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Author Topic: Vancouver Island 2016  (Read 1487 times)


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Vancouver Island 2016
« on: August 21, 2016, 08:40:47 PM »
Greetings All, just got back from a two week adventure on Vancouver Island and thought I would share my thoughts.

1 ) Our route was Tsawwassen > Nanaimo > Telegraph Cove > Campbell River > Tofino > Victoria > Tsawwassen.

2 ) We used BC Ferries to cross, they are very good, the ferries are large and amenities are plentiful. We are 45' overall and the cost per trip was about $250.00 CAD. These are summer rates.

3 ) Be prepared for food to be EXPENSIVE! Cheese is about $10.00 CAD/ pound (a pound is 454 grams). Beef is obscenely expensive, and chicken runs about $6.00 CAD / pound.

4 ) Ice runs about $4.00 CAD for a 2.5kg bag (5lbs)

5 ) There are a few WalMart Supercenters on the island. We found the best price for food there.

6 ) Beer & Wine needs to be purchased at a state run store, thus prices are more expensive than in areas without state run stores.

7 ) This island is very big be prepared for long and mountain type driving.

Now for the locations where we stayed:

Telegraph Cove Marina and RV Park www.telegraphcove.ca - This park is nice for where it is, the sites are gravel and level. There is not any shade though on the northern end of the island it is not overtly hot. The road into the park is narrow and windy, though it is paved it is extremely bumpy. There is a 12% grade about 2/3 the way down the road into the cove. The office is located in the motel, DO NOT PULL INTO THE PARKING LOT! Otherwise you will get stuck and cannot get out easily. Pull into the park and seek out the campground host and they will direct you to your site and then you can go to the office to register. We had full hookups and were even able to catch a Dish Network Satellite. I did have to search for it manually but was amazed to find I could get it so far up north.

Telegraph Cove - This for me was the best part of the adventure, it is far north and closer to being in the wilderness than I have ever been (I have not been to Alaska yet). There is not much except for a small general store, and a couple of restaurants on the boardwalk around the cove. It is quaint and picturesque, the sunsets are amazing. There are Orcas that feed in the Johnstone Straight next to the cove, I was about to book a whale watching trip at $99 CAD/person when we had a pod show up just outside the marina entrance! It was very cool! With a little patience you will see Orcas, guaranteed. You need to also be aware that this is bear territory. There are some Grizzlies in the area, though I did not see them, I had a encounter with a mama and cub Black Bear early in the morning while walking our dog. They crossed in front of me not fifty feet away! Port McNeill and Port Hardy are nearby (30 - 50km). There you will find groceries and laundry there.

Brown's Bay Resort / Ripple Rock RV Park www.brownsbayresort.com - This park could be very good with a little work. Though it had some problems for us, others might like it. You REALLY need to be prepared with food and drink! The park is 4 1/2km down a steep gravel road! Go Slow and watch out for sport fishers, they tend to drive really fast up and down the road. There is not much in the way of grocery once you get down there. The sites are level and poured concrete. The utilities are on the right side, so if you are backing a trailer in you need to make sure you have extension cables & hoses. The septic connection is on the left, however the connection is about 3" below the surface so you will need to take off the sewer elbow on your hose and shove the hose into the hole, I'm not sure how they got away with this during the inspection process. The sites are narrow so be prepared for difficult maneuvering. There is cable TV with about 10 channels (our visit it was snowy, but that could be my extension cable). You can sit and watch the cruise ships go by and that is about all there is. Now for the really sucky part. WASPS! There is a fish packing plant here and there were a lot of meat wasps, the park people acknowledged the problem and attempted to rectify it but were too late to the game, they didn't manage this at all. Several of the campers were stung and my wife has a wasp allergy and was not able to leave the trailer. I also got stung. In the end this forced us to leave a day early. I am not sure we will go back there. It is pretty but I am not sure it has much value for it's difficulty in getting there or lack of services.

Campbell River - I can't say much, we were stuck in Brown's Bay. It does have a Walmart Supercenter and we shopped here before heading to Tofino.

