October 15, 2007

Well, hey there! How are you? Man, it’s hard to believe we’ve only been gone since Thursday, it seems like we’ve been away for weeks on end. I’m typing this from the Sidney-Anacortes ferry, so I’m not technically home quite yet, but as long as I can steal a wireless signal from my dying-battery laptop I may as well foist some unwanted vacation photos on you. I know, I know, O THE EXCITEMENT.

On the drive to Tofino from Nanaimo (very pretty in spots, also very bumpy/curvy/Dramamine-y) we stopped to explore this little waterfall area. I was struck not only by the natural beauty, but also the fact that we could both just . . . unbuckle ourselves and get out of the car! At the same time! Without needing to wrangle a small child! Ah, good times.

View from Tonquin Beach in Tofino. The cabin we stayed at is next to the house that’s visible up on the hill.

This is the path to the beach from our cabin. It was like something out of a fairy tale, I expected to see a friendly forest-dwelling gnome amongst all the enormous trees and mushrooms.

We couldn’t get to the beach at the very lowest tides (these happened late enough in the evening that we would have needed flashlights and a complete disregard for the possibility of cracking an ankle on wet, slippery rocks while scrambling in the dark), but there were still a lot of tide pools revealed as the waves went out.

Hey, anyone know what these are? The giant prehistoric plants, that is, not JB (he’d like me to say he’s a Hominid Erectus Phallus Girnormous). We only saw them on the coast and they’re like nothing I’ve ever encountered in the Northwest—huge, scratchy, and did I mention huge? I think maybe they live on feral cats and the occasional missing tourist.

Receding waves at Combers Beach. The neat thing about Tofino is that there are so many different kinds of beaches, depending on where you go. Rocky, sandy, wild, serene—between the protected bays, exposed coastlines, and meandering inlets of water, you can visit all sorts of diverse environments.

JB walking out of the trees on one of the many boardwalk trails we hiked. The forests are almost as spectacular as the beaches, with thick old-growth rainforests and towering Sitka spruces.

I hoped to see a whale during this trip, but no dice. Tofino offers a plethora of whale-watching trips to choose from, including some dubious ventures involving Zodiak boats and, presumably, the ability to repel pneumonia using sheer willpower, but we gave those a pass. Next time I’d like to take a seaplane flight or rent kayaks.

Tofino has a large surfing community, and we spent part of one afternoon just watching people tackle the waves (in this picture, a dad was helping his kid ride a few feet at a time). From a few anecdotal conversations it sounds like there’s a large segment of the younger population who spend their summers surfing in Tofino and their winters skiing in Whistler, working the tourist spots as waiters or instructors. Sounds like a good way to spend your early twenties, really. Beats spending your weekends chugging Boone’s Strawberry Hill wine and making out with boys who wear eyeliner, anyway, not that I would have any experience with that.

We took this picture with the camera’s timer, on a beach so remote it felt almost eerie. The trail that wound through the trees warned of bear sightings in the area, and I was convinced there was at least one bear peering out at us from the forest while we walked the beach. I took pictures of this beach but the camera couldn’t come close to capturing how lovely it was, with black rocks the size of skyscrapers jutting from the waters and the shore sparkling with intricate shells and wave-smoothed pebbles. This is the place I’ll remember the most, I think.

On Saturday we left our cabin at Tonquin Point and moved to the Middle Beach lodge; this is the view from our room. The lodge was gorgeous but if I could go back I’d stay at the Tonquin cabin the whole time—it was much more remote, cozy, and felt like a home.

Should you ever have a chance to visit Tofino, here are my recommendations:

• Book the Tonquin Point Retreat, especially if it’s just two of you. It was comfortable, had a little kitchenette, and the bed was possibly the most wonderful thing I’ve ever slept in (add in the sound of waves crashing outside the window, and you have a real piece of heaven).

• Make sure to hike out to South Beach.

• Eat at Upstairs above Schooner’s, and order the seafood chowder.

• Stop at the Tofitian for the best goddamned latte you’ll ever have, and be sure to get a blueberry/white chocolate chip cookie while you’re at it.

• If you happen to stop in Sidney, maybe to take the Anacortes ferry back to Washington, eat dinner at The Latch restaurant, where you’ll be served unbelievably delicious food by a wonderful Italian man who spent twenty years as maître d’ on the Princess cruise line. Make sure to get the steamed clam/mussel appetizer, which comes with a broth made out of CRACK COCAINE.

