November 26, 2010
On this, our final day at the Middle Beach Lodge, along the coast of the Pacific Rim near Tofino, we chose to leave the door to the balcony open overnight in order to listen to the sounds of the storm raging outside, and the waves crashing on the rocks and the shoreline. There's something very elemental in being so close to the ocean and the power of nature, for once we came from the sea and it is near to us, within us, a part of us always.
We take our leave of British Columbia's western most region to return to the city, to our work, our home, our friends, and to prepare for the coming holiday season, our brief sojourn to the Pacific Rim almost at an end, at least for now. But we will return again next year, perhaps in the spring, perhaps in the summer, to experience once again life in the rainforest, and the primitive, unbridled, natural Pacific Ocean which beckons us always.
November 25, 2010
As promised, the rains fell from the heavens, pounding down relentlessly throughout the day, in this western most region of Canada, the Pacific Rim National Park, where hour upon hour we were buffeted by 60 kilometre an hour winds, and torrents of rain that fell raw and unbridled, the likes of which may only be experienced in a region so close to the Pacific Ocean.
Although the daytime temperature warmed up from days previous, the Pacific region climes remained bitter and cold, as the harsh, unforgiving winds and drenching rain pierced our skin, dampening our eyes such that we felt almost immersed in those rains, every part of our being soaked, intoxicated, a near spiritual assault seeming to infiltrate our very soul.
As expected, then, we arose to a blustery west coast morning, with near tsunami-like wind and rain, and crashing waves, the perfect 'storm watching' weather which bring so many patrons to Pacific Rim National Park.
Before heading out for the day, we took a late breakfast in the Middle Beach Lodge dining room (oatmeal with yogurt, orange juice, coffee, and a slice of wholegrain toast with raspberry preserve), admiring the stormy view through the restaurant's rain-slicked bay windows, not quite realizing what the day held in store for us, the deluge & near drowning experience which awaited, as we headed eastward towards the darkening skies of Ucluelet.
Wrapping ourselves in our rain togs, we drove the 40 kilometres to the Island's other west coast metropolis, Ucluelet, a must-do (whatever the weather) when one relocates on the north-western perimeter of North America — where we savoured a warming, hearty seafood chowder at the Eagles' Nest Pub overlooking the misty, rain-soaked Ucluelet harbour — among other salutary endeavours which are recorded in today's video.
Fortified, we drove home, again in the dark — the near blinding sheets of rain assaulting the windshield in a most unrelenting manner — a slow, arduous but relatively safe affair, as we rarely drove more than 40 kilometres an hour (pulling to the side of the road to allow more seasoned west coast drivers to pass), almost enjoying the drive back as we listened to a dozen or so rousing iTunes songs to aid in our journey — the quest for home and safety — and the warmth of Middle Beach Lodge's Room 44.
Today was our last full day in the Pacific Rim region of our province. We've enjoyed our stay on Canada's western most coast frontier, feel quietened and rested, and are ready once again to resume our rather prosaic life.
Tomorrow, we will take a leisurely drive over the mountain roads towards Port Alberni, Parksville and then Nanaimo, where (should we arrive early) the 5 p.m. Queen of Coquitlam ferry will await to transport us home to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and our welcoming co-op apartment.
VanRamblings has been traveling to Florencia Bay for more than 40 years.
In the 1960s — when we had returned home from our travels to Lloydminster, Alberta / Saskatchewan; Nelson and Courtenay, where we'd worked respectively as an all-night, evening and afternoon radio announcer (there's something salutary to be said for being a deejay when you're just a teenager) — when we found ourselves living in Kitsilano, in an apartment on West 1st Avenue with a gorgeous view of the beach and the mountains in the distance, in the summer we hitchhiked out with friends to the west coast of Vancouver Island, over gravel roads (this was before the Canadian government had designated the area as a national park), to Florencia Bay.
Throughout the 1970s, '80s and 90s with our spouse and children, and following the skilsmisse, with lovers & intended, friends & acquaintances, and all those who feel about the west coast of Vancouver Island as VanRamblings does and continues to feel to this day, Florencia Bay became our 'country home' to which we return annually, when we are feeling just a tad unmoored, and in need of a little peace and restoration of the soul.
November 24, 2010
We awoke this wintry west coast morning to a light dusting of snow. Temperatures were in the minus range, walks were slippery, as were the outside stairs leading down to the reception area, lounge and restaurant at the Middle Beach Lodge, where we've resided the past couple of nights.
Roads were a tad treacherous along the Pacific Rim highway, as were the paths to the various beaches we visited throughout the day (Wickaninnish, Chesterman, Mackenzie, Middle Beach, Florencia Bay), all of which were ice-covered and very slippery, indeed. We stepped very gingerly wherever we went, and were judicious (we believe) in not hazarding the stairs leading to Florencia Bay, instead staying on the path overlooking the secluded bay.
The skies were leaden from the outset of the day til days' end, the sun nowhere to be seen (the view from our ice-covered balcony was pretty spectacular, though, even considering the inclement conditions). The Environment Canada weather forecast for Thursday currently calls for 20 to 30 mm of rain, and blustery winter southwest winds of up to 60 kilometres of an hour in the early morning hours through til noon, with daytime temperatures of plus 9. We thank the heavens that those leaden clouds were prepared to wait til Thursday to dump their 'payload', otherwise we just might be socked in here, in Canada's west coast winter wonderland.
Apart from visiting various of the beaches today, all bundled and wrapped in our finest winter gear, we spent some time in Tofino, where among other endeavours we visited at the local Co-op store, where we were taken aback at the prices being charged for staples: $3.85 for two litres of milk and $7.85 for a dozen organic eggs, two foodstuffs that cost 30 - 50% more in Tofino than on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia where we shop.
