I guess I was a little tired because I slept until 7:15 this morning! However, I woke up feeling great! I got all packed up and on the road at 8:50. I stopped at Starbucks in Parksville to post yesterday's blog and email Chris and Nathan, my CouchSurf hosts for tonight and tomorrow. In Starbucks I talked to a police officer (I think he was anyway). He asked where I was going. Told me I had some good hills to climb. I figured so, since I was crossing from one side of the island to the other.
I made it up the first climb out of Parksville. As I was nearing Coombs, I saw a sign for the World Parrot Refuge. I decided I had to go check it out. I paid my $14 and headed into the building. To say it was loud, would be an understatement (I was given earplugs)!
The first area was kind of the "hospital" wing (ha! Wing! No pun intended). Many of the birds were disabled. One big Macaw was clearly blind. Another Cockatoo had a cone of shame collar on (although he/she still managed to pull all the feathers off its legs). The info said the birds in this area are also new to the facility. They keep them in room size cages until they pair up with another bird (not necessarily the same breed). Once they find a mate or buddy, then they move them to the other areas. Also many of the birds are not in cages. Many of those are flightless due to injury. There was a pair who were both injured and flightless that had found each other. They were so injured that they were in a big box instead of a cage.
As I was walking along the room where all the birds were behind fencing, this one cockatoo was following me along the fence. When I stopped, he would stick one of his feet out through the fence like he wanted to "shake". I let him hold on to my finger with his foot. One of the gals walked by and said he would like to pull my finger in and bite it. I was careful to not let that happen.
The birds not in cages readily climbed onto my arm. Then they didn't necessarily want to climb off! When I went into the free flight room, a pretty green parrot immediately flew to my shoulder. Then another Cockatoo walked over and climbed up on my arm when I bent down. Turns out the green guy is Socrates. He likes lots of attention. Both him and the cockatoo liked my glasses so much that they tried to take them off my face. So I walked around with my glasses in my hand for awhile. If I wasn't paying attention to Socrates he would, in a very soft voice, say, "Hello" in my ear. It was almost a whisper. Then if I continued to not give him attention, he would pull my hair out of my ponytail. He was a fun bird. I could have played with him all day! But, I had more birds to see.
In another room, one of the workers introduced me to Moses. He is a Cockatoo also. He has quite a vocabulary. He asked me my name and also said, "Have a good day!" He was pretty funny.
After I'd seen all the birds, I headed back out to Betsy. I noticed along the front of the building there were fencing cages. They were in front of the windows so if the birds wanted to, they could go outside. There were a few outside when I walked over. One thought I was somebody named Kirby because he kept saying, "Hello Kirby". There was a beautiful red macaw and a smaller green parrot who would have really liked to bite me. He kept fluffing up his feathers then charging the fence.
Too soon I needed to get back on the road. If I lived in Coombs, I would volunteer there. The birds are very intelligent and need lots of attention. They each have their own personalities. I will be going back that way when I return from Pacific Rim National Park. Maybe I will stop again!
Back on the road, I Came to Cameron Lake Picnic area. I stopped, as it was noon, and had an apple with peanut butter. After lunch, I started some of the climbing. It wasn't too bad until a ways after Cathedral Grove (another place I may stop at on the way back--there were a lot of people there today since its Saturday). After some seriously sweatifying work, I made it to the top of
Port Alberni Summit. Fortunately, my weather Karma was working because it was not so hot. There were even a few welcome drops of rain!
I put my jacket on with the sleeves for the ride down to Port Alberni. I stopped at the Visitors' Center and picked up a map of Ucluelet and Tofino. After that I made my way to my CouchSurf Host's, Chris and Nathan's.
Chris and Nathan are great hosts. They have a nice house with a room for me. They have a cute little Chihuahua named Vince and two cats, Bojingles and Tiki. When Chris and Nathan went out for a short bit, Vince howled while they were gone. It was a very mournful howl. He came and sat on my lap, but put his head back and howled. It was almost like he was singing! Pretty funny actually.
Now I'm going to hit the sack (in a bed!). Enjoy the bird photos. The one on my shoulder is Socrates. The Cockatoo with the yellow crest is Moses.