Noah Webster didn’t think so, though. When he compiled the first American dictionary in 1828, he ditched the extra “u” in color, flavor, humor, neighborhood (and many more words) in favor of spelling words like they sound.
Seeing words spelled differently in our travels on Vancouver Island was just one of the reminders that we were, indeed, in a foreign country. Another reminder was the road signage. We were delighted to realize that Nanaimo was only 80 miles from Sidney (the sign said 130 kilometers); not so thrilled when we realized that we were speeding along at 60 miles an hour when the speed limit was actually 60 km (37 mph).
The Artistic (And Quirky) Nanaimo Waterfront
After our half-day enjoying the farmers market and totem tour in Duncan, we continued on another 31 miles to Nanaimo, also known as the Harbour City.
With two nights, but only one full day in Nanaimo, we spent the next morning strolling several miles of the beautiful walkway that borders the scenic waterfront and harbor. Along the way is a random but entertaining assortment of artwork. The pieces include an enormous gilded picture frame, an orca made of recycled metal parts, a giant crab carved from wood, and a statue of the former long-time mayor of the city, Frank Ney, in pirate regalia.
Apparently Ney was quite a colorful character. He enjoyed dressing up as a pirate for civic events and initiated bathtub races in the harbor. Also a real estate developer, he allowed his eleven kids to name some of Nanaimo’s streets. If our address was Dingle Bingle Hill or Tiggly Wiggly Road, it would be hard to say it and feel like an adult. Which may not be a bad thing.
An Appealing Downtown
The downtown area of Nanaimo is undergoing an appealing revitalization. We found an excellent little café for lunch, where the chef’s salad was made right: smoked chicken, roasted tomatoes, beautiful greens, and most important, eggs cooked perfectly with no green ring around the yolk.
Favorite Local Hiking Spots
Piper’s Lagoon and Neck Point are two favorite local spots for hiking, and were recommended to us by our server at the café. We headed there after lunch and enjoyed the trails at both. The one-mile loop trail at Piper’s Lagoon involves a leisurely walk down a lovely spit, followed by some rock scrambling at the headland, where there’s a great view of historic Shack Island and the southern point of Neck Point Park.
Just up the road is Neck Point Park. It’s easy to see how the park got its name when you see the gravel bar that connects the park to a large rocky outcropping at low tide.
Shack Island separates the two parks and can be walked to at low tide. Despite their rustic appearance, the small buildings are not abandoned but are summer cabins originally used by fishermen in the 1930’s before motorboats were common.
About The Campground
We scored a perfect site at Living Forest Oceanside RV Park in Nanaimo. The expansive views of the estuary from our site were gorgeous. It would have been an easy place to stay longer.
The sites are relatively spacious with trees and shrubs for privacy. Sites vary dramatically—apparently some people prefer being deep in the forest, which looked depressing to me. If you want a waterfront view, book early. Because we were traveling after Labor Day (that would be Labour Day in Canada, also celebrated the first Monday in September, just with that extra “u”) we were able to get a waterfront view site with just a few days advance reservation.
The park offers full hookups, very nice tiled coin operated showers, and wifi at a central location. No Verizon here, though. There’s lots more to do in Nanaimo, but we needed to head north on our mission to find whales.
Beautiful! Going 60 in 37. I would have done the same thing by accident. hehe Thanks for always sharing your adventures. God Bless You both in your travels. Christine Duval – Tucson, AZ
Thanks for following along with us, Christine. :-) I don’t think we ever quite got used to the difference in kilometers/miles. But we tried to keep an eye on the speedometer!
Love the flavour of Canada! Ha!
Brenda, “flavour” sounds so much fancier, don’t you think? I tried to remember to crook my little finger while drinking tea, too, haha! (Not really. Well, only with the Queen.)
We too had the experience, numerous times, of being reminded that we were in Canada… Road signs were a definite one (“The speed limit is 100? Awesome!!”). Paying bills at restaurants was another (where they bring the credit card reader to the table). And yes, all those added “U’s”… I think they make everything look that much more elegant, personally! Anyway, looks like a cute town, and if we ever have you over for lunch, we’ll make sure to practice our hard boiled egg making skills. :)
Laura, do you think the excuse of not being used to kilometers would fly if we got pulled over? No, didn’t think so. Those credit card readers were definitely different. And the money! I always felt like we were paying with Monopoly money. We would love to get together for lunch….and thank you very much for not serving hard boiled eggs with those icky green rings. :-))
Loved loved the modern cafe! Great pictures! So fun to follow your travels.
