My mom, brother, dog and I left for Campbell River
early in the morning. We took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, then drove about an hour and a half to two hours to Campbell River. I had visited my aunt once before when she was living in the nearby town of Comox
, but with her habit of moving every two years, it's hard to keep up with her current postal code. She's been living in Campbell River for almost two years, and as history goes, it should be time to move soon. Despite having a gorgeous view of the water from her house, she's fixing up her resume as we speak.
We got into Campbell River around lunchtime, and it being Sunday, my aunt wasn't working so she took us out for lunch at a local restaurant called Dick's fish and chips.
Campbell River is a big tourist town, it's biggest attraction being fishing. The docks are lined with seafood restaurants (some a little more fishy than others...), but Dick's fish and chips was particularly good. It's the kind of place where you're getting more than you ordered. One piece of fish means two pieces and two means three.
It was turning out to be a beautiful day, so after lunch, we walked down the boardwalk by the water towards the historic Discovery Pier. The town has a large native american community and beautifully carved totem poles and wood carvings line the path along the water. We also walked in the other direction towards the cruise ship terminal. If you've ever been on an Alaskan cruise, you've probably gone past Campbell River. You may not have noticed it, but due to its being set on a hill, the nightime view of the city is a beautiful thing.
Only one cruise line actually stops in Campbell River, but when that one ship does, it's quite the affair with Native dancers greeting the passengers and arts and crafts for sale. From my aunt's house you can see the cruise ships sail by the passage at night, their bright lights and sheer size of the ships make them hard to miss as they float by in the night.
Later in the afternoon, my aunt took us to Elk Falls, a provincial park only about 10 or 15 minutes away. There are many trails in the park and a nice 40 minute loop that you can walk, but we just went straight to falls to take a look. Before we got to the trail, however, we ran into a BC parks rep who had to warn everyone of cougars in the area. This is where we meet the cougar stick. The woman gave us a talk about how there had been cougar sightings lately in the park and advised us on how to act if you do see a cougar.
She also mentioned that cougar's don't react well to pain. If one starts to come at you, tap it on it's nose with something like a stick and it'll probably run away. This is when I learned that apparently my mom is pretty scared of cougars. When the woman was done talking she poked my brother and I, "I don't see any sticks lying around. I think there's an umbrella in the car. Go get it! It's steel!" At our refusal to carry around an umbrella for protection, we started our walk to the waterfall. 10 metres later, my mom picked up a giant stick, and keep her eye open for those cougars. We didn't see any cougars, but we did see the waterfall. There's a nice viewpoint that gives a great view of the falls with a rainbow in front.
That night we went out for dinner at a restaurant at April Point. You can get there by taking a free water taxi from Painter's Lodge to Quadra Island. It's a nice trip and makes for a good short excursion for dinner.