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Tuesday 26 Jun 2007
Vancouver Island, Canada

A little exploring...

Rented a Pontiac G6 over the weekend there and sped off north at 160 kph through Vancouver Island's lush valleys of 100ft cedars and pine, bounded by fresh mirror-reflecting lakes.

My original destination was going to be Nitinat lake to check out the kite-surfing scene there, but alas I quickly discovered that the last 100 km of road is unpaved logging-roads and you need a proper 4WD vehicle to traverse them.

So instead I ventured on north and then took a detour West at the pleasant town of Nanaimo to head to the "desolate west coast" (as Lonely planet calls it).

Indeed the trip through the centre of the island is stunning and very windy as you pass through high mountainous zones. The roads admittedly are very good though (only occasionally would you experience pot holes) which made the trip in the high-spec Pontiac a blissfull experience. Cool

I eventually settled on the town of Uclulet to stay overnight in the hostel. Wasn't great since I had to share a room with 11 others, but at least it was relatively cheap (26 dollars).

That's the problem with this area, it's quite expensive. Even heading out for sushi that evening, one roll was around 2 dollars (whereas you can get 18 rolls for 4 dollars in Vancouver!). Admittedly it was damn fine sushi though!

The west coast of Vancouver Island is famous for 3 things: Surfing, kayaking and.... rain.

Yup the rain was quite persistent.. even at this late time in June, but nevertheless I went exploring about the place and discovered the beauty of the Pacific Rim National Park with it's abundant misty rain-forests (yeah I know! Rainforests in Canada!!) and beautiful white sandy beaches.

Wildlife abounds too, and I got my first glimpse of a Raccoon (really cute little bugger.. like a character from a Disney cartoon) and a black bear wandering by the road (that's the 3rd bear I've seen now! Still haven't seen a grizzly tho.. or a Polar bear for that matter!)

At one point I was so mesmerised with the place that while walking on a boardwalk through a rainforest passage-way, with my head in the air, I slipped up and fell 8 ft off the boardwalk into a river of 1,500 year old slime. Nice!

Also funny was the time I was leaving town with a nearly empty tank of petrol... got 20 km out of town and then started panicking as the red light came on (the next town was another 50 km further). I sped back into town on the windy mountain road, breaking all sorts of rules and probably scaring half the local population driving along in the process, and eventually veered into a Shell station just as the car cut out.

Having the car cut out in the middle of the mountain road (with no bank on either side), would have been a nightmare I can tell you.

Great weekend in all.. I scoped out what was on offer and I might pop up next Saturday again to try my hand at surfing (normal surfing mind). Haven't done that since Australia, so see if I remember much of it
Wink

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