September 26, 2012
Today we had breakfast not at Tim Horton’s but rather in the Darlene’s kitchen, the woman running the B&B we stayed at for the night. We had a nice chat over croissants with scrambled eggs with three other guest: A somewhat older and grumpy guy from Montreal and a couple from, you guessed it, Germany. Hard as it was, we had to said goodbye to Darlene, and left for Tofino. While Victoria and Nanaimo are on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino is on the opposite side, which meant that we had to cross the island from east to west, driving through the mountainous center.
We didn’t stop very often on the way. Sad as it may sound, we’ve almost gotten used to the spectacular views of endless forests, snow-capped mountains and glacier-fed lakes wedged in between. Also the road didn’t allow for much sight-seeing. We stopped in MacMillan provincial park, which features huge trees which are a few thousand years old. The sheer size of these trees was hard to grasp from the ground. Luckily there were plenty of logs of trees that toppled over right next to the trail, so one could conveniently pose next to them as a reference for scale.
The rest of the route was nice but very demanding in terms of driving. Katrin almost got car-sick and it was not for my reckless driving but rather as a result of endless supply of rising and falling steep turns, often flanked by rock on the one and an abyss on the other side of the road. Eventually we crossed the mountains and drove along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The temperature had dropped by a few degrees, and the vegetation looked completely different from what we had seen just two hours earlier. At the first visitor info we even drove through some light fog banks.
The west coast of Vancouver Island (and in fact British Columbia) is commonly referred to as “Temperate Rainforest”, i.e. something that is decidedly cooler than your typical “jungle”, yet receives similar amounts of rainfall. It really showed, with dense forest of uncharacteristically large trees. We drove right through Pacific Rim National Park (which we’ll visit tomorrow) and into Tofino.
We had heard a lot of praise of Tofino in advance, by people from Victoria as well as Nanaimo. And rightly so. If you think that Victoria and Nanaimo are laid-back with a slightly alternative vibe, wait until you get to Tofino. It seemed to us that there are only three types of people around here: Lumberjacks, surfers and hippies (sometimes all in one person). Tofino has a few shops, half of which are dedicated to surfing. On our way around town and the roads we saw countless people on bikes, only that here they ride in neoprene suits and pull their surf boards with two extra wheels attached. It seems like the perfect destination to surf and relax, with countless beaches and what seems to be adequate waves.
We’re staying in another B&B for the next two nights, and this one is probably the best accomodation we’ve ever stayed at, in Canada, the US or Europe. It only has two rooms, and each of them is furnished with so much care that you begin rethinking some of the choices you made decorating your own place. Breakfast will be served to our room tomorrow morning, and if we want, we can use the outside shower which faces the dense forest. The only downside is the slow Internet, which is why there will only be a few photos today. We spent our evening on a nearby beach, reading until the sun dropped behind the horizon.