Monday, July 28, 2008
COURTENAY — Another sunny day greeted us this morning at our seaside campground. We have had so little rain this trip, which has been a joy to us as tourists, but has caused local authorities to ban fires of any kind in most places. Even with the sun, though, we have rarely if at all felt actually hot.
Our destination today was the two cities of Courtenay and Comox, which co-exist much in the way Halifax and Dartmouth do, separated by a couple of bridges and the Courtenay River but very much involved with each other. We stopped at the visitor centre for some recommendations as to what to see in the area, and got some good advice. Right behind the visitor centre was a looped walkway that we took to see the waterfront condos that overlook a small air strip and the river that separates the two cities.
Courtenay has a lovely downtown, Fifth Street, where small shops line either side of the road, and the streetscape includes bright hanging flower baskets, benches, and slanted parking spaces for busy patrons. The buildings are all one storey high, so it has a nice bustling, small town feel.
The street culminates at one end in a bridge across to Comox, which we took and then turned along the waterfront on that side. That road is the town’s main street, and all the lampposts are painted blue and decorated with white triangular banners that look like the sails of boats all down the street. Brightly coloured flower beds line the curbs on either side. It’s lovely.
We turned toward the town’s marina and stopped to eat our lunch in the parking lot before taking a stroll to look at the many boats moored there, with rows of masts standing like soldiers side by side. I always enjoy reading the interesting names people give to their boats; we saw the Kathryn Gail, Nonsuch, and Obsession. There were other neat ones but I can’t remember them!
The municipality built a wide, raised boardwalk between the marina and the waterway with thick sturdy boards and railings that we walked along. There were memorial benches placed every few feet with little plaques. One noted that this was granddad’s favourite spot, and the bench was placed there by the family as a memorial.
We wanted to have a look at the Canadian Forces Base and its aviation museum. It was housed in a low building right next to the airfield, and we passed a number of old planes on display in the field near it, which we checked out afterward. Inside were displays from the two World Wars, with photos, posters, uniforms, badges and personal belongings from aviators of days gone by. An interesting booklet was on display from a nurse in the Second World War, who insisted that every patient had to write a message or draw a picture before he could be released from her care. There were some very artistic renderings of the soldier’s life, as well as silly poems and comments.
One section of the museum had a reproduction of an airport control tower from the early days, with all the old equipment and a diorama of the airfield set out beyond the slanted windows of the tower. It was well done.
We strolled around the airplanes on display outside, and Val took pictures of a Voodoo fighter, a MIG, a Starfighter and one of the planes used by the Snowbirds.
On our way back, we meandered through a couple of well-heeled neighbourhoods with beautiful landscaping and views of the snow-topped mountains across the water. We couldn’t get over the profusion and beauty of the many flowers that grow so well in this province. Anyone with even a hint of a green thumb can do wonderfully in a climate like this.
We enjoyed the fruits — literally — of one such green thumb at a roadside stand not far from our campground, where we picked up a container of local raspberries, BC cherries and some Okanagan peaches. The raspberries were our dessert after supper today, and we simply ate them straight out of the container till they were all gone. Absolutely delicious! We plan to stop by again on our way out tomorrow for more — and to try the local blueberries as well.