Arriving onto Vancouver Island at Comox Harbor was a little confusing. Not because it was poorly signed, or dark, or misleading. But simply because Vancouver Island had been such an overwhelming target for us that we didn’t even know which way to turn. We wanted to see as much as possible in the limited time that we had available. So we found a wooded campground and settled in to make a plan. Qualicum Falls Provincial Park was a great place for the night. Mike and the dogs enjoyed a morning hike to the falls.
With a plan in hand, our first target was Coombs. This town is primarily a quirky tourist trap with renowned hippie shops (Coombstock) and goats on the roof of the olde country store. We enjoyed the shopping for a bit, and then went on to the Qualicum Cheese Factory for an interesting tour and free samples. In this photo Bessie is enjoying the “cow spa” which looks like an automated car wash brush, but is designed to begin rotating when they rub against it. It brushes, scratches and cleans them automatically! Also in Coombs we toured a very interesting North Island Wildlife Recovery center, but forgot to take any photos – here is their link. North Island Wildlife Recovery Association
We drove on to Parksville and decided to BBQ in the beautiful city park on the bay. Shade trees and a view of the sea were perfect for an early dinner setting. But then some large trucks moved in and equipment started going up. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by a production crew filming a series for Hallmark TV called Chesapeake Bay (or something like that). We could not move the van out, so we walked to the nearby sandcastle competition display to wait for the filming to wrap up!
The Parksville Sandcastle contest was extremely competitive and professional. The theme was “things that fly” and these huge works were very impressive.
The next morning we were in Chemainus. The movie crew delay caused us to miss a driveway parking connection with Zoe, but we wanted to tour the town anyway. We stopped for some geocaching and walked through town looking at the murals on the walls of businesses in town. After following the city map, we returned to the van to plan our next move and we met the driveway connection!! Zoe and her kids were great, and gave us a suggestion of a cut off to the west side of the island. We were not sure that we would find time to get over there, but her tip was just what we needed to make it happen. So we were off for a drive across Vancouver Island from east to west.
On the way to Port Renfrew we stopped at a HUGE fir tree so I could tell you that I am now “THIS BIG”! Yes, dear reader….. that was my birthday and I am now officially over the hill and sliding down the other side!
My birthday dinner was at Port Renfrew Hotel and Pub which served excellent food! We snapped a few photos– here is a picture of me, taking a picture of the rocks in low tide and then we headed further down the west coast. Our campsite selection was a logging road with a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Directly across the water is the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. We watched boats pass through the strait as the sun set. It was a great birthday!
I made a thank you note for my wonderful husband and left it in the road for him to find in the morning. I knew which way he would walk when he left with the dogs for their morning coffee walk, and he could not pass this point without seeing this special wish. Here is a photo of it!
Because of the reroute, we missed another driveway connection (sorry Nathan) But we took the time to stop by Sooke Potholes. This is a beautiful provincial park with swimming holes carved out along the river. Cold water and fascinating geology make for a popular spot in the heat of summer. A little more driving along the west coast of Vancouver Island and a lunch stop at a large beach ended with us in Langford at a wonderful driveway with Cynthia. The next day we parked in the Victoria Wharf parking lot and paid $13.50 for 24 hour parking. We were camped for the day. From that location we would walk to the highlights and enjoy the busy weekend in the city.
MiniatureWorld was suggested by our friend Chuck and he was spot-on. It was wonderful. This photo shows the diorama of poor Gulliver being held hostage by the Lilliputians. When you look at the photo, please understand that Gulliver is the size of a typical doll, and all those little figures are the size of toy soldiers. The whole place is filled with displays like this! There is even an operating sawmill and a huge train diorama in miniature. We loved it! Check it out at www.minatureworld.com
We geocached around the city a bit. The streets were closed for a massive “Little Deuce Coupe” car show with over 500 coupes and thousands of attendees. It was exhilarating to be amongst so many people after many quiet days and nights elsewhere on the island.
But the true highlight of our visit to Victoria was purely coincidental. We managed to time it so we were there for the culminating weekend of the International Busker Festival. (Busker means= street performer ) The performers we watched were top-notch and the acts ranged from music to plate-spinning and comedy to trapeze work. We found ourselves constantly entertained and laughing. The entire program was free (donations encouraged) and had three stages of shows plus a grande finale! We felt very fortunate to have been able to enjoy these performances during our days in Victoria.
Our departure was through the port at Sidney. We traveled there early to enjoy a relaxing brunch before the ferry ride and a stroll along the water-front sculpture walk. Then we caught the ferry to Tsawwassen, Canada and drove across the border into Washington state. Our time in Canada had come to an end. We all took some time to rest before we tackled the next part of our trip.
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