Sunday, August 02, 2009

Trip Out West Part 2

Let's make some of my American and International readers envious of this great country. Not for any other reason than to give you a peek of what you should come here to visit on your next holiday. I am a very proud Canadian and in ever-awe (I just made that expression up, pretty impressive, eh?) of the beautiful landscapes we have up here.

I am a little sad to say that I don't have a lot of photos to show you from the rest of our trip out west. I saw some beautiful things and some amazing scenery, but most of it was from behind the wheel. Gram's mobility is limited, so we opted to "just go for the drives". I think that I have an idea for an invention that could make me a lot of money (so don't steal it). I think new cars should have 360 degree swivel cameras mounted to the roof, with its display and controls sitting in the car's dash. It killed me to pass such beautiful sights and even a brown bear that may have been a grizzly! and not have been able to take a photo while I drove. So in order to continue with my efforts for Tourism Canada to request to be one of my blog sponsors, I need to show you some of those sights via some stolen (gasp!) photos. I apologize. But it's for the good of this great nation's future tourism industry.

So last I left you was in Victoria. Oh, Victoria! I miss you already. We took a scenic drive when leaving the city and followed the water's edge. Every time I saw beach and all the families playing on it, I was thinking "do these people really appreciate how lucky they are to live like this?"
(my photo) of Gram

So we drove up to Victoria's Butterfly Gardens. Did I tell you how hot it was in British Columbia last week? Biggest heat wave they have had in years. I guess that's the 'pro' in being stuck in a car so much-the air conditioning. But in the Butterfly Gardens, it was heated to tropical temperatures so it felt like a sauna. I'm not complaining too much because it was a beautiful place, almost magical.

(my photo)

Check out this atlas moth. It can reach 12 inches in width. It can live up to 5 years in its cocoon and it emerges for the sole purpose of procreation (hope it was good for her), flies only at night and dies within 3-5 days. It really was beautiful to see in the tree, but I wouldn't want to feel it fluttering by my face in the middle of the night.

After the gardens, we drove up the Island Highway to Nanaimo.

View Larger Map
We came across so many beautiful sights along the coast. It constantly amazed us to see thousands of acres of forest that were untouched by disease or pine beetle. Just green for miles. Gorgeous.
(my photo) From somewhere before Duncan, BC

Nanaimo was our next destination, where we stayed for two days. We weren't really impressed with the town itself, but its natural surroundings were undeniably beautiful. Our hotel sat right on the harbour and it had air conditioning. What more could you ask for?
(my photo) Our view from the hotel room balcony of the Nanaimo Harbour

The hotel receptionist was a bit of a dork. When he heard we were checking in under my grandmother's last name, Conners, he got all excited because it reminded him of Spiderman. Spiderman????? Is that the first thing you think of when you hear the word 'Conners'? Apparently, there is some character with that last name from the comic series. Nutty. I had been sooooo looking forward to eating some fresh seafood on this whole trip and it had been quite a mission to convince Gram to go, seeing as she doesn't like seafood. We found a restaurant sitting on the water, I ordered a grilled whole lobster and drooled, waiting for it to come to the table. When it did, it was like gelatin. Uncooked blob. Makes me gag just thinking about it. The waitress told me the cook insisted I was just eating the wrong part of the lobster. I wasn't. I can't tell you how disappointed I was. Especially because now I'm afraid I may never be able to eat lobster again.
(my photo) Gram at least, enjoyed her pasta with scallops. I've got her eating seafood!

We left early in the morning for the drive across the British Columbia Highway 4, known locally as the Alberni Highway and the Pacific Rim Highway. It is the longest east-west main vehicle route on Vancouver Island, with a total length of 163 km (101 mi). I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect it to be so beautiful. I guess I thought it would be boring, with no coast to look at, but I was wrong. It snaked its way through ancient forests and alongside some beautiful lakes.
(my photo)

Coombs Country Candy was like an oasis in the middle of a desert, or in this case, a forest. We were greeted with homemade fudge, peanut brittle, caramel corn and ice cream. Had a great little conversation with the owner, who also happened to be from Toronto.

Am I a geek to love trees? Because I love them. Just like in Lord of the Rings with the scenes with the Ents, I love the look of ancient trees that have stood and watched the change of the times below them.
(not my photo)

We pulled over to take a walk through Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. What a feeling it was to walk through that forest amongst 800 year old trees. The smell, the sounds and the feel of the place will stay in my mind forever.

(my photo) taken from the highway, at the mouth of the path into Cathedral Grove

After driving through some harrowing, cliff-gripping highway through mountains, we reached the Pacific Rim. When I saw my first sight of the Ocean I wanted to cry, I was so happy. We drove through a rainforest before we reached one of the most beautiful places in the world- Tofino. Ahhhh, Tofino. I wish I could have spent a week there. Or a year. Or even a day. Because sadly, we just stopped in. But it will forever be on my bucket list of places I need to travel to again.
(not my photo but wish it was) Tofino

Just a few kilometres outside of this gorgeous town is one of the most gorgeous beaches I have ever seen (not that I have ever seen a lot). Long Beach.

(my photo) How's that for a worry. No sharks to worry about, just some wolves and cougars on the beach and not the women over 40 kind.

(not my photo) My photos of Long Beach wouldn't do it justice like this one does.

We made a final trek over to Ucluelet before turning around and heading back to Nanaimo. From Ucluelet, we never had the chance to see the ocean, but I hear its views are beautiful. The town seems a lot more working class and less geared towards the higher end tourism. Jason Priestly's family operate a resort out there. Wonder if they've got a Peach Pit?

I'll have to stop here and write about our drive home in another post. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did. You must consider it as a holiday someday. BucketList!!


monica said...

Amazingly beautiful! Great pictures! Sound slike you had a great time! Too bad for the lobster!

Lady Di said...

It's been a while since I had a lot of time to really keep up with blogging. Some things have been going on that have kept me busy and my mind distracted. Anyway, I love that butterfly picture. And your new layout...NICE!! Glad you had a great time on your trip.

Mrs4444 said...

WOW! These pics are fantastic! I had no idea! And that moth-what is it doing sitting there when there is procreating to do?! Was there a cigarette burning nearby?

Sorry about the bad lobster experience! I'm glad your grandma liked her soup, though. How wonderful that you could take this trip together :)

Unknown Mami said...

Love the photos your and not yours. Your camera idea is brilliant.

Maddy said...

Gosh I don't know which one is more impressive. That moth is incredible and the trees, ooo how I love the trees.

Scratch that ......had over the scallops Gram!


Lady Di said...

It's me again! Just came by to tell you I finally got the Awe-Summm Award post done and up today. Thanks Again. :)

blueviolet said...

You have completely and totally succeeded at making me jealous!

The Rambler said...

Thanks for stopping by today and commenting!

Loved looking at the pictures. I loved what you said about trees. Not dorky at all!

Becky @ Our Sweet Peas said...

Looks like a gorgeous trip! Glad it was enjoyed. Great pics!

Elle Bee said...

Oh my goodness, what beautiful photos! That butterfly was amazing. And your Gram is so cute.

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