Fine dining in Port Hardy and a cheap RV fix

Airport Ocean view camping pxl2022-01-12

Beach view on Port Hardy airport grounds

Having had two days at Port Hardy RV Resort’s high prices, I wasn’t going to extend for my last day waiting for a wheel alignment. My walks had come up with some spots nearby I could boondock / stealth camp at for a night, but before I committed to one of those, I decided to drive back to Fort Rupert, where Port Hardy’s airport is located. The locals had suggested camping by the beach on airport grounds. It looked promising from a survey of the googles aerials, so off I went to check it out.

I decided first to take a quick trip into Port Hardy proper to resupply. My rig felt pretty stable, I was pretty sure the tires were not going to be worse for wear with another 10 klicks on them. My plan was to resupply, see a bit of the town, grab lunch, then get out and see about a boondocking spot.

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This monument was probably not paid for by the provincial government

My resupply reminded me that COVID ain’t over yet. Cereal shelfs were pretty bare, fruit was minimal, and frozen veggies were looking pretty bare. I picked some alternates where my usual choices were not available and paid the larger than expected bill. My first stop after that was Carrot Park. The town has named a park after the practice of government over-promise it seems. The promise in this case was building  Highway 19 to connect Port Hardy with the rest of Vancouver Island. Evidently promises had been made since 1897 to build a connection. It only took the government until 1980 to finally complete a highway. I can think of a few other government projects that could use a carrot campaign to move them along at a faster rate.

Port Hardy Sign 2022-01-18_08-06-40

The sign is elaborate, but missing one of the economic drivers of the town economy: tourism. But perhaps this is a few years old now – mining is not much of a thing anymore, perhaps they could carve that out and replace it with tourism?

War memorial 2022-01-24_05-04-24

Lest we forget

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Water view from Carrot Park pxl2022-01-12

The park is on the water, with some nice totems and memorials. It is worth a stop and a short stroll, especially on a nicer day. I had to contend with light rain, but you work with what you got sometimes for photos.

Nax'id' Pub meal 2022-01-24_05-05-26

Good food, good beer, good environment equals 5/5 review

My selection for lunch was Nax’id’ Pub, attached to a native run Hotel. My salmon pot was awesome, and went well with the Dark Matter beer. The menu is mostly conventional food – not much for native dishes. What I had isn’t native, having cream cheese mixed in with the smoked salmon. Just enjoy it and think of it as another version of fusion cuisine. I also have to rave about the New England clam chowder – don’t see many tomato based chowders, so this was a nice change. The added salmon was a bonus for sure. The service was top notch too – I recommend stopping here for a meal if you are in Port Hardy.

My meal done, it was time to look for my boondocking spot. The airport is within walking distance of the repair shop I had my RV work done at, but the snow had been too deep to walk over here while I was under repair. Since then the rains had melted most of the snow so I drove back over to check it out with the RV. As I was trying to minimize the amount of driving I was doing until my wheel alignment, I decided if the airport didn’t work out, I’d go back to a spot I knew would work for at least a night, parked where one of the Quatse Estuary access points is. While that spot was level, I would be visible from the industrial road, as well as anyone parking there to use the path. I consider a site like that it to straddle boondocking / stealth camping. There were no signs saying you couldn’t park overnight, in fact there were no signs at all. It just obviously is a cleared little parking area to access the trail.

My camping in a spot like that would be unobtrusive. No putting the generator out, unless I absolutely had to, and then put it away again as soon as I’m charged up. No long term stays at a spot like that either, one or two nights only. No putting out stuff – the goal is to look more like you are ‘parked’ rather than camping. I doubt I’d be kicked out of a spot like that for a night or two, even in the summer. But the locals will note you are there, especially if they come out to walk the dog there. You want to be as low key as possible and limit your stay. A local complaining someone is camping in the parking lot is the only thing I could see getting a visit from the RCMP in a spot like this. Not to mention, if you abuse the privilege, next time you come a ‘no overnight camping’ sign will be there.

So I approached the airport hoping the area I had scouted out on aerial imagery would work out. It was certainly more out of the way. I turned off just past the entrance to the airport grounds and drove around the edge of  airport, coming up to a T-intersection that faced the ocean. There was a spot right at the intersection, but I decided to explore further to see if I could do better. Going to the right got me to a dead end with a fenced off airport section. I could camp here too, but it was a bit open. Going back past the intersection, I come to a little offshoot road that dead ends down at the beach. It looks a little wet, so I inspect it first on foot. There is only a garbage brush pile, no cans or signs of camping, and the road looks ok. I turn my rig around and back in, trying to find something level, and not in the water puddles all over the place.

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Not muddy, just wet from snow melt

I’m right by the beach, back a ways from the road, and not on a runway path – looks like a good spot to me! But I’m only staying one night, so no bringing out the generator. Not to mention, this is close to town, so there are cars going by, and beach walkers as well. It has all the ingredients of a place the kids might party in, but no evidence thereof. I’m thinking the airport might patrol and boot people off. So I keep my stuff out to a minimum, just in case. But what a nice spot, view of the ocean from my dining room window!

Airport sunrise SR600917

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Airport sunrise

I stay the night uninterrupted, and am rewarded with a glorious sunrise walk along the beach. I’m heading into town for my wheel alignment finally, but I would come back to this spot again if I’m in the Port Hardy area.

My wheel alignment at Applewood Ford was first thing in the morning. I drop off my RV, wondering if they will find anything else wrong with it. The work is supposed to be quick, so I only have time for a short walk down to the water before I get my call back. I return to the shop and get an unusual bill, less than the quoted amount for an alignment. It turns out the repair shop that fixed the steering guessed dead on as far as the alignment, so no adjustment was required. I was happy for this little break in costs – this whole fiasco had cost me the equivalent of a months stay in full hookups. But at least everything was fixed now. I was going back to my originally intended destination – get right back on that horse you just fell off of!

My snowy turn into the campground pxl2022-01-13

The road to the campground was much better – only a few places where a bit of ice had not melted yet, and the vehicles driving over that had added a bit of grit so it was only slippery rather than skating rink bad. I arrived at the campground entrance and saw a  pile of snow the plough has left behind. I’m not planning to leave this spot for several days, so as long as I can make it in, it should be mostly gone by the time I get out. Worst case, I need to shovel a hole in this to get out.

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Rupert Inlet camping spot

I make it in with only minor difficulties; going downhill in helps a lot! I park my RV in the best spot close to the boat launch, far away from the one permanent resident on the other end of the campground. I’m finally back in the groove, ready to explore a new area!

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