to the Pacific and back again, part 3

Continued from part 2

And so it is a very relaxing vacation, with one glorious view after the other to savour. The weather varies, and creates magic on both cloudy and sunny days.

 another Storm Break! Hurrah!!

another Storm Break! Hurrah!!


various shades of grey

various shades of grey


driftwood gathering at Wickanninish Beach

driftwood gathering at Wickanninish Beach


At the tip of Pettinger Point along the northern edge of Cox Bay there is a rock which has a crack in it, resembling the mouth of a giant creature.

looking like a giant sea creature

looking like a giant sea creature

The first time I saw this fissure was a few years ago, when it was just a minor crack visible at sunset during a low tide, however it has been growing rapidly over the years and is now visible all the time, unless momentarily covered by the pounding surf or during a very high tide.
another wave crashes onto the rock, momentarily hiding the "creature's mouth"

another wave crashes onto the rock, momentarily hiding the “creature’s mouth”

glorious view of Wickanninish Beach from the platform at the Visitor Centre

view of driftwood and Krummholz at Wickanninish Beach from the platform at the Visitor Centre

If it looks like the tree above is on the wrong side of the railing, it is not. A number of giant Sitka Spruce trees had long since taken up residence well before the visitor centre was built, and so the platform was built around the trees, their trunks emerging as if from the deck although they extend down to the ground below from where their roots work hard at keeping them anchored as well as providing nourishment to the branches above.

the tide rolling in

the tide rolling in

Most days it was cool, but frequently sunny, causing the tide-tossed algae to cast a shadow on the sand.

tiny shadows

tiny shadows

Miles and miles of almost-empty beach.

the vastness of Wickanninish Beach

the vastness of miles and miles and miles of Wickanninish Beach

Such is the vast wonder of Wickanninish. Regardless of the weather, this view is still my favourite on the planet so far.

Sunsets are anything but predictable. They can be brilliant or subtle, or they can be a no-show. But not today. The sun is setting on a cloudbank which looms above the western horizon.

the sun on a cloudbank

the sun on a cloudbank

The restless surf continues to pound, as wave after wave rolls toward the shore. Some moments are simply timeless in their beauty…. Abba you sure are an artist!

And so ends another day….

And then the last morning of our stay at the Pacific arrives. There is time for just one more walk on the beach and a Farewell to Cox Bay.

Farewell Cox Bay!

Farewell Cox Bay!

The car is packed, and we head home again. The fresh snow which recently fell on the shores of the Pacific was but a fraction of the new blanket which has covered the mountains. These are some of the views we are enjoying on our journey back along Highway 4, eastwards towards the ferry terminal in Departure Bay, Nanaimo.

a fresh blanket of snow

a fresh blanket of snow

One beautiful vista after another comes into view. Our time at the Pacific west coast may be over, but our vacation surely is not.


We stop at an official rest stop, Taylor Arm, where a cheeky Stellar’s Jay hides in a tree just as my camera gets ready to click. However the lack of foliage makes it easy to capture an image anyhow. There are mixed feelings about this delightful bird which can be a nuisance to farmers since it manages to get into the chicken feed. But it has beautiful colouring and I enjoy the challenge of trying to photograph it, even though it moves very fast.

It is the official bird of the Province of British Columbia, incidentally.

in hiding - but far from hidden

in hiding – but far from hidden

how glorious is this!

how glorious is this!

It has been said that the journey is already part of the destination. How true it is. We are surrounded by sheer eye candy as we continue ever westwards.

driving through Cathedral Grove

driving through Cathedral Grove


Before long it is time to board the ferry which will take us back to Vancouver. It will actually take us only as far as West Vancouver, and from there we will continue driving home. But there is something about disembarking on the other side. Something that feels like home.

view of the mainland from the ferry between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver

view of the mainland from the ferry enroute to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver

This has been our road trip to the Pacific, and back again in 2010. The vacation is over, but life awaits. Looking forward to the next adventure!

All images captured April 2010.


to the Pacific and back again, part 2

continued from part 1

Highway 4 was originally constructed as a route for logging trucks. It is full of twists and turns, and it often hugs the edge of a cliff. The views are stunning, yet the road can be treacherous. It is not for the faint of heart and the best way to travel here is slow. Even those familiar with its tricky corners usually exercise caution, and for good reason.

Some six months later a tragic single vehicle accident will end up costing the life of two paramedics on this very highway as it passes Kennedy Lake. They had just transported a patient to Port Alberni to the east, and on their return trip to Tofino, the ambulance they are travelling will end up plunging down 60 meters into the water below.

