On Friday, a manager told me she was working all weekend and proceeded to ask me about my plans. Well, I’m headed to Ucluelet on a whirlwind weekend trip and she remarked that I travel a lot and I do wish that was true. I also felt bad that I have fewer responsibilities and that difference was made painfully clear.
My younger cousin held her wedding at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort and it was a great opportunity for me and NPY to finally visit the west side of the island after visiting only Victoria and Nanaimo so far.
As the summer is winding down and I’m facing a time crunch, I both wanted to spend more time than just the weekend in Ucluelet/Tofino and kind of not go at all. But I knew I wanted to attend my cousin’s wedding, see aunts visiting from afar, finally visit the Tofino/Ucluelet area and represent my family as my sister and mother could not make it.
I waged a debate with myself up to a couple weeks ago whether or not to go to the island on Friday night or keep the whole adventure within two days. We weren’t arriving into Victoria or Nanaimo early enough on Friday night to make the hotel stay worth it and we would feel the incentive to check out on Saturday as late as possible such that we’d be slightly rushed to make the wedding, no earlier than if we took the ferry on Saturday.
Trying to catch a 0620 sailing was inhumane to both me and NPY so we arrived very early to guarantee a spot on the 0830 sailing, I being loathed to pay the reservation fee.
The sailing was smooth and the vessel was great – newer, bigger and cleaner than our return vessel (shudder). NPY likes a ferry ride and we always visit the sun deck and take photos with our hair whipping around.
The winding route taking us from Nanaimo to Ucluelet was interesting. You couldn’t speed for the people ahead of you were going the speed limit and the highway was narrow and challenging. I don’t get car sick and fancied myself starting to feel a little ill and NPY who was driving in order to not feel sick started to feel sick anyhow! :P
I packed a light meal for the six hour journey and framed it as a “picnic” considering it consisted of an egg salad on tasty green onion bread, antipasto of marinated mushrooms and artichokes, a fruit salad and chilled iced tea. In reality, little delays added up and we “picnicked” in the car cruising down the Pacific Rim Highway.
After driving through a mildly shady neighbourhood in Ucluelet, we arrived at beautiful Black Rock Resort so named after all the dark rock composing the rugged coastline just outside). We got into our suite a little early and with a hour before the ceremony.
I loved our suite, a Wild Pacific Trail studio in a unit separate from the main building. We soon learned that a foghorn bellows throughout the day at – I later timed – 20 second intervals. (Between the foghorn and the emergency siren earworm planted by a child on the ferry ride over, it was enough to drive us mad.) The weather for the two days was foggy to rainy and it did seem fitting to compare the walk back to our “cabin” a scene for The Shining. It also felt a little like camp in those grounds. A really fancy camp.
The suite was not at all like camp with more black slate, comfy king bed, the softest throw and a bathroom that made me so very happy. It was complete with sleek Blu faucets, a soaking tub, and rain shower head in a shower stall paved with black stones. I was reluctant to leave for the ceremony, ducked back in before the reception and was reluctant again to leave.
The ceremony held treats and pleasant surprises for us. Okay, I’m afraid I couldn’t get fully into the ceremony because it was held outdoors I couldn’t hear words spoken for the wind, crashing waves and foghorn that captured more of my attention. After a champagne toast on the patio (toasting with Intrigue Wines “I Do” sparkling rose – I wanted to go with Dirty Laundry’s “Say Yes” but it’s not sparkling) and sticking around for Extended Family-Bride’s Side photos, we ducked into the wine cellar for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. A short break during which we ducked back to our studio room and then the reception began right on schedule – my cousin is awesome that way.
The food arrived in timely intervals and the emcee was so engaging it seemed like the evening was passing by quickly. Details that really floored us included the wedding favours that were individually hand-crafted pottery mugs for each guest (couples received similar mugs and children received smaller mugs), hand-crafted cheeseboards and a cheese cake that was served as a later evening snack. Seeing my cousins let loose when he has only seen them at family dinner, NPY asked me if I knew they are so fun. Not from personal experience in the same scenario, but I’m not surprised at all. :) It was a struggle between staying and dancing (I’ve been itching to dance since the stagette I attended back in May) and heading back to the room to make an appointment to unwind with a bath in the soaking tub.
