Saturday, 13 November 2010

Honeymoon on the West Coast

Our footsteps ring through the years
Marking the places where we have stood
Alone waiting for our replica in love
- William Connor Flint

This may come as a surprise to many, but until we left on our honeymoon David and I had never taken an actual vacation together on our own. In fact, other than a wonderful family vacation to Disneyland which my parents took us on, we have never really had any sort of alone-trip together that has lasted longer than daylight hours.

My parents very generously booked us into the Tin Wis Resort in Tofino for a few days so that we could enjoy a bit of a honeymoon before we returned to England. Thus at 6pm on the evening of our wedding we were happily rearranging the contents of the car Grandma loaned us and going over all the stops we had to make (luggage, petrol) so we could leave town. We were perhaps a bit too excited & hasty to be off, because I got into the car without looking and promptly sat on the wedding cake mum had packed for us to take with us.

(picking up David's luggage from his parents' hotel)

The drive out was difficult. I was drinking Red Bull in an effort to stay alert enough to navigate a dark winding road wreathed in misty clouds. I think we experienced divine protection that evening, for I had only driven the road once before and for most of the drive I was unable to really see the road. But we arrived safely and were in for our first wonderful surprise—namely that my parents had booked us into an actual honeymoon suite. There is almost no site nicer for the weary traveler than a multi-roomed hotel suite, complete with fireplace, ocean view, and jacuzzi tub.

David and I love Tofino and have spent a lot of time there over the years, although we have never traveled there together. We were looking forward to a very relaxing, fun-filled few days. We did get that, but with a little something more thrown in: namely, we both experienced bouts of illness, more inconvenient than incapacitating. Fortunately we are brave souls, not willing to let a little thing like sickness stop us! It was time to experience Tofino as tourists, not as hippy-campers or someone 'up for the day'.

First stop was lunch at SOBO, a Zagat rated cafe in the town. We opted for soups and artisan bread, and, wow. I had an amazing wild salmon chowder, loaded with dill and potatoes, and David had an wonderfully rich and flavourful tomato soup. The cornbread they served was as good as my own. We also, in light of honeymooning, decided to split a broiled oyster. It was topped with cheese, mustard, and bacon, and was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Somehow its fresh, salty taste blended perfectly with the rich mustard and cheese. We also enjoyed drinking a brand of soda that we recognised from Cambridge, and couldn't help laughing over the "important from England" label. Then again, I suppose dandylion & burdock soda has not caught on everywhere.

 In the afternoon we explored MacKenzie Beach, which our resort was situated on. It was rockier than our normal beaches, and contained numerous tidal pools in the holes left by magma formations. It was too cool for sunbathing, so we clambered on the rocks and enjoyed hunting for hermit crabs, sea aenemones, and star fish.

The next day started with a very early morning trip out to go bear watching. Island bears live on little islands off Vancouver Island, and at low tide they wander down to the shore to munch rock crab. So in our orange safety jumpsuits we boarded a silent-motored zepplin & went in search of bears. We saw six bears in toto—three adults & three cubs. It was incredible to be able to just sit and observe them. With a light swipe of a paw mama bear turns over 200lb boulders so that she & her cubs can feast on crabs. A furry paw goes into the hole left by the rock, and an angry crab reacts by snapping the intruder. But the bear is thick-furred enough to feel no pain from the pinch, and instead of harming an intruder the rock crab finds itself being munched and crunched in the bear's maw. When the cubs are full they run into the forest and climb a tall evergreen, waiting in safety for mama to finish her meal. When we left mama & the cubs we motored past a miniscule island covered in seals. Our captain managed to navigate quite close to their island before they got wind of us and began jumping into the water. Then it was off in search of
 more bears, and we were lucky enough to find a couple of the larger, solitary males wandering along
strips of shore. The ride back to the Island was cold but beautiful. No matter where I've been and the beauties I've seen, both man-made and otherwise, my heart loves the coastal area of Vancouver Island the best and it is a joy to be out on the water in the early morning mist.

Later that morning we decided to drive to Uculet in search of a secondhand store David liked. The store was gone, so we explored a few others instead. This led to me acquiring a nice, thick, white & blue sweater in honour of our trip. It also led to us trying some local grub at Ukee Dogs Eatery. We split a delicious mini pizza, loaded with ukrainian sausage, and wished that we had appetite enough to try more of their delicious baked goods.

That evening we had reservations at The Pointe Restaurant, a five-star restaurant located at The Wickaninish Inn. We had been looking forward to this meal for weeks, and were excited to see what they would do for us since it was in celebration of our wedding. We were certainly not disappointed, for they sent over complimentary wine & starters. We had a wonderful potato croquette and split a summer berry salad. The salad was incredibly tangy but had this beautifully creamy buttermilk sauce to cut the acidity. Unfortunately for me I very quickly, and very violently, came down with an illness which prevented me from enjoying the rest of my meal. But David assures me that he enjoyed every bite of his rock crab (copying the bears), and the few bites I had of my halibut on a bed of truffled ravioli were delicious. The view from our table was breathtaking. The restaurant is on a little peninsula and with windows on three sides it is like sitting in the ocean. All we could see was sea & sky. At any rate, I am determined to return there for another meal which I will hopefully be able to enjoy the whole of!

The next day we had to head back to our homes and say our goodbyes. First to Port, where my mum set about to making soup for me so I could try to eat. We had a nice visit with my parents, a restorative nap, and opened wedding gifts! The gift opening was fun, and we were touched by people's generosity. There was one moment of awkwardness in the form of a Mystery Gift. When we opened the top parcel we found a cd of romantic music. Fair enough, we said, it's a wedding gift. Then when we opened the substantial lower package we revealed (to our eyes & those of my parents & brother) a box labeled '1000 Sex Games'. No card or tag has revealed who this came from, and to this day the gift remains a mystery. The expression of absolute horror on my brother's face was priceless, as was the relief on my parents as their expression changed from shock to "it's ok they're married now" relief.

Too soon, always too soon for me, we had to say goodbye and head south to Victoria. En route we stopped in Ladysmith in an attempt to find a bakery which David swore produced the most amazing cinnamon buns. We had been delayed leaving Port so had asked my mum to pray that the bakery would still be open, and it was! Although we arrived ten minutes past closing, the Old Town Bakery was dealing with a large cake order and we were able to get our cinnamon buns before they locked the doors. My husband does not lie, and the chocolate pecan cinnamon bun was one of the best I've eaten—second only to my mum's homemade sticky buns.

Eventually we arrived in Victoria and spent a lovely evening visiting with David's family and opening more wedding gifts. No mysteries there, however, for everything was labeled. Then came a late night of packing, a deep sleep & a too-early rising, a sick husband, a ferry trip, goodbyes to family in Vancouver, and ten million delays before arriving home safely in Cambridge. We ate lack-lustre pizza in the Chicago airport which David snatched before our plane boarded, because "it's Chicago so you have to try it"; we suffered on a hot plane for three hours, grounded, whilst some mysterious 'engine trouble' was investigated; we then braved a trans-atlantic flight on said plane, made it through customs & immigration without hitch, took the longest busride EVER between Heathrow & Cambridge, and eventually made it to our humble home where my husband carried me over the threshold.

(some of our wedding china, setup at David's parents for us to see)

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