AFTER THE CANADIAN CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP.
ARTICLE #15: BRITISH COLUMBIA PART 5- REMEMBERING THE EAST WHILE FACING THE WEST.
When was the last time that you celebrated the achievement of a small or large personal goal? Did you embrace the moment fully and felt proud of yourself, or continue on your path of reaching your overall end goal? It’s advisable to have a set of small steps to achieve your long-term ambition. It’s mechanically logical to strategize in this sense. They're high risks involved when it comes going head first into something without taking the preliminary planning beforehand. After creating your layout and working at achieving each small goal, is there a reaction after exceeding those essential steps? I’ve been a strong believer and practiced appreciating the small achievements. I understand that they are necessary to happen in order get closer to your end results. Think of the work that went into making this vision come alive. Let's play out one scenario; you're daydreaming about this idea that came to mind. Next, you started laying out that idea into a plan on paper. Afterward, you started executing each step that’s set out in your plan, coming out the other end of the spectrum with an entity that comes alive from your creative self and hard work. Of course, it is possible, if inevitable honestly, of having variables to this example since life doesn't always work alongside your idea. This amount of energy can be immense, which more so sheds light on just how important the small accomplishments are. Every step of your personal goals in your lifetime are important, make sure to acknowledge them.
My eyes open up as I slowly started to realize that something felt a little different. I felt warm, comfortable, relaxed, and rested. That could only mean one thing. I’m sleeping in an actual bed. I’m in the town of Duncan, Vancouver Island. Located north of the Cowichan Valley, I was tremendously fortunate to have the ability to stay in an actual house for the time I’d be spending here. I lucked out with the location since it was central to the places that I was going to. Having friends that live in the area helped immensely with suggesting areas to explore. I had the intention of staying on Vancouver Island for a week to hopefully get a proper chance to see some of the vast areas the island has to offer. I made the time to go through my gear since my cleaning routine relied mainly on having the spare time and a clean area to do it. With my camera, lens, and gear bag all sorted out, this would help to provide a smooth process to get my work done at each location. I was extremely excited to be here. With the many images that I had seen on my social feeds and having conversations of how beautiful this place is, it was time to get cracking.
First things first, I needed to find out where I was going. The morning didn't start well. I got out of bed later than usual, and because I felt relaxed, I didn't want to leave. It’s amazing how being in a domestic environment changes the traveler's pace of life. Indoor plumbing, no need to put my living area away, having an actual stove and cookware and dishes and utensils, I could get used to this. I had two locations in mind and after learning that they were both within the same direction I gave myself a high five and a kick in the butt. Ucluelet and Tofino were going to be my end destination of the day. Today was going to a particularly special trip, a day I hadn't give much thought throughout my travels. With some caffeinated energy running through my body it was time to head out and get going. I got onto Highway 1 and headed north towards Nanaimo. From there I turned northwest on highway 19 till I got to Highway 4A which brought me to my first recommendation, the Old Country Market in Coombs. This place offered great products like international foods, imported gifts, and in-store baked goods. The main attraction for me was the not what was in the building, even tho I did some shopping and left with some goodies, but what was outside the Old Country Market, more specifically on the roof. The market has a sod roof with lots of grass on it. The founders immigrated from Norway to Vancouver Island in the 1950’s, bringing a common practice that some Norwegian homes had which was laying sod on their roofs. Back in the day on the weekend of the Coombs Fall Fair, the grass from the sod roof was getting long. The story goes that after a few glasses of wine, one of the sons of the Norwegian family proposed the idea of borrowing goats to help cut the grass and possibly provide entertainment for the passing traffic. Since then the goats have become a permanent resident to the Old Country Market. When I arrived, I noticed the goats right away. I couldn’t help but smile after looking at these four-legged lawn mowers completely content living in their unique home. After taking a few photographs, it was time to make my way onto Highway 4 and continue westbound towards Ucluelet and Tofino. The night before I had the privilege to see my friend’s horse. In one period of my life, I grew up with horses and even attempted to ride them, up until I was bucked off and decided the idea of horseback riding was no longer an interest of mine. I eventually gained respect for horses and every time I get to see them, I'd instantly fall in love with them. While visiting the stables that evening, one of the horse owners had mentioned about Cathedral Grove. I didn’t know where this was, but it was on my friend’s recommendation list which solidified the notion that I needed to see this place. In my last article, I mentioned that British Columbia has some fantastic roads that would be a blast to drive enthusiastically with a proper sports car. Highway 4 heading towards Ucluelet and Tofino had been added to my list that day forward. There were many turns, beautiful landscape that surrounded the area, and speed limits that surprised me. I took a quick stop by Ellis River to take some shots of the clear running stream with the gorgeous overcast that was laying over most of my day. The rocks were wet which made it terrible to walk on, but with my cat-like reflexes, I got my shots. I got into the car and continued on my route. With more turns and amazing landscape to look at, the speed limit dropped from 90 km/h (55mph) to 50km/h (31mph). Afterward, massive trees surrounded me on each side of the highway. Where was I? Why did the landscape drastically change? I drove a little more and eventually found two parking lots with a fair deal of traffic. I couldn’t believe the massive beasts facing me, so I found a spot to park and brought my camera with me. I eventually learned that I was in the Macmillan Provincial Park, and more specifically Cathedral Grove.
