September 12 – Vancouver Island, Canada


Up at 4 AM – we have this “unconnecting the coach” in the middle of the night down pat – so no rush and no reason to get up any earlier.

Over to the terminal by 5:30 and what to our surprise but a long line of vehicles waiting to get in – the Canadians do it different and you get checked in as soon as you drive in the parking lot and they load you as soon as possible – in fact I had no time to walk the dogs but immediately we went on board.DSC_0005

The Northern Exhibition is a little bit more high class than the Alaskan Marine ships – you pay extra ($35 to sit in the observation area) – so we are sitting looking out the side of the ship versus seeing what’s coming. And you can’t get to the front of the ship either. So all my pics will be from the side.IMG_3683

We’ve had 3 whale sitings so far – they have been fun as everyone runs to one side of the ship or the other – the whales haven’t been too close so the pics will not be the best.

The scenery has been tremendous – oh I forgot to mention it was raining when I loaded and now it is sunny – love that northern sunshine – so warm.

We did travel the Grenville Channel that was only 1400 feet wide but 1600 feet deep.

This is a 15 hour trip – they do allow us to go down on the car deck and walk the dogs every 4 hours – that helps the dogs and us as we can get food and booze (drink beer out of a sippy cup – but its beer – too cheap to pay the $7 for bottled light beer).

Today ends having to meet “previous made” reservations – it has been rough having to be at certain places by a certain time especially when it is in the middle of the night. Next commitment we have is being at Thanksgiving dinner at Brenda’s sister in Sacramento, California and then being in Tucson, Arizona January 2, 2018.

All I can say about this trip is that it is smooth – smoothest ride I have had in 3 months – the area is pristine – just God’s creation at its best and so relaxing – no traffic – no worries – no nothing to do!DSC_0246

Did get the opportunity to get off at Klemtu – I was the only one (because I had to walk the dogs and had to give up my driver’s license and only had 10 minutes to return – tight restrictions – Klemtu is a First Nations village and I would assume they don’t want people nosing around – we had an hour overlay at this port.

The ship even had a movie theater with 40” TV’s and we watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – been a while since I have seen that classic but it helped time go by.

Got to Port Hardy by 11:10 PM and got off fairly easy and headed over to our campground – called ahead and glad I did. They had the office open and directed us to our campsite – I hate driving at night and I hope this is my last time – need some normalcy. In bed by 12:10.

Wednesday had to get the bike rack and tow bar rehooked up – disconnected at Skagway to keep the ship ride cheaper and we had to store the bikes on our bed in transit.

Finished that work and we headed downtown Port Hardy – small harbor port. We walked along the harbor walkway and ended up walking all the way around town. After two hours we made it back to our car.

Took some mural pictures and totem poles and wood carvings.

Then went over to Fort Rupert and drove through the small community – this is a Kwakiuti First Nation village – more pics of totem poles and their cemetery.

Then we were going to walk the Tex Lyon Trail but could find the trail after we crossed the creek. Instead we walked the beach and the dogs enjoyed it a lot.

Thursday we relocated to Campbell River. Trip was beautiful – narrow right-of-way with lots of trees and smooth road. Had to go over a mountain pass with elevation about 1,100 feet – had been at sea level for so long.

Quite impressive scenery – no billboards – no houses (except near small population centers) – just a quiet beautiful drive.

Arrived at CR Fishing Village Campground. Couldn’t get into our first choice campground and looking around town this is probably the last spot in town. Campbell River is a fishing village and lots of adventure trips.

Campground is small and tight spaces but we are right on the river and have great views – even see snowcapped mountain tops. We finally got SAT TV – far enough south to get the signal – Been months and Brenda is happy!

Ventured out to Elk Falls Park. It is a hydroelectric power plant park. We hiked to the falls and suspension bridge – largest expansive suspension bridge on the island and 60 meters above the canyon. Great views.

Did find the Beach Fire Brewery in town and did enjoy one.

Friday woke up to a sunny day again – could get used to this.

Did a bike ride this morning – they have a paved trail along the river that gives you views of the mountains and water – love it!

Stood at the 50 degree parallel.

In the afternoon we walked along the harbor and their downtown shopping area with the dogs. Did go out on the spit and walk that trail too – enjoy being by the water.

Did stop by a park that had recent wood carvings.

Did find the Wei Wai Kum cemetery and they have their totem poles as grave markers.

Campbell River is one of the bigger cities on the island and had a lot more things to do.

Saturday is off to Ucluelet on the west side of the island.

WOW – WOW – WOW – what a drive – most impressive. Headed west off of Hwy 19 and then we had to cross a mountain. Tough going with the curves and grades – one time it was 18 degrees downhill – hung on tight to the steering wheel.drive1drive3drive4drive5

Went through Cathedral Grove a Red Cedar forest – the trees were tall and huge.
Final stretch of highway into our area was narrow and winding and rough road – had to pull over numerous times because I had 10 cars behind me.

