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Category: Nissan

Vancouver Island in the 2021 Nissan Rogue

Covid has set everyone back, from work to play it has changed plans and turned everyone on their axis. Plans I had of travelling internationally, became exploring my local province more intimately this past year. From the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley, and as far as Grand Forks. And pass Whistler and further North to Lillooet. So for my last vacation of 2020, I decided to branch out to the island.

I have been to Vancouver Island a handful of times, so was now excited to visit during a different season. Fall for the changing colour of the wilderness, some fall fungi foraging, storm watching, and late season fishing. The plan was to go with the flow, allowing curiosity and the call of adventure to take us to all corners of the Island. Skipping the metropolis of Victoria, our travel started at the ferry terminal of Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay. (This was before the non-essential lock down mind you).

Our vehicle of choice, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue. This would be our primary mode of transportation and place of rest. So the right vehicle was essential. And the Rogue fit the bill. We would be the first to set her through her paces; from a mere 555km on the odometer to more than quadruple that by week’s end. With the ever changing terrain and we travelled from muddy roads to steep watersides. From gravel paved and pothole filled pathways, to wet highways, and even snowy mountainsides. And for all of the above, the 2021 Nissan Rogue had a mode for that. Off-road, snow, eco, and sport. The ability to adjust with a twist of a knob as needed kept us comfortable and safe.

Upon landing earlier in the day, we swung by to the nearest city, and the closest breakfast spot. This happened to be Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe in Sydney BC. Across the way from BC’s aviation museum, Mary’s served as the cafe and bar for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Decorated with historic newspaper clippings and artifacts, the restaurant doubled as a museum dating all the way back to WWII, in its own right.

Equipped with masks the restaurant sat us at our own socially distant table, within the dining area. Breakfast was a collection of classics egg scrambles and pancakes, sprinkled with more innovative options like breakfast crepes and a build your own omelette.

We shared a full order of their Westcoast Benny with smoked salmon, shrimp and lobster on an English muffin. Topped with a perfectly poached egg and their house made hollandaise sauce, enjoyed with crispy hashbrown potatoes on the side. Sadly, the salmon did overpower the other seafood, leaving me missing the lobster. Heck, I got more cocktail shrimp than lobster. It would have been nice to have lobster stock added to their hollandaise as a fun twist.

And despite being able to make such an assembly myself, I find that I still lean towards such breakfast platters when dining out. But more so today given the name was “breakfast of champions”, and boy did I sure did feel like one. Served on a glass fish plate this was bacon, ham, sausage, with three eggs done your way, hashbrowns, and toast. Definitely a classic for a reason. And maybe it was because I was on carefree vacation mode, but each individual ingredient tasted better: fresher than it would have in the big city.

Then it was off towards Campbell River, the capital of salmon fishing, in the world. With a pit stop in the larger city centre of Nanaimo first. There, I took in some local street art and grabbed a coffee and a treat at local hot spot: The Vault. Given the time, I would have found myself here for a meal.

We spent two days and two nights in Campbell, parked by one of the lakes in Elk Park. Our backdrop: warming clouds, thick greenery, and still waters.

We kept warm in the car thanks to a sleeping bag and multiple blankets piled high. The driver and passenger seat proved comfortable when driving upright with its lumbar support. Although the curvature of the seats less so when fully reclined in slumber. Night two was spent in the tailgate with back seats flattened, this proved more ergonomic.

 

There was so much to see just cruising around in the 2021 Nissan Rogue with its panoramic sun roof. We discovered pockets perfect for mushroom foraging. Mossy fields teeming with chanterelles, chicken of the woods, elm mushrooms, boletes, cremini, and hedgehog mushrooms. All of which we cooked and ate during our trip.

There were many more mushrooms that were just stunning, but not to be consumed.

Most amazing were the ones we found on the roadside. The bounty and their available was amazing. Especially considering how hard we have to hunt within the lower mainland for such treasures.

The most memorable moment for me during our time in Campbell was fishing with a mama bear and her two cubs. You could see them across the river way. She caught multiple chums with her paw and snout in the cold water, and I couldn’t even get a bite with my bait.

