Day 2 – The Winery

I am  impressed. Very impressed. Need I say more?
Although I’m on holidays, there are still a couple of things I need to finish off before I’m ‘officially’ on vacation. Although I rode my bike down to PA to park for the duration of the two weeks, I needed my car in order to do a safe transportation. Since I have a list of things I want to accomplish during my 2 weeks off – I decided to embark on one of these things -> that being a visit to an illusive winery called Coastal Black. I call it illusive because on every other opportunity that I’d planned to visit the winery, something would come up to put a kibosh on it.

I left PA around 11 am and traveled up The Slab (aka Hwy 19) to Hamm Rd before taking the right turn to dump me onto the old Island Hwy (Hwy 4). The great thing about this route is that as the drive travels along Hamm Road you discover a magnificent sight. Imagine riding along, enjoying the scenery and minding your own business, then as you round one of the bends and glance into the field running along the road you find yourself pausing. The reason? Those expected brown bodies of the bovine nature are replaced with the brown bodies of a bulky-front-end nature. Specifically – Island Bison.  Growing up in Manitoba, the familiar outline of a bison was everywhere.  Since moving to BC, I found I was missing seeing that figure gracing some of the more notable things in life = but please consider that BC is a coastal province, it is not something that is difficult to understand.  But I still missed the brutes.  That is why, when traveling Hamm Road I had to stop just to watch these big, brawny beasts.  It was magnificent.

Traveling down to the “Old Hwy” or Highway 4, I turned right, then traveled a meagre 4 km to the turn on Endall Rd in Black Creek, to turn right and followed the road to the destination.  For all you two wheelers out there, the road all the way up to the property is paved, but the driveway in is hardpack.  Easy to negotiate for even the most faint of heart motorcyclists with an aversion to the G word.

One of the other aspects of the winery I liked was their operating hours.  Open every day, it makes it easy for a working person to get there.  My personal preference is to visit the wineries themselves and purchase wines.  I know that most wineries sell their bottles in the local Liquor Stores – but something about going right to their door and purchasing feels right to me.  As well, when I have the opportunity to visit the winery I can see their operation and hopefully get a feel for what kind of business they have.

I have to sum it up and say it again ~ I was impressed!  A clean, organized and well maintained business unfolded before me.  Coast Black is a family run winery that has capitalized on the local vegetation, rather than try to force the local ecosystem into growing something that is not indigenous.  Their website states:  “This Winery specializes in fruit wines and mead”  – and as of now I am in love with the Spice Mead.  Driving up the hardpacked driveway we were able to watch one of the mechanized picker machine (not sure of the actual technical term) working up the rows of blackberries before we parked and walked up to the winery retail area.  The open air patio where lunch was being served was clean, spacious and very welcoming.  The special of the day was a Bocconccini salad.

As we sat on the stools of the wine tasting area, we were treated to the  weekly selection of up to 4 different wines and a mead for tasting. Quite quickly we were able to settle on a favourite and I was so very surprised on how much I enjoyed the taste of the Spiced Mead. In the past, I’ve never been a fan of mead, so I was very skeptical.  Not anymore.

Aside from being a Winery, Coastal Black’s patio area  hosted a daily luncheon special, patio bistro, a brick pizza oven and open “barn” style event space.  I am in love with Coastal Black.  I plan to be making another trip up there to purchase more of their yummy fare to use as Christmas gifts.

Photo courtesy of the Coastal Black website

Summer visitors

I love summer. I love summer in the Alberni Valley. I mostly love summer on the Coast. The problem is that I do not love the unwanted visitors of summer – namely the bald faced hornets who seem to make an appearance every year and make life on a picnic hell.

This year we discovered two meats on the pop out, 5 on the boat shed but the big one was on the deck. Yeesh

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Discovering Treasures

The wonderful thing about local traveling is that it forces you to discover your surroundings.

Just last week I was bored one evening and jumped on the bike for a spin. Wheeling through some of the streets, I discovered a local carving competition going on. What wonderful talent some of these people have!

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The Run North

Odometre Reading: 45637.9

Saturday, July 13 was the day set for the North Vancouver Island ride and it could not have dawned any more beautiful. The skies were blue and clear as we gathered in the parking lot of the Discovery Shopping Centre. The one feature that makes this mall desirable is that it affords motorcyclists the opportunity of fuel for the bikes, fuel for the body (by way of A&W) and fuel for the wallet (in the form of an ATM at the TD Bank) all within a few hundred metres of each other. Meeting at 11:30am we had a bit of a planning session over burgers at the A & W, then had the more formal pre-ride just prior to noon, and headed north on Hwy 97.

