Travel Log .Did you see the Bear ?

Day 6 . Boat Trip  Ucluelet/Broken Islands British Columbia .

Now I am a huge fan of the internal combustion engine and a driving enthusiast . I love all things motorized ( apart from mini vans……see previous posts ) and love to drive , whether for a living or for pleasure . But today is a day for leaving the keys behind and take shank”is pony ( My late fathers saying for walking … I never understood it either ) down to the harbor , grab a coffee and see about a boat trip around the Broken Islands .

These islands are part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and are located off the Barkley Sound coastal area . This area has wild life in abundance and a whole industry has grown in Ucluelet taking tourists on a variety of different types of boat trips

For the more adventurous type, hire a sea Kayak , pack a tent and paddle yourself around the area over a few days , camping on the islands where you are permitted to do so .

For the speed junkie , hop on to a highly powered zodiac , whizz out to the ares where whale sightings are common place, and watch the splendor of the show . Now given the fact, as I’ve already explained, I love all things motorized, you would think this would be the one for me . Especially when you consider I have the attention span of a gold-fish , and get very bored very easily ( I am sure if I was at school today , they would have attached some disorder label to me )

Not on this occasion . I wanted to slow things right down and take it easy . Don’t panic my friends I’m still staying faithful to the engine and decided to take a trip on a converted life boat , which takes a 4 hour trip on a leisure cruise around the islands . I wanted to take in the views of the coastline and see all the wildlife available . Speeding across the water, wrapped up in a survival suit, bouncing my teeth out on one of those speed boat things just didn’t attract me today . Plus the fact this one had a toilet and I”ve never heard of a life boat sinking, so that’s the one for me .

So after a leisurely couple of hours doing nothing but drinking good coffee and watching the morning activities of a charming little harbor, we wait for a journey to begin .

Now one thing Canadians love to do, is to drink coffee and since moving here I have become a huge coffee fan , or as the rest of my family believe , a huge coffee addict             ( Same thing as far as I’m concerned ). Food in Canada tends to  copy the American style  menu of  Burgers , Ribs, Hot Dogs , Burgers, Burgers , Fries ( chips to you Brits ) Burgers ( you get the picture ) But definitely not Coffee . For those of you that have visited the famous neighbours to the south, will know that in general coffee served in the States is to be honest ………shit !

Here in Canada we have quality coffee for all tastes and pocket .

Fact Time : Canada is ranked 3rd  in the Top 10 coffee consuming countries of the world , behind Netherlands ( crazy dutch people ) and Finland ( suspicious) . It is believed to be linked to the cold weather in winter, but in main I think its down to the sheer number of outlets and people like me haven”t got the will power to pass them by .

Tim Hortons is by far the most popular chain with 1 store for every 9000 people living in Canada . Compare this with the Golden “M” from down south ,which has 1 store for every 25000 people living in the country .

Hardly surprising really, as this chain gets its name from a Canadian Hockey player and if it’s the second thing Canadians are obsessed with is hockey ( Ice Hockey as known by all you  non Canucks). So put the two together and instant success story .

My home city of Calgary , has hundreds of coffee outlets and I frequent them all the time . While the standard of coffee is high , there are some annoying features of these stores .

People actually use these stores as a mini Library, Office or Study Room . Mainly students and realtors ( Estate Agents ) are to blame for this , but also its increased with the down turn in the economy ( World oil prices taking a kicking ) and the cold winters experienced in Calgary . Mini Rant .

The problem is lack of seating space and combination toilets ( bathrooms as they call them here , not quite sure why as I have yet to see one with a bloody bath in it ).Now there is plenty of seating in these buildings , it’s the fact there is never enough available for when I want to sit my Fat arse down and enjoy a cup of south America”s finest beans .

All the seats are occupied by these people , all sat with a cup of water ( to cheap to purchase coffee) working on their lap tops or reading some 1000 page obscure novel . Now Canadians are nice people . Very nice people . Sometimes too nice and this is one of those occasions .You see the staff working in these establishments never say a word to these seat huggers and even fill their water up on demand . So I feel its rime to help them out , as I’m not Canadian and not that nice .

To all those people sat reading this in a coffee shop , without a cup of coffee in front of you and you have been sat there for more than half an hour , with no more seats available for paying customers ( except for the one next to the multi sex bathrooms, that no one ever uses )Bugger Off!!!!. Stay at home , go to a Library or just go somewhere else and let people sit down in comfort and drink their hot beverage that they actually paid for !!!To all you staff that work in the establishments, grow some balls , kick these people out and increase your companies profits, who knows , you might even get a bonus!

