Monday, May 26, 2008

Tofino: Vancouver Island - British Columbia, Canada, eh?

once again, time off has snuck up upon us. thursday at 430, just before leaving the office, brooke found out that the office was closed on friday. what does one do when they find that they have a four day weekend and no plans? you make plans...of course! ... and go BIG!

with in a few hours we made plans, found our birth certificates, withdrew cash, ran to rei, and had all of our camping gear loaded [note: always keep all of your camping gear packed in one to two boxes. that way, when an opportunity arises, you don't have to spend countless hours finding all of your gear!].

the destinaton: tofino, british columbia

we've heard so much about this place from books and magazines, and have spent quite a few hours dreaming of it's remoteness. tofino is a small surfing town located on vancouver island which floats off the shore of british columbia, canada. there is a lure to canada that is hard to explain. most people [americans] think that canada is 1] an extension of the united states, or 2] nothing but wilderness and degenerated people who love beer, hockey, and that order.

what very few americans realize, due to severe disillusions that they have to be better than everyone else, is that 1] canadians are quite possible the kindest people in the world, 2] their country is far more beautiful than ours, and 3] they love hockey, beer, and that order.

we set out early friday morning towards tsawwassen, bc to catch the ferry that will carry us for two hours over to vancouver island. unfortunately, we missed the ferry by three cars! the story of our lives. so there we sat for two and a half hours waiting for the next ferry. lucky enough, bc ferries has a new ferry terminal that rivals any major airport terminal. so we strolled in for some coffee and souvenir shopping.

when in british columbia, try salt spring coffee co.
fair trade and organic. mmm.

the bc ferry ride is worthy of it's own blog post. it was quite amazing.

upon landing at nanaimo, we started the three hour drive out to tofino. i, brooke, can say that it was the most cognitively taxing drive i've ever made. quite difficult, and completely wore me out.

once we arrived in tofino, we grabbed some dinner at shelter [the best pan-seared salmon i've ever had] and found a camp site.

******start saturday******

we woke to a morning that had a chill that sent shivers deep, a fog that you could cut with a knife, and a taste of salt in the air. we were in pacific rim national park.

to grasp the rich culture of this area, we set off to the wickaninnish interpretive centre. there we set off on a day hike that took us along side of the pacific ocean to south beach and florenica beach.
andrea and full totem pole.

brooke and bear friend. both have a love
of eating salmon.

canadians have the greatest signs.

this is typical pacific northwest scenery.

the trees out here are slightly larger than normal.
andrea crawled into the trunk to have a closer look!

our friend, the banana slug!

we descended a wooden staircase to find south beach
in all of it's glory.

a few treasures.

poor crab, he never had a chance!

andrea feeling the glory!

brooke feeling the karate kid!

the small tide pools were filled with beautiful creatures.

ahh...the pacific coast. where the rocks are plentiful, the waters are roaring, and the evergreen trees grow tall.

this guy needs a big hug.

the maze of stairs leading us through the rainforest from beach to beach.

this quiet beach was the home of the Esowista Tribe.
calm waters against the mighty mountains.

self portrait

the lay of the land. taken from 'Radar Hill,' a
Pine Tree Line radar station.

******start sunday******

we spent the day in town, Tofino, to check out the shops, explore the artist studios, and experience the waterfront at the base of the mountains.
just in time for a float plane landing.

while keeping our eye on the boats and float planes coming and going, we noticed a little harbor seal swimming around in front of us, then looked up to see a bald eagle soaring above. we looked at each other with that look in our eyes, knowing that this was exactly where we needed to be at that instant.

we picked up a few 'essentials' at the Tofino Co-op Market and headed back to base camp for dinner.
yes, that is a large raw steak on the grill in front of brooke. it was amazing.

******start monday******

before jumping in our car we took a quick morning stroll along long beach. the morning fog and giant driftwood create a sense of peace in this place.
we know we'll back for a visit again soon...this place is too precious to only get a small glimpse of.

soaking it all in.

as we began our trip across the island, we ran into these two guys! a black bear and her young cub! they were enjoying their morning eating berries and prancing through the brush.

"come along, young's time to move on to another patch."

"i'm coming, mom! wait up!"

another quick stop. along the falls on the kennedy river.

water rushing through the glacial grooves.

brooke, the photographer.

our last stop on vancouver island before jumping on the ferry was in Nanaimo. we enjoyed this quaint little sea town.

andrea, overlooking the harbor, on the large mast.

we managed to miss the ferry by 3 cars (again) and had to wait 2.5 hours for the next one. we were ok with it. it meant just a bit more time on this wild island we have grown so fond of. canada is beautiful and is filled with too many places we long to explore.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge

wanting to see different aspects of our beautiful pacific northwest, we ventured out to sequim [pronounced Sk-wim] to hike on dungeness spit. dungeness spit is the longest sand spit in america [five miles long] and has an operating lighthouse on the tip. we set out to walk the five miles, but we were frozen out after only one mile. we hope to return this summer to finish the trek.

there was a lot of quality driftwood...

we conquered it all!

though cold, our spirits were not wrangled.

here are some of the finest pacific ocean seashells [aka pebbles]!

this photo genuinely captures the formidable climate.

as we were walking, we kept an eye on these two friends.

we had to investigate.

i'm sure the lady nell is missing these treasures.

after our chilling adventure on the sand, we headed to the 3 crabs to recharge.

what a great way to finish our walk on the beach:
steamed dungeness crab and a bottle of slug killer!

...and grilled cheese!

after getting full of crab, beer, grilled cheese, and cokes with floating mermaids, we headed back to the bluffs over looking the Straight of Juan de Fuca and Dungeness Spit to watch the sunset.

we read some books, talked and goofed off for about two and
a half hours; waiting for the sun to dip down a little closer to

for those practicing amateur photography, nothing beats
evening lighting. the sun gets diffused by all the particles in
the atmosphere that hang close to the surface of earth. this
makes for great soft lighting. turn your flash off, hold your
camera still, and shoot away.

from the bluffs down to the beach. as we sat and watched
the sun melt, a bald eagle swooped down in front of us and
on to it's airie in a nearby tree. i think he was just
making sure we were putting ourselves in the right

i know i've said that cincinnati has some of the best,
most overlooked sunsets [maybe because there is so
much humidity... and crap in the air], but so far nothing
beats the intensity of the pacific sun. it'll blind you!

back at our campsite, with the air dropping a good fifteen degrees, we got the campfire roaring and lit the pipe. we read and smoked the evening down. when the darkness consumed us, we broke out the tripod and camera for some long exposure shots.

6 second exposure.

6 second exposure.

10 second exposure.

13 second exposure.

the next morning we woke to almost clear skies and a warm sun. we headed back to the bluffs to take in the views of the olympic mountains and brew some coffee; our new camping vice. we got a titanium french press for our wedding, and are putting it to good use!

while sipping our morning coffee and gazing across the ocean, we met an older couple who were 'traveling' through. we love meeting new people on the road. they both lost close family members who all said 'we wish we would have.' they immediately sold their home, left successful jobs, purchased an rv and took to life.they work odd jobs in the 'off season' and other than that, they travel and live. heading here and there for weeks,sometimes months. they don't want to pass and say, 'we wish we would have.' we don't either.

the next day on our way home, we stopped in port townsend for a few hours. we walked the streets, listened to street buskers, and pondered the 'we wish we would have' comment from the previous day. talking through the vastness of the cosmos [let alone our own country] and how small our lives are, andrea looked up and saw a rainbow halo. we took it as God putting us into perspective.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'
-Mark Twain