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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride


We had a great night celebrating last evening and this morning was very anticlimactic having to get going so quickly to pack up the condo and leave after a 4 night stay. I had slept in until 8:47am and our check out time was 10am, so there certainly wasn’t much time to sit around and relax this morning!

Poor Richard had a heck of a time loading Jerry with everything we had brought with us. The condo was on the 3rd floor and only had stair access, so by the time he finally brought the last load down from the condo, he was dripping with sweat!

On top of everything else, it was pouring rain and only 4C! Not a nice day at all to drive home.

We thought we would stop into the Wikaninnish Inn to at least take some photos of this famous spot, but after we drove down the driveway to the Inn, we were greeted by ‘No admittance’ signs, so we had to turn around and get back on the main highway to leave Tofino. Tofino is really spread out and it took a good 20 minutes before we reached the turn, to take us through the windy, hilly road through the mountains back to civilization. There is NOTHING between Tofino/Ucluelet and Port Alberni.

We left Tofino at 10:20am after gassing up Jerry and we reached the Kennedy Hill upgrade area by 10:55am. We were greeted with a red light and the traffic was coming through from the other side, and we were not sure how long we would have to wait to get through this section of the highway.

After only 7 minutes of waiting at this light, the light turned yellow, which of course meant to proceed with caution. The amount of work they are doing on this road is really incredible! We still could not figure out how two lanes of cars were ever able to drive through this very narrow section of the highway.

On Tuesday March 23rd there will be all day blasting going on at the Kennedy Hill site. The Transportation Ministry describes the work as ‘one of the most complex blasts of the project’. The plan is to eventually have 2 full lanes for traffic and paved shoulders, including a roadside barrier along the lakeside of the highway. They are also trying to complete horizontal realignments to the highway to remove the shear blind corners, straightening the road and elimate the 30km/hr speed advisory curves. In addition vertical realignments are being completed to the highway to reduce the existing 12% grade along the hill, as well as rock slope stabilization and slope meshing to mitigate rock fall onto the highway, including a rock catchment ditch. The project which has a $38.1 million price tag has been jointly committed for the project by the Province of B.C. ($24.6million) and the Government of Canada ($13.5million).

As we reached the Sutton pass summit after going through the Kennedy Hill area, the temperature had dropped to +1C and the rain was turning to snow.

Highway 4 which is the longest east-west main vehicle route on Vancouver Island at 162 km, is locally known as the ‘Alberni Highway’ to the east of Port Alberni and the ‘Pacific Rim’ highway to the West. The second highest pass on the highway is the Sutton Pass at 240 metres or 790 feet and is named after William John Sutton who was a timberman geologist, mineralogist, assayer, surveyor, lecturer, explorer, pioneer and promoter of Vancouver Island. He was James Dunsmuirs personal geologist and in this role he trailed around B.C. looking for opportunities to expand the Dunsmuir empire.

Snow on the mountains between Tofino and Port Alberni

Snow on the mountains still as we drove from Tofino to Port Alberni.

Port Alberni summit at 411 meters. We thought about stopping in Port Alberni as it was lunchtime when we were driving through, but we remembered there was a Thai food restaurant we had not tried yet close to Coombs, so we kept on driving through Port Alberni.

McMillan Provincial Park and Cathedral Grove was still closed as we drove through it. It looks like I won’t be able to visit the old growth forest this trip unfortunately.

Smile, Thai Cuisine. An interesting way to have customers view the menu. Tape it with duct tape to the fence and laminate the menu!

We both got out of the car to look at the menu and decided that chicken pad Thai was what we both wanted for lunch.

Richard went in to order the chicken pad thai and we waited in the car for our order. When the order was ready, they brought the steaming hot order out to the car. We had been recommended this spot by our friend Ken from Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Club.

We decided rather than eating in Jerry we would drive home and eat lunch in Newman. Richard unloaded Jerry, while I put stuff away and then we stopped and had our very enjoyable,( but a bit too spicy at medium hot for me) lunch. We have an entire container of pad thai leftover which Richard will eat. As much as I like the spicy food, it doesn’t like me as much as it used to!

The weather has been pretty nasty today with blustery winds, +4C, rain and damp cold. I see from the weather network that Fort Erie hit a high of 17C today and I know that Bridgewater Country Club is open for golf. That must have been quite an enjoyable day everyone had golfing today back home. The weather is improving here with some days heading to double digits. The ‘La Nina’ winter on the Island has meant that there have been above average amounts of precipitation overall and slightly below average temperatures throughout January to March. Just our luck! Our only winter on the Island and its been colder and wetter than usual. We’re not complaining, we have enjoyed our time here and the time in Tofino, despite only seeing one good sunset, was lovely.

The next 10 days are definitely going to be busy for us as we wrap up our time on the Island and get ready to roll onto the ferry in Nanaimo on April 1st! It feels anticlimactic today that after such a great weekend away, we have to start thinking about leaving our little spot of paradise and all the adventures we’ve had during our time away. I’m sure we’ve still got lots of adventure ahead of us though as we make our way East this spring!

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