A November getaway with three lovelies from the island - Mary, Katie and Breanna. It was mostly dark inside the cabin, which created the perfect opportunity to showcase the photos in black and white.
December 23rd finally arrived - winter vacation was finally here! For the next 11 days, we were going to be islanders.
There was hardly any planning that went into this trip, compared to all of our previous roadtrips. All we knew was that we wanted to spend Christmas with Jake in Conuma River/Gold River and then head up to Port Hardy and drive all the way down to Port Renfrew. After packing our CRV full of the essentials, we headed to the Conuma River Hatchery where Jake was stationed. It made me so happy to see the boys (Aaron, Jake, Matt and Tom) just having the best time hanging out with each other and making epic meals. Somehow bacon was a necessary component of nearly every meal - I wonder why... We continued our tradition of having breakfast pizza and mimosas on Christmas Day and Jake prepared a beautiful turkey (Sam, we missed you big time!). After a decent amount of time spent partying, we parted ways with Jake in Gold River and Tom, and headed towards Port Hardy. The roads weren't great with a recent snowfall, but everything looked so beautiful sprinkled in white.
On the way to Port Hardy on December 27th, we did a quick stop in Campbell River to check out one of my favourite second hand stores - Pier Street Trading post. I always find the most fun little gadgets and this time, I convinced myself to get a film camera and a Kodak Instant camera. Next stop was Telegraph Cove, and unfortunately everything was closed. This is definitely a spot that I would love to visit again in the summer, just to go whale watching or kayaking.
Soon after we arrived in Port Hardy and booked a room at the Quarter Deck Inn. We were able to get a room with a beautiful view and breakfast for a fairly decent price. Initially we had planned to go to Tofino and Ucluelet on our way down to Port Renfrew, but because we were already so far up north on the island, we decided to checkout Cape Scott area instead. I am soooo happy we did this, because San Josef was my favourite location we visited. Another interesting stop on the way to San Josef was the Bernt Ronning Garden in Holberg.
San Josef - what a beauty! It was a quick hike (45mins) down to beach with our gear and we had the beach all to ourselves. Everything was wet and tempers were stirring. We set up camp, as the cold crept up really fast. If we weren't prepared to build a fire, then we definitely would have had to go back to the car. For the first in a really long time, I also felt scared. Wolves are super active in the winter, and there were so many signs warning hikers of wolves. Being so secluded, I had to constantly reassure myself that because I was with two physically strong individuals, that we would be ok.
At night the weather got so cold, that the sand froze solid. All the moisture on our tent crystallized. Understandably, getting out of the sleeping bag the next morning was quite the challenge! Sunrise was at 8:30am and as I unzipped the tent door, I felt so lucky to be on this trip. Warmth was rolling in and as the sun peaked through the mountains, the frozen sand started to shimmer. By noon everything was warmed up and hikers started wandering in.
We didn't want to leave San Josef, but we made plans to go to a cabaret New Years Eve show in Victoria with Breanna + Kendall and their friends. I wish I took photos in Victoria, because it's such a beautiful city, but I was too busy stuffing my face with chinese food in China Town. The event we went to was better than expected and I was stoked to ring in the new year with my favourite adventure buddies.
On January 1st, I made plans to meet up with Mary in Sombrio. She was surfing/camping with her sister and I wasn't about to shy away from spending more time on beautiful Canadian beaches. We ordered takeout from Ocean Garden (chinese food) and took it down to the beach to have a sunset picnic. When the sun finally went down, we retreated to a cabin (Fern Gully) in Jordan River. It was one of our coziest spots we stayed at during the trip and I was able to fall asleep watching the Wolf Moon move across the sky.
January 2 - the last day of the trip. We got back in our car on the search for a breakfast spot near Port Renfrew. We drove around looking for any open cafes, and finally came across the Port Renfrew Pub, which had the most delicious french toast I've had in a long time! With a good meal in our bellies we decided to hike around. I've gotten so many recommendations from friends on facebook to checkout Botanical beach, but unfortunately, low tide was at night. With that being said, it was still a beautiful hike, watching the waves crash across the rocks. Another spot I have to re-visit in the summer! As we got back into the car, the timing felt right to head back home to Vancouver. It was the perfect trip to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018.
The adventure trio - Aaron, Thanu and Matt
I feel like I start every blog post by saying that all the locations we've been to this year are amazing, but Tofino really is extra special. Surfing, tidal pool explorations, Tacofino and hammock camping. Need I say more?
Our friends from Ontario were visiting (Anu, Nadia and Russ) from August 7-14, so we already knew we were going to have a sweet time regardless of where we hung out. The week they were visiting, all of Vancouver was covered in smoke from interior BC wildfires, that I had a hard time convincing them that there really were mountains visible from the city. Through the weekend escape to the island, they at least got to see some sky...
The Tofino adventure started on an early Friday morning trying to catch the ferry to Nanaimo at 6:20am (http://www.bcferries.com/schedules/mainland/hbna-current.php). Once we got off the ferry, we grabbed breakfast in Port Alberni at the Boomerang cafe, and then headed towards Cathedral Grove - an ancient Douglas Fir ecosystem with trees that are about 800 years old! Camping reservations were made two months ahead of time, and even then, only the Long Beach Golf Course campground was available. To our surprise, the spot was much better than we originally thought. You could occasionally hear flights landing/taking off, because the airport was next to the campground, but we still had lots of space at the campsite and it was relatively quiet. After setting up camp (2 hammocks + tent), we headed to Chesterman beach. The boys played some frisbee while the girls and I explored the beach. At night we cooked up some of the coho salmon (cedar plank BBQ style) Aaron caught on his trip to Gold River earlier on in the year, and that was some serious next level camp food.
Saturday morning we rolled lazily out of our hammocks and tents, and headed to Schooner Cove. We purposefully chose this beach to check out during low tide, because it's known to have some really cool marine organisms and there are some islands we can walk to while the tide is out. I should also mention that the pathway to the beach was a picturesque walk through the forest with a really, really long boardwalk. On the beach, many of the rocky surfaces were covered in starfish, anemones and barnacles, looking like they belonged in scenes from the Little Mermaid. There were also intermittent pools with sea grass, kelp and weeds with little gobies and other tiny fish swimming around. At every turn, I was reminded of how beautiful Tofino was.
After the morning beach walks, we headed to Tacofino to stuff ourselves full of goodness and it was even better than we imagined (we ended up eating here three times on the weekend - I still think about the Tuna-Ta Tacos and the Pork+kimchi Gringas). The gelato from Chocolate Tofino wasn't bad either! Next up was a surf lesson via Tofino Surf School (https://www.tofinosurfschool.ca/)! It's a locally owned business and Jeffro, the owner, made us feel super ready to catch some waves. Tofino Jorge, our instructor, was another lovable character, and he made sure that we all got up by the third wave at Cox Bay. For some reason I was really nervous about what surfing was going to be like, but I'm so happy that I didn't chicken out. The lesson and the smaller waves really helped us gain some confidence, and now I can't wait to try surfing again!
Sadly Sunday was our final day on the island for this trip. The previous night it rained so hard that our campsite looked flooded and I was really worried about tent leakage. Luckily the hammocks and tent held up and we all had the best sleep. The boys decided to surf again in the morning at Long Beach, while Anu, Nadia and I decided to check out the town one last time, grab breakfast at Schooner Restaurant and chill at the beach. At the end of the day we almost didn't get into the last ferry heading back to Vancouver, which I think is a sign that the next time we visit, we need to stay for longer. A lot longer.