Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 2: Some bumps on the way to Tofino

I am not feeling particularly free today, or at least I was not, for reasons I'll elaborate below but we have now reached our destination and are beginning to indulge in Tofino Time.

We slept in which was nice and much needed. At about 8:30 I headed out the door for a run down to Stanley Park. My goal was to run around the park along the sea wall but with all the sleeping in and the other things we would like to have done (like have breakfast) I decided to cut things short. Besides, I got to add two things to my "I forgot what?" list: Body Glide and my Garmin wrist band (this in addition to tooth brushes). Bah! :-P

Off I went, following the lovely path that runs along the sea front. Vancouver is a very pretty city, not to idealize it too much, resulting from a series of good decisions about development. We were in the West End and really enjoyed the walkable nature of the area. Of course the problem of urban homelessness is not absent. I saw one man sitting very much like the sculptures we saw last night, all tucked up in his jacket. Nothing was showing. Another had made a makeshift tent from golf umbrellas and was camped out underneath them. It was rather quiet and only a few people were out.

The Sea Wall path is pretty interesting or, rather, I should say that the views of the city from the path were neat. It was sunny and in that grey area between being warm and cool. Past the "9:00 Gun" which can be fired by remote control and has warning lights indicating that fact. Could only see the HMCS Discovery from afar as it is guarded. Rounding Brockton Point I could begin to see the Lions Gate Bridge (the route we would be taking later in the day to get to Horseshoe Bay). Vancouver even has its own "Little Mermaid" or should I say "Girl in a Wetsuit".

Just before 4 kilometers I decided to head up into the woods on Ravine Trail and found myself running on a nicely groomed path in the forest. Quite pleasant. Decision time at Beaver Lake, the "disappearing lake" and, consulting my increasingly sweat-soaked map, I decided to head left along South Creek all the way back down to Lost Lagoon. Actually, this was a lot less deliberate as it sounds as the map I was using showed but few of the trails. There are so many there that you would easily put together a rather neat and long trail run. There were a few people out walking and only a couple of other runners. One guy was pushing a bike up the hill, I said "Morning" as I ran past. :-P I did see a couple all decked out (or is it geeked out) in IronMan Canada gear having what I can only describe as a slow recovery run. I congratulated them as I went past and found myself out of the woods and into the Rose Garden. Things were still in bloom and the place looked and smelled pretty.

Lost Lagoon serves as a natural waste water filter (street runoff?) and is a generally flat trail all around. I was running past some bushes when I heard a rather interesting call. It sounded a bit like a moan and I stopped to listen. A couple of women walking towards me heard it too and we tried to figure out what it was. Still haven't a clue. Came to a bridge where a man was taming sparrows. He would stand with an outstretched arm and put some food in his palm and wait. A sparrow would fly out of the bush, land on his hand, pick up the food, and flit back into the bush. I watched this scene for a bit with a smile on my face. So innocent. He was drawing quite a crowd too, of people and birds. There were four large white swans floating majestically around. Actually, all the birds seemed used to being around humans and did not scatter as I came upon them. Ran through a gaggle of geese, who only barely moved to let me pass, and a flock of sleeping ducks, who did not even wake up as I went through them. Wow!

Headed back to the hotel after that having run a good 5.48 miles:

And now is when things started to go off the rails a bit.

In the interests of time we decided to eat breakfast at Capers, a subsidiary of Whole Foods. I was really needing food and was beginning to feel a bit ill because of this. Sausage and egg breakfast sandwich, a banana, and OJ for me. A breakfast spanakopita and peach for M. As I was waiting to get the food my phone rang, it was M, our house sitter, with a J update. Hmm. Things are only OK. Was she hyperventilating? Appetite? I felt like getting in the car and going home, for a moment.

Breakfast done and energy restored we decided to go for a walk making a stop at a running store and then to an ATM to get some Canadian currency. Stopped at The Running Room to pick up some Body Glide and ended up getting more gels as well, including some eLoad gels which are supposed to be very good at helping the body deal with heat (got that Beloved Rooster?). Nice chat with the clerk wherein we found that while being from Seattle might not be so exotic the fact is that we share more in common culturally with Vancouverites than do, say, Californians (a name said with something of a humorous snarkiness).

The walk along the Sea Wall was nice. We went past the red figures again and, well, I just had to get into the act . . .

Obviously, I have much work to do before I can sit in this fashion. :-P

As we were leaving this site M remarked that "This is an example of successful public art." I asked how she knew and she replied that it gets people to interact and to ask questions about the art. Such a whimsical piece. Pity I cannot find anything about it.

Passing a doggie-accessory place, Bark and Fitz, we saw the cutest brindled French Bulldog who was crouching possessively with his rope toy and just had to say hello. I love the look of their bat ears but cannot imagine running with one.

Soon after this I began to feel very unfree. Gone are the days when you can just pick up and go. No, you actually have to tell your bank and your credit card companies where you are going and when otherwise they put a block on your accounts. I neglected to inform my bank and, well, Uh Oh, you can fill in the details. I know, I know, this is supposed to be for my own safety but, frankly, I'd rather Gandy's Panoptic Sort be a little less nanny-ish and more convenient. It took a while to solve but it was done, after much punching of single digits in a phone tree. International roaming is, well, so nice. I won't be making this make omission again.

I am hoping that this was the last thing that is going to go wrong on this trip. :-)

The rest of the day is pretty anti-climatic. We made our sailing (make a reservation) on the ferry out of Horse Shoe Bay to Nanaimo, decamped to deck 5 and vegged for the sailing. We sat next to some sort of industrial band, the members of which were surrounded by their guitars and other impedimenta of musicianship whilst busying themselves playing hand-held games. Wonder where they were going to play? Lunch on the ferry was nice too, Chicken Teriyaki noodles that was not half bad for ship-board food. Boy what a lunch rush. The checker who checked us out was obviously relieved to be going off shift. It was a nice sunny day when we started but it was obvious that some weather was coming in judging from the clouds we were beginning to see. Here are some pictures from the sun deck:

Horse Shoe Bay

Georgia Strait coming towards Nanaimo

The drive from on Highway 4 from Nanaimo to Port Alberni and then on to Tofino was long but uneventful (190-odd kilometers). Stopped in Port Alberni, about 120K out of Tofino, for gas and snacks. The clerk was giggling about how many people were in town for the fishing derby and we had a nice chat. Then back on the road to Tofino. The further we got the harder it began to rain until it was solid downpour (real rain, not a mist or drizzle). The route is amazing and also quite twisty. M asked me if I thought it was pretty. I do, but it would have been even more so had the sun been out. I am not one of those who find the misty damp forest particularly uplifting aesthetically or spiritually. On the contrary, such things chill and depress me and I much prefer dry and warmth. Still, there is much to see that we didn't see because of the hurry. The Mars Fire Bombers would be kind of cool to see (very high fire danger in these parts despite the rain).

It was nice to arrive, a little early, and to sit down for dinner with our friends R and D.

Tomorrow we'll relax. I'll run on the beach and I don't know what. Three days until we'll see the sun and so there will be plenty of time to read.

I have decided to do two things while here: take a surf lesson and get a massage. Other than that, everything is up for grabs (aside from the obvious course prep that must be done).

Now I am feeling free. :-)

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