Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 10, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #7

I didn’t write a post yesterday, because most of the day was spent on the road and then visiting with family, and by the time I got back to the hotel I was pretty bagged.  So today will cover two days!

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Ucluelet, and my parents and I made our way back along the winding road toward Courtenay.  The highway was really foggy, so it was a bit slow going, and it was a bit weird for me to be the one driving my parent for once, but kind of nice all the same. We stopped in Port Alberni for lunch/a break from the road, and I can’t quite remember the place name but it was something like The Turtle Cafe.  The food was good though I just had a salad.  I love eating salad down south – everything just tastes fresher!

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Beautiful, ethereal forest!

After Port Alberni, we stopped at Cathedral Grove.  It was a lot colder yesterday than it had been, but the dense fog made for a sort of magical atmosphere in the tall trees. I have no doubt it is also magical in the sun, and will have to verify in the the future. As it is, it is quite neat to be amongst such old, old tall trees.

A quick stop in Coombs after the Cathedral Grove was in order, where a few more Christmas gifts were purchased by my parents, and I bought a pastry called a Beesting, which is a glorious whipped cream and caramel concoction it took me two days to eat.  I also ran into a woman I know from Yellowknife; she and her husband used to live in my condo building until earlier this year, when they retired to Vancouver Island. It’s such a small world!

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In the absence of goats on the roof, I will be a stand in goat.

Courtenay was our next stopped, where we checked into the Holiday Inn Express. My aunt came to pick us up for dinner after work, and we went to Fresh Slice for some super inexpensive but delicious pizza of so many kinds. After eating dinner at her and my uncle’s home, my aunt took us out to look at the lights for a while, including a cool set at the Crown Isle Golf Resort, where they also take donations for the food bank as “admission”.  It was very lovely, though I finally have started to feel the chill, so was not able to stay out long!

Today was a little more shopping, first at a couple of craft fairs in Courtenay and Comox, then along 5th Street, the “main” street in Courtenay, including lunch at a pub where I had an excellent California Wrap. Shopping also included a stop at Hot Chocolates, where I cleared out the inventory of dark chocolate champagne truffles. I have about a dozen (plus another six in milk chocolate) which will be my New Year’s Eve treat.  They are my favourite, and I can’t get the good kind at home, just ones full of preservatives.  These I’ve popped in the fridge to stay until I leave, then into the freezer they’ll go to keep me from being tempted.

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Picture courtesy of Jenny Chartrand, Grey Owl Tattoo, who also did the art! Thanks again, Jenny, it is PERFECT!

After that, I went and got my tattoo on my ear coloured in at Grey Owl Tattoo, and also got to catch up with my friend Jenny (the tattoo artist and all around awesome person) while she did another tattoo, a gorgeous set of roses in grey-scale.  She’s about halfway done and it already looks amazing, so I can’t wait to see what she posts of the full work. Of course, I’m even more fond of my pretty little quill behind the ear. I also have to thank her for getting pictures for me – I can’t take my own given the location, though I did try and fail to do so in the mirror!

I had dinner at the White Spot after my tattoo, for proximity alone, a salad with candied salmon and beets. It was very good, and still left room for my Beesting leftovers!  Soon I’ll be off the internet and off to bed, to be well rested for my last day on the Island. It’s back home and back to work soon… but not yet. Not. Yet.

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Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 8, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #6

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Sunrise on Terrace Beach

It was the perfect kind of low key day today, with enough sun and alone time to suit this introvert.  I started the day just before sunrise, creeping out after starting a pot of coffee to take pictures of the sun coming up on the beach. Then, after some coffee, my parents and I went to the Blue Room for breakfast, where I had a latte and a fisherman’s breakfast, which had eggs, hash browns, toast and ham, sausage, and bacon, which was awesome because I didn’t have to pick.

My parents went off to do some Christmas shopping (for me, I think, given the hints they dropped like anvils) while I gassed up the car and got a few groceries. They were content to walk home, so I got to do my daily walk on the Wild Pacific Trail.

 

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I climbed a tree!

