Archive for Tofino

Victoria, British Columbia

August 11, 2008

Last nite I explored some areas not near the harbor, which I think is too touristy except for the Parliament Building [with pretty white lights on the edges], the marina, and the block long, ivy covered, fancy Empress Hotel [lit up with changing colored lights at nite].

Victoria has grown on me.  I really like the totem poles they have here.

Today I’m going to check out the Legislative Building, Butchart Gardens, and if I can pass US Customs/Border Patrol…will be on a ferry later today to Port Angeles, which is on a San Juan Island off Washington [and next to Olympic National Park].

MUST do’s re Vancouver Island:
* must drive to Long Beach/Tofino
* must book your accommodations [camping/room] in advance [in August].  Do NOT wing it…it is either impossible, or nearly impossible to get a room/camping spot…anywhere.

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Long Beach and Tofino, British Columbia

 

August 8, 2006

I would have been a fool indeed if I had NOT driven to Tofino.  The drive alone was worth the trip, even if I found mediocracy [unsure if that’s a word] at the end…which I didn’t.

It only took 10 minutes inland from Parksville for the wow factor to kick back in.

Spectacular.  Picturesque rivers, lakes, mountains.  Lots of stopping and picnicking.

This part of the island is only around 100 miles wide, however, the drive takes much longer than you’d expect.  Most of the road is very narrow, twisty/windy, up and down mountains, lumpy/bumpy…driving between 30 – 40 mph.

I’ve seen a few logging trucks on the road, not too many, and only saw one small spot where they clear cut the trees.

On the way I saw a sign for “pot sale”.  A week ago I would have known it was for plants, but it made me laugh with a different vision.

There was sign to check your fuel – next gas station was 55 miles away.  Right after that, there was  “closed” sticker on the gas station sign.  I knew to fill up.

Long Beach is on the west end of the island, and then Tofino is about 10 miles beyond that.  Between mid island and Long Beach, the temp dropped 30 degrees.

The area along the coast, including Long Beach is a Provincial National Park.  I hiked the Wickaninnish Trail, which they call the Bonsai Forest – due to the little trees/vegetation.  Hiked down to Florencia Bay where there were surfers in wet suits, surfing in the cold [60’] and fog.  Lots of white drift wood on the beach and people building fires.  Very misty/foggy…mystical.  I hiked thru trails of huge cedar and fern trees.  All I had heard about is Long Beach, Long Beach, Long Beach, which I thought was just ok [but I’m not a beach person].  More people in wet suits surfing, LOTS of driftwood, fog.  I think without the fog it wouldn’t have been as cool.

I had thought of taking a passenger ferry to Ucluelet and then cycling over to Tofino. I would have been sooo disappointed if I had done this.  First it’s far away, and second, there are no trails for people to cycle/walk on [narrow road], and thirdly, from the road you can’t see the water…you have to park and hike in.

I had done all I could do at Long Beach.  I decided to drive the remaining 10 miles to see Tofino.  Unsure if it would be worth the drive, but what the hey.  I drove past a few areas where there were 5 older wooden buildings, and wondered if this was the village of Tofino [ie Lake Louise], but kept going.  I thought I’d go until the road literally ends.  I turned a bend, and literally yelled out  “HOLY F*#%”. Immediately pulled over to take photos.  There were already quite a few cars there with people taking photos…and more cars stopping.  It was that initial POW.

What took away from the beauty was a huge tourist bus, other machinery/equipment, and the workings of a working logging/fishing area.  I spent the next hour meandering my way to areas where I could get a photo without the added “junk” in them.  However, I did attach the photos of my initial wow moment.  Of course, seeing it panoramically is more impressive.

Tofino is a working fishing/whale watching/logging town with a lot of young people who could use a good warm shower.  There is a dichotomy…lots of people/housing who seem in need of money, and then there are the resorts and the $25 personal small pizzas.  Meals at a small café are $25 – 30.

