Daytrippin’ to the Cowichan

I love Nanaimo. And for many different reasons. Anyone local can tell you we are known as the “Hub City,” and although the term originally came from the fact that our downtown was designed to look like the ‘hub’ of a wheel, it now also means we are a gateway or transportation hub to the rest of the Island. How cool is that?

Recently, our family went camping for 3 nights in beautiful Gordon Bay Provincial Park. Located on the shores of Cowichan Lake (or Lake Cowichan – there was much discussion while driving with sleeping kids which was the proper term for the lake and which for the town), it’s a super campground for families or even just those wanting to get away from the big smoke for a few days (wildfire pun not intended).

The beach at Gordon Bay

The beach at Gordon Bay

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We enjoyed our first two days exploring the campground and the lake area, but by the third day I was itching to see more. My five year old and I ventured out on our bikes and tootled around Honeymoon Bay, stopping at a couple of farm stands and an amazing homemade lemonade stand. It was just too cute out there. We came across the local golf course March Meadows, which my husband was quick to tell me is the home course of LPGA player Dawn Coe-Jones. I’m not a golf nut like he is but found that little fact pretty cool.

  

After exploring what was close around, we decided to pack the kids up and head into Duncan to visit the Birds of Prey Centre, better known now as The Raptors. If you are planning a day-trip to the Cowichan Valley, make sure you add this to your list of must-sees. Two thumbs (wings?) up. We arrived at 11:15am, just shy of the 11:30am flying demonstration. A crowd was gathered around a woman holding a beautiful owl on her arm when we first arrived, so we headed over to check it out too. Turns out the woman was participating in one of their hands-on experiences. Lucky her!

A woman holds “Inspector”, one of the newer owls

We wandered down the path towards the flying field, walking past cages that housed everything from a Great Grey Owl named Viola to a squawky crow with a broken wing to even a Marabou Stork named Gaston, from Africa. The kids loved it. “Mom LOOK at that guy! Woah look at THAT bird!” Everywhere you looked were cool birds with interesting stories and facts about them.

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Once settled in the flying field, Gerard started his presentation about the 4 types of raptors in the demo: eagle, hawk, owl & falcon. We learned a lot about all the birds; he was super knowledgeable and great at getting the crowd asking questions. The Raptors are actually training the falcons to work at the airports in BC, to scare away other birds that may want to land or roost near the aircraft. “Jet” was the falcon in our demonstration (all the falcons are named after aircraft…Cessna, Boeing, etc.) and man was he fast. He actually flew right over us and out into the field and didn’t come back! Morgan, one of the other staff members, had to go and chase after him but we got a good look at him once he returned to his perch.

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Introducing Manwe the Bald Eagle

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The Raptors is great. Go, learn about bird of prey, support this facility and all it does for the birds. Afterwards, you can tell your friends this raptor joke you learned:

Q: What birds spend all their time on their knees?
A: Birds of PREY!

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If you’re looking for something FUN to do this weekend, they are having Vulture Awareness Days, September 5-6th. Face painting, silent auctions, BB& and tons more cool vulture stuff. Check their website for more info.

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Have fun out there,

Megan

Meg

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