I missed Riley very very much during this trip, but oh, it was nice to have a break. With a baby on the way, I don’t know when we’ll do this kind of thing again—probably not for a long, long time. I’m grateful we had the chance to make this vacation happen, and I think we owe JB’s parents an enormous favor for taking on a toddler for five long days in a house under remodel. Any ideas for what kind of thank you gift might be appropriate here, short of human sacrifice?

PS. I also owe a huge thank you to Kristin, for the suggestion to visit Tofino in the first place. K, you’re the best.


58 Responses to “Back in the States”

  1. gp on October 15th, 2007 7:35 pm

    sounds absolutely lovely!

    i think that giant plant is gunnera manicata (giant rhubarb).

  2. Jennifer on October 15th, 2007 7:39 pm

    I am going to save all the recommendations you’ve listed and use them next spring or summer. Sounds like a place we want to go, and since we live in Bellingham it’s a short hop for us. Thanks to you (and Kristin) for being tour guides. I’ve heard “go to Tofino” many times but now I have a first-hand report and real photos to confirm that it’s a great place.

    Gifts to JB’s parents… hmmm… name the new baby after JB’s dad? Give him JB’s mom’s maiden name for a middle name? Can’t think of more gifts, as I’m sure you guys already have given them nice stuff over the years. As well as giving them a wonderful grandson.

  3. Andrea on October 15th, 2007 7:39 pm

    Thank you so much for the information on your trip. After looking at your pictures (gorgeous) earlier today I started to look into places to stay in Tofino and am now so excited to plan our weekend away. One question, which route did you end up taking to get up there? Since we will likely be towing a toddler with us we want to make the trip up as painless as possible.

    Can’t wait to hear all about your reunion with Riley.

  4. sundry on October 15th, 2007 7:44 pm

    Andrea: on the way there we drove through Vancouver, took the ferry to Nanaimo, and drove on to Tofino — about 8 hours. On the way back we stopped overnight in Sidney, then took the Sidney-Anacortes ferry home, which was nicer but of course adds an extra night to your trip.

    The reunion was great, he was genuinely thrilled to have us back. I’ll remind him of this next time I get “GO AWAY, MOMMY!”

  5. Katie on October 15th, 2007 7:52 pm

    Oh Wow. Wow Wow Wow. I have bookmarked this post and filed it under “Travel: MUST GO HERE IMMEDIATELY.” This looks just splendid. Thank you for sharing with us!

  6. Jess on October 15th, 2007 7:54 pm

    These photos are just breathtakingly, astoundingly gorgeous. I was going to ask how you picked Tofino to begin with but you precluded my question. So, as a gift for the parents… I bet you’ve given them all this stuff already, so it’s hard to say. But if they’re all into the grandparent thing then maybe something featuring photos of them with Riley?

  7. Alex on October 15th, 2007 8:49 pm

    I love this post. And I think I move to that place, like tomorrow. Amazing, amazing and more amazing.

  8. Alex on October 15th, 2007 8:49 pm

    “…I think I MIGHT move to that place…”


  9. Pete on October 15th, 2007 8:51 pm

    I see a road trip in my future.

  10. Jennie on October 15th, 2007 9:35 pm

    I’m so glad you got to take this trip and enjoyed it so much. My husband and I would love to travel up there, and now I have and idea of where to go and what to do. The blogosphere… one-upping Google.

  11. mcgee on October 15th, 2007 11:54 pm

    all of your photos are amazingly beautiful…looks like you two had a fantastic trip! i’ll have to save your tips for the future.

    that giant prehistoric plant is called gunnera. there are a lot of them around here in the bay area.

  12. Amy katrina on October 16th, 2007 12:00 am

    We spent our honeymoon in Victoria and had considered spending a few days further north in Tofino but instead decided to really take it easy all week in Victoria. We were there during the GREAT HEAT WAVE 2007!!!! When it reached 90-something F in Victoria, the hottest on record. It was lovely, coming from Portland, not so hot, really.

    We’ll definitely have to 2nd honeymoon in Tofino. Someday when we’re not sitting on the can in China, that is.

  13. Rachel on October 16th, 2007 12:50 am

    Glad you enjoyed the trip, your pictures make the place look stunning – I’ve always wanted to visit the Pacific coast of Canada, now even more so. It’s similar (but on a larger scale) to where I am on the West coast of Scotland – we even have Gunnera!

