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Monday, July 8, 2013

Honeymoonin' (back to Victoria)

Disclaimer: Some photos taken by James (many of the very awesome ones!)
Day 9:
This day started off with James waking up early and spotting some crows out the window. He looked and saw they were pestering a bald eagle. He shot some great pictures of the eagle being chased by the crows, the eagle sitting up at the top of a spruce and the eagle soaring off. He woke me up so I could see the eagle too, which was very cool.
Wet eagle

It was rainy and chilly, so the eagle looked drenched from sitting in the treetop.
Flying off. Look at those talons!

After getting ready, we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant, Fetch, for breakfast. We got seated by the window again and enjoyed the waves. James had a salmon bennie with potatoes and I had granola with fruit and yogurt and a green smoothie. Our next stop was the hotel gift store, where James picked out a nice photography book of the scenery and wildlife of British Columbia. It's like a nice big coffee table book that will be neat to leaf through later. We did a whirlwind packing job once back up in our room, said goodbye to the amazing view, and checked out. As we drove out of town, we stopped at a little art and print shop called Pina. We were looking for a print we'd seen in Ukee Dogs the day before of the town of Ucluelet, but they only had it as a tiny magnet. Oh well. The magnet would have to do. Then it was goodbye Ucluelet. The drive out onto Pacific Rim Highway was once again turny, twisty, and rainy. There were some beautiful waterfalls running over the rock cliffs, some mysterious, misty lakes, and raging rivers hoping over big boulders. We made a stop at Little Quallicum Beach and did some hiking. The rain stopped right as we pulled into the parking lot. Win! The falls consisted of a lower and upper falls.
Lower Quallicum Falls

Both were beautiful and showed the great power of rushing water. The hike was a nice break too.
happy hikers

Beautiful clear water with a view of the stones underneath 

powerful rushing water from the upper Little Quallicum Falls

 We spotted a frog, big slug, snail, and lots of other hikers.
Big ol' slug


Next stop wasn't planned for. On the road, we saw a sign for the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, where they supposedly rehabed black bears, owls, and other birds of prey. I was immediately interested, since I'd worked at a camp that had a raptor rehab center. We stopped off expecting a small place, but were pleasantly surprised to find a pretty big facility. We paid and entered a room full of plaques about different birds, cougars, wolves, etc, along with some taxidermied examples, then wound around to an eagle flight house. We viewed the eagles from slots above as to not disturb them or give them human contact. There were also several monitors where you could watch live feeds of black bears. Two cubs were playing and rough housing when we watched. Next came the outdoor path around to the rest of the animals that had no chance of release back into the wild.
Barred owl

Short eared owl

Funny log full of turtles

There were ravens, eagles (bald and golden), barred owls, barn owls, great horned owls, short eared owls, ferrets, turkey vultures, wild turkeys, peregrine falcons, doves, turtles, and ducks. The place was huge and well maintained. I was certainly impressed. Before we left, we had to take a photo in their little set up....
hungry baby eagle 


After spending a good chunk of time there, we got back on the road, got a little turned around, then found our bearings. Off to Nanaimo for a light lunch. We ate at a place called Corner Bistro. James had some chowder and a great piece of herb bread and I had some little quinoa sliders. Back on the road to Victoria, we noticed the sun peeking out a little, which was strange since we hadn't seen it in so long! When we arrived at the hotel, it was pretty late. We lugged our bags to the room and headed across the street to Sizzling Tandoor for some excellent Indian food. I had paneer tika masala and James had lamb masala and we split some naan. After dinner, we walked over to the harbor and back across the bridge and enjoyed the mild evening before hitting the hay.