As far as the joint sex toilets , I feel sorry for women . Men have generally disgusting bathroom habits and that’s that . Sorry ladies, I am trying to improve my aim , can’t speak for other men . End of Rant .Turned out to be quite a big one .

With all the coffee shops I have been to ,I have never sat in one where you can get a great hot brew as well as the latest deep-sea fishing gear , but you can at the Cap”N’Hook in the harbour area of Ucluelet . In doing so, it offers everything for the fishing tourist that flock to this area all year round. The staff here are very knowledgable and can answer any questions you have about fishing tackle ,licenses,or even the best guides in the area to take out on daily fishing trips! Well worth a visit even to a non fisherman like me , just to drink coffee , listen and meet the local characters , of which there are many.

One of the local well-known captains owns the converted life boat that we”ve decided to take our leisurely coastal tour on .He has been doing this for over 30 years and previously worked for Parks Canada as a wildlife officer , so he should know his stuff . So when the time came for our departure we met him at the dock where Brian from Subtidal Adventures introduced us to his 1953 former rescue craft . Considering she was even older than myself it was in great condition ,clearly benefitting from all the care and attention from her captain. ( Looked seaworthy, that’s all I care about)

After a brief safety orientation and instructions on how to use the life jackets, we gently left the harbour , in search of the areas finest wildlife .

The other  passengers were in fact fellow Europeans , a Dutch couple ( they were in the coffee shop, no surprise there !)and a German couple ( Don’t mention the war or the world cup, I instantly thought to myself……..focus )made up the complete party .With such a small party ,it meant our host could answer all our questions and really give a personal touch when pointing out different wildlife . P1030231

Fact Time :The symbol of United States , the Bald eagle , is a common sight in these areas and in fact can be seen all over Western Canada and as far up the west coast as Alaska .

An opportunist feeder it subsists mainly on fish , which it picks right out of the water with the use of its impressive set of talons. A spectacle I am pleased to say I have witnessed on previous occasions , however , today this guy was happy to sit on a warning buoy , not fifteen minutes into our cruise.

The bald eagle is not actually bald , but gets its name form the old name meaning “white Headed” and it only gets this white head once it reaches adult maturity . This magnificent bird was once on the brink of extinction, however through cross border environmental efforts it was removed from the endangered list in 2007.P1030229 The next animal guaranteed to bring out the camera and the funny noises ( listen to the ooooo”s and aaahhhhh”s next time . For you Brits this is probably best witnessed at the zoo as you have no interesting wildlife left , apart from football fans and Saturday night kick out time of the bars and clubs)is the bear . This junior black bear was probably around 3 years old, so was facing its first year away from its mother and by the look of it , was doing a pretty good job of it searching for food along the shoreline.

I still look on in amazement every time I see a bear and I have seen many since my move here .Living so close to the Rocky mountains they are a common sight , especially the Black Bears with over 390,000 in Canada.The Grizzly Bear is far more rare, in fact in ten years I have only ever seen one and of course the Polar bear far up north is probably the most symbolic animal of Canada, especially when it comes to environmental issues and Global Warming topics .

Unfortunately, Bears also seem to bring out the “stupid gene” in tourists when they come across one . Our local news in the summer months reports incidents of people walking up to a bear to try to get a “selfie” with it . If they happen to come across a mother with her cub , they have even been seen trying to touch the baby . Never stops amazing me how dumb people are . Of course the reaction of these bears usually leads to an attack on the dumb tourists and some are seriously hurt even killed. The result is then the animal is usually put down , as apparently it develops a taste for dumb tourist meat.

Tourist Guide Fact time :If by chance you come across a bear , keep your distance and try not to surprise them, you are better off making lots of noise, than trying to creep up on them . They do not want to hurt you and will only attack if they feel  threatened.( You Brits should treat it the same way as approaching a football fan of the opposing club ). Take your pictures from a distance and then use the latest photo app to make it look like a “selfie”.Job done , you get a great picture for your friends to see on Facebook, the bear’ goes about its day and lives to see another one , and you get to keep your facial features .

