Tuesday, August 22, 2017
SMOKE ON THE WATER – A BRIEF TOUR OF VANCOUVER ISLAND
… some thoughts and incidents from the great
California to Vancouver Island Loop of 2017…
Vancouver Island is a Pacific gem worthy of more time for exploration than we afforded. But our abbreviated visit – enough to invite us to return – was probably just about the right length given the blow-over from mainland fires only a few dozen kilometers east.
The journey began by lashing the big T-bird to the sidewalls of the Black Ball Ferry sailing out of Port Angeles…
… then heading above deck to take in the view.
Smoke and haze clung to the Washington State end of the voyage, but cleared as we entered the harbor at Victoria.
The city is clean and beautiful, enhanced by many floral displays in even the tiniest of spaces.
A trip to Butchart Gardens proved unnecessary.
Day Two found us playing tag with traffic on BC 19 and BC 19 A until we reached our digs at Campbell River. “Love Boats” were said to frequent this channel.
Smoke had settled on the Inside Passage at daybreak. We were unlikely to see one of those Love Boats.
But a derelict boathouse ages on the rocky beach.
Fresh Salmon was purchased off the pier in Campbell River to be grilled for dinner, but the following night, our landlord provided us with fresher salmon – he being a fishing guide in real life. It’ll take me a while to get re-acclimated to the store bought fish I find in my little berg.
Attempting to escape the haze, we sojourned to Gold River, a nice ride through verdant hills and past deep blue lakes. Gold Lake, touted by some as an artist enclave, we didn’t scratch around deep enough to find their lairs.
The second leg of our tour found us at the Black Rock Oceanside Resort in Ucluelet on the Pacific side. http://www.blackrockresort.com/ Here, the air was cloaked in a refreshing fog.
From the resort, nicely groomed bluff side trails tunneled through foliage bridged streams and provided access to beaches.
Ucluelet has a quaint harbor with a tiny fishing fleet, some warm and welcoming bakeries and provides an un-tourist-i-fied experience on this side of the island.
Just a short hop up the road rests Tofino, a well-renowned destination and surfing capitol.
The Main Street caters to tourists with pubs and restaurants, ice cream shops and novelty stores. A block away, the waterfront seems a bit more purposeful, harkening back to the town’s lumber and fishing heritage.
Stumbling around, as I do, I found this interesting marker that I hesitated to photograph as I hadn’t done much, if any, of the Trans-Canada Highway.
South of Tofino, beach access invites a stroll…
…and another lighthouse forces a shot.
Our trip was planned to revolve around two guys on motorcycles tailed by their wives in a car. My riding partner, however, carried home with him from Europe some sort of gastro-bug that rendered not riding the safer choice. Shout out here to the good folks at the lovely Qualicum Beach Inn http://www.qualicumbeachinn.com/ (in Qualicum Beach) who graciously allowed him to stash his bike in their back lot. During our next visit to the island, the hostelry will definitely be getting our business.
We caught the BC Ferry from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen. The afternoon mists on the Sound muted the islands and shoreline making us momentarily forget they we not out at sea on a ship skippered by Gavin McLeod. Skirting the City of Vancouver, we returned to Washington State.
Six Days on Vancouver Island is not nearly enough. Port Hardy calls, as do many hot springs, hiking trails and rocky beaches.
We’re told that the smoke clears after the first big storm but that in recent years, large fires have become more common on the mainland creating the atmosphere we’d experienced touring the island.
Church of the Open Road Press