Day 10:
We slept in very late, almost until noon. After our late start, we walked over to a nearby diner called John's Place. The service was friendly, decor was amusing, and the food was tasty. The bread alone was enough to get a thumbs up from me. I also had a Jerusalem Wrap with falafel and veggies and James had a lamb soublaki. We headed back to the hotel, grabbed the car and drove out to Fort Rodd Hill, home of the Fisgard Lighthouse, which is one of the earliest permanent lighthouses on Canada's west coast. The walk around the grounds was beautiful.
Mountain view from atop the old bunker at Fort Rodd

Fisgard lighthouse 

The weather was sunny and warm. James got lots of nice pictures and we enjoyed seeing the pretty lighthouse, mountain views, birds, and learning a bit of history.
Spotted a few herons around

Robin Chripbotski (for all you How I Met Your Mother fans)

Back at the hotel, we brought up the rest of the luggage so we could repack for the plane and relaxed a bit. Since the weather was so great, we decided to walk up to a park that had the world's tallest totem pole. The park was called Beacon Hill and it was just a bit of a walk past the Royal BC Museum, which also had a totem pole display outside to stop and wonder at.

 Once we entered the park, we found out there was a lot to explore. Our visit to Beacon Hill began with us taking some "action shots" of the many types of ducks in the pond.
Pretty light hitting the water

Diving duck

Pretty heron atop a tall tree

We also took more pics of the talkative crows. We continued on through the large park admiring the tall trees and colorful gardens along the paths. There were black squirrels, which I hadn't seen many of before.

Then we heard the unmistakable cries of peacocks. First, we just saw a few females, pretty, but not the kind of splendid, showy colors of the male peacock. We wandered a bit more and found a few males. Some even had their feathers up in display, yapping and dancing.
Peacock crossing the road

Peacock showing off

Female Peacock
We wondered more through the pretty gardens and trees and past a trail along the waterfront.

 As it was getting later, we decided we had better find that big totem pole. You'd think it would have been easy to spot, being the world's tallest and all, but the gigantic trees that blanked the park did make it a more challenging search. Finally, we spotted it over the trees. There was a bird-like silhouette sitting atop the pole. From a distance, we assumed it was part of the totem design. But James looked through the zoom lens from his camera and discovered it was an actual bald eagle!
Awesome sight

Eagle talking to the crows

Totem from below

We tried to quickly make our way toward the pole to see this cool sight. After a short stop to get pictures of the mountains across the way and a quick walk through some buggy woods, we were at the bottom of the pole and the eagle was still sitting on top. It was such a majestic sight! Then came the crows. They flitted around, cawing and diving toward the eagle and trying to bother him and get him to leave the area. The eagle seemed unbothered by the crows and held his ground. Finally the crows left. We walked closer to the pole to get some neat perspective pictures. The eagle remained on top. As we were walking away from the pole, we heard a barred owl calling from the woods..."whoo cooks for you- whooo cooks for you aaaallll?" it called. So we decided to take a quick look in the woods. The eagle also decided it was time to give up his post upon the pole and flew off. We didn't find the barred owl and it was starting to get buggy, so we decided to head back to the hotel and clean up for dinner. Dinner was right around the corner from our hotel at a hip little place called Mint. It was dimly lit with sparkly lights strung about over the tables, pillows tossed about on the seating, and decorated with masks, and kitchy artwork. There was live music followed by a dj. The atmosphere was pretty fun and chill at the same time. James ordered the naan pizza and I had spinach curry. We both had some yummy drinks and split a lemon tart. After hanging out for a bit, we decided to head back to the hotel and pack up since it was our last night and we'd have to wake up super early to catch our red eye flight back to the states. We did not want to leave Vancouver Island!

Day 11:
The trip home was uneventful and went mostly smoothly. We flew from Victoria to SanFransico (we saw the Golden Gate bridge and San Mateo bridge from the plane), then from San Fran to Chicago (saw more mountains and Lake Tahoe from the plane), then Chicago home to Lexington. It was thunderstorming when we arrived a little before midnight. The honeymoon was wonderful and I loved the island! Can't wait to make a return visit sometime!
Mountains from the plane

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