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.