I stuck to the coastal side this time; that is, I walked to the lighthouse along the coast and then back along the coast, even though it was longer, to get more time in with the ocean. It was lovely and sunny and warm today. I found my little cove again and debated taking a nap on a log, but thought that might be imprudent with the tide coming in.

I did a lot of soaking up the sun and picking about the rocks, though my ankle has been sore and stiff today.  I’m glad I did, because the ankle is probably always going to be a problem, but you don’t get to find a crab in a shell by sitting at home! (I was looking for a snail inside, but bravely took picture when I realized it was a tiny crab with scary spider-like legs.)

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I found a crab!

 

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Sunset on the beach

I came back to the cabin for a bit, as mom and dad were home with a treat, some apple cake, from the bakery. After a bit of down time, dad and I walked down to Little Beach to take pictures of the sunset. It is such a pretty little spot and so worth the glute workout you get walking up the hill from the cabins we’re staying at!

After that, I drove mom to pick up the Christmas letters she had printed (she’s finishing them here, where she’s got less outside pressures and stress) and mailed a few post cards, then we were back to make dinner.  Fortunately, not pasta this time!  We had barbecue chicken and rice and salad, followed by the blueberry pirogies I’d picked up in Coombs.

 

 

I’ve had my last soak in the hot tub, as we pack up tomorrow. I’m already sorry to see us go, even with the Cathedral Grove to look forward to tomorrow. It’s so beautiful here, and so restful, and so full of sunshine. At least I have another few nights on the Island before I have to go home to snow and cold!

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The view from our deck when the sun sets.

 

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 7, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #5

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Sun and sea in my little cove.

So this will be a short entry, in part because I’m rather tired, especially after having to clear out a bunch of space in my iPhoto so I could import today’s photos. I’ve been shooting in raw files because I took a photo class and felt super fancy, but that apparently takes up more space than I thought about.  Hopefully going back to simply taking in .jpeg format will mean less sifting through and trying to delete enough and empty trash folders and crossing fingers going forward.

It was a bit of a lazy morning today, coffee and pancakes and a leisurely bath with a book, then a walk, partly with my mom then we kind of drifted off and did our own pace along the trail. The sun was just lovely and warm, and so I found a nice little cove poked away off the path and got some vitamin D and quiet time.

 

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I made friends with this bird too, even without breadcrumb bribes.

After our walks, we all came home and ate lunch. Dad and I finished off the leftover pasta. I am glad. It was good, but three days in a row is enough for me.

Then we went back to my lovely beach to watch surfers and the sunset.  I wore my swimsuit and shorts so I could wade without worry about getting wet.

 

 

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Surfers and sunset

 

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Goodnight, Tofino.

It was a little chilly, but not too cold to keep me from the ocean.  Once the sun was down, we had dinner at Shelter, a lovely pub-style restaurant in Tofino with excellent ambience. Mom, Dad, and I all had burgers and fries, and Dad also had the Caesar salad on the side, while I tried their Brussels sprouts, which are breaded and have cheese on them. Everything was fantastic.

Having spent over an hour in and out of the ocean, I was a bit chilly, so I warmed up in the hot tub when we got back, with a plastic cup of sparkling wine. I wish I’d brought my tripod, because the stars were phenomenal tonight. There must be so little light pollution and very clear skies here, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many starts at once. It was incredible.

I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, except more happy oceanness.  I know I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: I love, love, love it here.

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 6, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #4

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The light was much better for photos today!

I just want to write “happy, happy, happy” over and over, but that doesn’t make for the most interesting blog entry.  But I am definitely in my happy place, as I listen to music and type, heart singing for the beauty of the day.

So the verdict is that my dad can be heard snoring from my loft, but fortunately, not too loudly and he hasn’t been doing much of it anyway. I only know because he went down to read a book and I could hear him, but he woke up and stopped by the time he went to bed properly.  It’s not too bad, anyway, as the sound of the ocean makes for a nice distraction. I love the non-uniform rhythm of the waves in the night. The best kind of lullaby ever.

 

 

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No whales, but plenty of waves.