At Campbell we found comfort in the historic Ideal Cafe, established in 1940’s. One lunch was a soggy Monte Cristo with house roasted turkey breast, shaved ham, and mozzarella cheese. Sandwiched between two pieces of egg battered French toast. It was heavy and on the bland side. I ordered it confusing it with a French croque-monsieur. I hoped a dip in the side of tomato and turkey soup would help add some tang, but alas was disappointed by how bland this was too. In retrospect, I have gotten a bowl of their thick and tasty seafood chowder instead. The fish and chips proved tastier with the house made tartar sauce and fries that the server suggested we add a side of gravy for dipping to. This did not disappoint.

Another meal was spent at A&W. Chicken sandwiches and onion rings enjoyed across the spacious Nissan Rogue’s cabin and arm rest.

 

One dinner had us travelling to Courtenay to take in island night life. A couple flights of beer and a burger with fries at Gladstone Brewery. I fully enjoyed their garage theme that included the up cycled use of old licence plates to holster a flight of four.

Their unique collection of burgers included the “Chrome Dome” a ground pork burger that came in a “Egg in a Hole” Potato Bun. Fun to look at, but hard to eat. The house blended tannadice ground pork was seasoned sweet. It was the dominat flavour profile, whereas I could have used more saltiness from their Natural Pastures Courtenay cheddar cheese or some tang from the Hazy Pale Ale onion relish. But it was the poutine on the side that stole the show with its tasty gravy and meltEd cheese over chewy fries. I always recommend breweries or distilleries as points of interest to visit when travelling, their unique offerings are worth partaking in.

Although, my favourite meal was the one we prepared our self; dry, under the protective tailgate of the 2021 Nissan Rogue. Using propane and camping cookware we sautéed chanterelles with zucchini, pan fried cubes of spam, and boiled up three packets worth of mi goreng. All served up on a plastic plates along side a bottle of red wine.

The day after, our travels took us from Salmon and Kennedy River, to the Pacific Ocean. With a stop and a two night stay in the “Lazy bear cabin” Airbnb in Ucluelet. This was unfortunately amidst of a blackout, due to strong winds blowing down power lines. Luckily our stay coincided with the tail end of it, and power resumed later in the evening. Having been sleeping in the Rogue, we came equipped with our own torches and flashlights; and even had a lamp to keep us warm. Water ran, but it was cold. Therefore our long awaiting shower comprised of a damp rag and boiled water, much like what we were doing before this night.

Nonetheless we made the best out of the situation, keeping warm with layers and warm beverages. Specifically Tofino Distillery’s old growth cedar gin mixed with earl grey tea and ginger ale, for a warm you inside out sorta cocktail.

Dinner was made possible thanks to the barbecue outside and the town’s only grocery store still open. Without electricity they were unable to keep meat cool and therefore dinner compromised of canned corned beef, grilled vegetables and a mix of the chanterelles we collected, along side chicken of the wood. The latter is a type of mushroom, aptly named for its texture that resembles dried chicken. A little too rough for me, but a first experience worth trying nonetheless.

Eventually the power did come back, and we were able to have a late night snack prepared within the warmth of our Airbnb cabin. Snack was toast made with luncheon meat, cheese, and a chanterelle omelette in between two slices of garlic bread. Served along with French pressed coffee and a salted caramel cheesecake slice.

The next day, fresh off of the excitement of having electricity. I made an elm and chanterelle cream of mushroom soup, served along side a different garlic toast sandwich. This time with a sunny side up egg and sautéed elm mushroom filling.

Well fed, it was then off to explore the city of Ucluelet some. Starting with the first look of the Pacific for the week; and a light hike that included a loop around a light house, where winds carried waves and crashed them angrily against large rocks.

As per the locals we grabbed coffee and the Foggy Bean and snacks at Zoe’s Bakery.

And for our last sheltered night in the Airbnb I upcycled leftover mushroom soup into a Parmesan rich, wild mushroom, Alfredo pasta. The perfect side to medium rare steak, grilled tomato, and sautéed hedgehog mushrooms. To drink: wine, was the very same vintage used to make the soup/pasta.

Breakfast the next day was enjoyed on the damp porch outback. Our cabin included its own forest and redwood tree to take in as we ate what we had leftover from the days before.

