September 30, 2013
Being and seeing. And, C-flatting. Which brings us back to B-ing.
Since I haven’t been filling this blog with as many entries as usual lately, this post will at least pick up some of the slack. Admittedly, my Facebook page gets Kelp Grrl’s quickie uploads of byte-worthy photos good for a one-shot lookie, if only to coax some fun responses. Yet the gist of this seaside site is that ideally, it’s a [mostly] nature photo essay (with a little music, even!) of whatever I deem not only byte-worthy, but… life-worthy. And so, dear readers, come along with me for a little ride through… British Columbia. Specifically: ten days in B.C.: also known as… a vacation!
I love camping.
This summer, filled as it was with friends, idyllic sailboat crabbing expeditions (ok, not quite as idyllic for the crabs), and great meals, was also filled with a tremendous amount of music work, throughout. I found myself juggling everything from composing new pieces, to adapting an older one, to creating a large distribution contract for the bigger ones, to preparing one work for recording, one for mixing, and yet another for publication, to prepping many of my best photos to entertain audiences during intermedia concerts of my music, to coping with the responsibility that comes along with being selected to present a big workshop on my new, passionate specialty, electroacoustic symphonic band music (say that five times fast), at the two largest conferences in the U.S.– one in Chicago in December, and the other in San Antonio in February.
I’m exhausted by simply reading all this, and if you click on each of the links you’ll see why. Who did all this stuff, anyway? It couldn’t have been me. I was too busy thinking about my end-of-summer va-cay.
And so, deadlines precariously tamed for the moment, on the Wednesday prior to Labor Day we packed up the car with essentials, and pointed it to the ferry headed for Sidney-by-the-Sea, in beautiful British Columbia. Our neighbor across the Haro Strait, 300-mile long Vancouver Island is just 9 miles from my house as the crow (or anything other than a zig-zagging bat) flies. Yet driving and ferrying there from here takes… wonderful… caaallllmming… hooouurrrrsss.
Passing between Spieden Island on the left, and Sentinel on the right, shrouded in mist that obviously spells out “bon voyage!” if you squint.
The trip had three distinct, geo-triangulating prongs: first, to visit friends 150 miles north, on Quadra Island in B.C.’s Discovery Islands (trust me: if you thought that San Juan Island was remote, Quadra is a lot more remot-er). Three relaxing days were spent in varying combinations of eating incredibly well, drinking notably well, visiting talented islanders in artist studios and on organic farm B&Bs (would you expect anything less up here??), watching movies each night in the luxury of our pals’ awesome pro screening room (not a whole lot of those on Quadra), and during the day, hiking around in gorgeous, damp, deep, moss-draped woods like fairy tale gnomes.
One afternoon, we picked [5 pounds of!!] chanterelle mushrooms, and then turned those fungi into even more incredibly great food that thankfully did not kill us.
What a haul.
A full circle of complete delight, framed in something like a Beverly Hills hedonistic version of “Survivor”-meets-“Lost”. Except we smelled marginally better, and I only got directionally disoriented in the trail-less forest for about 17 minutes. During which I found even more mushrooms, so I considered that a win.
It was another 180 miles down from Quadra to the contrasting civilization of Victoria, where two fun days of more friends, more food, partially besotted strolling, and a terrific classic boat show awaited. Plus, they’ve got a really great weekend art fair. Our favorite booth was this one:
There must have been a hundred frames on the table. We were beside ourselves trying to decide which one to take home, and eventually settled on this aptly named Phyllium Pulchrifolium (having had three years of Latin I can tell you that this means “beautiful leaf”):
She now hangs next to the wine rack in the kitchen, and intimidates the hell out of the fruit flies (remember: this is a mostly-nature blog. I get my fix however I can.).
Take this, for instance: seasoned Readers of The Kelp know that I rarely post photos of buildings or people. Unless there are killer whales in front of them. Score!
Quadra and Victoria conquered, the main course was upon us: a week of camping,
Why rough it, when you can bring the adult equivalent of an Easy-Bake oven??
on the beach,
under a lovely canopy,
on the very wild, western edge of Vancouver Island,
which is a lush, windy, no-services-for-a-reaaallllly-long-time-so-good-luck-pal five hour drive away,
just south of a hippie surf town…
… called Tofino. Everyone in these parts adores Tofino, and it’s easy to see why:
A nice little cafe offered this deck for WiFi and good cappuccino.
We found serenity at the botanical garden.
Even the marina at Ucluelet is stunning.
After a summer of deadlines and one heck of a lot of notes attached to one heck of a lot of simultaneous projects that my feeble brain attempted and sometimes failed to keep straight, it was beyond blissful to be here, with nothing on an agenda, for days at a time. I read three books, which is three more books than I’ve read in almost three years because I’m so busy reading lots of other things that are not exactly books. Two by Annie Dillard, and another by Henry Beston, the subjects of which mirror my life as a writer living in a remote place surrounded by nature. Yes, I could have chosen political non-fiction or fanciful mystery novels, but I wanted to immerse myself in the words of artists I admire whose hearts were tugged by the same environment which tugs at mine. It felt so, so, wonderful to have their kindred companionship on this trip, and to read about something while experiencing the thing itself. The wind. The sand. The trees…
…the two-minute showers.
Oh wait. Nope, there was nothing in these books about that. One of the, ahem, highlights of our campground was the pay-shower: one loonie (a Canadian dollar) gets you exactly two moderately warm minutes of cleanliness. Not one second more. Unless of course, you want to really splurge and make it a two-loonie shower. That seemed awfully extravagant, and we prided ourselves each day by reporting back to each other just how many extra seconds we had left on our sole loonie.
Camping definitely adjusts one’s perspective.
While one side of the Tofino area is barren, windswept beach, the other– right across the road!–is a wildly different temperate rain forest. Walking through the moist botanical gardens one day, I stumbled upon the remains of the last blogger to visit here:
As well as some petrified lovers.
And back at the beach, it was a total orgy.
Sea stars, anemones, and free love.
How utterly fitting that as I plunked myself down in the sand one late afternoon, something shiny glinted up at me. I dug out the used beer cap and smiled; a Salish Sea friend had followed along.
Oh, what a fabulous ten days it was. We were sad to leave, but rested and energized for the coming season of Lots More Work Which We Are Lucky to Have. We had come to B.C. from paradise, spent ten days in paradise, and then had the amazingly great fortune to return to paradise. For a vacation of the verbs to be and to see, B.C. was definitely the perfect place to act them out.