Qualicum Beach, BC (May 22/22) – Time slows down and the calmness of ‘just being’ takes over pretty quickly while on the road in Hobbes. Modern comforts and connection with the World are within a finger tip of reach but are as far removed from the mind when one is ‘within, and present’.
After a most restful sleep at Miracle Beach Provincial Park, this trio (NJ & Jesse) headed south on Vancouver Island enroute to the West Coast. Finally a bit of a respite from the continuous rainfall made for a nice drive. Excited to visit a former Whistler resident & ceramic artisan Penny Eder of White Dog Studios in Courtenay, BC… who was the creator of the Hobbes model gifted to N&J earlier by Chris Q (pictured below). Seeing Penny flourishing on the island and recreating her new path…. she really is a ‘Sea Star’ that has found her wings! Penny’s studio situated along the ocean among the trees & all of her amazing new ocean life creations was inspiring…
click on pic to enlarge – right/left arrow to scroll thru the gallery
The possibility of staying a few nights was enticing. Penny was involved in putting on a garden party/country fair with artisans, food, and music and encouraged Hobbes to stay for the weekend. The all knowing voice that escapes the head and resides in the cells of the being (that is hard to ignore) pushed Hobbes to continue the journey forward… after saying an early goodbye to Penny and leaving the Courtenay area, the trio headed along Hwy 4 towards the West Coast, first stopping at Coombs BC (the place where the goats live on the roof of the market) for some supplies & a chance to check out the Old Country Market. Along with common day-to-day food supplies, the market also has an eclectic assortment of products & crafts never seen elsewhere… a fun place to explore and drop some cash!
Westward bound brings the MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) where some of the tallest trees of of Canada reside. The ‘speed restricted’ highway travels through this ‘old growth’ forest, winding its way among these giants… your neck cranes skyward to view these majestic living creatures. One realizing literally how small and insignificant we are in the vastness of these standing royals.
After climbing the highway to the Port Alberni Summit (aka The Hump), Hobbes descended rather quickly into the port town of Port Alberni (PA), known for its forest industry (pulp & lumber). The town is located at the end of the Alberni Inlet, some 40kms from Barkley Sound on the outer coast.
It was here at the end of that inlet that a tsunami generated from the massive earthquake in Alaska in 1964 destroyed & damaged hundreds of homes & buildings in the PA downtown area. Whenever you drop in to a defined ‘tsunami zone’ you will see tsunami evacuation signs as seen below, to advise where to go if a ‘tsunami alarm’ is sounded…
No occurrence is inconsequential… While cruising through downtown Port Alberni, screams & cries for help were heard coming from a wooded section of the local park. People were seen scrambling towards the sound, N jumped out of the van and ran up the hill to discover a young woman pleading for help with her male companion. It turned out he had overdosed and was unresponsive, N unable to detect a pulse (eyes rolled back in his head) started CPR (chest compressions) while others were online with 911. A Narcan kit arrived & N administered that to the victim. After performing CPR for about 8 mins the fire & ambulance crews arrived to take over, they administered an IV line, assisted with the victims breathing, shortly after the male victim suddenly sat up, took a deep breath, looked around & smiled… So with this event, N realized the burning need to leave Courtney sooner than anticipated was for a bigger reason than themselves. For this she was thankful.
Venturing west-bound towards Tofino & Ucluelet, they passed by beautiful Sproat Lake. The highway then started to ascend the next mountain range (Sutton Pass), passing by the vastness of Kennedy Lake & what used to be the most precarious part of the journey to the West Coast… the multiple switchbacks known as Kennedy Hill that used to separate west from east. This has now been opened up to permit a much easier drive, albeit the construction is still ongoing with single lane traffic until the foreseeable future when the project is complete with two functioning lanes of travel (hopefully summer 2022).
Upon arrival in Pacific Rim National Park, N&J were fortunate to secure a campsite at Green Point Campground for the next two nights. The forest in the region are the densest ever seen, even in broad daylight looking into the trees it would seem it is night-time… the damp darkness of the forest intertwined with green life clinging to the trees seemingly halted by growth of moss and witches beard hanging from every branch. The sound & scent of the ocean is ever-present, the continual roar of the surf is apparent even though the forest absorbs most of the sound invading the senses.
Once camp had been set-up, N&J set off to see the beach. With Jesse secure in his go-kart they made their way down the pathway, the sound of crashing waves increasing with every step. After 5 minutes they emerged onto Long Beach, the sights & sounds are over-the-top beautiful. Jesse wasn’t so sure about the crashing waves and tended to look in the opposite direction, as if to say “OK I have seen enough, can we go now?”
“A Storm was a Brewing” – as the rain was threatening to return full-force the threesome returned back to Hobbes & cranked up the BBQ for some burgers, some cold brewskies, listened to some music & drifted off…
A new morning brought sunshine & slightly warmer temperatures, so after hot showers, hot coffee/tea & breakfast they set off for the village of Tofino (about 30kms away). Having been a long time since J had been here, and N had never truly seen Tofino before, so the experience was different for both. A lot has changed in 30 years, so much larger & spread out, the townsite is now filled with restaurants, shops & vacation homes… whereas it was a few surf shops before and not much else.
After making lunch on the waterfront N&J (and Jesse) spent a couple hours wandering the shops in the village, visiting the local park & overlooking the harbour.
The return trip to the campsite was punctuated by visiting ‘scenic vistas’ and historic points of interest. One such place was Radar Hill, a installation that was used from the 40’s to the 60’s (WW2 and the Cold War), it was an early warning radar facility to keep watch for any intrusion by attack on North America. All that remains is remnants of a concrete pad and the expansive view of the ocean & surrounding mountains.
There are various points along the road between Tofino & Ucluelet to access the beaches (Long, Wikaninnish, Combers). The expansiveness of the seaside is huge, you could spend days on end wandering & exploring what Pacific Rim NP has to offer.
Once back at the camp it was very apparent that a major storm was taking hold, the wind was picking up & the noise from the surf was increasing by the minute… soon the rain started. The size of the raindrops were huge, cascading onto the roof of Hobbes, fortunately the occupants were dry, warm & protected.
Overnight was very wild, very wet & intensely windy, but by morning the rain had subsided to occasional downpours permitting the crew to pack up camp & check out the huge surf on the beach…
Venturing south by 40km to Ucluelet, BC is another place that has transformed, once a small fishing town, it is now dotted with many new, rustic and grand residences (many for tourist accommodations). Visited the Amphitrite Lighthouse to see firsthand the rugged seas pounding the rocks around the beacon… it was exhilarating!!!
After a delicious feast of fish n’ chips from a local food truck, the deluge of rain had begun again with ‘real attitude’… N&J headed east back towards Port Alberni, knowing they will return again to the ‘Wild Wet Coast’ to experience more of this precious jewel!