Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vancouver Island

We loved our time in Nova Scotia in 2014 (previous posts here and here). Splendid landscapes, friendly people, fascinating culture and no crowds. When the opportunity arose to see some of British Columbia, off we went, wondering how it might differ.

After a short and pleasant stay in Vancouver (the city), we boarded a ferry for Vancouver (the island). At 12,000 square miles it's about half the size of Nova Scotia, but it feels big because it's sparsely populated. Almost half of the 760,000 people live in Victoria, on the southern tip of the island, and many of the rest seem to be along the southeastern and southwestern coasts. Crowds were certainly not a problem (though you might find them in Victoria).

We drove west across the island through rugged, beautiful terrain. We stayed in Ucluelet at He-Tin-Kis Lodge, a wonderful place overlooking a small inlet in the rugged western coastline. A short hike away on the Wild Pacific Trail is the Amphitrite Lighthouse with a fog horn that operated evocatively throughout our stay. 
View from Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet, BC

Much of the southwest coast--in fact, much of the island--is parkland. On a day trip north along the Pacific Rim Highway from Ucluelet we stopped to hike the short Rainforest Trail loops. These are magical walks among tall trees and lush undergrowth, nearly silent, almost otherworldly.

Rainforest Trail

Returning to the east coast, we drove north, stopping for lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn with its lovely casual backyard for dining. We'd never heard of Fanny Bay oysters: they are exceptional. Our waitress, brightening visibly at our raves, told us where to buy more. We did, and made our second westerly transect to 
Strathcona Park Lodge, overlooking Upper Campbell Lake. The lodge borders Strathcona Provincial Park and affords spectacular views of the lake and mountains. We picnicked that evening on the porch of our cabin shucking and eating the oysters.

Kings Peak and Upper Campbell Lake, BC

Mt. Flannigan and Upper Campbell Lake, BC

It's hard to capture the scope and beauty of Canada. Everywhere we went we saw brilliant yellow Scotch broom, a spectacular and unfortunately invasive shrub, but I failed to get a good image of it. We also saw lots of lupine.

Oh Canada! indeed. We are fortunate to have seen some of both coasts and are planning another trip, to Ottawa, soon.

Lupine, Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, BC

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