Sunday, 2 November 2014

Thanksgiving - October, 2014

For those of you who are unaware or have perhaps forgotten, Canadian Thanksgiving falls in the early part of October. That being said, I am entitling this entry "Thanksgiving" for more than just this reason. I am thankful that I made it home in one piece. Now, don't get me wrong, the destination was very nice - it was the mode of transportation that creates the reaction that might seem a tad dramatic. 

Had I known onto what we were going to be required to embark, I do believe I would have seriously reconsidered my Thanksgiving getaway. The day was terribly overcast and rainy when we arrived at the tiny South Terminal in Vancouver. So, needless to say, we were already delayed. When the flight was finally announced, we and six other people - yes, six - were lined up and marched out to the far side of the tarmac by what appeared to be a fifteen year old intern or something. There sat a minuscule thing, resembling something akin to a Tonka toy with a couple of propellers and two little steps that folded out from the side of the hull. Shaken but not deterred, we took our seats in the very last row waiting for the pilot. Oh yes, you guessed it, it was the fifteen year old intern. This little putt-putt plane fish-tailed, dropped and bumped around for about 75 minutes until it found clear skies and a stick of gum sized air strip on which to land. We were so relieved until we saw the sign on the terminal building - Qualicum Beach - an airport on the east side of the island. The pilot was unable to get through the clouds and was forced to land elsewhere. This meant that we had a three hour shuttle trip ahead of us, dropping all passengers at their destinations along the way. This put us at our final destination after the kitchen had closed, leaving only bar food for sustenance.

This is not for the air/car/sea/motion sickness sufferer.

The trip back to Vancouver was equally terrifying due to driving, hammering rain, however, the trip was shorter since we actually did arrive back at Vancouver's South Terminal.

Going over
Coming back

Needless to say, the first morning at the Wickaninnish Inn was a late one. The hotel has done a very smart thing in that they serve breakfast/lunch together, lasting from 8am until 2pm. This gives one time to sleep in or to rise early and explore the shoreline or to relax in one's soaker tub and watch the surf hammer the rocks right below the window. 

I don't normally discuss a particular hotel but since this is the destination and it is internationally known, I feel that I should tout some of its virtues. Of course, the Inn is famous for its views - storm surge is all the rage here. As you can see, the focus is all on the coast.

We were in the Pointe building - on the left (courtesy of

Large windows, fireplaces and beautiful natural cedar wood are everywhere, making for a warm environment in which to experience the Northern Pacific coast. Worn hewn beams and the orange glow from sconces and lamps reinforces the sense of bringing the outside in. A great example of this is the library in the Beach building (on the right). There aren't a large collection of books but there are games and DVD's for families to borrow and an enormous pair of binoculars on a tripod for exploring further out from the shore. With soft leather couches and indigenous patterned throw pillows, it makes the decision to hike out in the rain that much more difficult.

The views are what one comes for. And it's amazing how different the same vista can be depending on the weather or the time of day. When one wakes, the tide is far, far out, making it possible to walk across sandbars, explore the little tide pools and discover treasures on the beach. This is one of my favourite photos from this trip.

Yes, the ocean is out there - it's just way, way out there. And even though it's hard to see them, for people like my brother, this is surfing heaven. It isn't called Long Beach for nothing.

We truly did have a room with a view but it's anybody's guess what that view might be on any given day. From our comfortable balcony, we enjoyed our morning coffee and marvelled at how the colours and textures change according to the tide and the light.

The Pointe Restaurant is set up in a circular fashion, giving the view the primary focus during daylight hours and the awesome copper fireplace at night. Look back at the photo and you'll see the roundhouse sticking out of the rocks. Due to the special weekend, there was a lot of turkey on the menu in different forms but all of the ingredients here are locally sourced as much as possible and it's all incredibly fresh. They have a new supplier who makes their sausage just down the road, the mushrooms are wild and hand-picked, the halibut still has seawater on it and you could probably go out back and pick your own salad if you asked. And for those of you who haven't been to British Columbia, the wines of the Okanagan and from Vancouver and Salt Spring Islands are some of the finest you'll ever taste.

For all the trouble getting to and from the Wickaninnish Inn, the restfulness of the rooms, the stunning views, and the delicious food make it worth the struggle. But perhaps it would be easier in the summer. So, if you decide to go in storm season anyway, make sure you've got chains on your tires and gravlox in your bag.

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