Archive for March, 2014

Kayaking Near Tofino, BC

March 25th, 2014 | Category: Pacific Northwest,Travel,Vancouver Island & Region

The following is a visual representation of why the effort of hauling my gear thousands of miles, fighting through sometimes difficult water and camping in the cold is worth the effort. I’ve just returned from the area near Tofino, British Columbia, where I was fortunate enough to go kayak camping for a few days.

Sea lions off of Blunden island.

A gray whale and her calf surface briefly.

A sea otter takes a break from his ceaseless activity to watch me. They seem to like he turbulent, foamy water, or at least the food they find there.

Dramatic waves, having traveled immense distances across the open Pacific, come ashore at last.

Whales are huge, but not always obvious. There is a whale in this picture… (click to enlarge, as with all these images)

Only when they break the surface or breathe do you really see them, unless they’re doing something dramatic like broaching or fluking, which I didn’t see this time (although I have seen it – see here).

In the calmer waters behind the barrier islands, it’s a different world.

This is the kind of scenery with which I was continually forced to cope… really, how does one deal with this? It’s everywhere you look; it’s there when the sun sets, and still there in the morning.  I couldn’t stop feeling like the luckiest person alive.

Sometimes, this happens:

Numerous inviting beaches await, some with caves or primeval, Tolkeinesque rain forest groves.

Wolves comb the beaches for anything edible.  They approached me at close range while I was camping and I had to shoo them away, but unfortunately I didn’t have a camera nearby at the time. They seemed sleek and well-nourished.  Here are images of some other wolves I saw once.

I like blue.

This next image, although not that impressive, I will never forget, because it was so hard to get.  A 30-knot headwind was blasting mercilessly into my teeth as the tidal current ran against me over a complex bottom, causing confused, turbulent water that pulled in multiple directions with waves popping up unexpectedly to douse me and my unprotected camera.  I had to row forward furiously just to go backwards slowly, but I was determined to get an image of these guys. When I put down the paddle for just 8 seconds (I counted), the wind swung me in the opposite direction.  The motion of the boat, the lack of good light, and the qualities of the camera made it extremely difficult to get a clear image, all while trying to keep right side up and the camera dry.  I took it as a personal challenge to get any image at all, and after all that, when I reached the right spot to take the picture and raised the camera during the 8-second interval, the eagles turned their backs upon me! I shouted “really? That’s the way it’s going to be?”  Yes, that’s the way it was.

Many thanks to Blake at Batstar adventure tours, who rented me gear when nobody else seemed interested and was otherwise  enormously helpful.


More Port Alberni

March 19th, 2014 | Category: Travel,Vancouver Island & Region

Some images looking across the Barkley sound from Port Alberni.

One of the local timber plant’s tiny tugboats pulls a raft of unprocessed logs.

A vessel in the harbor is lit by angled light coming in under the clouds.

A very typical scene from the windows of the office here.


Port Alberni, BC

March 17th, 2014 | Category: Travel,Vancouver Island & Region

Click on images to make them larger.

Leaving the brilliant, windswept wilderness outpost of Flagstaff, I had a good view of the peaks and a few smaller cinder cones to the west.

I touched down in the metropolitan madness of arid Phoenix…

…flew back north over the geological wonderland of Northern Arizona and Utah:

…and touched down again in rainy Seattle.  SEA-TAC is a great airport.  I love the wall of glass, suspended on cables:

Finally, I landed in Victoria, BC, Canada, and drove several hours to Port Alberni, another wilderness outpost.

After getting a night’s rest and putting in a day’s work, I used the remaining light to visit Stamp falls regional park, where there is a roaring waterfall and a fish ladder.

It’s verdant, smells like healthy soil and fresh air, and moss covers everything, as is characteristic of the northwest.

There was this giant, which squirted out of a crevice in a cliff, made a 90-degree turn and shot towards the sky.