced rock sculptures in the river. We marveled at how these creations withstand the force of the river surging around their base.

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My eye always goes to the closeup views.

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Some visitors literally get into the river!

We also had a visit from a friendly four-legged sun bather.

It was a great afternoon!


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Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Today we returned to another favorite spot, Miracle Beach Provincial Park.

While this park does not offer lengthy trails, it has an awesome beach (at low tide) that attracts Canadian sunbathers. When we arrived the beach was crowded with families and groups of children from schools or camps. The tide was at its ebb so there was lots of sand to play on.

Though few in numbers, the trails offer beautiful vistas of the ocean and the mountains on the mainland.

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Plant and animal life is diverse and interesting.

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I found this jigsaw puzzle. Someone had thoughtfully laid out the pieces, but it was too difficult for me.

We stopped to do some sketching.

The tide began to come in while we were there. We returned home and by the end of the afternoon the bay in front of our house was filled once more. I’m watching the sailboats as I write this.




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Strathcona Provincial Park

Today we visited Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park.

The flowers are just beginning to bloom as the remnants of the winter snowfall were still in evidence.

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The fairest flower in the meadow always seemed to be nearby!

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She even stopped to do some sketching.

No visit to the mountains would be complete without a Canada Jay. They were just fledging their young, so were very protective. Jean could mimic the cries of the youngsters and that really confused mom and dad.

We also spotted a long-billed curlew. This shoreline sandpiper is rare anywhere on Vancouver Island. Perhaps global warming is extending their range to the north. To find it in the mountains is amazing. Apparently they go where the insects are hatching and they definitely were hatching in the meadows on this 80 degree day.

The trout in the streams were also enjoying the insect hatch.

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A fine hike on a glorious summer day!



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Open Mike Jamming With New Friends

Tonight we went out for dinner and music to Roy’s Towne Pub in Royston, about 4 miles from our house. The dinner was pakoras, chowder (for Jean), and a grilled salmon sandwich (for Paul). The music was provided by 14 different musicians, including myself.

The format is an open mike with 3 songs per performer. You have an option of playing alone or inviting others to join in on your songs. I didn’t know any of these folks, but figured what the heck? I invited two guitar players, a bass, a harmonica, and drums to join me. What fun!

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I led the group on Roseville Fair, Deep River Blues, and Good Morning Blues. We got some great guitar and harmonica instrumentals going!

One couple danced along with several of the musicians during the evening.

Three hours of music, fun, and food! We will return next Sunday!


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Woods and Wineries

There are several wonderful places to hike in the area. One of our favorites is Seal Bay Regional Nature Park. It is a gem of solitude with tall trees, birds everywhere, sun dappled trails, and especially quiet.

And, of course, after exercise one must do some wine tasting. Our first stop, Beaufort Vineyards, owned by James Cameron and his family. This small vineyard only produces about 3000 cases a year of 11 different wines. The only place to get it is on this coast of Vancouver Island.

After an interesting tasting and with two bottles in the car and we drove a few miles to 40 Knots Vineyard. More tasting and one more bottle in the car and then we came home.


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