Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vancouver Island Road Trip: Museum Roaming, Beachcombing and Home-Going

The original plan was to use Air Miles to stay at the Best Western Hotel in Campbell River, but for whatever reason, the reservation didn't seem to work out, and we only discovered this just prior to departure.

Luckily we were able to find a reasonably priced place in Courtenay, an older-style motel.  The bathroom floor had a notable slope to it, but the place was clean and well kept.  As an added bonus, the attached restaurant, The Hen and Hog Cafe, came up on a web search as one of the three best places in town to have breakfast.

We started our last with hearty breakfasts: Glory with Nutella-stuffed French toast, Fenya with an enormous bowl of quinoa, fruit and yogurt, Audrey with huevos rancheros, and myself with a sockeye salmon benny. The Hen and Hog is a tiny place, but well worth stopping in to for breakfast if you happen to be in Courtenay.

After breakfast, we drove up some more beautiful coastline to Campbell River.  Audrey and I had been here twenty years ago to meet a close friend of her family that they called Oma Rhodes, not too long before she passed away.



Today we were here to give the girls a look at a more northern part of Vancouver Island, and to visit the Museum at Campbell River. It is a wonderful installation, dividing its exhibits up pretty equally between the original First Nations inhabitants, the logging history of the region and the local fishing industry.

You can't take pictures in the First Nations area, which is a bit unfortunate.  In addition to being very well curated, there is also a compelling presentation called "The Treasures of Siwidi" involving an assortment of traditional Kwakwaka'wakw masks and carvings in a darkened theatre.  As an aboriginal elder's voice narrates the tale of his magical ancestor, Siwidi, spotlights illuminate the appropriate character or creature, such as a halibut, an underwater grizzly, or Komogwey, the ruler of an undersea kingdom.



The logging section included examples of the equipment used, and vibrant descriptions of the difficulty of that remote lifestyle. Likewise, the fishing exhibit talked about both the sport fishing that has continually drawn settlers and tourists to the area, as well as the more industrial salmon fishing and canning industries that used to be such a huge part of this region of the island.




Most interesting for me was not the excellent exhibits, but a short film on the destruction of Ripple Rock, something I had never heard of before.  It turns out that a pair of underwater peaks in the Discovery Passage were such a hazard to shipping that the federal government drilled holes up underneath them , filled them with 1.27 gigatonnes of Nitramex 2H and blew them up in 1958.  It was a big deal from a lot of perspectives, including both engineering and shipping, and was one of  the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history. Fascinating stuff!


Outside the museum there was a large totem pole and a symbolic gate linking Campbell River to its sister city in Japan, but just down the Island Highway is a Seaway and gravel beach where we set about to look for some starfish for Glory to photograph.



It took a fair walk away from shore into the tidepools and required the flipping of a few barnacle-encrusted rocks, but we managed to find a few.






And some crabs for good measure.


The seaway itself has some creatively carved wood, fashioned with chainsaws, including this gorgon, apparently inspired by Clash of the Titans.

And this octopus adorned table and chairs, suggestive of House Greyjoy from Game of Thrones.



But my favourite wood was probably the driftwood that afforded us a place to sit and take some family photos.



Our last recreational stop on our whirlwind tour of Vancouver was a final dip in the Pacific via the beach at Miracle Mile Provincial Park.




The tide was coming in so that water was a little cool for extended swimming, but the girls and I enjoyed a quick dip while Audrey got a bit of time in with Edward Rutherfurd on her Kobo.



The girls turned their attention to the amazing white sands of the beach, culminating in the creation of a mermaid tail for Glory.





When the tide came in, however (approaching Glory from beneath her tuchus), the time came for evolution to take a hand.




And with that, our direct contact with the Pacific came to a close.

The next day, we packed up, checked out, and failed to obtain passage on the 12:00 sailing from Nanaimo despite arriving over an hour early.  This wasn't much of a bother as we were only going as far as Kamloops that night, breaking up the return journey from the Island into two legs.

We even took the scenic route back, enjoying the Sea-to-Sky Highway instead of taking the faster Trans-Canada Highway or Coquihalla.


