I’m in a log cabin on the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Tofino, in front of a dwindling fire; I’ve just stepped out of the hot tub after a day of walking on the vast beaches of this island paradise. This is what I dreamed of at the start of this trip, and here it is. You know I’m a weeper, and today, I wept several times for gratitude and joy.
Bowen Island was wonderful – this unique community of islanders where Shari knows and is known by everyone, because she has been a fixture of the music community and a well-known singer and songwriter for decades. In her four story house overlooking the harbour and mountains, she has both an office and a studio, full of musical equipment and instruments, where she composes and records. She’s now doing house concerts, which she loves, is leaving soon on a cross-country tour and I hope next year will do a concert chez moi. In the meantime, we talked and walked with her old dog Louie and ate vegetarian meals.
There was one heartbreak, when she took me on a walk on a glorious path along the shore, where all the land adjacent was being developed into 10-acre sea-view plots “for multi-millionaires from Hong Kong,” she said. As we walked, we heard the noise of backhoes and builders, beginning their work along this once-pristine coast.
I sat my alarm for 5.55 a.m. the next morning – why? To go for a dawn walk in the woods? To sit writing my heart out in the sea air silence? No. Members of the website Paulmccartney.com, of whom I am one, can buy early tickets for his concerts, and when I found out he was doing a concert in Ottawa July 7, I knew I had to go. I can visit Auntie Do and Paul too. So I had to be ready to buy as soon as the box office opened at 9 a.m. Ontario time – 6 in B.C. And sure enough, at exactly 6, the site offered tickets. It took me about 20 minutes of clicking to buy a ticket for myself and 2 for my brother. And then, thrilled, to turn out the light and try to go back to sleep.
On Wednesday morning, Shari drove me to the ferry, where I walked on on Bowen Island and off at Horseshoe Bay and then got immediately on another ferry, this one heading to Nanaimo, where Patsy met me and we drove off, across the island, to the west coast. To finish my jaunt, I was longing for some ocean time, and invited Patsy to be my guest at a place she recommended, Crystal Cove Cottages. When we finally arrived, we opened the door to our ocean-front log cabin, #2 – heaven. But – right outside the door, on the beach, was a large group of teenagers, partying hearty – drinking, smoking, with loud music. And then from the cabin right next door came the even louder sounds of heavy metal music. I looked at Patsy in misery – would this ruin our longed-for time by the sea?
So I went to the office, and they offered us Cabin #12 for the same price as Cabin #2. It’s on the edge of the property, fronts on a beautiful cove, is completely quiet – and, huge bonus, has a hot tub, for which you usually have to pay a large extra fee. So thanks to those vile teenagers, we got a free hot tub, a silent cabin, and our own crystal cove.
This part of the world is bliss. Utterly, unbelievably beautiful – the endless, empty beaches, the ancient rain forest trees and undergrowth, the First Nation villages Ucluelet and Tofino – oh, I have loved being here. Yesterday, after buying groceries in Tofino, we walked for ages on our own beach before cooking supper, drinking wine and floating in the hot tub. Today we walked first for two hours on Chesterman Beach, where I camped in the mid-seventies as a young hippy, with a couple of guys in a truck – who were they? I cannot remember. And then later, we walked all afternoon, down an incredible path through the forest, falling in love with huge ancient trees as we went, to Schooner Cove, part of Long Beach, which is even more vast and endless and beautiful. I’m sorry that beautiful and endless and vast are the only words that come. But then, I’m blissed out and ready to melt after the tub.
Best of all – for once, on this rainy coast in this rainy province, there has been no rain. The weather – after so much cold and wet on my trip – has been perfect. Shari said, after 2 days of sun on Bowen, “You’re the luckiest person who’s ever stayed here.” And here on the Pacific Rim too – warm sun and a breeze, and a horizon of sand and ocean, air and trees – and in the distance, as always in this most stunning province, the implacable snow-capped mountains.
I wept for the beauty of the ocean and the beach, then of the trees, but at dinner, finally, at the beauty of my friend, who was wearing a cut velvet top of my mother’s I’d sent her after Mum died. We cooked dinner, drank wine, sat in front of the fire and in the hot tub talking intensely, as we have been since we became roommates in the summer of 1970, in a house in another cove on another coast, outside of Halifax. What a great treasure is an old, old friend. In a hot tub. After a day of bliss.