Fall frolics…

…on Florencia beach. We hit the bay as the tide was falling, figuring that most surfers head in as the waves diminish, and this seemed to be the case last Saturday afternoon.

There is a small parking lot at the end of the road, and we squeezed into the last remaining space. Had we arrived even a few minutes later, we’d have parked up more easily judging by the steady stream of smiling surfers and paddle boarders returning to their vehicles.fullsizeoutput_6df

They’re a squelchy and happy bunch in shining wetsuits, an even mix of family and friends, young and old, girls and boys, and men and women. (I met a charming surf instructor at a community event last week, where we were supposed to be discussing education issues for Indigenous youth, but ended up with him almost – almost – convincing me he could teach me to surf. Maybe more to come later…)

We negotiated the rickety wooden staircase down to the beach – no easy task when an enthusiastic Scout has the sea scent in her nostrils – and tottered onto the wide expanse of sand. Fifteen minutes earlier, after a rainy morning, the skies were grey, and there was still a hint of moisture in the air. Now, looking out over the ocean, there was a distinct line of blue, and it seemed to be getting closer.fullsizeoutput_6de

By the time we had wandered down the beach a little, to get away from the “crowds” – maybe a half dozen other people – and found a log to perch on with an enormous array of chewable sticks nearby, the afternoon was turning warm. Yes! An autumnal day that still held a touch of summer. Jackets off, and sleeves rolled up, we set to the task of watching the remaining surfers try to catch waves, and a couple of paddle boarders beyond the surf racing in on the swell.DSCF7680

Soon enough, the promising patch of blue sky pushed back the clouds, and we were sitting in the sunnier half looking across to the cloudy and mistier half of the bay. Scout dug holes like her life depended on it, and we moved back and brushed ourselves off like we didn’t enjoy being showered with sand.fullsizeoutput_6d8

The receding waters defeated the final frolicking surfers, and uncovered a rock strewn area to our right. We strolled down to take a closer look, breathing in the fresh seaweed and wet sand smell. Scout chose to be a little braver than in previous beach visits, venturing into water nearly two centimetres deep. Not spectacular, but just enough to make certain we’d be enjoying extra wet dog aroma on the journey home.fullsizeoutput_6dc

We were there for almost three hours, stumbling and splashing about, fun on a fall afternoon. As we dragged ourselves away, the bay was empty of people, and briefly, we had the wild crescent all to ourselves. A single bald eagle flew over our heads and towards the rocky section. I like to think, as we heaved ourselves back up the steps, bears and wolves were nosing out onto the beach, ready to feed and frolic now they had the place back to themselves.fullsizeoutput_6d5

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I’ll dip a toe, and then back to the car…”

Branches…

…of government? What a couple of weeks in the news it has been! The OldPlaidCamper post this week is sponsored by the power of nature. He’d like to thank nature for being there, and quite understands how she might be a tad annoyed by certain executive branches…

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A branch reaches out, offers support and shelter – it isn’t a bully stick
In all seriousness, I hope you are safe and secure in the face of a looming and/or happening hurricane. At least you know any federal emergency response will be awarded a chief executive A+, if not higher.

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A bit fuzzy, a bit woolly – like a PlaidCamper thought process…
My goodness, some days, the news does not ever seem to get any better, or any more believable, and leadership responses that are thin-skinned and narcissist leave me slackjawed. Yes, this is where the healing power of nature is just the thing in our very strange and complicated socially constructed world. I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again: If more people went outside (and hugged a tree) then the world would be a happier place. More of us might care for the land that is our mothership…

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Complex, but not so complicated
Being back in a working environment is fine, particularly when I can stop, take a walk during a break and find myself by the water or in the trees. Sometimes both! Then, at the end of day, or on the weekend, it is back outside we go, sometimes in need of a lift because I was foolish enough to scan the headlines, and even read on. When will I learn?!

Deep breath in, slow release out, and repeat until equilibrium is reestablished, or a bored Scout drags me off to explore more.

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“I welcome my imbeachment!”
Thank goodness for energetic dogs, understanding partners, and space to unwind. The other title I was thinking about for this piece was “Imbeachment or Impeachment?” but I thought better of it, mostly because imbeachment isn’t really a word, and because impeachment, fun though it might be to watch, isn’t really the answer. Do the right thing, midterm eligible people!

