Jack's travelblog

Orcas at Vancouver Island

Tuesday September 6

Yesterday we saw some waterfalls, Brandywine and Shannon Falls, along the route. Then took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. At Qualicum Beach we have lunch on the gravel beach and continue our route along the coast until we arrive in Courtenay. Here we visit the Museum, meaning it is closed on Mondays so it becomes the tasting room across the road. Another local brewer, this time Gladstone. Just a non-alcoholic beer. In nearby Comox we see Filberg Heritage Lodge. This old wooden building with wooden slates is beautifully situated on the bay and is quite photogenic. A little further north, a visit to Miracle Beach in the hope of seeing wildlife. That doesn’t work, but still we enjoy the view for a while. Another short walk in Driftwood Park and then to the Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River. Nicely situated on the bay and diner on the terrace. Seals regularly pop up in the bay. Furthermore, there seems to be a fishing competition. The sunset red on the mountains on the other side makes the evening complete.

Heading west today. First stop is the Elk Falls. A short walk takes us to the viewpoint and the waterfall is indeed worth the effort. A little further the suspension bridge, specially built to cross the river. It leads nowhere. Rather beautiful. Continue on 28 and then straight onto Western Mine road. View the Lupine Falls here. At Augerpoint a photo over the lake, with a great reflection of the mountains. Just do the Wild Ginger trail and continue again. More beautiful views and then the Lower Myra Falls. Brilliant again. The falls come down over several levels and it is a beautiful picture. Then back by car and a lunch break at Karst Creek on Buttle Lake. After the Lady Falls we drive on to the west coast and look at the timber trade in Gold River. A seaplane is just taking off, pretty funny. Then the same route back to Campbell River. From here we head south and visit the Museum in Courtenay. Actually they are just closing, but we can still take a look inside. Great collection of dinosaur skeletons. Still got it for a while. Then to the Gladstone Tasting Room across the road.

Wednesday. It is low tide and there is now more rock and seaweed to be seen. After breakfast we walk up to the jetty next to the hotel. We see bold eagles, ducks, herons and of course seagulls. A gull has grabbed a mussel and drops it on the rocks, to eat it afterwards. The seals do not show themselves immediately, until they come up at the buoy. A little far away, but still nice. A sea otter with a fish in its mouth also appears between the rocks. On to the south. At the Nymph Falls we take a look, another beautiful sight. The water here flows over a considerable width in a thin layer over the rocks. Continue south and visit Chemainus. Funny tourist town with many murals and an ‘old’ main street. In Victoria the traffic jam is mainly out of town, but we go in. We check in and walk into town. We soon pass two local breweries. Remarkable. Through Chinatown to the harbor. A nice picture. The chic Fairmont Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Parliament Building are a must. Lots of flowers along the way brighten it up a bit. At Finn’s Seafood we grab a terrace and dinner with a view over the harbor. The seaplanes fly back and forth and the ferry from the USA arrives with a loud horn. Then across Bastion Square, past old buildings, back to the hotel.

Thursday we walk towards the harbor again, through Chinatown and at the harbor we see that the Canadian flag is now half-mast on all buildings. Queen Elizabeth has just passed away. We view the totem pole collection in the park next to the museum and Beacon Hill Park. Not special, but the peacocks that roam freely make it a nice picture, together with the flower garden. A bunch of noisy colibris go off the flowers. Always fun. Here and there a dark squirrel, who are clearly not afraid of people and then slowly back to the harbor. Here we catch the Prince of Whales at 11:30 am, how appropriate today. The catamaran sails out of the harbor and the guide continues to tell. Pretty nice, but also a bit over the top. When we’re in the waters of the USA, we’re on the border, we see a group of orcas (killer whales), very cool. The fins surface regularly and are clearly visible. The white is a bit more difficult. At one point, one orca briefly emerges with its head above water to take in the environment. Absolutely great. Then it’s time to look a little further. More back towards the harbor we see a humpback whale. Still special. A puff of “steam”, a fin and then the tail. Also fantastic. After 3.5 hours we are back in the harbor and we have a bite on one of the terraces. At 7 pm we meet with Helen and Michael, whom I met on the Egypt trip a few years ago, at the Swans Brewery Pub. They are already there and it is nice to catch up.

Friday. Weak coffee with a muffin. A quick stop at the beautiful Craigdarroch Castle. The coastal road to the east is beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful houses with a view of the ocean. Somehow we have the impression that the houses here are quite unaffordable. Beautiful gardens and beautiful road. We stop a few times along the coast and Oak Bay is very beautiful. Continue up the coast. Near Butchart Garden we walk into a nature reserve where a path along the river leads to a beautiful bay. Then to Sydney, I always thought it was in Australia, to eat on the coast. Nice place. The ferry starts at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. and we enjoy the view and the sun on the boat. The wind is strong, but the islands we sail between make up for this. After 1.5 hours we arrive in Tsawwassen and drive on to the hotel. It is now traffic jams. Check in and then take the car to the airport. Traffic jam again and the shuttle back to the hotel. The first Sandman hotels shuttle continues, the second stops and tells it is full. The third stops and takes us along. The driver asks 4 times which hotel and I tell him 4 times. He’s not really bright, so he doesn’t understand. Sandman or Sandman Signatures? Sandman! Which? Sandman without Signatures. Oh… Sandman. Yes, that’s the one!

The trip is already over and on Saturday we fly back to Amsterdam via Toronto.


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