Friday, May 22, 2009

Road Trip!

Bright and early this morning (though not until after I had done my five minutes' meditation) we set out for the west coast of the island. In the 41 kilometers between Tofino in the north and Ucluelet in the south, lies Pacific Rim National Park. We used to take the three-hour drive to Pacific Rim several times a year, but since we started traveling to Mexico and England, our trips to the park have been few and far between. Now we find that things change between our visits. This time, the Tseshaht Band has built a new, cedar plank office building outside Port Alberni. Parts of the road have been repaired; others have deteriorated. (Subsidence is a major problem on the twisting, treacherous road between Port Alberni and the coast.) The scenery is still beautiful, though, so I decided to 'write' this post as a photo essay. I hope you enjoy it.


Two hours away from home, we arrive at The Breakfast Spot. Once we make our way down the overgrown track that passes for a road into the Breakfast Spot (and I'll never know how we found it in the first place), I wonder why we want to go on to the beach at all. I could happily spend the day walking around on the rocks, staring into the water. Upstream, the water is glassy, and the rocks underwater glisten in the sunlight. We unpack our brunch, sit on a rocky shelf beside the waterfall and look downstream, where the water boils down a multitude of cataracts, then rushes off toward the sea.

If the laneway that leads into the Breakfast Spot is narrow, the one going out is more so. When Robin suggests we should get going (sigh), I comment that I hope we will be able to get through. We can't. First, there is a broken limb hanging at windshield height. Robin moves that and proceeds while we listen to the screech of smaller branches against our car's paint job. Then there is a whole tree, fallen right across our path. There is no moving that. I get out of the car and check. Then I follow (behind, in front of) the car while Robin backs it down and down the lane to the clearing where we parked. I suppose that if we didn't take our Buick to places meant for Jeeps, these things wouldn't happen.

I climb in, and we retrace our steps, as it were, using the in door to go out. We get back onto the main road, and this is what we see ahead.

That's when I remember that going on to the coast is, in fact, a good idea. One remarkable thing about traveling through this area is that there's really nothing around us but trees and water. This is what the screen on Maggie, our GPS, shows:

Us, our road, our destination. No towns, no side roads.

Of course, that means it's really hard to get lost. We drive for another hour, and finally, we're at Florencia Bay, off the Wickaninnish Road in the park. Our first view of the ocean is from a viewing point at the top of the cliff.

I've brought my new Nordic walking poles, which I intend to use for the first time on the beach. (This turns out to be a good idea. I like these things.) Donning my backpack, strapping my camera case around my waist, carrying my poles, I follow Robin down a very impressive flight(s) of stairs to the beach.

Down and down and down, until we clamber out into the sunlight,

and there we stay for the next three hours, walking, making little pointy holes in the beach with our walking poles, looking for jetsam (Robin), reading Joshilyn Jackson's The Girl Who Stopped Swimming while sitting in the sand and leaning on a log (me).

I take big, spectacular shots, but really, what I look at while I'm walking the beach are things like this.

And this.

And this.

Three hours later, we leave the park and drive back to Nanaimo, wishing it weren't quite such a long and winding road, but knowing that if it weren't, we would never be able to experience the beautiful, palpable solitude that this beach gives us.

On the way home, we take note of this one last special place, the mountain we call Witch-i-poo because of its pointed hat. We have no idea what the mountain's real name is, but we're very fond of it. We can't even recognize it on the westward journey, but on the way home, it's hard to miss.

So -what do you think of the new header? Good? Bad?Yes? No?


Liza said...

Road trips...a girl after my own heart. The trip looks just fabulous. Our road trips have become shorter since the kids but will definitely change with our move to europe. BTW, you have a great eye for photography, too! My favorite was the one of the rocks on the log. Very creative.

Thanks for the follow. (my follow box is at the end of my blog...try that)

John Hayes said...

Great header-- definitely a keeper! I agree with Liza-- those are really nice photos; the beach pix really make me miss the Pacific Ocean. Sounds like a fine day out-- you have to have a little adventure to have a tale to tell (i.e., the impassible road after the Breakfast Spot).

Original Poetry Sunday tomorrow, yes?

René Wing said...

wonderful! nice to come visit with you and enjoy some of your trip. And I love the new header on your blog! also very happy to see that merton poem. he is a great favorite of mine who I read often since maaaannny moons ago, but I did not know that poem. it is full of his flavor, peace, warmth, wisdom.

I'm not getting much blogging in lately, but I hope to post something tomorrow.

safe travels and look out for those trees!

Sandra Leigh said...

Ah, yes. Thanks, Liza. I was trying to use the Follow Blog button in the header. Now I'm in.

I can't take credit for the rocks on the log. (There's a name for those stacks of rocks, isn't there? I can't think what it is.) They were there. I just found them. ;>)

Thank you, John. I took, I think, 95 pictures yesterday, so deciding what to post was quite a task. I'm glad you like the header. I wrote it with one of my new walking poles.

Sandra Leigh said...

René, we are always on the lookout for rogue trees here. It's what makes life in the wilderness a challenge. ;>)

I'm watching for your posts, and I'm glad you enjoyed the Merton (thanks for the reminder. It's time for a new poetic pick, isn't it?)

Until tomorrow -

critter said...

I like the header.

Lovely photo work.

Sometimes I miss the ocean.

Barry said...

Your photo are so lush and beautiful. I didn't so much feel that I was there with you as the over whelming desire to go see for myself.

Such beauty is a treasure.

Sandra Leigh said...

Critter - I lived inland for over twenty years, and I never stopped missing the ocean.

Barry, I'm so glad you came over - I was watching your Rouge River film a few minutes ago, thinking that you would have loved being at Florencia Bay yesterday.

Kathryn Magendie said...

OHHHH! How lovely....loving the photos.... *BIG SMILE*

Sandra Leigh said...

Kathryn - you got in! I'm so glad. When you've got some time to spare from VK2, come on up, and I'll show you my ocean.

Barb said...

What a stunning drive. Your pictures are just magical - thank you for sharing them.

Sandra Leigh said...

Thank you very much, Barb.

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