I have a bucket list that’s as long as I am tall. For decades, my top item has been to learn to surf. I`ve been snowboarding for a decade and learned to skateboard when I helped to build a skate park back in 2004 so it was time to up my game and learn the waves. That was a lifetime ago and now I have grandkids. I`ve been determined that they (and their parents) were coming surfing with me one day and this was the trip that I checked that item off the list. My dream was simple, to learn to surf in Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. There`s a song about it, called Surfin` in Tofino, (by Planet Smashers) and that song has helped to keep my dream alive.
Although learning to surf has been on my list for a decade or so, this particular trip was about 7 months in the planning. I had already decided that I would visit my daughter Melissa and her family, husband Dave & my grandkids, Kai (10) and Hannah (8) on Vancouver Island sometime during the summer of 2014 and when I talked to her, we discussed a trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island. A friend of hers had suggested staying in Eucluelet, at the Terrace Beach Resort, where their family had stayed a few times already. We booked our cabin in January and awaited the holiday with anticipation. It’s hard to have such an epic adventure waiting for 6 whole months! The wait almost killed me but I somehow managed to survive and left on June 23rd.
On the highway, I just looked like any normal grandma driving around in a normal topless neon green jeep, but inside I was bursting with excitement and if my jeep Fiona had her own mind, she’d be prancing like a filly on a spring day. Once I arrived at Melissa’s, we relaxed in her sun kissed back yard and caught up, talking a laughing for hours.
We spent he next couple of days packing then set out on our journey.
Anyone who’s never been to the Pacific Rim park may have heard that the road is twisty and winding. I was one of those folks, many of my friends who had been, commented on the crazy road leading to the west coast of Vancouver Island. They were completely right. My jeep Fiona & I were quite unprepared for its wild ways and in my daughter’s vehicle, the poor cat threw up. (Yes the cat came with us but that’s another story)
We arrived at Terrace Beach Resort late in the afternoon, unpacked our stuff and prepped for dinner. Also joining us on our west coast adventure was Dave’s mom, Joan. While the other parents were busy, I went with my grand kids, Kai (10) and Hannah (8) to Terrace Beach, just outside the cabins to explore.
Once we’d eaten and settled in, we all headed for the hot tub on the deck! Welcome to Eucluelet!
The next day we headed to Relic Surf shop and set up our surfing lesson/extravaganza for Kai, Hannah, Dave and myself, for the following day. We also stopped at the local fish monger’s to buy some fresh oysters to go with ones that we’d bought in Courtenay (near Melissa’s home) and I bought a beautiful slab of sushi grade tuna which I couldn’t wait to get into my mouth! We shopped a bit longer then headed back to our cabin to eat our oyster and tuna feast.
The following day we went for a hike along the Wild Pacific Trail that starts right by our cabin and extends along the coast to the Amphrite Lighthouse.
In the excitement of the trail and my avid photo breaks, we were almost late for our surfing lesson! We scrambled back to our cabin and grabbed everything we thought we’d need for our surfing day. We got to Relic Surf shop just in time to meet our instructor, Ed, from Australia.
He got all our wet suits ready, packed our surf boards onto the Relic van and off we went! I was bursting with excitement! We drove in our own vehicles and met Ed at Pacific Rim Park. We each packed our surfboards to the beach and Ed gave us a lesson before we plunged into the ocean.
“Look Gramma! I’m doing it!” I heard Kai yell over the roar of the waves. We had just completed the dry land lesson and Kai got into the frothy, salty Pacific ocean, caught his first wave ever and nailed standing on his board! A few minutes later I saw Hannah standing on her surf board too! I stood waist deep in the expanse of waves and as it pushed and swayed me and cheered them on, excited for this momentous day, welling up with tears of joy.
We paddled our arms to limpness, out to the waves… waiting for the right wave… paddling in to catch the wave… feeling the swell behind us, paddling, paddling.. hopping to our feet and crouching on the board… and for the kids, standing. Dave and I had limited success standing, but we got up a couple of times each. After 2 more hours of being pushed and swayed by the tides and swells, we were spent and we slowly took turns dragging our weary bodies out of the salty swells to sit on the sandy beach, so very happy.
I was overwhelmed with joy and after the 3 hours of swimming out to catch those elusive waves, battling the undercurrents and fighting to stand on our boards, we were all exhausted! That day was a golden moment in time that will stay with me forever.
Melissa and Joan were joining us on the beach and were given the task to take photos, but they got lost along the road and missed the right parking lot. By the time they did finally find us, we were already dressed and ready to go back to the cabin. Soooo, no photos of us surfing. Next time!
Keep dreaming my friends! Dreams CAN come true and that bucket list can have check marks! Where ever you are, there’s always an adventure to be found. Adventure on!