When I was at primary school I learned that there are seven continents and five oceans. I could even name most of them once. Today, we are off on our mystery tour to the four seas, well four “C”s anyway.
We all rise latish and wait with eager anticipation for the surprise destination of the day to be announced by our in-house tour coordinator. Kirsty announces, “Today we are heading to Comox, via Cumberland and Courtenay. It’s on the road to Campbell River.” I reckon that this alliteration has obviously been faked and check the ever-reliable Google maps. Sure enough, once you pass through Qualicum (which maybe could be spelled Cwalicum) all the names start with “C”. “What’s at Comox?” “Well, I hear we might have a chance of seeing seals at Seal Bay, and of course, at Goose Spit there’s …”
We look at the weather. It’s bright, sunny and hot but we’re not fooled. Better pack some beach gear And some coats. I don’t know much about “the Island”, but I do know that Victoria is the biggish city at the bottom, and there is only one highway running north to the other settlements. I have visions of guys with big beards wearing heavy whale skin coats nodding in the street to other equally bearded guys in flannelette shirts and fur hats. Today, we are venturing into the wild north frontier!
The road to Comox is actually a four lane highway – obviously for hauling the logs and fish back to civilisation. This deduction is confirmed when we pass a few heavily laden logging trucks heading south. In less than an hour we are rolling into Courtenay and it’s not long before I come face to face with the stereotypical islander I had imagined. He has the long bushy beard. He’s wearing a flannelette shirt and a beat-up leather hat. His pants are held up by suspenders. He’s climbing into a truck (ute) that looks like it has only seen bitumen about ten times in the last forty years – and he’s carrying a tray of take-away Tim Horton’s coffee. OK, so the town is a little larger than I had anticipated. OK, so it has a Target, and a Walmart, and a garden centre.
We’re determined to get all the way to Comox today. It’s another six kilometres down the road but we’re up for it. After all, we might see seals. We roll into town and decide to look for the beach. A false turn finds us turning around at the end of a dead-end road. We spot people disappearing around the corner of the high hedge along the road and decide to follow like the true frontier explorers we are.
What a surprise! We have stumbled by accident on the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park. This is the former estate of the Filberg Family. The story goes that Bob Filberg was born poor but went on to become the president of the Comox Logging and Railway Company back in the 1920’s. Marrying the daughter of the company president in 1916 may of course aided this rags-to-riches story. We think about lunch at the tearooms on the estate but every available table is occupied by “ladies of a certain age” who have come to soak up the heritage atmosphere. Fortunately, we discover a beachside diner a couple of streets away and feast on fish and chips (of course) and something called Po’ Boys. Now it’s time for the beach!
We find Goose Spit pretty easily. There are no geese, but the beach is really nice in a rocky, grey sandy way, with great views of the encircling mountains. The sun is hot, but the wind is cold so our coats are on, then off, then on again as the sun goes in and out behind the clouds.
We have lots of fun chasing little crabs among the rocks until it’s time to look for Seal Bay. As we’re about to leave the beach, no fewer than four bald eagles swoop overhead crying at each other, presumably about fishing rights. They come and go so fast that it’s impossible to get a good picture, but at least we saw them. Now for those seals.
As you no doubt will have guessed, Seal Bay is a disappointment. Bay – yes. Rocks – yes. Seals – no. Not to worry, we have had a great day. We all pile back into the Dodge for the trek back to Qualicum. Now for a relaxing night in. Hey! What’s that in the water just outside our dining room window? Yep. A seal has popped it’s head out for a brief moment. It’s only fleeting but it was definitely a seal.