Left Lake Cowichan eager to get to the west coast. We made the sane decision to stay overnight at Port Alberni (of which we had heard varying descriptions mostly bad e.g. one of the 10 worst places to live; someone passed on it was rated the ugliest place in Canada).
We wanted to see the giant red cedars at Cathedral Gove and murals at Chermainus en route.
First stop, Chermainus a town with a great survival story. It was a dying timber town till someone decided creating murals of the towns history throughout the town might be a good survival idea.
It appears it was a town saviour. And it is popular with visitors.
The murals throughout the town have pavement footprint instructions – some blew my mind! Which way to go?
The tourist information centre, as we continued to find across the country, was out-of-their-way helpful and had useful maps of the murals throughout the town. We even found our new favourite Canadian artist Emily Carr featured as well
Cathedral Grove is a national park of old growth forest: Douglas Firs and Red Cedar.
The park crosses a major-major high way which makes it tricky getting across, especially when you keep looking the wrong way.
Nice well kept trails and although it was damp and raining the forest with ferns and moss draped across the giant trees was impressive.
The closeness of a major road with all the noises that goes with it was a little disheartening!
Further into the forest the experience was enhanced first by the exit of a pouty French speaking school group – and then with distance from traffic noise -it became the soft, peaceful nature of the forest.
We were on our own to ramble through the rain. A great introduction to the wilderness conservation Canada we had heard about.
Crossed the road and survived once more. Drove on to the poorly anticipated Port Alberni.
The usual North American drive into town – strip malls and fast food. Then we saw the smoke belching pulp processing factory. Oh well only one night we thought. I then saw the ad for “Bears on the Boardwalk” Yes Please!
We had found the Riverside motel not far from the puffing chimneys and looking dubious from the road. Even more doubtful when crossing wooden planks laid over a muddy entrance. A surprise inside – hosts could not have been more helpful and apologised for the maintenance work outside. The rooms were well maintained and comfortable and the internet access was fast.
Wended our wet way to dinner. On our way went down to the “Bears on the Boardwalk” which really is famous for having bears ambling along it. Alas to Mel’s disappointment no bears tonight.
On to the “world famous” Clam Bucket possibly North American hype but it was memorable and of course GIANT serves. Our first oyster Po’boy for several years pretty delicious.