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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Pullover...there’s the castle!

This morning I was up just before the sun rose over Fanny Bay. I was able to capture the fishermen waiting for the fishing boat to come and pick them up.

I love the reflection of the clouds in the water, with the fisherman waiting patiently in the early morning.

Today was my strength training day in Courtenay and today my trainer decided to “amp up” the program! I’m definitely getting stronger, but today he really killed me. We were past our hour session and he was still having me do some new exercises when I actually said “Isn’t our time up?” I had a call booked with my former boss at noon so I really did need to get out of the gym, but I was looking for a way to get away from my torturer!

After taking my call in the Thrifty grocery store parking lot, while Richard stopped into Starbucks for a coffee, we headed into Thrifty to do some groceries. It’s such a nice experience going to a grocery store during the week and not having to line up or worry about the store being busy! We have been collecting the Thrifty stamps from our groceries and today we had enough stamps to get our new knife! Woohoo!

Not a bad knife for $11.99! We have to buy groceries anyway, so for the past few weeks we have been focused on buying them from Thrifty Foods (aka Sobeys) and now we have a new knife. When we set off in Newman for the winter, I had purchased a knife set that had safety covers on each knife, but they are not the best knives, and I was missing a good knife for food prep. Now we have this beauty and I like the price too. We will see what the quality is like, since I’m not sure it will not be like our our Wusthof knives we have back home or in Florida, but its better than what we had been using! Santoku means “the three virtues“ or “three uses” which are: chopping, dicing and mincing. The Santoku knife is very adept at creating very thin slices of food, which improves the aesthetics of finished dishes. The knife is best used for cutting meat, slicing cheese, chopping or dicing fruits, creating fine slices of vegetables or nuts, and mincing meat or herbs. A Santoku knife is slightly shorter in length compared to a chef’s knife and possesses a seamless handle-to-blade design. We’ll see how it works tonight as we make stir fry beef and veggies in our wok!

It was about 1pm and we needed to find somewhere to have lunch. We remembered there was a spot we wanted to check out near George’s in Courtenay. As we were driving over the 5th street bridge in Courtenay didn’t we see another food truck in the parking lot of Lewis Park! We had to pull in and check this spot out.

Rove Wandering kitchen located in Lewis Park.

Toting an exterior of gunpowder grey with gold rivets, the eye-catching truck is a long-anticipated dream of twins Devon and Travis Shute. Born and raised in the Comox Valley, the Shute brothers have many skills from diverse backgrounds in the restaurant industry. Devon was previous sous-chef at Atlas Cafe (a spot we have to check out still that my hairdresser recommended) and executive chef at Avenue Bistro. He is a culinary artist who creates fresh, seasonally-inspired dishes with a gourmet twist-flavours that are bright and unique to the Comox Valley. Travis has worked in local restaurants, mostly bar tending at the Blackfin Pub for nearly a decade. Their wandering kitchen features a wandering menu as the made-from-scratch offerings change with the seasons. Their goal is to offer people restaurant quality food at takeout prices.

Richard chose the Winter Butternut squash salad with goat cheese, pumpkin seeds and bacon lardons, while I decided I would have the bone broth for a lighter meal.

Winter butternut squash salad

Bone broth with fresh thyme and scallions. Delicious! A perfect meal to have after a strenuous workout!

After we received our food, we drove around Lewis Park to find a picnic table to eat our lunch on. We still can’t get over the fact we are able to have a picnic at +7C in January and we aren’t freezing sitting out enjoying our lunch.

Picnic in Lewis Park, Courtenay, B.C. January 18th, 2021!

Lewis Park in Courtenay is a 17.39 acre municipally-owned park located immediately to the east of the Courtenay River bridge. The Park is associated with its link to Courtenay’s early agricultural roots. From 1893-1957 the grounds were used for the annual Fall Fair, an important legacy that continues today. In WWII the Park served as temporary barracks for the ‘Fisherman’s Reserve’, who were crews of the Assault Craft which were moored at the Courtenay River Slough. The site was one of only two areas in Canada used for combined operations training and played a key role in the preparation for the defence of the west coast of Vancouver Island and future operations in Europe.

The spiritual value of Lewis Park is exemplified in the park’s two totem poles, which stand prominently at the park entrance, serving to grant peace to those who enter. These totems remain an important link to the area’s First Nations people.

Lewis Park is also valued for its picturesque setting and exceptional design. The park is uniquely configured to facilitate views of the Courtenay, Puntledge and Tsolum Rivers, which border the property. Initially owned by the Lewis family, the site was acquired by the City of Courtenay in 1928

Horseshoe pits and tennis courts, Lewis Park.

