Great Expectations

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We had never been to the West Coast of Vancouver Island so on the spur of the moment, on the heels of our sailing trip, we got the laundry done, packed up sundry camping supplies, stuffed the trunk and took off with Rachel to see what we’d missed all these years.

Now you’ll need a little background for this bit about Great Expectations (no, not Dicken’s novel)…When our family was young  (Rachel was just a babe in arms) and we lived in the desert, a trip to the coast meant California, surf and sun and sand and WATER!  Such a thing seldom happened but the idea gained a sort of epic wonder quality, at least for Rachel who has no memory of being plunked on a hot sandy beach with her sun bonnet on…

So this idea of a trip to the West Coast was oozing with excitement, despite the rumors that it’s almost always cool and overcast there…surely it would be different this time.  After all, it’s August!  So we set out, taking in Campbell River’s Logger Sports Salmon Festival ‘on the way’.

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Having no idea what to expect, it was fun. The sun was hot.  The food was good. Even got a self-portrait in the bargain…We ‘camped’ nearby that night.  Enter expectations.  Camping means…privacy, trees, woodland, did I say privacy(?), a campfire…and we got stuck on this busy weekend in a pricey RV Park, on a bald little mound beside a busy thoroughfare, next to a couple bikers (no offence intended, Eric, I’m sure they were very nice people…), one of whom snored!  My attitude plummeted despite my best intentions. Times like these even I don’t want to camp with me!  And I can only wonder that we keep going camping in high hopes of my doing better next time…A box of very chocolate ice cream (which we can no longer finish, being only a three-some instead of the half dozen we were once-upon-a-time) was somewhat helpful except that the only place warm enough to eat it was in the car!  By this time the ocean breeze had sprung up and the day’s warmth was fast dissipating….

But every morning is new.  We scuttled out of there a.s.a.p. with the morning sun rising, in high hopes of another sunny day.  West Coast here we come!!!  And it was a sunny day until we began ascending the Coastal Mountains, the twisty, turny, narrow road leading ever upward into damp overcast coolness and down the other side into the ‘twilight zone’ where we were destined to spend the next 24 hours, with every layer of clothes I’d brought along (I counted six).  Did I forget to mention, I love camping but I hate being cold?  Alas, I was reminded that I am not only a fair-weather sailor, but a warm-weather camper.  The West Coast is not warm right now…

And that was only the beginning of surprises.  Our forest site was indeed that.  Dark, cool, overhung with moss and cold.  And have you ever done ‘walk-in’ camping?  It’s all that was left.  Instead of cars driving by your tent, you have actual flesh and blood strolling by, back and forth carrying their goods.  And trust me, there’s a lot of back and forth because rules say no coolers left unattended… want to go to the beach 100 ft. away?  Take that cooler back to the loading zone.  Fetch the car from the upper dirt lot. And store it away, returning your car to it’s parking spot…

And have you ever camped without water?  Surprise!  There was water—down the trail 200 paces and then back up that steep hill another 150 paces, and then oh! it’s not drinkable, toothbrushable, or any sort of usable except hand-washing!  At least there was a flush toilet up there.  All these little surprises were I’m sure good for our characters.  And great grist for a good laugh once we could distance ourselves from our disappointments.  And in the pictures, you can’t feel a bit of the inconvenience, or the cold, or the chagrin at having traded in one precious sunny day (we have had so few this year) for an overcast one.  So, enjoy the pictures, and yes, you’re welcome to shake your head and say ‘tsk,tsk’ at all my whining and complaining as if I were blind to the real glory of things, and just a spoiled brat. This script could easily be re-written by a desert dweller to depict a paradise of unparalleled wonder… And so it is, the wild and misty West Coast!

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The beach beside our campsite was comprised of tiny pebbles, no two alike.  We sifted and collected marvelous little bits.
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and then went exploring the rocky crags…
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and watched the ocean swell and crash bringing life to all the creatures above low tide…

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It’s the sort of weather where you bundle up and sit awhile doing ‘soul searching’…too bad we came to sun bathe!

Nearby Ucluelet is a working fisherman’s town.  I love the great big fishing boats and strolling the wharf I feel like I must have some fishing-folk in my bloodline. (Ha!  only my forefathers weren’t so wimpy as I.)
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Would I really wish to be out in such a sea as would require such an anchor?!
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Driving up the coast we visited the hottest surfing spots in all of Canada, and yes, there were surfers out there, in wet suits mind you.  And I did at last determine not to miss this chance to dip my feet in the sea at the edge of the world… Actually, not too bad. Eventually, they go rather numb and the water feels pleasantly tolerable…

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But Rachel got to hatching this idea and resolved to ‘go for it’!
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What a girl!  She’s got her father’s native blood for sure!  See the noble Haida brave the waves of her native west coast!

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…while her mother watches from afar, huddled in the driftwood, pondering all these things in her heart…
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Well, we had a good time after all, just not what we’d expected, and we toodled home via a sunny campsite at Sproat Lake, grabbing the very last site in the whole campground, and getting in a late afternoon swim besides…

Homeward bound the following day we toured Port Alberni, snapped a photo with Uncle Ishmael (lol)
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found beautiful flowers to take home digitally…
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and a photogenic tug too.  (I love the look of an old tug.)

What’s more, we found sun and heat again before day’s end…in Cathedral Grove strolling among ‘old growth’ giants
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… and at day’s end our favorite Fish-n-Chips spot just a ferry’s ride away from home.  The gulls sit out back waiting for ‘Portugese Joe’s to toss out some scraps, and providing scenery all the while…

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And so ends our unexpectedly great camping trip, as we relax on the ferry returning us to our own coast.

–LS

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Ps. 62:5

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