In preparation for our next-day departure, we did the laundry and caught up with paperwork, then explored the Nanaimo area once more. We have decided that this city, once a small and apparently unlovely mining and lumbering center, is becoming a major influence on Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo has many advantages. The ferry closest to downtown Vancouver arrives here, at Departure Bay. Highways lead up, down, and across the island. There's a lot of new residential development, plenty of ocean views, and lovely gardens. Plus plenty of modern shopping centers. All of these will support the visitors and summer residents who are interested in Vancouver Island for its magnificent outdoors, rather than touristic Victoria.

We visited several local parks along the way, where we found beach access along with dogs and their owners getting some exercise.

There are some aboriginal stone carvings in Nanaimo, and the city has set them apart in Petroglyph Park. Storyboards have been provided to explain the significance of the drawings. The catch is the carvings are undated: some of them were made after first contact two hundred years ago; others may have been made earlier. They are not like the old petroglyphs in the Mojave Desert.