Adventures come in all shapes and sizes, and when we were asked recently to join in on the Parksville Qualicum Beach QR Code Road Rally 2013 we literally hopped at the chance.  Those who follow us regularly know well of our deep love and affinity for Vancouver Island, and we look for any excuse to run around finding interesting things on the island to share with everyone here.  Many a weekend you will find Mrs. Toad and I traveling the main and back-roads of the island on the hunt for that next great story.  This last weekend the story came to us in a grand adventure; one that we will not forget!

The basic premise of the event was to go from location to location, looking for the QR Code that will lead us to the next stop.  At each stop we were to photograph the featured location and then Tweet it and post it on our Facebook page.  To see all the great content that was generated over the weekend, check out the hashtag #PQBRally13 on Twitter and Facebook.

This is a race, folks, let’s drop that green flag and head on out to the big event!

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada - #PQBRally13

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – #PQBRally13

The day started really early for us; we’re talking 5:30AM to be precise.  We were up late the night before after having just presented a large format print we framed for Duncan Elementary School, then we rushed home to ready all our gear and equipment for the big adventure.  I had a lot of preparation on Friday night, much more than usual, because of our latest addition to our photography family here at The Hollow, our new Canon 6D camera.  Needless to say, we were up pretty late testing the new gear and getting accustomed to the new controls and settings.  We had no time to fumble around out in the middle of the race, we were on a timeline!

We arrived in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area about a half hour early.  This was good because I had a really itchy shutter finger and was looking for any excuse to take that first shot with our new camera!  And no better place to point our new gear than at the incredible ocean that the community sits beside.  Check out those dead trees beside the walkway that runs alongside the ocean here.  We’re definitely coming back in the coming weeks to capture a few more shots of these.

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada - #PQBRally13

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – #PQBRally13

As we turned to head back to the car, one final scene beckoned to be captured.  No, our new camera isn’t tilted, my good friends, it’s the tree!  We can only guess that years and years of standing with no peers to lean upon for support has found this tree struggling to remain upright as the fierce coast storms batter the park.  If you click on this picture and look at it enlarged, you can see some incredible textures and details.  We learned this weekend that for some of our older trees, their bark acts as a defense of sorts against forest fires.

This scene will take on a wholly different look and feel in the coming weeks as the weather begins to turn.  If you look closely here, you will see an army of picnic tables sitting at the ready.  Soon this scene will be awash with visitors and locals alike, all coming to enjoy a lovely summer’s day by the side of the ocean.  Just past this particular clearing resides a dense, green forest…  with no lack of adventures to be found there, either.  It’s this vast diversity on Vancouver Island that adds so much to the appeal and charm of it all.

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada - #PQBRally13

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – #PQBRally13

With no time to waste, we hustled back to the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort for the breakfast meeting and kickoff event.  This facility is amazing… it started on 11 acres of waterfront property in 1946, and today the Tigh-Na-Mara sits on 22 acres of incredible ocean-side property featuring our famous island Douglas Firs and Arbutus trees.  192 accommodation units are available for booking, making for an absolutely incredible holiday or getaway destination here on Vancouver Island.  We’re hoping to return over the course of the summer as the weather and lighting improve to photograph the grounds and facilities.

After the breakfast and initial meeting was completed, we headed out to the parking lot to check-in and get our rally T-Shirts and begin the race in earnest!  We scanned our first clue in our QR Code reader, got a rough idea of where we to head and put the proverbial pedal-to-the-metal.  And thus began one of our favorite adventures of the year!!…

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada - #PQBRally13

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – #PQBRally13

En-route to our first destination, yours truly, the Toad here, got sidetracked.  At this point we realized that this was going to be an action-packed day if we were to experience the entire event and make it back to the checkered flag on time!  Oh well, life runs on Vancouver Island in island-time…  things happen when they happen.  It’s really hard to panic when you are sitting by the ocean looking at this view, with the incredible smell of sea-air all around you and the sounds of gulls and the water lapping on the shores.

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada - #PQBRally13

Parksville/Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – #PQBRally13

One last parting look before we hopped back in the car to find our first stop.  The pebbled beaches here on Vancouver Island are truly unique, creating the perfect textured foreground for the expanse beyond.  In the distance, layer upon layer of mountains peek up above the waterline from all the tiny islands that pepper the west coast of Canada.

And this is where we close off for our initial post in our latest photoblog series titled “The Toads At The Rally“.  Join us on our next installment as we visit a wonderful facility that we didn’t even know about before the weekend.  It just goes to show, even after having lived here for well over 30 years, there is still so much to discover and explore.  Come visit Parksville Qualicum Beach and see for yourself!

Thank you so much for your visit today, we hope you enjoyed our first post in our newest series.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so we encourage you to leave us any comments or questions you may have below.  Now, onto the first checkpoint!




  1. avatar Edith Levy says:

    That sounds like so much fun. Wonderful images as usual Toad. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

  2. Toad, what a great beginning to what must have been a grand adventure! Congratulations on the new camera, the detail and textures are amazing. Those pebbled beaches look so inviting, throw in a few pieces of driftwood for good measure and I’d be running on photographers time which I think is even more off the norm than island time. 😉
    I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got ready to share with us.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Ha, what great comments here Howard, I do agree with you about photogs time! Great observation, my friend!!! 🙂 Thanks so much for popping on by and for leaving these terrific comments for everyone to really enjoy.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic event. Great shots in this first set, and I’m really looking forward to the next ones.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so very much Steven! We really appreciate all your kind support here!

  4. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    What a great idea for an event Toad. Terrific photos and good luck with the new camera. I can’t wait to see the next installment.

  5. Great stuff, how are you liking the new camera??

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It’s the finest tool I’ve ever had in terms of being able to create art. I can’t wait for the weather to improve here so we can get some color out there!! Thanks Derrick, we really appreciate all your support my friend!

  6. avatar Rick Louie says:

    What a great concept! Sounds like loads of fun! Enjoy the new camera. I here it’s awesome! I’m giving it serious consideration for my next camera. I’m trying to decide between that one and the 5D Mk III.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      In my humble opinion, there is no wrong answer to that question Rick, and you sure won’t regret whatever choice you make!! Thanks so much for your kind visit, my friend!!