Tuesday, September 5 to Monday, September 11, 2023 (Puntledge RV Park, Courtenay, BC)

We were pretty much back into our daily routine this week. Not much to report...just the regular stuff. That is until Thursday (Sept. 7) when we decided to make a day trip over to Hornby Island... one of the two northernmost Gulf Islands, the other being Denman Island. It is located near Vancouver Island's Comox Valley. 
A small community of 1,225 residents (as of the 2021 census), Hornby is home to many artists, retired professionals, small business owners, remote workers, and young families who share a love of rural island life. Over the past 30 years, the island has become a coveted destination and its population easily quadruples in size during the summer months. The shoulder seasons are a preferred time for hiking, mountain biking, marine activities, weddings, and retreats. Most people reach the island by ferries from Buckley Bay, Vancouver Island. A growing number of private boats also visit through mooring at the Ford Cove Marina or anchoring at Tribune Bay. The closest airport is Comox Valley Airport in Comox, which provides regional, national, and international service.

Back in 1967 when Steve's family lived in Courtenay, Hornby Island was a favourite camping destination for them just about every weekend during the summer months. When we had our kids, it was a summer vacation spot that we went to occasionally with our friends, Rob and Nancy, along with their 3 kids. Now, we are talking well over 30 years ago now...but there are a couple of memories that stick out in my mind. First of all, our son, Rob (2 years old at the time) and Jonathon (Rob and Nancy's son who was 3, almost 4) decided to play in an old campfire pit. They were both covered in fine black ash...bath time was fun! All we could see were the whites of Rob's eyes...too funny and good memories! Another memory, and it must have been on the same trip because Chris had just been born 3 weeks earlier...yes, camping in a small truck camper with a new born and a 2 year old! Anyway, we went for hike along the cliffs in Helliwell Provincial Park with Chris in a baby carrier on my chest. Interesting the things that stand out in your mind! Read on for the hike we did in Helliwell today.

To get over to Hornby Island, you have to take a BC Ferry from Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island 23 minutes south of us, to Denman Island...drive across Denman and catch another ferry over to Hornby. 
We arrived at Buckley Bay Ferry Terminal just in time to catch the 9 a.m. sailing...that was about 10 minutes late leaving, whew! Lots of room left on the ferry...
Once we arrived on Hornby our first stop was at the end of the road with beach access to Tribune Bay. This is the access we used to use when we camped at the very small, rustic Tribune Bay Campground. A look at recent reviews for this campground, confirmed my thoughts as we drove by it... that it really hadn't changed over the years. Basically, the location is great, but that's it!
This sandstone rock has an arch in it...
Steve here: When we were kids we would snorkel along the sandstone rocky shoreline...
We'd find lots of interesting marine life amongst the sandstone formations...
That great expanse of sandy beach is very busy in the summer time!
Tidal pools...


Next stop was Tribune Bay Provincial Park...at the head of the sandy part of the beach. You can see it in some of the pictures above with the roof structure.

I love this..."The building of driftwood structures is prohibited...
And then you look along the beach...
That far end is where we were at our first stop...
Steve here: On a hot day when the tide would come back in the water would be nice and warm. A short 23 second video of the beach...
Now it was time for a hike...so we headed further along the road to Helliwell Provincial Park. By the way, both of the Provincial Parks on the island are day-use only, no camping.

Helliwell Park sits on a rocky headland forested with a beautiful stand of old-growth Douglas fir. Located on St. John’s Point on Hornby Island, the park was a gift to the people of British Columbia from John Helliwell. The stunning Helliwell bluffs guard the northern entrance to Tribune Bay.

Spectacular views of marine life, the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains can be had from any point along the bluffs. As you explore the park’s meandering hiking and walking trails, you will find weather-beaten old-growth Douglas firs and gnarled Garry oaks, as well as flora and fauna which may seem more at home in a desert than in a Northwest rainforest. The best times to visit are in late April and early May, when colourful wildflowers carpet the hillside along the cliffs. Please stay on designated trails to protect these fragile areas.

