Over to Vancouver Island

Another beautiful day! After a good breakfast of fruit juice, cereals, toasted muffins & marmalade and coffee, I checked out and waited in the lobby for the new Moose tour. It had felt a bit strange without the structure of the bus and our group yesterday but I would be rejoining today and meeting some new people. In fact one was waiting right there in the lobby. Harry was from Milton Keynes, wouldn’t you know it!  He had been in Canada a year and was working in Banff, and just taking some time out to visit the island.  The Moose bus arrived just after 8 and it was a microbus compared to what I was used to but there were to be only 6 of us – Harry, Emily from London, Terry from Sydney and Gary & Jeanne, the Irish couple who I already knew from the previous trip to the Rockies. Oh and Jon our driver!

It took all morning to wait for and finally travel over to Nanaimo on the ferry but it was a good smooth crossing. We stopped at the food store for provisions before setting off on our journey across the island. My first impression of the island very favorable.  It felt quite a bit warmer here and we had to have the AC on in the vehicle.  The trees were much denser and greener. Jon was very knowledgable and filled me in with the names of the trees… Alder, Large Pole Pine, hemlock, Arbutus and Aspen were mentioned.  Aspen were the ones with white bark I thought looked like gum trees.

Our first stop was a walk through a lovely wooded area in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, where we had our picnic lunch on a bench and then walked through the forest over a Canyon with an impressive waterfall… very loud and powerful. Jon said most of the island’s power was hydro generated.We proceeded on to the mountainous part of the island where the narrower winding roads were fringed with foxgloves and Scotch Broom, like the New Zealanders, the Canadians wanted rid of this bright yellow intruder!  We then stopped at a rocky outcrop by a river where there were plentiful alpines growing and tadpoles in rock pools. The lads scampered along a tree trunk which had formed a kind of bridge across the rocks, but I froze part way along this suffering slight vertigo and had to turn and go back, with Jeanne’s help. It was a beautiful area however and got the artist juices flowing again.  Jon was able to supply the name of a large white flower I’d seen a lot in the Rockies. Here it’s fruit was ripe -a Salmonberry no less. Very like a Loganberry but salmon in colour and quite edible.

We proceeded to the final stop before Tofino, which was Sprout Lake.  Here we had the opportunity of a swim. I hadn’t really come prepared but was always up for a swim.  Harry and Terry were also ready to go in but I was first to jump into the cool water. It was really quite warm compared with the Lake in Kelowna.

We had a lot of fun jumping in and out there before heading on to our final destination. A shower and changing area was provided near this spot. I am always in awe of the excellent facilities in Canada.

As we approached Tofino a Racoon ran across in front of us. I was looking forward to seeing many wild native creatures the next day as I had booked on to a wildlife expedition.

The hostel here was a house owned by Moose and just accommodated our bus group and nobody else!  For the first time I had a room to myself.  Dinner that night was supplied by Jon our driver and we all pitched in to prepare.  It was to be local Sockeye salmon, green beans, carrots, new potatoes and mixed tomato salad…. yum. The lads had previously bought a couple of boxes of beers so Jeanne, Emily and I walked over to the local Liquor store for some Pinot Grigio. We had a great evening chatting til almost midnight.  Great I can lie in… the wildlife expedition up the coast doesn’t start til mid day!

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