Part 2: Next it was time to head off again and drive towards Port Alberni, we took the Bamfield road and then continued on towards port Alberni instead of taking the turn to Bamfield. I decided at this point to go on a wild goose chase, and the details of which could probably fill a blog on its own. But I will simply give you the flash briefing, on the drive there is a reported B-24 Liberator crash site that came down in 1944, backroads map book gives a very brief directions on how to get there and I didnt have the GPS coordinates of the site, so bearing in mind these important facts.

  • There has been no phone signal since I left Youbou
  • Its pouring with rain (not a light drizzle)
  • I am following some vague directions I read in a book

With that I turn off the main road towards flora lake and I think I take the correct road that leads up the mountain, unfortunately the road has not been maintained for years and has washed away in part so I was forced to park the car and continue on foot. The dogs were not impressed, the rain was falling so heavy at this point I couldn’t even look up properly and the wind had picked up, I left all my electronics in the car and started up the mountain. I probably should have turned back much sooner, but I am very stubborn.

Eventually when I was literally dragging my 2x dogs up the mountain so much so that my arm was permanently held behind me as the trudged behind on the lead that I decided to call it a day and return to the car. I did not find the site, but after further research it definitely DOES exist and I do have the coordinates now (I was on the right mountain) and will be making the trip again, very very soon. On the positive side, I did see an elk 🙂

After my wild goose chase detour we continued on to our camp for the night, just south of Port alberni, China Creek Campground. The road gets pretty bad here, there are a lot of potholes and it’s a very busy logging road so many trucks, and traffic flying up and down. If you do drive down here especially during the week, take care and remember to give way to industrial traffic.

We pulled into the campground and the rain stopped for an hour or 2, all 3 of us were so wet and so was most of the gear at this point. I got the tent up quickly before it rained again and found some matches to start a fire and get the stove going. I had packed 2x steaks, ideally for 2x different meals but the first one was so good it didn’t hit the sides, so I cooked the second one which went down just as quickly.

A nice hot shower as well and we had hit the reset button, it started raining again as I was going to bed and didnt stop all night, or while I packed camp down in the morning, or I as we set off for the day. The dogs are starting to no longer see the funny side to all this.

So today’s mission is a little different, I want to check a route out between port alberni and Lake comox, through the back roads. But I am also meeting up with my rugby club that I recently joined as they weirdly have a fixture in Cumberland. So the plan is check the route, don’t get lost, don’t breakdown and make it to the game on time.

Filled up on gas and we were out of port alberni by 8am and on the road towards the first potential route, 16kms out of town and I turn off of the tarmac and onto gravel roads again but it was short lived, I hadn’t even gone a kilometer before I came to a locked gate across and no access allowed. Backroads mapbooks do a great job of updating where the gates are but new ones are installed all the time, which is the exact reason we do these recon trips.

I turned around and off we went to option number 2, and 45 minutes lost, but option number 2 proved a dead end as well, 12 kms in and we hit another gate, also not on the map. With the time pressure now on I made the decision to turn around and head back the way we came and to take the paved option along the Hwy4 to the 19 and up the east coast. Luckily I made it in time, the rest of the team were already there – again this is probably a blog post all on its own and not related to our business so I will again just give the flash briefing.

  • It had rained all the way up the highway
  • The temperature dropped to around 4 degree C
  • It started raining even harder as we left the changing rooms
  • My legs, hand and arms we so cold they were numb
  • Around half time, it managed to rain even harder, the wind picked up and it started to hail as well 🙂
  • Plus we lost

I had a fantastic time!

Part 3 …..coming soon.

I recently went on a short excursion to test out some of the routes we will be offering this season and to check road conditions to the various camps – we don’t recommend any unpaved roads to clients that we haven’t personally driven and you will see why this is so important.

 

Myself (sam), Roxy and Maverick all piled into Roxanne, with all our gear, beer and food and headed out of Victoria, I was hoping to miss the rush hour traffic out of Victoria but unfortunately this was not to be, nothing more frustrating than sitting in stand still traffic. Finally once out past the sooke turning it was smooth sailing all the way to duncan whereby we turned off HWY 1 onto the 18.

