I remember the beaches stretching out forever, the distant edges shrouded in mist. I remember playing for hours in the surf, oblivious to the cold, or turning cartwheels down the beach, one after another until I was dizzy and giddy with laughter. I remember the stars hanging low over our heads, bright and miraculous against the black of the night. I remember summer evenings, the full moon rising heavy out of the sea, and late-night walks on the beach, our every footstep lighting with late-August bioluminescence. I remember being here in storm season, the winds howling and the rain nearly horizontal. I’ve been here for hail storms and snow storms and days so cold and foggy we were chilled to the bone. And I remember the gift of a perfect, calm, sunny day in the middle of January or the beginning of April, or a sunset so spectacular it could take your breath away.
I have had a life-long love affair with Pacific Rim National Park and the surrounding towns and beaches. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, back to the days when you could still camp on the beach at Green Point, to the days before Tofino was filled with surf shops and art galleries and award-winning restaurants. Over the span of forty years, I’ve returned here year after year, and sometimes season after season.
I remember the summer my dad couldn’t come with us, and so my mom, a nervous driver at the best of time, bravely towed our tent trailer over the mountain passes and through the dangerous twists and curves of the narrow Pacific Rim Highway, so that we could have our summer holiday on the west coast.
I remember coming here as a teenager and a young woman, as a new mom with little ones in tow. And in the years since my divorce, I’ve brought my boys here a number of times, often with my closest friends and their kids. We’ve walked the length of every beach, splashed in the waves, played bocci and beach soccer, sat late around beach fires. The two older boys have learned to surf here.
And last summer, it was here that Will and I got married.
These beaches have often been a Spring Break destination for us, and as my birthday usually falls over the break, I have celebrated my birthday here a number of times. I’ll be here for my birthday this year, too. And I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.