A Travellerspoint blog

Day 90 - Day 93: July 13 - July 17, 2012

Tofino and Ucluelet

sunny 25 °C

We finally made it- the most western point of our travels, and the spot that everyone along our way ranted and raved about. We checked into our campsite at Surf Junction located between Tofino and Ucluelet aka Ukee. We had some beers around the campfire the first night, and hit the sack early to get some rest for our first surf lesson in the morning- so stoked!

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A glamourous dinner on our first night camping

The weather was foggy and chilly in Tofino the next morning, but that didn’t interfere with our excitement to ride the waves of the Pacific! We pulled up to the Bruhweiler Surf School, signed our lives away again, met the surfer dudes, and then loaded up to hit Chesterman Beach. When we arrived at the beach, Marco (our Italian bombshell instructor) distributed our wetsuits and boards, we couldn’t decide if the suits were flattering or not....

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All geared up, I think we looked the part ;)

The waves seemed intimidating at first, but after a well spent lesson on the sand, we felt confident enough to tackle them! What an experience!! All four of us girls had no problems getting up, we give all credit to Marco for this- hehe. We spent three amazing hours having a total blast riding the waves and getting pummeled with salt water. Marco then gave us a list of must-sees in Tofino, and as the fog lifted we toured around the town- what a lifestyle! We had dinner at our campsite and then headed back into town for some caesars at Shelter while doing our homework- watching surf videos...hard life! The rumour of the night was that Sam Roberts was in town playing at the local legion...NO WAY! We had a new mission- to sneak into the concert and see one of our favourite artists play, while in one of the most beautiful areas in Canada! We met up with some friends from Shelter and the closest we could get to sneaking in was by sitting at the back door of the legion where we got (which we consider to be) front row seats to the concert. Sam Robeets was literally on the other side of the wall playing our favourite songs. We sipped our beers like rebels and talked about how it would definitely be impossible to have more fun. When security found us, we ditched our beers and the boys and then bolted before we got in trouble- we do what we gotta do!

The following morning on the way to our second day of the surf camp, we stopped at Tofitian for a much needed coffee. We loaded back in the car to meet Marco, when Emma A. stopped abruptly and said “GUYS, no way! Look over there, I think that’s Sam Roberts standing right there with his band!” Sure enough, there was Sam Roberts, standing in the parking lot, right in front of Gerry. Christine and Alycia insisted that Emma A. run over for an autograph, but instead she decided to play it cool, forget about the autograph, and simply blare his music on the way out of the parking lot. This caught his attention and we got a grin and a friendly wave- WOW, this totally made our day! We listened to the Canadian Dream the rest of the way to the surf camp, and then loaded up on the Bruhweiler-mobile (a hilarious combat / military style vehicle that they use to truck the boards and surfers around) for another day of surfing. Lets not forget to mention that the weather was absolutely gorgeous- not a cloud in the sky with plenty of hot, beautiful sun- a rarity that only comes around 60 days of the year in Tofino. The waves were huge which made the next three hours fly by as we had a total blast in the water- surfing: our new favourite sport!

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Our ride to the beach, awesome!

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Marco, our instructor

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Christine killin' it!

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Emma M. riding the waves

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Alycia lookin' like a pro!

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Emma A. and Marco

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PROS!

We thanked Marco and the Bruhweilers for an amazing experience, and headed to Sobo for lunch. We split on some tasty salads and pizzas, and then went back to the campsite for a night filled with great laughs and a years worth of s’mores.

The following morning was spent preparing for what we thought would be our last wicked adventure of the trip- whale watching in Ukee! We were geared up with survival suits and then loaded onto a zodiac with eight other people and the guide. The ride out into the Pacific was tons of fun, it felt like we were on a wild roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland! Not even five minutes after the boat stopped, we started seeing whales coming up for air and smacking their tales. We were totally floored by the size of these creatures, not to mention their terrible breath...nasty! We saw many humpbacks and a few grey whales, as well as sea lions and bald eagles. Although the marine life was amazing and entertaining, we got some serious amusement out of poor guy on our boat who was sea sick for the majority of the ride. We like to think that we felt bad for him, but we couldn’t help but to burst out in laughter and even get him on camera....ahah!

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Leaving the dock on our zodiac to go check out some whales!

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Bald eagle

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Whale tale!!

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Humpback

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Funny Sea Lions

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Huge waves!

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AHH, a whale!!

