Picture this: a campsite at 5:30 in the morning. Pouring rain. Two sleepy, sleep-deprived people attempting to deconstruct an elaborate (and ineffective) tarp shelter with a plentitude of knotted ropes, break down a tent, and pack everything into two bags with just enough room for all the belongings, using the car as the main hub for organization and packing. Up ahead: a 4.5 hour drive back to civilization and an airport, on a timeline to make our international flight back to Hilly Quirky City.

Recipe for disaster, n’est pas?

Except, and this is what I love about Pea and I, it wasn’t. Neither of us is prone to whining, and both of us have a solid ability to muster up grit to face tough scenarios. Except, this wasn’t a tough scenario. We’d woken up before our alarms because of the insane rain patter on our tarp/tent and our shared need to pee (the tarp sagged mightily under the massive weight of accumulated water thus exposing half the tent to the rain (we are not experts at tarp-stringing, it turns out)). We both thought it was hilarious that, while it had drizzled/rained for the past day and a half, this was definitely the heaviest rain we’d seen, right at the moment when it was least wanted. We got out of the campsite a full half hour ahead of schedule, and made such good time on the empty, early roads that we could stop for a picnic breakfast near a waterfall and for the one little interesting hike we had missed on our way in, and we still made it to the airport with plenty of time pre-flight. We had a lot of fun breaking down the campsite, though we both acknowledge it would have been more pleasant if it wasn’t raining quite so hard.

I had been worried about Sunday before the trip started (early! forced drive! missed flight!!), and had caught myself worrying about it during the trip a little, doing my best to push it back and enjoy the moment. I worry about plans, especially plans on timelines. Pea does not worry about plans or timing in the same way (well, no one does, really, except my sisters. A military upbringing will do that to you, we’ve decided). It was fine. More than fine, it was a nice day.

Things I learned:
1) hiking in a rain forest in the rain just seems fitting, and is, in fact, quite dry because barely any rain makes it through the canopy.
2) there is a restaurant in Tofino that is the best I have ever been to (and I’ve been there twice because we liked it so much we went back the next night) (SOBO, if ever you are there). We bought the cookbook.
3) I love scrambling around on rocks to poke about in tide pools more than boardwalks through forests. Pea is the reverse. We both like long beach walks. In general, all three of these things make both of us very very happy. We were very very happy for three straight days.
4) Bald eagles have the most ridiculous call. It’s a hyperactive peeping, and sounds like it should belong to a much much smaller bird. It’s not dignified. Also, they eat carrion, and steal food from other animals. Majestic.
5) Nanaimo bars eaten in Nanaimo are not more delicious than usual, but are certainly still delicious. (a very Canuckian treat)
6) If you see a bear when trying to get to an off-the-beaten track tide pool beach, that bear will run away from you, fast. You will remain slightly worried this small and adorable bear (and its mum?) will reappear and challenge you for access to the tidally-exposed shellfish.

Also, after four days in a rain forest, Hilly Quirky City may need to be rechristened as Hilly Quirky Arid City. While I know there are many more-arid cities in this land, the contrast between lush verdant greenery, ferns, and mossy towering pines and the sun-burnt, golden brown landscape that greeted us here was pretty shocking.


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