  14. Amanda on October 16th, 2007 12:58 am

    I put in my vote for Rhubarb as well. We used to have one in our back yard (not of the giant variety, but pretty impressive nonetheless) when we lived in Calgary. It was the only thing apart from the trees (and, well, the grass,) that used to grow back every year.

    I’m pretty sure that they are indestructible. Unless, of course, you possess some strawberries and a pie shell, in which case they are not only destructable, they are digestable! (And delicious. Mmm.)

  15. JAB on October 16th, 2007 1:01 am

    Absolutely beautiful! It sounds like you had a wonderful, relaxing trip…good for you!

  16. The other Vanda on October 16th, 2007 4:19 am

    Oh my I’m sighing with lust. I want to be there and I want to be there now. You sure do take some awesome pictures.

    So very glad you are rested, relaxed and recharged. Ummm you are right?

  17. Violet on October 16th, 2007 4:34 am

    Seeing pictures of JB without Riley on his shoulders/back/lap is REALLY WEIRD.

    You should TOTALLY move to Canada – any part of it – so we can claim you as our own! I mean, it’s just a matter of time before we take over the US anyway, and.. DAMN! I’VE SAID TOO MUCH!

  18. Carly on October 16th, 2007 5:23 am

    Hubby and I took a trip to BC as a babymoon while trying for our first, and Tofino was absolutely breathtaking. I almost died from exhilaration on the drive there from Nanaimo, twisting and turning on that narrow and steep road. I’d never in my life seen anything so beautiful or terrifying. It really opened my mind to how spectacular a country I live in, how lucky we are to have such freedoms. While my rural setting in Ontario will always be home, the mountains of BC will always call my name.

  19. Kayte on October 16th, 2007 6:06 am

    Thanks for taking the time to post and share, Linda, all of it…just beautiful. So envious of that camera! And, justsoyouknow, none of us are believing a bit about how much weight you have gained and how awkward you look, etc. These photos don’t lie…you look great! Thanks for the travel recommendations…always appreciated!

  20. Amity on October 16th, 2007 6:14 am

    Gosh, I’m so jealous. It looks beautiful. LOVE that pic of JB on the boardwalk. That’s gorgeous!

  21. Adrien on October 16th, 2007 6:24 am

    Oh man, what great photographs! It looks amazing and I’m glad you guys had a good time.

  22. JennyM on October 16th, 2007 6:26 am

    WOW. We honeymooned for a little over a week on Vancouver Island in a house by an inlet or lagoon or something and it looked so much like that. And the trails and things! And the remote, deserted beaches! And the dramamine-necessary roads! We were there at the end of September/beginning of October as well. Although we had been to Seattle/Vancouver/Whistler before then, we haven’t been back out that way since. Next year is our fifth anniversary and I’m angling to go back. Now I’m REALLY angling to go back after seeing your pictures. I’m looking into that cabin, you bet.

  23. Jan on October 16th, 2007 6:56 am

    We took an Alaskan cruise a couple of years ago where we left from Seattle and actually spent a day in Victoria but I had not idea this area right near by was so beautiful. We will defintitely go back here and rent a house right by the beach. My husband does not like the tropics, but I love the beach so this sounds like a perfect compromise!! Thanks for the information and the beautiful pictures so I can share them with him.

  24. Swistle on October 16th, 2007 7:49 am

    Gorgeous photos! They totally look straight off a movie set!

    Gift for people who took care of a toddler for five days–that’s tricky. Do you have access to illegal drugs? A pound of those, maybe, in a pretty box.

  25. superblondgirl on October 16th, 2007 7:50 am

    Oh, god, gorgeous – I’m drooling over the waves and beaches, and the beauty of the cabin. I need a romantic getaway, too. Maybe I’ll ask for one for Xmas. I’m glad you had a good time and got to recharge before the ass-wiping commences doubly. ;)

  26. Christina on October 16th, 2007 7:52 am

    Welcome back! Beautiful pics – thanks for sharing. So glad to have you back – I was going through Sundry withdrawals! :)

  27. Jen on October 16th, 2007 8:29 am

    Geez, I LIVE in Vancouver and have never been there, can you believe that? Will definitely be making an effort now, thank you! Props for the beautiful pictures.

  28. Jacquelyn on October 16th, 2007 10:20 am

    Oh, wow. So beautiful. And I love the descriptions, but seriously, the pictures are amazing.

