Saturday, July 26, 2008
TOFINO — Last night for the first time this holiday, we heard the pitter-patter of raindrops on the camper roof. When we woke up this morning everything was very wet and it was overcast, but the rain was over at least. The coolness and damp feeling remained, however, so we dressed with layers.
What better thing to do on a damp day than wander through a rainforest? We chose the Tofino Botanical Gardens for this purpose, and found it quite beautiful. There was a homey feel about this garden because of its small scale and the sense of humour that showed up both in the added touches and in the quirky tone of the brochure that guided our walk. There were odd-looking birdhouses crafted from twisted driftwood, wooden sculptures here and there, and a gazebo that looked like a hobbit’s home. We actually saw banana plants thriving in the garden, although the blurb said they produced inedible fruit, and they had planted them there just because they could. There was bamboo and palm trees growing there as well, plus their prize plant, a nine-foot Himalayan lily with pink and white waxy trumpets blooming at its top! A stern sign was posted next to the frog pond warning passers by of man-eating crocodiles in the vicinity — and there one was, carved from wood with its knobby back peeking up between the water lilies.
The Trilogy Café was connected to the ticket office for the gardens, and after our chilly, damp walk I was ready for a bowl of hot soup. We stopped in and enjoyed steaming cream of mushroom soup, and Val had the frittata while I relished my open-faced sandwich of whole grain bread, caramelized onions, and thick slices of tomato topped with melted cheese. Delicious! I couldn’t resist a slice of pecan caramel pie for dessert, which Val very kindly helped me consume.
We waddled on our way and headed for the Pacific Rim National Park again. This time we took the Radar Hill trail to see a veterans’ plaque commemorating the Korean War (which has a twin in a national park in Korea, we learned) and check out the view from one of the highest points around. We saw very little today because of the low cloud cover!
Our next venue was the Schooner Cove, a kilometer-long trek through thick rainforest to a beautiful beach. The trail began as a gravel path, but soon became a narrow board walk that snaked up and down through an amazing forest of pine, ferns, hanging moss and fallen timbers where new life was springing forth from the rotted stumps. The boards themselves were rounded from the wear of many footsteps, and some had become mossy at their edges. As we rose and descended with the topography of the trail, there were steps up and down that I decided to count on the return journey. In all, multiplying the result by two, we stepped up or down 638 times over the length of the trail!
When we arrived at the beach, we caught sight of a bald eagle flapping its wings overhead as it descended toward the beach, hopped to the sand on its sturdy legs, and began tearing away at a fish. A second bald eagle joined it shortly afterward, with its huge wingspan. The first one took off shortly afterward with a chunk of fish in its claws, and flew toward the treetops.
The whole time we were there, the roar of the pounding waves filled our ears. In the distance, misty because of the humid air blowing in from the sea, we could see grey silhouettes of craggy pine trees along the shore. There was an Aboriginal settlement by the shore in a spot that had been inhabited by Pacific natives for hundreds of years. It was called Esowista.
We wandered along the beach for a short distance and then turned back to retrace our steps back to the parking lot. That’s when I started to count! We burned off a few of those pecan pie calories on this walk for sure.
It was time for a rest, so we returned to Crystal Cove Resort and parked in our site for a couple of hours. Then we set off for Tofino, where we had dinner at the Sobo Restaurant. Val had clipped out an article about Sobo from the Ottawa Citizen in April 2007 that extolled the virtues of the amazing fish tacos with fruit salsa and polenta fries. "Sobo" is short for sophisticated Bohemian, and the chef, Lisa Ahier, uses the freshest ingredients and the best olive oil to produce her masterpieces. We shared a fish taco for the appetizer (amazing!) and ordered the wild Pacific salmon, prepared on a cedar plank and served on a bed of barley studded with colourful red and yellow peppers, crispy green beans, purple onions and a sprig of broccoli and bright yellow cauliflower. What a treat! We were too full for dessert, but were persuaded to bring home for later a couple of thickly frosted dark chocolate brownies, studded with walnuts! I think we’ll be eating water and soda cra