After arriving on the Island at sundown we drove the 15 minutes into Nanaimo to Living Forest RV Resort. We were not going to spend a lot of time here, just a day, long enough to try an award winning Nanaimo Bar (even though we think Peter Jedicke’s are better!) and cycle around downtown. From Nanaimo we drove into the centre of the Island to Port Alberni, where we spent 2 nights boondocking at Bob and Brenda’s. Since the weather was good we spent the day exploring the area cycling. We headed into the hills north of the city before swinging back into town and around to the waterfront. We were invited by our hosts to help ourselves to their garden so we did not pass up an offer like that and picked some blackberries, raspberries, chives and potatoes before we left.
From Port Alberni to Canada’s West Coast town of Tofino there is one road, Canada’s Surfing Highway, the #4. So, we turned right and drove as far west as the road would take us. We found our home for the next ten days at Crystal Cove RV Resort at the south end of Tofino. To get into Tofino downtown we could either walk along the coast for four and a half kilometres or cycle the road for four. Once we were set up under our trees we started to explore by pedal power. After a quick stop at the tourist information centre, we headed to a fish shop that advertised themselves as “the freshest fish on the plane”t. With a salmon filet in our cooler bag we headed “downtown” Tofino to see Gloria (another Zehr Cousin) who was wrapping up her Tofino vacation. We had a nice couple hours visiting looking out over the water towards Meares Island and one of its peaks known as Lone Cone. More on Lone Cone later!
We have looked forward to visiting Tofino for years, and apparently we have enticed a few other people here as well. Our first visitors arrived the day after us with Lynn and Julie moving into a fifth wheel trailer about twenty five metres away! The fresh salmon from the fish market the day before was cooked on the barbeque and we welcomed our guests with a belated
10th Wedding Anniversary dinner. It was nice to be able to explore with friends! First, with a walk into town, and when we took the wrong path home we ended up at Tofino Brewing Company, such an unfortunate thing! After tasting some of their craft beer a purchase was made! The next morning we put on our walking shoes again and headed back downtown for a “bear watching” boat tour of Lemmins Inlet of Meares Island. At low tide the black bears come down to the waterfront and
look for crabs, and we were not disappointed. Not only did we see a couple of bears we saw bald eagles and sea lions as well. After the relaxing boat ride June and Julie had a spa date and the guys walked home and got dinner ready and prepared for a campfire to finish the day. The following
day was spent exploring the coast south of us. Starting at the lookout point at Radar Hill there was a short hike down a “local” trail where we had to use ropes for part of it. Then a boardwalk hike through the rainforest with a nice walk along Long Beach and the Pacific Ocean. To end the day we had a gorgeous window view from Long Beach Lodge for dinner as we watched the surfers in the water and the setting sun over the ocean. It was good seeing them and it was sad to say goodbye.
However, we did not have to wait long until our next visitors came. Leslie and Steve were due to arrive in two days so to fill our time we went for a 10km walk along the ocean down along Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay Beach to where there was a Ladies Surfing Championship taking place. This was also where Long Beach Lodge was located and they happened to have a “Happy Hour” at that time of the day, what luck! We also managed to get a 78 kilometer cycle down to Ucluelet and back the next day with a planned stop at Long Beach Lodge for “Happy Hour” again!!
Before our friends arrived later the next day, we cycled down to the waterfront and caught a water taxi over to Meares Island. From the dock on the island we walked about 250 meters up the gravel road towards the village. Here we found the trail head that took us up to the top of Lone Cone. From this point we were 3.5 kilometres from, and 730 metres below, the peak. So, for the next two hours we trekked through mud, over and under trunks of fallen cedars, stumbled over and around tree roots AND then we climbed. Most of the 730m gain came in the last kilometer and it went straight up, no switchbacks no levelling off, just up! There were strategically placed roots and rocks placed by Mother Nature and some ropes placed by
man to help in the climb. After two hours of grumbling and complaining, the view that we saw when we walked out of the trees onto the rock bluff was gorgeous. What a perfect spot for a picnic! After admiring the ocean, the islands and the blue sky it was time to hike (and a slide a little) down the mountain back to the dock where hopefully a boat was waiting for us when we got there. Never have we been covered with so much mud and feeling so great after a hike. We definitely earned dinner tonight and we enjoyed it watching the sun set over the Pacific from our new favourite place, Long Beach Lodge, with our next visitors, Steve and Leslie!
