We woke to a very foggy morning … figures we had a whale watching excursion planned and paid for! At 9 am we made our way down to the dock, signed our waivers, received the safety talk, watched the video (that didn’t have a thing to do with whale watching), got our safety vests, and went to the bathroom one final time (2 ½ to 3 hours in a 12 passenger boat after drinking too much coffee … not exactly the right kind of setting for peeing over the side of the boat, ha-ha).
At 9:30 we made our way to the boat with our guide Randy … a short first nation’s man with teeth missing but who knows the waterways around Tofino like the back of his hand … and we set off.
He says to us that with all of the fog it might be quite difficult to find the whales so he wants us to help him and be very observant … well Randy if that pre-voyage video would have given us some hints and tips on how to spot a grey whale in grey water in grey fog then we might just be able to do that!
He takes us out to the spot where all of the tour companies have been spotting whales and he slows right down and we look and we look but nothing. The fog is so thick that we can barely make out the nearby islands … of which there were quite a few. But Randy keeps us moving. He brings us by an island where we can sort of make out some sea lions on the rocks … sort of.
Then he takes us out on the ocean and the swells are quite big and we go up and then we come down but for the most part he motors us along quite fast. We then hit another spot where we watch some sea otters and they are quite curious. All of the other tour companies are out with boats full of whale watching folks and the guides all radio each other with their search results.
Eventually a single grey whale is spotted and holy smokes there it is. Breaching and diving and then breaching and showing us the fluke … it was really cool. It would then dive and stay down for quite awhile and then surface in a totally different location. So we followed this whale with the other 3 boats that showed up.
With all of the movement and motion 2 of our passengers got sick and another lady had to sit at the back in the open air with her eyes closed trying to convince herself not to be sick. On our way back to shore Randy took us by an island that had harbour seals on the rocks. We also saw another group of sea otters and about a million birds … floating everywhere no matter how far out we went there was a flippin’ bird floating on the water.
The fog started to lift on our way in … figures, but we also saw some harbour porpoises which Randy said was unusual so that was great too. All in all it was worth it and as Garth said it could have been worse … it could have been raining!
When we were back on shore it was time for us to make our way back to Nanaimo and the ferry over to Horse Shoe Bay . But first lunch. We went in search of a restaurant that a local told us was 3-4 kilometers out of Tofino. Well we didn’t find it and so we turned around and with all of the traffic pulling out from their long weekend vacation and the semi’s pulling in Garth drove into the first place that came along. This crusty old bastard came out to the parking lot and recruited Garth into the restaurant … questionable … oh yes! He told Garth that he was serving the best fish and chips in town and at the best price. He didn’t want us to order anything else … when asked what the soup of the day was he replied “there isn’t any because the cook is lazy”! The halibut had just been delivered that morning so a round of fish and chips it was. Oh yes and how about coffee. He made us coffee and it was strong and sort of warm. The fish was good, the chips so so and nobody ate the coleslaw. When Garth and Jim went to pay the bill it was $80.00 bucks for 4 lunches! The flipping coffee was $2.50 a cup and he didn’t take debit or credit and no one had that much cash on them so Jim had to go down to an ATM … wow what a way to end an otherwise fabulous time in Tofino.
So we roared on down the highway but made time to stop at Long Beach where we found our young friend from California sitting at the end of his truck/abode playing his guitar and writing a song … what a life!
He introduced us to his surfing friend who was in the van/abode next door and this guy had a peace lily plant perched on the roof of his van. The beach was very busy with all kinds of surfers.
We made our way back down that crazy windy and narrow highway. It was much easier on the return trip because we knew what to expect but nevertheless it was still a wild ride. We pulled into the Nanaimo ferry just as the 5:30 ferry was pulling away … crap … now we have a 2 hour wait for the next one.
We landed at Horse Shoe Bay at 9 and it was dark. Jim had booked us rooms at the Horseshoe Bay Motel but we did not know where it was.
By the map it looked like we should take the first right from the ferry so we did that and ended up in a bit of a confused state as also to our right was the ferry parking lot but also Horse Shoe Village . We made our way the best we could and after driving the wrong way down a one-way street (oops) we found our hotel.
Today, Tuesday, we got out of Horse Shoe Village (crazy round about) and headed down highway 99 towards Squamish. This is a beautiful highway that follows the shoreline before turning inland. The scenery is spectacular.
We cruised through Squamish and on up to Whistler, which is very built up (Olympics of course) and very rich and pretentious.
Just past Pemberton we drove through a valley where the highway had a lot of horse crap on it but was also amazing. It suddenly opened up to this wide riverbed with blue/green water flowing and mountains all around.
We cruised by a great big tree that had a safety vest stapled to it. We then hit the Duffey Lake Provincial Park and stopped at the edge of the lake to take in (and pictures of) the scenery. Absolutely breathtaking!
Snow peaked mountains on one side … beautiful blue/green water that didn’t have as much as a ripple on it … and other mountains with such vivid green pastures at the very top of them that we thought anytime now a herd of elk, mountain goats or maybe a grizzly bear will come out of the bush and make their way out onto the green pasture.
We then drove a very challenging section of highway 99 to Lillooet. The “Going to the Sun Road” that we drove in Montana has nothing on this section of highway! Cindy and I were down to the first gear on our motorcycles on some of those turns and we drove many miles in only 3rd gear because of the steepness (both going up and coming down… thought I might actually crap in my drawers a couple of times, ha-ha).
lots of sheer drops from the roadway with no or few barriars
We stopped in Lillooet for lunch and Garth was convinced, by the comings and goings, that the house next door to the restaurant/pub was a crack house. He gave us a play by play of what he could see, or imagine, while we waited for our lunch. After lunch we got back on highway 99 and went through another outstandingly beautiful area when we passed by the white-faced mountains in Marble Canyon Provincial Park .
The scenery of our whole trip today was absolutely amazing and being on a motorcycle makes it even more so. We stopped for the night in Clinton BC .
Will update you again when I can. We will probably camp tomorrow night in Jasper.
Thanks and hope that this finds you all well.