Thinking About Love on Vancouver Island (World)

“It’s a bit like that—though they have no movie theaters or malls just yet. You can drive into town and save money on breakfast, but you’re right, it’s like a retirement village—only with the school, they’re obviously catering to a younger crowd. And the golf course is hard. They’ve got this brush called fiscue on the edges of the fairway that eats golf balls. They’ve got some great water holes, sand traps strategically placed so you can’t miss them, an 18th hole that is over 600 yards long, and a 19th hole par three that doesn’t count on your score, but they carved it out because it overlooks the sea and provides the best view on the course.”

“So how many balls did you lose?”

“I like that—don’t ask me my score, ask me about penalties. I lost six. But then, I found four. And I broke a hundred, which was pretty good for me. Of course, we skipped a hole because it was getting late and I had a dinner engagement at their Panache restaurant.”

“How long did you stay at Bear Mountain?”

“Two nights. Long enough to golf, putt, swim, work out, eat two nice meals, and think about investing. I figure you can buy a condo now, sell it in two years when that second Nicklaus course is done, and make a hefty profit.”

“You’re a magazine writer, where you going to get that kind of money?”

“I’ve got friends. Not poor slum rats like you. I know this publisher in New Zealand. He’s always looking for a good deal.”

“But do you want to live on Vancouver Island?”

“Could do a lot worse. You know it’s been voted the top North American island by Conde Nast Traveler magazine six years in a row?  And there’s a reason for that. When it comes to top-rated inns, B&B’s, hotels, golf courses, fishing holes, and spas, the island’s loaded. When we left Bear Mountain we drove four and a half hours to the west coast, all the way to Tofino, where we stayed at the Wickaninnish Inn. Now there’s a magical place if ever there was one.”

“I’ve heard about that place,” Mark said. “Kind of far to get to.”

“It’s a place that should be far to get to. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be what it is. And it doesn’t have to be far if you want to fly into Tofino, which you can do. I prefer the drive because it’s beautiful country. And what I like best when I’m driving winding two-lane roads bordered by forest is that there are no billboards breaking your concentration. You drive anywhere in America, you’re bombarded with ads: eat here, sleep there, buy souvenirs or fireworks at the next exit. You drive around Vancouver Island and your only connection is with nature. You pass rivers, lakes, giant Red Cedars and Douglas Firs in a stop called Cathedral Grove. Play a classical music CD and you think better.  The Wickaninnish Inn is just five km from Tofino. The managing director, Charles McDiarmid, is very sweet, I’ve met him a few times, had dinner with him this last time. He showed us some of the different rooms—each one has hand carved furniture, fabulous floor-to-ceiling window views of the beach outside, cozy fireplaces, modern bathrooms, patios with wooden chairs that allow you to feel as if you’re in a tree house. You’re just so totally connected in these rooms. Some even have full kitchens, and for $200 you can bring in a chef to cook for you and your friends. The location is so convenient for nature walks, for surfing in the ocean outside on warm days, or watching storms blow logs onto the beach during the winter months while you sit nursing a hot toddy in the safety of your room. They have this Ancient Cedars Spa where you can get a hot stone massage or a facial; the Pointe Restaurant noted for the number of stars (five) it annually receives when rated; and they have community living rooms with libraries, a large screen TV to watch movies while you eat fresh baked muffins or drink fruit smoothies in the downstairs community room that leads directly to the beach. They provide rain wear and umbrellas if you need them. There’s even a First American master carver,  Joe Martin, who lives on the premises—he was finishing up a large canoe when we were there. And when you don’t want to be at the Inn, you can go over to the Tofino Botanical Gardens a few kilometers away and walk the twelve acres of trails and various named gardens—the Kitchen Garden, Children’s, First Nations, even a Hippie Garden. There’s wonderful, reasonable food served at the SoBo catering bus. We tried it, they had these polenta fries for seven bucks. What kind of fries cost that much I wondered? I found out. Huge slices of baked polenta that filled us both up. Never had anything like it. Then went into Tofino—a sleepy little town that doesn’t have much to sell, but there’s this artist there Roy Henry Vickers who has put Tofino on the map. He’s got his own building that just sells his work, some of it pretty expensive. But the best place in town for me was the dentist. I had a crown fall out of my mouth and Charles called over to the only dentist in town and he saw me right away, re-cemented the crown, and I didn’t have to worry about missing any meals at the Wick.”

“You’re telling me about your trip but leaving out the romance. What’s Hiromi thinking about these places?”

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