It took me months to narrow down where we would stay on Vancouver Island’s west side. There are all kinds of accommodations, high end with a spa and well known restaurant, camping, and everything in between.
What matters to us? We like having enough space, and we really like natural wood finishes. Most of all, for me, I want a view of the water.
I booked the Terrace Beach Resort not knowing if it was as good as it promised. When we arrived, it didn’t look like much from the road, it looks like an old fashioned fishing village. We signed in, and were taken to our cabin, #9 Sea Star. It has three stories, bedrooms on the top floor and the bottom floor, and living room and kitchen and main bathroom on the entry level. Oh, and a huge deck with a hot tup and grill. And leather furniture. And oh wow. The view. It is also next to a hiking trail we wanted to hike.
Here is the view
Living room area
Upstairs hot tub with that view
Attention to detail – candles for those unexpected power outages
And the sunset!
They have a wide variety of cabin types, each one different. There is a beach, perfect for sending the kids down; you can watch them from the balcony. There is a modern TV, and a modern kind of fake fireplace, there are books and CDs you can rent. Or you can hike the Lighthouse Trail
I think I may have mentioned that occasionally I am a little OCD. In our family, I am the trip planner. I get an idea, I run things by AdventureMan, he gets a veto even if I make a strong recommendation. He also does research, and asks to have things added in. That’s how we ended up doing two separate trips to Alaska; we realized with all our good idea, we couldn’t do them all in one trip.
This time, our trip was centered on two things, Mother’s Day in Seattle and three days at Ucluelet, during which we would whale watch and bear watch. We booked our reservations, months in advance. The night we left Qualicum Beach, we got a nice e-mail from our guide, with devastating news – he had a severe injury and would not be able to take us on either tour.
AdventureMan and I looked at each other in horror. “What are you going to do??” AdventureMan asked, and we are in a bad position because our phones don’t work reliably. “He recommended another agency,” I said, “I will e-mail them now and see if we can get on with them.” It’s still early in the season. There is hope. I e-mail them telling them what we wanted, and that we are flexible as to which one we do first, and as to morning or afternoon.
Before we left to drive across the mountains, I checked my e-mail. No response. The drive was quicker that I thought, and we arrived too early to check in, so we decided to drive to Tofino, about 30 minutes away, and see if anything is possible.
I took some mountain photos for you on our drive from Qualicum Beach to Tofino.
We go straight to Meare’s Landing, where Remote Passages organizes and sends out expeditions to see whale, to see bear, to kayak, to see remote hot springs.
We are in luck! They have already tentatively booked us on our desired trips, we just need to pay and be read in on the safety instructions. We ask them their favorite places to eat, and they say “Sea Shanty in Tofino.” Then we ask if they have been to Ucluelet, and their eyes go all big and shiny and they say “Go to Zoe’s! We love Zoe’s!”
So we walked to the Sea Shanty, where an amazing waitress, Brianna, took care of us. You may think that I exaggerate when I say she is amazing, but Brianna was really good at making customers happy AND she boats to work from the island where she lives. We were so impressed, because while we have had wonderful weather, we know wonderful is not how weather always is, and in a boat you are exposed to weather, and to weather related sea changes. She didn’t seem in the least bit proud, she just took her bravery as something normal. Wow.
This is the view of the Sea Shanty from the sea.
This is an interior wall at the Sea Shanty.
This is the fabulous Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse Brianna brought us, divided into two bowls. It had Alaska crab, local clams and mussels, local salmon and fish. It was lacedd with saffron threads, the way a truly good Bouillabaisse should be. It was purely awesome, and accompanied by a Shanty salad, also huge, also divided for two. Even divided, we waddled out of the Sea Shanty, convinced it is one of the best meals we have had on our trip.
