Our latest trip took us to Vancouver Island. We stayed in Tofino with the Pacific Rim as our weekend backdrop. Here are some of the things we learned, the photos we took, and the experiences we earned. May they inspire you to explore all that British Columbia has to offer. They don’t add a “beautiful” in front of it for nothing.
Enroute to Tofino we stopped at Cathedral Grove National Park. Most of the trees here are either cedar or Douglas fir. Douglas firs are one of Canada’s largest growing trees.
This is the largest tree, it is over 800 years old and taller than the leaning tower of pisa.
Unfortunately many of these great giants have fallen due to root and stem diseases like butt rot, which are a growth that look like portobello mushroom caps. None-the-less these trees are still quite the sight to see, even in their horizontal state.
Our first stop was at Wickaninnish beach. With the sun out this afternoon, it felt like summer already. Water as far as the eye can see.
You need to pay for admittance to the beaches. It is more a parking pass. Seniors, kids, adults and families had their own price. A one day pass that opens all the beaches to you, you just need a vehicle to travel between them.
Rain or shine, Tofino is about the surf. The Pacific Rim with its underwater dips and valleys creates the large waves needed. I can’t believe we have surf country in our backyard. #beautifulbritishcolumbia
The bluish-purple lumps in the sand are dead jelly fish. Their presence is a phonomenon that started happening many years ago.
They are called velella velella, “sail jellyfish” or “by-the-wind sailors.” They start out jelly and royal blue, but eventually dry out and become rice paper thin. They can’t actually swim, so are washed out of the water by the waves, and end up on beach to die.
The wild life here is unlike anything in Vancouver. Colourful birds and vibrant sea life. This little blue bird and his friend joined us for lunch. It helped that we shared out fries with them.
Even the daisies are more animated here. Look how large they grow with the vibrant sun and the fresh air. They even seem to have more petals.
The first night’s sunset was the one to see. A few clouds didn’t matter, it couldn’t hide the intensity of the light and the neon of the sky. The hardest part was choosing what background we wanted. Islands, mountains, trees or rocks? Here are a few we liked. The sun sets at 8pm, so begins the walk across the beach to find the best place to watch it all happen. Out here, facing the Pacific Rim you get a clearer view of the sun setting behind the world. In the city sun sets are obstructed by buildings and mountains. Here you can see it disappear and tell that the world is round.
The streaks in the sky really add that feeling of life. You imagine the plane that once flew past the horizon.
And once the sun ducks into the water, the sky becomes a gradient of colour, as if in celebration. In elementary school when you had to paint those sun sets and sun rises paintings, mine looked nothing like this. #canadiankids
Our accommodations for the weekend was a flat within walking distance to the beach. We could even see it in the distance from the patio. Stella Maris is the home of a local shop owner. She rents it out for the weekend and we scooped up the chance. The flat is in Rosie Bay, one suite in a town house complex. We later found out that everyone staying this weekend was from out of town too.
She dressed her home like a hotel with embroidered pillows: “Stella Maris”, miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and the fluffiest of towels.
When it came to it, we were too lazy from the drive up, to dress up, and set up for campfire s’mores: so improvised. I have done this on the stove before, but never over a stove like this.
We then started to get creative. Candied some bacon to make breakfast s’mores, since it was closer to 5am then 12am.
Sadly our second day proved to be a cloudy one. The shadow they cast made the air feel crisp. A little too cold for us to try our hand at surfing. We agreed to come back and have our first time during summer.
We visited Ucluelet, the southern most point of Vancouver Island. It was a quick drive from Tofino. It seems more like a fishing town when compared to the surf town of Tofino.
We approached the dock by the Ucluelet aquarium. It was here we got a good look at friendly sea lions. At the neighbouring Ucluelet seafood factory, fishermen were being hounded by three barking sea lions and a flock of birds, including a baby bald eagle. They all wanted access to the fish that manage to wiggle themselves free from the nets. We captured this photo of a sea lion under the dock. He was on his way to join the others.
Jelly fish in their natural habitat.
I missed the first day’s sun. Wishing it would feel more like summer, I added a popsicle to the mix. What screams summer more than fresh watermelon slices?
Maple beer grilling sauce, how very Canadian. We were adding it to our steaks on the barbecue. One of the ingredients we purchased at the local grocery store, “Co-op”, for dinner.
Dinner ready, we ate out on the patio with our view of the beach in the distance.
Despite the lack of sun to see set, we headed to the beach to enjoy what little light was left. The blue skies and rippling waves were still worth admiring. Even the mountain tops hidden behind fluffy white clouds were a wonder.
We finally built a camp fire on our last night. Or rather my partner built the fire as I sat and drank wine. The sun set at 8:45pm and things got dark quick. Luckily we had gathered all our dry branches and the wood we would need well before. This was a roaring fire helped along by toilet paper. It didn’t help that the sand was wet and the branches were damp. Both had to dry before they could burn freely in our fire. When the sun has gone out and the world goes dark, it is a whole other world. You cannot see much, but clearly hear the fire crackle and the waves roar in the background. Here in pitch black darkness we huddled. So dark that we couldn’t even see the fingertips on our extended arms.
We got hungry so started cooking over our camp fire. A stick was sharpened, and we speared a cheese stuffed wiener with it. The hot dogs cooked over fire, when almost done they popped from the heat. The cheese squirts on to the fire and it hisses. We both have never had a wiener so good.
For dessert we had marshmallows. My partner perfected the process. With a slow rotation he got an even burn on all sides. The perfect crisp shell and the perfect melted gooey centre. It stuck to our fingers and clung to our teeth.
And what wine pairs well with campfire s’mores? I recommend this one.
I love a good campfire. The sights and the sounds, it smells so good. But the scent of smoke never leaves you. For me, a soak in the tub helps. They didn’t have a hot tub so I improvised.
Last day, heading home. Gas was 122.9. We filled up at the “co-op” gas station, which is the same name as their largest grocery store. Here cables on the ground signify that a car has approached the pump. It calls attendants over to help. They squeegeed the splattered bugs off both the front and back windshields, while we went in to pay for the gas that we were to pump. He did a thorough job. We were ready to go. Cautiously we headed back home. Two of our tires’ exterior had ripped driving down here. We suspected it was due in part to the winding roads of Vancouver island and the speed in which we were barreling down them. My partner is an amazing driver, he was practicing his touge and hugging every curve, While other drivers attempted to maintain their speed, but ended up steering straight. The red of their break lights were all we saw. Therefore a pain point for me is when slower drivers refuse to pull over to the side or over on to the shoulder, to allows those traveling faster to go ahead. Not doing so slows everyone down and inevitably results in risky drivers doing stupid things. Some drive on the other side of the road when it is a double line, others cutting some off in order to get ahead. Other than that I love driving on and being passenger on a longer road trip. Frequent gas station stops, winding roads, and a great scenic view, and this trip had it all. White topped mountains, glistening bodies of water, and green as far as the eye can see. West coast nature I love you. For those who don’t do so enough, please go out and explore all our province has to offer!