The story feels close to home when we hear of it, as it is a road we have travelled time and again in a part of the world that is incredibly beautiful. Yet in some stretches it is very narrow, with an unforgiving solid rock wall to the right, eastbound and a sheer drop-off to right, westbound. Something we have always noted. And in the trips since that tragic accident, as we drive here, we frequently comment on how little navigating room there is if an oncoming vehicle or wild animal would suddenly appear in our lane, and the tragedy comes to mind again.

Some of the footage in the following news clip includes scenes of the roadway, and you can see just how narrow and edge-of-the-cliff-hugging it really is.


Such a sad story. In the meantime, some of the exposed embankments have been reinforced and road improvement projects are ongoing.

This tragic event had not yet happened, however. Even so, many warning signs about sharp curves ahead and slowing down accompany us as we continue westwards until we reach one of my favourite parts of the roadway: a junction.

Turning left, and to the south, takes you to Ucluelet, a logging and fishing community with many charms of its own. However turning right, and to the north, takes you to Tofino and to the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean itself. We turn right.

And we turn in at our regular, favourite home on the beach, Pacific Sands, a family run place which really feels like a home away from home. There is some well-maintained landscaping with gardens which had have been lovingly created by the original owner who has since passed away. Throughout the grounds there is also an abundance of naturally occurring shrubs and trees, in keeping with the original gardening plans. A fresh new salmonberry blossom outside the office is in bloom right next to the remnant of one of last year’s berries.


We have a room with a view. The room is comfortable, but almost as importantly, here’s our view….


Note the puddles accumulating on the pathways to the beach from one of the many rainfalls…. However, the clouds are breaking up towards the west. Clear skies are surely on their way soon. The tide is high and the air is thick with the smell of salt. And the roar of the ocean….. it really is as incredible as all this.

Introducing one of our many neighbours at Pacific Sands. The rains bring the dew worms and other bugs to the surface, and the robins enjoy their spring feast.


We usually buy our bread at the Common Loaf in Tofino. Their Three-Grain is my favourite.

Across the street from the bakery there is a small memorial garden. A hydrangea blossom is in bloom there, and its leaves are fresh and green. So it is actually hard to tell if it is a remnant from last season or if spring has come early.


But of course, the main attraction in this corner of the planet is the beauty and the roar of the Pacific which are still as awe-inspiring as ever….


Our first morning begins with brilliant sunshine above us, but a dark sky is looming in the west across the Pacific. One of many storms is on its way…..


Another morning holds a surprise for us – there is snow on the ground! I think the tulips in the garden are in a bit of a shock, but they continue blooming stoicly.


I have never seen snow in Tofino before. But then it is the first week of April, probably the earliest time of the year I have been here. Even so, local reports indicate that snow is a lot less common there than it is in Vancouver.

After breakfast a walk on the beach reveals some snow on the driftwood. It is rapidly melting in the morning sunlight, but even so the sight is most unusual. It is so unusual, that the previous two sentences appeared with exclamation marks, but that seemed overkill, so they have been converted to periods instead. But for the record, it is a very rare sight indeed.


The local mountains are also displaying a fresh blanket of snow. It may be spring, but winter is obviously rather reluctant to make its retreat this year.


The snow up there does not melt like the snow on the driftwood, and they are the mountains we will be passing through on our return journey home. But not yet.

We are still enjoying our time on the western edge of Vancouver Island. Many storms come and go. One day about halfway through our stay, this is as close to a clearing sky as we would get ….

It is indeed another storm beginning to clear, yet another one would come overnight.


But of course, all the stormy weather did not stop us from enjoying the great outdoors. There were others who felt the same way, such as some crows which appeared in a previous post. To get there, just click on the image below and you will find a series of three photo images at Cox Bay. And clicking on the third of the three images there will take you back to this post.
treasure seekers

There are certainly treasures to be found here. A rather common sight here at Cox Bay is the appearance of sand dollars. Years ago, when we first stayed at Pacific sands, there was a photo on display in our living room of a beach strewn with these treasures. My first impression was that somebody must have arranged them for the photo. However, it turns out that after a storm, many of them are tossed onto the sand, and it is a very typical scene indeed.


Even the broken ones have a charm all their own.


The beach is vast, and often it feels like you have it to yourself. Yet there are a few others out here, some with their dogs who don’t seem to let the cool temperatures dampen their fun at all.


Eagles are at home here, too. Beyond the surf on nearby Lennard Island, an eagle is guarding its nest. An aerie it is called. The quality of the inset image is unfortunately very grainy, but that is how it was captured, and it does reveal details which the landscape view does not. So it is included here in this collection.