We are going to take the loop trail from the parking lot...
K'omoks First Nation Totem Pole...
The first part of the trail towards the water is very treed...this one has a built in seat!
Ahhh...there's the  water...
Denman and Vancouver Islands in the distance...
Chrome Island just off of Denman Island. We previously posted a picture of this Island from the other side when we were at my brother, Don's place...
Hard to see in this photo but there is a bouquet of flowers in the foreground in front of the bush. Makes us wonder if they're from family or friends of our RV friend, Donna, who tragically fell to her death from the bluffs in May, 2012. If interested, here is the link to our blog...Wednesday, May 23, 2012....Sad News... 
Amazing views from the top of the bluffs!

They are serious about wanting people to stay on the trails...all the trails that you are allowed to walk on are now marked with rope along the ground...





There's a Turkey Vulture down there...

And off it goes!

Above and next three photos below looking back...



I wonder which way the wind blows...πŸ˜‚
Nearing St. John's Point...
There's seals on both of those islands...
Seals on the island on the right...
Kayakers and seals at the island on the left...



Looking back...

Look at the size of those broken branches!
About an hour and a half later we were back at the car. What a beautiful 5 km hike! 

We stopped at Whaling Station Bay, just north of Helliwell Park. Another beautiful beach...

A short 23 second video of Whaling Station Bay...
Steve had done a little research and found Hornby Island Bakery and Pizzeria which he figured would be a great place to stop for lunch. It is a little 'food truck' place located near what is considered the "hub" of the island...the 4-corners where the Co-op Store, Gas Bar and numerous small shops are located. There was only one person working at the bakery/pizzeria and after waiting for a few minutes as she bustled around, she stopped to say there would be a 45 minute wait for pizza. Well, okay then...we'll find another place for lunch.

As it turned out, we were very happy that there was such a wait because we continued along the road to the south end of the island and Fords Cove. And lo and behold, there was a beautiful new restaurant with huge windows and deck overlooking the water and marina!  Apparently Fords Cove Restaurant has been open just over a year...and what a gorgeous spot! 

With a chilly breeze we chose to sit inside beside the window...what a view from our table!

We shared a delicious order of Halibut and chips along with a cold beer from Gladstone Brewery. After lunch we wandered around outside...
Fords Cove Restaurant and store below...
Next was a stop at Little Tribune Bay...it is still a nudest beach at the far end near the end of this short 25 second video...
Back at the "hub of the island", we checked out the Co-op Store and all of the little shops set up...
It was mostly clothing, pottery, coffee, ice-cream, real estate, and a restaurant that didn't open until 3pm... 
This is the Hornby Island Community Hall. I can't seem to find any information on the history of the building. But it is a very unique looking building! The door looks to be mounted into a massive cedar tree stump and the exterior walls are end cuts off of logs...
Our final stop before heading back to Shingle Spit and the ferry back to Denman, was at Grassy Point Community Park...
Steve here: Next to the ferry terminal this used to be the Shingle Spit Resort with a pub, and rental cabins. The other side of the spit was the campground we used to stay at. The cabins were sold off years ago as well as the campground which I believe is now private homes and or cabins...  
The pub used to be where the grey building is...
And we're back on the ferry heading home...
It was close to 5:00 by the time we got home...what a great day! We'd like to take a day to explore Denman Island sometime...since we've only driven across it to catch the ferry to Hornby. That might end up being a winter activity for something to do.

Friday (Sept. 8) morning on our walk we saw this seal in the river. They are feasting on the salmon...
That afternoon, we invited our neighbours, Gerry and Maureen, over for happy hour and appies. They are leaving in early October and the way time is flying by, we wanted to get at least one last good visit in with them!
It ended up being a very long happy hour! 
We ended the night by going over to Gerry and Maureen's trailer to listen to some music...and have a little dance, LOL...
I think it was close to 11:30 by the time we got to bed. Gosh, haven't had "one of those" happy hours since we were in Quartzsite...and actually that was even a few years ago...over 5, as a matter of fact! Remember that impromptu liqueur tasting night Thursday, January 25, 2018... Jim and Barb? Steve and Deb? Harry and Vicki? My goodness, looking back on our blogs...we have sure had a lot of "social" time in Quartzsite! 

