We left Chemainus mid-morning and drove north, stopping at Saltair Lagoon for a geocache. Ladysmith is another small community on Vancouver Island and we pulled into the very popular and well equipped and maintained Transfer Beach Park. The area was once the loading yard for several large coal mines (belonging to James Dunsmuir of Hatley Castle – see Day 4 blog). There was a very long railway wharf out into the Strait so the coal could be transfered directly to barges without having to be unloaded from the railcars into boats, and unloaded again into the barges. After the collieries closed the wharf fell into disrepair and was later destroyed in a fire. The area had become a popular recreation spot and was eventually turned into a large park.
There was a huge playground, baskeball hoop, horseshoe pitch, beach, amphitheater, dog park, walking trails, picnic tables and bbqs, and lots of people enjoying the day. We found several geocaches hidden in the park. The last one was out at Slack Point at the end of the dog park trail. Also called Slag Point as the area was used to wash the dust off the coal and all the soil many feet deep is contaminated. Dust and dirt have covered it and plants have, of course, grown but there are still some large piles of coal particles and you don’t have to dig more than a 1/2″ to reach black. Around the corner of the point there is a nice view of a marina.As we were driving out of Transfer Beach we passed an old donkey winch such as was portrayed in one of the murals in Chemainus.We pulled into a parking lot by a trail head to find two other caches and were only able to locate one of them. The trail did give us a good look at the marina we had seen from Slack Point. Apparently it is a fderally regulated area and has several ‘sqatter’ boats anchored in the bay that people live in. Since it is a federal area it is rarely, if ever, patroled and the local authorities have no jurisdiction to get them to move. We arrived at our hotel on the southern outskirts of Nanaimo at 3 pm and were able to check in. We relaxed for a half hour or so and then headed out to the home of our host and hostess for the reunion. They have a lovely home on Quennelle Lake. All the gang gathered over the next couple of hours and we had a great time catching up on everyone’s news. Dinner and more stories and laughter followed until we all headed back to our hotels for the night.Everyone re-gathered at the lake Saturday morning and we spent the day visiting, eating great food and playing a few games. One of which was a timed rowboat event. The person with the oars was blindfolded and the other person in the little boat had to direct them around a buoy and back to the dock. My partner and I had the best time at 1 minute 18 seconds, until the last two teams deposed us and we ended up third. It was great fun. A fabulous dinner of salmon, bbq beef, ceasar salad and greek salad was topped off with a delicious cake.The reunion officially ends with breakfast tomorrow morning and then everyone will make their way home. Except us. We still have some traveling to do.