Flashback Friday #27

Crossing the Straits of Georgia was written in July 2013 following on from my stay in the city of Vancouver. We then moved over to Vancouver Island. One of the best place in the world in my opinion. Though at the moment my heart goes out to all those suffering from the dreadful heatwave occurring in that region.

After some deliberation as to when to pick up the rental car (early start vs extortionate parking fees) I collected the car from Hornby Street on the Friday afternoon and parked it at the Devonian park (24hrs) which was at least $10 cheaper than the underground car-park closer to the hotel. Parking in Vancouver I must add, is not cheap which is why I chose to use public transport to get around during the week. (Another point for those interested is that car rentals in Canada are much higher than those in the USA.)

We left the hotel early in plenty of time to catch the 10:30 ferry at Horseshoe Bay over to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) as we had reservations (these cost around £15 and not strictly necessary except in peak times unless you have to be somewhere such as the airport!), but if you don’t make that first ferry then you have to wait in line for the next and this can eat up a good couple of hours). £15 didn’t seem to be too much of a hardship for us to be on our way.

I love BC Ferries – they arrive on time, they depart on time and they are easy to drive on and off (particularly important for me whilst struggling to come to terms with a new car and its associated gadgets) then on board you can wander around during the crossing, have a meal, look at the views and if you’re lucky (as we were) see a pod or two of Orcas en route. On our previous visit to the Island we bought a circle ticket for the ferries which allowed us to drive slowly up the Sunshine Coast crossing the fjords by ferry and then over to Comox on the central coast of the Island from Powell’s River. If you have the time I thoroughly recommend this route for its beauty and peacefulness, (but be careful of the “granny traps” at the side of the road in places – deep gullies or drains at the edge – we saw several cars stuck in these and dread to think of the damage to the underside of the vehicle).

On this occasion we chose to go directly to Nanaimo (home of the famous Nanaimo bar) as we were heading over to the Pacific Rim on the west coast for a few days staying in Tofino, surf capital of the Island. We didn’t bother with a GPS as there really isn’t much need for one on the Island – or so we thought… got a bit lost in Nanaimo as hubby got confused over route signs which meant we went around in a circle and tempers frayed somewhat! Eventually we found the correct route, confusingly there’s a 19 which is the Inland Island Hwy and a 19a the Island Hwy, but since they merge to the north we really had nothing to worry about and could relax and enjoy the scenery.

Following the 19 you by-pass Parksville and turn onto the 4A at Coombs where we would be staying on our return journey. Coombs is famous for the “Goats on the Roof” at the country market, but more about that later. The 4A turns into the 4 which is the Alberni Hwy and basically you follow this all the way to the west coast. Passing Whisky Creek and Little Qualicum Falls you drive alongside Cameron Lake before winding round through MacMillan Provincial Park and past Cathedral Grove to Port Alberni. I have never stopped, but imagine it could be a nice place to break for lunch at the quayside and I believe you can get to Ucluelet by boat from here. We continued onwards (105 km) and around Lake Sproat which is vast!

The road winds up and down and you gasp at the views as you are surrounded by mountains with glimpses of lakes. You then reach Kennedy lake passing over creeks with names such as “Cats Ear Creek”, “Log Dump Bridge” and “Lost Shoe Creek #1” and “Lost Shoe Creek #2” (obviously ran out of imagination there, or perhaps there are lots of lost shoes) and finally reach the T junction where the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre is located and where you can buy a National Park pass – these are not needed to drive through to Tofino, but are required for parking at any of the trails in the park between mid March to mid October. Turn left at the junction to Ucluelet (9 km) and right to Tofino (36 km).

We were staying a little way out of Tofino, close to Chesterman Beach (literally across the road from our B&B) so had to drive into Tofino for restaurants. Maybe next time (and yes there does have to be a next time) we would stay in the town so we could walk.