We did save a little room, though, for Zoe’s, a bakery in Ucluelet. We had INTENDED to buy croissants for breakfast the next morning, but there were none. We ended up buying cookies and pie. The next day we ended up buying more cookies and more pie. The third day, we went in early for breakfast before a hike. Zoe’s has magic. The crusts are really light and flaky. The berry pie was full of berries; I don’t know what they were held together with, but the pie was almost entirely berries. The gingerbread cookie was chewy, and gingery. AdventureMan’s chocolate-caramel-something else bar (twice) was so rich that you had to nibble at it through the evening, it was too rich to eat all at once. Oh my. Go to Zoe’s.
I’ve been disappointed recently, most of the scammers don’t go to the trouble to be believable. You know, the President of Wells Fargo writes me an e-mail about my account that has several mis-spellings, or my nephew who has been arrested and needs help desperately uses really bad grammar.
This scammer, however, has gone to some trouble to be interesting, if not believable.
Hello My Beloved, this is Ms Naomi Solomon from Estonia writing from hospital here in Ivory Coast; therefore this email is very urgent to attend. I want you to know that I’m dying here in this hospital right now which i don’t know if i will see some few days to come.
My Beloved, i was informed by my doctor that i got poisoned and it affected my liver and i can only live for some days. The reason why i contacted you today is because i know that my step mother wanted to kill me and take my inheritance from my late Father. I have a little adopted child named Andrew C. Brown that i adopted in this Country when my late Father was alive and $3.5 million Dollars i inherited from my late father. My step mother and her children they are after Andrew right now because they found out that Andrew was aware of the poison, and because i handed the documents of the fund over to him the day my step Mother poisoned my food, for that reason they do not want Andrew to expose them, so they are doing everything possible to kill him.
My Beloved, please i want you to help him out of this country with the money, he is the only one taking good care of me here in this hospital right now and even this email you are reading now he is the one helping me out. I want you to get back to me so that he will give you the documents of the fund and he will direct you to a well known lawyer that i have appointed, the lawyer will assist you to change the documents of the fund to your name to enable the bank transfer the money to you..
This is the favor i need when you have gotten the fund:
(1) Keep 20% of the money for Andrew until he finish his studies to become a man as he has been there for me as my lovely Son and i promised to support him in life to become a medical Doctor because he always desire for it with the scholarship he had won so far. I want you to take him along with you to your country and establish him as your son.
(2) Give 20% of the money to handicap people and charity organization. The remaining 60% should be yours for your help to Andrew.
Note; This should be a code between you and my son Andrew in this transaction “Hospital” any mail from him, the Lawyer he will direct you to, without this code “Hospital” is not from the Andrew, the Lawyer or myself as i don’t know what will happen to me in the next few hours.
Finally, write me back so that Andrew will send you his pictures to be sure of whom you are dealing with. Andrew is 14years now, therefore guide him. And if i don’t hear from you i will look for another person or any organization.
May Almighty God bless you and use you to accomplish my wish. Pray for me always.
Ms Naomi Solomon
You can’t believe what you read on the internet. When I research our trips, I “vector” our choices. I take a look at them on TripAdvisor, then I take a look at them on Google, then I might look at them on Google Earth. It all matters.
The Seaview Resort is not a resort, or at least not what I think of as a resort. It is 7 cabins, and most often on TripAdvisor, they are referred to as “tiny.” By reading the description of each cabin carefully, and by reserving early, we got the cabin we felt might be right for us, and it is.
The Seaview resort is located in the midst of a residential neighborhood, and right on the beach, not across the street from the beach. We have Cabin #1, and there are Irises in bloom in back where we park, and lavender growing in the garden next to it. It has a fully stocked kitchen, and a tiny living room with a couch and a tiny dining table with two chairs. I pulled in one of the the lounge chairs from the deck when AdventureMan grabbed the sofa for his nap.
You can look out the big sliding glass doors, or sit on your deck, or sit in the outside lounge chairs, or the seats around the beach fire-pit, or in the boat. You have the run of the resort. There is a large family having a reunion here, and another family in another cabin. Honestly, I can’t imagine more than two people in a cabin, but they claim to sleep four, and I can imagine four people who really get along could squeeze in and be OK as long as it doesn’t rain.