After a speedy checkout it was off to Tofino and the tsunami hazard done for the last leg of our trip. Here, gentler waves creeping up sandy shores replaced violent ones. Surfers enjoyed the water under them and we the rain that fell above us.

And what is a visit to Tofino, with a stop at the original tacofino truck? There, I recommend their fish tacos for its freshness and the gringa for its lack of availability anywhere else. The chicken gringa, is a 6 inch flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, cheese, salsa, and sour cream; then grilled until gooey and crispy.

Then it was a safe and easy drive back to Nanaimo to catch the ferry home to Vancouver, safe and sound thanks to the 2021 Nissan Rogue. A solid SUV, with enough room to sleep in, even when you over pack. With plenty of comfort and modern features for extended driving. And an amazing fuel economy to get you further and faster than you expected. In short the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a great travel vehicle in our books, and one to consider if you live a similar lifestyle to the one I described above. Thank you Nissan for the loaner and the memories.

Victoria in the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

This weekend our party of three packed ourselves into the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder for a weekend trip to the island. I am typically apprehensive about driving larger vehicles, having only owned smaller sedans, so when the opportunity came to try my hand at the largest SUV I have ever laid eyes on, I thought it would be worth practicing. After all if I nailed this one, all others will be easy. And to my delight it was an easy drive and we got to Victoria safe and sound because of it.

We stayed in a comfortable suite with two queen beds. The kitchen with coffee marker and mini fridge, shared a sink with the bathroom. The sick is located adjacent to the kitchen counter, you would do you business behind closed doors and walk out to wash your hands clean. Awkward placement, but space saving.

We spent the evening and morning after exploring Victoria the touristy way. We hit up Chinatown marked with plenty of red brick and strung up yellow and red lanterns.

Taking time to especially explore the corridors of “Fan Tan Alley”.

Stopping at “Kid Sister” for some of their small batch ice cream served in homemade cubby waffle cones. I paid $1 more for organic vanilla versus regular.

We strolled by the water, taking in the marina.

And stopped in front of the parliament building in awe.

We even contemplated a horse and carriage ride, but passed on the novelty.

We took a pause to take in the iconic and majestic “Fairmont Empress”. We missed the cut off for high tea, so instead enjoyed their lounge decorated with the Queen’s portraits with a splash of graffiti.

Naturally, when in this setting one needs to enjoy their signature spirit: a pretty purple gin. We tried it three times, in three different purple cocktails. Each strong and refined.  “Q1908”. Empress gin, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, and butterfly pea flower. “Empress 75”. Empress gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, sugar, veuve clicquot, and grapefruit pearls. “Auxiliary”. Empress gin house vermouth and laphroaig.

As we sipped, we snacked on complimentary bowls of popcorn seasoned in charcoal. Both original and delicious, salty like hickory bbq.

And followed it up with one of their desserts. The “Floating island” is finished at the table. Bourbon vanilla bean creme anglaise, fresh raspberries, meringue chips, and wild roses. This was a great textural dessert, lots to sift through. With perfect meringue, like off a freshly baked lemon pie. Shards that melt in your mouth while adding crunch. And the pear gel offered a nice fruity balance.

And for dinner we visited “Canoe”, a seafood restaurant by the water. They boasted a multilevelled patio facing the marina with the sun setting in the distance. For the full restaurant review visit the link below.

The next morning we waited 30 minutes for breakfast at “Blue Fox Cafe”. A popular cafe with over 50 menu items, 12 of which are just bennies. For the full review that click this link.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting some more tourist hot spots. At the “Bug Zoo” we were the oldest children in the tour groups. There are plenty of bugs in plastic cages to look at, with descriptions by each so that you can learn a thing or two.

For the daring there are opportunities to hold a few of these creepy crawlies like the giant stick bug or the hairy tarantula. My favourite displays were the ant tunnels and the cockroach box decorated to look like a cottage home.

At “Miniature World” you explored themed displays built small with vivid detail. It took you to space and through Canadian history from Victoria to Newfoundland following a train Coast to Coast.

