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Stormy Seas on the Pacific Rim
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Stormy Seas on the Pacific Rim
  Vancouver Island Travel Tale

by Lorry Patton ...

One sunny afternoon, many many years ago, we piled our three children, the dog and camping paraphernalia into the back of our station wagon and took off for Pacific Rim National Park. At the time, we were living relatively close -- in Nanaimo, about a hundred miles away.

Eight hours later, we were creeping along the crookedest road you might imagine through the thickest fog I'd ever seen. Somehow, we managed to arrive at Long Beach; however, we couldn't see a thing. We heard the water lap at the shore. We could even smell the salt air and the seaweed, but, we couldn't see one another, let alone the miles of ocean out there.

Two days later, we crept out as slowly as we crept in, still engulfed by the impregnable and relentless fog.

Years later, we tried again -- minus the children and the dog.

Pacific Rim Highway 4 is crooked indeed, but not quite as crooked as I remembered from our first visit. Anyway, this time the scenery held most of our attention.

We drove through powerful Cathedral Grove where giant evergreens reach for the sky past the aromatic mill town of Port Alberni onto miles of wilderness broken up occasionally by logging roads and rest areas. In less than three hours we arrived at the beach. This time the view was splendid. Strewn about the miles of sandy shore were whip-like seaweed, jelly fish and colorful seashells.

We sat on a huge log enjoying the sight when literally out of the blue-- which suddenly turned gray -- the rains fell.

The phrase " unpredictable weather conditions" is apropos for Pacific Rim National Park. Other fitting words are; Historical trails, mighty surf, beach combing and the migration of the magnificent gray whale.

Pacific Rim National Park is made up of three sections: Broken Islands, West Coast Trails and Long Beach. Broken Islands is a group of over a hundred islands accessible by water only. I spoke with several kayak tours that cruised the area. They all said, breathtaking, awesome and spellbinding. ( Before crossing open ocean channels extreme caution is advised. )

West Coast Trails rough and wet terrain is strictly for the experienced hiker.

The Long Beach Unit is the most popular. Besides the beautiful beaches, there are many trails to explore. The Rain Forest Trail's lush thick growth is definitely a product of the wet and foggy environment. The Gold Mine Trail ends at a rusty old dredge. The Willowbrae Trail used to be the land route between Tofino and Ucluelet until 1942 when the road was built.

Marine exhibits, along with pamphlets describing hiking trails and marine life are at the Visitor center and the Wickininnish Interpretive Center.

This time the weather cooperated and we spent many hours in the sunshine, beach-combing and hiking.

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