My friends know I can get a little obsessive, and fixate, when the opportunity for wordplay arises. “You see,” I said, “We’re putting the Orca in the Coho.” Ken nodded. The Orca – aside from being the much beloved Ocinus orca – is the nickname for Devon’s camper van. You know, large, black and white, and drives like a whale. And the Coho – aside from being one of the most plentiful and prized local salmon in the Pacific Northwest – is the name of the Black Ball Line’s ferry between Port Angeles and Victoria, B.C.

“It’s funny,” I persisted, “Because usually the coho goes in the orca, right? And we’re doing it the other way around.”

Ken nodded, but felt obligated to push back, just a little. “Well, usually they prefer steelhead, but I suppose they’ll eat a coho or two if they’re on hand.” My real friends know it’s okay to push back.

So we did that thing. Hot on the heels of our midwest adventurelet, Devon drove the Orca up to Port Townsend and the next morning, with me now in tow, out to Port Angeles to ride the Black Ball Line up to Canada for a week of kicking around Vancouver Island. It’s a mere 90 minute ride to that painfully adorable little gem of a city, and we were treated to a bonus non-orca whale encounter along the way: a humpback alongside the boat indulging in what marine biologists call “pec slapping” – repeatedly lifting one of their enormous pectoral fins to vertical above the water and bringing it down hard to create a massive splat and splash that would end any poolside water fight. I swear, the ship listed about five degrees in the whale’s direction with everyone scrambling to that side for photos.

Before heading out to the northern wilds of the island, we couldn’t resist parking downtown and spending the afternoon strolling. Starting with pie, of course, at my favorite pie place in the entire freaking world. Last October, when the Canadian border first opened for discretionary travel, I flew the Skyranger up to Victoria – it’s like a 20 minute flight, when the winds are favorable – for the express purpose of indulging myself at the Victoria Pie Company. It did not disappoint this time, either, nor did Victoria’s Chinatown, legendary bookstores and breathtakingly beautiful harbor.

Then as the sun slunk low in the midsummer sky, out around the Saanich Inlet to our first night’s campsite in Bamberton. We’ve got a night reserved near Tofino later in the week, but other than that we’re playing it by ear, planning/hoping to figure things out on the fly. I’ll keep y’all posted as time, attention and spotty internet coverage permit, okay?

6 responses to “North!

  1. Pablo, Thanks for the note on your sojourn to Victoria and Vancouver Island. That is one of Sheila and my favorite local trips. Don’t miss “High Tea” at the Empress Hotel. The Belle Époque style dining room is worth the visit alone. Also if you have not been there a visit to Butchart Gardens is memorable.


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