I’ve indicated my final destination as Tofino, to clarify – the Pacific Rim area is referred to as Long Beach or Tofino. Our hotel however, is in Ucluelet – 96 Km. from Port Alberni, 32 Km. south of Tofino.
From Port Alberni, it doesn’t take long to grasp the concept of “formerly a logging road”. My husband at the wheel, myself the gracious host in the back seat so our out of province guests could have the best view, delivered a totally new experience. Vancouver Island is rugged to say the least; forget meadows, sleepy valleys, or straight stretches – this is logging country. Mountains plunge into lakes without any concept of shoreline, the highway clings to hill sides – nothing short of an engineering marvel. The road is crowded; long lines of cars gather behind petrified tourists – one hairpin curve or 15% grade too many; shaking like a new born kitten – incapable of anything more than 30 or 40 Km’s an hour. Just past the half way point the road opens enough to allow vehicles to park along a river. Water levels are low,not much more than a stream, yet smooth tumbled rock is testament to the force of nature during spring run off.
We reached the Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet around 7 PM – about 6 hours after driving onto the ferry in Tsawwassen. This isn’t our photo, but am putting it up for dramatic effect.
Photo by my husband – Ucluelet
Hanks BBQ Shack, Ucluelet – after 9 PM the only place open in the village, and well worth it.
After check in we toured the village which took about 5 minutes. Ucluelet has slightly under 1,500 permanent residents. We settled on The Princess for dinner; a former topographical mapping ship converted into a hotel on the harbour. By chance, we had stumbled into trivia night at the bar. Calling ourselves “Team Alberta” in honour of our guest – we kicked ass. As in we took every prize – the hat, water bottle stuffed with rain poncho, first aid kit, flash-light, the whale watching, and $30.00 off our tab.
Photo from canadianprincess.com
The next morning we headed up the coast to Tofino. Only slightly larger than Ucluelet, Tofino boasts 1,600 permanent residents. That said, Tofino positively bustled after Ucluelet. Breakfast overlooking the harbour as float planes and whale watching groups danced in the rain. Only fitting it should rain – not a drop in six weeks, but the one full day we are able to get away. Poking about the shops for an hour or so, waiting for the skies to let up was fun. Tofino is hippie/surfer ground zero. With as many surf shops as local artisans selling crafts, an interesting place to people watch. I never saw any sort of public transportation but the “surf bus”, an old army transport vehicle moved surfers from one beach to another for 2 bucks.
Leaving Tofino our first beach was Chesterman. This is a rockier place than long beach, tidal pools full of anemone and urchin. Tiny crabs, barnacles, mussels, clams, waiting for the tide to return.
Tomorrow I’ll finish my trip and ponder some history of our west coast.