Tofino Roundup

It’s been a busy few days. We’re in Vancouver city right now, and I just realized that I never posted much about Tofino. So here goes…

Basically, it felt like a whirlwind. Well, actually the entire trip has felt that way so far. I think it’s because we’re constantly on the move. We stayed in Tofino for 3 nights – did a bunch of rainforest hikes. One of the coolest ones was at the Cathedral Grove in Port Alberni, which is actually on the way to Tofino. It’s weird – all the rainforest trails have boardwalks, and we’re used to hiking on actual…ground. However, I understand that the boardwalks are there in order to preserve the rainforest. You don’t want humans stomping on precious plants and insects.

It was Trevor’s turn to peek around a tree:

We checked out South Beach one day. The tides were really low, so we were able to hunt for critters. That’s what I’m doing below. Later in the day, this whole area was covered in water.

Then, we went to Long Beach, which is 16 km long. It’s a mecca for surfers. Trevor tried to get some photos of them; they’re just tiny spots on the waves.

Trevor also snapped a photo of me reading the Tofino Times. It was cold on the beach, though some teenage girls were wearing bikini tops!

Tons of huge logs get washed up on the beach when the tide comes in. There were signs everywhere warning you to be careful! You might get squashed between logs if you’re caught unaware.

We kept hearing about how brilliant the sunset was all over Tofino, but you think we could see it? We missed it one night because I don’t know what we were doing, and the next night we were at the prime-sunset-viewing-spot 45 minutes before the scheduled sun setting, but it was cloudy. Just as the sky was beginning to turn reddish orange, the sun ducked behind some clouds.

Here’s me trying to stay warm while we wait for the sun to set:

This was our best sunset sighting. Neat silhouette, though.

Oh, Trevor really wanted to go kayaking to Meares Mountain to see a 2,000-year-old tree, so we signed up for a tour. We would’ve just rented kayaks on our own, but we didn’t know exactly how to get to Meares Island, so guided tour it was.

The problem was that the company had one- and two-person kayaks, and Trevor and I hadn’t decided if we were going to go single or not. There ended up being an odd number of people in our group, with one young woman looking panicked at the thought of kayaking on her own, so I offered to go with her. It was okay and everything, but I definitely want my own kayak in the future; you can set your own pace and don’t have to worry about taking a five-second break, or worry about not keeping up with the group because the other person is taking a 60-second break.

Meares Island was cool enough, but Trevor and I have decided we won’t do the group thing again; you can’t take your time wandering around. There was a guide in front setting a fast pace and a guide at the back making sure we weren’t dawdling. There was barely any time to snap a decent photo. It was hard to spy wildlife and neat plants because you basically had to stare down at the old rickety boardwalk. One lady actually went through a board!

Vancouver Island, Baby!

On Tuesday evening, we finally made it as far west as we planned to drive (and ferry) – Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. Highway 4 on the Island is twisty. Trevor was driving, and while he wasn’t white-knuckling it, he felt he really had to concentrate.

We rolled into the town of 1,500 or so around 7 p.m., and cruised down the main drag, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for the B&B we were booked into.

We found it off the main road (after a few turnarounds and a stint on a dead-end road getting directions from the B&B host). And get this, the B&B has its own private pebble beach! Amazing. We can walk off the deck, through a short expanse of rainforest, and be sitting on the beach in about five minutes. We can’t believe it.

The inside of the B&B is beyond amazing, too. The owner is an artist who carved all sorts of designs into the wooden beams, walls, stairs, etc. of the house. Some of the supporting beams are actually massive tree trunks. The photo below gives you a good idea of what I mean. (This photo is from the Hertel’s Beach website.)

This is the main floor, not where us guests stay, but we do get to have breakfast here.

The agenda for the next few days is hiking various trails in the Pacific Rim National Park, a thin strip of land that runs along Vancouver Island’s southwestern coast. We can’t wait to explore all the beaches, rainforests, and little islands. We hope to catch sight of some whales, or maybe sea lions.

We also plan to head to Tofino, check out the town, and watch the surfers catch some waves. We won’t be surfing , though. The only way we’re getting in the water is in a kayak, which will be happening on Thursday, when we paddle over to Meares Island to check out a 2,000-year-old tree. Holy cow.

Pender Island

For the past two days, we’ve been bootin’ around Pender Island, another one of the Gulf Islands. (We sure do get around, don’t we?)