A short drive down here and we were at Cowichan Lake, as we had left in the afternoon, we didn’t hang around too long but we do strongly suggest taking the time to have a wander around. A quick re-fill on gas to make sure we were 100% full before heading off into the backcountry.

After Cowichan lake we passed through Youbou and here you will see a sign ‘’End of guided roads’’ and the last of the paved roads for a few days. It was dirt and gravel logging/industrial roads from here.

Just before dusk we pulled into Nitnat lake campground. Parked the car and let the dogs out, cracked a beer and took a nice walk along the beach as the sun settled behind the mountains. Once back at the car, I set up the camp and went to start dinner, I packed in a rush as I was looking after our 8 month old daughter during the day and she wasn’t in a helping daddy pack the car mood, seems I made a serious schoolboy error and forgot the matches/lighter – which I would love to say is the first and only time I have done it, but it isn’t. No hot dinner for me tonight :(. During the night it started raining, and it wouldn’t stop raining until I was an hours drive from home……in a few days time 🙁

Here’s our 10 ten favourite camping meals – Let us know if you want any of our favourite recipes, we can even pre-stock ingredients into your vehicle for you.

10: Hot dogs

Of course – this quick and easy meal is perfect for that late arrival into camp where you just need some food. Whether you prefer the canned hotdog or grilled over some coals/fire these can be easily spiced up with some preserved condiments. Personally I love mustard, saukraut and a sprinkle of crushed nachos to add some crunch.

9: Chicken Fajitas.

Any quick and easy favourite – perfect because it can be cooked over a fire, stove or charcoals in 1 pot. If you have a fridge, sour cream, guacamole and salsa are all easy extras – even without them fajitas are a create quick and easy meal for a group or couple.

8: Bacon Sandwich

Mmmmm nothing beats the smell of cooking bacon in the morning.

7: Tuna Salad

Tuna is great because it’s easy to carry – doesn’t need refrigeration and pretty versatile. Whether you are mixing it with pasta and some veggies or a leafy green salad it’s a great light lunch.

6: Smores/Roasted marshmallows

I don’t know if smores count as a meal – but they should be on any camping food related list.

5: Baked potato

I personally bake my potatoes before a weekend trip and just warm them in the fire – but you can easily wrap them in foil and cook when you are there. It can be topped with anything from baked beans, tuna to chilli.

4:Chilli

A great hearty one pot meal – served with either bread, on  a baked potato (See No. 5) or with rice.

3: Stew/Poiktje

Especially for when the nights get cooler, a thick hearty stew is the best. I prefer steak, red wine, carrots, mushrooms, stock and various goodies cooked in a cast iron pot over the fire – start this at lunchtime and you will have a mouth watering perfection come dinner time.

2: Skottel Breakfast

I dont travel without the skottel add-on to our gas cylinder – see the main picture. We cook our entire full breakfast on there – which usually always prompts the debate – Sam do we need to cook all that food, its just us. Yes, yes we do.

1: The Braai, BBQ,

No matter what part of the world you’re from and what you call it. My all time favourite way of cooking when camping is over an open fire or charcoal and grill meat, kebabs and other assorted goodies. Its a great social time and I always insist that its a group commitment, whether tending the fire, turning the meat or just keeping the others entertained with beer and conversation.

Malawi to Botswana
Overland

Possibly one of my favourite road trips to date.

As always we were just in the right place at the right time, we got a call from one of the operators in the region to see if we could relocate one of their vehicles from Malawi to Botswana. We had just got back from a trip and catching up with work with FarOut Property, but this was too good to pass up so we jumped on it.

She was a gorgeous vehicle – A Toyota landcruiser – Absolutely in love with those beasts. Abbie got understandably concerned when I kept patting the dashboard and talking to her.

We decided to push all the way from Lilongwe to Lusaka in a day so as to have more time to play in the bush going through Zambia and Botswana. We stayed and caught up with old friends who had relocated there and hit the road again the next morning.

Next stop? Victoria Falls, we stayed at a campsite 10-15kms outside of livingstone in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist town.