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Loved these guys. Harbor Seals lazing around in the morning gloom. Reminded me of politicians

As we left the protection of the bay and headed out to the Broken Islands, the morning mist had yet to clear and the sea began to swell, along with my stomach. Suddenly that last cup of coffee, didn’t seem to be a wise choice . In fact everyone on board ( except for the Germans obviously) began to turn a shade of green .For those of you that have never felt sea-sick , its similar to when you have drunk to excess, without the early benefit of being drunk . All the pain with no gain .

Despite his crew dropping like land loving flies, Brian continued to cruise merrily away pointing out interesting wildlife in the increasing fog .( At this point I couldn”t care less to be honest , but faked my interest similar to math class at school ). After what seemed an eternity, was in fact 4 hours, we finally saw harbour the of Ucluelet, and the sky cleared to welcome home the intrepid voyagers.

Even though we all felt pretty rough at this time , these cruises are a fantastic experience.If ,like me, you come from a country where the wildlife is pretty tame and boring , these trips will really impress . Back on dry land , time for a coffee .

Start : Ucluelet Harbor

Finish : Ucluelet Harbor .

Distance Travelled : No idea , but it seemed along way .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Log:Are you a Professional ?

Day 5 Road Trip : Ucluelet to Tofino .

Weather on the west coast of Vancouver Island can be unpredictable at best , so even in the driest summer experienced by Western Canada in years ,you can still get a damp start to your day .

After a large cooked breakfast made on the barbecue , which involves a great deal of water to douse the flames ,( not sure what it is about men and barbecues ) and enough smoke to worry the locals that an idiot tourist had somehow managed to start a forest fire during a rain storm , we decided to make the best of the situation and set of the neighbouring town on the west coast , Tofino.

Coastal fog is a common morning phenomenon in the summer months and today was one of those mornings . Tofino is located at the western end of Highway 4 , which follows the coast line between the two towns.

While driving this road at a ” I’m on holiday bollocks to you pace” , you soon notice the rather unique roadside sign warning you that you are in fact in a Tsunami zone .The signs inform you of this by using a symbol similar to a wave chasing some poor individual across the beach , a similar mental picture to that of a dog chasing a postman, if you get my meaning .

Fact time : Scientist believe that a giant slab of rock sliding in from the pacific, has been building pressure up in the area for over 300 years . There is so much pressure that the shape on the Island is being altered by a few centimeters every year .

The result of this will be a sudden and unpredictable release of this pressure in the form of a massive off shore earthquake , effecting an area from British Columbia right the way south to Northern California . Experts cannot tell when this is going to happen , only that it is inevitable .Inevitable they say !

The last mega quake happened in Jan 1700 and experts believe that when it does happen parts of the coast will sink over a meter then move to the west between 10 and 15 meters . Now I am not sure how they know this , as I don’t believe there was a great deal of accurate measuring equipment available or trained scientist to measure this in 1700 and Canada didn’t convert to the metric system till 1970, but for ease of conversation lets assume that they are right .

Great . Now I find this out! Didn’t read this is any of the numerous tourist guides on the ferry crossing did I?. Guess they forgot to mention that , bit of a type ” O “.

Managed to find some instructions in the cabin , four pages worth to be exact . When you consider there was only one page on eating out in the area , clearly the owner was as concerned as I’ve just become .

So, what to do in the event of an earthquake followed by a Tsunami? Considering Vancouver Island is covered in tourists for most of the year , and considering how tourists drive when on vacation ( see previous Post: Are you one of those drivers ?)I already have my doubts on how successful any plan is likely to be , however once more let’s get serious.The plan in the event of this happening is as follows :

1/ Drop and take cover under a desk.  Good start . Drop , well as most people will be lazing on their beach towel, they’ve got a head start . However , if the earth is shaking for five or so minutes would you be able to do anything else but drop ? A desk ? Well I’ve already been on several beaches in the area and I’ve seen numerous  surf board and kayak rentals , but yet to see one that supplies desks , but lets improvise and once the ground starts to move, everyone will calmly walk to the nearest beach store where they will  collect their surf board and take cover , got it .Next ?

2/ Hold On .Really ? at this stage I don’t really need to be bloody told to hold on ! Trust me I have that one covered !

3. DO not pack and Do not go to the beach to watch .   What twat (Non Brits may need to google this word for clarivication )wrote this one and how much did they get paid ? Firstly , I’m already at the beach along with thousands of others and try telling my wife not to pack !!!!

