You never know what kind of weather you are going to get on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. I take that back. You sort of do but you take your chances and hope that the fog doesn’t linger too long and the sun makes an appearance, hopefully sooner than later. It can be sunny almost everywhere else on Vancouver Island and about 15 minutes before coming into Pacific Rim National Park (Long Beach) the sun starts to disappear into the mist.
We have our favourite spot in Pacific Rim National Park, Florencia Beach. We usually make it out there about 3-4 times a year. The drive from Lantzville, where we live on the east coast of the Island, takes a about 2-1/2 hours. There are some amazing views along the way including waterfalls, lakes, and rushing rivers.
Usually we leave the house about 8 a.m., get out there at about 10:30 a.m. and spend about 7 hours on the beach before heading back home. No $400.00 a night rooms at a resort for us. We get our day pass ticket at the park entrance, park our car beside the one’s owned by mostly surfing dudes, get our backpacks on, and descend the wooden stairway down to the beach. Near the bottom of the wooden stairway is where the surfers hang out.
Once we are down at the beach it takes us about another ½ hour to get where we want to be, our spot. We wade through the edge of the surf as we hike. Waterproof sandals make it easy on our feet. Our dog Shelby has pretty well gone ape shit with all the possibilities he sees before him. We get to a fresh water creek and make our way across it. We have about another 15 minutes of walking to do.
We usually plant ourselves next to some driftwood logs. There is a small island out on the ocean about a mile away. Sometimes we have to wait for the mist to rise so we can see it. Linda usually brings a book as do I. I hardly ever bother to read my book. I just sit and stare out at the surf. Sometimes I take a nap. Hey I’m 66!
We bring along some snacks and eat when we feel like it. Some time is spent with the dog throwing sticks out on the ocean and watching him swim back. Usually we go off for a walk along the shore. If we see 10 people walking along the beach in the whole day, that would be a lot. I can’t think of anywhere that offers as much of a bang for a buck.
So…it is around July 20th of this year. My daughter, Leah, is visiting us. She remembers the weeks we spent camping at Long Beach along with her brother and I when she was a kid. Last year when Leah came with us a small deer ran up to us as we were walking along the beach. At first we thought it was a dog. It seemed confused and later disappeared up on a ridge. It must have gotten separated from its mother.
This time is a bit different. I have some unfinished business. The ashes of our golden retriever Cooper, who died last summer, have been sitting in a wooden case on top of a bookcase in our living room for close to a year. I am neither a religious or spiritual type but I see something in tossing our old pal’s ashes into the wind on the beach where Cooper loved to chase the shadows of birds up in the sky. He had an amazing amount of stamina and sometimes would only be a dot in the distant horizon.
Cooper never did learn not to drink the salt water. Oh well. His ashes are out there somewhere now. He will always be in my memories.
* About a mile or so from Florencia Bay is the Wickannish Interpretive Center and restaurant. A few hundred yards away from here was where Arthur Lisemer, one of Canada's Group of Seven painters, spent many hours painting seascapes of Vancouver Island's magnificent west coast.
|Leah & Linda|