Our last two days in Tofino were spent mostly on the water. First we went sea kayaking from the docks of Tofino with Leslie and Steve in a double kayak and June and I each had our own. Our guide Marcus was an asset, as there are a lot of currents with the tide going out and the water flowing around the islands. With his help none of us ended up out in the Pacific Ocean and were able to safely stay around the inner islands where we were meant to be. It was a beautiful sunny day like almost every day since we have been on the coast. All that was great, but the best part was the animals that we saw. There were Blue Herons, a baby Moon Jellyfish (which June touched), lots of Kelp Crabs and of course a Bald Eagle.
The greatest surprise were the Star Fish, it literally was a Star Fish Safari, we saw yellow ones, red ones, brown ones, orange ones and even a huge one eating a sea urchin! Then just before we arrived back at the dock we saw the illusive purple one.
We finished the day with a fish and chip dinner down by the water and then back to Juergen for a campfire. Living in a rain forest , campfires are hard to start as the wood is very moist but we were up to the challenge both times!
After a day of kayaking we decided we deserved some Hot Springs time. To get there we had to board another boat. We headed north through the smaller islands up the coast of Vancouver Island to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park and to the Natural Hot Springs. The boat ride turned into a two hour nature cruise. We had a great sighting of a Bald Eagle, a Sea Otter lounging floating on his back, a Harbour Porpoise, a herd of Seals playing in the water and then before we got to the park, we floated along with a Grey Whale. Yesterday we had a Star Fish Safari, today as we were docking we were surrounded by Jellyfish, big ones, little ones, ones with orange rings inside them and others almost completely transparent. An amazing ride and we had not even set foot on land yet.
The walk to the Hot Springs was a 2 km boardwalk through the rain forest. We had an hour to have our picnic and then soak in the hot water falls and pools in the rocks. The water streaming from the rocks starts out at 109C and cools as it flows over the rocks and then mixes with the sea. These springs were quite different to the other ones that we have been to. It was natural,
basically you just walked around on rocks and sat on them in the water. After relaxing in the sun and hot water it was time to walk back through the forest to the dock and board the boat for the ride south again. This time we stayed a little further off the coast and hung with a couple Grey Whales again before heading out into the Pacific Ocean to chill with a Humpback Whale. Another great day in Paradise!
It was time to leave Tofino, but we will have to return someday as we did not see any storms come in (not complaining as the weather was beautiful) or do any surfing! We hit the road early as we had to take the slow curvy drive back across the
Island to our new home at Weir’s Beach for the next week. From our beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca we could look back east and see the skyline of Victoria with Mount Baker peaking up behind it. If we looked to the south west we saw the snow covered peaks of the Olympic Mountain range in Washington State. We were close to Victoria, but were still in the country with farms selling eggs and deer roaming freely. Another local charm was a small restaurant in Metchosin where we had Thanksgiving Dinner with Leslie and Steve. Our week went by quickly as we spent sometime in downtown Victoria with them walking around and seeing where Steve had worked, as well as some of his favourite places. We spent a day on Salt Spring Island at the Farmers Market trying to get the “Hippies Vibe” that the island is known for. We toured the Hatley Castle and old Fort Rodd and Lighthouse.
This area of the Island is a lot more cycling friendly but very hilly which is a mixed blessing. We had a nice loop that took us over the Coburg Peninsula at the Esquimalt Lagoon and back. We even had a Black Bear run across the road in front of us, and he was BIG!
We have lots of Mule Deer, young and old, in the area as well so nature was abundant. When we were packing up we even had one visit us at our site. Then on our last day with Steve and Leslie we had High Tea at the Empress Hotel in the afternoon. As we said goodbye to our visitors from back home we also said goodbye to Weir’s Beach and moved over to our home in Victoria for the next four weeks.