4. Be Calm and  make you way to the nearest evacuation zone : Oh you bloody think so do you ? So while the sea retreats at 600 mph , you want me to  calmly get my car keys walk to my vehicle, then  everyone drives carefully , observing the speed limit obviously, to the nearest high ground ?

5.It then goes into detail how the if the earthquake is more than a 9.0 in magnitude and lasts for more than 5 minutes, a series of Tsunami waves are expected to reach the area in twenty minutes and be 20 m high and goes on to lists the areas in that zone that are more than 20 meters higher than sea level .

Fantastic , so while all this shit is happening , I have to time the duration the ground is shaking , reach in my pocket for my seismograph ( which everyone carries don’t you know?) , get the local seismologist ( who just happens to be wondering the beach when I need an expert scientist ) to measure the strength so knowing which area I supposed to go .

Now I don’t mean to make light of this very serious and real possibility of a huge loss of life and damage to the area and an evacuation plan is certainly  required . But seriously, does anyone actually think this plan will work ? or do you think there would be complete panic, mass killings and  breakdown of societies rules , while people scramble to where ever the think is best?

Personally, I’ve decided that if this happens during my stay in the area , forget the plan . Sit back , have a beer, smoke a joint , have sex ( after all apparently we have twenty minutes )enjoy the view and kiss my ass goodbye!

So now that we have decided not to worry about any impending disasters we make our way along Highway 4 towards Tafino, when we come across a rare occurrence around here , a traffic jam . Living in Calgary, I see these on a daily basis ( mainly caused by bad city planners and the inability of drivers here to understand the meaning of Merge , or give way ,to you Brits reading this ) but here they are somewhat of a rarity and frankly I wasn’t interested in joining , so instant reaction, take a left, park up and walk to the beach. So we did.

Combers beach .After a short five-minute walk from the car park through the rain forest that runs adjacent to the  coast line , you come out on a wide open flat plain of sand .IMG_1892The Sitka Spruce forest makes for dramatic walk down to sandy Combers Beach .Part of the Pacific Rim National Park .IMG_1901.JPG

The beach has miles of clean sand , with pockets of dead shell fish, where the last feast took place in the retreating tide . As with any beach  which has heavily forested boarders , drift wood is in plentiful supply . Some of it has been carved so smooth by the ocean, it almost looks to perfect .

I’m told camping on the beach is a favoured past time of the area , especially amongst the surf lovers . My theory for these man-made structures littering the beach ? Obvious, people know there’s no desks available and built their own covers as per the tsunami survival plan . Brilliant .

After a walk ( not hike ) along the endless sands , its time to head back to the truck in the hope that the traffic jam has cleared .Thankfully normal service had resumed and traffic was back to acceptable levels .

On the approach into Tafino , the explanation for why we were delayed earlier came clear .Half the road was excavated away as part of a programme to install culverts( Large open-ended pipes buried under the road) to allow salmon runs from the rivers to the nearby ocean . Mystery solved .

Tafino . What can I say ? Fact time .

Located at the top of Highway 4 , it is a very popular tourist destination attracting surfers , nature lovers,whale watchers and campers.The more well-known of the two towns on the west coast, Tafino has mild winters and temperate summer temperatures ……………………………..ah enough of this I can’t do any more .

I hate the place . All I found is want to be hippies wandering around the town  cramming the small coffee shops , so you can’t get a seat , all sharing one cup of hot chocolate. It seems compulsory for women to not wear a bra ,that’s ok by me in certain circumstances , but not on a cold chilly day and when years of gravity have taken its effect  .The most famous Bra of all was in fact a Canadian invention, so be patriotic and do the rest of us a favour and wear the bloody thing ! . Mini Rant .

Tafino used to be Hip . Back in the day when it was cool to be a society drop out , living on the beach . Now  it suffers from an identity crisis . It still attracts the next generation of hipsters ( minus their bra,  but with cell phones, probably paid for by mommy and daddy ) while the place has now become too commercialised and big business . All the clothes stores sell the same stuff all with the town’s name plastered over it , as if I didn’t know where I was .Obviously once you purchase the surfer logo infested clothing, it makes you a cool surfer and totally hip.

Hotels ,  RV Parks and restaurants are all over priced and over crowded .

