Monday, 3 September 2018

The McLoughlin Property is one of the newest parks in the Comox Valley


Fall crocuses in bloom

By Keith and Heather Nicol
    In the mid 1970’s Brian and Sarah McLoughlin began to create gardens that were drought and deer resistant along a scenic seashore landscape.The address is 814 Tasman Road in Merville in the Comox Valley and it is one of the newest Comox Valley Regional District Parks (CVRD).  The McLoughlin’s created an  11 acre ecological gift to the CVRD in 2016 as a pedestrian and cyclist only park and we found out about this park while attending  the Woodland Garden Artisans’ Festival the previous day -Sunday, Sept 2.  We spoke to Christine Dickinson about the location and she encouraged to visit it since she obviously thought it was a special place.  Christine was representing the group that has taken over maintaining the house and gardens of the park.




The house overlooks the Salish Sea
Finding the entrance was fairly easy (do a google map search for the address) and we ended up driving right to the end of Tasman Road.  It is roughly 15-20 minutes north of the Courtenay-Comox area.  There is parking for several cars and you can recognize the entrance by the small vertical sign post characteristic of CVRD Parks. The park is accessed by a 400 meter sloping driveway (that is quite steep in places) which leads to the beach accesses, the gardens and the house.  The house is now being used by a seasonal “artist in residence” programme which the McLoughlin Garden Society runs and Christine mentioned they are looking for volunteers to help with the gardens and general maintenance.

Cormorants sat on a rock just offshore
  We brought our lunch and had a beautiful view of the Salish Sea and just offshore on our visit was a rock that had attracted several cormorants .  We wondered around the gardens and came across a second beach access trail. We found some fall crocuses in bloom in the gardens and feel this would be a charming place to visit at other times when the rhodos and other plants would be in flower. We fully recommend checking out this new park and if you want to volunteer then see: https://www.mcloughlingardens.org/.   Also  https://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/parks-recreation/comox-valley-parks-trails/sarah-and-brian-mcloughlin-park  has more CVRD information on the park.
The park has a couple of beach access points where you can beach comb or have lunch

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Lots to see at the Artisans’ Festival at the Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens


By Keith and Heather Nicol
We enjoyed the Irish music of David Somers
     Last year we attended the Artisan’s Festival at the Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens for the first time and were very impressed by the range of artisans which presented their wares in a relaxing woodland setting. This year there are close to 80 exhibitors featuring  pottery to paintings to wood work and everything in between so there is alot to choose from. The exhibitors tend to be mostly located in small open meadows but some are in enclosed areas like Santa’s Barn. 

      From the map we could see that there are many trails that wind through the forest and so we will have to return for another visit to fully explore the gardens. We did take one side trail to the labyrinth which is a special spot worth investigating.  We also appreciated the musicians who were playing music along the way and each day of the festival there are different people playing at the different venues.  The festival runs from Saturday, September 1 to Monday, September 3.  The event is pet friendly and there is an ATM and food trucks on site.  The 24 acre Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens offers a tranquil setting to enjoy nature and this weekend there is an added bonus of the artisans’ festival.  We are looking forward on coming back to see the gardens when the rhododendrons are in full bloom since they have one of the largest collections of rhodos on the Island.  The gardens are located about 15 north of Courtenay off the North Island Highway. For more information see:  http://woodlandgardens.ca/  
Heather viewing some of the creations of Red Cod Forge
 
You can even see Hyacinth the eagle at the MARS exhibit

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Comox Valley Exhibition is celebrating 144 years!!


By Keith and Heather Nicol
Log rolling was part of the high energy Laughing Loggers show
     The Comox Valley Exhibition has something for just about everyone and this year features the RCMP Musical Ride. We had never been to the Exhibition since arriving in the Comox Valley 3.5 years ago so weren’t sure what to expect. And since we had not seen the RCMP Musical ride before this was a definite draw. We arrived about 2:15 pm on Friday and started by hearing some music by ‘Easy Street’ in the food court area while we got oriented.  We noted that there was a Laughing Loggers Show at 2:30 pm followed by a PWA wrestling show at 3:15 pm so headed for that section of the fair grounds. The loggers show featured some modifed chainsaws that would have made Tim Allen proud followed by a log rolling and a tree climbing competition. We normally don’t take in wrestling shows but we had to be impressed by the athletic ability of the ‘wrestlers’ and their air borne moves. 

We were impressed with the athletic ability of the 'wrestlers'
     Then we walked over to see the ‘Rock the Dock’ challenge where dogs were leaping into a swimming pool after their owners threw in a dog toy. At this stage in the competition dogs were getting a chance to practise the event. The finals are on Sunday afternoon and no doubt this will be a real crowd pleaser. 

