Friday, September 19, 2014

Washboard Rumble Roads

Frank the Driver
On Wednesday, September 17, 2014, Frank and I set off on Big White. My husband refers to her as a ‘poor man’s motor home’ but I consider our 23-foot bus quite luxurious. The first part of our two-day excursion began with a 29.4 kilometre trek from Campbell River over washboard logging roads to Morton Lake Provincial Park. It’s a quiet location this time of year but is still lively with birds and small animals.

We befriended a sweet squirrel and called her ‘Scamper’. She loved our rice cakes and made several attempts to board the bus seeking other treats. 

View from our Campsite
The view from our chairs afforded us a panoramic vision of the lake, a couple fishing from their canoe, and a forest of evergreen trees. That evening, we shared stories of the great outdoors in front of a roaring fire. It was pitch black when we put our heads down on our comfortable bed.

Toast for Breakfast
The next morning, after breakfast by the fire, we rumbled 17.5 kilometres down a narrow path to another campground.

Brewster Lake
 Brewster Lake Provincial Park is a hidden treasure which permeates a delightful sense of serenity. The lake is clear and laps up to a well-maintained beach. We took a casual stroll around the area and met some friendly folk.

This Way to Loveland Bay
Our final 15.5 kilometre jaunt along a gravel road delivered us to Loveland Bay Provincial Park. We spread our picnic lunch on a hollow log and enjoyed fruit and granola bars at the beach. Of the thirty-one sites available six were occupied. Like the two campgrounds we’d visited earlier, this one also was well-maintained and offered the true meaning of basic camping. Larger travel homes tend to have a generator, but today none made their presence known. What a delight.

Vancouver Island boasts 52 Provincial Park campgrounds. Where else in the world would you want to be?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bluegrass For Beginners

Frank plays at Bluegrass Festival
 Frank drove Big White onto the grounds of the Coombs Bluegrass Festival. It was the town’s 36th annual event and our first. He parked our motor home between a vehicle of the same length and a fifth-wheel unit. I put down a small piece of carpet at the front door of our temporary living quarters and setup two lawn chairs in the shade. We were stationed at Tall Pines.

We had volunteered to sell tickets. We strolled down a narrow path in search of the jamboree organizers. A woman named Karen told us to show up at the beer gardens at 5 p.m. for our first four-hour shift. Satisfied with her instructions, we hiked down the side of the highway leading to Coombs Market; a local shop famous for having goats living on the top of the building.

Across from the mercantile, stood a few people associated with the local church. They were serving lemonade, iced tea and water. Frank was feeling faint from having woken up so early and the scorching rays of the sun that day. We sipped on several free servings of cool liquids and headed back to our campsite.

That evening, and for the next three days, my body and mind absorbed the plunk, plunk sound of banjos, the plink, plink of mandolins, the boom, boom of the base fiddle and the nasal tones of various songstresses and songsters. One afternoon, there was a call for anyone who played an instrument to participate in the ‘Biggest Bluegrass Band Extravaganza’. Frank stepped on stage with his bones and joined others in several renditions of familiar bluegrass songs, including ♫ ‘Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms’ ♫.

Our volunteer service was greatly rewarded with new friendships, rekindling of familiar love and a new understanding of music.

Coombs Has It All

Volunteers at Bluegrass Festival

Friends Enjoy Music

Frank Features His Bones

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What We Learnt at the MusicFest

Big White At The Gate
 On Wednesday, July 9, my husband and I arrived at the Vancouver Island Music Festival in Courtenay, British Columbia. We parked Big White, our small motor home, in the volunteer campground and strolled over to one of the tents to receive our identification pass and wristband.

We had volunteered for the 1200 hour to 0600 time slot with the Camping Grounds Security crew. I had convinced Frank that the midnight shift was best for me because of my intolerance for the hot sun. We attended a short training session where we learnt our first duty: Observe and Report.

On our first night at Gate 4, located on the north end of the large festival property, we learnt to wear several layers of clothing in order to make it through the peak hours of the morning. There was no campfire to warm us and the frost soaked through our limited cover of clothing searching for skin. The only activity that evening was a person staggering from the gate to his trailer. He whistled and hummed the whole way.

Thursday in those early morning hours was calm at our Gate 1 assignment. One person chose to stagger out of the campground into the pitch black. We suggested that he be careful but never saw him return through the gate on our watch. Throughout the break of dawn, we were serenaded by a group of talented musicians and singers. With tired eyes, the band dispersed and made their way to bed.

On Friday, we tended two entrance ways. We guarded Gate 2 first which give us an opportunity to scan the hologram markings on the MusicFest attendee’s wristband. Some of the folks wrapped the identifier around their ankles which meant they had to lift their leg for Frank to get at the marker. Later that morning, we shared whispered conversations with official security guards at Gate 1.

We slept well during the late part of the morning in Big White and spent many hours that afternoon, evening and for the rest of the time, enjoying the music, people-watching and taking in the various scents wafting our way. We were protected from the sun's scorching rays by the shade tents scattered throughout the property. We learnt that we didn’t have to be in the front row to hear the great sounds emanating from the oversized speakers.

We learnt that we want to volunteer for the MusicFest again next year.

First Night On Security

MusicFest Volunteer Campsite