the Boyds' Northern Adventure

Trip Map


Vancouver Island

From Cobble Hill to Port Hardy. Scroll down to read our Journal.

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Sunday, July 11 - Cobble Hill to Courtenay Late in leaving by about three hours, we finally started… and promptly stopped. A large trailer has brakes that are activated by a brake controller in the tow vehicle. When the brake pedal is depressed, a light comes on the brake controller to indicate brake function. When we started to pull out of our driveway, the light came on once, but then stopped.

No brakes. Having had the experience on a previous trip of going down a steep hill, losing brake function, and taking an unexpected trip up a runaway lane, I didn’t look forward to the prospect of a potential repeat of that experience. So we stopped at a garage at about 5 o’clock on a Sunday evening, wondering if we were, in fact, going to leave that day. The mechanic was in a rush to go, but at least he tracked the fault to a wire broken somewhere between the engine compartment and the trailer hitch, and sent me on my way to the RV sales lot across the street. Fortunately, the owner was a decent mechanic and had the problem solved in short order. A wire had been rubbing against the trailer hitch and had worn through, letting moisture in which caused oxidation and ate the wire away. The last strands had given way when we pulled out – better in our driveway than on a runaway lane. He spliced it and received a $20 contribution to his beer fund for his efforts.

We drove to a small RV park just north of Courtenay that was located right on the water. It was dark by the time we got there, and as we drove in, the first thing we saw was a cruise ship, lit up like a Christmas tree, sailing past. It was really spectacular, and just the first of a few that were to follow.

Monday, July 12 - Courtenay to Port Hardy We spent the morning on the beach. The boys turned over rocks in search of little crabs, collecting them in a bucket until the novelty wore off. Letting them go, I watched as the boys sent dozens of them scurrying off in all directions. As I sat there, I was reminded of the times we spent at Beachcomber RV between Cordova Bay and Sidney. For three years, we parked the trailer there from April to October, going out on weekends until school was out (those were pre-homeschool days) and living there full time in the summer, with me commuting in to work each week day. Looking back, those were precious times for Anne and me and the boys, with lots of memories for us and for family and friends.

North of Campbell River, it was back to the old highway. Rather than the four-lane divided Inland Island Highway, it was just two lanes. There wasn’t much traffic, though, so we could keep up a pretty good pace. Average pulling the trailer is around 85 km/hr.

The further north we traveled, the more the wilderness closed in around us. It was incredible to see this expanse of trees as far as you could see on either side of the highway, and then up the sides of the mountains. I thought of a friend who had visited us recently, bringing with him a slide show of his camel trek through the Sudan to Egypt. The land there was so barren and desolate and unforgiving. Somebody growing up there, transplanted to our lush greenery, just wouldn’t believe it – they’d think it not possible to have so much colour. Our beekeeping friends would also be struck by the fields of fireweed at the side of the road and on the mountainsides.

For part of the day, we were entertained by Captain Jack Sparrow and friends. I had bought a portable DVD player that was perched on the console between the front seats. The boys got to look and listen; I just listened.

We arrived in Port Hardy in time to make a late dinner. The boys were particularly eager to finish dinner and clean up, as the RV park had mini-golf. Dad enjoyed it too. Tomorrow, it’s up at 5:30am to get to the ferry terminal.