Monday, 4 May 2015

"The River Never Sleeps Festival" is well worth attending



by Keith and Heather Nicol
Thousands of salmon fry were in tanks in the hatchery
   On Sunday, May 3 we decided to head to the “River Never Sleeps Festival” which is now in its 8th year. It is sponsored by the Fanny Bay Salmonid Enhancement Society (FBSES)and included many activities focusing on salmon, healthy river systems as well as many related topics.  There were many booths set up where you could sample local oysters, listen to music, learn about other animals in the sea and on the land as well tour the adjacent fish hatchery. There were lots of families in attendance and one very popular activity was a chance to release a small bucket of salmon smolt into Rosewall Creek. We were impressed by all that the FBSES volunteers have accomplished and their role in coordinating this enjoyable event. We encourage anyone interested in salmon preservation as well as families looking for a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon that they check this event out next year. For more information on the FBSES or the "River Never Sleeps Festival” see: http://www.fbses.ca/
Kids enjoyed tipping buckets of salmon smolt into Rosewall Creek

You learn about and  practice fly fishing

The Vancouver Island University booth had a variety of local fish on display

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Early May sea kayaking in the Courtenay River and Comox Bay



by Keith and Heather Nicol
   On Saturday, May 2 there were wind warnings for the Strait of Georgia with 15-20 knot NW winds forecast. But the weather was sunny and warm so we opted to put in at the Air Park Marina in Courtenay which would provide us with generally protected paddling down the Courtenay River into the estuary. We hadn’t kayaked from this location since November 17, 2014 when the river was teeming with seals, sea lions, eagles and salmon. But this area is good for wildlife sitings in many seasons so we were curious to check it out at this time of year.  As we were putting in our kayaks we could see that the river was getting lots of use from paddlers since a group of 3 kayaks were landing as we were launching. Once on the water we saw several more groups of sea kayakers and even some stand up paddle boarders taking advantage of the good weather. It was nice to see paddlers of all ages including some young kids learning about sea kayaking.
There were sea kayakers of all ages and stages out on this day
  The tide was rising as we headed down the river but we still paddled in the main channel. There is a small island in the estuary and we had seen quite abit of bird life here in the past so we wanted to check it out. We weren’t disappointed since we saw 2 snow geese in one location and 2 eagles sitting on some low trees at the tip of the island. We continued out into the bay to the Comox Marina before we decided to turn around and return to our launch point. Check this area out if you are interested in wildlife/birdlife or when you want a protected paddle from NW winds.
Heather checking out some snow geese

And further along some eagles

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Excellent spring skiing at Whistler, B.C.


Billowing clouds added to dramatic mountain scenery

by Keith and Heather Nicol    

On Saturday, April 25 we headed to Whistler with daughter Kristie and her boyfriend Eric in tow.   Through the week the forecast for Saturday had alternated between sunny and 6 C at top to 10 cm of snow and-3 C at the summit. April is a time of changeable weather in coastal B.C. where one day you might have great spring conditions and the next day you might be skiing powder. As it turned out we had a sun/cloud mix with highs of -1 C or so in the alpine which gave us great packed powder skiing up high and good corn snow skiing at mid mountain. Since only Whistler is open at this time of year we parked at Creekside which we like since it means a short walk from the covered parking lot to the lifts.
Kristie skiing packed powder in Harmony Bowl
    We started by heading up to the Peak and trying the “Upper Peak to Creek “ run which gave us an idea of what the conditions were like from the summit to the base of the Big Red Express. We were pleased that conditions were good all the way down with packed powder skiing at the top changing to very turnable spring snow down lower. We sampled just about all the lifts on this day including the T-bars, Harmony 6 Express, and Peak Express and found conditions were very good just about everywhere we skied.  Some of our best skiing was on the T-bars but we also did several runs on Peak as well. There was abit of powder left from snowfalls earlier in the week but generally we skied the groomed runs which were in very good shape. There are some great spring skiing deals at Whistler right now and we hope to be back one more time before the winter season ends on May 18th.  Check out this web site for updated information on ski conditions, skiing packages and other information: http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/
Keith skiing "The Saddle"

Eric enjoying a run off the Harmony Express

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Sea kayaking from the Comox Marina



by Keith and Heather Nicol
      We have tried most of the sea kayak put ins in the Courtenay – Comox area since we arrived in early November last fall but on Monday, April 20 we decided to check out the Comox Marina. For some reason we hadn’t launched from this location but we had heard that the Comox Valley Paddlers use this site for their Wednesday evening paddles so we decided to investigate. The day was sunny and warm (temperatures hit 18 C in the afternoon) so it was a great day to be on the water. The launch point is well protected as you might expect and in no time we were paddling out through the breakwater. There was quite abit of sailing activity going on as well and these boats provided a colourful foreground to the Comox Glacier which lay in the distance. 

Heather paddles in front the sailboats and Comox Glacier
Once beyond the breakwater an obvious destination is Goose Spit and it looked almost tropical with the golden sand and glistening blue water. We landed at the tip of Goose Spit for a snack and to enjoy the setting and then paddled around the spit for an hour or so before returning to the marina. Along the way were joined by several  standup paddleboarders who were enjoying the perfect conditions. The Comox Marina is located at the base of Beaufort Avenue in Comox and there is a nice park in the same location. To see the other launch points we have discovered in the local area your can search this blog. Use the search bar in the top left and type in sea kayaking in courtenay and comox.
Goose Spit is only a 15 minute paddle from the marina

    The day before we paddled at Point Holmes in Comox and had spent several enjoyable days in this area kayaking during the spring herring run in March. We have done previous posts on this amazing event and fully recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it (see: http://keithnicol.blogspot.ca/2015/03/sea-kayaking-with-sea-lions-and-eagles.html) .  On Sunday, April 19 we were interested in seeing what wildlife was around and we weren’t disappointed. We paddled west toward Goose Spit and saw several small gatherings of sea lions along the way which was a nice bonus. 
We saw several groupings of sea lions west of Pt Holmes

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Comox Valley Farmers Market is back outdoors


There is lots of food to sample
Andrea Smith performed on Saturday,April 18

by Keith and Heather Nicol
The Comox Valley Farmers Market (CVFM) is a great place to buy some local products, meet friends, enjoy some great spring weather and even catch some music. We enjoyed taking in the CVFM through the fall and winter at the Native Sons’ Hall in Courtenay but now that it is outside it is even better. Our most recent visit was on Saturday, April, 18. The market is located at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds for the spring and summer and has room for close to 60 vendors. The CVFM has a long history starting back in 1992 and focuses on products made in the local area. You can buy everything from vegetables, wine, cheese, meats, soap, sea salt, baked items and a whole lot more.  The CVFM has been voted the best Farmer’s Market in the Province in 2014 by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets which says something about the quality and variety of items sold here. The CVFM is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning from 9:00 am to noon.  See http://www.comoxvalleyfarmersmarket.com/  for more information.

The CVFM usually brings out a large crowd
You can get all sorts of locally grown products