On Friday morning we were having breakfast in the hotel (house made granola and sourdough toast for me, oatmeal and fruit for her) and the waitress asked what plans we had for the day. We said we intended to go into Victoria and mooch around there as we had visited this hotel twice before and never spent any time in BCs capital. She said that if we hadn’t done so before we really should visit Goldstream provincial park because this time of year was the salmon run. We’d witnessed one of these previously in Bella Coola but much earlier in the year so we changed our plans.
Being as I’m a man of a certain age within 15 mins of getting on the road I needed a wee. I can wait, I thought. I was wrong. We hit road works…twice, slowing us down and after about 30 mins I REALLY needed to stop. We found a service station and I jumped, out asked to use their bathroom and came out within huge smile on my face. Not sure what the person behind the counter thought but needs must. Point is, DON’T take advantage of the bottomless coffee at breakfast if you’re going out straight afterwards.
We arrived at the entrance to the park and saw a lot of cars. I mean a lot. As we drove in I thought we’d be turning around and going to Victoria after all but as luck would have it there was one disabled parking space at the end (or handicapped as it’s still called here. No idea why. Although Amanda and I call them spazzy spaces so we shouldn’t judge really). There were school buses lined up having disgorged their mini people, and families and couples there. Everyone had come to see the circle of life in operation. This was where the salmon had fought so hard to get to. Up from the sea. Over rapids and past hydro-electric dams, all the way to where the rivers become streams. Looking for the place they came from originally. They spawn and they die. In this particular place they didn’t have to fight far as the estuary was about half a mile away from this point, but this scene is replicated wherever salmon exist. The fish look like they’re literally falling apart by now. The seagulls wait, and sometimes they don’t, for the fish to finish what they’ve come to do before diving in and getting their fill of food. Bald eagles and bears also use this to fill up before winter. You can see some fish still battling to get upstream, you see some spawning and you see some dying. You also see the gulls tearing them apart. The smell wasn’t as bad here as it was in Bella Coola at least. There the stench was almost overpowering and there were no people just gulls, and so many fish you could almost walk across the river without getting your feet wet.
We did get to see a bald eagle sitting in the tree. Amanda saw a second flying around but I missed it. I’m guessing they’re waiting for the visitors to leave before they fill their bellies, the bears also.
One thing I have to say about the park is how brilliantly accessible it is. Wide, well kept paths, and disabled parking and toilets available. We can learn something here. It’s all very well nimbys getting on their high horse saying changing something will alter it to the detriment of the place itself but if it’s a ‘national’ park, for instance, isn’t that something to be enjoyed by the nation? This includes disabled people. Give us paths and ramps and step free access to places. Let’s all enjoy these places. So many times we’ve been somewhere and the paths are deep gravel so unsuitable for wheelchairs or the path goes so far and there 2 steps or even 1 step making it out of bounds. Truly it makes you feel second class.
Once we got back we dropped off our stuff, and took a walk to the nearest supermarket to get some milk. Canadians, like Americans, seem to think that if you drink either tea or coffee then a cream substitute is perfectly adequate. Let me tell you IT IS NOT. As a confirmed tea pot, cream (or non dairy whitener which is even worse) is shit. We got a litre of actual organic milk and returned with our precious cargo. Then went to the pub.
Saturday, Amanda wasn’t feeling too good so we made the decision to have a lazy day in the hotel. After breakfast, I watched Arsenal magnificently losing against the mighty Leicester and then I went for a walk to contemplate changing sports to follow. I did take some photos (check Instagram) and then came back and we watched Strictly on my laptop…and then Dublin Murders. Then we hit the pub. I should say that the pub is part of the hotel and is excellent. Great local beers and local food for local people. I’ve heard something similar before somewhere.
It’s now Sunday morning and we have 1 full day left here before we catch the ferry tomorrow to go back to Vancouver. We might go to Victoria or it could be Nanaimo, who knows? We just make it up as we go.