For reasons I can’t fully explain, I have been on a bit of a kick for new experiences in Canada this last 10 days or so. The next stop on our Vancouver Island holiday was Tofino, somewhere I’d never been but had always wanted to see because so many people told me how beautiful it is there. They were right. The views are stunning. Massive old growth forests hug the coast. Waves crash against the rocks on the craggy shoreline. Bald eagles soar overhead.
Tofino is famous for its amazing wildlife, so Roland and I set out to see some of it. We took two tours to accomplish our task: whale watching and bear watching. While we’d tried whale watching before, in New Zealand in 1996, we took a plane then… and never saw a single whale. This time, we chose a boat trip. I knew that I probably wouldn’t enjoy the transportation, but I wanted to see the whales, so I boarded the boat anyway. It was a bumpy ride out on the open ocean, freezing cold with a stiff wind, and hard on my balance and on my tummy, but sometimes you endure some bumps to get what you want.
We did find grey whales and humpbacks, but they were so far away you could hardly see them. They were little slivers of color barely visible over the waves. Most of what we saw was the mist from the whales blowing air out of their blowholes, which are the whale equivalent of the human nose. The trip was a nice experience; I liked just knowing the whales were there, but I’d hoped for something a little more visually spectacular, like the images I’d seen of massive whales soaring out of the water. I guess I got lured in by the photos in the ads (which obviously worked they way they were designed to work). But at least I can say I saw whales.
The next day, we set out for bear watching. That boat ride was much calmer because the boat is designed to cruise the shallower waters along the shorelines of the inlets around Tofino. We didn’t have much success with bears, but we did manage to find one: a young black bear, maybe a year or so old. He was meandering along the rocky beach on one of the islands, looking for his breakfast. He wandered mostly along the water’s edge, turning rocks over searching for little crabs in the pools underneath. He was just adorable, flipping, digging, eating. I was so excited to watch him that I’d have gladly stayed all day (or at least until he wandered back into the nearby woods). Unfortunately, the boat captain decided to move on because the area we were in became too crowded with other boats. Also unfortunately, this little beauty was the only bear we saw. On the other hand, one is much better than none, and I can now say I watched a bear eat breakfast. Unbearably adorable! Another new Canadian experience to remember.