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Christine and Alycia

Our explorations along the West Coast ended when we drove Christine and Alycia to the airport, and then continued onto the ferry back to the mainland. It was sad to leave, but we had such a fantastic time and we know we will be back some day!

Posted by mcmillanallen 27.07.2012 12:47 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 88 - Day 90: July 12 - July 13, 2012

Union Bay and Nanaimo

sunny

On the last day of the cow show, we were anxious to hit the road toward Union Bay to meet up with Christine and Alycia- Emma A.’s friends from University. Before we left for our summer adventure we had arranged with Christine to meet up and then hit Tofino to go surfing and whale watching!

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Gerry has never been so packed!

We were up and at em’ early the next day to start our wild adventures with bunjee jumping in Nanaimo. During the planning process of this trip, we had a list of things that we absolutely wanted to accomplish throughout the summer, and we rated them with a star system. We rated bunjee jumping with 5/5 stars, and considered it to be one of the most extreme things we would do all summer long! So while we drove toward Nanaimo with the other two girls in the back seat, we were nervous and excited, and couldn’t seem to convince them to do the jump with us. When we arrived at Wild Play Adventures in Nanaimo, Emma A. warmed up with a shot of Jagermeister in the parking lot, strapped on our running shoes, and signed our lives away on liability waivers....that was comforting. We were the only brave ones in the park that day, everybody else was zip lining and climbing in the high ropes- soft! We decided that Emma A. should take the plunge first, because we were worried that if she saw Emma M. jump, she would get too scared and back out! It took no longer than five minutes to get our feet strapped into the bunjee system and walk to the edge of the bridge 150 ft above the river. We asked if it was possible to get our heads dunked in the water at the bottom of our jump- so they adjusted our cords to give us some more slack! Emma A. was shaking so badly before she jumped, that the guide at the top had to help tip her off the edge- this was after she threatened that her dad would hunt them down if she died, and that she wanted Michael Jackson playing at her funeral. She screamed all all the down, got dunked as deep as her chest, screamed all the way back up, and even received a round of applause from the audience that had developed at the viewing area- too funny! After getting unhooked, she ran back to top to offer moral support to Emma M, who didn’t seem to need it at all....she had no problem diving off the edge toward the water. Christine and Alycia got good photo evidence of the whole event, and we had a blast talking and laughing about it once it was all over! Take note, bunjee jumping is a huge thrill, and we totally recommend finding a place to go that you can jump strapped from your feet (as opposed to your waist) and get a head dunk!

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Emma A. jumps!

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Emma M. jumps!

After the bunjee jump, we headed toward the town to do some exploring and check off another one of our must-dos....eat a Nanaimo bar in Nanaimo! This quickly turned into a fun competition, in which we all picked a spot to buy a Nanaimo bar and then later split them all to vote on the tastiest one. We ended up going on a big hunt around town, gathering four different variations of Nanaimo bars- one traditional, one peanut butter, one in the form of a cup cake, and the last deep fried and served with ice cream. We couldn’t decide which one was the best- they were all so delicious and different!

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The start of the hunt for the perfect Nanaimo bar

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Alycia testing them out

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Nanaimo bar cupcake, oh my goodness!

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Christine taste testing

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I don't think we liked them....

Our lunch consisting of Nanaimo bars filled us up and we spent the rest of the day collecting supplies for our camping trip in Tofino! Look out Surf Junction, here we come!

Posted by mcmillanallen 26.07.2012 17:57 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Day 84 - Day 86: July 8 - July 10, 2012

Juan de Fuca Pacific Marine Trail

all seasons in one day 15 °C

Before we left Ontario in April, we knew we wanted to conquer an overnight back packing trek at some point during the summer. We discovered the West Coast Trail which seems to be more popular, but requires an entry fee and booking a spot in advance....which just isn’t in the cards for us. So instead, we decided to tackle the Juan de Fuca, a close neighbour to the West Coast Trail, minus the fee and extra nonsense.

The Juan de Fuca trail is a total of 47km, stretching along the Pacific ocean between Sooke and Port Renfrew. It typically takes people three or four nights to complete, but because we are pressed for time, we committed ourselves to only two nights. We read many blogs and information about the trail to familiarize ourselves with the details about the terrain, etc. We learned that there would be a wide range of difficulties, and many obstacles....our egos must be getting big because we had no concerns about this prior to the hike.

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Ready to go!

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The reward for the end!