I started my day with a cinnamon bun from the bakery mom had picked up yesterday, with some Greek yogurt I picked up in Coombs.  I then went for a walk around the Wild Pacific Trail on my own while my parents stayed back to putter and do their own thing. The light was beautiful today, with clear blue skies and sun on my skin as I strolled at my own pace, stopping to take pictures (so many pictures) and just enjoy the warmth. It was really funny for me to pass people in their puffy jackets and toques. Even my parents bundle up a little. I, however, am perfectly comfortable with just a sweatshirt.

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That perfect light through the trees that I love.

After my walk, my parents and I went into to the Tofino area. It meant I got to show them my favourite beach. I love, love, love Chesterman Beach, and was so happy to be there again. The tide was coming in, so we had it to ourselves mostly, especially because it is King Tide time, so it is super high and there were rip tide warnings. I got to take my shoes and socks off and go barefoot in the sand and surf. My toes got a little red, but really it wasn’t that chilly at all. My dad also got to touch the ocean, though his was an accident – he was taking pictures and miscalculated how high up the beach a wave was going to crawl. He was good-humoured about it, even though it meant wet feet for most of our time in Tofino proper, visiting the shops, and also having to endure my pointing out ugly slippers he could buy in the pharmacy.

 

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Bird taking flight on my favourite beach.

Of course, before going in to Tofino, I made sure we made a stop at Chocolate Tofino. Dad  got some Chocolate Elixir so he could feel a bit like Hercule Poirot, and both he and mom grabbed a selection of the homemade truffles. I got my own as well, plus some more excellent gelato.

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Happy ocean feet!

We then drove back to Ucluelet as the sun sunk down on the water, getting back just before it disappeared entirely below the horizon. We ate leftover pasta for dinner, as yesterday mom wasn’t sure how much the bag would make, so cooked it all.  We will likely eat it at least once more in the next two days, or see if we can find a container to pack it up to take to my aunt’s house. There’s… a lot. Still.

Mom and Dad were out in the hot tub earlier, but I decided to take a pass tonight in favour of not needing to cool down before bed.  Perhaps I’ll take a dip in the ocean tomorrow so I’ll need a warm up. We’ll see. In any case, my feet are going to be happy ocean feet tomorrow, no matter what we decide to do… though I suspect we’ll find our way to my beach again, for more happy heart singing.

 

 

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 5, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #3

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Being by the ocean makes me so happy.

Traveling with my parents is different than traveling with the friends I have traveled with, and definitely very different than traveling alone. Not different bad or even different good. Just different. Our rhythms are just different, and it makes for some adjustments. For example, my dad likes to wind down with the television at night, and I usually keep it off when I’m on vacation (I can watch TV at home any time) and my mom is nervous about wildlife on the trails so talks when I would normally just let my heavy steps do the forewarning for me.  Again, not bad or good, just different.

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We know this is a Steller’s Jay, because my dad googled him. He’s pretty stellar.

We started the day with some lazy quiet time, which was nice.  My mom brought my coffee up to me, which was nice.  Then I had a soak in the huge tub up in my loft while watching the sun come up and then read in there for bit. I really need to remember to take a picture of it.  I can sit up and the water nearly is up to my shoulders. Mom made breakfast, bacon and eggs, and we read and watched a Steller’s Jay hop around a bit. We fed him some breadcrumbs.  I’m going to make an effort to make friends with him and his buddies before we leave. My goal is having him eat out of my hand, but we’ll see!

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Light through the trees is always gorgeous, but maybe especially through B.C. trees.

After that, we did the Wild Pacific Trail’s Lighthouse Loop.  The light was only good for some of the walk, but I still got some good pictures. I also got some nice coastal time, because the sun came out and it was just as I found a lovely little off trail with a driftwood fence and an excellent coastal view from a bench.  I will probably even go back on my own and hang out there.  We did the rainforest side first, my mom and I, while my dad was off on a beach taking photos, then he met us coming the other way around, and somehow my mom ended up chatting with some Americans who moved here for reasons one might predict and missed the off trail I’d pointed her toward, so she ended up going ahead, and then my dad caught up with me, which would have been fine if we weren’t the two with the cabin keys! My mom was content to wander the beach until we got back, fortunately.

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Toward my lovely little nook.

After our walk, we went into the main part of Ucluelet and did some shopping.  Mom got a hat she likes very much, a turquoise felted cloche that matches her jacket. She suggested it to my dad as a Christmas present, then decided she couldn’t wait. It looks very cute. It’s funny too, because she also liked it for keeping her warm. Both she and my dad wore proper jackets and mentioned being chilled. I just wore my sweatshirt, and I’m always cold at home. I just don’t find that the damp gets into my bones the way it seems for some. Maybe my love for this place just keeps the cold out.  I also inquired after whale watching, but it is too late in the season. No crazy whale adventures for me this trip. I’m still going to keep my eye out, in case some orcas decide to visit.

We made our way back to our lovely cabin before sunset, read and snacked on cheese from Coombs with crackers, and beefy mom brought from home, and then my mom made pasta and salad for dinner. A lot of it!  We have this enormous container in the fridge and dad joked about needing to scramble it with eggs for breakfast to get rid of it all before we go home. It’s not quite as bad as all that, but we might be getting a container to put it in and give it to my aunt and uncle so we don’t have to eat it every day.

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Also, we saw an eagle!

I did the dishes after dinner, and relaxed in the hot tub for a bit. We might go into to Tofino tomorrow, we might not.  But no matter what, I’m going to have a good time. I’m so glad to be here, and healthy this time.

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 4, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #2

It’s going to be a short entry today – much of my time was spent on the road.  I did get up and photograph the sunrise on the beach this morning, my feet a little cold in flip-flops as it was a bit frosted. Then it was breakfast, check out, and a shuttle to the airport to get my rental car. I drove to Nanaimo and picked up my parents, then we made our way to Ucluelet with a stop in Coombs, where the Country Market goats were not on the roof today. After some delightful shopping there and then in the used bookstore, I drove us down the winding way to the Terrace Beach Resort, navigating the frosted roads like a champ.

 

 

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Frost on the beach means frost on my toes

After unloading and checking out our cabin, the Sea Star (appropriate for a Starfish Dancer!), we had fish and chips at the Cedar Grill, then returned to our rental place where mom and I soaked the hot tub while dad watched football. All in all a good day, though I’m bagged!  Going to chill in the loft where my bed is (I’ll take pictures tomorrow, because the jet tub is phenomenal) for a bit then sleep with my windows open. Hopefully the sound of the ocean through my open window will be louder than my dad snoring in the bedroom downstairs, since this is pretty open concept!

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | December 3, 2017

Vancouver Island: Once More, Without the Stones #1

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How I missed you, ocean.

I love British Columbia, and I love Vancouver Island, but the last time I visited, just this past August, I was not able to properly enjoy it properly.  I had been to the doctor a few times prior to traveling for ongoing issues that turned out to be kidney stones, for those who didn’t read my last set of entries, and while I started to get better halfway through my trip, I was still exhausted and healing.  I felt like I hadn’t gotten what I needed from that particular trip – my quality time with the ocean.  So what could I do but go back again?

So here I am again, on Vancouver Island, to soothe my soul with storm season, and my parents will be joining me for part of my vacation, so I can show them this beautiful place that I love, and where part of my heart is at home.  I flew in from Yellowknife to the Comox airport last night after work, so I didn’t even have to take an extra vacation day to start my weekend on the Island.  It was a bit of a time crunch worry at first, since we were delayed by deicing and my tight connection got pinched super small.  Nevertheless, I made it from Gate A24 to Gate A5 in the Calgary Airport just in time to catch the tail end of my flight boarding, without any embarrassing paging of my name while I hoofed it as fast as I could.  Despite the time crunch, I was also pleased to see my suitcase made it with me, thanks to West Jet being awesome as usual.

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This perfect tiny shell makes me happy.

The flight into Comox got in just before midnight, but it was a busy night for cabs, so I had to wait awhile before I could get one from the airport. It was nearly one by the time I got to bed, and I was hungry and sore from airplane seats, so my sleep was a bit rocky despite my excellent bed at my hotel, and so I woke up earlier than I’d planned, but when I opened my curtains to my view of the ocean, I didn’t even care.  I’m so happy to be here.

