Archives for category: Favorite places to go away

Cass celebrating the wild surf at Cox Bay

20 weeks, five days

I’ve fallen in love. Besotted, drunken, stupid love. But it’s not with a someone. It’s with a some place. Ray and the kids and I went to Tofino, BC last November in the worst weather. But that’s the objective with this crazy place, open to the Pacific with only Japan to spoil the view. It blew. It rained. It did what the Pacific Northwest does best, but in an environment that one couple from Minneapolis I met described as “fairy-like”. There is a reason that this is where they filmed Twilight. It is a deep, magical place. It is wet, mossy and spectacularly green. During our three days there, we walked on the beach, stood in the wind and cuddled by fireplaces — both in our cabin and in our favourite restaurants. Where could someone like me — deathly afraid of dark, sunlight-starved winter days — feel so happy in one of the wettest places on the planet. We vowed to return.

Tragically, we returned without Ray this July. We decided to test Tofino in “summer” (in quotation marks because we have waited patiently for summer here on the “wet” coast and it has just shown up in the second week of August). It was cool but not raining. One day, it was even sunny. I have never felt more relaxed or more well than when I returned after that trip. Something about this place is so healing and exceptional. I don’t know what it is, but I am drawn to it like a bee to honey. On returning from this trip, I felt compelled to see if I could find a place to live here….at least part time. And it is here that I have started to doubt my sanity. I have listened to my sisters with their gentle caveats: don’t rush into it; it’s your “first year”; don’t do anything rash. And, having lived these 50+ years, I know that it’s important to hear out the people who love and care about you. My life has taught me the perils of ignoring those who have the guts to stand up and say,” look out”. And yet, I am thinking about this place all day, every day.

I went back on an exploratory mission to look at homes and land there last week. My idea is to have a place that my family and I can use, but rent when we’re not there. I’ve consulted with one of the better rental agents in Tofino to learn what will rent well and what I would be best to acquire. I didn’t love any of the houses. One was okay, but in a “neighbourhood” that felt like a street of houses. I can live anywhere and have that. What I did gravitate to was an uncleared lot — a half acre, across the road from a path to the beach.

The lot, as yet untouched

I walked it and timed it. 12 1/2 minutes to one of the most spectacular beaches on earth, Chesterman Beach. I have walked through the lot twice. It is soft and silent and beautiful. I can see my friend Paul, a seasoned and talented architect, designing a magical place for us to be. I can see it built. I can see my dog, Willy and I setting out each morning to walk, having coffee and then settling down to work — remotely — with my office in Richmond. I want my family to use this place. I want friends to use it. The bonus of renting for 10 – 20 weeks a year makes it feasible and worth considering. So, am I mad? Wouldn’t something somewhere else work better? Couldn’t I skip the 2 hour ferry ride + 3 1/2 hour drive on a road that would make Mario Andretti pale? How about a nice rancher in the Cariboo? Or a house looking over the orchards in Kelowna? Why not any Gulf Island: Mayne, Pender, Galiano, Saltspring? I guess there are a few reasons. One: I’ve never been to any of the Gulf Islands save for Denman and Hornby, lovely as they are, I could never see myself there. And when I broached the subject of the other Gulf Islands with my kids they said, “but that has no sentimental link for us. Tofino is linked with Dad”. No other place we have ever been as a family has had this impact on us. We are all besotted to a point. So, what do I do. Stop drinking the Koolaid and get a grip? Listen to my heart and buy the land? Would not buying it be my greatest regret? Or would buying it be a massively stupid decision. Am I mad? What should I do?

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Nine weeks, four days

It’s has been a fascinating experience watching people on the vessel of my healing cruise. 

There must be a master/slave gene in some people that makes them treat staff like mindless numbered units. I’ve seen it at other times throughout my life and it has always made me angry. I saw a American woman today (identifiable by accent) wave limply at a busser and circle her finger around the top of her table indicating that he should hustle on over to tidy her table. Yesterday in the spa there was a woman who just couldn’t seem to be civil to anyone. She brought in a big dark cloud with her. Then there is the wealthy Indian family who look at everyone else on the ship is a stinking pile of poop, passengers included. It would be funny if it wasn’t so distasteful. Hello people! You’re on a luxurious cruise, having your every need attended to by young people who could easily be your own sons and daughters. Lighten up!

On the other end of the scale, I have seen love in action. I thought I had the only perfect marriage on the planet, but it appears there are others. There is a Chinese couple from Victoria. She was a stay at home mom and took that job very seriously. They have two grown daughters of whom they are very proud. She had wonderful wisdom about her astute child-rearing decisions. He was the breadwinner. And now, they are reacquainting themselves with each other and appear to be having a comfortable love affair. They beamed with pleasure at being in each other’s company.

This morning I met a lovely couple from India. She is missing a leg on one side and an arm on the other. She spread a towel on a lounger and hauled herself out of her wheelchair without a hitch. I offered to give her a hand but she said she likes to do things herself. No fuss, no muss. Then a man walked in and she said, “Oh, and here is my husband” as if she was announcing the arrival of royalty. Again there was a loving warmth between them that was palpable.

Being a lone female on a cruise is an interesting experience. Pretty much everyone is coupled, even with a sister or brother. I feel as if I have a vapor bubble around me that no one is comfortable touching. It makes it very easy to people watch. I’m invisible, so I can stare at will! It is a unique learning opportunity of which I will take full advantage. It reminds me what a gift Ray’s love for me was and what an incredibly good person he was. It reminds me that I am a good person, too — that I love people and that I’m never really alone.

Nine weeks, three days

This is my first full day on board the Celebrity Century, cruising to Alaska. I have dedicated this voyage to getting myself back on track, on my own terms. I am on my own and very glad to be so.

Yesterday, I had a body composition consultation and a hot stone massage to kick it all off. Today, I worked out in the morning. As I did my 3.5 MPH on the treadmill, struggling to balance on the slowly bucking and pitching ship, I caught sight of a whale spout off the starboard bow (really, it was the starboard bow!). I watched it bob up and wave its tail flukes and disappear. It is surreal to be doing something so routine in such new surroundings.

Healing from loss is like that, too. Your life goes on, but in many ways, everything is new. It gives you a different perspective on the every day.

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