27 May 2011

Moose Jaw Minute #44: Backtracking to Tofino

Chesterman Beach
Tofino.  For me, it conjures up images of majestic cedars stretching their limbs toward the vast sky, kayaks gliding along the water's surface as they skirt Vancouver Island's shoreline, vast stretches of ocean where the waves crash in their unending rhythm as they bring hardy surfers ashore.  A couple of weeks ago, Dave and I traveled back to Vancouver Island to celebrate our one-year anniversary as a married couple and it was so good to be there...this place that feels so much like home to the two of us...grounding us in its natural beauty.

We started our vacation by taking flights from Regina to Vancouver and then Vancouver over to Victoria.  Victoria is an urban-girl anglophile's dream.  Tiny boutique stores are tucked in between cafes.  British flags are prominent and in the people you find a delicate mix of Seattle mentality and gracious British Columbia hospitality.  There are funky clothing stores, and the requisite tourist traps with their tchotchkes.  Float planes glide out of the sky to land in Inner Harbour in front of the Parliament building and The Empress hotel (a former hotel that served as a terminating point for many a Canadian Pacific steamship voyage).

Murchie's goodness
For us, no trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at Murchies Tea & Coffee.  The scones!  The jam!  The teas and coffee!  The ambiance of the pastries in the display case and cozy tea shop next door!  We settled in a savoured our currant scones while people-watching, allowing ourselves to immerse and relax into vacation-mode.  We had the opportunity to stay on the naval base in Esquimalt just down the road from city center.  The view from the hotel, or "shacks," was gorgeous.  The ocean stretching out in front of us and a peek at Washington's coastline...just a ferry ride away.

The next day, we stopped in at our favourite church in Victoria.  On our first visit, we stumbled across it and it is gorgeous.  The organ pipes in the back reach up high, high, high and the stations of the cross are reflected in a variety of paintings donated to the church by individual artists -- each one unique, creative, and reflective.  We signed the registry book, just as we had two years before and took a little walk up the aisle to marvel at the space, the rose window, and the history of the place.

Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria
Once done there, we headed over to the market to pick up some goodies for our stay in Tofino and we were off for the six-hour journey through mountains and along lakes and the coastline.  The drive from Victoria to Tofino is incredible!  Driving through the mountains, waterfalls appear out of nowhere and this drive isn't complete without a stop in Cathedral Grove...truly one of the most beautiful and majestic places I have ever been.  Towering cedars provide dappled sunlight to the foliage below and plaques throughout the trail provide a history and education as to the delicate makeup of this natural community.  We walked while rain pitter-pattered off the leaves and branches, drinking in the woodsy smells around us and listening to birds twitter and streams gurgle.  Waxing a bit poetic, Heather?  Absolutely...this place is pure poetry.

Our man, Mike!
We were lucky enough to be able to reconnect with the gentleman who married us last year, Mike, and had a yummy lunch of fish n' chips at Frankie's Driftwood Patio Restaurant in Ucluelet.  We caught up and learned what he had been up to over the past year.  Mike rocks and we are truly grateful that we are lucky to know him.  His entire approach to life is one big adventure and he was the perfect fit to officiate our special day.  He gets just as excited for you and you are for yourself and I think that's is a pretty unique thing to find in a person.  He embodies the BC lifestyle and makes choices that allow him to travel for a good part of the year all across Canada.

Along Half Moon Bay Trail
We arrived in Tofino and stayed in the same cottage on Chesterman Beach we reserved a year ago.  We took a walk along the stretch of sand in front of the space and made plans for the remainder of our time there.  It was surreal being back given the unfolding of events that occurred just a year before!  We just took some time to reflect, unpack, and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and the views of surfers catching their rides.  The next day, we chose to hike and explore some new paths.  We made our way along the Florencia Bay Trail, Half Moon Bay Trail, and the Bog Walk.  Each offered us something unique and different to see.  The first two trails connect offering us spectacular views of the ocean, lots of rocks to climb on, and some pretty deep mud to squish through!  We spent some time lounging on a pebbly beach, warming ourselves in the sun and ending that trails walk near the Wickaninnish Centre which sits on quite possibly the largest, most peaceful beach I have ever seen...it stretched out in front of us forever and was impossibly long!

Happy place...
The next day was our anniversary and we spent the morning with Trevor, our kayaking guide from the Tofino Sea Kayaking Company (we love them!).  Trevor was awesome and the three of us made our way onto the water for a paddle over to Meares Island.  The island is home to a variety of big trees and there is a trail that winds its way among them.  Trevor coached us on how the First Nations tribes utilize the trees in a sustainable way, pointing out that the cedar plank path we were walking on was an example of that.  The water was quiet, the mountains were draped in clouds, and the sound of birds and visions of sea lions popping their heads out of the water were all I needed to sink further into vacation-induced bliss.  THIS is my happy place...THIS is where I am most content to just be.  On the water working with nature...

No trip to Tofino is complete without a stop at the Tofitian for some amazing coffee and good local vibe.  I love this place!  It is the tiniest of coffee shops and they produce the best soy latte I've ever tasted.  Dave and I like hanging out there on their outdoor seats, sipping our bevvies, and watching as everyone from backpackers to young families make their way through the doors of the shop.  We spent the afternoon walking along the beach, recounting the memories from our wedding day, and then dressing up for our planned dinner at Sobo (they catered our wedding).  The food was awesome -- although we might have indulged just a little too much with tofu pockets, a yummy local beet salad, a mushroom pizza, a delicious veggie curry bowl, and a flourless chocolate cake...sooo good!  We took advantage of the time together to reminisce and express gratitude for one another.  I am very lucky to have Dave in my life!

The next day concluded our trip to Tofino and we were back on the road to Victoria.  We couldn't pass up a second walk through the Cathedral even though it was pouring rain and the trail was super muddy.  Just breathing in the fresh air and walking among the tall trees was enough to make us want to turn around, head back into Tofino and live a hermit-like existence on the coast.  Alas, it was not to be.  We returned to our accommodations on the naval base and prepped for our return to Moose Jaw the next day.

Me inside a tree (those are all the roots) in the Cathedral.
We are grateful for our time away and for the time we had to reconnect and unwind.  It was ideal.  You can put me on a plane headed west any day of the week...I won't complain.

I'll post more pics of the trip in my next post, but for now...we miss you, Tofino and we can't wait to come back.  In the meantime, we'd love it if you rooted for us as Dave and I tackle the Saskatchewan Marathon this weekend!  I am running to support Women for Women International's Run for Congo Women (you can find out more by clicking on the link to the left!).  Cheers and thanks for your support!

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