Saturday, July 21, 2007
We slept in a little, but finally dragged our tired bodies out of the king sized bed. It was tough, but after a great breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, we mounted our white chariot and sped eastward.
Our adventure wasn’t quite over, however. An accident closed the Trans-Canada Highway and we had to detour through Vernon, B.C. We discovered a tourist trap near Vernon – there were freshly basked goods, treats, and fresh fruit. $29.00 later, we were enjoying giant cinnamon buns, almond roca and sweet B.C. cherries. Nice!
We arrived home safe and sound – with a carload of great memories. Before the trip we were sweethearts, but now we're more in love than ever - and we're excited about our the next 25 years together!
6:00AM arrived too early, but we got up anyway. We drove to Port Alberni in the drizzle, and on to Cathedral Grove to see an 800-year-old tree. Impressive!
The ferry trip from Duke Point to Tsawaassen was wet and cool, so we stayed indoors. Surrounded by the drone of conversing adults and the intense play of cavorting children, I succumbed to sleep and took a catnap for more than a few minutes. I awoke with a sore neck, but the shut-eye was welcome.
We arrived at the terminal just before 3PM and fought holiday-weekend rush hour traffic for nearly two hours. Outside our car the drizzle fell, and inside, my own personal storm brewed as the traffic came to a complete stop many times and I seemed to have the frustrating talent of always taking the slowest lane.
Finally, we escaped the jam and found the Coquihalla – the toll road that cuts hours off the trip to Kamloops. By 8PM, we arrived at the dry, inland city and checked into the Best Western Hotel. Very comfortable!
Today dawned grey and drizzley, but we were prepared anyway. Diana and I donned our rain gear and drove down to Big Beach for a last look. The tide was well out, but we mostly walked the high tide line, examining what was left by last night’s flood tide. As we rounded a small point of treed land, a black-tailed deer stood on the narrow trail, browsing for its breakfast. Its tail swished a little, but as we wandered slowly off the trail to go around it, the deer seemed to be without a care. We must have been within twenty feet of it, but it just kept on munching.
After an hour on the beach, our exteriors were dripping wet, but inside our raingear, we were cosy and dry. We went back to #24 Reef Point Cottages before driving to the Wickininnish Interpretive Centre for an awesome visit. Once done checking out the Centre’s varied coastal displays, we had two last things to do.
Back to Ucluelet we headed and while Diana went shopping one last time, I walked up the hill and bought two live Dungeness crab & a dozen big oysters. What a feed we had! We found two very tiny pearls in the oysters, but otherwise, the feast was fit for royalty.
With our stomachs well packed, we thought we’d better make the car match them. Once everything we could put in the car was in it, Diana and I soaked for one final time in our private hot tub while the gentle rain refreshed the moss-covered forest that grew all around our balcony. What a peace-giving conclusion to our final day in paradise.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The Cadillac VAN ISLE 360 was about ready to commence as Diana and I arrived at Amphitrite Point Lightstation this morning. Forty-one of the forty-two sailboats were milling about atop the relatively calm water, their captains anxiously awaiting the signal blasts that would come from just behind where we stood. The final starting signal was preceded by three separate air horn blasts: a ten-minute warning horn, followed by a five-minute warning and then a one-minute warning blast. The morning was perfect for the many spectators to witness the start, and at 10:00am sharp, off they went – well, slowly, because there was hardly any wind blowing.
Before driving toward Tofino, we stopped for a bit of gift & souvenir shopping. There were so many nice things! You’ll just have to visit this place and see for yourself!
After the shopping, enroute to the Rain Forest Walk, we stopped to see the passionate people surfing at Incinerator Rock. The day was nice and warm, but the water was not.
A few minutes past Incinerator Rock, the lush, emerald forest engulfed us and Diana and I entered a tranquil world all our own. Although close to the busy highway, no sound from it reached our ears. Along the deeply shaded pathway, we stood beside a tree that had been a seedling in the year 1271AD - when Marco Polo was trekking for China! Sporting my “old” 47 years of life, I felt rather insignificant indeed standing beside this 736 year-old! As I left the world of moss-covered, towering giants, I felt I had just walked out of the pages of history, having had the privilege of taking a brief glimpse into the distant past. To think what those ancient trees had lived through!
Once back in 2007, Diana and I returned to Florencia beach and down the 75 wooden stairs to the waiting sand. The tide was out a little more than it had been on our last visit, but the incoming swells had diminished in height and were much less noisy. Again we enjoyed the wonders and marvels of the inter-tidal region as gentle crested waves broke into a chorus of white froth over the cream-coloured sand. It was good to get our feet wet again and to stroll hand in hand.
About 8:30pm, we finally pulled ourselves away from the peace-giving sand and surf. For the final time, we reluctantly climbed the stout, wooden staircase to the wooden pathway that led to the parking area. A two-minute drive got us to the Wickininnish Beach Restaurant where we enjoyed an elegant desert at a window table. As the warm sun was trying to set, we gazed out at the handful of devoted surfers, still cavorting it the surf. What an awesome view at the end of a gorgeous day!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Today dawned bright and warm, but it was laundry day anyway. We gathered our quarters and headed to the Ucluelet Bubblemart, figuring on spending some boring minutes watching water and soap move around. Wrong!!
Upon our arrival at the laundry mat, we found a small magazine outlining a local yacht race. The Cadillac VAN ISLE 360, a 580 nautical mile circumnavigation of Vancouver Island was well under way and, for the 42 participating sailing vessels, Ucluelet was the stopping off point for “Leg 9” of the race. Curiously, I looked up from reading the magazine and around the small building. Within a few moments I had met Jack & Mike, shipmates from the Carene, one of the participating vessels. Before Jack & Mike finished their laundry, we visited a little and I promised to watch them start the race again tomorrow morning. (June 27th)
After our clothes were cleaned and dried, we headed to Florencia Bay & South Beach. Florencia Bay was named for a ship that was wrecked there, but to us, its beauty was the opposite of what is must have been for the distressed crew on that fateful day. It seems incredible to me the sea can be so beautiful one moment and so terrifying and destructive the next, and yet I shouldn’t be astounded. I spent a great many years as both its captivated audience as well as its hypothermic victim – depending on the day.
After a few wonderful hours of wandering the soft, sandy shores of Florencia Bay, my sweetheart and I climbed the 75 wooden steps back to the short trail leading to our car. We were tired, but decided to pay a short visit to South Beach before heading back to our cottage. A few minutes later, we were on the wooden walkway to South Beach – only 800m away. The signpost failed to prepare us for more stairs, but we navigated them anyway.South Beach was very small and made up exclusively of tiny pebbles. With the arrival of each successive wave, thousands of brine-drenched pebbles roared in puny protest under the incoming surf. It was secluded, rugged and beautiful.