The road through Pemberton and up to Cache Creek is a tremendously lively drive, with lots of twists and turns, and significant elevation changes facilitated by numerous switchbacks. Apparently it was more entertaining if you could laterally stabilize yourself by grasping tightly to the steering wheel. My passengers soon asked me to moderate my speed, which I tried to do, balanced with my own engagement.

The remainder of the journey was delightfully anticlimactic. After a night in the Kamloops Best Western, a surprisingly stylish place with a very decent pool and an automatic pancake machine in its breakfast room, Audrey took the wheel so that I could sit in the back and watch an iPad movie with Glory. Soon enough we were in Jasper, ordering dinner to go from North Face Pizza, a more recent tradition, and not long after that, safe at home.

A Long Way to Zihuatenejo


SPOILER ALERT:
This post contains details from a 21-year-old movie which is based on a 33-year-old novella; 
kindly consider this fair warning!

Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (Parts I and II), will probably always be my favourite film, but Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption is likely to be the silver medal contender for years to come.


I saw it in 1994 in the theatre, with Audrey, possibly as one of the '4 movies in a single day' marathons we did occasionally on $2.50 Tuesdays (that's right. sissies: 4 movies for $10! sigh).  I loved it immediately, and I've seen it a few times since, having owned a copy on VHS, but probably not since it was released on DVD.  I've had a copy in that medium for years, but, seemingly, without an opportunity to view it.

With Glory away babysitting tonight, it seemed an ideal opportunity to round out my eldest daughter's film canon, and she chose it from a set of three immediately, without even glancing at the competitors (which, for the record, were Sergio Leone's The God, The Bad and the Ugly and John Woo's The Killer). I chided Fenya for the swiftness of her decision, then praised her for the wisdom of her choice - such is the oblique and counter-intuitive way of my parenting style.

The Shawshank Redemption is as good a movie as we all remember; I believe Empire magazine called it "The Best Movie to Never Win An Oscar" based on a reader's poll they did years afterward.  Considered a box office failure, Shawshank had the misfortune of being released the same year as not only Forrest Gump (which had a very good night at the Oscars) but also Pulp Fiction, as well as Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Quiz Show.

I was gratified how much Fenya appreciated the film, sharing my fear for Tim Robbin's Andy Dufresne in his early years at Shawshank, the joy of seeing his perseverance rewarded, the morally ambivalent satisfaction of watching a sadistic guard beat his tormentor.

Shawshank has always been a profoundly moving film for me, but I was astonished at how differently it affects me now that it has been nearly two decades since I last saw it. Part of this is no doubt due to Thomas Newman's tremendous score, particularly the cello-based "Shawshank Prison (Stolic Theme)", which lost out to Hans Zimmer's Lion King soundtrack, which is awfully good company.  A greater part of it has to do with the intervening passage of years, a major focus of the movie.

I would be willing to bet that the last time I saw it I was not a parent, nor a homeowner; as a younger man, my emotional highwater-mark is a tie between Andy's actual escape and the comeuppance of the warden, once he realizes that he has been duped.  In later years, my joy is greatest at the reunion between Andy and Red (Morgan Freeman) in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican town I had never heard of prior to viewing this movie, and a place which now holds as much significance to me as Casablanca or Mos Eisley.

Tonight, after so many years, two other scenes stood out for me; starkly, insistently.

The first is when Andy breaks away from a work party tarring a roof to offer tax advice to brutal corrections captain, played with brilliantly charismatic menace by Clancy Brown. He literally risks his life for no greater reward than three beers apiece for his fellow inmates, who he refers to as his 'co-workers', to the amusement of the guards.
Red: [narrating] And that's how it came to pass that on the second-to-last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of forty-nine wound up sitting in a row at ten o'clock in the morning drinking icy cold, Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.
Captain Hadley: Drink up while it's cold, ladies.
Red: [narrating] The colossal prick even managed to sound magnanimous.
Red: [narrating] We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.

It is difficult to say with any surety, but if we respond to art because of resonance to our own lives, my mind is brought back to this past May, when my friends came over and spent a few hard days building a second bathroom in our basement, for about as much reward as those convicts.  Our family only stopped renting nine years ago, and I often find myself coming up short with the skills, gumption and willingness to experiment that make basic home improvements possible, qualities I am very lucky that many of my friends have in spades, and those that don't share my willingness to work hard and well when given direction.  My humility and gratitude at the thought of this simple grace and the incredible generosity of my friends, and the simple sentiment I share with Red, are almost enough to unman me.

The second is less of a scene and more of a theme underlined with a scene, and the theme is hope.

When Andy defies Warden Norton by not only continuing to play opera music over the prison p.a. system (a scene that did not appear in the Stephen King novella the movie was adapted from) but wistfully smiling and willfully turning up the volume in full view of him, he later tries to explain to the other inmates why his time in solitary went so easily, and why he did it:
Andy Dufresne: That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you... Haven't you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn't make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy Dufresne: Forget that... there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours.
Red: What're you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.

Red, who at this point considers himself institutionalized, is resistant to Andy's message of hope, as heard in their final conversation in Shawshank: "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

Are these statements true? Can most of us attest to their fundamental veracity? Does anyone care to contest their validity?

And yet...

Even those of guys who have lived, for a time, without hope, have clung to the memory of it, less like a man clutching a life preserver and more like someone following a rope through a blizzard. Even if they should discover a frayed end sliding through their mitt, the knowledge that hope was once there and might possibly be found again is enough to forego despair, if only we can remember.

Things are a bit tough where I work, presently.  A major technological update has proven to have significant shortcomings, and instead of simplifying our lives, as we were assured, it is actually adding complexity to them, which is incredibly frustrating.  Combined with an extremely adversarial approach to our current contract negotiations and a number of other vexations, morale is about as low as I have ever seen it in what will be seven years next month.

And yet, surprisingly, hardly anyone is heading directly for the exits.  Sure, there is talk - isn't there always? But although turnover is probably a little higher than it was a year ago at this time, the number of people actually filing notice to depart are surprisingly few and far between.

Life, and work, continues. Even though people struggle sometimes to reconcile contradictory objectives and impossible timeframes, they continue to struggle, in hope for something better to come along.  A cynical part of me hears the response to the Beatle's "It's getting better all the time (it couldn't get much worse)", but another part of me, a better part (I hope!) believes that with this many decent and hardworking people pulling together, things can't help but improve.  And maybe that's what hope is supposed to do: like faith, it gives you enough resolve to stick things out another day, a week, a month. Enough perspective to realize that things always appear differently from the inside than when you have exited out the other side, like Andy Dufresne, who crawls through 500 yards or confined pipe filled with human sewage.

It is probably not by accident that Red refers to Andy's hope as "a shitty pipe dream", is it?

Is hope what gets us through these things? Probably.  Maybe that's why, on this viewing, I was less moved by Red and Andy's reunion on the beach then I was by Red embracing hope at last, after 40 years imprisonment, beginning when he reads the note Andy has left for him under a stone wall in a farmer's field:
Andy Dufresne: [in a letter to Red] Dear Red. If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you?
Red: Zihuatanejo.
Andy Dufresne: I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.

But most of all, in Red's final narration:
Red: [narrating] I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
In Darabont's original screenplay, that dialogue was supposed to end the movie as Red travels south on a vintage Trailways bus, in search for Andy, not having found him. Darabont agreed to the studios insistence on the reunion scene, but shot it from a distance to deemphasize it. My heart leapt to see two old friends embrace on the shores of the Pacific, the ocean which Mexicans, we are told, believe has no memory.

But Darabont's more ambiguous ending really does underline the importance and significance of hope, and now I am not entirely sure which ending I would have preferred. Thankfully, knowing the director's intent, I can take my pick, and hope for the best.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vancouver Island Road Trip: Fish Tanks and Goat Roofs



Given the heavy-footed sounds we heard from the nearby stairway as were turning in Friday night in Ucluelet, we were pleasantly surprised the next morning not to have been awoken by fishermen departing at 4:00 a.m.. They are pretty serious about sportfishing here, with the room guide advising you to put the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on your door before retiring if you don't want housekeeping knocking anytime after 6 in the morning!




