Monday, May 16, 2016

Trips: Camping on Vancouver Island


It's been a while.

I go through phases with the blog....sometimes I'm johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to posting, other times it's like I've fallen off the face of the earth.

In other words, it's been a bit of a blogging dry spell.

We've been outside taking advantage of this beautiful Spring weather and trying to keep our lives only moderately crazy.

We went camping up in Tofino, British Columbia this weekend. Tofino is located about halfway up Vancouver Island on the western (Pacific) coast. We drove up to Canada and then hopped aboard a ferry over to the island. Upon landing in Nanaimo, it was a three hour drive across the island to the small towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. Vancouver Island is huge; it's the largest island in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

We stayed at the Green Point Campground at the Pacific Rim National Park and it quickly became one of my favorite campgrounds due to the secluded spots and proximity to both hiking trails and beaches. Also, Canadians seem to be a bit more respectful of personal space and noise. There wasn't a single night in which fellow campers were playing their music too loudly or causing disturbances.

 Chris and I are still figuring out our perfect camping situation. We'd love to have a location where the kids can run absolutely wild. Ben and Emma, at 5 and 2, are loud rambunctious kids and there are very few places that they are allowed to be completely free. Even at the campground we are constantly setting rules in regards to noise, destruction of vegetation, and Ben's yearning to visit all the other campsites and have a fireside chat with the occupants.

That said, we're still deciding if we're entirely comfortable striking off into the wilderness by ourselves and wild camping. It seems lovely....but also a bit risky, considering that we have two very young children. Perhaps Chris and I have seen too many horror movies about crazies lurking in the woods. You know, ax murders and shady folk intent on defending their illicit pot grow operations. 

What do you think? Would you go camping off the grid with your little ones? Would you do it if you had friends (ie additional adults) with you? If so, any recommendations for spots in Washington State? I'm of two minds on this one. 

Ben is avidly interested in wildlife and we need to start keeping notes so he can record all his critters. He's careful to list the lowly slug right next to the bears and whales. That's my boy. 

The highlight of the weekend for me was the whale watching trip that we took amongst the islands. It ended up just being the captain, our family, and another family that had two boys, ages 4 and 6. All three boys had an absolute hoot running around the boat, nagging the pilot, and playing wildly. I still can't believe that nobody went overboard.

In total, we were lucky to see 4 humpbacks feeding in a shallow cove. Ben was enthralled.

Ack. Sorry for the blurry pictures. Still haven't pulled the trigger on a new camera and my old lens is suffering.

Here was a larger crustacean, farther out in the bay.

Bottoms up!

Emma did her best to hang with the big kids but she was having a rough day, as her nap schedule was thrown into disarray. We definitely struggled this trip to get a good routine set up for Emma. A month ago we took a similar camping trip down to Central Oregon and she seemed to do just fine. But she hasn't been napping well in the car during the long hours on the road and that, combined with the late nights around the campfire, were hard for our littlest babe. So we'll have to work on that for future trips.

After the whales it was time for a visit to the local Stellar sea lion colony.

Playing? Fighting? Who knows.

If you're planning a visit, we especially enjoyed the inland Rainforest Trail and the Lighthouse Loop near Ucluelet. Long Beach (as accessed via Green Point Campground) also had nice tide pools where we spotted fish, anemones, and jellyfish. 

We went to Chesterman Beach to watch the surfers, but decided that a game of soccer was more entertaining (and warmer). Those surfers were hard core; I was freezing just watching them paddling about in the frigid waters.

The tide pools at Long Beach. I nearly dipped my phone in the water trying to get this picture. 

Ben and his dead sea lion. "Whoa Mama, check out all the flies!!!"

And to top it all off, we ran into this guy. Love them bears. 

And that, my dears, was our trip to Tofino. Definitely worth a visit.