Hwy 4 - Pacific Rim Highway. This is the only highway going over the hump to the west side of the island. This is a windy two lane highway and it suggested to not be in a hurry. It is good to not be in a hurry as the scenery is most picturesque.  There are a lot of grades on this highway ranging from 10 - 18%. The big 18% grade is near Kennedy Lake, be prepared because it is very steep and narrow!

China Creek Marina & Campground www.campchinacreek.com - We used this as a stop over and were surprised by it's remoteness. I used our GPS and Google Maps to come up with it as we left Brown's Bay a day early. The GPS (Garmin) sent us down to the port in Port Alberni. We called the campground and got directions. Again this is a campground you need to be prepared to go into, as it is 10km (4mi) down a gravel logging road. The grades aren't too bad. Once there the site was level and gravel. We only used water and power, I cannot say anything about septic. There is not cable. If you get a site by the marina there is a clear view for satellite.

Crystal Cove Resort www.crystalcove.ca - By far this was the nicest park we stayed at. They have free firewood (this was the only campground we could have a campfire in), free DVDs and the selection is good, and free Starbucks drip coffee! Yes, they have a barista on site. The sites are level gravel and very tiny! It takes a lot to get a rig into the campsite. The utilities are good, and the water tastes good. There is not any cable or satellite views. They really move them through check out is at 11am and they had other rigs appearing almost immediately. This turnaround can be troublesome in case of a emergency such as a breakdown, which happened to us. When we discussed the possibility of having to extend our stay until our truck could be repaired, their response was that they would have get someone to move us out onto the road (basically out of the park) because they were full and could not even move us to another slot. There is also not a towing company in the area capable of towing a fifth wheel. This is potential problem. For the volume of business that was coming through, they should have been able to accommodate having a couple of emergency open sites. They do not have a shuttle to town (Tofino, about 5km away)

Tofino - This is at the end of Highway 4 on the mid west coast of Vancouver Island. Thus, if you have a problem such as a breakdown, you are at the mercy of the remoteness. This was our problem. We suffered a alternator failure on a Saturday. We had to get the truck towed on a Sunday. The repair was ordered for Monday morning and they had to order another alternator from Nanaimo (200km to the east) and have it put on a bus and delivered. Had the part not been in stock there we would have been really stuck. I cannot praise enough Long Beach Automotive & Towing, www.longbeachauto.ca that got us repaired and back on the road. They really saved our butts! Other than that it is a little town that has some nice eateries and beaches nearby.

West Bay Marine Village www.westbay.bc.ca - This park is almost in the heart of Victoria, be prepared to be driving your rig through town to get here. The sites are small and compact. Be aware of high water pressure. It can climb up to 120psi at night. Electric is fine, but the cable TV is lacking. They say they have it but when I hooked up I was only able to get three channels. There is plenty of southern view so satellite reception is not a problem. The views of the harbor are spectacular. This is another park where you need to remove the sewer elbow from your hose and stuff the hose into the hole. They do not have the capability of having a secure sewer connection whatsoever. You can take a water taxi across the harbor and into town. If you manage to get a harbor side site be prepared to have people walk through your site to get a view. There are not many harbor viewing areas for sites not next to the harbor. 

Victoria - We did not see much other than Butchart Gardens and the Victoria Butterfly Park. We had a unfortunate turn of events and lost our dog during our visit here. McKenzie Veterinary Services (www.mckvets.com) was wonderful and compassionate.

As I said it was a adventure, not a vacation,     

Jim & Lesley Zoehrer
Birch Bay, WA USA
2000 Ford F-350 7.3Litre Diesel 4x4
2002 Keystone Cougar 245

Len and Jo

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Re: Vancouver Island 2016
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2016, 06:44:00 PM »
We toured Vancouver Island in 2011 and loved it.  A fantastic place.  Our only problem was it is so far from Michigan.

Thought Ripple Rock RV Park was the best one we stayed at.  We normally shun RV parks and stay in Provincial Parks, so it was a welcome change for us.  We were traveling in a B and the entrance road was a non-event to us.  We really liked seeing the cruise ships and their lights at night.


Also really liked touring Butchart Gardens

« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 09:23:46 PM by Len and Jo »
Len & Jo
The Green TARDIS
We 'B' RVing   Berkley, Michigan
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