We love this place. It is private, and we like private. We can watch the water to our hearts content. We can watch the light change on the mountains. I can write up some blog entries – the WiFi works great. We are happy.
And here is the icing on the cake:
It was lunch time in Qualicum Beach. We knew we wanted a view of the water, and we wanted some choices.
The Shady Rest appeared to have the view situation all locked up, but what about choice? We took a look at the menu posted outside, and we knew we were going to be fine. There was a wide variety.
We had a lovely table outside, with a view from north to south of the beach, the sea and the mountains. The weather was warm, barely a cloud in the sky.
AdventureMan ordered the Salmon Chowder and a Spinach Salad, I ordered a pretzel crusted cod because I have never heard of such a thing before. One bite, and I was glad I did. It was a WOW. In fact, I was enjoying my bites so much I almost forgot to take a photo.
A group of Chinese tourists came in. We always have a lot of sympathy for people who are traveling in lands where they are not fluent in the language. This group had done some really smart things. They had photos on their smart phones of food they have tried and liked. They already had some idea of things they did not like, like they did not like salmon. Even with the language problem, they ended up with food they liked, because they had gone to some trouble to be able to know how to tell the waitress what they wanted. (Fish (Halibut) and chips, Clam Chowder, salad, oyster po’boy and I couldn’t see what else.)
After lunch, we stopped to pick up some stuff for dinner. We are staying in a cabin tonight, with a kitchen, right on the beach, and we don’t want to be bothered having to go out looking for dinner. AdventureMan spotted Qualicum Foods, and it is just like Whole Foods. We found everything we needed – and more. It’s nicer than any supermarket in Pensacola.
Campbell River has a park going South out of Campbell River on 19A, done by the Rotary Club. It is a small park, a sweet park, full of wooden statues with a totem-like feel. It is easily walked, and even easily walked pushing a wheelchair.
The statues – an owl, an angel, a fierce looking eagle – those are just the ones I can think of easily – and the path is lovingly maintained and open to the public.It is utterly free. People can walk, take their children.
In downtown Campbell River, there are totems everywhere, reflecting the First Nation traditions, and a population of Haida.
Near Campbell River is a huge public-private-bureaucratic project for a new hydroelectric generation complex. The old one is being replaced by one less vulnerable to seismic variations, and the government is working with private industry to set it up quickly. A Rotary club built another wheelchair accesible trail to Elk Falls, crossing over the old wooden water pipes being replaced. The trail was beautiful, and efficient. They really did a lot of work to clear the path thoroughly, no roots straggling across, no slick spots.
You really could wheel a wheelchair to the overview of Elk Falls. From that viewpoint onward, there are 11 flights of stairs and a chain link drawbridge that make further progress in a wheelchair unlikely. Actually, getting to the viewpoint would not be that hard. Getting back – pushing a wheelchair bound person weighing more than 50 lbs. or so – would require a team of four to six strong eighteen to twenty year old men trading off often. It is uphill all the way.
The falls are spectacular. The stairs are really well built, very sturdy. The chain link bridge was daunting for someone like me, not with fears of heights, but someone who finds being in high places brings on a fear of falling. I made my way across to the other viewpoint, and then back again, mostly by not looking down and not thinking about it, just walking, one step after another. The sturdiness of the stairs, that attention to detail, gave me the confidence I needed to trust that the bridge would not fail with me on it.
I always enjoy a hike a lot better after I’ve finished it
“What brought you here?” our waitress, Robin, asked as we sat in one of the most glorious restaurants in Campbell River.
“My wife,” said AdventureMan.
“I don’t know why,” I started, “I just felt drawn here. I needed to see it. I like hunting and fishing, and I knew this was hunting and fishing country, and the gateway to the north of Vancouver Island.”
It’s true. I like remote places, and I like hunting cultures. I grew up among people who fished for a living and hunted for food to eat through the winter. You respect food more when you have to grow it or hunt it.
