Plenty of choice accommodation-wise but, as usual, we fly through town without stopping. We’re looking for charm, something sweet on the water. And anyway, what is the point of staying in Nanaimo if we can’t see Newcastle Island for fog… and who wants to stroll along Harbourside Walkway in the rain?? We add it to our list of places to stop on the way back and plod onward in our search for charm.
It is 7pm.
10 pm our time. We’ve been on the move since rising early back in Ontario—then the flight to Vancouver, Victoria, now this drive. We haven’t had dinner yet. The cold chicken lunch in the parking lot off the Malahat seems days ago. We decide to find a place for the night in Parksville; charming is no longer a requirement.
Someone along the way mentioned there was a Tiki Tonki Lodge or something right off the highway, on the water, very nice they said. We find the place and it’s not bad but a little too Tiki Tonki–uniforms on staff, fake logs, cutesy names for bathrooms: heifers and steers, that kind of thing. Also very pricey for a room the size of a postage stamp and it’s not on the water but more in the vicinity. You certainly can’t see water. Still, it would be nice to stop driving, get dry, relax. But, nope, the vibe doesn’t feel right.
We look at a place next door that’s almost deserted; cement breeze block reception area with too-bright lighting and an overly relaxed attendant; we’re told we have to take a grain elevator down to the rooms, which we consider doing until we notice a walking path that also leads to them. The place spooks me. We get back in the car, decide to go into town and find a Best Western. Charm seems too elusive at the moment.
On the way we see a sign: Beach Acres. We pull over and within minutes I know we’ve been led here by the god of weary travellers. The room they offer, at a great price, is essentially a condo unit. Two floors, three bedrooms, one with a deck, two baths, living room, fireplace, kitchen, patio. And… it’s right on the water. Peter runs into town for some take-out grub and we open a bottle of wine, watch the sun set and the moon come out, listen to waves, only sorry we didn’t find this place eight hours ago.
In the morning we walk on the beach at low tide; people dig for clams. I try to do some tai chi but am too self-conscious what with the clam diggers about, not that they’ve noticed me. We find a poor jelly fish holding its breath, waiting for the tide to come back in, take pictures, walk and walk, breathe deeply. It occurs to us there’s no rain and we decide that Parksville may be the most perfect place in the universe. Or at least on Vancouver Island.
Peter calls work and I have the pool to myself, swim almost for an hour. We check out and treat ourselves to a late breakfast at a nearby inn, very upscale Victorian swank. We’re told Rudyard Kipling once stayed there. All I can think is I’ll bet he wouldn’t have if there’d been a Beach Acres then.