The weather varies greatly, as winter and spring duke it out between them. Here is a sunny bench with a view.


It was a bench such as this that my beloved Tante Ulla enjoyed so much on her visit here in October 2008. Somehow to see the benches here again reminds me of her, and I smile as I remember how much she enjoyed her time here. And the view from the bench is of course sheer eye candy, even on a cloudy day.


all images captured April 2010
to be concluded in the next post

weekly photo challenge :: window

Last summer found me in Germany, and one of the places I visited was Blaubeuren, home of the locally famous Blautopf. It is probably more widely known than that, however this was a first for me, and I found it quite fascinating. More images and details on that in a previous post over at pix & kardz.

Beyond the mystery of the deep blue water, however, the the town itself houses some rather extraordinary architecture, spanning a history of many centuries. Some is well maintained, and some is showing the passage of time. Here are a few windows captured in various locations in Blaubeuren.

P1060229 blaubeuren

P1060232 blaubeuren

P1060233 blaubeuren

P1060240 blaubeuren

P1060244 blaubeuren

P1060247 blaubeuren

P1060255 blaubeuren

P1060264 blaubeuren

P1060266 blaubeuren

P1060306 blaubeuren

P1060333 blaubeuren

P1060400 (750x422)

P1060421 blaubeuren

Weekly Photo Challenge :: Window

For more windows posted by bloggers from around the world, click here.

a quest for tulips

During the month of April, the Skagit valley in northwestern Washington – the other Washington, which finds itself on the west coast of the USA – puts on a spectacular display of tulips. Many farms participate and I have had the opportunity to see them in their prime, many years ago before I had a digital camera.

But the digital camera status has since changed, and last weekend – which was the first weekend of May – a couple of friends and I decided to go on a quest for tulips. It had not been possible for us to make the road trip during April, but now, a few days later, we all had the time, and off we went, south of the border.

The wait at the border wasn’t as long as anticipated, which is always nice, and finally we found ourselves on the I-5, heading south.01 roadtrip

We stop for breakfast in Mt Vernon, a town with its famous landmark, a smokestack which is painted to look like a tulip.
02 breakfast at the Calico Cupboard

03 inside the Calico Cupboard

04 the first tulip sighting
After breakfast, the two who are skilled with a map and a sense of orientation plan our route. My camera is with me, and off we go.
05 looking at the tulip map

06 the bridge to tulip land

07 the first field doesn't look very promising

However we persevere, and before long we see a sign that says nothing but, ‘Tulips’. We are headed in this direction anyhow, however it turns out that you cannot believe everything you read.
08 there is always hope
Onwards we go, heading towards La Conner, Washington.

to be continued

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008 (part 3)

Tale #4 :: a sad look back

Travel Tales, Germany 2008 - part 3

Travel Tales, Germany 2008 – part 3


Sometimes when you visit a place, you discover that there is a lot more to it than a travel brochure may reveal.

The town of Stühlingen has a prominent landmark that we have often seen from a distance as we were driving in the southern Black Forest area. Unmistakable, really, and not easily overlooked. So one day two friends and I decide to take the designated exit, and stop to take check it out. It would not be the first time we have made such a spontaneous stop, and each time it has been an adventure to discover a new place that none of us has been to before.
09 (640x470)

For once it is easy to find a free parking spot, and the car is parked in a quiet square. We set out to explore, our cameras in tow. One of the first buildings to catch our eye is a hotel with an imposing, ornate sign announcing its presence. A mural on the wall depicts a thriving and busy community, in direct contrast to the silence echoing around us.
09 a

In the middle of the square is a typical town well, surrounded by flowers. Often such a well has its own distinct flair. This one has a very silly-looking frog comfortably reclining and basking in whatever weather there happens to be. It is a good day today – lots of sunshine.

09 b

We walk to the perimeter of the square, a square which seems strangely quiet indeed, and read the history which is painted on some of the walls.
09 c
City of Stielingen (an alternate spelling appears painted on the wall)
1262 – first named a city
1499 – destruction in the Swiss war
1524 – the peasant war starts here
1639 – 1723 Residence of the Prince
Until 1828 the Lower Gate was located here

Did I mention it is quiet here? Very quiet. Everything is tidy and neat. There is not a speck of litter to be seen. There are flower boxes at many of the windows. And it does not surprise us to see a tree surrounded by a garden in the middle of the square, near the well. However, on a closer look, it turns out that this is no ordinary garden.

