Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nanaimo - and a special visit

Nanaimo - a blue collar city with a silly boat habit.

But first, a little aside. We met up with a Peter Briggs's mother, Chriss in Nanaimo. She treated us royally with a gorgeous spread of baked halibut with all the fixings, homeade desserts, and a really fun conversation. We also loved seeing Peter B's baby pictures...

Here's a photo of Peter. I didn't think I could safely post anything embarassing from the 70s of him. We are grateful for some "mom" time. Thank you Chriss!

The next day we toured the Cathedral Grove park with her and walked among the giants.

The old growth forest is truly a special place, and we're glad Nanaimoans (?) have a bit so close to town to cherish. Many of these huge trees are 800 years old, but the most wonderful quality these forests have is the layered and broken canopy. The floor is as vibrant as the roof, and sunlight streams in to feed all manner of growing things. This light is surprising to many who have only wandered in second-growth forests.

Speaking of nature (and we do often), we spotted an old friend from Anchorage. This Hudsonian godwit was feeding in an estuary with a flock of killdeer. What it was doing this far south at this time of year we have no idea - perhaps holding tank issues, too.

A few nights anchored out in Nanaimo were a little rough. Here's an attempt at capturing the lights at night.

Our final night in Nanaimo, we were plowed into by a 1929 60 foot wooden troller "RomanceII", when it drug anchor in a windy blow. Aside from seeing the owner in his tighty-whiteys at 2:00am, we emerged unscathed. Oystercatcher is a tough little boat, we are learning. We really smacked, and it probably could have been a lot worse.

Aside from that, the anchorage in Newcastle Island was very enjoyable with 65 deg. water to swim in, old quarries and coal workings, and miles and miles of trails to explore.

Back to the sights of Nanaimo. We loved this trail sign. Probably a good idea to read and obey this one...
Here's the cannon crew at the Bastion getting ready to fire.

We were very lucky to have hit the town for the "silly boat" races. Competitors must assemble the boats in the morning and race in the afternoon. As you can see, it was a major event and spectacle.

Most floated, but some, like this creative design, failed completely.

You can see that some were probably thought up in bars. But others, particularly this human-powered paddleboat with a lot more forethought, were truly yare little craft.
In our wanderings, we came across a fellow that we felt like we knew. The father of the "silly boat" race is someone that would fit in well in Spenard. Mr. Whitekeys would feel the kinship. That he was given a bronze sculpture in their gorgeous saltwater park is a testament that Nanaimo residents take their fun seriously.

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