Whistler, BC (Oct 27/22) – Looking way back to the fall of 2021, N&J’s Whistler friends Michael & Vicki (M&V) suggested we all do a week-long stay in Tofino BC, renting a beach-home situated along the ‘World Famous’ Chesterman Beach… right smack on the ocean. Reserving such a place means doing it essentially a year before you intend on being there as the availability disappears quickly… and the plan quickly fell into place.
Fast forward to October 2022… N&J thinking they may want to do some camping on Vancouver Island on the way to the West Coast & possibly the return trip, Hobbes was loaded up with all the usual essentials (including bikes), and of course provisions for Jesse, as there was ‘zero chance’ he was staying home (he loves the ocean… NOT!!!).
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Leaving a day early, catching an afternoon ferry to Vancouver Island gave them a chance to visit friends Michael & Joyce (M&J) in Nanaimo, who are in the process of building a new home on acreage back in the mountains overlooking Nanaimo & Georgia Strait. Their current home located near Downtown Nanaimo is a turn-of-the-century beauty, restored to it’s original glory with some thoughtful updates. Sitting out on their veranda enjoying the warm weather & cold drink was very relaxing, while Jesse (safely in his camp tent) was checking out the house cats.
Later they all headed over to M&J’s property to check out the progress of their new home. A rather large project that Michael has taken on himself (with a bit of assistance from friends as required), a massive, almost completed 2 storey garage & shop that would make most men envious (J was blown away).
The ‘main house’ construction is well underway with some of the roof structure in place, awaiting the delivery of the huge exposed wood beams. The view from the living areas & patio of the Salish Sea is the highlight.
N&J thinking they would stay overnight in Hobbes on the property, Michael & Joyce decided to pitch a tent on the unfinished patio. A ‘makeshift’ dining table was assembled and a plethora of food (meats, cheeses, dips, etc…) was spread out for the evening meal, enjoying the natural setting surrounded in the trees, the stars above & warm conditions… it was delightful!!!
After a restful sleep, the journey to Tofino began early, saying goodbyes to their Nanaimo friends… off they go. Stopping in Coombs at the Country Market to see what ‘gastronomical treasures’ they could get for their week on the ocean. Driving was a breeze being the off-season, relaxing, not pressured by other travellers to move faster.
As N&J was entering Port Alberni they wondered aloud how much progress was made at their friend Sharon’s renovation project on her childhood home, and if she was even home. Moments later N’s phone rings & Sharon was online, driving behind Hobbes down the highway wondering what we were doing in town!!! What is the chance of this happening?
So a quick stop at a local restaurant patio for lunch was organized, a great chance to catch-up since our last visit. Then off to see the restoration of the 1930-40’s home she has been working on for the past couple years… OMG!!! What a transformation!!! A mix of old & new has brought this property a new lease on life.
Sharon then offered a chance to do some fishing down at the local ‘hotspot’… N never one to turn down an opportunity to catch a big salmon (Sharon is a accomplished fisher-person in a big way).
The trip continues westward towards the west coast, passing Sproat Lake & the Kennedy Lake area. The ongoing road construction of the Kennedy Hill area is proceeding, a huge undertaking to remove the impediment that has plagued this road from its inception. The scent of the sea coming to the forefront as the threesome creep closer to the ocean.
Arrival at their destination in Tofino happened long after darkness overtook the daylight. Michael & Vicki had arrived a couple hours earlier & selected their room (albeit a very small guest room in a very large ocean-front home), leaving the biggest & best master bedroom for N&J (lovely gesture from M&V). The views from the house ‘wrap around windows’ of the ocean was breathtaking, the surf generated by the ever present west winds pounded into the wide expansive beach that is known as Chesterman.
On our first full day the bikes were readied. The portion of Pacific Rim National Park that spans the distance between Tofino & Ucluelet had developed a paved bike path undulating in out of the forest along the west side of the highway that mainly defines the eastern boundary of the park (the Pacific Ocean on the west). This pathway (along with the connecting bike paths created by the towns on either end) permits one to ride the 80 kms without the worry of automobile traffic.
The weather on this day was delightful, sunny clear skies, mild temperatures made the ride so more enjoyable. The destination was the Ukee Poke shop at the Ucluelet end of the trail, where fantastic organic food bowls were created before your eyes… delicious & healthy!!!
The trip also included a chance to ‘observe’ the mushroom bounty, although picking mushrooms is not permitted within the park boundaries, it is an education to see the varieties of ‘shrooms’ available. Later in the week they will venture by vehicle to check out the mushrooms in the areas outside of the park for picking (and eating).
The pathway also intersects the multiple beaches (Long, Combers, Wikaninnish & South Beach) along the coast. The ever changing vistas never seem to get boring, seeing & hearing the constant waves crashing onto the sand is an ever-present reminder of the power of nature.
Walking the expansiveness of Chesterman Beach is awe inspiring. The low tide allowed M&V and N&J to access Frank Island where there are a few homes clinging to the rugged rocks that front the land from the open Pacific Ocean. Apparently there are opportunities to rent accommodations on the island itself, trudging your belongings & food supplies across the beach… careful to pay close attention to the tide charts (failing that you could end up waiting hours before the next low tide).
A visit to the business end of Tofino where shops of all description (food, clothing, surf shops, knick-knacks, etc) were abundant, an easy walkabout. Down along the ocean side, the dock was busy with water taxis coming & going to the various island destinations.
Also equally interesting was to spend sometime in Ucluelet located in the southern end of the Pacific Rim area. A wonderful ocean hike was undertaken that inter-twined with the irregularities of the Pacific Ocean, rugged rockscapes, gushing inlets of seawater & spectacular scenes of ocean crashing into massive formations… the sounds & smells of the ocean was everywhere.
Halfway between the towns is a rain forest walk that is amazing… “The Rainforest Trail“. This trail which comprises mostly of elevated boardwalk takes you deep into the rainforest, up & over creek beds, massive old growth trees & fauna are everywhere. Although the area has been in a ‘drought condition’ for many months, the conditions are barely showing any sign of distress, the lushness of it all is eye worthy.
On most nights, dinner was a home-grown affair. Thankfully they had three seasoned ‘chefs’ in residence (J was the lucky recipient), creating all sorts of delectable delights (seafood, chicken, beef & vegan), freshly foraged wild mushrooms of Chanterelles, Corals and Orange Peel, freshly home-baked rye bread, a wine list that would be the envy of all & great company to share the bounty ):
A celebratory toast of Genepi was very much in order after Vicki (bib #229) WON in her age category in the “Tor des Géants” race in Italy just a few months prior. One of the hardest races in the World, the course covers 330 kilometers and over 24,000 meters of elevation gain. Read more here: About Vicki A true Giant!
One evening was set aside to try out one of the many top notch restaurants that Tofino & Ucluelet have to offer, the ‘ROAR‘ restaurant at the Hotel Zed hotel was selected. And it was definitely a great choice. The menu was filled with all sorts of visual & delectable delights…
And then there were the endless sunsets…
Although Jesse did not partake in any outdoor activities, he was busy patrolling the many rooms, nooks & crannies of the accommodation… his favourite spot was on top of the fridge keeping a close eye on ‘his subjects’ & checking it all out.
Needless to say the week flew by, the constant sound of the ocean surf, the endless beaches, the ever so present wind… it was all a glorious place to spend some idle time.