Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Blind Melon, STP: bands that make up a huge portion of the soundtrack to my young adult life. Chris Cornell was instrumental in the evolution of the Grunge era of music, my music. His influence on the evolution of Rock as we know it today is undeniable. The only thing positive that comes from the death of an icon like Chris Cornell, is the personal nostalgia that come with the remembering the artist and his music. RIP Chris Cornell, and thanks for the mix tape.
Back before life had responsibilities, I did not look forward to autumn because it marked the end of summer. It marked the end of endless days of sunshine, swimming, bike riding, building forts. Family vacations, hanging out with friends, BBQs. Summer was a time of freedom from responsibility, a time for fun, for play. And winter, the time for snow, for hockey and for Christmas. Winter was still so far away.
At some point though a change in my mind set occurred. I can’t remember the exact date but I most definitely do remember the catalyst: surfing. Tofino is dubbed Tuff City for many reasons. One such reason alludes to how much fortitude one needs to live year round on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in a temperate rainforest that receives about 130 inches of rain annually, over about 210 days. It’s about mid to late October when the swell starts picking up. This coupled with decreased tourist activity, especially on the beaches, was very much something to look forward to.
Although I haven’t lost my love of the ocean, the beaches are no longer just down the road. And despite the abundance of beautiful lakes in the area fit for paddle boarding and canoeing, they don’t give up much in the way of waves to ride. (Although I have heard of a break on Okanagan Lake, just out of Penticton.) What the Kootenays lake in waves, they make up for in snow. Wow! Some of the nicest powder in the world some say and I wouldn’t argue. The Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell Mountains have some back country terrain that is breathtaking – covered in snow for riding or carpeted green or muddy for biking.
Autumn though, the bit of time between warmth and cold, between sun and snow. This special time of year in the same mountain ranges mentioned above offer even more if you’re walking or hiking in their forests and trails. After the rains start, so do the mushrooms. Pines, chanterelle, porcini and lobster mushrooms are some of the more sought after. However coral mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and puffballs are out there as well. Even walking around the neighbourhood looking around the backyard, fairy ring and meadow mushrooms abound. I find it akin to fishing: fishing is called fishing not catching as foraging is not necessarily called finding. What is guaranteed is fresh air and an abundance of nature. Being attuned to flora and fauna that I share my time with on a hike is meditative.
A few things that make up my foraging ethos:
- Be bear aware, and other other creature aware too.
- Wear bright clothing.
- Be careful how to pick/cut mushrooms when I forage.
- Always cook what’s picked and never in the field.
To really explore the world of mushrooms, both edible and not, mushroom guides and references are handy. The internet is the best repository for imformation but can sometimes be hard to sift through. The 4 sources I usually refer to are Mushrooms of Northwest North America, Northern Bushcraft, mushroaming.com, and MushroomExpert.com
My Roadtrip from Kelowna, British Columbia to Tofino and back to New Denver. As told by links and narrated by yours truly.
Consulting Magicseaweed didn’t leave me in a very optimistic headspace whilst considering the chances for a surf in Tuff City. Nevertheless, the board and gear was packed. Although a rising swell and longer interval looked promising taking the scenic Pacific Marine Circle Route on the return trip, a traffic delay just out of Cathedral Grove crashed that action. Maybe should have tried the new trend in Tofino. Despite the non-surf aspect of the trip, the holiday was thoroughly enjoyable with my two favorite travel companions and many of our friends and family we saw en route.
Had to hit up the tech shop and get a few GoPro mounts. Already having the Chesty and standard Helmet mounts, I added the suction mount and head strap mount to my arsenal. I have since purchased the vented helmet mount. Mt camera got a bunch of footage taken from the hood of the truck while driving. Unfortunately, as breathtaking a drive as it is, 3 hours of highway driving is pretty monotonous. I am in the process of making a condensed version of the Island Drive.
First stop after leaving the Okanagan: The Rackstop and the North Shore Bike Shop in North Vancouver for my new ride and an awesome rack to carry it. The guys at both places were super helpful. We put locks in the adjustable arms on the rack for security. As well, the bikeshop’s policy of 15% off upgrades and accessories when purchasing a bike made a good deal even better. Matt and the team at Northshore Bike Shop totally stand behind their products, offering a super awesome tune-up rate for your new bike as long as you own it. SWEET!
After an uneventful ferry ride, we overnighted in Parksville before driving on to Tofino. We arrived early so our accommodations weren’t ready yet. Tofino is a regular destination for us and we often stay at the The Nalu House. We stayed in the Surfer Studio this time, although on previous occasions we have stayed in the two bedroom Groundswell Suite. Both are super great, clean, fully equipped and literally steps away from Chesterman Beach. Jesse at the Wildside Grill didn’t disappoint with his Gumbo.
One might realize soon enough, Tofino and gluttony are synonymous when talking about a trip to Tuff City. At least they are for me. The crew at the Schooner Restaurant definitely was a perfect setting for my buddy’s 40th birthday. We were definitely wined and dined! Birthday boy, JB, manages Foo in Victoria. We have worked together on and off for 15 years, so our conversation is 95% restaurant. Especially when our friend, Chef Simon from Kuma gets in on it. Super awesome surprise to hook up with them.
Another friend, NB, just opened up Best Little Hairhouse in Tofino. She and I go back while as well. She used to keep my mullet, yes I said mullet, tuned up. My significant other isn’t quite so daring in the coif department, but spent the morning treating herself in the chair. Meanwhile I checked out the pastries I’d heard about across the street at Wolf in the Fog – was not disappointed. Eating dinner there with drinks is whole other experience, wow! However the pastry snacks didn’t put me into a food coma like the evening meals do, and they were even better than expected. Especially with coffee from Tuff Beans.
Before dinner at Jamies Rainforest Inn, we checked out our usual shops and galleries: Eagle Aerie Gallery, Love Craft and House of Himwitsa. We also loaded up on seafood from our buddy Lutz. He runs West Pacific Seafoods and Tofino Oyster Bar. We also snacked at Sea Monster Noodle Bar. The Pork Buns were amazing, my ramen had great broth but lacked housemade noodles, and the Dan Dan was disappointing.
Tofino, Victoria, Vancouver and Okanagan. Visits with family and friends on the return trip. A few meals whilst in Lake Country: Bun Ta Pho Grill and Olympia Taverna Pizza. I’d not tried the Vietnamese restaurant in Winfield but was more than satisfied with our meal – we easily could have shared one soup with our meal. And although Olympia Pizza in Rutland is by far my favourite pizza place, the rest of their Greek menu is delicious.
Six days, full bellies and good times with family and friends – isn’t that what a road trip is all about? Even though surfing some Pacific swell would have made a great trip EPIC…
Emotional – the first word that comes to mind as I replay the concert in my head. I teared up before the band was even on stage. The set list offered not only an amazing selection of Canadian poetry, but an opportunity to relive various parts of my life through memories that the songs evoked.
The moment I felt most connected tonight was the closing of the last song, second encore, “Grace, Too”. It felt like Gordon was screaming at the end of not just a song, or a concert, but of an era. Were those yells just part of the lyrics? Maybe, but only an entertainer like Gordon Downey can put on a show with his band, and for just a minute or two, invite me into his world. Share with me visually and vocally, how he might be feeling. I can’t believe it’s over either Mr. Downey.