Without Island Mike's aforementioned generous offer to housesit at his place on Vancouver Island, this post would probably have been the bitterest of epistles and entitled "How Bedbugs Ate my Summer". Coming as it did at the very end of summer break though, we were able to snatch back a tremendous amount of seasonal glee in comparatively little time. God bless you, my brother; our gratitude is eternal!
Thanks to modern innovations like the internet, it is now possible to bore people with holiday photos at a rate and scale unimagined in the days of slide projectors! I'd be a fool not to leverage that sort of opportunity, so: are you seated comfortably? Then we'll begin.* Luckily for us, everyone in the household, from the girls to the dog, is an easygoing traveller. Over the course of the 12 hour drive to Horseshoe Bay, we had plenty of opportunities to talk navigation and teach Fenya and Glory how to read a map. It's a boring commute for many, but for me, a ferry trip still feels like an excursion. After eating on board, we explored from top to bottom, and got a decent sunset photo in the bargain. Our first day in Qualicum Beach, we set out to Courtenay (about 45 min. north) to visit Scott and Bev, who just moved out there after Scott retired as our church minister this past June. By the time we returned, we had heard "When do we go to the beach?" approximately 86 times, so we pulled over on the way home and did some beachcombing. In the tide pools we found starfish, ...hermit crabs,
...squirty clams, ...dead jellyfish, ...colorful crabs, ... and a couple of nice photo opportunities, as well as a great number of seashells. We went down to the beach a number of times, and it never got old. I know there are a finite number of things to see down there, but it never felt like that to us prairie dwellers.
We also popped over to the neighbouring community of Oceanside to see their sandcastle building competition, and were impressed and amazed in equal measure.
The single best outing had to be our day trip to Tofino, on the west side of the island, where we went whale watching. We had gone on our previous visit in 2005, but Glory spent most of the trip curled into Audrey in an attempt tp keep warm, and doesn't remember much else from when she was two years old, and we wanted to go again anyways, so after lunch at Big Daddy's Fish Fry, we did just that. (I wouldn't normally pimp an ad in my blog, but the fish is great, and the logo speaks for itself; I had to get the hat and t-shirt.)
As always, the gearing up for an excursion out on a 28' Zodiac provided much hilarity. I sweated up pretty quick in the insulated survival suit cine it was about 28 degrees outside, but was grateful for it later as we zipped across the waves into an offshore breeze. Our skipper, Robin, was an excellent guide, and spared no horses in getting us out to where the whales be. Our previous jaunt had been in a regular boat, a 24' Boston Whaler, but the zodiac meant getting a teeth jarring amusement park ride before a whale was even seen. I am saddened to say that this is the best photo I have of the humpbacks we saw; the massive cetaceans are simply not that accommodating when it comes to amateur photography. This one is the mum, about 45' long by Robin's guess, which seriously dwarfed our little rubber raft. This one with the white tip is her calf. I can't stress enough how little justice pictures and video (especially my pictures and video!)do to this experience, and strongly recommend it to everyone.
We did get a good look at some seals and sea lions, however.
If anyone should bother to come back, the second part will include a living thing eight centuries old, a little train, a large boat, and a cave.
* Did anyone else hear Platinum Blonde's "Doesn't Really Matter" after they read that? Just wonderin'...