So let me paint you a picture of the morning we left for Vancouver.
Everything was packed, the boys got up, dressed and packed their last minute bits and we were out of the house by 5:30am! Impressed were we, it was all going very smoothly we had time to spare and then some. Mike drops the ferals and I, including all the luggage, off at the Amtrak station in Seattle and shoots off to drop the Hertz hire car to he ‘nearest’ location. Brilliant.
I go in and queue up ready to check in baggage, by 6:30 i’m at the desk getting our tickets printed and weighing our bags, although I knew it would be fine as being the prepared adults we were I had already weighed the bags and made sure we were just a smudge underweight.
This is were we run into the first bit of bother. BOTH cases were over weight! WHAT! but I checked! OK that’s Ok we just have to ‘re-arrange’, so the lady tells us. So with 3 kids in tow, no husband and a queue out the door of onlookers I get out a few things that will make a difference and keep checking the weight on the scales that have been left over for us. In the meantime the ferals were laying on the floor twirling up in a big blanket I had pulled out and wrapped themselves inside whilst another feral randomly smacked the other through the blanket hoping to get a good hit in the face. This was keeping them relatively quite so I left them to it.
I eventually get it sorted and it didn’t seem like I actually had to remove a lot, which made me think the scales were slightly off at the till, but hey I wasn’t gonna argue. Most of this time I had expected to see Mike stroll in, yet he didn’t. So on checking my phone I had several missed calls and another connecting through. There was an hysterical husband on the phone, shouting how screwed we were because Hertz wouldn’t take the Hire car back at the proposed drop off point we had arrange 2 days before and confirmed. Flat out refused because the Car they hired to us didn’t fit their garage. YEP! Nice one. By this time Mike had com back to the station as the next drop off was over 45 minutes away in rush hour traffic, and we would miss our train.
The call to Hertz was a farce with customer services not understanding, and shoving the call through to Road side assistance taking 50 minutes roughly we had missed the train. Road side were Ok, but ultimately it was Mike who managed to find out through asking a ridiculous amount of questions that there was in fact a drop off point 10 minutes down the road. Regardless we had missed our train and had hysterical children. After a few minutes of total manic panic, we calmed ourselves managed to get our tickets transferred to a Bus ride into Vancouver (thanks to the lovely lady at Amtrak). Luckily we held off on putting our bags at checking, returned the car, mike jogging back and had a 3 hour wait for our bus.
Once on the bus (coach) it was a really smooth ride, super comfy and was actually quicker than the train. A quick stop off at customs and a taxi ride to the hotel. Ah time to check in, grab some dinner and get some shut eye! OR WAS IT? No of course not, it was clearly time to tell us that booking.com keeps screwing up and had tried to contact us to say that we couldn’t have 5 people in the 4 person room we booked, which we specified we needed for 2 adults and 3 kids and actual ages. Of course, fire procedures don’t allow it, and we NEEDED to pay another 270 dollars fo another room. After all they had tried to call a whole 20 minutes before check in! After being on the phone AGAIN for a fair while and waiting, we managed to get to someone who has promised to reimburse us for their mistake if we send through the invoice.
We ended the day on grabbing some dinner, after picking up another hire car (which the ferals think is a car from MIB) and heading straight to bed in separate rooms for the first time in years, if ever.
We have been travelling for 2 months and have had 3 hire cars, several air bnb’s and haven’t encountered a problem till we used these bigger companies. It will be interesting whether we have the desired out comes. I’m sure its going to take few weeks to reply to our complaints. All in all that was a lesson learned, and the kids dealt with it all extremely well!
With that out the way we made our way to Port Alice! An easy ferry ride and a 5 hour drive up the beautiful highway 19 all the way in North Vancouver Island. It was beautiful! Port Alice was a cute little town with a population of around 400 people. The scenery was incredible. Alas we saw no bears! BOOO!
The main thing we wanted to do was whale watching. I had done some research and found that we were most likely to see a better variety of marine life in the North of the Island. So with that we booked up a morning tour with Stubbs Island Tours in telegraph Cove.
This has got to be one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. The crew was amazing with 3 members on board including a marine biologist we had a great team of enthusiastic experts leading us to the waters. Within the First 20 minutes we saw a humpback whale, and after that it was just one thing after another. After stopping short time to watch the Humpback the skipper heard a pod of Orca’s was close by and sped towards to action.
Holy shitballs. A pod consisting of 2 different families were swimming together and swam right past the front of our boat! The Marine Biologist had been keeping an eye out for all the marking on each Orca and humpback and was continuously updating us on who’s who and how the family works as a group. To top that moment off they dropped the mic and we heard them communicating to each other!! Each family has a different dialect (that’s how they avoid inbreeding) and can recognize family through this. There were no words to describe this moment. All ferals sat in awe as they watched these creatures cruise passed in their natural environment, with a new calf born this year!
During the 3 hour tour we witnessed 3 different Humpback whales, a pod of approx 15 Orcas, stella sealion, multiple seals with pups, white sided dolphin, porpoise, fawn eating kelp, and a nest of Bald Eagle Chicks. I cannot tell you how inspiring and exhilarating this trip was! We were also so busy being in the moment we took minimal photo’s. (youtube coming soon with vids).
The rest of our time in Port Alice we spent chilling out in the unplugged beauty, taking a few Hikes in the cleanest air we have ever breathed, mike going for a run every day, taking a dip in marble river and a daily walk up the shoreline where the pacific ocean Inlet offers lots of jellyfish and crabs to find!
We would highly recommend going to the North of the Island and will definitely be returning one day! Our trip back we whizzed through making it back to Nanaimo dock early enough to catch an earlier ferry! we have spent today chilling out before starting another leg of driving and eventually ending up in Banff and Calgary! The much needed rest has been welcomed by the ferals who have all come down with a cold!