Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vancouver Island

It being a long weekend (Thanksgiving), I expected the lineups for the ferry to be extreme at best.  So I was quite surprised to arrive about 15 minutes before sailing time, got measured at 43’ total length (!), and hardly had enough time to turn off my propane before being loaded.  Hailey was not at all afraid of the strange noises and vibrations that used to have Harley trying to find a hiding place.

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No marine life of note on the crossing, but miles out to see we crossed a distinct line between the muddy water from the Fraser river and the clear water of the strait.CIMG2234

We passed a tugboat pulling a barge packed with hundreds of crushed automobiles.

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I had read about McDonald Provincial Park being handy to the ferry landing at Swartz Bay, but drove around a bit before locating it.  This was mainly because it is now administered by the feds, and is part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve!


I also expected that it may be full on a long weekend, but found only 2-3 other sites occupied.

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I stayed a couple of nights in order to check out the area and try to track down friends in the area.  My biggest accomplishment was getting some overdue laundry taken care of.

The campground is very close to the water and the ferry terminal, but is heavily forested and fairly private, but being surrounded by roads and close to the international airport, there was some noise as well.

Farms in the area had fields of pumpkins getting ready for halloween!CIMG2261

I checked my backroads mapbook and decided that I should try to road across the island from Port Renfrew on the west coast to Lake Cowichan on the easterly side.  Some of the maps show it as a ‘restricted’ road, and I assumed it would be adventurous and gravel, but once again was surprised to find it mostly paved, and in very good if not better condition than the road to Port Renfrew.  Even my Tomtom knew the road across.  There were good directional signs throughout.

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Question:  Why do loggers insist on working the early shift!  I started on the road in late afternoon, the sun just about to set, but there was nil traffic on the road and the logging equipment was sitting idle.  All the rec camping areas had closed for the season, so I eventually stopped in  a roadside pullout well off the road.  The first trucks started to roll by before 0400, and there must have been a hundred pass by before 8.  Maybe they like to be done by noon?

Sunset over the ocean at Port Renfrew.



  1. Welcome to my neck of the woods. You are very lucky with the weather. Hopefully it will stay that way for a bit. Enjoy your stay.

  2. Port Renfrew brings back memories for me. I remember a dockside restaurant/bar or something there. My brother in law at the time worked for Finning Equipment & he took my then wife & I across the Island on a logging road. Really rough & we had to stop & help a couple other vehicles through a wet swampy area. Can't exactly remember where that road was but it turned out to be quite an experience. My brother in law used to go into logging camps etc demonstrating equipment.