Oh, Canada!

Greetings from Vancouver Island, B.C.

Monica and I took off on Tuesday and headed north to spend a week on Vancouver Island. We drove to Port Angeles, WA and stayed at a hostel. We are the quintessential budget travelers. I’ve decided that hostels are created from the lowest possible real estate in the area and converted to a rooming house for weary travelers. It must be easy to run a hostel because it requires no effort to upkeep. If the handle falls off your guest’s door, no problem! Just jiggle a pencil or your finger through the hole in order to exit your room. The best part is you get to share bathrooms with people from all over the world and get a new appreciation for the vast array of worldwide bathroom habits. Do you know that French men don’t lower the lid OR flush the toilet? They also manage to shed a few choice pubes on the rim of the toilet for good measure. If that doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night…

We took a 90 minute trip on the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. It sounded like a great idea until about 20 minutes into the trip when we both remembered we get horribly motion sick. We spent the rest of the trip trying to focus on the front of the boat. Someone told us to “look at the pole” on the bow of the ship, which is what we did while we plowed through the ever increasing fog.

We spent the day in Victoria, walking around and looking at the distinctly British influence.

We enjoyed seeing the totem poles outside the Royal Museum. In the afternoon, we headed north to Nanaimo and stopped at a couple of quaint towns along the way, most notably, Cowichan Bay where we discovered a fantastic bakery and picked up the best baguette we’ve ever had along with some Dubliner cheese, which I think is my favorite cheese now. We had a little picnic as we walked around and looked at the sailboats, fishing boats and seaplanes. We then stopped at another little town called Chemainus and found their farmer’s market going on. Monica bought me two hats from a hippy seamstress who’d hitchhiked to the island in the 70’s. We made it to Nanaimo by 6pm and checked into the hostel. (The one with the French people…) It seemed a bit better than the one at Port Angeles. We did have a difficult time finding a place to have dinner. Everywhere we went was either closed or closing as we walked into the door. One place told us it would take an hour to get food. We wandered around the town until we found a place called “White Spot.” Not a place that sounds very appetizing. Nanaimo was hosting the Senior Games, so the whole town was inundated with “seniors” and not the high school kind. We have no idea what the senior games entail, but one of them must include eating because the restaurant was packed with white and blue hair. It was also about 30 degrees in there so we ate our food huddled next to some big old beer-drinking Canadian man at the bar.
The next day, after we spent the traditional 30 minute ritual of “Finding Coffee for the Psycho” we headed west to explore the ocean side. Along the way, I remembered reading about the World Parrot Refuge Monica thought I was nuts when I blurted out that I wanted to stop there because I hadn’t told her about it ahead of time. I had, in fact, forgotten about it until I saw the place. We walked in to the sound of squacking screeching parrots of all shapes, sizes and colors and met Wendy who told us the facts about parrots as pets and how much care they require and how they really aren’t meant to be pets. People are unaware of how much work they are and how much attention they need and grow tired of them or are unable to care for them so they end up at this refuge. At this point, she has 700 birds that she and a staff of 9 care for. It was really pretty amazing.
Monica made a new friend named Nike who apparently adopted her as his chick. She thought he was giving her kisses, when, in reality, he was feeding her down feathers from his back. She ate enough feathers to stuff a pillow. “I thought he was giving me kisses!” she exclaimed when I told her the bird was force feeding her ass feathers. I thought for sure she felt the down stuck to her mouth. It was the funniest thing I’d seen in a while. I had to pluck her before we left. Oh, yes, another funny at the expense of Monica. After we left we had a really good lunch at a seafood place called the Clam Bucket in Port Alberni even though Monica said she was just “stuffed” after all those feathers. She did manage to help me eat a pretty darn tasty “candied halibut.” She had already done the gastronomic tour, having eaten a handful of smoked salmon and a famous “Nanaimo bar.”

We spent the night in our tent. We didn’t come too prepared to “camp.” I am, by nature, a terrible planner and we somehow miscommunicated about what we needed to “camp.” For instance we have no matches, light, flashlights, stove, food, or beverages. So, when it gets dark, we have to go to bed. I told her it’s more like being homeless than it is like camping. She has been less than amused with me and my crappy attitude. I believe she may be trying to lure the cougar or a bear into our tent at night and claim my untimely death was an “accident.”

We did have a very nice day hiking through the rainforest and along the Pacific Coast Trails. As I was walking along I found what I thought was a dropping of some animal until it started to move across the path. It turned out to be a banana slug, which I quickly rescued from the path because I knew he’d be squashated if I left him there. I then made it a kind of game to find them. I was going to take a picture of the first one I discovered, but he was black, like a very over-ripened banana slug. Monica said, “You know that picture will look like you took a picture of dog poop.”
I peered through the camera lens and composed a picture. “Yep, you’re right. Looks just like a turd.” So here is a real banana slug:
(not quite to scale)
When I force fed one to Monica she said they did not really taste like bananas at all.

Enjoying a relaxing moment on the beach.

We are here in Tofino where we found a little coffeeshop that had wireless. It’s hard to find here on the island. We’re fine, really. Monica is happy to report she had a wonderful salmon burger for dinner. We’ll be heading back to our shelter soon for the night. Tomorrow, we’re heading out to who knows where.


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