This entry will be terse not because my ...

Trip Start Jun 29, 1999
Trip End Dec 04, 1999

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Wednesday, September 22, 1999

This entry will be terse. Not because my enthusiasm is flagging but because it's late and the quicker I type this, the sooner I get to bed.

Friday, September 17th
This day was spent in transit. I missed the 12:30 ferry from Horseshoe Bay to nanaimo so I had to wait for the 1:30 ferry. It was a nice day and I spent the majority of the trip sitting out on the sundeck enjoying the new issue of Sports Illustrated. I grabbed a quick lunch in Nanaimo and then north to Parksville along Hwy #19 and then westward along Hwy #4 to Tofino. This is a great road. I could drive it all day long. You get some great scenery all the way (especially Cathedral Grove) and the road is incredibly fun to drive. There are some very interesting turns along some cliffsides that will have your heart in your throat. The sun blazed for the whole drive until I returned to sea level on the west coast of the island. At that point it was as if someone had flicked off the lights. A thick fog was just rolling in off the ocean and it was dark very early that evening. I made camp at Pacific Rim Campsites which is right on beautiful Cox Cove. You pay a premium for it though - $33 a night, to camp, and the showers aren't free. Bloodsucking bastards! I went to bed early but didn't get much sleep as I was forced to listen to the coast guard's foghorn all night.

Saturday, September 18th
The sun burnt off the fog quickly in the morning and left a gorgeous day. I went into town to secure a spot on a late afternoon whale watching tour and then headed into pacific Rim National Park. I drove to the top of Radar Hill which is the site of an old Amry base that watched the skies for long range Soviet bombers in the 1950's. I then did a quick check of the 10 miles of sand at Long Beach. The beach was nice but busy and since I had a nice beach back at camp I headed back there to spend most of my day reading a book and soaking up the sun. Then I headed into town for my whale watching adventure. I chose a tour on a Zodiac boat which is a small inflatible craft with two large outboard motors. We did a quick tour of the shores of Clayoquot Sound before observing a young adult gray whale feeding in very shallow water. According to the depth finder he was sitting in water of no more than 6 feet deep. It was pretty cool and now I have about 12 pictures of these funny looking gray/white lumps poking out of the water. Oh how I need a zoom lens. We then headed out to rougher waters to some small islands inhabited by sea lions and seals. Then a quick run out to the wide open ocean on the hope for a chance sighting of a migrating humpback but we didn't come across it. We then did another quick tour of the shores around Cox Cove and headed home. It was a very fun trip but not for people with bad backs or people who get seasick easily. I got back to my campsite just in time to enjoy a nice sunset on the beach. I have to say that whenever I mentioned to someone that I would be doing a big tour of North America the number one place mentioned to me as the "must see" place to go was Tofino and I have to agree. It was great.

Sunday, September 19th
I got up early and flew down Hwy #4 back to Nanaimo. It was nice to be able to drive this road without much other traffic slowing me down. I had to pass some guy in a new Mustang GT convertible. It was sad to see somebody spend all that money and not put such a fabulous piece of machinery to good use. Those cars are meant to fly. From Nanaimo I headed south and stopped in Chemainus. This lumber town was in dire straits in 1983 when the saw mill closed. What did they do? They talked a number of artists into painting huge murals all over the town. They completely re-invented themselves as a cozy, crafty tourist town (like St.Jacobs times two). The murals are very good as they depict the history of the town or celebrate the rich cultural heritage of its citizens... and it doesn't cost you a thing. I then pressed onward to Victoria where I spent an afternoon wandering around downtown taking in Chinatown, The Empress Hotel, the legislatire, Thunderbird Park among other things. I also saw two different parades. One ws put on by the Chinese Freemasons and involved a couple of guys in one of those dragon get-ups and some people playing drums. The other parade was put on by the Legion and had a bunch of young cadet type people marching and playing in a band. The highlight on my day was the discovery of Ditch Records. This nice little shop had a lot of good items and it took some restraint to not blow a lot of money. If you're ever in Victoria and have a need for some good indie rock then take a walk down Johnson Street to find Ditch. It was then time to drive up to Sydney to hop on a ferry to take me back to Vancouver.

Monday, September 20th
My day wasn't terribly exciting. I went out to the pitch and putt to justify me dragging my golf clubs all over western Canada. In the evening I went to dinner with my aunt & uncle as it was their anniversary. I'm sure spending this special date with me must rank up there with their favourite anniversary celebrations of all-time. We went to a great restaurant called Milestones. If you go there get the portobello mushroom chicken.

Tuesday, September 21st
It was another somewhat empty day. I was busy preparing my foray into the US but I also managed to take off to Mount Seymour provincial park to do some hiking. The hikes are challenging but fun and you are rewarded with some great views.

Well on Wednesday I'll be saying goodbye to Canada for a few weeks? months? years? It should be interesting. While I know Washington and Oregon will be good I really can't wait to get to California.

Until then, enjoy work.
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