We left Lewis Park in search of a bakery in Courtenay. We had yet to find a true old fashioned bakery in this town.

We made a stop at Frankie Jo’s in downtown Courtenay and while it wasn’t what we were looking for exactly, we still bought a slice of key lime pie square and lemon coconut macaroon tart. We will be having them for our dessert this evening!

We really didn’t feel up to a hike today after the last two crazy days of hiking. Even my strength trainer was pretty impressed by how much I could still do after our hikes on steroids!

We decided to drive down a road north of Courtenay to see if we could get to the Comox Lakes Bluffs Ecological Reserve, which overlooks Comox Lake.

Unfortunately the road we were on heading for the Bluffs turned into a very badly potholed, logging road, so we had to turn back. We didn’t want to lose Jerry in the potholes. In fact Jerry already has some road wear & tear.

Somewhere along the road from home to B.C., Jerry lost the front signal lense cover. We think it might have happened in Alberta where we were on the worst roads we had ever seen. We tried a few days ago at a wreckers in Coombs to get a new cover, but they didn’t have a 2010 Jeep Compass wreck out in their back yard. Richard being the persistent man that he is kept calling around and today he finally found what we need up in Campbell River. For $35 we will have a ‘new’ unit to replace the one that we lost and Jerry will be back to looking spiffy! I think we will drive up there on Wednesday this week to pick up the lense cover.

Heading back towards Courtenay to find our way home, I saw on google maps that ‘Drac’s Castle/Kastle was coming up. I had Richard pull over so I could go and explore the ‘castle’.

Drac’s Castle/Kastle.

Inside the Castle/Kastle.

Drac’s Kastle/Castle in Merville.

In 1922 Merville had a great fire, which was an apocalypse to those whose lives were consumed in the fiery hell. The remains now known as Drac’s Kastle/Castle were once a sawmill/power station for the logging, sawmill town of Merville. In the 1920’s five diesel engines roared 24/7 to keep the occupants in electricity in their new homes, until the fire silenced them forever. The powerhouse’s roof burned off, leaving concrete floors and walls and some old wooden window frames up high where the fire did not reach. The powerhouse became the playground for children living in the area. It was a castle, a fort and a place of fantasy and theatrical delight. In the past number of years, it has become a place that harbours some of the finest graffiti work by local unknown artists.

Archways framing the forest of Drac’s Castle/Kastle.

Remains of Drac’s Castle/Kastle

Graffiti on Drac’s Castle/Kastle.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I like photographing graffiti in whatever foreign city we are in.

We were in Arles, France when I took this picture with my iPhone...I was having a hard time staying with the tour on our River Cruise! This graffiti reminded me so much of the famous graffiti artist “Banksy” that I had to take this photo and have a large wall print made of it. This photo graced my condo in Toronto for the past 3 years while I lived and worked there. It’s amazing how taking one photo can take you back to the moment when you took the shot!

After meandering through the back roads of Courtenay to get to the main Hwy 19, we headed back to Fanny Bay.

As we got off the highway in Buckley Bay, Richard says “Hey, check out who is in front of us going down the Coastal Hwy!”.

St. Steve!

Imagine, of all the people who we know on Vancouver Island, that our timing would be so perfect as to have St. Steve and his wife Karen in front of us heading down the highway!

St. Steve realized that we were behind him, so he stopped in for a visit at our RV park.

Richard had been on a Facebook Newmar owners group in the past few days and found a guy in Yarmouth, N.S. who has the same model and year of RV as us. Doesn’t the guy in Yarmouth also know St. Steve! So Richard was recounting to St. Steve about this guy and they were recalling how he knew the guy in Yarmouth. What a small world! It was really nice to catch up for a visit outside. It’s sad we can’t visit indoors though as we were both pretty chilled as we got back inside Newman for the day.

The temperature is definitely cooling down here over the next 10 days. Highs are only going to be +3C and the lows are going to go to -4C. Yikes. Good thing the propane truck from Viper Fuels if finally coming tomorrow! We will be golfing in Qualicum Beach tomorrow so our neighbour Jim will be managing our propane fill up in Newman. It’s good to have great neighbours!

On a sad note, we found out today that the Manager of the Winn Dixie in our hometown in Plant City, Florida died of Covid 19 today. He and his family got together for Christmas and his granddaughter unbeknownst to them had Covid, he caught it and after 17 days in hospital, he succumbed to Covid. He was such a nice man, always greeting us when we were visiting the store the few times we were in Florida each year. We need to be vigilant...the vaccine is coming and we will get through this together. Stay safe everyone!

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