While I’m writing this blog, I’ve been going through my journal that has the entries I wrote from my experiences of the trip. While reading the entry of this day, I can remember vividly the feeling I felt while walking among these giants. Some of these trees are over 800 years old, 250 feet tall, and 9 feet in circumference. There's a collection of different types of trees like the Western Red Cedar, the Big Leaf Maple, the Western Hemlock, and the Gand Firs. The Western Red Cedars were interesting for me after learning the many uses they served for the indigenous people thousands of years ago. Since the Red Cedar was rot resistant, the natives would make dugout canoes from the trees, create carved monuments and masks to help celebrate the spirit world and many other applications that helped the lives of the indigenous groups that lived in the area. Some of the trees are hollow which you can walk right into with no need to crouch down. Despite the amount of people that were in the area it was pleasantly quiet. I eventually found Carmen Lake and wanted to take some shots of it. I couldn’t get a good composition from the shore, but there was a massive tree that was lying across the shallow water. Taking my chances, I decided to walk onto the tree trunk until I got a clear shot of the lake. With the shots taken, and being completely dry, I continued exploring the park and absorbed the beauty that was around me. After reading the information signs that are alongside the trails, I wondered if this area had the ability to speak plain English out loud, what would it say? What kind of stories could it share to us over and above the artifacts that we slowly discover with time? I’m confident it would be amazing stories to absorb. With a great photo experience in the bag, I went back to my car and on my way west on Highway 4. The drive was very entertaining in the sense that the road offers tremendous views with a sprinkle of many twist and turns. I’m sure the residents living here have grown accustomed to the driving route, but for someone that has spent almost a decade in the prairies, it was a change of pace. I got to the point where Highway 4 tees off north to Tofino and South to Ucluelet. I headed southbound and reached the town border of Ucluelet. With a population of 1 627, this area reminded me of some of the East Coast communities. There are awesome looking small stores and docks for the local fishing boats, and tsunami evacuation signs. Ok, that last part is not something you see on the East Coast. I found this particularly interesting so let me try to fill you in. There is a fair deal of geological activity happening in the Pacific Ocean. There’s the ring of fire which is an extensive collection of volcanoes occupying a major area of the basin of the Pacific Ocean. About 90% of the earthquakes originate within this horseshoe shaped area. Aside from the volcanoes, they're the tectonic plates, among many across the world, that shift slowly throughout our lifetime. One, in particular, I’ll bring light on since it does concern me and everyone else standing in this part of the country. The Juan De Fuca Plate covers western North American areas like North California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The reason that there are earthquakes that have happened in these regions is that the denser Juan de Fuca plate is moving under the less dense North America Plate, causing a convergent plate boundary that’s called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Based off carbon dating research, oral traditions from Native Americans and First Nations, and Japanese records, back in January of 1700 there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.7 to 9.2, causing the ground to drop as much as five feet, lowering coastal forests into the water. Another example of subduction zone activity was in 2004 in the Indian Ocean. There was a 9.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred after the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate, causing series of tsunamis to surge towards the coasts of most landmasses along the Indian Ocean. The result was 230 000 deaths and inundating coastal towns with waves as high as 100 feet tall. Knowing when an occurrence like this can happen in our present time is subjectively unknown, but what was great to see was the communities that live within these tsunami risk zones are taking measure to be prepared with an evacuation plan if such a case were to happen. Now that the potentially scary natural disaster has been pointed out, it's time to take pictures of the coast!