If memory serves, we had a light, smoothie-based breakfast in our room at the Canadian Princess before making our way up through the boot room and checking out. We had intentions of eating a hearty lunch at Hanks Untraditional BBQ which never came to pass, sadly, as they are only open for supper.

We stopped to do a little souvenir shopping, where Glory found a cute ladies wallet with a vintage postcard illustration of an octopus on it that I thought was quite fetching.  I was a bit disappointed when she instead purchased a similar one adorned with sand dollars, since we had actually seen quite a few of these creatures while swimming in Qualicum Beach two days prior, compared to zero octopuses. Fair enough, I supposed, but I personally preferred the far less boring octopus.

The big attraction of the morning was a trip to the Ucluelet Aquarium, about a two minute walk from Jamie's Whaling Station. It is a fairly small facility, with an interesting model: they are a catch-and-release aquarium.  Every spring, they gather new exhibits from the waters around Ucluelet, and add to it thoughout the year, but at the end of the year, all the sea creatures are released back into the wild.

Much of the floor space of the exhibit area is taken up by a large pool set up as a mock harbour bottom and filled with decent-sized (say, half a foot to two feet) fish as well as crabs, anemones and the like.




A number of aquarium tanks at eye level make it easy to observe a number of different species, but you may find yourself drawn at first, as we were, to the touch tanks.



Here you can touch, feel, and pick up a variety of different marine animals, including sea anemones, hermit crabs, urchins and sea cucumbers. We all took our turns doing this, often surprised at how different the actual texture of the animal was compared to what you might anticipate.

video



Outside the window, Audrey and Fenya saw a harbour seal swimming in the harbour, possibly hoping for scraps from the fisherman we caw cleaning salmon on a table on the stern of his boat, but Glory and I were not fast enough to spot him.

The two of us had been captivated by what we all agreed was the aquarium's most interesting denizen: a giant Pacific octopus.



I have been simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by these immense cephalopods since I was a boy, watching them grapple menacingly with G.I. Joe and other adventure heroes deep beneath the waves, or seeing Jacques Cousteau express his own fascination with these shy creatures.


I found watching the octopus to be absolutely mesmerizing.  I had seen another specimen years before at the Vancouver Aquarium, but it was far less active than the one here in Ucluelet.

video

It even provided us with at least one cool photo op:


The staff, all young biological sciences students, are friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate about the creatures in their care, which makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable.



With the sad discovery that Hanks was not open, we elected to grab a quick Ukee Dog and then get out of town.  I had a delicious pulled pork hot dog and a cup of chipotle yam soup while the girls enjoyed Canadians with bacon and cheese.  The dogs took a while, which was not too bad, but the rapid accumulation of wasps at our picnic table made it almost impossible to enjoy them, and it was far too warm inside the tiny shop.


After lunch, we made our way out of town, but not before stopping at the souvenir shop so Glory could exchange her sand dollar wallet for the one with an octopus.

Our next destination was the Country Market at Coombs, something we had enjoyed a great deal back in 2009, but first the ladies were kind enough to indulge me in a stop at the Martin Mars firebomber base.



After a brief encounter there with a tremendously decent security guard, We made our way a little further down the road, not far from Qualicum Beach, to Coombs and the famous Goats On the Roof Market.

We wasted no time getting ourselves sorted out with all manner of exotic groceries, including 5 different types of potato chips, 4 different varieties of dried salmon (including the legendary candied salmon), 4 or 5 bottles of condiments and sauces, and more than a pint of pure Mexican vanilla. Then we sorted ourselves out with some ice cream took a load off for a spell.


In the used book store next door, I managed to find a good copy of John M. Ford's Star Trek novel, "The Final Reflection", and a latte to sustain me for the drive up to Courtenay, and that night's lodgings.


