Do you have a place in your memory that you’ve visited and that was so perfect that you’ve never been able to bring yourself to revisit because you don’t want to be disillusioned?
Our perfect place is Flores Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Paul and I spent five glorious days there many years ago. We had planned a trip to Tofino on Vancouver Island and this was to be my first visit to an ocean.
We had a brand new Mazda 3, lovingly named the “Jerp” due to a weird combination of licence plate letters and numbers. We also had a five month old pup that we had recently adopted as a stray. We left Calgary so loaded with gear that the dog had to rest in a space about fifteen inches high in the back of the car. Being a silly pup, if he could be near us that was perfectly fine with him.
After several days of mainland sights (“Just exactly how big is Greater Vancouver?”), we were on the ferry on a gorgeous September morning. We wended our way across the island, finally arriving at the Bella Pacifica campground near Tofino. For two landlocked middle-aged adventurers we felt we had arrived in paradise. We celebrated our anniversary there by eating two helpings of crabmeat served with cantaloupe and sour dough bread, all but the cantaloupe swimming in butter. We bought embarrassing amounts of smoked salmon to “snack” on. We saved the skin and scraps for Wiley the dog who by now had taken to reclining indolently in the car, feet in the air and allowing us to feed him by hand like some Roman Emperor.
But the best part came when Paul got the brilliant idea to hire a water taxi to take us, dog, tent and five days of water and supplies to Whitesands Beach, Flores Island. We had been told it was an amazing place – well Paul had been told and if you know him, you know he talks to a lot of people!
The next morning, we were loaded up into the Zodiac which already contained several welldressed folks who were clearly not into wilderness camping but were doing the whale-watching thing. There were a couple of sidelong glances and more than a couple of wistful ones and we were committed. As we moved out of the sheltered bay, poor Wiley tried to bury himself in the bottom of the jouncing boat. However, Paul figured out that the dog would be better up above where he could see what was happening and put him on his lap. Sure enough, we soon had a happy pup, head high and pointed into the wind, ears and tongue flapping, fur straight back.
We were dropped off on the most exquisitely beautiful beach I have ever seen to this day. We were given instructions and a promise to be picked up in five days. We were told about Ahousat, a First Nations village a short distance to the north of where we would be camping, about a fresh water stream and were also told to keep Wiley in the tent with us at night as there were cougars on the island.
In the five days we lived on that beach, we never saw a soul ‘til the day we were picked up. We were relaxed and filled with wonder. We explored the beaches, bathed naked in the warm coves, examined the gargantuan tree stumps and paid attention to the tides and the arc of the sun. The goofy pup turned into a hunter, sticking to Paul’s side and relishing the forest and saltwater smells. Our meals were simple and we became aware of what we consumed and what nature had to offer in both physical and spiritual ways. Best of all, the water taxi driver was late, and, to apologize, he gave us a free whale watching tour! We never told him that he could have left us there forever but some days when I feel very stressed and out of touch with Creation I dream about Flores Island and wonder…