Day 695: Tardy in Port Hardy

Laetitia and her group stopped at Marble River Provincial Park on the way to Port Hardy. The park offered some excellent hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and opportunities for photography. After arrival in Port Hardy, they took an excursion boat to God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park, located on Hurst Island and Bell Island in the channel between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. They took a sea kayak tour that offered excellent views of sea birds, bald eagles, humpback whales, and seals.

At the hotel bar where Laetitia went for a pre-dinner pint of Hermann’s Dark Lager, a couple was having a loud spat. From snippets of their conversation, Laetitia pieced together the story. They had met through an Internet dating service that billed itself as a matchmaker for millionaires, but on their first date it became clear that neither came close to being in that category. On this, their second date, they planned to meet and, after a drink or two, go to a party together. The argument ensued when he arrived late, and she wasn’t buying his excuse. Laetitia listened for a while, wrote a limerick and went off to join her group for dinner.

When dating a lass in Port Hardy
It’s best to avoid being tardy
For it’s likely your date
Will become most irate
And spoil your night out at a party.

Day 694: Chopped Liver

The day began with a hike in Elk Falls Provincial Park, a place of splendid scenery. The falls and their trek along the Campbell River provided Laetitia’s group with excellent opportunities for photography. Later they went to the town at the river’s mouth, where they planned to spend the evening. The town of Campbell River claims to be the “Salmon Capital of the World” and has abundant sport-fishing charter boats that go along with the title. An afternoon harbor cruise provided the group with excellent views of seals, bald eagles, and brown bears.

Campbell River attracts fishermen and fisherwomen from all over the world, so one might hear any manner of speech here, but Laetitia was surprised to hear someone in the resort hotel bar say, “What am I, chopped liver?” alluding to the common delicatessen side dish prepared by sautéing liver and onions in schmaltz. The rhetorical question, expressed by one who feels slighted at being perceived as a mere side dish rather than the main course, is common in the eastern United States, but Laetitia didn’t expect to find it in a western Canada fishing town. She chatted with the group and learned that they were New Yorkers on a tour. The happening provided the limerick of the day.

There are not many folks who would wish
To be viewed merely as a side dish
Like a deli’s chopped liver
E’en in Campbell River
Where most people just come to fish.

Day 693: Cumberland Slumberland

Laetitia’s group spent most of the day hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park in the area around Butte Lake. Founded in 1911, it is British Columbia’s oldest provincial park, featuring mountains and extensive wilderness areas. In late afternoon they arrived in Cumberland, where they were spending the night. They did a walkabout in the former coal mining community and went to the local museum before going to their hotel.

At the local pub where Laetitia went for a pint of Spyhopper Honey Brown Ale, she talked to a couple that claimed to be in a mixed marriage. Sue was a local girl, and Ron was from the United States, where they now lived when they weren’t here visiting her parents. They met at a pub when he came to Vancouver Island on a fishing trip. It wasn’t love at first sight. She was put off when Ron seemed to be obsessed with bed, but then she learned that he made a good living selling futons. The couple saw one of Sue’s school friends and went over to talk to her. Laetitia sipped her ale as she wrote the limerick of the day on her bar napkin. Then she finished her drink and went off to join her group for dinner.

Sue thought Ron was from Dumb and Dumber Land
When they met at a nightspot in Cumberland
And all that he said
Related to bed
‘Til she learned he sold futons for Slumberland.

Day 692: Nanaimo Bar

On a road trip across Canada, Laetitia and her grandmother had found rest areas for potty stops rare, but there was a saving grace. Just about every town had a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, where they could have a decent cup of coffee and sample one of the establishment’s baked offerings, either sweet or savory, before or after using their plumbing. On their visits to the restaurant chain, which was founded by a famous Canadian hockey player in 1964, Laetitia always had a Nanaimo bar with her coffee. Unfortunately, in an example of vacuous corporate wisdom, the Canadian chain made an alliance with a fast-food burger chain from the United States, and, in dumbing down their product line, they discontinued the Nanaimo bars. Thus, one of Laetitia’s goals in taking her group to Nanaimo today was to have one of those layered chocolate, vanilla custard, coconut, almond, and graham-cracker-crumb morsels originally created in the 1950s by Mabel Jenkins, a Nanaimo-area housewife.

Nanaimo is a harbor city on Vancouver Island, separated from mainland Canada by the Georgia Strait. It is sometimes called the “Tub City” because of its whimsical bathtub boat race held every July. The racing boats are usually not actual bathtubs, but rather hydroplanes with tub-shaped fiberglass cockpits for which a real bathtub served as the form. Laetitia and her group inspected one of the boats, noting its powerful outboard motor with a kill switch to stop the boat if the operator falls overboard. Afterward they went to a local museum and art gallery, and then to Chinatown.

After treating everyone to Nanaimo bars from a local confectioner, she dropped her group at their hotel and went to an actual Nanaimo bar to have a drink and write a limerick. The bar gossip about an adventurous couple who accidently kicked the throttle of their bathtub boat during their amorous enthusiasm seemed far-fetched, but Laetitia used it as the basis for a limerick anyway.

One who hankers for love in strange places
Like the boats for Nanaimo tub races
Should beware of a glitch
And hook up the kill switch
Before he his partner embraces.