August 13 2017
Destination: Vancouver Island Information Centre
It stopped raining before we woke up so that was a relief – neither of us had been looking forward to switching the car over in the rain again. We got on the road as soon as we could – Christine really needed to use a restroom but we couldn’t find one for the longest time! At last, we did.
The day started overcast when we got on our first trail – the Rainforest Trail. There are two parts to this trail (1 & 2) totalling about 2.2k. The trails were gorgeous and wholly unlike anything we’d seen so far. It was a true rainforest. So damp and dense with all kinds of creatures. We saw countless slugs and even stopped to get a photoshoot with one of them.
The cedar trees were so massive you couldn’t see the tops of them. The trunks were striated and stood so straight. The smell of the forest truly inundated us – it felt so natural, and almost womblike with how enclosed we were.
After our hikes, we headed to the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. It had been recommended to me, and for good reason. It was huge and had art and dioramas and lots of historical information as well as interactive lessons. We spent a lot of time there and I got an art card by Betty Albert with a mother and daughter to give to my mom when we returned.
I also spoke to a woman who worked at the centre who told us it hadn’t rained in three weeks which was very unusual, so the rain that had so inconvenienced us was much needed. That made me feel better about it – not sure it had the same effect on my sister. Our entire trip has been and will continue to be littered with reminders that our world is rapidly changing and the things that used to be so reliable – like a wet spring and summer on Vancouver Island – are no longer something we can take for granted. From fires to drought to flooding and unseasonal storms, our country seemed to be sputtering and gasping for help. As a tourist, we didn’t always realize exactly what things were supposed to be like, but whenever we talked to the locals, we discovered that things were either slightly or majorly off. There was an aura of barely concealed concern. Everyone, including us, wanted to pretend things were mostly normal and would surely return to normal given enough time. But it was hard to maintain that delusion in the fact of so much evidence to the contrary.
We spent a lot of time on the beaches taking photos and exploring. It was so windy and cold but by now the sun was bright overhead.
We decided to go to Tofino to check it out and get some food. I was totally taken aback by the surfer culture. I couldn’t believe how much it reminded me of the California stereotypes. Everyone was wearing a wetsuit, they were so tan and fit, and even the way they spoke was laid back with a bit of a drawl. You had to watch your butt for surfers with their boards turning around too quick! And just like every tourist area, the prices for just about everything were outrageous. I’m almost glad we didn’t have the option of a hotel the night before, because I’m sure the bill would have taken our breath away.
We got poutines and some other food and I think we ended up spending almost forty dollars because it was so much food and the tourist season was in full swing. I have to admit, coming from a tourist town myself, I’ve never been a tourist so much in my life and sometimes it actually sucks.
We drove on to Ucluelet to hike the lighthouse portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. There were plenty of lookouts and a well-maintained trail and lots of flora to admire. The trail was rather busy – I’m assuming it’s very popular – but it felt good to burn off some of that food. We enjoyed taking a lot of little stops and sitting at the many provided benches and overlooking the ocean and the way the waves played with the rocks and the shore. We don’t see the power of water quite like that in Muskoka. We have waterfalls, yes, and those are awesome, but mostly our water is still and placid. It’s a completely different feeling, one I know we both really enjoyed.
It began to get late and we needed to catch the ferry back to the mainland so we drove back to the departure point. Christine did all the driving on the island – I didn’t touch the gas pedal at all! It worked for us both, though. I’m happier doing long highway or backroad stretches and she’s really good at city driving. However, the roads were windy, twisting, and sharp, so she was a little stressed out by it all and so was I, but she navigated it very well and got us to the departure point in as many pieces as was appropriate to have.
Well, it turns out that the last ferry on a summer Sunday is a very sought-after thing, so we began to fret that we wouldn’t even make it.
And… we didn’t make it. We sat in line for easily over an hour watching car after car get the go-ahead but we didn’t. We had no contingency plan because we’d only given ourselves one night on the island. By now it was quite dark and we didn’t know the area at all. The wal-marts weren’t an option; either they were strict on overnight parking or they were simply too far away.
It was one of those really frustrating things that make people a little bitey at each other, and I think we were that way a bit. At the end of the day we did find an info centre and we set up there without any trouble. We got two nights on the island after all!