Campbell River is beautiful. You could live anywhere, and wake up every morning to water and mountains and 180 degrees – or more – of sky.
Our room is in a brand new hotel, it is clean and beautiful as only a new hotel can be. We have a balcony overlooking the BC Ferry as it shuttles cars and trucks back and forth across to the islands.
We are trying to decide where to go for dinner, and I am reading to AdventureMan from Trip Advisor. The first review at Quay West features a couple who split a Ceasar Salad and a Pork Schnitzle with a Mushroom Peppercorn Sauce. I didn’t even get to finish reading; AdventureMan said “That’s where we are going!” and five minutes later we were out the door.
Quay West has more than great food going for it. It also has location, location, location. Here are the views:
Our waitress was fantastic, and fun to talk with. She brought us a Ceasar Salad to split, then a huge plate of Pork Schnitzle (remember, we have lived almost 20 years in Germany, not continuously, but in segments) with the mushroom peppercorn sauce. It was everything the reviewer had said it was, and we relished the meal, every bite, even the beautifully cooked vegetables, surrounded by natural beauty. AdventureMan had a Steam Whistle IPA which had the crisp pilsner taste, and I had a Pinot Blanc, dry, flinty, just the way I like it.
We passed on dessert, but Robin brought us two huge strawberries, coated in chocolate, and we did not resist.
Back at the hotel, I discover that I can pick up texts and messages as long as I am connected via the hotel Wifi. Woo HOOOOO! We are not totally out of communication!
A perfect ending to a great day.
We are here! We are on Vancouver Island, en route to Campbell River! We are happy, we have exited customs, we are on the right road and everything goes smoothly. We get to the road that will take us up to Campbell River, and realize we are hungry. In Duncan, we spot the York Street Diner, and we know it is right for us. I don’t know how we know, I only know that we know. Maybe because it doesn’t look like all the chains.
Inside, the owner has decorated with Kenyan giraffes, carved African masks and assorted items collected from travels. We feel right at home
I order a Reuben and a side Ceasar. I have to take half the sandwich with me, it is so huge, so much food.
We know we are in Canada
AdventureMan has a turkey cranberry salad with onion rings.
Everything is delicious.
We are not entirely comfortable. One reason is a big reason, our phones aren’t working. There is no Verizon service available. We never even considered the possibility. Second, we haven’t seen a bank or a place to change our money to Canadian dollars, so we enter the modern world and use our credit cards. We never use credit cards in restaurants, we always pay cash, but until we find a bank – open – we will have to make do as modern people do.
Our waitress is most kind, and helpful; she even draws a map to show us how to get to the nearest bank.
Aboard the Ferry Chelan, en route to Friday Harbor and Sidney, BC
The cafeteria is open to aid caffein-deprived passengers
Coming into Friday Harbor
Passengers departing in Friday Harbor
I remember when the Canadian – American border was open. This time, we had to go through Canadian border guards, exceedingly polite, but so many questions! It breaks my heart that things have come to this, that once open borders allowed people of good will to freely pass back and forth, and now those open borders exist no more. I hate ISIS, I hate terrorists who make this necessary.
“Is this park accessible by wheelchair” asks Trip Advisor, and I have to stop and think. Well, the Loop Road is paved, so a wheelchair bound person could be pushed along the entire route, and, of course, they could view from the car, as they drove the loop.
There are picnic areas where a wheelchair bound person could sit and visit with family and friends.
Off the paved roads, though, I would think a wheel chair might bog down in soft dirt and could get tangled in roots and vines and ferns.
So how do you answer the question?
I would say – if the required answer were not “yes” or “no” or “not sure” – take a chance. This park is so beautiful, and so much thought and care has been put into making it a joy for visitors – take a chance. There are spectacular hikes. There are spectacular vistas, land and sea, and roiling currents, and snow tipped mountains. There are eagles, perched and ready to strike the unsuspecting fish. There are kayakers, battling the currents. There is so much to see, and so much to appreciate.
Take a chance! You’ll be glad you did!