Monday, September 29, 2014

Everybody's gone surfing...

Tofino is ground zero for the surf culture on Vancouver Island although there is some surfing to the west of Victoria.

Surfing is as much an attitude as it is a sport it seems. Harcore surfers tend to live a minimalist lifestyle. Owning stuff would tie them down to one spot and all the hardcore surfers I have talked to were transients, following the big waves around the globe. Also, owning stuff requires a job to buy stuff and these people work as little as they need to. Not because they are lazy -- far from it -- but because time spent working is less time spent on a beach.

In Costa Rica the surfers didn't own much more than their board and a dog to accompany them to their daily wave riding rituals at the beach.

In Tofino, a common site was to see young adults -- boys AND girls -- cycling to the local beaches first thing in the morning with their boards strapped to the side of the bike. A lot of them had this almost Buddha-like expression of contentment and satisfaction of their faces. To steal a phrase: "The worst day surfing is better than the best day working."

The surfers we met in Costa Rica had heard of Tofino... it's reputation extends far and wide as evidenced by the Australians, Brits and Europeans who have made Tofino their home, if only for a short time.

On this particular day, we saw further evidence of the diversity of Tofino's surfers in the dark tans and dreadlocks sported by some of the board riders. From their accents it was clear that they were newcomers to the local beaches.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Love locks

While hiking Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail, my wife and I came across this collection of locks attached to one of the viewing platforms. Neither one of us was familiar with the concept of 'love locks' but apparently it's a thing, particularly in Paris.

According to this Wikipedia article:
 A love lock or love padlock is a padlock which sweethearts lock to a bridge, fence, gate, or similar public fixture to symbolize their love.[1] Typically the sweethearts' names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolise unbreakable love. Since the 2000s, love locks have proliferated at an increasing number of locations worldwide. They are often treated by municipal authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is some cost to their removal.
They recently made the news from Paris according to this Toronto Sun article.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Future past

Stand up paddleboarding (aka SUP) is one of the fastest growing recreations on the West Coast. It's one of those activities that can be as challenging as you care or dare to make it.

My wife and I rented a couple of boards during our recent island vacation and enjoyed it so much we bought a board to add to the two kayaks that we already own.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Guardians

Pilings on Comox Lake...
As the sun rises over Comox Lake on Vancouver Island, these uprights frame an ice-capped peak in the distance.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Strange formations

The one road to Tofino on Vancouver Island is a twisty, turn-y, mostly single lane drive. Along the way you go past Taylor Creek which is worth stopping for.

The huge rocks in the river have been ground by erosion – glacial and river – into these fantastic organic shapes. Strange curves and bowls have been carved into the stone. It’s a unique landscape.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


While strolling the beaches of Long Beach, we noticed what appeared to be hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of clear glass beads littering the beach and glittering in the late afternoon sun. On closer examination they looked like giant water drops.

They were sea gooseberries, a small jellyfish-like critter that normally floats around with tentacles. However, when they wash ashore they pull their tentacles in.

Unlike jellyfish, sea gooseberries don't have tentacles that sting. A good thing as you'd probably never notice these things floating in the water with you.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


The hike up Mt. Cokely to the lower viewpoint will take you two hours of thigh-burning switchbacks to complete. Your reward will be views of nearby Cameron Lake and the twin islands of Denman and Hornby in the distance.

During your hike you might meet Bill and Barb Hindle. They voluntarily have been cleaning up the trail for hikers for several years as a sort of retirement hobby. It's remarkable when you consider that they have to hike for an hour or more just to get to the point where they can even start cleaning the trail.

Lend them an ear and they can even give you a history lesson about the trail's origins.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wild Wild West

It doesn't get much west-er in Canada that the Pacific coastline of Vancouver Island. And it doesn't get much wilder than the Wild Pacific Trail found in the surfside community of Ucluelet.

Along the trail you'll see some rugged coastline reminiscent of Oregon or Washington states to the south. And, if you are lucky as my wife and I were, you'll might see a grey whale swimming and diving along the shoreline.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lake country

Living on an island off the left coast of Canada, the tendency is to focus on our fabulous ocean views and beaches while forgetting that we have a lot of beautiful lakes around us too.

I've been travelling Vancouver Island for the past two weeks. The first week centred around lakes while the second week centred around the ocean.

Our first stop was Comox Lake which provides the drinking water for the central island communities of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland.

Comox Lake is a popular water sport destination. On a hot summer day, the lake is populated with paddleboards, kayaks, tubers and water skiers.

Our second stop was Woss Lake near the flyspeck northern community of Woss.

Woss Lake is relatively undiscovered. Paddle out on the lake and you'll often be the only person out there. The surrounding land is owned (leased?) by forestry companies so there is no development along the lake.

Both lakes are filled with the cleanest, clearest water you are ever likely to see. And both are surrounded by mountains... some of the mountains around Woss are snow-capped year round.

The gravel and sand shorelines of both lakes are a testament to their glacial origins.