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A BC Favorite Place


We had two weeks off this summer and my parents were out of the country so we had to find things to do.  We decided to go camping at Miracle Beach for eight days and then drive up to Port McNeill for the following four.  I have been Port McNeill a number of times - My first visit was in 2001 as part of a Kayaking Trip and visit to Alert Bay.  I visited again in 2004 with Eric to go bear watching, whale watching and visit Alert Bay, once in 2009 with Helen to go to Sointula and whale watching.  This is my first visit after having kids and I wanted to show them some of the things I enjoy about the area.

Drive Up: Little Huson Caves

Nara Waiting Before Hike
Our first stop is a place I have never been to before - Little Huson Caves.  These caves are about 8km off the highway on the drive up.  Lots of the North coast is made of limestone which is prone to making caves and these caves are huge and accessible.  We parked and took the trail down to the river where you can see the river emerge from the cave.

River Exiting CaveLedge Inside Cave

Walking Toward Cave Entrance

River Taking Long Route Around IslandSculpted Rocks At Cave Mouth

Light Colored RiverCanyon Above Cave
 
Ferns Growing In Colapsed RocksWalking On Boardwalk In Forest

Day 1: Whale Watching

Our first day of activity almost didn't happen.  I had a hard time booking things (I couldn't find my third day) so I wanted the option to swap the "third day" with whale watching.  Whale watching left every morning so I figured we would go down to the office and book once we knew the plan.  We got to the office and they were booked full!  No trip for us!

One of the families reserved on the trip was coming up from Comox and were a no show - apparently they ran into car trouble.  We waited until just before go time and then got their spots!  There was so little time, we paid for the trip after we got back.  The captain made fun of us for being late - not realizing we were the backup guests.

Young Orca And CoastlineYoung Orca With Mom

Watching Orca From The Boat

Sea Lions Climbing Up RocksMales Females And Pups On Rock

 
Whale watching gets back to shore around 3pm so we had enough time to jam in another experience - we drove over to telegraph cove.  Telegraph cove is in my mind a tourist trap - paid parking, lots of "fee" activities and everything belongs to the same company.  The old buildings are nice to see and well maintained, but it definitely seems like a company town.
 
Kids With Old TruckYellow-rumped Warbler On FenceWalking On Boardwalk To Museum

 
The reason I have visited several times is to visit the Whale Interpretive Centre - a building at the end of the dock full of skeletons of various kinds of whales.  They have figured out how to get dead specimen and then strip their bones using the creatures in the ocean underneath the museum. 

Orca And Humpback SkeletonsKids With Fin WhaleKids Under Orca Skeleton

Fin Whale Spine At Eye Level

Day 2: Bike Riding Alert Bay!

Bikes Loaded On Ferry
Day 2 - not many reservations needed here!  We weren't sure what the weather was going to be like and at the last minute we decided to ride our bikes down to the ferry.  I have an "Experience" card for BC ferries that got us discount fares and free bikes.  We were the only bikes to roll onto the ferry.  The ferry to Alert bay takes about 45 minutes.


Face In Totem Pole
Our first stop was the U'mista Cultural Centre - a museum for old masks, but also a good sized store for local art and a space for exhibits of more recent work and stores.  The Masks are presented in a small scale big house and the culture center part is attached. 

Ocean Side Of Museum

The next set of photos I found really troubling.  What is cultural appropriation?  Is it appropriate for my kids to dress up like they are from another culture?  I'm defining cultural appropriation and taking another culture without permission.  The cultural center part has a kids focused exhibit where there are various clothing items and accessories and encourages kids to get dressed and try them on.  The kids were really into it, but I wonder how the images will be interpreted.  After getting dressed, the kids read and drew for a while.

Claira Dressed In BlanketNara Dressed In BlanketNara Working On Art

The weather got nicer so we rode our bikes into town (out of the reserve part) to have lunch and see more of the island.  The kids love riding their bikes and the traffic here is slow so we had a good time.

Nara Riding Past SignClaira Biking Past Mural
 
Riding Past StoreRiding Through TownAlert Bay Hotel
Nimpkish Hotel

We visited the 'Namgis Burial Grounds past downtown to look at the totem poles.  These poles commemorate people who have died so they ask you to stay off the grass and observe from the road.

Weathered HalibutNew Pole With Weathered Poles Behind

Looking At Burrial GroundsFallen Pole



  Entering Big House
In the afternoon the T'sasata Cultural Group puts on a performance in the big house.   This is mostly dancing in costume with music and story telling.  A hereditary chief greeted every person that came through the door and the woman running the program explained the photo situation - you are welcome to take photos and share them on facebook and instagram.  Don't forget to like us on TripAdvisor.  Alert Bay is an out of the way destination - people only come because they have heard good things from other travelers.
Big House

During a pot latch (which lasts days), there would be hours of dancing.  Each dance tells a story or send a message and many of the dances aren't shared with the public.  The dances shown are short segments of a large program designed to give you a taste of the full pot latch experience.  The context of each dance was explained, often with funny stories.

Weather DanceWild Boys DancingDancing With Blankets

Whisker And Mink Headdresses
The people dancing are generally local, but some do have family off the island.  Many of the dancers are kids and this is way of maintaining traditions and connecting across generations. 

Raven DanceOrca Mask

 
  Waiting For Ferry Back
The weather cooperated so our last bike riding was in the warm sun.  We had a great day on the island!

Day 3: Sea Otter Watching in Quatsino Sound

Kids Watching Rainbow
I had a hard time finding a day three activity.   Bear watching is an option, but the trips required kids to be older than 7, unless you were willing to rent the whole boat (expensive).  My fall back was a trip to Sointula, but I did that on my last trip up.  We asked at the Info Center and they suggested we call Sea Otter Eco Tours.  They are a small company run out of Port Alice on the other side of the Island. I've never been to Port Alice so away we went!


