All the driving we've done (royal we - I mean Paul has driven while I enjoyed the scenery, thanks Mr B!) has very much been part of the trip. I've loved looking out for wildlife on the road, watching as the landscape changed before my eyes, trying to predict what the weather was going to do and trying to guess how many miles to the next toilet (usually about 76 in case you wondered). I've enjoyed stopping at places we would never have seen if we had gone as part of an organised tour and the hours of idle chit-chat between me and my Mr. I shall be very sad to say goodbye to this country and the people we have met along the way.
We decided to have one last treat for our final day in Canada and booked to go out whale watching for the day. We got all kitted out in cold weather gear and were given big thermal jumpsuits and ponchos to put on over our normal clothes. My jumpsuit was so heavy i could barely lift it and so big that the crotch came down to my knees and I walked like I was wearing a nappy.
The trip started out well, we were picking up good speed out of the harbour. It was quite a bumpy ride, but I was enjoying it in the same way you might enjoy a roller coaster ride - screaming with fear and giggling with excitement at the same time. Each time we hit a big wave, my stomach did a summersault as I flew up in the air and hit the seat again with a thud. It was quite invigorating being slapped in the face by an icy cold wave. The land soon disappeared behind us and we came to a stop in the open ocean.
When I say we came to a stop, I should explain. We didn't stop because we'd seen anything or because we were in a hotspot for sightings, no, we stopped because we'd broken down. One of the engines on the zodiac had completely died. Marla, our guide, tried her best to get it going again but it wasn't interested. She had to call in to the office to let them know what had happened; they advised her to get as close to land as she could in case we lost power completely. So, we crawled along at a snails pace back to shallow waters - there was much less chance of seeing anything so close to land but a couple of migrating grey whales had been spotted earlier in the morning so Marla wanted to give it a go.
On the way, we stopped at a small island and were really excited to see one big fat sleepy seal perched precariously on a rock looking down rather snootily at us.
To our delight, as we turned the corner, we found hundreds of them, all piled on top of each other like they'd just been emptied out of a child's dumper truck onto the rocks. They each had their head resting on somebody else's bottom and no one seemed to mind.
There was also a crowd of noisy youths laid around in the water with their fins in the air (apparently they do this to keep cool, just like when we stick our leg out from under the sheets at night). They were a chatty bunch, barking and growling at each other like kids in a leisure centre.
We crept on to the next island. As we were getting closer to the land, Marla squealed, "oh my, oh my, I have never seen this before!" I thought she'd seen a couple of whales doing the tango the way she shouted, but it was a sea otter sat on a rock. She went on to tell us that this is really unusual behaviour; sea otters spend 99.9% of their time in the water so to see one up on land like this is very, very rare. Unfortunately, her excitement scared the poor little thing silly and he quickly slipped back into the water and swam away, checking over his shoulder as he went to make sure that this mad woman wasn't following him.
Around the other side of the island, we saw a little harbour seal floating in the sea kelp. He also seemed quite suspicious of us and just peeked the top of his head out of the water to measure us up.
We carried on, chugging depressingly slowly around the main island. Paul thought he saw a spray at one point, but Marla said there was a single rock just where he saw it and that it was most probably just a wave breaking against it. We didn't see anything else after that.
Because we had not seen anything (they guarantee a sighting or promise you another trip, on them) they tried to get us out on the next boat but unfortunately it was full. They said that they'd stamp our ticket so we could come back another day but when we explained that we were leaving the country and might never get to come back, they gave us a full refund! So we had a great day out, saw some amazing wildlife and got to know lots of interesting facts about what we did see - all for free (I would rather have seen a whale though)! If you are ever in Tofino or Ucluelet, I would highly recommend a trip out with Jamie's Whaling Station.
Well, the landing light has come on and Manchester is steadily getting bigger and bigger below me - this flight has been an adventure in itself. So, that brings us to the end of the Canada chapter. Now to start planning the next trip.
Location:Canada, Tofino, Vancouver Island