Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, is known for many things: fabulous surfing beaches, whale watching tours, funky ambience, good restaurants. Mild temperatures year round. At this time of year, tourists begin arriving for storm-watching season, but that was not our goal. We wanted a quiet, relaxing time with lots of beach walks and reading
So we packed up and took off on Monday this week. It was a beautifully sunny day. Although the road to Tofino is twisty and narrow with lots of ups and downs, the trip was uneventful. The set-up took hardly any time at all. The campground had all the amenities, including wifi, was well treed and fronted on the beach. We walked there and watched the sun go down and congratulated ourselves on this good idea.
Day Two: another beautiful day. Another beautiful walk, this time around the lighthouse at Ucluelet. The interpretive signs told of storms and shipwrecks galore, but the sea was calm and blue. Ah, yes, this was the life.
Later that evening, we checked our e-mail and facebook. Uhoh. “This doesn’t sound good,” I said to the resident sweetie.
Announcements bordered in red, with lurid neon lines on weather maps, spelled out trouble. The remnants of Typhoon Songda were headed our way, and would be most felt on open West-facing coastlines. That's where we were.
We could expect winds gusting up to 100 km./hr. and 200 mm of rain over the next three days. There would be three storms, each becoming more intense, with the first hitting us on Wednesday evening. Anything not tied down would be prone to flying about, tree limbs might fall, and of course, there would be power outages.
Suddenly, this trip did not sound like such a good idea after all. We went to bed in a somber mood, and my sleep was disturbed with dreams of downed power lines draped over our trailer ... or worse. We were ready to pack it up early and get out while the going was good the following day. Actually, we were ready to run away from possible danger.
We are realizing, as we get older, that we are more aware of danger all around us. Just driving out to the Coast, pulling a trailer over narrow winding roads, is dangerous. Taking a walk on the beach or along an interpretive trail can be dangerous too.
The danger has always been there, but perhaps as we age we are becoming more aware of our vulnerability. Our instinct is to retreat, to run for safety. Don’t take a walk on that trail: a bear was sighted there a month ago.
Don’t climb on the rocks, you may twist your ankle. Don’t camp in the forest, a tree may fall and hit you. These are all very real possibilities – small chances, but real possibilities -- and as the saying goes, “Discretion is the better part of valour.”
Yes, but ... Unfortunately, each time we run away, our world becomes a little smaller. We won’t take the trip, we won’t sign up for the new activity, we won’t reach out to people we don’t know, or who are different from us, because, after all, we could get hurt.These experiences could spell danger.
In the morning, before packing up, we took one last walk on the beach -- the beautiful beach blessed by a rainbow.
We looked at each other. Hmm. Almost at the same time, we said, “Let’s tough it out.” We want to live in a world that holds challenges and surprises. There may come a time when our camping and traveling days will be over, when we won’t have the energy and resources to deal with challenges and surprises. But, hopefully, not for a while yet. Right now, we will tough it out, and enjoy!
Which is what we did. We weighed our choices, and opted for the challenge. We accepted the risk and hoped for the best.
The storm Wednesday night was much less severe than predicted, and on Thursday we had a great time walking on the beaches, outrunning the waves that smashed up on the shore, climbing rocks, and dodging the sporadic rainshowers. We watched surfers throw themselves into the waters, reveling in the excitement of trying to stand up on a board. We were happy campers.
Thursday night, the second storm hit, and it hit hard. It knocked down trees, one of which fell on top of a camper’s car, knocked out power, turned tent poles into a pile of spaghetti.
The possibilities had become real. (But, we slept through most of it and emerged unscathed!)
Friday, we went home.
Did we make the right choice when we decided to tough it out? We think we did, but others would think differently. What would you have done?