On Sunday morning, we stuffed our packs with our tent, sleeping bags / pads, a pair of P.J.s, and enough food for the next two days...equally about 50lbs each. We left Gerry at China Beach (the first trail head) and began to hike north bound. The first 5km were easy, we hardly noticed our packs and the terrain seemed to be fairly flat and shady in the forest. Once the trail led us to the ocean front, we started to get into some rock hopping and climbing throughout driftwood, using a bit more muscle but still keeping a consistent pace. Things began to get frustrating when we got lost for the first time, it didn’t take us long to realize that the trail wasn’t marked very clearly and to make matters worse, we were racing against the tide. Our goal for the first day of hiking was to reach the 27km mark to get the bulk of the hike out of the way while we were well rested. That plan got kiboshed when we got trapped on the beach because of the incoming tide....we set up camp for the first night at Chin Beach, only 20km in. A failed attempt at making a fire didn’t help our irritable, tired moods...so we went to sleep early after a dinner consisting of bagels, beef jerky, and trail mix.

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Essentials

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Beside the fact that we had awful sleeps, the morning of the second day started terribly when we discovered that our food supply had been broken into by rodents- leaving us with only oranges, apples, and the remains of our trail mix. To contribute to the disaster, all of our stuff was damp and our shoulders / hips were tender from our heavy packs...great. Despite the discomforts, we set the bar high again and decided to aim for another 20km....that way we would only have to hike 7km on the morning of the third day.

The second day of hiking was very difficult- there were tons of mud pits, vertical climbs, bum drops, and extreme temperature changes. We got seriously lost on two different occasions, forcing us to do some intense bush wacking (not fun considering we had empty stomachs and tired bodies). After a solid nine hours of hiking, we reached the 40th km at Payzant Beach. We hardly had enough energy to hang up our stuff, let alone set up the tent and plan for the next day. We ate whatever we had left for dinner, saving one orange to split for the next morning....and a candy bar that we promised we would have as a reward for when we reached the end. With swollen knees, bruised shoulders, and dysfunctional hips, we trudged through the last 7km the next morning to Botanical Beach. We assumed the shuttle bus would be waiting to take us back to our car at China Beach, this is where our story goes from bad to worse. We came upon a family in the parking lot at Botanical Beach, who told us that the shuttle costs $60, and only picks hikers up in Port Renfrew (another 7km away)- not at the end of the trail. At this point we had no other option than to hike into town, we fought back tears, struggled with gastrointestinal issues, and heavy duty colds...not to mention our grumbling stomachs and sore muscles.

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Struggling

We hiked into town, staying about 100ft away from each other because we just seemed to piss one another off even more. We argued about how we shouldn’t have planned to do the trail in two nights, and we blamed each other for even trying to attempt the hike in the first place. At around 10:00am when we finally reached the pick up stop, we received more terrible news- the shuttle doesn’t come until 5:00pm. We decided that we would try calling Morgon for a lift, considering we were headed to Duncan to help him with a cow show starting later that evening, however....it didn’t take us long to learn that Port Renfrew doesn’t have any cell phone service, and their land lines only call out to other local numbers. After a failed attempt at trying to call for help, we staggered into the closest cafe and cried during an overwhelming heap of breakfast. Although the food was delicious and made us feel a little better, we still felt defeated and stranded- we had no idea how we were going to make it back to the car, and we couldn’t wait until 5:00pm for the shuttle because we had a long drive ahead with no energy left to drive that late.

We think we may have been getting some sympathetic attention because the waitress offered us to bottomless coffee, and the table next to us (a party of six social workers) asked if we were alright. The conversation with the social workers turned into a ride all the way back to our car....around 55km away from Port Renfrew. This group of ladies were our angels sent from heaven. We both agreed that we have never been so close to death, and we truly felt defeated, stranded, exhausted, and hopeless. During the car ride back to Gerry, we talked about how we would never complain about anything again, we felt grateful for fresh water from a tap, warm food, clean clothes, and kind people willing to help. This was an all time low on our trip, but all it took was a single act of kindness to lift our spirits and get us back on our feet. Thank you to the ladies who took time out of their schedules to do us such a huge favour- we will pay it forward!

That evening we made it to Duncan for the Vancouver Island Holstein Show. It was so nice to be around Morgon- Emma M.’s brother and the rest of the farm crew after such a rough few days. We helped out with the show in return for a hotel room and food, and a little extra spending cash. BACK ON TOP BABY!

Posted by mcmillanallen 19.07.2012 14:02 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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