I ate the granola bar I’d stashed in my bag and drank a coffee, my eyes drawn ever back to my view, before going to an early lunch in the hotel restaurant. The waitress, Emily, was lovely, and it turns out is close friends with someone I used to work with at the Co-op  when we were in high school. It’s a small world!  I have a dish of mussels cooked in gin with a salad, and they were so good.  I regret not trying the oysters in New Orleans now, and will the next time I go, because obviously I do like seafood, I’m just not overly fond of most cooked fish. I also had a drink called an Aquapurr, which was like a gloriously extra mimosa. Drink of the day for sure.

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It’s eagles! My zoom lens is being repaired, so many thanks to Maureen and Finn at Roy’s in Yellowknife for arranging a loaner so I wouldn’t miss out, because look! EAGLES!

After lunch, I took a walk on the beach for a bit, taking pictures.  There were gulls and a gorgeous little brown bird, and bald eagles.  I’ve never been able to get a bald eagle shot before, but I got once today. Totally worth soaking through my shoes and my socks.  I’m just going to roll up my pants and wear my flip-flops, I think, for future beach walks. Thank goodness I also have a pair of hiking boots I can wear tomorrow – I’m pretty sure my runners will need more than tonight to dry out, and running the blow dryer over them is probably less genius than I think.

After my beach walk, it was time for the spa appointment I’d booked. I don’t have pictures because they are not allowed in the spa, but it was truly glorious and exactly what I needed to get rid of the lingering tension headache from travel. I started with a guided walk through the Sea to Sky Hydropath (my guide was the lovely Dana) in the spa here.  First, you shower in a Swiss shower that sprays water at you from all sides, before soaking in a hot mineral bath with jets, where you move around so different ones aim at different parts of your back. Next it is a series of different waterfall showers before a steam room with eucalyptus, then onto a glacial waterfall shower.  (My least favourite, I’ll admit, though invigorating.) Then there is this path you walk down twice with different jets, first through hot, then through cold water.  Following that is a sea salt and mineral soak, with jets that “rain” on you and a bubble massage.  You finish in a milk bath after an exfoliating scrub.

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Everything is beautiful and hydrated today, including these berries.

I next chilled out with tea in the relaxation room, before Sherlynn came to get me for my relaxation massage. Normally I don’t rave about relaxation massages – they are nice, but they are usually not the same kind that works to ease my tension. This wasn’t an RMT massage, but it was so good.  Seriously, I’ve gone to RMTs who haven’t been able to work that deeply into the muscles. It was so good, and my headache was gone, gone, gone after her excellent work. I always tip, but she got an extra good one from me. That was glorious.

Post-massage, I was feeling super hungry again, so I went to the bar to try a new cocktail and get a snack since I don’t like drinking on an empty stomach.  I tried a Figgy Old Fashioned, which was a nice strong drink, with a nice burn of whisky. I ate a bag of parmesan and truffle butter popcorn with it. Then, even though my aunt was coming to get me for dinner soon, I decided to have pre-dinner dessert (which I didn’t admit to so I could also have dessert after dinner). I couldn’t resist – I was hungry and they had creme brulée. The classic vanilla kind.  I also had a second drink, a Havana Caffeinated. Also quite the burn of whisky, and it was cold coffee, not hot, which surprised me.  Still delicious – and the creme brulée also had that perfect crackling sugar top. (Seriously, the mixologist here at the Kingfisher Resort and Spa is super creative and awesome, and it is really tempting to go back to try one more drink because they are all so interesting and delicious and different. This places gets all the votes and I definitely have to stay here again.)

Thanks to my potent drinks, I was very relaxed and a bit giggly when my aunt picked me up, but in that nice way I was trying to hold on to from after the spa. I had a lovely visit with my aunt, uncle, and cousin (up for the weekend and heading back to uni tomorrow!), as well as yummy chicken soup followed by yummy homemade blueberry pie. Basically, I am not going to bed hungry tonight, but instead going sated and happy and relaxed.