Driving back to our accommodation in the pitch black of 6 p.m., winding roads and no lights other than on the old Mediterranean blue Nissan Altima proved somewhat of a challenge, as we almost drove off the road once at a bendy turn, as well bypassing the unlit road leading us to Middle Beach Lodge. Thank goodness that we arrived home safely, if a little chilled.
Wifi continues to be spotty, even in the lounge area, so we employed our iPhone tethering service to upload the video you see above, and to post this latest update on our west coast sojourn. Tomorrow, we'll head into Ucluelet (quite a journey, that) for a bit of lunch — warming west coast seafood chowder would hit the spot — and on the way back 'home' will stop in at the Wickaninnish Inn for no other reason than we want to, although we'll probably read the complementary New York Times and Globe and Mail, and perhaps partake of a late afternoon tea as we peruse the newspapers.
For now, though: well, it's almost time to find ourselves between the covers, with a good book and a warming cup of tea. Goodnight, one and all.
Upon arising this morning, it was a chilly -10 Celsius, and throughout the day it hasn't warmed up appreciably, so we bundled up — earmuffs, toque, gloves, scarf, winter jacket — for our very cool walk along Long Beach.
In 2004, when Corinne and VanRamblings traveled to Tofino for a brief respite on the west coast, we stayed at the Inlet cottage in Tofino, providing easy access to the town which has become justly famous for kickstarting British Columbia's then nascent environmental movement.
In 1984, the protest of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples — with significant cooperation from environmental groups (most particularly Greenpeace) — who erected a blockade, prevented MacMillan Bloedel from logging Meares island, traditional native land located just across the harbour from Tofino. Eventually, the Meares Island protest lead to a cessation of clear-cut logging across British Columbia, and the adoption of sustainable practices for the logging of old growth forest across the province, a globally recognized sustainable forestry practice that remains in effect to this day.
As for VanRamblings and family, for more than 40 years we have made the sojourn to Long Beach / Florencia Bay / Tofino, on Vancouver Island's west coast, an annual practice about which we'll write at greater length before week's end. For VanRamblings, there is no more beautiful, nor more serene environment anywhere on the planet than can be found amidst the old growth rainforest and utterly pristine Pacific Ocean on Canada's west coast.
Over the years, we've built lean-to's on Florencia Bay and hunkered down for the summer, camped with our children, and vacationed in many of the quietening bed and breakfastses and oceanside cabins that dot the west coast landscape. Prior to our 2010 visit, we had never stayed at the Middle Beach Lodge, although we had breakfasted in the Lodge lounge (pictured above). We're glad we made the decision to stay at the Lodge this time.
Last evening, once we were settled in, had uploaded our videos for the day (wifi is spotty at the Lodge, but in concert with our iPhone tethering met our necessary posting criteria), at 8 p.m. we repaired to the Lounge, where we partook of the fresh-baked cookies on offer (we decided on a couple of oatmeal cookies), had ourselves a cup of herbal tea, and along with the habitués of the Lodge snuggled into a comfy sofa chair by the window and read late into the night, before retiring for the evening shortly after 11 p.m.
This Wednesday morning, we partook of a scrumptious free breakfast (free works for our parsimonious nature): oatmeal with yogurt and a smattering of granola, hot coffee with cream and a bit of brown sugar, a selection of fresh fruit, orange juice and a fresh-baked and warm cinnamon bun, during which time we caught up on the events of the day on our ever-handy iPhone, glancing up every now and then to admire the palatial view through the windows of the restaurant of the storm-tossed Pacific Ocean.
Having posted for the morning, we're now heading out to Florencia Bay (on the same road which accesses the oceanside Wickannanish Restaurant), about which we'll write — and hopefully post some video — at some point later today, after which we intend to head into Tofino in the afternoon to do a bit of exploring, visit The Common Loaf and walk down to the wharf.
See you back here later today.
November 23, 2010
Those of us who reside in British Columbia are experiencing extremely chilly, record low temperatures in these latter days of November.
Across Vancouver Island record snow blankets the ground and the surrounding flora and fauna as a cold front from B.C.'s Interior has snuck in, creating a beautiful Pacific, pre-Christmas winter wonderland.
Surprisingly, the roads were not all that treacherous along Highway 4, as we were able to make pretty good time on our sojourn, on the way to Middle Beach Lodge, near Tofino, for a few days of rest and relaxation.
We stopped in at Tim Horton's in Port Alberni for a bit of lunch (an oh so delicious warming chili, garlic toast and a coffee), and by noon were on our way again, arriving at our destination on Canada's west coast a bit before 2 p.m. Once we registered at the front desk, up we went to Room 44, with a private balcony, and a spectacular view of the pristine Pacific Ocean.
Later tonight, we'll post our final video of the day: the pacific view from Middle Beach Lodge's Room 44
Here we are on the first leg of our sojourn to the west coast of Vancouver.
Up at 5:30 a.m. to catch what we thought was a 7:45 a.m. B.C. Ferry to Nanaimo, it was only after we arrived at the Horseshoe Bay terminal that we discovered that we had read the Tsawwassen ferry schedule, and at Horseshoe Bay the Queen of Cowichan would not be leaving til 8:30 a.m.
Still, there was a silver lining to the affair: we were near first in line, boarded first, and disembarked first, which in the end made the whole B.C. ferry experience somewhat more pleasant. The ferry ride over to Nanaimo was uneventful, the ferry decks near deserted, this being winter, and mid-week.
We have a couple more videos we'll attempt to upload later, wi-fi willing.