You learned your world war history and relived your childhood through their fairy tale dioramas. And got to play a peeping Tom when you looked through the tiny windows of tiny Victorian homes. Each accurately portraying life long, long ago.

“Circus world” was my favourite theme, it gave you all the carnival fun from the big top to the Ferris wheel. And with a push of a button it came to life with motion. King Arthur had his full story told through miniatures. From the meeting of Merlin and the pulling of the sword to the retrieval of the holy grail.

Our last stop was Beacon Hill for some nature. They are best known for their wild peacocks, whom have taken over the park at 80 plus strong. They can be see strolling around the walk ways and begging for scraps from picnickers.

But for majority of them and more animals make your way to their petting farm. There, they strut their stuff and mark their territory with tail feathers flexed. They walk amongst the farm’s pigs, goats, llamas, and fancy chickens and ducks.

For those who want to get closer to the animals there are baby goats, rabbits, and guinea pigs that like a good cuddle and pet.

From here it was time to catch our ferry home. This was a success trip in the Nissan Pathfinder, a spacious SUV that easily transition from rocky roads to smooth highways, and congested city streets.

NISSAN PATHFINDER, Rock Creek Edition
https://nissan.ca/

Vancouver Island in the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

This weekend our party of three packed ourselves into the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder for a weekend trip to the island. I am typically apprehensive about driving larger vehicles, having only owned smaller sedans, so when the opportunity came to try my hand at the largest SUV I have ever laid eyes on, I thought it would be worth practicing. After all if I nailed this one, all others will be easy. And to my delight it was an easy drive.

And with plenty of trunk space we had no difficulty cramming in three nights and four days worth of clothing and toiletries for three people. Three full luggage and bags with their contents spread out and all over the eight passenger seats. In fact during the 1.5 hour ferry ride to and from I found myself comfortably taking a nap across the back seat. And even more comfortably napping after I dropped the very back seat down and spanned myself across all that trunk space.

We drove in and lived in our spacious van, which we fondly named “The Hulk”, given his size and dark green hue. The Nissan Pathfinder drove surprisingly well given this size and girth. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep it in the lines, but I did just fine. And the brakes were so touch sensitive that they reacted to any small motion. Great for busy streets with plenty of stop and go’s I just wished that the wheel gave me a little more resistance, some stiffness to give me the feeling that I was truly steering.

The drive was easy going, along all the smooth roads we travelled. There was just more strain each time I had to stop and start it or we took a turn quick. The weight of SUV and my passengers meant I had to put the pedal to the metal and push down hard. Thankfully it was more highway driving, which also helped to reduce are gas cost. Because at $100 a fill up, and when gas in Vancouver can get up to 152.9, fuel conservation is an important factor.

After we got off of the ferry, our first stop was Parksville for lunch. A quick Google search lead us to the cafe “Bread & Honey” for some soup and sandwiches. For the full review, click the link.

Bread & Honey Food Company, Parksville BC

 

Then it was time to check in to our accommodations of the night. Accommodations like no other at “Free Spirit Spheres”. A unique outdoor hotel that is featured in many international travel guides, located here in our own BC backyard. You eat and sleep in a handmade pod suspended in the air, and there you live out your childhood, tree house, slumber party fantasies.

For the full review in video check out my latest travel vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Free Spirit Spheres

And for the detail blog recap click the link.

For dinner we ventured to Coombs, home of the famous “Old Country Market”, where goats live on the roof. We visited too late in the day to shop or dine within, but came at the right time to interact and take photos of the goats. There were no customers and/or crowds and the 3 live in goats were resting. One was especially friendly, approaching us in hope of food.

We also got an opportunity to explore the “Coombs Emporium”, a garden of stone statues and and antiques. Curious without context, but it made for a great photo opportunity. A farm of stone animals including lions, fish, and giraffes; oh my.

Dinner was at “Cuckoo”, a popular restaurant amongst locals serving Italian cuisine and pizza. The food was pretty standard, but the setting is the reason you would visit anyways. For the full story on “Cuckoo” click the link.

Cuckoo Trattoria & Pizzeria, Coombs BC

 

There isn’t much to do in the area, so we headed back to our sphere for the night. There, we enjoyed the space with the board games made available, while sipping wine from glasses they had in the cupboards.