Tomorrow, I shuttle to the airport to pick up my rental, then to Nanaimo to pick up my parentals! I’m very excited to share the Island with them. And even happier to be back.

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 10, 2017

Back In BC: Entry #7

I am technically no longer back in BC, writing instead from the comfort of my living room as the Wifi at my hotel last night was atrocious, so I gave up trying and went to bed. Seriously, I’ve had better access in small Northern communities, and that’s saying something.

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So many great artisan stalls at Nautical Days.

I last left off in Ucluelet, which I miss already (and may be plotting another return before the year is out). From there, I drove myself to Courtenay, BC, where an auntie, uncle and cousin make their home. The drive went fairly smoothly, and beautiful. Had I had more time, I would definitely have taken time to stop along the way for pictures.

 

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Fancy old cars – from around 1915!

Once in Courtenay, after getting all the hugs from my auntie, we ventured out to the last day of Nautical Days in Comox, the annual festival that has artisans and music and all sorts of fun things. I was very tempted to buy many things, including a wishing bowl and a gorgeous piece of stained glass with a starfish on it, caution over them surviving a trip home kept me from whipping out my credit card. It was hot, hot, hot outside, so we didn’t stay too long, though we did take a look at the old cars that were out for the parade (including two “General Lee”s complete with racist confederate flag on top and novelty horn noise) and a walk on the dock where I saw seals swimming by kayakers and the sailboats.

 

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One of the seals playing in the harbour.

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Kye Bay

After leaving nautical days, my auntie took me to Kye Bay, so I could cool off in the ocean. She sat on the sand for a short time while I frolicked, but the tide snuck up fast and soon she had a wet towel and had to move off to the rocks and driftwood logs to sit. It was beautiful, and I was so, so glad to swim in the ocean, to tangle my ankles in seaweed and watch the little fish run away from me. My uncle, who had been visiting out of town friends who were camping at Qualicum Beach, joined us to sun for a little while, until we got hungry. So we met up with my cousin, who just graduated and is now a whole head taller than me, and we all went to the Whitespot for a delicious dinner.

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Fireworks over the ocean.

After dinner, we chilled at the house for a bit, before making our way back to Comox for the end of Nautical Days fireworks. It was spectacular and totally worth staying past our bedtimes to see!

The next day, I hugged my family goodbye and climbed back in the car to make my way back toward Vancouver, but not before stopping at Grey Owl Tattoo, to get a couple of pieces down. My friend Jenny owns the shop, and this was actually the first time we’d met in person, since we’d become Facebook friends through roller derby, which she played when she lived here just before I joined, but had missed crossing paths as she had two pregnancies that kept her off the track while I was on it!

So it was lovely to meet her (though we totally failed at taking a “we meet at last!” pic) and lovely to get my art, though I am going to go back to put colour in the quill I have behind my ear, I think.  I wasn’t sure, and then ran out of time anyway, as I had to head to Ladysmith to catch my great aunt and uncle before my ferry. It gave me time to decide on colours, though, and it still looks cute in the meantime.

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The hazy sun from the ferry.

I had a lovely lunch with my great aunt and uncle, though the visit was far too short, in part because of my travel anxiety meant I had to arrive as early as allowed for my ferry. We had a nice visit, and I got to learn about their recent trip to Norway, as they’d only been back the night before!

After that, it was off to the ferry, where I stayed outside until it was too chilly, hoping to see wildlife. It was pretty smokey and overcast, though, so no luck. Then after the ferry, it was back to Burnaby to drop off the car (with a couple of missed turns and recalculated routes, especially since my GPS kept telling me to turn on streets that did not exist), then a taxi to the Travelodge Airport Vancouver, where the bed was comfortable but the Wifi lagged so much I lasted all of five minutes before just deciding to go to bed.

And now I am home. I head back to work tomorrow (boo!), and spent my afternoon doing laundry and my evening dropping off gifts.  I miss the island, but it was good to see my niece and nephew. Maybe some day I’ll take them to Ucluelet and Tofino with me. For now, though, I’ll daydream about when I might next be able to go back.

