From Highway 4, we join the north-south Highway 19 (opting for Highway 19A at this point) at Qualicum Beach. "Beach" is the operative word in this town's name as it is truly a beautiful public waterfront. Any city setting aside public space like Qualicum Beach has, is a jewel. All too often rivers, lakes, sounds and oceans are wrapped up in private ownership with public access, as well as views, denied to too many others. Who doesn't enjoy dipping one's toes in water and frolicking on a beach?
Heading up Vancouver Island is interesting as the road, especially Highway 19A, hugs the shoreline much of the way, or so it seems looking at a map. Yet it is a rare event to glimpse water, because even with the road so near the strait, the forest between the road and the water is view-blocking thick. From Qualicum Beach we didn't have great views of the water until we reached Campbell River, and here we happily discovered another town that celebrates it's waterfront. A very long stretch of waterfront has been preserved and enhanced for the public to enjoy -- and we did, especially Benton.
Leaving Campbell River, we found camping at Morton Lake Park, a charming spot in the woods with a perfect little swimming lake. Before pulling out the next morning we quite enjoyed a refreshing swim, washing off the travel dust as well at giving our bodies a cool, refreshing workout. A fellow camper suggested we stop for breakfast at Roberts Lake so, as we rarely do, we engaged in restaurant fare. A hearty tasty breakfast was served, much too huge, providing us with dinner as well.
From here, to the north of the island we are on Highway 19, and as hoped, the crowds have thinned. We don't next connect with the shoreline until Port McNeill and then Port Hardy, two towns knowing how to capitalize on their locations of beauty, facing Queen Charlotte Strait. The towns themselves are unassuming, but their shorelines are beautifully developed for people pleasure.
|Port McNeill, B.C.|
"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
~ Loran Eisely