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
 

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Movin’ and Groovin’ at the Filberg Festival – Saturday, August 4


By Keith and Heather Nicol
    With basically a whole new line up of musicians we were looking forward to hearing a variety of music at the Filberg Festival in Comox on Saturday, August 4. This year the weather has turned out to be just right for the festival with sunny skies and temperatures that are pleasantly cooled by its seaside setting.  Our plan was to head down early and check out the artisans we didn’t see on Friday and to see catch the music at the 2 stages.  

There is an international flavour to the festival this year with this group from Mexico-Son de Madera
       With over 100 people displaying their wares it is overwhelming to try to see it all at once so we suggest getting a weekend pass to be able to leisurely return to check out those vendors that you want to buy something from.  Also if you get down early you can get better parking places closer to Filberg Park. The festival organizers do a commendable job of getting a variety of performers and the first group we saw was a group from Mexico- Son de Madera.  This group played at the Comox Rotary stage which we love since it offers both sun and shade depending on your preference.  We then caught Roy Forbes at the Peninsula Co-op stage and although he has been around for along time this was our first experience listening to him. He told us about his recent accident that left him legally blind – “I now get to wear sunglasses all the time” he told the audience with a chuckle. He sure is a great guitar player and song writer.  It was then back up to the Comox Rotory Stage where we saw our favourite t show so far- The “Paperboys” who wowed the standing room only crowd with their great variety of music from Irish fiddle tunes (our favourite) to Latin and Bluegrass. They even had us singing along and many people were up dancing. Don’t miss this group!  And there is lots more great music to come over the next couple of days. 
The Paperboys had people 'dancing in the street'
  Also a reminder that the money raised for from the Filberg Festival goes to restoring and improving Filberg Park and Lodge so come out and take in the great music and arts and crafts displays.  For more information on the Sunday , August 5 and Monday, August 6 line up of artists and performers at the Filberg Festival see: http://filbergfestival.com/   
The setting for the festival is first class with mountain and ocean views
 

Friday, 3 August 2018

The 2018 Filberg Festival in Comox has a something for everyone


By Keith and Heather Nicol
When we first moved to Courtenay, B.C. 3 years ago we took in the Filberg Festival and loved its combination of music and arts. And since it is a fundraiser for the lovely Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park, it means you are contributing to a good cause at the same time. At just $20 per day or $60 for a 4 day pass at the gate, it is one of the best deals in town. We usually try to get there for the 10:00 am opening on Friday but today we had to drop a friend at the airport. But we did get there in the early afternoon in time to see the R and B Allstars from Vancouver on the Comox Rotary Stage. The Filberg Festival organizers always seem to have a good variety of music and the 2018 Festival has over 20 musical acts performing over the 4 day festival!!
 
The R and B Allstars attracted a large crowd at the Comox Rotary Stge
But the festival is much more than just music. Overall, there are over 100 artisans from across Western Canada displaying all kinds of imaginative creations- including media ranging from metalwork, pottery, toys, woodcrafts, jewellery, paintings, glass, textiles and specialty foods.There are too many booths to see all at one time so we like to space it out and see them all over 3-4 days. And when you get hungry you have a choice of 16 different vendors.  


Heather admires some of the glass work of Lisa Samphire
On Friday we loved the energy of the R and B Allstars and their 12 piece band produced a rich full sound. We also like the small Peninsula Coop stage which is down by the ocean and on this day we saw “West my Friend” and “Twin Kennedy”.  We liked the mix of mandolin, guitar and accordion that “West my Friend” featured and their brand of folk-style music. “Twin Kennedy” are 2 sisters from nearby Powell River who now make Nashville home. They are award winning song writers and are well worth checking out. The next few days will feature many other performers so be sure to check out the 2018 Filberg Festival.  For more information on the complete festival schedule see: filbergfestival.com 

 
Twin Kennedy put on a great show


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Biking the One Spot Trail near Courtenay, B.C.- Part 1


By Keith and Heather Nicol
     The One Spot trail is a great resource for the people of the Comox Valley who like walk, bike or even ride a horse. All are welcome on this trail and it starts on the outskirts of Courtenay and has several access points depending on much of it you want to do. We discovered various parts of it by geocaching this summer (there are lots of caches on this trail) and have now walked or biked all it on several occasions.  The focus of this blog post is to look at the Tsolum South portion which runs along a former railway grade for roughly 8.5 km. In fact the name “One Spot” comes from name of the locomotive that worked this route and it was built in 1909. The surface of the trail varies from packed dirt to gravel and most of the surface is good for biking. There are a few soft areas but fortunately these are short in length but we would suggest a mountain bike with a front shock as the best choice for this route.  Although we have seen road bikes and hybrid bikes on it as well. Remember that if you are biking that you must give way to walkers and people on horse back. 
The routes passes by forest and field


      We like all sections of it but our favourite for leisurely biking on a trail that would suit just about everyone is the section from Brazier Road to Todd Road ( see https://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/parks-recreation/comox-valley-parks-trails/one-spot-trail  for details of route in map form).  This section is about 3 km (1 way) and is along a wide flat trail for much of the route that allows bikes to ride side by side.  Some of the route has hardwood trees whose canopies stretch over the trail so it is nice and shady on warm summer days and we are looking forward to seeing it in the fall when the leaves change colour.  This section passes by fields and farms and some of the route is on seldom travelled gravel road.  To access this section drive to the small Brazier Road parking area which also has a trail map next to it.  This is a gem of a trail and we can’t understand how long it took us to come across it. If you have special mountain bike routes that you think are worth exploring let us know but email at k2nicol@gmail.com
Heather along the wide section enroute to Todd Road

    


Monday, 30 July 2018

The Wildwood Mountain bike loop near Courtenay is a fun, varied ride


By Keith and Heather Nicol
There are maps at the trail head to help you navigate
     We must have driven by the Wildwood Forest Recreation Trails sign over 150 times (mostly enroute to Mt Washington to ski) before we actually stopped by to see what it had to offer. The Wildwood Forest is shaped abit like a “L” with the main access at Piercy Road. There is not much official parking there but you can park along the road (coordinates 49 41.746 N, 125 03.673 W) and on our first visit we offloaded our mountain bikes to try a 13.5 km loop. It is useful to either print a map at this link:  https://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/parks-recreation/comox-valley-parks-trails/wildwood-interpretive-forest  or pick up a map at the trail head like we did. Our route is actually one that is presented on the map and follows the Burns Connector to the Bob Webb trail where the route then follows the One Spot trail. We followed this trail to Piercy Road and then biked the pavement back 3 km to our car. Allow about 75 minutes to do the route depending on how fast you cycle. 
The trail is generally firm gravel or dirt which makes for easy riding
Much of this route is on smooth firm gravel or dirt trails so a standard mountain bike with a front shock is a good choice although we also saw a fellow on a road bike doing it as well.We subsequently took my brother and his wife who were visiting from Victoria on this route and they used hybrid bikes with no front shock and they were fine so the route can be ridden with a variety of bikes.  We even saw a fellow with a motorized wheelchair fitted with off road tires which was great to see.  Expect to see horses and walkers on the trail so be aware of other users. The route has a good variety of landscapes from classic west coast forest with lush ferns to fields with horses and open pasture. There is not much up and down so can be ridden by a wide range of ages and stages. Also be aware of the standard wild animal cautions since black bear and cougars travel through this area.

We eve saw a fellow with a motorized wheel chair with off road tires doing the trail