Travelling up Vancouver Island……
The morning we left Victoria was an early start. Brian was flying to Edmonton to visit his sister and aunt before catching a bus to Dawson Creek, way up northern BC, to collect his bicycle from a friend and embark on a cycle tour back home. People think we do crazy things! So after breakfast, we bid our (sad!) farewells and hit the road – or to be more accurate, made our way to the ferry. This turned out to be a good decision, as the other alternative, the Malahat, ended up blocked for more than 11 hours due to an accident.
After driving off the ferry and following the east coast highway to Nainamo / Qualicum Beach, we turned inland on route to our next “home” in Tofino. A brief stopover and stroll at Little Qualicum Falls had us salivating for the scenery we were anticipating during our travels.
And the size of the trees – both fallen and still upright – at Cathedral Grove, had us captivated and awe-struck. A few hundred years ago, a ferocious wind hit the area and blew down all the enormous trees, devastating the forests.
This has resulted in an interesting mix of old and new trees, including a gigantic Douglas fir.
We spent four nights in Tofino at a lodge hidden amongst the trees. We ticked so many things off our bucket list there that a separate write up was warranted…….(see preceding post)
After taking the road through Port Alberni back to the east coast, we headed further north. First stop Courtenay / Comox – where we discovered the best ever bakery and chocolate shop! Glenda wanted to buy the set of chocolate sockets and wrenches for Walter. In fact, she could’ve bought everything on display in the shop – and it was a big shop with lots of stuff!! She ended up having to be satisfied with a loaf of delicious pumpkin seed bread for lunch and a chocolate brownie smothered in melted Belgian chocolate to share for dessert. Sigh!
Just before arriving in Campbell River, we came across Fogg Duckers coffee shop (careful how you say it!). A very quirky beach hut with friendly barista. Unfortunately it was way too windy to sit outside but the sofa inside had a good view of the water and we thoroughly enjoyed our double espresso – something we’ve learned to savour here as a lot of coffee shops only have drip coffee (including a coffee shop in Port Alberni called Boomerang and claiming an Australian connection!)
Our accommodation just north of Campbell River was right on the water, providing us with a view of Canadian Geese and floatplanes taking off. We enjoyed dinner in the onsite pub and breakfast at the restaurant, not wanting to tear ourselves away from the view. That is, apart from heading out for a morning run where we saw two juvenile (still brown) bald eagles on a rock barely 10 metres from the waterside path. Not to mention the two full grown ones (parents?) in the tree nearby.
Leaving Campbell River we stopped off at Elk Falls Provincial Park. We completed the walk to the falls – oh so worth it. Spectacular falls.
For lunch, we enjoyed leftover pumpkin bread and cheese in the car by the bay in Sayward as it was way too windy to sit at the picnic tables. At Port McNeill we were able to find espresso again! Then off to Port Hardy to check-in to our hotel, a venue that is owned by the local First Nation people, full of local art and has only been open about a year.
A long walk around the waterfront had its rewards when we came across a restaurant and bar overlooking the marina and estuary. We savoured our malbec and ribs whilst watching the floatplanes and dragon boats and admiring the four bald eagles circling around the fishing boats.
On another of our walks we came across the carrot. An interesting story that I am sure many other cities around the world relate to. Best explained in the photo below.
Port Hardy was our entry point to the ferry to take us through the Inside Passage. This is the passage to Alaska, but we were only going as far as Prince Rupert, still in BC, Canada.
Having driven south to north up Vancouver Island reinforces just how big Vancouver Island is. Then looking at Vancouver Island in relation to Canada – WoW – Canada as we knew is BIG!!! Good thing we have 3 months to at least see some of it.