This past weekend was extra-long for my family. Friday was a non-instructional day at my kids’ school, and Monday was Remembrance Day, which is a holiday where we live. Jon and I decided to take advantage of it by scheduling a weekend getaway. And, thanks to fabulous grandparents, we were able to make it a kid-free weekend getaway. Such luxury!
We went back and forth a few times on the destination (San Francisco? Seattle? Portland? Victoria? Harrison Hot Springs?). In the end we settled on Tofino, a small village on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, famous for natural beauty, big waves and winter storms. In fact, in addition to two bathrobes in our hotel room, we found two raincoats and umbrellas for us to use during our stay. Tofino is a popular surfing destination locally, although with very cold water a wet suit is definitely required. Since the water is basically freezing all year long, this means that people are still out there in November.
I can walk to the ocean in about 20 minutes from my house. However, the ocean here is a very different thing than in Tofino. The closest stretch of the ocean to me is a salt marsh at the end of Port Moody Inlet. The sea here is very quiet. Vancouver is protected by Vancouver Island to the west, so the waves never get that big. At the very end of Port Moody Inlet it’s even more protected, and when the tide is in you could easily mistake it for a lake, the water is so calm. Local beaches are typically rocky, and while you can find baby crabs hiding under rocks and spot the occasional sea star or harbour seal, heavy use and lots of boat traffic make for a less-than-wild feeling.
Tofino is a different animal, which I suspected but didn’t fully understand until I arrived for this, my first visit. The trees there still reach high for the sky, in spite of their obviously wind-swept appearance. The empty shells on the beach are much bigger than at home. And the waves along the unprotected coast never stop. Even at their smallest they emit a constant roar, which is actually very soothing to listen to. There is lots of sand, worn smooth by all those relentless waves. If you visit the protected harbour in Tofino you’ll see water taxis, tour boats and float planes, which can take you to nearby islands that are not accessible by car.
In Tofino I got a picture of what the place I live in might have looked like (minus the big waves) 200 years ago. There was a time when the mussels were just as big and the trees were just as tall here in Vancouver, I’m sure. Now, I’ll have to visit places like Tofino to experience that wildness. I’m glad I made the trip. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worthwhile to remind myself of the power of the natural world. The sleeping in wasn’t too shabby, either.
Here are some of my snapshots: