For the past year, Kaitlyn had been telling me about this magical island off the coast of British Columbia. She shared with me her past experiences of camping, exploring, and surfing the rugged northwest coast. She described a place of such beauty and mysticism. She planted the seed that took over both of our minds until we finally decided to meet there in the middle of September. What she would share with me, and ultimately, what we would share together was something special and for the books. After almost two months apart, Vancouver Island became the perfect meeting place.
Kaitlyn, Nugget, and I met in Vancouver after all crossing vast distances to get to each other. We caught the ferry to Vancouver Island early the next morning. This is when months of anticipation became a reality. The morning was cool and misty, and the air felt heavy with salt and sleepiness. The adventure had truly begun as we said goodbye to the mainland and hello to island life for the next eight days.
We drove northwest for three hours to the town of Ucluelet. The entire drive was picturesque. The road was winding and lonely. Ancient sky high pines induced vertigo and an optical illusion like a flip book. A deep yearning for running barefoot on the top of the moistened moss floor captured the imagination and the nostalgic voice of childhood. We drove with the windows down, and the pristine cool air swirled happily in our nostrils. We were lost in a peaceful trance as we found our way to Ucluelet.
We pulled up to Reef Point Cottages in the early foggy afternoon where we were greeted warmly by the receptionist and the icy blue eyed office cat. Our cottage was outfitted with a private hot tub on a wooden deck, a grill, a well stocked kitchen, and a big enveloping bed. There was even a little doggie set up for Nugget when we arrived: bones, doggy bags, and towels just for him. You know a place is amazing when it is this dog friendly. It is easy to imagine living in a place like this.
The next two days were filled with simple pleasures like long beach walks through thick dancing fog, exploring tidal rocks that were breathing with purple and orange starfish, black and brown mussels, and neon green sea anemones, and warming our souls with dirty chai lattes from Barkley Cafe. Since the wind was onshore and the sea was stormy those first two days, we spent a lot of time in the protective embrace of the rainforest. We hiked by way of mist soggy wooden plank paths into the heart and sacred wisdom of sage old, moss covered primary forest. There is something about being in the presence of such beautiful giants that aligns one’s prospective. The trees shared their breath with us, and the effect was cleansing and rejuvenating. We felt like the little girl versions of ourselves, and it was magical.
On the way back to our cottage, we stopped at Fishfull Thinking and bought fresh, island caught wild salmon. Kaitlyn prepared the fish using her father’s recipe of sriracha mayo, and capers, and put it on the grill. The taste was exquisite! The salmon was rich and melted in our mouths. As I am sitting here writing this now on the other side of the world, I am craving that taste. All salmon, and for that matter, all fish should be wild and hand caught. The island struggles to keep out farm fisheries, which are highly destructive to the environment and native fish populations.
Between the hours spent walking the beaches and forests of Ucluelet, eating the freshest seafood, and relaxing at the end of the day in the hot tub, we slept deeply and woke both mornings feeling on top of the world. This place has a kind of special power. We were sad to leave Reef Point, but totally revived and ready to continue our adventure. We packed up the car, gave the left over salmon (washed off, of course) to one of the Reef Point kitties that visited us the night before, and headed off with the windows down and the music up to Tofino.
Song of the trip: Lose Your Mind by So many Wizards.
Thank you so very much for having us at your adorable cottages Reef Point Cottages!
Photos by: Kaitlyn Shea
Writing and Photo #9 by: Jenn Parker