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“Don’t worry, Scout, you won’t face imbeachment alone!” “Yeah, ok, but promise me you’ll shut up about that stuff now…”
Time to stop – past time in fact – thanks for reading, have a wonderful and safe weekend, and if you find yourself imbeached, or imforested etc. then that’s a good weekend!

Surf Ghosts

Sounds spooky, and Hallowe’en is weeks away. What’s going on?

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The tiny blob is a bear (sure looked bigger when we first saw it!)

We had plans to hike up a good stretch of Long Beach last week, starting from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, and continuing until legs or snacks gave out. Unfortunately, a large black bear was wandering back and forth across a narrow section of beach, and Parks Canada were there to ensure the bear was left alone, and our walk was cut short. Instead, we opted to mooch about on Lismer and South Beach, and Scout attempted to dig her way to the southern hemisphere. Time well spent.

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The large blob is Scout, checking a bear won’t fall into the hole she is digging

Yes, yes, all quite lovely, but what about the surf ghosts? I can’t hear you cry.

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Warm, but not so sunny…

We returned to the same beach a couple of days later, and the weather was warm, but very foggy along the shore. Bear warning signs were in place, and we were a little reluctant to head out, because we wouldn’t be able to see the bear in the mist. When we stopped to think about it, mist, fog, rain or shine, we rarely spot bears because they’ve already seen/heard us and moved along. That said, we prefer a longer view and a bit of distance where possible.

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A hanging about place

Great. The ghost surfers?!

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Ghost surfers!

We decided to wait out the fog, believing it would lift as the morning wore on, and start our walk with a clearer view. We settled down on a log, broke into our snack supply, and saw a couple of surfers emerge onto the beach and head to the waves. They made an interesting sight through the veil of mist. Before coming to this part of the coast, if you’d said anything to me about surfing, I’d think of Hawaii and board shorts, and a beach bar serving drinks with an umbrella in. That, or my sad and exhausting attempts at surfing off the coast of the Isle of Wight (southern UK, frigid English Channel waters) many, many years ago. If there was a bar serving drinks with an umbrella in, I didn’t see it…fullsizeoutput_66d

Our ghost surfers were kitted out in wetsuits, sensibly enough, and took to the waters without hesitation, appearing to have a fine time in the surf. They played for nearly an hour, and when they finally came back out of the water, I hope they had something warming to drink, no umbrellas.DSCF7403

Eventually, the fog cleared enough for us to head up the beach, and we had a pleasant walk, spotting shore birds and no bear. After an hour, the next fog bank rolled in, and we retraced our steps back to the parking lot. As we approached the visitor centre, we saw  more ghost surfers emerging in the mist. I admire the surfers out here. They are a committed bunch, and clearly appear to enjoy their passion. So much so, they even come back as ghosts…

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Were they really there?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Small town daze

Not quite right, should be small town days.

We’ve been enjoying our time in Ucluelet, and were excited to be here for Ukee Days, a celebration of community in this little corner of the west coast. The weekend kicked off properly with a parade, and excitement was in the air. Especially from the young children who had experienced a parade here before. They knew each parade participant would be handing out candy to the young ones lining the route.

It was a noisy and colourful affair, and likely the only time we’ll see a muscle car behind a police vehicle get away with burning rubber on main street…IMG_20180728_105335

Parks Canada, Inland Search and Rescue, local mum and toddler groups, the Wild Pacific Trail Society, Ucluelet Aquarium, various local stores, some fire trucks, police ATVs, an ambulance and other participants made a fine spectacle.IMG_20180728_104431

We’d planned to meet friends from Canmore arriving to camp nearby for the week at the evening show. Unfortunately, they missed a ferry and ended up getting to their campsite just as it was dark. They were rather tired from waiting three hours for the next boat, a two hour crossing with a seasick dog, and then a longish drive across island with a puking dog on the latter winding stages, and two teenage boys getting greener each time Fido threw up. They missed the evening music and beer.