Tafino does have a great food scene , that’s part of the problem . Your average city slick , trying to look cool wearing his Tafino T and sandals( whilst still answering his Emails from the office )loves to sit at the fancy eatery and pay top dollar for fish and chips , pretending to be part of the cool surfer hippie brigade . It’s a little like every one on St Patrick’s day seems to be Irish , or as I call it “Plastic Paddy Day “.

Personally, I know I’m in the minority , but it all over priced and over rated . I’m out of here .

Back on Highway 4 heading south, past the road works, and back to the real world in Ucluelet . To get over the disappointment of the other place ( no bra town ) we decided to book a meal at the local floating restaurant, sit down with real people, instead of a bunch of wannabe’s and enjoy a plate of reasonably priced fish and chips .That’s when it happened , for the second time today , whats going on ?A long line up , and an hour and a half wait for a table .

I was then informed for the reason for the mayhem . The road has collapsed between the two towns , so trapping all the day trippers from ” No Bra Town ” in Ucluelet and obviously they now want to eat , hence the long line up ( Que for you Brits ).Well I guess it’s not their fault and thankfully the women seemed to have put their bra on for their day trip , so at least we didn’t have to face that ordeal. Could have put me off my food , but I doubt it  .

So with an evening walk around the harbour to pass away the time waiting for our table , the reason for the road closure was discovered . Not as I thought the beginning of a massive earthquake, but the second half of the road had collapsed, where they were installing the salmon runs .What a relief . This turned to absolute joy when I heard a local fisherman describe the extent of the damage .

Now small town people speak in a certain way. A way in which is calm, understated and to be honest hilarious, without them meaning to be . Coming from a small town myself I simply love it and miss it immensely.

He quotes ” The road collapsed while they were digging those round things into the road for the fish to use . Its pretty bad as I”ve heard they had to bring the professionals in from the other side of the island ” ( Assume he meant from Victoria or another large town all situated on the East Coast ) Laugh? I damn near hurt myself .

“Bring in the professionals?” I asked him for clarification, ” So does that mean around here anyone can dig the main highway up?”

Calmly and without any emotion he replied with “I think so , it”s not the first time it:s happened this year ‘

Oh my God , I laughed so hard . Brilliant . Suddenly my inconvenience waiting for a table to come available at the local eatery all became worth it .

Finally we received notice from the restaurant that our table was ready and ended our eventful day with a fantastic plate of local fish and chips, complete with a couple of beers, fine company and all the women in the building had a Bra on. Perfect .IMG_1101

Ucluelet Marina , in all its splendor. Great to see numerous working boats still active in the area .

 

Start Point : Ucluelet British Columbia

Finish Point Ucluelet British Columbia( via No Bra Town )

Distance Travelled : 82 Kilometers

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip

Day 3 Victoria

Having had a good night sleep ( Anything was better than the Chevy Pick-up hotel from the previous night ) , we ventured downtown , via the split windshield Hotel Zed VW camper van .

One huge disadvantage of living in Calgary ( which now apparently is in the top ten cities in the world to live in , not sure who decided that , no coast , no work ,high house prices ,in the middle of a slump in oil prices ………………………?) is that we are a 12 hour drive to the coast and therefore the opportunity to eat fresh seafood, is at best somewhat limited , in truth bloody poor .In fact in my opinion , eating out in Calgary is generally over priced and over rated , except for asian food  , the majority of restaurants tend to offer all the same choices, including one of the biggest disappointments to me when I arrived here , that being Alberta Beef ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,aaaahhhhh .

So coming from an island and being bought up on a fish diet we set off on our Fish and Chips finding mission .

A short boat taxi ride from the main downtown area, takes across the bay to a place they refer to as fisherman’s wharf . There , a small number of floating houses and restaurants provide the visiter with a relaxed waterside watering hole . With a busy harbour entrance providing constant entertainment , ships, trawlers , pleasure boats and best of all float planes provide an ever-changing horizon,

With one of the hottest summers of record , a strong American dollar and fires raging in northern regions of the western provinces , the west coast seems to be having a record year for numbers of visitors and on this particular day , many of them seem to be desperate to eat  fish and chips at the same time as us. So much so we had an hours wait for fresh batches to be cooked having arrived ten minutes after they ran out of supplies .

