With wave battered rocks, harsh winds, wickedly wild storms, the towering trees and abundant life of its temperate rainforests, the incredibly elaborate layers of life in its churned up intertidal zones, icy-cold water year-round, its rugged rocks and its beautiful beaches all make for amazing adventures.
Add to that the food scene, with its microbreweries, coffee roasters and restaurant scene (pictured here, on the left, is dinner at Wolf in the Fog, with a restaurant with terrific decor, including a big driftwood sculpture of a wolf in its upstairs restaurant area…. and Kuma, a fabulous Japanese restaurant with fantastic flavours and incredibly fresh fish and inventive dishes, in the photo on the right)…..along with the incredible places to stay (like the Wick… the Wickininish Inn, a Relais & Chateau hotel) and cottages-out-of-a-magazine-photo-shoot places to rent in Tofino, and… well… it’s heaven on earth to the likes of me!
Bill and I like to plan little “oasis” vacations… short little jaunts that take us out of our routine, and give us something to really look forward to, scattered throughout the year.
From where we live in Edmonton, it takes us about 12 hours to drive to Vancouver, and then another five and a half hours, including a ferry, to get from Vancouver to Tofino. This time we were flying to Comox (an hour and a half flight), and then doing the three hour drive across the island (which became well over 4 because winter was there too… more on that in a bit). That’s “little” when it comes to Canada’s immense geography.
We thought, rather naively, that we’d escape Edmonton’s cold snap, and…. let’s face it, we were gonna escape Winter, that She-Devil of a presence who’s been hanging around, exerting her will far too strongly, lately… and head to Tofino to experience the awesome wrath of storm season there. This is where that arrogant thinking got us…. when we flew into Comox, this is what we saw….
Yup. Comox had received a foot of snow overnight, grounding many things to a halt in this place that rarely sees snow. The rental car place had thoughtfully pulled our car forward and shovelled a path to its doors so we could get in…. but we feared getting out of Comox and across the island (along its twisty-turny road and over it’s mountainous pass) might prove a wee bit problematic!
As it turned out, even the City of Vancouver had ground to a halt. We found this out, after the fact! So much for our timing!
Our plan had been to stop at a Comox sandwich place that came highly recommended on trip advisor and grab sannies for a hike at Cathedral Grove en route. But that was not meant to be. This was the sign on the door as we got to the sandwich shop.
So we headed out toward Port Alberni, hoping to find an open & functioning lunch spot there. The drive was treacherous… heavy, slushy snow and a lot of “ponding” happening on the highway…. places with meltwater lakes overtaking the road. But we took it slow & safe.
We still did our scheduled stop at Cathedral Grove, an island of original forest in the midst of logging & clear cut country… showing the majesty of what this place was completely like at one time in history. Though we did it at a bit of a sprint, with our warmer clothing tucked away in our suitcase & gear bag.
Cathedral Grove is truly magnificent and very, very much like a cathedral with its towering giants (the massive cedars), and filtered light coming through the intense greenery of the rainforest canopy, much like light through stained glass of a gothic church. Everywhere I turned I remembered things we’d explored with the kids when we’d visited years ago, when they were young.
Eventually we had arrived at our “Seashack Cottage,” a beautiful house for 2 that we’d rented on Chesterman Beach, just outside of Tofino. During storm season, prices for rentals like this are far more reasonable and we were totally thrilled with our place. It looked right out of a Cottage Life magazine photo shoot, with its white walls and ceilings, its octagon main living area, its antique furniture, its skylights, its views of the beach, and its gorgeous tub, and its sea-themed knick knacks. Though the journey here was a tad hairy, our oasis had begun….
…. stay tuned for our adventures in Tofino.