Solstice Journey 2011

We’ve been planning a trip to Vancouver Island for about three years now. Last week we finally made it! It is a pretty easy trip from our place, it turns out…a skytrain ride to Georgia St and a 45 min bus from there to Horseshoe Bay where you catch a 1 1/2 hr ferry to Nanaimo. On the bus out of town a kindergarden field trip joined us, the twenty little kids were amusing until they got stuck in a jingle-bells rut at the top of their lungs for the last 15 mins of the ride.

The ferry ride to Nanaimo went by quickly as well, I was reading a fascinating book that I picked up in Portland called The Ion Effect. I was amused to discover it was written by a Canadian — Fred Soyka, he talks about ‘witches winds’ and how weather effects our health (a really interesting book). When we arrived it turned out Nanaimo was much bigger than I expected. I had to keep reminding myself that Vancouver Island is as big as England and probably bigger than New Zealand. I guess because Canada is so huge, Vancouver Island seems smaller than it is.

We spent a night on Qualicum Beach, stopped by Coombs and checked out the goats on the roofs and were very impressed by the grocery store there–I even got a slingshot! We stopped at Englishman falls, a really gorgeous waterfall, interestingly the book I was reading explained why the spray and just being near a waterfall is so rejuvenating, the spray is full of negative ions which we thrive on, as opposed to positive ions which are what the witches winds are overloaded with.

When we finally arrived in Ucluelet we headed out to a lovely beach which had all kinds of beautiful plants, which I got a bit obsessed with, there was some kind of hardy beach yarrow which really impressed me. The beach was also covered with smooth stones perfect for my slingshot, which was a poor model but quite easy to aim anyway.

The next day we headed out to the lovely lighthouse. The walk is a museum and you can see the remains of the old wooden walkways they used to access the lighthouse, the vegetation is gorgeous in that area, the trees are hardy and wind-swept. Along the sides of the path huge swamp cabbage grow happily. In the rocks around the lighthouse also grow hardy herbs which I find very inspiring, the unstoppable ability of nature to survive and thrive.

In the afternoon we were back out to another beach, which had huge driftwood logs thrown up high on the beach. Many industrious people had created various structures. My friends dared to go surfing, I really can’t handle cold water–I know I’m a wimp, so I stuck to exploring the beach.

On the way back home the next day we stopped by another lovely walk called Cathedral Grove featuring amazing Douglas Fir old-growth forest. Vancouver Island has some of the world’s last old-growth, but logging and mining companies are moving in. There is definitely a completely different energy and depth of diversity in old growth forests that cannot be matched by these ‘sustainable’ logging practices. In fact, I could see at one point along the road that there was clear-cutting just behind a wall of trees in an attempt to hide it from sight, just as has been mentioned in END:CIV, the film based on Derrick Jensen’s work. (Sidenote: If you haven’t watched the film I highly recommend it)

Before we knew it we were rushing with a bunch of retired Asian tourists onto the first bus from Horseshoe Bay back to downtown Vancouver. Packed like sardines onto the bus, I turned to my man and said “Cycle of life, we came out with the kindergardeners and are going back with the retired folks.” Since our trip was right over the solstice it seemed an appropriate symbol somehow.

It sure was nice to get away, but it’s also good to be back. I still haven’t got my plants in my garden plot–at least my seedballs are doing well out front. Photos of that coming soon. Also, slideshow of the trip coming soon, but I better get to bed for now.

P.S. And by the way, for anyone wondering where the bloghops have gone, I have to discontinue them for the summer…but they’ll be back soon….

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