We left Prince Edward Island 8 weeks and 2 days ago. We have finally arrived at the other Island on the West Coast.
First, let’s backtrack to Sunday. We visited Downtown Vancouver and went to Canada Place to “fly over Canada“. If you have not heard of that theatre, you must look it up. You are dangling in mid air with your nose on a giant screen. You pivot and turn as you fly through some of the most beautiful places in Canada. Not for the faint of heart and as much fun as a roller coaster.
We also went beachcombing and found a few treasures. Then we settled for the night in North Vancouver to be close to the ferry on Monday. We had a pleasant ride, except for getting booted off the INTERNET every 2 minutes – hence the lack of updates. On. The Island, we toured a bit in Nanaimo, worked our way up a few beaches in Parksville, and then headed across the mountains towards Tofino.
In the beautiful town of Coombs, we stopped at “Goats on Roof.” That is a must shopping spot for the connoisseur. First, the attraction. There is grass on the roof, and goats in the summertime. Before entering the store, you pass by a wonderful ice cream shop with great flavours and affordable prices. Inside, you will find imported and specialty foods from all over. They have sauces, chutneys, jams, baked goods, smoked and canned seafood, a huge gluten free section, and many more items.
Then we undertook about an hour of windy roads through the mountains. There were no great altitude changes (only about 300 metres) but the number of switchback roads was incredible. It seemed, every minute, there would be a slow to 60, or 50 sign. After awhile they just said “slow to 50 for the next 5 kilometres”. When I got to the slow to 40, I knew the curves were sharp. There was also a point where the oncoming high trucks would have to drift into my lane because the cliff overhangs the highway. As with our experience in Vancouver, this is not for the faint of heart but well worth the trip. Cindy will have more pictures of this drive on her blog at 2fromaway.ca
The sign going this way says watch for high loads crossing the line. The sign going the other way is a truck with the top of the box hitting the mountain. Somewhere close to there was a steep hill saying 18% grade. This is the biggest we have encountered so far. However, I see a true switch back road on the horizon for tomorrow. Time will tell.
Along the way is Port Alberni, where you can find all the services you need in Central Vancouver Island. We made it to the Pacific Rim highway just before sunset so we found a place to stop for the night.
Tuesday, we are off to Tofino. There are several nice lookouts and beaches along the way, including the site of a cold war radar installation to watch for threats in the Pacific.
We went as far North as we could on the pacific rim highway, then as far South. In Ucluelet, we found a little beach called little beach. It had lots of fine gravel and lots of seaglass – our first major find on the West coast. This trek took us past the 126 meridian. We were further West in Haida Gwaii but I forgot to note. We were also South of the 49th parallel for the first time since Ontario. Remember that Vancouver Island dips much further South than the mainland.
We hurried back before dark to traverse the mountain passes before nightfall and make it back to Goats on the Roof before they closed. We spent the night in Duncan, waiting for first light to head for the other part of the Pacific Coast on the Island.