Beneath the tree is a plaque standing next to a broken grave marker – a grave marker from a former Jewish cemetery. The plaque indicates that it is from the 16th or 17th Century, and that this square was part of a former “Judenwinkel”, or a Jewish quarter, where Jewish citizens were obligated to live.
11 (640x480)
Continuing with the facts, the plaque goes on to say that the cemetery soon became forgotten, following the expulsion of the members of the Jewish community in 1743. Cold facts, etched on a plaque. The story intrigues and saddens me. My friends and I have stopped chatting as we spend a few more moments in this square which enshrines a terrible history.

Not far from the Jewish memorial, some flowers grow in a pot outside an unassuming house. A plaque is attached near the doorway.
12 (640x480)
The plaque says, in the German language: The former residence of a rabbi once stood here, in one of the most prominent Jewish communities in South Baden. Around 1680, Moses Meir added on a synagogue. His grandson, Natanael Weil (born 1687 in Stuehlingen, died 1769 in Rastatt) would one day be a famous head rabbi among the Jews in Baden. In 1743 all Jewish people were expelled by the local prince.
A few more signs and plaques make reference to the former prominent Jewish community that once thrived here.
09 d

Up until the middle of the 18th Century AD, the Jewish community of Stühlingen is one of the most prominent in all of southern Baden. The most prominent member of the Jewish community born in Stühlingen itself was Nathanael Weil, who was born in 1687. His grandfather had built a new synagogue. Nathanael was only 5 years old when both his father and brother were murdered.

After studying the Talmud, Nathanael became a Rabbi in Offenbach, and later Rabbi in the Black Forest District, and later still a head Rabbi of the Jewish community of Baden. His remarkable personality and unique teaching skills were appreciated by all. On May 7, 1769 he died in Rastatt. His funeral was a large solemn, festive affair and he was buried in the Jewish cemetery of Karlsruhe. In all the synagoges throughout Europe special days of fasting and prayer, with mourning and celebration and sermons of repentance were held in his honour. And then, allegedly, on the 1st of April in 1773, all Jewish citizens were expelled from Stühlingen by the local prince.

Since 1774 there have been no Jewish citizens resident in Stühlingen.

No reasons, no explanations, and oddly enough, no apologies. Just the facts. And yet, there must be so many untold stories of life and hope, joys and celebrations, dreams and plans, sorrow, hardship, mistreatment, racism and things gone horribly, horribly wrong. Untold, yet on silent display, the memorial garden and the signs stand guard, celebrating the lives of those who once lived here so long ago.

13 a

And just a few steps away from the square is a short wall overlooking a splendid, peaceful view of the Black Forest, the terrible history we have just discovered, appearing somehow impossibly remote and far removed. And just as silent as all its brochures are on this bleak chapter we have just encountered, the Black Forest itself appears quiet and calm, hiding more than it reveals at first glance. We are having a hard time wrapping our minds around this sad story. It has been good to be here, to be informed, to take it all in.

But now it is time to go again. We return to the car in silence and continue driving in the sunshine, each of us lost in our own thoughts. If we had entered the town from the other end, we may have never seen this spot.

Since this visit to Stühlingen, I have visited the southern Black Forest a number of times. I see the familiar landmark, and I remember the sad story found hidden within the town’s walls. The interesting thing about this place is that you can find out many of its tourist attractions and hotels when you search about it online, including the official website of the town itself. Wikipedia even has an article on it with a passing reference to the planting of the town tree in the Jewish quarter. But none of them seem to provide any information about the story of a long-ago Jewish community that once lived here.

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008 To be concluded in the next post

◆ story originally published October 2, 2012 ◆

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008 (part 2)

part 2

Travel Tales :: Germany 2008, part 2

Continuing with Tale #3

Beautiful Bavaria

One day, while on a road trip with friends, they arranged for a detour, unbeknownst to me. They knew that I had not yet seen the famous Neuschwanstein Castle before, and so they surprised me. As we were driving, I was enjoying the beautiful mountain vistas and capturing images until my camera battery ran out… Such stunning views.
06 Beautiful Bavaria (640x480)
Suddenly, before me, there it was! The unmistakable Neuschwanstein Castle, nestled among the mountains. What an incredible view! And there I was without a camera battery.
07 (640x480)
One of my friends who was driving, kindly loaned me a camera so that I could continue capturing images.

Neuschwanstein Castle

unforgettable view :: Neuschwanstein Castle

There it was, looking like a castle from a fairy tale. It was definitely one of the highlights of this trip to beautiful Bavaria.

