Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vacation, Day 6 - Tofino and Ucluelet

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for all three of you reading this), I didn't take many pictures on this day, because it was raining the entire day.

We got up early, because we had a lot of kilometers to drive and a lot of sights to see that day.  We hit the road without breakfast, and started out for the first of a few geocaches I wanted to make a point of seeing.  It was a little out of the way, but worth it.

Hm.  That photo doesn't really do it justice.  How about this one:

They claim this is Canada's largest ammo can cache.  The ammo can is a very realistic, very large replica made by the local high school's shop class.  The clasp actually works exactly as a real ammo can, but they found it made the lid too heavy, and people were likely to bonk their heads on it, so they modified it to latch in a different way, but the clasp can still be opened and close, it just isn't connected to the lid anymore.

The loot

The "log book"

The actual log book inside the "log book," and the oversized pencil to log with.  Yes, I used the pencil.

From there, we headed toward Port Alberni, but first we stopped for another cache.  The web research I did told me that the Cathedral Grove was a don't miss stop, but it was drizzling, and both Nathan and I had seen enough lush forests on this trip, though it WAS beautiful.  So we walked on the trail for a minute...

Then homed in on the nearby geocache, which was called "Bearly Visible."

I actually placed the little guy more visibly to take this photo--he was hiding way back inside his cave.

In Port Alberni, we finally ate at Tim Horton's, the Canadian classic.  We each ordered a breakfast sandwich, hashbrowns (Nathan didn't like them, but I did), a donut, and some hot chocolate.  The hot chocolate was SO hot neither of us even started drinking it until we got back to the car and it had a chance to cool down.

This river was much prettier than the photo portrays, and tumbled through a cool little canyon.

We made ONE more stop for geocaching--a very challenging one that involved first finding a box of tools, then looking for the "microscopic" cache itself.  We were unsuccessful, but then when I finally logged the cache a few days later, it turns out that the cache had been missing, so Nathan and I will never know if we would've found the cache or not.  But regardless, we didn't, so we proceeded along the highway.

Finally, we reached Tofino, and not a moment too soon.  We needed to have a nice hearty lunch before heading out to go sea kayaking.

Unfortunately, the place we chose only had ONE menu item that was vegetarian, and it wasn't very hearty.  I love a good salad, but it doesn't exactly stick to your ribs for kayaking in the rain.  But it was all they had, and we didn't really have time to bail and find a different restaurant (and this one was right next to the kayaking place).  However, the salad was HUGE, and delicious.  It had goat cheese, beets, radish, various greens, fennel, and all sorts of fruit, both fresh and dried.

(Nathan enjoyed combining his two favorite foods, though--duck and cheeseburgers.  They had a burger made with ground duck.)

The waiter reminded both me and Nathan SO much of his dad.  His looks a bit, but moreso his personality and waiter...persona, for lack of a better word.  We chuckled at every interaction he had with us and other customers.

The sea kayaking was AWESOME.  We saw a harbor seal's head bobbing in the swells when we first started, and it was low tide so we also saw some sea stars (aka starfish).  Which was nice, since I'd intended to go tidepooling at some point, but we hadn't, and this was our last full day in BC.

I was afraid I'd get really tired really fast.  But Nathan actually got tired faster than I did (it's only fair to mention, though, that he had done the ropes course the day before), so we moseyed back rather than continuing further and rushing back.  It was peaceful at times, just gliding through the water with the waves lapping at our boats and at the shore, and it was exhilarating at times, when we were dodging much larger boats in the main travelling lanes and dealing with the wakes the left us in.

We took both my main camera (in a dry bag) and Nathan's waterproof little compact camera, but were too busy paddling most of the time, and I had all the wrong exposures when I did bust out my camera when we were sitting still for a minute.  So unfortunately, no decent photos of the kayaking.  :-(

After that, we tried in vain to find another geocache.  We couldn't even find where to park, or the trailhead, or anything.  See, I tried (successfully) not to use my cell phone at all on the trip, and a hand-held geocaching GPS doesn't help much for navigating roads (it points you in the right compass direction, but has very few roads, at least for Canada and with the maps loaded on mine), so we were going by instincts, road signs, and a paper map that did not zoom in very far on Tofino.  So after spending probably too much time looking for a route to the coordinates, we gave up.

We headed to Ucluelet (pronounced You-Clue-Let, but locals call it You-Kee), and headed straight to a trail that contained a geocache, before we lost the light.  Again, it was raining on us (more than a drizzle by this point), so we didn't walk any further than necessary, but I wish we'd had more time, more light, and you know what?  I LIKE hiking in the rain, so I'm not going to wish for less of it.  But Nathan would have wished for less rain.  :-)

Regardless, the trail was beautiful, and it would have been nice to enjoy more of it, and make it to the lighthouse it leads to.  I didn't take many photos because of the rain, but here are the ones I did take.

We successfully found that geocache, but did not successfully find dinner.  The restaurants were either really ritzy (and likely expensive, so we didn't even check them out), really casual (i.e. a hot dog stand), or if they were a happy medium, were PACKED.  So Nathan and I agreed to hit the road and head to Port Alberni instead.  By the time we got there (through POURING rain), it was pretty late for a small town, and many restaurants were closed.  Finally, we found a hotel with a restaurant in it, and though the sign said it closed at nine and it was a few minutes past, the waitress and kitchen kindly allowed us in.  We had a really nice dinner there, then made the rest of the journey back to Qualicum Beach, where Nathan and I both headed straight to bed, exhausted again.

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