The next morning we head west to the ocean and the towns of Ucluelet and Tofino, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Highway 4, the only southern road headed west to the ocean, is beautiful. Clear river views with lots of swimming holes, lakes, rock cliffs, forests and pristine mountains enchanted us.
At our destination, the small, slow, sleepy towns we expected, and knew from the past, are no longer slow and sleepy. Huge crowds of people were everywhere and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper. No vacancy signs were posted on the entrances to all campgrounds, motels, and hotels. Restaurants had lines spilling out onto the streets. Cute little shops were filled with lure-the-tourist trinkets (garage sale fodder, as one friend has labeled them). We found ourselves in shock and a bit overwhelmed on this very hot day. Looking at each other, we saw a run-for-sanity look in one another's eyes. Living in a tourist town leaves us less willing to tolerate them when we're on holiday.
A short hike on the Wild Pacific Trail, convinced us we should revisit again sometime soon, but off season. The trail we sampled is beautiful, hugging the shores and cliffs of the Pacific Ocean as it winds its way through old intact forests, along sandy beaches, and across rocky tide pools. It even offers teasing views of whales not far off shore. A barefoot walk on Long Beach spun magic as well, with its long stretch of beautiful fine, white sand, stretching almost as far as we could see. Without a question, we must return, but only after the August holiday masses return home.
We really do love people. We just love them in small doses not in frantic demanding tourist scenes. Tomorrow we will head north and hope, as the road narrows, the crowds thin.
"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but Nature more"
~ George Gordon Byron