Beautiful Vancouver Island
Rides were not difficult to come by and the people I met
were very friendly. About eighty miles up the island (the island
was more than 200 miles long) Jerry and Sherri picked me up. Jerry had moved to California from New York. It was in California where he met Sherri; she had just completed her university degree from Colorado State University and was job-hunting in California. Before they got settled into jobs, they both wanted to vacation on Vancouver Island. Jerry’s brown hair was as long as Sherri’s blond hair, which reached down to the middle of her back. They liked me and I liked them, so when they asked me if I wanted to tag along I said, with a pumpkin size grin on my face, “Sure.” Since the paneled van we were traveling in lacked side windows, I spent most of my time up front, crouched between Jerry and Sherri, straining my neck to see the scenery. This position, uncomfortable as it was, was not as bad as it could have been because I was put in charge of the wine, and I had Sherri’s dog, Vira, to keep me company. Qualicum Falls was our first stop.
The park, a masterpiece of Mother Nature, had two
waterfalls, one large, one small, with crystalline pools of blue
water at the bottom of each. The river cut large climbing steps into
the bedrock that contained the churning whitewaters. Climbing down the rock steps that followed one after the other down the river, we passed through an enchanted forest where I half expected to see an elf or a fairy princess dart from behind one of the large pine trees. I wanted to spend more time in this place, but, alas, it was time to get back on the road again.
The next park we pulled into was also beautiful. It was a
stand of 800-year-old Redwood trees called Cathedral Grove. Leaning against a tree so large that it felt like a wall instead of a
curving tree trunk, we ate our lunch of wild blueberries and crusts
of bread. Looking up into trees so tall the tops couldn’t be seen
and then down at us, an elderly couple asked if our berries were
fresh picked park berries. “They sure are,” replied Sherri. This
couple had been touring the island and just returned from a place
called Long Beach, a wilderness beach on the Pacific Ocean side of
the island. The beach, according to the couple, was definitely worth
seeing; the problem was getting there. The logging road to the beach cut across the mountainous center of the island and, according to the couple, was washed out in some places. I guess that’s why the beach was pretty much deserted. After a few more swigs of wine we were ready to go for it — Long Beach or bust.
The couple didn’t exaggerate about the road; it was in
shambles, with large potholes approximately twenty feet apart and small potholes everywhere else. Our fastest speed was 25 mph. The challenge was just to keep moving. We had sixty miles or so of this highway in front of us, so patience became the word of the day. The slow pace gave me plenty of time to burn images of the breathtaking scenery into my memory. Our view of mountain vistas more than compensated for any abuse our bodies had to endure. I can’t speak for the van however.
As we circled, switchback like, through the mountains,
sometimes looking down upon virgin stands of timber, sometimes
looking up at snow capped peaks, I was filled with whatever fills
your body and mind when you find yourself in beauty like this. I
didn’t know what that something was, but I sure felt its power. We
drove through a super thick cedar forest and over a mountain pass
that opened up into a gorgeous vista view of the mountains. We
passed many mountain streams, sometimes trickling, sometimes raining down the sides of mountains. The summer runoffs formed small, emerald green lakes in the high alpine valleys just below the peaks.
When we stopped to stretch our legs, I walked over to where
water was cascading down from a large stone outcropping on the
mountain face. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. Off to the
side, I saw another stream trickling down from a more manageable overhang. This stream was flowing at drinking fountain velocity. Clinging to a boulder, my head cocked in full view of beautiful passing clouds, I became enlivened as mountain water poured into my mouth. Rock, sun, sky, forest, and snow filled my senses; this heightened sensitivity crystallized with each cool swallow of water. The whole experience left me with an overwhelming sense of being part of nature, a feeling I will not soon forget and hopefully, someday, be able to repeat. Getting back in the dusty van brought me down somewhat, but the bump and grind of the road definitely put me back in touch with the fact that God’s gifts do not come cheap.