It's time to leave the city behind and discover the beautiful nature of Vancouver Island. It promises to be a long drive, so by 7.30 am we hit the road. The drive is a treat for the eyes, the most beautiful landscapes just pass in front of you. And excitement all over when we do our first bear spotting: a mother bear with little one crosses the road. It happens fast, so not everyone caught a glimpse (I did :-)).
Our first stop of the day is in the little town of Chemainus. Originally a logging town, the place is now 'famous' for it's mural paintings. We have a look around, but to be honest: there's not that much to see. It's a very quiet place and the murals are obviously just a way to get people to stop. The trick seems to work though as Chemainus is mentioned in most of the travel guides. For us it's a short stop.
I'm definitly more impressed by Cathedral Grove, in the Macmillan Provincial Park. Cathedral Grove is the only highway-accessible protected old-growth Douglas-fir forest in British Columbia, receiving about 1 million visitors per year. Some of the trees are over 800 years old. A wooden board path leads you through a part of the forest on both sides of the road. It's like a different world, with all the shades of green and rainforest scent. Just a pity about all the tourists :-) Apparantly there's a whole controversy about the parking lot as it's dangerously situated just at both sides of the road, making people cross. You just have to be careful you don't run anyone over.
Next stop is Sproat Lake for picknick and a swim. We buy groceries together, find a table to make us some sandwiches and then go for a refreshing swim. The weather is warm today so the water feels really good. From the lake we continue to a fish farm where Fred has spotted bears before. Right before we walk the little trail we are reminded that if we should cross a bear we shouldn't run and basically clap our hands. Mmm... yeah right... not entirely sure about that. But turns out there's no bear around when we get out, so it's only a very short stop. Last stop of the day is right by the Pacific Ocean. Fred challenges us to take creative photo's of eachother while climbing the rocks. There's a big sign when we arrive by the shore saying "Do not climb the rocks" but there goes Fred with all of us behind him. It is a beautiful spot though, the waves come crashing in here and you could easily find yourself a spot here to sit down for a while.
By late afternoon we reach Ucluelet, a small fishing community, our home for the next two days. We're situated right by the harbor, lovely views from my room. There is one little problem for dinner though: there's a black out and no one knows when power will be on again. The only place serving food is the 'Canadian Princess', a ship that now serves as a restaurant. THey've put out the BBQ and luckily we can all eat there. THe menu is limited to chicken, beef or salmon burgers and it takes quite a while before the food is ready but it's all good. And as darkness sets in, we have a cosy evening on the former ship. I believe we're slightly making the waitress desperate. There's some alcohol yes, and we're all talkative and giggling. Fred gets out his mobile music boxes which he can use on battery and Franciska & Danielle even sing Mamma Mia for us. It's hilarious and by the time it gets really dark they kindly ask us to settle our bills because they still have to clean up the place by the light of a torch. In the room I take out my lenses while Leonie gives some extra light with her torch, it reminds of my trip to Uganda, only in a more comfortable room :-) The black out would last till the next morning.