Tofino: yes, it’s still raining.
But it doesn’t matter. We’ve forgotten what sunshine looks like anyway so no longer know what we’re missing. What, we’re missing something?? Not only that, but rainy weather means fewer people on the beach and the place we’re staying provides wellies and umbrellas and rain coats and our deck overlooks the ocean and we wrap ourselves in blankets and sit under the awning and have hors d’oeuvre and a glass of something that isn’t vinegar and later we have Dungeness crab for dinner. So you know what? Rain shmain.
Our room is lovely and quiet and we sleep well and in the morning after breakfast play chess in the great hall, next to the fireplace. We don rain gear and walk the deserted beach then head out to the aptly named rainforest where I worry about bears but am assured by someone who’s meant to know that they’re all at the creek looking for salmon. That creek? I ask, pointing, and the wise one says, uh, well, yeah, but not at this part of it, exactly…
Sometimes you just have to believe.
We stop at Tofino Gardens, which is twelve acres of land dedicated to preserving native species. (The only non-native is a 12′ Himalayan Lily, which takes years to bloom; the guy who runs the place says if it blooms in his lifetime he’ll be a happy man.) He’s in the process of creating four distinct gardens to represent the area’s ‘gardening’ history, i.e.:
1) first nations
2) european settlers
3) japanese fishermen
I like his style.
Lunch is at a place built right on the rocks and where waves smash against the windows. We have the perfect table for an excellent view; also, we’ll be the first ones swept out to sea should the glass break, all of which only proves it pays to make reservations.
More beach walking after lunch and then into town for some laundry detergent. A good idea given that we’ve been wearing more or less the same clothes for a week. We meet several locals—Tofinoites—young people mostly, slightly foggy, dreadlocked and pierced. A very relaxed hey dude aura prevails.
Postcards on the balcony while clothes wash. There is more chess by the fire at some point.
Later we are happily tucked into our window table at The Schooner, eating plates of amazingly wonderful Jensen Bay clams; the wine is Hawthorne Mountain Gewürztraminer and the rain…really, who cares?
Our last day in Tofino. We’re relaxed, recharged, bordering on hey dude… We read and walk and walk and read some more, then drive to lunch at the Blue Horizon where there are houseboats moored on the dock of a nearby island. As I indulge in my fantasy of having a giant garage sale and going to live aboard one, our server comes by and tells us there’s a terrible controversy going on between the owner of the island, who, since the 1960’s has been letting people moor regular boats for free, and if they live there, they pay him a small fee. The town, however, is in a snit because it’s suddenly occurred to them they haven’t been cut in on the deal. We’re given binoculars for a better look and told that if we look just there we should be able to see the anchor of the Tonquin, which sank some many moons ago. We see the anchor but have never heard of the ship.
After lunch we walk around the marina and the pilot of a sea-plane that’s just landed comments on the weather: bloody incessant wind and rain and cold; it’s raw!, he says, and we say, ah well, never mind, it’s still a beautiful place to be, and he asks where we’re from and then says, “Yeah, well, I guess if you’re from Toronto anything’s nice…”
Back at the beach for one last walk. We take misty photos of ourselves in wellies and then watch as a huge team of kayakers arrive, all barking instructions, loud and annoying with walkie-talkies.
Time to go.
[Part 8: Two more stops—Victoria, then Vancouver. One inspires a story about a dead elk, the other gives me laryngitis.]
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