Monday, September 1, 2014

The Most Epic of Road Trips - Vancouver Island

I have to admit that when I'm blogging about British Columbia I tend to go overboard with my use of superlatives. Words like incredible, amazing and awesome just seem to type themselves. Every time we go on a BC road trip I am in awe of this place that I am privileged to call home.

But this time I will use a word that I've never used before. Epic. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines it like this...ep·ic adjective\╦łe-pik\ - extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.

Yes...epic is the perfect word to describe my latest foray into beautiful BC.

I have a very long bucket list of places and things I want to see in my home province and I have been able to check quite a few things off that list. Beachcombing on Haida Gwaii? check. Climb to the top of Mount Cheam? check. Soak in the hotsprings at Sloquet? check. But there was one thing I hadn't done yet and, being a west coast girl, I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't accomplished this task yet. I had never been whale watching.

So when my friend, Laurie Anne, said she was coming to BC (from Saskatchewan) and we were deciding on what we should do...well, it was a no-brainer. Let's take a road trip to Vancouver Island and go whale watching.

About four days before our trip I got a message from my friend. She was wondering...Did I want to go on a helicopter ride too? Are you kidding? I think my exact words were "Yeehaw!" Let the epic-ness begin!

Monday morning we caught the 10:15am ferry from Tsawwassen to Duke Point and then started heading towards the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Before hitting Campbell River we decided to take a little side trip to Coombs and Cathedral Grove.

COOMBS was originally built as a small farmer's market with a sod roof and hamburger stand, serving tourists heading west to Tofino and Long Beach. About 30 years ago they joked that maybe they should put some goats on the roof to "mow" the grass. The rest, as they say, is history. If you are a foodie and you love a unique shopping experience then you really shouldn't miss Coombs.

CATHEDRAL GROVE is one of those places that will take your breath away. This small park within MacMillan Provincial Park contains one of the most impressive stands of giant Douglas Firs on the west coast - some are over 800 years old! The stroll through the park is easy and worth every minute.

After spending the night in Campbell River we continued on to Port McNeill and our first adventure. Our helicopter ride! I had never been in a helicopter before and now I know why people love it. It was the most incredible feeling to soar just above the treeline and so near to valley walls. We toured the area northwest of the Broughton Archipelago, traveled up the Wakeman River and landed by some unknown lake. I wondered if anyone had ever been there before, it was so remote. Our ride ended with cookies on a snowy mountaintop to celebrate my birthday. Later, as I stood on the granite peak, I just couldn't believe how lucky I was to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. What a birthday!

Epic Birthday

The next day was our whale watching tour. I had never been to Telegraph Cove before and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I don't know what I was expecting but it sure wasn't this quaint and pretty fishing village. Telegraph Cove is the last boardwalk community left in British Columbia. The boardwalk is lined with colourful little cottages, built on stilts above the ocean. There is a well appointed Whale Museum and great little gift shop. The steamed mussels at the Old Saltery Pub were delicious along with the Killer Whale Pale Ale. We just couldn't resist the name! It doesn't get more west coast than this.

Telegraph Cove

We booked our tour** through Stubbs Island Whale Watching Tours and we were not disappointed. The staff was very professional and the boats very comfortable and roomy. We saw four humpback whales and a pod of orcas. One of the large male orcas came right up to our boat and checked us out! It was amazing to be so close to such an enormous creature. Our captain navigated the ship through narrow channels bringing us up close and personal with bald eagles and stellar sea lions. The tour was three and half hours long but it felt like 20 minutes! I couldn't believe how quickly the time passed. **Tip: If you can, book the afternoon tour since there is a good chance that there will be fog during the morning tour.

Northern Vancouver Island is incredibly beautiful and rugged. If you're an outdoor enthusiast I would venture to say that this might be one of the best destinations in the world for you. Whale and grizzly tours, salmon fishing, camping, hiking, geocaches everywhere, kayak tours, helipcopter tours.. the list is endless. With so many things to choose from you'll have lots to add to your bucket list.

I hope all your adventures are as EPIC as ours was!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure LA!


Eddie said...

First of all - Happy Birthday! You beat me to Telegraph Cove, it's also on my to-do list.

Enjoyed the write up and loved the pictures

Eddie said...
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