Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Adventure 22- The Vancouver Island Visitor Info Center

Nice face Natalie
We watched over the past year as this unusual new building was constructed on the Comox Valley Parkway, the four lane route that travels from Cumberland to Courtenay and acts as a collector road for folks travelling north and south along the Inland Island Highway. This unique building, that be were aware of as the Vancouver Island Visitor Info Center, looked like a old style water storage tank. It has horizontal yellow cedar straps running the circumference of the circular structure. I had seen pictures of the center in the newspaper and the internet so I was a little bit prepared for what was inside this place. Natalie had already taken a tour through with her class, so she was to be our guide for the adventure. We brought her friend Hanna along once again for this Sunday tradition.
My girl in blue
I had been wracking my brain since Natalie had learned to ride a bike to find a route into Courtenay on the bike with out travelling along the busy four lane. A flash came to me a couple weeks ago. A dirt road travels up along the fence line of the Emcon maintenance yard along Royston road. I figured that there must be some way to get to Small road, where the Info Center is located, which ties into Minto road, which would lead us on a rural route down into Courtenay. I stopped by the Emcon yard on Friday on my way home to scope out the area. To my excitement the road leads up to an easy to cross fence line(with a bike anyways) and carries on into the back of Slegg Lumber. I figured we could just ride into the parking lot of Slegg, cycle out and straight down to the Visitor info. That plan almost worked to perfection.
Tough going
Natalie, Hanna and I left after eating a tasty Paleo breakfast. I have an interesting recipe for pancakes that mostly follow the guidelines of the movement, and they are really yummy, along with some local free-range eggs and Tanadice Farms bacon. Great morning. We rolled out to cloudy skies and a little chill in the air. This spring has been very unpredictable. Praying for no rain we headed down Derwent avenue, across to Ulverston avenue, along the gravel portion through the industrial park to Royston road. To the girls dismay we had to travel up to the highway overpass at Boulder hill. There was some moaning and I could understand. Hanna's bike is a BMX style with a single speed drive train. With little mechanical advantage she had to walk up the hill. Natalie crawled her way up most of the rise. We crossed the overpass, and I gave instruction on how to ascend the other side. Stay on your brakes, go slow, keep to the shoulder and don't over shoot where we have to turn. Fearless Hanna went off with out hesitation. I stayed out on the road a little bit to give cars more warning of our presence. We turned left onto the dirt road and traveled to the fence. We quickly slipped through the fence that is impenetrable to cars or quads, perfect for bikes. We rode into the back of Slegg lumber, and it was really quiet around there. I realized that Slegg was not open. Oh shoot, now what?
No Hanna.....
We rode around and noticed that we were locked in. Two gates were between us and Small road. Okay lets go check out another way. We went back out of the yard and found a double track that was quickly getting over grown, but passable, and we had to follow the fence line of the lumber yard to get around a large puddle. The girls wanted to ride through. I talked them down from that idea. We made it! Out on to Small road, and past the gate to Slegg. I realized that Slegg was closed on Sunday. Good to know now. We would have to take the back way to get home again, not the parking lot. Oh well, next time we will come on a Saturday.
Tah Dah
We coasted down the hill to the info center. The most stunning image on the outside of the site is the newly installed Snowbird looking like it is flying low over the parking lot. The Snowbirds are the famous aerial acrobatic team of the Canadian Air Force. They have been practicing each spring in Comox for as long as I can remember. They are iconic to the area. We passed under a beautiful First Nations sign welcoming guests, and into the center. The first building contains the information desk, gift shop and washrooms. Carry on into the dark circular structure, passing over the creek that flows through the building to a small pond outside. Nice feature.
No kayaking without a life jacket!
The showroom of the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island is well done. There are interactive displays, a large touch screen in the middle for finding information on the area, tree trunks, Vancouver Island marmots models, mountain bikes, live oysters, and a monstrous yellow cedar that is hollowed out with holes in it for children to look out of. Natalie had a scavenger hunt sheet from school to help discover different highlights in the display area. They had fun climbing and looking out of the yellow cedar. A cool kayak mock up, where you can stand in it and have your picture taken with a westcoast back drop, looking like you are actually paddling. I was quite impressed with the whole set up, after being a so cynical about the whole thing as it was being built.
You too!!
We were surprised to see that it had rained while we were in discovering. Luckily the bikes were undercover so the seats were dry. We ate out snack inside at the tables over looking the playground outside, with the faint trickle of the indoor brook as the back drop. After eating Natalie and Hanna went out to play for a short time, before I announced that it was time to cruise back. We pedaled out of the parking lot for the trip home. Over all we rode pretty close to ten kilometers. I was very happy with my company for the adventure this day. They did a great job riding and listening to my instructions.
Lets go home
 I recommend that you go and check out the Visitor Info center. It is really neat, and you might learn something new about the beautiful area that we live in. Find Adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! Didn't the girls go through the big puddle on the way home? Maybe if it was a warmer day!