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There’s So Much to See at Home!

With amazing trips this year to Machu Picchu and then to Ireland, Wales and Scotland, 2017 was a great year for exploring our beautiful world. But our visit to Vancouver Island in September was right up there with the others, reminding us that we don’t have to go far to see amazing beauty.

mountains at sunset, coastal BC
Travelling in our camper van, the first evening offered this view from the beach. We were just north of Nanaimo and so thankful for the welcome gift. Beautiful coastal BC at its best.
Gulls on the beach
A walk along the beach kept my camera busy.
bird on the beach
A female common merganser poses for my camera.
Orcas in the ocean
From Campbell River, a boat tour through the Salish Sea was teeming with life. With calm waters in protected straits, the Orcas cruised playfully by …
Orcas of BC
… and seemed happy to put on a playful show for an appreciative audience.
Grizzly bear eating salmon
The salmon extravaganza brought bears, birds and people to catch the amazing action. There are no Grizzly bears on Vancouver Island. The boat took us from Campbell River to Bute Inlet, on the mainland.
Grizzly bear scratches belly.
Nothing like a good scratch after a big snack.
two bears confront each other
Oh oh, two big boys face off. What’s gonna happen next?
two bears chase one salmon
“I’m outa here!”, decides this guy, “Go and find your own fish!”
Bear running with salmon through river
The bears can move pretty fast when they need to.
Two bears fighting
“Aw, come on. Let’s rumble!”
two grizzlies fight
“OK, you asked for it!”
Two bears nuzzle.
“Come on, just a little kiss, please!”
huge tunnel through entangled trees
Saying goodbye to the marine wildlife, we ventured north to San Josef Bay, part of Cape Scott Provincial Park. The rainforests of Vancouver Island are legendary but not too much for this muscle woman!
deserted beach
The trail through the forest soon opened up to reveal a pristine beach with infinite fine sand.
caves on the beach
With caves to explore, there was much to see on the beaches.
small islands dot the coast of British Columbia
But we had to keep an eye on the tides because it’s easy to be stranded by the incoming water.
tide running in
The tides flow quickly.
large sandy beaches of San Josef Bay
With the daily massage of tidal action, the beaches of San Josef Bay are smooth and flat.
Cormorant Island is home to Alert Bay, a First Nations community. Home of the world famous U’Mista Cultural Centre, we enjoyed several hours here. A highlight was this scene that appeared before us.
mountain scene
The Coast Mountains add incredible beauty to Vancouver Island every day. This is from the eastern side of Cormorant Island, looking to the mainland as the sun sets.
Humpback whale trap fishing
In the waters near Telegraph Cove, the Humpback whales, by all accounts, are increasing in number every year. This one is “trap fishing”. The whale floats like this in the water for several minutes, filling his giant trap with the herring that are schooling around him. The gulls flying overhead are also looking for a meal.
A group of male Sea Lions.
Sea Lions thrive on our coast. This is a group of males, lazily hanging out, wait for the females to finish their task of raising the young. Such a life!
sea lions hauling out
The sea lions seem friendly but a close look reveals deep scars in their blubber from territorial battles.
stellar sea lions on watch
Any closer and you might smell his breath.
great blue heron in the ocean shore.
A Great Blue Heron, at home on the sea coast.
cruise ship under mist.
On our final night of the trip, a cruise ship slips by, under cover of stars and mist.
stars turn over the waters of Vancouver Island
The mist swirled around us as the stars watched. A lone tree on the rocks is the witness to the beauty of the land. What a perfect way to end our trip to Vancouver Island. And there’s so much more to see.


About the photography

Grizzly bear in river.

This fellow seemed to be checking us out with his sensitive olfactories.

To get the images of the bears (and most of the other wildlife), I used a Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 lens on a D500 camera. This is an amazing lens, allowing for very sharp images and, with Vibration Reduction, can be used effectively in low light. A tripod was not used for most of the wildlife pictures. Since the D500 has a cropped sensor, I had an effective focal length of about 700 mm. Occasionally, if a bear or whale wandered into close range, the lens was too long to include the whole animal.

The bears were photographed from a safe distance in viewing platforms protected by a high fence. Even when they did seem to notice us, they paid no attention, with all that food at their feet. Our tour from Campbell River with Eagle Eye Adventures took us to Bute Inlet, where the Homalco First Nation guided us to the viewing platforms.

I would highly recommend this trip!

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