We only had one more full day left on the island, and I hoped we could make good use of it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vancouver Island Road Trip: Hangouts, Harbours, and a Humpback


On Thursday morning, we crossed the bridge to Willie's for breakfast again, where Glory's 'small' order of French toast was still an enormous plateful, and my Southwestern Eggs Benny (with chipotle hollandaise and chorizo served on cornbread) were amazing, then checked out of the Delta.  After one last shopping excursion to Victoria's Out of Ireland shop (we no longer have such a thing in Edmonton, unfortunately), we hit the road to Qualicum Beach.


It is about a two hour drive on some beautiful coastal highway, and we arrived in time to hit the eponymous beach for a brief and somewhat chilly swim before checking into our motel, The Sand Pebbles Inn.

It's an old-timey sort of place, but clean and well maintained, with a friendly face at the check-in desk, which is always welcome.  Neither of the girls could remember staying in a hotel that used actual physical keys as opposed to some sort of card device, so that was a minor novelty for them as well.  And the view from our second-floor balcony was spectacular, so, like Victoria, we lamented not having arranged to stay for at least one more day.



Our friends the Parlows had invited us for dinner, and we were within walking distance, so we strolled over for our first family barbecue together in ten years.  I've known Island Mike since 8th grade, Kelly and Audrey get on like a house on fire, and their now university-aged children (!), Mackenzie and Griffin, were both home and are absolutely delightful.  Even Kelly's sister Laurie and brother-in-law Trevor made it out to say hi, and we apparently only missed Mike's dad (who lives on the Sunshine Coast, home to CBC's venerable The Beachcombers!) by a matter of minutes.

This was the first time our two families (plus) had been together in over ten years, as the Parlows were in Europe when we crashed their pad house-sat for them back in 2009. After supper, Mackenzie, Griffin and Tyler were brilliant hosts to the girls, entertaining them with games while the grown ups caught up. Such a good time was had, in fact, that we sadly neglected to take any pictures! Such is always the way, it seems.


Returning to The Sand Pebbles, we discovered things had heated up in our room pretty significantly, but by opening up both the patio and room doors wide and then turning the provided fan on full, we were able to cool them down fairly quickly.  Not quickly enough for Glory, who also harbored concerns about sharing a double-bed (as opposed to the queen-size of the two previous nights) with her sister, and so quickly improvised a bed out of sofa cushions and a spare blanket on the balcony.  She ended up moving back indoors in the middle of the night as the tide came in, and the waves lapping against the seawall became a little too noisy in close proximity.



The next morning saw us back on the road, after a stop at Qualicum Foods, possibly my favourite grocery store in the world.  We loaded up with muffins, fruit and smoothies, grabbed some lattes from the cafe upstairs, and headed out on Highway 4, past Port Alberni and bound for Ucluelet.

This was our third excursion to the far side of Vancouver Island, but our previous visits had always centered around Tofino.  Ucluelet is a little smaller, not yet as popular, and Jamie's Whaling Station had a buy-one-get-one promotion that sealed the deal.

We wandered around the wharfside shops for a bit, grabbed a couple of souvenirs (including the requisite fridge magnet we pick up at every stop possible), before checking in at Jamie's.  The crew there confirmed the Tofino-Ucluelet rivalry was a real but largely friendly affair, similar perhaps to the difference between Jasper and Banff, with Ucluelet's blue-collar heritage making it feel a little less polished than Tofino. With our tour leaving at 1:30 (not the 1:00 I had misremembered), that left us enough time for some sausage rolls and pastries at Zoe's Bakery and Cafe just up the road.


We had dressed in long pants and sleeves for the first time all trip that morning, and now gathered up our raincoats in preparation for 3 and 1/2 hours onboard the MV Lady Selkirk. The girls had expressed hope for another outing on a zodiac, but quickly warmed to the idea of looking for whales aboard a 65' cruiser.  I mean, literally warmed: it was only a high of 17 degrees on shore, and the wind and spray made it feel much cooler on the water, so having the option of shelter and hot chocolate belowdecks was greatly appreciated.



Taking our seats on a bench on the foredeck as it provided the most unobstructed views, we proceeded out of Ucluelet harbour while Captain Scott described various points of interest along the way, including a couple of indigenous fishing villages and a bald eagle perched high in a tree along the waterline.