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Parksville, British Columbia

August 6, 2008

I am in Parksville.  Yesterday, my plans for yesterday and today changed about every 2 hours.  You are lucky I wasn’t sending emails out, and are spared the minutia.

 

After I sent the email out yesterday morning, I realized that I had asked Meredith her opinion of where to go/what to do.  She nixed several places I had heard about.  Told me I needed to go to Tofino, Ucluelet [both on the west side of the island. half hour apart], and she mentioned Parksville several times…even mentioned 2 places for me to stay here.

 

Victoria is on the southern end of the island.  There is a highway that runs along the eastern side of the island, and one, maybe two roads that cross the island to the west side.

 

My goals are to drive north along the eastern shore [6 hours to Port Hardy] and also to cut across to visit Tofino on the western shore [drive north 2.5 hours, then cut west].

 

Yesterday my only question/concern would be: which to do first?

 

I saw a Gremlin [car].  When’s the last time you’ve seen one of those [or a Pacer]?

 

Lots of wineries and fruit stands.  I had my fill of strawberries in WI and MN, then I had my fill of cherries all thru Canada to Vancouver.  Am currently eating my fill of raspberries and blueberries.

 

Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the highway is “near” the eastern coast, but NOT next to it.  Besides lookout/viewing areas, I hardly saw the water.  The landscape w/o the water, is just OK.

 

I got to Parksville, which just happens to be the turning west point and decided I needed to suss the situation out [see if further north the landscape suddenly gets the “wow” factor].  Meredith had highly recommended me staying here, so I decided to do that.

 

I am unsure why she’s is so keen on Parksville, and have decided that maybe this is the best there is.  To me, it’s just an ok little town.  The big thing here are the beaches, and I’m not a beach person.  The tide does seem to recede greatly – several hundred meters, and the water is warm.  They claim it’s around 70’, I’m not sure about that, but I would consider it warm.

 

I made 3 friends yesterday, all of whom said that the drive north is exactly the same as the drive from Victoria.  I have had my fill.

 

The big thing to do here [besides the beaches] is to go to Coombs.  It is a little community about 10 minutes away that sells a bunch of artisan products, has a health food store, a café, and several ice cream places.  The store/café has a grass roof and goats live up there.

 

While standing in the café line, I met Sandee, her 2 poised, well behaved daughters, and her mom-in-law.  Sandee is a spitfire and I loved her company. I had lunch with them and then hung out with them while the daughters and MIL shopped.  Sandee grew up just north of here and they are staying there with friends.

 

Her hubby and father-in-law come here each year to go fishing.  Depending upon the size the fish, they come back each year with between 200 – 300# of fish.  They catch the limit, take it to a place to be cleaned and shipped to them in Calgary.

Sandee says Tofino is “mind blowing”. It’s rugged, the edge is a Provincial Park [Long Beach], the trees are only so high cuz of the wind, you won’t find anyone swimming in that water…the COLD Pacific Ocean…which is the only thing between you and Japan. [You had to hear her say it to fully enjoy.]  Hanging out with her was thoroughly delightful.

 

We were looking at maps, and she said that all that land [where there are no roads – the middle of the island] is full of pot growers.  The gov’t stopped flying over the land cuz they kept finding too much, and now they just rely on people squealing on their neighbors.

 

After that, I went to the coffee shop…and met Anne Marie.  She’s  a little older than myself, teacher and wheel chair bound.  I talked with her all afternoon re things to do on the west side/coast.  She told me I would be a fool if I came all this way and didn’t drive the 3 hours [along twisty turning roads] to Tofino. Just a fool.  She said it’s something I just have to see.

 

I then went and explored the beach[es].  As mentioned above, the water is warm…but not warm enough to entice me [at 5pm].

 

Later I had dinner with Anne Marie, her hubby and her son, who is 10.

 

All around an enjoyable day.

 

Am off to Tofino to have my mind blown.  I wonder if that includes a stop along the way to a pot growing farm?

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