    You and JB are adorable together – I’d love to hear more about how you met, how you knew you wanted to marry him, etc.

  29. Joanne on October 16th, 2007 10:59 am

    We went away for a long weekend in August, figuring with our new #2 coming in January, it was the last trip where it’s just the two of us for a while. It’s hard right? I missed my boy a lot but I was so so relieved and happy to just GO places and eat my own food and sleep in and just be ourselves.

    I don’t know about a gift for JB’s parents, I always like to give magazine subscriptions because that way they keep on giving! But you can always give them another grandchild in a few months!

  30. Julie on October 16th, 2007 11:52 am

    What a great vacation. I am jealous.

  31. Yams on October 16th, 2007 12:09 pm

    Lovely pictures as always. Although I miss seeing Riley in the pictures or your post.

  32. Josh on October 16th, 2007 2:49 pm

    Holy shit that place looks awesome. But we actually have some plants that look a lot like that around here. We call them elephant ears and they get just about that big. Maybe not quite, but close. They do look a little more tropical than those though. Different climates I guess. And speaking of, how do you west coast yankees go surfing in October in Canada? Aren’t there icebergs and blizzards and Yetis and stuff. Shouldn’t you be avoiding water at all cost? Y’all are nuts. And I fucking love the latin species name for JB. Sign me up for that one. I might be able to pull it off as long as my southern ass stays out of your frigid water.

  33. Chloe on October 16th, 2007 3:36 pm

    I now desperately want to go to Tofino. So bad– it sounds amazing.
    Thanks for the pictures and recommendations! Amazing!
    Also, you look gorgeous, and I love that I am not the only one who still does pig tails. They look very cute! And so do your jeans in that picture where you’re using binoculars!

  34. TB on October 16th, 2007 5:51 pm

    It looks unbelievable there. Absolutely gorgeous.

    And the plant does look a lot like rhubarb to me.

  35. Ophelie on October 16th, 2007 7:25 pm

    Wow. I grew up in BC, and seeing those pictures made me terribly homesick.

  36. Amanda on October 16th, 2007 8:12 pm

    Josh = they wear wetsuits. :D

  37. Eliza on October 17th, 2007 1:32 pm

    You go on the prettiest vacations I have ever seen.

  38. shy Victoria on October 17th, 2007 9:34 pm

    I’m so glad you had such a nice time! Yay Tofino : )

  39. Dawn on October 18th, 2007 8:44 am

    Beautiful pictures. And the picture of the two of you on the eerie beach ? It’s like seeing a grown up version of your son.

  40. Jen on October 18th, 2007 1:22 pm

    Hubby the horticulturalist confirms the plant is a gunnera. It is a “giant rhubarb” but is not edible (well, not “tasty” he says). They grow like mad here. The one you guys found is a very large one, but they do grow huge all over the coast.

  41. chelsea on January 21st, 2008 11:48 pm

    We just got back from our trip to Tofino – thanks to you and this post! Finally went to celebrate our anniversary (back in September) and my upcoming birthday.

    Tofino is FUCKING AMAZING. We stayed in the Long Beach Lodge Resort, wandered around, hiked through the icy rainforest boardwalk walks, plus enjoyed a (cold) cloudless sky/sunset.

    Thank you for going there and posting the pictures…Mike and I now have ‘ a place’ to go to.

    Good luck with #2. :D

  42. Cynthia on February 7th, 2011 6:42 pm

    So glad you enjoyed it but a little worried now that the secret is out! We go to Tofino every other year, often at Christmas time. Renting houses is a great way to go, but Middle Beach Lodge is also great (stay in the lodge, or try one of their cabins with views and fire places). Bring your cameras, binoculars, wellies and some good wine. Try SOBO for great food, including take out.

  43. John Nyquist on August 17th, 2012 8:03 am

    My wife and I are trying to decide between Tonquin Point Retreat and Copperstone Inn in Ucluelet (www.copperstoneinn.ca). A quick look leads me to believe we enjoy the same types of vacations, we’re just a bit older. Tonquin seems an ideal location but a bit sparse in the furnishings department (would you go crazy there if you had 5 days of rain?). Copperstone is more luxurious (I know I could hang out there for 5 rainy days), it’s just that the setting, although equally beautiful, is quite different from Tonquin. Just wondering if you had any more info that would help us decide. We actually have both booked and need to cancel one soon. Thanks

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