We’d planned to take the second (7:00 a.m.) or third (8:20 a.m.) ferry but then it was 3:30.
–Are you awake?
— If we can get ready to go in 40 minutes, we could get the 6:20.
Fed the cat. (Our neighbour is kindly coming to feed her for the days we’re away.) Filled the cooler and headed down the dark highway, watchful for elk and deer. Just one coyote loping across the road and into the trees.
Two ferries, a stop at Coombs for bread, smoked salmon pate, and other treats, and we were nearing the Pacific Rim. Crossing Lost Shoe Creek #1 and then Lost Shoe Creek #2 (a pair!) and we could see the mist rising from the ocean as we turned towards Tofino.
It’s a long drive to Long Beach, almost as long for us as travelling to Europe (though as the crow flies it’s much closer…). At 4, we checked into our suite at the Pacific Sands Resort where this table was waiting for us.
I was young on these beaches. I know I’ve written about this before (an essay, “Undressing the Mountains”, in Red Laredo Boots, remembers sleeping on the beach in the 1970s and walking its long lengths with a shell tied to my ankle…) but every time I come to the west coast of Vancouver Island, I’m returned to those times. I look out at the shining sea and see everything I saw then. The years vanish and I’m that young woman with a bruised heart and her cells porous for poetry.
We’ve had a couple of walks, picked up sand dollars and a huge mussel shell to sit on the table and hold the smell of the sea. Tomorrow we’ll walk on our favourite trails and eat something delicious at Wolf in the Fog. The whales are passing on their way to Alaska and the ravens are bickering in the trees just beyond where I’m sitting. The fire is warm and the surf is loud. If I have a bucket list, it would include learning to surf. When I see people head into the water with their boards, I want to join them. Is it too late? Can a woman in her sixties put on a wetsuit and learn to balance on a curve of wave?
In the meantime, this is what I see from my chair by the big window.