Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adventures in British Coloumbia - July 23rd

Thursday, July 23rd
Woke up early, and at 7:00 I decided to do my run in the morning instead of the afternoon. I peeked out the door of the motel to find thick fog obscuring everything more than a couple of blocks away. After some stretching I stepped back in to take off my fleece so I wouldn’t overheat, and removed my glasses since they don’t have windshield wipers! The first few minutes of running were chilly with the air at 52 degrees and the wind blowing a fine misty rain, but I warmed up quickly. I ran down the main road two miles toward the edge of Tofino, then back again along the same up and down undulating bike path. When I got back I was delighted to find that I had clicked off four miles in 39 minutes, 30 seconds…better than a 10 minute per mile average…the best I’ve done in a long time.
We went for breakfast at Darwin’s Garden, a botanical garden, then drove south out of Tofino south along the coast. We drove up the steep incline of Radar Hill where there is supposedly a fine view of the surrounding mountains, sounds and islands, but all we saw was thick fog. We parked the car at Long Beach, wedged in between bushes on one side and an enclosed utility trailer, one of several belonging to various surfing instruction companies. A short walk through wind-twisted evergreens brought us to a wide, hard packed sandy beach sloping very gently to the edge of the water almost a quarter mile away. We could just make out many moving black spots looming in the fog at the edge of gently breaking waves. This may be the most popular surfing beach in all of British Columbia. One of the surfers told us that the summer waves, generally 2-3 feet were mostly for beginners, and that the big waves that come roaring in from the northwest on the backs of winter storms bring out the serious surfers.
We drove a little farther to the Wickanannish Beach, where there is an interpretive center. The upper edge of this beach was covered with tumble-worn logs, piled in a jumble that looked like giant pick-up sticks. There were only a few surfers here at the far end of the beach, away from the offshore rocks and the closer in sand bars at this end that create wicked rip currents that sweep rapidly far out from the shoreline. We briefly considered having lunch at a restaurant there, overlooking the surf, but a plain hamburger was $13, and the prices went up from there.
We drove on toward the other oceanside town of Ucluelet (pronounced Oo-CLUE-eh-let). There the meandering hilly streets gave vistas of a small bay and led us to the Canadian Coast Guard station and the Amphitrite Lighthouse on a rocky point at the end of town. We walked down to look at the tidepools and surging surf, and found a nice bench in the warm sunlight that was finally beginning to burn of the morning’s thick fog, and sat there for awhile, listening to the groaning and moaning of a buoy bobbing on the waves a few hundred yards off the end of the point. We made a quick trip back to the car to get lunch materials, and on the way back, I could have sworn I heard the WHOOSH! of a whale’s spout. Soon after, we saw a boat heavily loaded with people, surging and rocking its way across the swells not far from shore, and saw people pointing and calling out to each other. Sure enough, a few seconds later a humpback whale surfaced, took a quick breath, and submerged again. Perhaps 30 seconds later the whale repeated the performance, then again, and one more time before disappearing to stay under for awhile, looking for tasty snacks.
In the late afternoon we started on the sinuous road back across the spine of Vancouver Island. Reaching the east coast, we turned south again and stopped for the evening at Parksville. We had an inexpensive, but delicious dinner at Tim Hortons, dessert at a Dairy Queen, and then drove down to the beach to watch the sunset at 9:15 p.m.

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