Sunday 25 June 2017

To Tofino..... and Back! In One Day!!!

This is one for the books.

Last week my friend, Dale, and I decided to go for a bike trip this weekend. My only caveat was that we had to do it in one day.

We looked at a few different locations including the Olympic Peninsula (too far, too long) and some others. We finally decided to go to Tofino, on Vancouver Island, have lunch, and then come back.

You have to understand that not only would this be over 500 km - but also included two ferries.

We thought we'd be home by dinner.


Dale met me at my place at 6:50am. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm, and promised to be a great trip. We took off from Maple Ridge and, within 20 minutes, we were on the freeway.

You have to understand, Dale does not like the freeway. I don't like it all that much either but, thanks to my wine course in Vancouver, I have been taking it more often lately. I have gone from squeezing the life out of my handgrips to actually enjoying the ride a bit. Dale, on the other hand, has not had a lot of experience on the busy, fast freeway and was not exactly thrilled with that part of the trip.

Less than an hour after we left, we arrived at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. We spent the next 20 minutes in the line and then, after paying for our ticket, loaded onto the ferry.

The nice thing about BC Ferries is, if you are a two wheeler, you make it on without a reservation. Interestingly, there were probably 30 bikes of different makes and models, all lined up on the top vehicle deck.

The ferry ride itself was a couple of hours and was fine. I had a coffee and bagel and figured that would suffice until lunch.

Arriving in Nanaimo, we all roared off the ferry (before the cars, heh - heh) and headed east.

Cameron Lake
Cameron Lake
After leaving highway 19, we got on the scenic highway 4. Our first stop was Cameron Lake in MacMillan Provincial Park. It was a very nice little stop and the weather was warm but not outrageous at that point.

The traffic was light and we could sit back and enjoy the ride. We went through Cathedral Grove, a forest of giant trees that rivals some of the Redwood forests that I saw in California. There were nice twists and turns on the highway and I really enjoyed the ride.

Kennedy Lake
Kennedy Lake
After we gassed up in Port Alberni, next up was Kennedy Lake in Kennedy Lake Provincial Park. Again, we really enjoyed this stop. It was lovely!

Somewhere around here, it became exceedingly hot. I was now just wearing my shell and I was not very positive that I would be able to stick with even that.

Wickaninnish Beach
Wickaninnish Beach
Closing in on Tofino, we took a side trip to Wickaninnish Beach along a heaved up road. The tricky ride was definitely worth it as we ventured down to the beach and enjoyed the scenery. It was definitely hot at this point. And it was at this point that I stuffed my day-glo green jacket, with all of its armour, into my top case.

The argument, of course, is that even on a quiet highway, like we were riding, you can have an accident or crash. However, we found that the temperature was in the 30s and the heat was making us groggy. Removing our jackets gave us a little bit of refreshment that kept us alert.

Speaking of refreshment, we found going both ways on Highway 4 that there were certain areas where we crossed a river or creek or went near a lake that the air cooled really noticeably. It was like someone pointed an air conditioner at us as we rode by certain parts. Very nice!

We finally made it into Tofino around 1:30 or 2:00pm.

After checking out the Farmer's Market (couldn't find a scarf for my wife), we looked for a place to eat lunch. After careful consideration (we looked at two restaurants) we selected the Schooner due to its patio and variety of menu besides fried fish.

Dale awaiting his beer and halibut burger

Ah, that was a great lunch!
We both ordered the halibut burger and it was very tasty. It was served on a brioche bun and had cole slaw, mayo, pickles and a lovely grilled halibut chuck that had some sort of cajun seasoning. It was accompanied by a mountain of fries.

Outside Tofino Brewing

Along with the meal, we split a large beer from he local brewery, Tofino Brewing, and, after we left the restaurant, we hunted down the brewery in the industrial section of Tofino (about 6 buildings). We each bought a couple of bottles to take home and then headed back up the highway, west, towards home.

Our last touristy stop was the radar hill in Pacific Rim National Park. The views were spectacular and I have included just a few of the many photos that we took there. Apparently during WW2, this was where a radar post was located to protect our fair nation from incursion!

Only bikes in the lineup!
The ride back on highway 4 was just as enjoyable although the temperature was really heating up. We stopped for some gas and an urgently needed vitamin drink in Port Alberni and, thanks to rehydration, stayed alert all the way back to Nanaimo.

We thought about going to Duke Point and taking the ferry to Tsawwassen, but, unfortunately, the last ferry from there was at 6:15 and that's about what time we arrived in Nanaimo. Luckily the ferry runs later from Departure Bay so, after about an hour wait, we took the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay.
Another beautiful west coast sunset 
It was pretty hot, even on the ferry, so we ended up on deck. I took a few photos of the setting sun - I love these photos and really enjoy painting sunsets!

After arriving in Horseshoe Bay, we took the freeway back to Maple Ridge, this time in mostly darkness. I am becoming more comfortable with the number 1 highway and this was the first time I was comfortable at night. It was a bit crazy when all the ferry traffic disembarked but traffic did thin out as we got farther away from Vancouver.

We finally arrived back shortly after 10:30 - it was a long day. Unfortunately, one of the beer that I bought (the stout! oh no!) leaked in my top case (yes, that's right, leaked!). After mopping up the beverage, I headed toned.

In future, I would probably do this ride in two days but there was certainly some satisfaction in finishing such a scenic ride in the time that we did.

Mind you, I spent most of the next day (Sunday) just lounging around the house!