Arrived at Surf Junction Campground and got settled in. The name is appropriate because they offer surfing lessons and have all the equipment ready to go – in fact Brenda and I felt like the parents of all the kids camped here and the ones we saw in town.

Did drive through Ucluelet to see what was there. Did walk along the Little Beach – remember we are on the Pacific Ocean and everything is beach related.DSC_0004DSC_0064

DSC_0110Then drove to Tofino – the other town on the ocean in this area. Again a beach town with lots of young people walking around – lots of tourist shops and restaurants.

Did stop at Tofino Brewery – only brewery on the west coast beach and had a good beer – which means a growler to go – Kelp Stout.

Sunday rain and 55. Guess I will have to cancel my surfing lesson – lol!

Rained all morning but after lunch we said lets go despite the rain we went to the Pacific Rim NP VC – free admission during Canada’s 150 year celebration.

Brenda completed her Explorer Book and got her dog tag.

Saw the movie about the area and the First Nations and their protests they did 40 years ago to stop clear cutting the timber and to allow the First Nations to rule their own area – they won the lawsuit and now try to keep the area sustainable.

While we there they were celebrating a Reconciliation Festival with the First Nations – big crowd – speakers – music and food. They provided a feast of salmon, burgers and all the fixings for free. DSC_0061

First time I had salmon cooked over an open fire.

DSC_0029 (2)The weather turned to sunshine and we walked the beach. A few surfers out.

Then we picked up the dogs and headed to Ucluelet to hike the Wild Pacific Rim lighthouse trail – part of the West Coast Trail. Nice trail with lots of trees and ocean views – watched the surf come in and did see the Amphitrite Lighthouse.

Monday heard rain drops on the roof – so rolled over and went back to sleep.
We did venture out to the rain forest – it did stop raining – and hike the two trails – WOW – they had a narrow boardwalk all through the forest – with signs explaining different aspects of a rain forest.

The trees were huge.

Very enjoyable experience even for the dogs.

We need to protect our forests as they provide for the future of this earth.

It started to rain again so we took the dogs home. Later we went to the ranger’s station for a talk on “slugs” – yes slugs – they are a critical creature in the rainforest. The ranger allowed the 2 inch banana slug to crawl all over his hand and leave a trail of slime on his hand. We learned all about the slug and to never lick one with your tongue or it will go numb.

Passed the 49th Parallel.

Went out to dinner at the Wolf in the Fog restaurant and did we enjoy – oysters, herring, octopus and a cod in a pasta dish – oh fresh fish and tastes beyond anything we had before.

There was a brochure of 150 Adventures in Pacific Rim NP to do and I don’t think we came near accomplishing all of them – not anywhere near.

Tuesday is off to Nanaimo (east side of the island).

Again the drive east was spectacular – narrow and curving – you motorcyclists would love it.

Arrived at Living Forest Oceanside RV Park and thought – oh what a lot of trees – huge campground with paved roads and very level large campsites – did get a spot that was SAT friendly – despite all the trees. Full hook up and no free Wi-Fi. Could barely see the ocean (water) from our site – there were others sites right on the water that had spectacular views.

Had rain after we arrived and so we stopped at Millstone Winery – good wine.

Wednesday the rain had subsided but it was still 46 degrees. After lunch off to the harbor. Wanted to see the Hudson Bay Company Bastion and its cannon firing but it closed after Labor Day.

Did walk along the harbor and they have an impressive harbor walk with art work and restaurants and stores and boats.

Had our first Nanaimo Bar –chocolate and custard and more chocolate. All the bars and restaurants have a version – even a martini – they sell and even have a trail with 36 stops for different varieties – oh what a tourism gimmick. We didn’t make them all due to the sugar rush.

Then walked the historic district and its stores.

 

Headed out of town to the Petroglyph Park and walked it and saw some images of mystical animals and humans carved in sandstone.

Then we found the Wolf Brewery and enjoyed a cold one to relax for the afternoon.

In the evening we thought we would tackle “professional” bingo at a bingo hall – we have not gone that route before. “Two hours of fun for $15”. We were never so confused and “in a hurry” as the caller was extremely fast – in fact I stopped playing 9 cards and went to 6 just to remain sane. She only called the number once and never told us what color cards were playing. Nice lady next to us helped us through this experience – we did have fun but didn’t win.

Thursday weather is sunny and 45 degrees – warmed up to 70.

Someday you just relax.IMG_3697

Took the passenger ferry to Protection Island for the afternoon – short 10 minute ride – residents use it like a bus – in fact there were kids heading home from school on it – way of life that would be fun.

Walked around the island that was supposed to have a pirate theme – yes they did but not as much as I was expecting. Cute little island.

The big reason for coming to the island was the Dingy Dock Pub – floating restaurant – good beer and food.DSC_0105DSC_0072DSC_0069 (2)

Back to Vancouver Island and get ready for our trip to Victoria.

Friday is off to Victoria.

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