Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gullible's Travels: Day Four

Boat ride Port Alberni to Bamfield, BC

Port Alberni, BC with Mt. Arrowsmith

The Voyageur
The Hostess with the Mostess Hilary

Hilary and I departed Fanny Bay at 6:30 AM. We drove south past Nanaimo and the took a mountain highway over the hump of the island to Port Alberni where we caught the Frances Barkley for the four hour ride down the Alberni Inlet to Bamfield on the Pacific Ocean.
Frances Barkley

Our Scottish captain was most accommodating in pointing out various  landmarks including a secluded cove in the wilderness owned by "a church in Michigan"!  Some very wealthy person owns the $6 million property and arrives at the dock in a Cadillac Escalade to pick up groups of church officials and children for camping in the summer. I assured him it was not our church!

We made a number of stops to drop people off and to visit the only floating post office in Canada at Kildonan, BC. The postmistress has served there for 32 years. A few weeks ago her husband shot two cougars trying to kill his dogs...on his front porch!  (For the record, Google Maps is wrong.  It shows the post office inland when it is actually in the river and not back up the mountain the woods as show on Google Maps. I let them know!)

One of our passengers was the owner of a dive shop in the wilderness not far from where the inlet opens into the wide Pacific. He told us that this sea, far from being a frigid barrenness, is a temperate sea that is teaming with all sorts of aquatic life including a number of variety of whales, sea lions and colorful sea life.  For the fishermen in my family the whole inlet is one of the premier places in the world for sport salmon fishing.
The banks are lined in certain remote areas with RV trailers that have been hauled in over the logging roads and serve as summer camps for fishing.  There are also pockets of massive summer "cottages" (if that is what you can call a chalet with three stories and two decks in the middle of nowhere.  All the supplies have to be brought down the inlet on the Frances Barkley and dropped at strategic places.  

It might also be mentioned that the good ship Frances Barkely also provides the valuable service of hauling  garbage back out to Port Alberni for recycling and disposal. (I love the general sense of cleanliness I see all over Canada.)  Propane powers a lot of household utilities like dryers while lumber in abundant supply seems to be the main method of heating except for the floating cottages, for obvious reasons.  Solar power can be seen in a lot of places along with satellite dishes and our friend from the remote dive shop was trying to figure out how to bring in a wind-powered electrical system.

Bamfield, BC Landing
At the end of the out-bound journey we arrived at the settlement of Bamfield, BC.  It is home to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center, a major marine biology research center created by a Canadian philanthropist.  One of the buildings on the compound of the BMSC is the original Trans-Pacific telegraph line that was laid to Hawaii and then to Australia in the early 1900's.
RHIOT Training Team
A group of 11th graders road down the inlet with us and disembarked at the MBSC for an overnight stay as part of their course work!  How would you like that for a field trip?

Bamfield is also the home of Canadian Coast Guard´s specialized Rigid Hull Inflatable Operator Training or RHIOT School.  According to one old wag we talked with, everyone from Canadian Special Forces to our Delta Forces and European elite troops get their intense training here.  One of the classes was coming back into the harbor just as we were docking.

Approaching Bamfield
From the boardwalk back toward ship

Boardwalk lines the harbor.

Bamfield is a remarkable and quaint village that is primarily made up of houses along the boardwalk that borders the harbor.  The houses are generally really well kept and are the summer homes to the super wealthy (think extremely remote, beautiful and quiet).
$135,000 Interested?

One old shack had a for sale sign so we asked what the going price was and one of the residents (about 100 in the off season) said that the hovel was worth around $135,000.  Think what it would cost to completely rebuild in this remote outpost and you are looking at a summer cottage worth about $250,000 in the end.  I'll stick with a couple of nights at the local BandB with Ginny!

The trip back was even prettier than the outbound because the sun came out in full and produced a great place for a lovely warm nap on the after deck as well as sightseeing  the rugged shore.
Pick up mid-river.  Driver owns dive camp
We even picked up one of our passengers in mid-river.  She was the house sitter for our friend the dive shop owner.  

Unloading Dumpster!
Once back in the harbor the Frances Barkley deposited its precious if smelly cargo and we headed back across the mountains to Nanaimo and then north along the shore for an hour to home. Along the was we got to see the second highest peak on the island Mt. Arrowsmith which is visible from Port Alberni.  The highest peak called the Golden Hind (around 7,000 ft.) is north of us here.

Time to call is a night.  Hope you are all enjoying these rambles and pictures.  Ginny, the only thing that would be better would be to share all this beauty and these adventures with you.  Thanks again to Beth for making this possible and to Hilary and Bruce for all they are doing to make this one of the most memorable trips of my life.
Bamfield Marine Research Center and Old Telegraph building (center white)  
Approaching Bamfield Dock
Log "boom" or raft of cut and peeled logs awaiting float to mills in Port Alberni
Drop off dive shop owner and pick up trash!
Floating "cottage" for sports fishing.
Nice breakfast and lunch served on board.
Flying the colors on the Alberni Inslet on the way home.
Mt. Arrowsmith behind Port Alberni


Beth said...

What a paradise! James would love fishing!

About SISTAHS: said...

Looks like you got a beautiful day for a boat trip (it's been raining incessantly here :-)although I must admit to feeling a bit sea-sick just looking at some of the photos, LOL! Love you and miss you~

♥mary♥ said...

The photos are awesome and I am sure do not do justice to the real deal, up close and personal. Looks like the weather is cooperating. You are making some wonderful memories. Be blessed!

Ginny Braun said...

Wow! I know you're loving every minutes. I'm with Lynn about the seasickness. Boats are not for me. It's hard to imagine people living in such remote spots and in such a different way. Very interesting! Love the photos. They are beautiful. A friend reminded me that over half of your trip is over now so I can begin looking forward to your return. Miss you! Love, Ginny