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.