Saturday (Sept. 9) we were up but feeling pretty "ugh" 😡😡after last night, when Steve said "I guess we should get ready"...ready? Ready for what? Breakfast with Earl and Allison! I had totally forgotten...but we got ourselves showered and ready to go!

All I can say about the rest of the day is that it was VERY lazy...neither one of us had much energy to do anything but sit in our recliners and watch TV! 

Later in the afternoon, we did manage to get out for a bit of a walk here at the campground...down to the river...
Steve here: A couple of fishermen trying their luck...
This dark area in front of them are fish. This is the area I took the underwater video on a previous blog...
We then walked back and over to the bridge near the campground. Again that dark area is salmon, mostly pinks but we did see a couple of chinooks which are much larger. In both areas we never saw any of the fishermen catch a fish. It's very frustrating when there are so many fish but they don't tend to eat when they enter the rivers to spawn. I think you have to piss them off to make them strike! 
Sunday (Sept. 10) we were back to our "normal" selves and into our usual routine. We did a walk around the Courtenay Air Park when we were told Yogi was here too! See that dark spot in the centre of the photo?
It appeared to be a younger bear...
Once home I did massive amounts of laundry that pretty well took up most of the afternoon, after our morning walk.

Today, Monday (Sept. 11), we woke to the pitter-patter of rain on the trailer roof. Boy, do we need the rain! It had rained a good part of the night but didn't last much longer once we got up. Other than a few sprinkles when we were out for our morning walk, that was it...and the sun came out in the afternoon. 

Steve took the car in after lunch for a routine service while I stayed home and worked on this blog update.

I'd like to end this blog with pictures of our grandsons as they returned to school earlier this week. Isaac started Kindergarten...
And Conner (Grade 5) and Bryce (Grade 3)...
Our handsome boys all attend private school...Conner and Bryce in Victoria and Isaac in Burnaby...thus the uniforms.

And that's another week in the bag! 


12 comments:

  1. Your Hornby Island adventure sure looked like fun. With only 1,200 residents, I imagine it is very quaint and peaceful.
    I remember that happy hour in Q very well. Barb, on the other hand, does not remember it at all!

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    1. Hornby is only quaint and peaceful once schools are back in. I know the link to the blog in Q Dianne said we were hiding behind the trailer to stay out of the wind. Truth be told we were peopled out and we’re trying to have some alone time but we’re discovered. That evening turned out to be one of the most memorable fun times we ever had in Q! What a great group of RV friends we’ve met over the years. Cheers! 🍻

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  2. What a beautiful excursion. Fun to go back where you spent family trios. How much are the ferry rides? Good times in Q! The boys look adorable!

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    1. The ferry ride was $45 for the 2 ferries return. OMG looking back on our blogs, we've had so many great times in Q! Yes, the boys "clean up well" ☺️

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  3. What a great day to explore!! And your grandsons, all growing up way too fast. Hard to believe the youngest is in kindergarten.

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    1. I know, right?! The years are flying by much too fast!

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  4. Going to the smaller Islands is not something everyone does often but how cool was that?!! Looks so incredibly dry there, also not the usual Island look. Nice to find the gems right in your own area. Good job guys!!
    D&L
    Ps. We still remember celebrating Isaac being born while staying at Picacho Park! Yep time is flying 😳

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    1. Every island is unique from the other and so many more to explore. Isaac’s birth was a highlight as well as conquering Picacho Peak!

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  5. Good looking grandsons. I love children wearing uniforms to school. May they have a blessed school year.

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  6. Glad you enjoyed your trip over to Hornby. We sure enjoyed it last time we went over.

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    1. It was nice checking out places that we spent time at so many years ago.

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