Today was the longest drive of our trip, from Port Alberni to Port McNeill for our Port McNeill Whale Watching tour tomorrow. It was another rainy day but it didn’t matter much since we were mostly driving.
Elk Falls (near Campbell River)
You can break up the ride by stopping at stunningly beautiful Elk Falls near Campbell River. Take a short hike over the hydro-power pipes and thru an old growth forest.
The falls were the best falls we saw in all of Vancouver Island.
You can walk over a suspension bridge for a different vantage point of the falls and the gorge that resulted from the erosion.
Driving to Port McNeill
From there we had a very long drive and saw millions of trees and not a lot else on our way up to Port McNeil. It was very important to have a full tank of gas – it was miles between stations. We had a little free time so we checked out the shopping metropolis – this looked like a sad place to live – economically depressed. The rain eventually ended and we saw this rainbow over the town.
World’s Largest Burl
We had a lazy morning and got to visit the World’s Largest Burl. A burl is basically a tree tumor and they are popular for carving and furniture. I can’t imagine how big the tree had to be for this burl.
Port McNeill Whale Watching – Mackay’s Whale Watching
We boarded MacKay’s Whale Watching’s Naiad explorer boat. This was a fast, comfortable boat and we had a full crowd today. Most of the people aboard were from Europe and Canada. I’m not sure why Americans don’t find Vancouver Island as an interesting place to visit. We’ve encountered very few Americans on Vancouver Island.
We were out on the water for an hour of a 4-5 hour trip when I started to get worried the whales might not make a showing but then we had some luck. We caught up with a pod of about a dozen Orcas and followed them around for awhile. They seemed really determined to get somewhere so they were pretty much moving without being playful.
We followed them into a thick fog and with the visibility gone, we moved on to the next spot. We had catered lunch of soup and buns along the way. We sped towards another whale watching boat and then watched a very playful humpback whale. The whale was fully breaching – I have been whale watching many times but have never seen such a spectacle.
The ship mate came around with some bars from the IGA and I had a Nanaimo bar – a choclately, coco-nutty treat – almost a candy bar. If this weren’t enough, we sailed thru a picturesque channel watching sea lions (you can see from these pictures why they’re called lions).
What a day! We got back to port by mid-afternoon and stopped at the information center before making the long drive back towards Campbell River. It had been rainy with no view on the way up but now we could see how pretty it was around here on a clear day.