"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Three Vancouver Island Adventures: Part III


Every once in awhile we want to visit someplace that's too far from our campground for a day trip, or doesn't have a campground or a road suitable for our RV.  Here on Vancouver Island we were told that we had to see Tofino, and we weren't sure we wanted to take the RV over the mountain road to get there. So once again, the three of us loaded up the Subaru for an overnight adventure.

Tofino is on the west coast of Vancouver Island and is renowned for it's many long sandy beaches. Up here most of the beaches are rocky, so sandy beaches are a real treat. It's like the California of Canada. Surf shops, lots of young people, campers, hikers, bikers, many tourists, a few little trendy spots, oh, and lots of trees.  There are lots of trees all over the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes it makes it hard to see where you're going.

The drive west along Rt. 4, the Pacific Rim Highway, took us about four hours, and we stopped half way for a picnic at the falls on the Kennedy River.

Although we were staying overnight at a B&B in Ucluelet, we headed right to the town of Tofino to get the lay of the land, look for the beaches and for a place to have supper.

We scoped out the marinas, which were mostly fishing boats, and the few streets that make up the "city center."  That done, we went to find the beaches. The Pacific Rim Provincial Park stretches along the coast from Ucluelet to Tofino and has the famous Long Beach.  We were told at the visitor's information center that there were plenty of free beaches in Tofino itself so rather than pay the park fee we sought out those free beaches.

Although there is public access to all the beaches, parking is not available everywhere. Resorts also line the coast, making it difficult to access the beaches.  It was like being in one of those exclusive resort areas like Fire Island or Hilton Head where you have the feeling that you don't know the password to get to the places you want to go, but everyone else does. If you're staying in a resort you get the password, or secret directions, or something, but if you're not, you're on your own. After a few tries to find the shore, (did I mention there are lots of trees?) we finally did find Chesterton Beach. 

At one end of the beach there were rocks and tide pools, so we explored those first. See the purple and orange sea stars?

 See the pile of kelp that looks like rope?

 The beach was very wide and flat, as the tide was out.

We walked all the way out to a small off shore island, called Frank Island, but it was private so we couldn't actually go onto it once we got there.

There was lots of the ubiquitous driftwood made into little structures and fences like these.

Kona had a blast playing in the waves. I think sandy ocean beaches are her favorites. There were lots of  people with dogs, and even though signs required leashes, many dogs were running free. 

After our very long walk on the beach we staggered back to town for dinner, and found a place called Shelter where we had a great dinner. The ambience was trendy, with chill lounge music playing, surfers on the big screen TVs, lots of wood and leather, and a young hip wait staff all in black. We liked it almost as much as Latitude 48, our favorite restaurant in Whitefish, Montana.

After dinner (with delish dessert), we drove south to Ucluelet, a similar kind of town, where our B&B, the Harbour House was.  We were warmly welcomed by the lovely teutonic Ursula, who looked just like her name, and shown to our perfect room overlooking the bay from our private porch with a private hot tub. Very romantic. 

The next morning, after fresh croissants and fruit, we were off to the Tofino Botanical Gardens.  I don't know quite what to say about them. It might be best described as au natural. (Did I mention there are lots of trees?) 

The task of simply maintaining paths through what is close to a rainforest must be daunting in and of itself. 

Carving out a few cleared places for a cafe, pond, kitchen garden, meditation benches, wildlife viewing blinds, chicken coops...

..and a kind of interesting collection of driftwood sculptures seems to be about all that's going on there.

So, that's what we've been up to. In a few days we are moving south to a place near the city of Victoria to see the Butchart Gardens and have tea at the Empress Hotel.

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