winter journeys


Husband and I have been planning a trip to our favourite place near the Pacific Rim National Forest Reserve, on the western edge of Vancouver Island near Tofino. We call it our ‘treat and retreat’. I’ve written of past trips before, as well as more recently about our yearning to go there again.

At last husband found a week to spare between work projects. Having also repaired his sister’s computer and wanting to return it to her, we first went to Saanich, north of Victoria, on Friday after work. It took that evening and a good part of the next day to reconnect the internet service and set up wireless in her home. The latter just would not work, probably due to some barrier set up by the service provider. Anyway, we had a nice visit, as always, with Brigitte and our nephew and his girlfriend. He’s been teaching English in South Korea for a year and may go back, so it was great to see him.

Sunday morning, February 3rd, we finally left on our short holiday. We took the Brentwood/ Mill Bay ferry across to Highway #1, bypassing Victoria. The sun came out and shone for most of our journey, how very lucky for us. The mountains were beautiful, covered in snow quite far down, something we’ve never witnessed here before, and we could see more and more snow on the ground the further north and west that we drove, but thankfully the roads were clear. It had been a concern after last week’s storm.

As we often do, we stopped for lunch next to beautiful Barclay Sound in Port Alberni. The last stretch of highway furthest west is rough, very windy and made even narrower by the high snowbanks. How I wanted to take photos but there were rare spots to stop. There was snow even on the coast, though less of it, very unusual for this area. Apparently this community was cut off from the rest of the island for a couple of days last week.

We’ve been very lucky most trips to have sunshine on arrival. It was low in the sky when we arrived at Long Beach, always our first short stop for a long look and deep breaths. After checking into our cabin on the waterfront on relatively sheltered McKenzie Beach, we went down for a walk and a mad session of shooting photos, each of us with a camera. Sure, sunset photos are a bit much, but I also took a lot of interesting closeups of sand and surf – who knew what the weather would be like after today?!

Sure enough, we had storms! This is what some tourists come for, though they stay in the luxury hotels, with hot tubs and fireplaces overlooking the ocean. Winds up to 90 kmh, lashing rain and hail, and even snow one day. It was surfers paradise, though they had to choose the quieter beaches. We managed walks in the less stormy periods, but not the very long hikes that we usually do. We both had colds, so we did more of the rest and relaxation this time.

In our visits over the past couple of decades, we have always stayed in one of these rustic gothic arch cabins, all wood ceilings and walls inside, with basic amenities of a small kitchen and bath, without TV, phone or internet. This year, wifi was advertised so we brought our toys. However the connection was very flaky and weak, so I was just barely able to receive a few emails, and post one photo here. We watched, heard and marveled at the storms, listened to music, read, played cards, consumed our provisions, napped and had a couple of fantastic local seafood dinners in town.

The drive home yesterday went safely, noting a few vehicles stuck in ditches or in the even higher snowbanks. If we’d tried to come home a day earlier we’d have run into trouble, not having snow tires on our vehicle. Good to get away for a treat and retreat and good to be home!

Today I’m busy preparing for family house guests for the weekend. Sister-in-law is coming. Our eldest daughter and partner are planning to travel down this afternoon from east of Kamloops, but the two main highways have had avalanches. One of them is now open, or they may have to come via the Okanagan and the southern Highway #3 – a bit of a worry with all this snow and avalanche danger. Hope they arrive safely!

We have lots of great photos to share, but just this one for now for it may take a few days for me to catch up around here, including reading everyone’s blogs!

February 8, 2008 in Being an Artist, Canada and BC by Marja-Leena