Monday, December 17, 2007

Sometimes Life's Like That - A Weekend in Victoria

I was really looking forward to my weekend in Victoria, brought there for a two day clinic unrelated to Vingo. Unfortunately, things didn't all turn out the way I had hoped.

It started when we got to the hotel and realized I had forgotten my suitcase at home. I remembered everything else, laptop, camera bag, hockey gear, rubber boots, raincoat, spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch. Wouldn't you know it? So instead of catching the last of the daylight at the inner harbour as we had planned, we had to get to the mall for a change of underwear, socks and a shirt for the evening's revelry.

Things didn't get better once I checked into the City Centre Traveller's Inn to find I couldn't get my wireless internet connectivity up. The front desk couldn't help and reminded me they can only guarantee that I can log on, connectivity is another matter beyond their in control. The hotel's in the middle of some badly needed renovations and there was minor mess and chaos about. We were in a hurry to hit the town and I decided to just take my lumps and check out the next day for something better.

I wanted to try the Caribbean restaurant, The Reef, due to their very creative and exciting website. Fun atmosphere, good music, service, and the food was very satisfying. I had Jamaican jerk chicken and some delicous prawns. Well worth a visit.

Then on to an early evening house party, and from there to the Fox Lounge 'showroom'. Showroom is a fancy word for strip bar. Strip bars have changed, at least around here. and the place was jumping with young people, couples and groups of partiers here as a saucy prelude to the rest of their night. Upstairs is the V Lounge, a very tasteful dance club full of good looking UVIc students and such. I've enjoyed dancing here in the past, be we headed instead from the peelers to the gay bar, Prism, on Johnson Street, a favorite destination of my travelling companion. Is was alright, the music wasn't loud enough and there wasn't much atmosphere but who can complain about drinking and dancing with a gaggle of lesbians.

I got my 6:45 am wakeup Saturday morning and spent the day at a hockey coaching clinic, stopping to lunch at Maude Hunter's pub on Shelbourne St. Typical pub food and the beer was good. I missed my chance to check out of the hotel, rushed as I was in the morning, not to mention that my travelling companion got lucky the night before and probably wouldn't be back in time for checkout time to pick up her stuff.

That evening, after a much needed nap, I headed to Swan's, a spectacular boutique art hotel with a brewpub and bistro, set in what amounts to an art gallery containing some 1600 pieces from the founder, Michael Williams Legacy Collection. Kudos to them for not having any TV's in the bar, however I was hoping to watch the hockey game and so headed around the corner to the first pub I could find.

Steamers was dead at 7:00 pm, everyone still busy doing their Christmas shopping, but the game was on, the wings were hot and the beer was cold. A longtime live music venue, Steamers is set to close its doors for good. Pretty tired from the previous night's excess, I headed back to my bleak hotel room to watch the 3rd period in bed. Even the TV picture was awful, there were stains on the ceiling, and the ice machine was broken. I complained to the front desk and gave them an opportunity to peace me off and comp a night, but no luck. The hotel's only saving grace is its budget price, walk-in availability, and proximity to downtown. Next time I'll spend the extra money.

Another 6:45 am wakeup and off to the rink. By the time we finished at noon, I was hungry. I considered driving 20 minutes into the city for lunch and some shopping, or 20 minutes to the Malahat Mountain Inn and onwards home. I chose the Malahat. It boasts some very well-done local artisan decor and a decent menu, but the biggest appeal is the view, perched on a cliff overlooking Finlayson Arm between the main island and the Saanich Peninsula. Nice but not too bourgeois, the Inn features accomodations as well as the restaurant.

There were a hundred other things I could have done bewteen Vic and home in Parksville, bungee jumping, gallery browsing, kayaking, shopping and more eating, but I had a family to get back to.

For more Vancouver Island travel and eco-tourism info and websites visit a hand-indexed directory of Victoria hotels, Duncan restaurants, Tofino whale watching, Port Alberni fishing and more

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Englishman River Falls Video Near Parksville, Vancouver Island, BC

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park and campground, located in Errington on Vancouver Island BC, the park features vehicle access camping and many trails around the river, the waterfalls feature an 85 foot and a 20 foot drop. Brought to you by, your Vancouver Island eco-tourism directory and resource.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New technology unstalls the blogspot

The blog's been stalled these past months due to the fact I wrecked both my video and still camera towards the end of the summer. While I've been doing as much travelling on the Island as ever, I had no flash to back up my stories. Now, with two new cameras and a renewed energy, I look forward to showing off my Island and my website,, a sleek and powerful Vancouver Island eco-tourism website. Here are some recent photos and videos of Rathtrevor Park, Nootka Sound, Englishman River Falls and more.

Here an ironic look at Vancouver Island Winter, 4-5 inches of fluffy white snow one day, washed away by torrential rains 24 hours later.