To be continued

◆ originally published October 2, 2012 ◆

sometimes the changes are quicker than the plans

greetings from Germany clockwise from upper left :: church tower of St Veit Church, Waldenbuch – the most prominent feature of the market square; Cafe am Markt, Waldenbuch; Black Forest Vista; wildflower in the Black Forest 

If you have previously visited photojourneying, you will know that the reason this blog was started was because of Change. A change of ownership which involved a change of plans.

For almost five years, more than 4,000 of my images and their accompanying stories had been uploaded to a much-loved photo sharing website –, which was also home to more than 700 million other photos posted by some 32 million members.

My user name there was christianchen, and all was well and good. And fun! And then one day, an unexpected announcement was made that the ownership of Webshots had changed hands, and rather than continue with business as usual, there were plans in the works to shut down the site forever, and soon. The adage, that change is the only constant, was proving itself true.

And so it seemed like a practical idea to reinvent some of those photo stories in a blog rather than have them disappear from cyberspace altogether. More details on that big change can be found here.

It turned out that among the last set of photos posted there was a short collection of images from a trip to Germany in June/July last year (2012).

Highlights from that vacation include:

Departure from YVR
Vancouver’s somewhat green airport which has undergone much change and reconstruction and has since been found to be the top Canadian airport in two years of surveys.YVR

changeable weather
The weather was unpredictable, and rain showers in the early morning
03 early morning clouds
did not preclude sunshine and blue skies a few hours later.
04 late morning sunshine

Travelling into Times Past
One road trip brought us to a very old castle with a moat – with a foundation dating back to 1007 AD. What kind of changes it would have witnessed, and the stories it could tell if it could but speak….

castle dating back to 1007 AD

castle dating back to 1007 AD ~ Holzgerlingen, Germany

Timeless Moments
And yet, some moments seem timeless, such as the beauty of the Black Forest – flowering meadows, and the dark (black!) trees which dominate many of the scenic views.
06 once upon a meadow flower

unforgettable Black Forest

unforgettable Black Forest


Black Forest vistas

Black Forest vistas

Yes, that is a fox on the upper right. The sign on the lower right says, ‘Wutachtalblick’, or view of the Wutach Valley, which gets its name from the Wutach River.

◆ originally published August 19, 2012 ◆

Related Post
PostCard :: on track


All images in this post © photojourneying 2013
For more changes posted by bloggers from around the world, click here.

Tales of Travel, Germany 2008

Travel Tales :: Germany 2008, part 1

Travel Tales :: Germany 2008, part 1

As indicated recently, my first trip to Germany with a digital camera coincided with several travel adventures. None of them earth-shattering, and yet each of them a tale worth repeating. Some triggered smiles, others inspiration, and others reflection.

Here are the first two tales.

1) Max the Fox

In the southern Black Forest, just a few kilometers north of the German-Swiss border, the local fox has discovered the compost bins. Although it is broad daylight, he has ventured into one of the bins, and initially appeared to be unaware that there were three pairs of eyes (and at least 2 cameras) focussing on him.

in the compost pile

in the compost pile


At times, the fox peeks over the edge. At other times only his ears are visible – trained towards our direction. And more often than not, he ducks. There are at least as many images of what appear to be just compost bins as there are of the fox himself. Affectionately called “Max”, somebody calls out his name, and he and pokes out his full head, assessing the situation.

Hey Max!

Hey Max!

Finding no need to stay in the compost bin, the fox easily scampers out of the bin and runs up into the forest beyond the back yard.
off like a flash

off like a flash

His tail vanishes last, and all is as quiet as if he had never been there.

An earlier version of this story was published at pix & kardz.
2. Window shopping

It was a rainy day in Frankfurt/Main. This poster outside a book store caught my eye. “You can do without many things in life, but not without cats nor literature.”

window shopping

window shopping

How true is that! Enough said 🙂

The End

To be continued

◆ originally published October 2, 2012 ◆

And speaking of cats…..
it is what it is
…..just in cased you missed it, here is Timmy’s most recent guest post. To get there, you may either click on the image above or the link below. Enjoy!

it is what it is

coming soon :: tales of travel, Germany 2008

Almost five years ago I was on a trip to Germany, primarily for a 70th birthday celebration. Some unexpected adventures took place while there in June/July 2008 — moments that brought smiles, moments that inspired, and moments that brought reflection. Although the images were captured during those early days of having a digital camera, they would sit idly for a number of years, almost forgotten, before being published to a photo website that was about to be shut down.

And still the stories – five tales, all told – bear repeating. The photo collage below is the cover image, the first in the series that began, and will once again begin, it all.

sights and stories that captivated the attention of my camera

sights and stories that captivated the attention of my camera in June/July 2008

Coming in April to photojourneying!

◆ originally published October 2, 2012 ◆