Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < Ucluelet    11 September to Pt Roberts, WA >

Ucluelet 10 September 2019

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Our boat trip to the Broken Group islands got delayed by fog in Barkley Sound, and so we got off to a slow start.

Not many words today, and disappointingly few pictures given what we saw today. More or less in order:

  • Black Bear (4 total, a lone bear and a mother with 2 cubs)
  • jumping Salmon
  • Bald Eagle (2 close up, 1 in flight) 
  • many Great Blue Herons (they're shy)
  • California Sea Lions, Stellar Sea Lions, Fur Seals
  • Sea Otter
  • Grey Whale right beside our boat, 4 tails-up dives!
  • numerous birds (Kingfishers, Crows, Ravens)

The Broken Group is a unit of Pacific Rim National Park, and an unspoiled treasure.

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Barely out of harbor  (sorry) and across the inlet, and there was a bear.

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<p>Still in the inlet, and a Bald...

Still in the inlet, and a Bald Eagle and a Great Blue Heron. At right, where we're staying, with the peaked roof; we're on top second from the left.

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A Grey Whale played with us, coming amazingly close, and getting everyone excited. He (or she) was probably bottom feeding, and  came up beside the boat, took a couple of deep breaths, and then dove, tail up. We idled here and watched the small group of sea otters (no good pictures; they were in among the Bull Kelp and practically indistinguishable) while we awaited the Whale's next appearance.

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I missed the Whale tail almost every time, and that (of course) was what I really wanted to catch, it being a rarity for Greys to dive “tail up.” The photography was, naturally, very difficult because in almost every case (except the Whale) was at the extreme limit of my little camera's ability to zoom, and so getting it pointed correctly in the moment was chancy. And then, I was too busy experiencing, taking mind pictures, while shooting camera picture as an afterthought.

On the right, our boat, with out hosts and captains Toddy and Al at the wheel. Amazing guides, patient and sharp-eyed. Their business, Archipelago Wildlife Tours, is absolutely the best I've ever experienced.

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As I noted, we delayed our departure for two hours in hopes the fog would lift. It didn't at first, lending a mysterious quality to the seeing. I'm sure it made the wildlife more available ...and then the fog lifted as we came into the Broken Group, anchored in a favored little cove, and were served a gourmet lunch prepared by a local chef. I'm afraid I forgot to take a picture until I was well into my Salmon.

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All along the way, Al and Toddy narrated and enthused. Al was full of lore about the area – this is the boundary rock that's delineated the boundary between two First Peoples tribes since time out of mind. Toddy babbled bilingually (German being her first language and six of our boat mates being German), in particular about how special our close encounter with the Grey Whale was.

Five and a half hours after leaving, we were back in harbour after a surprisingly smooth and wildlife-filled cruise. Time to get ready for dinner. 

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We had asked around and the consensus was that the nicest special occasion restaurant in Ucluelet, and possibly one of Canada's ten best new restaurants, was Pluvio, so obviously we needed to eat there.

Fascinating menu, not long, but studded with interesting choices. After a delicate amuse bouche of Okanagan Prune-plums with gomasio and crispy crackers and trout roe, we chose the Crab, Pickled Carrot, and gently sautéed Apple Lettuce Wrap, served with a little bottle of gentle hot sauce and house made aioli, the Shar Sui Pork Belly with Scallops, more sautéed Apple, and gently steamed vegetables (served by the chef, who explained the preparation and that he couldn't serve the proteins without the crunchy vegetables as relief.) Wow!


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Forgot to mention, there on the lower right, a wonderful Mille feuille with house made coconut-based vanilla ice cream. I'm writing 17 days later, and I confess that the really memorable dish was the one served in a crab shell on a plate of pebbles: the lettuce wrap.

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