Pender is not as populated as Salt Spring, with Pender having only about 2,000 people. We had to take two ferries to get here because of the way the schedule worked out, but it was no big deal. On the second ferry, we were first in line so it felt like we were driving on the water.

Our home has been the Hummingbird Hollow B&B on Buck Lake, and our hosts are Chuck and Doreen. It’s such a cool little place. There’s a bedroom, bathroom, enclosed sun room, and an open porch. Sunday evening when we were sitting on the porch, we saw hummingbirds, ducks, deer, and various large birds. I did a bit of work while Trevor went for a paddle around the lake. He said the fish were really jumping. Supposedly, the lake is stocked with trout every three years.

The front view of the Hummingbird Hollow.

And man, was the breakfast ever good. So filling! Potato zucchini latkes, an herb egg dish with peppers and ham, english muffins, and a tasty fruit bowl. And this seems to be par for the course out here, but AGAIN, we saw deer outside the window! What the heck?

Waiting for sheep feed.

Trevor wanted to get to the car, but the deer were right on the driveway.

The tamest deer we've ever seen.

I tell ya, though, we needed that breakfast because we decided to ride our bikes to the disc golf course, and it was all UPHILL. That 15-minute ride kicked our butts all around the island. By the end of it, our legs were trembly and we both felt like throwing up. As we sat panting and struggling for breath, Trevor summed it up with one simple, yet embarrassingly appropriate, word… Pathetic.

Yeah, we’re not doing too well on the cardio front.

The disc golf course was ridiculous. Trees and rocks everywhere.

We decided to take a different route home, even though it would’ve been mostly downhill. But hey, Trevor wanted to explore. He ended up getting a flat tire on the trail part where we had to push our bikes uphill. Below is him walking his bike into the B&B’s driveway:

A big thumb's down to the flat tire.

Trevor’s Two Cents

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been a blog hog this entire trip, but Trevor just posted his thoughts about our trek on Facebook:

“Awesome so far! I don’t even know where to start… I just got back from a little paddle around a tiny lake on a small island in the pacific. So far today I’ve seen a dolphin, about a thousand deer, trouts, rabbits, sheep, goats, starfish, crabs, humming birds and some other s–t that I have no idea what it is… I’ve …hiked up mountains, ferried around gulf islands, played some sweet disc golf courses, eaten amazing organic food and so forth… Amazing!”

Well said.

Market, Hike, and a Slug

Today we went to the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market. Everyone kept telling us we had to go there, and we’re so glad we did. Talk about a bustling place! There was organic food galore, treats and baked goods for everyone, music performers, buskers, and a guy who promised to give us a trip to a higher plane for a small donation.

We picked up fresh food for dinner: salmon, greens, small carrots, and sprouted vegetables (chick peas, lentils, sweet peas), and sprouted peanuts. I’ve never had peanuts that haven’t been roasted. Man, they are good!

Trevor took a photo of our dinner. :) Oops, the rice is missing.

Simply delicious.

We weren’t the only ones eating… We saw this deer munching away through our front window:

After the market and before dinner, we decided to hike around Mount Maxwell. It was supposed to have awesome view points, and it did. We had to drive up a pot-holey road with crumbly gravel, but our Jetta managed no problem. Parts of the road to our camp are worse! We took a few shots:

After the breath-taking views, we just had to hike around. The only thing is that the start of Trail 1 is marked, but once you get going, you run into Trails 2 through 5, with no indication of how long they are or where you’re headed. We had been on 1, decided to veer off on to 2 because there was a sign for water, then got worried that it might turn into the Hike from Hell. We don’t like Hikes from Hell. (Our last one had been in Killarney where we had decided to take a “quick” hike before leaving the campground and found ourselves on a 3-hr trek with no water and me in dumb sandals.)

Needless to say, we turned around about an hour into the hike, which meant we we were mostly heading uphill and across the mountain. Tiring, but exhilarating at the same time. Eagle-Eye McCartney (as I like to call Trevor) noticed all sorts of things while we were hiking: tiny camouflaged mushrooms, fungus, slugs – you name it, he saw it. I, on the other hand, usually miss everything, but not the big banana slug below:

The slug hid its head when it realized we were there. Looks kind of disgusting. To get a sense of the slug’s size, Trevor put his wedding band just above the slug’s head, and the slug’s head was bigger! I was going to post that photo, but it was a little blurry.

Trevor couldn’t believe this oyster mushroom community:

Here’s me hiding in a massive tree:

And I always did think Trevor was a treehugger…

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island, one of the small Gulf Islands near Vancouver Island, is absolutely amazing! We hadn’t even been here a day before Trevor said, “Can we live here?” The plan was to stay Thursday and Friday night, but we’ve decided to stay Saturday night, too.

