We intended to spend several weeks exploring “the island” to end this, our final trip, of the current tour. Local people that we met told us how development on the island had boomed over recent years and we saw how built up the east side of the island has become. Where access to the coast is possible there seems to be a building – usually a house with private land. Having travelled through California and Oregon where access to the coast is easy and freely available to the traveller, the Island came as a bit of a disappointment. Nonetheless we were out exploring, often in the wind and rain.
Campbell River and around
Around 160 miles north of Victoria we found an area that was more in line with our expectation. Campbell River is the last major town on the coast before Port Hardy, which is another 140 miles up the road.
From the camp site we had a 180 degree view of the mountains on the mainland…… that is when the clouds lifted!
Some spectacular sunsets and from time to time we saw the cruise ships making their way to travel through the Inside Passage.
This is the only access to the coast with a paved road. The small community still has a timber industry, some fishing boats and a shipyard that is slowly breaking WW2 cargo ships.
At another access point we found Elk Bay, 12 miles each way along a rough gravel track…. which we had hired a 4×4 SUV to go along.
At Gold River, the most northerly point on the east coast accessible by a paved road. From here it is boat, float plane or gravel road.
With the wet weather the waterfalls were flowing well.
Seymour Narrows is, at just under half a mile wide, the narrowest part of the Inside Passage; the protected waters between the island and the mainland that form the main shipping route between Washington State and Alaska. Notorious for the swirling currents and the underlying rocks where 119 ships had been lost narrows since 1875. Following several failed attempts to remove the major underwater obstruction (known as Ripple Rock), with peaks only 9ft below the surface, a successful project of 1958 increased the depth to 47 ft. It took 1400 tonnes of high explosive to remove 700,000 tonnes of rock in the worlds largest non nuclear explosion.
There are still turbulent waters and whirlpools to that make navigation difficult and larger ships only pass through when the tides are changing
Whirlpools of over 50ft across develop along the length of the narrows.
Wood carvings overlook Quadra Island and the distant mainland mountains from the Rotary Park at Campbell River.
At the camp site a pair of bald eagles regularly perched on top of a light beacon about 50 ft from our door and then went fishing on the beach when the tide was out.
A “For Sale” sign in our window attracted enquiries and within 2 days haRVey had new owners lined up.
The Marine Loop
With a month remaining before we flew home we agreed a hand over date at the end of June with the buyers and set off to explore the south west. The Marine loop starts in Victoria, and follows the coast along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Renfrew (the inlet opposite Makah in Washington), north east to Lake Cowichan, then east to North Cowichan before returning to Victoria. The road from Port Renfrew was upgraded from a gravel logging road to a paved road 2 years ago.
Heading back to Victoria we stopped off at Crofton, near North Cowichan. The small camp site on the waters edge provided an overnight stop.
A few nights in Victoria gave us a chance to explore the capital city of BC further.
On an excellent free guided tour of the Legislature Buildings we found that the Province runs its government very much like the UK.
Designed by a young British architect, F.M. Rattenbury and completed in 1898 we felt that the buildings rivalled the national government buildings in Ottawa. The judges of a competition to design the new buildings, believing that the submission was by a famous British Architect, named the winner only to find that the actual person who they had commissioned was his 25 years old nephew. There is more of his story at F.M. Rattenbury.
The young Rattenbury went on to design the other landmark building in Victoria, the Empress Hotel.
At French Beach Provincial Park a short walk from the campground gave access to a rocky beach.
With the Olympic Peninsular in the distance we investigated the tidal area.
A rustic campground on the beach near the mouth of the Jordan River gave us a stop over for a couple of nights.
Looking south as the tide comes in.
Early morning mists came in and remained for several hours… but no rain! We watched herons and otters fishing along the shore. This is more like we had hoped to find.
At the mouth of the inlet to Port Renfrew are Botany Bay and Botanical Beach.
Noted for their tide pools and rock outcrops they are protected as part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
Back in Crofton and the rain arrived.
Then it cleared – same place – different day!!
The small harbour at Crofton.
After providing us the shelter and a home for 3 years and 9 months haRvey (692 JVW) was adopted by new owners, Roy and Judy, becoming haRVey (091 LTF). We cover 47, 000 miles together, visited 42 states in the US and 4 provinces in Canada. We hear that trips to Mexico and much more travelling in Canada maybe on the agenda.
For our final 10 days we are renting wheel-less accommodation near Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver.
Coming into Howe Sound on a cold and wet June day.
The mountains shrouded by clouds.
A big lottery win and a house on the water front may just be within the budget….perhaps it would have to be a roll over. I found one that took my fancy at $15m (about £9m).
Sailing in the mist.
A few days later and the mountains look very different, well you can see them.
False Creek in Vancouver.
Lions Gate Bridge and Vancouver City from Cyprus Mountain.
Ferry coming into Horseshoe Bay dock.
Looking out from Horseshoe Bay.
On the ferry – a day trip to Nanaimo, but that’s another story.