The next day we made our way to Victoria, with some pit stops along the way, pausing at points of interest. Like “Ladysmith”, Canada’s “greatest street” with historic buildings and artifacts, and the placards to explain the significance of each. Ore hand carts and rainbow crosswalks and benches.

While there we stopped by an old town bakery for one of their many varieties of cinnamon buns. This is the berry and ginger.

Next we stopped at “Damali” farm and winery to check out their lavender fields. Sadly, it was not as expected. Not enough purple in the fields, and the labyrinth maze turned out to be only small ridges raised from the ground. The gazebo was not well kept, and the remainder of the crops have yet to really bloom. So this ended up being a quick visit. A few photos and a bottle of their lavender flavoured wine to go.

 

From there we continued our adventure in to Victoria for a two day and one night stay. For the continuation of this trip, click part two!

Nissan Nismo 370z, review

The latest Nismo version of the legendary Nissan “ Z “ sport car was released a few years back. This was during a time where most of its competition opted to follow the same technological advancement curve. Natural transitions such a as low displacement turbocharged engines, direct injections, and electronic safety features. And here was the “Z” bucking against this trend, it set out on its own path, refusing to follow suite with any of the above.

Nismo is the in-house tuning, motor-sports, and performance division of Nissan. Its name brings about the expectation that you will be getting something more, something better. And this more and better is the refined 370z that we were gifted the use of for the week.

Starting with the exterior, the Nismo trim comes with some aero/exterior upgrades, such as front lip, side skirts, and rear wing. The wheel base is 3” longer and 1 inch wider, under each arch sits some beautiful 19” wheels, produced by Rays engineering in Japan. This is an exclusive for Nissan’s special “Z” version. And to finish it off, Nissan added some red accents here and there, just to highlight and differentiate, making it clear that this is not just another regular 370z.

On the inside, the red accented theme carried forward. The Recaro seat holds you tight with beautiful craftsmanship. Although being a pretty curvaceous female, I do find the fit a little more snug if you have hips. None-the-less it is safety first when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle with this much power. It perfectly matches to the Alcantara steering. As a knit pick, my partner found that the bulky shift knob made gear changes awkward, and cumbersome. Something more delicate for more precise shifting would be ideal given the size of my hand and personal preference.

Another minor issue my partner found a hassle was the lack of a telescopic steering. Him having long legs, meant it was difficult trying to find the perfect driving position. As for myself, with my shorter stumps, I had no issue climbing in and out and making myself comfortable in the cockpit.

Tech wise the Nismo Z is a bit behind, the main and only screen display GPS/map is very basic, with a fairly outdated look. The eight speakers Bose sound system was alright, but nothing special, or even worthy of the cockpit it was outfitted in. I don’t know about you, but when I get behind the wheel of a fine vehicle such as this, and feel the power underfoot, I need the perfect background track to complete the scene. And it is hard to get it without satellite radio, or speakers that can exemplify everything else around it. Although all this is pretty standard, considering that the Z was intended as a good and reliable sport car, not some groundbreaking technological marvel of a vehicle. This was built for a driver in mind, not a commuter.

Under the hood you get a naturally aspirated, 3.7 litre VQ-series engine (VQ37VHR). The V6 engine that powers the standard 370z was tweaked to generate 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque. This is a notch up from the standard 370z’s 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The Z comes standard with a 6 speed manual transmission with SynchroRev to match. The synchrorev system ensure that you match the engine speed on every downshift. This little piece of precision makes it feel like you are a pro-race car driver. Nissan does also offer it as an automatic transmission with paddle shifter, but why would you choose this option in a car that was built for spirited driving?

Having your right foot heavy, the Nismo left you will a lighter wallet. The fuel economy wasn’t great, but then again, this isn’t meant to be your daily driver.

In short, this was a masterfully built piece of machinery, meant to propel the driver and highlight the sensations of driving. We enjoyed our week with it, taking her on spontaneous cruises along the mountain side, and showing her off to the pedestrians walking around downtown under twinkling lights. Truly a pleasure, thank you Nissan Canada, until the next one.

 

NISSAN NISMO 370Z
nissan.ca
#NissanNismo

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