Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Trees

Canada has no shortage of trees (their finest rock band, Rush, even sang a song about them), but the locals still campaign hard to keep the loggers at bay from those they think are special. Which includes those on today's kayaking destination, Meares Island (7 km by kayak from Tofino, where we're staying). Apparently loggers had the whole place in their sights, but a groundbreaking 1980s campaign dissuaded them and was the start of a far greater emphasis on conservation. The benefits can be seen everywhere; Bald Eagles are common as muck, and this has been the finest year for salmon fishing that anyone here can remember.

It's ironic that one of the trees the conservationsists were trying to preserve was the Sitka Spruce, a native of western Canada, but better known in Scotland as the centrepiece of lots of ugly forestry. Even there the worst excesses are in the past, but I don't see anyone mounting campaigns to save them, as they're doing here!

With no human interference, Meares Island is covered in thick temperate rain forest. Not ideal walking territory, potentially rather harder than kayaking in fact, even though today was my first attempt at the latter since my teens. There were some alarming thunderclaps while we were out on the water, but the local sounds, channels and inlets were all flat and still except for motorboat wakes, and you would have to paddle appallingly to capsize the kayaks. Even Alan managed to stay dry.

Talking of intrepid sailors, I also had another encounter with my old pal Captain Cook in Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island. Yet another coastline he touched on his travels, and everywhere he visited seems impelled to raise a statue to him.

2 more nights here, 2 more nights somewhere between here and Vancouver (we haven't yet decided where), 3 more nights in The World's Most Livable City (per this year's survey in the Economist) and then home. Whether I want to be returning to a country that can concede 4 goals to Norway is a question I'm still pondering.

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