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Tuff session

It was a good line up, particularly the headline set by Band of Rascals – guitars, drums, a bass, and a lead singer giving it all, with the volume turned up to 11. As it should be. When the light faded, and the fog rolled in, the proceedings were perfumed – heavily – by a sizeable chunk of the audience figuring they’d get away with breaking the no smoking policy under cover of darkness. Weed was in the air. Certainly added something to the atmosphere, a little extra haze and daze. We were happy enough with the Tofino Session ale from the beer garden. Quite enjoyed being carded too – I think I look as though I might still be in high school…

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Turned up to 11

We did catch up with our friends in the following days, and they slowly began to unwind and relax into Ukee time. They surfed a bit, hiked a bit, ate good food and drank good beer a bit, and loved having a beach bonfire each night right in front of their campsite.IMG_20180801_185630

They weren’t quite as excited about the bear that had gotten into a nearby tent early one morning (to scavenge for candy a child had left in a sleeping bag) coming back when they were out and tearing a hole in the side of their tent. Sadly, the bear may have to be put down. Doesn’t seem remotely fair to the bear when it is only trying to be a bear…

It takes time to find the time to wind down and follow island or small town pace of life. Once you do, the trick is to maintain it, try to hang on to it even if you have to move on. Small isn’t dull, and slowing down doesn’t hurt – put yourself in a small town daze!

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Ukee evening summer haze

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Rushing out, rushing in

My goodness, time appears to be flying by – and as we are all busy, I’ll keep it brief this week! Having said that, let’s slow down a little…

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Farewell 2017

Can you hear it? Is that the sound of the year rushing to a close? The sun setting on 2017? If your watch is digital, and your clock doesn’t tick, does time have a sound? We’re at that point with the turn of the year when many like to look back and peer forward, a combination of reflection and anticipation. Tick and tock.

Clockwork and mechanical noises aside, how about enjoying the passage of time and measuring it differently – perhaps in the tides rising and falling on a beach? Forget about seconds and minutes, and human precision. Slow down a bit, and feel the flow of water to experience time passing. Time as a current, and as currency – it’ll pass and can be spent in different ways. I look forward to finding some time and space in a thawing lake, in the flow of a spring river, a light summer rain shower, those autumnal fog banks rolling in, or in a winter snowstorm or coastal downpour. The anticipation of time being well spent…

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Rushing in

Why all the water this week? We’re at the coast, and water is never far from where you are on the Ucluelet peninsula. Inlet or ocean, puddles and streams, rain or fog, we’ve experienced them all this week, and it is a water world for sure. We’ve also enjoyed some bright days too, striding along Long Beach, keeping warm with a brisk pace in temperatures nosing just a touch above freezing. There’s beauty out here in any weather!

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Frosty (yuletide and high tide) logs

We want to wish you good health, peace, lots of slow time and space to spend exploring and enjoying the natural world (rain or shine!) this coming year.

We also want to thank you for finding the time to read OldPlaidCamper – we really appreciate that you do, and enjoy all the stories and comments shared.

fullsizeoutput_4f1Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy New Year!

 

Washed up

Like an old PlaidCamper feeling his age? Maybe not, although the aches and pains I’ve been enduring in recent months…I could go on about that, but I won’t. Not this week, anyway! A few final photographs in what has turned into a short and unplanned series about our recent Vancouver Island trip. This time, it’s centred around a collection of storm tossed logs we rested by, or on, when we were hiking Long Beach. You’ll see these wooden wonders strewn all along the coast, fringing the beach and in front of the forest.

On the fringe

They are quite huge when you get up close. I can barely roll one of the smaller ones (why did I even try, given my aches and pains? Oops, I forgot – not going there!) so it’s something to imagine the power of the ocean when you see large logs seemingly casually flung up on rocks, or piled atop each other.

An invitation to your inner child, it’s hard to resist scrambling and climbing up them, so I didn’t (resist) and the years fell away and I didn’t fall off. Ship’s spars, broad beams, and possibly logging lumber (?), all evidence of natural forces and cycles greater than our human schemes, and all washed up on the shore for us to ponder and beetle over. PlaidCamper playtime…

A strange figure?

It may be the inner child imaginings, but it didn’t take much to think some of the shapes could be sea monsters or beasts from a different time. An overactive imagination, or a lack of caffeine?

Prehistoric?

Smoothed by the seas, the texture is pleasing, and warmed by the sun, the scent is resiny, slightly oily and medicinal – pleasant enough as we sat and surveyed the beach, the forest, and the surf. An enjoyable pause in our hike, a chance to embrace the elemental and feel alive – and a little less washed up!
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!