Monday, June 25, 2018

A Summer Vacation Memory by A.M.Westerling

I love camping. If you’ve been reading my posts here at the Canadian Historical Brides Blogspot at all, you know I’ve mentioned camping from time to time. I have my parents to thank for that. They were avid campers as well and with our little trailer in tow, they took us on the most amazing adventures up and down the west coast of the US and Canada. Everywhere from the Redwoods in northern California, up through Oregon and Washington and even one year a ferry ride from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert.

But my favorite family camping memories were the trips we took to Pacific Rim National Park, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In those days, the only road access was over a restricted logging road from Port Alberni out to the coast. Restricted logging meant you had to complete the trip either before 8 am or after 5 pm. We’d leave spot on 5 pm and it was a harrowing 3 hour trip on a rugged (and I mean rugged) gravel (barely) road. Think potholes the size of moon craters and Texas pea gravel (which in oil field slang means large rocks the size of your fist).

The reward was at the other end. We’d hit the small patch of paved highway linking Ucluelet and Tofino, turn north and a few miles up the road we’d get our first glimpse of Long Beach. The unforgettable sight immediately erased the weariness of days of travel to get there.

We camped on the beach right up against the driftwood, tossed there by winter storms long passed. Coastal rain didn’t faze my Dutch mom and dad - my dad strung tarps and plastic sheeting everywhere. Not the prettiest but we were warm and dry, which is the main thing when out camping. 

My three siblings and I would paddle in the (cold!) waves and when the tide was low, explore the little island nudging the beach.(You can see it in the above picture.) We’d watch orcas in the bay, or find a sunny sheltered spot among the driftwood to read. 

On particularly miserable rainy days, the whole family would pile in the station wagon and head into Tofino where my mom bought fresh salmon and shrimps right off the docks, direct from the fishermen.

And we’d hike, either beach combing right out our door, or on rain forest trails in search of ship wrecks on remote beaches. 

There was always time to explore the tidal pools, fascinating mini worlds that only came to life when the tide was low. 

Wherever we hiked, we’d leave a trail of peanut shells – the snack of choice! 
I could go on and on as the memories keep cascading but I think you get the idea. After a few years, camping on the beach was banned so we moved on to other adventures but I’ll never forgot those trips.

The pictures I’ve shared are from a vacation with our boys – a lot has changed since those early years but the natural beauty still remains.

We also took our boys to Barkerville. The ghost town impressed me so much, I went back with my husband a second time and we plan to visit it again sometime soon. That’s why I chose it as the setting for my contribution to the Canadian Historical Brides Collection! I enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoy it too. 😀


  1. What great memories! I haven't been on a beach for years - now I want to go again.

    1. Yes, there's something mesmerizing and soothing about the waves and nothing beats walking along the water's edge in the sand with bare feet! :)