Crossing to Canada
After a brief encounter with rock pool residents in the touch tanks at Port Angeles, we boarded the ferry for Victoria and once on land headed over to Englishman’s Creek.
Everyone we encountered on the path down to the river found it funny that we were carting our 'vessel' on a recently purchased pushchair. However, following a bit of well meaning mocking banter, they were then impressed by the adventure it enabled us to have - practicing our ferry-gliding and paddling up to the massive waterfall that bursts through beneath an enormous boulder!
It was about this time when my face decided to mutiny on me. You think you’re eating well on the road – you’re used to cooking up a generally balanced diet at least – but you’ve not allowed yourself enough rest (our schedule had us travelling every day / you're helping cart kilograms of inflatable boat around / battling kids about which breakfast cereal they should be eating) and you’ve forgotten to take your echinacea.
Cue the coldsore.
You’re due to attend a wedding with your best mate in a week’s time and you’re going to be upsetting the guests with this blistered chin. Urgh. No one seems to notice but still you adopt a style of interaction with others which involves using your youngest to cover your chin at every opportunity...see photo below!
Our ranks swelled to the grand total of five when we are joined by my - now Canadian - best mate. We gift her our back bedroom so as to shield her from the horrors of the offspring at night (although they then of course sleep peacefully through as if to demonstrate that we know diddly squat about their nocturnal habits). Our chum turns out to be a natural at both camping and corralling our kids and we set out to see some serious wildlife on Vancouver Island!
That day doesn’t disappoint. Up the Campbell River the sea is mirror still and we gawp opened mouthed at breaching, nursing and flipper hitting humpbacks, eagles, mink, orca sleeping. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly humbling.
What wilderness really is...
We left the sea and headed across the island to the wilderness campsite of Mussel Beach whereupon I narrowly missed bumping into a bear as I walked down the track to wave the husband in (he had just seen the bear run across the road just before I came around the corner!) The Milky Way was magic here and without being too alliteratively irritating - it's possibly the most perfect place we've ever had the privilege to experience!
Bears and jellies
The next day brought bears and jellies (spawning in some sort of spermfest apparently) when we took a boat from Tofino.
Our final exploration of the island ended at French Beach and Juan De Fuca Marine Park where we marvelled at weird geological rock formations and peered into rockpools that teemed with tiny life.
In addition to this, my eldest managed to fall into an enormous hole – maybe because I rushed her warning that the tide was coming in, or maybe because I shouted “STOP” as she went to leap over – but anyhow, in she went up to her waist and happy she was not! (Mainly because I couldn't help but laugh - it was the drama of the moment that made me nervous, honest!)
Walking home from a wedding
Incredibly, my revolting face healed itself enough for my best friend to work her makeup magic on me such that I could attend a wedding as her plus one. The evening was an absolute blast and it was fascinating to chat to everyone about their incredible country.
Slightly drunk, we slipped away to catch our taxi at eleven. Only, there was no taxi. There were no other taxi providers to call (the only one available scored 1/6 on Google reviews due to no shows - a fact we'd failed to check beforehand) and so we faced an hour long walk down a long, winding road in the pitch dark without a sidewalk. Did I mention we were wearing ball gowns? The bear threat now felt too unamusingly real and the pitch black pressed in on all sides…until finally a taxi showed up and we jumped in.
It wasn’t ours but we weren’t moving and sensing this, the actual passengers kindly suggested they drop us home before returning back in the direction they had originally intended to go. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, my long suffering husband was spared the news that our bodies were found early that morning badly mauled by bears and covered in raccoons…