Beth, did you guys eat at the Modern Cafe? It looked great! The little Two Chef’s Affair was really yummy and owned by the same couple. Thanks to you two for recommending Nanaimo!
I love the sense of humour in the street names, the sculptures and even in the “hard hat” area signage. Life is too short without laughter. Dave is impressed by the perfectly made hard boiled eggs, I have no skills in that arena and he loves them so…..
Sue, I learned the secret to perfect hard-boiled eggs is to not boil them! I use the method of bringing the eggs to a boil in enough water to cover them by one inch, turning off the heat, and letting them sit, covered, for about 12 minutes before cooling them in an ice bath. No green ring. :)
What a great little town! I love seeing art made out of recycled items. Clever orca! You certainly did hit the jackpot with your site! Gorgeous view:)
Pam, I always enjoy “recycled” art, too. It’s amazing how creative people can be with stuff that would otherwise be in a landfill! We totally scored with that campsite.
Made me laugh out loud at you speeding along at “60”! Glad the Royal Mounties weren’t out and about. The street names too are funny but who would want to write that out everytime when asked for your address?? I do like the sound and look of the pirate mayor though. Why aren’t more politicians fun? The crab is fabulous and looks sort of like a totem himself. The hikes look great but the “summer cottages” do look like shacks. Wow you certainly did score a site. What a view. Sounds wonderful except for the internet inconvenience which is good for all of us except when I’m SO FAR behind in my blog.
Sherry, the “pirate mayor” of Nanaimo certainly seemed to be beloved. He definitely had a good sense of humor! I’m sure he would love his statue. I had the same thought about the crab as you — it definitely has a Native Northwest aesthetic.
Greetings from San Miguel de Allende! Thanks for the stroll around Vancouver Island. We all are having a good deal of adventure stirring us to life. Gracias. Saludos C&R
Robert & Colleen, You two are in a place that we would love to visit. It will be fun to catch up when you return to Ashland. I imagine you’re finding wonderful inspiration for your gorgeous paintings!
I always thought that if a shop added the extra ‘p’ and ‘e’ they could charge more! Who knew Webster was so powerful?! Love the street names, it would make me want to name my house too. Wonderful street art and yummy eats make a little town special. Everything looks so clean! Your site is beautiful. I wonder if AT&T gets service there??
Jodee, that is so funny! The little place where I get my hair cut in Apalachicola is a beauty “shoppe” and I always get a kick out of it. As far as cell coverage, I doubt that AT&T is any better than Verizon. Verizon is supposed to have coverage in Canada, but it’s pretty terrible, at least on Vancouver Island.
I love the picture framing the scene, a literal trompe l’oeil. The first time I drove in Canada I kept trying to do the math in my head, roughly. So, I would think, 100 km, that’s about 63 miles an hour. Totally stressful for a non-mathemetician. The second time I went, I realized that my speedometer has the km per hour in small numbers along with the US miles per hours. That led to stress free driving. There are very few places on Vancouver Island you can even go 65. It’s a good thing once one accepts it.
I look forward to more of your BC adventures.
Sheila, I loved that picture frame of the harbor, too! So funny about your similar experience with the speed limit in kilometers. Eric quickly realized that the little numbers on the speedometer are in kilometers. It was invaluable, ’cause it’s impossible to do the math that quickly! At least for me, a fellow non-mathmetician.
What a sweet town, and that RV park looks awesome! Love your view!
Lisa, our view was gorgeous! Wish every RV park had that kind of view. :-))
Looks like a lovely place to explore. What a wonderful site you grabbed, right on the estuary. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip NOB.
It was all a grand adventure, LuAnn. There’s lots more to share. :-)
Love seeing our home town through your eyes, we sometimes take for granted how beautiful our Island is.
Just a couple more Nanaimo street names:
Angela, that’s great! Thanks for adding to the quirky Nanaimo street names list. :-) I’m so glad you’re enjoying our explorations of your island — we loved every minute of it!
anyone who has ever driven over lions gate bridge in vancouver can tell yo that nanaimo is not the harbour city,
Vancouver is on our list! We’ll be sure to check out the Lion’s Gate Bridge. It looks spectacular.