Road trip across Vancouver Island

Thick raindrops hammered on the windshield as we weaved through the rush hour traffic. We’d just missed the last ferry  to Vancouver Island, and were told we could still catch another one in the other terminal. Except we’d have to drive from the Northern edge of Metro Vancouver, to the Southern one, in less than an hour. “Challenge accepted” I shouted. 50 minutes later we were the last car to drive onto the ferry. But we made it. Our road trip adventure had started.

A few weeks ago, Tanja and I were in dire need of nature therapy. We’d been living in the cold glare of our computer screens for way too long, again. Despite previous resolutions, it continues to happen: work sneaks in and takes over. Finding a balance is still one of our main challenges. But it’s never too late to start over and do better. So we decided to go on a road trip to the West Coast, and to add some adventure to the experience we planned on camping in our car. It’d be a first for us, sleeping in the car. Other than one freezing night on a Tim Hortons parking lot in Golden, BC during our Winter Rocky Mountains road trip we’d never actually done it. Our amazing Irish friends (and clients) Andrea and Eoin were so generous to donate their ‘car camping bed’ (a giant piece of foam). After a little trimming it fit our Ford Escape perfectly.

It was Wednesday, late night, when Tanja drove the car off the ferry and took us to Qualicum Beach. Finding an overnight parking however, was a different story. Neither of us had any experience with ‘the hunt for the perfect spot’, and we didn’t feel like a rough wakeup call in the middle of the night. Drifting from deserted shopping mall parking lots to a creepy looking camping in a BC Provincial Park (and not having any cash on us to pay the mandatory fee), to a residential neighborhood, we finally settled on a parking lot next to the old Island Highway.

The next morning we woke up to the sound of the rushing waves. Nothing had happened during the night. Even when we took our ‘morning view from the bed’ picture the dog walkers didn’t pay any attention to us. But then came the next hurdle of car camping: coffee.


Coffee turned out to be a true catch–22. For us, to drive safely we’d need coffee, yet acquiring said coffee required driving. Google Maps was a life-saver. Not only did it manage to translate my clumsily typed ‘cpdfea’ into ‘coffee’, it took us to the best coffee place in Qualicum Beach: Creekmore’s Coffee Roasting Co. Greeted by two mildly-interested lama’s in a neighboring pasture, we enjoyed a cup of wonderfully named Toucan Dance. Guess what this dark roast’s logo was…

Cathedral Grove

Meanwhile the weather had cleared up and we hurried to get to Cathedral Grove, home to some of the Island’s oldest and tallest cedars and firs. Ever since moving to BC I’m amazed by the unique energy and history that lingers in old-growth forests. Few things make me feel as humble as an 800 year old giant tree, that has survived all that nature has thrown at it. After a quick lunch break in Port Alberni (an Australian themed diner, highly recommended) and goofing around at a nearby lake with pier, we journeyed across Vancouver Island to the West Coast.

It was early afternoon when we parked the car near Ucluelet’s old lighthouse. As soon as I opened my door, I heard the thundering and roaring I remember from our amazing road trip to the Oregon Coast. How I love those sounds.

We hurried through the tree line, and there it was: the Pacific Ocean, powerful and energetically pounding on the rocky coastline. It’s exactly what we came for. Tanja and I hiked along the coastal trail of the peninsula, taking our time to unwind and reflect. Work seemed miles away.

That night, we decided to set up camp on an official campground. The rain was pouring again, and we needed a hot shower. Sometimes, convenience wins over adventure.

More to come 🙂