It took us over an hour to get to the point where a whale had been spotted that morning, and the spray from the bow-wind was enough to saturate my pants at one point, but before too long, we saw him too: a moderate-sized humpback doing some deep-water feeding in the channel. Suddenly no one was cold, warming blankets were hurriedly stowed, and the foredeck railings quickly filled with excited tourists looking for the telltale spouting that would indicate where the elusive beast would be surfacing.





He was the only whale we saw that day, but despite having seen humpbacks on two previous occasions, this was the first time we had seen one with its tail flukes out of the water.  It is a long ways short of the rare drama of a whale breaching the surface (the purpose of which is still only speculated on, and which we have also never seen) but definitely superior to simply seeing the massive creatures surfacing to breathe and trying to discern their shape and scale beneath the reflective waters.





We brought a camcorder, a point-and-shoot and Glory's DSLR, but in the end, getting good pictures of these shy cetaceans has as a lot to do with skill and experience, and almost as much to do with luck and patience as it does with the quality of equipment.



The pitching and rolling of the boat makes it very difficult to frame things properly when zoomed in, and the test footage I took of an American sailboat at maximum zoom pretty much demands to be accompanied by Gravol. I managed to get a little bit of decent footage of the whale at least, and Glory got a couple of decent shots while we trailed the whale for the better part of an hour.

(Apologies for all the wind noise!)


With a final flick of his massive tail serving as a goodbye wave, we moved on up the coast to see some seals resting after an obviously tiresome mating season (!), as well as a far larger Steller sea lion reclining on the same rocky outcrop.



On our return, we saw a tall ship in the distance, visiting the island for some marina festival or another.  Viewed in the middle distances, through the mists, you might have been looking through a time machine to the age of sail.


Going belowdecks for part of the return journey meant we were mostly dry and almost warm by the time we got back to the dock in Ucluelet.



Back on dry land, it was a short journey from the wharf to our hotel, the Canadian Princess Fishing Lodge. There are no Air Miles lodging options on the West Coast of the Island, but there was a decent offer on Expedia that helped. And for a place primarily focused on giving people (generally men) a place to eat and sleep in close proximity to the docks the next day, it was surprisingly comfortable.  I'd also never stayed in a hotel or motel that had its own boot room, set three steps up from where we would be sleeping.

The view from the port deck of the Canadian Princess.
The local cable company has two specialty channels: The Lighthouse Cam (doesn't appear to work online at present), depicting the Amphitrite lighthouse out on the point, which is scenic but also lets anglers and surfers alike see how active the waters are offshore, as well as the HarbourCam, which lets you watch the lodge's 9-vessel fishing fleet head out on their charters starting at 6:00 am,

The lodge's namesake is a former hydrographic survey ship moored next to the parking lot where you check in, and on our way to dinner onboard, we passed a whiteboard that indicated someone had very recently caught a 70 pound halibut. Y'know, angling has never held that much appeal for me, personally, but if someone else provides all the equipment, will help you find then gut and wrap your catch (if you should be so lucky), and they let you pre-purchase a six-pack of beer that will be waiting for you in a cooler when you board, I'm thinking we might have to come back at some point and try it out.

I'm not sure what you get in the Fisherman's Breakfast in the Quarterdeck Restaurant ($40, service starts at 0400!), but the four of us ate in the Stewart Room of the Chartroom Lounge and both our food and service was great, plus the novelty of eating on a ship helps immensely, even if it means your first beer starts out looking tipsy.

Lots of seafood on the menu, appropriately enough, but a bit of west coast verve on the whole affair, which is always appreciated. We shared an order of teriyaki duck wings and some calamari, then Glory devoured her salmon burger, Audrey's albacore was delightful, Fenya's crab dip was almost too rich if you can imagine it, and my blackened fish tacos were just what the doctor ordered. A big bottle of Dark Matter brown ale from Hoyne Brewing in Victoria settled things off nicely, and then it was off to clean up before bed.

But our family was  not through with Ucluelet yet...