With a little patience, our wait was rewarded with a large plate of fresh haddock and chips ( fries to you north american folk ……………..funny how the restaurants are not called fish and fries here.)Fantastic , Calgary restaurants could learn a thing or two from Victoria regarding food presentation and portion sizes . It’s also great to be served by a server who knows what there doing, not covered in cheap make up and perfume , and actually cares about customer service rather than looking for a large tip for basically doing very little .( My Rant Over for the day ?) Victoria boasts more restaurants per head than any place in Canada and for them to all stay in business, they must know a thing or two .

Having finished our lunch we headed back to downtown Victoria , via a cool little tug taxi, which run continuously from several pick up and drop off areas throughout the harbour area . Any visitor should try these at least once as they give a great service , if a little expensive , but that the price you pay for anything unique.( Had to wait for our taxi , as the first one to collect us had the family on board that was kitted out like they were on a cross continental hike and allergic to the twentieth century and as we had our dog with us they clearly wouldn’t survive such a long crossing in an open aired boat  !!!!!) .Another Rant for those who are counting .

Back into the city we wondered around the stores . As anyone knows with teenage kids , shopping for cloths seems to be high on most of their ” want to do lists “, and my sons are no different . In the age of over indulging our children for fear of them growing up with some mental condition or the latest ridiculous abbreviated condition , I follow along like the modern lap dog Dad, aimlessly wandering the streets , reminding myself of my teenage years when one pair of runners ( trainers as I know them by ) seem to be enough ! ( I lied about the daily rant clearly ).

Victoria has all the usual stores, plus a few that offer more of the west coast hippy style that seems to be coming back in fashion .But what it does make great use of , is maintaining the old buildings that once housed mainly ship related industries and workshops and now offer a wide range boutiques, used clothing stores , endless cafe and small specialist food outlets. Even a reluctant shopper like myself can find something of interest .

To end the day we grabbed a take out from the well-known chinese district , popped a squat in the old district and watched the world pass by , enjoying top quality asian cuisine .To follow, a half and walk to burn off supper back to the hotel . The trendy VW camper only runs to 5.30 pm pick up , so walk back it was . ( I never once a fan of taxi or worst still busses )

With full stomachs ( well mine at least , the stomach of a teenage boy seems to be an ever revolving door ) and tired ache feet , a good nights rest was had by all . Tomorrow we leave Victoria and head still further west .

Start point _ Victoria BC

Finish – Victoria BC

Distance Travelled _ 0 klms . (Not driving , felt like bloody lots walking)

 

 

 

Road Trip . August 2017

After a busy 2016 and early 2017, finally family commitments have all finished and we get to spend some time together as a family .

As with most families in Calgary, kids seem to have their summer breaks organized by their parents in order to spend as much time out of the house as possible , attending day camps or clubs both in and out of the city .

The fact is both parents have to work to pay for these activities, surely the solution would be to stay at home, enjoy free activities , then both parents wouldn’t have to work to pay the fees, therefore enjoying more valuable time with their children .

So after six weeks of endless early mornings for one sons swimming ( why swimmers have to train so early in the morning is beyond me ), late afternoon soccer practices ( football to you non North American folk ), for the other son , my wife having to endlessly change the Calender setting to fit it all in, as well as work during the day ( Wonderful Women) , we have the chance to leave the city and take a trip out west . Vancouver Island

The day before departure, involves , packing, repacking, ( twice in some cases ) deciding what modern appliances we cannot possibly live without ( phones,pads and lap tops , one child even wanted to take a game console !!!!!), cleaning the truck , gas the truck ( Petrol to you Europeans ) rotate the tires ,empty the tool box to allow my wife to take up pretty much the remaining available space. Despite her best efforts to convince the rest of the family she was packing light, we are not convinced, rightly so it turns out .

As cities go, Calgary is a good one . But it’s still a city , and for all its great features I always get a fun feeling when leaving for pastures new . So over the next couple of weeks were out of here, lets hope its a good one.

Day 1   Cancel the Hotel .

When ever I leave heading west from Calgary, the first view of the Rockies along highway 1 never disappoints . The trans Canada highway spans over 8000 klms and is one of the longest roads of its type in the world .

Despite not been a twinned lane road all the way to the west coast, driving it this time of year is relatively relaxing and predictable .The same stretch of highway in the winter months is a totally different challenge .In August, I mainly have to deal with poor drivers towing large RVs ( caravans to you Brits ) with small SUVs , that clearly don’t know how to go round corners without slamming their brakes on , so becoming a total source of frustrating to the ever-increasing line of traffic in their wake .