We stayed in the resort as long as possible the next morning and then set out to visit Tofino. Perhaps we would drive ourselves out of the weather system in Ucluelet that was starting to pour rain. No such luck. The rain held off for us visit the village in Tofino, artist-owned Eagle Aerie Gallery, pick up lunch at a food truck and visit Tofino Brewing Company. Amidst heavy drizzle, I finally saw one of Tofino’s famed beaches. That very afternoon, I learned that Twilight: New Moon was partly filmed in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and on the beaches, one of them being Incinerator Rock at Long Beach. It was foggy so the beach did not look long and stretch on forever. Oh well.
As we left the west side of the island, we stopped in Coombs to see Goats on Roof at the Old Country Market. It’s a cute and old-fashioned commercial area and there are goats on the sod roof as well as other grass roofs. We walk around inside the market and I whispered to NPY that – although I hate the term so much – it was a gong show in there with respect to the decor and products offered. We also stopped at Parksville Community Beach where the tide was low and we walked on the hard-packed sand really far out. We we saw neat new things or pretty sights, I would proactively and pre-emptively say, “You’re welcome” to NPY but then he would say, “You’re welcome,” for driving. He did, indeed, do all the driving!
Then began the “fiasco” that was trying to get off the island. As we were working out the day’s schedule, I told NPY that there was an extra sailing in the late evening and what did he think that meant about ferry queues? Once again, I was too miserly to make a reservation and as we drove towards Nanaimo at 7:30, a highway sign told us the 9:05 ferry was sold out and the 9:30 – and last – ferry was 26% full. It was a nerve-wracking 15 minutes to get to the terminal and be handed a blue card and queue at the end of an interminably long line. A cousin had a 9:30 reservation and I knew our desperate option was to ditch the car at the parking lot and tag along with him back to the mainland.
We should have read the explanation on the blue card (which was slipped under the windshield wiper) that indicated we were guaranteed a spot provided we could show the card and analyzed and fretted about the movement of one lane next to ours compared to the stall observed in our lane. It was still a long 90 minutes until the supposed sailing time and it was delayed further for at least 45 more minutes. We returned after midnight, a little in shock over the late hour, and I’m quite certain I don’t have it in me for another road trip as originally intended in three weeks. No way Jose.
Unlike the weekend before, I actually brought along my big super-zoom camera but ended up wielding my phone camera instead most of the weekend. A big camera (or a phone camera) just stops conversations and so I was able to observe and try to remember everything. These are some of my favourite sights, sounds and take-aways from the weekend:
- Green waters of Cameron Lake (or was it Great Central Lake) flanked by lush green forests driving between Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
- “Cousins shots” – by edict of the bride and groom, we could not be served from the open bar shooters or even doubles, so we did what we could. The two sisters of the bride, a single male cousin (eldest of us all), NPY (who is soon part of the family) and I – drank cousins shots and then took cousins shots at the photobooth.
- Visiting the original Tacofino truck in Tofino upon recommendation from our chef cousin – it was great to see three sisters, my aunts, not too posh to chow down in the outdoors on fish burritos. The cherry on top would have been my mother, the fourth and last sister to complete the set, could have joined them. The sisters went on mini hikes in Ucluelet and Tofino and will continue their road trip travels in Victoria and Whistler for part of this week.
- I love this every time, and NPY thinks I’m very strange: the wave of sounds of people starting their cars to disembark from the ferry; also, the caravan of cars with a single purpose to empty from the belly of a car ferry.
- Cousin Dann saying, “Well, this was so much fun, let’s do it again in a month!” – he was referring to the fact that we will all gather together again in four short weeks … for NPY and my party!