Rock the Dock will be the place to be on Sunday for the finals
     There is also a kids area with lots of different activities for children. Nearby is the barn which includes various  livestock that were competing and the curling rink has been turned into a Home and Garden show. There is an art show by Joan Larson of the RCMP Musical Ride and a quilt show of a huge number of beautiful quilts . As well there is a competition for baking, vegetable growing and flower arranging .  There was one tomato the size of a small watermelon that impressed us.  On the grounds is also a heritage farm equipment display and over the next couple of days special events will be on  tap including an extreme zucchini race, a fun run for kids, a classic car show and much more.
   Our final event on Friday at 6:30pm was seeing the standing room only presentation by the RCMP and their Musical Ride. This musical precision show of horsemanship has a history of well over a hundred years and is very impressive and is a must see.  The 32 riders meet individually with the audience at the end of the show which adds a special touch. 
The RCMP Musical ride is a unique demonstration of syncro horsemanship
  The Comox Valley Exhibition runs until Sunday August 26 at the Exhibition Grounds in Courtenay. For more information and schedule of events  see: www.cvex.ca.   There is certainly lots to see and do. 
The RCMP Musical ride ends with the riders meeting the audience

Friday, 17 August 2018

Longlands Golf Course offers beginners and experts a relaxing round of golf


By Keith and Heather Nicol
The greens were "green" and in good shape
    Since we moved to the Comox Valley from Newfoundland 3.5 years ago we have enjoyed playing many of the golf courses in this area. But one that we hadn’t tried until Thursday, August 16 was Longlands Golf Course which offers a par 3 layout over 18 holes. This is a true par 3 since the longest hole is 160 yards and shortest is 83 yards. We were interested to see what the course was like given the hot dry summer we have had and we were impressed with the state of the greens and areas near the green. Some fairways were quite brown given the hot dry summer but overall the course was greener than we thought it might be. This is part due to the tall trees which line most fairways giving reasonable amounts of shade. But if you are playing well you shouldn’t be on the fairway too much since it is easy to reach all greens from the tee if your shots are straight.


Tall trees line the course
 We thought this course would appeal to a wide range of people from beginners and kids to better players wanting to work on their approach game. We saw several groups that included kids and in speaking to the staff they say they get quite a few groups of retired people since the 1049 yard length of the front nine and 1173 yard length of the back nine make for a manageable distance to walk for most people. It is also a forgiving course in that it has no sand traps and water is not much of a hazard. There are some ditches in places but they were mostly dry when we played. But many fairways are quite narrow and the large branches from the tall trees reach out into some fairways forcing you to hit very straight shots.  
Areas near the green were in good shape as well

 The greens are also small which means if you are on the green getting down in 2 putts is quite easy. The challenge though is hitting the green on your first shot. The other upside when we played was that the course was not that busy so we were never pressured from behind and never had to wait for anyone so we were finished 18 holes in less than 3 hours which included taking many pictures.  So if you haven’t played Longlands Golf Course in Comox give it a try. They have a restaurant with a nice outdoor seating area, a putting green and pull and power carts for rent. For more information see: www.longlandsgolf.com
Putting on the 18th green with the clubhouse and patio behind




Sunday, 12 August 2018

Exploring Pt Holmes, Comox, BC at low tide


by Keith and Heather Nicol
Heather snorkeling off Pt Holmes
   Point Holmes is our go to place to head out sea kayaking since there is a boat launch there which allows you to launch a boat on just about any tide. Note that when the wind is from the southeast or south that this boat launch faces directly into any waves coming in from those directions. However since the summer wind is typically from the north or north west this ramp is ideal.  But this area is also interesting to explore at low tide since there are rocky outcrops that have created interesting tidal pools where you can find all kinds of varied marine life. We have found that it is a perfect place to see ochre sea stars which are slowly recovering from a large die off a few years ago. You can also see small fish, crabs, many varieties of colourful seaweed. 
Egg cast from the moon snail in 1 meter of water
Lately we have also been trying some snorkeling in this area as well. We have used shorty style wet suits since the water can be on the cool side.  We saw several egg casts of the moon snail which look like discarded pottery bowls.  They are quite striking to see on the ocean floor.   Over the last few days the low tide has been around 0.5 meters which means that if you swim out you can see organisms that would never be exposed to the air. So check out this area if you like exploring tidal pools and bring your snorkel and mask if you like snorkeling.  For those people that are new to the Comox Valley – Pt Holmes is located on Lazo Road and Southwind Road and there is a large parking lot with area for boat trailers on the non water side of the road. There are also several picnic tables and benches.  
Orche sea stars can be seen in the shallow water at low tide and in some tidal pools