There are two seasons in Canada . Winter and construction season . This presents hazard number two . No sooner had I managed to get past the rolling road blocks of the city RV driver on his once a year expedition, I enter yet another reduced speed zone , only to pass by a lonely pick up truck parked at the side of the road , amber light flashing , with little of no actual construction work been carried out . I think these are set up for the sole purpose of allowing cops to set up speed traps to allow further taxation of the motorist.

Hazard number three, wild Fires,well smoke from the wild fires burning out of control, at the time of writing over 160 wild fires were currently burning , with vary degrees of control from firefighters . 2017 has literraly provided the perfect storm as far as wild fires are concerned, the worst year since 1958 with over 8500 square kilometers of forest and several towns been destroyed .This all combined to make the drive uncomfortable , but my complaining about not using the air conditioning for a few miles , pretty pathetic really compared to what heartache some people face, due to the effects of the fires .

Despite all this we made great time and arrived at our planned over night stop by 3 pm , way earlier than thought possible , mainly due to the fact the way I approach a road trip . Being an ex truck driver , leave early , don’t drink, no need to pee, stop only for fuel and punch it chewy !!!!!!. My kids know the drill by now .

So the decision was made ( not by me I might add ) cancel the hotel , head for the ferry terminal, catch a late afternoon crossing and risk not finding a place to stay , resulting in a possible night in the truck .

Confidently ringing hotels as we sail from the mainland to Vancouver island , turned into the realization of spending the night in the truck .

Now on an island with hundreds of secluded , quiet spots, with beautiful views of the ocean , I managed to park adjacent to a 24 hour wood yard , with noisy shift change at midnight and 6 am , with a steady flow of trucks through out the night . Perfect .A night sleep was achieved in part by my youngest son, however the remaining members of the party (even the dog) struggled to get any prolonged periods of shut-eye .

So ending our first day .

Started : Calgary Alberta

Finished : Chermainus , Vancouver Island BC.

Distance Travelled : 1050 klms 13 hours driving .

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Day 2  Rough Start :

After what can only be described as a terrible nights sleep , a walk around Chemainus at 6 am on a Saturday morning, gave me the chance to take a good look as to what this unique little town has to offer . The first thing you notice is its covered in cool looking Murals , 39 in total .This town had a successful start, thanks to the arrival of the railway in 1880 combined with a successful spell in the logging business.

Following the recession experienced by the BC logging industry in the 1980″s , Chemainus went through some tough times .Although logging still plays a large roll in the towns economy ( my lack of sleep can confirm this ) , the number of people employed is drastically reduced due to modern equipment and processes . The painting of the murals was part of a planned programme to re generate and diversify the town Economy . Today the town has a charm all of its own , combining active traditional industries of logging with tourism and an active harbour area which even provide a BC ferry terminal .

One claim to fame, on January 13th 2006 a Boeing 747 was sunk of the coast of Chermainus in order to create an artificial reef, to encourage divers to visit the area . This success story still faces an uncertain future as many of the projects used to regenerate the area was financed by government funds , funds that are no longer available . I for one think it will survive.

Following an early breakfast at a local dinner, we were back on the road heading south on the trans-canada ( yes it carries continues on the island ) towards Victoria .

Passing through several road construction zones, with relatively light traffic thanks to our early start , it wasnt long before we were in the BC capital of Victoria .

Being located at the southern point of Vancouver Island , it is a booming metropolitan city, with a population in excess of 85,000, which increases dramatically during the summer months .

Being one of the oldest cities in the region , named after queen Victoria, this place has everything for the modern tourist.

Known as the “Garden City”, it also possess a thriving technology sector , attracting labour from all over the world .

The relatively mild Winters ( relative to the rest of the Canada) , this city is a popular destination for retirees .

For the next couple of nights we were going to stay at Hotel Zed . Located ten minutes from downtown Victoria , this hotels is a great example of a great idea .Take an older type Motel building , decorate with bright colours, fill the rooms with art decor items, groovy telephones and lights , combine with an indoor pool for the kids and a great VW camper van all decked out in the Hotels colours for the adults to be shuttled to and from downtown and you have a great, groovy, memorable place to stay .

Dont expect luxury finishes , everything here is basic and in some areas it lacks the finish I like in my hotels rooms , in main the bathrooms are too 1970″s for my liking .IMG_1795