And so ends this journey. Hopefully my next one won’t be too far away… and will have much better health than my last two vacations have dealt me.

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 7, 2017

Back in BC: Entry #6

I’m sitting in my lodge room on the couch that is like sinking into the cushiest marshmallow, feet on the soft, starfish-patterned area rug, sipping coffee and wishing I never had to leave. It was my last night in Ucluelet, as I am hitting the road to my aunt’s in Courtenay shortly. Robyn and M and his daughter headed out toward Qualicum Falls last night, so I had the room and bed to myself, but after a long day of awesomeness, I crashed before writing my blog – hence the morning entry instead.

Robyn and I had a bit of a lazy morning  yesterday.  She had her tea while I sipped on my coffee, waiting out eleven o’clock so that we could try a different restaurant.  M and his daughter P joined us at Howler’s, where I ate way too much food because it was so delicious. I had their junction wrap, which has sprouts and fresh eggs and avocado and was so good, with a side of what were quite possibly the best hash browns I have ever eaten. Perfectly crisp and so good.

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This tree in the Botanical Gardens looks like an elephant. I love him.

Next, we drove to Tofino for our day plans. Then, even though we were totally full, we stopped at the chocolate shop where I got fresh delicious chocolates (that I ate after the beach and dinner last night) and gelato.  I can’t remember what Robyn got, but I had a small cup of the lavender honey. They make it fresh, and it was glorious and perfect. Just the right amount of floral to offset the sweet without being overpowering.

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No frogs, but yes chickens and roosters!

It has been a bit overcast and chilly here, so we went to the Botanical Gardens next, to wander the forest for a while. M, P, and Robyn climbed the trees, and we looked at art installations. There were also goats and chickens and a rooster. Sadly, the frogs in the frog pond wouldn’t come out for a visit, though I did wait a while. The water lilies on the pond were spectacular, though.

 

Then we went to the beach again, where I waded and took pictures for a while. There were so many surfers out, I didn’t think there was any point in swimming, between the rough and the waves and the cold. After all, I’d already nearly been hit by two surfers who really need to learn spacial awareness on the boardwalk. (When you turn, your board almost smacks the very not invisible girl walking beside you, so maybe be a little more aware, dude and dudette!) But then Robyn, M, and P found a sort of cove where it was far enough away from the surfers, and even though it was cold enough to redden the skin, I went for it.  I swam in the ocean and I was so, so very glad to be able to do so. The waves crashed against me and when I jumped into them they washed me toward shore and it made my heart so, so happy.

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So many surfers on Chesterman Beach, having an awesome time!

It wasn’t a terribly long swim – twenty minutes to half an hour at best – but it was just what I wanted and needed, and so much what I wish I had more time to do. I really need to make more time for the island the next time I am here. And also not have kidney stones, which really slowed me down.

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Post swim starfish, cold but happy!  (I really need to get my iPhone lens cleaner.)

We made our way back to the cars and transferred Robyn’s gear, then parted ways as she has another few weeks to explore BC and I must go back to work. I drove back to Ucluelet with the heat on full blast in my wet bathing suit, then had a hot, hot bath in the hotel room before dressing for dinner.  The restaurant I wanted to eat at had a wait, but they asked if I wanted to do takeout instead, and that sounded brilliant. So I ordered by Cedar Burger from the Cedar Grill, bought a bottle of wine so I could have a glass or two (the rest is coming with me to Courtenay) and basically had a nice quiet dinner on my cozy marshmallow couch. By the time I was done, it was past nine and I was too tired to write, so I just surfed the net a bit before heading to bed early. I had a wonderful sleep in the comfy, comfy bed – Robyn and I could both rave for hours about the pillows – then did my postcards to mail today before I leave Ucluelet.

So now I’d better shower and dress so I can grab something to eat – probably just a pastry and coffee for the road, and head to Courtenay for today’s adventure. I probably won’t write tonight but will bundle up Courtenay and the journey to Vancouver from my hotel on Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to seeing my auntie and family and to exploring Courtenay a little once again.  Until next post!

Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 6, 2017

Back in BC: Entry #5

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Starfish with a starfish.

I can’t promise this will be the most coherent of my entries, as I am wiped, wiped, wiped. The good news is that for once it isn’t because my health is kicking my behind. In fact, it is basically as a result of having such an amazing day, every cell is basically begging me to go to sleep.  But not yet!  I have an entry to write!

Robyn and I got moved to my original booking today, as the room we were in with two beds had been booked past the first day, but the lovely staff at the Pacific Rim Guest Lodge moved all our gear for us while we were out. We’ll be sharing a bed tonight, but I’ll have this perfect, wonderful room to myself my last night. It’s a great little lodge, and I would definitely stay here again.

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“Blue” by Kris Walker, soon to find her home in Yellowknife with me.

We met up with Robyn’s friend M and his daughter today, starting with breakfast in the only place open before eleven in Ucluelet. It was full in the inside tables, so we ate outside even though it was a bit chilly today. I think it was called the Blue Room, and I just had standard diner breakfast – bacon and scrambled eggs, with hash browns and excellent sourdough toast. After breakfast, we did a bit of shopping and I found art that I loved and had to buy, which is unusual for me. It’s a perfect mermaid and I love her, even if it does mean having to rethink how I’m going to do carryon luggage home.

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In the palm of my hand. 

After that, it was a stop in the small but lovely Ucluelet Aquarium, the first in the world to do catch and release.  So all the animals are returned to the ocean by the end of the season, and the tanks mean you can not only see them, but you can touch some of the sea creatures as well.

 

 

I held starfish – so many of them! – and sea urchins, picked up a sea cucumber, poked anemone to feel them close over my fingers, and looked at fish and crabs and jellyfish.  Robyn may have gotten a little pinch from a hermit crab. I guess she startled him!

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Crashing waves, one of my faves

After that, we all drove to the Wild Pacific Trail and did the lighthouse loop.  We spend a great deal of time climbing on the rocks and watching the waves crash and poking at tidal pools.  This is partly why I am so exhausted. There was a lot of climbing, and I had to take a lot of zigzag paths because my legs are short and I couldn’t step in all the places my tall friends can. This is something I am quite used to, by now!

We finished the lighthouse loop, which ends with a beautiful loop past the shore and then into the forest.  No whales sighted this time around, but still super beautiful.  It was slow going because Robyn and I were tired from our climbing adventures, combined with our severe under-caffeination.  So after our walk, we stopped at a café (The Foggy Bean) that sold me an excellent cinnamon bun with blueberries in it but quite possibly the worst latte I’ve ever had. They roast their own beans, and unfortunately I think they burned the espresso batch.

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A piece of my heart lives here.

After coffee, we made our way to Tofino, so I could show off my heart’s home, the Chesterman Beach by the Long Beach Lodge Resort. It was just as beautiful as I remembered it being, even in today’s chillier air, the fog misting the air.  We spent a good hour on the beach, and I suspect that’s where the bulk of my time tomorrow will be as well. I love, love, love it with the waves and the water and the soft sand and the nooks and crannies.

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A flower and shells left out like an offering to the sea gods.

We had dinner in Tofino as well, as the Beachfront Bistro in the Best Western.  Both M and I had excellent meals, but Robyn’s was unfortunately a dud.  I ordered a slow roasted rabbit pasta that was fantastic, all light tomato and spinach setting it off. M had a seafood linguini that was apparently quite good (I’m not a big fan of seafood).  Robyn ordered the duck with risotto. They overcooked her duck the first round by far, so she had to send it back. The second batch took forever to come, and they had still overdone it a bit, and the meat wasn’t rendered properly. The risotto was a barley risotto but it tasted rushed (the first batch had been better). The lovely waitress gave Robyn her staff discount, but the kitchen really should have comped it.  I’d still go to the restaurant again – two out of three meals were excellent and the service was awesome – but skip the duck.  They are not good at duck.

Dinner was a late affair thanks to the duck issues, so I’m now back. I’m going to sign off, brush my teeth, and collapse now. It was a great day, and now I need to recover so I have energy for another one tomorrow!

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