The tour is a one man operation - George met us at the dock (with parking included!) and showed us the boat.  We were joined by one other guest and Georges small dog which the kids loved.  We left the dock and motored into Quatsino sound.  I've seen Sea Otters while visiting Winter Harbour so I had some idea what to look for.  George of course knew exactly where to go.

Baby Sea Otter NursingThree Sea Otters Together

It is pupping season so many of the Moms had babies sitting on their stomachs.  The babies look quite similar to the adults, just smaller. 

Bald Eagle With Wet Head
We also saw Eagles hanging out.  From what I understand the eagles are looking for unattended baby sea otters which an eagle can carry away.  The moms need to eat so I wonder what happens to the babies when mom goes down to find food.

Bald Eagle With Trees BehindBald Eagle On Rock


Harbour Seal On Low Rock
On the rocks you also see Harbour Seals resting.  Many of these are just a short roll away from the ocean, but I suspect it's easier to sleep on a rock than it is to sleep floating in the ocean.  The seal really didn't care that our boat was there - the would look up at us, but we didn't see one go into the ocean to swim away.

Harbour Seal Looking At UsHalf Dry Seal Watching Us

The rain was getting harder and people were hungry so we pulled into a small marina so George could setup lunch. 

Holberg Yacht ClubRamp To DockThimbleberries In The Rain
 
Mom Carrying Baby In RainSleeping Baby

Mom Grooming While Baby NursingMom Swimming With BabyFamily Resting On Rocks
 
Nara In The Back Of Boat
 
 
 
 


Baby Sea Otter Nursing
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: baby, marine mammal
Canyon Above Cave
Altitude: 103m (337 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: canyon, HDR, river
Walking On Boardwalk To Museum
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Thimbleberries In The Rain
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira Dressed In Blanket
Person: Claira
Tags: costume
Entering Big House
Altitude: 24m (78 feet)
Location: Go To...
Wild Boys Dancing
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
River Exiting Cave
Altitude: 102m (334 feet)
Location: Go To...
Waiting For Ferry Back
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Dancing With Blankets
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Mom Swimming With Baby
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kids With Fin Whale
Person: Claira, Nara
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal, Museum, skeleton
Fallen Pole
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Bald Eagle With Wet Head
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Location: Go To...
Fin Whale Spine At Eye Level
Location: Go To...
Ramp To Dock
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sculpted Rocks At Cave Mouth
Altitude: 99m (324 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sleeping Baby
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Looking At Burrial Grounds
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Orca And Humpback Skeletons
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal, Museum, skeleton
Bikes Loaded On Ferry
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara Dressed In Blanket
Person: Nara
Tags: costume
Weathered Halibut
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira Biking Past Mural
Person: Claira
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: biking, mural
Alert Bay Hotel
Location: Go To...
Ocean Side Of Museum
Altitude: 14m (45 feet)
Location: Go To...
Kids Under Orca Skeleton
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal, Museum, skeleton, whale
Whisker And Mink Headdresses
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Young Orca With Mom
Species: Orcinus orca (killer whale, orca)
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal
Watching Orca From The Boat
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Walking Toward Cave Entrance
Altitude: 92m (301 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara Riding Past Sign
Bald Eagle On Rock
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Riding Through Town
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Big House
Altitude: 24m (78 feet)
Location: Go To...
Riding Past Store
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara Working On Art
Nara In The Back Of Boat
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Harbour Seal On Low Rock
Species: Phoca vitulina (Harbor Seal)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
New Pole With Weathered Poles Behind
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Holberg Yacht Club
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Sea Lions Climbing Up Rocks
Species: Eumetopias jubatus (northern sea lion, steller sea lion)
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal
Nimpkish Hotel
Location: Go To...
Kids Watching Rainbow
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Young Orca And Coastline
Species: Orcinus orca (killer whale, orca)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal
Ledge Inside Cave
Bald Eagle With Trees Behind
Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle)
Altitude: 7m (22 feet)
Location: Go To...
Mom Grooming While Baby Nursing
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Mom Carrying Baby In Rain
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Three Sea Otters Together
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Face In Totem Pole
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Males Females And Pups On Rock
Species: Eumetopias jubatus (northern sea lion, steller sea lion)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal
Half Dry Seal Watching Us
Species: Phoca vitulina (Harbor Seal)
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Light Colored River
Altitude: 99m (324 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cave, HDR, river
Kids With Old Truck
Person: Claira, Nara
Location: Go To...
Tags: corrosion, derelict, truck
Nara Waiting Before Hike
Person: Nara
Altitude: 115m (377 feet)
Location: Go To...
Orca Mask
Altitude: 1m (3 feet)
Location: Go To...
Harbour Seal Looking At Us
Species: Phoca vitulina (Harbor Seal)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Walking On Boardwalk In Forest
Altitude: 103m (337 feet)
Location: Go To...
Raven Dance
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Family Resting On Rocks
Species: Enhydra lutris (sea otter)
Altitude: 2m (6 feet)
Location: Go To...
Yellow-rumped Warbler On Fence
Species: Dendroica coronata auduboni (Audubon's Yellow-Rumped Warbler )
Altitude: 12m (39 feet)
Location: Go To...
Ferns Growing In Colapsed Rocks
Species: Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair)
Altitude: 103m (337 feet)
Location: Go To...
River Taking Long Route Around Island
Altitude: 98m (321 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: cave, HDR, river
Weather Dance
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: marine mammal(8), HDR(3), river(3), skeleton(3), Museum(3), cave(2)
People: Nara(4), Claira(4)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Port Mc Neill

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Last Modified Friday, August 23rd, 2019 at 23:58:38 Edit
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