And here's a look at the Tofino surf from last summer, a gorgeous panoramic view of the Long Beach coastline at Pacific Rim National Park. That was my old camera and you can see the light meter failing.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wilderness Camping on Nootka Sound - West Coast Vancouver Island

I just returned home from a classic Vancouver Island wilderness camping vacation. A small gang of 4 of us spent 6 nights roughing it around beautiful Nootka Sound on the island's North West Coast between Gold River and Tahsis.

We discovered our camp site thanks to the invaluable Backroads Mapbook. We looked for a forest rec site along the Tlupana Inlet across the bay from the Cougar Creek Rec Site. The inlet is just north of Bligh Island, an early landing site for Captain John Cook who 'discovered' these waters back in 1780 or so. We were hoping for a more secluded location than the 50 spot site with boat launch. Luckily for us there's a logging strike going on right now, and the log dump on Head Bay was completely deserted.

We got to witness a very short commercial Sockeye Salmon opening. At least 40 boats descended on our little bay, with more filling the other inlets around us while they anchored in anticipation of the opening. Some of them waited from Friday till Tuesday at 9 pm, when they finally started dropping their nets for the fish. They fished for five hours, and in the morning when we got up, they were gone.

We also got to display just how terrible we are as fisherman. Although we fished a little each day, it wasn't until Tuesday morning that we showed some actual commitment to catching the salmon we've been trying to catch. We paddled out before 6:30 and within a half hour could see the big Chinooks jumping everywhere around us, clear out of the water. We had a better chance of one jumping directly into the boat than we did of catching one on our hooks. We tried every lure, depth and technique we could think of but came home skunked anyway.

We visited the old Marble Quarry, which was the source of the original limestone for the BC legislature in Victoria. We got in some freshwater bathing on the Deserted River, near the Deserted Lake Rec site which was fuller than we wanted when we first arrived (4 other parties) We also visited the Upana caves and the town of Gold River over the course of the 6 days we spent there, paddling, hiking, fishing and relaxing. We saw black bears, bald and golden eagles, herons, seals, salmon, stellar jays, sea slugs, red snapper, otters and more on this wilderness camping trip.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Filberg Festival - Frankly Fantastic

This year's Filberg Festival lived up to its reputation as the best run and most creative arts and entertainment festival on Vancouver Island, if not the whole of BC and Western Canada. 9 beautiful acres of wooded and oceanfront property bursting with some of Canada's most talented crafters and artisans, great food and music, lots to do for the kids and some fantastic shopping for the rest of the family.

The festival was packed each of the four days (the great weather helped) and it took almost that long to see everything to be seen. Bruce Cockburn played the main stage this year but I missed that show. I even saw Valdy wandering around busking a little with his guitar.

I was heartened to confirm that the 9 fantastic acres are not for sale, as I had thought (it's a different Filberg property - the one built for RJ Filberg's son - that's up for sale for $10 million) and is indeed owned and protected by the municipality, so you can look forward to next year's Filberg Festival over the August long weekend. Check for more things to do and places to stay in Courtenay, Cumberland and Comox.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Big Weekend for Vingo

This weekend is part of the reason I started this Vancouver Island directory and tourism search engine in the first place. We're all heading up to Courtenay and Black Creek for the Filberg Festival and staying at the Pacific Playground RV Park and Campground. My wife will be selling at the Filberg Festival, something she did 2 years ago and the rest of us will be enjoying the recreation opportunities up there, fishing, swimming and everything else. Watch this space and the directory itself for pics and reviews.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Things to do in a summer rain

I can't help but feel sorry for the 2500 Girl Guides in Parksville this weekend, here on some international Jamboree. Sorry because of all the unprecedented and unexpected summer rain we've been having. What do you do when you're camping in the rain? Well, you can always pack up, jump in the car and head to Nanaimo to the Cyber City. Lots of video games, carnival style games, a ball room, laser tag, go-carts and a tube and tunnel. It's probably not far from a laundromat where you can dry your clothes, have a bite to eat and hope for better weather.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Amazing new sites on

One thing about indexing this directory by hand is I get to see all types of accomodation and travel service websites from all over Vancouver Island. Some have great design, like Painted Turtle Guesthouses from Nanaimo. Others offer insight into incredible resources, like Wild Pacific Trail, a free widerness trail system near Barklay Sound and Ucluelet BC.

And now that I'm becoming even better acquainted with all these resources, I'm looking forward to trying them all and reviewing them in the review section of the directory. Anyone can do that, and if you've been to one of the West Coast tourism destinations on the Vancouver Island Life directory, we invite you to add your own review.

Cheers, Vingo

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Welcome to the Blog

I've recently opened the Vancouver Island directory and links engine, containing some of the best in Vancouver Island travel, accomodations, resorts, fishing, kayaking, whale watching and other attractions. A lot of fun so far, I've seen tons of great websites and creative people offering unique services across the Island. I plan to update often. Visit the page and let me know what you think.