It was another rainy day. I was beginning to suspect the sun is a mystical tale, a fiction, some wishful thinking on the inhabitants' part of these shorelines on the upper northeast side of Vancouver Island.
Good thing it's beautiful in its misty shades of gray is what I say.
We had been wandering about the downtown core of Campbell River (salmon capital of the world!) in neverending rainy mists and occasinally gale-force winds; it was hard to behold the beauty with raindrops stinging the face, eyes squinted against the winds. We walked one end to the other, then decided a pitstop and a coffee was in order (mostly a pitstop, since we couldn't find the public washrooms in our hazy windswept view).
We stopped at Shot In The Dark - fun, funky, great coffee, interesting guests. We chattered away over our coffee, talking about what we could do that afternoon. Maybe go for a drive, since the walking was a bit unhospitable for us East Canada Wannabe West Coasters (wusses, we are!).
Our fellow patron beside us, having overhead our hesitations on what to do on a rainy day, piped up and suggested Miracle Beach, Elk Falls, Strathcona, maybe drive right on up to Sayward or Port MacNeil if we were feeling adventurous. Good hiking up there. Interesting shorelines. We started to chat with him in more detail, learn about the Island, the west coast island life.
Happy bloke - a smile was never far from his face.
I asked him if he was from the area. "Born here," he says. "Got messed up and headed to East Vancouver for awhile, got really messed up over there, but also got myself sorted out over there, too. Had to get sorted out before I could move back here."
He told me he'd fallen into hard substance abuse, living on the welfare, hit bottom and decided it was time to get his life turned around. So he did. Came back to his home roots, happy to be back.
He looked at me and grinned, "Well," he paused. "I won't lie to you. I gotta be honest. I sell dope."
He grinned big.
I grinned back. His candor and light approach to it all caught me completely off-guard.
He made no bones about it. Went on to tell me that he doesn't deal with dirty money at all. Won't have it. Only deals with the hard-working, honest-earning folks of the area.
I will admit, my first thought upon hearing his trade was, "uh-huh, I'm in BC." The back-East stereotype reinforced through the conversation for a split second. Then I thought, "nah, I've simply met a delightfully quirky middle-aged bloke who loves his smoke and isn't shy about it."
He was refreshing, in a damp and windswept way, quite delightfully entertaining.
As an aside... if you find yourself in Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (say *that* five times fast), do be sure to head to Shot In The Dark restaurant - supremely good spot to go for a latte, and a sandwich. Maybe you'll meet up with the dope-loving-selling dude from the area. He's a friendly, gentle, laid-back, easy-going guy who loves salads and sharing insights on what's awesome about where he lives.
A five-day mini-break on the other side of the country is precisely what the doctor ordered. Talk about a fantastic stress-buster.
Having a fantastic set of hosts in a cozy little B&B (Moneypennies, in Campbell River, if you're interested!) on the hill overlooking the straight surely helps; stand-up breakfast meals to get the perpetually autumn rainy days going helps; having not a care for time helps; walking lots helps; great dinner meals in the evening with family helps; coastline driving helps; acutely crisp and fresh air helps; ocean breeze and salty scents helps. Enjoying it all with a loving partner is the icing on the proverbial cake.
I'd take the 8 hours of travel to the coast there and 8 hours back to have that five days out on the Island anytime. Worth. It.
The sun was shining when we woke up Saturday morning in Victoria. Disappeared behind gray skies shortly after breakfast. Began to rain on the way up the coastline that morning.
Rained the whole time we were at the Cathedral Grove Forest.
Rained off and on on the drive up to Campbell River.
Rained every day we were in Campbell River. All day. Everyday.
We hiked in the rain. We walked in the rain. We took a coastline drive in the rain.
Rained relentlessly all the way back to Victoria on our return back in prep for our early morning flight.
Our plane took off rhat final morning in full sunshine...
No matter. We thoroughly enjoyed our time out there, had some great meals, enjoyed our hikes in the rain, even our blustery buffeting about in downtown Campbell River! It's a supremely beautiful area of the country. A hiker's haven, a kayaker's dream coastline.
Appetite for that west coast living has been duly and fully whetted. We'll be returning in the summer months in the future, to take in that nature, participate in those activities, and head out on a couple of excursions. Rain or otherwise...
I do believe I am beholden to the magnificent beauty of the country I live in...