character building

As this year comes to an end, I realized that I had barely dipped into my two weeks of vacation time at work. Marcus and I decided to plan a trip for his birthday week in early November. But what kind of week-long trip can you go on in cold and rainy November? A camp/surf trip of course!

We packed up our warmest blankets and most waterproof jackets and headed to Vancouver for a couple of days before driving to Tofino on Vancouver Island. This is a total of 13 hours travel time from our place in Nelson, so we were happy to break it up. 

We managed to rope our friend Mona into joining and arrived on a Sunday afternoon after a rainy and snowy drive across the island. The sun poked its head out for us when we first got there, so we went down to Cox Bay beach, just a minute walk from our campsite.


Mona and I started setting up our “Tarp City” between the rains. We managed to get a fire started and had hot steaming ramen for dinner. This is where things took a turn for the worse.


After a cold sleep, we woke up to tarps weighted down by 50L+ of water, Mona had been sick overnight, and the fuel canisters we brought to make food were all half empty and not strong enough to get any food going (lesson learned: check your fuel!). The camping store wouldn’t open until the next day, so we headed into town to try and find some dry shelter and warm food. As we huddled over our breakfasts, I nearly threw up, maybe from the anxiety of how the rest of the trip might turn out…spirits at this point were low.

I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted to quit something so badly in my life. The idea of spending four more days in the cold and wet was really hard to be at peace with. At this point, Mona and I were both unsure if we had caught a bug, or just had temporary nausea. It was Marcus’s birthday, and nothing was going to plan. He decided to go for a surf while Mona and I drove to Long Beach and sat in the car watching the massive waves tear onto shore.

For Marcus’s birthday, I booked us a private sauna hoping it would be a nice thing we could look forward to. I had no idea how badly we’d need it!


We had two hours of steamy, hot bliss and this truly turned our whole trip around. After our sauna, the Tofino spirits were looking out for us. Mona and I were feeling all better, we perfected tarp city, had less rain and more sun, and were able to cook delicious meals but our toasty fire.


On our third day, Mona had to get back to the city, so Marcus and I enjoyed our last couple of nights at the edge of the world together. On the sunniest day, I got in the water with Marcus and we surfed at Cox Bay in 8-12ft waves. I had a blast playing around in the pure power of the ocean. I caught a good number of waves just on my knees but wasn’t ever able to stand up.

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As we packed up to leave our temporary tarp home, I felt so grateful for the epic trip, the character building, and the time spent with two people I love, in such a magical place.

We managed to get back home to Nelson days before BC’s major highways were flooded and destroyed. Another gift from the Tofino spirits.

We’ll be back to Tofino soon. We’ll know to bring big tarps, lots of fuel, and the comfort that even in the hardest of times, there's beauty to soak in and cozy places to get warm and dry.

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6 months ago

Oh nooo, the beginning sounded awful. I’m so glad things turned around! Also, I love the Emily Carr cafe bowls coming in clutch. I have some in my cupboard as we speak! 😛