An aerial shot of Salt Spring Island.

We managed to book a cabin at the Salt Spring Spa. Sounds fancy, eh? However, we won’t be partaking in the spa stuff; we’re not really into that, though each cabin is equipped with a special mineral bath. This place will be the splurge of the trip. Our view from the porch is the Pacific!

We can see the Pacific Ocean!

Here’s an exterior shot of our cabin. The roof is domed.

Our cabin. Pretty sweet.

To get to Salt Spring, we took the ferry at 7:20 p.m. Thursday night. We had to be there at least 40 minutes before that to get our car in line. See it in the photo below? It looks so small compared to the other vehicles.

The ferry stopped at four other islands before hitting Salt Spring, which made it about a three-hour ferry ride. Supposedly, there was a pod of orcas near the ferry, but all we saw were suspicious-looking bubbles.

View from ferry. Suspicious bubbles.

We spent today exploring the island. It’s only 186 square km, and there are three “urban centres” – Ganges, Vesuvius Bay, and Fulford. Talk about twisting and winding roads! There are many people riding bikes and walking on the shoulder, so you need to be really careful while driving. We saw a couple of deer and a big goat on the road!

A shot of Ganges Harbour. Tons of boats everywhere, big and small

It’s weird. We’re in Canada, but it feels like we’re on a tropical island. The vegetation is quite lush. Being here reminds us of Belize.

Trevor took some photos of us disc golfing (I think we’ll be disc golfing every course in BC. Ha, ha.) The trees are huge, ferns cover the ground, and a lot of the ground is moist. Unfortunately, Trevor lost a disc in the undergrowth. We searched for it, but to no avail. And to think that it was a bright orange disc. How could we miss it??

Isn't this crazy?!

Trevor playing King of the Castle.

Fair trade organic everything is big on Salt Spring, so we decided to play local and have a coffee. We’re not coffee drinkers, and we tried really hard to like our coffee and cappuccino, but no dice. We’re tea people through and through.

The plan for the next couple of days is to hike/explore the island, ride our bikes, play disc golf, and go to the famous Saturday market.

Weather & Tech Moaning

Rain, rain, rain! I know it’s British Columbia, but we’re really getting skunked with the weather here. We checked out of the hotel around 11 a.m. and decided to drive the two hours to Tsawwassen where we had to catch the ferry to Salt Spring Island. It would’ve been great to explore the town of Hope or hike a trail or two, but the weather is just not cooperating. However, the forecast for the next four days looks good – low to mid-twenties with, dare I write it, sun!

We stopped at a Future Shop along the way to Tsawwassen because my laptop needed a new wireless card. I can’t access the Internet when it’s a secure server (which is most everywhere). I’m sick of reading the sentence, “You have connected to the access point, but the Internet cannot be found.” Argh!!! Trevor and I were going to just share his laptop, but we’re both doing work, and that would’ve been annoying. So, new card it is. We’ll see how it works.

Heading to Vancouver Island

We left Stephen and Anna’s place around 10 a.m. this morning, new car spacers in place. (These will help with the car bottoming out when we go over a bump.) We’ve driven 4140 km so far! Wow. Our little Jetta sure is pulling through for us.

We’re spending the night at the Quality Inn in Hope, BC, about a 2-hr drive away from Vancouver. The plan is to drive to Vancouver Thursday morning, and take a ferry either to V Island or one of the smaller Gulf Islands, like Salt Spring or Pender. The only thing with the smaller islands is that the ferries don’t run that often. The Salt Spring ferry gets you there for 10 p.m. – perhaps a little too late to roll in and look for a place to stay?

Disc Golfing at Infinity Solstice’s

We disc golfed at the Go Organic Sports Ranch today. We’re not sure what was organic about it, but wow, what a crazy course. The owner, Infinity Solstice (he legally changed his name to this), met us at the gate. He and his friends were really excited to see all the discs that Trevor had in his bag.

Infinity couldn’t play with us as he had to deliver some goat meat somewhere, but he took us to the start, and played a few holes. There were 38 in total. Talk about an epic game! The holes were pretty short, though. There weren’t many baskets to throw your disc into; instead we were aiming for targets, such as wind chimes, old car doors, tires, a Windermere Rd sign (from Toronto), a shopping cart… The last target was a car bumper strung up about 30 ft in the air!