You have to take Highway 4 to get to Tofino and Ulculet on the west side of the Island. Highway 4 actually starts at the Oceanside Route (19A) near Parksville but there is a connecter road from Qualicum Beach. We are usually so anxious to get over to the other coast that we don’t take time to explore along the way. So exploring Highway 4 has become an on-going challenge.
Although interesting, Coombs is a bit overrun with tourists now. That’s the place that has the goats up on the sod roof on the store. There are a number of artists around but it is always so crowded that we don’t stop there.
Up the road from there is the Thai Smile restaurant – a little off the road place recommended by friends. The Thai food is prepared and served by a family from Chiang Mai, Thailand and is superb.
Big attraction along here is Cathedral Grove. Cathedral Grove is one of the few remaining remnants of an old growth rainforest. Paths wander in and among sacred ancient Douglas Fir and Red Cedar that have stood for over 800 years.
As it was so eloquently put, the giant mossy trees glowing like stained glass in nature’s cathedral. Even with your eyes closed there is a humid, fragrant coolness that enables the mosses and lichens clinging to the tree branches to grow.
Multiple canopy layers, forest openings with remnants of human infiltration mingled with, dead standing trees with holes for owls, bats, squirrels, and birds are just a few of the highlights.
To the Natives the Cedar was the Tree of Life and provided them with materials for canoes, totem poles mats, baskets, ropes, etc.
See those holes in the trunk of this old tree? Well, apparently the old lumber jacks would make those holes to hold planks that they stood on to cut down the tree.
North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is off the beaten track at Errington, between Coombs and Parksville. Whether it was because we were there so early in the season or that we had had such awesome experiences of the Desert Museum in Tucson but we came away very disappointed in what we saw and experienced.
There was an abundance of taxidermy and very few live exhibits (except for a few birds). We did expect to be able to see the bear cubs they rescued but were only able to view a video.
Other Nature Crafts:
The Deep Bay Marine Field Station (https://www2.viu.ca/deepbay/)
The Deep Bay Marine Field Station was a treasure we came across quite by accident. Deep Bay was a place close by that we had not explored - so off we went.
What a pleasant surprise.
Qualicum Trading Post (https://www.facebook.com/qualicumtradingpost/)
A funky little place
with some authentic treasures!
Where I finally got a pair of rubber boots! Maybe next year I’ll manage to wear them!