Wrapping up our summer getaway on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Okay, I promise this is my final post about our summer visit on Vancouver Island!

We arrived unscathed at Parksville on the east coast, our next stop after retracing our path across the island on highway 4.  We made it over the 18% grade again, with less stress this time since we knew what to expect.  The usually long wait at the construction area was only 15 minutes – no sweat.

C’mon Betsy, just one more time!

Parksville, BC

This pause allowed us to catch up on chores that had been put off during our 10-day stay in Ucluelet.  Parksville is known for its mild winters and long, calm sandy beaches, quite the opposite of where we had just been.  Our back yard was the Salish Sea, and we spent many hours gazing across the water while enjoying the birdies, watching cloud formations and the passing cruise ships.  I couldn’t pick a favorite cloud picture, so here are all of them 🙂

I see a Javelina

We walked around the RV park and noticed configurations we’d never seen before:

These are typical residences at Surfside RV Resort – trailers connected to custom-built sunrooms

At Rathtrevor Provincial Park, the ocean recedes almost a mile at low tide, exposing a broad expanse of sandy beach.  Our arrival time allowed a combined walk on the ocean floor followed by a trek through forest near the beach:

No surf or fog, just a huge calm beach with fresh air!
Newly-exposed sea bed full of tiny creatures


Our final stop was on South Island in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.  It was our jumping-off point to re-enter the U.S. at Port Angeles, WA.  The weather was dreary during our stay, but it was a revisit as we had been here in 2012 when the sun was shining.  That post was written when LowesTravels was in its infancy 🙂

Victoria is a beautiful walkable place filled with an array of activities and things to explore.  Raining or not, we spent every minute we could enjoying the city’s great sights and restaurants!

A restaurant pretending to be a flower shop
Look Dave, he’s getting the hang of it!
Inner harbor

We went to Redfish-bluefish for lunch, as we had heard their fish and chips were to die for.  We weren’t disappointed:

Thankfully we got there before the lunch crowd showed up!
The imposing Legislative Building can’t be missed
Thunderbird Park

A visit to the Royal BC Museum was high on our list this time and what better place to be on a rainy and foggy day.  The museum showcases galleries focused on natural, cultural and modern history and First Peoples of British Columbia.  It was a very interesting insight into the development of British Columbia over the centuries.

A full-size mammoth display showed the ancient mega-fauna that once roamed here

This excellent museum offered so much information to digest, and the displays about the First Peoples gave us a good understanding of their culture:

A photo of Skedans In 1878, showing more than 50 pieces of monumental sculpture at a village site
Totem Hall, the central exhibit in the First Peoples gallery

This year’s exhibition featured the Maya civilization, past and present.  It had an impressive display of Maya objects from Guatemala.  We learned from the stelas on display how science and belief shaped the Maya identity from ancient times to the present day:

This is one of four Maya manuscripts that remain today, an accordion-like book made of inscribed bark paper.  The glyphs, numerals and pictures in these codices helped provide crucial clues for understanding Maya science

A Maya stela is a stone slab with glyphs and drawings on it telling a story.  Hundreds of stelae have been recorded in the Maya region.  It took incredible time and effort to carve a story in rock, so only really important stories were recorded in that way.  Some historians refer to these ancient structures as stone trees.  The Stela archaeologists learned a great deal about the ancient Maya:

Stela 1, depicting a dancing king

Should you visit Victoria, this museum is a must-do!

On the lighter side

We checked out two breweries, Hoyne and Driftwood Craft Beers, as recommended by Andy  He had mentioned the breweries here are a bit different – at most of them you can taste a flight of beers, but not buy a glass of beer should you want one – weird laws.  You can fill up a growler or buy their bottled beers, but the good news is that it costs only a $5.00 “donation” for a flight of four brews.  I liked the Gose beer at Driftwood enough to fill up my growler – of course we always carry our growlers in the car for just such an occasion!

In and around Victoria

While consuming all of the agricultural and meat products in our refrigerator in preparation for the upcoming border crossing, we tucked in two hikes near our site at Fort Victoria RV Park.  The trail at Thetis Lake Regional Park led us to forest, cliffs, clear water lakes and swampland.  Nice!