Traffic north of Campbell River proved to be typical – as in light but there is a typical ‘north island resident’ trait of pushing the foot to the floor once on the north road because of the 100km speed limit and the lack of Provincial Tax Collectors.

We traveled north to Sayward where we stopped for a bit of a break and a top up for gas before continuing to one of our planned destinations ~ Telegraph Cove. A small little coastal cove on the west side of Vancouver island, it is a perfect spot for those who wish the opportunity of exploring a historic coastal town that runs on Cove Time. We arrived there shortly after 1:30 pm and spent the better part of an hour poking and exploring, looking and gawking at historic boardwalk houses and the local Whale Museum. Some gawked, while others just sat and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.

Departing at 3:30, we made the short ride up to Port McNeill where we arrived around 4:30pm and checked in to the Haida Way Hotel for the evening.

A short jaunt around town showed me how much the town had changed since my departure in 1995 and how much had stayed the same. It was a wonderful short trip into the past for me.

We enjoyed the fair at the pub as well as some of the bevies – then took the time to watch the sun set on a very satisfying day.

Sunday dawned a tad gloomy and black. For a little while I had honestly thought we were going to see some rain on our windshields but after the initial threat – the clouds made their way AWAY from us.

Heading south, we stopped at Woss at the Lucky Logger Pub for some very nice sushi and ended up in Campbell River at around 2:00pm to end our short little foray up north.

A great ride and a great day.

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Up up and away

Today was the day for another adventure. One that was not on my “radar” by any means, until a week ago when a radio ad peaked my interest.

Fly away on a historic mail tour, rated as one of the top five outdoor adventures.

I’m not sure what it was that enticed me about this – but it was a seed that was planted. And it took route.

After a week I found the information I needed and discovered it was reasonably priced.

http://www.corilair.com/mail.html

I arranged to take the Wednesday off work as the flight would start at 1pm.

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At the time of booking the flight I was told to report to the hanger at 12:30 for a 1:00 pm departure. Being I was a tad excited, I showed up at noon to make sure I was there in time. After paying the $192.00, I was informed there were only going to be 3 passengers so we would be taking the Cessna.
Luckily, the other two passengers had the same idea as I did and showed up early as well. Considering it was only us, the pilot decided to depart early.

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After showing us the route map, the post offices were shown. Our first stop was Refuge Cove. A quick stop over there, then to Surge Narrows and the finally Big Bay.

It was a perfect flight in a cloud clear sky with endless gorgeous scenery.

 

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Coralair waiting area (aka the hanger)
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Flying over Quadra Island
Our ‘mode’ of transport – Cessna
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Taxing in to Refuge Cove
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Our little plane – a Cessna with floats on it.
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The post office at Surge Narrows
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Over Surge Narrows

We left at 12:30 pm and arrived back at just a little after 3pm. Well worth the cost and well worth the adventure

A glorious day

Saturday dawned bright and early other the obvious promise of a great day!

KSU was at 9:30 and we headed down the Inland Island Hwy (aka the slab) to Buckley Bay for a fill up before heading to Port Alberni for a fill up and lunch.

Arriving at PA we filled up and had lunch. It always amazes me that the adventures on the road produces so many stories. Some humorous. Some not so. I am referring to my bill for lunch which produced a great deal of amusement to all – myself included.

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You will notice that I got charged for a seniors smorgasbord at a Chinese restaurant. ~~~ I’m only 50 ~~~~. Lol. But then this is the sign on the door of the women’s bathroom.

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We arrived at the Break Pad to get the instructions for the Poker Run and to meet and greet our fellow riders

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A $5 entry fee proved to net me $44 in second place with three 10s. But the ride was the thing! I loved it. And had great company.

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Over 120km. A great group ride and perfect weather.

The only downside was the crack sealing of the highway going on during the ride into the valley. Sand everywhere. Ugh. Nothing beats a morning of sand blasting on a bike first thing in the morning.

But the rest of the day made up for it.

Early

Rising early to begin the journey is the joy of any motorcyclist. The promise of a solitary road ahead with no traffic. The whisper of the possibilities just over the horizon. The mystery of what will be discovered. The sweet kiss of sun on chrome and the drama of rain on the visor.

It’s all part of it. I love every second.

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