Category Archives: picnic

Cold Sunshine

The Captain and I had to make a trip up island the other day. It would be a long day so we took a picnic lunch and stopped by the roadside on the way home. Where we parked, several picnic benches were available but there was a chance our rear ends could freeze to the bench, so we stayed in the car where it was cozy. We had a fantastic view, sunshine, and the warmth of the car while we had our sandwiches and V-8 juice.

This was the view looking north towards Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. You can see the south end of town on the left, and in the distance you can see the snow-covered Coast Range which is on the BC mainland.


Looking straight ahead from the comfort of our car, this was the view we had while we ate our lunch. These mountains are also part of the Coast Range, on the BC mainland.


The waters were calm and the sun was shining, but it was hard to find a warm spot. Who knew that sunshine could be so cold?

Ironing the Beach

This is an old photo I came across. Pablo, the man in the photo, took care of the beach where we stayed. The land belonged to his wife’s family for generations, he told us. There are no facilities, except an outhouse, but most people who camp there have everything they need in their RVs. When we stayed at Pablo’s beach the price was very reasonable at $3.00 per night to park on the beach. $5.00 if you wanted a palapa as well. We stayed for about three months and loved every minute of it.

This was what they call dry camping, not because the desert is dry, but because there are no amenities like running water or electricity. It’s very rustic, but also very natural and beautiful. It is quiet there unless someone brings battery-operated radios or (in those days, about 18 years ago) cassette tape players. More often you’d hear someone playing a guitar by the campfire or a group of friends singing at happy hour.

Pablo was rightly proud of his beach and kept it clean. He took the seaweed away in a wheelbarrow and dumped it far from the camping area so the little flies didn’t infest the sandy beach. Hard work for a man in his early 70s.

Here he is, ironing the beach. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he was “planchando la playa.” Ironing the beach?! I looked it up. Yes, that’s what he had said. He was flattening the sand that many footsteps had scuffed and as he ran his homemade ironing board over an area, it raked up any foreign objects (like cigarette butts, and beer caps) that would otherwise make the beach messy.

The handle of the “iron” Pablo is using, is made from a spine of the cardón cactus. Very hard wood.

ironing the beach [1]

It was after spending a couple of winters in Baja at Pablo´s beach that I decided to write my novel “Orion’s Gift.” In the story I had a character like Pablo but named him Alfonso.

If a romantic suspense drama in Baja interests you, why not check out “Orion’s Gift”?

Orion's Gift

Available at all amazon outlets and

Surf and Turf

Apparently the term “Turf and Surf” has been around since 1961. It has taken me 54 years to know about it and figure out what it means. As I’m sure everyone else in the world already knows, “Turf and Surf” refers to meals of meat and fish, especially when speaking of steak and lobster.

Yesterday the Captain and I had a Turf and Surf day, but it was a far cry from steak and lobster. We went to a store that sells commercial fishing gear near the small town of Coombs on Vancouver Island, and took care of the annual gear upgrade. Then we went to the Coombs Market where they keep goats on the roof as a tourist attraction. You may recall that we did this same outing last year and it has become a bit of a tradition: Buy fishing gear, go to the Coombs Market to buy a few picnic fixings (Black Forest ham for the bread I brought from home, some fancy mustard to put on it, and two Starbucks Americanos), and then drive ten minutes to Qualicum Beach for a seaside picnic.020

The turf was on the roof of the Coombs Market building,

004and the surf was on the nearby beach.

It wasn’t steak and lobster, but we had a beautiful day for a picnic by the beach.

Victoria Day Weekend

To the best of my memory, on May 20, 1963, it was 96 degrees on Vancouver Island. I remember it because I stood on the sidewalk watching the Victoria Day parade and after a while the shirts of the people across the street began to blend together into one blur of white. I felt nauseated and dizzy. Luckily, I was able to duck into the lobby of a nearby beer parlour where it was dark and cool, until my heatstroke passed. I wasn’t old enough to go beyond the lobby, but to this day  I remember the smell of stale carpeting and beer.

We haven’t had a Victoria Day weekend quite that warm ever since, as far as I know. On the contrary, many times it has been downright miserable. Those who make a tradition of going camping on that weekend will know, having spent many long weekends in May suffering through rainy and cold weather, huddled in tents or campers.

When my brother and sisters and I were young and living in Dawson Creek, we wanted desperately to go camping and stay overnight. What an adventure that would be. We nagged and nagged and finally, our mother gave in and said that if we could get a ride out to  Pouce Coupe Park, seven miles away, she would stay with us and camp overnight. Our father had to work, and we had no car, so we were ever so grateful to our mother for volunteering to take us and to procure a ride for us.

We had a great time, roasting wieners over the fire, wading in the muddy Pouce Coupe River (a shallow creek really, except for the big hole under a fallen log where someone drowned nearly every year). The huge playground gave us plenty of room to run around and play games. It was so much fun!



How do you like our logs for the fire? This is what you do when you have no chainsaw. I remember that the smoke kept the mosquitoes at bay while we were around the campfire. We weren’t bothered by them when we ran around the playground either, but as soon as we stopped, it was a different story. And did those bites ever itch!

Check out the vintage of the cars and trucks parked behind the playground.

Our ride came to pick us up the following afternoon and we kids sat in the back reeking of campfire smoke, listening to our mother tell how we fared. As she spoke, I  remembered her bolting up to sit on her air mattress in the middle of the night when something hit the roof of the tent. I think it must have been an owl or some other night bird, judging by the flapping noise, but as my mother told it, she was sure the bear she had worried about since dusk had finally come to eat us all. She said she was so scared, she would never go camping alone again. (She wasn’t alone. She had US! What was she worried about?)

We never did go camping again until I was grown up and on my own, but I’ve done my best to make up for lost time.