How did this get here?  Steve pronounced it un-restorable
This River Otter put on a noisy show

It was at Royal Roads Loop that I first heard of an activity called “forest bathing.”  It’s a concept described as soaking in the forest atmosphere by simply walking, quietly, slowly and deliberately in a forest, while taking in the sounds, scents, colors, forms and general vibe of nature.  We decided we’ve been “bathing” for 10 years now, but we sure enjoyed being all alone on this great hike!

Standing guard at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbor is Fisgard Lighthouse, the oldest on Canada’s west coast.  It houses exhibits on shipwrecks, various lighthouse lenses and light-keeping tools:

The iconic red chairs were hidden behind the rocks

Betsy’s Last Border Crossing

We arrived at the ferry terminal two hours prior to boarding.  Crossing the border into the U.S. is always stressful, but having been subjected to Betsy’s strip-search by the Canadian Border Patrol six weeks ago, we thought going back across couldn’t be any worse.  The process was different this time, with the Border  authorities going into each vehicle confirming our citizenship, then we walked to a building to have our passports scanned before we got on the ferry.  At Port Angeles the U.S. Customs checked for any agricultural products/souvenirs and as for Betsy, Steve had to pull over on the street for the officer to board and do the actual checking of the RV.  All in all, this final crossing was time-consuming but smoother than some of the others we’ve endured in the past.

Betsy heads onto the ferry.  I took the car separately, much less expensive with this company
With the helpful guides, she fit in just fine with the other big ones

As we pulled out of the harbor, the water taxi’s gave us a farewell performance that was fun to watch!

Here are some final images of Victoria as seen from aboard the Blackball ferry as we began our 90-minute journey toward Port Angeles, WA:

The Empress Hotel
Floating homes on James Bay
A raised Johnstone Strait Bridge
Goodbye, Victoria!

Trip stats

Our 6-week visit to Vancouver Island flew by quickly.  Except for the inverter/charger failure we suffered when we arrived, our drives and adventures went smoothly.  The weather was great most of the time, and the beautiful island offered a myriad of wonderful natural attractions and unique adventures.  We traveled over 870 miles and enjoyed 10 home bases during this adventure, and we had a fantastic time!

Our Vancouver Island travel map

Goodbye Vancouver Island,
We’ll be back!




  1. Gorgeous photos! and wonderful tales! You done good Mona Liza!! PS: your javelina looks more like a friendly poodle to me 🙂

  2. Beautiful photos as aways! I was planning a road trip there this month but decided to postpone it until next year. What campgrounds do you recommend? Do you need reservations in advance?

  3. This region is high on our list. Even when the rain comes down, it’s just so picturesque! You all have a knack for finding those red chairs …along with everything else that’s good in a locale! We encountered a similar brewery up in Vermont – the tasters were actually free, and you could buy 4 or 6 packs of beer, but you couldn’t buy a glass of beer. Weird. I guess they just want to cycle people out and encourage them to buy a more beer. Anyway, glad you are back in the U.S. with minimal border aggravation this time!

  4. Great spot in Parksville! Love your cloud photos. That photo of you and Steve in front of the foggy lighthouse is a keeper. Love, love the otter!! You certainly had a wonderful trip and have me wanting to follow. Thanks for taking us on a new adventure!

  5. Never too many posts about Vancouver Island for me! We love that island and all of the varied adventures it offers. You guys certainly had a fabulous time, and I’m glad you shared it all with us. Victoria is such a cool city—and we agree, the Royal Museum is outstanding. Those little water taxis really seemed like they were putting on a special show for you. We rode one across the harbor just for fun. They’re so cute! And your otter photo is fantastic!

  6. I’m glad you included all the cloud pictures…..I wouldn’t have been able to choose either. After reading your description of “forest bathing” I guess Dave and I have been doing that for a long long time. And “desert bathing” and “mountain bathing”, etc. ! I’m fascinated by the Mayan stories and their methods of recording them. You’ve laid out a very nice road map for those of us who’ve never been up there. Another place on my list!

  7. Victoria looks like a colorful beautiful city to explore. There’s an old station wagon out in the Tonto Forest that’s there for good and also un-restorable. I’ve enjoyed traveling there thru you.

  8. I forget how much I miss bursting flowerbeds and baskets until I read a post like this. So, so pretty.

    A javelina cloud!! I see it! And a real-life chattering otter! Love those critters.

    You sure found all the best stuff to see and do there. Glad your re-entry was a bit smoother than previously. Welcome home!

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