We ate at SOBO (all the best eating places in Tofino begin with S) which is at the corner of Neil St and 1st and serves beautifully prepared local and seasonal seafood and good BC wine. We had the special chowder which is the best I have ever tasted – it is spicy – followed by a thin-crust pizza. Mine was goat’s cheese and mixed mushrooms and it was delicious, OH had BBQ chicken with whisky sauce which was a little too sweet. Washed down with a respectable B.C. Pinot Noir.

And we caught the sunset on the beach too so a perfect end to the day.

This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

22 thoughts on “Flashback Friday #27”

    1. Thanks Pete! A very memorable holiday, seems like yesterday and I am gutted that we never got back to Canada.

  1. We didn’t do the same touring journey but enjoyed driving on Vancouver Island very much. In fact, like you, I think it’s one of the world’s best places in which to live – I could have stayed. Your post brought back many happy memories of our time there, the barbecues we had with our friends, the social evenings with their friends from so many different walks of life – a working fisherman to a lawyer – that I’m feeling quite sad now, but in a good way, to think it’s all gone. Thank you.

    1. We enjoyed our Canadian trips. They do seem like very hospitable people. And we could have easily stayed on the island too. Our first holiday took us to the north and central parts as well as Victoria, with only a day trip to the Pacific Rim which we liked so much we just had to return.

  2. In 2017 we flew from Austin to Calgary. I don’t remember the fee for our rental car being exorbitant. Maybe the rate per day was reasonable because we did a three-week rental.

  3. Sounds and looks like a trip we’d love to take someday. I must say that I detest paying for parking!! For the infrequent time I ventured into downtown Chicago when we lived in Naperville, I always had my husband drop my off at the train station in time to get the last express train before 8:30 am. That would get me into the city by about 9, where as the next train stopped at every stop on the way in and took an hour. I’d get tea or coffee and just relax a bit before walking all over.

    1. Paying for parking irritates me too, especially when you only want to pay for an hour or two and some places by the coast have just one charge!

  4. A good friend here has a daughter in Vancouver. They planned to go this Spring but you know how that worked out. 🙄💕

    1. It is a fabulous city. But I prefer the island. Great people, Canadians. Hopefully things will change for next year, though I am not holding out much hope for Australia.

  5. We have stayed in Vancouver, back in the 90s, but not Vancouver Island. Having now met (virtually) a few bloggers from there I can say it is definitely somewhere I would love to visit. All our Canadian holidays have been wonderful.

    (There was a heatwave too the year we went to Vancouver, I think it reached 40C one day at which point I more or less ceased to function. Can’t imagine what it is like at the moment. Anyway, we went home and raved about what a wonderful time we had and our best friends did the same route the following year. It rained the whole time.)

    1. Ah, yes, the weather can be a bit fickle. When we went during the month of August it was hot and humid in Toronto, pleasant in Vancouver, but quite rainy on the island! Whereas in September/October we only experienced one very wet day!

  6. We went on a BC Ferry from Vancouver to Victoria and the journey both ways was delightful. So easy and the bus from the ferry dropped us off right in the centre of Victoria. The scenery on the way is amazing. We only did the area around Victoria and we would love to return and explore the island thoroughly one day.

  7. we never made it to Vancouver island unfortunately but did get lost in Vancouver. My father decided to suddenly turn down a road as he thought it was the way to go. His map reader (me) then was totally confused and so a half hour journey turned into a hour as he also refused to stop for a few moments so i could work out what on earth he had done!! Fortunately the memories that stick though is the beauty of the area 🙂 I’d love to return

    1. I find cities in the US and Canada fairly easy to navigate as they are usually built on a grid system, but I try and avoid driving in cities when I’m not familiar with them, even here!

      1. So do i usually but not when a father veers off to the right down a road and gives me no time to decide what he has done!! He got so told off

        1. true, still makes me giggle thinking about it. I was so indignant at time he was ignoring his superb navigator – I had got us from Calgary to Vancouver with no problems

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