A good thing about living in Port Alberni is that Tofino’s only an hour and a bit away. We were socked in with fog again in town, so we packed the car up and headed to one of our favourite beaches on the west-west coast, North Flo. I got my wetsuit on right away and went for a surf before the tide got too low. The forecast was 5 feet 18 seconds, and I could definitely feel the 18 seconds part. The current was strong, and just wading through ankle-deep water at the very beginning was a huge slog. I caught one good ride on the green out there, but I couldn’t make it out back no matter how hard I tried.
While I was in the water, Chris and the kids went foraging. They came back with about ten big mussels, which we roasted on the fire. Awesome snack! Then he threw on some zucchinis and shallots and one carrot (a special kid-request), along with some “meat grenades” he’d made the night before. Meat grenades are homemade hamburger, stuffed with red pepper and cheese. So good on the fire. These are the roasted mussels, shelled:
The kids found a driftwood fort, and set it all up with two bedrooms, a fireplace, and a shelf for weapons. K. and I played “burning lava” all the way to the river and back. That’s his name for the same game we used to play as kids: you run along the driftwood logs all down the beach, and can’t touch the ground. K. gave us three lives, and we came back to the fire with two each.
It was a beautiful west coast day. The sky was a deep blue, and eagles soared above us. Two ravens came and hung out in a nearby tree as well. I ran into some friends from Ukee down the beach, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time. They were out there with a beach fire as well, surf boards, and a couple of surf kayaks. They said they were having just as much trouble as I was in the surf that day, but they showed me a good spot to paddle out, and told me to wait till about half an hour after the turn in the tide. Even so, everyone’s second attempt was tough as well. I still didn’t get out back. The way I look at it, I just went for a really long swim yesterday! That’s how it is sometimes. Oh, and those few glory seconds on the green the first time out.
We stayed till sunset. Chris built the fire up to raging for when I got out of the surf the second time, and the kids dragged a big piece of wood right down to the break and played around in the surge until somebody got a soaker. At almost-dark, we spread the coals out to leave no trace, and herded the kids up the beach, each of them trailing a glowing stick, tracing names and patterns in the sky. Waiting for us in Tofino was a crab dinner at Chris’s good friends’ house on South Chesterman beach. It was just a really great day from start to finish.