With a great location to get coastal photographs, and still having lots of time and light to play with I made my way northbound. The bonus of heading towards Tofino is you get to drive through the Pacific Rim National Park. This place is an example of just how diverse a location like British Columbia can change in a small amount of distance. Pacific Rim has three geographic entities. There’s Long Beach which offers 16 kilometers (9 miles) of soft, sandy beaches. There's the Broken Group Islands which is numerous islands scattered throughout the Barkley Sound. And then you got the West Coast Trails that offer pathways throughout all sorts of different landscapes like temperate rainforests, waterfalls, sandstones, caves, and sea arches. I stopped at Schooner Cove and from there went on a trail that leads to Schooner Bay. The trails are a series of boardwalks and stairs since the rainforest ground floor is thick green moss that would make it difficult for hikers to walk on, and it helps preserve the rainforest with human traffic. This landscape is beautiful. I thought I had a good idea of what British Columbia had to offer with vegetation after spending time in the Hemlock forests east and north of Vancouver. Nope, I was wrong. The life this location was emitting was contagious and inspiring. I eventually made it to Schooner Beach and was excited to see sandy terrain for the first time in a little while. This location would be a dream to take sunset photography since there’s no obstruction on the western horizon. The sun broke out, and I had mid-afternoon lighting, so I did what I could for documenting the area. I felt fortunate to have made it to such a diverse area where if I wanted to get a particular type of landscape photograph I had the opportunity of capturing it without leaving the island. With Schooner Beach being my breath of fresh air for the day I got back to my car and made my drive to my last location. Tofino is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. With a population of 1 876, there can be as much as 22 000 people that’ll come in within the tourist season. There're all sorts of great fun to have here with boat tours, dining at restaurants and hiking trails that lead to small beaches. Surfing was an evident sport that I noticed first hand coming into the town. It’s a great getaway with immensely beautiful landscapes to keep your eyes away from the road. With all these things to do, I had one intention to pursue, and I needed a beach to make it happen. I found a small beach in Tonquin Park and brought my camera gear with me. I walked through the forest area, and I knew that this shot felt different than the others I had done throughout the trip. I had been keeping a vlog throughout this journey from where I started in Clare, Nova Scotia, all the way to where I was this day. I reached as far west as I wanted to go and the idea of it was slowly materializing in my mind. I made it. I made it to the end of my cross-country trip. I got onto the beach and sat down to wrap my mind around what I had accomplished throughout this summer. I laid on the sand and closed my eyes and listened to the surrounding noises around me. There were a few people on the beach, the tide was softly crashing against the shore, and my mind was surprisingly quiet. Several years of contemplating this idea, to spending five months in making it happen, and then finally dropping everything that was going on in my life to pursue my goal for two months was coming to an end. I didn’t think of this part, of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say. I got up, grabbed my camcorder, took a deep breath, and spoke off the top of my head and from the heart. That moment has been imprinted in my memory ever since.
While driving back to Duncan, I felt very calm. I felt peace within myself. I had a several hour drive to my home away from home and that was ok. I was happy to be in this moment. Do you recall the last time you’ve completed a personal task big or small? I couldn’t remember at the time till I was driving along Highway 4. There’s always small accomplishments that happen once in a while which are great and need to be recognized. I would class this as a larger achievement for myself. An item that I would knock off my bucket list. I know that this will be a catalyst to hopefully bigger steps in the future and I’m excited about it. This trip had shown me that I could do this. With baby steps along the way, the next potentially bigger steps towards my end goals seemed more realistic to envision. I’m not trying to gain massive fame and wealth. One of the results with my personal goals is to live comfortably off the creative endeavors that I pursue. I want to have the ability to gain enough financial revenue to continue growing my creative tools and myself as a whole. I understand the many implications that are involved in such an idea. But this potentially crazy pursuit of fulfilling my creative-self has been one of the few elements in my life that have made sense and stuck in my head. For the last three years, I’ve tried to slow down my creative self since I knew the chances of me making anything from it couldn’t realistically amount to anything. How well did that work? With internal conflict and loss of personal ambition building up in the last year of that period, and now finding myself smiling from ear to ear while driving on a beautiful road in Vancouver Island after crossing the country, I’d say it worked out terribly, and I couldn’t be more grateful.