THE pacific west coast. What a sight.
The temperatures and weather we've been getting almost made it look like summer. The nights reminded us though that September has started and peak season is gone.
We disembarked at Nanaimo and went around the city for a stroll. It was labour day so not much was opened but breakfast at least was available. We had to share it with hungry honeybees that just went head on for the jam though.
Nanaimo made me think of what Nice, in France, must have been in the very beginning of its expansion. Some high rise building and very fancy mansions. While the skyline hasn't been taking over by concrete holidays buildings yet, it sure looks like it's going to be.
We went on to reach Green Point Campground, three hours away from the port. The road took us along the coast before diving straight inland to Port Alberni. There started a stretch of the highway with no service for 80 kilometres. This was pure nature, with just a road going through it. We saw huge lakes, unoccupied, and we eventually reached some beaches on the side of the road.
We reached our campground. Everything was full and I was silently thankful I booked that one night back in April. The campground was impressive. Each area was nestled by these huge trees, clearly marking the signs that this was a rainforest.
We installed everything, took a few moments to take it all in before we decided to go to Tofino. We've heard of that town as the hippie one, and it didn't miss. Suddenly, we saw entire alleys of small shop, making sure every tourist stepping in its doors, went back home with a "West Coast Vibe" kind of tee-shirt. Past the touristic alley, there was a small port and hundreds of islands overlooking the place. It looked fascinating to explore, but also time-consuming.
We took a walk until we stumbled upon a seaplane riding kind of place (what is the name of that activity, seaplane riding? Seaplane faring? Seaplaning? All of it sounds wrong). For me, the decision was already taken. It was expensive, but who would pass the opportunity to fly above these islands on a late afternoon? So there we went, it was decided, we did it.
Marcus, lovely local, took us up to his seaplane, jokingly faking dropping my camera in the water while I looked at him in an anguished smile. I appreciate dad jokes, but not the ones that include dropping my camera in the sea.
The pilot let go of the rope holding the plane to the dock, and here we went. The light was perfect, and so was the view. He then asked us "Would you like to see whales or islands?" Honestly, we wanted to see both and he obliged.
He started circling an area in the sea, between two small islands and told us to look there. We didn't see much, except a type of greenish stain in the water. "Some leftover food from when the whale opened its mouth", he said. And then, a tiny spray out of the water. That was the whale. He went around one more time and it went at it again. Far from the jumping-out-of-the-water-whale picture I had in mind, I was a bit surprised that was "seeing a whale" but you know, I'll take it. I've seen that spray of water in the sea and that was from a whale, so I'll make it work.
We went through the islands and we discovered some brave adventurers, having kayaked there and set camp for the night. It sure looked cosy, to have your own island for the night.
Some people did the same thing, but just one step ahead, with full houses floating on the sea or islands privatized with huge houses, only visible by the air and accessible by the sea. "By living there, they don't pay housing tax", Marcus explained. Smart. Avoiding paying tax is a beautiful common element that links all of the humankind together, it looks like.
We landed on the ground, or rather, on the sea and we exited the seaplane in a hop. While it seemed like this was the end of the season for Marcus, apparently, this goes all year long. "It's only about 8 degrees in winter and there is barely snow on the ground." Oh my, we didn't get the memo while we were in Calgary at -30°c...
Before ending the day, we decided to stop at Wickaninnish Beach and soaked as much as the sunset as we could.