Sea to Sky and the majestic Bald Eagle: road to the Pacific Ocean

Published: June 18th 2019
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Monday 17th June 2019

Yesterday, we left Squamish early at 8 a.m. to drive down the “Sea to Sky Highway” to Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver. To quote my friend Barbara in her last comment on my previous blog, Canada just keeps “giving and giving”; great way to describe it! As one drives down the Pacific coast, the sea of the Howe Sound shimmers on the left and the snow-capped mountains soar to the right. It is sensational, stunning and takes away breath!

We stopped just once at Porteau Cove, it was rather misty and mysterious, the mountains looking pale grey above a silvery sea. By 9 a.m. we were at the ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay. We were delighted to be told that there was room for us on the 11 a.m. ferry. We parked up in the line allocated to us, then went off to walk around Horseshoe Village and enjoy the scenery of this little harbour.

The ferry left on time and after a very smooth crossing we docked at Nanaimo on Vancouver Island at 12.45 p.m. It was still rather misty so our photographs are not sharp, but they are good enough to remind us of the journey. We spent all but fifteen minutes on deck enjoying the views.

We found a cheap motel (by Canadian standards) just north of Nanaimo in a seaside resort called Parksville. It was a crazy place, the motel (called Sea Shells) was next door to a crazy golf course (complete with a castle entrance, pirate boat and bright blue fountains) and an R.V. park right by the beach. Unless one raised the eyes to see the snow-capped mountains across the Strait of Georgia on the mainland, one could believe oneself to be in Southend! Loved it! What a delightful contrast, like a little commercial break within a natural history programme on TV! We had a round of golf. John won, just three over par whereas I was six over par. We then bought ice creams (enormous) and looked up to see a very large Bald Eagle sitting on a dead branch of a tall tree, watching us with his beady eyes.

Today we journeyed across the island to the Pacific Ocean, where we are staying for two nights. The last time we saw the Pacific was when we rounded Cape Horn in January 2015. We are in the Pacific Rim National Park, Ucluelet District.

The most renowned destination in this area is the small town of Tofino. Accommodation is very expensive there so we opted to stay in the town of Ucluelet instead. Ucluelet is very laid back and “shabby-chic” (although our motel, being the cheapest in town, has rather more shabby than chic about it)! However, it has one of the best locations in town, right beside the harbour.

We made several stops on our drive across the island, the first by beautiful Cameron Lake, then the town of Port Albani in the centre of the mountainous central core of the island, and finally beside the Kennedy River. We enjoyed a short hike along the Giant Cedar Trail, beside the river, towards a small creek where very large giant cedar trees flourish. The notice at the trail head advised us to make noise and talk as we walked, to warn the resident black bears of our presence! One young couple we met on the trial had small hand-held jingle bells. Good idea! We just kept talking to each other and we had our bear spray with us! Didn’t meet any bears but we did see some impressively large cedars!

One hilarious road sign along the highway, nowhere near any habitation, said “Check fuel – next gas station in 89 km”. Fine, but there was no gas station in sight, so if one didn’t have enough to drive 89 km, it would be a bit of a problem, because there was little opportunity to turn around on winding mountain roads!

After yet another scenic journey, we arrived in Ucluelet in mist and drizzle! The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees from 25 degrees as we crossed the mountains! Crazy Canadian weather! Last night we sat out in shorts and T-shirts until it was dark, tonight we are inside with fleeces on!

We have to get up early tomorrow morning to board a boat down in the harbour at 7 a.m. We are going to spend three hours along the small creeks and inlets, hoping to see black bears who go down at low tide to hunt out sea food. We also hope to see sea lions and seals as well as more Bald Eagles (we have seen seven already today). Sightings of bear on these low-tide trips are running at a seventy-five percent success rate at the moment, so fingers crossed for us tomorrow! We want to see some of Winnie’s descendant nieces and nephews!

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Vancouver in the misty distanceVancouver in the misty distance
Vancouver in the misty distance

20 km away on a good zoom
"Is it a bird up there?""Is it a bird up there?"
"Is it a bird up there?"

"No. It is more than just a bird. It is a Bald Eagle!"

Wally CreekWally Creek
Wally Creek

No swimming, jumping or climbing on rocks allowed, dangerous location
Giant Cedar TrailGiant Cedar Trail
Giant Cedar Trail

Bear spray at "Quick Draw" position!

Dixie 4Dixie 4
Dixie 4

Our bear hunting boat for tomorrow morning

18th June 2019
Dixie 4

18th June 2019

Bear Spray
Bear spray in the 'quick draw' position! Nice try! Thermos of traveller alcohol more like! (Only joking). There won't be many times you are photographed with Bear spray at the ready. Congratulations on reaching the Pacific coast. I hope you saw Winnie's relatives when you were out today and that Vancouver delivers a few more jewels for your Canadian memories. xx
19th June 2019

Privileged to see TWO of Winnie's relatives today. It was special! Xxxx

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